Mutants and Zombies

And Batman, too

We may be a day late and a dollar short with reviews this week, but there are still a handful of great comics that absolutely need to be recommended. First up, we have the continuation of "The Trial of Jean Grey" in All-New X-Men issue no. 24, featuring a talking raccoon with a gun (always a plus). Next we have Batman issue no. 29, wherein the Dark Knight does his best All-Star Dark Knight Returns impression (with some minor censoring for the kiddies' constitutions). Finally, we have the pen-pen-penultimate chapter of "All-Out War" in everyone's favorite zombie book that's not necessarily always about zombies, The Walking Dead. So let's not waste any more time, and get right down to the important business of reviewing this week's new comic books!

All-New X-Men 24 Cover

All-New X-Men Issue No. 24

"The Trial of Jean Grey" Part 5 (of 6)

This issue of All-New X-Men continues “The Trial of Jean Grey” crossover with the Guardians of the Galaxy, as the Guardians and X-Men finally make it to the Shi’ar homeworld where telepath and yet-to-be Phoenix Jean Grey stands trial for crimes she will maybe probably one day in the future commit. Spare us this mockery of justice, indeed!

The art by Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger in this issue is top-notch, as per usual, and the art team has an even greater task than usual, seeing as how this issue seems to contain a cast of thousands. Well, dozens, at least, what with the Guardians, the X-Men, the Starjammers, the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, and assorted various alien species. Even if you are a completely Marvel Comics neophyte, the visual aspect of this comic makes it worth picking up. And for those who like a little humor in their action and adventure serials, well, that is why they include wise-acre talking space raccoon with a gun. See? Something for everyone.

Batman Issue No. 29

Paging Dr. Death

Scott Snyder writes and Greg Capullo draws this issue of Batman, continuing the "Zero Year" storyline that features a rookie Caped Crusader up against the double threat of the Riddler and Dr. Death. Snyder and Capullo have been working together on Batman since issue no. 1 of this volume, and they have truly developed a storytelling synergy that exists as the gold standard for the entire Batman family of titles.

One of Snyder’s techniques for adding some novelty to a story is dispersing real-life factoids throughout an issue, and there are several examples of that here, including a tale about Archimedes, as well as setting some historical context for the WWII-era standard “Tokyo Moon.” Using that song as a springboard, the villain Dr. Death laments the way people seem to ascribe romantic meaning to a celestial body that is ultimately “...An empty white circle...a hollow promise.” A little morbid, but that’s Dr. Death for you. Still, there might be a lesson there. The next time you fall in love, don’t let it be with a piece of cold, dead rock floating in the sky.

As usual, Capullo makes most other mainstream comic artists look lazy by comparison. This is an artist who can straight up draw anything, and draw it well. Dirigibles, city skylines, underground sewers, fight sequences, powerful emotional expressions, nothing is out of this man’s wheelhouse. If you have any aspirations to be a sequential artist, taking a close look at Capullo’s work is a must. And for those who just want some pretty pictures of Batman, well, this issue works for that purpose, too.

The Walking Dead Issue No. 124

I used to be an adventurer...

If all you know about The Walking Dead comes from viewing the TV show, you are about five years behind the events that have happened in the comics. And with a series like this, you know that means there has been a massive body count in the interim. Plus, you can probably add one more character to the fatality list after this issue, which is part 9 of the 12 part “All-Out War” storyline, with Officer Rick and his crusty bunkers on the one side, and potty-mouth Negan and his horribly disfigured roving gang on the other.

Unlike a lot of comic series, The Walking Dead has both a steady creative team (writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard) AND a more-than-monthly shipping schedule. Writing 40+ pages of comics a month may not be that impressive, but Adlard’s ability, with the help of inker Stefano Gaudiano and gray toner Cliff Rathburn, to produce that many professional pages of comic book art in a given month never ceases to amaze.

The bottom line with this series is that it is difficult to just pick up a single issue in the middle of the run and completely understand what is going on, but back issues and trade collections of this series are readily available. Once you are caught up with the series, it’s a given that you will want to read this issue, too.

Other Books Out This Week

Astro City, Superman-Wonder Woman, and Magnus: Robot Fighter

Now, just because these three books have been officially crowned as the best comics of the week does not mean that there aren't other really super-great comics, too. Fans of Kurt Busiek's Astro City should be thrilled to find a new issue of that this week, with the continuing adventures of Samaritan and Winged Victory. And for those who prefer the DC versions of those archetypes, a new issue of Superman-Wonder Woman also dropped. Finally, if you have been feeling depressed recently from a complete lack of robot fighting in your comic book diet, the release of a new issue no. 1 of classic character Magnus: Robot Fighter is sure to have you back in high spirits before you can say "slavery allegory."

All in all, not a bad week to be a comic book fan.