The Clone Conspiracy Omega #1: First, unless you're really, really invested in Rita Clarkson, the doctor who helped Ben at New U, you can skip this issue entirely. In the aftermath of last issue, Ben tips off some angry family members to Rita's location so he can be on hand to save her life when they attack her. In return, Rita goes all damsel-in-distress and hands Ben her IRA since he doesn't have any cash. (Rita doesn't believe him when he admits he arranged for the guys to attack her. Apparently doctors can be idiots.) Shouldn't she be in jail? Everyone is pretty clear as they're cleaning up the scene of the crime that she's in trouble. Shouldn't they prevent her from going to her "favorite watering hole?" At the very least, wouldn't you want to be able to prevent her from withdrawing her life savings, given she's likely a flight risk? I guess not. Beyond Rita's story, Slott uses the same shtick he did in the "Amazing Spider-Man" tie-in issues, filling in moments between the scenes in the main series. The problem is these scenes still make no sense. Peter is irate with Kaine for not telling him sooner that everyone was going to become Carrion zombies...even though I'm fairly certain he did tell him. (Is he mad Kaine didn't tell him the clones would dissolve? Isn't that what clones do?) Moreover, Ben still suffers from a lack of consistent characterization, even under Peter David. As you can see in his manipulation of Rita, he's still in full Bond-villain mode here, and I struggle to see why any of us would want to read his new title. He isn't a nuanced villain, like Dr. Doom or Magneto. He's as crazy as the original Jackal, and I can only tolerate him every fifty issues or so. [Sigh.] Meanwhile, the Rhino has all the sads, the Lizard's family turns into lizards like him, Jerry's wife is suing Peter, the Kingpin gives Peter Norman Osborn's whereabouts, yadda yadda yadda. Who the fuck cares at this point?
Avengers #5: I still have no idea what Waid is doing here, but it's fun to look at del Mundo's art so I guess I'll have to live with that. People seem to love what Waid is doing. I admit it's super-cool to see the present Avengers interact with the former teams, chosen for how they can help implement Sam's plan to take down Kang. But, the story still makes no sense to me. At one point, future Vision claims Sam inspired the Avengers' rallying cry when he said it in front of the original members. If that's true, why wouldn't they themselves remember that? Present Wasp never said to Sam, "Hey, did I ever tell you you're the guy who coined 'Avengers Assemble?' By the way, you become Captain America at some point." I could also talk about how it makes no sense Kang's minions can "mine" time or how it's unclear how the Avengers identified which links in Kang's billion-year long supply chain were the most essential. But, I guess I'm just supposed to go with it. It's like Xena said in that episode of "The Simpsons:" if something happens that doesn't make sense, a wizard did it! (Only, this time, the wizard is a synthezoid named Vision, at least in the latter case.)
Hawkeye #4: OMG, Jessica Jones! Mentor in awesomeness and private-eyeing! Twist I did not see coming! First things first: frat-boy Greg was the looming figure at the end of last issue. As suspected, he's been using the TBC stickers to prime hate, allowing him to absorb it and become, in Kate's words, a third-rate Hulk. In possibly the best denouement of the year, Kate is able to lure him to an outdoor sing-along "Sound of Music" performance, and the positivity that comes with that causes him to de-Hulk. (Seriously, that's just effing brilliant. I've never seen that in comics before. I love the idea of Thompson sitting around thinking, "OK, what's the most positive thing I can imagine? Positive, positive, positive...") You'd almost think everything worked out well, as Kate ends the issue happy and with her new crew in place. Rivera even agrees she's getting a nickname! But, then we go dark. Greg asks to see Kate, and he mentions he should've recognized "the resemblance." Kate believes this comment connects him to her father, and we learn she's in Los Angeles (and stalking surfer Brad) to find her father. But, Greg blows up before he can say anything else. (Suspicious.) Thankfully, when Kate arrives at her apartment, Jessica is there with Brad. Dun-dun-DUN!
Midnighter and Apollo #6: I often struggle with violence in comic books. Modern authors are aware of the challenge this violence presents in a way that, say, Stan Lee wasn't. But, at some point probably every month, I have a moment where I think, "Why am I reading stories about super-powered beings beating on each other?" But, Midnighter bottom lines it here rather nicely (and in his boxer-briefs to boot). He tells Apollo he's going to keep on killing bad guys so people don't have to live without someone they love. He can't imagine anything worse, after coming close to it in this adventure. Honestly? That's a pretty solid reason. Moreover, we learn Apollo chose his name not because he thought of himself as a sun god, but because Apollo turned his lover Hyacinth into something better when he thought he was going to lose him. Midnighter doesn't ask for redemption, and Apollo doesn't ask permission to give it to him. They are who they are, and thank God they are the type of people to play sexy, half-naked chess in their apartment. In other words? I fucking love these two.
