Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 11/25/15

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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 Groot 6, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Silk 1, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2 and Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.

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Groot 6

Groot 6Ryan M: Groot 6 reads like two kinds of stories in one issue. The first had me delighted, the second, sniffling. To accomplish this, there are two different framing devices in the issue. The first half of the issue uses of the list created by Groot’s friends along with cameos of them offering suggestions of Earth activities. It adds a structure and dynamism to a nearly plot-less story. Even with an actual battle against D-list villains, there is very little in terms of conflict. But it doesn’t matter when the story is told in such a fun way. Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger employ very brief scenes and great visuals, like the adorable and truly goofy way that Groot eats pizza. In the same panel, we also get Carol’s cat cuddling with Groot and a grumpy Rocky comparing their dynamic to that of Han Solo and Chewbacca.

groot is totes Han

The first half of the issue, packed with fun, jokes and a dweeby Scott Summers, set me up to be knocked down by the beauty of Groot’s story in the second half. Kesinger’s art as we see Groot’s home planet is beautiful and haunting. Even the prisoner pods, which glow like fireflies, are gorgeous. Each panel is so expressive and specific in its beauty that you almost don’t need the words. What makes this issue exemplary is that Loveness’ words serve to enhance what doesn’t seem to need enhancing. While the art tells the story of Groot’s sacrifice and it’s long-reaching impact, his words share hard-fought wisdom. The final page of the issue and this series, is such a striking and moving image and Groot’s philosophy will stick with me for a while.
TEARS

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Guardians of the Galaxy 2Patrick: Famously, Superman 75, which featured the definitive death of Superman, was told entirely in splash pages. Any why not? It’s not like Superman is outsmarted by Doomsday, it’s simply a slugfest between invincible beings that Supes was on the losing end of. Every single moment demanded the full page, or at least that’s what the creative team suggests by presenting the fight this way. The first half of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is presented in much the same manner, but employing double-splashes to tell the story of the Last Daughter of Hala. And while her saga does technically cover the destruction of her home planet, I find myself struggling to care about the sob story of a character I just met in the previous issue.

I do like that the only thing big enough to stop her grandstanding is an equally big (and equally cheesy) Ben Grimm moment.

clobbering time

The rest of the issue plays out with some more traditional page lay-outs with multiple panels in them. Brian Michael Bendis-penned issues tend to embrace these larger-than-life double splashes and artist Valerio Schiti seems happy to oblige. The page I posted above is the first one to use an abstract background — the rest are all painstakingly detailed, sometimes with those heartstoppingly beautiful starscapes. But Grimm comes in and knocks some sense into the issue, grounding it in a way that the normal space-operatics  don’t really allow for. I don’t know that the issue really sticks to that kind of scaled down aesthetic all the way to the end, but even the huge stuff is focused on Peter Quill. That’s certainly a more effective way to get me to care about the fate of the planet Spartax.

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Silk 1

Silk 1Taylor: One of the things that stands out about Marvel’s recent Jessica Jones Netflix series is that most of the cast is female. And not only are they women; all of them are complex characters with well explored motivations and feelings. Naturally, many people are happy to see this in a series based on comic books. It wasn’t too long ago that Avengers 2 was making headlines for all the wrong reasons concerning the way women were portrayed in the film. Silk seems to be taking a few ques from these lessons and presents a story that will make make those searching for gender equality in comics happy.

It’s not like the issue is beating me over the head with feminist ideals however. Rather, it’s simply telling a story about some superheroes who happen to be women. The story in this case revolves around Cindy Moon and her current assignment as a double agent to dig up intel on Black Cat. It’s all in good fun and I enjoy how Cindy, ever down to earth, never quite feels comfortable being a double agent. I also enjoy her relationship with her controller, Mockingbird.

Narry a man in the house.

It has a sort of protege and teacher feel to it and it’s a clever way to expand Cindy’s learning curve as a hero without giving me the run-of-the-mill origin story. And while stories like this have been done before, this one feels fresh because it’s coming from characters we usually don’t see in this context.

Silk, Mockingbird, and Black Cat have all stared in comics in their own right but often times only within the context of dudes being present. In this issue they are working independently of the hairier sex. Like Jessica Jones, this isn’t presented as being anything special. Instead it’s just portraying these characters as real human beings with their own individual lives. Even though in many ways this issue isn’t all that striking, I’m drawn to the promise of a series that in issue one seems so self-assured and aware. I look forward to seeing where it goes from here on out!

