Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The March 22 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Black Panther #12:  T'Challa makes the only decision he could here to keep Wakanda together:  he will turn it into a constitutional democracy.  This decision comes after Changamire leads a Council attempting to reconcile the positions of T'Challa and Shuri on one side and the Midnight Angels on the other one.  But, T'Challa isn't the only one forced to make concessionsChangamire chides Aneka for her continued use of the term "Orphan King" to describe T'Challa.  He does so partly because his wife is an orphan, but also because he believes Wakandans' prejudice against orphans is a relic of their Golden Age, where few existed.  Changamire observes Wakanda is now full of orphans in the wake of its recent battles and exhorts Aneka to consider how isolated T'Challa has been throughout his life.  When T'Challa calls Aneka to offer the deal (one that essentially ends his isolation), she's in a place to hear it.  Freed from the burdens of absolute power, T'Challa can now do two things:  pursue the enemies of Wakanda (such as the escaped Zenzi) and, apparently, Storm.  Coates engaged in a successful high-wire act in bringing this story to a close, particularly given T'Challa's previously heavy-handed attempts to resolve the conflict.  Coates does the rare thing in showing his character learn a lesson consistent with his characterization:  his decision to turn over power to his people feels right.  Some of his people's criticism of T'Challa has been that he was more hero than king, and this decision essentially allows him to be exactly that:  the Black Panther.  Someone else will have to deal with grain yields and mining challenges.  Coates has Shuri play her cards closer to her chest.  When the woman the Midnight Angels saved asks whether T'Challa would've preferred she and her daughter were raped and killed by the marauders, Shuri shocks the room by saying, yes, she should've done exactly that.  To Shuri, their lives exist solely to advance Wakanda, and sacrifice is thus necessary.  It's a hard-line position to be sure, and it's unclear where she goes from here as a character.  Although she's understanding of T'Challa's decision, it seems unlikely she truly accepts it.  She feels like someone who really believes in the divine right of the kings (and queens), and it's hard to see her moderating that stance.  Of the many problems T'Challa's decision may create, Shuri could be one of the more significant ones.  

Bloodshot Reborn #0As I mentioned at the end of last issue, I was nervous about continuing Ray's story, because Lemire left him in such a great place.  But, it felt like punishing Lemire for creating a character about whom I cared so much, so I decided to stay the course.  I'm glad I did.  In fact, Lemire makes the ending even happier, as we learn Magic is pregnant.  Both Magic and Ray have concerns, but they decide that, in Bloodshot's words, "if it's gonna be a monster, at least it'll be [their] monster."  In fact, everyone gets a happy ending here.  G.A.T.E. is able to upgrade the nanites in the rest of the Bloodshot Gang, allowing them to pass as human and resume regular lives.  Festival tells Kate she's done with the F.B.I., and they leave G.A.T.E. together.  Even PRS gets its happy ending, as it morphs into Project Omen.  (I'm sure long-time Bloodshot readers recognize the guy with the scar who convenes the remaining PRS members just as I'm sure the rest of us are going to learn more about him soon.)  The issue ends with the cover for next issue, showing Bloodshot standing hand-in-hand with his red-eyed child.  I'm eager to see that story unfold.  Onwards and upwards!

Captain America:  Steve Rogers #14:  Curiouser and curiouser.  In the present, Elisa assembles a new HYDRA High Council from the usual suspects:  Dr. Faustus, Gorgon, Viper, Dr. Zola, etc.  The most interesting addition is the mysterious new Kraken:  all we know of him is Steve believes him to be dead and he's "family," according to Elisa.  I have to assume he's the missing Ian Rogers, since he fits those bills nicely.  (Elisa also mentions the previous Kraken "meant a great deal" to her, though I don't think we've seen that connection yet.)  Meanwhile, Carol's Shield performs better than expected, as even Quasar can't break it.  Steve again tries to convince Carol not to build it, though we're not privy to his argument, which Carol dismisses as "idealistic."  (I have no idea what it could be.  Freedom?  Freedom to what?  Fly into space?  No idea.)  In the past, Elisa displays her powers for the first time as Steve arrives to assassinate her, showing herself to be some sort of dark-arts sorceress.  She tells Steve it was the Red Skull who betrayed the Zemos (not her), though, at this stage, we're not told why he (allegedly) did so.  Elisa has been in the background ever since Steve left for HYDRAwarts but Spencer makes it clear she's going to resume her place at the center of this story.

