Comic Reviews 1/4/17

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Batman #14

After their mission on Santa Prisca, Batman and Catwoman have one night together before she goes to Blackgate for life without parole. But they have tonight, one last night together to make it count, even when the Bat-signal shines in the night sky.

The Batman-Catwoman relationship is one of comics’ most famous romances, and after loads of emotional set-up in I Am Suicide, King gives it its due with more sobriety than I think we’re used to.

We see both characters, Batman especially, strain for the vulnerability romance requires. Being Batman, fighting crime, unfortunately take up much of the couple’s last night together, but they try to make it work. After their patrol, Batman follows Catwoman on a break in that’s not quite as it seems. The end of the issue, regardless of personal issues of taste, is at least fairly earned; there’s a release of the entire issue’s palpable tension, the things they’ve been holding back.

I’m curious to see what happens in the next issue – this is a twofer, not a oner – but I have high expectations.

Also, Kite-Man, hell yeah! Also also Condiment King 🙂

 

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Nightwing #12

Nightwing continues his investigation into the framing of various Run-offs for murders, and has to ask the ex-cons to trust him with a chance to be on their side.

In between the last issue and this one, Nightwing seems to have embraced the grays that Bludhaven contains, even wishing to give them a chance to lighten. He doubles his resolve in coming to Bludhaven to help people, regardless of who they used to be, and he finds that sort of trust rewarded. It’s a story of lightness in a dark city.

 

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Superman #14

Superman runs into Red Son!Superman, who’s been fleeing across universes to escape the Gatherers, a group of extra-dimensional aliens who’ve been kidnapping Supermen. After the two manage to down a search party, they’re joined by the Justice League Incarnate (from Grant Morrison’s Multiversity), but are too late to rescue the Superman the Gatherers are looking for on this Earth – Keenan Kong!

The first issue of this arc throws a lot of big set-up at us for what appears to be a simple plot. Bad guys kidnapping Superman – good guys gotta stop them. There’s actually a lot more action than exposition in this issue, mainly setting up the threat of the Gatherers; two Supermen and the JLI haven’t been able to track nor put a real dent in them. And seeing what they’re doing to the captured Supermen at the end of the issue does a great job of raising the stakes while making the Gatherers even more mysterious – they’re not just killing the Supermen.

This series hasn’t shied away from weirdness yet, so I hope it fully embraces just how strange the Multiversity can make it.

 

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Green Arrow #14

Queen has the Arrow Killer in his sights, and Canary and Diggle have discovered that whoever they are, they’re a member of the League of Assassins. Unfortunately, both Arrows are trapped in a football stadium with 70,000 angry fans and the police quickly converging on them.

If you’re familiar with the Green Arrow, either from the comics or the TV show, you’ve already pieced together the identity of the Arrow Killer. But that doesn’t stop this from being another fun, action-packed issue of Green Arrow.

While the chase at the stadium takes most of the issue’s real-estate, Black Canary steals the most scenes while disguised as a cop, and riding to the stadium with the Chief – straight out of an 80’s procedural.

As I think I’ve said before, this series feels like a Michael Mann movie at times, focused almost entirely on fun action, but not at all to the detriment of anything else. I’ll probably start trade-waiting on this after this arc, but I’ll certainly keep reading.

 

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Champions #4

After having their plane shot by a missile at the end of the last issue, the Champions start this issue trying to literally hold their plane together for a crash-landing in open water, and then attempt to make it back to land. Things get worse when they discover they were shot down by Atlantians who want to take them as POWs for flying over their air/sea-space.

It’s weird for such an early issue in a series to feel like filler, but that’s exactly what this issue feels like. The team continues to bicker about who should be leader, with Cyclops proving his mettle throughout the issue. Other than that though, the main threat is solved more by punching it real hard rather than having to grow as teammates or really think their way out of it, which feels like a step back from how the team has taken a more thoughtful approach to action in the previous issue.

I wish I was more excited about the hook at the end, I’ve heard good things about the character they’re introducing to the series from a close friend, but don’t actually know enough about them to get as hyped as I think the book was hoping.

