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 Daredevil 5, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 5, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 6.
Drew: Peter Coogan defines the superhero based on three criteria: a pro-social mission, superhuman (or at least remarkable) powers, and a unique, emblematic superhero identity often (though not always) separate from their civilian, “secret” identity. In that light, superheroes are the perfect fit for serialized storytelling in that their defining characteristics never actually go away. Sure, they might defeat a given bad guy or close an important case, but the very notion of a “pro-social mission” is that it’s never over. In that way, endings are always such a strange thing in superhero comics, where giving momentum to the next arc is every bit as important as concluding the current one, which can give those endings a lopsided feel. That very much sums up my experience with Daredevil 5, but I’m so excited about what it sets up, that I almost don’t mind the unsatisfactory conclusion.
Of course, the point is kind of that it isn’t a conclusion at all — Tenfingers may have been Matt’s target, but his elimination only reveals a bigger, scarier enemy on the horizon in the shape of the Hand. So while Tenfingers’ unceremonious off-screen death may not give him a proper send-off, it undoubtedly lends some momentum to Matt’s coming battle against the Hand. Plus, if nothing else, Tenfingers afforded artist Ron Garney the occasion to design these nine-triggered guns:
Never mind that that’s not how guns work — those single-triggered guns are presumably for five-fingered people — that’s a hilarious design.
While the Tenfingers bait-and-switch is acceptable (indeed, I think it’s quite clever), I’m less enamored with Sam’s conflict with his mother — particularly her rapid changes of heart. She threatens to kill him, then decides she’d rather turn on her compatriots, then assures sam she will kill him next time. It’s not the strongest characterization, which we feel all the more because we never got to know this character independent of Tenfingers’ cult.
I am, however, intrigued at Matt’s revelation that he overheard Sam’s mother refer to him as her son — especially because she also pretty regularly refers to him as “Samuel.” Could he have overheard that tidbit, as well? There’s no hint as such (or any indication of what that info might mean to Matt), but given the increasing emphasis writer Charles Soule has been putting on trust, it’s something that certainly could come into play down the line. I’m also nervous for whenever Matt returns to the DA’s office — his sudden departure last issue is NOT going to go over well.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 5
Spencer: Most coming-of-age stories feature protagonists still trying to figure out who they are, still working to define themselves. Lunella Lafayette, though, already has an incredibly strong sense of self; she knows exactly who she is and what she stands for. Indeed, most of the challenges Lunella’s faced throughout Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur have come from people trying to change her, trying to bend her indomitable sense of self, be they her parents or even the Terrigen cloud itself. With that aspect of Lunella firmly established, Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder, and Natacha Bustos can finally get around to showing why Lunella and Devil Dinosaur need each other as partners. For Lunella, it’s simple: Devil Dinosaur’s the only person who’s never tried to tell her what to do or who to be.
Kids generally resent being given orders, especially ones as strong-willed as Lunella, so the prospect of actually having an authority figure of sorts on her “side” — even if it’s a dim-witted dinosaur — couldn’t be more appealing.
Of course, the audience is still left to wonder whether Lunella’s determination is a good thing. For all her intelligence and confidence, her plan to break out Devil Dinosaur fails immediately (instead Devil breaks himself out as soon as he sees Lunella, establishing why he needs her as a partner), showing that Lunella’s ideas of what she’s capable of aren’t all that well-founded. So perhaps there’s still some coming-of-age trappings to be found here after all: perhaps Devil Dinosaur’s role is actually to help Lunella come to a better, more accurate and realistic understanding of herself and her capabilities? Maybe. Devil’s certainly more qualified for the job than the adults in Lunella’s life, who, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, can’t seem to comprehend that by trying to pigeonhole Lunella into a role she’s not fit for, they’re only making her more defensive. If a time-displaced dinosaur is the best-qualified person to help guide Lunella’s growth, well, then bully for him.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 6
Taylor: I always wonder when the idea of a crossover event goes from being the conjecture of comic book fans to being something actually real. At what point does a comic book publisher bow to the wishes of its costumers and give everyone a comic featuring Wolverine vs. Luke Skywalker? Granted, some crossovers make sense; it only seems natural that one day Iron Man would team up with Captain America. However, at what point did fans and publishers start clamoring for the a Howard the Duck and Squirrel Girl crossover? Aside from having animals in their name the two titles seem to have little in common, but upon closer examination it becomes clear why they now share a destiny.
Both the protagonists of Howard the Duck and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl have personalities that are larger than life. Howard is loud and abrasive while Doreen is loud and inclusive. Both characters dominate their respective stories and in doing so are a major part of what their respective fans reads. When thrown together, though, it seems like there is almost too much attitude to go around. In Squirrel Girl 6 writer Ryan North seems to have a little trouble writing for Howard. The duck, known most for his loud mouth, is oddly muted on the few pages he spends out of Kravin the Hunter’s burlap sack. Instead, Doreen takes center stage in this issue, which makes sense. This is her issue and it’s hard to find fault in North giving the lion’s share of his attention to the character he’s so expertly crafted. This choice works because Doreen is such a magnetic character, but I do feel like Howard was short changed somewhat in this issue.
It’s not like Doreen’s page-time goes to waste, though. She’s at her best in this issue when she’s bouncing off of the suddenly lovable Kraven, who has perhaps the best entrance in a comic in 2016 thus far.
Erica Henderson hilariously renders Kraven’s hunt-wagon in this issue as some ’80s affair that’s been bedazzeled to shit. It’s stunning not only in its artwork, but also in the way it so wonderfully reflects the version of Kraven seen in this series. The above picture,emphasizes Kraven’s macho, egotism, and chauvinism — all of which are things Doreen stands against. However, the fact that Doreen gets along with a man so antithetical to her very being just goes to show how charming she is. When this happens, its hard to argue with her being the star of comic, no matter with who she happens to share it with.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?