Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Amazing Spider-Man #171-#175 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming at the start of this next set of issues for a "whodunit" team-up with Nova.  (Thankfully, it doesn't involve the sentient computer from issue #155.)  If you look to the right of this page, you'll see a section entitled "The Nova Project," where I reviewed Rich Rider's most recent series and the related cross-over events.  Needless to say, I was excited about this arc.

In "Nova" #12, Rich has just gotten off the train and is waiting for his uncle, Dr. Ralph Rider, to come get him.  When he doesn't appear, Nova heads to the police station to use their phone, where he comes upon a panicked man telling a detective that someone has killed Dr. Rider.  Over the course of the issue, the detective discovers that six dudes were at Rider's house at the time of the murder:  his research assistant, his butler, three guys there to buy his latest invention (a "transistorized" nuclear device), and Peter Parker!  Peter was using Dr. Rider's "world-class" library when Photon burst into the room and killed Dr. Rider.  The unusually well connected detective is quickly able to discover unsavory information about the three potential buyers:  Franklin Risk is a cut-throat businessman, Harry Daze works for A.I.M., and Jason Dean represents the Maggia.  Moreover, Rider had just fired the fairly unhinged assistant, Michael Landon; he doesn't do himself any favors by repeatedly mentioning his desire to kill Rider as a result.  The butler apparently observed and overheard information to help the detective, but the detective suspiciously announces that Photon killed him off-panel before he could reveal Photon's identity.  I say "suspiciously" in part because we had seen the butler talking to the detective for a while; it's weird that he buried the lead and didn't immediately tell him Photon's identity.

In "Amazing Spider-Man" #171, the story continues as Nova and Spidey track down the suspects after they escape thanks to Risk pulling the plug on a lamp after the detective had assembled them in the same room.  (Apparently it's really dark in Long Island and people only use one lamp to light a room.)  A.I.M. arrives to help Daze, but it's a reappearing Photon that puts the kibosh on Nova and Spidey.  However, rather than killing them, he thankfully goes 1960s "Batman" TV show on them, having A.I.M. tie them to an anchor and drop them into the sea.  They manage to escape (surprising, I know) and return to Dr. Rider's house, which A.I.M. agents have under siege as they try to get the device.  The duo disables the agents and defeat Photon, revealed to be Dean in the end.  It makes sense, since Dean was the one to report the murder to the detective in the first place.  Spidey picked up the fact that Dean directed the detective to the library, even though Photon could've gone to a number of rooms in his initial search for Rider; only Photon himself would know that he killed him in the library.  The detective came to the same conclusion but for a more ridiculous reason:  Rider pulled out the July-December pages of a calendar, spelling out "JASON D."  I can't say that it's the best cross-over arc that I've ever read, but it was a fun diversion, convenient developments and ridiculous tricks aside.  (Plus, it was weird to see Rich with his '70s hair!)

After the solid Will o'Wisp, Faustus, and Nova stories, I thought that we were on a roll.  Unfortunately, we take a detour to Lizard/Stegron land here in issue #172.  It starts mid-"confrontation" with Rocket Racer.  I put "confrontation" in quotes because the entire four-page chase involves Rocket Racer expositing his powers.  Spidey melodramatically thinks to himself that Racer "may just be as great a menace as any I've ever faced before..." only to capture him five panels later.  (Yeah, he definitely makes Dr. Doom look like a chump.)  Wein then moves onto the next menace, someone that he had in the background last issue stalking Liz Allan.  We learn that it's the Molten Man:  he sent Liz, his step-sister, to steal chemicals from the hospital, but she's caught in the act and arrested.  She calls Peter for help, and he convinces Robbie Robertson to post bail.  Peter is worried that the incident will set back Harry in his convalescence.  (They had seen Liz hurry past the diner where they were eating the night of the crime, and she didn't respond to Harry's calls to her.)  Peter breaks into Liz's apartment as Spidey and, after seeing evidence of burns, realizes that it's Liz's step-brother and entraps him at the hospital, where he's gone to steal the chemicals himself.  However, the Molten Man escapes, leaving Spidey on the scene of the crime as the police arrive.

Although it's not the best scripted issue, this issue is interesting to me mainly for its portrayal of Liz.  First, this Liz Allan is very different from the one that we've seen running Alchemax in "Spider-Man 2099:"  it's probably like reading old "Thor" issues where Jane Foster is a nurse.  Here, she's shy, demure, and not a little bit hysterical.  But, Wein misses the opportunity to explore her character more.  For example, he doesn't even attempt to explain why Allan would go to such lengths to help her step-brother, particularly when it's clear that he doesn't think highly of her, after he refers to her as "imbecilic" in his internal monologue.  I get that he's been previously introduced, but it would've helped to remind us why Liz feels such a debt to him that she's willing to steal.  Second, it's the first issue where JJJ, Jr. expresses a romantic interest in Marla Madison.

Issue #173 picks up the scene right where we left it, though Spidey is basically reduced to a bumbling idiot.  Somehow one of the cops on the scene manages to shoot him in the shoulder (so much for his Spider-Sense), and he barely manages to fend off two hospital workers that then tackle him.  (Wein has vacillated between whether people treat Spidey as a hero or a menace throughout his run, but, in this arc, he's definitely viewed as a villain.)  Peter eventually escapes while, on the "other side of town," the Molten Man has a technician mix the chemicals that he swiped from the hospital into the formula that'll cure him.  It works briefly, and he celebrates becoming Mark Raxton again.  However, the cure fades, and he's quickly on fire.  For reasons that Wein doesn't totally explain, Raxton reveals that his temperature will keep on rising until he explodes.  He decides that he must see Liz again so that he doesn't die alone, and Robbie calls Peter onto the scene to take photos for the "Bugle."  Peter enters the building to make sure Liz is OK, but Raxton is beyond gone.  He keeps insisting on holding Liz, oblivious to the fact that he'd kill her if he did.  Peter fights him, but he eventually loses consciousness due to the pain in his shoulder.  It heightens the tension, as Liz is driven to the edge of the collapsing building ("collapsing" because of Raxton's heat).  Peter eventually recovers and saves her, and Raxton explodes.  Harry tries to comfort Liz, but she flees, saying that she destroys everything that she loves.  Wein still doesn't explain why Liz thinks that Raxton becoming the Molten Man is somehow her fault, but we're clearly supposed to believe that Liz leaving Harry (at least in the moment) is going to push him over the edge.

Outside the Molten Man plot, this issue has two significant developments.  First, Peter narrates that Dr. Connors bandaged up his arm, an assertion that raised both my eyebrows.  I feel like I probably would've asked a student who walked into my office asking for help with a gunshot wound how he got it, but Peter specifically mentions that he didn't ask.  Wein almost seems to be implying that Connors knows that Peter's Spider-Man, but I'm pretty sure that it's not true.  More importantly, Peter gets a letter from Empire State University telling him that he won't graduate from college because of his failing grades.  (As a side note, Liz's last name is misspelled "Allen" throughout the issue.)

