Written by Brett Reistroffer
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire – Hard Targets #4 (Dark Horse) – Jahan Cross, agent of the Empire, is having a bit of a rough go. His mission on Serenno to ensure the rise of Duke Borgin as Regent did not go quite so smoothly and now the Empire is abandoning coyness and espionage for what they do best: pumping some military muscle. Which means Cross is out of the picture, unless of course he puts himself right back into it himself. He teams up with the former head of security, recently fired because of him, to ensure the safety of the young boy who is being used as a pawn in the political game of death. The series so far has been a fun one, and a bit of a departure from the regular vein of Star Wars titles in the way it plays in spy games rather than force battles. Cross most certainly is the James Bond of a faraway galaxy, long ago, from his prowess in stealth down to his swarthy demeanor when he’s got a glass in his hand. There is no shortage of action here, and while not all of it may necessarily be inventive, it is fun and keeps you turning the pages. However, the action does not overshadow everything else, since much of the story revolves around the character development of the Imperial Agent, especially in the last two issues as his personal disagreement with his orders wins out. If you want something a bit different in your Star Wars reading, this series is a solid bet, and with only one issue left, you should get to reading!
Invincible #100 (Image) – One hundred issues is a great milestone for any series, and it’s always good to see it reached by not only a perennial fan-favorite but an independent creator-owned title. Quite a bit has been building up in the Invincible universe on the road to a hundred, Mark’s partnership with a one-time villain to help humanity in a different way has caused some trouble to say the least. Most coastal cities are under water, deaths are in the hundreds of thousands, and the hero could be blamed for it all. The issue opens with a shocking and quite graphic splat of violence and continues onto a dialogue-heavy interaction that seems likely to be a shaping point for the series going forward and for the development of the protagonist’s character especially. Mark Grayson has a personal epiphany of sorts, regarding his general philosophy on helping people and how it has evolved over time, or more to the point, how it should evolve. Kirkman’s scripting and dialogue are in top form and feels natural and uncontrived, which is saying something for a hundredth issue. The issue ends with a surprise that really isn’t a surprise, but should make for an interesting new development as the title goes on, and altogether the series is as fresh as it ever has been. If you haven’t been reading for the past one hundred, now is a good time to start, the slate isn’t completely clean but new readers should have no problem jumping in. Here’s to a great milestone in a great series, and hopefully we’ll all be reading in another hundred!
Emily and the Strangers #1 (Dark Horse) – I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to approach anything Emily related. What started off as a simple logo/mascot image is now a giant merchandising brand with its own books and universe (or Strangeverse so to speak). But regardless of origins, the punkish and whimsically cute princess of the monotone has a unique identity and that’s all that matters when making a story. This time around Emily is in a brain-rut, she’s not out of ideas of what to do with her time, instead she has too many. Idle tinkering in her fantastical and of course, strange, laboratory results in a lot of mess, thanks mostly to her ever present cadre of black cats, but soon enough chance leads to inspired resolution. That resolution? To make a kick-ass song. With her cats. The book is a fun little read as long as you take it for what it is, the spunky little girl and her oddball ideas and contraptions are interesting and inventive in a whimsical sort of way. The art is well rendered, though not in a purely “Emily Strange” fashion, in fact even the namesake herself is drawn to better fit the medium, but in a good way that doesn’t detract from her original and simple design. I know most of this book’s readers will undoubtedly be from the Strange fanbase, but I would actually recommend it to any looking for a quick ‘n cute read, and it would even make a good introduction to the now-iconic character. Keep it Strange!
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1 (IDW) – Ok all you Who’s in Whoville (yes, that’s what I call all of you Doctor Who nuts out there), let’s take a trip in the wayback machine. Not the Tardis mind you, I’m not doing you a fan service piece in MY weekly column, I’m talking about the good ol’ fashioned wayback machine. To celebrate fifty years of cheating death much like the Stones, who coincidentally have just celebrated their fifty year mark, IDW is publishing a sort of tribute series that will span not only the entire year, but ALL eleven Doctors as well. I have to say though, it’s a shame that The Who’s fifty year anniversary isn’t until next year, because that would have been funny. Anyway, this first issue appropriately enough features the first Dr., taking a page out of the “Web Planet” story from way back in ‘65. So queue the giant ants, malevolent mind controlling space creatures and you’ve got yourself a classic Doctor Who. And it certainly feels like it too, everything about this comic feels like a perfect fit in the Who Universe (Whoville), and that’s coming from a not-at-all-regular watcher/reader of the series. The story does not necessarily have anything new in it, nor does it add anything of substance to the mountain of lore, but that’s not really the point here. The point is a celebration of the legacy that is the longest running science fiction series in history, and I would say this makes the grade in that respect. Obviously an easy choice for all you Who’s out there, but given the nature of this new series, I would say it’s also pretty good as a starting point for newcomers alike.