Comic Reviews 11/2/16

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Batman #10

Batman storms Santa Prisca, taking on their entire army by himself to get to Bane.

This issue feels weird, like, even though it’s the beginning of the story in many ways – we see Batman fly into Santa Prisca in the first few pages – it feels like we’re coming in in medias res. Catwoman’s narration plays into that, with her drawing parallels between Bruce’s and her own childhoods which doesn’t really tie into the plot of the rest of the issue.

The plot of the issue is its own savage animal, showing us how Batman one-man-army’s his way towards Bane, repeating an Inigo Montoya like mantra as he does. Like many other stories involving Bane, this one also shows both Batman’s and Bane’s evolution from Knightfall, echoing the back-breaking motif in more ways than one.

This feels like one of those stories that unravels. Things that won’t make sense will happen and be explained down the line, threads will be tied together after the fact, and the dramatic irony plays off our ignorance, not the characters’. King has proven himself a capable formalist though, so I trust him to pull it off.

 

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Nightwing #8

Raptor straps Bruce Wayne into a death-trap, explaining why Dick belongs to him, and how Bruce is going to pay for stealing him. And Nightwing, having pieced together who Raptor is, goes to finish things.

I really enjoyed this conclusion. First, I am so glad they didn’t go down the Darth Vader route, because that would have just been too much, and what the story does instead is much more interesting.

Raptor’s hatred of the rich loses all of its righteousness. He doesn’t want to punish Bruce Wayne because of some grand injustices that the rich make the poor suffer, but because he thinks Bruce stole Dick when Raptor saw the opportunity to take him. He’s not angry, he’s jealous.

And watching Dick pounce on that and shove that empty philosophy back down Raptor’s throat is sooo satisfying.

 

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Green Arrow #10

It’s a train story! I love train stories! They’re beautifully simple: closed-off location, built-in time limit, and trains are just cool machines. Everything you need for a tense action story.

Arrow, Canary, and Diggle find themselves on the trans-pacific express with a bunch of dignitaries trying to solve peace in the middle-east, and an assassin. Canary goes undercover as a diplomat, Diggle pretends to be security, and Ollie is just the Green Arrow. Love it!

Ferreyra is back on art, bringing is amazing comic-if-painted-on-the-side-of-a-van style that I absolutely adore. Percy is also still having fun with the book, opening with a fun quip of Black Canary reminding Ollie they’re in a relationship, and reintroducing the boxing-glove arrow with aplomb.

 

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Superman #10

Damian is such a little brat and I love it. Jon shares his father’s country-boy charm, but is still working on his temper. And when Robin and Superboy get into a…misunderstanding, their fathers might be a little over-protective.

I have already expressed my love for Superdad, and adding Batdad to that approaches the positive limit of my ability to deal with how much I love this book. I can not wait for the next issue of this.

 

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Shade the Changing Girl #2

Shade, in Megan’s body, attends her first day of high school, and goes on a crash course of her body’s previous relationships and emotions.

Shade is a meditation on madness. One side of the book posits that madness exists, it can’t be controlled, and it’s always destructive. Shade herself posits that madness exists as a core element of life. The book so far seems to lean more towards the latter.

It’s still not clear exactly how madness works. Can characters other than Shade perceive the psychedelic and strange images that the book is illustrated with, or are they just visualizations of emotion and other human madness that only her and the audience can see? Either way, she remains calm. “What fresh hell is this?” she says, mostly undisturbed, upon seeing by the weird high school for the first time.

And through the book she does seem more bemused, even bored, by this life she doesn’t quite yet understand. Ironically, this makes her more like a human teenager than she knows.

I’m still not sure of I like this one; it might be a little too inscrutable or haughty for its own good, but it’s legitimately poetic enough that I’ll stick with it a bit longer.

 

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Moon Knight #8

This issue seemingly ties together the stories of Jake Lockley, Marc Spector, and Steven Grant, but nothing can be that simple.

Each issue of this one gets harder and harder to describe, even when they seemingly straighten out. The book still succeeds on the strength of its transitions. This issue knowingly leans into cinematic language, with an abundance of smash cuts and match-cuts tying all of the stores together, while narration and dialogue keeps us guessing exactly whose story is being told, and under what circumstances.

In the letters column, Lemire cites David Lynch and Terry Gilliam as inspirations, and I’d say he does them both proud.

 

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Champions #2

The Champions go on a camping trip so they can learn all about each-other and end up meeting a new recruit.

All the momentum from the first issue is killed in this one so that all the characters can do a show-and-tell of their powers and not-so-subtlety plant the seeds of romance and rivalries. There are some fun moments, like when Kamala steps up to be team leader but expresses how she doesn’t want to be team-mom, or Viv’s “ghost story;” but the issue as a whole feels stilted, and the ending comes pretty much out of nowhere.

