Monday, February 20, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The BuckyNat Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Black Widow #7-#9:  As someone mentioned in a letters page at some point, Nat has often been softened up a bit in her portrayals.  Waid and Samnee make clear we're not getting that Nat here.  First, we learn the Weeping Lion and his cousin (the one depicted as his brother last issue) were involved in Nat's first kill:  she killed the Lion's father and thought she killed him, too.  But, his cousin was sleeping in the back of the car and managed to save the Lion's life (though not his voice, a result of Nat slitting his throat).  Nat is unaware of this past, probably thinking the Lion's cousin came after her just to get her secrets (and not because of an old vendetta).  But, any attempt to dismiss this viciousness as something she's outgrown is put to rest here.  After the Headmistress kills herself to avoid the Lion's cousin probing her thoughts, Recluse is distraught, in no small part given her fury over the Headmistress always loving Widow more.  I was waiting for Nat to be kind, telling Recluse she only loved Nat more because Recluse lacked viciousness, and that isn't a terrible thing.  But, Nat instead ridicules Recluse for being weak.  As a result, she leaves behind a powerful enemy as the Headmistress did when she herself showed Nat mercy (as a child).  But, Nat has more immediate problems, as it appears the Lion and his cousin are slowly collecting the girls from the Dark Room who Nat is trying to find.  She saves three of them in this issue, but it's clear to see the Lion's cousin is using the information he gleaned from the Headmistress to stay one step ahead of her.  It raises the question why Nat thinks she can trust him in the first place?  It's not like she really has any leverage over him. Also, shouldn't she have done a little research on the two of them?  If she did, she would've discovered her fairly personal connection with them.  Or, has she done that already and knows she's being played?  We shall see.

Thunderbolts #7-#8:  Bucky has loomed large in the Marvel Universe over the last few months, given his ongoing appearance in "Black Widow" and the unofficial cross-over event here with "Captain America:  Steve Rogers."  Steve is desperate to get his hands on Kobik, for reasons that you only fully understand if you're reading his title.  Issue #7 ends with Steve asking Bucky if he trusts him, but we never see the end of that conversation.  Bucky appears to have rebuffed Steve's offer (whatever it was) in issue #8, but Zub leaves out there the possibility they were putting on a show for the Thunderbolts.  Given "Captain America:  Steve Rogers" directs its readers to read these issues, it's clear they're going to have an impact on Captain Nazi's story.  I just have to wonder when eventually we're going to bring it to a conclusion.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The January 11 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

All-Star Batman #6:  Some people love Scott Snyder, and I am happy for them. I am.  Unfortunately, I'm just not one of those people.  Snyder plays with too many techniques here, using two different omniscient narrators to tell his story of Batman's confrontation with Mr. Freeze in Alaska.  It's moody, to be sure.  But, unfortunately, all these narrators don't manage to explain the plot at all.  I was left scratching my head at the revelation that Bruce had brought some sort of hot virus with him to combat Freeze's cold virus.  The science, as presented, behind these viruses is...iffy at best.  Moreover, there are times when Snyder seems to forget his own brilliant ret-con of Freeze's origin, as the casual reader would have no idea that Nora was never actually Fries' wife in the DCnU.  It all supports my decision to drop this title.  I'm glad other people are thrilled with this series, but I think I can find somewhere else to spend my money,

Detective Comics #948:  Tynion and Bennett throw a lot at us here, and it's difficult to keep all the strands separate.  First, we are introduced to someone calling herself Dr. Victoria October who appears to have been dead at some point.  She comments how she knew Batman in her "pupal" phase and refers to her previous name as her "deadname."  It implies she may be someone we know, but it's unclear how we know her or how she's still alive.  Separately, we have the return of the Colony.  They've stolen samples from one of the dead monsters (from "The Night of the Monster Men") presumably in the hopes of turning it into a biological weapon.  (October reminds us that terrorist groups would spend a fortune to get their hands on the samples, given its raw destructive power.)  But, it's unclear what the Colony would want to do with such a weapon.  After all, I thought the Colony's mission was to defeat the League of Shadows.  Why would they want the ability to transform people into monsters to do so?  It's not like they're trying to invade Tokyo.  Then, we have the introduction of Colony Prime, a one-man army sent to free Jacob.  Tynion and Bennett don't tell us how the Colony learned Batman was keeping Jacob in the Belfry.  I guess it's not all that difficult to figure, given the Colony already knew the Belfry existed.  But, with all these various mysteries coming online simultaneously, it would've been nice to know at least that much.  That said, both Tynion and Bennett are excellent writers, so I'm confident all these questions will be answered at some point.  In fact, re-reading issues #939-#940 and #942, I'm impressed by the dedication to continuity.  The authors are picking up loose threads from both the "Rise of the Batmen" and "Night of the Monster Men" here, and it's fun to watch them weave them into a new story.

IvX #2:  Now that the fight has begun, this series improves considerably.  With a focus on implementing the X-Men's plan, Lemire and Soule stay in a comfortable lane.  In fact, the X-Men are so dominant in this outing that I'm almost worried it's all going to resolve itself too easily, because it's hard to imagine how the Inhumans are going to strike back successfully.  I assume they will, however.

Occupy Avengers #3:  Nightwing and his "sidekick," Deadly Nightshade, are solid additions to the team (if they are actually additions), though their debut in this issue is a little rocky.  First, Nightwing is furious at Hawkeye based on a previous encounter, but it's unclear if this encounter happened in a different series or if we're eventually going to see it as a flashback.  (This situation is why we used to have editors' notes, people!)  Walker also relies heavily on flashbacks to set up the premise of this arc (that a L.M.D. army of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents is recruiting new members.)  It leaves the reader (or, at least, me) feeling like he's missing a few issues, even though we're only on the third issue.  This problem is compounded by the characters engaging in a lot of expository dialogue they wouldn't otherwise know, like when Red Wolf apparently knew what L.M.D.s are.  That said, once we get into the action, everything runs more smoothly.

Spider-Man #12:  There's a moment when I read an issue like this one where I wonder how Bendis can write this series so well but "Avengers" was a fucking disaster.  Here, he manages to script several involved conversations with the most natural-feeling flow of any comic book I've probably ever read.  Moreover, he uses one of those conversations as a framing device for the entire arc, as Miles recounts the story to Ganke and Goldballs.  But, since they're teenage boys, we start said story with Miles telling them about making out with Gwen Stacy rather than the fact he was in Gwen's dimension in the first place looking for his father who disappeared on a mission for Maria Hill.  Honestly, though?  I also care the most about the Gwen part, too.  Color me excited!

Star Wars:  Poe Dameron #9:  I'm pretty sure I'm canceling this series after this arc ends.  I want to like it, but I just feel like Soule isn't finding a groove.  At first, this series seemed to be about Black Squadron, but everything was so chaotic it was hard to get to know them.  Now, it seems to be about Terex's beef with Poe.  But, honestly, I still don't understand why Terex decided to leave the First Order now to become a criminal or why he even stopped being a criminal in the first place.  So, it's hard to focus on said beef.  I just feel like we've never gotten a clear sense of anyone's motivations and, when we come close to getting one, they don't even make sense.

