Friday, 5 January 2018

Comic Reviews

Batman and the Signal #1
It has taken a damn long time to get this far: Duke Thomas in his own series (albeit with Batman co-billing for some reason even though he's at best a cameo in this issue). He's been around since pretty early in the New 52 (yes, some good ideas happened even then), was a major figure in the big Zero Year storyline and the lead character in We Are Robin plus all sorts of cameos and back-up features over the years.

Now he finally has a limited series and a name: the Signal.

And, even better, all that waiting meant something, writer Tony Patrick isn't treating him as a blank slate but as a character who comes into this series with some real history. We even get to see a couple of the other former street Robins, Iz and Riko, hanging out with him and helping him with cases.

The whole unique selling point of Duke, it seems, is that his stories take place during the day, this is a big thing repeated until its hammered into the reader's skull. We even have a day shift GCPD detective, Aisi, who is so obviously destined to be Duke's Jim Gordon. She also has a prosthetic arm which even looks like they might be portraying an actual physical disability rather than just slapping a science-fiction perfect cyber-arm on someone. I could be wrong, it does look a little science-fiction cyber-y but then look at some of the prosthetic limbs around these days and a few of them actually do look like that.

Duke also has metahuman powers to do with light: being able to see it in different ways, get glimpses of the past like a mental replay button and the like. Its rather vague in places what he can do but its also clear that he's still exploring his powers and that they'll be a major part of the series going forward. Looks like its going to be fun.

Rogue & Gambit #1
I admit I ship these two characters almost out of habit. By the standards of '90s cartoons they were the big (albeit sexless and sometimes dubiously consensual) romance of the old X-Men show. One of my ongoing frustrations with Marvel is that they just will not bloody let these two have a happy ending. Rogue lost her powers in X-Treme X-Men and they retired to a nice town in California and then she goes and gets her powers back (on purpose, no less). In X-Men: Legacy she finally gained control of her powers, which lasted until whoever wrote Uncanny Avengers decided that was boring, and in the intervening years she barely said two words to Gambit.

Now they have a mini-series to themselves and... well, it could be worse.

The set-up is that there's a tropical island therapy retreat for mutants and Cerebra is losing track of the mutants who go there. Kitty, a sucker for true love if ever there was one, decides to save lives and matchmake at the same time by sending in Gambit and Rogue to work on their relationship problems. Gambit is pleased as punch, Rogue is annoyed as hell and the guests at the retreat are creepily happy even for people staying on a tropical island.

Now, the island retreat thing is a nice twist but also a pretty standard X-Men plot (there is a nice place for mutants to go, mutants go there and it turns out not to be nice after all) but what fascinates me is the relationship counselling issue. It can;t be denied that these two have issues and not just Rogue's obvious problems with physical intimacy. Gambit has issues to in that he often comes off as a bit of a creeper with boundary issues. He just won't stop trying to touch Rogue! She keeps explicitly telling him not to, as well. Bad Gambit!

Its also clear that this series is really invested in the pair's past with a big splash page dedicated to edited highlights of their relationship that stretched from moments as iconic as Gambit's trial (and that lovely pink and yellow Shi'Ar costume Rogue was rocking at the time) to ones as lost to time as Rogue being stabbed back in the X-Treme days. Hopefully, that's more than just fan service and there's a real plan here to take that history and move the characters forward some.

Hawkeye #14
Sadly, this title just got cancelled so I have to enjoy it while I can. The big thing in this issue is that Kate has been kidnapped by time travelling villain Eden Vale and Clint has a plan.

This is as bad as it sounds.

Thankfully, the highlights of this terrible plan are a) Clint working with Kate's supporting cast and the gang getting a full bore education in the human disaster that is Clint Barton and b) Clint abducting Madame Masque (who is now walking around inside a clone of Kate's body) so he can switch her out for Kate as part of a big rescue.

If you can see exactly how this was going to go wrong from the get go, congratulations, you are exactly as smart as the writer. Its actually interesting to have Kate and Clint in the same title again if only for the fact it brings into sharp relief that as bad as Kate screws up sometimes she is nothing compared to the absolute disaster that is Clint Barton. It was also a cute move to have Masque try to freak out Barton by coming on to him whilst looking like Kate. The teasing and continual rejection of Hawkeye/Hawkeye romance is the gag that keeps on giving and I'm glad Thompson decided to continue it from the Fraction days.

I really am going to miss this title. 

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