Top Ten Titles – April 2018

So yeah, was supposed to be quarterly thing … will be an “almost quarterly” thing.

1. The Amazing Spider-Man (MARVEL)
 Man, that Parker Luck is kicking in over drive.  No more Parker Industries … and damn, Mockingbird broke it off even?  That sucks.  I actually really liked them as a team IN the costumes.  It was good fun BUT there’s not time for that because Norman Osborn is looking to blast himself into an entirely new stratosphere of Spidey Villain.  Now we’re getting the RED GOBLIN … Normie w/the carnage symbiote?  HOLY CRAP.  Immediately Pete’s gotta say “no more Spidey” just to save people he loves.  BUT BUT BUT … the thing that has always been good about Spidey books, is that even the villain is torn.  Osborn is bat sheet crazy yes, but he wants power/control … Carnage just wants to make everything bleed and then watch it all die.  Both have forced their will before, so we’ve got a looming question about our freaking bad ass new baddy. 

2. Astro City (VERTIGO)
I’m torn, as this will be the last time Astro City is on this list …. because it’s ending … as a monthly.  We’re told it’ll continue on in “larger chunks” in OGN form (I’m ok with that) but I just hope it doesn’t get caught in the mess in transitioning and then just not get put out anymore.  This month we get the final issue of this run, which has been arguably the most consistent and most quality book on the shelf since 2013.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a citizen of the ‘super’ filled Astro City and am just as excited as I was 23yrs ago, to look out the diner window and see what was happening.

I wonder how this will play out with the rest of the list …

3. Heathen (VAULT)
We’re close to continuing the tale of our hero.  This book is just at its first tipping point as now that it is all set up and things have been established, we start to move outward.  What does that mean both individually AND in a broader context for Aydis?  Literally she’s set on the vast Northern Sea and already we’ve got mermaids and an unlikely kinship.  A pirate (but not really, but totally) crew and ship are enlisted for the journey but where is it truly going?  Really looking forward to the new arc playing out. 

4. Redneck (IMAGE)
Yeah, I’m a Texan so I was likely to enjoy this regardless.  That said, Donny Cates has shown that he is quite good at telling a story.  A horror story that’s a telling of a tale of real life is taking place … except the family being threatened from both outside forces and within are uh, vampires.  That doesn’t keep the love, acceptance, hate, conflict, and passion of family from being absent though.  They really, truly just want to be good (people).  True intrinsic values as well as both right and wrong still matter despite the world doing its best to try and make those types of things irrelevant.  Misunderstanding and understanding are at a constant conflict and this book puts it all together wonderfully.  And you know …. vampires.

5. Dark Ark (AFTERSHOCK)
I put this down on the sub list the moment I read the premise.  A second ark?  All the bad things being saved from the flood just like the good?  Uh yeah, I’m on board (bah dump – ching).  Shrae (the Noah of the Dark Ark) has been commanded save the “unnatural” beasts of the world.  What could possibly go wrong with the likes of Vampires, Dragons, and all sorts of monsters?  Or, what could possibly go right?  Bunn is great at the horror aspect but this is much more than that.  Morality and the issues surrounding aren’t limited to the human elements in the book.  This is about the monsters, the dark underbelly of existence, and how concepts we know all to well about life play out regardless of what your ‘life’ is meant for.  Even the evil entities are beholden to the wishes/desires of others and that doesn’t play well (for instance, they are instructed not to wipe out Noah’s Ark as that will be their avenue of survival once the waters recede).  This is fun, well written, and looks just as good. 

6. Jughead: The Hunger
As I wait patiently for another AWA and CAS to hit the shelves, I’ve got my Archie Horror fix with Juggy here.  Just like the other two this is a ‘fun’ horror book.  I mean come on, Jughead the king of eating is a Werewolf?  “The Hunger” … brilliant.  Seeing Betty and her family as hunters really puts ‘ol Archie in a bind since you know, Jughead is his best friend and all.  But the entire Jones clan are a long line of Werewolves, and the Coopers are a long line of hunters?  Hell yeah.  The Archie Horror books are good fun and this one is living up to the strong standard set by Afterlife and Chilling Adventures.

7. Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider
Peter David is making this book make me feel like I’m reading the fun loving yet damn near tragic Spidey stories I grew up with.  The problems for Spidey (Ben Reilly version: Scarlet Spider) are just as they are for Parker and the cast of characters range from an inexplicably tough Casino thug to now, Mephisto!  Yup … classic Spidey happening and we’ve even got the Slingers back! …. kind of.  Turns out there’s some demon issues and we’ve got Hotel Hell popping up in Las Vegas (though, that’s not out of the realm of believability/possibility).    

9. Marvel 2 in 1/Astonishing X-Men
Eh, I kind a cheated again … wanna fight about it?  Both of these books take me back.  For me, that’s a good thing.  Astonishing XM FEELS like an X-book should IMO.  We’ve got the book starting out with the team (amazing lineup btw) getting slammed by an attack from Shadow King.  He’s an all time favorite X-baddy of mine and thrusting the story into the astral plane from the start grabbed like the 80’s 90’s X books did.  You get some classic style story, 90’s style grit and you’ve got a great book.

2 in 1 does the same with finally getting us back to the characters that started it all.  The FF are being explored, literally, in this book.  Ben and Johnny are setting a course to find out just what the hell has happened to ‘ol Stretch, Sue, and Valeria.  United by mutual grief (not to mention all of the shared experiences) the two remaining FF members are shells of themselves trying to find a way to deal with their apparent new reality.  Zdarsky does very well in writing feeling into this book.  I love the FF but haven’t had a reason to in a long, long time.  Forget the “corporate” schtick other people want to use to overshadow or piss on the parade that this book is.  It’s good, and it’s setting up our getting back our FF.  Enjoy it.


10.  Black Monday Murders
There is a line to walk and an order to be kept no matter the cost.  Apparently we aren’t the only ones that have to pay the price to keep that order.  The Elite Families (financers) and their blood pact also are facing their comeuppance as human nature, and its faults, will shine through regardless of what other workings may be in play.  Will the inquisitive nature of man find the root of the evil?  Detective Dumas is trying to do just that.  This one continues to breed Noir, Horror, and Thriller aspects into an overly intricate, yet easy to follow blend of bad things happening. 


*7 to Eternity will be returning, Sabrina and Archie are supposed to be, BEK ended.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Ice Cream Man – Quickly becoming one of my favorites.  Anthologitical (did I make that up) in it’s approach and a bit reminiscent of the Creepshow/Hitchcock approach to “viewing” a scene/story.

Evolution – Nice premise with some “stock” character placement but it works because of what it is.  The art and pacing make me feel like I’m watching a 70’s horror-esque flick at the drive in.  That’s a good thing.

Thanos – Cates picked up an enjoyable book and launched it into the stratosphere.  It’s done though.  An absolutely brilliant ending by the way.  If this wasn’t over, it would be on the list.

Black Bolt – As with Thanos, it’s done.  This was a great book and a wonderful story for a criminally underrated and overlooked character.  Everything about it was fantastic.  I really wish it was continuing.  Creel got a proper send off too.  This was just so damn well done.

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