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Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2Michael: Here’s a little secret of comedy: anything can be funny. Trace back your favorite inside joke and you will probably discover that there is no logic in it at all – it’s just a strange thing that you made funny. I respect The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for its steadfast commitment to making strange things become routine inside jokes between writer Ryan North and the readers. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2 provides us with a new gag – that builds on the content of the first issue – by having Doreen nag her “internet friend” Tony Stark. And while there’s no proof just yet, this little bit of trolling on Squirrel Girl’s part might end up being the saving grace that returns her to the present.

deadpoolio

I will admit that I am guilty of speed reading through comics — it’s unfortunately very easy to do. When you breeze through any given comic you are likely to miss something, however. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2 is a book that rewards patient readers who want to take it all in when it comes to their comics. One of my favorite parts of this book is when Ryan North and Erica Henderson lay out a smorgasbord of “Easter eggs” (not crazy about that term) for the readers. If you want to simply read “Squirrel Girl time travels to the ‘60s” story in front of you that is totally fine, but you can tell that North enjoys going the extra mile with footnotes and detailed Wikipedia pages. Another trope that The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has established is the “Deadpool’s Guide to Super Villains” trading cards – I loved the Scarecrow card in particular. I think that having Doreen and her friends look to the meta Deadpool for some advice/resolution is perfectly fitting for this series. We read so many stories where the hero pulls the solution out of his/her ass at the last minute, it’s refreshing to see a hero just look up the answer in the way you cross-reference sources for a term paper.

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Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2

Howling Commandos of SHIELD 2Drew: How unique does a work of art have to be to interest you? I may put too much of an emphasis on uniqueness, but that habit also keeps me from reading the same type of comic over and over again. Unfortunately, Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. proves to be exactly the kind of middle-of-the-road comic I tend to avoid. I was never that enamoured of the premise, which felt like countless “secret team of monsters working for the government” series over the past few years, most notably Marvel’s own Secret Avengers. Unfortunately, that inevitable comparison leaves Howling Commandos looking even less original, coming up short in everything from humor to pathos to inventiveness.

My biggest issue, though, lies in the leaden dialogue, which drags every scene to a halt, somehow avoiding advancing the plot or developing the characters in any meaningful way. I suspect the bulk of the dialogue is intended as witty banter, but it’s far too stilted to read as comfortable repartee. Moreover, it often doesn’t make any sense.

Shakespeare

I’m not sure why Duggan would consider “focusing on the task at hand” a demon, or what any of that has to do with Shakespeare. It’s clearly meant to be a casual tease, but it doesn’t actually correspond to what Manphibian was saying. This series might be fun if it was able to achieve the Whedon-esque back-and-forth it seems to want to, but without that distinguishing charm (which again, would at best make this series derivative), there’s nothing to set this series apart from countless others on the shelves.

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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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12 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 11/25/15

  1. Damn you, for reminding me of the thinkpieces after Age of Ultron. I understand that your average thinkpiece too often has less thought put into it than the effort to actually think the word thinkpiece, but Age of Ultron set a brand new low. The old guard film critics did their good old ‘Pretend the Marvel movies are Michael Bay’s Transformers so that we can pretend that we aren’t obsolete instead of actually engaging in the movies’, leading to some truly braindead analysis, and then those same headlines you mention in the Silk review quite rightly led to a second wave of headlines from feminists who actually bothered analyzing the movie, and provided a more accurate representation of the movie.

    I know Age of Ultron was over stuffed and needed an extra 15 minutes, but people’s complete inability to engage with the movie drove me nuts. Thank god for places like this, which actually care about engaging in their media

    Now, onto All-New Wolverine 2.

    Sadly, this issue is where the plot has to start, and in doing so, it loses the simple perfection of the first issue, which was all characterization and motivated action. This is by far a lesser issue to the first, but all that means is that it is merely an above average superhero book, and worth your time. Tthe idea of having the clones be clones without Laura’s powers is a weird choice, as it doesn’t feel right. I assume a clone with powers will appear at some point (Alchemax did subtlety acquire her blood this issue), but it creates this weird thing where we have clones running around without any of the things that makes ‘Alchemax are cloning Laura’ a big deal. I know that these clones are a failure because they lack powers, but the point remains.

