Comic Reviews 2/22/17

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Justice League of America #1

Batman’s new Justice League of America seems to be starting smoothly. While he and Vixen patrol, Ray and Black Canary do some good work saving some people from a fire, Frost and Atom get the troubalert online to help the JLA find problems to solve, and even wild-card Lobo does his part to save the dolphins. But the League is tested when The Extremists – a team of superpowered aliens – arrives on Earth and threaten to save it through domination, and they’re all forced to fight together.

Unusual for the first issue of a team book, things do seem to start out in a good place, with different members effectively pairing-up to solve smaller problems. The Extremists do give the League a bigger challenge to face, but unfortunately, aren’t that interesting unto themselves. The whole authoritarian thing might be in vogue at the moment, but that doesn’t make it any less played-out in the comic. The best thing about them right now is that one of them is named Diehard.

Still the make-up of the JLA itself is interesting enough, although “why isn’t this Batman and the Outsiders?” is still a question I’m asking myself.

 

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Wonder Woman #17

On Themyscira, Hippolyta and the other Amazons fear that Diana is lost. Meanwhile, she continues to talk to the cartoon snake that’s either trying to help, or just taunting her about her trauma. Meanwhile, Steve, Etta, and the minotaur meet up and attempt to make their way towards Diana, by are ambushed by Veronica’s mercenaries. She’ll call them off, but only if Babara Ann agrees to become the Cheetah again for her.

There are a lot of different plots in this issue, all but one of which find ways towards the others. It’s still unclear how unwell Diana still is, but we do learn that there are Amazons watching out for her somewhere.

Steve and Etta’s plan to retrieve Diana from the asylum feels a little half-baked considering how much of a liability she would be to staying underground at the moment, although putting them in danger does provide exactly the right motivation for Barbara-Ann’s story, puts further shows how deeply evil Veronica has become since the events of the previous issue that took place years prior.

 

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The Flash #17

The Flash finds himself at the mercy of Captain Cold and the Rogues after Snart uses his new gun that disrupts Flash’s connection to the Speed Force.

There’s a lot in this issue that works, but not much of it that feels earned. And by that I mean, from an A-causes-B-causes-C level, I have no complaints. Nothing that Flash does to overcome his foes in this issue feels like cheating, everything is set up, but it still feels too easy. Cold has Flash almost completely frozen, and then he escapes. Flash is surrounded by the Rogues, but then something happens to incapacitate all of them in the nick of time. None of it is unexplained or unfair, there’s no deus ex machina or anything in play; but with the odds so stacked against Flash, it feels weird that he can turn the tables as easy as I can turn a page.

Other than that, this issue also nicely sets up and resolves an emotional arc between the Flash and Cold, where Flash accepts that he and the Rogues are alike in that they both enjoy doing what they do. Flash accepts that he enjoys being a hero and rescuing people, and that doing so because he enjoys it doesn’t make him selfish. And as inspiring as this is for Flash, Flash accidently inspires greater aspirations in Snart as well.

It’s looking likely that I’m going to switch to trades for this comic, not because I’m not enjoying it, but because I need to save some money, and I don’t feel like I get anything more reading this issue-to-issue than I would get from reading it all at once.

 

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Amazing Spider-Man #24

During the finale of The Clone Conspiracy, while Peter Parker was saving the world, Ben Reilly was fighting Doctor Octopus, and trying to find a way to save himself. And as all the clones begin to disintegrate, the real Miles Warren is revealed, and declares revenge on Ben.

This issue feels like it mainly exists as backdoor for the new Scarlet Spider ongoing starting soon, explaining how Ben made it out of the last issue alive enough to be in that upcoming comic.

An inordinate amount of this issue is monologue, which makes sense when you consider that our three main characters in this issue are all egomaniacal villains. Villains love to monologue. Plus, all the talking to himself really does sell that this Ben Reilly has gone bonkers.

 

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Steve Rogers: Captain America #12

Steve takes on his first mission as the new director of SHIELD, taking down the Awesome Android at the Museum of American History; and continues his Hydra agenda by telling Selvig and Zemo to play nice. Meanwhile, Taskmaster approaches Maria Hill about selling her the kompromat he has on Rogers.

A little surprisingly, Steve is still narrating his history, during which we find out how Steve carried out Hydra missions while fighting on the allied side in WWII. The most entertaining plot in this issue is the one between Taskmaster, the Black Ant, and Maria Hill; with the two villains taking on the role of “those two guys,” – think Beevis and Butthead or Bebop and Rocksteady. They’re two villains in way over their head, and they find out exactly how out of their depth they are by the end of the issue; which also throws a major curveball into Steve’s plans.

The plot-lines that more directly involve Rogers are actually the B-plots in this issue, although we do learn exactly how he feels about curveballs in his plans; and Selvig hypothesizes that Kobik changed more than just Roger’s personal history.

 

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Occupy Avengers #4

Tilda Johnson narrates this issue, which begins with a brief summary of her life, how she started as a supervillain with unparalleled expertise in robotics who almost beat Captain America, and how she ended up partnering with Nighthawk. We then cut back to the end of the last issue, with her, Nighthawk, Clint, and Red Wolf confronting the life-model decoys of Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos. Clint figures out a way to convince the LMDs that they’re friendly, and the teams work together to find out who’s been stealing the supplies to make LDMs from this facility. Eventually the thieves strike again, and while everybody joins in to fight them back, it’s Tilda that steals the show by cutting loose.

The focus on Tilda, who was effectively a sidekick all through Walker’s run on Nighthawk feels a little out of left-field at first, especially once things jump back into last issue’s story, but makes sure enough, comes full circle by the issue’s end. Through the entire issue, Walker turns Tilda into a character worth paying attention to despite her B-level villain roots. He not only reveals her to be more competent than anyone really gave her credit for, but within this single issue, manages to boil down her journey from villain to hero.

 

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Black Panther #11

War comes to Wakanda, and T’Challa and Shuri have to rally their forces against Tetu’s invading army.

So many threads tie together in the climax to this first, year-long arc. Shuri weaves this event into the tapestry of Wakandan history and myth, Changamire gets to finally turn his philosophy into a practical measure to protect the nation from would-be tyrants, and Wakanda realizes Tetu’s false promises.

Considering this has been a series that has usually been at its strongest when characters were sitting around and talking, that it could deliver such a satisfying pay-off that also doesn’t suddenly dip into pure action is an incredible and pleasant surprise. I can’t wait to see what Coates does next with this series.

 

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Mosaic #5

Another super strong conclusion to a first arc. Morris, still in Spider-Man’s body, continues his raid on Brand to get back to/at his father. As he does so, he realizes just how long his father has been selling him out.

This is such a solid ending because, in many ways, it feels more like the ending to a self-contained story rather than a just one serial. Morris has completed his origin story, confronting his past and making a complete turn in character. He displays a mastery of his new body and powers, and uses them to complete his goals. He’s put up with a lot of shit in the past five issues, and has more than earned this victory lap. All that, and it finally opens up a Morris who is no longer tethered to his past, and allowed to move forward.

Is it too early to call Mosaic this year’s The Vision?

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