I realize at this point that I'm developing a love/hate relationship with Wein, and issue #174 is the perfect example of it.  On the love side, Wein continues two hallmarks of his run that I appreciate.  First, it's his ability to really embrace comic books as a serial.  Sure, the constant appearance of the mysterious goons that the Kingpin hired early in Wein's run got tiring.  But, overall, his commitment to assembling stories issue after issue is something I appreciate.  For example, here, Peter is still smarting from the gunshot wound that he got last issue, a wound exacerbated by his confrontation with the Molten Man later in that issue.  It makes the story more realistic, since it's not like Peter regenerates his body anew every issue like most other authors have their heroes do.  Second, Wein reminds us that these stories happen in a larger context by constantly pulling in guest stars.  In this issue, the Punisher returns, and we've already seen Nightcrawler and Nova in the last few issues.  Moreover, Wein combines both patterns in keeping us updated on the events in the lives of Peter's supporting cast in each issue.  Here, Peter's concern that Liz's troubles with the Molten Man will impact Harry comes true:  Liz has left him, and Harry attacks Flash when he implies that maybe it was for the better if she didn't appreciate everything Harry has done for her.  Again, Wein actually makes sure that actions have consequences, a welcome change of pace, particularly for comics of that era.

Moving onto the actual plot of the issue, the People's Liberation Front (PLF) has hired the Hitman to kidnap JJJ, Jr. to convince him to stop publishing negative editorials about them.  Lucky for him, the Punisher had just run into a group of PLF terrorists, and one of them divulged that Jameson was their next target.  Plus, Peter had just entered the newsroom when the hostage situation started.  Here, we get to the "hate" partPeter and the Punisher unexpectedly burst into Jonah's office at the same time, and bungling shenanigans (similar to what we saw last issue in the hospital room) ensue.  The Hitman is able to escape with Jonah to the rooftop, where he's called his remote-controlled, two-person helicopter.  Peter manages to web up his goggles and tries to escape with JJJ, Jr., but Jonah refuses to go with him, giving the Hitman enough time to clean off the webbing.  Peter's busted shoulder means that the Hitman is able to overpower him, and we end the issue with the Punisher ill-advisedly opening fire on the helicopter as the Hitman tries to depart with a recaptured Jonah.  In terms of the soap opera that is Peter's life, we also learn that the Dean has told him that he can't help him graduate, so Peter'll need to take make-up courses.

Then, we have issue #175.  It's...odd.  On one hand, it's actually a remarkably solid Punisher story.  The Punisher assures Spidey that he's not trying to kill Jonah; he's only aiming at the engine of the helicopter.  (That "assurance" seems pretty irrelevant, since Spidey's concern that he's shooting at the helicopter with Jonah in the line of fire is still valid).  The Hitman escapes, but Spidey manages to land a tracer on his helicopter.  As they follow it, we learn that the Hitman once saved Frank's life in 'Nam (hence why he seemed to recognize him when he burst onto the roof in the last issue).  He was later discharged for mental instability, and Frank reveals that he had always suspected him of being the Hitman but wasn't sure until he saw his face.  The pair find the tracer at an abandoned barn, and they get the two henchman fixing the helicopter there to reveal that the Hitman and Jonah are en route to the Statue of Liberty.  There, we learn that the nutjob running the PLF doesn't want to convince Jonah to stop publishing anti-PLF editorials:  he plans to explode the Status of Liberty with Jonah on it as a message to other publishers.  Peter and the Punisher arrive in the now-repaired helicopter, and the Hitman takes out the head of the PLF when he pulls a gun on him (arguing that his contract only called for him to deliver Jonah, as he did).  The denouement is a familiar one for this period:  in the ensuing fight, both Hitman and Jonah are left hanging on one of the spikes of the Statue of Liberty's crown.  Spidey is holding Jonah (whose hands are tied behind his back so can't help himself), but his injured shoulder is going.  Frank has to decide who to help, haunted by the promise that the Hitman made him make in 'Nam, that he owed him a life.  He helps Jonah, and the Hitman gets philosophical as he falls to his death, commenting that he never made Frank promise that it'd be his life that he'd save.  Frank is distraught over the Hitman's death, but Spidey hypothesizes that it seemed like he wanted to go and that he was now at peace.  Frank comments that the Hitman's war is over, but his war isn't.  Separately, during a therapy session, Harry snaps, assaulting Dr. Hamilton.

I said that this issue is odd, because Wein overuses terms like "friend" and "pal."  It seems like a minor point, I know, but it's really distracting, as the Hitman, Punisher, and Spidey constantly use it with each other, like a group of fraternity brothers calling each other "brah" while playing hackysack.  It's unfortunate, because I think that it's really one of Wein's more solid stories.  Everything flows naturally; although the scheme to blow up JJJ, Jr. on the Statue of Liberty is ludicrous, I bought it, because Wein makes it clear that the head of the PLF is, in fact, insane.  But, the "friends" and "pals" distract from the grim story that Wein is telling.

At any rate, this issue of series continues a pretty strong streak for Wein.  I might have a nit-pick here or there or an occasional issue might be weird (like issue #172, where Wein introduces Rocket Racer).  But, most of the stories now are solid, and Wein continues to make the most of Spidey's supporting cast.  Overall, we've definitely turned the page since the Lizard/Stegron debacle.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Amazing Spider-Man #166-#170 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

It's been about six months since I posted my first round of reviews of the 1970s era of "Amazing Spider-Man."  I just re-read my first three posts about them, and I'll say that the next three posts will have a more positive spin on Wein's run.  It's not all good -- in fact, the first two issues of this review aren't exactly winners -- but overall Wein seems to have tightened his story telling.  He's largely ditched the deus ex machinas -- a major weakness of the early part of his run -- and he's amped up the use of Peter's supporting cast -- a major strength of his run.  If this trend continues, I could see him really ending in top form.

However, as I said, the first two issues of this next batch aren't stellar.  Although I acknowledge that comics in the 1970s were chock-full of corny dialogue, Wein really takes the cake in issue #166.  He overuses the shtick where Stegron elongates all his "s"-es, making it hard to get through his parts of the text.  (In a later letters page, the editor says that Wein actually refrained from using this shtick more, with words that started with an "s" sound, but not an actual "s."  If he had, this issue would've been unreadable.)  Compounding the problem, he has Stegron -- in fact, all the characters -- provide a running narration of all of his actions.  Show, don't tell, Len!  Between the "s"-es and the monologuing, this issue was a chore.  Unfortunately, the plot didn't help matters.  The issue finds Spider-Man confronting the Lizard and Stegron at the same time, and Spidey risks delivering the cure to the Lizard even though it exposes him to Stegron's attacks.  In the end, it was a good decision, since a reverted Doc Connors magically whips up a device from material lying around Stegron's sewer hide-out.  This device somehow reverts the rampaging dinosaurs that Stegron reanimated to skeletons.  (Again, later issues might've ditched the science-defying deus ex machinas, but this one definitely doesn't.)  Stegron escapes, but he's undone by the fact that the December cold renders him immobile.  In an example of pet peeve #3, he acknowledges that it was probably a stupid idea to launch his quest for global domination in December -- right before he inexplicably slips beneath some ice. Between this arc and the one where the Kingpin transferred Peter's life essence into his son, Wein should be sanctioned by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Oh, also, Harry proposes to Liz.