Titans #7:  Titans Together!  I could say more, but I don't think I really have to do so.  This issue pulls the team together into an actual team -- nervous lawyer, iconic HQ, and all.  I couldn't be more excited.

Also Read:  Amazing Spider-Man:  Renew Your Vows #3; Dungeons & Dragons:  Frost Giant's Fury #1; Mighty Thor #15; Ms. Marvel #14; Uncanny Avengers #19

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The January 4 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Avengers #3:  I could try to explain what I think happened here, but I won't, because I honestly have no idea.  Somehow the Wasp returning the baby to the future undoes the time paradox Vision created when he kidnapped the baby in the first place, and everyone goes home happy..., well, everyone except for Kang.  Apparently the Priests of Pama feed on time paradoxes, so they consume Kang and the Scarlet Centurion.  However, the Avengers are apparently going to go to war with Kang next issue, implementing a plan Sam has.  Yeah, I don't get it either.

Batman #14:  King confirms what we've known all along, that Catwoman didn't kill 237 people.  However, for some reason, she's committed to going to prison for life for the crime, after Amanda Waller abides by her agreement with Bruce and has her sentence commuted.  My guess is Selena is covering for the orphan who did kill these people, but we'll get there at some point.  In the meantime, King delivers a beautifully terse issue that lets Gerards' amazing artwork do the talking.  We're treated to a two-page splash of the starry Gotham night that foreshadows the diamonds Selena later gives to Bruce to fund an orphanage.  But, the scene is beautiful in its own right and really sets the stage for the two of them eventually making love on the rooftop.  (It's a rare acknowledgement that Selena knows Bruce's identity, something thrown into question at the start of the DCnU if I remember correctly.)  It's just a perfectly paced story from start to finish, conveying the melancholy and regret both characters feel.  Rarely does the art and script work together as beautifully as they do here.

Black Widow #1-#6 (TPB):  I first considered getting this series when I heard Bucky would be appearing at some point.  Bucky's relationship with Nat was one of the best parts of his time as Captain America, and I was devastated (really, I still am) when they erased her memory of him.  I was actually so mad at comics that I stopped really enjoying them for a few weeks.  But, Comixology was having a sale on TPBs, and I got this one.  I'm still trying to pare down my pull list, not expand it, but, after reading this arc, someone else is going to be on the chopping block.  At some point in the letters page, the editor acknowledges that one of the questions running through Waid and Samnee's run is whether Nat's really knowable.  I feel like I came the closest to doing so during those "Captain America" issues where she's in a relationship with Bucky, but maybe it wasn't the real her.  Maybe she was too happy. Waid and Samnee explore that idea here, and it's amazing.  To be honest, my appreciation of Nat outside "Captain America" larges comes from Scarlet Johansson's portrayal of her in the MCU, and Waid and Samnee preserve that dry sense of humor here.  I particularly loved the sequence where she mumbles to herself about Tony mocking her skills...after she took him by surprise and knocked him unconscious to access his vault.  Doubting her, indeed.  Moreover, Waid and Samnee have given Nat two formidable pairs of enemies in just these six issues:  the Weeping Lion brothers as well as the Recluse and her mother, Nat's former Headmistress at the Red Room.  The mind boggles where we're going to go from here.

Midnighter and Apollo #4:  Orlando leaves us with a mystery here, as Apollo seemed to have stumped Neron with a question about why he calls himself Apollo.  But, Neron later appears to have imprisoned Apollo, implying Neron guessed correctly (despite him obviously having guessed incorrectly that Apollo named himself after the Roman god).  But, the most interesting thing to me is the revelation that Apollo was human at some point.  I always thought he was an alien, but we learned here that he was abducted by aliens trying to make their own Superman after he told his parents he was gay.  Long-time readers might have known that, but I didn't.  Orlando uses this revelation to maximum effect, as Apollo basically laughs off Neron's attempt to break him, stating people have tried that many times before.  It's a reminder just how bad-ass Midnighter and Apollo are separately and together.

Nova #2:  "Your fans are...intense."  We are, Kamala.  We totally are!  I knew I trusted these authors when they evoked an argument Rich made during the original "Civil War," when he berated Iron Man for fighting the Civil War while he was busy fighting the Annihilation Wave.  They get it.  I'll also admit I totally cried fanboy tears when the bar on Knowhere toasted Rich, a sign that Earth might not remember his heroism but space does.  Originally, I wanted this series just to be about Rich, but I can't deny Sam adds something.  First, Rich and Sam's banter is great.  I loved when Rich started getting upset when Sam questioned him about his origins, and Sam responded by observing his father was a clone who tried to kill him.  Rich's response?  "Fair."  Perfect.  But, Sam's youth reminds us that Rich has now entered senior hero status and not just because Sam tries to defend himself by citing his ability to grow...."hair."  The authors draw a line under the point when Rich meets the Champions and asks if every superhero is a twelve-year-old.  If he is Rich and he's going to stay, he has to operate in the new Marvel Universe.  He's no longer a New Warrior, but an honest-to-fucking-God hero, as the toasting denizens of the bar remind us.

Spider-Man 2099 #19:  Well, Peter David really stepped it up a notch, didn't he?  I mean, sure, I didn't really buy that "Mother" (or whatever her name was) forgot about Elektra, allowing Elektra to kill her while she was delivering a monologue to Miguel and Roberta about why America has to fall.  But, it doesn't matter...because Tyler Stone is back in action!  He's clearly going to turn Tempest into some sort of terrible monster, maybe like the one she became when Miguel cured her cancer.  Whatever it is, it seems unlikely Miguel is going to be happy with the result.  (For the continuity folks out there like me, Tyler specifically refers to the fact that he was also previously paralyzed, adding to the information we have about where we are in Miguel's original timeline.)

U.S.Avengers #1:  Reading Bobby's speech about how the American flag is his flag and their flag regardless of how the people afraid of them feel about it the weekend of Donald Trump banning Muslims from entering the United States makes me think Al Ewing can predict the future.  I was going to cancel this series in favor of "Hawkeye" but decided to give it a whirl because I love Sam.  Well, after reading it, I'm all on board with Bobby and his desire to reclaim the flag for the rest of us.

Also Read:  Captain America:  Sam Wilson #17; Champions #4; Hawkeye #2; Moon Knight #10; Nightwing #12; Unworthy Thor #2

Monday, February 13, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The December 28 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

All-Star Batman #5:  Snyder not only takes the easy road here, but has the chutzpah to try to convince us it was the difficult one.  By claiming Harvey's brain chemistry can never be altered, he shows the hubris of every author who thinks he can quickly but permanently change a character's status quo.  It's only the slow changes that stick, like Cyclops' evolution into a villain over the course of years of storylines.  For every "you're Two-Face forever now!" moment, I can point to dozens of similar ones:  Otto Octavius as Spider-Man forever!, every permanent! Jean Gray death, Colossus as Juggernaut/Phoenix/Horseman of Apocalypse, etc.  Snyder doesn't even really properly end the issue.  We're never shown Harvey calling off the attacks on Batman.  Batman believes the crowd won't attack him now that he's defeated Two-Face, but they don't really know that he has:  they're just there for the money.  The larger struggle is irrelevant to them.  But, Bruce and Duke just waltz through the crowd, and we're done.  I think I'm done with this series, too.

