Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 4/20/16

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We try to stay up-to-date 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 All-New Hawkeye 6, Astonishing Ant-Man 7, Deadpool 10, Hyperion 2, The Mighty Thor 6, Nova 6, Power Man and Iron Fist 3, Silk 7 and Uncanny Inhumans 7.

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All-New Hawkeye 6

All-New Hawkeye 6Spencer: There’s a moment early in All-New Hawkeye 6 where Barney Barton takes a typically older-brotheresque piss on Clint’s role within the Avengers.

Barney

Barney is dismissive of the idea of a superhero people can relate to, but in the flashbacks writer Jeff Lemire specifically highlights why this is so important: the example of Hawkeye gives young Kate Bishop something to aspire to, and a way to avoid becoming like her father.

Actually, with Lemire and artists Ramon Perez and Ian Herring’s run having now come to an end, it’s clear that the idea of father figures supporting — or failing to support — their children has been a central theme of this series from the start. Clint and Barney’s many various guardians all failed to give them any real guidance; it was only when he became Hawkeye that Clint found any real purpose in life. Becoming Hawkeye, in turn, allowed Clint to better shepherd the next generation of heroes, such as Kate Bishop, whose own father left her equally marooned until Hawkeye came around.

In fact, Clint’s only failures in this series were the moments where he let Kate and/or the Communion Kids down; his failures in this area briefly even created a disastrous alternate future. It was only by doubling down on his commitment to Kate and the kids that he was able to bring about a happy ending, and grow closer to Kate in the process, even if that means they go their separate ways for the time being.

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I love Perez’s blocking here; there’s just so much open space, giving this poignant, bittersweet moment room to breathe, yet Clint and Kate remain close together. Just look at that second panel — half of it is completely empty, yet the Hawkeyes remain in one corner instead of spreading out to fill the space! Their close physical proximity represents how solid Clint and Kate’s relationship has become, and how they’ve finally learned to stick together even in their toughest moments.

I’ve got to take my hat off to Lemire, Perez, and Herring. The idea that Clint and Kate have become so close that Kate can go off on her own to find herself without forgetting how important Clint and his legacy are to her, and that Clint is secure enough to let Kate do so, and that they can remain best friends all the while is a beautiful note to end this run on.

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Astonishing Ant-Man 7

Astonishing Ant-Man 7Patrick: Nick Spencer’s Astonishing Ant-Man, and the vanilla Ant-Man series that preceded it, were all about the petty frustrations and indignities that Scott Lang faces in his day-to-day life as a superhero, a divorced dad and a small business owner. The series is always at its most charming when the lines that divide those three parts of Scott’s life blur into one another. Issue 7 doesn’t so much blur these lines as eradicate them, sacrificing some of the more relatable aspects of Ant-Man at the altar of goofiness.

Chasing a joke is by no means a bad thing — I actually really like it when a comic really goes for humor — but so many of the meaningful character beats rely on the reader’s belief that these are fully developed three dimensional people. Anything Spencer or artist Ramon Rosanas do to trivialize that realness for the sake of a joke weakens the emotional impact of the story. I don’t feel bad spoiling this part of the issue, because it’s one of those father-blind-spots I think we’re supposed to see through pages and pages before Scott does, but the big reveal at the end of the issue is that Cassie wasn’t kidnapped by Hench, but is using the app to super-criminal work on the side. The problem with that revelation isn’t that it’s obvious, its that Spencer and Rosanas make a point lay into another misguided kid for making the same basic decision. Meet Paul: he’s a young, tatted-up stereotype of a millennial that steals comics and has “got DLCs to buy” (who talks like that?). I get that there’s probably more than one way to read Paul’s introduction, but my read is that Spencer is writing him with an artificiality to mimic other people’s perception of this guy. He’s lazy, he’s immoral, he’s dumb, and maybe he even pointless takes on causes he doesn’t actually believe in – that’s the parallel we have to draw to Cassie?

Arggh Not Cool

I suppose it sorta works because I’m disappointed in the metaphor, so I’m right there with Scott in feeling distraught over Cassie signing up with Hench.