The good news is that Wein seems to have gone on vacation at some point between writing issues #166 and #167, because the latter one is a lot stronger.  Marla certifies that the Spider-Slayer is ready to use, and JJJ, Jr. is eager to do so.  He follows Peter, figuring that he'd encounter Spider-Man; his stalking brings about this self-fulfilled prophecy when Peter's Spider-Sense leads him straight to Jonah.  Their initial conversation is over quickly, but not before JJJ, Jr. lets slip that he has evidence to prove "who" and "what" Spider-Man really is.  Later, Spidey approaches Robbie about Jonah, and Robbie tells him that Jonah just sits in his office and cackles over some sort of file (the one that he received in issue #161 that seems to show that Peter is Spider-Man).  Abruptly, Robbie then berates Peter for coming to his home (as opposed to his office) for this information, throwing him from the car.  This sequence is odd, but I think that Wein intentionally made it so, implying that Robbie is having some problems.  (In a similar vein, Wein somewhat awkwardly introduces Harry's therapist, Bart Hamilton, in this issue, just in time for Flash to realize that he's having some "problems" and needs to talk to someone.  It's like Wein was watching too many Woody Allen movies.)

To complicate Peter's life even further, Will o' Wisp debuts in this issue.  Wein does a solid job of quickly establishing his m.o.:  he's desperate to return to his human form, but he has to commit crimes on the part of the man that made him this way to win his freedom.  Curiously, one of these jobs is to retrieve the file in Jonah's safe, though Wein doesn't yet reveal how the Wisp's mysterious employer knows about it.  But, Wein steadily builds the tension throughout the issue until the two plots spectacularly combine at the climax:  Peter faces the Wisp in Jonah's office over the file just as Jonah, as the Spider-Slayer, arrives to take down Peter.  Although we just did the "two villains at once" bit in the last arc, it comes together a little more naturally in this one.  (Turning quickly to Peter's personal life, he's in a better place with Mary Jane by this issue, since she's more accepting of his disappearing act, and Aunt May has become a community organizer after her landlord tries to revoke her rent-control.)

Issue #168 is another solid entry, putting the Lizard/Stegron arc behind us pretty quickly.  First, we learn, via Peter's inner monologue, that Will o'Wisp was actually trying to steal a different file from Jonah's safe.  (I don't think we ever learn what the file contained or how his boss knew that Jonah had it.)  Peter manages to set Will o'Wisp against Jonah, hoping to escape with the right file before anyone notices.  However, before Peter can flee, Will o'Wisp reverts to the form of a ball of energy and disappears.  We later learn that his creator, Jonas Harrow, can recall him at will, and he did so here, fearing that the delay meant that Will o'Wisp had gone rogue.  Learning of Spider-Man's interference, Harrow uses his control over Will o'Wisp to demand that he kill Spider-Man.  (We learn that this control comes from a device that Harrow installed in the Will o'Wisp when he came to him for help with his condition; it allows Harrow to dissipate him.)  Wein makes it clear that Will o'Wisp is devastated over the idea of killing someone, and he ultimately decides to spare Spidey's life when he has him on the ropes.  He tries to take out Harrow, who he had earlier recognized as a bystander in the crowd watching their fight, but Harrow does successfully dissipate him.

Meanwhile, in between the fights, Peter opened the right envelope and discovered the photo of him with his clone.  Realizing that Jonah either thinks that he is Spider-Man or that Spider-Man killed him, Peter hatches a plan involving his dark room.  Happily for Peter, he also gets in some pretty obvious nookie time with Mary Jane, who stopped by his apartment and made some tea for them when she realized that he was in the dark room.  Wein and his predecessors have done a solid job of not spelling out the fact that Peter and Mary Jane are having sex, keeping everything Comics Code friendly.  But, when Peter exhorts Mary Jane to let the kettle whistle, it's pretty clear that he doesn't just want some snuggles.

Wein brings the mystery of the envelope to a somewhat false conclusion in issue #169.  When Jonah confronts Peter with the photos, we learn that he believes that Spider-Man killed Peter and he's been wearing a mask to impersonate him.  Peter then deploys his plan, using photos that he reverse-engineered from the originals to prove to JJJ, Jr. that his photos were forgeries.  Jonah rebounds quickly, asking how someone made forgeries if Peter had the originals.  Peter didn't see that coming, but he also is light on his feet, hypothesizing that Harry Osborn had access to those photos when they were roommates during his Green Goblin era.  Jonah announces that he's convinced, but it happens too quickly, particularly for a plot that Wein has been brewing for nine issues.  Wein has to be holding back something.  That said,  he also informs us that Jonah left behind the photos at Peter's (and Peter promptly destroyed them), so maybe it really is the end of that particular plot (at least until we learn who sent Jonah the photos in the first place).

A jubilant Peter spends some time Web-Slinging, where he eventually stumbles upon some cloaked men entering a building.  He shakes down one of them, and the goon sends Spidey to an abandoned subway tunnel.  There, other similarly dressed goons are waiting to do something (Wein doesn't specify) with a laser cannon that their boss bought from the Tinkerer.  Spidey makes quick work of them and expects the boss that dramatically enters the room to be the Kingpin:  however, it's really Dr. Faustus.  We're treated to a particularly over-the-top villain's monologue in issue #170, where Faustus explains not only how he survived his apparent death during a battle with Captain America but also conveniently (again) reveals his only fear, of heights.  The good news is that the issue improves significantly from there.  The aforementioned laser canon is meant to break down a wall with a secret lab, and Faustus gases Peter with his "specially prepared cigarette" to get him to lead the way through the security systems.  (Did he expect Spidey to stumble upon them somehow?  I assume that he had a Plan A, but Wein doesn't say what it was.)  At the lab, Faustus reveals that he plans on introducing his own "psychogenic additive" to the "antelope flu vaccine" that the government plans on distributing within days, in advance of a projected epidemic.  However, Spidey is standing under a vent that conditions the air in the lab, and it eventually clears his head.  He then faces a pretty tough battle with Faustus, defeating him only by re-activating the security system as Faustus attempted to flee.  In other developments, with the JJJ, Jr. photo drama resolved (at least for now), Wein introduces a new nefarious background threat, some guy that rents Aunt May's house with the hope of learning its secret.

Again, although the first two issues of this set of reviews were rough, the Will o'Wisp and Faustus issues were solid.  Both posed a real threat to Spidey, and Wein resolved the fights with resorting to the aforementioned science-defying deus ex machinas.  Moreover, he's really doing stellar work with the supporting cast, particularly now that he's settled on a clear personality for Mary Jane.

