Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/13/16

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We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, (especially when All of these things are New) 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 3, All-New Wolverine 4, All-New X-Men 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 4 and Sam Wilson Captain America 5.

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All-New Hawkeye 3

All-New Hawkeye 3 coverSpencer: Even this far into their run, I still find myself amazed at how drastically artist Ramon Perez and colorist Ian Herring are able to switch up their styles to differentiate between various time-periods in the lives of the Hawkeyes. When I first saw the somewhat shaky, unsteady, and unfinished style Perez and Herring use to depict the future, I wondered if this was meant to indicate the uncertain, always changing status of the future. Turns out, I was right.

changing the future

Once Clint and Kate reunite, their bad future fades away. What I find impressive here is that writer Jeff Lemire never clues the Hawkeyes in to their fate — they’re not convinced to bury the hatchet by how bad things could get, but by how unsatisfying they find being apart in the present. Appropriately enough, they’re still opposite sides of the same coin — Kate rejects the isolation that’s defined so much of Clint’s life, while Clint actively decides to seek out the only person who’s ever truly stabilized his rocky, rocky life — very different in their approaches and relationships yet so clearly kindred spirits, always facing the same problems and hindrances.

I’ve complained just a bit when discussing previous issues that it felt like Lemire was treading familiar ground by splitting the Hawkeyes up again, but I’ve got to admit that this strong, understated-yet-emotional conclusion redeems the whole story for me with the way it solidifies Clint and Kate’s partnership. Still, I’m happy to move forward, and I can’t wait to see what happens next — especially if we’re going to get Kate flashbacks in the next arc as the cover for All-New Hawkeye 4 seems to imply.

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All-New Wolverine 4

All-New Wolverine 4 cover

Michael: In All-New Wolverine 4 Laura is trying her hardest to save her new crazy sister clones from dying. She asks for Dr. Strange’s help, and with his trusty Eye of Agamotto he peers into the all of the sisters’ minds/hearts/souls/essences etc. Since a bulk of the issue takes place at the Sanctum Sanctorum, naturally a mystical beasty gets loose that our heroes have to collectively take down. Zelda is unconscious post-beasty battle so they rush to the hospital where Strange can take a better look at what’s going on in her brain to cause this advancing sickness. Strange reveals to Laura that Zelda doesn’t have much time left and the only possible way to save her is to go all Ant-Man and fight the virus in Zelda’s brain.

I’ve gotta admire how Tom Taylor instills such passionate loyalty in Laura for her sisters. For the first time in her life Laura has a family, unconventional, imperfect and somewhat insane it may be. Ever since she met Logan, Laura has tried to take back her life by crafting her own identity. It’s no surprise how hard she wants to fight to keep this family of hers alive. Of course the family that she’s worried about is her clones – so she’s worried about herself. Laura sees young women who have been manipulated into becoming weapons so she sympathetically wants to help them. BUT these young women legitimately are her. It’s kind of a mindfuck when you try to think about her motivations, really.

better

Nevertheless, Laura continues to prove that she is a worthy inheritor to the Wolverine mantle (though guys on the internet may disapprove.) The best sequence that really drives this home is when Laura pleas for Strange’s help in private. David Lopez gives us a dynamic page of tragedy as the Eye of Agamotto opens up Laura’s violent past to Strange. What’s even better is how visibly dumbstruck Strange is upon discovering how much pain Laura has lived with. A scene that directly tells us that Laura is a better Wolverine than Logan could come off as extremely forced, coming from less skilled creators. Taylor and Lopez have earned that bragging right, however and continue to do so.

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All-New X-Men 3

All-New X-Men 3 coverShane: Finding community when everyone else has turned against you has been a common element in many X-Men stories throughout history, but what happens if maybe that new community isn’t really the right fit? All-New X-Men 3 explores this concept from multiple fronts, starting with a young Scott Summers caught between two groups he’s attempted to abandon, as his X-Men peers battle against a rogue group of Cyclops fanboys. At the same time, a few members of the Cyclops clan begin to doubt their decisions, especially as they hear Scott’s point of view, from one who’s been on both sides. The dominos are all set to get knocked over and explore these themes, but given that this is a superhero comic, the X-Men show up and there’s a big fight scene, and we quickly move past everyone’s indecision to get to the resolution. I wish it hadn’t come so quickly, but admittedly it’s a good one: Scott, having tried to run from both the X-Men and the Cyclops legacy, has realized that not only will the former always be there to him, but the latter doesn’t have to be a negative. It’s who he is, and that’s something to be proud of.

