Monday, January 23, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The October 26 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

All-New, All-Different Avengers #15:  In all seriousness (really), the best part of this excellent issue may be the letters page!  Roman's letter explaining No-Prize rules and Alanna's responses are LOL funny, and, as an oldster like Roman, it makes my FOM heart glad.

Captain America:  Steve Rogers #6:  The problem with this series at this point is that the shtick at its core -- Steve Rogers as a HYDRA agent -- is starting to get old.  I'm not saying it isn't well executed. In fact, Spencer has probably given us the best "Civil War II" tie-in issues, showing how Steve is manipulating the civil war between the superheroes to advance his own agenda.  But, at some point, we know this story is going to end.  The only suspense is how it ends.  Will Steve publicly be revealed as a HYDRA agent, destroying decades of credibility?  It would fit with the post-"Civil War II" theme we saw in the "Champions" debut, of a world that has entirely lost faith in its "heroes."  But, can Marvel really do that to the brand?  It feels more likely Kobik will just will away the entire experience.  It's that possibility that's starting to make this series feel tedious.  Marvel seems to have grand plans for the Red Skull ever since he took Xavier's brain in "Uncanny Avengers."  But, it's been over four years since that happened.  Are we ever going to see a reckoning?  Until then -- when presumably he'll lose control over Kobik and said wiping will occur-- we're just spinning our wheels here, waiting for the inevitable psychic plane battle between Johann and Steve that we already saw at the end of "Captain America:  Reborn."

Champions #1:  I don't have too much to say about this issue, since Waid hits most of the marks well. It's not the most exciting way to get the team together, but it works, so I'm not complaining.  Waid's decision to separate the younger Avengers from the team feels right, disgusted as they are in the way the adults spend more time fighting each other than injustice.  It's the sort of optimism the young can have despite all odds, so it makes sense that Kamala, Miles, and Sam hit the road.  The challenge for Waid is going to be to test them, but not leave them completely disillusioned.  "New Warriors" collapsed in part because everything was so grim all the time.  Waid probably needs to have Kamala's promise of a better way -- where people with powers aren't just pounding people who don't have powers -- persist in despite of adversity.  Otherwise, it's going to be just another team book, and these characters are too good for that.

Civil War II #6:  I officially have no idea what's happening anymore.  We've got a burning Triskellion that I don't remember ever being attacked.  We've got the fact that I'm not really clear on which side most of the characters have taken, a confusion exacerbated when a number of them switch sides this issue.  (When did Jean and Storm start worshiping Queen Carol?  Why is T'Challa an asshole simply for disagreeing with Carol based on pretty sound evidence that Ulysses' predictions can be wrong?)  We've got the false equivalency of Cap and Miles standing at the Capitol next issue proving Miles doesn't kill him, even though it only prove Miles doesn't kill him in that exact moment.  We've got the junior Avengers praising someone named RiRi for her actions on the field, but I don't remember even seeing her last issue, let alone seeing her do anything.  I could re-read issue #5 and then this issue and try to make sense of it all, but I don't really care enough to do so.  If Marvel doesn't care enough to put out these issues on anything approaching a regular schedule, why should I put in the work trying to understand the story?

Detective Comics #943:  Since Snyder's run six years ago, "Detective Comics" has consistently been the best DC series on the shelves.  Whereas "Batman" is often mired in myth-building (and said myth-building often goes awry), "Detective Comics" has focused on the characters and their relationships with each other.  This issue is one of the best examples of that.  Kate is pressing Bruce to take Stephanie's absences seriously, and it seems clear she's doing so at least in part to get him to come to terms with Tim's "death."  (Her line about not accepting Bruce's therapist without checking his credentials elicited not only a laugh from Alfred, but also me.)  In so doing, she's serving the role Dick used to serve, pushing Bruce to face issues he doesn't want to face.  It is incredibly fun to watch, but it also adds a depth to both their characters that I haven't seen in ages.  Moreover, Tynion spends some quality time with the JV squad.  We learn Harper has given up her role as Bluebird to focus her talents on other areas, like building a secondary electricity grid for low-income households in Gotham.  I'm not sure it'll stick, but it seems clear it's what Harper needs right now.  Seeing her friendship with Stephanie is also really satisfying, since it's probably the first new friendship in "Batman" comics since Dick and Damian.  But, it's Clayface's scenes with Orphan that left me the most intrigued.  Matt asks the Batcomputer to send the worst villain after him in the Mud Room, and it's Clayface.  Orphan immediately stops the program, but Matt is shaken, wondering if he'll always be a monster.  Orphan responds in a way that shows she's also making progress with "emotions," bringing him to the police gala Luke Fox is hosting to show him he's not alone.  Harper and Stephanie easily accept him in their ranks, and I just have to hope it sticks, that Clayface gets to be a hero in the end.  Finally, Bruce wants to bring in Luke Fox to replace Tim in running the team's technical operations, but Kate opposes, viewing him as a rich dilettante who hasn't faced any real adversity in his life.  Truthfully Kate?  Given your observation in the car that no one in the team is unaffected by tragedy, maybe you could use a guy who isn't.  At any rate, we're likely going to see all of them in action in the next issue, as a group calling itself the Victim Syndicate attacks the gala.  In sum, Tynion has quietly built Batman's first team book since possibly the "Outsiders" and I can't believe our luck.

New Avengers #17:  We learn three important things in this issue.  First, the Maker is trying to reconstruct the original multiverse and make it stronger so we're ready for some sort of coming war.  (Isn't there always some sort of coming war?)  Second, 'Berto didn't lose his powers, but doesn't use them because it costs him several years of his life every time he does.  Third, Dum Dum Dugan's prime body is alive.  Taken together, it clears up some of the mystery hanging over this series.  "Berto seems to be preparing to finish off A.I.M next issue and it seems like H.A.M.M.E.R is in his sights after that...if he survives the experience, as the cover to next issue implies.

Prowler #1I was excited about this series, since Prowler has been one of my favorite B-Listers ever since I first encountered him in "Amazing Spider-Man" #304.  These types of characters don't get a lot of chances to shine.  For every surprisingly successful "Hawkeye" run, there's a dozen or so "Black Knight"s or "Red Wolf"s, where the creative team isn't able to convince anyone beyond long-time fans to return for issue #2.  I'm worried Hobie is going to fall into that category.  Marvel is giving a number of B-Listers and C-Listers their own series this month, and I've read a few of the first issues.  The "Solo" debut was solid, giving new readers a good idea of his modus operandi but focusing enough on action to keep the casual reader engaged.  Unfortunately, Ryan fails to do that here.  He not only spends too much time narrating Hobie's past, but the casual reader has to be following all the twists and turns of the "Clone Conspiracy" event to have a hope of understanding what happens in this issue.  It's that sort of in-universe focus in a first issue that can kill a series before it gets off the ground.  My opinion is obviously colored by the fact that I'm not buying what Slott is selling in "Clone Conspiracy," but I feel like we don't even have a chance of Hobie getting to stand on his own two feet before the axe drops on this series.

Also Read:  Batgirl #4; Bloodshot U.S.A. #1; Extraordinary X-Men #15; Ms. Marvel #12; Star Wars #24; Star Wars:  Poe Dameron #7; Titans #4

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