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Deadpool 10

Deadpool 10Michael: Gerry Duggan introduced us to Deadpool’s surprise revelation/memory of Sabretooth killing Deadpool’s parents in Deadpool 7 – the 25th anniversary issue. Since then we’ve followed Wade on his latest path of retribution, wondering why ‘ol Victor Creed had to do in Mommy and Daddy Wilson. That particular tidbit of knowledge was settled in Deadpool 9 – Wade actually killed his parents – so Deadpool 10 essentially amounts to an extended chase/fight scene. That’s not necessarily a criticism on Duggan or artist Matteo Lolli’s part, but it definitely brings us back to the age-old argument against super-fights: things could be resolved so much easier if they just paused and talked it out. But we all know that that’s just comic book nonsense.

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What’s unique about Deadpool 10 is that we get to see the two former unrepentant killers Sabretooth and Deadpool begrudgingly set aside they’re vicious brawl to save the lives of the journalists and police that they have inadvertently endangered. I know that Sabretooth has been wearing the good guy tights ever since he got “inverted” during AXIS, but I haven’t really seen him in action till Deadpool. There’s something simultaneously pitiful and heroic about Sabretooth withholding the horrendous truth from Deadpool of how he killed his own parents. It’s heroic because Sabretooth realizes that Deadpool is a nutjob and he doesn’t want to further damage his mind with guilt. It’s pitiful because it’s the thing that Wolverine would do. And good guy or not, I’d say that deep down, Sabretooth really hates himself for doing the thing that Wolverine would do.

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Hyperion 2

Hyperion 2Mark: I’m coming into Hyperion 2 completely unfamiliar with both the characters and the creative team behind them. And while after reading I’m still not sure exactly who Hyperion is—or what his deal is exactly—I am coming away impressed by writer Chuck Wendig. I don’t imagine Hyperion to be a horror comedy regularly, but Wendig deftly blends humor and horror here. There’s something truly disgusting about the young woman’s death early in the issue, and the idea of the worm boy gives me the creeps.

But while Nicole Virella’s art is generally strong, I am disappointed by the horror panels. Worm boy especially is such an icky idea that isn’t done justice by the art. In fact, the last couple of pages seem hastily rendered entirely, with a few panels looking more like early sketches that accidentally made it to coloring. This drop in quality wouldn’t be so apparent if the earlier pages weren’t rendered with significantly more care.

Overall the horror elements in Hyperion 2 are balanced nicely by the budding relationship between Hyperion and Doll. Yes, Doll is a little overwritten in the way so many quippy characters are, but it’s not to a completely distracting degree. And I truly enjoyed the series of panels where Hyperion remains stoic even though he’s getting licked by a truly cute dog.

This is a small Marvel title, but Hyperion is now surprisingly on my radar.

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Mighty Thor 6

Mighty Thor 6Spencer: Just like its previous volume, The Mighty Thor remains one of my favorite titles month in and month out. Over the past few issues, though, I’ve noticed a troubling trend: a surprising lack of our titular hero. Jane’s personal struggles have faded from the spotlight as the threats of Malekith, Dario Agger, Loki, and their armies have grown stronger. Now don’t get me wrong — world-building has always been one of Jason Aaron’s greatest strengths, and he’s doing phenomenal stuff with it on this title — but I feel like Jane Foster is being a bit underserved while Aaron does his building.

Jane (as either herself or Thor) actually doesn’t appear at all in The Mighty Thor 6, although this time that’s very purposeful, as the issue features Loki telling Agger a tale from the time of the Vikings. While this tale strays even further from The Mighty Thor‘s usual tone, fans of Aaron’s work on Thor: God of Thunder will likely be pleased by the story, which revisits the idea of a younger, more boisterous and capricious Thor Odinson, as well as that series’ overriding theme of Godhood.

This issue also provides series artists Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson a chance to rest, with Rafa Garres taking over art duties for the flashback sequences. Garres’ work is a good fit for the time period and the darker, more mythical tone of Aaron’s story. I personally find some of Garres’ art — especially his characters’ faces — to be ugly and off-putting, but that’s likely the point: this whole world, as well as the people in it, are ugly and off-putting, inside and out.

The only legitimate problems I have with the art come during the now-monstrous Bodolf’s final battle with Thor. Setting the battle during the day — or at least, against a white background — robs Garres’ art of much of its rich griminess. Moreover, using modern, digital sound effects over Garres’ more traditional art just looks anachronistic and jarring, and not in a good way.

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By now I have faith that Aaron will tie this tale into the overall plot and/or themes of The Mighty Thor, and it also stands alone as a rather enjoyable story in its own right. As an (at least) two-month break from Jane Foster, though, I’m finding myself frustrated with this storyline, or at least its timing. I imagine I’ll appreciate it more once Aaron’s run has concluded and I can see its full importance to Aaron’s overall narrative.

