In this post, from Image Comics: Saga #16 and The Walking Dead #117 and from Marvel Comics: Avengers Arena #18 and Hawkeye #14. Which if you ask me is an awful lot of comics for Thanksgivukkah week.
Saga #16 by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, cover by Fiona Staples
Genre: Fiction, action, romance, science-fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Making their triumphant return to Saga is my favorite duo who work for the Hebdomadal, an intrepid reporter and his photographer from the planet Jetsam, both of whom are having an adorable yet illicit love affair with one another. The problem is, homosexuals aren’t given the same opportunities as heterosexuals on Jetsam and to be an other could spell certain career disaster for our heroes, who are trying to break the story about what really happened to Alana. (Coincidentally, there’s a nice dichotomy between the laws on Jetsam and on Alana’s home planet of Landfall where citizens without the power of flight aren’t treated as equals.) Someone give these guys a spin-off!
Meanwhile, in more world building, we are introduced to a form of virtual reality television called the Circuit. You basically put on a helmet and are transported to watch a play complete with audience participation for anyone hooked up to the system. While it’s legal to watch the program (which is basically Jerry Springer-type melodrama) it’s basically run by criminals turned actors, which would be the perfect career move for Alana and Marko. If only things weren’t left on an enormous cliffhanger for them at the end of this issue. Can I haz #17 now?
The Walking Dead #117 by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Charlie Adlard, cover by Charlie Adlard
Genre: Fiction, post-apocalyptic, zombies, horror
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The double-issue a month arc “All Out War” continues celebrating 10-years of The Walking Dead which launched in 2003, opening with the hilarious line: “The fastest way to a man’s heart is through his vagina. A lot of people say it’s the stomach … But that’s fucking stupid.” Oh Negan. Meanwhile, while Negan is showing his first moment of weakness by being bested by Rick and company and his inability to control the situation, our heroes are on a high complete with rousing speech. It’s okay when Walking Dead is Too Much Talking Dead if the dialogue advances the story and stirs your soul. Take note AMC.
Negan gets the majority of the spotlight, showing yet again that he is certainly not the Governor 2.0. Not only does he believe that he is doing right for his group and the other communities (who he plans to continue working with when the war is over) but he is also a principled guy for a murderous megalomaniac who believes in taking an eye for an eye. Although the Governor also believed in retribution, Negan has some standards. For one, he hates cowardice, and even more than that he has firm rules in place for his men, one of them being “we don’t rape.” As he explains, “I really want you to understand… We’re not monsters.” Chills. All the chills.
Avengers Arena #18 by Dennis Hopeless, illustrated by Kev Walker, cover by Dave Johnson
Genre: Fiction, superheroes, violence, action
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The final issue of Avengers Arena is here in all its anticlimactic glory. Which is kind of disappointing considering all the lead up and promises of mayhem and destruction, teased with the Quarter Quell type machinations of Arcade that manifested into a man-eating insect horde, sentient typhoon, napalm winds, weaponized sand in the beginning of the issue only to fizzle as soon as they started. Not to mention the multitude of fake out deaths (honestly, what was this death count even?), Joss Whedon and George R. R. Martin would be ashamed. Although to be fair, author Dennis Hopeless admits in the author’s note that he wanted to write “Veronica Mars” meets the Runaways but his teen drama became the Hunger Games meets the Triwizard Tournament instead.
Mostly the story was wrapped up quickly with a nice little bow so that the creative team of Hopeless and Kev Walker could pitch the story that Avengers Arena leads into, Avengers Undercover which will follow the survivors of Murder World and just how they’re adjusting to their new lives after the horrors they went through. Can you say PTSD? In order to make this happen, Hopeless finishes the main story quickly so he can focus on the kids plans, hints at how it will make the adult superheroes charged with watching them look and give us one final glimpse at Arcade complete with villainous cliffhanger.
Hawkeye #14 by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, cover by Francesco Francavilla
Genre: Fiction, superheroes, action, humor
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A new issue of Hawkeye is finally here (the months and months of wait was torturous) and in it we learn what became of Kate Bishop and Lucky the dog since their annual issue side adventure. Seriously, they have been gone far too long now. Specially, we see “what happens when [Kate] get sick of the other Hawkeye’s drama and heads out to L.A.” Although without all those capitalized letters and punctuation. And without much of Lucky at all. Francesco Francavilla takes over as artist for this issue, but will apparently be alternating with the series original illustrator David Aja for the time being.
This Kate-centric story continues to be a realistic look at what superheroes might do in their downtime plus the usual things people do to survive: eat, pay bills and run errands. Sadly, Kate needs money to do all these things so she starts a “hero for hire” business where she acts as part superhero, part private eye, her first case being the case of the missing orchids. Sure, she could be a more stealthy private eye, but her brash spirit and wit more than make up for that. Hey, I’d hire her. She’s also a nice and refreshing move from the often depressing world of Hawkguy. Not that I don’t wonder what he’s up to.