Batgirl #6: Son of the Penguin?  Color me excited!

Captain America:  Steve Rogers #8-#9:  The problem with Maria Hill's Jack Nicholson moment here -- as she pitches the idea of the a planetary defense shield to save her from getting ousted as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- is that she never explains why she's the only person capable of building it.  If S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists were the ones who invented it, Sharon Carter could just as easily build the Shield, couldn't she?  My main issue right now is that I don't also want to have to start reading "Thunderbolts" to understand everything happening here.  For example, in issue #8, Steve wants to use the new Quasar to get in touch with Bucky, but it isn't clear why he does.  Presumably I'd understand if I were reading "Thunderbolts," but I can't read every series on the shelves, Marvel.

Civil War II #8:  I honestly don't know if the ending here is brilliant or the greatest cop-out of all time.  In the end, Ulysses "ascends," becoming a celestial being.  Before he does so, he confirms -- with his newfound insight -- that he really was seeing multiple futures, not a linear one.  However, no one seems to care Tony was proven correct.  Carol is somehow seen as the winner, despite beating Tony into a coma as he (correctly) tried to save Miles from her.  In fact, Beast tells Carol that Tony himself didn't see the issue as one between him and Carol:  he trusted Carol to use Ulysses' visions responsibly, but he didn't trust the person after her to do so.  I don't really buy that, to be honest.  Tony didn't believe Ulysses' visions were actionable, period; it didn't matter who interpreted them.  But, I guess it doesn't matter because Tony's in a coma.  In the end, Ulysses was the MacGuffin he always seemed to be.  The only real outcome of this event is the launch of "Champions," and I can't say that development alone was worth the $30+ I spent on this series.

Detective Comics #947:  Batman doesn't lose often, but Tynion lets him lose here.  More importantly, he has him learn from that loss.  Spoiler leaves the team, believing the team members' lives would be better if they left behind their costumes and Gotham's citizens' lives would be better if the police were the ones to protect them.  Tynion clearly doesn't feel that way.  He uses Luke to give the dissenting opinion:  the heroes aren't perfect but they hold a line the police can't hold.  But, Tynion also acknowledges Spoiler may have a point:  Steph disables the Batsignal, and Bruce is shaken when he realizes no one got hurt in a gun fight between two gangs that the team missed as a result.  It'll be interesting to see the role Spoiler will play in the next few months.  After all, it'll be hard for her to "spoil" the team's activities without actually helping criminals.  Does she help the cops instead?  I guess we'll see.  But, it's a reminder of how nuanced of a story Tynion is telling.  It's no longer just black hats versus white hats.  Stephanie has identified a gray area, and we'll see how she operates in it.

Extraordinary X-Men #17:  For all the faults of the main series, Lemire does a great job here of showing us Storm's path to war:  she realizes she has to act after holding the hand of little girl who idolized her as she dies of M-Pox.  Despite the fact that the science driving this war has always been poorly explained, Lemire helps us move past that point.  He encourages us just to buy what he and Soule are selling:  the X-Men have to fight this war for survival.  I don't care about the Inhumans, so I'm not collecting any of their series.  As such, I don't know how they're spinning their side.  But, it's hard to see how they'd argue their religious beliefs justify the extermination of a race and the death of a girl, as we see here.  That's always been the other problem with this event, but I guess I have to get past that part, too.

Mighty Thor #14:  Just in case we didn't think Malekith was enough of an asshole, he burns Alfheim to the ground  and maims Queen Aelsa in this issue.  Yeah, he's a dick.  Jane pledges the League of Realms will end the War of Realms in its favor but, honestly, it's hard to see betting against Malekith at this point. 

Prowler #3:  I can't say I understand why Electro (Electra?) has singled out Hobie for abuse, other than the possibility she's just a bully.  But, it makes for an entertaining fight.  But, my real question is why Hobie believes he can only ever rely on himself when he's saved by Julia at the end of the issue.  Is it supposed to show us he's barely conscious and unaware of what she's doing?  Otherwise, it sounds pretty ungrateful, to say the least. 

Spider-Man #10:  I waited to read this issue until I had read "Civil War II" #8, since I had heard online that it spoiled that issue.  (Sometimes it's good to have a several week backlog of issues.)  Having now read it, two things struck me.  First, Bendis really does get Miles.  I mean, it makes sense, since he created Miles.  But, he delivers a really moving portrait of a young man struggling to be a better person than he thinks he is.  Miles is worried he's going to go the way of his father and uncle, and he confesses to his friends that he struggles with murderous impulses every time he fights.  It's a reminder of how young he is and how you want someone like Luke Cage or Peter Parker to take him under his wing to explain how normal that is, that his concern over those feelings is what makes him a good person.  But, I was also struck by how terribly Marvel has screwed up "Civil War II."  If you read this issue, you would believe Tony Stark died at the end of "Civil War II."  He doesn't, but you'd think he did.  It's not exactly service to the reader to preemptively spoil the ending of another series, only for said spoiling not actually happening.

Also Read:  Black Panther #9; Mighty Captain Marvel #0; Spider-Man #11; Star Wars #26; Titans #6; Uncanny Avengers #18

Friday, February 10, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The December 21 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Amazing Spider-Man #22:  If you've been reading this blog fora while you know I'm not a huge fan of Dan Slott.  He has his moments (like "Spider-Island"), but more often than not I'm left feeling disappointed.  This disappointment usually happens when he's pushing a concept too hard, like he did with Otto taking over Peter's body.  He goes past the point where an idea is interesting to where it's not only tedious but fails to make sense.  We're on the verge of that happening here.  Slott seems to be giving us a way to understand the impetus of this event, namely that Miles Warren murdering Ben Reilly 27 times for "science" eventually drove him insane.  That makes sense (sort of).  The problem is that it raises more questions than it answers.  For example, at some point, don't we have a "copy of a copy" problem?  Warren is "resurrecting" Ben each time from the remains of the previous clone.  Given that Ben himself is a clone of Peter, the Ben we see here is essentially the 29th version of Peter (if I'm getting my math correct).  At some point, shouldn't the biological matter degrade?  (Is that why Ben's insane?)  Moreover, how much genetic material exactly does this new process need?  Ben himself makes an army of Miles clones, but I don't understand how you do that with this new technique.  Don't you need all the remains just to make one clone?  Can you really make as many Miles as we see here from one body?  Or, did Ben kill Miles a bunch of times and used portions of each body?  Again, isn't there a "copy of a copy of a copy" problem?  Similar to "IvX," the problem here becomes that the entire conceit of the event is based on science that makes no sense.  It makes it hard to engage with the story on an emotional level, since you spend all your times shaking your head and developing alternative explanations to the ones you've been given.  I'm almost thinking it would be better if we didn't have these tie-in issues trying to explain the details, because they actually seem to be doing more harm than good.

