Monday, February 6, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The December 7 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

December!  We're getting there!

Avengers #2:  I still don't understand basic components of the plot here.  According to Waid, Kang is creating impossible contradictions in the hope that these time paradoxes break the timelock keeping him stuck in the present.  (Scarily, that part makes the most sense.). However, we're not told how he's creating these contradictions or why they result in a new version of him every time he fails to break the timelock.  Moreover, it doesn't explain why he and the Scarlet Centurion was able to travel to the past to kill the Avengers as children, if, after all, they're stuck in the present.  Time-travel stories are the fucking worst, dudes.

Clone Conspiracy #3:  Fine - I admit I gasped when the "Jackal" pulled off his mask and revealed he was Ben Reilly.  (Honestly, once I Googled around a bit, I'm stunned and thrilled it didn't get spoiled for me.)  As the editor mentioned in the letters page, I always liked Ben Reilly, even if the Clone Saga itself was awful, and I'm not sad to see he's returned.  (Also, Cheung makes him the hotness here.  Something about that confidence makes Peter Parker even better looking.  He should also think about rocking some stubble like Ben does.)  At this stage, I am confused how he returned, since he admits he dissolved completely in Peter's arms.  If the Jackal needs a body to resurrect someone, then how did he resurrect Ben?  Moreover, has the Jackal we've seen all this time always been Ben Reilly?  Or, did he just send Ben to pick up Uncle Ben's corpse, knowing Peter would inevitably meet him there?  My confusion comes from the fact that Ben consistently sounds like the Jackal until the moment he reveals his identity.  As he's confronting Peter, he not only carelessly uses Peter's real name in front of supposedly unconscious guards (something Warren would've totally done) but he gloats about how he likes being one of the few people who know Peter's identity (something Warren also would've done).  That doesn't sound very good guy of him.  It also doesn't explain why everything is so mysterious.  Couldn't Ben just have approached Peter, revealed he's alive, and asked him for help to improve the cloning technique?  Why the elaborate plans to resurrect his archenemies and/or their families before talking to him?  It goes to the fact that this series is named for a conspiracy, but other than the Jackal having moles in the police force I don't get what conspiracy we're actually seeing.  After all, people are just randomly divulging information right and left now.  Despite stalling for the better part of the issue, Spider-Gwen just eventually goes ahead and tells Peter why she and Kaine kept him in the dark, even though the answer still doesn't make sense to me.  I can't say I'm a fan of this story at this point, but, if it ends with the return of Ben Reilly (and the curing of Kaine Parker), I'll be OK with it.  I also reluctantly have to give Slott props for having me on the edge of my seat.  I find myself desperate to know how it all ends, and I haven't felt that way about an event in a long time.  (Also, who's JJJ, Jr.'s "foster daughter?"  Is that new?)  The outcome is spoiled a bit with the revelation that Marvel is releasing a Ben Reilly series, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone else the Jackal has resurrected is going to survive.  I guess we'll see.

Justice League #10:  After months of complaining about this series, I'm finally happy.  The revelation that James' daughter used his code to create a wish-fulfillment A.I. that her little brother used to "play" with the Justice League was downright brilliant.  Seriously.  I not only didn't see it coming, but I was awed when it was revealed.  But, Hitch goes one step further as James' son reveals his next game was offering Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne's fortunes to the super-villain who killed the Justice League.  The ensuing battle is great, as the League scrambles to take down a number of C-List villains in the middle of a suburban neighborhood.  But, the highlight of this issue is that Hitch ups his game when it comes to characterization.  The characters finally sound the way they're supposed to sound.  They all still sound like they're monologuing instead of conversing, but I'll take what we get here for now.

Moon Knight #9:  I really don't know how Lemire does it, but he manages to take us on a tour of Mark's very nonlinear mind while leaving enough breadcrumbs for us to follow the path.  This issue is suffused with emotion as Mark explains to his alter egos that he's come to grips with his mental illness.  By embracing it, he's also able to embrace them and assert control over his mind.  Lemire really conveys the anguish of the alter egos as they're assimilated into core Marc.  Your really felt for werewolf-fighting Marc as he struggled against core Marc's assertion that he was never real, despite his years of struggle against the werewolves.  Core Marc's farewell to Steve Grant is also touching.  It evokes the theme of it being time to put away childish things.  He explains Steve was his first persona -- the imaginary friend who became real -- but now it's time for Mark to stand on his own.  All these moments are bolstered unbelievably by the art.  When Smallwood appeared at the end of last issue, it gave a ring of truth to Marc's assertion that he was in charge.  That continues throughout this issue, the idea we've returned to the main narrative because Smallwood's drawing these parts.  I've rarely seen the narrative and the art work so beautifully together to convey an idea.  Moreover, core Marc's got a helluva first task in front of him:  he's going to kill Khonshu.  I have no idea where we're going from here (will Mark become Khonshu if he kills him?) but I can't wait.

