Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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

All-New X-Men #12: For the most part, this issue is a solid look into Laura's psyche as she goes on a bunch of solo missions Cyclops original meant for himself.  He can't do them since he's still recovering from his encounter with Toad, and she can't relieve her boredom by playing video games.  However, she's frustrated to learn someone else has made his way through the hit list before her, and it's no surprise when she learns it was Warren.  Hopeless also provides us insight into Warren's thoughts, as we learn the powers he got from the Black Vortex are slowly consuming him.  Laura understands this need to engage in violence, and their shared bloodlust brings them together again.  Warren also apologizes for making her feel bad about said lust, explaining the "fire" is messing with his head.  This part is the only area where I raised an eyebrow.  Hopeless is essentially trying to make it seem like Warren was more scared by what he recognized of himself in Laura than by Laura herself.  It makes sense, but I also can't help but feel like it's a ret-con, like Hopeless hadn't originally intended to go this route.  We never really got a hint that Warren was motivated by anything other than his inability to be in a relationship with someone who he watched essentially get murdered every day or so.  If we had seen those hints, it would've been easier to accept what Hopeless does here.  But, since this issue is pretty much the first time we've mentioned Warren's new powers in this series, it feels like an overly convenient device to get them together, for whatever reason.  That said, I am glad to see them together again, so I shouldn't complain too much.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #13
:  Whoa, I did not see that coming.  I figured Vision would learn a lesson about free will, recognizing his own struggles
with emotion and logic and leaving Kang to live his life the way he saw fit, an enemy to face in his prime.  But, we do not get that ending here.  Instead, the wraith-like figure we've seen assisting Vision throughout his journey into Kang's past whispers a secret to him, leading Vision to kidnap an infant Kang and, presumably, put him in the wraith's care.  Waid makes it clear with this cliffhanger that he's playing a very long game here.  It's the type of story we used to see in the '80s and '90s, where we got hints of threats lurking in the background as the Avengers confronted more immediate problems.  It's more proof to me that Waid is going back to basics in this title.  Everything feels like the good ol' days, before Bendis made the title feel like a TV show written for people with ADHD or Hickman turned it into an art project.  On a side note, Waid gets ahead of the main series a bit when he reveals that Black Panther and Spider-Man both join Carol's side.  I'm not surprised about T'Challa, but Peter surprises me, particularly given the developments so far in "Civil War II:  Amazing Spider-Man."  I guess we'll see.

All-Star Batman #1:  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I'm not a fan of Scott Snyder's Bruce Wayne.  I love his Dick Grayson.  But, his Bruce Wayne is not someone I recognize.  He's an arrogant yet incompetent sociopath.  He seems to be motivated more by defeating his foes than by saving innocent civilians.  But, I'm glad to say Snyder seems to be taking a different tack here.  This Bruce seems to have learned a lesson or two.  (Given his failures over the last few months, it's about time.)

The premise of this series is Bruce is taking Harvey Dent to a "house" to cure him of his Two-Face persona.  Harvey goes willingly, but Two-Face puts up a fight.  Here, Snyder alludes to an information network Dent had as a District Attorney that allowed Two-Face to defeat his foes in the underworld.  This network is at the center of the carrot/stick approach Two-Face takes here in motivating people to help him.  First, he pledges to release all the secrets he knows if Batman isn't stopped.  Snyder makes it clear how good Harvey's network is when a scared Alfred takes down the Batplane.  But, Two-Face goes on step further:  he offers the fortunes of the wealthiest mobsters in Gotham to anyone who stops Batman.  Even the denizens of a truck stop -- near where the Batplane crashes -- are motivated to take down the Bat for the money.

It's here where Snyder shows the sort of genius we saw in the "Black Mirror" in "Detective Comics."  Although we still don't know anything about this "house" or how it can cure Harvey after all these years, Snyder sets up a "Cannonball Run" that makes sense in the context of the characters.  It's clear why it's going to be a challenge for Bruce to cross the finish line.  Moreover, we're treated to a back-up story of Bruce starting Duke's training.  If the primary story shows Bruce as caring more about saving Harvey than he does about defeating Two-Face, this story shows him having learned a lesson.  He's going to put Duke through the Cursed Wheel, a condensed composite of all the lessons Bruce learned in his adolescent travels.  But, he realizes Duke isn't a Robin:  the need to dominate him like he did the other Robins is absent.  We also get a hint that a villain not named Jason has gone through the Wheel.  This story doesn't obviously connect to the main story right now, but it's clear it will, so I'm intrigued to see where we're going with it.  Overall, it's a solid start that gives me hope I'm going to like where we're going.

