Comic Reviews 9/7/16

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Moon Knight #6

What Jeff Lemire is doing with this book is nothing short of outstanding. He’s taken the conceit of Marc Spector’s fractured psyche and run all the way with it, making Moon Knight a POV comic with three distinct yet intrinsically related POVs, each with their own visual and narrative style.

The first perspective we get is Steven Grant – a successful Hollywood producer currently working on the Moon Knight movie for Marvel, starring – you guessed it – Marc Spector. And this is told in a straightforward, bold lined, low-key visual style. The second personality is Jake Lockely, basically Travis Bickle, with a neon-noir, true-crime comics style.And lastly is a futristic space-marine Marc Spector Moon Knight, defending the Moon from alien werewolves. And, according to the book, each of these perspectives is 100% valid, as is the Marc Spector from the last arc.

The book is a trip, but never intentionally confusing or misleading. Each style is perfectly done, and the story so far is very intriguing. This is the kind of comic with true literary appeal, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it talked about in the same breath as Morrison’s Animal Man in the future.

 

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Daredevil #11

The blood mural Daredevil found last issue has become the hottest new exhibit in New York, and both DD and Matt Murdoch, ADA, are on the case to find out who made it.

We open the book on a sly bait-and-switch, a recently turned Inhuman being rescued from from neighborhood bigots but not by Daredevil. Meanwhile, Matt’s attached to finding legal precedent to stop the blood mural from being displayed as art for profit, and is afraid he’s just being used to settle a powerful city councilwoman’s debts. And then a new piece of the macabre art is discovered…

Soule’s Daredevil is firmly on the noir side of the character, with the art motifs of this arc stretching him a bit to more European inspired suspense. Already, I’m thinking of this new villain as Bloody Banksy. Overall though, this issue keeps the suspense high, and the new villain’s MO gives it fun flavor.

 

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Spidey #10

Largely due to The Daily Bugle, Spidey is looking to fix his reputation. Luckily, he runs into the Marvel Universe’s most loved hero – Captain America – who takes him on patrol.

One of the small things I love about the Marvel Universe is how every hero on Earth looks up to Captain America, Spider-Man included. In this issue he’s statuesque – approaching brick-shithouse even – but someone every other character physically has to look up to. And Spidey’s inner monologue as he’s tagging along with one of his idols is incredibly endearing; Steve used to be a scrawny nerd, just like him! But the issue doesn’t just tell us that we should love Cap, it takes the time to show him and Spidey helping solve small problems – fixing cars, patching up a kid’s booboo – to show us why everyone loves him before jumping into a fight sequence with AIM and MODOK.

And the book ends with one of the best six-panel sequences, between Cap and J. Jonah Jameson, that I’ve ever read. Its genius, subtle enough where it takes you a second to get it, but clear enough that nobody can miss it. A perfect six-panels. And the rest of the book is pretty darn good too.

 

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Green Arrow #6

This issue begins an Emiko focused story that takes place in two time periods. In the present, Emiko travels with her mother to Japan to iron things out with the Yakuza, while in the past Emiko – with Ollie in Seattle – tries to have a normal-ish school life, but accidently stumbles into the machinations of a new Clock King.

Stephen Byrne replaces Ferreyra on art, and – no offense to Byrne – but there’s no replacing what Ferreyra brought to this book. Byrne has a nice clean style, though it reminds me a bit too much of Gabe’s art from Penny Arcade or the videogame Mark of the Ninja. It’s a little more games comic than superhero comic. His colors are on point though, and do a lot to make the art feel less flat.

The story also takes a weird feeling turn, becoming more of like Fraction’s Hawkeye, but if Kate were replaced by Damian Wayne. But where Kate or Damian’s skills present them as equals or betters than their teachers, Emiko’s just makes Oliver look incompetent – not even just by comparison!

The new Clock King has a pretty interesting original gimmick, but I do wonder if he’s supposed to exist simultaneously with the Clock King from the recent Deathstroke, or what’s happening there.

After how unabashedly fun and comic-y the last arc was, the way this one is starting can’t help but feel like it’s turned from the straight-and-arrow.

 


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Superman #6

A fantastically explosive finale to the Eradicator arc. This issue shows why you never stand between Superman and his family.

Everything in this issue pops. It’s a super-charged punch-out between Superman and the Eradicator on the moon, and Supes is done holding back. And the weird physiognomy of the Eradicator provides us with one last truly weird, but completely cool, bit of body-horror imagery as Superman rips Krypto back out of him.

This is a fantastic, bright-eyed, action packed, and full hearted Superman. It’s infectious comic book goodness, pure Superman fun.

 

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Nightwing #4

This first arc of this new Nightwing comes to a close with Nightwing and Raptor working together to bring an end to the Parliament of Owls.

