Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 11/12/14

round upLook, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Drew and Spencer discuss Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 2, Captain Marvel 9, Silver Surfer 7, Nova 23, Justice League United 6, Batman Eternal 32, Outcast 5, Django/Zorro 1, and Hawkeye vs. Deadpool 2 .

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Drew: To say that Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier is a dense read is a bit of an understatment. Indeed, we couldn’t even agree on what the events of the first issue were, let alone how we interpret them. Issue 2 manages to up the ante, taking Marco Rudy’s already trippy art on a literal drug trip, and ensconcing the already difficult-to-follow narrative in a series of Loki illusions. The effect is mesmerizingly like watching a movie half-asleep — you catch the rough outline of the plot, but the actual details are utterly lost — but frustrates any sense of narrative flow. I never like to dismiss a work for my own failure to understand it, but I’ll be damned if I got anything out of this issue other than that Bucky’s sights are now set on Mer-z-bow (though I’d love it if somebody would like to explain it in further detail in the comments).

Meanwhile, on the total other end of the straightforwardness spectrum is Captain Marvel 9. Curiously, the issue also features a lot of rhyming — an affect that never fully justifies its gimmickry — which lends to its children’s storybook feel. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick continues to focus on offbeat problems for a superhero (this time thwarting a political marriage on behalf of the reluctant bride), though is still struggling to elegantly fold action beats into those stories. This issue relies on an out-of-left-field challenge to mortal combat, which suddenly invests us in the emotional stakes of the groom. Ultimately, the self-contained nature of this issue justifies a lot of the discomfort, even if the complete lack of meter in the rhymes had my eyes twitching.

Speaking of self-contained stories, Silver Surfer 7 doubles down on its done-in-one nature, delivering glimpses of several adventures as Norrin reflects on his time with Dawn. I’m always charmed by serialized stories that refer to events between installments (that clip show episode of Community remains one of my favorite things of all time), hinting at an even more colorful world than the one we see every month. The issue also makes the romantic tension between Norrin and Dawn a bit more explicit, which I’m thrilled by, though that could just be a throwaway joke. What did you make of that ending, Spencer?

Spencer: I assumed it was just a joke, and would prefer that to be honest, but if there is some spark of romance here, then I’m certain writer Dan Slott can make it work. After all, this issue is all about the respect and camaraderie Dawn, Norrin and Toomie have built with each other, and a solid foundation like that will serve these three well no matter where their relationship goes next.

SpecialI’m absolutely charmed by the way Slott and Michael Allred characterize Toomie here, but I’m mostly thrilled by how respectful Norrin is of Dawn and Toomie. Dawn always wants her dots? Done! Toomie doesn’t like being reassembled? No more! Norrin goes out of his way to respect his friends’ wishes, and it’s part of why these three care about each other so much. This book is such a blast, filled with wackily inspired art and zany cosmic threats, but the way these three compliment each other and continue to make each other better provides this title’s ample heart, and it’s a treat to read.

Nova 23 certainly has heart, but it not only punches up the humor — Gerry Duggan writes a fantastic Spider-Man, and the gag with the EMT’s is like something right out of Deadpool — but it ramps up the threat level to new highs. AXIS has pit Sam against an evil version of an already eviler-than-usual Hulk, and this feels like the first time Sam has faced a villain truly capable of standing up to the Nova Force. Nova gets in a few impressive licks, but Duggan makes sure to continually remind us of Sam’s youth and inexperience, which makes the danger he faces all the more terrifying and the damage he takes all the more devastating. The cliffhanger promises permanent changes for poor Sam; I’m interested to see if they stick or not, though.

If Nova is trying to switch its tone up a bit, than Justice League United 6 is sticking with what works: straightforward superhero action coupled with sweet and fun character interaction. The opening exchange between Equinox and Ultra may be the most touching scene the book’s done thus far, and plenty of other pairs get fun moments — I’m still getting a kick out of Adam and Alanna constantly switching locations and the frustration that follows. If the issue has a weakness it’s the art; Neil Edwards’ pencils aren’t bad by any means, but they often feel a little flat, meaning that a lot of the action never packs the punch it should. This issue probably won’t win Justice League United any new fans, but to anyone already following the book I’m sure it’s another enjoyable installment.

