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.
Taylor: 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.
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.
Astonishing Ant-Man 1
Drew: 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.
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?
Amazing Spider-Man 2
Michael: 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.
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.
Invincible Iron Man 2
Patrick: 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.
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.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?