Some Recent Recommended Reads

Star Wars Invasion: Revelations #2. The latest issue of the third arc in Tom Taylor and Colin Wilson’s Invasion series packs a whollop. Most surprises in comics these days are to do with which superhero is now (temporarily) dead, but I gotta say Taylor pulls two linked shocks in the latter half of this issue that come from nowhere. Of course, I may very well have missed some well placed clues in previous issues, amongst the multitude of comics I read each week, but this was a pleasant surprise, and with this arc only just beginning, the stakes and expectations are now high.

To create another intriguing family in the huge Star Wars mythos is no easy feat, but Taylor has done it with the Galfridians. Of course, Wilson’s art is as fluid and crisp as ever, and this pic makes me admire him even more.

More violent and intense than previous issues, there’s also a heap of Stormtroopers, AT-AT Walkers, a Star Destroyer, and some foolhardy choices by arrogant Empire officers. Yes, this issue does have it all.

Check out a great preview here.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. Another much loved property finds a home at IDW and joins their Star Trek, Transformers, Doctor Who, etc line-up. Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman provides the story and layouts, while Tom Waltz and Dan Duncan handle the script and art respectively. Closer to the original early ’80s comic rather than the cartoon, purists will be pleased with the foursome wearing red bandanas, and April O’Neill showing up as a lab assistant, rather than being a reporter.

It starts with a fight against mad cat Old Hob, who, as Splinter’s narration suggests, is a common foe. The three Turtles take on the eyepatched feline and his goons and win, before Old Hob jumps over a fence, making a quick mention of Raphael’s absence. A flashback to 18 months previous shows O’Neill working alongside Chet Allen (who annoyingly “um’s a lot) at Stock Gen Research. The four turtles are kept in a glass cage and a rat roams free in the lab. We then meet their boss Baxter Stockman who is talking to an unseen General Krang, who is eager to get the results he wants from his experimentation on the animals, including the super soldier mutagen. There is a war waiting, after all.

Cutting to the present, we see a hoodie wearing Raphael looking for food in an alley dumpster, and not being impressed at a “Cowabunga” shirt he finds. He then happens upon a father beating his son. His son called Casey.  Filled with nice nods to previous Turtles continuity, and leaving a few intriguing questions hanging, this is a very welcome return for the shelltacular heroes.

IDW are also releasing the TMNT Ultimate Collection which collects the first 7 issues, plus the Raphael one-shot from Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. It’s over 300 black and white pages and is out on October 1.

The Bionic Man #1. I suppose six million dollars doesn’t buy as much cybernetics as it did in the ’70s, so this comic based on The Six Million Dollar Man TV series (which ran from 1974-78) gets a new name and other updates in keeping with the times. Based on an unproduced Kevin Smith screenplay, like his Green Hornet comics are, this also reunites the filmmaker with his Hornet team of publisher Dynamite, co-writer Phil Hester and artist Jonathan Lau. I liked Smith’s Hornet comics better than the eventual film so had high hopes for this debut and it met them. I also remember watching reruns of the Lee Majors-led TV show, with that awesome intro, which, by the way, taught me how to raise one eyebrow as a kid as I imitated Mr Majors.

Colonel Steve Austin is a test pilot, and Smith wisely sets him apart from comics’ other test pilot Hal Jordan, by making him a confident, well rounded man about to retire early, who’s engaged to schoolteacher Jamie. Jaime, as you may recall is the name of  the TV spinoff, Bionic Woman, who married Austin.

Testing the experimental stealth bomber Daedalus Five for combat readiness, things obviously don’t go as planned. Parallel to Austin’s tale is a robbery of a lab, in which a swordsman steals a sub-fusion chip and prototype robotic arm. Expect these two plots to collide next issue. This is a great re-entry (pun intended) to this well remembered franchise and the team has done a marvellous job of updating the story to today’s audience. Well paced, with tantalising hooks hinting at future tragedies and a kinetic visual style, this is another entertaining win for Dynamite.

See a preview of this ish right here.

Teen Titans #100. A fitting, and fond farewell to the Teen Titans before next month’s relaunch is this extra-sized issue. I’m only a casual reader of the Titans, but it’s always good to see Nicola Scott  drawing them, or any superheroes really, and J.T Krul has written many of their recent adventures, and will scribe Green Arrow, and Captain Atom in the relaunch. It opens with the evil Superboy Prime battling the teen heroes near the Golden Gate Bridge. Armed with clones of Superboy in his past costumes, and a bunch of villains unfamiliar to me, the battle involves a host of Titans.

Robin goes nuts with a kryptonite dagger and the team gang up on Superboy Prime in a cool page filled with “T” shaped panels. Weirdly they do discuss not killing Prime after doing so to his clones, but I guess clones aren’t real. There’s also some simple, but well written emotional moments between Superboy and Ravager, and Beast Boy and Raven. Finishing with an 8 page gallery from various artists such as Rob Liefeld and Karl Kerschl showing the various iterations of the team over the decades, it’s a nice close before the new series by Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth begins in September.