This week Darth Vader‘s Doctor Aphra takes center stage, and Superman takes on Frankenstein!
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 (Marvel Comics)
Of the vast characters in the Star Wars universe, it’s a little odd that Doctor Aphra would be the next one to get an ongoing series. After appearing in the Darth Vader series, Aphra certainly became pretty popular, but even with that, it’s a little surprising to see her name with a new #1 behind it. Luckily Vader writer Kieron Gillen is on hand to write this series along with artist Kev Walker. Since Aphra’s the first original Marvel Star Wars character to get her own series, this is pretty cool. But is this a book that’s worthy of a monthly series? After reading this first issue that’s tough to say.
Kieron Gillen’s script doesn’t do much to set up Doctor Aphra’s back-story. In fact, the script figures that you pretty much already know the character thanks to her time in Darth Vader. Gillen’s opening issue spends a lot of time talking about the different adventures Aphra has gone on, as opposed to actually having her go on one of them. Aside from some references to past excavations, there’s not much to show us what makes her the “Indiana Jones of Star Wars”.
However, there’s a ton of creativity at play here, especially when it comes to Aphra and her murderous droids Triple Zero and BT-1. There’s also some pretty interesting new characters too. Free from the confines of the movies (and to some extent, Lucasfilm), Kieron Gillen is able to create some truly interesting new characters, and put Doctor Aphra into some shadier areas of the Star Wars universe that we probably won’t see in a movie anytime soon.
Adding to the new characters is Kev Walker’s art, which is at its best when depicting the crazy aliens and locations that Star Wars is known for. Walker’s style is completely different from Darth Vader artist Salvador Larrocca’s, but that actually makes Aphra more compelling. While I’m a fan of Larrocca’s art, at times it was a little too stiff. Walker’s style allows for not only fun alien designs, but a little more play when it comes to the dialogue and “slow” parts of Gillen’s scripts.
While I’m still not sold on the idea of Doctor Aphra being an ongoing, I’ll admit that this is a pretty interesting, if slow, set up for a new series. At the very least, it’ll be interesting to see what Gillen does with this character now that she’s free from Lord Vader’s shadow, and impressive that Marvel has enough faith in her to give her a title over say, Boba Fett. It’s highly unlikely that Aphra will be appearing in a movie anytime soon, so fans of the character should definitely snap this up. But for those of us with a tight comic budget (yes, this is another $5 Marvel book), it’s probably best to wait until the trade collection.
Superman #12 (DC Comics)
Superman has been one of the strongest DC Rebirth titles, and this issue is no exception. Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have been able to give Silver Age ideas a fun modern spin, and making them extremely fun and readable. That mentality is on full display here, as Superman #12 features a showdown with Superman and DC’s version of Frankenstein’s monster.
Yes, Frankenstein has come looking for an undercover monster, and after crashing an interview with Lois and the local small town paper; he comes into conflict with the Man of Steel himself. Now before you start rolling your eyes, let me just say this:
This issue RULES.
Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s script is pulse pounding. Superman #12 is basically a 32-page battle, and it’s jaw droppingly awesome. There’s Superman punching Frankenstein clear across a field, Frank using his massive sword against Supes, and Lois even gets in on the action at one point. Not only that, but Thomasi and Gleason’s Superman is written to perfection. In the best sense of the word, this is the definition of a “popcorn comic”.
Adding to the thrills of this issue is Doug Mahnke’s art. Now I love Patrick Gleason’s art, but I may love Doug Mahnke’s just a little bit more, and this is a Mahnke fan’s dream comic. Not only do you get his stellar interpretation of DC’s Frankenstein Monster, but you get giant splash pages of incredible fight scenes between him and Superman. This is definitely a “must buy” for fans of incredible artwork.
Superman has risen to the top of my read pile and this issue is a perfect example of why. It’s a simple concept executed wonderfully. Sure, you could take the issue at face value and complain that it’s all action, but sometimes you need that to remind you of why you love comics. The first collection of Tomasi and Gleason’s Superman should be hitting store relatively soon, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s the perfect antidote for Batman V Superman’s version of the character.