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 Civil War II 3, Daredevil 9, Deadpool 15, Gwenpool 4, Old Man Logan 8, Power Man and Iron Fist 6, and Silk 10.
Patrick: It almost feels silly to write about Civil War II because like half of it’s page-count is already devoted to characters discussing the legality and morality of their actions. One of the frequent knocks against OG Civil War was that the ideological differences between the heroes were too nebulously expressed, reducing it to just another superhero beat-em-up, so I can’t fault writer Brian Michael Bendis for wanting to lean in to the philosophies that drive these guys to turn against each other. But even granting that concession, it’s an alarmingly chatty issue. There’s a long conversation between Bruce and Carol and Tony; there’s a meaty flashback conversation between Bruce and Clint; and the whole thing is framed by the flashforward to the trial about that day. All of this does help to establish why the Avengers, X-Men and Inhumans are all slowly turning against each other in strange factions, even if the only thing that happens in the issue is that Hawkeye kills the Hulk.
As such, there’s not much in the way of storytelling techniques that I wanted to point out. Main artist David Marquez does an excellent job of juggling the supporting cast, and I got a fun little thrill out of telling my supremely disinterested girlfriend who everyone was in that splash page near the beginning. I think the greatest artistic achievement of the issue comes from Oliver Coipel, who is credited with the “Banner Conversation” pages. The scene starts out from Clint’s perspective, which it frequently snaps back to, to catch the sad subtle earnestness on Bruce Banner’s face when he asks his friend to kill him. There’s a moment in the scene where the camera swings out wildly to show Banner in profile, and then zooms way out, awkwardly filling half the panel with stickers plastered to a wall.
It’s a strange, but evocative, camera move, one that makes the reader question Clint’s soundness of mind in this moment. But perhaps more than casting doubt on Clint, this move allows us to feel his inner conflict with the simple visual assertion that something is not quite right. In an issue that relies on so many words to get its message(s) across, this camera move is a welcome, enlightening departure.
Drew: How much do you value novelty in art? Honestly, I think our answer to that depends on the scale with which we’re defining novelty. Even the most singular, unique painting in the world is made of roughly the same materials as every other painting — it’s both different from and the same as all other paintings, depending on the scale. That kind of scaling dissonance is a huge part of enjoying superhero comics, a genre many might dismiss as tired and derivative, even as new comics are released every single week. That’s exactly the tension Charles Soule and Goran Sudzuka exploit in Daredevil 9, teasing a new story while simultaneously hanging a lantern on its similarities to ones we’ve seen before.
Or, more specifically, to “Brand New Day” — the fallout of Peter Parker’s deal with Mephisto to get the world to forget his secret identity. Curiously, because neither Peter nor Matt remember that deal happening, those events are never explicitly mentioned in the issue. Instead, we’re left with an unmistakeable symbolic connection that maybe — just maybe — the characters also somehow feel.
Soule cleverly swaps in “black-costume phases” as a stand-in for “memory-erasing deals struck with mysterious figures,” making the connections — and the lessons Matt can glean from this interaction — all the stronger.
Sudzuka’s line-smart styling is a great fit for this issue, capturing all of the personality that makes these characters such a pleasure to read, but the real star here is colorist Matt Milla. Adding Spider-Man to the mix means also adding blue to the otherwise largely black, white, and red palette, which Milla uses brilliantly. Could that blue signal clear skies ahead for Matt? Probably not anytime soon, but it certainly helps keep the hope alive — exactly what Spider-Man is there to do.
Patrick: I love reading Deadpool comics during a crossover. Writer Gerry Duggan seems to be leading the charge in ever-so-slightly subverting the commonality between all the other series taking place in the greater story. The common theme running through Civil War II might end up being that every character is totally justified and all of their actions are 100% backed up by their emotional and psychological states, supported by their internal politics and the like. There’s no superhero that’s going to fight another superhero just for the hell of it… y’know, unless we’re talking about Deadpool and the Mercs for Money.