Monday, June 20, 2016

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

Amazing Spider-Man #12:  The only parts of this issue that I enjoyed were the ones where we didn't have to deal with Peter.  Slott does a solid job of introducing Regent into Prime Earth continuity, showing us that his vendetta against superhumans comes from an attack that left his wife and child dead.  (You'd think he'd be looking just to lock up superhumans, but instead he thinks that the world would be a better place if he alone had their powers.  It's the megalomania that helps you recognize a super-villain!)  But, the rest of the issue shows a return of an almost Austen level of misogyny, with Peter and Tony Stark all but measuring their penises after Peter is outraged that Tony hired Mary Jane as his personal assistant.  Peter even goes so far as to offer a job to Pepper Potts, since, after all, all women are the same.  Moreover, it's not like Tony was acting from a business perspective, since I'm pretty sure other people were more qualified to serve as his personal assistant that a former actress/nightclub owner.  To make matters worse, it's hard to recognize the relationships that Slott portrays here.  He has Tony Stark essentially forget that Mary Jane and Peter lived with him (though he could be fronting), and Peter's panic over seeing Mary Jane with Tony seems to ignore the fact that he's seen her date other people, including that firefighter (who she could potentially still be dating, since, despite Peter's childish conclusions, she's not actually dating Stark).  Slott further reduces Peter to his high-school self, as he panics speaking in public after his "confrontation" with Tony.  I think it might be time for Slott to take a break for a few issues so that he can decide who he wants Peter to be.  That said, maybe he really has decided that he's a misogynistic, superior asshole.  If so, it's time for him to go.

Spider-Man 2099 #10:  Venom 2099!  Miguel returns to the future in this issue, after stumbling upon the Fist's attempt to use Gloriana as an anchor for its time-travel technology.  (They were going to send back Kweeg, but Aisa took the opportunity to send back Miguel when he fell on the platform.)  He's greeted by an Alchemax HQ that looks like an overgrown fortress, but it's Kron's presence that implies that this iteration might be closer to his reality than other ones.  (Someone in this issue hypothesizes that it's Kweeg's presence in the present that causes the distorted future, an assertion possibly confirmed by Kweeg changing his name to Venture after hearing Spidey use it.)  Regardless of the outcome, it's just exciting to have finally returned to 2099, at least for a little while.  Plus, the next issue teases the return of the Green Goblin, setting up the possibility that Miguel will be fighting with both his brothers.

Uncanny X-Men #6-#7:  I haven't been reading "Uncanny X-Men," so these issues felt a little like getting thrown into the deep end.  First, we've got the mysteries of the two Warrens:  the one in his Angel form that appears to be the amnesiac from "Wolverine and the X-Men" (despite Psylocke declaring that he's not Warren) and the one in his Archangel form that appeared half-dead before Magneto several months ago.  (I stopped reading "Wolverine and the X-Men" before its last iteration got started, so I'm not actually sure what happened to that version of Angel, like whether or not he ever recovered his memories.)  Moreover, I also have the mystery of Magneto.  Last time I saw him, I think in the "AXIS" tie-in issues of his own series, he was using mutant-growth hormones to amplify his fading powers.  If I'm connecting the dots correctly here, he's now using Xorn to heal him.  (I'm just assuming here that Xorn as a separate character from Magneto happened in the years when I wasn't reading comics.)  Finally, we've got the fact that the amnesiac form of Angel is colluding with Genocide, Apocalypse's son, for reasons that are unclear.  We also don't know how this development ties into the events of "Extraordinary X-Men."  In other words, Bunn has a tall order to fill next issue.  That said, I'm tempted to get the first five issues of this series, because I did enjoy these two issues.  (I'm also tempted to read Remender's "Dark Angel" saga, but I've go to draw the line somewhere at this point.)

Also Read:  Detective Comics #52, Midnighter #12; New Avengers #11; Spider-Gwen #8; Star Wars:  Poe Dameron #2

Friday, June 17, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The April 27 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Amazing Spider-Man #11:  I've read a lot of time-travel stories.  Most of them I don't like, because they're either too confusing or they fail to think through the impact of characters' actions in the past on the present.  This one?  This story takes the cake.  Vernon reveals himself to be the grandson of the original Scorpio and uses the Zodiac Key and the Orrery to open up a doorway that allows him to see a year into the future.  (Slott doesn't explain who created the doorway.  He just tells us that the other Scorpios didn't use it is because it required a specific alignment of the planets to open.  We do learn that the Zodiacs are ordinary civilians turned into Scorpio's henchman via masks, though I was pretty sure that Slott had hinted in previous issues that they were LMDs "related" to Scorpio.)  Spidey doesn't know what he should do, so he simply shoves Scorpio through the door, allegedly a year into the future.  [Sigh.]  Can he maybe just fight the Shocker next issue?

Avengers Standoff:  Assault on Pleasant Hill - Omega #1:  As I mentioned in a previous review, I haven't really had much to say about this event, since it's been extremely well done.  The ending is no less satisfying.  The World Council finally seems ready to hold Maria Hill accountable for her remarkable string of disasters, Wendell Vaughn (one my favorite characters from the '80s) has returned to train a new Quasar, and several classic Avengers villains -- namely Baron Zemo and the Red Skull -- have returned to prominence.  Most importantly, the series has brought together the two major Avengers teams, with Steve Rogers realizing the importance of looking past their differences and working together.  (Just in time for "Civil War II!")  The only remaining question hanging over the series is that I'm not entirely sure if Spencer ever explained why we had two Maria Hills, though I'm just going to chalk up that oddness to Kobik.  But, given that most of these events end with me having no clue what I just read, one loose end is pretty much an A+ on the curve.

Batman #51:  This issue is like something you'd read in "Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, Part IV" a one-off tale focusing on the legend of Batman.  It explores the role that Batman plays in Gotham, picking up the theme from "Superheavy" of Batman inspiring people to be their own heroes (as opposed to scaring villains into going straight, as he's normally portrayed).  The most notable part of it, though, is Bruce exhibiting something akin to a sense of humor.  The narrator of the issue refers to Gotham as having gotten lighter since Batman came on the scene, and this remark seems to Snyder's way of driving home the idea that Bruce himself may be lighter after his "death."  It seems that it's not just the physical scars that have gone.  The issue also wraps up Snyder and Capullo's run.  I've been pretty open about the fact that I found Snyder's time portraying Dick Grayson as Batman to be a much more compelling run.  I never bought into his view of Batman as functionally incompetent, as we often saw him be during events like "Night of the Owls" and "Death of the Family."  But, in the wake of "Batman and Robin Eternal," I feel happy at least with the way that Snyder is leaving him.  He's whole for the first time in a long time, both in terms of his emotional and physical well-being as well as his relationships.  Onwards and upwards!

