GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Futures End, X-Files, and a Ruby Throne

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Cover of Batwoman: Futures End #1 Image: DC Comics

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week we continue in the way of the freaky with The X-Files and Elric, as well as more installments of DC’s Futures End September event.

Sophie Brown — The X-Files Season 10 #16 by Joe Harris and art by Colin Lorimer and Francesco Francavilla

XFiles Season 10 #16 cover  Image: IDW Publishing
X-Files Season 10 #16 cover Image: IDW Publishing

The X-Files always kept apace with the big news stories of its day, referencing subjects including the Waco and Ruby Ridge sieges, Saddam Hussein, and Gulf War syndrome, and this issue continues that tradition.

Writing a comic about any current issue is always going to risk treading dangerous ground. Setting one that begins at a North Carolina abortion clinic in 2014 takes that risk level to new heights. Wherever you fall on the moral spectrum on this highly contentious issue, praise has to go to both writer Joe Harris and IDW publishing for tackling the subject.

The issue doesn’t tread softly through this territory.

The very first page shows protesters outside the clinic holding up placards with pictures of aborted fetuses and screaming “babykiller” and “murderer” at the young girl entering its gates. It’s shocking, more so in that this part of the story portrays nothing supernatural at all but daily life in many parts of the U.S. Once inside, the story has a chance to kick off when a bomb is detonated and Mulder and Scully are called in on what is honestly very little evidence. I found it quite incredible that the FBI would call these two into a highly sensitive case (and we all know Mulder’s history when it comes to dealing with small town folk and sensitive subjects) in on what could easily be a camera artifact on blurred CCTV footage.

My own misgivings aside, Mulder and Scully are soon in North Carolina interviewing witnesses and anyone else vaguely connected to the case.

The artwork here is stunning and the coloring is some of the best I’ve seen in the series so far, giving the entire thing an overbearing and frightening feel. It’s nice to see Scully handling a religious case again too. Her personal battles with faith and the episodes that explored that were always some of my favorite, and we see that a little once again here as she sees things Mulder is willing to explain away and assign to simple domestic terrorism.

The issue concludes with a simple yet ominous image that hints at something even more sinister coming in the story’s concluding issue next month. I hope we get to see more of Scully tackling this case and that the conclusion lives up to what is a very promising beginning.

Age Recommendation: Teen and up.

Lisa Tate — Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne (based on the novels by Michael Moorcock) by Julien Blondel and art by Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, and Robin Recht

Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne  Image: Titan Comics
Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne Image: Titan Comics

Every fantasy and science fiction writer strives to have that signature world and character for which they are best known; one that fans can’t wait to read, and artists love to interpret. For author Michael Moorcock, that character is likely Elric. Titan Comics Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne, written by Julien Blondel and illustrated by Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, and Robin Recht, has gained the respect and approval of Moorcock himself.

After a thousand years of rule, Elric, whose longevity spawns from his addition of medicinal herbs, is seeing his kingdom falling apart before him, as his cousin, Yyrkoon, plots to take over the Ruby Throne.

Moorcock, who first debuted his anti-hero, the albino emperor Elric of Melniboné, in the 1960s and 1970s, gave this graphic novel adaptation his full endorsement. There are often comparisons of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings, but Moorcock’s dark and gothic world of betrayal, loyalty, vengeance, and love is also a viable predecessor.

I had never read the novel version of Elric, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I did find the continual cruel and graphic torture and bloodletting of humans by the Melnibonéan race in fully illustrated form very off-putting and downright depressing. I realize it was intended to reflect early on the ruthless nature of the main race of people in this story, but after a while the piles of naked people wallowing in gore just seemed to get in the way of an otherwise interesting and well-crafted story.

Fantasy and science fiction lovers–myself included–might do best to stick to the novels, and leave the graphic novel version to those whose taste veers towards the horror stylings of Clive Barker or Eli Roth.

Age Recommendation: Mature

Corrina — Futures EndBatwoman #1 by Marc Andreyko and Jason Masters, Futures End: Wonder Woman #1 by Charles Soule and Rags Morales, Futures End: Superman/Wonder Woman #1 by Charles Soule and Bart Sears, Futures End: Justice League #1 by Jeff Lemire and Jed Dougherty, and Futures End: Batman and Robin #1 by Ray Fawkes and Dustin Nguyen

I’ve been disappointed with the vast majority of DC Comics for years now and I fully expected that to continue with the apostrophe-less Futures End issues set five years in the DC universe future. Thus, when I set down the stack sent by DC this week, it was with surprise. This were all readable. Some were fun. None were duds. Between this and new series like Gotham Academy, I may have to revise my overall opinion of the DC line.

