Friday, 5 May 2017

Comic Reviews

This week the Guardians Of The Galaxy get all-new, the push to include Watchmen in the DCU continues to be less terrible than I assumed; I try out a couple of new series; Maria Hill gets high; Nightwing gets nostalgic; Nadia Pym gets romantic (but in a totally subtextual way); and, we say goodbye to Carrie Fisher once again.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder certainly hit the ground running. After a very slow end to Bendis run (with, I admit, one hell of a final issue), the new team takes the Guardians back into space where they belong. Most of the issue is a fun little heist with plenty of cool ersonality moments for each of the Guardians and then off to meet their buyer and kick off the plot for the rest of the arc.

Some time seems to have passed between the end of Bendis' run and this. For one thing, Drax seems to have developed pacifism and Rocket keeps mentioning some assassins that came after gim recently (in his own title?). Still, most questions the issue raises do seem to be on their way to answers some time in the immediate future, which is a refreshing change of pace.

Batman #22
You known in spite of myself I am actually enjoying this arc. I remain as hardheartedly cynical about the whole Watchmen in the DCU thing as ever but this is actually fun to read.

Hell, more than fun, this arc is actually pretty interesting from a form point of view. The two Batman issues and (by the looks of this issue's cliffhanger) the two Flash issues actually seem to be telling distinct halves of the story. Oh, Bruce and Barry are together all the time, its not like they're pursuing their own plots by themselves, but the Batman creative team has one set of prioirities for where they want to take Bruce and the Flash creative team have another set of priorities for Barry. What I was afraid was going to be a month long road block in the two series seems to have thought out to be a sastisfying part of both ongoing stories.

Plus we get the return of the Flashpoint Batman, for my money the best idea that event had.

Jean Grey #1
A slow start. The whole deal here is Jean needs some “me” time, grabs Pickles the mini-Nightcrawler and goes for breakfast in Japan. The rest is a whole lot of internal monologue to get us used to Jean as a solo protagonist and a run-in with eternal jobbers the Wrecking Crew.

Its nice. Its small and quiet and feels a bit too much like filler for a first issue to be throwing at you but I can't deny that its fun to read and I have a better handle on this version of Jean as a person than I did before.

Jessica Jones #8
In spite of the fact that this issue might peripherally involve “Captain America is a Nazi” plot threads, I must admit I liked it. I have missed reading Bendis' take on Maria Hill. Actually, now I think about it, didn't he create Maria Hill in New Avengers? Having her interact with Jessica Jones whilst stoned on painkillers is the icing on the cake. Even better, we get to see some more stoned people (somewhat more recreationally than Maria) having a lovely little conversation about who's going to take over the world: mutants or spider-people.

We also get another look into the back alley sort of world Jessica inhabits as she visits a woman called Raindrop, who looks like Katy Manning and seems to be an agent for hired killers. Sadly, not much happens on the family front in this issue but what does is a glorious one panel cameo by Luke that I just can't spoil.

Black Bolt #1
I wasn't going to pick this up but then I saw the name Saladin Ahmed on the cover, though I can't rightly say where I know the name from. I'm glad I did pick it up, though, because this is really bloody good.

For one thing, Ahmed sidesteps the problems of having a silent protagonist in a comic by bringing back narrative captions. Now, I know most comic writers have given up on the third person narration these days and I understand why. Usually they're clunky and just devolve into the writer describing things we can damn well see in the art. “He leaps across the room!”, gee, thanks Claremont, I'd have never guessed if you hadn't written it down on a drawing of the guy leaping across the room. Still Ahmed writes some damn lyrical prose in those little boxes that do a lot to set the tone of the story. Artist Christian Ahmed also shows some real range here, handling both lines and colour he's able to shift between a dreamlike style for moments when Black Bolt is alone and wandering and a more solid, clearly deliniated style for when he's interacting with other people.

Between this and Royals, I am in real danger of beginning to care about the Inhumans as a group.

Bane: Conquest #1
The other new title for the week is this, which I bought because the recent I Am Bane arc in Batman made me interested in the “ruthless, unstoppable destroyer” side of the character for the first time ever. Honestly, before this the only writer who could make me care about Bane was Gail Simone and she had a radically different take on the character. Plus its Chuck Dixon, the ultimate Batman writer, returning to DC! How could I miss out on that? I have to admit: the way Bane talks to himself gives me all sorts of nostalgia for '90s comics and Dixon's Batman and Robin runs in particular.

Dixon goes all in on the idea of Bane as a sort of darker Batman with him roughing up gun runners headed into Gotham Bay alongside a small team of sidekicks/goons. I'm not to sure why or how Bane is operating out of Gotham or if this even refers at all back to I Am Bane but I do like the basic concept. Dixon actually has Bane operating as a detective, albeit a rather heavy handed one. I'm hoping to see a lot more of Bane's team in the course of this year long run, I really want to see what their stories are, if only because I think it will liven the series.

Nightwing #20
I wish we had more chance to see the Robins as brothers. This arc has been great for getting Dick and Damian back together and Tim Seeley does a lovely line in sibling banter for them. The Morrison-era Batman comics with these two as Batman and Robin will always be personal favourites of mine and its nice to see that they're relationship hasn't been totally forgotten.

Unstoppable Wasp #5
This issue is about Nadia saving her girlfriend's life and no power on Earth will take that intrepretation away from me! Its also the first mission for Nadia's team of young lady scientists: finding a way to get the little bomb out of Ying's head, all the time with Jarvis moaning about how much mess they all make as they brainstorm well into the night. There is an absolutely glorious splash page of the brainstorming session itself so full of detail and character for the whole cast. I love this series so much.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #14
This isn't at all subtle: this is Marvel's wake for Carrie Fisher. I don't know if it started off that way and they made some edits in the light of her passing but this issue is absolutely a goodbye to Fisher. Poe delivers a eulogy for one of his pilots lost in the previous arc alongside General Leia Organa and the rest of the issue is spent on thoughts of mortality before Poe and Leia have a heart to heart that absolutely smacks of Charles Soule writing the sort of scene that we will, sadly, never get to see the actors deliver.

Unless such a scene was filmed for The Last Jedi, this series will be the last and only word on the relationship between General Leia and Poe Dameron. If it is, then it works and we EU nerds have a genuinely moving issue to point to when we claim that Poe is all but Leia's adopted son.

Leia final scene in the issue, though obviously not the last we'll be seeing of her in these comics, is quiet and moving and a more heartfelt goodbye than anything I think the film can deliver through editing scenes that were never meant to be an ending into a conclusion for the character. I might be wrong bit if I'm not then we'll always have this. 

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