Sunday, February 24, 2019

This Week In Comics: 2/27

Another New Comic Book Day is upon us! It’s time to plan a trip to your local comic shop and take a look at this week’s new comics! Hit the jump to check out reviews of my favorite comics coming out this week.

Disclaimer: I received advance copies of all comics featured this week courtesy of their individual publishers.
Opinions are my own.

Steven Universe #25 (BOOM! Studios)
Terry Blas, Gabriele Bagnoli, Joana Lafuente, Mike Fiorentino

I haven’t totally kept up with the last run of Steven Universe comics. I like the one-off adventures more than the previous run’s random, zine-style format. But two straight years of “Steven plays a video game” and “Steven opens a food truck” gets old quick.

This year, Steven Universe switches to a traditional ongoing format - and it makes that switch to the stars! The new creative team features writer Terry Blas and artist Gabriele Bagnoli telling the untold adventures of everyone’s new favorite character: Lars of the Stars.

Beginning with a giant-sized issue, the new story opens with Lars and the Off Colors opening a bakery in Beach City after returning to Earth… but something seemed wrong. The Crystal Gems were all in their forms seen previous to the recent Season 5 finale where they all reformed.

Turns out, this was Lars daydreaming aboard the Sun Incinerator. The Off Colors all have different problems and questions and all Lars wants is time alone to think. And to bake. Even though he doesn’t need to eat anymore, Lars is still holding on to his dream of baking.

Meanwhile, Steven and Connie prepare another care package to send to Lars including a few references to past episodes and adventures. The two don’t actually travel through Lion’s head yet, but they’re sure to show up next issue just in time for Lars and the Off Colors to confront the always angry Emerald.

This new arc is perfect. It’s a fan favorite character on an adventure that fills a gap in the show’s continuity that fans want to see more of. All of the characters feel like themselves and the further look into Lars is highly appreciated. This is the first story that isn’t entirely from Steven’s point of view. Ever. And it’s great.

The Steven Universe comics have always been fun extra stories to tide over fans during the show’s infamous hiatuses, but this is the first time when I can say that we actually have a comic that every Steven Universe fan needs to read.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #2 (BOOM! Studios)
Jordie Bellaire, Dan Mora, Raรบl Angulo, Ed Dukeshire

The reVamp of Joss Whedon's groundbreaking series continues as Drusilla, the self-proclaimed Mistress and her pet, Spike, make their debut with their sights set on Buffy! Meanwhile, Giles is determined to teach Buffy about her destiny, responsibility, blah blah...can someone tell him to chill? How bad can it get?

This issue opens on a dream sequence which features our only real slaying action - although that’s Buffy, isn’t it? In the end, it’s all about the characters. And this issue was all about the characters.

First, we meet Eric, the boyfriend of Joyce - Buffy’s mom - who has been living with them for a month, although the two haven’t connected yet and things are pretty awkward between the two. Dawn is nowhere in sight. Yet.

Then we meet Rose, Willow’s girlfriend. She’s all goth punk rock and… does nothing but be Willow’s girlfriend. So far at least.

But what about classic characters from the TV series? After being almost completely absent from the marketing, two of my favorite characters from the show make their debut: Cordelia and Spike.

Cordie is sporting some blond highlights. I hate them. She’s also running a campaign to be class president which is… kinda lame and generic and hopefully that doesn’t get brought up again. Although apparently, Willow is running against her so it may be her story for this arc? Eh.

And then there is Spike, who creeps on Cordelia while she hangs out in the woods. That’s pretty much it, but he is completely unchanged and it is nice to see him interact with Cordelia after the two had almost no interactions on either Buffy or Angel.

Buffy also meets Robin Wood, aged down a bit to put him in school with her. There is some brief flirting and he has her sign his cast. He broke his arm falling off a roof. Sure, dude. You were fighting a vampire. We all know who you are.

But this issue is far from a few meet-cutes. The real heart of this story comes from the series of narration captions speckled throughout. We’re meant to believe that they’re Buffy’s internal struggles as the slayer, but in the end, it’s revealed that Xander - who is otherwise absent from the whole issue - is the one having his own personal mental health crisis. It’s the kind of twist you could only do in a comic!

This felt like an in-between story as new characters are introduced and a new monster is released for Buffy and her quickly growing cast of friends to fight.

I was worried when we were only seeing so many characters early on, but now that we’re two issues in I’m worried if we have too many major characters here already. Season 1 only had five main cast members plus Angel and Joyce, yet here we already have over a dozen including completely brand new characters. It just seems like a lot to handle - for the reader and audience - in just twenty pages a month.

But hey - it’s Buffy! Thanks to Bellaire, she sounds like Buffy. Thanks to the always great Dan Mora, she looks like Buffy. While there may be too many characters, the creators here do a great job at capturing and adapting those characters. This is Buffy like you remember her, but Buffy like you’ve never seen her before.

