Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/27/16

marvel roundup16

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 Daredevil 3, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 3, Spider-Woman 3, and All-New Inhumans 3.

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Daredevil 3

Daredevil 3Drew: You know that phenomenon after a haircut where you are almost surprised by yourself in the mirror? You’re so used to how you used to look, you expect something else, even if you’re consciously aware that you just had a haircut. It’s a strange little quirk of existence, but goes away rather quickly, as you generate a new expectation of what you look like — your residual self image, to borrow a phrase from The Matrix. I’ve experienced something remarkably similar with Charles Soule and Ron Garney’s new Daredevil run, which broke rather sharply with what came before. It’s not that the changes are bad, necessarily, just that the residual image of the old series lingered on, so I was always surprised at this series, even as I knew it was helmed by a new creative team taking it in an entirely different direction. With issue 3, I finally find myself acclimating to the new normal, just in time for it to be upset a bit.

Soule splits these new changes between Matt’s lives in and out of costume; the return of the Hand puts Daredevil on high alert, while the attack on Billy Li busts Matt down to night court duty. Matt casually wonders how he’ll ever balance the two sides of his life now that they’re both night jobs, teasing what could be a fun conflict in the series going forward, but that train of thought is interrupted by Tenfingers’ arrival in Matt’s office. Even as he’s establishing a new normal, Soule is thwarting our expectations.

I’m certainly curious about Tenfingers’ move here, but the Hand’s appearance — and especially the bit of exposition that reminds us that they have supernatural powers — makes me wonder if they didn’t play a role in Matt’s scheme to get everyone to forget he’s Daredevil. Matt’s scene with the DA clarifies that Matt was still disbarred in whatever narrative the world believes, but obviously for different reasons than lying about not being Daredevil. Okay, maybe I’m still a little obsessed with the larger changes Soule made at the start of the run, but I’m also fully on board with Night Court: The Matt Murdock Files.

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Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 3

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 3Mark: This isn’t strictly a criticism, but Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 3 definitely confirms to me that this is a series intended for children. Which is fine! For the most part it seems like a great way to introduce my niece or nephew to comics, especially comics that don’t involve the big heroes they’ve heard about like Batman or Spider-Man. But it doesn’t quite straddle the line between entertaining for both kids and adults in the way, say, a good PIXAR movie, a great comic book can, or, hell, an above-average Loony Toons short can. Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare’s writing and plotting are unsophisticated, and probably intentionally so. Again, that’s fine! We don’t expect sophistication from children’s books. But it makes for a rather boring read as an adult.

So even though I don’t think I’ll be closely following future issues, I’m glad Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur exists.

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Spider-Woman 3

Spider-Woman 3Spencer: This issue seals it — Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez’s Spider-Woman is now officially one of Marvel’s most underrated titles. Why aren’t more people talking about this book? Issue 3 is essentially Die Hard if John McClane was 9 months pregnant and Gruber and his men were shapeshifting aliens (does this make Carol Reginald VelJohnson’s character?), and there’s nothing about that concept that isn’t absolutely delightful.

Much like in Die Hard, its our central character who really sells this issue. Under Hopeless’ pen Jessica Drew is a begrudging hero, skilled and unable to stand by and let people die, complaining all the way (as she has every right to, being 9 months pregnant) yet still maintaining her composure and, mostly, her professionalism. It’s primo characterization, especially when combined with Hopeless’ crackerjack dialogue.

day from hell

Rodriguez especially outdoes himself on the art-side of the equation. I admire the way he’ll put the same character in a single panel multiple times to create a sense of movement, but his best work comes in the scenes where Jessica travels through the bizarre bowels of Alpha Flight’s Maternity Ward. These splash pages are incredibly detailed and endlessly imaginative — Rodriguez and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg even adopt a darker style for one page, which, obviously, takes serious talent.

why does a maternity ward need all this stuff?

Spider-Woman 3 is a delightful action-adventure romp full of rich and often experimental art; if you aren’t reading this book, you’re seriously missing out.

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All-New Inhumans 3

All-New Inhumans 3Patrick: Do you ever wonder why you’re reading so many superhero comics? I do – and the question doesn’t come from any perspective that devalues fantasy or adventure or anything like that. The question comes up because I like challenging narratives and sometimes it seems like the last thing a superhero story wants to do is challenge its reader. A bad guy, a good guy, some struggles and the hero saves the day. But the advantage that superhero comics do have over other mediums and genres is that the nitty-gritty mechanics of storytelling can be so varied and innovative as to render whatever predictability moot. Case in point: Charles Soule, James Asmus and Stefano Caselli’s third issue of All-New Inhumans, which takes the emotional manipulations wrapped up in warfare and propaganda and makes them the literal playthings of creatures with immense power.

There’s the obvious conflict between Swain — who we learn is a kind of uber-gentle empath — and the sort-of ghost of Thanh Ng. They both appear to be able to subtly effect the psychology of people they come into contact with, so their parallels to geopolitical forces are fairly obvious, but Soule and Asmus are also playing with a more nuanced metaphor: Panacea. Pan is a healer that has stopped feeling emotions since her transformation. That means two things: 1) sounds like some pretty good foreshadowing that she’ll be necessary in overcoming the malevolent empath; and 2) she is a healer who cannot feel, making her a ruthless maker of hard decisions. She does this in the issue, healing two of the Commissar’s experiments and killing a third that was beyond her medical attention. This character’s name is “Panacea” – a word that means “cure all,” but I think there’s a different recent addition to the Marvel Universe who’s sitting on a more appropriate name: the mutant healer Triage. Panacea doesn’t heal everyone, she makes decisions about who it’s realistic to save, and then heals them.

But maybe I’m also missing the point by focusing on the various powers and limitations of the inhumans. For all of the superpowered hullabaloo in this issue, there’s a stirring conversation between Crystal and Flint that reminds us of the human struggle at the heart of these powerful characters. Caselli is a pro depicting fight sequences or confrontations on the telepathic plane, but his real strength is selling the emotive faces of characters working their way through these tough decisions.

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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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