Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The July 6 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Amazing Spider-Man #15:  This issue is better than the last few installments, since Slott puts aside the ridiculous fight between Iron Man and Spider-Man and focuses on Regent.  Mary Jane putting on the Iron Spider costume is a great moment, and it reminds me how much I miss MJ in these pages.  Unfortunately, Slott doubles-down on the current hostility between her and Peter.  Although they have a nice moment at one point during the battle, Peter doesn't invite MJ to the party that he throws for his family and friends to apologize for his absence over the previous few months.  (He's inspired to throw said party after realizing how important family is from Regent.  I'm not sure that's the lesson that I'd draw from Regent, but there you go.)  Putting aside the MJ situation, I also have to say that I don't understand why we're pretending that Peter can somehow be Spider-Man, run Parker Industries, and have a personal life.  He shouldn't "apologize" for his absence so much as accept that his status quo makes it difficult to spend time with his loved ones.  If he did that, Slott would be telling a story that a lot of readers could find relatable.  But, Slott seems to think that Peter should be trying to balance all those things, so I guess we're stuck with Peter's inevitable failure to do that.  At any rate, Aunt May's mysterious cough from last issue has jumped to Jay, and he collapses here in dramatic fashion.  I'm really trying to care, but I can't say that I do, to be honest.

Batman #2:  King doesn't reveal too much here.  Batman helps Gotham and Gotham Girl stop a rampaging Solomon Grundy, a mysterious man warns Gordon about the "Monster Men" coming to Gotham before killing himself, and Bruce decides to bring in Gotham and Gotham Girl on the case.  King still plays his cards close to the chest when it comes to the two new heroes' origins as well as any possible connection between the Monster Men and Kobra (the terrorist organization from last issue).  But, I'm perfectly happy to wait since we'll clearly get that information at some point.  The best part of this issue is the interactions between Alfred and Bruce.  After literally years now of Bruce dying, Alfred mourning, and the cycle beginning anew, we're finally returning to a somewhat normal relationship between them.  In fact, when I saw Bruce dancing with a socialite in this issue -- after Alfred forced him to make an appearance at the fund raiser he was (purportedly) hosting -- I knew that we were finally returning to our pre-"Final Crisis" roots.  They're at their most banterific in front of Duke, and it begins to make Duke feel like part of the family.  In other words, I'm really happy with the direction that King is taking and hope to see more of this old-school feel.

Spider-Man 2099 #6:  I've been waiting for this issue since Miguel came to the present, and it reminds us that no one can tell a long story like Peter David.  First, if I'm following the clues correctly, the story is as follows in the next few sentences.  As we know, Kweeg followed Miguel to the present after Miguel's first jaunt to the future brought him to a world that the Maestro ran.  After Miguel and Captain America tried to stop Kweeg, Aisa managed to help him escape.  In this issue, we learn that Aisa -- and thus the Fist -- is actually working for Tyler Stone, meaning that he has somehow arrived in the present.  In the future where Miguel is now, Venture (as we know him) approaches the Sinister Six; under orders from Stone (in the present), he will bring them to the present.  Once they arrive, the Fist will remove their memories of Stone, and they'll then work for him.  It seems that they are the ones that destroy New York, creating the timeline that Miguel has encountered in these last few issues.  In other words, we get a lot of answers in this issue.

But, we still have a lot of questions.  First and foremost, we have the question of how, when, and why Stone came to the present.  Although the former 2099 timeline is fuzzy (more on that in a minute), Stone still seemed to be in charge of Alchemax in the "new" Miguel timeline that David has been using in this run.  (By "new," I mean the timeline that David introduced starting in issue #1 of series #2.  I'll call that the "standard" timeline.  The "former" timeline is the one that we saw in series #1.)  As such, why would Tyler want to change the past to change the future when he was already in control?  After all, the Sinister Six run Nueva York, not him.  Do they report to Alchemax, which he still runs?  We don't know.  Second, if I'm connecting the dots correctly, it seems that Venture was never from the standard or former 2099 timeline:  he's always been a displaced person from the Maestro timeline (as a result of him following Miguel into our present).  It would be nice, though not necessary, for David to confirm that.

Returning to the timeline issue, we do get more clarity on how the standard timeline differs from the former one.  Here, we learn that Father Jennifer, and not Gabe, was likely the Green Goblin in the standard timeline.  Based on my previous guess, we could be in issue #43 of series #1, with some notable deviations (like Tyler Stone not being confined to a wheelchair, as he was once he was shot in issue #34).  But, we definitely can't be past issue #44, because Gabe reveals that he's the Green Goblin in issue #45.  Beyond this continuity issue, I'd be interested in exploring why Father Jennifer took up the Goblin persona, something David doesn't clarify here.  Given that Dr. Octopus kills her in the end of this issue, it seems unlikely that we're going to get that answer until Miguel returns to the future.  But, David seems to have put us on the road to some answers.  Although I've enjoyed the road getting us to this point, I'm excited that the end might be in sight.

Star Wars:  Poe Dameron #4:  Soule probably kept some people on the fence about this series on board for another issue or two with this issue.  Using a post-mission celebration as the vehicle, he finally delves into the lives of Black Squadron.  I think I mentioned in a previous review that I only realized that "Snap" is the teenage protagonist from "Aftermath" after reading a comment in the letters page, and I still find it a little jarring to see him as an adult here.  That said, it's even more jarring to see him suddenly beginning a relationship with one of his colleagues, after he blurted out his love for her last issue.  Soule really seems to be rushing the season here, and I wonder how many issues Marvel really has planned for this series.  We also learn more about Jess as she talks to her tech about the new engines that they installed on her fighter.  However, Soule also more or less immediately identifies the tech as the First Order mole that put the tracker on Poe's fighter, since we go from him asking Jess for more information about the next mission to Poe talking to BB-8 about said mole.  It's these awkward moments -- Snap's sudden sexiness, the tech's obvious spying -- that weigh down this series.  On the plus side, Soule injects some energy into the series by making it clear that we're in a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" kind of story, when Poe unexpectedly finds Terex at the next location on his hunt for Lor San Tekka.  We still don't know why Terex wants to find Tekka (or how he found his way to the prison holding Grakkus), but it'll be fun to watch him toy with Poe over the next few issues.

Tokyo Ghost #8:  Remender has created such a compelling and fascinating world in "Tokyo Ghost" that it's hard to appreciate all of it at the same time.  He brilliantly predicts where our ambivalent approach to environmental degradation and Internet addiction will get us as a society.  But, at the end of the day, he's also telling a relationship story, and it's this story that takes center stage here.  He's done an amazing job of getting us to care about Debbie and Teddy as individuals and as a couple.  But, it's in this issue where this affection that we feel for them makes us realize that maybe they really are too codependent.  Instead of their love helping them defeat the enemy, it prevents them from doing so here.  They're too tied into each other to see straight.  Teddy doesn't get to free himself from his addiction, because he has to rely on Debbie to inspire him to do so.  Debbie can't fully be the Tokyo Ghost and avenge Tokyo, because she becomes distracted by Teddy's self-imposed plight.  You begin to realize that this series should end with them departing separately to fight their demons and become the people that they're meant to be.  It's a sad realization, but the obvious one.  It's particularly remarkable, because it's rare in comics for love not to save the day.  But, it's that fact that makes this series so special.

Also Read:  Civil War:  X-Men #2; Justice League:  Rebirth #1; Spidey #8; Star Wars:  Han Solo #2

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