Comic Book Reviews 4/13/16

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Batman Superman # 31
Superman goes to Gotham to ask Batman to help him find Supergirl. This issue feels padded out, with two extended action scenes completely removed from the plot, one of which pops out of nowhere, is not explained, and is mostly in Mandarin. The B-plot involving a shining alternate Superman pops up again, explaining a tiny bit about this new Super, but feels more like padding than parallel storytelling.

The best part of this issue is the scene in the bat-cave, where Clark tells Bruce that he’s dying. Seeing Alfred thank Clark one last time, while Bruce smashes away a computer in frustration of his closest friend’s death, and his inability to help him, is genuinely touching, even if this version of the characters don’t have anywhere near the same rapport as they did pre-N52.

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Monstress #5
As we end the first arc of Monstress, we’re left not far from where we began. Maika, Kippa, and Ren are met by Corvin, a member of the Arcanic Council of Dusk, a powerful group who claims to want to rescue Maika from the human Cumaea. Meanwhile, the Cumaea, whose motivations and organization remain too complicated to keep track of issue-to-issue continue to chase the escaped and increasingly dangerous criminals, and may have a traitor to worry about as well.

Montress does almost everything really well except move its plot forward. The art continues to be fantastic, as does the dialogue; and this issue goes from an incredibly dark flashback to the Arcanic Holocaust to one of the cutest Kippa moments yet, doing both equally well, but there is so much world here to digest, and not enough room in each book, nor plot, to help readers keep it down.

One arc in and the best I can say about Monstress is that it’s a comic where nothing happens, but there’s a whole lot of it, and it’s gorgeous.

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Spidey #4

Spidey gives us another great Spider-Man oner. Tired of dealing with villains, bad press, and school, Peter decides to take a day off of supeheroing, but unfortunately picks a day when Doctor Doom and an army of Doombots pop-up all over the city.

There’s some really fun layouts in this one, including Spidey and a Doombot fighting in the Guggenheim, and a cross-section of Spidey getting thrown through a building. However, the best part of this book is a scene after Spidey gets beaten by Doom, and gets a pep-talk from a young fan. Even this early into his career, the kids like Spider-Man, and he likes kids. I’m a sap, sue me.

Spidey is a book where Spider-Man can fight Doctor Doom, and have a meaningful talk with a kid in the same issue; and that makes it pretty darn great.

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Amazing Spider-Man #10

After falling from orbit in the last issue, Spider-Man faces against Scorpio in Paris. We’re nearing the end of this arc, and this book is beginning to tie up ends as deftly as Slott ever has, while setting up future events. The pacing of this issue is fantastic, with the future set-ups moving from the back of the book to fill in lulls in the A-plot.

This single issue takes some of its best moments from Spider-Man 2, actually, including a fight on-top of a speeding train, and a point where a crowd of normal people defend a downed Spidey from a villain (but this time, it’s Parisians). After a couple of great fight scenes, filled of course with quips; Spidey (and Anna) quickly resolve some dramatic irony and set us up for the final confrontation between Spider-Man and Zodiac.

I really hope that Dan Slott never stops writing Spider-Man, even if it means we don’t get his take on Superman or Batman.

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Silver Surfer #3

This may be the Silver Surfer’s 50th Anniversary issue, but it reads more like a season finale to Doctor Who. When Zenn-La comes to Earth to terraform it for themselves, the Surfer stands to defend his adopted planet from his native one, with some help of his female companions.

This is a big story, but because its squeezed into a normal sized issue, parts of it feel rushed, not given enough room to breathe. One character’s heel-face turn happens completely off panel; and the final pages, don’t have enough room to make a sacrifice on Sufer’s part feel more earned than a deus ex machina, and makes a dramatic moment land flatly.

There are some great moments here: the way that Alicia and Dawn’s relationship develops and grows, how the Surfer is made out to be a huge jerk for not letting the terraforming happen, and even the quick Avengers cameo; but the final product is slightly less than the sum of its parts.

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Moon Knight #1

A man can’t remember if his memories of being a superhero are real or imagined, why does this sound familiar? I kid, Moon Knight #1 is setting up an interesting story, taking us into the fractured mind of and behind the eyes of Marc Spector.

This first issue begins with a flashback/hallucination sequence of an amnesiac Marc being told by the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu that he is undergoing a rebirth, illustrated in a striking and beautiful sketch/penciled style with vibrant coloring. I wish the whole comic could look like it, but it also fits as a cool effect to separate the “real” from the “not-as-real”.

In the present, Marc is stuck in an asylum, abused by the orderlies, and surrounded by other patients he only half-remembers from his maybe previous lives and split personalities. A meeting with his doctor makes him further doubt whether he should believe the voice of the Egyptian god in his head telling him to escape.

Given the nature of the medium, it’s unfortunate that much of what this issue sets up is a forgone conclusion – Marc Spector is Moon Knight; because the way the story is told is interesting and begging for a story dealing in ambiguity and mystery. Even so, I feel that there is still enough room given where even being right about Khonshu and Moon Knight doesn’t mean that Marc isn’t unbalanced in other aspects of his mind, and those are the areas I hope this book really digs into.

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