Comic Reviews 9/14/16

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Spider-Man #8

Luke Cage and Jessica Jones tell Spider-Man that they know he’s Miles under the mask, and after seeing what happened to Bruce Banner during Civil War II, Miles chooses a side.

This issue just feels very oddly paced. The first act, with Luke and Jessica feels like it drags a bit, and as well written as some of the dialogue is – especially between Luke and Miles – Bendis’ habit of having his characters talk around a point and repeat themselves pokes its ugly head. There’s also a weird art glitch where the spider logo disappears from Miles’ chest in a couple panels.

The second half of the book, that takes place between issues of Civil War II, meanwhile, seems to rush things in spite of Bendis’ dialogue. Captain Marvel and Tony Stark bicker like children while the actual children in the room – Miles, Ms. Marvel, and Nova – are relatively speechless, as children tend to be when adults argue.

 

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Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #4

A weak-ish ending to an otherwise good little tie-in series.

Spider-Man and Clash have a brief fight as Spidey tries to get through to Clayton. And in the aftermath, Peter tries to teach Ulysses how to use his powers responsibly, and that some mistakes are necessary.

 

The first half of the issue is great, as Peter confronts Clayton with what being Clash really says about who he is and wants to be. It’s a perfect ending to Clayton’s emotional arc, even if the ending of the book seems to double back on it.

The book falters, as expected by now, when it directly intersects with Civil War II. Peter taking Carol’s side in things still doesn’t sit right, even with his promise to be her team’s conscience. But the Spider-Man who realizes he made a mistake by inadvertently pushing Clayton towards Ulysses’ visions, and the one who then teams up with Carol, frankly, can’t be the same person.

 

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Black Panther #6

With the people of Wakanda in full revolt, following either Changamire or the Midnight Angels – who’re joining their cause with Tetu’s rebellion, T’Challa sends forces to rein in the rebels while he takes his fight to Tetu’s benefactor – Zeke Stane. And, in the Djalia, Shuri learns the story of the power of the Nri.

While this issue finally answers where along the monarch-superhero spectrum T’Challa identifies as, it does this with a ton of monologue that gets in the way of the plot, both figuratively – in that the narration is incredibly far removed from what’s going on in the panels, and literally – in that there’s so many word balloons in this issue. Also, because much of this issue is monologue, we don’t even get the interesting ideological debates the previous issues had.

Luckily, the last couple pages catch us back up with the plot, T’Challa’s plan for the issue, and lays out some exciting things to come.

 

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Deathstroke #2

Deathstroke is a hard book to follow – it can be unclear what is or is not a flashback at times, if you aren’t sure who each character is supposed to be, good luck; and it the reason for the plot to be happening still hasn’t really been explained.

However, Slade and his crew come across as uniquely grizzled and mature characters in the DCU. Deathstroke and the various special agents he used to work with speak and feel like soldiers and mercenaries that have seen too much, and are now coping in different ways. One opened a bar, another became a superhero, and Deathstroke became one of the deadliest men in the world. These characters read as human, even if they’re incredibly far from humane.

 

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The Flash #6

Barry pushes himself to the limit trying to find out more about Godspeed only to find out the villain is closer than he thinks.

Unlike the Barry we’ve seen in the previous issues of this series, the Barry here is strung out, almost hopeless. Finding the man who murdered Meena has become an obsession for Barry by this issue, and both the script and the art contribute to an overall darker tone.

The eventual reveal of Godspeed’s identity is a bit of a dud, but he does give Barry a pretty good Hannibal Lector type speech about Barry’s failings as a hero.

Since it’s reboot, The Flash has shown us it can do lighthearted fun, and in this issue, it proves it can handle the darker parts of superhero storytelling just as handily.

 

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Wonder Woman #6

Steve and Diana land in America, where a whole slew of questioning awaits them. Steve’s examinations show he’s healthier now than before he disappeared, while Diana – unable to communicate with anyone – puzzles the entire government.

It’s a bit of a lull issue, there’s no real threat here, but my biggest issue is that Diana being unable to communicate with anyone for most of the issue infantilizes her a touch. The issue’s best character is a pre-Cheetah Barbara Minerva, who strikes me as Gail Simone meets Indiana Jones.

 

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Action Comics #963

An intriguing first issue of a new arc that asks some big questions about the nature of the post-flashpoint Superman and Clark Kent. Since the start of Rebirth, the Superman comics have hinted that the New52’s Superman might not have been who he appeared to be, and the appearance of this second, non-powered Clark Kent gives us another piece to that puzzle.

Whoever this Clark is, he’s a journalist in much the same way as Lois Lane, someone who will break into a heavily guarded corporation for a story. This issue takes place from new Clark’s POV, and he claims that the N52 Superman told him to lie low while Superman would replace him as Clark Kent, for his own safety. With Superman dead, Clark thought it was time to resume his life. If the N52 Superman really wasn’t a last son of Krypton, then him just replacing the N52’s non-powered Kent provides a tidy explanation for how he managed to fool readers – and himself – into believing everything was copasetic.

At the very least, this issue leaves me wanting to find out who this new Clark is, which is all it really needed to do.

 

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Detective Comics #940

Kate finally corners her father, and the Batman family must come to terms with Tim’s final action to take down Colony.

This whole issue is basically one big spoiler, which makes me not want to write that much about it. Regardless, it’s a very effective finale to this first arc. Predictably, Bruce and Stephanie set the emotional tone of the issue following the climax, which is masterfully rendered, from the lights of the drones like too many stars over Tim’s head, to how Batman’s entire figure – especially the cape – flutters purposefully towards Tim’s location.

 

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All-Star Batman #2

Like last issue, this one starts with Batman mid-fight, this time against Killer Croc, King Shark, and Amygdala on top of a speeding train, as he transports Two-Face 500 miles out of Gotham. And as Batman and Two-Face get further out of reach, Gotham’s crime-lords hire even bigger guns to protect their fortunes. Meanwhile, a flash-forward shows us Jim Gordon and the GCPD closing in on Wayne Manor, and the backmatter story continues with Duke and Batman chasing down Zsasz.

This fight scenes in this issue are straight out of a roadhouse movie. There’s a constant motion to everything, a sense of physical propulsion and momentum carrying the story forward. It’s also very silly. Batman pulls out the shark-repellant, and even uses his ears as an effective weapon. And he curses and makes enough one-liners to make Bond jealous.

This is Batman flying by the seat of his pants, out of his element, and always on the move; and so while, for the most part I’ve soured on him, Romita Jr.’s rough, sketchy art style fits this book to a tee.

All-Star Batman is a rickety wooden rollercoaster ride I never want to get off.

 

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Doom Patrol #1

Doom Patrol starts off big and messy and unwieldy, and full of an infectious spark of joy.

A lot of that spark comes from our lead, Casey Brinke, a relentlessly optimistic and kinda spacey – possibly extraterrestrial – ambulance driver who doesn’t bat an eye when a mysterious guest explodes her roommate into cotton-candy like chunks and confetti. She’s almost clinically adorable, red hair and freckles included.

But the main take away from this book is that it’s going to be Grant Morrison levels of weird. There’s an entire scene that takes place in a seemingly dystopian universe located inside a gyro (that explodes), while other non-sequiturs are fired off without any explanation. And the villains’ big plot seems like they want to use an obscure DC character to turn the entire Earth into a fast-food restaurant.

If this story already seems a bit overstuffed and winding for its own good…it probably is. But it’s also tons of fun. And, insofar as there might be too much going on in this issue, every scene feels exactly as long as it needs to be, and the dialogue is sharp and poetic. The type of book you want to keep on picking up just to see where it goes.

 

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