Grayson #19:  Again, this issue isn't exactly full of heart, but Lanzing and Kelly give us the answers that we wanted, for the most part.  Dr. Dedalus has taken over Helena, revealing that his plan was always to be resurrected (and not to pass on his title to one of his daughters, as they thought).  That said, Luka shoots her sister to earn the right to join him as Leviathan.  However, she eventually has enough and attempts to assassinate him, to take her place at the center of the web.  Of course, he expected that and (a little too easily) throws her from a train.  Meanwhile, Maxwell Lord reveals that he created Mr. Minos (a "radical Wikileaks wannabe" to whom he anonymously gave resources) in order to get the identities of the Justice League members.  A dying Dr. Netz's last act is to destroy the archive, bringing this series full circle.  (Hilariously, Lord describes Minos creating the Justice League gestalt as Minos going mad with power, dismissing a plot from early in the series that still doesn't make much sense to me.)  Meanwhile, Tiger is revealed to have been a Checkmate agent focused on stopping Dedalus from the start, and he and Dick fight to get to Helena:  Tiger to kill her, Dick to save her.  We'll see which one wins next issue!

Justice League #49:  Is Darkseid Superwoman's baby daddy?  Is that the threat to Mobius?  At this stage, we still don't know why Mobius wants to return to his chair and, presumably, become the Anti-Monitor again.  But, to make matters worse, Johns adds another layer of confusion here, as we learn that Grail believes that the Anti-Life Equation can do something other than destroy.  (I believe Myrina hinted at that in the "Justice League:  Darkseid War - Special" #1.)  Honestly, it's getting hard to see how Johns is going to wrap up this "event" in three issues.

Star Wars #18:  Seriously, I don't know how many times I can say it, but this series continues to be the best one on the market, hands down.  I don't know how Aaron does it, but, after 18 issues, he still manages to get the characters' voices exactly right.  Even new characters, like, Dr. Aphra and Sana, "sound" like I think they should sound.  Moreover, everyone reacts to situations the way that you'd expect them to react:  Leia remains determinedly in charge even as chaos erupts around her, Han is confident in his bravado, etc.  Aaron also constantly shows us that it's only the tip of the iceberg.  In this issue alone, we've got Leia trying to discover the identity of the guy that took over Sunspot Prison as well as the mysterious beef that Aphra and Sana have.  Aaron makes it clear that it's a big galaxy with a lot of great stories.

Also Read:  Batgirl #51; Dark Knight III:  The Master Race #4; Ms. Marvel #6; Spidey #5

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The April 20 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Dragon Age:  Magekiller #5:  Given that the other blog that I write is about "Dragon Age," I was obviously excited about this miniseries.  I was particularly excited that it was set in Tevinter.  As I said in my review of the first issue, I figured that it might be a prelude for the upcoming "Dragon Age 4."  After the second issue, it seemed clear that Rucka would use Marius as his tool to introduce us to the Imperium, particularly through exploring Marius' past a slave.  Then...we just didn't do that.  The characters are somewhat awkwardly brought to the attention of the Inquisition in the third issue, revealing that the series actually takes place during the game.  I barely remember the fourth issue, other than its forced introduction of a relationship between Tessa and Charter, seemingly done solely to introduce doubt into Tessa's mind about her relationship with Marius.  This issue is entirely focused on those doubts, as Marius and Tessa play a minor role in the Inquisitor's eventual confrontation with Corypheus.  Instead of showing us unseen parts of an unexplored continent and delving into the history of the series' main characters, Rucka leaves us with little more than a coda to the game and a not very interesting one at that.  The squandered potential here really leaves me bummed.

Extraordinary X-Men #9:  I don't have too much to say about this issue, since, after all, not a lot happens:  Anole, Ernst, Glob Herman, and No-Girl are forced to wander through the six lands that remain in post-Apocalyptic Earth as they try to find a way to contact the X-Men.  But, I have to give Lemire props for characterization and imagination.  On the latter, we learn that Apocalypse found these six lands -- including Atlantis and Wakanda -- worthy and preserved them in bubbles; everything else on Earth is gone.  It's a clever twist on Apocalypse's "survival of the fittest" mantra; I didn't think it was even remotely possible to add anything new to Apocalypse stories, so I take off my hat to Lemire for finding something.  But, this issue is really made by the conversation that the kids have on the raft, with Anole and Glob Herman lamenting that they'll likely never get a chance to ask out their crushes (Striker and Jean Grey, respectively) as Ernst wishes that they could just go home.  The kids wind up stuck in the bubble worlds for a year, and Lemire and Ramos show us how much more experienced and powerful they are at the end of it.  But, it's this conversation on the raft that reminds us that they're just kids, making where they are at the end of the issue all the more impressive (and sad).

Also Read:  All-New Hawkeye #6; Bloodshot Reborn #12; Captain America - Sam Wilson #8; Captain Marvel #4; Mighty Thor #6; New Avengers #10

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The April 13 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Amazing Spider-Man #9:  In this issue, we learn that Peter can not only survive a plunge to Earth from low orbit, but can also survive immediately getting a car dropped on him and later jumping off a high-speed train.  No problem.  Apparently he got Deadpool's healing factor at some point during the re-boot.  [Sigh.]  Also, the "Parker luck" seems to have changed:  he survives his initial fight with Scorpio because Scorpio had to leave immediately, unable even to pull the trigger on his gun.  Sure, Scorpio could've just shot Spidey in the head while he waited for the self-driven motorcycle that Gemini sent to whisk him to the train station.  Instead, he complained to Gemini via their comm-link about not having the time to shoot SpideyUnfortunately, the price for getting Deadpool's healing factor and Domino's luck is that he's apparently become an idiot:  we learn that he's turned over all of Parker Industries' secrets to Scorpio's civilian identity, Vernon Jacobs, because he's the company's largest investor.  I don't really think companies are run that way, where major share-holders can snap their fingers and get all the codes for everything.  But, then again, I didn't think Spider-Man could leap from a satellite in low orbit and survive the fall, so what do I know?  [Another sigh.]  It may really be time for Slott to go.

Illuminati #6:  I've been really enjoying "Avengers Standoff."  It reminds me of "Acts of Vengeance" and some of the other really well done cross-over events of the '90s.  It's just been fun.  Sure, you get the ethical debate between Maria Hill and Steve Rogers in the background, but we've been dancing that dance for years.  Until this issue, the only hint of emotion was the revelation that Maria Hill was planning on using Kobik on herself.  But, here, Williamson does the impossible, turning Crusher Creel into a sympathetic character as he deals with the repercussions of his time in Pleasant Hill.  Namely, Crusher has to confront the fact that it was the happiest that he's ever been, a happiness enjoyed in no small part due to his crush on "Eva," a.k.a. Elektra.  Eventually, Elektra has to stop him from killing innocent bystanders as he rampages through Pleasant Hill, and Henderson does an amazing job contrasting their fight scene with the dance that "Harold" and "Eva" shared the previous evening.  If you're reading this cross-over event, you have to read this issue, because it gives the event its heart.  Who knew even Crusher Creel had depths?

Spidey #4:  Um, I loved this issue.  Seriously.  Sure, it's jokey, but it's jokey because Peter's jokey.  Underneath the quips, it actually walks us through the challenges that Peter faced as an adolescent hero, particularly the loneliness that he felt at the start of his career, when he alone carried his secret.  Oddly, it's Doctor Doom and a boy wearing a Spidey mask named Owen that help him work through it.  Doom insists people like them are always lonely, but Owen reminds him not only why he does what he does (because he's a good guy, unlike Doom), but that he's got people that support him (even if they're just kids with jelly sandwiches).  It's a really touching story, and it makes me increasingly feel like Thomson really has something going here, continuity aside.

