Friday, 6 January 2017

This Week's Comics

This week, immigrants fight for America and women in STEM fields; Batman's up all night to get lucky; I have a small problem with the reborn Atom; and, Marvel's newest super-team gives me a nostalgia kick. Spoilers to be assumed.

U.S.Avengers #1

First off, I have no idea how to pronounce this series' name. Do I pronounce the A in Avengers the same as the A in USA? Because either sounds wrong.

Besides that this was a great first issue. Well, not really a first issue. This is one those times when Marvel just decides to re-number when there's a status quo change to get new readers onboard. Hopefully it works because this is great. Not only does Ewing continue his wonderful theme of mad science villains with the most innovative volcano doom fortress idea ever but he has a fantastic hook for what makes these the “US” Avengers.

You see, Ewing's continuing cast from when this was New Avengers contains Sunspot (Brazilian born naturalised US citizen); Toni Ho (Chinese-American); Aikku Jokinen (Norwegian) and Squirrel Girl (dual citizenship US and Canadian) and each of these characters gets a speech about what being a US citizen and being an Avenger means to them. Sunspot even waxes lyrical about how they're fighting for a flag that is theirs (and Aikku's, if she wants it to be) and no one can take it away from them.

I honestly can't think of a better message at the moment, especially as its said by a man from South America to his best friend the good old American white guy from Kentucky.

Batman #14

So you may remember back when the New 52 started, the number two sexiness controversy (after Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1) was a scene in Catwoman #1 where Batman and Catwomen bang. The problem was not so much that they banged but that clearly Selina didn't know Bruce's identity in the new continuity and there was a whole odd kinkiness about them keeping their masks on.

Anyway, this issue is all about fixing that. Its a whole issue, the first of a two-part storyline, dedicated to Bruce and Selina's relationship. Oh, they bang, but Tom King has a lot more to say about the relationship than that. Its Selina's last night of freedom before she spends the rest of her life in prison without hope of parole and so she and Bruce make a night of it. They do some Bruce stuff, they do some Selina stuff, there's some real give and take in this issue.

I certainly hope this two-parter isn't all we get to see of this pairing, Tom King has a lot of interesting insight into Bruce's relationship.

Oh, and the Condiment King makes his Rebirth debut.

Justice League of America: The Atom: Rebirth one-shot

Oh, I so wanted to like this...

Ryan Choi was one of my favourite characters from the post-Infinite Crisis crop of DC characters. Ray Palmer has really been growing on me as I get caught up on Arrow, so I reckoned this would be an easy sell.

Not so much. For one thing, I am absolutely sure I've read half of this issue before. Not sure where. Was it in DC Universe: Rebirth? Anyway, what we get here is a rather extended origin capped off by a tease that this'll continue in a new JLA series, which was rather disappointing. Not that I'm sure I would be any more onboard with an Atom series from this team or on this theme but I think it would be more of a sell than doing a single-character origin setting up a new Atom to do Atom things as a tease for a team book.

Oh well, maybe next time.

Unstoppable Wasp #1

Okay, so this issue makes a good point and I absolutely love it, for that and many other reasons.

So, in this issue the new Wasp, Nadia Pym (Hungarian estranged daughter of Hank Pym) meets Mockingbird. Now, I'm a massive comicbook nerd but writer Jeremy Whitley genuinely blindsided me. Mockingbird, I didn't realise, was a scientist, a biologist. In fact, she almost cracked the super soldier serum with Hank Pym before the whole superhero thing. Nadia, however, who has read everything the father she never met ever published, recognises her not as Bobbi Morse, Agent of SHIELD and superhero but as Barbara Morse, the biologist.

The whole issue has a theme celebrating not only women in science but also the idea of women supporting one another. Nadia has great scenes with Mockingbird, with Ms. Marvel, even with the woman handling her immigration case. Yes, amazingly, this issue even has a positive portrayal not only of immigrants but of the immigration process! Unprecedented!

Add to that the charming art style of Elsa Charretier, another example of the more clean, uncluttered art style that's been gaining traction in the last couple of years. Its a style I am an unabashed fan of and it really works for the Nadia character: her emotions are so big and direct, so uncomplicated and free of pretence.

A definite keeper, this series.

Champions #4

This was a nostalgia fix of an issue. The Champions gets shot down over the ocean, their plane becomes a boat and half the issue is spent on character vignettes so we get to know these characters and their relationships. It rather reminded me of those wonderful character issues of Chris Claremont's X-Men, rather helped by Mark Waid's absolutely spot on Cyclops. Viv gets a lot of focus in this issue, included a potted origin which was actually rather helpful as she's probably the character with the lowest profile (and the least publishing history) of the team. Actually, her history is really interesting. Really tragic but interesting and I might be tempted to try out the Vision series once it gets collected.

But, oh, do I not care for the character who gets introduced in the cliffhanger. 

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