This book is a tidy ending to the arc that ties up all the strings it set up, but also does a great job of teasing the next story by providing an out for one of the characters to start a-schemin’. Nightwing and Raptor come to terms about which side of light and dark each of them are on as Raptor’s plan to foil the Parliament finally comes into play.

One glaring negative is that there’s a chunk of the resolution that will make no sense for anyone who hasn’t read Grayson. Otherwise, this issue successfully brings Nightwing home to roost before the next arc begins.

 

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Batman #6

After stumbling out of the starting blocks, Tom King manages to stick the landing with his first Batman arc. And yes, I know I’m mixing athletics metaphors.

With Gotham Girl having snapped after the death of her brother, Batman tries to talk her down before she hurts anyone else, or completely exhausts her life-force.

What’s most striking about this issue is how funny it is. While she’s flying around Gotham stopping crime and talking to herself, she’s running into the strangest criminals, including Colonel Blimp and Kite Man. And the page that introduces Kite-Man is, like the six-panels from Spidey, just a great example of cinematic sequential art.

And the humor in this issue is so striking because the story under it is so sad. It’s about a young women who’s utterly failing to cope after losing what was left of her family. And despite these disparate tones, King and his art team manage to tie it all up in a perfectly Batman kind of way. While Gotham Girl is powerful, Batman doesn’t treat her as a threat, but instead, with empathy. Think the Justice League episode Epilogue. King doesn’t just write a good Batman, he writes a good Batman.

What is off though is that the stinger to this issue teases a story that’s seemingly completely different from the big Bat-book crossover coming up next month, even though this was the only book setting up that crossover’s plot. But that doesn’t do much to take away from this issue, so I won’t hold it against it too much.

 

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Strange Attractors #4

As the city nears its tipping point, so does Heller’s patience with Dr. Brownfield. With his thesis in the garbage, and his girlfriend breaking up with him, Heller has to choose whether Spencer’s theories are worth giving up his life for.

This issue covers a lot of ground, and we see Heller go through a complete 360 from the first page to the last. At the center of that curve is Heller finding out that Brownfield had a twisted Charlie and the Chocolate Factory plot in order to convince Heller to replace him as the keeper of New York.

This issue is incredibly plot driven, unfortunately rushing through Heller’s doubts a bit in order to set up for the final issue. But by the end, it comes back to its heart – that this a story about New York’s resilience, and how it’s the people of the city that keep it running.

 

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Paper Girls #9

As the second arc of Paper Girls closes in on its ending, things aren’t making that much more sense. Future Erin meets up with the Mac and Tiff, and they eventually regroup with the Past and Present Erins right as they’re fighting off another tardigrade. And then Future Erin does lots of explaining.
Also, there’s a big beautiful spread of a dirigible the size of multiple city blocks hovering over Cleveland, but that doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s gorgeous though.

On the upside, BKV’s dialogue is so great that Future Erin’s mighty info-dump is entertaining all the way through, regardless of how much you enjoy sci-fi technobabble, but then again, I quite enjoy well done technobabble. And the small character moments, like the pause one of the Erins takes before finishing off the tardigrade, or the way Mac endangers herself to buy time for her friends, shine through as beautifully as ever.

But the simple fact of the matter is, I am biased in favor of this issue in particular because MY LETTER GOT PUBLISHED!

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Kill or Be Killed #2

This issue completes Dylan’s telling us the story of his first kill: how he did it, who he did it to, and why they deserved it.

Thankfully – for my own sanity – this issue makes Dylan a character I can identify with a good amount less than I did after the first issue. We find out about Dylan’s childhood, and his relationship with his father; and his inner monologue shaves off much of the idealism he peppered it with in issue one, which makes it much more darkly pragmatic in a way. The entire issue feels a whole lot less sympathy for Dylan, this is the part in the story where he decides to murder someone, and the book makes him completely own it. It raises the question of whether or not the person Dylan kills deserved it, but does so in a way that doesn’t at all excuse him for actually murdering someone. In the issue’s own words, it doesn’t let Dylan “get away with it.” Nor does it seem like Dylan wants to be pardoned for his actions. After all, he’s the one telling the story.

There’s still a lot of story left in this series, and I’m excited to see where it goes, and how it takes us there. Even though I (thankfully) relate to him less, Dylan is still an interesting character, and one that’s still a little too familiar. Kill or Be Killed still feels a little dangerous, so to speak.

And once again, there’s another great essay in the back by Devin Faraci, this one concerning vengeance in Oldboy. I don’t think it’s as insightful as the last one, the thesis of this essay is made pretty clear in the film as it is, but it’s still a fun read.

 

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