The issue starts with this idea in miniature – the Mercs all raid Deadpool’s office for the months of backpay he’s stiffed them on, only to end up accidentally shooting each other and knocking each other unconscious. It’s kind of the epitome of pointless violence, and that’s reflected in Stingray’s brief, weary aside “I used to be an Avenger. Kind of.” Duggan and artist Mike Hawthorne use that moment to pivot over to the man himself, Deadpool, on a somehow even more pointless mission: Wade’s gonna shoot Ulysses right between the eyes just to prove he didn’t see that one coming. At least, that’s what ol’ chatty Deadpool projects — he abandons this point quickly, but Deadpool’s real reason for visiting Ulysses is to get information about his daughter’s future. Duggan very quietly seeds a compelling emotional drive behind Deadpool’s actions before burying it in a totally superfluous fight with Black Panther.
Why Black Panther? Who cares? Maybe he’s just self-serious enough to make an effective foil for Deadpool. Maybe Duggan just wanted a genuine royal to hear Deadpool’s Game of Thrones theories. Whatever the case, Duggan and Hawthorne sum up the impact of this fight in one panel:
That’s the Deadpool we know and love, taking a shit on superhero vs. superhero fights. Attaboy.
Ryan M.: During a post-college spat of unemployment, my mother sent me a copy of The Secret. The basic idea is that you figure out who you want to be and act as if you already are that person and then you will be. I don’t fully subscribe to the Law of Attraction, but there is something powerful in deciding to believe that you are who you aspire to be. In the world of Gwenpool, Gwen decides that she is the hero of the story and therefore her heroism manifests itself despite her lack of skill. She calls it a deus-ex-machina thing, but it’s more than the interference of fate that allows her to succeed. Gwen’s attitude and swagger in costume is powerful, especially when she backs it up with explosions.
What makes her compelling for me is the opposite. The vulnerability and hero-worship that lie underneath Gwen’s bravado is what makes me care. In a single page, Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru, remind the reader that Gwen is a fairly regular person. The image below could be from my own studio apartment, if you replaced the guns with lamps and the artillery with balls of yarn.
By placing Gwen in such a normal context, Hastings quickly and efficiently remind us that the person underneath the cowl is a girl who admires far more gifted and naturally bad-ass women and has to worry about her bank balance. This short sequence does an excellent job setting up the remainder of the issue. The stakes of Gwen’s confrontation with MODOK are made higher once Hastings reminds us that she is no super human. The actual fight is fun, made more so by the contrast between Gurihiru’s bombastic art and Hastings irony-laced banter. The final act of the issue sends MODOK into space, brings Cecil back from the dead, and sets up Gwen as defacto leader with a client. Hastings and Gurihiru suffuse each of these events with energy that reflects Gwen’s excitement and joy to even be involved. Gwen’s eagerness is contagious; I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Old Man Logan 8
Ryan D.: Oh Jeff Lemire. Everything you touch just glows. Not since Joss Whedon wrote Astonishing X-Men has an author swooped in and so quickly and efficiently given voices to very familiar characters which feel so comfortable yet fresh at the same time. Audiences have been treated to a very grounded, personal Wolverine story surprisingly featuring no Wolverine with this series thus far, and this issue trades the visceral, high-stakes, bleeding violence of the last issues for a wonderful, character-based introspective journey. Do not get me wrong- there is still plenty of action. Artist Andrea Sorrentino brings some beautiful, bold pencils and lineation to not only make characters’ faces nuanced and evocative, but also to draw huge, impactful set pieces.
Lookit that! The destruction married with an ode to Apocalypse Now but with Magneto looks far too great not to share here.
As seen above, the premise of the issue follows Logan and the young Jean Grey as she helps him cope with his chronic anxieties revolving around the end of his dimension’s heroes. The supervillains finally united in a manner very reminiscent of Millar’s Wanted, and seeing some of my favorite heroes (Moon Knight, noooo!) fall in battle through a series of snapshots made me hungry to see more. Survivor’s guilt wreaks havoc on the Old Man, and Jeannie takes him around the world to assuage his worries and ultimately surprise him with a fun, cameo-filled party.
