Comic Reviews 1/25/17

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Wonder Woman #15

This arc begins with Wonder Woman and her allies at rock bottom. Diana is in a mental institution, suffering from a complete loss of identity and psychiatric break that’s left her talking to cartoon snakes. Steve, Etta and Barbara Ann are forced to live in hiding, unsure of who they can trust outside the three of them.

This is the first issue of this run that doesn’t feel like a Wonder Woman comic. Everything is much more somber and serious, and rather than gods or supervillains, the main threat is a group of highly-sophisticated terrorists. Plus, for the moment, there is no Wonder Woman – Diana Prince is shattered.

It’s a hard issue to read, especially right after the triumph of Year One, but very much looking forward to see how Rucka takes us from here back to there.

 

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The Flash #15

The Flash races to Corto Maltese to stop the Rogues from stealing a priceless statue, but this heist is far from a simple smash and grab.

This is such a great issue of The Flash, on multiple levels. The first is a classic Flash vs. Rogues story. The Rogues each get a small chance to steal the spotlight, with Mirror Master eventually being the show stopper, rising above even Flash’s valiant effort at stopping him.

The issue then uses the iconic nature of the Flash vs. Rogues set up to show how, this time, the Rogues have stepped up their game. It delivers both as a pure reconstruction of Flash vs. Rogues, and, after a twist, a deconstruction of how those stories are supposed to go.

 

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Deathstroke #11

Jack Ryder investigates a series of murders in Chicago that he believes are all linked to Deathstroke, and finds himself stuck in the cycle of Chicago gun violence.

This is one of the heaviest “very-special issues” of a comic book I’ve ever read, being as much about the problems of gun violence in Chicago as it is about superheroes and villains. Deathstroke is barely in this issue, and when he does appear, doesn’t make things any simpler or cast them in any relief. Just like everyone else, Priest doesn’t claim to know the answer, but he does know that it’s more complicated than just banning guns or sending in someone to kill all the “bad-guys.”

The issue ultimately ends on an incredibly dark, cynical note, and it’s hard to completely discern how much of that is Priest and how much is Deathstroke. In any case, this is an issue that spends its time actually thinking about a specific problem, rather than just try and use metaphor to solve it. My only complaint is that it’s not longer, because even if this book can’t provide any more closure than real life can, I’d be disappointed if Priest never returns to this subject.

 

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Sixpack and Dogwelder #6

After some surprisingly detailed opening pages, the epic of Section 8 ends on a surprisingly sentimental note, as Dogwelder finally faces his destiny and welds together the two Dog-Stars and saves the Earth.

There’s not much more I can really say about this issue. Over the past six issues, this series has earned its bittersweetly triumphant finale, and also manages to tie it back to the team’s overall story about finally getting the recognition and appreciation they deserve as heroes.

That’s not to say this issue is slacking on the humor either. There was one sight gag right after the dramatic climax that, through a mix of the absurd visual and juxtaposition with what came directly before it, had me belly laugh out loud.

Even if this series had wondered about a bit, this final issue shows that Section 8 never lost its center.

 

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Captain America: Steve Rogers #10

The tribunal finds Maria Hill guilty, removing her from duty as director of SHIELD, and Steve pushes to get Sharon Carter to replace her. Meanwhile, Congress votes on whether or not to implement the planetary defense shield, and Steve’s plans are thrown for a loop when Red Skull threatens to cut him off over loose ends. And, in flashback, Steve shows us the lengths he went to get close to Dr. Erskine.

This issue is a little hard to understand because it isn’t that clear what Steve’s preferred outcome of the trial and planetary defense shield are. Undercover as Captain America, he seems pro-Sharon Carter, and pro defense shield, but it’s not exactly clear how that lines up with his Hydra Agenda, which means it’s hard to tell if this issue represents a win or a loss. The conversation with Red Skull is definitely a loss, and we know that Skull is anti-wall; but that doesn’t do much to clear up Steve’s true agenda, which seems to involve sabotaging SHIELD and Red Skull.

What it all comes down to is that, even though the plot keeps momentum and is clearly translating everything happening in this multi-part, multi-sided, conspiracy it fumbles the ball when explaining why these new developments matter.

 

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Black Panther #10

Wakanda prepares for war against Tetu and his forces. Shuri goes to the Dora Milaje to convince them to break-off their agreement with Tetu and align with Wakanda. T’Challa has a meeting with Changamire to try and get him to help rebuild Wakanda.

What can I say about this issue that I haven’t already said about this series? Coates turns scenes of two/three people discussing politics and philosophy into some of the best comic book storytelling around. Shuri confronts the Dora Milaje about the realities and fallout of allying with populists, while T’Challa and Changamire make the metaphor real by bringing up Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom, and discussing the real costs of maintaining order and political revolution.

T’Challa makes his best argument for him being Wakanda’s King by admitting he never wanted to be, and then inviting his greatest political dissident to help him rebuild a better nation. He admits that he was angry at Changamire because he was angry for not doing better than the previous Kings, and finally accepts that without help, he will only continue the cycle of violence and oppression.

It’s awful to say, but more than anything else, a political figure realizing and admitting their own failings, and asking for help from the ivory tower is the most fantastical element of this comic book.

 

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Saga #42

No no no no no no no no fuck you fuck you fuck you FUCK YOU Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This issue is NOT OKAY. Saga has had a lot of bad endings in its run, but this is too much. I’m literally crying over this one. I mean, it’s a terrific book as always, but seriously, this is literally the darkest ending to an arc yet. This was brutal. Why do I keep reading a comic that makes me cry so much?

Highlight for spoilers below:

Also, it’s kind of a fucking loss.jpg!?

 

Was unable to get Uber Invasion #2 from my LCS today, but will review it as soon as I can.

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