Batman #13:  This issue is odd.  And bad.  But mostly odd.  As expected, we learn Catwoman never really betrayed Batman; it was all part of his plan.  (King also hints she didn't commit the 237 murders back in Gotham, but we'll likely get to that in the next arc.)  Weirdly, though, Bruce's "plan" actually seemed more about revenge against Bane than bringing back Psycho-Pirate:  at Batman's signal, Catwoman breaks Bane's back.  This decision (and the loss of Psycho-Pirate, who Bane was using as his surrogate for venom) results in Bane demanding venom from his guards.  That's bad, right?  Bruce took a moderately good outcome of a devenomed and contained Bane and made it worse, just to get Psycho-Pirate to undo what he did to Claire.  I get wanting to help Claire, but didn't we have other options on that front that didn't result in a revenomed Bane?  Moreover, King never really explains why he went to such lengths to show Batman carefully assembling this team, since the supporting characters aren't really revealed to have any purpose.  Other than creating a bubble-gum raft, I have no idea what Jewelee and Punchee did.  Bruce comments on how the Bat-sub is waiting for them in international waters, so they presumably needed to use the raft to get there.  But, is he really concerned about diplomatic niceties with Santa Prisca after he invaded it?  Couldn't he just get the Bat-sub to come get them on the shore?  I also have no idea what Bronze Tiger was meant to do.  Seriously.  As far as I can tell, he didn't even have his bubble-gum raft moment.  The Ventriloquist was chosen because he could resist Psycho-Pirate, which makes sense, I guess; Bruce informs us only Scarface can control him.  But, I still think Bronze Tiger could've just rushed Psycho-Pirate and knocked him unconscious to the same result.  I don't see how the Ventriloquist's contribution was so great that they'd all wind up dead without him, as Batman previously promised.  In other words, ho, boy, this arc was a mess.

Justice League #11:  OK, I'm finally done with this series.  This issue is fun, and Hitch's decision to have Lily hack Amazo was clever.  But, just like "Batman" #13, it ends in a way that leaves too much on the table.  We never really see the League defeat the villains coming after them; Amazo switches sides, and we're pretty much left to conclude he takes out everyone else.  Master Disaster threatens to take down the entire area with fire, but Jessica, Baz, and Amazo (who can somehow duplicate a Green Lantern's powers, without actually having a ring) just snuff out the fire.  End of fight.  Then, Batman oddly decides not to hold Lily or, more importantly, her father accountable.  If you remember correctly, her father created the code in the first place to steal money from banks.  But, Bats is totally cool with that because grief.  He announces Wayne Enterprises will rebuild the destroyed neighborhood, give Lily the best education she can get, and give her father a job.  It's pretty uncharacteristically gray of him.  I could justify hanging in there to see how things develop, but then I'd be forced to buy the "Justice League/Suicide Squad" cross-over event.  I just feel like DC and Marvel are taking me, and my money, for granted at this point with these events.  So, I'm done.  Ciaosy, "Justice League."

Occupy Avengers #1-#2:  Walker lays out Clint's mission statement pretty clearly here, as he travels the country trying to do the right thing after so many years of doing the not-so-right thing.  His guilt over killing Bruce is palpable.  In fact, it's clear he's still struggling with it, as he describes it as him "helping" Bruce commit suicide.  As a result, Walker makes it clear we're walking a long road with Clint here.  But, I'm perhaps most excited about this series because of the return of Red Wolf.  I really enjoyed his series from last year, and I was disappointed it ended so soon.  By showing us an image of the man responsible for sending  Red Wolf into the future, Walker makes it clear we're going to get some of the answers we were denied as a result of that series' cancellation.  But, he also adds a new layer to Red Wolf's time in the present, portraying Red Wolf as seeing his displacement as penance for a sin he committed.  He believes he died in his encounter with the "lightning man," if you will, but was denied moving onto the next plane of existence for this sin.  As such, Walker gives Red Wolf his own reasons for joining Clint's crusade.  I didn't expect to be as excited about this series as I am, but here we are.  Now, if only the Fireheart cousins come along for the ride!

Spider-Women TPB:  OK, I finally caved and bought "Spider-Women," because Comixology was having a sale.  It does help fill in some holes, though I'm still hazy on the point where Gwen became as close to Jess as we've seen her be after this event.  Reading the full Wikipedia entry on "Spider-Verse" to refresh my memory, it seems like they were together only briefly.  Cindy and Jessica worked with Spider-Man Noir, Cindy slipped Gwen's surveillance to try to fight the Inheritors, and Cindy and Gwen helped rescue Jessica while she was undercover on Loomworld.  As far as I can tell, they're the only interactions these three characters had.  But, I need to get over it, clearly.  Despite resisting this event for so long, I have to admit it was fun.  I still don't understand how Cindy managed to reverse Gwen's powers, since it presumably would require rewriting Gwen's D.N.A., and it seems unlikely she could do that with the little gizmo she uses here.  The authors imply Gwen's powers are similar to Jesse Drew's, to whom Evil Cindy had to give two shots a day so he'd maintain them.  But, that doesn't make sense, because Gwen's had her powers all this time without the shots.  But, again, it's something I'm just going to have to accept.  At least this event was worth it for the good time, if not for the narrative clarity.

Spider-Gwen #15:  OK, now that I've read "Spider-Women" and re-read the "Spider-Gwen" issues since then, I still don't understand how exactly Cindy Moon of Earth-65 stripped Gwen of her powers.  She seems to have removed the radioactive isotope from Gwen's bloodstream.  But, how did that isotope stay in Gwen's bloodstream so long in the first place, given Jesse Drew needed twice daily injections to maintain it?  Would her powers have faded eventually?  Why did they last so long in the first place then?  But, like I said above, I guess I'm just going to have to get over it; I feel like we've gotten as much of an explanation as we're going to get.  At any rate, I admit it's brilliant to have Daredevil make a deal with Cindy to get his hands on more power-ups for Gwen.  (Of course they were evil lovers.  Of course they were.)  Matt has Gwen exactly where he wants her.  But, Latour also holds out the possibility Gwen could benefit from this situation in the long run.  Since she lost her powers, Latour has shown how she really does only have the agility and strength of a 19-year-old woman.  If Daredevil puts her through ninja camp (like Iron Fist did in helping create Spidey's Spider-Fu), she becomes all the more powerful after she (presumably) leaves his service.  How she's going to survive leaving his service is still unclear.

Also Read:  Avengers #2.1;  Captain America:  Sam Wilson #16; Nightwing #11; Solo #3; Spider-Gwen #13; Star Wars:  Dr. Aphra #2

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The December 14 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

All-New X-Men #16:  Hopeless has really gone places I didn't expect on this title, and Hank's embrace of the occult is at the top of that list.  His frustration is real here, even as he eventually stumbles upon a spell that gives him the powers he needs to save his friends.  But, Hopeless implies this action will have consequences, and I would really dig it if we see Hank start working with Dr. Strange to become better at spellcasting.  Of all the original X-Men, he'd really be the one diverging from his future self's path.

Amazing Spider-Man:  Renew Your Vows #2:  This issue is a lot better than the first one, mainly because MJ is the narrator.  It's fun to get her perspective, particularly given her distinct lack of anxiety about the whole superhero business.  Unfortunately, it serves as a reminder that Conway is playing up Peter's anxiety about it too much.  I mean, he does a good job of explaining why Peter feels the way he does.  It certainly makes sense that Peter would deeply understand the risks of being a superhero and be nervous about his wife and child following in his footsteps.  But, this difference throws off the balance of the series; it's hard to tell if it's fun or serious.  Conway is going to have to decide that question before too long.  (I know you can do both fun and serious, as Duggan has done really well on "Uncanny Avengers."  But, so far, I don't feel like it's working here.)

