Amazing Spider-Man #26: Ugh. I put this issue on the bottom of my digital pile because I was dreading reading it, and my Terrible-Sense was right. Slott just continues this series' downward spiral here. First, he has serious issues staying consistent when it comes to the plot. Last issue, it seemed the world was annoyed with Parker Industries over its use of Webware to defeat the Carrion virus, because it showed Webware was wonky. Peter didn't want to reveal the truth for reasons that made no sense to me, as I described in my review of that issue. But, in this issue, people do seem to know why he used the Webware, but it doesn't matter because they're still angry at him. But, I don't have time to worry about nagging loose ends from the "Clone Conspiracy," because this arc presents its own set of nonsensical developments. Silver Sable refuses to reveal how she's alive, but tells Peter that Norman Osborn is in cahoots with a Symkarian countess to produce all his new weapons there. (We learn Norman's "expo" was a display of his new weapons, from Goblin gliders to a giant robot, for the criminal leaders he contacted last issue. I'm still not 100% sure why they had to meet him at the Uncle Ben Foundation event and not just the warehouse where he was keeping the weapons, but, again, I've got to prioritize my complaints here.) Sable wants Spidey's help in wresting control of Symkaria from the countess and Norman, and Peter agrees. But, S.H.I.E.L.D. decides it makes him a terrorist. S.H.I.E.L.D.! Sharon Carter is invading Sokovia in "Captain America: Steve Rogers" because HYDRA took over the country, but Nick Fury decides Norman -- of all fucking people -- is protected because Symkaria is a sovereign state. Isn't Sokovia a sovereign state? Shouldn't the Skull be covered by that logic? Moreover, it doesn't just mean Fury won't let S.H.I.E.L.D. help Peter dethrone Osborn; he actively deploys S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop him. Can we just stop and talk about how ridiculous this development is? Norman is presumably wanted on any number of charges after he illegally tried to invade Asgard in "Siege." He's wanted on probably even more charges after he declared himself in charge of, like, the world in "New Avengers." S.H.I.E.L.D. deciding he's totally off-limits because he's now hiding behind a Symkarian countess makes no sense at all. [Sigh.] Slott is playing other games in the background, particularly when it comes to Doc Ock, but I just don't fucking care, to be honest. I gave up reading Spider-Man when Slott went all "Superior Spider-Man," and I may just have to do it again. Ugh.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #21: This series ends (assuming it's ending) the only way it could, with Sam giving up the shield because he doesn't believe in an America that can let what happened to Rage stand. Spencer doesn't sugarcoat it: Sam makes it pretty clear he feels like a failure, and he's worried young people will see his farewell video and lose hope. But, how can they have hope if he doesn't have it? Sam doesn't have an answer to that question, but Spencer may: at one point, we see a young man planning out a Patriot costume, and Spencer implies that Sam highlighting the injustice African-Americans face has inspired young people to act. It might not have been the message Sam thought he'd be sending as Captain America, but it's probably the one he ultimately needed to send. Meanwhile, Steve wraps up a little bit of business as he has Hauser the muckraker help him murder the founder of Americorps. Hauser is revealed to be a HYDRA agent, which means all the non-HYDRA agents involved in Steve's plan to undermine Sam have been eliminated. I'm not sure where Sam goes next, but I have to give credit to Spencer at this point for telling a story that really captures the Zeitgeist. I feel like this series has consistently been one of the best ones on the shelves, and I hope we don't see Sam disappear into obscurity post-"Secret Empire."
Detective Comics #954: As I've previously mentioned, I haven't been thrilled with other DC authors embracing Scott Snyder's belief that Batman is incompetent and overconfident. But, I have to admit Tynion uses it to great effect here. It's pretty great to watch Batman and R'as al Ghul fumble with the reality that they don't know how to defeat Shiva. Batman is distraught upon learning al Ghul only made him think the League of Shadows was a myth, and al Ghul is forced to admit he unleashed something he couldn't control when he put Shiva in charge of it. (al Ghul doesn't reveal what the difference of opinion is between him and Shiva that set her on her own path; we only know she didn't approve of his goal for the League.) The fact he's reduced to tricking Batman so he can deliver him to Shiva as part of a cease-fire says a lot about Shiva's bad-ass-ery. At this stage, the only forces left standing to oppose Shiva are the Colony (after Colony Prime and Ulysses bust Jake and the other captives from the now-unguarded Belfry) and Orphan. As you can imagine, the League should probably be more frightened by the latter than the former.
Dungeons & Dragons: Frost Giant's Fury #2: If "Shadows of the Vampire" was the trial, this arc is the reward. Minsc is relieved to discover a chance at redemption by helping to protect the village of Fireshear from marauding frost giants trying to steal a dragon's horde. (Krydle freed said dragon during the giants' attack on Fireshear, redirecting their attention from the village to the cave where the dragon fled.) They're joined in this issue by Saarvin, the dragonkin ranger who saved them last issue, and Dasharra, a warrior retired from Waterdeep's Griffon Guards. Zub largely keeps the tone of this issue light, after Saarvin leads the companions to Fireshear for healing, food, warmth, and gear. But, he doesn't ignore character development, as it seems possible that Nerys has been infected with vampirism during the fight with Strahd and Minsc is uncharacteristically depressed about his loss of status as a butt-kicking hero. It's good fun.
