Comic Reviews 8/31/16

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Amazing Spider-Man #17

This issue focuses on the Prowler, Hobie Brown, as he breaks into New U for Peter Parker and discovers who’s behind the miracle revival procedure.

Aside from some Pokemon Go references that are a few weeks past being relevant, this is a neat issue, and different enough from the norm to feel kind of refreshing. Peter is barely in the issue, allowing Hobie to really take center stage and do what he does best – breaking and entering. His doing so gives the issue an excuse to give us a peak behind the curtain, so to speak, on Jackal’s operation, which unwittingly includes the creation of a new Electro. The issue sets up lots of dramatic irony, which Slott has been relying on quite a bit since the last reboot, but hadn’t done badly yet, so no complaints.

 

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Silver Surfer #6 (#200)

It’s the Silver Surfer’s 200th issue, but Slott couldn’t resist adding some Spider-Man to the mix. Spidey and Surfer fight off some shape-shifting cephalopods, and Dawn confronts her mother, who abandoned her family 13 years ago.

The squid things are pretty low stakes, so the issue focuses more on Dawn’s emotional arc of trying to reconnect with her mother only to find out why she left in the first place, and the issue follows through with an appropriately bitter ending.

There’s also a jab at One More Day, which is a dead-horse that can’t get beaten enough in my opinion. But for a hyped up number issue with an extra dollar tacked onto the cover price, it’s underwhelming.

 

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Spider-Man #7

This feels like an issue that really wants to say something, but doesn’t know what to say.

Unable to sleep because of reoccurring nightmares of the Hulk, Miles goes on night patrol and runs into Bombshell. The two have a conversation about Miles’ unsureness that being a superhero is helping the world vis-à-vis Civil War II. And there’s a cute scene where Miles’ mother tells his father about her run in with Jessica Jones.

And this issue would be so much better if only Bendis have Miles the vocabulary he needed to say what’s on his mind. Because BMB clearly knows what Miles is thinking, but he spends the entire issue having Miles circle the idea without actually getting to it. It’s the sort of thing that’s real, but the sort of real that makes for slow storytelling.

 

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Ms. Marvel #10

When it comes to Civil War II, many Marvel books have gotten a little preachy, and predictably, Ms. Marvel hasn’t managed to behave any differently.

Following Bruno’s hospitalization, and a brief but charming flashback to when the two first met, Kamala decides she has to put a stop to the predictive justice cadets, which leads to a fight between herself and Becky, and a visit from Captain Marvel.

A post-fight monologue paints Becky as even more sinister, which feels like overkill considering it seems every book regarding Civil War II knows that Captain Marvel’s side is in the wrong. The issue also feels like it cuts that plot a bit short to focus on the, albeit more emotionally engaging, Bruno-in-hospital plot.

Not a bad issue, but the first one where Civil War II has really held it back.

 

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Howard the Duck #10

This super meta issue spells the beginning of the end for Howard the Duck!

Last issue had Howard find out that he’s been Truman Show’d his entire life; and this issue begins with Howard’s producers Chipp and Jho (named after the writer and artist of the comic, respectively) trying to save their show and their jobs. The opening pages of this issue, where Chipp and Jho run into the other producers on their network, Ta-Nehi-C on Black Panther, and Ry-N and Air-Icka on Squirrel Girl is some of the funniest stuff in the series so far.

But shit really hits the fan when the two join the fight between Howard and Tara, and Mojo. And then Spider-Man and a giant robot get involved. Mojo calls it great television, but it’s a little bit too much for this issue. And while the rest of the issue doesn’t reach the high bar set by those first few pages, it’s going for something different, more dramatic. This is the most action-oriented the series has been so far, and while it’s not as comfortable a fit as comedy, it does build up nicely to the final pages.

 

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Future Quest #4

Future Quest continues introducing characters on its slow burn towards…whatever is going to happen between everybody, F.E.A.R, and the Omnikron.