IvX #1:  I don't think I've ever been less excited about an event than this one.  (I believe I said the same thing in reviewing "IvX" #0.)  In fact, "extreme apprehension" is probably a better way to phrase my current sentiment.  Unfortunately, Lemire and Soule do little here to help the situation.  The entire premise of this "war" makes no sense.  As expected, Hank informs the mutant leaders assembled on Muir Island that the chemical bonds holding together the remaining cloud of Terrigen Mists are breaking, explaining the high level of Terrigen saturation on the Earth's surface.  This dispersion is unfortunately progressing at an exponential rate, meaning they don't have much time to stop it.  The leaders vote to attack the remaining cloud, implementing a plan that Emma, Magneto, and Storm created.  (For the record, Rogue votes against the plan, despite admitting she doesn't like the alternative of living on Mars.)  My problem -- well, I should say, one of my problems -- here is that I don't fully buy the "science."  Is there really so much Terrigen in the remaining cloud that it would render Earth inhospitable to mutants when fully dispersed?  Moreover, if it's already been saturated into the Earth so much that the mutants only have two weeks to stop it, shouldn't they have started feeling its effects?  It seems weird that it'd have to be 100% saturated before anyone felt anything.  Also, doesn't it have some sort of half-life?  Would it really remain on the surface forever?  Couldn't we just off-load mutantkind into X-Haven for a few weeks and solve the problem?  Also, is it really impossible to trap the cloud again?  The Inhumans were perfect happy when it was contained, so couldn't we just do that again?  The fact Lemire and Soule don't even try to address these questions shows how rushed this event is, despite Marvel having planned it for months.  Yes, it's totally cool to see the X-Men take out members of the Inhuman Royal Family, and I particularly loved Dazzler's part in that plan.  But, even the terrible "Civil War II" event had a clear reason why everyone had to choose a side:  you were either for predictive justice or you weren't.  Here, we seem to have numerous options on the table to prevent the conflict based on the "science," but we're apparently just ignoring those because EVENT!  [Sigh.]  Is it over yet?

Reborn #3:  OK, Millar has me sold.  This series is really intriguing.  We have a number of mysteries woven into the plot already.  Is Bonnie's husband Lord Golgotha?  Are we going to learn he was really a puppy-kicker in life?  Where is her mother?  Maybe she's Lord Golgotha?  What exactly are Bonnie's powers?  At the end of the issue, she assets they're making the right decision by jumping into that portal, but she seems to have been wrong, because they find themselves on Lord Golgotha's prison planet.  So far, she's twice had a mental vision of her opponents, but it hasn't been clear what those visions are showing her.  Are they like Midnighter's fight computer?  But, the mysteries and mythology of "Reborn" isn't the only good part.  The characterizations are really solid.  Millar does a good job of using his limited non-action time to convey Bonnie's disorientation at her current predicament, even though I'd appreciate some more quiet time to really explore those feelings.  Moreover, her relationship with her father is really moving, and, obviously, that dog better not be dead.  All of these deft narrative touches are accentuated by Capullo's amazing-as-always renderings.  The lion-headed dragon eating the flying elephant was honestly one of the most unexpected moments in a comic for me.  Moreover, Capullo's ability to convey motion is unsurpassed, as we see here in Bonnie's flight with her father.  You really got the sense you were running through the trees in a panic with a pack of elephants.  Millar clearly has a very, very long game planned here, and I'm excited to see it unfold.

Uncanny Avengers #17:  This arc has mostly been a fun romp, but Duggan ends it on a somber note, with Rogue contemplating the price the Avengers have paid for peace over the last year:  Bruce dead, Thor missing, Hank gone, Wonder Man lost in Rogue's mind, Iron Man functionally disabled.  Rogue is experienced enough to know it's probably a sign things are going to get worse before they get better.  She's not wrong, obviously, given the cover for next issue involves the Red Skull.  If there's a sliver of hope here, it's that the team stays together, committed to taking down the Skull.  It's a nice moment, showing how far we've come from the first issue, where Rogue was basically waiting for any excuse to take out Synapse.  In a world where Marvel has been pushing the Inhumans beyond all other groups, I really cherish -- though it may be too strong of a world -- this series' connection to Marvel's past and the importance the Avengers and X-Men once had.

Also Read
:  Detective Comics #946; Hawkeye #1; Star Wars:  Poe Dameron #9

Monday, February 6, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The December 7 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

December!  We're getting there!

Avengers #2:  I still don't understand basic components of the plot here.  According to Waid, Kang is creating impossible contradictions in the hope that these time paradoxes break the timelock keeping him stuck in the present.  (Scarily, that part makes the most sense.). However, we're not told how he's creating these contradictions or why they result in a new version of him every time he fails to break the timelock.  Moreover, it doesn't explain why he and the Scarlet Centurion was able to travel to the past to kill the Avengers as children, if, after all, they're stuck in the present.  Time-travel stories are the fucking worst, dudes.

Clone Conspiracy #3:  Fine - I admit I gasped when the "Jackal" pulled off his mask and revealed he was Ben Reilly.  (Honestly, once I Googled around a bit, I'm stunned and thrilled it didn't get spoiled for me.)  As the editor mentioned in the letters page, I always liked Ben Reilly, even if the Clone Saga itself was awful, and I'm not sad to see he's returned.  (Also, Cheung makes him the hotness here.  Something about that confidence makes Peter Parker even better looking.  He should also think about rocking some stubble like Ben does.)  At this stage, I am confused how he returned, since he admits he dissolved completely in Peter's arms.  If the Jackal needs a body to resurrect someone, then how did he resurrect Ben?  Moreover, has the Jackal we've seen all this time always been Ben Reilly?  Or, did he just send Ben to pick up Uncle Ben's corpse, knowing Peter would inevitably meet him there?  My confusion comes from the fact that Ben consistently sounds like the Jackal until the moment he reveals his identity.  As he's confronting Peter, he not only carelessly uses Peter's real name in front of supposedly unconscious guards (something Warren would've totally done) but he gloats about how he likes being one of the few people who know Peter's identity (something Warren also would've done).  That doesn't sound very good guy of him.  It also doesn't explain why everything is so mysterious.  Couldn't Ben just have approached Peter, revealed he's alive, and asked him for help to improve the cloning technique?  Why the elaborate plans to resurrect his archenemies and/or their families before talking to him?  It goes to the fact that this series is named for a conspiracy, but other than the Jackal having moles in the police force I don't get what conspiracy we're actually seeing.  After all, people are just randomly divulging information right and left now.  Despite stalling for the better part of the issue, Spider-Gwen just eventually goes ahead and tells Peter why she and Kaine kept him in the dark, even though the answer still doesn't make sense to me.  I can't say I'm a fan of this story at this point, but, if it ends with the return of Ben Reilly (and the curing of Kaine Parker), I'll be OK with it.  I also reluctantly have to give Slott props for having me on the edge of my seat.  I find myself desperate to know how it all ends, and I haven't felt that way about an event in a long time.  (Also, who's JJJ, Jr.'s "foster daughter?"  Is that new?)  The outcome is spoiled a bit with the revelation that Marvel is releasing a Ben Reilly series, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone else the Jackal has resurrected is going to survive.  I guess we'll see.