After teasing a fateful confrontation between Batman, Hush and Spoiler last weekBatman Eternal 32 leaves their actual fight frustratingly unresolved. This issue is a quick read — possibly too quick, as I breezed right through it in only a few minutes — but fortunately, the rest of the issue is much more satisfying. The next stage of Hush’s plan falls into place with horrifying efficiency, and the triumphant return of Jason Fabok on art gives each new development the impact and urgency it requires.

Drew: Absolutely. The cape action is over so quickly in this issue, Fabok is really the only hero to speak of. It seems time is telescoping a bit as the series nears the events of Batman 28 (we get our first mention of any curfew here), which I think explains why the pace has been so breezy of late. With Higgins on script duties, that briskness feels more like efficiency than rushing, but all of the event doesn’t leave much room for dialogue, leaving Fabok to do most of the heavy lifting here.

The pace is decidedly slower in Outcast 5, but Robert Kirkman does drop a few hints as to the larger story here, mostly by keeping Kyle focused on the central mystery. That there even is a central mystery may come as a surprise, but it seems the world of exorcism isn’t as straightforward as Reverend Anderson made it out to be. This issue features their first failure, and while that totally deflates Anderson, Kyle is starting to see a pattern. Ultimately, the draw of this series continues to be its unsettling atmosphere (and Paul Azaceta’s moody art), but with a overarching narrative to hold it all together, it may be time to start paying attention to it again.

For all his directorial flourishes, the most distinctive element of any Quentin Tarantino film is his dialogue. Or, perhaps more precisely, his characters’ habit of slipping into long monologues. It’s true of Bill, it’s true of Jules Winnfield, it’s true of basically all of the Reservoir Dogs. Indeed, I’d argue that basically all of his leads get a meaty, scenery-chewing monologue with the exception of Django, which makes him a bit of an odd choice for a comic spinoff. Django/Zorro 1 does what it can to make things feel familiar — the desert setting, the gunfighting, even the tendency of bounty-hunting-by-way-of-subterfuge, but it struggles with the voice of its lead. Tarantino and co-writer Matt Wagner do what they can to give him distinctive affects, but I think it’s telling that this only feels like Django when he’s spelling his name. Unfortunately, without a specific interpretation of Zorro to depart from, neither character feels particularly developed here, leaving the issue without much to hang either of its distinctive hats on.

Spencer: I think this issue does an adequate job of establishing its two leads (admittedly, it does a better job with Zorro than Django), and the plot Tarantino and Wagner are setting up has a lot of potential, but the main problem with this book is that it feels a bit lackluster for a first issue. I may be sick of in medias res openings, but this story could have legitimately benefitted from starting with the action in full-swing. After all, this isn’t like the TMNT/Ghostbusters crossover book, which necessitated some kind of explanation for how its characters got together; Zorro and Django are a much more natural fit, and skipping ahead to the actual plot would have given this book a needed kick in the pants. I mean, a book with the title Django/Zorro ending on the cliffhanger that one of its main characters is Zorro reeks of padding. That said, I still think there’s a lot of potential in this premise (especially as outlined in the spoilerific Comixology summary), and I hope to see Tarantino and Wagner take more advantage of it in future installments.

