Icon & Rocket float above a city, side-by-side, facing the reader.

Icon & Rocket Return! Comic Book Reviews 7/28

It feels like we’re under the second Reign of the Supermen with three Superman books out this week, two of them being new number ones. We have the long awaited Superman: Son of Kal-El, headed by Tom Taylor, and the continually amazing Action Comics. Both stun and amaze, but the most important one, is the return of Icon & Rocket.

Milestone continues its return with my two favorite characters from the Dakotaverse, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s awesome to have the closest thing the Dakotaverse has to a Superman back in the pages of a comic book. Its a crime that Icon and his sidekick, Rocket, have gone so long without being in a series of any kind. Thankfully, DC rectifies that here.

Icon & Rocket: Season One #1

Written by: Reginald Hudlin

Art by: Doug Braithwaite 

Inking by: Scott Hanna, Andrew Currie

Coloring by: Brad Anderson

Lettering by: Andworld Design

Now, I must preference that Icon & Rocket are two very important superheroes to me. They’re more important to me than a superhero should be. Icon & Rocket are two of Milestone’s first superheroes. This makes Icon the first black Superman-inspired character and Rocket the first black superhero sidekick. I actually started reading their original series recently, so my love, while newly found, burns hot. 

So I must admit, I’m conflicted by how this opening issue completely retreads the original series first issues. It goes over Icon’s origins again, and his first meeting with Rocket, albeit, in a more streamlined way. This works to introduce new fans to Icon & Rocket, and re-introduces fans who haven’t seen them in a while. 

In fact, this streamlined origin is the perfect way to introduce them to someone knew. I can’t say the same for old fans because I wasn’t terribly entertained. I felt like I already knew this story, because I did. 

They do change Rocket’s characterization, seemingly a lot. Rocket is more naïve and hopeful, even demure at times, rather than the loud and brash kid she originally was. It keeps the core of her character, but she’s going to seem unrecognizable unless putting on the costume changes her attitude. It’s too early to say if this is for better or worse. The creative team captures her voice well, but its strangely unfamiliar, so we have to wait and see.

Icon’s characterization is closer to the original series. He’s just as judging as he was when he first started, and just as reticent to help other people. If the creative team is truly bringing him back to square one, and not changing his beliefs, Icon will be an incredibly polarizing character. He’s a black man who lost his ability to emphasize with the plight of the black community. Becoming Icon with Rocket’s help is how he learns to have and use empathy again. 

People will not like it at first, but the dialogue is intelligent and purposeful, so it can tell an honest and truthful story about bringing two opposing sides of the black community together. 

Icon & Rocket #1 doesn’t have any surprises, but its more than worth reading. Whether as a single issue or on DC Universe, you’ll make me real sad if you don’t read it.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #1

Jonathan Kent flying over a city, looking down, smiling. One of the other Superman comics alongside Icon & Rocket and Action Comics.
Jonathan Kent wears the shield, now he earns it.

Written by: Tom Taylor

Art by: John Timms

Coloring by: Gabe Eltaeb

Lettering by: Dave Sharpe

I am a rare breed of DC fan who likes, maybe even loves Jonathan Kent as a teenager. In fact, I loved him as an adult Superman in DCeased, and I like him in the current run of Action Comics. One of those was written by Tom Taylor, so it makes sense I also love him here. 

I’ve regained my love for Superman over the years, but it’s still difficult to come terms with how he’s both a symbol a hope, and at times a symbol of the status quo. Having Clark challenge himself while his son protects Earth is the perfect step forward to me. I wish they hadn’t created a new origin so Jon’s birth wasn’t during Convergence, but this creative team still perfectly captures each every character who appeared in it. 

It’s hard not to give credit to Taylor considering how he gets to the core of every character he writes. Even in Injustice, where characters were evil versions of themselves, it felt like he wanted to write the real them, making the characters remember and flashback to who they used to be. Here, Taylor has Jon instead looking forward to who he wants to be. 

This status quo of Superman trying to fight the problems rather than the symptoms feels fitting for our time. I especially love how it ties into Jon Kent being Lois Lane’s son as much as Clark Kent’s. He’s going to investigate and find what’s causing the problems so he can fix them, or at least try.

In a year with excellent and hopeful Superman content, this one feels especially so.

Action Comics #1033

Supergirl, Superman, and Jonathan Kent descend with the sun at their backs.
The Super-fam came to box.

Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Art by: Daniel Sampere

Coloring by: Adriano Lucas

Lettering by: Dave Sharpe 

The best stories make you argue with yourself. They present both sides to conflict, which presents two sides to a conversation. The creative team here has me going back and forth on what’s the right thing to do. The answer is not necessarily Superman’s, at least not in the way one would easily think. 

Whether it be the Atlanteans vs humanity over the story’s McGuffin, or the freed slave from Warworld and her obsession with her chains. Years of distrust not only between nations but between characters and their inner selves play against each other expertly here. I’m still pacing thinking about what I read as I try to write this.

This is more than a Superman story as it sets up action across several different fronts. This is honestly the best series coming out of Infinite Frontier and I’m glad I jumped on it. Every issue that this creative team has done has me itching for the next one.

It helps that the art is drop dead gorgeous too. The shot of the Super-fam, and then the last page spread of Lois Lane, will be ones to remember at the end of the year.

Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1

Huntress stands on the stairs on the side of building, looking down, pointing her crossbow at some unseen person.
Huntress about to merk a man.

Written by: Mariko Tamaki

Art by: David Lapham

Coloring by: Trish Mulvihill

Lettering by: Rob Leigh

Huntress is a character who deserves an ongoing series, or at least a mini every other year. She’s had neither for a long time, having been relegated to backups, guest appearances, and the now long-gone Birds of Prey comic. 

Huntress has got a lot going for her to make a good story. Her personality leads to her toeing the line between being a superhero and an anti-hero, and her background as the daughter of a mafia kingpin gives her real, digestible conflict. She has so much surrounding her to make for an amazing story, and for her one-shot… we have her fighting zombies? 

They’re not really zombies. They’re being mind-controlled by a dude who releases gross insects into people, Xenomorph-style. That being said, they are functionally zombies without any of the fun of zombies. 

This book does get good about halfway through, with the creative team utilizing Huntress’s unique voice, but by then it feels too little too late. This character deserves a comic that’s built around her, not a tie-in to a Batman book. A Batman book I might add, that I recently dropped for how much its been dragging on the plot.

This issue doesn’t demonstrate what a good Huntress story can be, and I hope it doesn’t keep her from showing up more.

S.W.O.R.D. #7

The team of Sword, Frenzy, Manifold, and Abigail brand, standing alongside Hulkling, the kind of space.
Alpha Flight who?

Written by: Al Ewing

Art by: Stephano Caselli

Coloring by: Protobunker’s Fer Sifuentes-Sujo

Lettering by: VC’s Ariana Maher

Design by: Tom Mueller

I can only imagine how amazing this series would be if it weren’t constantly tying-in to events. It’s hard to complain though, because the creative team continues to near flawlessly weave their story into the events of the Marvel universe. They’ve truly made it so that S.W.O.R.D. lives up to its name as the Sol System’s first intergalactic defense and response.

The way this issue continues the plot is commendable because it’s about characters who aren’t a part of S.W.O.R.D. Yet, in the background, Abigail Brand makes big steps in securing her control in the galaxy. She works throughout the issue, but it’s blink and you miss it. But that’s okay, the issue reveals its secrets at the end so you have to go back and reread it even more satisfying second read. 

This issue is one of the weaker ones for that reason too though. Yes, the conversation between Storm and Doom was easily one of the best dinner scenes I’ve ever read. But, the fight to defend the Kree/Skrull empire was a bit less so. With a new artist, the fights scenes didn’t really pop like they have in prior issues. It doesn’t help that the characters in the action either don’t have all that interesting powers, or never really used them. This is one of those rare occurrences where the creatives didn’t take full advantage of the characters they had. Comics are still a visual medium, and the visuals were kind of plain compared to previous issues.

Side note, for X-fans who trying to follow the overall X-plot, this issue can’t be missed. The Storm/Doom conversation especially, is something that will have grand ramifications if everything said was true. So while this issue isn’t one of the series’ best, it’s still one of the best on the shelves, and worth picking up this week.

Black Widow #9

Black Widow looks at the camera while dressed like Captain America.
America who?

Written by: Kelly Thompson

Art by: Elena Casagrande, Rafael De Latorre

Inking by: Elisabetta D’Amico, Rafael De Latorre

Coloring by: Jordie Bellaire 

Lettering by: VC’s Cory Petit

This issue feels like a transitionary issue. It’s needed to set up the climax, but between the all bombastic stuff that happened last issue and likely will next issue, not much was left for this one. There wasn’t much in the way of character development for the most interesting characters, nor was there much room for the plot. That should make it all the more impressive that what can feel like filler is so entertaining. 

New series characters, Craig and Lucy become fully-realized in just a few scenes. Lucy already was, but I wasn’t expecting her to help another character feel so real so fast. It’s incredible how quickly the creatives built up these two. Their backgrounds are easy to grasp from the get go, as are their motivations, and I wouldn’t be shocked by either of them making a heroic sacrifice by the end of this arc. It’s an incredible feat, that’s making me wait with anticipation for the next issue.

At the same time, I still think this issue is filler. We’re not reading this book for some guy named Craig or some girl named Lucy. In fact, this issue makes a clear shift towards feeling inconsequential and quite transitionary. 

Once the issue changes art styles, things seemed to have less weight. The new art style was still great, but it was immediately noticeable, and that took me out of the story. My expectations lowered, because it felt like the creative or editorial team lowered it themselves. If it was through storytelling, that would be fine, but a changing art style is not the way to do that.

Icon & Rocket Lead Many Superman this Week

It may seem hypocritical of me to celebrate so many Superman books after complaining about the excess pf Batman books. To anyone who actually minds this, let me point out that most Batman books are all about the same Batman. This week, we may have had three different Superman books, but we also had three different Supermen. Icon & Rocket: Season One #1 isn’t going to win any awards, but its a good start; Superman: Son of Kal-El sparks a fresh new beginning with Jon Kent as Superman; and at the same time, Action Comics charts an equally refreshing path for the original Superman himself. 

Superman fans and Milestone fans ate today as they deserved to. Oh, and X-Men books were really good. The real question now is, how long before the House of El comes back to Action Comics? No, I will not stop talking about Theand’r.

Leave a Reply