Comic Reviews 3/22/17

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Action Comics #976

Jon is rescued by Superman and Lois, but not the versions that are his parents. Meanwhile, Mxy, looking to escape the notice of a mysterious and powerful “He,” absconds, and wants to take Jon with him.

The issue lags in the middle, repeating how the versions of Lois and Clark that Jon brought are the wrong ones a few times too many after we’ve already gotten the point, while the resolution comes pretty much completely out of nowhere. And the issue’s short epilogue feels much more like a tease for some future event rather than anything really meaningful to this story.

Superman isn’t so much reborn by the end of the story so much as he is redressed, but that’s not as compelling a title.

 

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Wonder Woman #19

Her friends showing up at the mental hospital is exactly what Diana needed to remember her identity as Wonder Woman, and as soon as she’s back, she’s out to recover Barbara Ann. Her chase is delayed when she runs into Doctor Cyber, who explains to Diana what she and Veronica Gale have against her. Meanwhile, the Amazons prepare for battle.

As fun as it is to see Diana spring right back into the thick of things, I do wish how she got her sanity back was a little more fleshed out in this issue. It also feels like this issue is playing lots of catch-up, as Diana learns everything that she’s missed since the beginning of the arc. And by the end of the issue, something occurs which feels like it erases any progress along the plot the issue might have made.

 

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The Flash #19

This is one of those issues where the first and second halves feel like two different stories. The first half is its own little comic-action sequence that involves the Flashes working with Captain Boomerang to escape and subdue the Weavers. The second half picks up the story from last issue about Wally searching for his father – Daniel West, the Reverse Flash – and how finding out what happened to him effects his relationship with Barry Allen.

While the first half is entertaining, if self-contained; it’s the back half that really feels like it matters to the book’s overall story. Barry finally reveals his identity to Wally, who then chews him out from keeping the secret from the people he loves. It’s contains two poignant moments, first when Wally finally learns that two of the men he looks up to are the same person, and second, when he finds out that that person has been lying to him and his aunt for their entire relationship.

It is unfortunate then, that the book doesn’t take the time to impress how much that does matter, instead using its final pages to tease the upcoming arc – the crossover with Batman that involves the Comedian’s Button.

 

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Steve Rogers: Captain America #14

Madam Hydra travels the world recruiting people for the next High Council of Hydra in preparation for her next meeting with Steve, and Steve does his best to prevent the planetary defense shield from coming online. In a flashback, Elisa tells Steve about the man who betrayed Hydra, and who would become his greatest enemy.

It isn’t much to say that this issue is from the villain’s POV, but Madam Hydra isn’t even pretending to be on the side of good. And while her assembling her own legion of doom is threatening, it’s the flashback that begins to reveal exactly what kind of evil she is. Strangely, while the plotlines in the present seem mostly self-contained, it’s the things presented in flashback that feel like they’re pushing the plot forward towards Steve’s eventual confrontation with the Red Skull, and the Secret Empire event.

 

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Black Panther #12

With the battle against Tetu won, T’Challa turns his attention to healing the broken Wakanda. His first act of business is to find a way to bring the Midnight Angels back into the fold, but in doing so, he also takes the first step in drastically changing his own position as King of Wakanda.

A Nation Under Our Feet ends the only way it really could have, but having expected it doesn’t ruin the impact one bit. And without overstating things, this story looks to change the status quo of the Black Panther and Wakanda from here on out. With T’Challa fairly resolute in his plans, the main intellectual and emotional challenge in this issue is between Aneka and Changamire, as the latter explains his newfound sympathies for his country and its King to someone who personifies and successfully executed something that looks a lot like his earlier ideals of creating a free and independent nation. Yet, at no point in this issue does Changamire, nor any other character, feel compromised for the plot’s sake. Over the past twelve issues, we really have seen how this conflict has changed these characters minds and tempered their ideologies.

I feel incredibly confident in saying that Ta-Nehisi’s experiment in turning the superhero comic into a philosophical dialogue has been a resounding success as both a comic and a dialogue. I hope he stays with comics for a long while longer.

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