Comics Review 5/18/16

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Martian Manhunter #12

As the Martian Manhunter races towards Earth against the new Mars, with Martian and Human refugees in tow, he’s forced to confront the darkest truth of his existence yet.

This is the end of what feels like a 12 issue arc, and it returns to what made this book great early on. Martian Manhunter has been a story about loneliness and the lengths people go to find where they belong. The resolution the book finds for MM feels introspective, but in kind of the same way as the ending to an episode of The Twilight Zone. J’onn ends up saving Mars, but not in the way he expected.

Overall, this felt like a good story stretched out over a few too many issues. Worth picking up in trade if you appreciate more heady, trippy comics material.

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Superman/Wonder Woman #29

Superman and Wonder Woman fight the doppelganger, Batman flies Lois to safety before heading back into the fray, and Pre-Flashpoint Clark takes his family to his Fortress of Solitude.

We’re finally reaching the big climactic fight scene in this story, and for the first time this arc, the fight doesn’t feel forced. It’s a great fight too, with Superman and Wonder Woman working together to beat down the doppelganger. The art is bold and bright and saturated, and everyone just looks so powerful and super.

The next, and last, issue still feels like it’ll have its work cut out for it, but this story has stalled for a bit with the China stuff, so I’m guessing the ending has just been waiting for the story to catch up to the place where it could just finally happen.

 

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Superman: American Alien #7

A great ending to a great Superman story. Clark confronts his first extraterrestrial threat, learns about where he’s from, and becomes the protector of Earth. Landis’ story nails the final step in Clark’s ascension, while Jock’s art makes the fight in this issue feel brutal on both sides. If you’ve been following American Alien from the start, you have no reason to not read this issue. If you haven’t, then you should really pick it up in trade. American Alien is a definitive Superman story, and the best version yet of how a boy from Kansas becomes the world’s greatest hero.

 

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Future Quest #1

Future Quest is off to a strong start, wasting no time on origin stories, and focusing just on getting its team together. Dr. Quest has been investigating mysterious alien portals appearing on Earth with help from Jonny, Hadji, and Race; and has called in special agents Deva Sumadi and Ray Randall (Birdman) to alert them of what could be a world-threatening event. Meanwhile, on an alien planet a long time ago, the Space Force battles an eldritch abomination.

Future Quest feels like the best anyone could have hoped it could be. It takes the same world-building approach to the Hanna Barbera universe that the parody, Venture Bros. took, but plays it completely straight as a superhero team up book. Doc Shaner’s art is the perfect fit for making the Hanna Barbara properties actually look good while maintaining that 60’s influence.

 

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Clean Room #8

Astrid Mueller is shot, and that’s just how this issue, and the new arc of Clean Room begins. The identity of Astrid’s shooter opens up even more mysteries, as does Astrid’s dying wish to summon Chloe Pierce back to the Clean Room. Chloe agrees, but this time, brings friends.

This issue tones down a lot of the weird creepiness we’ve seen in past issues, focusing on setting up these latest turns of events. It’s a huge shake-up to the status quo, and it feels like Chloe in particular is going to have to get comfortable with learning a lot more about how Astrid sees the world. This also does a great deal in keeping Astrid’s status as maybe a protagonist ambiguous in the best of ways.
Things might be calm in this issue, but it can’t help but feel like a bigger storm is on the way.

 

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Silver Surfer #4

After saving the culture of Earth from the invasion of Zenn-La in the last issue; Earth’s heroes have to defend a recovering Silver Surfer from Zenn-La’s army, now looking to avenge the culture the Surfer erased.

The Surfer is out of commission for most of this issue, which means the spotlight is shared by various other heroes: Iron Man, Captain America, The Thing, Ms. Marvel, etc; with one amazing scene for Alicia Masters.

This issue feels a little self-congratulatory, but does provide a nice feel-good ending to the arc that also provides a nice bookend to the Surfer’s 50th anniversary.

 

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Power Man and Iron Fist #4

This first arc wraps up nicely, if a bit sappily, with a friendship overcomes all message that actually fits the whole reunion gist of the arc quite nicely. It’s an issue long fight scene with the series’ requisite humor sprinkled in the dialogue. The highlights of this issue is probably Black Mariah’s many nicknames for Iron Fist, and the Heroes 4 Hire’s version of a fastball special. Not an amazing issue on its own, but a tidy conclusion to a really strong opening arc.

 

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Karnak #4

It took four issues, but Karnak is finally frustrated. Karnak enters the Chapel of the Single Shadow and encounters more resistance than he expected.

This series is beginning to feel very by-the-numbers Ellis. There’s a long fight scene, some sardonic dialogue, and the whole thing feels coolly effortless. If you like Ellis’ stuff, it all still works, but it’s beginning to feel stale.

There’s a neat Bowie cameo in it though, and the first reference to the man that’s made me chuckle instead of feel kinda sad since he’s died.

 

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Spidey #6

Spidey meets, and teams up with, Iron Man to stop the Vulture; but Peter’s real challenge is working up the courage to ask Gwen Stacy to the Winter Formal.

Spidey is great, brilliant stuff. It expertly balances the teen stuff with the superhero stuff, and finds fun ways to segue between the two in a way that rounds out Peter as a multi-dimensional human being. The dialogue in this issue is extra quippy with Iron Man joining in on things.

Spidey is the platonic ideal of a Spider-Man book.

 

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Spider-Man #4

An issue that focuses more on Miles than Spider-Man, and specifically, Miles’ relationship with Ganke. This relationship is a treasure, and this comic provides one of the best examples of why. Ganke wants to meet the new exchange student, Goldballs, and wants Miles to introduce them because they’re both superheroes. The two bicker like a married couple, and things only get more heated once Goldballs actually gets involved. And Miles spends the rest of the book just ruminating on the fight. It’s brilliant! Miles and Ganke is one of the best friendships in comics right now, and their arguments hit incredibly close to home for anyone who’s ever had a big fight with one of their own friends.

 

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Civil War II #0

The next big Marvel crossover event begins, and this issue starts placing the pieces on the board. We open on Jennifer Walters giving her closing statements defending a super-criminal client, who in this case, was arrested for entrapment. She pleads that her client was talking about crime, not committing it, and that his arrest is a form of thought-policing, and a direct violation of freedom. At the Triskelion, Captain Marvel talks to Doc Samson about how she wishes there were a way to prevent world-threatening events before they make themselves apparent. POTUS offers James Rhodes a seat in his cabinet and a shot at the White House. And on the Ohio State University campus, two students, Ulysses and Michelle, find out they’re inhuman when the terrigen mist comes to town.

So, this zero issue is pretty heavy-handed about the themes the story is gonna try to tackle, and gets a lot of the set-up out of the way pretty quickly, with the actual inciting incident having yet to come.

If you already knew the basics of what Civil War II is going to be, than this issue is entirely skippable. If not, it basically serves as a prologue, which with a character named Ulysses, you can’t really say is off-brand.

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