Wasted Space #7 (Vault Comics)
Michael Moreci, Hayden Sherman, Jason Wordie, Jim Campbell

Our reckless heroes stage a rescue mission to save Rex - and secure the nuke still threatening to kill everyone. Along the way, Billy and Molly make a pit stop at a galactic gas station, where they discover brain-freezes and morality, and past demons catch up to Dust and Fury.

That official two sentence synopsis really does sum up the entire issue. There are basically three long scenes this month: Billy and Molly talk about morals at a gas station, then there’s a Mexican standoff to rescue Rex, and then they steal a nuke. And the gas station stuff wasn’t even really plot relevant

So how come this was some of the most fun and well-written stuff I read this week? Moreci does a great job with space opera and that doesn’t just mean alien planets and robot battles. Here, something as simple as talking about ethics at a 7-eleven is poignantly poetic.

The previous issue’s cliffhanger showed Molly having a vision of Fury - Dusts’s new Fuqbot girlfriend who is a bit too much of a Qilbot - betraying them to screw up the Rex rescue. That entire sequence, set in front of a stark desert under a high red sun, was so tense I wasn’t really sure what parts of Molly’s vision were going to come true.

And then we get the “steal a nuke” sequence. I thought this was going to be the entire next issue with a long and drawn out infiltration plot. But Billy’s crew zips in, grabs the nuke, and zips out all in one beautifully drawn two-page spread. It felt very reminiscent of Indiana Jones bringing a gun to a sword fight.

The status quo has shaken up a bit. Fury has left the crew and taken Dust’s arm with her. But now Rex is aboard the ship, replacing Dust’s arm with a nuke that could wipe out the universe. And there are still literal gods out there somewhere.

Wasted Space is anything but another generic space opera. It’s a smart yet zany ride and I never know what’s going to happen next. Click here to catch up with Vol. 1 and then grab your copy of #7 this week.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #36 (BOOM! Studios)
Marguerite Bennett, Simone di Meo, Walter Baiamonte, Francesco Segala, Ed Dukeshire

Since the last issue was released, it has been revealed that this current creative team will be replaced soon with Go Go’s writer Ryan Parrott and Shattered Grid’s artist Daniele Di Nicuolo. This news is exciting, but we still have to get through Beyond the Grid.

This whole run has been divisive among fans and I am not in the camp that hates it or thinks it’s terrible. I just think a few poor choices early on set it up for a boring and uninteresting story.

We have a random team of all-star Rangers recovering from the massive crossover event that was Shattered Grid, what could go wrong? Well, how about a completely original Ranger fighting a completely original villain in a completely original setting?

The problem with Beyond the Grid is that it assembles a great team of Rangers and does nothing with them, spending time instead with all-new concepts and characters. It feels like a completely separate book that just so happens to star six random Power Rangers.

This issue takes a break from the fighting - there’s no morphed action beyond the first page - and instead spends a lot of downtime with the characters. This includes the extra twenty or so powerless Rangers who have just been kinda hanging out on the ship since the arc began. Now they’re all going on humanitarian Voltron missions to build a resistance and help other planets while the Praetor is reeling from their last battle.

A lot of the previously unspoken tension between the powerless Rangers and the Random Rangers comes out this issue. The powerless Rangers start to voice their concerns over what happened to the Mighty Morphin team and how much longer they’re going to be drifting in the Void like this. (About three more issues, Riley.)

We get some nice interactions between Karone and Ari’s friend Remi as they basically discuss how much it sucks to be a supporting character. No, really that’s what their scenes are about.

And then we catch up with the random romance that has formed between Random Rangers Tanya and Mike. The Yellow Zeo Ranger opens up to the Magna Defender about the weird temporal nonsense that, thanks to lazy 90s sci-fi writing, brought her onto the team.

And then the issue hooks me in, just when I’m ready to give up and wait for the new team, with one final page. I don’t want to spoil a thing here, but it looks as if Tanya’s inclusion on the team may not be so random after all.

With this issue, Bennett proves that she can write the characters just being characters. The drama with the Solar Ranger and the Praetor is still there, but we finally see our familiar characters being themselves in a way that feels like the writer actually knows what she’s doing.

I’m starting to feel like Bennett could actually tell a great Power Rangers story if she had more time with the characters. But I’ll always say that the story she’s telling shouldn’t have been told in the first place.

As Beyond the Grid races to its conclusion, it looks like we might actually be getting something that ties its original concepts to the universe we know and love. For now, I am cautiously optimistic.

Skyward Vol. 2 (Image Comics)
Willa’s journey in a world without gravity continues as she leaves the safety of the city for the harsh forests. And then she fights giant bugs! Click here to check out my review of the second volume of Skyward.

The Weatherman Vol. 1 (Image Comics)
This zany sci-fi adventure set on Mars is Total Recall turned up to eleven! Click here to check out my full review of the first volume.

Steven Universe Vol. 4 (BOOM! Studios)
Collects four stand-alone stories featuring Steven and the Crystal Gems on various adventures with the many residents of Beach City. Click here to order your copy.

What comics are you picking up this week? Let me know down in the comments below!