Justice League #10:  After months of complaining about this series, I'm finally happy.  The revelation that James' daughter used his code to create a wish-fulfillment A.I. that her little brother used to "play" with the Justice League was downright brilliant.  Seriously.  I not only didn't see it coming, but I was awed when it was revealed.  But, Hitch goes one step further as James' son reveals his next game was offering Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne's fortunes to the super-villain who killed the Justice League.  The ensuing battle is great, as the League scrambles to take down a number of C-List villains in the middle of a suburban neighborhood.  But, the highlight of this issue is that Hitch ups his game when it comes to characterization.  The characters finally sound the way they're supposed to sound.  They all still sound like they're monologuing instead of conversing, but I'll take what we get here for now.

Moon Knight #9:  I really don't know how Lemire does it, but he manages to take us on a tour of Mark's very nonlinear mind while leaving enough breadcrumbs for us to follow the path.  This issue is suffused with emotion as Mark explains to his alter egos that he's come to grips with his mental illness.  By embracing it, he's also able to embrace them and assert control over his mind.  Lemire really conveys the anguish of the alter egos as they're assimilated into core Marc.  Your really felt for werewolf-fighting Marc as he struggled against core Marc's assertion that he was never real, despite his years of struggle against the werewolves.  Core Marc's farewell to Steve Grant is also touching.  It evokes the theme of it being time to put away childish things.  He explains Steve was his first persona -- the imaginary friend who became real -- but now it's time for Mark to stand on his own.  All these moments are bolstered unbelievably by the art.  When Smallwood appeared at the end of last issue, it gave a ring of truth to Marc's assertion that he was in charge.  That continues throughout this issue, the idea we've returned to the main narrative because Smallwood's drawing these parts.  I've rarely seen the narrative and the art work so beautifully together to convey an idea.  Moreover, core Marc's got a helluva first task in front of him:  he's going to kill Khonshu.  I have no idea where we're going from here (will Mark become Khonshu if he kills him?) but I can't wait.

Nightwing #10:  I couldn't be more excited about this new direction.  I didn't read DC Comics during Dick's time as the hero of Blüdhaven, so I'm excited to get that chance here.  Dick realizes Babs was right when she said he went undercover again too quickly after regaining his secret identity.  After wallowing in the gray areas of morality with Raptor, he's decided it's time to return to the black-and-white world of crime-fighting.  Well, he actually decides it's time to live in the black-and-white world of community service, becoming a volunteer at a center for at-risk youths and eschewing Bruce's money to pay for his way.  But, after his attempt to be a normal twentysomething with hobbies fails to keep him entertained, he's on the streets capturing suspected murderer Gorilla Grimm.  The only problem is that Grimm claims he's innocent.  Moreover, Dick's boss at the center is also apparently a costumed vigilante he recognizes from his past, and she's in cahoots with the city budget analyst on her board, someone who alludes to his days as a costumed criminal as well.  In other words, Seeley makes it clear Dick might've been a little too optimistic in believing he was going to leave behind the grayer  areas of morality.  Meanwhile, we see glimpses throughout the issue of the tourism board's success in making Blüdhaven a tourist destination and using Nightwing to further that effort, but Seeley hints at something nefarious behind that success.  To (the artist) does his part by making Nightwing the embodiment of young and sexy:  his depiction of Dick during his interview is stunning, all preppy good looks and tight fitting shirt.  (The frequent shots of his abs don't hurt.)  Seeley and To are clearly telling a story with eyes on the long run, and it's a joy to be part of that.

Nova (2015)  #10-#11:  I was NOT a fan of Sam Alexander.  It wasn't just because he wasn't Rich Rider either.  He was whiny and insufferable.  I warmed to him slightly during his "Avengers" appearances, mostly because Miles seemed to be a good influence on him.  I picked up these issues because I read in the "Champions" letter page that his series was ending, which I hoped meant Rich was (finally) returning.  That seems to be the case, though the dynamics of his return are unclear.  Sam "finds" Rich while looking for his dad.  He gets Monark Starstalker to take him to areas that appear as anomalies, and they stumble upon the areas where the portal to the Cancerverse was.  In so doing, Sam is somehow sucked into the Worldmind.  We're reminded the Worldmind had been downloaded into Rich's helmet, so it makes some sense it would be located where Rich disappeared.  That said, it's still unclear how a link between our Universe and the Cancerverse persists and why the Worldmind would just pluck a Nova from our Universe into the Cancerverse.  It's possible Sam's presence alerted the Worldmind to the connection to our Universe, but I'm not sure.  After Sam asks about Rich, Rich asserts himself over the persona of the Worldmind.  During their discussion, Rich makes it clear he's still stuck in the Cancerverse:  the "Rich" we see here seems to be just a memory stored in the Worldmind with all the other Novas and Xandarians.  The good news, though, is we're obviously going to get the full story behind his return at some point.  Beyond Rich's re-appearance, perhaps the most notable aspect of theses issues for me is that Ryan actually makes me like Sam.  He's just a kid trying his best and doesn't know how to handle everything coming his way.  Ryan makes him less obnoxious than Loeb did, possibly because he's asking for help here.  His dynamic with Rich is great, particularly when he asks if he can tell his friends about his secret identity and Rich tells him being Nova doesn't have to be miserable.  We're about three issues from him asking for help with girls.  Just like Miles helps make Sam more likable, so does Rich, and I'm legitimately excited to see them in a series together.  Of course, it's still unclear if it is Rich, and I'm warning Marvel that it damn well better be.  They can't return him and then immediately get rid of him.  Plus, Star-Lord is on Earth now, and I'd be really happy for them to get a beer together and maybe shed some man-tears.  You're on notice, Marvel.

Nova (2016) #1:  First, I feel like my premonition that Sam is going to ask Rich for girl advice was correct, given how catastrophically bad his attempt to talk to the new girl was.  As I mentioned in the previous review, I disliked Sam under Loeb's stewardship because he was closer to douche than dork on the personality spectrum.  But, Loveness and Pérez have wisely moved him to the other end.  He's awkward and more lovable here, in no small part because of his supportive friends (who still don't miss an opportunity to remind him about the Avengers "firing" him).  Oddly, Loveness and Pérez do less well with the action sequences, as I found the Ego battle almost incomprehensible.  (The grammar errors were also distracting.)  But, Sam is not the only star of this show:  Richard is back!  Or, at least, he may be.  The authors make it clear that something is happening with him, as he sees his mother as her Cancerverse self in one moment and the Cancerverse seems to overwhelm him at the end.  Qué pasa?  No sé.  But, one of my questions from "Nova" #10-#11 was how he was going to get a body (assuming his original one had been destroyed), and it seems we're going to explore exactly that question now.  Needless to say, as you can tell from the links on the right side of this website, I can't wait. 

Star Wars:  Dr. Aphra #1:  The brilliance of Gillen's writing is that Aphra is a thoroughly unlikable person, but you can't help but like her.  She lives in a world of other unlikable characters, and they're all on display here:  the fellow archeologist who backstabbed her and who she later backstabs (and kills), the mob boss to whom she owes money (and Triple-Zero kills), the misogynistic dissertation advisor whose work she steals.  They're all assholes, but she manages to out-asshole them with charm.