As for me

I’m disappointed in how fast some of the more nuanced concepts get taken off the table in this issue, but there are any number of reasons for that, and Dennis Hopeless has crafted a very well-written issue for what it is, with some energetic art by Mark Bagley that gives me a similar reaction: it’s not the most exciting or detailed, but it makes for some good superhero comics, and lately, that’s the mindset the X-Men titles seem to be embracing. I’m not yet sold on if this will be one of my favorite eras of the line, but Hopeless and Bagley have, at the very least, earned my interest in the next issue (especially with the villain on the last-page teaser…where’s that guy been?).

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Guardians of the Galaxy 4

Guardians of the Galaxy 4 coverPatrick: The problem with The Expendables is that there isn’t really room for that movie to develop its own identity. There’s a lot going on, but every single scene seems to feed into the identities of its cast members – that’s the danger of bringing so many strong, established personalities into one movie. The same problem is evident in Guardians of the Galaxy 4. The series is already over-staying its welcome in this dust-up between Hala and the Guardians, but this issue shifts its focus away from Peter and Hala’s relationship — and the very real drama between them — to highlight the abilities and personalities of our other heroes. Peter feels genuine guilt for what his father did to the Kree home-world, but rather than making amends for it, or solving the problem himself, he’s bailed out by his insanely powerful friends.

Though, now that I’m griping about it, perhaps that’s the point? Pointedly, the two characters that are able to work together in concert to take out Hala are Kitty Pryde and The Thing – the two newest members of the team. Kitty disables Hala, and Grimm comets himself into the atmosphere and impacts right on top of her, both of their powers on full display. Peter, by comparison, has no powers. Unless we want to count his charisma, or leadership, or whatever it is that gives him the ability to unite all these disparate weirdos under the “Guardian” banner. Come to think of it, writer Brian Michael Bendis does give unique perspectives and voices to everyone on the crew during that overly-chatty scene about the Guardian’s ship, and it’s clear that they’re all being pulled in different directions. So, maybe the greatest depiction of power in this issue is this one:

Unite the Clans

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Sam Wilson Captain America 5

Sam Wilson Captain America 5 coverDrew: Nick Spencer has caught a lot of flack for the openly political content of his Captain America, but anyone accusing him of pushing a one-sided bias clearly isn’t reading the series. Issue 5 digs into the motivations of two characters — Diamondback and the new Falcon — proving that Spencer is just as committed to multiple perspectives as he is to addressing issues of vigilante border patrollers or boardroom corruption. Indeed, Spencer is so invested in these new perspectives that he literally paralyzes Sam at the start of the issue, leaving the rest of the cast plenty of room to play. Presuming Sam is Spencer’s avatar, there are some interesting implications in that paralysis and Sam’s transformation into a monster (albeit a jokey throwback monster), but for the purposes of this issue, it’s enough that Cap gets out of the way to make room for his featured players.

As always, though, Spencer strikes an interesting balance between heightened comedy and real-world seriousness. What’s striking here is how Spencer splits that tonal divide — the good guys are funny, while the bad guys are deadly serious. Falcon, D-Man, and Misty all get laugh-lines, while Dimondback is forced to make increasingly difficult decisions in hopes of saving a loved one. It has the uncanny result of arousing sympathy for Diamondback even as we’re drawn closer to Sam’s allies. Diamondback isn’t a bad person, she was just put in a tough situation, and fell for the quick fix offered by Serpent Solutions’ unregulated corporate power. The issue has less sympathy for Serpent Solutions, who seem to be joyless for the sake of joylessness, painting an ever more nuanced (and damning) portrait of Spencer’s detractors.

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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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8 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/13/16

  1. I don’t give a single rip about Kate Bishop. I just don’t. I started reading about the dork with a bow and was charmed by his characterization, even if it wasn’t the Hawkeye from the previous 40 years of continuity or the movies or the cartoons. And I liked it, and enough to put it on best of lists. But I have no relationship with Kate. I don’t feel that her characterization meant anything to me, and frankly, some of the stories felt like I was being forced to read about a new character I *didn’t* know after you just convinced me to like the first guy!

