Comic Reviews 5/24/17

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Steve Rogers: Captain America #17

Following the razing of Las Vegas, Hydra Supreme – Steve Rogers, gives his first TV interview, and the journalist interviewing him has a lot of questions about the internment of Inhumans, the Mutant occupation of New Tian, and Hydra’s rewriting of history.

This issue is the first that leans fully into Steve Rogers being an unabashed evil authoritarian dictator, and, as I predicted, it works so scary well. If Spencer or anyone else tries to deflect accusations of this story being overly political, they are lying through their damn teeth. Spencer writes the rhetoric of Donald Trump and other fascistic leaders into Rogers’ mouth almost verbatim. He justifies the Inhuman internment using the same logic that Roosevelt and Truman used for Japanese internment and that Trump uses for his proposed Muslim ban. Steve sells the trade of individual liberties for safety as a tremendous deal in American’s favor when It’s clearly monstrous.

And all of these clear and solid connections to the unfortunate state of America right now makes the story hit like a cannon to the rib-cage. It’s what Secret Empire needs to land – acknowledgment that this is what America is right now, that this story and these characters aren’t just political, they’re politically relevant. This is what it means for Marvel to be the comic that take place outside your windowsill.

 

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Black Panther #14

As his enemies gather, T’Challa consults the spirits of all the past Black Panthers of Wakanda about what happened to their Gods, and how to stop the invasion of the snake men and other monsters.

The humiliation of T’Challa continues with him being tossed around by the spirits of the other Panthers, who understandably resent being woken to from their eternal rest so soon after they helped him out before, but do eventually point him in a helpful direction: towards an ancient warlock who lives under Wakanda.

I’m really liking how comfortably Coates is weaving the mystical elements of the Panther Mythos into the story, and engaging it with the political. After all, if you’ve established a monarchy on divine right to rule, and then the gods abandon you, what right does the King have to rule anymore? And this is already following T’Challa abdicating a lot of his power so that Wakanda can draw up a new constitution.

 

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Star-Lord Annual #1

So, in addition to comedy, drama, dramedy, and superhero norm-core, add Western to the types of stories that Chip Zdarksy can hit out of the park.

He starts with probably the most basic western story template: Star-Lord awakens in a hodunk little town, and before he can leave it, he’s gotta save it by taking care of a bandit that’s been exploiting them. What elevates the issue above its archetypal story is Zdarsky’s sense of Star-Lord and the other characters he throws into the town. Peter Quill, like many superheroes, is only a few steps removed from a Cowboy, so he fits snuggly into the role, stepping up to defend the town pretty much as soon as he meets the bandit.

The issue does end on a small twist that keeps the story self-contained, but it’s nothing that really changes the impact of anything that precedes it. It’s a good one-shot, and a successful experiment in genre writing for Zdarsky.

 

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Wonder Woman #23

Rucka ends this arc of Wonder Woman with a perfect demonstration of what makes Wonder Woman a unique and powerful hero. Basically, this is the sort of thing I’m looking for from the movie coming out in less than two weeks.

Ares reveals to Diana the secret of Themyscira, why she can no longer find her way back home, and what Phobos and Deimos’ are really after. And, without throwing a single punch, Wonder Woman is able to save everyone. The issue reminds us that Wonder Woman’s strongest power really is her boundless love above anything else. Her love trumps Gods.

Besides being a flawless resolution to a Wonder Woman story, Rucka also successfully manages to reconcile all of the weird continuity snarl regarding her multiple pasts by tying them all together with one deceptively single retcon. Like most comic things, it probably won’t stick, but it patches up things more than nicely for now, and still leaves enough room for future writers to do what they will with the mythos.

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