Also Read:  Batman #12; Champions #3; Midnighter and Apollo #3; Spider-Man 2099 #18; Unworthy Thor #2

Friday, February 3, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The November 30 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Batman Annual #1:  This issue is mostly fine, with stories of varying levels of quality about Christmas.  (The origin story of Ace is probably the best of the bunch.)  But, the last story is bizarre.  Someone named Haunter escapes from Arkham, but it's never totally clear how her powers work.  We just learn she uses your D.N.A. to kill you.  Scarecrow has created a diversion for Batman to help her escape, but we're never really told what their plan is.  Bruce eventually paralyzes them temporarily with a nerve gas.  However, he not only threatens to leave them to freeze to death, but also to break their jaws while they're paralyzed.  I have no idea how this one slipped through the cracks, but it felt like someone took grimdark Batman a little too far.

Extraordinary X-Men #16:  It wasn't until after I finished this issue that I found myself scratching my head.  During it, I was totally sucked into the excitement Lemire created as the two separate storylines we've been following over the last few issues merge.  Nightcrawler decides to free Apocalypse in exchange for de-Horseman-ing Colossus as Magik tries to free Sapna from the World Eater's control.  In the end, Nightcrawler hurls a freed Apocalypse into the void the World Eater created and Magik is forced to kill Sapna to sever her link with the World Eater.  Lemire and Ibañez do an amazing job of capturing the chaos happening in X-Haven as we approach those conclusions; it's definitely a page-turner.  But, upon reflection, I find myself wondering what actually happened.  The World Eater brags about destroying dozens of worlds and  leaving a lot of dead wizards in his wake.  But, Illyana easily severs his link with Sapna without any explanation why the Soul Sword is able to do what all those wizards weren't able to do.  Also, what exactly did Nightcrawler do to Apocalypse?  Did he kill him?  Don't the X-Men not kill?  Did he hurl him into space and time?  Isn't that a bit...reckless?  I mean, it was pretty reckless of Storm to bring Apocalypse to the present, so I'm not saying it's all Nightcrawler's fault.  But, it's clearly a loose end that the X-Men are going to have to resolve at a future point.  Overall, though, I'm still mostly happy with the way this series is going, even though Lemire seemed to wave his hands in front of the chalkboard a bit here.

IvX #0:  I can't remember being less excited about an event than this one.  After the disastrous "Death of X," I'm reading this series under duress.  Soule does what he can, but it's impossible to shake the feeling he's working under orders, forced to sell a conflict that stems simply from an editorial mandate.  In terms of the actual story (and not my continued whining), Hank discovers the Terrigen Mists affect each mutant differently.  That's problematic because it means he's not looking for a cure, but an individual cure for every mutant.  As if that challenge wasn't difficult enough, he then discovers the Mists are becoming absorbed into the environment.  To complicate matters, Hank overhears a conversation Medusa has with the other Inhuman leaders, implying she accepts the inevitability of war with the mutants.  Hank asks Ororo to convene all the mutant leaders on Muir Island, seemingly a prelude to war.  Meanwhile, Emma has developed her own plan of attack over the course of these past eight months.  If you can get past the editorial fiat making this fight necessary, Soule does a solid job of setting up the conflict.  My only gripe is the truly bizarre behavior of the Beast at the start.  Iso expresses her surprise at how chipper he is as they begin to research the Mists' impact on mutants, and he explain that he's just excited to engage in S-C-I-E-N-C-E.  I mean, sure, you had all that death and horror, but S-C-I-E-N-C-E!  I have to invoke pet peeve #3 here, since having a character concede to his bizarre behavior doesn't excuse the author from having him behave this way in the first place.

Justice League of America #9-#10:  Hitch seems to rush the end of this story, which seems weird, given the ample amount of time he had to conclude it.  In the end, we never really get an answer about the true nature of the Infinity Corporation:  who they are, what they want, how they have powers.  Moreover, the Justice League itself doesn't really win; the Stones turn to Justin (from the Infinity Corporation) over Rao, allowing the younger Rao to kill the older one.  Again, it would've been nice to understand why Justin wound up having more influence over the Stones than Rao, particularly given my suspicion that they're the same set of stones.  But, compared to the stories he's currently telling in "Justice League," Hitch still delivers a solid performance here.  I felt the awe we're supposed to feel when Rao pulls ancient Krypton into Earth's orbit, and young Rao inspiring Green Lantern to act, even though he's only one man standing against hundreds of thousands of Kryptonian warriors, feels particularly relevant these days.  It's just a shame that this arc -- probably the most creative "Justice League" story since the DCnU started -- got short-changed in the end.

Star Wars Annual #2:  This issue would've felt meaningful when it was published before Carrie Fisher died, but it takes on all new meaning now.  Leia inspires a young woman, Pash, to join the Rebellion after she impulsively saves Leia's life.  But, the real highlight is Leia's meditation on Alderaan.  Pash tells Leia she doesn't like her because of Alderaan, because she allowed all those people to sacrifice themselves in her name.  Leia says it's always why people don't like her and then talks about how it's worse than Pash thinks:  she not only knows those people died for her and her dream, but she also knows she'd do it all over again if she had the chance.  That's some powerful stuff right there.  Pash comes to view Leia as the embodiment of hope, and I can't say, with the loss of Carrie Fisher and some of that hope, she's wrong.

Also Read:  Ms. Marvel #13; New Avengers #18

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The November 23 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Captain Marvel #10:  So...much...talking...

Civil War II #7:  I feel like I've read issue #5 three times at this point.  The only interesting thing to happen here is that Ulysses has a vision of the future where Captain Marvel seemingly destroyed the world after Iron Man pushed her too far.  But, he isn't really sure.  In the present, it seems clear Ulysses' vision of Spider-Man killing Captain America isn't actually Miles killing Steve, but Miles holding Steve's body after Captain Marvel and Iron Man's battle killed him.  But, are we really going to kill Steve Rogers again?  At this point, it's either that or Ulysses is wrong.  Either way, it's going to be anticlimactic.

Death of X #4:  OMG, this issue makes no sense on a number of levels.  First, all the X-Men titles published after "Secret Wars" asserted Scott did something so terrible even mutants wanted nothing to do with him.  (I can't remember which series it was, but I distinctly remember a new mutant expressing horror at the idea she would be on Scott's side.)  But, all he does here is destroy one of the Terrigen Mist clouds.  Why is that so awful?  After all, Black Bolt (who I didn't even realize was still alive after "War of Kings") murders him in cold blood.  Isn't that worse?  How the hell could anyone think Scott was the villain here?  Scott didn't kill anyone, but Black Bolt murders him.  Why is everyone so accepting of the Inhumans' religious fervor over the Mists?  Does protecting them justify any action the Inhumans take?  The Inhumans asserting the right of the cloud to pass around the world even though it actively kills people is essentially like arguing a maniac gets to murder people because his religion puts a high value on death.  It seems pretty clear Marvel had something else in mind, but had second thoughts, unable to make Scott do something that couldn't be undone.  It actually gives me hope he's going to return someday, since Marvel seems concerned about his reputation.  (By the by, we also never learn why Scott was riding those...things in "Secret Wars" #1.)  But, I'm sad to report this debacle isn't the worse part.  We discover it wasn't Scott at all.  Scott died in the lab on Muir Island, almost immediately upon entering it.  Everything since then was Emma, who seems to have lost her mind as a result of Scott's death.  It's just too much.  First, we kill off Scott fucking Summers in a flashback sequence.  Moreover, he dies mewling on the ground at the horror of it.  Then, his name is desecrated (even though it shouldn't be) without him even committing the acts he's accused of committing!  Emma reveals the truth to Havok, and then he doesn't do anything about it.  I just don't understand how anyone could read this issue and feel satisfied.  We've been force-fed "suspense" about these events for the last several months, but Marvel treats it like a footnote to "Secret Wars."  I just can't with them and their events anymore.