    Lemire turned my expectations of the Kate/Clint relationship around and made me interested in this non-romance. It’s a very strange relationship, one that is distinctly less creepy than intimated by some parts of Fraction’s run. Frankly, Lemire’s two mini-volumes of Hawkeye are much more interesting and fulfilling than Fraction’s, which is saying something, and there are two reasons for this.

    Perez is brilliant. I probably shouldn’t say more, but it’s not just the art, it’s the amazing versatility and the ability to switch through multiple styles in the same volume and same comic and sometimes the same page. I’m not sure he got enough credit for his work so far.

    Kate Bishop is better realized, and I think part of this has to do with delays and timing issues in the Fraction’s run, but also that this feels like her story as much as Clint’s, and in Fraction’s I never felt that way.

    Lemire is putting out some good stuff right now. I need to go double check to see if Lemire and Perez were on your writer and artist of the year lists…

  2. Wolverine started strong in issue 1, issue 2 was fine, issue 3 belabored the point, and the entire conflict of issue 4 was non-essential and a waste of space and whatever happens in issue 5 I will find out here because I must now drop the comic.

    I thought this was really hard for me to enjoy. (And I hate saying that because I’m starting to read twitter and I see how many creators actually read your blog and I (somewhat immaturely) prefer to comment on comics without the pressure of knowing someone it REALLY matters to is out there. I have to think about how I state my opinions less that way.) The entire conflict of the story was, “Don’t open that” “I opened it anyway” “It’s only stoppable with this axe, which I have” “Oh but you have to use the axe” “Good job using the axe”.

    There was no drama in that.

    The other drama is what’s happening to the clones, but we KNEW they were dying. That’s why they escaped, to die while free. Maybe if I had some history with Laura before this, maybe if I cared about the clones, but they’re hard to care about because they’re mostly one trick ponies, maybe if Angel was actually important to this, but he seems forgotten, and that really was what made issue one good was how they were together, instead of last issue where he just bungled it all for no reason…

    Too many “maybes” and not enough “heck yeahs!” for me. It seems you guys are digging this, but I just am having a hard time caring about Wolverine or her clones and getting into the story.

  3. All New X-Men and Guardians: These are team books that I don’t find particularly fulfilling, but they’re fine reads. I enjoy some of the characters (Rocket looks a lot like our Jack Russel/Gremlin mix), I sort of enjoy the stories, but there’s no deep attachment for me. I guess this ended the All New X-Men first arc and I’m undecided on it. I know I sort of like 2 X-Men books and don’t care about the third, so I may go back to pre X-Bendis form and just not read any of them. I guess there’s one or two more Guardians stories in this arc, so I’ll finish that and see. I like Ben Grimm, I like Rocket. Maybe.

    Captain Sam #5: (If I brewed beer, I might name one Captain Sam #5, I think) The issue where Sam turned into a wolf rubbed me the wrong way. I thought the series was going one way, which I was psyched for, and then it went another. That zig when I was expecting zag threw off my equilibrium in the story, and I was ready to bail out. I was wrong, wrong wrong. This is turning into one of my favorite Marvel comics. The story is completely ridiculous, over the top, ludicrosity, but it’s beautiful chaos and Spencer is giving me characters that I’m becoming invested in. I like the new Falcon, I like that he WANTS to be Falcon, I like that Sam Wilson is a Captain America that I can relate to more than Steve Rogers ever was, and I like how this could turn into a Misty Knight comic at any time and that would kick ass!

    Best moment of Captain 5: The recap page with Misty tweeting that they should just give her the shield and get it over with. I don’t know who Sam Wilson would be then, (there’s a new Falcon, it seems MJ is going to be Iron Man and there’s a new Thor, Ant-Man is staying popular as-is, although he’s a new one kind of, too… There’s a new Hulk, there’s about 8 Spider-Men, some new, some female, some from the future, some porcine… There’s still two Hawkeyes… Is Wasp or Wonder Man around? He could take their roles.)

    I think this is great. It’s madcap and zany, but it feels real, which is amazing.

