The Week In Review

The Week In Review (31/03/2021)

The best comics of the week!

I decided to start this blog mostly to talk about older comics that I think are weird or interesting, but with a name like “Wednesday Reads” I think it’s important to at least talk a little bit about what I’m reading week-to-week. So I decided, every Monday I’ll look back at the previous Wednesday and discuss my top three single issues in a little bit more detail than I do in the weekly Wednesday Reads thread on Twitter.

This wasn’t the most exciting week in comics, but it wasn’t terrible by any means. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the new run on The Flash which kicked off this week and I was happy to see Silk return as an ongoing. In terms of honourable mentions, I have to give a shoutout to I Breathed A Body which I think may end up being the most overlooked comic of the year and the Katana focused issue of The Other History of the DC Universe was really great. As always, three titles stood out as the best of the best this week, so here are my favourite comics from March 31st, 2021.

X-Men #19
(Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar, Sunny Gho & Clayton Cowles)
Mahmud Asrar, Sunny Gho & Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

I’ll be the first to admit that X-Men has lost a bit of its killer edge recently. I don’t know if it’s that we haven’t seen Moira in over a year or that it still just feels like a lot of set-up and very little payoff, but my hype surrounding the flagship ongoing series had waned in recent months. However, this issue did a phenomenal job of rekindling that fire as Wolverine, Darwin and especially Synch head deeper into the Vault and we get one of the best character focused comics of Hickman’s career.

This really is Synch’s comic and for a character I had no real affinity for before, I came away from X-Men #19 a massive fan. Everett’s personal journey throughout the issue keeps us grounded through all the high-concept Hickman sci-fi and puts the stakes of their mission into a human perspective. Hickman’s twist of the knife in the final moments of the comic are up there with some of the best gut-punches in superhero comic history and overall the issue is just a joy of a comic.

The Department of Truth #7
(James Tynion IV, Tyler Boss, Roman Titov & Aditya Bidikar)
Tyler Boss, Roman Titov & Aditya Bidikar (Image Comics)

I really don’t see a time any time soon where an issue of The Department of Truth comes out and it doesn’t make it into the top three, so at some point I may have to give it a hall of fame status so I don’t just repeat myself every month. Just like the last issue, this issue is a “Deviation” which is a one-shot set in the past, exploring the history of the titular department as we learn about UFO sightings, the men in black and an interesting new take on the classic grey alien.

Tynion and Boss craft and incredibly sinister single issue which filled me with more dread every time I turned the page. Boss’ strict panel layouts are a great contrast to Charretier’s more freeform page last issue and his pulp-style pin-ups capture the tone and era perfectly. Of all the plot threads set up so far in The Department of Truth, the mystery behind the men in black is the one I’m dying for Tynion to return to soon because this issue crafts such an interesting world that I’d be happy with a spin-off just about this.

Beta Ray Bill #1
(Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer & Joe Sabino)
Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer & Joe Sabino (Marvel Comics)

I have a friend who doesn’t read comics, but he was introduced to Beta Ray Bill through the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon and thought he was the stupidest thing he’d ever seen. A decade later we’re still friends, but it’s still a point of contention because Bill is one of my favourite comic book characters. He’s a cyborg alien horse with the powers of a norse god who is the last of his kind; that’s the raddest thing that’s ever existed! Daniel Warren Johnson is an artist who exclusively draws things that are the most rad, from Extremity to Murder Falcon to Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, so for me specifically, this miniseries is a match made in heaven.

Johnson sets up an intriguing story for Bill in this first issue, with him frustrated at being in Thor’s shadow when they’re supposed to be equals, and I’m excited to see where that goes but the art is the real selling point of this issue for me. DWJ draws Bill fighting a Knullified version of Fin Fang Foom like every panel should be airbrushed on the side of the van and the perspective and motion he applies to every panel makes you feel like you’re there on Asgard watching this epic fight play out in front of you. I just feel very lucky; my favourite artists are Johnson, James Stokoe and James Harren and we’ve got new #1s from all three of them over the course of the last few weeks. It’s a good time to like rad art in your comics.

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