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Nova 6

Nova 6Drew: We tend to only bring up genericness as a criticism, but virtually every genre relies on familiar situations and types to tell a story. It’s the places where a narrative breaks from those familiar elements that gives it an identity, differentiating it from the other entries into its genre. Nova 6 undoubtedly presents some of the series’ most important distinguishing characteristics, but the breakdown of familiar and unique elements reveals some serious problems with this arc.

Let’s start with the good: artist Cory Smith can sell the holy living hell out of a superhero fight scene. I’ve long been impressed with Smith’s ability to lend his action sequences a real sense of dynamism and motion, but I’m particularly impressed with his attention to detail in this issue. Check out how he sets up the beat of Nova getting blasted into the side of a car:

Car Crash

We only see the car once, but the way he swings us into that shot/reverse-shot structure establishes the space perfectly in our minds. The change of color on the car is a bit confusing (it could be that the red car was driving by in the second panel), but Smith still manages a clear sense of continuity throughout the fight scene. That’s a real rarity — plenty of fight scenes could have their panels totally scrambled without losing the narrative of the fight at all — which sets this series apart.

Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t ever break from its generic constraints. Writer Sean Ryan seems to recognize this, going so far as to lampshade the nondescript threat the Chitauri pose in Sam’s evil fake dad’s opening monologue, but that self-awareness never disrupts the story enough to make it feel unique. There’s a lot of intriguing psychology in having two imposter dads battling over the life of their non-son, but neither gets explored fully: bad dad is on generic evil power-trip, and good dad remains emotionally distant. Even the beat the Sam’s secret identity has been figured out feels ripped out of the superhero writing handbook. Here’s hoping Ryan can find some new ground in future issues to support the stellar work Smith is turning in.

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Power Man and Iron Fist 3

Power Man and Iron Fist 3Ryan M.: Though he doesn’t say it, Luke Cage has an “I’m too old for this shit” expression throughout Power Man and Iron Fist 3. As he tells his wife, he is not re-teaming with Danny, they’re just working together in the short term. There is a reason that the grumpy seen-it-all detective paired with the eager and somewhat naive partner is a genre convention. It’s fun to watch the plot force Luke to get deeper and deeper as his investigative instincts overrun his desire to quit, all the while Danny clings to any hope that his faith in their former office manager isn’t misplaced. Power Man and Iron Fist are street-level heroes and as such, they are dealing with street-level mysticism.

soulstone

The legend of the Supersoul Stone has a mix of African folklore, Voodoo mysticism and urban myth and Sanford’s Greene’s art reflects all of those elements in the page above. It works as both diverting imagery to illustrate the source of the stone, but also a preview of Jennie’s transformation. The guy in the orange jumpsuit and the Kangol hat goes from cool confidence in his Supersoul Stone Necklace to demonic monster in three escalating steps. It’s a great page that efficiently defines Street Magic, especially in opposition to the preachy and stuffy kind of mysticism of Dr. Strange. The issues is mostly a day of investigating with Iron Fist and Power Man, but the dynamic between them and the detail of the neighborhood make for an engaging read.

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Silk 7

Silk 7Taylor: Without fail, and even though I know better, I’m still always shocked when a new artist picks up the pencils for one of my favorite series. This is a common practice, we all know, but it’s still always jarring to me. It’s just that one of the main reasons I fall for a series is because I like the artist and when they are suddenly gone, I feel like one half of the reason I like a series has been shown the door.

I felt that way when Tana Ford was assigned elsewhere for a couple of issues of Silk and it’s with such joy that I’ve seen her return to doing the artwork for the series the past couple of issues. The funny thing is, I’m not sure there’s any one thing I could say which makes me appreciate her style. Instead, I there are several subdued nuances to her artwork which draw me to work. Silk 7 is perfect example of this and there are a lot of panels in the issue I could point to to illustrate my point. However, I’ll chose the one that’s out the most to me.

Spider Scrawl

When Cindy breaks into the Earth-65 version of her apartment she finds a secret lair and then has to beat up the other Cindy’s henchmen. This action happens in a hallway and I adore the way Ford draws Cindy’s progression, and fight, down the hallway. Instead of giving us several panels showing Cindy beating up the henchmen, Ford draws one full page spread depicting the hallway and the action. In doing so, Ford has opted for a panorama like lens on the scene which works to wonderfully frame the central action of Cindy punching a henchman in the face. This creates a natural focus point for the panel that is flanked by smaller vignettes of Cindy’s martial prowess. And even though there is a central image, Ford smartly draws Cindy off center, putting the most interesting part of the panel 2/3 of the way into the picture. This means the above panel follows the rule of thirds, which may consider and important part to making art interesting. These techniques transform this panel from being just a way of telling a story to making it something close to fine art.