Moon Knight #12: This issue couldn't be more exciting. Lemire and Smallwood's pacing is really spectacular. First, we have Marc unexpectedly being joined by his alter egos in the Overvoid, who help him rescue Anput and escape with Crawley. This entire sequence is amazing, from the smugly bemused look on handsome Steve's face to spaceman Marc facilitating their escape with his spaceship. (Spaceship!) It's like a great pulp film come to life. But, it's Marc's adventures in Saudi Arabia as a mercenary that really leap off the page for their realism. Lemire is giving us a ring-side seat to Marc's descent into darkness. Frenchie advises him not to meet the crime lord giving them jobs, but Marc chases the money, wanting more. When we meet the Bushman, it's clear why Frenchie was nervous. I've always known Marc was a mercenary when he became Moon Knight, but it was always sort of a throw-away piece of information, like how Peter Parker won a science fair as a kid or something. It was just part of the background. But, Lemire is walking us through this period, and it's amazing to watch. It's really a chance to get to know this character, and I feel like, in the end, I'll be able to call myself a legitimate Moon Knight fan. That's exciting stuff right there.
Nightwing #17: The good news is we don't get confirmation Shawn is dead here. The bad news is the guy who seems to have kidnapped her calls himself Deathwing so her survival isn't looking so good. The issue starts with Dick taking down a hilariously ridiculous group of criminals called the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lest you think they're all cool like the X-Men's version, they're a bunch of small-time hoods wearing horse-head masks. (Seriously.) Dick makes short work of them. Then, Damian appears suddenly; he's traveled from San Francisco because he's bothered by people on Twitter claiming Dick is the true heir. He tries to challenge Dick to some sort of duel, but Shawn calls at that moment to tell Dick she may be pregnant. Dick doesn't have patience for Damian's antics and tackles him, dismissing him as a hormonal teenager. He picks up a pregnancy test on his way to Shawn's apartment (I'd love to know how exactly he swung that in his costume) and discovers Shawn is missing. He's distraught just as Damian arrives, having followed him. This next part is amazing as Damian apologizes in his way: he tells Dick he's sorry they fought and urges Dick to apologize for being terse. Seeley gets Damian, y'all. At any rate, Dick leaves Damian again, but Damian finds the pregnancy test and realizes Dick is in trouble. He meets Dick with their old Batmobile, and Dick realizes he needs help: as Damian said, he's emotional and he's going to get himself killed without Damian. It's touching in the way it's always touching with these guys: it's not like they ever hug, but the love is there. Moreover, Seeley makes it clear why Dick is going to need Damian. As I mentioned, the perpetrator of the kidnapping is a guy named Deathwing. We meet him at the scene of the crime Dick stopped at the start of this issue. He's now killed the Horsemen and the cops Dick had someone call to arrest them. This guy is definitely playing for keeps.
Spider-Man 2099 #21:
I'll admit we have a lot going on here. Electro 2099 is after Sonny,
probably on behalf of the Fist and probably because Sonny knows something
he shouldn't know. However, he has amnesia, though it's not clear to me the Fist knows that. Miguel manages to save Sonny and capture Electro. He plans on interrogating Electro into telling him when the Fist attacks Times Square, and we learn it's this attack that destroys New York and allows Nueva York to be built. However, I'm still a little confused by this revelation. First, if Miguel knows the Fist attack creates Nueva York, then it can't be the event that altered his future; it's the event that essentially created his future. After all, the reason he's stuck in the present is because his 2099 was eliminated. Maybe this attack creates Roberta's 2099 not Miguel's 2099? If so, it makes sense she knows the Fist attack that created Nueva York in her 2099. But, again, if Miguel knows about it, it doesn't seem to be relevant to his goal of re-engineering his 2099. In fact, he has to let it happen. If it is the event to create the alternate future (possibly Roberta's), then we still don't know how Miguel created the Fist in the past. Since they already exist, it implies this action-forcing event has already taken place, but it's unclear what it is. As I said, it's a lot.
Star Wars #29: This story has been on a slow burn, but Aaron throws
some kerosene on the fire in this issue. The concept of "stonepower" as
the syncretic version of the Force has been intriguing, mostly because
its practitioners could obviously learn a thing or two from Yoda. They
do so here, but it's not the lesson Yoda wanted them to learn. After he
discovers the stone the Rockhawkers prize is part of a living mountain,
he re-awakens the mountain. We learn he's the last remaining giant who used to live on
this world, before the power-hungry humans reduced them to rubble. Yoda and Garro leave the mountain as its lava (i.e.,
blood) starts flowing, and Garro reveals its secret to his fellow
Rockhawkers as a way of getting in good with them again. A
disappointed Yoda returns to the Muckwhackers to prepare them for war,
correctly predicting the Rockhawkers will send the revived mountain after the Muckwhackers . But, Aaron kicks up the story a notch when Luke arrives on
the planet in the present to learn the fate of the mountain. (No, he didn't finish the
story first. Is that a convenient device? Yes, yes, it is. But, is
Luke also enough of an impatient idiot to make it believable? Yes, yes, he is.) An older Garro -- the man we likely saw last issue talking to
Ben on Tatooine -- greets him, telling Luke he's the last of the Rockhawkers and
he's going to help him end the war. Given the body of the giant
is buried in the sand next to where they're standing, I'm intrigued to see exactly how Luke is going to do
Also Read: Batman #18; Champions #6