Single Minded: Boom! Studios Titles for February 1, 2012

It's another top of the month, and time for more single issues!  What's Boom! Studios up to that looks good to me?  Let's find out!

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #4.  Written by Corrina Bechko and Gabriel Hardman.  Illustrated by Gabriel Hardman.  Everything comes to a head as the prison riot, the rogue human, and the surviving counselors all collide with the apes who are running a shadow government within the military.  Just about everyone has a secret, but which one of the players in our drama holds one that can rock the entire Planet of the Apes to its foundations?

I'm really sorry to see this one go, but I couldn't have asked for a better ending.  We've been led all along to believe certain things are true, but as the name of the mini-series implies, some of the truths we've come to accept aren't valid at all.  Bechko and Hardman weave this deception into the story without the reader feeling cheated and along the way find time to move the world of the Apes just a bit closer to the situation we're familiar with from the movies.

Once again, Hardman's art is perfect here, giving us a dark world with a lot of shadows and creepy elements, without making it too hard to understand what is going on.  The layouts are dramatic and work well with the story, which makes sense, given he's the co-writer.

I came into this one with little hope, but left it not only eagerly awaiting the next chapter in the Apes saga from Bechko and Hardman (and new artist Marc Laming) but also seeking out the other comics tie-ins.  This was a cool comic that doesn't require much Apes knowledge beyond the basics and is highly recommended, either in single form or the upcoming trade.

Valen the Outcast #3.  Written by Michael Alan Nelson.  Illustrated by Matteo Scalera.  When you're an undead former king who struggles to maintain your own identity in the face of a powerful force that wants you dead, friends are hard to come by.  So when Zjanna looks to be turned to the side of evil, can a desire to spare her mean the end for Valen?  And if he can stop her murderous rage, will there be any help for him in the land of thieves?  Find out in this third issue!

This series is really growing on me, as Nelson finds his footing and is able to branch the idea of a warrior on a quest into some really cool and interesting directions.  I like the idea that Valen is so committed to the idea of his--or anyone else's--humanity that he refuses to believe all is lost for anyone, regardless of the circumstances.  Zjanna being the villain worked better than I thought it would, and I love the fact that not only was Valen pitted against her, he had to deal with Cordovan's lack of morals and a setting that could be as deadly as Zjanna.  The whole thing worked extremely well and let nicely to a betrayal of another kind that leads to further complications.

My only complaint here is Scalera's artwork struggled to keep up with Nelson's script.  Despite all the action and movement and drama, the characters felt very stiff to me and the depictions chosen for some of the key moments did not do their best to compliment the writing in my opinion.  However, even with some art issues, I like this one better with each passing issue.

Incorruptible #26.  Written by Mark Waid.  Illustrated by Marcio Takara.  I'm cheating a bit again, as this came out last week, but since it links to Irredeemable, I like to put the two together.  In this conclusion of the origin stories, we learn just how Max Damage came to be the metahuman he is today, showing that his penchant for thinking simply and linearly didn't start when he became a hero.  The final pieces of the Max Damage-Plutonian puzzle are revealed here in the last part of the crossover with Irredeemable.

Well, that was anti-climatic.  I really, really wanted a battle between Max and Tony, with the earth itself in the middle.  I kept wait and waiting for it to happen in this crossover, but no such luck.  Instead, we got two parallel origin stories which were excellent but could just as easily have existed without the expectations of a crossover.  I'm a little unsure of the marketing that went into this set of four issues, as I can't help but think I wasn't the only person who was disappointed by the lack of present-day fisticuffs between these two.  Maybe another time?

The story itself was quite good, especially if you divorce it from the pressure of a crossover.  Max, tired of losing to the Wolf Boy, tries everything and risks his very life to get power on the level of Plutonian.  It's cool to see Max's origin, but I think the thing I liked best was his earnest feeling that doing so would protect his fellow thieves from harm.  It shows Max's mindset is not quite so abrupt, after all.  I'll be curious to see where we go from here.  I like this series a lot--sometimes more than its counterpart--but I also wonder just how much mileage is left in the idea.  Only Mark Waid knows, and we all know he's not telling!  Next issue is a good jumping in point, as it has to start a new arc, if you want to give it a try.

Irredeemable #34.  Written by Mark Waid.  Illustrated by Diego Barreto and Damian Couceiro.  With the Plutonian seemingly facing impossible odds, his saviors are Qubit and Max Damage?   A strange alliance is formed with the long-term survival of the human race hanging in the balance.  What will Tony do for a chance at redemption and what will Qubit do to get him to help his plans?  As usual, the answers aren't pretty and if anything, everyone involved is even more irredeemable.

Picking up from the great reveal of last issue, Waid explains some things that have been festering for the past few issues and prepares us for the next round of good intentions that are almost certainly going to lead the characters down the road to hell.  Qubit's sequences are, as usual, the highlight of the issue, but I think Max Damage gets the best lines in his cameo.  His comments to Qubit will be, I think prophetic.  As with any Waid story, things are linking together and flowing naturally, piece by piece, as every action taken by characters in the book sets off a new chain of events, keeping the book fresh even as it starts moving towards year four.

This issue is a strong return after what I thought were some of the weaker moments in the book during the crossover.  Waid has a strong hand at the rudder of this crazy storyline and I can't wait to see where it goes next.  This is a good starting point for new readers, as we're moving into a new set of stories while others die down.  If you haven't read Irredeemable yet, give it a try now.  I think you'll be hooked off the opening sequence alone, which is worth the price of admission.

That's what looked good to me from Boom! this week.  Thanks as always to Boom! for giving me preview copies.  Look for me to get even more single minded as the week goes on!