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.
All-New Hawkeye 6
Spencer: 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 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.
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.
Astonishing Ant-Man 7
Patrick: 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?
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.
Michael: 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.
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.
Mark: 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.
Mighty Thor 6
Spencer: 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.
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.
Drew: 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:
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.
Power Man and Iron Fist 3
Ryan 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.
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.
Taylor: 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.
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.
Uncanny Inhumans 7
Patrick: 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:
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?
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?