Detective Comics #945:  This issue is spectacular because Spoiler is spectacular in it.  Stephanie comes out swinging when she sees through Bruce's feeble attempt to gather information about the Victim Syndicate by hiding behind two-way glass while Leslie Thompkins psycho-analyze her.  First, she calls out Bruce and his tendency to underestimate his own allies (something she proves by seeing through his ruse).  But, she also refuses to absolve him of Tim's death, saying he only cares about his colleagues' feelings when he needs forgiveness.  She is 100% correct.  I had never thought of it that way, but Tynion hits the nail on the head.  Plus, she identifies the team as a group of potential threats -- three daughters of super-villains and an actual super-villain -- that Bruce wants to control.  It's also something I hadn't put together, but it totally fits.  In one fell swoop, Tynion dismisses the Bat-family's long-standing ethos, where the colder and more technically minded you are, the better asset Bruce believes you to be.  It's why Tim always seemed to be higher in Bruce's estimation than Dick, Harper than Stephanie, Damian than Jason.  But, Stephanie isn't having it.  She's not only smart-smart but emotionally smart, and, Jesus, the Bat-family could really use someone like that right now.  Take 'em down, Stephanie.

Spider-Gwen #14:  The art change here is terribly, terribly timed.  Just as I'm tearing up a bit (a lot) as Gwen realizes May not only knows her secret but doesn't blame her for Peter's death, we switch to an exaggerated cartoon-y style as Jessica and her family appear for Thanksgiving.  It totally spoils the moment, the moment we've been waiting to see since Spider-Gwen was introduced.  Talk about an editorial blunder.

Star Wars #25:  I admit Aaron loses me a bit here.  I'm not entirely sure why it was necessary for the Rebels to hijack a Star Destroyer if the only thing they did with it was disable some moon bases and send down some escape pods filled with supplies.  Couldn't they just have warped into proximity and sent down the pods?  It didn't seem like the Empire was guarding the moon bases that closely.  Also, couldn't the Empire just take back the supplies?  It's not like the Rebels stay to defend the planet.  Are the Tureenians really that well equipped that they can hold off the Empire?  Aaron also has some lazier moments here that I find surprising from him.  For example, at some point in this arc, the Empire put the captain of a rebel ship on the prow, damning him to freeze to death in the vacuum of space.  (Similarly, Aphra almost immediately freezes to death after Vader expelled her from his ship in "Darth Vader" #25.)  But, here, Han and Leia are able to float totally safely outside the ship.  Separately, one of the members of SCAR Squadron gives Sana a weapon so she can fight to the death honorably.  It's a really comic-book-y moment that interrupts the realism Aaron has used throughout this series.  SCAR Squadron had even fewer agents on the ship than the Rebels; they didn't really have the luxury of giving everyone a fighting chance.  Overall, it feels like Aaron was forced to rush the ending for reasons that aren't totally clear.  This arc had great promise, so it's sad to see it end with a whimper.

Star Wars:  Han Solo #5:  This issue ends pretty much the way I expected it to end, with the least likely candidate revealed to be the assassin and Han intentionally losing the race only to win.  Liu seemed to be writing for the trade with this series, because I'll admit I couldn't for the life of me remember why this "master list" was important.  I thought we just had to find the traitor?  But, more importantly, Liu manages to really sell Han's connection to Loo Re Anno, drawing a rare hint of emotion from Han as he contemplates his future of loneliness if he truly just sees himself "of the stars."  That said, Loo gets her happy ending as the gate at the end of the Dragon Void is revealed to be the connection to the rest of her people.  As a result, Han decides to stay with the rebellion for increasingly clear reasons, as he hand inches closer to Leia's.

Titans #5:  Abnett and Booth do their best to inject this issue with suspense, but it's ultimately hard to believe DC will get rid of Wally West five issues after they resurrected him.  As such, the tension we feel in this issue is mostly thanks to Booth's innovative panel arrangements, showing Wally's struggle to race faster than he's ever raced before.  Abnett also hints that the main point of this arc is Linda finally remembering Wally, perhaps because his sacrifice is so clear.  As such, it's particularly hard to believe he's lost in time; in fact, it feels like just another way to keep Linda and Wally apart, like we're in the umpteenth season of "Friends," where they're going to have to send Ross to prison for him not to be with Rachel.  My guess is we're going to see the Titans jump into the time stream to find Wally.  That could be interesting.  Here's hoping.

Also Read:  All-New X-Men Annual #1; Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1; Batgirl #6; Mighty Thor #12-#13; Prowler #2

Monday, January 30, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The November 16 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Batman #11:  The only real question here is why Bruce would've thought Catwoman would've stuck to the plan in the first place.  She's on death row for killing 237 people, so her decision to cut a deal with Bane in exchange for Bruce makes an abundant amount of sense.  After all, Bruce hadn't exactly made it clear how he was going to help Selena.  In all likelihood, the best he probably could've gotten her would be a commuted sentence, and I don't really think he should be surprised Selena didn't want to spend the rest of her life in prison.  The only remaining question is what role the Ventriloquist will play, since Bruce insists he is the only key component of his plan.  I guess we'll see. 

Captain America:  Sam Wilson #15:  This issue did my 13-year-old heart glad and not just because of D-Man being gay or the joke about Hostess Fruit Pies.  I love that Spencer is not only bringing back characters from Gruenwald's run, as he does with Battlestar here, but also making them relevant.  I wonder what Battlestar would think about John's crusade to wrest the shield from Sam, and I hope we get to see him discussing exactly that with John and/or Sam.  It goes to the point Spencer has Sam make here, about how it's nice to remember what it's like to be heroes.  Sam has allies, and it's probably time for him to lean on them more than he has.

Nightwing #9:  This issue works as a stand-alone issue as a nice exploration of Dick's relationship not just with Clark but also the rest of the DCnU.  But, it's mostly important because it re-introduces Blüdhaven.  Clark told Dick that he moved there in the DCU to be its protector, and Dick heads there at the end of this issue.  With the Parliament of Owls behind him, Dick is in search of a raison d'être, and it look like he might've just found one.  I regret never having read the original "Nightwing" series, and I'm stoken to get a chance to see Dick active in Blüdhaven.

Also Read:  Amazing Spider-Man #31; Black Panther #8; Justice League #8-#9; Pathfinder:  Worldscape #2