I’m still thoroughly charmed by Hawkeye vs. Deadpool, which finally gets around to setting up the fight its title’s been teasing for three issues now (yes I know this is only issue two — there was a zero issue for some reason, I don’t know why). The rest of the issue furthers the mystery surrounding the missing thumb drive but mostly continues to mine humor from comparing its two leads. Duggan still has a better handle on Deadpool than Hawkeye, yet this issue feels more balanced than the previous; Clint and Kate receive insight into Wade that is both enlightening and terrifying, but Wade too continually flips from being impressed in Clint to being disappointed at the drop of a hat. I suppose the moral here could be that these heroes’ lives aren’t so different after all…except where naked wizards and ghostly founding fathers are involved. Hm. Okay, so maybe there’s no moral at all — I think that’s something Wade, Clint and Kate would all be proud of — but that doesn’t stop this issue from being a lot of fun on matter which hero is in the spotlight.

slim-banner4The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

7 comments on “Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 11/12/14

  1. There’s the potential for some really interesting gender stuff going on in Captain Marvel, what with the roles reversed and the women having all the power in marriage while men can be given away as mates by their parents. I’m not really sure what conclusion I reach from it or what DeConnick may be trying to say (if anything) by making that switch — maybe switching roles just highlights how awful a practice it is no matter which gender is the one being bartered away? — but it felt worth pointing out.

    • I really feel like the rhyming thing is so distracting, I wasn’t able to pay attention to basically any of the other elements of the issue. There might have been interesting gender things going on, or stellar art, or clever form, but all I’m going to notice is that “whirlwind” doesn’t quite rhyme with “girlfriend”.

  2. I’d really enjoyed Hawkeye/Deadpool 0 and 1 but had a hard time with this one. NOt sure what was different. I wasn’t keen on the art and most of the jokes fell flat to me.

    Nova was my first read of the new Nova. I didn’t mind it at all. I won’t buy it on a regular basis, but I thought it was a fun little read and a decent part of the Axis event.

    I’m way behind on Outcast. I know I’ve read 1 and 2. After that I’m a bit foggy. It’s on my pull list, but until I’m caught up, I’m not reading anything.

    What I did get this week was the Deadpool and Cable Omnibus (issues 1-50) for $50 from half price books, so that’s what I’ve been reading. Only about 5 issues in. I’ve never really read Cable before (even though I’ve got a pretty large Cable run and a small Cable and X-Force run that are unread) and as written here, he’s so powerful it doesn’t seem much fun. It’s definitely a different Deadpool voice than what we’re getting in his solo series now.

    • I got way behind on Outcast too, and I’m not at all sure how that happened.

      Are those old Deadpool / Cable comics Liefeld joints? I still don’t have the clearest idea of how the character become so popular. Are you finding those early issues to be compelling? You note that they’re different, but I’ve never really considered you the biggest fan of current Deadpool.

      • Oh man, those early Liefeld appearances of Deadpool are pure garbage. Its a poorly written, straightforward Deathstroke plageurism. As far as I know, it’s Joe Kelly that’s credited with reinventing the character as the zany and comedic psychopath he’s now known as, thus spinning turds into relative gold.

        • Also, I’ll rarely give Liefeld credit for anything, but I do notice that several character’s that he was involved with the creation of have gone on to be handled well by more talented teams. Alan Moore’s run on Supreme immediately comes to mind.

      • Deadpool/Cable was written by Fabian Nicieza. The first five involve a cult attempting to do something with some techno virus. Deadpool is a pretty self-loathing character in these first couple of issues and while there’s a bit of the third wall breaking, it’s a pretty dark take on him.

        As far as me and Deadpool, I picked up the new Deadpool hardcover that had issues 1-12 and didn’t love it, but at least found some appreciation for it through my students just freaking loving it. I think he’s at his best when there’s a mixing of the Deadpool Ultra-Violence with human characters that he’s interested in preserving a relationship. From there I read Remender’s Uncanny X-Force and found him to be the most interesting member on the team. By far my favorite Deadpool stories.

        I’ve read that the Cable and Deadpool relationship was a fun one, so when I saw this on sale at Half Price Books and had a 50% off coupon, I grabbed it. If I don’t like it, I’ll have 20 kids lined up to borrow it from me.

        In the end, wacky and violent Deadpool stories are fine as long as they show the person underneath. It’s when it’s wacky and violent merely for the sake of being wacky and violent that I find Deadpool tiresome. (I think he’s been pretty great in Axis, also).

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