Friday 2 June 2017

Comic Reviews

Its basically all Marvel all the time this week since DC hates five week months with a fiery passion matched only by their hatred of having the same continuity for more than two years. Okay, there was The Lazarus Contract conclusion and an issue of The Flash this week but neither particularly inspired me to write anything about them. Plus, Doctor Strange fell off the pull list for a bit because Nazis so this genuinely is most of my pulls for the week and not just me being lazy, honest.

Cable #1
Right, these post-IvX series have so far made me care about the Inhumans so let's see if lightning can strike twice and they can make me care about Cable, patron saint of 90s Second Amendment comics. It is James Robinson on writing duties, which is almost always a good sign.

Anyway, Robinson takes the time travel aspect of Cable and runs with it. As a first impression he has Cable swaggering into a Wild West saloon and Cable as old fashioned gunslinger is certainly a good take on the character. I mean, the whole look of him is basically old-style masculinity boiled down and distilled into a single character. Anyway, Cable is on the trail of some sort of time travelling arms dealers, first going after Wild West outlaws and then a bunch of sixteenth century ronin with lightsabers. Either of these would make a good single issue story but, sadly, they make a pretty a rather spare single issue that's long on atmosphere but rather short on story. Still, that's not a million miles from my previous experiences with Robinson (his Superman run in particular) and I know he's a writer I can afford a degree of patience to.

Hulk #6
I know an ongoing theme of these reviews lately has been me getting a bit tired of the decompressed storytelling style of Brian Michael Bendis and the like but this series absolutely lobbies for the right of that style to exist.

Its been six issues and only now do we get substantial time with Jen as the now neutrally gendered Hulk. We've had snippets of it here and there, other scenes where its implied but Jen spends most of this issue in her new grey skin and green scars form. We also get final confirmation of how this version of her Hulk form differs from her previous one and its entirely based on the idea of psychological triggers.

Mariko Tamaki's take on this character has been so good for the way it takes the decades long canard of the Hulk as mental health metaphor and actually used it to explore themes of mental health. I know that discussion of mental health is, in a lot of ways, something we're only getting good at now but the idea has been around for decades and its only truly being exploited now. Obviously, its no how to guide on how to handle depression and anxiety, few of us have the chance to beat up supernatural horrors as occupational therapy, but the underlying emotions Tamaki writes ring very true to me as someone who has some experience dealing with such feelings in others.

I am very much looking forward to seeing where the next arc takes this series.

Generation X #2
Thus concludes a short and sweet introductory arc. Only two issues in and we have a good sense of the cast, a mission statement for the series and even a good bit of information on how the new Xavier's works in practice (which, sadly, we haven't managed to get from X-Men Gold, the main series set there).

Throughout it all, Christina Strain writes Jubilee as the veteran she damn well should have been since the original Generation X folded. Now, nothing will diminish my love for her as written in Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat but she was the POV character in the 90s cartoon and so I have a lot of affection for her. Plus, the idea of training mutants for something other than superheroics, training them to survive in the outside world and maybe to act as ambassadors for mutantkind is an interesting hook.

Plus, Strain has a great eye for where to slot in a cameo with the likes of Gentle, Broo and Graymalkin getting walk-ons during the fight with the Purifiers. Oh, yes, and seeing Jubilee's palpable rage when she confronts one of the Purifiers was great, whether it was a conscious callback to Skin's death or not.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #7
There are two big takeaways from this issue. The first is how amazingly bad the Star Wars movie characters are at existing in Aphra's world. There's a moment when Triple Zero confronts Leia with how she “uses” Han and Luke as assets and Leia is horrified by the idea. One of the big themes of her character in Empire and Return is pulling back from how the war has dehumanised her and this marks as good a starting point as any for that journey.

The other takeaway is how conflicted a character Aphra herself is. Her shock when Luke refers to her as a friend is brilliant, as is her every reaction she has to presence of Sana. Boy, do I want to see an arc with them working together. Aphra has always had a certain “female Han” vibe to her so maybe an arc or two with “her” Lando would be cool. And I mean that comparison in more terms than just Sana being black: the two of them have old grudges and an older friendship, even if its more implied than anything else at this point.

And, yes, in this formulation Vader is Aphra's Luke. 

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