Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New-ish Comics ("HERE BE SPOILERS!")

Nova #7:  So, Sam Alexander arrogantly assumes that he can solve the world's problems, but instead screws up everything he touches.  He calls an actor wearing a wig "she-male" and "weird" and implies that a director who wants to cast him in a movie is a pedophile.  He wants to save the world, but only if it's sexy, meaning that he only grudgingly helps fix the playground that he destroyed in the first place.  Yeah, I'm really inspired to follow this character.  Bye, "Nova." You're pretty much a disgrace to the name, but, thankfully, everyone'll forget you in a few years.  (How's that feel, Wacker, huh?  Pretty good, right?  You're against continuity, as you saw in the letters page, so I guess that means you want everyone to forget everything you've done so that future authors don't sacrifice the story.  "Steve Wacker?  No clue.  Did he work at Marvel?  Really?  Huh.  Must've not had an impact.  Hey, I have an idea:  let's make Otto Octavius Spider-Man.  No one's tried that!")

Superior Spider-Man #16:  Honestly, I’m not really sure what Otto or Slott are trying to do at this point.  Phil went on a crime spree and Spidey decided to stop him.  OK, fine.  But, why the vendetta?  Given his aggressive approach and new technology, Otto would’ve likely made pretty quick work of Phil, had he engaged him one-on-one.  Instead, he throws everything he has at him – revealing his secret identity to the public, deploying his Spider-Patrol to find him, etc.  I mean, it wasn’t like he was trying to stop Dr. Doom from blowing up New York; he was trying to stop a twenty-something kid from robbing a few more jewelry stores.  Sure, Peter has always subscribed to the "broken windows" approach to crime-fighting as a result of his accidental role in Uncle Ben's death; Otto himself acknowledges in his public announcement why catching a small fish is important, given Spidey's history.  But, we're not dealing with Peter.  We're dealing with Otto (who no longer even has Peter's memories, making his comments about Uncle Ben all the weirder.)  Phil seems pretty beneath him, given the scale that he feels befits him.  I'm not saying that he wouldn't have confronted Phil if he had crossed his path, but it seems unlikely that Otto -- who previously expressed disdain for stopping the random purse-snatching, even with Peter's nagging voice in his head -- would see Phil as a threat that merited the level of attention that he pays him here.  (Otto even acknowledges that Phil was a minor threat in his TV interview after Phil is rescued.)  It actually makes him look weak, as if he were scared of Phil.  Unfortunately, Slott gives no real reason for why Otto attacks Phil the way that he does here, leaving you scratching your head at the end.

Moreover, the ease with which Otto dispatches Phil means that this issue has absolutely no tension.  I mean, Phil doesn’t even have the chance to turn into Hobgoblin.  He barely manages to pull his sword.  You have no doubt that Spidey and his superior force are going to stop him.  The only part of this story that could've captured the reader would exploring Phil's emotional response to watching his life collapse in such a spectacular fashion.  But, Slott has crammed so much into this issue – Captain Watanabe and Carly going after the Spider-Patrol, Captain America calling to reprimand Spidey – that he spends no time on it.  We just get random images of Phil under pressure, thanks to Ramos, not Slott.  (Even Norah's firing barely gets more than a panel.)  This issue seems like a great example of the missed opportunities that we’re seeing lately on this title.  The days of using Otto’s predicament as a meditation on the difficult decisions that Peter Parker often had to make as Spider-Man are gone.  Now, we’re just left with color-by-number fights with no emotional depth whatsoever.  Do we really think that Otto isn't going to be able to use his resources to take down a second-rate Green Goblin?  (Also, on that note, I'm increasingly convinced the "Goblin King" is Vin.)  Even Carly's search for answers lacks excitement, since it seems unlikely that she's going to find a way to expose Otto that doesn't expose Peter's secret identity and that results in someone being able to act on that information?  This series is just getting worse and worse.

X-Factor #261:  For every one of "The End" issues that I like, I seem to have one that I don't.  This one is unfortunately in the latter category, though, given that it involves two of my least favorite characters, I guess I'm lucky that it was this one and not the Rictor/Shatterstar one.

Like the Rahne story, this story feels rushed, leaving you wonder what David could've done if he had more than one issue to tell it.  For example, Darwin admits here that he was misled about Tier bringing about the end of the world, seemingly blaming it on Hela's possession.  But, why would Hela possessing him make what he thought he knew about Tier wrong?  In fact, if mass death was involved in his previous vision, wouldn't he more likely be able to ascertain that Tier was a threat rather than less likely, given Hela's possession?  We never really get an answer to those questions, in part because we move onto the revelation that Darwin is in love with Monet.  I've read "X-Factor" long enough to find that assertion plausible, so it's not a complete non sequitur.  Moreover, it makes sense that this confession and its consequences come a time when both characters are searching for someone to make them feel again.  But, we have to move quickly off exploring what it all means and onto Hela.  David seems to imply that Darwin and Monet found what they wanted here, something that I'm happy to believe.  But, I'm still not sure why Darwin would pass up the chance to be cured of Hela's possession.  Does he think that Monet only loves him this way?  If so, I'd buy that, I guess, but David doesn't really get a chance to fully explore that possibility.

You'll notice at this point I've spoken mostly about Darwin.  Monet is really a ghost here, barely having an impact beyond as a foil for Darwin.  Now that she's returned from the dead, she seems to conveniently have dropped her opposition to it, shown previously when she dismissed Guido as a soulless monster and inadvertently set the stage for the Hell on Earth War.  It would've been interesting for David to explore that, maybe even set up a conversation with her and Guido where she might tell him that she understood how he felt now.  But, again, David didn't really have time for that.

In the end, this issue is fine in and of itself.  In fact, the problem with it is that David really has struck on something in playing Darwin and Monet off each other, so it's a disappointment when you consider how much David is forced to leave on the table when it comes to both characters.

X-Men #4:  The parts of this issue that focus on the X-Men are the best, with Wood doing an amazing job of invoking the yesteryear's X-Men, full of leadership battles and personal tension.  But, man, I am over Jubilee.  Honestly, she and Wolverine are almost both unrecognizable here, making me just grit and bear their panels until I returned to the main story.  I'm pretty sure I'm done with this series post-"Battle of the Atom."

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