Also Read:  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4; All-New X-Men #8; All-New, All-Different Avengers #8; Darth Vader #18 and #19; Pathfinder:  Hollow Mountain #5; Spider-Gwen #7; Star Wars Special:  C-3PO #1

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The March 30 and April 6 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

All-New X-Men #7:  Hopeless legitimately makes you wonder if he's going to kill Scott here, as he has to collapse a tunnel on himself to escape Toad.  It's a remarkable feat, given how cynical of a comic-book reader I am, so I felt that it merited mentioning.

Detective Comics #51:  You have to wonder if Tomasi knew the DCnU was ending or if he's going to have to wrap up this story more quickly than he expected.  After all, this story feels like the start of an ambitious arc, as Jim Gordon travels to Afghanistan to discover who (or what) is killing his former unit mates.  It's a gripping story, with Tomasi doing an amazing job of really immersing you into the lives of the people fighting our foreign wars.  I do have two nitpicks, though.  First, Jim doesn't seem to think through the implications of him appearing as Jim Gordon on the base and then as Batman to shake down the crooked Colonel.  Rookie mistake, Jimbo.  (That said, I don't think that the Colonel is going to survive long enough to put two and two together.)  Second, I'm still not sure how old we're supposed to believe Jim is.  We invaded Afghanistan in 2001Even if Jim was in the Marines at the start of the war -- in that first wave -- it means that he's only been a cop for 15 years.  But, he does have a daughter old enough to be in a Ph.D. program.  Even if he had her at 18 years old and Barbara herself is 24 years old, he's got to be at least 42 years old.  Did he become a cop at 27 years old?  Was he in the Marines until then?  That said, Barbara has always remembered him as a cop, not a soldier, so it actually implies that he left the Corps before she could remember.  Did he leave almost immediately after she was born, say, when he was 20 years old.  If so, what did he do between 20 and 27?  Was he a cop in Chicago during that time?  Oh, well.  We're going to reboot the whole universe in an issue anyway, so I guess that it doesn't matter.

Spider-Man 2099 #9:  My problem with this issue is that I still really have no idea who David wants us to believe that Tempest -- or, for that matter, her mother, Cecilia -- is.  In fact, Tempest seems to be a totally different character now -- with an entirely different history -- than she originally was.  When we first met Tempest, she was the foul-tempered super at the crappy apartment building where Miguel rented a place.  She had cancer, her mother "never gave a damn about [her] growing up" (series 2, issue #11), and her father wanted a boy so took her to "every game he could afford" (series 2, issue #2).  However, David has been straying from this script significantly.  First, we don't really have any idea what Tempest is doing now that she and Miguel are together, though it seems like she's no longer a super.  Then, we learn that her mother is a mutant (or, knowing Marvel, an Inhuman), that she kept Tempest isolated for fear that she had inherited her powers, and that she murdered her Mob-connected second husband when she discovered that he used to take hidden-camera photos of Tempest.  I'm assuming that it's not the same father that took her to the ball games, particularly since her mom mentions that Tempest never liked him.  (No wonder.)  The problem with that theory is that Tempest's mom also says in this issue that Tempest's birth father abandoned them when she was four years old.  It's hard to believe that she'd remember games she attended as a three-year-old.  So, which is it?  Moreover, is Cecilia just a caring mother that scared away Miguel for his own good, as she claims here?  Hiring Man Mountain Marko seems to be taking that approach to an extreme.  Or, is it more sinister, like she whacked her husband and took over his criminal empire ?  Do we just blame it on "Secret Wars?"  It's all unclear.

Uncanny Avengers #8:  I don't think that I've commented on "Avengers Standoff," mainly, I think, because I'm actually enjoying it.  It's a little decentralized, but that format actually helps highlight the confusion that the characters themselves feel.  The problem that I had in this issue has nothing to do with "Standoff," though.  Duggan has Deadpool claim that Steve put him on the team to remind the other members that everyone wasn't gods.  It's a fair point...but one undermined by the fact that he's not in his costume when he delivers it.  As a result, we see his cancer-ridden body, and we're reminded how extraordinary his healing factor is.  Black Widow and Hawkeye are powerless humans that remind us that all the Avengers aren't gods:  Deadpool doesn't really fit in that category.

Also Read:  Amazing Spider-Man #1.4; Batgirl #50; Batman and Robin Eternal #26; Black Panther #1; Captain America:  Sam Wilson #7; Justice League of America #8; Justice League:  Darkseid War - Special #1; Midnighter #11; New Avengers #9; Spider-Man #3; Star Wars:  Poe Decameron #1

Monday, June 13, 2016

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

Batman #50:  The revelation that Daryl is the inventor of the technology that created Bloom is a sad but brilliant twist.  Brilliant, because Snyder makes it very clear that he knew exactly what he was doing with Daryl from the moment that he first appeared.  Sad, because Snyder is also showing us how desperation can push someone like Daryl over the edge.  We learn that Daryl tested the original seed on his cousin Peter, explaining how he plummeted from the sky (and presumably survived the four gunshot wounds) in "Batman" #44.  Re-reading my review of that issue, Snyder had us believe that Bloom gave Peter some sort of serum to gain his powers, but I think that Batman was forced to draw that conclusion based on the information available at the time.  Daryl is more or less correcting the record here (I think).  Peter never met Bloom, because Bloom (as we know him) wasn't created until after his death.  Instead, after Peter's death, Daryl started experimenting on homeless people; one of them steals the seeds and becomes Bloom.  Amazingly, it means that even Daryl doesn't know who Bloom is.  Although we've seen hints throughout "Superheavy" that Bloom knows Gordon, we're really not left with more information about his identity than that.  In fact, all we really knew is that Bloom knew of Gordon:  any small-time hood could have the same vendetta against Gordon that Bloom has.  It's a great twist.  In the end, Snyder also makes it clear that it's been Gordon's story.  Bruce reminds Gordan that he defeated Bloom, and the pair explicitly discuss Bloom as Gordon's own version of the Joker.  I like the idea that Jim gets this collar as Batman, because it makes his time in the suit more real.  It also supports the lesson that Snyder wants us to take from this arc, that superheroes exist simply to inspire us to be the heroes that we need to be.  Snyder is saying that Jim didn't need to become Batman to be a hero; he always has been.

Grayson #18:  I haven't been a fan of Lanzing and Kelly's work on "Batman and Robin Eternal," generally finding it to be effective narratively but emotionally weak.  As such, I was worried when I saw that they've taken over the series from Seeley and King, particularly with so much left on the table.  However, their narrative effectiveness is exactly what this series needed, as they move through a lot of revelations as well as can be expected for replacement authors wrapping up a series earlier than expected (a DC hallmark if I've ever seen one).  They even manage to add an air of mystery to the affair, flipping our perspectives by implying here that Dr. Netz is actually the one trying to save Spyral and Luka is the agent of Leviathan.  For it to stick, though, they then have to explain why Dr. Netz and Agent 8 have been killing Spyral agents.  We'll see how they pull that rabbit from the hat.

