Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Not-Very Deep Thoughts: The October 12 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Clone Conspiracy #1At this point, I feel like Marvel is begging us to ignore the fact that Slott is just rehashing his own stories every few years.  Six years ago we had "Big Time," where Peter got the job at Horizon and upped his Spidey game, and now we have "Worldwide," where he took over Parker Industries and really upped his Spidey game.  Five years ago we had "Spider-Island," where the Jackal was turning everyone into spiders, and now we have "Clone Conspiracy," where the Jackal is doing...something.  Four years ago we had Otto Octavius taking over a new body, and now we have him getting a new body...again.  In other words, it's getting old.  This event holds promise only because Slott may be setting up the possibility that a number of characters -- so far, Marla Jameson, Dr. Octopus, Captain Stacy, and, most importantly, Gwen Stacy -- could be permanently resurrected.  After all, if the Prowler is going to exist as a resurrected character, as his new series implies, it means Peter has found some way to keep the resurrected people alive.  (I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if Uncle Ben is added to that list, much to my horror.)  Slott makes it clear in the back-up story that the new people aren't clones created from a drop of blood, but reanimated from their remains.  If Slott uses this arc as a way to reboot Peter's continuity in a way that corrects some of the worse stories of the last few years ("Sins Past," anyone?), I could be OK with it.  But, it would require a very deft touch lest it feel like a cheap ret-con.  In truth, I feel like only Ed Brubaker has really pulled off something of this scale with his resurrection of Bucky.  I'm willing to give Slott a chance, but I'll admit I'm not overly optimistic.

Darth Vader #25:  I wasn't aware of the fact "Darth Vader" was ending with this issue, and I'll admit I feel bereft.  (Maybe it's because Carrie Fisher died the day before I read this issue.)  Gillen and Larocca use all the tricks of the trade to maximum effect here, from the wordless sequence of panels building tension to the early use of a credits page to let us think Aphra was really dead.  It's a spectacular issue, from start to finish.  With Aphra spilling the beans about Vader's treachery to the Emperor (though keeping quiet about Luke), Vader raises in his esteem.  He has Vader replace Tagge, and Vader kills him for his failure to see Cylo's treachery.  Vader had also killed Cylo himself earlier in the issue, meaning he stands here with all his enemies vanquished...or, at least, so he thinks.  It isn't surprising that Aphra isn't on that list.  Gillen had me totally buy her panic when Vader throws her in an airlock and expels her from the ship; her tears as she cried about not wanting to die in the vacuum of space felt real.  But, Aphra is Aphra:  she expected Vader to do that, knowing he'd never be "kind" enough to give her the saber as she had asked.  As such, she stashed the droids nearby, and they rescue her.  With Vader now convinced of her death, Aphra is ready to fight another day.  This 25-issue series is absolutely a must-read for any "Star Wars" fan, and it just reminds me how lucky we all are to be here, reading monthly "Star Wars" comics.

Detective Comics #942:  I haven't reviewed any of the "Night of the Monster Men" issues, mainly because they've been pretty well constructed but not particularly notable stories.  It's mostly true of this issue as well, though I'll admit I got a little lost in the pop psychology at the end.  But, I felt the need to comment on the fact that the team Bruce assembled for Kate has started to feel like one.  Unfortunately, in modern comics, we'd now abandon this premise altogether.  How often has a "bold new direction!" lasted six issues?  How often does the "new roster!" get also immediately replaced to start yet another new series?  I hope DC doesn't do that here.  It wasn't until this issue that I realized it's essentially the B Team of the Bat-family, and it's a great way to see them all in action, particularly when they interact with the A Team, as they do here.  It provides a continuity to the Bat-books that we've rarely seen.  For example, this arc nicely sets up Bruce's upcoming war with Bane as he tries to figure out why Bane wanted Psycho-Pirate.  It's rare to see the loose ends from a previous arc (namely the "I am Gotham" arc in "Batman") actually get addressed.  I feel like the Bat-titles may finally have a solid editorial team.  I just hope they don't throw away this success in favor of the next new thing.

Star Wars:  Han Solo #4:  Maybe it's because I just saw "Rogue One," but I teared up a bit when Loo Re Anno commented that we're all the last of something.  She had just explained how her race had found itself (and each other) in creating the Dragon Void, realizing the joy of racing through the stars with someone.  Han laments that she's the last of her kind -- and hence forced to fly on her own -- but Loo Re Anno turns that comment into an analysis of Han himself.  She had earlier noted he belonged to the stars, and it made me realize how much this series is setting up the solo film due in 2018.  We know nothing about Han, just that he's a man with "Solo" as a last name.  He came from somewhere, and the moment that passes between him and Loo Re Anno conveys the sense that he understands the isolation she's feeling.  It really gets you thinking about his past and how he fits into the larger "Star Wars" story.  It also helps you see him as a person and not just a caricature.

Uncanny Avengers #15:  I continue to like this title in spite of myself, or, more to the point, in spite of Duggan's somewhat uneven scripts.  Although he's not surprisingly adept at writing Deadpool, the other characters fare less well at his hand.  Rogue spends the issue simply shouting out demands for the Hand's agents to tell them where Bruce Banner's body is, forcing Elektra to speak for all of us when she exasperatedly tells her it's not helping.  Duggan does manage some moments of humor as the team members slowly realize, despite Deadpool and Rogue's best attempts, that Steve has disbanded the team.  But, the characters all still seem interchangeable at this point, with Johnny not sounding all that distinct from Synapse.  The good news is that Duggan is still telling a fun story; the team fighting a Hand-controlled zombie Hulk is as cool of a premise as I can imagine.  Moreover, the art is top-notch.  Curiel's colors are so well considered and executed that the characters really do seem to leap off the page.  It helps remind you you're reading a comic book and maybe expecting a little too much from it.  Just look at the art and relax.

Also Read:  All-Star Batman #2-#3;. Moon Knight #7; Reborn #1; Solo #1

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