Detective Comics #953:  Shiva lowers the boom here as her League of Shadows takes out the remaining members of the team, Batwoman and Clayface.  (I'm not entirely sure how they took out Clayface with swords, but presumably we'll learn that at some point.)  Shiva also shows her sadistic side in making sure Batwoman is stabbed right in front of her father.  But, it's Cass who suffers the most at Shiva's hands, distraught over the fact someone as brutal as Shiva is her mother.  Shiva compounds this hurt by being as cold as you'd expect.  She promises Cass answers only if she fights to kill her, but Cass can't bring herself to do it.  Shiva beats her into unconsciousness and leaves.  As if matters couldn't get worse for Bruce, R'as al Ghul appears in the Cave at the end of the issue.  It seems likely he'll propose an alliance, though I'm not entirely sure.  After all, wouldn't he love the idea of Gotham burning?  But, his hatred of Shiva probably trumps that, so I'm assuming we'll get a team-up.  All in all, Tynion is doing a solid job of showing everything going to hell organically.  Gordon is allowed to return to Gotham (though I'm not entirely sure why the Deputy Mayor no longer thinks he's a target), and Bruce and Kate explain in the helicopter that the chaos is just a distraction from Shiva's actual (unknown) goal.  Gordon is suitably awed by the fact the chaos he's seeing -- people rioting, Joker gas, buildings burning -- is a "distraction."  It gets across the scope of the events of the last few issues without having to take us on a deep dive into the chaos itself.  It allows us to maintain our focus on the now dwindling team and how serious of a threat Shiva seems.  It's still unclear what her motivation is or why Batman defeating the Colony's attempt to strike in Gotham set her plan in motion, but I'm assuming we'll get there soon.

Extraordinary X-Men #20:  In all honesty, I don't have much to say here; the X-Men find Cerebra after she sacrificed herself in the fight with Emma at the end of "IvX" and finish transporting everyone in X-Haven back to Earth now that it's safe for mutants.  The team then enjoys a softball game before they close down shop in Limbo and end this chapter.  I have to say, I'm excited about where we go from here.  I've always dreamed Marvel would give us an X-Men team formed of the second-wave X-Men, and they do exactly that with the upcoming "X-Men Gold" series.  If Rachel is the sixth member of the team on the teaser cover, as I think she is, it's basically everyone still alive from the second wave except Havok and Polaris.  As a requiem, I've always liked this title, as it captured some of the fun and energy of the Australia period in the 1980s.  The X-Men really needed that, given the tumultuous (though still enjoyable) Marvel NOW! period.  I'm hoping that energy carries into this next era, which feels similar to the "Revolution" relaunch in the 2000s.  We'll see.

Reborn #5I'm intrigued that Lord Golgotha is the Minneapolis shooter, particularly since it means we still don't know where Bonnie's mother is.  In the meantime, Millar seems to glide past Bonnie's devastation at learning her husband has remarried, given she's willing to go on a suicide mission to save him.  On the other hand, he could really just be setting up the meaning of title of this series:  will Bonnie truly be "reborn?"  Will she embrace who she is here as opposed to who she was?  Millar seems to be reminding us how new she is to this world, whose physics we still don't fully understand.  But, hopefully, we'll get more answers next issue.

Unworthy Thor #5:  We learn what Nick Fury whispered to Thor in this issue, and I have to admit it's pretty solid.  It isn't that he isn't really Odin's son or that he has some previously unknown older brother originally meant to hold the hammer.  It's simply that the God Butcher was right:  no god is worthy.  Odinson believes him, because he's seen the damage gods inflict on mortals.  It's as simple and profound as that.  Odinson essentially doesn't believe in gods anymore, despite being one.  This embrace of sincerity isn't just limited to his inability to lift Mjolnir:  it extends to Ultimate Thor's hammer as well.  It's not his hammer, and he leaves it be.  Instead, he rescues Asgard from the Collector and calls it a day.  I can't think of a nobler ending.  Moreover, as Beta Ray Bill says, it reminds us Odinson doesn't need a hammer to be worthy; he's that on his own.  In wrapping up this mini-series this way, Aaron makes it clear he has no intention of rushing the hammer from Jane's hand, and I'm glad for that.  As the editor says, it's hard to find new things to do with a 55-year-old character.  Given that history, though, it's also clear that you don't have to tell a story quickly.  Odinson has plenty of time to be Odinson and find the truths he's missing.  Meanwhile, the larger story continues to unfurl here.  A mysterious figure emerges to take up Ultimate Thor's hammer because s/he, like the hammer, believes it's time for a "War Thor" to be born.  It seems clear it's not the Ultimate Thor (R.I.P.); in fact, Aaron hints we already know the person.  Apparently we'll learn who it is in "Mighty Thor" #20.  I honestly can't wait.  My only hope is that Odinson isn't a stranger.  After all, a triumvirate of Thors?  Malekith better watch his back.  (P.S.  More goats.)

Also Read:  Batgirl #9; Rebels:  These Free & Independent States #1; Spider-Gwen #18

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