Amazing Spider-Man #16:  [Sigh.]  I'm really, really trying to keep an open mind.  After all, the revelation that the Jackal (or, at least, someone calling himself the Jackal) resurrected the loved ones of Spidey's rogues gallery makes sense.  Peter becomes aware of this technology when one of the Jackal's scientists -- representing "New U Technologies" -- approaches him, JJJ, Jr., and May about using it to cure Jay of his mysterious hereditary disease.  (Side-bar:  Jay apparently didn't tell JJJ, Jr. about said disease, despite the fact it appears early intervention can help.  That seems...dickish to me, but I'm trying to stay positive.)  Peter asks to vet the technology and excitedly declares to Anna Marie that he can basically cure death with it, since it regrows organs without any flaws an accident or disease might have caused.  It's here where the story (once again) goes off the rails for me, because it shouldn't take Anna Marie to warn Peter about the ethical issues this technology would cause.  But, Peter doesn't care, calling New U to use it on an employee hurt in an industrial accident.  The Jackal mentions to his minions it's not "part of his plan," making it clear that using it on Jay was part of the plan.  But, he does it anyway, in part to build up Peter's belief in the technology.  But, Peter realizes something might be wrong when the employee sparks his Spider-Sense.  Ruh-roh!  Maybe moved a little too fast there, huh, Parker?  At any rate, the stakes go up even further when the Jackal's scientist reveals to JJJ, Jr. that they've resurrected Marla.  Also, it's pretty clear that Doc Ock is going to use the technology to resurrect himself.  [Sigh.]  At least the letters page announces they're launching a "Renew Your Vows" series.  Can I just read that instead?

Black Panther #5:  The brilliance of what Coates is doing here is clear when you realize you pretty much agree with everyone but T'Challa.  When he interrogates the boy turned terrorist, I was totally on the side of the "terrorist" as he spat back T'Challa's indignation.  After all, T'Challa was gallivanting with the Avengers as Namor drowned his village and the Black Order made his brother beg for death.   The "evil men" behind the revolution are offering him something T'Challa is not:  security.  Similarly, when T'Challa looks down on the "counter-revolutionary" masterminds, I rolled my eyes as they did.  Again, T'Challa clearly thinks he can be feared and loved simply because he demands to be, while the masterminds remind him he actually has to provide the aforementioned security to be feared and loved.  T'Challa thinks that he can just dismiss the revolutionaries as dishonorable and be done with it, but it's not that simple, as I'm sure he's going to learn.

Darth Vader #24:  We learn two conflicting lessons in this issue.  First, Darth Vader is more man than machine, contrary to Cylo's comment at the end of last issue, as he uses the Force to will his body into motion, killing Cylo and reactivating the machine parts of his body.  But, that "man" isn't Anakin Skywalker, as we learn through a series of hallucinations where he not only kills Anakin but Padme.  He truly is Darth Vader.  We end the issue with Vader going after one loose end (Cylo-VI?) and Aphra appearing before the Emperor to tell him she knows some stuff he needs to know.  I have no idea where we're going from here, but it's going to be good.

Detective Comics #938:  This issue is solid, though I had to read it twice to follow all the twists and turns.  Tynion starts the issue by showing us the Colonel's motivation to join the Colony, pledging to a young Kate at her mother's gravesite that he'll do everything he can to ensure no other family has to endure what they have.  (He's actually already agreed to join the Colony when this conversation happens.)  Frankly, it's a pretty solid motivation.  In the present, a now-freed Bruce sends Tim to hack into the Colony's servers to get more information about the Gothamites the Colony is targeting.  In so doing, Tim encounters Ulysses, hopefully kindling a new arch-nemesis for him.  He also realizes the military has no idea how far beyond its remit the Colony has gone.  Once Tim has the information they need, the team flees.  Realizing the military will shut down the Colony once Bruce shares with them what it's done, Ulysses convinces the Colonel to unleash drones he built (against the Colonel's orders) on the intended targets.  The problem is they're not 100 percent sure of the intel that they have; as such, the Colonel is authorizing the murder of innocent civilians.  It's...dark.  One question going forward is how right Bruce is in his insistence the League of Shadows is really a myth.  After all, Tynion worked with Snyder during the era, where this level of confidence from Bruce usually meant that he was wrong, like how he was sure that the Court of Owls didn't exist or the Joker didn't enter the Batcave.  Will it be more of the same here?  If it's not, then you have to wonder why the Colony still believes the League to exist, given the time and resources they've had to get to the truth.

Spider-Man 2099 #13:  Due to my move, I stopped reading comics the week I started this review; it's now December, not August.  As such, my recall of previous issues is a little...dim.  David is telling a fairly complicated story at this point, with numerous timelines in play, and I admit the delay in reading this issue left me fairly confused at parts.  After all, we're dealing with at least the third iteration of the 2099 Universe in just this run.  But, David seems to be implying this iteration of the 2099 Universe is close enough to Miguel's* that he has a shot of actual reconstructing his timeline.  Of course, he can't do that if he's in an Alchemax prison, where he seems to be headed after the Punisher quickly disposes of him.  (I added the asterisk here as a reminder that even the baseline timeline that Miguel is trying to resurrect is different from the one we saw in the original run.  But, you're all probably tired of me mentioning that, so I'll just stop here.)

Also Read:  All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1

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