Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 10/21/15

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We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing 1872 4, Astonishing Ant-Man 1, Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Invincible Iron Man 2.

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1872 4

1872 4Taylor: It probably comes as a shock to virtually no one that 1872 ended up with the good guys winning. After all, this is a quaint little spin-off that re-imagines the avengers in the Wild West. How dark could it possibly get? Knowing before hand almost exactly how this issue would play out made it a little bit of a disappointment to be honest. All of the fighting between our heroes and Fisk’s cronies seemed like an afterthought, the playing out of a story we’ve already seen several times over. While the ending does tempt me with some juicy cliffhangers, it’s not enough to make up for what was straight by the numbers book.

Even though I was let down by this last issue, it did give me at least one thing to think about. When Red Wolf defeats Fisk he promises to put him on trial. The following exchange occurs.

Just as west, just as now.

I was struck how Fisk’s words are almost certainly true about the Wild West, but also equally true about our own society. We live in a world where given enough money and influence, a person can get away with murder. That our world is so much like that of a comic set in the Wild West disturbs me. Of course Fisk is shot in the next panel. This is satisfying but reminds me that justice rarely so quick or effective in our own society. And while this is just a small portion of the issue, it gives me some home for future issues we are promised of this story. If Gerry Duggen can make this title more than just a fun romp in the Wild West, and more a comment on our own lives, that would make it a great read.

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Astonishing Ant-Man 1

Astonishing Ant-Man 1Drew: To characterize Nick Spencer’s new Sam Wilson: Captain America series as “making it” would be ignoring work he’s done with some of Marvel’s biggest characters, but it’s certainly garnered the most attention of all of his work. Indeed, with all the buzz surrounding it and Cap’s symbolism tied up in the American Dream, it’s easy to fear that Spencer might have forgotten about the downtrodden ex-con that is Scott Lang. Astonishing Ant-Man 1 quickly puts those fears to rest, reminding us of just how much fun Spencer can have with a character who’s not worried about how his actions will be perceived.

Of course, that might be Scott’s biggest problem — perceptions of him are so varied, it’s hard for him to own any of them. When a new potential client sees Scott’s superheroing legacy as exciting, Scott tries to play it up, only to have it blow up in his face when a villain comes knocking. By that point, Spencer has already established Scott’s charmingly un-heroic qualities, even using his powers to enact petty revenge on a group of teenagers for beating his daughter at basketball.

Ant-Revenge

It’s harmless, but it’s hard to imagine Peter Parker ever being so vindictive. But that’s only half of the point — Scott’s actions are outwardly un-heroic, but he’s bearing some real acts of heroism in secret. Cassie sees her dad’s absence as cowardice, but Scott actually hasn’t been absent at all — he’s just keeping his distance to keep her safe. He’s sacrificing his daughter’s esteem for her safety, doing the work of a father with none of the glory. It’s a smaller-scale act of heroism, for sure, but what more could we expect from Ant-Man?

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Amazing Spider-Man 2

Amazing Spider-Man 2Michael: I may be in the minority here, but I’ve never been the biggest fan of Dan Slott’s Spider-Man. And as a huge Grant Morrison fan I can’t help but read this new direction of the corporate/global Spidey without getting a whiff of Batman Incorporated. Nevertheless I found myself enjoying Amazing Spider-Man 2 more than most Slott Spidey tales that I have read. I was equally thrown off and impressed at how Slott continues to plow forward with the new status quo of Spider-Man and Parker Industries without stopping to explain the particulars of why and how we got there. Too many times comic books get mired in the excessive exposition and justifications when all you really need to say is “this is how things are now – moving on.” One thing I find a little frustrating however is that I’m not really sure who exactly knows Peter’s secret identity anymore. Does SHIELD? Does Prowler? When you have Spider-Man as the spokesperson for Parker Industries the lines are kind of blurred on that front. I suppose for now I’ll count my blessings that we don’t have to deal with needless set pieces of Peter dancing around the difficulties of maintaining his secret identity. For the moment it seems like that typical “classic” Spider-Man dilemma doesn’t have a place for this “All-New, All-Different” Marvel; and we’re better off without it.

