This Week In Comics: A Tale Of Two Exits, 'Saga' #13 Reviewed, And More

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"Justice League 3000" #1 Cover by Kevin Maguire

By Matt D. Wilson

Each week, Matt Wilson, co-host of the War Rocket Ajax podcast and author of the Supervillain Field Manual, examines a major comic news item and picks a few winners and one loser among the week's comic book releases.

The past week saw two high-profile creators make their departures from books at the two major publishers. One was a writer, the other an artist; one was at Marvel, the other at DC. And they could not have been handled more differently.

On the one had, you have Matt Fraction leaving "Fantastic Four" and "FF." By all indications, this is happening well before Fraction's intended exit from the books. He's the solicited writer for issues beyond his "Fantastic Four" #12 and "FF" #11, for one.

The story here is one of necessity. Marvel's senior vice president of publishing, Tom Brevoort, said Fraction's simply got too much on his plate with the upcoming "Inhumanity" event and the "Inhumans" series that will spin out of it. His plans will be passed down to new writers Karl Kesel and Lee Allred.

Are we getting the full story? Maybe not. But all we've heard from Fraction is that "it sucks for me, too." At the very least, Fraction got the opportunity to re-launch a couple major comics and put his stamp on them for about a dozen issues each.

Let's contrast that with what happened to Kevin Maguire. Originally slated as the artist for "Justice League 3000," he announced via Twitter that he had apparently been fired. DC Comics later confirmed that announcement with news that Howard Porter would be the new artist on the book, and that it was being delayed from October to December.

On the Bleeding Cool forums, Maguire explained why he was fired months before the title was supposed to start:

"I’ve been told they wanted a book that was 'dark and gritty,' so I’m perplexed as to why they chose us for that."

So on the one hand, you have a seemingly amicable situation where a creator leaves a book because he's simply got too much going on; on the other, you seemingly have a publisher who doesn't know what it wants making changs to something before it even gets off the ground.

Both those assessments may not be entirely fair. It's hard to know what really happens in the buildup to one of these announcements. But perception is often reality to the fan/commentator. In one case, you have fans wishing Fraction well and expressing disappointment in his departure mixed with hope for the future of the books. On the other, you have a ton of criticism for another creator fired off a book before it even gets going.

Timing may be everything, but PR is important, too.

And now the comics of the week!

The Winners

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"Saga" #13

(Image Comics, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples)

Every time I read "Saga," it feels like the issue is over before it even really gets going. But that's a good thing, right? It's not like this issue doesn't have quite a bit going on in it, including a wonderfully rendered fight with some semi-sentient bones and an unexpected encounter for The Will. I just wish they could pump out more pages each month, you know?

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"Batman '66" #7

(DC Comics, by Jeff Parker and Joe Quinones)

This is the comic that introduces Harley Quinn to "Batman '66" continuity. Need I say more? OK, I will then: It also has an amazing Red Hood story. And one more thing: Joe Quinones draws a spot-on Cesar Romero. It's fantastic.

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"Amelia Cole and The Unknown World"

(IDW/Monkeybrain, by Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire)

"Amelia Cole" is a series that takes street-level action and combines it with fantastical magic to become something truly unique. It's inventive. It's charming. It's worth it to pick up the first handful off issues digitally or grab up this print edition.

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"Astro City" #3

(Vertigo Comics, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson)

I feel like I've said in this very column that this brand-new volume of "Astro City" is great, but it bears saying again: This volume of "Astro City" is great. Three issues in, and every page is a treasure. This issue wraps up the story of the Honor Guard hotline employee who makes a mistake and tries her best to make up for it. It's both what you'd expect and really surprising. I loved it.

The Loser

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"The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys" #3

(Dark Horse Comics, by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan)

I don't want to dislike this comic. Becky Cloonan is amazing, and her art here is as stunning as ever. But the dialogue just plain reads like a rock star writing a comic, which is strange, because Way's "Umbrella Academy" was so notable for not being that. Here, though, you have a character telling another, "You're screamin' bonus track right now!" The events, even when there's a lot of action, just don't seem all that eventful. This may just be a comic I simply don't get.