    Still, all the things that made the first issue great is here. I love how both Laura and the comic treat the clones with empathy, and takes their sides. This isn’t Logan going on a kill crazy rampage, but about Laura always trying to be the better person. And the comic does a great job at using her powers to back this up. Laura never gets hit when she fights, which means that her ability to heal is used only to allow Laura to put herself in greater danger. Her healing factor isn’t about making her a better killer, but allowing her to walk up to dangerous people and take the chance to talk, because being shot is meaningless. Her claws are used to combat, but she never stabs everyone, and uses them to help out, while caring about the preservation of life first and foremost. And it helps that the art team is doing a fantastic job with the action, and really taking advantage of the footclaws. What All New Wolverine is doing is taking a name that has been associated with antiheroes (more often than not, the worst traits in anti-heroes), and using Laura to strip it of the negative baggage and create a figure that is truly heroic. This isn’t Wolverine as it is now, it is Wolverine as it always should be.

    And, as always, another lovely little character moment, Laura’s fridge. The idea of Laura being able to use her healing factor to tailor a diet more towards her tastes than her health needs is fantastic, as is the idea that she eats lots of ice cream (treat foods are the exact thing someone who was raised like she was would love) and fast food (because Laura is not the sort who would want to go out of her way to prepare dinner when she can get it quickly). This comic is doing a great job with providing beautiful character moments, even if it will be hard to beat Laura looking at the rain with innocent wonder while her brain is still repairing her memories.

    So yeah, obviously a lesser issue as it gets caught up in plot, but the character and the action remain as clear and as clever as it did last issue

    • This is another comic that has got me hooked even though I had zero interest in the character going in. I didn’t mind that it moved forward with plot and put aside some character moments as I like my comics to move forward with some speed. Last issue combined both, but I’m not going to pay $5 for a 40 page comic every month – actually, I might if this level of quality is maintained.

      • Wolverine is the standard (for Marvel) price of $3.99. The first one was just more expensive with a larger page count because it was the first issue, and they wanted the extra page space. Every other issue will be standard Marvel pricing and page count.

        And yeah, I can’t believe I picked it up on a whim, and it looks like it will be one of my favorite comics out of the relaunch. I really didn’t like the look of it when I first saw it, but it is great. It is, quite simply, fantastic. Kind of sad when I didn’t see it in today’s Marvel Round-Up

        Moving the plot along is great and important, and many stories progress plot in fantastic ways. It is just a shame the Alchemax scene is the worst scene in the comic, and the one the most focused on moving the plot forward

        • Yeah, I get the pricing. I’m just saying that if it were a $5 comic with the extra page count to give more story, more plot, and more character, with this team and based on the first two issues, I’d be up for it. I wouldn’t be for everything, but there could be a lot here.

  2. I skipped Groot. Apparently I shouldn’t have. I honestly didn’t know there was another story left and moved my Groot collection to my ‘completed’ comic files instead of my ‘collecting’ comic files and given the amount of stuff out, decided to pass. My bad.

    Silk: I didn’t like Silk as a character when she was introduced. It was a failure by Slott. However, I really liked this comic. Unfortunately, it’s portrayal of Black Cat still doesn’t jibe with who *I* think Black Cat is/should be, but this was a good story about characters I had no interest in (Mockingbird and Silk) and made me interested in issue two.

    Howling Commandos of SHIELD #2: As I’ve discussed before, author intent isn’t incredibly important to me when analyzing a story. However, for HCoS, I’d like to ask writer Barbiere, “What the fuck are you trying to do, bro?” I have no idea how this comic is supposed to appeal to me or who this would appeal to. It’s not funny, it’s not scary, there’s no suspense, the characters are so undefined that they’re completely flat, there’s no pathos, there’s…. nothing. This comic is boring as fucking fuck and it’s filled with weirdo fucking monsters. How is this happening?

    Squirrel Girl: I’m not even sure how good this comic is, I just like reading it. I make sure I read it slowly and I hear the voices being narrated to me by Peter Falk and I smile and laugh and have a grand old time. Peter Falk does an awesome Squirrel Girl, by the way.

  3. That leaves Angela, Carnage, and Venom.

    Yikes.

    Angela, Queen of something #2: I try really, really hard to give comics that have characters that aren’t straight white males a chance, even if they don’t immediately appeal to me on the surface. I also try to give comics that aren’t written by straight white males an extra chance, as I understand that a variety of voices has been shut out of the comics community for a long time.

    So I read Angela #2 even though I really didn’t care for Angela #1. I still don’t care for it. I don’t know how to go much deeper than that. I don’t like the voice. I read it and I’m irritated with the narration. It’s weirdly confusing, it seems to try to make every sentence mysterious, it tries to blend modern music into the dialogue (referencing Beyonce and Alanis Morisette) in a way that feels clumsy, and overall, I don’t give a single rip about any of these characters.