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While I may not be a vocal supporter of Slott, I will say that this moment seems to be the perfect culmination of everything that Slott has set up thus far. Take away Superior Spider-Man and you don’t have this new Amazing Spider-Man series. For my tastes I think that Slott is finally taking some restraint in his Spidey characterization; much like the wall-crawler himself. I like that Peter is cool and confident about his mission without sacrificing his essential “Parker-ness.” He still makes bad jokes and quips, but the character feels more self-aware of his limitations, which is a breath of fresh air. Also if you’re looking for some good henchmen banter, then look no further than the goons of The Zodiac.

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Invincible Iron Man 2

Invincible Iron Man 2Patrick: Last time we talked about Invincible Iron Man, the consensus was that this new, improved Tony — if he is so new and improved — has done a lot to differentiate himself from the old Tony. In fact, he doesn’t do much to assert his Tony-ness at all. This issue doesn’t so much reverse that trend as lean into it. Hard. Not only is Tony totally baffled by the new Doom, he’s incapable of getting a handle on whether or not he should trust the most powerful supervillain in the Marvel Universe. And even when he knows he definitely doesn’t trust him, it’s not like Iron Man has any tricks that are actually effective against Doom. First thing Tony does when they come face to face? Repulsor Blast.

not very effective

I know he’s not Batman or anything, but this move shows a pretty profound lack of planning. If Doom had been looking for a fight — or hadn’t been so weirdly docile — this would have basically left Tony without a diplomatic card to play. I mean, he already opened fire on the leader of a country – not a lot of room for negotiation after that.

But it turns out that Doom — much like Bendis, artist David Marquez and myself — is more interested in talking about Madame Masque. Her psychotic confrontation with the Hydra Agent easily up-stages the mercilessly plodding scene of Doom and Iron Man chatting about Wands. Marquez gets in a bravura sequence depicting Masque cleaning up after gunning down two people in cold blood that beautifully mirrors her fractured, but somehow orderly, psyche. Tell you what, if we just called this series Mad Masque, I’d have almost no complaints.

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

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6 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 10/21/15

  1. Idle comments:

    Amazing Spider-Man – I like where this is going. I’m not certain that I like that Prowler was as surprised by the bait and switch as the reader was. I’m still trying to establish what everyone’s roll is in the new Spider-World, and this seemed to put Prowler quite a few notches lower than I thought he’d be on the need-to-know scale. Should I know more about the Zodiac as a criminal empire?

    Ant-Man – This borders on too self aware. I suppose that’s because Nick Spencer is writing it. I wasn’t a fan of the ‘pining for the daughter he can’t be near because she’ll be in danger’ story, and I get the feeling there will be quite a bit of that, but it was a solid story that was solidly presented and not a bad number one for me, the guy who knows Ant-Man from the Marvel-Verse but really doesn’t know or care about him. That’s going to be the thing – make me care. Fraction couldn’t make me care in FF when his daughter was dead, and I know I’ve brought it up before, but I’ve already forgotten why she’s not still dead, but that’s going to be the key – do I give a rip about Scott Lang.

    Iron Man: I think I need to read the rest of Secret Wars before I can say how I feel about Iron Tony’s interactions with Doctor Victor. Tony is clearly not completely himself (as described above), and while I know Doom is a menace, Stark was completely outclassed and quite unable to do anything about it. I want to know how Secret Wars ends to see what the true story is with either of these characters. I will say this: I like this Iron Man more than I’ve liked an Iron Man for a while.

  2. Other Marvel Things I read this week:

    Avengers 1-24, New Avengers 1-12 and Infinity: I’ve read them before but I wanted to get a fresh look at Hickman’s run as Secret Wars winds down. Some thoughts from about the first half of his epic:

    1) This is true later as well: He writes a HELL of a Thor. I don’t know if there’s been an Odinson sighting in the All New All Different Marvel Universe, but there needs to be again. Between Thor in the Avengers (and Infinity – Thor dropping his hammer for peace was a badass moment of badass moments) and Jason Aaron’s run, Odinson has turned into one of my favorite characters. I don’t know how long Jane Austin or whatever her name is (really, I have no idea. Jane Goodall? Jane Evanovich? I’m not an old school Thor fan) is going to be Thor, and I’ve liked her stories as well, but. . . anyway, I’m not unhappy with the current state, and characters can change. These were some DAMN good Thor moments.