 

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Occupy Avengers #1

David F. Walker gets some Green Arrow in your Hawkeye by sending Clint Barton on a cross-country tour of helping the poor and the powerless. His latest stop brings him to Santa Rosa, New Mexico and the Sweet Medicine Indian Reservation, where he aims to get to the bottom of their contaminated water problem. There, he runs into the local deputy cop – Red Wolf – and some other, less friendly, people with guns.

The story is definitely topical, combining the situations in Flint, Michigan; and the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota; and sending the non-powered Avenger to help with the issues feels more realistic than if Spider-Man were to suddenly pop-in and attempt to help.

However, while the issue does highlight some of the real problems, such as poverty and pollution, faced by Indian reservations, it does so only glancingly; and quickly turns into a comic-book action scene.

The issue does, however, have other high-points. It seems like the book really wants to get into the head of Clint Barton: someone who believes he has just done the worst thing he’s ever done, and is trying to do some good to balance his scales.

Also, Clint’s arrow-slinging has never felt more tactile. Having Clint take a full page to shoot an arrow while describing what doing so means to him really sells how dangerous his Paleolithic weapon really is.

 

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Avengers #1

Following…whatever the fallout of Civil War II is, the Avengers re-assemble, this time, with Peter Parker funding them.

After seeing their new base in Parker’s NY HQ – the Baxter building – the Avengers: Captain America, Thor, Wasp, and now Spider-Man and Hercules, assist Vision in a fight with Kangs, plural. After the fight, Vision explains why Kang is hunting him down, the Avengers decide to take up Parker’s offer, and the Kangs plan their retaliation.

The issue feels top-heavy, with two fight scenes taking up a majority of the real-estate here followed by an info-dump that still feels like this book expects a lot more prior knowledge from its reader than a #1 really should. It doesn’t help that the main fight sequence, against Kang, involves a time-traveler who can be multiple people at the same time and place, which the book only barely explains, and then, only after the fight itself.

There are some good moments though, mostly involving Peter Parker/Spider-Man trying to win over the new Avengers after his choosing the wrong side in Civil War II.

Mike Del Mundo’s art is gorgeous, with an opening spread being the most striking spread in comics I’ve seen in a while. His style is painterly, but more watercolor than the work of Alex Ross (who does the cover.) But, as gorgeous as it is, I’m sure if it really fits the book. It’s not distracting, but everything kind of feels too dreamlike. I am loving his Spider-Man reaction faces though.

It’s not the best start for a book, but there’s enough good there, and the cliff-hanger at the end hooked me well enough, where I’ll give it another issue.

 

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Spidey #12

The Sinister Six finally team up to take on Spidey, but he won’t let them ruin his perfect day.

This issue an amazing conclusion to this series, ending with Peter’s perfect day, in and out of costume. In a way, this book is a victory lap. He dances with Gwen Stacy and manages to beat six of his biggest villains. Peter Parker is regarded as one of the most tragic superheroes, always running against his limits and losing the ones he loves; but this issue shows the other side of things. This issue, and this series, ends with everything in Peter’s life working, and shows that no-matter the cost, Peter being Spider-Man is always the right choice.

 

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Bitch Planet #9

The scheduling issues with this book are really getting in the way of the story it’s trying to tell, yet I don’t want to trade wait on it because then I’d miss the great feminist backmatter essays. Also because buying floppies is better support for the creative team…

Picking up from last issue, the story this issue starts with Makoto Maki freeing all the prisoners of Bitch Planet, which causes a prison riot. Kam and Whitney meet Eleanor Doane (President Bitch), who has been locked up so long she doesn’t know what year it is, but Kam goes on a solo mission to rescue her sister from the riots.

This issue feels too short, especially after such a long wait. That’s not a bad thing, it’s the type of too short that left me wanting more. Despite/due to the action of this issue, it’s a bit light, philosophically, compared to many previous issues, although it is setting up for some heavy developments around how the cis-female prisoners learn to work together with the trans-female prisoners that have been kept separate for their own protection.

I can’t wait to see what happens now that Doane has finally been properly introduced, as this issue does feel like a major act-shift in the overall story. I just hope I don’t have to wait so long.

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #23

I want one of these every arc.

Another experimental issue for WicDiv, this one takes the form of a fashion magazine (think GQ), where some of the Pantheon are interviewed about the events taking place between the last arc and the coming one. The real kicking point, the interviews were done by actual journalists chatting with an in-character Kieron Gillen!

While it’s mostly prose, Kevin Wada’s portraits of the gods, illustrated like fashion shoots, are distinct highlights.

As for the interviews, they’re all wonderful, with each God really coming through. My favorite of the bunch is Laurie Penny’s interview with Woden, which definitely reminded me of her article about her time with another notorious misogynist, Milo Yiannopolis.

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