Staff Picks – Week of 31/10/2018

Batman: Secret Files #1
Various Creators

Adam says: This special Batman anthology is solid gold, through and through. Editor Jamie S. Rich has assembled an absurdly great line-up of creative talent for the five short stories featured here, and each team really delivers something unique.

We won’t say too much about the content of each tale and suffice to say the craft on show is strong throughout, but particular highlights include Jorge Fornés’ exquisite line work which recalls David Mazzucchelli; Cheryl Lynn Eaton asking some tough questions about The Batman’s priorities; Jordie Bellaire and Jill Thompson’s unexpected intimate portrait of an isolated Bruce Wayne, and Tom Taylor’s poignant character work with Detective Chimp.

Here’s hoping this issue marks an intention to bring in fresh voices to tell fresh, contained stories on a more regular basis.

Extermination #4
Ed Brisson (w), Pepe Larraz & Ario Anindito (a)

Scott says: Full disclosure, the five OG X-Men being shunted to the present is a story I’ve wanted to end almost as soon as it began, making this event a must-read for me from the get-go.

That said, after six years and a wide array of chops, changes and challenges, the moment the quintet depart requires a story capable of mirroring the momentous shake-up caused by their arrival. Thankfully, Extermination has been just that; this week’s issue four (of five) a wonderful example of why this series has been so engaging.

The issue picks up with the three X-teams in varying levels of jeopardy, trying as best they can to process the siege they’re under. And oh boy is it a siege! Ed Brisson has crafted a gripping sense of urgency and haphazard in all the dialogue, with Jean Grey in particular delivering some of the most militaristic, ‘I’m not playing around’ lines I’ve ever read her utter. Momentum is the key to this issue’s success – Brisson takes the reader from bleak scenario to bleak scenario, shifting emotions and levity, but never abandoning the overarching tone of defensive insecurity that has seeped into our mutant comrades. By the end of the issue, despite getting some answers to the ‘why?’s, we’re now left with a strong ‘WHAT?!’ shoving it’s way to the tip of our tongues.

I’d be remiss not to mention Pepe Larraz, whose art has been a tremendous accompaniment to the unfolding story and tone. Unlike the previous three issues, Larraz only provides layouts here, with Ario Anindito jumping onto pencils and proving a more-than-adequate fill-in (see: handsome yet stunned Sam Guthrie on page four).

The next and final issue of Extermination brings the fates of the five to a finish, and I’ll be right there, cheering m’gal Jean Grey (and the rest of the X-gang too, I guess) to victory… or survival… whichever comes first.