    2) Sunspot and Cannonball still don’t make sense to me. Cannonball’s and Smasher’s relationship was awkward and rushed. Rereading did make me appreciate how Sunspot started to see AIM as something to obtain rather than punch in the face, so that’s something I guess.

    3) Starbrand and Nightmask needed more time to develop. I bought their comics 30 years ago in the New Universe – I wish I actually understood what Nightmask’s power here was.

    4) Is Manifold new? He’s really a cool character. I’m not sure he’d ever make a solo character, “Ok, now I teleport THESE guys out of danger”

    5) New Avengers is good. Really, really good. I might need to read it someday as its own story instead of with all the Avengers and Infinity tie-ins and see if it stands on its own. Every issue is great.

    6) Speaking of New Avengers – Where did the Namor / Black Panther feud start? I still didn’t understand their hatred for each other. What compelled Namor to look up at (umm, I forget which bad guy) as Atlantis fell and send the entirety of Thanos’ wrath on Wakanda?

    • I remember reading that Hickman and editorial spent a long time discussing what the Avengers team would be. In the end, every character had a specific role in the narrative that they were there for (though I question some of that). However, after they worked out everyone, Hickman added Sunspot and Cannonball because he liked them. Not essential to the plot, but as an excuse to have fun with some characters he likes (which makes it kind of surprising that Sunspot ended up being important in Time Runs Out). So it is probably unsurprising that they didn’t entirely work (though I love Sunspot in Time Runs Out)

      Manifold was first part of Secret Warriors, which I have been meaning to read soon. And the Namor/Black Panther feud begun in Avengers v X-Men, I believe. I think Namor flooded Wakanda, but never read the actual story

      But yeah, New Avengers is fantastic, and consistently fantastic. Honestly, the best thing is that since the story was going to end with Secret Wars, Hickman could tell a story no one else could. He creates a series of complex moral choices designed to push the characters into all sorts of interesting directions, safe in the knowledge that he doesn’t need to leave the characters functional for the next guy. Someone said that Hickman broke Iron Man and Doctor Strange, but that’s why one died being crushed by a falling helicarrier and the other go executed by Doctor Doom. The Iron Man and the Doctor Strange of the new universe simply aren’t the same ones. I should do a reread of New Avengers soon, as there is so much to talk about. It is a real shame that Avengers simply isn’t as good as New Avengers. Has many moments of greatness (though my favorite issue, with Banner and Tony talking, might as well have been an issue of New Avengers), but not near the quality of New Avengers

  3. Think I’ll give my own idle comments on them, though Invincible Iron Man is the only one I have actually read. Though don’t have much to say about 1872 except I think it will be a fun thing to pick up at some point, and that considering the nature of Secret Wars, it is a shame it doesn’t try and end in a less predictable way

    Astonishing Ant Man – From reading some of Nick Spencer’s older superhero stuff, his strength when writing superhero comics is a slightly different view of superheroes to everyone else, creating something distinct. I think part of it is this idea that being a superhero is less some higher calling and more just another job. Scott Lang literally having his security business is the most obvious, but Captain America stopping HYDRA, then dealing with the hassles of commercial flight, or Iron Man 2.0 crashing into an expert’s presentation for advice, only to be told to sit down and wait because, essentially, she was busy with other clients. Even Secret Avengers had this delightful focus on just running something like SHIELD in a universe where supervillains can build their own nations, and the Avengers themselves were basically clocking in, doing their jobs and clocking out. Hell, the first issue of Spencer’s Ant-Man was a job interview where lots of superheroes tried to get a job working for Iron Man. That’s probably why something like Ant-Man sending ants at the other team works. Strip superheroes of their mythic calling and make them just normal people whose job just happens to be being a superhero, and Ant-Man is a story about a single father trying to do best for his daughter while navigating a world where aliens invade New York each week. Of course, I don’t want everyone doing what Spencer is doing. But the fact that he is doing it is great