  4. Now, to what I read that you didn’t review:

    Extraordinary X-Men #5: I liked this fine. They’re going to Weirdworld next. I’m tired of Marvel shoving Weirdworld down my throat, even if it sounds like the Weirdworld comic is good, and I’m somehow NOT reading that one… Actually, upon further inspection I’ve finished the first arc in Extraordinary and All-New and only kind of like them and I really didn’t like the other title, so I think I’m about to check out of X-Land.

    Web Warriors 3 is my first nominee for cover of the year. It’s actually a really good story, too. Someone should show this Electro story (and really any other Electro story with the small exception of Spider-Man 38-40 from 1993 which wasn’t very good) to Marvel Cinema and let them know that there is a huge history of GOOD stories to use when writing their movies. This is utterly silly but utterly fun.

    Squadron Supreme 3: James Freaking Robinson! Squadron Supreme is actually pretty good. It’s sort of ignoring the execution of Namor from issue one and more about dealing with this new faux-Avengers team that is whupping up on bad guys without permission or supervision. I’m unclear as to what editorial mandates writers might have, but it seems the Uncanny Avengers are everywhere right now (here, Black Knight, Deadpool is everywhere, Rogers is all over…), and this sort of tread water, but I like this story.

  5. Scarlet Witch #2: This is the most gorgeous art in a comic I’ve seen this year. I decided to look at a couple other reviews, just to see if I was crazy.

    “Holy shit the art in this issue was absolutely stunning,” from comicosity.

    “It’s tough to get on with writing a review when you can’t stop looking at the art. It’s only the second week of January and I’ve no doubt Scarlet Witch #2 will be one of the best-looking comics of 2016,” from Too Dangerous For a Girl

    “Wanda talks to a god, fights a minotaur, winds up where she started – it’s mostly uninteresting, frankly. But this issue is so gorgeously drawn that it’s at least worth a flip through just to appreciate Marco Rudy’s talents.” from IGN.

    I could go on and on. This is stunning. I liked the story a little bit more than IGN, not as much as others, but this series seems to be a string of one shots, each with a different artist, leading towards, “WHY IS MAGIC FAILING?”

    I don’t know if this portends a Dr. Strange team-up (and to be honest, I’d rather see a magic team/team-up book than a 7th Avengers title) seeing as they have very, very similar stories, but even if you’re not a Robinson fan, read this. It’s amazing.

  6. Thor: Reviewed elsewhere? It’s been good, it is good, it will most likely continue to be good. I don’t dig the art like you guys, but if you like comics, this probably should be on your pull list.

    Illuminati 3: Issue 1 was so good! Now it’s just “Evil Oceans 11 tries to rob Asgard by unclear means for reasons that just aren’t that believable or relatable, and if they win the bad guys win (boo) and if they lose, umm, they’re supposed to lose, they’re frickin Black Ant and Hood and Titania. So what?”

    Black Knight 3: Issue 2 was definitely a step up from issue 1, which was indecipherable visually and boring, a bad combination, but I still don’t know why I should care about Dane Whatsisname, the Black Knight. He’s possessed by an evil sword and the Uncanny Avengers are here for a little bit, and again, I’m back to, “So What?”

    Uncanny and ANAD Avengers #4 and #3 respectively: Great, the bad guy is the dad of the one character we don’t know or care about and really can’t even say what their power is in Uncanny. And I find the characters in All New All Different to be completely free of any of their charm they have in their solo books. I seriously think I’m dropping everything with “X-Men” or “Avengers” in the title.

    Agents of SHIELD #1: It’s weird to read the comic featuring characters from a tv show I don’t really like that much (so much that I stopped recording it and never finished season one and couldn’t barely even start season 2). It’s not weird to find that the tv show I didn’t like very much translates to a comic I didn’t like very much. Maybe I should read Iron Man a little deeper, but why is his armor being downloaded and attacking the Pentagon. That seems pretty hardcore and it seems like a job for, I don’t know, maybe IRON MAN? I probably won’t read issue 2.

    Finally (seriously, Marvel put out a lot of shit this week!):

    Red Wolf #2: After a first issue that took way too long to set the scene, issue 2 hits every note exactly right for me and shows me what this comic expects to be and can be. I’m not even sure if I should call this street level, it’s more gravel road level super hero stuff, but it’s fun. I hope they don’t drag out the, “He’s crazy, he says he’s from a different time!” thing for too long, since every other person in the Marvel Universe is a time traveler, and I also hope we don’t have too much more, “What’s that?” “It’s a car” “What’s that?” “It’s a typewriter” “What’s that?” “It’s a cat” hijinks, because those aren’t very entertaining for very long. I like it. Fast story, clean art, good times. Ok, the bad guys weren’t very believable, but this seems like it’s going to be more a Walking Tall type story than true crime.

