Comic Reviews 4/12/17

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Sam Wilson: Captain America #15

Sam gives up the title of Captain America, and Nick Spencer tries his hardest to make Sam say the words that would excuse this as totally not disappointing.

No matter how Spencer tries to frame this, Sam renouncing the title of Captain America is giving up, is capitulating to the darker powers in this country, and here’s why: When Steve occasionally steps down as Cap, it’s symbolic – in and out of universe – of the popular American ideal telling the country he’s disappointed in its behavior. Everybody wants Steve to be Cap, so when he isn’t, it’s means it’s time to learn a lesson so that the country is worthy of having him back.

The big struggle in Sam’s arc was that many parts of the country didn’t want him to represent it. So when Sam gives it up, he’s telling all those people that they’re correct – that a black man can’t be Captain America. No matter how he reasons it, the other side wins.

While this would be unfair to ask of any real individual, it was Sam’s responsibility to endure the abuse so that he could remain a symbol for everyone who could’ve succeeded him. It’s not just that the wrong side wins, the right side loses because they are losing the symbol of a Black Captain America.

Steve as Captain is America giving itself an ideal. Sam is the underserved parts of America screaming to be included in those ideals. And Sam stepping down is giving up.

 

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Power Man and Iron Fist #15

With a lot of help from Senior Magico and their other friends, Luke and Danny fight Alex Wilder and his demon and take down Tombstone, ending this chapter in their story.

This is the last issue of Power Man and Iron Fist, and it ends on a good one. After a bit of exposition explaining who the demon possessing Alex is, the issue is a long three-way fight between the Heroes for Hire, Alex, and Tombstone and Mr. Fish. It’s nothing too new, nothing mind-blowing, but a solid issue that wraps up everything that Walker and the various artists on this book have worked on. The final pages cap the series off really well, bringing things back to how important the Heroes are to the community, and vice-versa.

 

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Amazing Spider-Man #26

After foiling her assassination attempt on Norman Osborn, Spidey has to help Silver Sable take him down the hard way, which, this time, means a chase through Hong Kong’s skyscrapers and interrupting a live-broadcast weapons test of Osborn’s new Goblin tech.

This arc feels more cinematic than almost every other arc of ASM I remember reading, maintaining a breakneck pace that swings from action beat to action beat like something out of Justin Lin’s oeuvre. Immonen’s lay-outs seems to pan, sweep, and zoom along-side Spider-Man and Sable as they chase Gobin’s flying bikes through Hong Kong while Gracia’s coloring lights everything with a high-key neon sheen. And Slott manages to weave a lot of exposition into the action, meaning nothing feels like the book is pausing the plot for an action beat. There is one Spidey quip that didn’t really land for me – trying too hard – but I’m nit-picking. I hope this arc can keep this momentum going.

 

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Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #19

This issue of Squirrel Girl has a villain monologue that involves Grace Hopper, a flashback that involves Capt. Sullenberger’s landing of a plane in the Hudson River, and a bear in an army uniform firing a pistol.

Look, I’ve already written all I really can about this comic issue to issue. It’s smart and funny and positive and Doreen manages to be a superhero who’s at her most heroic when she finds a way to stop baddies with her words rather than her fists.

 

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Black Panther and The Crew #1

This first issue of Ta-Nehisi’s Coates’ new series doesn’t have Black Panther in it at all, instead focusing almost entirely on Misty Knight. After a famous and much beloved old Harlemite is arrested by cops and found dead in his cell two days later, Harlem’s citizenry march in protest of police brutality, and Misty finds herself caught between her instincts and her profession. As a cop, Misty wants to believe in the forces’ code and ability to protect, but as a black woman, she’s more than aware that not all arrests are equal.

Coates fills this book with classic detective story trappings starting with the story being told in retrospect by Misty Knight, which includes many instances of her being drawn into the investigation that she’d rather try to ignore. Though not a PI, Misty is plenty hardboiled, and does possess an independence from the force that makes her investigation feel more transgressive – she’s still working from outside the system. This first issue also covers all the bases you really need for a good whodunit: a victim with a storied past, a possibly (likely) corrupt police force, a mysterious visitor, and a detective who’s the only one who can piece things together whether they want to or not.

 

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The Flash #20

This issue follows Iris as she investigates the grave-robbing of all of Godspeed’s victims, which leads her to a reformed Black Hole!

The change of perspective brings some fresh air into the series, and Iris West doing some Lois Lane type reporting is a great perspective to have. It also serves as a novel way for the issue to deliver exposition that you couldn’t really do with Barry Allen. And Iris is a fun character to follow. She has the same basic decency that Flash does, taking the time to really talk to people before rushing into action, and even finding the spaces for some banter with villains.

Also, Googe draws faces that are just plain fun to look at, especially when characters are surprised. They’re very animated, but never slip into silly or dumb looking, just dumbfounded. I really hope this series’ overall mood isn’t affected too much by the upcoming crossover with Batman.

 

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Wonder Woman #20

Increasingly desperate to restore her daughter, Veronica summons and makes a deal with Circe to bind Deimos and Phobos.

Wonder Woman is barely in this issue, and is basically irrelevant to its plot, which puts the spotlight on a new version of Circe who acts like a combination of Holtzmann from the new Ghostbusters and Mr. Mxyzptlk. She’s fun, very animated, clearly has ulterior motives for everything she does. I hope she sticks around after Rucka leaves the book after #25.

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #28

In the notes at the end of the issue, Gillen states how this arc is the first of a two-parter with the next one, which goes a ways into explaining how this issue leaves things.

Cassandra discovers something important about one of the other Gods through her connection with academia, and manages to get on Ammi’s dark side. Baphomet briefly joins the others at the multi-god rave before a confrontation with Laura sends him back to the underground; and Sakhmet has an orgy that goes very bad.

What this issue does best is the transition between the primary main characters, mainly Laura and Cassandra, to the more secondary gods like Ammi and Sakhmet, showing us sides of them that have been underdeveloped up to this point. Ammi’s scene with Cass is especially enlightening, showing that the team’s flower girl isn’t just “the nice one,” and pairing her off with another god who she hadn’t really been on-panel with previously.

The also serves as a break from the big Great Darkness story that’s been building, bringing the interpersonal relationships within the pantheon back into focus.

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