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 All-New Hawkeye 1, All-New Wolverine 1, Secret Wars 7, Spider-Gwen 2, Thors 4, Uncanny Avengers 2, and Web Warriors 1.
All-New Hawkeye 1
Taylor: Whenever a series reboots, the temptation is to slap the “All-New” tag on it. While this is sometimes appropriate, more often than not it’s simply a throwback to a time when series were genuinely reinvented. All-New Hawkeye is the latter of these and even though it’s labeled as a first issue, it’s basically a continuation of the All-New Hawkeye series that lasted five issues before getting the reboot. The question I found myself pondering while I was reading this issue was if this is a good thing.
The story picks up where issue 5 left off. It’s confusing that issue 1 picks up where issue 5 left off but that’s just something I had to deal with. In any case, in the present Kate decides she’s had enough of teaming up with Clint and calls it quits on their partnership. In the future, Clint and Kate team-up after a many-year hiatus to try and rescue the Project Communion children they gave up on so long ago.
The primary difference between this version of All-New Hawkeye and the one that came before it is that Clint’s flashbacks are gone. In place of these, we now have flash-forwards because we apparently didn’t get enough of those when Lost ended or the show of the same name was cancelled. Like these TV shows, Hawkeye tells dual story lines about the same character, with the same theme, only set in a different time periods. The theme of this issue is breaking up, as can be seen below.
Those two panels, taken from different pages, are a good summation of this comic. It’s a lot of bickering in two time periods and honestly it’s not a whole lot of fun. Perhaps that’s the idea here. Any time we break up with someone, whether it be romantic or otherwise, it’s a pretty shitty experience. Supposing that’s what the creative team is trying to capture here, then it’s mission accomplished. However, it makes for an issue that taken alone just isn’t a great read. Hopefully things pick next month or this series might be falling to the flash-wayside.
All-New Wolverine 1
Mark: It’s admittedly silly to complain about marketing gimmicks in the comic book industry, an industry infamous for killing beloved heroes off so they can enjoy two sales spikes: the issue where the hero dies, and the issue a bit later when they bring her back. With that acknowledgement, I have to say I’m a little bit torn on All-New Wolverine 1. Or, more accurately, I’m torn on the name. The issue itself—with Wolverine (aka X-23) fighting an attacker on the Eiffel Tower, only to learn it is her clone—is enjoyable. I guess where I get a little hung up is that I never considered Wolverine to be a title, exactly. When Batman dies it makes sense for someone else to take up the mantle, because Batman is an idea as much as it is a man. Wolverine is, or at least was, Logan. It’s a weird (and admittedly dumb!) distinction for me.
But also, who cares! Even if All-New Wolverine is an x-23 comic with a different coat of paint, I’ll never complain too much about increased representation of minorities in comics.
Secret Wars 7
Drew: I’m always suspicious of “epicness” in comics. Throwing the world/galaxy/universe in peril is often used to “raise the stakes,” but it never really impacts the storytelling — the heroes work just as hard to save the day, and the story is ultimately more about their efforts than whatever is at risk should they fail. Unless, of course, the story is about the world. As familiar as the Marvel Universe is with Manhattan, there are relatively few other places that have ever really been developed. The opposite is true of Battleworld, where every domain had at least one series devoted to it, and undoubtedly fans of the characters who populate them. Which is to say, when I call Secret Wars 7 “epic,” I mean that it has a scope that actually feels global, and a pressing sense of chaos to match.
All of Doom’s best laid plans are crumbling — there’s dissension and infighting amongst his ranks, more than a few 616-ers infiltrating and uniting domains against him, and an army of the undead ready to knock on his door. All of these developments spring from seeds planted in other series, which not only allows anyone intrigued by Maestro or whatever to get some more backstory, but also fills each panel with characters we actually recognize and care about. There are no faceless crowds running from destruction here, just character after character after character whose plans and allegiances have the power to turn the tide in this battle.
All of that epicness doesn’t leave much room for anything other than Doom’s plans turning to dust, but this issue is clearly meant to put the pieces in place for Dooms inevitable fall from grace in issue 8. We can see that he’ll lose now, it’s just a matter of what that means. With years of storytelling leading up to this moment, I’m sure Jonathan Hickman won’t disappoint.
Patrick: I’m usually a pretty big fan of Robbi Rodriguez’ pizzazz-heavy artwork for Spider-Gwen. The series’ commitment to style over substance has a nice parallel to Gwen being in a band, even if there’s not really a one-for-one kind of thing happening there. The character is mildly anarchic, and I appreciate that the art reflects this. When you add Rico Renzi’s coloring — which is somehow graphic and understated at the same time — it makes for a bold book of incredibly cool, high-contrast images.
