We’re already at the end of January, can you believe it? Well, January was filled with a fantastic array of different comics from a variety of publishers. To celebrate these great books that we’re getting every week, we’re going to take a look at five issues that stood out the most in the month of January from DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Of course, it’s always hard picking JUST five comics but these books certainly stood out for me. So, let’s go ahead and take a look!
If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll know that Jason Aaron’s Thor run is one of my favorite comic runs of all time. We’re coming closer to Aaron’s big Thor event War of the Realms this spring which will more than likely be his last, big Thor story. So, naturally, these next few issues of Thor have been dealing with setting up more pieces along the board that will come into play for the big story in April. Thor has been quite busy in his quest to prepare the other realms from Malekith and his armies. Recently, he repelled the forces of Muspelheim and their evil queen Sindr from taking over Niffleheim with the help of his brothers Loki, Balder, and Tyr, along with Karnilla.
In the latest issue, Roz Solomon, a character Aaron introduced back in Thor: God of Thunder, takes center stage as she is given a new opportunity in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s demise. Black Panther has offered her a new position as an Agent of Wakanda, a new support squad for the Avengers, filled with individuals who are exceptionally gifted at retrieving information. This issue was a very entertaining story as we follow Roz adjusting to her new role and preparing herself for the eventual invasion from Svartalfheim and Malekith’s allies. We see how Roz is still disturbed by the events of Broxton (back in God of Thunder) and the actions that she had to take to save lives. While many call her a hero for it, she has made an enemy among the trolls who call her the “troll slayer.”
This issue was a good look at a key supporting character in Thor’s saga, though some might be a bit disappointed that the God of Thunder himself makes a brief appearance only. Mike Del Mundo’s artwork is absolutely breathtaking and fits perfectly for the high-octane, high fantasy vibe to the series. Overall, if you’ve been following Jason Aaron’s Thor run and you’re getting ready for War of the Realms, this will be a very entertaining issue for you. Those who were eager to see Thor Odinson getting in on the action might be a bit disappointed by his absence.
Right now, the team of Tom King and Mitch Gerads is one of the greatest duos in the comic book industry. They’ve teamed up together on the widely praised Vertigo series The Sheriff of Babylon, the more recent Mister Miracle, and they’ve done a few issues of Batman together. Gerads joins King again for this issue of Batman as part of the “Knightmares” story arc, this time featuring one of Batman’s more underrated villains: Professor Pyg. Batman has gone through a lot of turmoil in his life recently, all due to the nefarious machinations of Bane. Catwoman left him at the altar, Dick Grayson was shot and lost his memories, and even Alfred was attacked at the Batcave. King takes us into the mind of the Dark Knight to see where he’s at in this point of the story and if you feel lost…well, you’re on the right track.
The issue perfectly captures how lost and fractured Batman is due to the events of King’s run, and while some might be a bit frustrated by the shift away from the cliffhanger from issue #60, it’s a worthy addition to the series that still moves the story forward. Gerads’ artwork is stunning as usual, painting the issue mostly in hues of red and orange. Professor Pyg is menacing and grotesque and coupled with the disorienting angles, it adds to the hellish nightmare Bruce is experiencing. Batman #62 is a beautiful, disorienting comic that perfectly illustrates just how lost Batman is as Bane continues to torment the Dark Knight. While some might be frustrated by the shift away from the main narrative, especially since this arc will last a few months, it’s worth checking out.
Spinning out of the events of Avengers, the creative team of Chip Zdarsky, Butch Guice, and Carlos Magno bring us a new run of Invaders. The Invaders are a classic team of heroes who fought the Axis powers during World War 2 and included characters such as Captain America, Namor, Bucky Barnes, and the original Human Torch. However, things aren’t looking too great for the Invaders right now as the threat they are facing comes from one of their own: Namor.
After the events of Avengers, Namor has all but declared war on the surface world and we see him seeking out allies in his quest to wage war on the surface. Captain America and Jim Hammond (the original Human Torch) want to help Namor as he is one of their oldest friends, and something is clearly wrong with him. However, this issue makes it clear that Namor is the main focus right now and thankfully Zdarsky doesn’t make him a complete villain. We clearly see Namor’s issues both in the present and the past. The artwork is handled expertly by Carlos Magnos and Butch Guice, who draw the present and past segments of the issue respectively. The bouncing back between the present day and 1945 flow seamlessly and Zdarsky really pulls on the heartstrings as we see how the war has not only affected the soldiers but the heroes themselves. Right now, I couldn’t be more excited to see where this creative team takes the Invaders and what’s to become of Namor. I am all in on this series after this fantastic debut issue.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
A new era has dawned upon us for the rag-tag group of space heroes. Spinning out of the events of Infinity Wars, various characters of the cosmic side of Marvel gather together to hear the last will & testament of the Mad Titan, Thanos. With the previous incarnation of the Guardians disbanded, Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw get to play with a lot of new characters in this debut issue before the new team is revealed. A recording of Thanos is played before the assembly and the shocking truth is revealed: Thanos’ mind has been transferred to another host, but no one knows who it is.
So, with that, we have the premise for this run, or at least this arc, and this series is already off to an exciting beginning. It almost comes across like a horror story both in the way Cates writes the gathering scene as well as Shaw’s beautiful artwork to back it up. While I won’t spoil who the new Guardians team is, the choices are so exciting and even though we still have Star-Lord and Groot, I’m looking forward to the new characters more. Donny Cates has basically been handed the keys to cosmic Marvel and after seeing what he did with Thanos (which he did with Geoff Shaw), Death of the Inhumans, and Cosmic Ghost Rider, I think it’s safe to say that cosmic Marvel is in good hands. This issue is a perfect jumping on point for new readers or for those wishing to get back into cosmic Marvel. I can’t recommend this issue enough!
The second issue of Aquaman’s new direction Unspoken Water hit the stands this week. After the events of Drowned Earth, Aquaman has found himself transported to an unknown location, washing up on the shores of a small fishing village called Unspoken Water. He has no recollection of who he is or his past and goes by the name of “Andy” where he lives a simple life among the peculiar inhabitants of the village. Last issue we learned that the oceans are being poisoned and the inhabitants believe it is the sea goddess, Namma, who is responsible. They ask Aquaman to return her daughter to Namma and in exchange, they will give Aquaman his memories back. While issue #44 continues the story, it’s a slow build up to reveal who the inhabitants of Unspoken Water are and it opens up some very exciting storytelling possibilities. I’m very intrigued to see where things will go here, especially with the final page. Will Aquaman finally remember who he is? What will happen to him now that he has been chosen by the ocean to be her champion? There are so many exciting things happening in this run by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Robson Rocha, it makes me eager to see more!
These were the five comics of January that stood out for me. However, there are plenty of fantastic comics that have hit the shelves during this month that have not been listed here. See you next month!