Two rival franchises, and a pick that will seem like it’s out of nowhere this week. Sometimes, great comics come from unexpected places!
Also, a quick note: I will note if I receive anything free from a publisher. If not, I paid for it just like anyone else! If someone wants to send me free stuff, I’ll read it, and if it’s one of the best things I read, I’ll tell everyone about it! But that’s not the general mode of this column; the only bias is my own tastes.
Now onto the comics!
This issue mostly focuses on Hikaru Sulu’s days at the Academy. I’m loving these backstory issues – maybe the history of these characters has been fleshed out before in the hundreds of novels and comics before, but coming from just the TV show and the J.J. Abrams movie, it’s really nice to see where some of these characters are coming from.
Sulu’s a cadet who is being recruited by the secretive and elite Red Squad (who later would go on to have a similar experience with Wesley Crusher.) Sulu remarks that this is his fast track to Captain, and if he doesn’t make it he’ll be stuck behind the helm for years. So, it’s not exactly a secret how it will turn out, but it’s the way it unfolds that paints a strong picture of him as a principled, honorable, and brave young man. He’s in many ways more of a hero than Kirk ever could be.
Also in this issue in a lesser degree is cadet Chekov. He’s young and very nerdy and not very wise. He’s got some delightful Chess posters on his wall, which Kirk can’t help but comment on. We find that Chekov had a role to play in Kirk’s infamous Kobiyashi Maru manouver. For Checkov, this isn’t as defining of an issue, but it’s nice to see his path and Sulu’s intersect before Enterprise.
Star Wars #5
And my outer 30-something-year-old is pretty happy too. These are good stories.
Most of the issue focuses on Leia and her squadron getting pinned down by Imperials, and having a space battle. It’s a well drawn battle scene, with lots of space tactics and explody tie fighters.
Meanwhile, Han and Chewie are in their own mess of trouble back on Coruscant, the heart of the Empire. None other than Boba Fett is hot on their heels, with his pal Bossk. Fortunately, our favorite scoundrel (sorry, Nathan Fillion!) runs into another smuggler, and seems to have made a tough bargain.
Plus, Luke is hearing voices that sound like his dead mentor (where could that lead?) and Darth Vader is working on – shock – a new Death Star, to replace the one that Skywalker just blew up!
Life With Archie #29
Not /this/ Archie title. It’s actually two books in one. The first half is a present where Archie is in his mid-twenties and has married the love of his live, Veronica Lodge. The second half is where Archie has married the love of his life, Betty Cooper. They actually did some sci-fi stuff with the universes crossing over, which felt like the expected end of the series. But they correctly realized what they were doing was so good, they tied that storyline up and kept both realities going!
In the Veronica half, most of the focus is on Kevin Keller, the gay friend of the modern Archie gang. He’s running for Senate on a gun control platform, and Veronica is his campaign manager. Meanwhile, Pop Tate and Jughead are getting suspicious about corporate shenanigans at the Choklit Shoppe chain (which Jughead now runs the Riverdale franchise of), Reggie and his wife Betty deal with manufactured drama on the Reality Show about their life, and Archie rails against cookie-cutter pre-programmed bands at his new job managing a record label.
In the Betty half, Betty’s gotten a big promotion to Vice Principal and Archie gets some needed advice from his parents about how to be a supportive husband when his wife is being consumed by work, Cheryl Blossom finds love while struggling with breast cancer, Reggie works on keeping his father’s newspaper going after his father’s heart attack and refuses to endorse Kevin Keller’s senate run (which he seems destined to do in both timelines), Jughead’s little sister Jellybean falls in with a bad seed, and the widowed Mr. Weatherbee finds a kindred soul and new happiness.
These are relevant, adult stories. And they’re extremely well handled. Our familiar characters have made lives for themselves, found some measure of success and had some setbacks. And it’s all handled with heart, in a world that’s just a little better than our own. This is the Riverdale I want to live in, and I hope I can keep reading about it for a long time. Give it a shot, it just might surprise you!