Monday, August 7, 2017

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The July 5 Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

X-Men Gold #7:  Guggenheim cleverly plays with the premise of "Secret Empire" by doing it one better.  The X-Men aren't just trapped, along with the rest of New York, in the Darkforce Dimension; they're also trapped in the Mansion with a serial killer.  Guggenheim lets us know from the start the killer is motivated by Magneto killing his wife and son years earlier, and it's hard to argue with his hatred of mutants as a result.  It also reminds us of the special treatment Magneto has gotten over the years, a seemingly never-ending series of second chances that fly in the face of the crimes he's committed.  I'm not sure if it was Guggenheim's intention to highlight that, but there it is.

Batman #26:  I don't really have much to say about this issue, because King doesn't really do all that much here.  We really only see confirmation, though their actions, that Joker and Riddler are at war, though it's still not clear what the stakes are, exactly.  I'm not sure it matters.  King spends most of this issue introducing us to Joker and Riddler.  If that sounds ridiculous, given how familiar even my mother is with those characters, King reminds us we need to know who they are in this particular moment.  Joker is morose and Riddler is angsty.  It's not their usual modi operandi, and it's why King takes time to stress it.  The only real development is Joker killing Carmine Falcone's mother after he fails to kill Riddler in an hour, as Joker requested.  King doesn't tell us why Joker wanted to use a surrogate to get rid of Riddler, but it seems to have been a bad call:  I doubt Falcone is going to sit out this war, given Joker's actions.  Janín uses a series of splash pages to remind us the War of Jokes and Riddles is at its heart a gang war and Bruce is just becoming aware of how deep into the Gotham underground it spreads.  It's a slow issue, but it was probably wise for King to take the time to make sure we understand the environment in which the story is occurring.  But, he should probably have Joker blow up Wayne Tower or something next issue.

Hawkeye #8:  OK, now we're getting somewhere.  We learn Kate's father has switched into a clone of his original body because he was "ill."  Moreover, this new body has taken a latent ability -- the power of suggestion -- and expanded it into an actionable power.  He explains to Kate Madame Masque's quest to obtain superpowers repeatedly fails because her DNA doesn't have any hint of such a latent ability.  Kate observes she may also have powers (given her share of her father's DNA), and her father agrees.  Kate surmises Aggregate was one of Madame Masque's clones, but she also notes his powers caused him to explode so she recommends her father plays his cards carefully.  Despite all this information, Thompson still doesn't answer all our questions.  First, we don't learn how Kate figured out Aggregate was a clone; I think she just assumes Aggregate's connection to her father meant he underwent a similar procedure.  But, it's possible Kate has information we don't have.  Second, Kate jumps to the conclusion her father was trying to use Aggregate to trash Venice to drive down property values, allowing him to obtain land cheaply.  Again, Kate may have information to which we're not yet privy, but, if she doesn't, it's a serious leap of logic for her to get from Point A to Point B.  Finally, Thompson implies Masque sent Kate on this wild-goose chase in order to overhear the conversation she ultimately has with her father about how he got his powers.  But, it seems a stretch Masque would have to go to all that trouble just to obtain this information.  She doesn't have any other sources?  I'm hoping Thompson fills in some of these gaps, so it doesn't feel as deus ex machina-y as it does now.  All that being said, she does a great job of showing the emotional toll Kate's confrontation with her father has on her.  Their conversation is remarkably tense, something Romero accomplishes even with the limited line work he employs.  Even in such a plot-heavy issue, the creative team helps amplify the characterization, and it's why this series is just so good right now.

Spider-Man #18:  Bendis does a really solid job here with Miles' mom.  She came to his room to apologize, and she's there as Fabio and Ganke return with his wounded self after his battle with Hammerhead.  She takes him to the hospital to get his broken ribs wrapped, and she tells him she's upset with him but still loves him.  But, Bendis distinguishes himself by not turning her into Aunt May or something.  Miles pushes her to forgive his father because they told the same lie, and she essentially tells him to mind his own business.  He presses, and she tells him it's a different relationship.  This nuance is often lost in comics, and I really take off my hat to Bendis for making that distinction.  Moreover, we get some great Goldballs action here, as Ganke encourages Fabio to revel in his powers and he's able to summon a larger ball than he's previously managed to take down Hammerhead.  When you add in Bombshell realizing she's in love with Miles, you've got an all-around solid story.


Star Wars #33:  They could use this issue in comic-writing school to show how to do a one-and-done issue.  Leia and Luke wind up crash-landing their disabled ship on an ocean-covered planet after they have to flee Imperial troops who interrupted their supply run.  With few options, they're forced to go full "Cast Away."  In putting them in this situation, Aaron achieves one of the main goals of this series:  showing us the bonds that developed between the characters off-screen.  This issue helps explain why Leia comments in "Return of the Jedi" that she always knew Luke was her brother.  It didn't make sense if you just saw their oft-discussed kiss in "Star Wars;" after all, they hardly spent any time together in "Empire Strikes Back."  But, it does when you realize they spent three weeks stranded on a desert island together.  They had time to get to know one another and to realize they weren't really interested in knowing each other *that* way.  (Blech.) Moreover, Aaron gives us great insight into Leia as we learn the week she hid in the woods as a nine-year-old (convinced her parents were going to marry her to a prince) was the best week of her life.  Aaron seems to plan on doing something similar for Lando and Sana next issue, and I can't wait for that.  These issues that focus on the characters in discrete moments have tended to be the best ones of this series, and I'd encourage Aaron (and soon Gillen) to keep his focus on them, at least for a while.  "Screaming Castle" was OK; this issue was better.

Also Read:  Bloodshots Day Off #1; Champions #10; Nightwing #24; Spider-Man:  Master Plan #1

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