Comic Reviews 7/13/16

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Detective Comics #936

Batman has been defeated by The Colony, and it’s up to Batwoman to rally the rest of the team to rescue him. And we find out that Colony is closer to the Bat-Family than previously imagined.

As team leader, Kate Kane has become the series main protagonist, with her arc revolving around her ability to lead her team and her own life. Cassie also gets some time in the spotlight this issue, although her defining trait is still her fighting ability rather than anything based in personality.

The “side-kicks rescuing the hero” plot is well worn territory, but if Tynion and his art team can nail the execution of these characters coming together as a team by using their unique skills in tandem – and so far they are, then it might be a road worth traveling down one more time.

 

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Action Comics #950

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but this arc has made Doomsday a legitimate threat again, and does so by showing the destruction he causes rather than just repeating how he killed Superman.
Superman and Lex continue fighting Doomsday in Metropolis, doing their best to make room for people to flee the area; the powerless Clark Kent puts himself in the middle of the danger to get his story; and the whole thing is being watched, on television by Lois and Jon, and by a mysterious robed stranger who’s been spying on Superman for some time.

Everything in this book is done perfectly. The fight feels brutal, but we still get those moments of Supes and Lex acting heroically to save people. There’s a great ebb and flow to the battle, showing the hard won gains and how quickly things can turn for the worse.

Tyler Kirkham is absolutely killing it on the art, illustrating everything in great detail and giving everything a real sense of weight and motion. It goes a long way to making this fight really feel big and impactful.

 

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The Flash #2

The Flash trains August to use his new powers and wonders if August is the Speed Force answering his need for a partner. Meanwhile, Iris continues her investigation into the Black Hole robbery and attracts some unwanted attention. And a storm approaches.

The story isn’t doing much for me yet, there’s nothing that really leaps out at me, but where it’s going seems like interesting enough territory to keep me reading for a few more issues. And it’s not bad in any case, just not great.

 

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Wonder Woman #2

Rucka is writing two arcs at once in this Wonder Woman run, with the odd issues being the main arc of Diana figuring out her true origin, while the even issues – starting with this one – act as a Year One story.

It’s familiar ground, but Rucka tells it novelly. We see the stories of Diana and Steve Trevor in parallel; Diana itching to see the world beyond the shores of Themyscira, and Trevor going through military training and preparing to leave his home behind. We see Diana practice shooting bows and arrows with her mother, and Steve practicing at a gun range with his comrades.

Nikola Scott’s art is a perfect fit for Wonder Woman, rendering Diana soft but not delicate, and her panels of Steve Trevor are clearly drawn for a female gaze, which is a welcome reversal of what we usually get from comics – especially Wonder Woman.

This is a better start to an arc than the last couple issues of Wonder Woman have been, and a good reminder of Rucka’s strengths with the character.

 

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Nightwing: Rebirth #1

This rebirth issue follows Dick Grayson’s road from Agent 37 back to Nightwing, tying up loose ends with Agent One, Midnighter, Helena – who also finds a new identity for herself – and reconnecting with Bruce and Damian in Gotham. We also learn about the old foe still targeting Dick.

The issue is a nice transition from one series to another that effectively closes one chapter and opens the next. Probably the most necessary of the Rebirth issues so far in terms of keeping up with continuity as it does do more than just recap things, and besides that, it has some fun character interactions between Dick and many of the important people in his recent life. And it does feel good to see him in the ol’ Black and Blue after all these years.

 

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New Super-Man #1

This Superman book adds a new twist to Superman by splicing in a bit of Captain America DNA.  Shanghaine Kong Kenan is a bully, who, while stealing another kid’s lunch money, finds himself facing an even bigger bully, Blue Condor – one of China’s first super-villains. Finding a spark of heroism, Kong defends the other kid and becomes an instant celebrity, drawing the attention of The Ministry of Self-Reliance, a government agency who wants to turn Kong into the Chinese Superman.

New Super-Man #1 also introduces some familiar feeling supporting characters, including reporter Laney Lan; and Kong’s father, a broad-shouldered mechanic who moonlights as an investigative reporter.

