The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – February 17, 2021

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Future State the Next Batman #4 (of 4)

Publisher: DC
Words: Paula Sevenbergen, Vita Ayala, John Ridley
Art: Aneke, Emanuela Lupacchino, Laura Braga

What it is: The next Batman goes head-to-head with the Magistrate’s shock troops to protect the…guilty?! It’s a savage running battle across Gotham City, and it will have the next Dark Knight fighting overwhelming odds to prove that justice still lives in the heart of a broken city. In the finale of €œBatgirls, after discovering the person locked in the high-security cell is the one who’s been sending out €”œBatman Lives”€ signals to the Resistance, Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain must work together to make sure they take that person when they escape their prison! Plus, in the conclusion of Gotham City Sirens,€ Catwoman and the new android Siren hide out in Poison Ivy’€™s newly built paradise, where they discuss their past relationships, including what Catwoman has or had €”with Batman. But when Peacekeeper forces arrive, the new Siren will have to make a sacrifice to save her friends.

Why we love it: Future State has been mostly a miss in my opinion, and I think most fans are ready for it to become a thing of the past. The Next Batman has been fine, and I’m digging Jim Lee’s self-swipe cover on this final issue. But man, that $8 pricetag is a real turn-off. Fortunately the backstories are quality, so at least it feels like you are getting your money’s worth. I’m really looking forward to the conclusion of “Batgirls”, an excellent backup tale featuring Cassandra Caine and Stephanie Brown in a jailbreak caper.

The Mainstream One: Thor #12

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Donny Cates
Art: Nick Klein

What it is: DOCTORS FOSTER & BLAKE, READY YOUR SCALPELS! Once upon a time, Jane Foster and Donald Blake were more than friends. With Blake at her side, Jane could’ve shared the very throne of Asgard. Now…they are about to become the bitterest of enemies. And if Valkyrie falls, she’ll have lost more than a crown. All of the Ten Realms are at stake – not to mention the life of All-Father Thor! Rated T+

Why we like it: I thought Jane dodged the scalpel last issue, but looks like she’s going to throw down with her newly powered-up ex, Donald Blake. Plus I’m hopping we get some Throg action in this issue. Yeah I know I misspelled it, it was intentional.

The Indie One: We Live #5

Publisher: Aftershock
Words: Inaki Miranda, Roy Miranda
Art: Inaki Miranda

What it is: Extinction day hits humanity like a thunder of death. The countdown to extraction hits zero. The beacons activate and destiny speaks. Nothing will be like before. Not for Hototo. Not for Tala. Not for anyone.

Why we like it: This book has found new ways to drive daggers into my heart with each issue. It looks harmless on the outside, with kids dressed up in cute costumes and the bright, colorful landscapes. But inside, it is just filled with death and mayhem and tragedy. Good read though, highly recommended.

The #1 One: Shadow Doctor #1

Publisher: Aftershock
Words: Peter Calloway
Art: Georges Jeanty

What it is: Years in the making, this is the true story of writer Peter Calloway’s grandfather, Nathaniel Calloway, a Black man who graduated from medical school in the early 1930’s. Unable to get work at any Chicago hospitals because he was Black, and unable to secure a loan from a bank to start his own practice because he was Black, he turned to another source of money in Prohibition-era Chicago: the Mafia, run by none other than Al Capone. As Calloway himself says, ‘On the one hand, his story represents the promise of America. On the other hand, it shows the worst of it.’

Why we like it: I love a true story comic, especially when it deals with overlooked, untold pieces of history.  The American Dream is many things to different people, and is often only achievable through illegal means by those without access to the conventional channels for success.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Black Widow #5

Publisher: Marvel
Rafael De Latorre
Elena Casagrande
Cover Art: Adam Hughes

What it is: THE END IS ALSO THE BEGINNING… As Natasha finally begins to escape her paradise and takes aim on her enemies, she can’t ignore that her freedom comes at a devastating cost. Is this what finally breaks The BLACK WIDOW? Winning the day will change Natasha forever and set her on a bold new path. Losing… is no longer an option. Rated T+

Why we like it: It feels like AH! has been off his game for a bit. His recent covers have been good, but a noticeable drop in quality from his peak, when he was at DC doing his incredible cover runs for Catwoman and Wonder Woman. Hughes has done all of the A-covers for this entire Black Widow series, but this is the first one that I felt worthy of the list. Great composition and use of color, this feels both new and a return to his old form. Let’s hope he can keep this up!

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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