Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The June 29 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Black Panther #3:  Man, T'Challa just can't catch a break.  On one hand, he finally tracks down Tetu, but he seems to have become one with at least some part of Wakanda, displaying control over trees and the like.  Continuing on that theme, Shuri is encouraged in the afterlife to remember that Wakanda was great before it had vibranium.  Coates definitely seems to be telling a story where all the characters involved will need to get in touch with the Wakanda that was and use that connection to try to defeat each other.  Meanwhile, the Midnight Angels have realized that they need to form their own army of the women who they save to stop the White Gorilla Army.  Will T'Challa and Tetu take out each other, leaving Aneka and Ayo to step into the void?  Will Shuri return to find Wakanda destroyed by civil war?  I guess we'll see.

Bloodshot Reborn #13-#14:  Wow.  It initially seemed weird to me that Lemire chose to send us into the future in the "Analog Man" when we had so many mysteries on the table after those first two arcs ("Colorado" and "The Hunt").  But, the revelation that it was all a dream created by Project Rising Spirit after they kidnapped him and Magic was mindblowing.  It shows just how in command of this story Lemire is.  I loved him using Livewire as Ray's savior, even if we don't actually encounter her here.  In the past, she was smart enough to implant a virus in him that would help him fight Project Rising Spirit's programming if they ever tried to get their hands on him.  The revelation that his search for the "Man in the Tower" was the metaphor for his fight against the programming was jut awesome.  His problem is that he still awakens to find himself in the "care" of Project Rising Spirit on something called Bloodshot Island.  After a disorienting run through the jungle, he encounters several other Bloodshots, one each from previous wars (Gulf War, Vietnam, etc.).  But, we don't really get a lot of insight into that, because Project Deathmate appears.  She's some sort of robot, seemingly the next generation of Bloodshots, and we learn that they're all essentially playing the "Dangerous Game" every day:  the Bloodshots flee into the jungle, Deathmate kills them, Project Rising Spirit heals them, and then they start all over again the next day.  Lemire makes sure that we understand how awful it is, as Vietnam (as he's known) says that he's been doing the same thing for five years.  I had barely recovered from the shock at the end of issue #13, so Lemire is really getting us into Bloodshot's mindset of confusion and disorientation.  Lemire also does a great job of making the odds against Ray clear:  Project Rising Spirit seems so in charge, and it's hard to see Ray escaping, particularly if the other Bloodshots haven't.  Needless to say, I'm excited about next issue.

Captain America:  Steve Rogers #2:  Spencer goes down the route that I expected him to take, revealing that Kobik sought out the Skull after her "birth" and he used her to create Steve's "new" past as a loyal servant of HYDRA.  Spencer even goes one better, showing that "Avengers Standoff" was all part of the Skull's larger plan.  In so doing, he actually improves on that event, explaining some of its weaker moments (even though it was already a pretty solid event).  I know a lot of people were upset after the first issue, but I feel pretty comfortable now.  I'm hoping that Spencer doesn't make the mistake that Slott did with Spider-Ock, drawing out the story longer than he should.  But, I could see Spencer going with a year-long arc similar to what Remender did with Dimension Z.  If he does that successfully, we really will be in a golden age of "Captain America."

Captain Marvel #6:  This issue is fairly important to the overall story that we're seeing unfold in "Civil War II," because it sheds some light on why Carol takes the position that she's taken in this event.  First, the Alpha Flight Board -- led, of course, by Henry Gyrich -- calls her on the carpet for the last-minute save that she and Alpha Flight managed against the Satori (as far as they know).  Gyrich compares it unfavorably to the Avengers' commanding defeat of the Celestial with limited damage.  Carol alludes to the Inhumans' ability to predict the future in explaining the Avengers' success, though doesn't directly mention Ulysses.  The Board orders her to collaborate with the Inhumans, and she decides to do so after she fails to prevent Dr. Minerva from killing a group of townspeople with one of her experiments.  (She overlooks the fact that she saved everyone else in the town, though Minerva did manage to escape.)  The Gages show us that Carol's decision to employ Ulysses is grounded firmly in these losses.  That said, I still don't agree with her.  She's playing a little fast and loose with the truth at times in her conversation with the Board, and she's really only paying lip-service to Tony's worry that they're putting way too much faith in Ulysses.  It's clearly all going to end in tears.

Dark Knight III:  The Master Race #5:  Azzarello (because if Miller isn't even pretending he's writing it, let's just call a spade a spade) is almost too clever here.  Bruce manages to take down the Kandorians by seeding the clouds with synthetic kryptonite, weakening them to the point that the mob that gathered to demand his head on a platter (per Quar's request) turns on them.  Again, it's clever.  But, it's so clever that it becomes almost self-evident.  Of course Bruce had synthetic kryptonite lying around the Batcave.  As a result, it's anti-climactic, making you wonder what Azzarello even has left to tell in the next issue.  (Oh, yeah, Bruce also resurrects Supes.  He's doing fine.  Thanks for asking.)

