Due to several other factors (including, but not limited to, my desire to catch up on the third series of Game of Thrones before I inevitably stumbled over any online spoilers), I’m actually only about halfway through my eighteen-title pull list this week. That said, while I haven’t actually read anything ‘bad’ yet, there’s definitely no shortage of titles that qualify as ‘good’.
About four different titles could have easily got the top spot this week, but after a little pondering, I decided to go with this week’s winner. So, without any further ado, I give you…
Swamp Thing #21 (DC Comics)
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Review: When it was announced that Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette’s critically-acclaimed run on Swamp Thing was coming to an end, I found myself extremely concerned that the new team – whoever they may be – wouldn’t stand a chance (to be blunt) of following in their footsteps. Well, several issues into the Soule/Saiz era, I can happily confirm that nothing could be further from the truth and, in fact, they may have actually improved the title in a lot of ways, giving an entirely new tone and a fresh perspective to Alec Holland’s story in the wake of the Rotworld saga.
This issue plants the seeds (pun intended) for several new storyline threads that will undoubtedly play out in the months to come, including a menacing new villain and an intriguing female protagonist with some (superficial, at least) similarities to Alec’s lost love.
While most artists would struggle in the wake of Paquette’s stunning artwork and page layouts, Jesus Saiz has done an admirable job of putting his own stamp on this title, bringing sharp line work, an undeniable gift for action scenes and a few inspiring layouts of his own. The high standard of his work continues here, and his skills give an extra sense of urgency and threat to the first ‘appearance’ of new villain ‘The Seeder’.
Soule has also shifted the tone of the comic ever so slightly, still showing a profound respect for the Swamp Thing mythology and a great understanding of the character, but also managing to inject a slightly lighter side to the title, with the occasional humorous quip and chuckle-worthy moment along the way. This is a change that was sorely needed for a book that was almost suffocating under the weight of its own gravitas near the end of Snyder/Paquette’s run, and while the emotional punch of their era was a work of near-perfection, it’s nice to be able to breathe for a moment and enjoy some of the lighter moments along the way.
So all in all, this is a beautifully illustrated, perfectly pitched comic that manages to set several things in motion for the future while still showing a healthy respect for the past. I’m absolutely loving this title, and I advise you guys to try and pick it up if you’re not already. For a character I hadn’t read at all before the New 52 (I can happily say I’ve rectified that since with a deep delving into the back catalogue), this has been one of the more compelling reads for me, by far, over the last two years. Cracking stuff.
Honourable Mentions: Brian Michael Bendis’ Daredevil: End of Days #8 (Marvel) provided a powerful, epilogue to the frankly stunning series, although was undeniably hurt by the lack of Ben Urich in the final chapter. Nick Spencer’s Bedlam #7 (Image) continued to expand on the world of Fillmore Press, introducing yet another horrifying riddle to be solved. Ten Grand #2 (Image) by J. Michael Straczynski continued the intriguing premise of the first issue, and featured a profoundly touching moment along the way. Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man #11 (Marvel) delivered possibly the best issue of the series so far, and is improving n leaps and bounds since the line was drawn under the whole ‘ghost Parker’ situation. And finally (although I could list good stuff all day), Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men #12 (Marvel) continues to provide interesting confrontations, great dialogue and stellar character development as the X-Men of the past deal with life in the present.
As always, before we get to the cover of the week, I’ll share with you a few of the runners-up who really impressed me this week;
Superior Spider-Man #11 (Marvel Comics)
Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Something about this cover just appeals to me, with the Superior Spidey trapped inside the cage of webs. It’s a simple image, but it works on so many difficult levels that it’s difficult not to be impressed by the thinking behind it.
Bedlam #7 (Image Comics)
Cover by Frazer Irving
Another week, another stunning Frazer Irving cover. The guy can do no wrong in my eyes, and this haunting image of Madder Red perfectly captures the menacing appeal of this title.
Ten Grand #2 (Image Comics)
Cover by Ben Templesmith
Templesmith brings a beautifully magic quality to this extremely moving moment, and to give you a reason of why you should be picking up this title, the cover is pretty much a direct pull from the interior artwork. Yeah. Get it bought!
Fairest #16 (Vertigo)
Cover by Adam Hughes
A striking image and some absolutely stunning colour work make this cover an automatic inclusion into this week’s hall of fame. Just a beautifully piece of work.
And now, without any further ago… this week’s winner…
Fearless Defenders #5 (Marvel Comics)
Cover by Mark Brooks
Creativity, thy name is Brooks. Not a title I’ve read, or ever really cared about until this point. But that cover might just have changed my mind. Wow. Drink it in, folks.
And that, as they say, is that. Let me know what you guys thought, and what you enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) from this week’s comic crop.
And don’t forget to tune in again next Saturday. Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!
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