Star Wars #17:  This issue is possibly the best issue ever.  First, we have the mysterious protagonist committed to doing what Leia won't, killing the prisoners in the titular "rebel jail."  (Is he the guy from the Annual?  Man, I hope so, because he was great.  After this arc, if he survives, I could totally see Leia employing him as the head of an "X-Force" sort of team.)  But, the best part is the fact that it throws Leia, Sana, and Aphra together as they try to stop the protagonist while simultaneously not get killed by the prisoners.  Aaron, Yu, and Gho all work together to create an "Alien" vibe to this story, and it's just a wonder to behold.

Also Read:  All-New Hawkeye #5; All-New, All Different Avengers #7; Batman and Robin Eternal #25; Bloodshot Reborn Annual #1; Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6; New Avengers #8

Friday, June 10, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The March 9 and 16 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Ms. Marvel #5:  Tyesha's younger brother, Gabriel, the "anarcho-atheist" angsty adolescent, steals this issue.  Really, even if you're not reading "Ms. Marvel," pick up this issue just to remember who you were at 16 years old (or recognize yourself as a current 16 year old).

Spider-Gwen #6:  Latour gives Gwen two wins here, and it really feels like the end of her origin arc.  First, she and Harry get to have a talk.  He claims that he was trying to avenge Peter, and she calls bullshit.  She argues that he felt small when Peter managed to transform his rage into the Lizard, and she admits that she felt small, too.  The difference between them is that she's trying to take responsibility for her actions, and she encourages him to do the same thing.  She also stresses to him that heroes are real people like her and that they make mistakes just like real people do.  She's technically talking about lying to Harry about her secret identity, but it's clear that they're also talking about her role in Peter's death.  In the process, she not only convinces Harry to forgive her, but she also seems to convince herself.  (The best part of their exchange is when she exhorts him not to let their story become Green Goblin vs. Spider-Woman.  It's really a moment.)  Moreover, we learn that she doesn't need to convince her father of her innocence.  He realized that she alone knew the truth about Spider-Woman's fight with the original Lizard.  Hinting that he knew that the Lizard was Peter, he ends his investigation, signaling that he trusts her not only with that truth but as Spider-Woman.  In fact, he's quit the force to support her, because he's realized that his way of fighting crime isn't the only way.  As such, Latour leaves her in a very similar place as our Peter Parker was after a similar number of issues:  although her Peter's death will always be her "Uncle Ben moment," her conscience is now clear, her relationships are in order, and it's time for her to show the world who Spider-Woman really is.

Spider-Man 2099 #8:  Tempest!

Also Read:  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3; All-New X-Men #6; Amazing Spider-Man #9; Batman and Robin Eternal #23 and #24; Black Knight #5; Captain Marvel #3; Detective Comics #50; Dragon Age:  Magekiller #4; Extraordinary X-Men #8; Mighty Thor #5; Red Wolf #4; Uncanny Avengers #7

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The March 2 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Batgirl #49:  Man, this series used to be so good.  [Sigh.]  In this issue, Frankie uses the scan of Babs' brain that became sentient to correct the parts of her brain that the Fugue damaged.  The problem that I have with this approach -- beyond the fact that "Batman" is featuring exactly the same device -- is that the scan came from before Babs met the Fugue.  As such, I don't get how uploading it allows her to remember that the Fugue conveniently (and I mean conveniently) told her his entire plan, since he was going to wipe her memory anyway.  When I have a bigger complaint than the villain telling the hero his plan, you know we're in trouble.

Spider-Man #2:  At some point in this issue, someone mentions Miles as being part of the "new generation" of heroes, and I realized that it's totally, totally true.  As someone who's been reading comic books for 30 years, I don't know if I ever really thought that we'd see this passing of the torch.  Every time that Marvel has tried to do it, it didn't stick.  (Were the "New Warriors" ever really going to be the next Avengers?)  Instead, Marvel was eventually forced to reverse course and shove Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and their various cohorts into the spotlight again.  But, something about this new group feels different.  Bendis does a brilliant job in showing Miles' conflicting emotions when a blogger exults in the fact that he's "brown," after the world saw part of his face through his ripped mask.  He doesn't want to be the "brown" Spider-Man; he just wants to be the Spider-Man.  Miles?  At this point, man?  I think you may already be my Spider-Man.  (That's probably the difference right there.)

Also Read:  Avengers Standoff:  Assault on Pleasant Hill - Alpha #1Batman and Robin Eternal #22; Darth Vader #17; Midnighter #10; Uncanny Avengers #6

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The February 24 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

All-New, All-Different Avengers #6:  As usual, Kang's appearance in an "Avengers" series leaves me with a headache.  Was it "Secret Wars" that made Kang get stuck in our time?  If so, why is he the only one stuck in the present?  Why can he move people and items through the time stream, but he can't move himself?  Do I care about the answers?  (That said, it was fun to be surprised that it was him, since I was sure that Mr. Gryphon was Loki.)  Turning to the gang, I love the friendship of Jane and Sam:  they're really the emotional heart of the series.  It's putting together probably the most selfless members of the group.

Batman and Robin Eternal #21:  Snyder and Tynion continue to emphasize the difference between Bruce and Mother, showing us that it all boils down to their response to the same trauma:  the murder of their parents.  Whereas Bruce responded by going crazy, Mother responded by going even crazier.  (That said, her entire village was slaughtered and the guys that did it stabbed her a few times to make sure that she was actually dead.  It's not exactly unreasonable for her to have lost her marbles in that situation.)

Justice League #48:  Wait, Mobius is the Anti-Monitor?  Weren't they two separate people?  We learn in this issue (I think) that Mobius killed Darkseid to be separated from the Anti-Life Equation (and, presumably, his chair, though I'm not entirely sure if they're connected).  If he went to all this effort to be separated from the Equation, why does he want to be connected with it again?  Beyond some clarity in his motivations, we also could really use a diagram showing us how the Anti-Life Equation, the Anti-Monitor, the chair, and Mobius are connected.

Spider-Man 2099 #7:  Jesus Christ, I'm tired of the forced Inhumans stories.  First, I didn't realize that the guy last issue was Lash.  I mean, not that I really know who Lash is, since I've been intentionally skipping the various Inhumans series.  But, I do vaguely recognize him from the Point One series (I think).  Even though I recognized him, I still don't understand what his deal is.  The good news is that I know that I don't care.