    (I’m glad I gave ANAD Marvel a try, but there’s a lot that I’m dropping over the next couple months. I’m disappointed in the huge franchise titles, but some of the smaller single character titles are looking pretty hot)

  7. Hawkeye: With this comic, I really think Lemire’s Hawkeye reached the turning point, and became something I really want to read. Though I still have to say that the future segments showed a startlingly lack of imagination. Between Kate still hooking up with Noh-Varr and Miss America becoming the new Captain America, the future has been… obvious, yet also wrong. The idea of Kate getting back with Noh-Varr sounds wrong (if we had to go with the annoying ‘the love from your teenage years is always your love’ trope of YA, Patriot or Speed would be better, here. Completely goes against what Kate and Noh-Varr’s relationship in Young Avengers was actually about), and Miss America, despite her name, isn’t supposed to be a patriotic hero. She’s too busy with her cosmic stuff to downgrade to Captain America.

    Still, this is the comic that really got me to like th enew Hawkeye

    Wolverine: This comic seems to be really good at odd numbered issues, where it keeps the pace high and then fills the action with lots of character, then bad even issues, where the pace falls for no real good reason. The second issue got caught up in telling plots in ways that weren’t interesting, and then this issue ended up being similarly uneven.

    I love how Tom Taylor depicts the Sanctum Sanctorum, which finds a nice balance between odd and mundane. But the pace slows to a halt. After an energetic last issue, there is all of a sudden time to fight a random monster. And while I like Strange looking into Laura’s soul, as part of the sheer level of in-the-momentness this comic has, Strange making the subtext text is boring. The best part of this comic is how it positions Laura was Logan’s moral superior, but telling us it just doesn’t work.

    I din’t expect Wolverine to ever reach the level of perfection of that first issue again, but it seems like this book is going to constantly be uneven. Never bad, but but inconsistent between ‘really good’ and ‘kind of mediocre’. THis issue was mostly the latter

    Thor: Damn, this was confusing. At times, it is brilliant. This is what an antagonistic Loki should be. The story sounds so reasonable (especially as we know it is all true), that you can believe the story, even as we know why he has been sent. There is a real tension to what side Loki is on, and the lines would work even without Gillen and Ewing’s work. THis is a Loki that you can see yourself be tricked by, even as it is a Loki you can see being truly honest.

    Then, for some reason, we get the army of Lokis. Why? Loki seems to summon an army of illusions, showing the many versions of Loki, which fits the ‘look, it really is ambiguous whether I’m evil or not’ that the whole conversation is about. I don’t even mind the fact that they talk back to him, which seems perfectly fitting with the narrative powers of Loki at the moment. But the fact that they are basically sentient, and do things like actually fight Thor against Loki Prime’s wishes just confuse everything. Why would he summon them, if they will do exactly what he doesn’t want them to do?

    It gets even more confusing in the ending, it seems like we get the reveal that he want to die with Thor (for some reason?), until he starts talking about how Thor is needed in Asgard.

    Loki is all about obfuscation, but the way to do that is to have one thing look like another. There are many ways of doing that, like the start of this issue that was full of innuendo, with two possible meanings. Or, you present a clear story, while neglecting to show the real story happening off screen. Basically, Loki works by making the story look like another story. THat didn’t happen there. Instead, it was just confused and weird. Really disappointed in this comic, and if someone could explain to it to me, I’ll really appreciate it. Was tired when I read it, so probably missed something important.

    Still, the art remains amazing. I can’t believe how this book makes old, bad comic book designs look fantastic. First time I liked traditional Loki’s costume (the newer ones are still better, but the act of making the old ones look good is impressive)

    • Kaif and Matt, since you both asked about and discussed it, we will be publishing our full-length review of Mighty Thor 3 tomorrow, so feel free to continue your discussion there if you’ve got more to say. Sorry it didn’t make it up before this article, we ran into a few difficulties — but no way would we skip out on an issue of Thor haha.

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