We open 45,000 years in the past with Mightor confronting Omnikron, then skip forward to the present, where Team Quest – and Birdman and Deva – are headed towards the next portal. There, they run into another Caveman and Todd Messick, and have to take care of a rampaging dinosaur. Then we find out Team Quest is being spied on by F.E.A.R, and we get a short peak into how they operate before Dr. Zin requests a former colleague of his is brought in to help in. That former colleague is Linda Kim-Conroy, inventor of the robot Frankenstein Jr, who Deva met on a previous mission that we’re then flashbacked into.

As you can tell, there’s a lot of different threads to this book. Unfortunately, this issue is so stuffed with the different plots that none of them make any real progress. We get a single reveal that doesn’t actually meaningfully change the story in any way, and then a bunch of characters essentially spinning their wheels. One big moment in this book is a character remembering their name – a name the reader already knows. And while the segues between all these threads make sense, there are couple that are very jarringly executed.

At this point, the book has become so crammed with different characters in different timelines that I’ve lost any sense of space, time, or urgency with regards to the story as a whole. This is likely my last issue of Future Quest.

 

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James Bond #9

Wrapping things up now, this issue barrels the plot forward.

Following a confrontation between M and a MI5 agent, Birdwhistle is finally able to track the Eidolon back to MI5, giving M all the proof he needs to send Bond after their scent.

Ellis’ smart dialogue keeps the first few pages of this issue from feeling like a waste of time, though it is hard to see its necessity, and Birdwhistle is once again the best part of the story – Masters is absolutely killing it with her expressions. A single page with Bond and Q is just short enough to charm, and the action sequence is as cinematic as they’ve ever been.

 

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Saga #37

BKV and Staples are setting up this new arc of Saga to be a doozy, doozier than the other arcs, even. Quite the feat.

Out of fuel, Hazel and her ever-growing family are forced to land on Phang, a comic that’s been utterly razed by the great war.

The stand out of this series has always been its very human character moments, and this issue is no different. We begin on a very cute scene where Alana and Marko discuss when to tell Hazel that she’s becoming an older sister. Following that is a short bit of Prince Robot attempting to masturbate that is just as disturbing for him as it might be for you, and one of Izabel and Petrichor bonding over a band.

The three pages of world-building this issue does for Phang is amazing, and as fleshed-out as it needs to be despite its length. And the book ends on a very cute note that, knowing the series, isn’t as it seems.

With strong character moments, world-building, and neatly disguised exposition, this issue is a masterclass in how to start an arc.

 

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The Killer Inside Me #1

This is the first comic book by movie critic and Birth.Movies.Death EIC, Devin Faraci, and it’s an adaptation of The Killer Inside Me, Jim Thompson’s 1952 landmark crime novel that I have never actually read.

This makes it a hard issue to review in detail because I’m not sure which words are Thompson’s and which are Faraci’s, but regardless this book has some very good words. However, they are not nice words. The first issue takes us pretty deep into the mind of Lou Ford, a sociopathic Texas deputy sheriff with a charming good-‘ol-boy demeanor. His monologue frames his story as one of revenge, but it’s immediately clear that he’s enjoying thinking about murder entirely too much.

In the over 50 years since his debut, characters like Ford have become pretty common place. There are shades of him in Dexter Morgan, Patrick Bateman, and a number of other American psychopaths. But this adaptation keeps the story in the 50’s, in rural Texas which, ironically, makes the character feel fresh again. Most of the examples of this sort of character I know come from contemporary-ish media, and exist in big cities – thematically, they’re sociopathy is caused by the disassociation caused by modern life, technology, feelings of existential insignificance, materialism, etc. – so seeing this character without all those trappings is novel. Lou Ford doesn’t have an explanation, he just likes killing.

This is my first introduction to the story, and regardless of if it’s because of Thompson or Faraci, I definitely want to read more.

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