Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The May 10 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Amazing Spider-Man #27:  I start every issue hoping Dan Slott has gotten a good night's sleep and woken up that next morning focused a little more on the story he's trying to tell.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have happened for this issue.  First, we have Sable's ridiculous explanation of how she survived the precarious scenario where we last saw her in "End of the Earth."  She apparently used her suit to turn invisible, which made Rhino think she vanished.  The problem with that explanation is Rhino had his hands around her neck at the time.  Rhino might not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but he's been around the block a few times:  he understands invisibility.  If Sable disappeared, but he still felt her, I find it unlikely he'd let go, scratch his head, and decide maybe he wasn't as suicidal as he appeared to be.  To make matters worse, everyone continues to take a leave of their senses in this issue.  Nick Fury tries to intimidate Harry and May to convince Peter not to invade Symkaria.  After all, Peter is obviously in the wrong for wanting to stop Norman Osborn from turning the country's population into slave labor for his war machine.  Sable is shocked - shocked! - that her people turned to the Countess during her "absence."  Who knew they'd actually believe her when she faked her on death?  The good news is the issue improves greatly when Slott puts behind the plot and focuses on the action.  Spidey is legitimately funny as he, Mockingbird, Sable, and the Wild Pack take on Norman's army of Goblins and machinery.  Slott even manages to give at least one of the Pack a personality!  He also makes clear Bobbi and Peter are getting closer and closer to a relationship, as Bobbi admits she left S.H.I.E.L.D. because she knows Pete always does the right thing.  (Of course, he ruins the moment by joking about her believing in him.)  Moreover, Slott continues his pattern of doing better with the grand sketches of a plot than the intimate details:  Norman's plan to turn everyone in Symkaria into a Goblin is legitimately scary.  However, Slott has demonstrated this trouble in sticking the landing, so we'll see how it goes next issue.  I feel like someone from editorial needs to step in here and help him do a better job connecting the dots.  You can't crank out the number of issues he has and not lose sight of the larger plot a bit.  Someone has to say, "Dan, that Sable explanation makes no sense," or, "At some point you have to show Nick understanding S.H.I.E.L.D. is being hypocritical."  The Zodiac arc is a great example of this problem.  Like this issue, we had a super-fun romp through the British Museum, but Slott dragged down that issue when he bumbled through explaining why Scorpio was there in the first place.  At this point, I'm trying to just enjoy the best art team this series has possibly ever had while hoping Dan takes a sabbatical at some point.

Detective Comics #956:  This issue wraps up the arc better than I thought it could, but Tynion still leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions (and not necessarily in a good way).  We learn Shiva left R'as al Ghul after she learned what his true intentions for the League of Shadows were, but we don't get told why it was necessary for the League of Shadows to exist separately from the League of Assassins in the first place.  We learn Bruce once walked a dark path of magic and he'll need to walk it again since it's what al Ghul used to make him forget about the League.  But, we still don't know why al Ghul wanted him to forget about the League.  Bruce also now realizes the Colony was more involved with the League than he thought, but we don't have any idea why.  Were they originally allies and the relationship went bad?  Does the Colony support al Ghul's original plans for the League?  As Bruce said, all we really do know is Shiva's defection from al Ghul forced him to reveal more than he intended.  This arc has felt like butter scraped over too much bread, as Tynion avoided giving us any answers to the mystery at the heart of it.  But, hopefully he can fill in the gaps now that Bruce is on the hunt.

Ms. Marvel #18:  Yup, I totally cried.  The cover implies we're going to see some sort of interaction between Bruno and Kamala (pet peeve #1), but Wilson actually focused solely on Bruno and his attempts to adjust to his new life in Wakanda.  Wilson grounds the story in reality in a way we don't usually see in comics:  Bruno isn't suddenly going to have a cybernetic hand and leg.  He doesn't get the deus ex machina superheroes get.  Bruno has to earn it, and he does, with the help of his classmates who he now realizes are his friends.  It's not hard to see a great lesson in perseverance in the face of obstacles here, the type of story we're often denied when the aforementioned deus ex machina magically makes a problem better.  (I'm looking at you, Cosmic Cube.)  Like the rest of us, Bruno will be facing the consequences of his actions for a long time.

