Comic Reviews 5/31/17 – DC and Marvel

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Wonder Woman Annual #1

On the same week as the release of her first feature movie, this Annual presents a handful of short stories that show the basics of Diana of Themyscira the Wonder Woman. These stories show her at her most trusting and generous, standing up for the innocent, no matter how different they may be, and leading the less-than-innocent on a path towards forgiveness.

The collection opens with its strongest story, a Rucka and Scott joint showing Wonder Woman’s first meeting with Superman and Batman in the Rebirth continuity; and continues with stories of Diana fighting against and alongside kaiju and King Shark, and helping lift a curse from a fellow warrior.

It doesn’t quite live up to the Wonder Woman 75th anniversary issue they released some time ago, but this is a nice new batch of Wonder Woman shorts.

 

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The Flash #23

After his trip through hypertime with Batman, Barry Allen skeptically examines the corpse of Eobard Thawne before meeting his friends and family at his surprise party. But Barry, still haunted by the threat of Reverse Flash, can’t ease up, even when Hal Jordan drops by to catch up. And when Multiplex shows up, it at least gives him a way to blow off steam.

I’m not normally a fan of depictions of trauma in my superhero stories – especially The Flash – and Barry’s visions of seeing Reverse Flash slaughter all his loved ones to leave him wading in a pool of their blood, isn’t really an exception. It just doesn’t feel like an appropriate tone for the series, even if, in a real world, probably every superhero would have PTSD.

Fortunately, Barry – and the issue – lightens up once Hal arrives, and then the book settles into the action scene with Multiplex like it suddenly remembered what it’s supposed to be.

 

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Secret Empire #3

This issue takes place after another short hop in time, and catches the audience up to the current state of the country under Hydra rule. Peter Quill pleads with the leaders of alien races to help the Earth, but they would much rather prefer to see it crumble from within; and the other heroes beyond the wall are quickly running out of resources. Meanwhile, Black Widow and Maria Hill have a secret meeting to exchange information on how to take out Steve Rogers while the young heroes in Nat’s new Red Room train to hone a killer instinct. The other half of the underground tries to convince Sam Wilson to join with them, but Sam promises only to help them across the border to try and recruit a different ally. And Steve continues his search for the cosmic cube, which means continuing to send strike teams to foreign powers like Atlantis and Wakanda, with middling results.

And that’s basically the entire issue. Reading it feels more like a catch-up on a story we’ve just missed rather than a book telling a story in its own right. We’re getting flashbacks to major attacks and resistance movements rather than seeing them unfold in real-time. We catch characters in periods of transition and rest rather than action and climax. Spencer has managed to create a wide net of intertwining storylines, but reading this issue feels like watching the 10 o’clock news recaps rather than being in the story as it happens. And frankly, I get enough of that outside of comics reading with this country the way it is.

 

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Sam Wilson: Captain America #22

Meanwhile, this issue fills us in on what Sam Wilson had been doing between giving up the mantle of Captain America and being found by the underground; and Nick Spencer continues to drop the ball with this character and his analogues to the real world.

Frankly, this twitter thread by Colin Spacetwinks encapsulates my feelings on the issue pretty well, and I really just don’t feel like writing all that much about the same issues I’ve written about with regards to Spencer’s toothlessness. He builds on Wilson giving up on being Captain America by having him give up on joining the resistance. He populates the comic world with POC who are actually marginalized and oppressed in the real world, but instead has his comic bigots hate them based on made-up prejudices rather than any actual bigotry. If Spencer does have a point to all this, he seems really mum about actually making it.

 

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Moon Knight #14

Lemire’s Moon Knight comes to a satisfying conclusion as Marc Spector, Steven Grant, and Jake Lockley finally face Khonshu.

The way this story wraps up, particularly how it ties together its parallel stories spread through time, space, and even realities, is nothing short of remarkable. Khonshu tries his best to crash Marc’s life all around him, confusing him to where and when he’s supposed to be. This series ends with Marc becoming Moon Knight under Khonshu, and then rejecting Khonshu – and according to its own internal logic – Marc experiences this in the same time-frame and order as the reader. Or, perhaps, we’re perceiving events as Marc does, with the fragments of his psyche finally able to form a coherent whole after everything he’s been though recently. Spector and Lemire seem more comfortable leaving the questions open, and that’s probably for the best.

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