DOMINO / CRUDE / CAPTAIN AMERICA / THE DEAD HAND / EXILES [Sunday Stash]: New Names, Old Faces!
Happy Sunday once again, fellow readers and geeks. While the weather’s changing (and changing BACK, so it seems), we’re getting ready for some big changes in talent over at the Big Two. This week we see a few new names and faces taking over some familiar titles, and we’ve got some early peeks. Let’s see how they’re shaping up…
I’ve always found Domino to be similar to Cable, Deadpool, Venom, and many other characters who debuted or saw prominence in the 1990s: they are either extremely awesome in a story, or extremely horrid depending on the writer. Thankfully, Gail Simone was Column A and not Column B, and is one of the top-tier writers in the industry.
Simone once again took a character that I really didn’t feel one way or the other about and injected some much needed humor, pathos and depth. She’s always come across as a plot device in many writers’ hands. Simone gives Domino a great setup as a merc that takes on jobs specifically going after scum. She also is given an awesome supporting cast with Outlaw and Diamondback (who I was surprised to see but makes complete sense).
There are guest stars galore for a special event. In this, Simone shows that she gets Domino’s character tics, even down to the type of guys she dates, which has always been obvious, but never written about until now. The dialogue is crisp and grounded; Domino really benefited having a woman like Gail writing, as Domino sorely needed a female perspective, but someone who still respects how rough around the edges Domino is. Her powers to me felt very deus ex machina-y. But the end of the book provides an interesting foil in how her abilities work. I had my concerns about the art going in. David Baldeon and Jesus Aburtov are a tad on the cartoony side and my thinking was that it would not fit the character. I was wrong…and then some. The fight scenes and the humorous scenes and everything in between were handled with a deft hand. 4/5 Bibles.
Steve Orlando has been a rising star in comics over the past two years, mainly known for his work with DC. Crude #1 is actually my introduction to his creator-owned work, so I went into this issue with some optimism. Unfortunately, that optimism was stomped out fairly quickly. Crude is a story about a former assassin who comes out of retirement after his loved one is murdered, a story we’ve only seen about half a million times before. There’s a slight twist to the story in that the assassin’s work prevented him from getting to know his loved one, so he’s learning who they were through his investigation.
That’s only setup in this issue for it to be followed up on in later issues, while this issue itself only offers the same tedious setup for a story we’ve seen countless times before. On the other hand, Garry Brown‘s art and Lee Loughridge‘s colors do an excellent job of establishing the mood and tone of this book through gritty art and heavy use of shadows. Ultimately, this could turn out to be a much more interesting character story than what’s presented in this issue, but this issue itself doesn’t really do much to get me to care to find out. 2/5 Crude Bibles.
And with this grand issue, we say farewell to writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee. When it was announced last year at San Diego Comic Con that the duo that made Daredevil interesting again was taking over Captain America, ESPECIALLY after Nick Spencer’s much maligned — yet amazing — Secret Empire, there was no question that Waid and Samnee would do a phenomenal job; and they did just that. Their short run was nothing short of amazing; even a previously-thought throwaway issue I’d reviewed some time ago came back around in this final issue, tying everything into one beautiful parting gift for all of us dear readers.
Waid really used the current administration as the backdrop for the overarching bad guy (we have seen this before with the Nixon administration, and Cap becoming Nomad, so no “SJW” BS). For the past few issues, we’ve seen Captain America in the future fighting a “whiny white supremacist” who has taken over America, and he must once again fight when you don’t think you can fight anymore. The beautiful thing about this issue (and most of this run) is that Waid instills in you that sometimes you don’t have a choice but to fight against evil and sometimes all you have is hope, but hope is a powerful weapon. I won’t spoil how Waid fixes the paradox of having two Captain Americas running around, but needless to say it might just leave you with a smile on your face. It goes without saying that Chris Samnee’s artwork is beautiful. It is bold, crisp and utterly brilliant — a modern day Jack Kirby if there ever was one. 5/5 Shield Slinging Bibles.
BONUS: We did get a great 10-page collaboration between Mark Waid and Jack ‘The King’ Kirby and, well, it was just as amazing as the entire run.
The Dead Hand #1 isn’t the comic for someone who wants a light read. As a first issue, writer Kyle Higgins (C.O.W.L., Batman Beyond 2.0) has begun spinning a tale that leaves the reader with more questions than answers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Set in the present day, The Dead Hand draws on 80’s Cold War tension and introduces the reader to CIA Agent Carter Carlson. Sent to the Soviet Union at its end, he discovers that the U.S.S.R’s top minds have been working on something called the Dead Hand. What it is, and how it’s related to the overall story remain to be seen, since the next time we see Carlson, he’s a middle aged Sheriff in the middle of nowhere. As drawn by Stephen Mooney, Carter is an ageing Channing Tatum — which would totally be my casting for the movie version of the comic. As a first issue, The Dead Hand sets up a relatively interesting, if somewhat generic character and sets the stage for what could prove to be an interesting adventure. 3.5/5 Bibles.
I have a soft spot for THE EXILES. So do you, if you were lucky enough to read Chris Claremont’s unsurpassable X-MEN run when you were a teenager. Digging this book is grafted onto your mutated sequential-narrative-consumption DNA. A team of deep-cut C-list mutants from across time and space taking orders from a mysterious semi-sentient T.A.R.D.I.S. bracelet putting things right that once went wrong across an infinite procession of alternate timelines. That business sells itself. Winick/McKone’s original 25 issues were incredible, Austen’s arc was aggressively awful, Bedard’s extended run was respectable, and Parker’s second volume was tragically murdered in its crib after only six issues. I’m not familiar with writer Saladin Ahmed but really enjoyed artist Javier Rodriguez’s colors on BATGIRL: YEAR ONE and Waid’s DAREDEVIL, and that David Marquez cover is doing its job selling copies. I’m buying very few Marvel books these days but was all-in on this one as soon as I saw it.
Speaking of that cover, though, there’s a weird deal where we get sold on the whole cast on the front of the book, then open up to the first page and get the exact same image, only everyone but Blink is now in silhouette with a question mark. Who could all of these people be? That’s instantly a moot question highlighting the fact that it might have been an intriguing selling point to actually make a mystery out of who the team is and do a member-by-member reveal, having the reader find out our cast linearly along with Blink as she assembles them. But then, I do see the logic that if you’ve got X-Baby Wolverine and it looks like Tessa Thompson Valkyrie on your team, Marketing says you’re going to need those folks on that #1 cover. But quit grousing about these alternate-timeline tangents, how’s the issue, you want to know? It’s solid. A little bit better than I was expecting and potentially leading to the greatness that I was hoping for. This one is all set-up. We only meet the first three members of the cast: “our” Blink, the original leader of the team from Volume 1, an older Kamala Khan by way of Sarah Connor, and an alternate Iron Lad who’s a bit more of a bully than the kid we know from YOUNG AVENGERS. The team’s interactions are charming enough but nowhere near as much fun as they’re going to be when the aforementioned pair from the cover actually show up. I mean, if you have zero interest in seeing X-Baby Wolverine plunge screaming into battle against the antagonist of that excellent last-page reveal, possibly comic books just aren’t for you. I can’t wait for next issue. 3.75/5 Next Leaps Will Be The Leap Home.