Star Wars:  The Screaming Citadel #1:  OK, Gillen is definitely embracing the creepier side of the "Star Wars" Universe here.  (It's not a bad thing.)  In the wake of the opening arc of her own series, Aphra tracks down Luke (thanks to some assistance from Sana) and convinces him to help her unlock the core she swiped from the Ordu Aspectu.  Apparently it contains Rur's personality, so it's a win-win proposition:  Aphra gets an eyewitness to ancient history and Luke gets a Jedi Master to instruct him.  The only problem is she doesn't know how to open the core.  As such, they have to travel to the titular Screaming Citadel.  The ancient (and bored) queen of Ktath'atn holds a contest at the Citadel every year:  she swaps favors for the chance to meet "interesting people."  Not surprisingly, Aphra and Luke qualify after Luke uses his Jedi powers in front of the queen.  However, it appears the queen is a vampire:  her minions feed off the citizens' energy and then feed that energy to her.  Needless to say, she's...excited about the possibility of feeding off a Jedi, since she hasn't done so in a while.  Checchetto and Mossa do an amazing job of using "Alice in Wonderland" imagery when it comes to the queen, as she looks not dissimilar from a modern Queen of Hearts.  After the disappointing "Yoda's Secret War" arc in "Star Wars," I'm excited for this arc.  It reorients us around a cast of characters we recognize, but tells a story that we haven't seen before.  Gillen does a great job of reminding us how hungry Luke is for training in this period before he learns of Yoda's location, and filling in this sort of gap drives the excitement for this arc (something "Yoda's Secret War" lacked).  I'm not saying everything needs to advance the larger story we know from the movies, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Uncanny Avengers #23:  Honestly, this series is the best team book on the shelves.  Duggan does a great job of conveying honest-to-goodness emotions on almost every page, from Synapse learning Cable stayed with the team to be her mentor to Rogue wistfully looking at the photo of the team in happier days.  In fact, Rogue and Synapse have really been Duggan's signature characters, as much as you'd expect it to be Deadpool.  We learn Synapse eventually became the Shredded Man in the future Cable tried to prevent by returning to our time, and his words of encouragement to her -- about how that future is no longer possible and how she makes her own choices -- really shows how far she's come as a character.  Rogue's feelings about the team are also instructive.  She's lost a lot recently, as Duggan reminded us in the previous issue where she contemplates Xavier's death.  It's probably the first time we've seen Rogue committed to this team as a team and not just as the X-Men's plant on it.  It's a great moment, and it's made all the better when she, Johnny, and Synapse agree to travel with Brother Voodoo to New Orleans to take care of his brother and the Hand.  In so doing, Duggan shows how he's really made this series an integrated narrative, as past events aren't just conveniently forgotten when we move to the next arc.  I'm thrilled it's still going strong, if only because I'm hoping we get some sort of Deadpool and Wonder Man buddy-comedy arc as they try to get back Simon's money.  (Did I mention Deadpool lost all of it?  Apparently he had some cash flow problems and figured Simon was dead...)

Youngblood #1:  According to my comic-book database, I own issues #0-#4 of the original run of "Youngblood."  (I believe the only two Image comics I collected beyond ten issues were "Wild C.A.T.s" at 12 issues and then "Stormwatch," at ten issues exactly.)  Similar to my experience reading "The Wild Storm," I don't really remember much the original plot.  All I really remember is the ginger Hawkeye was hot.  (My recollection of "Wild C.A.T.s" similarly revoked around the hot ginger.)  Knowing Liefeld, I probably wasn't missing much.  The good news is Liefeld got someone else to write the story this time and, even better news, it's not too bad.  Bowers quickly establishes that Youngblood ended when a hacktivist group called the Bloodstream revealed the behind-the-scenes dirt about the team, "a litany of criminal activity, illicit sex scandals, assassinations, and government cover-ups."  In the present, superheroing appears to revolve entirely around an app called Help! operating like Task Rabbit, if you will.  However, one of its stars, Man-Up, has gone missing.  His friend, Gunner, is looking for him, but she doesn't know anything about the "real" him.  She eventually recognizes his photo on a missing poster and meets his aunt, learning his name is Horatio and he's a 19-year-old kid who got his powers after a chemical spill at work.  Gunner pledges to find him and comes to the attention of President Diehard and his wife, Vogue, when she (Gunner) starts using Vogue's look and name.  Diehard is in the process of negotiating a deal with Help!, essentially to replace Youngblood.  However, he decides to send Shaft and Badrock, both incarcerated, to arrest Gunner and her friends, because he disapproves of vigilantism (likely because the new Vogue and her friends are working outside Help!).  Bowers doesn't establish what motivates Gunner to leave Help! and become Vogue, but I'm sure we'll get there.  The challenge for Bowers is going to be not just wallowing in nostalgia.  Warren Ellis is doing amazing work in "The Wild Storm," and Bowers, whether he likes it or not, is competing with that.  The art is solid here, though, again, Jon Davis-Hunt is doing spectacular work over there.  (Also, is that supposed to be Shaft at the end?  He looks...12 years old.)  At any rate, it's a high bar for Bowers and Towe to clear, but it would be exciting if they did, to have life breathed into both these franchises.

Also Read:  Dragon Age:  Knight Errant #1; Titans #11; X-Men Blue #3

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