Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #2: Given how proud Ben is that he doesn't rip off Cassandra Mercury's arm when she opens fire on him, David seems to be implying the main struggle of these first few issues is going to be Ben learning how to overcome his baser instincts. It's still unclear why Ben has said instincts, though I'm guessing we're going to blame all of his questionable behavior on the torture he suffered at the Jackal's hands and leave it at that. In the meantime, the parameters of this series are starting to take shape. When Mercury's daughter miraculously awakens after Ben touches her, Mercury is convinced he cured her and agrees to bankroll his research into her daughter's disease. Ben knows he didn't do anything, but he's happy to take the cash. With Kaine hot on Ben's trail, David seems to be taking inspiration from the '70s "Incredible Hulk" TV show: Ben is going to solve someone's problems, probably for money, as Kaine tries to bring him to justice. If that is David's plan, I'm down with it. The only real question from this issue is how Ben managed to crush Mercury's gun without touching it. He lies to her at one point in this issue, telling her he used telepathy to awaken her daughter. But, maybe he at least has some form of telekinesis now? (It was my first thought when he crushed the gun and thus I was surprised when he denied he had telepathy.) I guess we'll see.
Captain America: Steve Rogers #17: This issue has some bright moments even though it largely covers ground we're already trod. Spencer uses a journalist interviewing Steve on live TV to review the realities of HYDRA's America, from the concentration camps for Inhumans to the mutant nation on its border. The only new information we get in this issue is insight into Steve's secret deal with the mutants. As expected, he offered Magneto his own nation to get the mutants off the map, since he couldn't handle taking over America and fighting the mutants. (Publicly, as agreed with Magneto, Steve claims the mutants illegally seized the land.) We're not clear on why Steve insisted on making Xi'an the head of the country, but I'm pretty sure "Secret Empire: United" will fill in those details. Otherwise, the issue mostly involves Steve justifying his action by delivering far-right talking points about bringing economic and physical security to people who craved it. He's admirably good at delivering said points. The only problem is when the journalist mentions Las Vegas, something Dr. Faustus explicitly forbade her to do. The TV feed is cut, and she's thrown into a prison cell for "endangering national security;" you get the sense she's lucky to be a prisoner and not dead. Overall, Spencer uses this issue to remind us that a certain percentage of Americans -- a parallel to Donald Trump's oft-mentioned 38 percent -- will find a way to dismiss the destruction of Las Vegas as either a conspiracy theory or a justifiable act. The closer these justifications come to real-life ones, the more depressing it gets.
Also Read: Deathstroke #19; Detective Comics #957; Pathfinder: Runescars #1; Rebels: These Free and Independent States #3; X-Men Blue #4