All of this is to say nothing of how this panel can also be read left to right just like a book, where we follow the action in a typical, linear fashion, which is also brilliant. And this of course is to say nothing of the story in this fun crossover issue but when there are so many good things to pick from in an issue, sometimes you just gotta with the creme de la creme. All of this means that while Ford isn’t the only reason I like this series, but she certainly is a big part of it.

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Uncanny Inhumans 7

Uncanny Inhumans 7Patrick: If the previous issue of Uncanny Inhumans was all about Black Bolt asserting his authority over the Quiet Room, then this issue has moved on expressing the agency and abilities of the less-senior members of the team: Reader, Inferno and Nur Frank McGee. I sort of love this bit of characterization around McGee – he doesn’t hesitate to refer to his teammates by their Inhuman names, but pretty staunchly insists on his pre-Terigenesis identity. When they all arrive at a crime scene, McGee flashes his old NYPD badge, and even explains later to Dante that he “still [is] a cop.” It’s actually in that same moment that we get some excellent characterization from Reader as well – the Hotel manager tries to tell him that he can’t bring his dog inside the building, and Reader spits back with a cool, confident: “Service dog. Don’t be an ass, okay?” Writer Charles Soule has spent enough time with these characters to be able to express their fundamental natures with simple actions or turns of phrase.

It’s also a delight to see them using their powers to solve a case. The first page does such a great job of broadcasting who the heroes of this issue are – it’s kind of a shame that it’s only about half accurate:

inhuman heroes

I didn’t even list Irelle at the top of this piece, because I’m not convinced that she does anything other than tag along on this adventure. But maybe that’s better than Dante, who lights up once, but gets immediately shut down by Capo. But seeing Nur and Reader’s powers working together in concert to track down Capo in the first place is damn satisfying, and gives us all a better sense of who these characters are and how they work in this world. There’s sort of the added bonus of seeing Reader’s weakness — his dog Forey — exploited by the villain. Between Uncanny and All-New, it’s clear that the Inhuman brand is in foundational mode, and this issue lays some solid groundwork by exploring what its character can and cannot do. It would have been nice if that exploration had extended to Irelle and Dante, but whatareyougonnado?

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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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3 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 4/20/16

  1. All-New Hawkeye: Lemire’s run has been characterized with a lack of care, but once you move past that, it does work. Maybe it actively contradicts the very run it is a sequel to. Maybe its focus on Kate Bishop’s past struggles to line up with Kate Bishop’s past*. But it works. I mentioned last issue about the idea of both of the Hawkeye’s parenting styles being reactions to CLint’s present father figures and Kate’s distant father. And while most of the issue is basically a coda, I do like that jsut as Clint has learned he should be present, Kate has learned she shouldn’t be too present, and realized the best choice is to leave them safe with Barney. Both CLint and Kate move past the sins of their parents, letting them make the best possible choice for their ‘children’.

    The final scene on the beach is such a perfect encapsulation of everything that has been Lemire’s strengths throughout his run. This run will always be a flawed sequel to Fraction’s, but in the end, after that beautiful final page, there is only one thing to say.

    Hail Hawkeye

    *I don’t know how much I like the idea of Clint being such an inspiration for Kate Bishop, when her path to being Hawkeye had so little to do with Clint. She first became a superhero by grabbing whatever weapons came to hand, including Hawkeye’s bow, Mockingbird’s eskrima sticks and Swordsman’s sword, and actively resisted naming herself any sort of derivative of Hawkeye and Mockingbird. She didn’t become Hawkeye out of the wish to follow Clint’s footsteps, but because Captain America actually gave her that name, when she proved to be a Hawkeye in every possible way. While the idea of a everyman Avenger inspiring her works, and nothing about Clint being that Avenger actively contradicts everything, I think I like the idea that Kate Bishop’s path to being a superhero had nothing to do with Clint until she became Hawkeye. Especially considering how hard Fraction and Lemire have pushed the idea that Kate Bishop is just as much the ‘real’ Hawkeye as Clint, and therefore I like the idea that both of their origins son’t really require the other one to exist

    Mighty Thor: Honestly, I feel Jane has been at the centre of events enough that I don’t really have too many problems with everything else. Yes, Aaron is writing a book on a massive tapestry, with all the epic nature of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Yes, that involves a large cast, that always need to be checked into. But there has never been a sense that Jane hasn’t been at the centre of events. Other events happen around her story, not instead of her story. It is less that Aaron has a lack of Jane, but that Aaron is interested in writing about what happens in the margins of Jane’s story. Which is great, as I feel a continuing weakness of serialized comics is the fact that 20 pages a month often leaves very little time to develop those margins and create a sense of the world having depth.