Also Read:  All-New X-Men #5; Amazing Spider-Man #1.3; Bloodshot Reborn #11; Dark Knight III:  The Master Race #3; Grayson #17; New Avengers #7; Pathfinder:  Hollow Mountain #4

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The February 17 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Amazing Spider-Man #8I don't know how Slott's managing it, but this series keeps getting worse and worse with each issue.  First, we have pet peeve #1 in full effect here, with the intro page informing us that Ling is Peter's girlfriend.  (I mean, sure, she was feeding him dumplings a few issues ago, but it's exactly the fact that she hadn't been introduced as his girlfriend that made that sequence so weird.)  But, to make matters even worse, Peter is totally happy to overlook her being both the Parker Industries mole and trying to kill him simply because she was doing it to save her mom.  Hopefully he'll extend that same courtesy to the reformulated Sinister Six when they eventually attack him under the direction of the mysterious guy bringing back their families.  After all, they'll just be doing it for their families.  Also, Slott doesn't even bother explaining why Ling didn't feel comfortable asking her genius boyfriend running a cutting-edge bio-technology firm to help with her mother's illness.  [Sigh.]

Batman and Robin Eternal #20:  Aha!  I was wondering how Mother was somehow going to get control of the children of the world, but it makes total sense that she'd use Spyral's Somnus satellite to broadcast the Ichthys virus around the world.  Given how "Batman Eternal" discovered new and improved ways to defy logic, I can't believe that this revelation makes so much...sense.

Extraordinary X-Men #7:  It's interesting that Sunfire helped Scott do...whatever it is that he did.  That said, it's still unclear to me if the public thinks that whatever it is that Cyclops and Sunfire did caused the M-Pox (or the "cloud cancer") or if it's something else entirely.  I guess we'll see.

Mighty Thor #4:  OK, we have a full rebound here.  Between Freya's diatribe against Odin and Thor's amazing entry onto the scene here, I can't wait to see what the ladies do to show Odin just how much the patriarchy is done and done.

Also Read:  Avengers Standoff:  Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1; Dragon Age:  Magekiller #3; Star Wars #16

Monday, June 6, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The February 10 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Batman #49:  This issue is brilliant.  Snyder brings back Batman without lying to us, something that I wasn't sure that he'd be able to do.  Throughout this arc, Snyder left us wondering how he would resurrect Batman if the dionesium had wiped out his entire persona, as Alfred stressed that it had in issue #43.  The answer is the resurrection device that we've seen mentioned several times since "Detective Comics" #27.  Bruce realizes that he has to have Alfred upload the last save of his brain scan -- taken shortly before the fight with the Joker -- to resurrect Batman.  But, Alfred refuses to do it, since it's tantamount to murder (of the "new" Bruce).  In fact, Bruce realizes that Batman never put into action the machine for that reason:  Batman doesn't kill, and he'd have to kill Bruce and Batman to create the next version of them.  Taken another way, Bruce is willing to kill Bruce so that Batman can return:  Batman wasn't.  In the end,  Julie does it, sacrificing the man that she loved to save Gotham, since his rebooted brain will no longer remember their time together.  It's a remarkably touching moment; Alfred and Julie hold each other as they watch the man they love die.  Snyder isn't a particularly emotional writer, but, man, he got me here.

Spider-Gwen #5:  Latour confirms the sequence of events relating to Gwen's secret identity that seemed true but benefited from this clarification.  Murdoch suspected Gwen's identity, so he hired the Vulture to take out George to see if Spider-Woman saved him.  But, the Vulture also discovered Gwen's identity in the process, and he's been using it as a bargaining tool with Castle.  As such, Castle also likely knows.  (All that said, I can't quite remember why Murdoch suspected Gwen's identity in the first place, but I feel like Latour did actually cover that at the relevant point in time.)  Honestly, it's hard to see how Gwen is going to return this chaos to the proverbial box.

Spider-Man 2099 #6:  Marvel can keep pushing the Inhumans all they want, including working them into my favorite character's book, but I'm still not biting.  (Miguel's employee Jasmine's girlfriend becomes an Inhuman with delusions of godhood in this issue.)

Also Read:  All-New Hawkeye #4; All-New X-Men #4; All-New, All-Different Avengers #5; Batman and Robin Eternal #19; Black Knight #4; Darth Vader #16; Guardians of the Galaxy #5; Ms. Marvel #4; New Avengers #6; Red Wolf #3

Friday, June 3, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The February 3 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Amazing Spider-Man #7:  Slott really needs a new shtick.  In the first arc, the villain, Hank Scorpio (or whatever we're calling him), invested in Parker Industries.  In this arc, Shen Quinghao invested in Parker Industries' green-fuel project, so Peter is going to give a humanitarian award to him.  However, we know from Mr. Negative that Quinghao (who I didn't remember at all from earlier issues) is a former trafficker.  Basically, if you're a new character and you invest in Parker Industries, we should all just assume that you're a bad guy.  (Also, why is Parker Industries giving out humanitarian awards?  It's not even the Uncle Ben Foundation -- it's very clearly Parker Industries.  Bizarre.)

Batgirl #48:  If Greg is the bad guy, I don't get why he had Barbara believe that she spent the night at Luke's place the night that she (allegedly) called the GCPD on the gang-banger.  It would be so easy to prove that "memory" false if she didn't actually spend the night there (as Fletcher and Stewart seem to imply).  A quick call to Luke would've exposed Greg as a liar.

Batman and Robin Eternal #18:  I totally didn't see the revelation that Cass killed Harper's mother coming.  It's a great twist, and it makes it clear that Snyder has been planning this story for ages, given how long ago it was that he introduced Harper.  Snyder and Tynion also make it clear that Bruce has to accept responsibility for the role that he played in her death, since it happened as part of the game that he was playing with Mother.  (Mother selected Harper to be Bruce's next Robin.)  It is indeed his greatest failure, as he originally said to Dick.  In fact, you could argue that leaving Harper and Cullen to be raised by their cowardly and crooked father was an even worse failure of judgment.  (Bruce himself would probably be on board with that assessment.)  Conversely, we're really hitting a new low on the art side of the house.  Everyone on pages 18-19 look deformed, like they had just been repeatedly beaten in the face.

Spider-Man #1:  This issue feels more like a Spider-Man book than anything that we've seen in "Amazing Spider-Man" lately.  It makes me realize why everyone loved Miles in the Ultimate Universe.  First, Pichelli is amazing.  She really has a sense of the epic, making you believe that Blackheart really could defeat the Avengers (even after multiple failed previous attempts)Moreover, Bendis just does an outstanding job of showing us the challenges that an inexperienced adolescent hero faces.  I loved Miles taking advice from the onlookers.  (He's helping to evacuate people from a bus that Blackheart threw at him and he caught, and one of the onlookers suggests that they can handle the evacuation but only he can go after Blackheart.)  Bendis really uses it to show Miles' inexperience, not just tell us about it.  After all, the average middle-aged onlooker on Prime Earth's New York has seen his share of fights.  Miles actually could learn something from  him!  Moreover, Bendis gives Miles such a distinct voice; after only one issue, I feel like I know him and how he would react to a given situation.  I really want to know more about him.  At first, I was interested in this series since it seemed the most likely place where Marvel would deal with the aftermath of "Secret Wars."  By the end of this issue, though, I'm really here for Miles.

Also Read:  Captain America:  Sam Wilson #6; Captain Marvel #2; Detective Comics #49; Midnighter #9; Spidey #3; Uncanny Avengers #5