Amazing Spider-Man #20
This issue is more like The Clone Conspiracy #1.5 than anything else, explaining how Otto Octavius got out of his octobot and into the newly cloned body we saw at the end of Clone Conspiracy #1.
And while this is an entertaining story of body-hopping and villain monologing for anybody who really had to know the answer of how Doc Ock came back, it does retread and abridge a lot of what happened during Superior Spider-Man and issue #17 of this current run.
Not exceptional or essential, but fun enough for what it is.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #13
This issue had my laughing from its way too real recap page that perfectly captures the ennui of life without an internet connection.
(Un)luckily for Doreen, her life becomes more exciting when she, her mother, and Nancy stumble upon Enigmo’s plot for world domination. And in New York, Brain Drain finally realizes something is wrong, and recruits an unwitting Ant-Man to help him and Squirrel Girl stop Enigmo, although Scott Lang doesn’t feel great about being kidnapped and brought to Canada.
This issue is weirdly paced, with parts of it dragging on without characters making much progress. Much of the humor continues to come from specificity, in this issue’s case, Doreen and Nancy’s detailed knowledge of ants as well as squirrels, and a scene in a canoe where Doreen informs Scott of Canadian boating law and how their animal communication powers differ. Also, I’m really enjoying Brain Drain’s poetic nihilism.
More than any other issue of this series so far though, this one feels like a bunch of moments forced to fit into a single story rather than a group of cohesive scenes. Still, mostly a minor hiccup in one of Marvel’s better books.
Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat! #11
Following an opening scene where we find out how Black Cat found her new goon-squad, we join Patsy and Jubilee training Bailey to become a crime-fighter. When the issue of Ian becoming a hero comes up, he gets upset and leaves, which leaves Patsy also feeling down. And while Black Cat breaks into Patsy’s office after-hours, she sends her new goon-squad to take care of Patsy herself.
This is just an oddly structured issue. Emotional beats come mostly from nowhere, characters mostly work through those emotions off-screen, at least one scene seems to be missing, and the stakes aren’t adequately set up. The only typically charming scene in the issue doesn’t really connect to anything else in it, and the rest of the issue is just blah. Plus, the Hamilton reference feels a bit forced, and I’m usually biased for anything that references Hamilton.
Sam Wilson: Captain America #14
Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers team up to take down Flag Smasher, a radical-leftist terrorist, who’s holding hostage the Texas senator whose been giving Sam so much trouble.
Despite some reservations by Rick Jones about stopping a terrorist he happens to agree with, this issue plays its morals, and its plot, straightforwardly. Captains America good, terrorists bad. And that straightforwardness makes the issue feel a little flat. The ending shocker and reveal establishes the events of this issue as just one of a series of small things designed to break Sam Wilson, but acknowledging that isn’t exactly an excuse for how light this issue felt.
Outside of plot though, I enjoyed the dialogue between the two Captains America, even if one of them is just acting the part.
Black Panther #7
Coates continues to move each of his plot threads inches at a time, which for some of them, at least in this issue, feels like finally crossing some sort of line.
The Crew joins up with the captured T’Challa to take down Ezekiel Stane, who ends up fleeing. The best parts of this plot thread is the dialogue from Luke Cage and Misty Knight, who bring some urban blackness to the book, so I hope they stick around for a while. Tetu invites Changamire to join him, appealing on ideological grounds, asking his former teacher if he’ll join the revolution he inspired. And, in the Djalia, Shuri and her mother go over another Wakandan folk tale.
Changamire’s discussion with Tetu is the most interesting part of the issue, as it’s the headiest, but the ending feels a little too obvious, while the ending of the issue overall lands with a hard thud. After a somewhat reasonable argument, Tetu turns full supervillain in the final panel in a way that doesn’t really fit anything in the book so far. At least Stane can be seen as an analogue to America/Europe’s pillaging of African resources; Tetu just becomes cartoonish.
Infamous Iron Man #1
This is a long and winding issue where nothing much really happens. We begin with a meeting of the Cabal that Doom sets up for a reason that’s not explained and doesn’t seem to have any impact on the plot. Then Doom rescues Maria Hill from Diablo in an overlong battle, again, no motive given. Then, after a brief talk with Amara, who doesn’t really say anything, Doom decides to steal Tony Stark’s tech and make himself the new Iron Man.
Doctor Doom is one of comic’s best villains, and him becoming a hero is an interesting enough premise for me to pick up the book. But I assumed that a story from Doom’s POV might do us the favor of getting into his head even a tiny bit, but no. This a book where things happen without much explanation for no given reason, and it takes the entire issue to get to what was promised by the title.
Black Hammer #4
This issue reveals the origin of Abraham Slam, who turns out to be a Captain America type minus the super-soldier juice. And in the present, Abe brings Tammy over to the farm for dinner.
Aside from the hero flashbacks, this is the most straightforwardly sitcom-y issue yet, with Abe trying to shove the more embarrassing parts of his “family” into the barn as to not ruin things with Tammy. You can almost hear the laughtrack when Barbalian claims that he’s helping set up by reading a book, or when Talky-Walky gets sarcastic and feigns a bleep-bloop robot voice.
Not that the book doesn’t lose its melancholia. Abe’s flashbacks only remind him that he’s aged past his prime, and in trying to look good for Tammy, he’s pushing away his friends. Later, one of those friends he’s pushed away has a tense scene with a straight-razor.
The ending of this issue also seems to really be ramping up the plot, seemingly hinting that the farm heroes might soon make contact with their old world.
Black Hammer is a strange book, just besides its premise, it somehow manages to marry some classically sitcom tropes with the real sadness of being over-the-hill and alone.