    My big problem with this issue is it felt meaningless. The basic idea of Loki and Agger plotting to protect themselves from the rest of the Dark COuncil is a good one, and just shows how well Loki is being written in this book. But I feel like the flashback ended up being pretty meaningless. Basically, the flashback seems to have very little to do with the present’s events. I was expecting something that was going to inform the Odinson’s current situation, but instead, it just seems to be a traditional Loki story from back when he was evil.

    I guess I wanted more sense that this story was important, other than this was a story that Loki was telling Agger.

    Power Man and Iron Fist: While Jessica Jones is never going to be written well in this title, I have to accept, I love the fact that unlike Luke, she still swears. I wish it wasn’t in service of another ‘wives, am I right?’ joke, but the idea that Jessica can’t stop swearing while Luke can is perfectly fitting for Jessica Jones.

    But on to other stuff, because I don’t want to beat the same drum every time, of a book that is so good and so fun in every other way. Because I love the Supersoul Stone and street magic. The idea of street magic,working outside the traditional structures is amazing. And the idea of the Supersoul stone as the big piece of Street Magic is a perfect representation of it. If I had a complaint, it would be the use of Anasi, who I would argue is too mainstream for what I want Street Magic to be. My vision of Street Magic has always been truly alternative. But I also see the strong racial element of making Anasi Street Magic (while Doctor Strange would likely have an entire library dedicated to Loki’s magic).

    And yeah, the book continues to be a great buddy cop story. Always so much fun.

    Silk: I didn’t enjoy this, but that isn’t a point against it, as I know I have a low tolerance for the cringe comedy that comes from things like Cindy pretending to be her ‘twin’. When it comes to facing the Earth-65 duplicates, I much prefer this week’s Kill Bill inspired version from Spiderwoman. Quite simply, this issue of Silk was never going to be for me

    So, as any greater analysis of the issue will be useless, I’m going to go wider. Because I really think Spiderwomen is actually a really great choice. Unlike a lot of crossovers, it feels less like a way purely to sell more comics, but instead feels like the perfect moment to truly make this new area of the Spiderbooks truly solid. Feels natural to tell this story. And it is also coming at the right time for Earth-65. Now that th ebasics have happened, Earth-65 is perfectly primed for rapid expansion, and introducing SILK is doing a great job of making Earth-65 a world, instead of just a setting for Spider-Gwen. Which is great, as part of the fun is seeing things like kid Reed Richards, Doctor Octopus with literal octopus arms and things like that. Looking forward to seeing where SPiderwomen goes.

    Starbrand and Nightmask: THis book has finally settled on its groove, and we now have something that gets that classic Spiderman feeling of ‘strong sense of life in the real world’ alongside the supervillains, and how they intersect. Even better, I am really liking the use of the cosmic elements, that really makes works to provide a strong contrast. This is now a perfectly good book.

    And having a White Event happen on Hala was really clever. Great use of the mythos to create interesting circumstances

  2. I really liked this Deadpool. Maybe Sabretooth with more Logan-y qualities only works because the universe is missing it’s Wolverine Prime right now, but I really do dig the more heroic take on this character. It’s interesting that Duggan is so straight with the audience about what really happened and why Creed is helping to perpetuate this lie. It makes Wade’s murderous rampage seem even crazier and eviler. But again, that plays so well into the idea that this is an anti-revenge story. The only way this can end is with Wade learning to truth and then having to forgive himself. That’s so fucking mature I can barely contain myself.

  3. This was a good week for Marvel. Their all new all different era is putting out some good comics.

    Did I mention here already that I was disappointed that Hercules was already canceled/ended? Five issues. He’s continuing in Gods of War which will be a Civil War tie-in, but it was pretty weird to me. It was a very solid foundation for what I thought was going to be a quality series (with Gil and Ire and… umm his landlord whose name I’ve forgotten), so I’m hoping it picks up where it is leaving off after Civil War.

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