This issue is, pragmatically, a set-up issue to bridge the last arc with the upcoming, but I think it advances the character development in some beautiful ways. While I enjoyed Logan’s dynamic with the young Jean Grey from All-New X-Men my favorite part must be Logan’s interaction with Jubilee. Their relationship spans my tenure of reading comics, and seeing her play a small but vital role in this issue was a joy. Her scene gave me all the feelings. Am I the only one? Anyways, this title offers a very different feeling of pacing and focus than many of the current Marvel titles and sports a really dynamic, complimentary creative team. I loved the issue. A major tip of the cap to Sorrentino. And stay golden, Lemire.
Power Man and Iron Fist 6
Taylor: One of the common narratives I’ve heard spun about the American Civil War is that it pitted brother against brother. There’s a reason why this particular aspect of the war pops up frequently in movies and documentaries. It’s one thing to fight an enemy you don’t know, but it’s something else when the people you’re fighting and the people dying on both sides are those you know. Power Man and Iron Fist 6 successfully captures this narrative and reinterprets it through the lens of Civil War II.
Luke and Danny have yet to enter the war but are watching in horror as the news floods in of heroes they know being hurt and killed. Luke feels particularly stung when he learns that She-Hulk is in a coma and may die.
The pathos that writer David Walker has injected into this scene, what with Danny’s silent anguish hammers home how destructive the civil war has been, even for those not directly involved. It reflects what war is like for most of us: we don’t have to fight, but we may know someone who is and that’s a hard, emotional burden to bare. That these injuries are coming at the hands of those Luke and Danny once considered brothers only reinforces how horrible of an event the civil war has been for everyone in the Marvel universe.
Despite the pain, however, Luke and Danny and Jessica stick to each other. While they see their comrades fighting one another, they only bind closer to each other, relying on the other’s support. This is a touching moment and trumpets the idea that even when the world seems to be going to hell, their is still beauty to be found in the people you trust and love. That this only reinforces the themes of this series already is fantastic and demonstrates how artistic values don’t need to be compromised by the imposition of a universe-wide Marvel event.
Spencer: Robbie Thompson and Tana Ford fill Silk 10 with smart action. I’m not necessarily referring to choreography, although Ford’s fight scenes are especially hard hitting. The creative team doesn’t pull their punches (neither does Black Cat, for that matter), doesn’t hesitate to show us the damage (both physical and psychological) Cat’s attack deals to Silk. It’s nearly stomach-churning at times, and fully sells the danger Cindy is in.
When I refer to smart action, though, I’m thinking more of the match-up itself. Both Silk & S.H.I.E.L.D. and Black Cat’s forces enter their confrontation at full strength, and both stay on top of their game throughout the entire skirmish. Thompson never resorts to having either side make stupid mistakes or mischaracterizes any combatant in order to bring the battle to an end — instead, both sides use every resource at their disposal. It’s clear that the creative team has respect for all their characters, and this absolutely shines through in the finished product: this is a complex, intriguing confrontation from start to finish, and perhaps more importantly, one that’s completely unpredictable until its final moments.
The story here does perhaps feel like it wraps up Cindy’s time undercover a bit too quickly, but it’s clear that Thompson and Ford still plan to explore the repercussions of this story for a long time to come. Moreover, while Cindy’s emotional issues are (of course) not resolved, we do get some closure on the whole “will Cindy go bad?” question, and perhaps even her relationship with Black Cat. Cindy does care for Felicia, and even sees some good in her, but she’s not going to let that fondness (nor her own anger) stop her from doing what’s right in the end. It’s an important moment in Silk’s evolution as a hero, and a satisfying conclusion to this chapter of Silk’s story.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?