Nightwing #10:  I couldn't be more excited about this new direction.  I didn't read DC Comics during Dick's time as the hero of Blüdhaven, so I'm excited to get that chance here.  Dick realizes Babs was right when she said he went undercover again too quickly after regaining his secret identity.  After wallowing in the gray areas of morality with Raptor, he's decided it's time to return to the black-and-white world of crime-fighting.  Well, he actually decides it's time to live in the black-and-white world of community service, becoming a volunteer at a center for at-risk youths and eschewing Bruce's money to pay for his way.  But, after his attempt to be a normal twentysomething with hobbies fails to keep him entertained, he's on the streets capturing suspected murderer Gorilla Grimm.  The only problem is that Grimm claims he's innocent.  Moreover, Dick's boss at the center is also apparently a costumed vigilante he recognizes from his past, and she's in cahoots with the city budget analyst on her board, someone who alludes to his days as a costumed criminal as well.  In other words, Seeley makes it clear Dick might've been a little too optimistic in believing he was going to leave behind the grayer  areas of morality.  Meanwhile, we see glimpses throughout the issue of the tourism board's success in making Blüdhaven a tourist destination and using Nightwing to further that effort, but Seeley hints at something nefarious behind that success.  To (the artist) does his part by making Nightwing the embodiment of young and sexy:  his depiction of Dick during his interview is stunning, all preppy good looks and tight fitting shirt.  (The frequent shots of his abs don't hurt.)  Seeley and To are clearly telling a story with eyes on the long run, and it's a joy to be part of that.

Nova (2015)  #10-#11:  I was NOT a fan of Sam Alexander.  It wasn't just because he wasn't Rich Rider either.  He was whiny and insufferable.  I warmed to him slightly during his "Avengers" appearances, mostly because Miles seemed to be a good influence on him.  I picked up these issues because I read in the "Champions" letter page that his series was ending, which I hoped meant Rich was (finally) returning.  That seems to be the case, though the dynamics of his return are unclear.  Sam "finds" Rich while looking for his dad.  He gets Monark Starstalker to take him to areas that appear as anomalies, and they stumble upon the areas where the portal to the Cancerverse was.  In so doing, Sam is somehow sucked into the Worldmind.  We're reminded the Worldmind had been downloaded into Rich's helmet, so it makes some sense it would be located where Rich disappeared.  That said, it's still unclear how a link between our Universe and the Cancerverse persists and why the Worldmind would just pluck a Nova from our Universe into the Cancerverse.  It's possible Sam's presence alerted the Worldmind to the connection to our Universe, but I'm not sure.  After Sam asks about Rich, Rich asserts himself over the persona of the Worldmind.  During their discussion, Rich makes it clear he's still stuck in the Cancerverse:  the "Rich" we see here seems to be just a memory stored in the Worldmind with all the other Novas and Xandarians.  The good news, though, is we're obviously going to get the full story behind his return at some point.  Beyond Rich's re-appearance, perhaps the most notable aspect of theses issues for me is that Ryan actually makes me like Sam.  He's just a kid trying his best and doesn't know how to handle everything coming his way.  Ryan makes him less obnoxious than Loeb did, possibly because he's asking for help here.  His dynamic with Rich is great, particularly when he asks if he can tell his friends about his secret identity and Rich tells him being Nova doesn't have to be miserable.  We're about three issues from him asking for help with girls.  Just like Miles helps make Sam more likable, so does Rich, and I'm legitimately excited to see them in a series together.  Of course, it's still unclear if it is Rich, and I'm warning Marvel that it damn well better be.  They can't return him and then immediately get rid of him.  Plus, Star-Lord is on Earth now, and I'd be really happy for them to get a beer together and maybe shed some man-tears.  You're on notice, Marvel.

Nova (2016) #1:  First, I feel like my premonition that Sam is going to ask Rich for girl advice was correct, given how catastrophically bad his attempt to talk to the new girl was.  As I mentioned in the previous review, I disliked Sam under Loeb's stewardship because he was closer to douche than dork on the personality spectrum.  But, Loveness and Pérez have wisely moved him to the other end.  He's awkward and more lovable here, in no small part because of his supportive friends (who still don't miss an opportunity to remind him about the Avengers "firing" him).  Oddly, Loveness and Pérez do less well with the action sequences, as I found the Ego battle almost incomprehensible.  (The grammar errors were also distracting.)  But, Sam is not the only star of this show:  Richard is back!  Or, at least, he may be.  The authors make it clear that something is happening with him, as he sees his mother as her Cancerverse self in one moment and the Cancerverse seems to overwhelm him at the end.  Qué pasa?  No sé.  But, one of my questions from "Nova" #10-#11 was how he was going to get a body (assuming his original one had been destroyed), and it seems we're going to explore exactly that question now.  Needless to say, as you can tell from the links on the right side of this website, I can't wait. 

Star Wars:  Dr. Aphra #1:  The brilliance of Gillen's writing is that Aphra is a thoroughly unlikable person, but you can't help but like her.  She lives in a world of other unlikable characters, and they're all on display here:  the fellow archeologist who backstabbed her and who she later backstabs (and kills), the mob boss to whom she owes money (and Triple-Zero kills), the misogynistic dissertation advisor whose work she steals.  They're all assholes, but she manages to out-asshole them with charm.

Also Read:  Batman #12; Champions #3; Midnighter and Apollo #3; Spider-Man 2099 #18; Unworthy Thor #2

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