Comic Reviews 8/17/16

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Sam Wilson: Captain America #12

Sam tries to de-escalate a fight between Rage and the Americops in front of news cameras, while the money, media, and politicians behind the Americops try to convince USAgent to make Sam #GiveBackTheShield.

While I really admire how unabashedly political this series has been, and how it leans into its own meta-politics of having a Black Captain America, it might be possible the political commentary is getting a little too on the nose – its villains too cartoonish. The more subtle parts of this issue are when Sam is trying to de-escalate things with the cops, with one of the strongest pages being when he sees the negative headlines in the paper no matter what he chooses to do. But the scenes with the Americops founders talking with USAgent where they up how two of them are from Texas, the liberal media, how Sam is too “politically correct” and just wants to divide Americans while making the country less safe, and how USAgent wants to build a border wall…it’s all a bit blunt, no? Again, I appreciate it immensely; and considering what’s going on with the US elections, I can’t possibly call the dialogue unrealistic, but…

I’m not sure if I’m honestly more bothered by how cartoon-villainous these comic book villains are being; or how they’re still somehow less radical than Trump…

Either way, I’m still really enjoying this series, and really hope that the book never backs down on what it’s trying to be.

 

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Power Man and Iron Fist #7

Iron Fist is locked up, and, as a hero that put a lot of people in there, he doesn’t have it easy. Meanwhile, Luke Cage is leveraging the reformed criminals who hired him and Danny to protect them to get him back out.

Even separated, Danny and Luke are great foils for each-other. In prison, Danny becomes calm and collected, focused on finding the other people that shouldn’t be there. Meanwhile, Luke is beginning to fray at the ends, worried about what might happen to his friend, and his wife and daughter. Jessica readily becomes Luke’s better half, keeping him grounded and as collected as possible.

That this book is tying back into Civil War II after deftly ducking out of it last issue seems like asking for punishment, but I trust the creative team enough to make the best of what the crossover could offer them.

 

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Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #3

Clayton Cole, back as Clash, goes to meet the Robot Master, and Spider-Man finds the two in a compromising position.

I’m glad that this issue takes the story in a different direction that the obvious route set up by the last one, and in doing so it shows us a pretty great fight scene between Spider-Man, Clash, and the Robot Master’s army of bots.

The book looks great, with special props to everything about Clash. His new costume and the visualizations of his powers are both perfect. And how he’s written – including the last act of the book, which some people may complain erases any development from this issue – makes him feel really three dimensional, someone who really is dealing with tremendous pressure as best he can, and maybe starting to crack a bit.

 

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Green Arrow #5

Ollie and Diggle make their way onto the Inferno with designs to stop the Ninth Circle and get Oliver’s life and fortune back. And Emi chooses between her mother or Black Canary.

I’m still impressed by just how fun this series has become. Just as an example, this is one of those issues where there’s a panel of everybody attacking an overwhelming force in unison, and they’re all smiling; and it follows right after a slap-kiss. And in this book, the cartoonish villainy really works wonders. Dante opens the issue with a monologue about fire. Another bad guy brags about causing wars and building weapons that break the Geneva Convention.

The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and the art is fantastic. It’s fun, and I don’t feel like asking for this book to be anything else.

 

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Superman #5

Superman drops off his family to a BATCAVE ON THE MOON (so cool), so that he can fight the Eradicator without endangering them, or Metropolis. But the Eradicator arrives a little earlier than expected, and Lois and Jon have to step up.

At this point, I’m reading everything the Eradicator says in a Dalek voice, and am wondering if that was Tomasi’s intention the entire time. Lois steals this issue’s spotlight by using some of the Batcave’s toys to fight the Eradicator. This is another fun issue of the Superman family basically punching things; and even though it’s simple, every character is given some awesome moments, and everything is so brightly and viscerally illustrated that I can’t really complain.

 

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Nightwing #3

Batgirl joins Nightwing and Raptor on their mission to infiltrate a deadly maze house to steal some blueprints for the Parliament of Owls, but what she sees there might ruin her relationship with Dick.

While not as cleverly written as Grayson, this series is proving to me almost as fun. Raptor keeps Nightwing and the reader guessing as to his true allegiances, and the issue’s cold open does a great deal with that mystery. As a guest appearance, Barbara is as smart, strong, and charming as the main cast, and is still able to peel back Dick’s layers. And Dick himself gets a great moment of monologue while solving a puzzle where he talks about his time in the circus.

 

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Batman #5

Batman finally has to take the fight to a Gotham gone mad, and he brings in some backup. It’s time for an issue long fight sequence.

King finally writes an extended scene with Alfred, and it is pure joy. And thankfully, that’s not the only bit of levity in this otherwise dark issue, either. Gotham Girl also finally get something to do, and it’s a pretty big something. It doesn’t quite make up for her being on the bench for five issues, but it does show why she’s been a part of the book in the first place. And like last issue, this one recreates another iconic Superman image to great effect.

Glad to see that King has finally found solid ground with Batman, hope it keeps up.

 

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Black Hammer #2

This issue brings the story more to a character level as we learn more about Gail, the fifty-five year old trapped in the body of a fourth grader.

Gail is pastiche of DC’s Captain Marvel with the twist being that instead of her magic word turning her from a child into an adult hero, her magic word reverts her to the age she was when she first got her powers. Trapped on the farm, Gail is living the additional existential crisis of being trapped as a child, and the other heroes – Abe in particular – try to make her life as livable as possible. Also, Talky Walky and Barbalien launch a probe.

The parts of Black Hammer that take place in “the golden age” – before the heroes were trapped on the farm – go all in, with cheesy dialogue, thought bubbles, and mid-century fashions. An interesting twist happens on the page where we see Gail age that homages silver and bronze ages books like The Dark Knight Returns.

This issue has me questioning the pacing of the book going forward. Are we going to get a focus issue for every character? And while I probably wouldn’t mind if they’re all as interesting as this one, I would hope that the series doesn’t get too distracted from its primary mystery.

 

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The Wicked and The Divine #22

Short, spoiler-proof summary: The Pantheon confronts Ananke.

Jaw dropped. This arc is titled Rising Action, and this finale issue is all the explanation you need as to why. It’s astounding to think that we’re still with many of the same characters introduced back in issue #1. What Laura does in this issue would be unimaginable for issue #1 Laura, and yet, feels entirely natural now.

Seriously, if you haven’t already, get yourself caught up on WicDiv.

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