Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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

Avengers #1:  All Kang stories are confusing, but this story is the Kangiest.  Let's start with the part I understand.  Kang and the Scarlet Centurion (his former self, not his estranged son) attack Vision in this issue, trying to discover where he stashed baby Kang.  In the exposition that follows, we learn that something is preventing Kang from traveling to the future.  (I'm not clear if it's the stolen baby Kang or something else at this point.)  However, Kang does seem able to travel into the past, because he goes there to steal the crystal where Vision off-loaded the information about baby Kang's whereabouts.  (Whenabouts?  Effing time-travel stories.)  Once he gathers this information, he can't (apparently) travel into the future to get revenge on the Avengers, so he continues further into the past to destroy them as babies.  I get all that (more or less).  However, whatever firewall is preventing him from traveling to the future also somehow created a time paradox allowing multiple versions of him to exist at the same time (hence why he's with the Scarlet Centurion here).  That part just doesn't make sense to me.  Isn't him getting stuck in the past only creating one alternate timeline (i.e., him stuck in the past)?  Or, is it creating a new timeline every time he journeys further into the past?  If so, how does him traveling into our present somehow create the Scarlet Centurion?  Did it somehow call him from the past?  After all, he was active much earlier than our present day.  Moreover, the firewall has apparently given him a new power, the ability to decay an item by (presumably) reversing time to when it wasn't built.  Maybe?  It's very unclear.  Also unclear?  Why the remaining Avengers -- Captain America, Thor, and Vision plus Hercules and the new Wasp -- hate Spider-Man.  Aside from Nadia (who hates him because wasps hate spiders, which makes no sense unless Nadia somehow thinks she's a wasp), I'm assuming it's because Spidey sided against them in the Civil War.  Peter has offered to fund the Avengers to replace Tony's funding (since he's apparently broke again), and he explicitly views it as a way to make amends.  But, I honestly have no idea which side any of these characters chose, because, as my review of "Civil War II" #6 probably made clear, that entire scene is a disaster.  Basically, the only highlight of this issue is Nadia riding Redwing.

Batman #10:  First, Janín is an excellent match for this title, giving off a similar vibe as Capullo.  However, we have moments here where his visual storytelling tells a story I don't quite believe.  It's not his fault, because he's working with the script King gave him.  But, we have a number of sequences that just don't make sense.  For example, we start with Batman fighting the dozens (if not hundreds) of troops who meet him on the beach when he arrives at Santa Prisca.  As he leaps into the melee, a number of troops open fire.  In theory, they might not be able to hit the great and powerful Batman, but it's likely they'd at least wing one of their compatriots.  That doesn't seem to happen, though.   Everyone just keeps on fighting Batman even though their colleagues have opened fire on them.  Then, we have Batman having his back broken not once, but twice -- the first time by Bane and the second time when Bruce inelegantly falls into the hole where Bane spent his childhood.  (Bane conveniently throws him into  said hole with his gauntlets and their razor-sharps fins, meaning Batman spends about 17 minutes there instead of 17 years, as Bane did.)  Through all these moments, Bruce is undaunted.  In fact, throughout the issue, he repeats the same phrases, making me think he was the Ventriloquist's dummy.  That would've at least explained his seeming immortality in this issue.  But, given the concluding scenes, I don't think he was a dummy.  He just now seems completely immortal, able to withstand dozens of troops firing on him and broken backs as if they were gnats or splinters.  It doesn't exactly make for great drama.

Champions #2:  If "Avengers" #1 was disappointing, it's probably because Waid put all his energy into this issue.  It's perfect in almost every way.  Unlike Bendis' interchangeable characters in "Civil War II," everyone has an incredibly clear and nuanced voice here.  For example, Kamala is bossy throughout this issue, but Waid has her specifically refuse to be the "mom," forcing other team members to do things they don't want to do.  Kamala's vision is one of adventure and justice, and the other team members are all on board.  The most touching moments involve Viv, from the name of her WiFi password ("evenanandro1dcancry") to admitting to Nova she's hasn't kissed anyone (in response to his question) to vouching for Scott because he tried to save them from the Hulk without even knowing them.  Kamala's refusal to be the authority figure and Viv's intuitive grasp of Scott's motives are just two examples of the unexpected insights that pour from Waid's keyboard.  The fact that it all happens over the course of a camping trip designed to help them get to know each other makes it teen-rific.  I honestly can't wait to see where we go from here.

