Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 6/8/16

 

marvel roundup34We 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 Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man 1, Daredevil 8, and Howard the Duck 8.

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Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man 1

Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man 1Drew: Early in this issue, writer Christos Gage draws a clear parallel between Ulysses precognitive visions and Spider-Man’s spider-sense. Spider-Man is quick to dismiss the similarities as superficial, but there’s no denying how similarly they function as a narrative device. Spider-sense senses immediate danger, goosing tension for a punch we know is coming (though perhaps not from where) over a page turn, but Ulysses’ visions extend that cliffhanger quality, creating something similar to the tension of spider-sense, but operating on a much longer time-scale — say, the release schedule of a four-part miniseries.

Obviously, that’s not the only trick Gage has up his sleeve — indeed, mining unexpected ideas out of these straightforward tie-ins is one of his greatest strengths as a writer — but it’s the one that most struck me about the structure of this issue. I was also struck by Travel Foreman’s etherial art, which fits Gage’s script in surprising ways. I’m so used to seeing Foreman on horror-related series, I’d never really considered his ability to pace a joke, but he’s a natural fit for Gage’s lighter tone. Indeed, their seemingly opposite sensibilities might just be what makes this collaboration feel so fresh.

Jokes

It’s a solid first issue, and Gage leaves a lot of fascinating ideas on the table to play with. Foreman’s art alone is worth the trip, so you can be sure I’ll be back, but Gage’s hints at the manufacturing applications of precognitive abilities is enough to warrant a second look, as well.

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Daredevil 8

Daredevil 8Spencer: The question of what Matt Murdock did to get his secret identity back — and why he did it — has been the underlining question driving Charles Soule, Goran Sudzuka, and Matt Milla’s entire run of Daredevil. While Daredevil 8 doesn’t touch upon the “how,” it may do wonders to explain the “why,” or at least to explore the headspace that would compel Matt to make such a decision in the first place.

It’s such a simple concept, I’m surprised it’s never come up before — of course the “Man Without Fear” would get a thrill out of gambling, and of course someone with his powers would be an ace at it. With that dynamic established, much of this issue plays out as a bit of a heist/con-man story, and Sudzuka and Milla embrace that aesthetic fully.

style

The colors of Matt’s radar vision may emphasize the extraordinary, superheroic aspects of the title, but the rest of the page embrace the class you’d expect to find in a typical high-stakes Poker Tournament — and, of course, Matt Murdock the daredevil makes himself stand out as the center of attention by wearing a white suit when everyone else is decked out in darker hues.

Soule digs into the meat of this story, though, when Matt does psychic battle with the casino’s telepath, Apex.

compulsion

We come to find out that, even when Matt wins this tournament, he can’t cash the check because he registered under a fake name, and he actually came to Macau to help Spider-Man with a mission, meaning that he only signed up for this tournament (throwing down ten grand in the process) for the sheer thrill of winning it. Matt’s willing to risk everything he has for a thrill, because he feels compelled, like he has to. Mentioning Kirsten and Foggy here makes the link explicit; while Matt may be referring to the money he bet in the tournament, the same sentiment applies to whatever he did to regain his secret identity. As we get further into Daredevil, Matt’s decision seems more and more like a foolish, potentially even dangerous one.

Matt also never finishes his monologue in the scene above. If he doesn’t play, he’ll…what? Uncovering Matt’s fears here may in fact be the key to uncovering everything.

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Howard the Duck 8

Howard the Duck 8Patrick: It’s one of my favorite things in movies when characters explain themselves to their friends through flashback. There’s a sort of suspension of disbelief there that comes with the idea that the character flashing back applies of level of detail to their story that it’s as though everyone in the room watched the same four minutes of video. We just don’t tell stories the same way a film is made, but we accept that film is the medium these characters exist in, so their memories must also be film. The same is true of comics, and Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones play that suspension of disbelief for all it’s worth in Howard the Duck 8.