 

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Captain America: Sam Wilson #17

Another piece in the series of oners following the side-characters, this one follows the new Falcon and Rage as they crash a talk at Empire University being given by an anti-immigration pundit, Ariella Conner. But they aren’t the only ones wanting to shut Ms. Conner up, and the others want to do so permanently.

After so many issues jabbing the right-wing, Spencer takes this issue to prod the left a bit, with this issue’s villains being a group of Social Justice Terrorists who espouse the virtues of safe spaces while throwing grenades at a public speaker. Honestly, it’s a little hard for me not to sympathize with them, but the comic makes it pretty clear that anybody throwing grenades in a public space – regardless of politics – is pretty clearly the villain; and it’s difficult to disagree with that argument.

There will doubtless be claims (again) of Spencer betraying his supposed liberal values by making an admittedly broad caricature of young liberals into very cartoonish villains in this issue, but it’s all in good fun. Every other issue of the series clearly shows which side Spencer leans towards politically, and this was just the opportunity to poke some fun at some of the left’s more overzealous constituents. Maybe we should prove we can take a friendly joke and not harass the guy on twitter for this one, okay?

 

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Moon Knight #10

Seemingly in one piece, Moon Knight makes his way back through Egypt/New York to the Hospital to rescue Crawley from Anubis and defeat Khonshu. And in flashbacks we see the first time a young Marc Spector was introduced to Steven Grant, Jake Lockley, and Khonshu.

This issue pays a lot of lip-service to Spector’s Jewish roots, showing him as a kid in a yarmulke with a Rabbi father in Chicago, but is much more interested in the beginnings of his dissociative identity disorder and how that ties into his relationship with Khonshu.

Moon Knight continues to be a trip. A beautifully illustrated and realized trip through space and/or the inside of Marc Spector’s psyche that always has you guessing what’s really real in this universe; what exists outside of Marc Spector? If you’re not already reading it, seriously get. on. this.

 

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Hawkeye #2

After dropping Mikka’s stalker, Larry, off at a disappointingly unhelpful police station, Kate continues her investigation by following a lead into the TBC – Take Back Control – society after she keeps seeing their poster around places where women are attacked by otherwise chill dudes.

I’m still just loving Kate in this new series. Kelly Thompson writes a perfect plucky, sassy Hawkeye who’s great at what she does, even if she doesn’t quite know what she’s doing; and that’s a hard line to walk. Kate might be lost in LA, but she rarely seems overwhelmed; she’s an Avenger, after all. And Thompson also writes her like an actual young adult. She speaks and handles herself the way people my and her age actually speak and handle themselves. There’s no feeling like the book is trying or pandering to “millennials” or whatever; there’s actual empathy there.

Romero’s art is fantastic, too. He’s killing it with the two-page spread action scenes and at illustrating the character’s emotions in a way that’s expressive and big without slipping into emoji-like or some of the other weird faces that pop-up in comics from time to time. And, like the dialogue, Kate’s more expressive moments, when she scrunches her nose and sticks her tongue out at something gross, feel like completely natural reactions.

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #25

Persephone and the Norns (mostly Persephone) decide what to do with Woden if he doesn’t help them discover what Ananke was up to, and then Persephone spends a chill night with Baal and Minerva, until…

Persephone is getting really scary, guys! Scary enough to force Woden to stop being as big an ass as he has been, even, and scary enough for Cass to try and remind her to at least try to be a good person. And by the end of the issue, we learn a mite more about the Great Darkness Ananke warned of.

This plot this arc is either surprisingly simple or is moving pretty slowly. I’m still not sure what the real plot is in any case; I guess we’re just as lost as the Pantheon is without Ananke hanging over everything.

 

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Saga #41

On Phang, the March finds Alana and the others and demands Hazel and Marko or else they’ll kill everyone in the village. Elsewhere, the Will finds Gwendolyn, Sophie, and Lying Cat, and tries to get his life back on track.

As Saga has been wont to do, things ramp up exponentially in this arc’s penultimate issue. There are small heartbreaks that hint at bigger tragedies just around the bend, and some characters cross lines that they’ve been resolute in not-crossing for years at this point. Also, if things don’t radically change soon, the entire asteroid they’re on gets destroyed, so that’s some ticking clock for you.
And the most striking image in the book is the face of a very sad Lying Cat, a cat with puppy-eyes.

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