    Amazing Spider-man – When you said you enjoyed Amazing Spider-man 2, was afraid you were talking about the truly atrocious movie for a second, before realizing you meant the issue. As someone who goes to see a lot of movies, it is rare that I saw a movie that atrocious.
    But onto Slott’s Spider-man. Just like you, I’m not the biggest fan of Slott’s Spider-Man. I’ve tried multiple times, and it just doesn’t work. Got a lot of respect for what he does. I believe Superior Spider-Man was a fantastic idea and a novel twist on the very popular trope at the moment by making a Supervillain replace Peter Parker, and the idea of applying ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’ to a position of actual power (running a multinational business) is a great one. It is a shame that I don’t care for Slott’s writing of these great ideas. Not bad. Just… alright

    Invincible Iron Man – finally, one I can talk about without referencing past issues in a desire to be relevant! Got to say, while this is of course the natural thing to do with Doom after Secret Wars (Secret Wars isn’t over yet, of course, but everything seen so far makes this the natural new status quo). The basic status quo of Invincible Iron Man looks like it will be a good one, and it is interesting to see a focus on taking Tony out of his comfort zone with magic, considering how traditional the first issue was. Though considering the premise basically seems to be about the tensions of working with a maybe redeemed Doom, it makes sense to make that tension even greater by placing Tony in an area that is only Doom’s expertise. And I’m loving the art, especially just how Masque moved at the end, there. Really helped that scene stand out (though it also helped that the writing there was much more engaging than Doom setting up the world building of the title). Just wish it wasn’t just Doom and Masque. Friday barely featured, and his date was just a reminder in the recap page. I liked how they played off Tony, and hope we get more time with Tony away from supervillains so get a variety of different relationships. Still, I think Bendis has proven that his Iron Man is going to be damn good comics. Not revolutionary, but highly polished and a great example of what can be made when you get high quality creative teams and the perfect writer.

    • I like Spencer, but I have no interest in Ant-Man, so I’m curious as to how this will turn out for me. Superior Foes, street level criminals trying to do good (for themselves) was great. I suppose Ant-Man, street level ex-criminals trying to do good for themselves should at least have the possibility of being good as well. I do think Leiber really added to Foes, and I honestly can’t tell you a thing about the new artist.

      I’m at a loss to even remember Spencer’s Secret Avengers run. He wrote a couple issues in between Brubaker and Ellis, both of which were great, great runs.

      Anyway – the idea of there being an app that b-list supervillains could use to find out when they could get paid to off their nemesis is fun – I hope they explore that to its fullest extent.

      Iron Man – The timing of Tony not trusting the ‘maybe redeemed Doom’ is essential here. The only reason this works is because we don’t know what happened to Doom and Tony in Secret Wars. If this were in the old Marvel, we’d all know Doom was going to betray everyone eventually. Now, there is at least a modicum of doubt. That’s a flimsy line to be balancing on. However, the balancing is precise, and the second issue was quite excellent, so it’s not an issue, but there’s a lot of the drama here riding on how the last three issues of Secret Wars pans out.

      And yes, the art is amazing. I’m a big Marquez guy and I’m glad he’s getting the chance to shine – I like the streamlined Iron Man suit, where others have criticized it for not having enough detail.

      • I think Spencer did a couple of issues of Supergirl, before leaving to Marvel half way through his story. Was actually really good, and was the first instance of the idea of apps and superheroes. At the very least, he has been thinking about the idea for a long time. And more proof of my theory about Spencer writing superheroes without the mythic higher calling

        Even without Secret Wars being over, what we do know is enough to make me think this is a natural place to take Doom. Secret Wars made him all powerful, but the big thing is that he can’t escape the fact that he is Doom. No matter what he does, no matter what family he steals, he is still just Doom, the supervillain. He can’t escape his face, he can’t escape the fact that he couldn’t fix the problem (I bet Cyclops resurrects to make that point clear). The ending is going to involve, in some way, Doom having to see Reed Richards fix the problem that Doom simply couldn’t, even as Doom had the power of the gods. Makes sense, after all of this, to give Doom back his face and explore what he tries to do if you remove everything that ‘defines him’. Does he become good? Or even without his accident, is he, at the end of the day, still Doom?

        My issue with the new Iron Man suit is that it seems a bit slim. A good design let down by the fact that it doesn’t have the bulk that I would expect from an Iron Man suit. But Marquez is doing a fantastic job drawing the armour. Love how he shows the armour changing into other suits. He could easily have done some liquid metal thing, but instead, it really gives a sense of being a machine

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