Howard has used his last punch on the Nexus of All Realities card to travel “home,” meaning to the home of his former adventuring companion and best friend Beverly. The cover of the issue sets expectations pretty explicitly, Howard and Bev’s dog, mournfully staring down a lighthouse on the Maine coast, with Bev’ likeness in the sky. The only extraneous copy on the cover reads “The Return of Bev!” so it’s obvious what we’re going to be getting here: a bitter-sweet reunion. But the first page is a charming revisit of Howard and Bev’s adventures, rendered with delightfully old time-y coloring techniques, and even using some designs that are too stupid and too sexist for modern comics.

howard and bev in the past

This is unmistakably the past (look at Howard reading a newspaper!), but it sets a clear template for Bev and Howard to revisit over and over again as they dredge up their old issues. Hell, we return to this exact page, like three pages later, only now there are speech balloons revealing that Howard hasn’t been listening to his partner’s need for a simpler life. The issue is largely peaceful, but the spectre of their own adventures physically looms over them as Bev and Howard try to make sense of who they are to each other now. It’s a sad issue, but it expresses that sadness in a way only a comic book about a trouble-prone anthropomorphic duck could.

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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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One comment on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 6/8/16

  1. Ain’t a lot of Marvel stuff I’m interested in released this week. So I guess I’ll talk just talk about my Invincible Iron Man reread.

    One of the many critiques about the MCU is that it is unchanging, a critique that isn’t really fair. Especially when applied to Tony Stark’s arc. Forgetting the fact that the directors and writers of Civil War join the legion of other people who for some reason don’t get Iron Man Three’s ending (IT ISN’T HARD! IT LITERALLY ENDS WITH HIM SAYING ‘I AM IRON MAN’), it expressed it perfectly. Tony Stark is a man who will always make the same mistakes. How he makes them always changes, but he will always make the same mistake and he always learns the wrong lesson.

    Ans this is exactly what Matt Fraction is doing in Invincible Iron Man. Stark Resilient begins just after Tony Stark has gone through the most literal self destruction imaginable, and now he’s making a fresh start. Which, of course, means everyone is counting down to the next explosion. Pepper Potts and Maria Hill have been hurt in a way that will never be fixed, and the relationship has changed. That isn’t to say they aren’t loyal to Tony, but they refuse to be anything except equals. Despite his fresh start, Tony’s self hatred still remains as he pushes his body above and beyond humanity in an attempt to move past his limitations. And the Hammer Girls’ entire plan is built around the idea that Tony will self destruct, and if they set the board properly, they can make sure the next self destruction ends him.

    And a long side the always fantastic depth of characterization that Fraction provides Tony, he creates a fantastic technothriller around disruption and asymmetric warfare. His discussions on asymmetrical warfare are a truly amazing understanding of the realities of superheroes – not in a deconstructive, ashamed way, but in a way that contextualizes and reconstructs what superheroes are in such a way that entire new wings of stories are unlocked.

    Meanwhile, disruption and the changing face of technology is essential. Tony Stark is threatening to end entire industries and change the face of technology with the release of a single invention and Pepper Potts in the world’s most provocative dress (because nothing says provocative than a dress that shows off the fact that you have a powerful arc reactor in your chest, especially when that arc reactor is also the exact product you are selling in single handedly change the world).
    Meanwhile, the Hammer Girls are also seeking to disrupt the security/military world, through Detroit Steel. Changing the face of security and defence, and creating a new world focused on everyone fighting asymmetrically. Where Tony Stark disrupts the world in his quest for a better world, the Hammer Girls disrupt the world to make it worse. The parallels are fantastic, both in how they represent Tony’s dark mirror (Sasha even has upgraded herself in a very similar way to Tony) and in how they don’t.

    And then it ends with Tony Stark embarrassing the Hammer Girls by turning their plans to destroy him into the very advertisement that puts his new company on the map. And yet, it also becomes clear things are only going to get worse. His enemies are gathering together, and those demonic creations from Stark Dissembled are still around. Tony may have changed from his Civil War authoritarianism to the Heroic Age innovator, but he has deftly avoided the key problems. Everything that was a problem in the old Tony is a problem with the new Tony.

    It is easy to forget how good Fraction was before Hawkeye

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