New Super-Man doesn’t just introduce a new character to the DCU, but also widens an entire pocket of the world that’s barely been explored by DC’s other books –the entire country of China. Given that, it’s hard to gauge from this first issue where exactly this book is going to go, or how good it will be; but given the issue’s final page, it won’t stray too far from the familiar, for better or worse. Consider me intrigued.

 

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Daredevil #9

Daredevil and Spider-Man perform a casino heist to get back Daredevil’s briefcase, but things don’t stay in the casino for long.

Besides being a heist, this is a chase issue from beginning to end, and one that really conveys a sense of speed as Daredevil and Spidey swing between rooftops, quipping the whole way. Spidey even tells Daredevil that sometimes it’s important to find the joy in the superheroics sometimes, especially during a “black costume phase.” And this is a fun issue, surprisingly lighthearted, even, considering the previous issues of this run.

 

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The Vision #9

This book continually leaves me speechless, and this is one of those issues.

We open on one of those patented series moments that reveal how weird the Visions are despite acting as a completely normal family – Virginia barging into Viv’s room asking if she knows where her brother is. It’s a brief bit of comedy before this issue goes darker than the series has been yet, going further along Victor’s backstory and how and why he ended up at the Visions’ house.

Seriously, everybody should be reading this book.

 

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Power Man and Iron Fist #6

After hearing about the death of James Rhodes, and that She-Hulk is in a coma, and a visit with Captain Marvel; Luke and Danny decide to stay out of Civil War II, but other trouble finds them. Preemptive Strike, a gang using profiling technology to hunt down former criminals, is killing their targets, leading a group of ex-crooks to hire Power Man and Iron Fist for protection.

Like Sam Wilson, this book uses Civil War II to tell a story about racial profiling, and even goes as far to include a pretty explicit reference to the murder of Eric Garner. There are also more subtle parallels to police violence, like when one of the ex-villains stops another from calling the cops when they’re all attacked by Preemptive Strike. While Sam Wilson is tackling this same issue, Power Man and Iron Fist seems to be covering it from a much closer-to-the-ground level.

In this issue Walker and Flaviano show that they’re as capable doing more somber stories as they are the lighter ones from previous issues, turning each tragedy this book covers into a new lump in the throat.

 

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Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #2

The Killing Joke gave comics the idea that “one bad day” was all someone needed to become a supervillain to explain the Joker. This issue gives us another one bad day, this time for Clayton Cole, formally Clash, a rival/villain of high-school aged Spider-Man, who now works as one of Parker Industries’ most valuable engineers.

The potency of Clay’s bad day is bolstered by being grounded in some real life issues compared to the pretty outlandish circumstances of the Joker’s. Clayton is an ex-con on parole which is making it even harder to get his life back together. His girlfriend leaves him because she’s afraid he might be a bad influence on her kid, the money he’s making at his job goes into a trust instead of into his pockets, and he feels like nobody really trusts him unless they can abuse him.

The most affecting thing about this issue isn’t so much Clayton’s personal problems as knowing that these are actual problems faced by actual people who have a criminal record, sometimes for things as minor as marijuana possession. This comic doesn’t just give us a glimpse into one man’s misfortune, but an unfair ordeal faced by many people every day that contributes to the nation’s revolving door prison epidemic.

 

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Civil War II #3

Civil War II finally gets started in earnest, but does so at the cost of confirming that the previous issues have been a complete waste of time. This whole issue is one big spoiler, so I won’t talk much about plot except to say that the issue concerns the trial of the person who murdered one of Marvel’s most recognizable heroes.

This is finally a good issue of Civil War II, but it’s frustrating that it’s taken four issues and $20 to finally reach the inciting incident. It’s frustrating because what happens in this issue totally erases the impact of James Rhodes’ death and She-Hulk’s coma. But hopefully, now we can actually have a good story.

 

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The Wicked and The Divine #21

Shit goes down in a big way. Laura leads Baphomet, the Morrigan, and Dionysus on a raid on Valhalla where they’re met by Baal, Sakhmet, and the Valkyries; and Ananke moves ahead in her plans involving Minerva.

This is a full on comic book fight, and every character gets a flavorful character moment. This whole issue is basically pay off, so there isn’t much to write about without going into spoiler territory, but needless to say, things pay of in a huge way. Waiting eagerly for the next issue.

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