Friday 20 October 2017

Comic Reviews

This week Batman's first day as an engaged man ends in massive bisexual orgy (for someone else); Gwen Stacy finally gets to experience the sort of grimdark reinvention she missed out on in the Eighties by being dead; Thor provides some fanservice for French readers; Cable indulges in some unexpectedly appreciated artistic nostalgia; and, Iron Man undergoes a merger.

Batman #33
Rules of Engagement part 1
For serious, though, the colourist could remember to give Talia dark skin but not Damian? For real this is a thing that happened. On another note, the art does a terrible job of distinguishing the Robins, relying on you remembering who is wearing what colour shirt rather than making any real distinction of hair, height or facial structure.

Like, for instance, that one of the Robins is of Arab descent.

Anyway, this is another of those issues that shows how well Tom King writes for the serial format. The issue has two threads: Batman and Catwoman travelling across the desert in search of something with the Tiger King of Kandahar and Alfred gathering the Robins and Duke to tell them of this utterly insane thing Bruce has done (and also that he's in the desert). Aside from the aforementioned problems of keeping track of which Robin is which the b-plot is a good showcase for the family dynamic including a rare chance to see Duke in the group without Bruce. The desert plot is a whole lot of walking and talking and people being mysterious at each other which is great and atmospheric (including the decision to just skip an entire fight scene) but really needed the Wayne Manor stuff to keep the attention.

And it all ends with the revelation that what Talia has been doing since we last saw her is enjoying a comfortable retirement with her harem of twenty or thirty men and women and a very large bed. Nice work if you can get it.

Spider-Gwen #25
Gwenom part 1
I admit to finding it slightly odd that this got a Legacy storyline. I know Gwen herself has existed for half a century but Spider-Gwen is such a different (read: superior) character to the original I tend to forget that. Anyway, so now she has the Venom symbiote and never has Robbi Rodriguez's art been a better fit for an idea. His jagged lines and flowing shapes are perfect for this, its amazing.

Otherwise its exactly the story you'd expect it to be with Gwen hunting down the man who put her father in a coma and laying out a more savage than usual beating to the man. This might sound like a bad thing, predictability usually is, but it works and taking only a single issue to get Gwen to the place she is at the end of this one likely means the plot will go to more innovative places very soon.

The Mighty Thor #700
The Death of the Mighty Thor part 1
I'm not usually one to equate horrific permadeath with a good story, in fact I find the idea that the only good closure for a character is ruthlessly slaughtering them for shock value to be incredibly immature, but if they brought back Throg only to satisfy the “[a] Thor will die” promise of this arc I will be pissed.

Otherwise, this issue was a big tour of various Thors who have existed over the years including the young and old versions Jason Aaron introduced earlier in his run. The Throg bit is really fun, actually, and I hope we get to see more of the little fellow somewhere. The only downside really is that since Jane is only one Thor among many she gets rather the short end of the stick storywise. The Odinson gets to fight Malekith's army for the fate of the Norns; his past and future selves have nice little mini-adventures; Loki has a short side story with his biological (?) father Laufey; whilst Jane is left fighting Jennifer Walters in full-on PTSD episode Hulk mode. As even the narration notes, that's a story that''s been told again and again just with a different Thor and Hulk this time and not much more to say about it than that.

I'm not stupid, Jane's on her way out as Thor whether she survives her cancer or not, that's just what this whole Legacy business is about, I just don't like seeing her sidelined like this even for an anniversary that's about the larger concept of Thor than just her incarnation.

Cable #150
The Newer Mutants chapter 1
It worries me how much nostalgia Jon Malin's art inspires in me. I grew up during the bad times of comics, aka the last time they were a profitable industry, and so the Rob Leifeld house style was basically the look of comics to me for oh too many years. I've not read anything of Malin's before so I don't know if he's consciously aping the style for this one gig or if this is how he normally works but it definitely scratches an itch of nostalgia I'm almost guilty to admit exists.

(I'm not sure why Blink and X-23 look as stoned as they do on the cover, though.)

Anyway, the issue goes all-out on the Leifeld nostalgia with Cable reuniting with Shatterstar to investigate the mysterious death of Candra, one of the immortal Externals, in the distant past of 2004. Longshot and Doop are also there with others promised by the cover down the line. Like a lot of the nostalgia the Legacy imprint is trading on how well it connects with the reader is 100% tied to whether it was a thing for you first time round. I was never big on X-Force in the Leifeld era (the local newsagent didn't carry it) and I only know Candra from one random Gambit-centric X-Men arc. I seem to recall Cannonball was an External or might have been one or was one and then it got retconned or something... oh, the continuity! Anyway, the long and the short of it is that James Robinson is off the title now, there's a new writer and a plot I don't care for particularly so this series has one more issue to prove itself interesting enough to keep or its culled off the list.

Invincible Iron Man #593
The Search for Tony Stark part 1
First of all, I had forgotten how cool the classic Iron Man logo is. I adore the rivets. Painting Warhammer 40,000 miniatures you tend to hate rivets but when they're a design element you don't have to pick out in Boltgun Metal they actually look really, really cool.

Moving on...

From here on out it seems that Invincible and Infamous Iron Man are merging into one series complete with the Doom and The Thing part of this issue keeping the art style from Infamous. Its jarring, to say the least. Still, there is one upside to Infamous Iron Man ending (if it is ending) because that means there might be an opportunity for an Ironheart ongoing once Tony Stark is again fully installed as the straight white cisgender male Iron Man that fanboy retailers have been humping their pillows at night hoping to see return (along with every other straight white cisgender male protagonist who took some time off recently).

Because I'm resigned to losing Jane as Thor, let's not lose Riri as well, Marvel. 

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