Extraordinary X-Men #11:  We're at the endgame here, as Kurt and Storm face Apocalypse while the rest of the team fights the Horsemen.  The interesting part is that Kurt has gone totally over the edge.  Moon Knight (one of the Horsemen) even comments on it, telling him that he's almost as crazy as Marc Spector was.  Lemire shows us how true that is when Kurt kills Moon Knight.  Surprisingly, Storm doesn't comment on that.  Is it because it's the future, so it's not really killing people?  Lemire doesn't say.  It isn't until Kurt kills Apocalypse in a rage over him destroying the embryos that Storm sees fit to comment, but then only because Omega World begins to collapse without Apocalypse supporting it.  Beyond Kurt and Storm's sudden comfort with murder, the most interesting part of this issue for me is that the heroes lose:  Apocalypse does destroy the embryos.  It makes sense from a narrative perspective, since I think it would've been a little difficult to suddenly have the X-Men raising 600 babies.  But, it's rare that we see the heroes lose, and I'm intrigued to see how Lemire handles the fallout from that, assuming they all survive.

Grayson Annual #3:  For a one-and-done story (actually, four-and-done story), this annual is really required reading for any fan of "Grayson."  It examines the four aspects of Dick:  charmer, savior, gymnast, and superhero.  In so doing, we really do get a deep insight into his character, particularly the way that he's viewed by other folks in the DCnU.  During "One More Day," Reed Richards commented to Dr. Strange and Iron Man that Peter Parker was really the best of them, and I often think that Dick fills that role in the DCnU.  Some people want to be him, everyone else wants to be with him.  This issue reminds us why everyone feels that way.  (Aterici even gives a nod to the fact that his teenage self often found himself in bondage, and Constantine appropriately gets to be the one that enjoys his adult self in that pose.  It's a sight to see.)  I'll be sad to see "Grayson" go.  It was born from the eye-rolling premise of Dick's secret identity getting exposed to the world, but Seeley and King took that premise and ran with it, creating one of the most original and solid DCnU series.  By the time Dick inevitably got back his secret identity, it actually felt sort of irrelevant.  We learned that Dick can be a hero under any circumstances.  I'm just happy he's still here, regardless of what we call him.

Spider-Man #5:  As I've mentioned before, this series is the first time that I'm following Miles Morales.  As such, I don't really know much about his supporting cast.  That becomes particularly relevant in this issue, because I'm not sure if the revelation that his father was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is news just to me or if it's news to everyone.  Either way, Jefferson is now in some form of cahoots with Maria Hill without Miles' knowledge, and, in my experience, nothing good comes from being in some form of cahoots with Hill.  I wonder what Jefferson has promised in exchange for S.H.I.E.L.D. protecting Miles.  That said, he's not wrong that Miles needs the help:  it's only through S.H.I.E.L.D. wiping all record of him from all databases that prevents the Black Cat and Hammerhead from learning his identity.  Moving onto Miles, his use of a souped up venom blast to take out everyone is one of the cooler moments I've seen in comics in a while.  I was right proud of him, as I was when he later confronted the Black Cat with nary a hint of fear.  Pichelli does a really outstanding job of conveying this grit in his confrontation with Felicia:  even she saw the anger in him and knew that it wasn't time for a fight.  This entire sequence reminds us how brave and driven Miles is.  It's a good thing that he is, because he's now also got Jennifer Jones on his tail, after his grandmother hires her to figure out his coming and goings.  He's going to need all his cleverness and smarts to stay one step ahead of the now legions of people after him.

Uncanny X-Men #9:  Bunn has really lost me here, to be honest.  I get that Genocide is using his Angel's wings to create a "death flight" of Angels.  Angel comments how he agreed to submit to having his wings removed because he could feel the evil in them, so I'm assuming that his feather wings will become the metallic ones when placed on the members of Death Flight.  I still don't understand what plans Magneto has for Psylocke, but I assume that we'll get there.  But, the part that has me the most confused is Archangel's arrival.  First, he arrives with an entire squad of Archangels.  How did that happen?  He has his own Death Flight?  But, also, I don't get why the inhabitants of the town -- all seemingly mesmerized as servants of Clan Akkaba -- are so excited about his arrival.  They have their own Angel.  Why do they need an Archangel, too?  In other words, I am seriously confused. 

Also Read:  All-New, All-Different Avengers #11; Spider-Gwen Annual #1; Uncanny X-Men #9

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