Captain America: Steve Rogers #9
Maria Hill faces a tribunal by the World Security Council that will determine her ability to continue to be Director of SHIELD, and Steve Rogers, this time in Scotland, continues to move pieces in place in his plans.
Hoo boy is there a lot to unpack in this issue; to start off, there are no good guys. We already know that Steve is an undercover agent of Hydra. We find out in this issue that Maria Hill is the worst possible combination of Putin and Trump: a strong-man spymaster who talks about being the only person capable of keeping the planet safe by – you guessed it – building a wall. And maybe I didn’t read close enough, but I’m having trouble figuring out which side of this wall Steve sits on; pro or anti. Its makes for an interesting game of “which evil is lesser?” in any case. I’m still saying whichever side isn’t Nazis, but Maria is narrowing that gap by making light of her many many human rights abuses and proposing even greater threats, so…
Spencer sure does not let up.
Occupy Avengers #3
Hawkeye and Red Wolf travel to Chicago to team up with Nighthawk and his assistant Tilda, but Hawkeye forgot that Nighthawk actually wants to actually kill him. But if they can get past their differences, there’s a case involving smuggled Life-Model-Decoy materials to be solved.
This issue is quite the doozy, starting after a months-long timeskip from the last issue, and involving some unwritten backstory between Hawkeye and Nighthawk that hangs over their relationship the entire issue. If you can get past the feeling like you’re jumping into the middle of a story, however, this issue does a lot of good. Despite being unexplained, the one-way animosity between the Hawks is written very well, as Clint comes asymptotely close to realizing that maybe people not liking him is his fault, not theirs, and then going “nah”; and Nighthawk learns – forcibly – to bury the hatchet.
Walker’s writing of Tilda plays an interesting balancing act between the stereotypical responsible-mom/wife character, and very forward towards Red Wolf, who himself continues to be more on the more quiet, business-focused end of things.
Power Man and Iron Fist #12
The war for Harlem begins, with Black Cat and Alex Wilder both sending squads to finally steal the last of Lonnie Lincoln’s empire; and Luke and Danny find themselves in the middle, fighting on three fronts.
There’s been lots of buildup in previous issues of PM+IF, and it finally comes to a head here. This is Harlem’s own Lexington and Concord, but with two more sides to consider, though, not all of them make it out of this first battle in one piece. It’s an explosive issue, and even packs a few twists that continue to escalate things and change the battlefield. If you’ve been waiting for Power Man and Iron Fist to get back to knocking heads, this issue should satisfy and then some.
Ms. Marvel #14
Kamala Khan has had a rough few weeks, and just wants to unwind by playing some online games. But when one of her guild-members slips that he knows a bit too much about who Kamala is beyond the screen, her life gets complicated right back up again.
It’s been a minute since the last Ms. Marvel arc, so I’m excited to jump back in, and this issue has just enough set-up, and a lot of great details, to make that wait worth it. The set-up is simple, a stranger hints at knowing where Kamala lives, and she wants to nip this in the bud before they find out other things about her that should stay secret.
What brings this above and beyond are the small details. Kamala staying up until 2am to try and track a person through the computer because she no longer has Bruno to help her. Ms. Marvel being constantly photographed and recorded as she makes her way to Manhattan to follow up a lead, and how that folds into the ending question of where she’d be safe from digital-hacks.
Ms. Marvel has already tackled gentrification, zoning-laws, and judicial-discrimination, it’s about time that Wilson had Kamala fight the surveillance state.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #16
For the character’s 25th anniversary, and Doreen’s in-universe 20th birthday, we find out how a normal girl born with a big bushy tail became the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
The story is told in vignettes, and we see Doreen Green at ages five, ten, fifteen, and finally on her 20th birthday, witnessing how she discovers her powers and finds the drive to become a hero. It’s a sweeter issue than normal, with scenes of a squirrel asking a young Doreen Green why she’s “already telling herself there’s things she can’t do?”, inspiring her to be a hero. And kid Doreen is absolutely adorable. This issue is a perfect one-issue origin story that comics fans of all ages can enjoy and find something to squee over.
Oh, and the last page is absolutely FANTASTIC.