Action Comics #1000

Some of the best stories in comic books happen not in epic cross-overs or winding story arcs, but one-shot stories. To commemorate 80 years of Superman, Action Comics #1000 provides a small tome of one-shots. As part of the celebration, there’s a variant cover for each decade Superman has been leaping tall buildings. DC pulled out the kitchen sink in terms of writers and artists, and this 80-page extravaganza boasts a who’s who of talent.

Lee, Sale, and Bendis are all on deck as part of a small army. The heavily themed stories pull from classic visuals like Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns, and this book is excellence fan service. The stories all stay in the classic lanes of Superman, but the final one throws a curve. In a teaser for the upcoming Man of Steel run, it becomes apparent that Kryptonian history has a new page or two added.



John Wick #2
Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giovanni Valletta

Every great character has a great backstory. With Greg Pak (Planet Hulk) in the writer’s chair, Dynamite is giving us John Wick’s in an eponymous series. The muscular line work and angular art of Giovanni Valletta grace the page as we explore Baba Yaga’s more humble origins. Issue #2 pulls us deeper into the world of freelance assassin Wick before he became acquainted with the Continental or killed anyone with a pencil. El Paso, Texas is the setting for the reckoning John Wick has in store for some individuals from his childhood.

While the chaos and action we know John Wick for from the silver screen are evident, the art is paced. The more kinetic the action, the more like a snapshot the frame is. This keeps the detective/action yarn paced well, emphasizing the moments of quiet dialogue. As opposed to the flash-bang action of the film version, here, the set pieces are in understated, subtle movement and layered conversation.



Descender #29
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen

Descender is a unique comic. It blends typical science fiction with the high drama of space opera, and for good measure, Dustin Nguyen’s breath-taking pen and watercolor illustration. The end result feels something like if Haruki Murakami wrote a treatment for a Star Wars anthology story. The dreamy visuals are grounded in a tight storyline and powerful characters. Writer Jeff Lemire has taken the time to develop each and every character, no matter how minor.

The world-building leaves you wanting more, seeding the imagination with the ethereal visuals of a fantasy world. The grey moralisms underpinning the action keeps the moral compass of the story firmly fixed on Tim-21, a robot boy who may or may not be able to save the galaxy. Issue #29 brings us to a new storyline, The End of the Universe, slated for four installments. It’s been a long and twisting journey, and it seems that the road may be coming to an end. Given Descender’s story thus far, it’s anyone’s guess what happens to the universe.

We went across the board this week, and we’d love to know what you’re reading. Let us know what to look out for!