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.
All-New Hawkeye 3
Spencer: 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.
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.
All-New Wolverine 4
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.
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.
All-New X-Men 3
Shane: 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.
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?).
Guardians of the Galaxy 4
Patrick: 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:
Sam Wilson Captain America 5
Drew: 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.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?