Right? That’s rad as hell. Unfortunately, whatever gains the artistic team makes in coolness, they end up losing some yards for clarity. Rodriguez and Renzi seem to be categorically against depicting backgrounds, often pulling the camera within inches of the their subjects. That means it’s not always obvious what kind of space they’re in or how one set of actions is the result of another. I found myself flipping back multiple times trying to figure out who was in a give room on any page – and I’m still not sure I have it straight. Actually, it almost felt like Cap’s origin flashback — which is intentionally non-fixed in time and space to indicate montage — never really ended. The whole issue is a disorienting montage.
Drew: It’s easy to forget how prescribed genre narratives can be. The rules that govern, say, a cop drama are so familiar as to be invisible. That can be a recipe for predictability, but it also gives writers the opportunity to break those rules, using our own presumptions about the genre against us. That’s precisely what makes Thors 4 so interesting, as it transitions from the Man vs. Man conflict of the murder investigation into the Man vs. Society conflict that falls out of it.
Of course, the realization that Doom’s Battleworld is a lie is goosed a bit by the rabble-rousing of Thor of 616 (that is, the Jane Foster Thor, not the Odinson). She calls the Thors to action (in a version of the speech seen in Secret Wars 7) right in the middle of Ultimate Thor’s battle with Runey.
It’s a bit of a non sequitur, but it gooses Runey’s fears about Jane Foster — he’s less a religious zealot, and more desperately power-hungry. Making his actions personal and ego-driven makes them work, even as the issue zooms out to include the Thors entering the fray in Doomstadt. Plus, it looks like there might just be a second Mjolnir waiting in the wings of Earth. Now if we could just find a Thor who needs a hammer…
Uncanny Avengers 2
Michael: In Uncanny Avengers 2, Gerry Duggan balances The Unity Squad (still hate that name) with a healthy dose of fan favorites and lesser knowns/newbies. Duggan uses the blunt X-Man Rogue to ask new Inhuman character Synapse “just what exactly are your powers again?” – a question that readers are no doubt asking themselves. As expositional or clunky as it may initially come across, sometimes you just have to clearly define what’s going on in a comic book. Mysterious villain The Shredded Man continues his attack on Boston/the modern civilized world. The Shredded Man is reminiscent of “eco-terrorists” like Poison Ivy, because so far his attacks seem to be based on the “civilization has plagued Mother Earth” philosophy. His forces are blends of plant and animal – creatures that Synapse’s vaguely-defined powers cannot mentally penetrate.
While it’s clear that The Unity Squad is the proverbial “band of misfits,” it’s interesting to see the similarly naïve Quicksilver and Human Torch on the same team. I’ll admit that I’m not really in favor of the new costumes provided by artist Ryan Stegman, but Duggan places both of these brash young heroes in similar positions. Quicksilver’s whole worldview has changed since discovering that Magneto is not his father (something that either hasn’t been shown in the comics yet or I missed) and Johnny is learning how to work on a team that doesn’t have his brilliant brother-in-law to save his fiery ass. Duggan just brushes up against the edge of cheesy flashback over-the-topness with Johnny’s flashback to ignoring Reed’s bestowing of wisdom. I like that Duggan doesn’t spend too much time on making Johnny feeling guilty of his ignorance, but instead shows us how he uses his wit to find a solution in his own way. The Inhumans are a breed of Marvel property that I’m not very familiar with, but I like how Marvel seems to be making them another vocal minority; as if Mutants and Inhumans are two different political parties or religions.
Web Warriors 1
Patrick: I can’t think of a high concept comic on the shelves right now that has a concept quite so high as Web Warriors. It’s one of those titles that I agreed to pick up because it’s too wacky to ignore, but I was surprised to discover that there’s pathos to be mined from our character’s reactions to that wackiness. Even though every one of these heroes are Spiders (Men, Women, Hams), they all have a unique relationship to the fundamental idea of Mutliversal police organization. Spider-Man U.K. does it because he needs a reason to live after the destruction of his home world – but why should everyone else? Mayday has a family and a city and responsibilities to return to, and she makes that objection clear. Those are just the characters that wear their motivation on their sleeves: others only drop little clues as to how they feel about being part of this team. Spider-Ham reveals that he’s lonely, Gwen seems to be looking for adventure, and Pavitir likes having a practical application for his engineering skills. Both Noir and Karn’s motivations are a bit more obscured than that, but it’s amazing to see that much emotional exploration in an issue that also makes a dozen “life is so weird in the cartoon world” jokes.
Also, that may have sounded like me taking a cheap shot at those jokes, but I did laugh out loud when Gwen pointed out that she didn’t know what she was swinging from. “Just, like, the sky or something” has to be my favorite piece of spider-dialogue from anything in the last couple weeks.
And and and, if some solid yucks and character development weren’t enough to sell me on this series, there’s a compelling mystery forming in both the mainstory and the Lady-Spider back-up. First fun development: there appear to be a cadre of Multiverse-hopping Electros out there! They mention “the Ocks” at some point, so maybe they also have multiple Doc Ocks? Or multiple Sinister Sixes? It’s crazy-balls and the sky’s the limit.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?