Comic Reviews for 7/19/17

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Batman #27

One man finds himself caught between the forces of the War of the Jokes and Riddles like a kite in a hurricane, being pushed and pulled between Joker, Riddler, and Batman; and his family’s safety hanging in the balance.

There’s been one character that’s popped up randomly but reliably since King started his run on Batman, and he finally gets an issue (at least one issue) all to himself. Ironically, King is using his focus on this character to give us a ground level perspective on the war, what it’s like to be a small time criminal with some notable skills in the middle of one of the most tumultuous times in Gotham’s history. It’s not only the opportunity to give pathos to someone who’s been a joke up until now, but in that pathos, we better understand the toll this war pays on even the D-listers of the city. And, of course, King handles it with the same poetry he’s handled the rest of the series, showing us the seeds of a flower that’s already bloomed.

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WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017): Ape-ocalypse Now

Planet of the Apes has always been our most cynical popular sci-fi franchise, weaving through each entry the idea that we humans deserve everything coming to us, and are responsible for bringing the world down on top of ourselves. War for the Planet of the Apes continues the tradition, putting this series’ tribe of simians through the worst that humanity has to offer them.

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A GHOST STORY (2017) Will Follow You Home

In the span of two movies and one year, David Lowery has become one of my favorite directors working today. Last year’s Pete’s Dragon was an emotionally resonant film that put viewers into the head of a young boy learning to find his place in the world without losing himself if in it; and the best film in the “boy with a magic friend” genre since ET. A Ghost Story similarly takes on the spectrum of emotion, starting at loss and pushing through longing to whatever may be on the other side. It’s a pure tone piece, personal but universal, deliberately plodding through its 90 minute runtime, making each shot stick around long enough to force you to confront your emotions.

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SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017): An Un-Amazing Addition to the MCU

~This review contains spoilers.~

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best example so far of the Marvel Cinematic Universe house style working against itself. It’s not that Homecoming is a bad movie, far from it; but it’s a better Marvel movie than it is a Spider-Man one. I write this knowing full well that my own closely-held personal opinions about the character are getting in my own way of enjoying this movie, and I think that, if I were less of a fan of the character, I would enjoy this movie much more than I do. While not to the same degree as with the Amazing Spider-Man movies, I just don’t really see an essential Spider-Man-ness shine through Homecoming as much as I sense just another addition to the MCU juggernaut.

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Comic Reviews 6/28/17

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Secret Empire #5

Black Widow is captured by Hydra, but has a plan to turn one of their generals against Steve, while also sending her agents to retrieve a new ally. Meanwhile, Tony’s hunt for the cube fragments turn up more duds than wins in Wakanda and Madripoor. And Steve plans an attack that has even one of his Avengers, Odinson, doubting his loyalty.

While previous issues of Secret Empire have been objectionable, this is the first I’d rate as just bad. The opening with Black Widow is strong, but after that the plot with Tony’s team’s search and eventual return to base peaks early, in Wakanda, and tries and fails to drag the momentum from the Black Panther cameo through the rest of the issue. It also doesn’t help that the panel layouts are overcomplicated, preferring dramatic double-page splashes to creating a readable sense of space or time. It also looks like someone smudged a bunch of ink all over the finished pages, making everything needlessly dark.

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