Spider-Man 2099 #22: Honestly, this issue is one of the most brilliant ones I've ever read. At this point in the story David has been telling, it's hard to feel that frisson of excitement, because we're still at the part where David is building the suspense. But, Lyla tricking Electro into revealing the date when the Fist strikes New York City is so artfully done here I literally gasped when the truth was revealed. I really did think Lyla had become sentient and turned against Miguel, throwing in her lot with Electro. In the end, it's revealed she created that sequence in Electro's brain to trick him into revealing the date, but David sold it so well I went there, hook, line, and sinker. The last few issues have been fine, but David reminds us here how innovative he can be when he puts his mind to it.
Star Wars: Dr. Aphra #6: April hasn't been the "Star Wars" franchise's strongest month in the Marvel Universe. After the disappointing conclusion of the "Yoda's Secret War" arc in "Star Wars," Gillen delivers an equally confusing end to the opening arc of this title. As far as I can tell, the Ordu Aspectu was some sort of cult within the Jedi Order and eventually went to war with it. As part of the agreement to end the war, the Jedi could inspect the Ordu Aspectu to make sure they weren't doing anything too heretical. At this point, the story gets less clear. Gillen seems to let us chose which truth we want to believe. On one hand, you can believe the story the computer -- Eternal Rur -- tells us when Aphra and her father activate him. He was a member of the Ordu Aspectu and tried to copy his consciousness inside a computer to live forever. However, he wound up transferring his consciousness, leaving an "evil ghost" to possess his body. When the Jedi came to inspect the Ordu Aspectu under the terms of the agreement, Eternal Rur (the computer) "knew" he had to act because Immortal Rur (the "shell") would deny the "truth." However, it's also possible Eternal Rur was really just the copy of Immortal Rur's consciousness and became sentient. In this scenario, he believed himself to be the true Rur, but wasn't; Immortal Rur was the true Rur. If Eternal Rur was the true Rur, I'm still not sure why the Jedi would pose a problem for him. After all, if he really was the true Rur, wouldn't the Jedi discover that over the course of their investigation? Wouldn't they help him deal with the "evil ghost" who controlled his body? Did he just not trust them? It makes more sense that he wasn't the true Rur and somehow knew it; then, it would make sense why he had to kill the Jedi before they discovered the truth. Either way, Eternal Rur has his machines kill everyone, which seems like overkill. What does it matter if the Jedi believe him if they're all dead? Immortal Rur stops him only by using his Force powers to remove the crystal powering the control panel. in other words, I don't really get it. In the present, Aphra uses a light saber she pulled off a dead Jedi at the citadel to cut through Eternal Rur's systems before it can kill her and her father. She uses the crystal in the control panel to power the bridge, escaping with her dad and the power core she cut from Rur. She meets the Imperial captain as they flee and takes her hostage because she needs her ship to escape the self-destruct sequence removing the core activated. (Black Krrsantan took her ship, the Ark Angel, at the end of last issue). They escape on the captain's ship, and Gillen wraps up the loose ends in short order. Aphra lets the captain live because she's "cute," her dad restores her doctorate per their agreement, and she sells the light sabers she pilfered at the Citadel to pay off her debt to the guy on the Cosmantic Steppes. (I really only vaguely remembers this part of the story, and the time Gillen spends on it in this issue makes me feel like he was definitely writing for the trade. I also had to Google the quarantine world where Aphra allegedly deposits the core for safe keeping, because I was pretty sure it was where she went to get Triple-Zero's personality matrix.) All that said, I still smiled when Aphra revealed she kept the core and plans to sell it to pay off her debt to Black Krrsantan.) It wasn't totally a bad story, but, like "Yoda's Secret War," we ultimately were missing some key pieces to understand the puzzle Gillen was assembling. We'll see where we go from here.
Titans #10: Abnett avoids the comic-book trope of the newbie doing better than the veterans when Karen pays a price for taking out four of the Fearsome Five: Psimon removes the engram tied to her family from her mind, leaving her unable to remember them. We learn Psimon likely sent the engram to his employer because it has value, though I'll admit I'm not sure what "value" it has. (Blackmail?) Trying to help get back Karen's memory, Dick tracks down the Five's employer: H.I.V.E., the group that created Deathstroke. I've been driven over the edge recently when it comes to cross-over events, but I have to admit Abnett really sets up the upcoming "Lazarus Effect" event nicely, as it feels like a natural progression of this story. I'm almost excited about it.
Also Read: X-Men Blue #1