Comics Reviews 5/11/16

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Action Comics #52

All three Superman finally meet in this issue, however briefly. First, Doppelganger!Supes takes Lois to the home of Pre-Flashpoint Clark Kent and his son, Jon. Then Batman, Wonder Woman, and a sickly Superman pick up the doppelganger’s scent and also show up to the meeting. At least two of the Supermen come to blows, with at least one Lois and Jon caught in the middle.

New52!Superman is beginning to look really bad in this issue, literally green around the gills and unable to fly under his own power. The concern Batman and Wonder Woman express for him really sells that they’re doing everything they can to save their friend. Meanwhile, the doppelganger is seeming increasingly unhinged – almost nearing animated!Bizarro origin story levels; and Pre-Flashpoint Clark just wants to protect his family.

As I’ve been saying, when this story manages to actually serve it’s plot, it can be really effective. Let’s hope it can keep it going over the next two issues.

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Batman #52

If this is how Tynion plans to keep writing Batman on his run on Detective, color me excited.

This is a tight one shot with a dash of origin story. In flashbacks we see a young Bruce coming to terms with his parents’ deaths by writing a list of things he has to learn/do in order to move on, and the training he went through to strengthen himself and become Batman. In the present we see how those lessons and his training keep Batman solid while chasing a bank robber through Gotham. The issue nails it’s action beats as confidently as its emotional ones and comes together to tell a nice, solid Batman story.

The art in this issue provides a couple silly faces, but overall, I liked the coloring and feeling of motion. And despite some silly faces, many more are really great at conveying emotion.

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All-New All-Different Avengers #9

This issue of Avengers should be a simple one-and-done that introduces the new Wasp, but it feels like a mess.

We open on a frustrated Jarvis, and the Avengers hanger under attack by a mysterious source. Then the new Wasp –Nadia Pym, Henry’s daughter with his first wife, suddenly appears, unrelated to the mysterious attack. Nadia then gives the Avengers her backstory while Vision malfunctions.

In theory, everything in the issue ties together in a neat little bow, but in execution the Vision stuff feels rushed, and Wasp literally pops out of nowhere before distracting the entire issue from the attack in the beginning, and then abruptly saves the day using something you had to read about in the Civil War II Free Comic Book Day Issue to understand. It feels a bit like an episode of a sitcom that had to cut its second act for time, and honestly, doesn’t even do a great job of introducing the new Wasp.

Probably worth picking up just for the character intro if you care about following these sorts of things, but it really should have been better executed as to be worth picking up on the strength of its story.

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The Vision #7

Damn, this comic. This one…this one is a doozy.

This issue tells and abridged version of The Vision and Scarlet Witch’s relationship, from the early honeymoon period where they’re making out while Avenger-ing, through more serious patches involving their kids, and following through the eventual end. Think along the lines of something like 500 Days of Summer or Annie Hall (plus a dash of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), but if one of the people in the couple occasionally has to reboot their entire memory. We see the highs and the lows of this relationship, and the end of this issue is a jaw dropper that will pluck a heart-string in a way that you won’t be sure resonates at a major or minor key.

Grayson has been fantastic, but The Vision, and this issue in particular, might be King’s best work yet.

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Black Panther #2

Ta-Nehisi Coates is playing the long game with his run on this book. If issue one set up the board, than this issue represents each player taking their first move.

T’Challa goes to Niganda as Black Panther to capture the telepath who made his people violently rebel in the last issue. And the Midnight Angels, Aneka and Ayo, continue their crusade to rescue the Wakandan women being kidnapped and raped, and punish the men responsible.

The most interesting part of this issue is probably T’Challa’s inner monologue, and seeing how a latter part of this issue takes place inside his head, it doesn’t stay strictly monologue for long. As he breaks into Niganda he muses on the power of kings, moving to the power of people as he reaches his target. T’Challa radiates authority, and every word of his carries a regal gravitas.

The weight of his words are seconded by those of a Wakandan professor we have a scene with in the book as he discusses Locke’s philosophy with his students, and one alumni who returns to the school as a rebel against T’Challa. And then the Midnight Angels throw in their own brand of anti-patriarchy into this stew of thought about power dynamics.

There’s a lot of heavy stuff going on here, and I have a feeling Ta-Nehisi still has a lot to show us, and perhaps taking his time might be for the best.

I also have to recognize Stelfreeze’s amazing art in this book. He makes Wakanda look that’s both sci-fi and distinctively African; and gives the Black Panther speed, grace, power, and a tech-y edge.

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