KK’s Keen Comics, February 13th, 2013 Releases

This was a relatively small week for me, due to the quirkiness of comic scheduling. Still, thanks to Brian Wood, there’s a couple of standouts for me to highlight. (Next week is going to make up for it with a very heavy box of comics to read!)

Star Wars #2

Star Wars #2 Cover

I mentioned this before as a series to keep an eye on, and the second issue continues to deliver. What happens when you take one of the best writers in comics, Brian Wood, and let him loose on the classic Star Wars universe? Very good things. J.J. Abrams, start taking notes.

There’s a page in this issue that has Leia watching a tourism video for Alderaan. There’s more emotional content here than in anything George Lucas ever made. Of course it’s a big deal that her home planet is lost. Seeing her deal with this, and then pull herself together as the leader the Rebel Alliance needs her to be gives her a depth that she’s never had before, and it’s a wonderful thing.

The main storyline has Leia assembling a black ops team. It seems like a fairly standard “We have an Imperial Spy in our midst” storyline, but the characters assembled (including Wedge and Luke) are all X-Wing pilots, and it’s unclear exactly what Leia’s got planned for them, but they seem an interesting collection of characters. And they get nifty black X-Wings, so that’s something.

There’s also a new villain introduced. Colonel Bircher is an Imperial officer that reminds us of what we love about the Empire of this era. Disciplined, harsh, and ruthless. He’s a smart and connected adversary, with a Star Destroyer and his own legion of Stormtroopers. I wouldn’t mind seeing him match wits with our Rebels for some time to come.

And there’s a bookend of Han Solo and Chewbacca. Dodging Bounty Hunters, they make it to Coruscant, the heart of the Empire. They have some sort of mission from Leia, and seem intent on finishing it and making off with their reward from their heroics at the end of A New Hope. I suspect it will not be so simple.

It’s engaging stuff. Check it out!

Ultimate X-Men #22

Ultimate X-Men #22 Cover
Also by Brian Wood, he’s been having a great run on this alternate-universe X-Men title.

A little background on what the ‘Ultimate’ means on Marvel titles. At some point, Marvel decided (not without cause) that their titles were difficult for new readers to penetrate, with decades of complex continuity. Additionally, comic book conventions are a special sort of thing, which sometimes seem silly or weird if you’re not used to them. So they created the Ultimate line, fresh and modern versions of their more popular characters. The Ultimate universe is a darker place, where death is more serious than in the main universe, governments and other powers are not very welcoming of super powered beings, and there isn’t nearly as much of a status quo to reset things to.

A decade or so in, the Ultimate universe now has its own set of complicated continuity, and hasn’t entirely kept all of the original promises, but it still remains a darker universe, and a place that someone can tell good stories, and that’s what we have here.

The mutant population has had a rough time. Not long ago, after mutant relations went spectacularly wrong, most of them were rounded up and living in camps in the American Southeast. Thanks to the leadership of one Kitty Pryde, they’ve liberated the camps, and made a deal for a small amount of arid desert land to establish a new mutant homeland.

Of course, there’s a lot of the world that doesn’t like them much, and it’s not clear at all who is exactly sending in military jets to try and take them down. And there’s a serious internal schism among the mutant population, Tony Stark trying to do some nation building and teaching the young mutants how to survive politically, the threat of world changing mutant seeds that could end hunger (and not being well received by the agricultural conglomerates of the world), intrigue, betrayal, all sorts of good stuff.

And, unlike the regular mutant titles, there’s just one self-contained book to be worried about. (To be fair, it occasionally crosses storylines with the other Ultimate titles, but much less than the main mutant books do that sort of thing.)

How about the rest of you? Anything delight you at your comic store or digital download list?

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