Comic Reviews 3/1/17

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America #1

America is a queer Latina teenage immigrant. That’s the plot and the thesis of America #1, a book that celebrates the diversity that makes the country she’s named after so great. America is unapologetically Latina, using a heavy sprinkling of Spanish phrases and attending a college named for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

If this is your introduction to America, this book should catch you up on exactly the character she is. She’s brash, arrogant, impatient, and would prefer to forget her gentler emotions. When her girl-friend decides not to follow her to college, she lashes out, preferring not to show how much the decision hurt her; and when she recognizes an old friend at the college, she makes a joke about how happy she is to see him.

She’s been a member of the Young Avengers and the Ultimates, but college is a challenge that she can’t punch or warp her way out of.

 

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Hawkeye #4

First, Mikka is totally wearing a The Strokes Future Present Past shirt on the cover, and I can get behind that 100%.

Kate starts the issue tied to a chair, and sassing the hulking frat-boy who put her there. Soon after, she’s put together that the frat-boy turns hatred into power, and has to find a way to counter all the hate in Venice Beach with love. And even then, this one guy may be part of a larger mystery.

By the end of this issue, cute, confident, capable Kate has solved her first case as a PI, and stumbled into a much bigger – and more personal – one. She’s also made some friends, and finally gotten on the right-ish side of law enforcement. One arc down, and this ongoing is as fun as Kate is fun-seeking, perfectly plotted and full of personality.

 

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Moon Knight #12

To rescue Anput and escape the Overvoid, Marc needs some help from his other identities. In a flashback, we learn how Marc came to Cairo.

This is probably the most straight-forward issue of Lemire’s Moon Knight to date, with the A-plot being a single escape sequence, while the flashbacks doing their own thing. It does feel a bit like a reward for sticking with the book through the previous 11 issues of mind-bendery.

 

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The Clone Conspiracy – Omega #1

Well now, this is a much better ending to The Clone Conspiracy than what we got a couple weeks ago. Unlike the last issue, this one actually acknowledges the weight of everything the story brought to the table, how hard it is to think you have a loved one back only for them to be ripped away from you again. Much of this issue is another one of Spider-Man’s apology tours, as he tries to start the healing process for everybody, including the Rhino, who re-lost somebody when Spider-Man did what he had to do to save the world.

 

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Batman #18

Batman refuses to accept Bane’s offer of trading his friends for the Psycho Pirate, and so the two brawl in the rain. As they fight, flashbacks reveal the similarities of how each man came to be.

King seems to really like using parallel-flashbacks as a story device, and I worry it might become a crutch. Regardless, it is effective, with Finch drawing mirroring panels of Bruce and Bane’s paths to adulthood, shaped by the trauma of losing their parents. And when Bane later compares himself to Bruce, saying that he’s “not done rich kid playing dress up,” it hits the audience all the harder as we’ve just seen exactly how much harsher his childhood was than Bruce’s.

The pacing on this one is a bit odd tho. There’s an ending to the issue that brings us to a climax at the end of Batman and Bane’s fight and ties together each’s past with their present…and then the issue goes on for a few more pages to tease out the arc’s plot into the next issue. It works because the first ending doesn’t really do anything for the overall plot, but feels weird because this issue feels so compete without tying all that much to what came before and what will follow.

 

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Superman #18

It’s Lois and Clark’s anniversary, and their celebrating at their Hamilton home with their son, Jon. But after a visit from the other, non-powered, Clark Kent, the happy home they’ve built for themselves begins to disappear, as does Jon!

This run on Superman hasn’t been afraid to dip its toes into the weird, and the start of this new arc, Superman Reborn, isn’t shying away either. The issue opens with Mr. Oz in his fortress, and being made aware that one of his prisoners (among whom are Doomsday and Tim Drake), has escaped, and is looking for Superman. Then there’s the mystery of the other Clark, whose appearance in this issue triggers the actual erasure of everything that Lois and Clark have in this post-Flashpoint Earth that they didn’t bring over from their native Earth. Their house, their things, even their son starts to blink out of existence.

This issue is a very intriguing hook, and I’m excited to see how all these elements end up tying together. Also, what is the over/under on Mr. Oz being Watchman’s Ozymandias?

 

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Green Arrow #18

Roy Harper returns to Seattle to help a protesting native tribe defend their land from an under-construction oil-pipeline. And, through flashbacks, we see how a homeless Roy Harper was taken under the Green Arrow’s wing.

More than I think any other character, Rebirth has really brought Green Arrow back to the core of what makes his character great – and also, what separates him from Batman. This issue is the sort of flashback issue we get with Robins all the time, and telling that story with Ollie and Roy does a lot to provide contrast between the heroes. When Ollie finds Roy, after the latter pick-pockets the former’s wallet at a shopping mall, he immediately brings this kid home with him, feeds him some home-cooked chili, and plays video games with him until he falls asleep. He doesn’t get his butler to do the cooking, and he doesn’t make an excuse to leave the kid alone so he can do some superheroing. And when Roy inevitably finds out about Ollie’s secret identity, we don’t see any hesitation about making him a sidekick. Also, unlike the Robins, who have a strict Batman-formulated training strategy; we see Roy instead have an effect on Green Arrow’s tactics. We find out that it’s Roy who introduced the trick arrows in this timeline!

Also, and this is probably because Ollie and Roy are closer in age than Bruce is to any of the Robins, the two seem to be more outwardly friendly towards each-other. Rather than student-teacher, Ollie and Roy see the other as more of a peer.

At least, at first. In the issue’s present, Ollie and Roy have had a falling out, and the two aren’t on the best of terms when Roy returns to Seattle. But even here, we get a taste of one of Green Arrow’s strengths as a character; he’s part of the protest. This run has already paid lots of lip-service to Ollie’s socialism, but by clearly aligning Ollie with one side of a ripped-from-the-headlines issue; writer Benjamin Percy makes a strong declaration of this character’s politics.

 

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Paper Girls #12

The cave-woman Erin and Tiff ran into last issue take out the giant sloth that attacked all the girls, before fainting. Luckily, Erin managed to snatch future!Erin’s translating choker, and it allows the cave-woman to tell them that they might not be the only time-travelers in the area. Downriver, KJ saves an ungrateful Mac whom quickly remembers that KJ is the only friend she has at the moment.

The girls are all still just wonderful characters to read about. Mac continues to be the break-out, immediately insulting her friend who also just saved her life before being scared back into remembering she’s a 13 year old trapped in a prehistoric jungle. But this issue also highlights another strength this series has, of excellently blending the fantastic with the mundane. The climax of the issue, which involves a couple of cavemen knocking out a time-traveler and stealing her gun, is followed up by Mac reacting to KJ getting her period. Both seem equally important.

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