    It feels like sparkly vampires trying to be cool for 14 year old high school girls, except with angels. Kind of. I need to remember to take this off my pull list so I don’t get one thrown into my pile in 4 weeks when the next one comes out.

    Carnage #2: I actually do know this character, but I’ve never been a fan. I’m still not. The big reveal at the end of the issue was the exact thing I’d been expecting for two issues and it still feels like this is an exercise in throwing expendable FBI agents at Carnage to have him eat them to heighten the tension between Carnage, Jameson, and Brock. Not a good story at all from one of my favorite writers. I’m sad about this one.

    Venom #1: Another one I had no interest in! And it was good! I’m not an Olivetti fan, but her stylized cgi painting style worked great in the emptiness of space and the cold features of space vehicles. It’s a bit of a generic adventure, but it established Flash Venom in space, made him heroic, threw in a suicidal robot, and had a cute little cliff hanger. It tried too hard to correlate his ability to save the day through improvisation to his football days, but I know they wanted to add in old school sports star as well.

    This had a lot of Flash Gordon in it, now that I think about it. Except in a symbiote suit.

    One out of three ain’t bad.

    • I haven’t read any Angela, Queen of Hel, but this week I read the trade of Angela, Asgard’s Assassin (which, to be fair, was when Kieron Gillen was still part of it). But I really liked it, because of the narration and dialogue. I wonder how it has changed with Queen of Hel, as Asgard’s Assassin is the most Gillen thing ever, mixing pretentious elaborate dialogue as a joke, sudden shifts in dialogue and fun metaness to create a unique thing. A comic where lines like ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you, my dear, are very stabby’ exist. The simple fact was that under the original team, Angela and Sera are simply great fun to read, especially if Gamora turns up every so often

      I’d be interested in reading more Angela, though hopefully they got rid of the meaningless flashbacks. But if they lost that sense of treating the narration as a joke, and actually trying to play in straight, that would be a tragedy

      • I have no idea if Angela was supposed to be funny. I didn’t find it funny, but tastes vary. I sometimes think Gillen is great, but it’s when he’s at his most serious. His teen clever talk I find grating. (His best work, in my eyes, is Uber, which is ignored by the masses (selling about 5.5k per month.))

        If this is Bennet impersonating a WicDiv style Gillen, I can imagine that an impersonation/tribute of my least favorite form of Gillen could prove to be troublesome to my comic sensibilities.

        I have no idea what is supposed to be appealing about this. I find it dreadful.

        • Have you read Asgard’s Assassin? Or just Queen of Hel? Because maybe the loss of Gillen has caused a change in style, and got rid of the ‘subverting ominous and epic styling’ of the first volume. Or maybe it is just that this sort of thing isn’t for you.

          It is surprising that you can’t identify the jokes, even if they don’t make you laugh. Lines like ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you, my dear, are very stabby’ or ‘No fair, everything going wrong before we’ve had time to foreshadow it in dialogue’ or ‘Rocket. Skottie Young’s Retirement Fund’ are very obviously jokes, even you don’t don’t find themselves funny. As someone who wants to continue with Angela’s story, the fact that you can’t notice jokes like that doesn’t suggest good things about the new volume

        • I did not read Asgard’s Assassin. Rocket: Skottie Young’s Retirement Fund is funny. That wasn’t in this comic, was it? If it was, I’m not only misreading it in tone, I’m misreading it in that I’m missing parts of what I read.

        • I was referencing specific jokes in the previous volume, which proved that while the jokes may not be to your taste, they are obviously jokes. So maybe that sort of stuff has been lost has Gillen left and Angela shifted from Asgard’s Assassin to Queen of Hel. Shame

        • I have now read far more about Angela and Sera than I probably should have, and when I get home I’m going to give both issues a third/fourth reading. Apparently if I read it as a sweeping epic romance about Angela literally fighting through Hel and becoming Queen to save her beloved, I’ll appreciate it more. And that the strange references to Beyonce and Alanis Morisette are supposed to be funny, because Sera alternates between the drama queen to end all drama queens and pop-culture snarkedian.

          But I go back to my original comments on this and I still don’t disagree with them, even though I’m trying to find a way to get around my distaste for the tone and get into what is making this a relatively well reviewed comic. Tonight might not be the best night – I’m full of migraine and hoping to get through these last hours of kids to collapse in a dark corner full of soothing medicine and silence. That isn’t exactly the right mindset to dive into comics that clearly don’t fit into the union of “comics with stories that interest me”, “comics with characters that interest me”, and “comics that bring something unexpected or clever via art, color, pace, or theme that interest me”.

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