In The Bag: February 17, 2016

One of the hardest things about reading comics is knowing where to start. Your LCS carries hundreds of titles and gets dozens of issues in every week on new comic-book day. On top of that, many comics have complex mythologies and backstories that make it hard to just pick up any random issue and have a clue what is going on.

That’s why Heroic Girls recommends comics every week that are excellent “jumping on” points for new readers. Without further ado, here are our picks for the week of February 17, 2016.

Astro City #32

Astro City #32 - Cover by Alex Ross
Astro City #32 – Cover by Alex Ross

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is one of the best ongoing titles in comics today. Together with longtime collaborators Brent Anderson (pencils) and Alex Ross (covers and designs), Busiek creates a world the  is both brand new and strangely familiar — playing with the idea that a word filled with superheroes is a setting rather than a genre.

While the capes and tights set do battle intergalactic threats and super powered villains, the focus in Astro City is usually on the people standing nearby. A woman who works as a secretary for a super-powered family, an older hero looking to raise a family, and in this installment: a former supervillain who is trying to be the hero of his run down neighborhood.

This issue begins a new storyline, and marks the return of Steeljack, a villain/hero that Busiek introduced us to once before. You don’t need much backstory to understand what is happening in this issue though. Steeljack has retired from villainy and is trying to make it a private investigator, when suddenly a woman from his past shows up and causes trouble.

It’s classic hard-boiled detective tropes seen through the prism of a world with superpowers, and as usual, it works phenomenally well.

Mighty Thor #4

Mighty Thor #4 - cover by Michael Cho
Mighty Thor #4 – cover by Michael Cho

I never do this, but I am judging a book by its cover. Just look at the gorgeous art Michael Cho is giving us this week on this variant cover for Thor #4. It is simply phenomenal. The story inside that cover is pretty darn good as well.

The new female Thor continues to fight for what is right as all of the nine realms are in danger of falling to war and strife. Malkeith the Accursed, leader of the dark elves of Nifelheim, has created a dark alliance of villains that Thor has virtually no chance of beating. Frost giants, elves, the Enchantress and an evil oil company (aren’t they all, though) have all allied against our neophyte heroine.

To make thing worse, Odin the Allfather, king of the gods is back after an extended absence, and as he re-establishes a despotic patriarchy he threatens to embroil all of Asgard in a civil war!

Power Man and Iron Fist #1

Power Man and Iron Fist #1 - cover by Chris Visions
Power Man and Iron Fist #1 – cover by Chris Visions

After spending a few decades apart, Marvel’s original power couple are getting back together. I have to admit, this is  a bit of a blind buy for me, but I have always loved these two heroes who were born from ’70s exploitation films (blacksploitation and chop-socky kung fu, respectively.)

Luke Cage (Power Man) and Danny Rand (Iron Fist) have gotten back together to clean up the mean streets of New York City. The art looks great and I am really digging Luke with a beard, button-down shirt and a vest.

Both of these characters are getting the Netflix treatment as series in the next few years, so expect more than a few mentions of Cage’s wife, Jessica Jones. I’m rolling the dice on this one, but I have a good feeling.

Secret Six #11

Secret Six #11 - cover by Dale Eaglesham
Secret Six #11 – cover by Dale Eaglesham

Gail Simone’s Secret Six is proving to be every bit as engaging in its second iteration as it was the first time around. Told from the point of view of a team of down on their luck supervillains, Secret Six achieves the amazing goal of making you want the bad guys to win, no matter what the consequences, as long as they treat each other with honor — which they do.

In the last story, arc the team fought hero and villain alike as they almost brought about the end the entire world in a desperate attempt to save one of their own. But there is no rest for the wicked, as this issue kicks off a new story line. A terrifying new enemy has targeted one of the team, and as a bonus: Catman squares off against Batgirl.

Tomb Raider #1

Tomb Raider #1 - cover by Agustin Alessio
Tomb Raider #1 – cover by Agustin Alessio

Lara Croft’s adventures continue in this sequel to the award-winning video game “Rise of the Tomb Raider.” As a character, Croft was most famously known for her chest size rather than her characterization or gameplay. But as videogame technology has matured, so have the people making them.

The latest take on Croft emphasises her competence, intelligence and tenacity — rather than her physical attributes. With Eisner Award winning writer Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer) handling story duties, Croft may finally be the successor to Indiana Jones that we were hoping for.