Secret Empire #7
How are there still three more issues of this?
Black Widow and her Red Room prepare for their final mission of assassinating Steve Rogers. Meanwhile, the fight outside the shield gets more desperate, to the point where Carol Danvers begs for Quasar to wake up from her coma to help. And a prediction from Civil War II might finally come true.
This book suffers from the poor pacing of this event, as most event books nowadays does. Maybe two things of note happen in this entire issue, both within 3 pages of each other, and neither of which seems to matter all that much two pages after. That’s not good storytelling.
And, neither is the big reveal of the who the Red Room was rescuing a few issues ago either. It’s one of those mystery boxes that it doesn’t make sense to keep in-universe, and involves an obscure enough character that their reveal isn’t that spectacular out-of-universe, either.
Black Panther #16
While Ororo handles the storms raging across Wakanda, T’Challa goes to New York to investigate the kidnapping of Asira, which leads him to finding “the black Bruce Banner.”
I wanna give a mention to T’Challa’s suit at the beginning of this issue, because that outfit is perfect.
And, for what feels a little like an issue-long diversion, T’Challa’s trip to New York is dense with racial tags, from this issue’s villains repeatedly calling T’Challa and his allies monkeys to T’Challa’s talk with Doctor Franklin about why he’s more than just the “black” shadow of a white man.
I’m not sure exactly how this will connect to the larger arc, but if you’re gonna sidetrack from a story, this is how you do it.
All-Star Batman #12
The issue begins with Batman using two torpedoes to launch a sinking submarine out of the water, but then focuses on Alfred’s connection to the mysterious and talented new villain.
This issue is mainly exposition, as Alfred tells Bruce about the Nemesis program, and the origin of the new villain. To be honest, the narration’s through-line comparing Batman to a pirate story doesn’t really do anything for me, but the way that Snyder borrows from The Dark Knight to flesh out Nemesis does. Also, Batman getting on a sinking submarine’s PA system to announce himself as “Captain Batman,” and then being saved from drowning by mermaids is the sort of stuff I read comics for.
But the thing that stood out most for me this issue is how boyishly Albuquerque is drawing Bruce Wayne in this story. He has rounder features than usual, and we see him visibly scared in moments, which makes us look at Bruce the same way Alfred does – as a child often outside his depths, someone needing care and protection, which ties into Alfred’s narration in this arc about how he’s raised Batman.
Also, I’m noticing for the first time how much Albuquerque and Scavone’s writing, and Fiumara, Mulvihall, and Loughridge’s art style – in the backup story – is influenced by Miller and Mazzucchelli’s work on Year One, which, if you’re going to emulate a Batman story, is one of the better choices.
Wonder Woman #27
Well, the bomb from the end of the first issue is a non-issue in this one, which makes this issue start off feeling very cheap. And the rest of the issue doesn’t do much to change that feeling, with the one negative repercussion from the explosion being very minor; and the villain being beaten without any real drama in the fight.
The Flash #27
They broke Barry Allen.
This issue is a whopper. With negative speed-force coursing through his system, Barry loses his control and gives Eobard the beat-down he’s always deserved. But what Eobard has done to Barry can’t be beaten with a punch. To say much more would spoil things, and if you like the Flash at all, you should go into this issue fresh as possible. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see where Williamson takes things from here.
Petrichor gets captured and hung from a tree by the centaur bandits who want her to snitch on the location of the others; and Alana is accidentally creating the ghost of her terminated son to play with Hazel at the cost of her own cardiac health.
And yet, this is one of Saga’s more uplifting issues. It’s one where things end on a kinda high note, even if ambivalently so. With some help, Petrichor finds a way to beat her captors, while Hazel gets to spend time bonding with the brother she’ll never have while also learning to use her powers. And nobody dies this issue! So, you know, that’s a plus.
Hazel may be getting older, but she’s no less adorable, as evidenced by her playing with the projection of her brother. There’s just something so…pure…about her reaction to getting farted on by her phantom brother; oh and I guess the hug between the two is cute too. But if there’s one thing I know from Saga, it’s that Staples can illustrate a fart with emotional weight.
Cason and June get a phone call from a man claiming responsibility for putting them in each-other’s bodies, and promising punishment should either of them misbehave. Luckily, and refreshingly for this genre, they each adapt pretty quickly to their new lives. June uses her background as an aspiring author to fake her way through talking to fellow criminals, and her experience looking after two men to clean the crime scene while the body gets disposed of. Meanwhile, Cason prepares one of his mother’s dishes for June’s Husband’s boss coming over for dinner, and even manages to discipline her son.
The last issue established each character’s lives and gave us an idea of their “types,” and this issue does a great job of fleshing Case and June out as people deeper than their circumstances. We find out that the previously timid June is actually quite level headed during a crisis, while manly-man Cason doesn’t mind a little homemaking and ain’t a half-bad host, neither.
Next issue seems to be the start of the conflict of how each will solve the other’s problems given their own unique takes on the circumstances; and if Simone is able to expand each character in the same ways she did in this issue, then I’ll be excited to see where she can take this story.