Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #8
A bit of a weird issue, as it’s really fun, introduces and explains something that will become more important as things go on, but doesn’t actually go anywhere within its own pages.
Lunella and Devil Dino are body-swapped in this issue, and have to find a way to reunite. But despite all the damage Lunella seems to cause while getting used to her new size, and the ruckus DD causes at school in Lunella’s body, there doesn’t seem to be many consequences in this issue, making the whole thing feel a bit like a tutorial – a safe space for Lunella to understand her new abilities.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #9
First of all, it’s amazing how much story North and Henderson can fit into a single issue. This same story would take most creative teams at least two to tell, and probably with less character and humor.
Following last issue’s stream of terrible dates, Squirrel Girl encounters Mole Man, who she vanquishes in her usual way – understanding and forgiveness. But then Mole Man comes back with a vengeance because he asked SG to marry him and she declined. North and Henderson turn Mole Man into a villain of male-entitlement, which, given that his vernacular is stuck in the early 20th century, and he lives in essentially, the world’s basement, is just way too good. Next issue’s cover even puts him in a fedora!
There’s also a page in this issue illustrated by David Malki in a great old-timey, think the Monty Python animated bits, that I want framed.
Doctor Strange #9
After a few issues of just scraping by on magic, Stephen Strange finally gathers his forces to take the fight to the Empirikul; Wong and Zelma gather normal people who have felt the loss of magic to be the next round of monks to take the toll of Stephen’s magic for him; and the thing in the cellar reveals itself to the Imperator.
I’m glad we’re nearly at the end of this because it feels like this arc has been going on forever. It’s not that each issue is bad, just that issue-to-issue, things have really just been crawling along to the point that even the climactic moments of this issue feel a bit like a wet fart. The book’s desaturated coloring doesn’t do much to help this, either. I want to like this book, but I think for that to happen, we have to get to the next arc already.
I honestly don’t have much to say about this one. Ganke and Goldballs continue their conversation from last issue re: Miles’ secret identity, Miles’ kidnapping by Black Cat and Hammerhead resolves itself in a nothing sort of way, and the only interesting thing that happens involves Miles’ grandmother calling a certain PI to investigate Miles.
I’m not sure if I’m just beginning to notice it, or if it’s actually increasing, but Bendis’ dialogue seems to be getting circuitous to the point of self-parody – characters talk without saying anything meaningful or moving the story forward. Meanwhile, the plot seems to happen more because something has to happen rather than by anything caused by any of the characters doing anything.
The thing is, I like Miles and his supporting cast enough to keep on reading this book, and Bendis’ characterization of them is a big part of that, but he’s not giving these great characters good stories, and that’s incredibly frustrating.
Power Man and Iron Fist #5
The greatness continues in this Rashomon style one-shot revolving around an incident with the reunited Luke Cage and Iron Fist fighting Manslaughter Marsdale over a hot-dog cart. The radio-show framing device is a neat way for all the various characters to share their POV.
Walker conveys the culture of the books setting naturally and effortlessly, building a new and unique place in the Marvel universe that feels like an accurate reflection and distillation of young Harlem without dipping into stereotype or exploitation. The characters speak like actual people do, and the slang in this book never comes across as jive-y. And the permanent golden-hour look of the art and colors keeps everything looking nice and easy, like a summer day. Power Man and Iron Fist is fresh and fun, and is simply delightful.
Daredevil/The Punisher #2
Matt’s radar sense is out for most of this issue, which means he’s fighting even more blind than usual, and Blindspot is on his own protecting Antonov from The Punisher. And as the tug-of-war between Daredevil and The Punisher continues over Antonov, Matt wonders if this criminal is really worth the trouble.
This book recovers a lot of old ground between Daredevil and Punisher; whether Matt’s moral high ground is worth the body counts of the criminals he spares, and doesn’t add anything novel to the formula. This book isn’t boring, but it’s not really doing anything for me either.
Black Panther #3
Three issues in and this book is still adding new elements and backstory rather than giving us a single pay-off to anything its already set up. There remains lots of interesting things this book seems to want to tackle, but none of them seem meaningfully connected to each-other yet, or have done anything to affect the plot. Black Panther seems to still be more of an essay than a story, neatly laying out and defining all of its terms before elaborating on how they all relate and why each of them is important. But even if this were an essay, 3 issues of set-up is too long of an intro. However, I’m still keeping this on my pull as the next issue is solicited as a conclusion of some sorts, and I still have hope that Coates can make something worthy of his reputation out of it.
Ms. Marvel #8
Ms. Marvel enters Civil War II, and so far, is telling that story better than the main book is. Captain Marvel recruits Kamala to lead a small outfit using Ulysses’ visions to prevent crime in Jersey City, bringing her right up against the politics at the heart of Civil War II. Kamala wants to believe that what Captain Marvel wants to do is the right thing, but as stopping crimes before they happen begins to feel more like profiling and thought policing than crime-fighting, she begins to have doubts.
Wilson has managed to turn the Civil War II premise into an organic character arc for Kamala, tying this idea of crime-prevention to Kamala’s status as someone who’s rubbed up against being profiled. Even if this is the only good story to come out of CWII, it might be worth it.
Sam Wilson: Captain America #10
One of the things that frustrated me most about Civil War II #1 was the fridging of James Rhodes, one of the few big name black superheroes in the Marvel universe. This issue of Captain America is all about that – the impact of the death of a black hero.
We open on the continuing in-universe controversy of Sam Wilson being Captain America, and the backlash from largely white citizens. This then transitions to news of a new police force, the Americops, that are patrolling mostly minority neighborhoods and have been charged with profiling and brutality. It’s setting up the struggles of being black, even in a world of superheroes.
Then we get to Rhodey’s funeral, where Sam and Misty Knight are joined by almost every big name black hero in the Marvel universe, who incidentally, can be counted on two hands. They acknowledge how profoundly this loss effect their small family, and how moments like these require solidarity. This issue boldly faces the issue of there still not being enough black representation in comics, and the immense step back that losing a single black character represents.
I’m not black, and neither is Nick Spenser, who writes this book. But you don’t need to be of a community to recognize when a situation, fictional or not, hits them harder than it does yourself, nor do you need to be part of a community to show solidarity. Nick recognized that the death of Rhodey has a larger effect on POC that read comics who’ve lost someone that looks like them than it does on the fictional white characters who might have been closer to him.
Steve Rogers: Captain America #2
This should be the issue that causes thousands of people to apologize for overreacting. It won’t be, because that’s unfortunately not how the internet works, but it should be.
This is the issue that reveals how the Red Skull was behind Steve Roger’s saying “Hail Hydra” at the end of the last issue. Whether it’s good or bad is kind of a moot point after all the hullaballoo, but I think, considering this issue is almost entirely exposition, it’s well done, well thought out exposition. If anything, it pulls back the curtain a little too early for my liking, but seeing as how the internet exploded, an early reveal was probably necessary.