Friday 11 August 2017

Comic Reviews

A light week and I have a cold that's doing a number on my ability to concentrate and/or stand, so here are the opinions I was conscious enough to write down.

Detective Comics #962
As Intelligence draws to a close, I find myself baffled to find that I like Azrael. That's never happened before. I hated him when he was Batman, I ignored him when he was “The Agent of the Bat”, I tried and failed to like the new version introduced during Battle for the Cowl and sighed when he was brought back in Batman and Robin Eternal. In all honesty, I was fully prepared to accept that this was just one of those characters who appeal I was never going to grasp like Deadpool.

For one thing, I like how James Tynoin IV doesn't treat Jean Paul's faith as a joke or a source of ignorance. I especially like that he constantly paired the character with Luke Fox, a scientist, and had their conversations be constantly respectful and understanding on both sides. Then, finally, in this issue we get the character having a long monologue at his dark mirror, Ascalon, on the dangers of blind faith and closing yourself off to outside ideas out of fear they'll make you question your certainties. (By the way, did Ascalon in the dream sequences remind anyone else of Harvest from the first New 52 Teen Titans series?)

This was, perhaps, not the strongest plot of this run but it was absolutely one of the character high points: Luke and Jean Paul, Bruce and Zatanna, Cass learning Shakespeare, Kate crushing on Zee (that girl has a type). With the next storyline promising to resolve the lingering thread of Tim's incarceration, I'm glad this room was made for such a strong series of character studies. Also, I hope this inspires editorial to look into finding a more permanent home for Zatanna, a character I can never get enough of.

Generations: Jean Grey/Pheonix one-shot
Okay, let's see if this one gives me any more idea what's going on with this whole “event we're running in the middle of an event but this time there's fewer Nazis” thing Marvel's got going.

Well, not so much, but again this was a damn fun story and intimately tied in to the events of the ongoing it sprang from. Honestly, part of me wonders why this and the Hulk one couldn't have just been a regular or over-sized issue of their ongoing with the Generations branding but I'm not in the hole for too many of these so I'm okay with the expenditure. Just don't push it, Marvel.

As to plot, Jean finds herself on a beach sometime inearly days of the classic Chris Claremont run to find the older Jean Grey of the oast (just go with it) enjoying the sun and mourning her fellow X-Men who she thinks died in the Antarctic (they didn't, in fact they're in Japan). Its interesting, as Cullen Bunn points out in younger Jean's narration, that at this point the other Jean is as concerned with distracting herself from the horror of her life as younger Jean is. From there things get a bit more cosmic than I expected, with Pheonix!Jean dragging her younger self out into space to show her the wonders the Pheonix is capable of, all the while younger Jean ruminating on the horrors that are on the horizon.

Its not so much a step forward on the road Dennis Hopeless is taking in the Jean Grey ongoing as a chance to give Jean more context for what she's preparing to face but in a way that makes this story more necessary. The over-sized perfection of the classic Jean Grey takes a few necessary dents here: she's running from her problems, blind to the threat she's going to become, abusing her powers in a way not entirely different from Season Six Willow (a scene that's actually a nice callback to a scene from the Claremont era). Its important to remember that the monster Jean is scared of becoming is still Jean Grey.

Mister Miracle #1 (of 12)
On the one hand, as much as I like a good mystery, I am getting a bit tired of the “obtuse for obtuseness' sake” way that DC has been structuring series like this. True, I'm not finding this as annoying as the various Young Animals series I dropped but I do hope it gets to the damned point sometime in the next couple of issues.

Anyway, its the latest instalment of the Jack Kirby 100th anniversary revivals DC are doing instead of taking one of the King's greatest creations and perverting him into the moral inverse of everything he was ever meant to stand for: a year long Mister Miracle relaunch! The opening issue is told in fits and starts, little vignettes surrounding Miracle's attempted suicide. Its engaging, though again I worry the style might outstay its welcome over the course of a year, and accompanied by some lovely art that does its best to be alienating by changing style and palette between scenes. Scott Free and Big Barda are, as ever, the cutest couple in comics even in a story with such a serious and downer beginning as this one.

Whatever else, this promises to be a distinct and interesting series and Tom King proved on his Batman that he doesn't like to take the obtuse alienation too far.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #11
I adore this series, have I mentioned that? Not much happens in this issue but its an issue written by Keiron Gillen in which not much happens so its probably more entertaining than anything else on the stands this week. Aphra's score of a lifetime has, of couse, turned sour on her thanks to the machinations of her much abused and surly murder droids Triple-Zero and Beetee and she and her guests are all on the run through the corridors of the space station from the insane technopathic AI she was trying to sell for the titular enormous profit.

That's it, basically, you could even accuse the issue of just being filler between the cliffhanger of last issue and tease for the main event that is this issue's final page. Usually I'd rate that as a cardinal sin but Gillen has such a facility for character, alongside Kev Walker's brilliant art, that I find myself not minding at all. 

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