This weekend’s comic book reviews

Since I read a lot of comics, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on a few I read this past weekend.  Who knows, maybe something will peak your interest?  And if you have read them, let me know!  Agree, disagree?  Feel free to comment below!

Harbinger #20 (Valiant Comics)

Harbinger has been a brilliantly weird comic since the Harbinger Wars event ended but Valiant’s flagship superhero title is finally getting into more serious territory. The story jumps around a bit from the apparently very near future back to the present where perennial villain Toyo Harada is still on the hunt for new psiots to join his foundation, while also searching for former protégé Peter Stanchek and his “Renegades.” Peter and the team get very little screen-time, as this issue deals almost entirely with Harada and the fallout from his “mind squall” in the previous storyarc.  We’re also introduced to a new psiot in the form of @X (no, not a misspelling), who seems poised to take on a much bigger role as the series continues. While it falls under the banner of “Must-Read Valiant”, and it is the start to a new arc, a basic understanding of the series almost seems essential to the book’s enjoyment. A lot has happened with these characters of late and this issue in particular, while good, hardly seems like a good starting point for new readers.

Joshua Dysart’s writing is as solid as ever and his handling of Harada demonstrates why the powerful businessman is one of the most formidable and complex villains in comics right now. Art duties are handled by Harbinger Wars’ own Clayton Henry and his work is just plain brilliant. Seriously, the man is a beast and the Valiant universe is lucky to have him. The coloring by Brian Reber is fantastic and really makes the book look and feel fantastic.

While hardly a good jumping-on point, if you’re a fan of the Valiant Universe or you’re just looking for a different take on superheroes, Harbinger is a book worth trying. And if the solicits are any indication, crazy stuff is about to go down very, very soon.

Score: 7.5

High Crimes #1 (Monkeybrain Comics)

High Crimes by Christopher Sebela, with art by Ibrahim Moustafa, is a mystery, yet not in the traditional sense. See, there’s a lot going on in this book and the real mystery is how it all ties together. It’s also very weird. The discovery of a dead body in the snow is just the start as we’re introduced to a down-on-her-luck former snowboarder who now works with a private investigator (like I said, it’s weird) and the pursuit of a possible murderer who is also the target of what appears to be a clandestine black-ops team run by a trigger-happy individual that makes “Thunderbolt” Ross look positively rational. The premise is intriguing and there is enough going on to keep this reader clamoring for the next chapter.

Score: 8.0

She-Hulk  #1 (Marvel Comics)

She-Hulk has been the source of many unique takes on super-heroics. Her Sensational series broke the fourth wall and gave the jade giant a self-deprecating sense of humor. Her previous series played like a David E Kelley joint, with a satirical bent, a quirky supporting cast, and a willingness to show heroes and villains in a procedural light. This time around the emphasis is more on lawyering and it certainly “serves” the character well, terrible pun intended.

When not writing half the books on the stands, writer Charles Soule is a practicing lawyer, so he knows his stuff and uses it to his advantage. This is a smartly written book that doesn’t skimp on the humor. Soule writes Jen as a smart, sassy woman who is only too happy to demonstrate her wit and intelligence but still isn’t afraid to go all “Hulk smash” if the opportunity arises. Jen is also gorgeous to boot, thanks to the amazing work of Javier Pulido, whose attention to detail and innovative layouts makes this book as fun to look at as it is to read. Muntsa Vicente’s colors shine as well, delivering a beautiful palette that brings every page to vibrant life.

If you’re a fan of more character-driven books like Hawkeye, or you just like your superheroes using terms like “litigation” and “counter-suit”, She-Hulk deserves a place on your pull-list.

Score: 9.0

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