Comic Reviews 9/28/16 – Marvel, Image, Megalopolis

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Sam Wilson: Captain America #13

Captain America is outmatched by USAgent, and has to fight smarter if he wants to keep the shield. And after, finally at a point where he has to choose which fights are worth having, Sam makes a risky move.

The big fight between Cap and USAgent is cathartic, for both the reader and Sam, but isn’t as thematically rich as much of the other action in this series so far. However, plot-wise, the fight does manage to connect in a really cool way to Sam’s decision at the end of the issue. Spencer continues to ride the Wilson=Obama metaphor, with Rage telling Sam how disappointed he’s been by the lack of change Sam has brought.

The last couple pages are a neat twist that is made better if you’re also reading Steve Rogers’ book (also written by Spencer).

While comparatively a shallower issue than most of the series so far, Sam Wilson continues to function as thoughtful and relevant comic book commentary that doesn’t forget to also be just a really fun superhero story.

 

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Steve Rogers: Captain America #5

The issue shows us what the Hydra-aligned Steve Rogers has been up to over the course of Civil War II, how he’s trying to keep Ulysses from revealing his secrets, and how he’s engineered some of the War’s biggest events from behind the scenes.

It’s really sad of Civil War II that a good chunk of it is better when explained in a single issue of a crossover book than it is in the main series. Finding out that Steve was behind one of the major plot-points of Civil War II doesn’t just make that plot-point make more sense, but gives it a dramatic weight that it hadn’t had up until now. And the ending of this issue, which ties into the ending of the most recent issue of Civil War II, is also a more successful in this book than it was in the main story.

The flashbacks to Steve’s rewritten history, while brief, are also a novel twist on the well-known origin story of Captain America.

 

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Ms. Marvel #11

It’s rare thing in a comic book when it feels like the status quo has actually been changed, when they reach a point where relationships break down, things are done that can’t be taken back, and characters go through an arc that can’t be repeated. This feels like one of those rare issues.

Partly to avenge Bruno, and partly to get predictive injustice out of Jersey City, Ms. Marvel teams up with the Canadian Ninja Syndicate to prove to Becky and Captain Marvel that their way only makes more criminals. And Kamala’s relationships with Carol, Bruno, and Jersey will never be the same.

Where many other comics would either have this finale be a cop-out where nothing changes, or throw in a big twist as a stunt of some sort, the end of this arc feels genuinely deserved, a resolves in a way that’s true to every character in the book. Even Iron Man gets a couple good lines. But as dramatic as Ms. Marvel’s standing up to Captain Marvel is, the real gut-punch of this issue is between Kamala and Bruno.

Kamala doesn’t just say that the world is messy and sometimes good people do bad things, she lives it.

 

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Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #11

This issue feels like a waste of time. The only real plot happens in the last three pages, and it’s basically the same set up as the first page – which means that this book really could have done everything it needed to in four pages. And it’s not an in medias res situation either, the book ends in the same place it begins linearly.
This issue also wastes an otherwise well written Ms. Marvel cameo, and not even because her cameo doesn’t affect the plot in any way. She’s brought into the issue incredibly arbitrarily, and the issue deliberately erases the only thing Ms. Marvel actually does not even a page after she’s done it.

This issue really has no narrative justification for its existence.

 

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Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #12

Doreen and Nancy take a vacation to a Canadian log-cabin with Doreen’s mom, leaving Brain Drain in NYC to take care of a mysterious villain.

The nihilistic but still heroic Brain Drain, whose inability to distinguish people’s faces from one another (which becomes a plot point), is the stand-out in this issue from the Action Comics #1 inspired second page to his last line in the issue where he responds to someone asking if he’s a superhero. But Doreen’s all-consuming boredom in the electricity and internet free log cabin, which isn’t helped at all by the its collection of the world’s most boring magazines, does a great job of translating her boredom into our entertainment. And the villain, Engimo, is as visually interesting as he is ridiculous – a perfect fit for Squirrel Girl.

The series continues to be full of laughs, including small things like Nancy’s auto-responder message and Ryan North’s “alt-text” referencing a Batman villain with a similar name to the villain in this book; and a number of great visual gags – my favorite of which might be how Brain Drain’s mask almost never lines up with his eyes.

 

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Surviving Megalopolis #6

The finale is just as brutal as you would expect from this series. Southern Belle takes care of Valiant’s army before her showdown fight with Overlord, and the rest of the characters aim to escape Megalopolis for good.

Unfortunately, most of the series’ plot threads remain unresolved by the end of the issue. The only real ending we get has to do with Overlord and Southern Belle, while what happens to the rescue team, the thing at the bottom of the hole, and the reason for the court hearing have yet to be seen. And as far as I know, there hasn’t been a sequel series announced, which is really disappointing. The last six issues have opened a lot more questions than it answered, and we might not get those answers.

If you’ve followed this series so far, this is a really exiting issue, but it’s not a finale.

 

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Saga #38

Saga has had a great number of amazing opening splash pages, but this issue’s might by my favorite. You’ve got to see it for yourself. Also like a great number of issues in this series, it ends on a heartbreaker.

The gang finds themselves on Phang a lot longer than they expected – six months – and not everyone is charmed by the family of cute-widdle refugees they’ve been playing host to. Marko and Petrichor are counting the days until the war reaches their side of the rock, Hazel reaches her bratty period, and Prince Robot and Izabel make a plan to raid an abandoned Robot embassy.

Staples gives us one more great character design by the end of the issue, and her art overall continues to be spectacular. Besides the big heartbreaking ending, the issue has some smaller doozies, and even some funnier moments (can you believe it?).

 

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Snotgirl #3

Lottie might be O’Malley’s least likable protagonist yet, to the point where it’s hard to feel bad for her despite all of her insecurities. And plot-wise, this issue throws two things it doesn’t really explain at us, and one moment of miscommunication that’s more frustrating than it is dramatic, especially because of the things the book still hasn’t explained.

And while a story can have unlikable characters and a mostly unexplained plot, having both simultaneously gives readers very little to hold on to.

I’d still say that this book is carried by the strength of the lettering, that gives each character and narrative moment a distinct feeling and sense of momentum, but to what end…it’s hard to sat at this point.

But O’Malley does know his way around despicable characters, so I trust him to get Lottie back on track, and hopefully he’ll start explaining some of the mysteries, too.

 

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Ody-C #11

This book is entirely in limerick. That alone should sell you on it. But if that doesn’t Christian Ward’s next-level art definitely should. Each page is a gorgeous full-page spread with almost overwhelming colors. Ward has regularly outdone himself in this series, and this issue represents a new high point.

Narratively, Ody-C has always been a difficult series to follow, I’ve had to read each issue at least twice to really understand what’s happening; and this arc is no different. This one is a retelling of The Orestia, with this issue setting up the story of the House of Atreus and abridging Agamemnon. Despite the abridging, Ody-C has never really been a cliffnotes version of these stories, and I’d recommend at least opening Wikipedia to help you follow along. Not that this book doesn’t do it’s best to streamline things, but it’s throwing a lot of hard to pronounce names at you while telling a multi-generational story about family curses, gods, and cannibalism; so it’s, you know, a lot to take in. And while the limericks are plenty entertaining, and do help the story speed along, the downside is that you have to stop yourself from reading things to quickly in order to digest it all.

Ody-C is difficult and obtuse, but it’s not unfair. It helps to know the epics and dramas that have inspired it, but if you’re a close and diligent enough reader, the issues do tell you everything you need to know. And barring that, the art alone is worth the cover price.

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