Justice League #7:  It's hard to put my finger on what exactly is going so wrong here, but, if I had to guess, it's that Hitch doesn't seem to be trying too hard.  His Rao story in "Justice League of America" was legitimately breaking new ground.  The idea of a Kryptonian god returned to "save" Earth (and prolong his life in the process) put the characters in new situations, and it was fun to watch how they reacted.  This two-issue arc was the opposite of that.  It's based on the overused trope of the heroes having to overcome their greatest fears to defeat whatever monster it is that attacked them (Hitch never really gives us any details about it).  As such, we get a tour of the League's greatest fears in the process, and they're either too obvious (Batman worrying his guilt will overcome him) or too unclear (I'm not exactly sure what Wonder Woman feared).  Just as Aquaman and Wonder Woman are going to go all "Squadron Supreme" and conquer the world (for reasons somehow connected to their fears), Jessica dispels the monster because...she conquered her fear?  In other words, it's just a mess.  Hitch leaves out too much information to be able to understand what we're seeing, and it's over before we have a chance to get that information.  I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be getting this title...

Moon Knight #8:  I realized at the end of this issue that I was holding my breath.  This issue is really one of the issues of the year for me.  Holy crap.  The use of separate artists for each of Marc's personas pays off amazingly in the last panel, when we return to the series' original style and tone.  This abrupt change makes it clear that Marc is trying to assert control over his separate personas but that it's still unclear if he's going to be successful.  Exciting times, folks.

Nightwing #8:  Nope, I totally didn't tear up a bit when Bruce told Nightwing he didn't fall, but jumped since he knew Dick would catch him.  Nope.  Seeley really sticks a better landing than I thought he would in this issue.  I initially rolled my eyes at the idea of Raptor knowing Mary Lloyd, Nightwing's mother, because it seemed Seeley was going for the unseemly reveal that Raptor was really Dick's father (or something equally ridiculous).  But, thankfully, he didn't go that way.  Raptor was just a circus kid with leprosy who Mary treated well, and he loved her for it.  Facing discrimination as a Roma in France, Raptor's hatred of the one percent is real, and it drives his fury at Bruce Wayne giving Dick a future he feels Mary would've rejected.  If this issue has one failing -- and it's a slight one -- it's that I wish Seeley had more time to give us insight into Mary.  If I follow correctly, we learn she was French here, but after breaking into the home of the Mayor of Paris with Raptor -- payback for not distributing the leprosy medication to the circus earlier -- she goes on the run.  It's a pretty dramatic re-telling of her origin story (to the extent she had one), and Dick's vague memory of seeing Raptor at the circus as a child appears to confirm Raptor wasn't inventing it.  But, we never really revisit it one way or another as Seeley rightfully shifts his focus onto Bruce and Dick.  At any rate, this issue caps off this first arc in a solid way, putting the Parliament of Owls behind us and setting up Dick's move to Bludhaven.

Spider-Man 2099 #17:  I have to say, this series is really fun.  Miguel's world is often a dark one, but David always manages to inject a liveliness into it that few other authors can match.  Here, he finds it by pairing up Miguel with the Captain America of 2099.  They make for an excellent pair as they compete to see who has a drier sense of humor.  The plot is also getting more and more interesting.  We learn from Elektra that the Fist is an off-shoot of the Hand not satisfied with assassinations; it also wants to overthrow the United States.  (It's good to be clear on your corporate strategy.)  As powerful as the Fist may be, these three clearly intend to give it some trouble.

Unworthy Thor #1:  There is possibly no man sexier in the Marvel Universe than Coipel's Odinson.  Seriously.  Every time he draws him, you have to just take a moment and acknowledge why an unending legion of women has taken numbers to go to bed with him.  When you add in the brooding that his current state inspires, well, it's about all my gay, former French major heart can take.  As Aaron says in his note at the end of this issue, he's been planning this story for a long time.  This effort paid off clearly when I didn't roll my eyes at the revelation that another hammer exists.  Aaron clearly knew where this story was going when he originally took away Thor's hammer during "Original Sin," and it's Ultimate Thor's hammer from "Secret Wars" that opens the door to Odinson's return as Thor.  Given Jane's popularity, it was never going to feel right for Odinson to reclaim the hammer from her, but Aaron always knew it wasn't going to have to go that way.  Ultimate Thor's hammer gives us the opening, but Aaron makes it clear that Odinson still has to get through the door.  Doing so is made all the more difficult by the fact that someone stole Asgard, but we didn't expect it to be easy, did we?  One question I had here (beyond, obviously, what Nick Fury told Thor) is where Asgard supposedly was.  I thought Asgardia was Asgard, for all intents and purposes.  When Thor went looking for Asgard, are we talking about the planetoid on which the city of Asgard used to sit?  It would nice for that part to be a little clearer.

Also Read:  All-Star Batman #4; Detective Comics #944; Midnighter & Apollo #2

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