This Week in Comics: Courtesy, Your Friendly Neighborhood Valkyrie

From women gone wild in outer space to a 3000 year old heist spanning multiple lifetimes, here are some comics that are brand new, or just new to me.



(Don’t know the lingo? No worries.)

The next few months are going to be pretty busy in the world of comics, what with the crossovers galore and the launching of many new titles. Marvel is coming out of the Spider-verse and gearing up for Secret Wars (with a stop-over in Black Vortex territory for some Guardians of the Galaxy/X-Men fun). DC is prepping for Convergence, with several stand-alone issues detailing stories from the pre-New 52 universe, and they announced several new titles with a diverse group of creators set to launch once the dust from Convergence settles.

It can be pretty overwhelming, and that’s just the Big Two, so I’d like to share my personal picks with the world, especially any recent titles that might fall through the cracks.

Ongoing Series

  • BITCH PLANET (Image) – Don’t let the name fool you. It’s a futuristic world where all women deemed ‘non-compliant’ are sent to an auxiliary prison outpost, colloquially known as ‘Bitch Planet.’ What follows is some straight-up feminist satire of 70s exploitation films, and so much more. Kelly Sue DeConnick pulls no punches, hitting us right in the gut with her examination of the poisonous patriarchy, and the dangerous ways in which women police themselves and each other. Each issue includes a short essay from a vocal feminist, often just as wrenching as the comic itself. The back page features 70s-style ads – and you can actually send away for what DeConnick calls ‘garbage.’ I’m working on a proper expression of my feelings about this comic, but let me just say it’s important and it’s a good story.
  • RESURRECTIONISTS (Dark Horse) – They had me at ancient Egypt. This series follows a group of people known as Resurrectionists through multiple lifetimes. They seem to have originated as a group whose aim was to prevent certain Pharaohs and other nobles from enjoying a cozy afterlife by desecrating their tombs, but after several reincarnations, they’re clearly up to something more. Archetypes like the Maker and the Scout allow some members to recognize others in their next lives, and then all it takes is a near-death experience to bring everyone up to speed. Once ‘awake,’ the Resurrectionists have access to the memories, experiences, and skills of all their past lives.
  • BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON 10 (Dark Horse) – It turns out that the magic ingredients in capturing the Whedonverse are Christos Gage and Rebecca Isaacs. After a killer run on Angel & Faith, this team was put in charge of everyone’s favorite Slayer, and they’ve been – wait for it – killing it. The first two ‘seasons’ of Buffy’s comic book life had their ups and downs, but with Gage at the helm, the Scoobies sound like the Scoobies, and their adventures in rewriting the rules of magic shine. Given the literal rewrite that happened after the Season 9 arc, anyone who’s missed Buffy but wasn’t feeling the comic before can jump in now, and feel like they never left Sunnydale. Except, you know, for it being a crater and all.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. (Marvel) – What can I say? I’m a sucker for Phil Coulson. The S.H.I.E.L.D. comic doesn’t exactly follow the Agents of SHIELD tv show, as it’s rooted in the Marvel Comics continuity, but some familiar faces are along for the ride. Agent Melinda May and Fitzsimmons are there to back up their team leader, but my favorite thing is the way the comic highlights Coulson’s skill. He is a superhero fanboy, and somehow Mark Waid makes that the coolest superpower of all. When he meets Ms. Marvel‘s Kamala Khan in the second issue, let’s just say there’s a trivia contest that basically ends in a tie.

Single Issue Shout-Outs:

  • ROCKET RACCOON #5 (Marvel) – Taking a break from avoiding murderous ex-girlfriends, Rocket and Groot sit around a campfire telling stories to some intergalactic scouts, but when Rocket is reluctant to tell “the one about the map,” Groot steps up. What follows is a colorful explosion where every line of dialogue and every line of description is “I AM GROOT,” and yet it’s not hard to follow along. Think of it as a sentient tree version of that Hawkeye issue told from the dog’s PoV.
  • ANT-MAN #1 (Marvel) – I don’t know much about Hank Pym, and I’m not in any rush to change that. Fortunately, the Ant-Man everyone’s buzzing about is a semi-reformed thief named Scott Lang, who doesn’t take much about life seriously, with the exception of his daughter. And that’s important, because, let’s face it, the main premise is kind of absurd. Yes, having the ability to shrink could come in useful, but it’s more utilitarian than it is heroic. I enjoyed this first issue – Scott is a ridiculous person, but he accepts that about himself, while trying to come up with (lame) excuses for his behavior. He has no real shame, and even wears his Ant-Man costume on job interviews because it’s the nicest suit he owns. With Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye coming to a close, Ant-Man might just be the hopeless-idiot-trying-to-do-good to fill that void.

Gem of the Week:

  • BIRDS OF PREY (DC) 2010-2011 – As I work to expand my DC Comics knowledge base (did you know ‘DC’ originally stood for ‘Detective Comics‘ so it’s technically ‘Detective Comics Comics’?), I stumbled over a few issues from Gail Simone‘s run on Birds of Prey, of which I’ve heard nothing but great things. And though the art isn’t my favorite and the costumes are fairly terrible – really, Helena, you call a bathing suit your ‘work clothes’? – I enjoy the camaraderie, and the chance to see Barbara Gordon in Oracle-mode. What with the upcoming Convergence, and Simone’s Nightwing/Oracle story, it was nice to meet the characters pre-New 52. Also, more Black Canary is never a bad thing, and I really liked Zinda Blake aka Lady Blackhawk, a time-displaced WWII pilot. The New 52 stuff hasn’t drawn me into DC, but I think some of these older stories could, and I’m feeling hopeful for the future.

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