Batwoman was the issue I’d been dreading. A pale-skinned lesbian becomes a vampire. Unimaginative. But the issue isn’t about that, not really. Kate Kane, now completely irredeemable, is hunted down by her sister, Alice, who has reformed. And so there’s a final confrontation between the sisters in a church that ends sadly but seems absolutely appropriate given their history.

A two-part story begins in Wonder Woman and concludes in Superman/Wonder Woman but this is really a WW solo story, focusing on her role as the new God of War and her battle with nemesis. Again, I expected to cringe at the use of Princess McStabby Sword as WW’s main personality but, instead, this concluded on a positive note that shows writer Charles Soule may actually get Wonder Woman. Oh, sure, the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship is in there and it’s still boring but it works as a friendship. (Which is always did.)

Futures End #1: Batman and Robin features yet another partner for Batman, a young man who was instrumental in helping Bruce Wayne survive his year-long Year Zero adventure. They’re up against Leviathan, who may or may not be a clone of Damian Wayne, Bruce’s dead son. But mostly the story is about Batman allowing people to help him. I thought it would end badly but, hey, another hopeful ending.

I’m not sure what Futures End: Justice League #1 was but it was interesting. The team seems to be an amalgam of space-based DC characters, the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice League. But it all works, as they stop a breakout on a prison planet maintained by the Martian Manhunter. I expected the heroes to get slaughtered but, surprisingly, yet another one where heroes win.

DC better stop this or else I’ll start thinking they might be publishing actual superhero comics again.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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Astro City Through Open Doors TP
Astro City Victory HC
Batman And Robin Futures End #1
Batman Eternal #24
Batman Superman Futures End #1
Batman Unwrapped The Court Of Owls HC
Batwoman Futures End #1
Fables #144
Forever Evil Arkham War TP
Godzilla Awakening TP
Gotham Central Special Edition #1
Green Lantern New Guardians Futures End #1
Infinite Crisis The Fight For The Multiverse #3
Justice League Futures End #1
Multiversity The Society Of Super-Heroes Conquerors Of The Counter-World #1
New 52 Futures End #20
New Teen Titans Vol. 1 TP
Red Hood And The Outlaws Futures End #1
Scribblenauts Unmasked A Crisis Of Imagination #9 (Final Issue) Kid-Friendly
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #2
Supergirl Futures End #1
Superman Wonder Woman Futures End #1
Superman Wonder Woman Vol. 1 Power Couple HC
Teen Titans Futures End #1
Toe Tags Featuring George Romero TP
Trinity Of Sin Pandora Futures End #1
Unwritten Tommy Taylor And The Ship That Sank Twice TP
Unwritten Vol. 2 Apocalypse #9
Wonder Woman Futures End #1
All-New X-Factor #14
All-New X-Men #32
Avengers #35
Avengers Vol. 4 Infinity TP
Avengers World #13
Daredevil #8
Dark Tower The Drawing Of The Three The Prisoner #2 (Of 5)
Deadpool Bi-Annual #1
Edge Of Spider-Verse #2 (Of 5) New Mini-Series
Elektra #6
Figment #3 (Of 5)
Hulk #6
Hulk Annual #1
Indestructible Hulk Vol. 3 S.M.A.S.H. Time TP
Miles Morales The Ultimate Spider-Man #5
Nova #21 GeekMom Recommended
Original Sin #5.5
Savage Hulk #4 New Series
Sub-Mariner And The Original Human Torch TP
Superior Spider-Man #33
Thor God Of Thunder #25
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man By Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 5 TP
Uncanny Avengers #24
Uncanny Avengers Vol. 3 Ragnarok Now TP
Uncanny X-Men #26
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. HC
Wolverine And The X-Men #9
X-Men The Adventures Of Cyclops And Phoenix TP
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Doberman #3
Godzilla Cataclysm #2 (Of 5)
Judge Dredd #23
Littlest Pet Shop #5 (Of 5) Kid Friendly Final Issue
Maxx Maxximized #11
Super Secret Crisis War Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends #1 Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles in Time #4 (Of 4)
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #33
Transformers Phase One Omnibus TP
X-Files Season 10 #16
Authentic Accounts Of Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities Omnibus TP
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #123
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #7
Complete Silencers TP
Criminal Macabre The Third Child #1 (Of 4)
Dark Horse Presents #2
Eye Of Newt #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Ghost Vol. 2 The White City Butcher TP
Good Luck Trolls Mystery Box Assortment Series 4
Leaving Megalopolis HC GeekMom Recommended
Red Moon HC
Savage Sword Of Conan Vol. 17 TP
Strain The Night Eternal #2 New Series
Witchfinder The Mysteries Of Unland #4 (Of 5)

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review copy of some of these titles.