Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 7/13/16

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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.

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(***SPOILERS, obviously***)

Civil War II 3Patrick: 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.

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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.

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Daredevil 9

Daredevil 9Drew: 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.

Black Costume PhasesSoule 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.

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Deadpool 15

Deadpool 15Patrick: 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:

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That’s the Deadpool we know and love, taking a shit on superhero vs. superhero fights. Attaboy.

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Gwenpool 4

Gwenpool 4Ryan 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.

ordinary gwen pooleBy 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.

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Old Man Logan 8

Old Man LoganRyan 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.

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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.

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Power Man and Iron Fist 6

Power Man and Iron FistTaylor: 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.

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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.

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Silk 10

Silk 10Spencer: 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.

Silk

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.

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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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30 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 7/13/16

  1. So, Civil War II:

    AMADEUS CHO IS THE HULK

    BRUCE BANNER HASN’T BEEN THE HULK FOR OVER 8 MONTHS WITHIN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. NOT JUST “Bruce isn’t starring in the Hulk book,” BUT “Bruce LITERALLY ISN’T CAPABLE OF TRANSFORMING INTO THE HULK ANYMORE.”

    Moreover, this was established in “Totally Awesome Hulk” issues that ARE OFFICIAL CIVIL WAR II TIE-INS.

    Maybe in a future issue of TA Hulk Bruce gets his abilities back, and THEN he dies. Maybe. But even if he does, that doesn’t fit into the narrative Bendis presents in Civil War II, where Banner hasn’t had an “incident” in over a year.

    I try to value good storytelling over tight continuity, but this drove me absolutely mad. MAD. This event is the center of the entire Marvel Universe right now. More than any other book, it should have some sort of accountability to the other series around it.

    Has Bendis just become too big to edit?

    This shouldn’t be making me as upset as it is, but Bruce’s death is clearly meant to be one of the biggest moments behind Civil War II, and it’s based on something that isn’t even true within the Marvel Universe anymore, which not only contradicts general MU continuity, but ITS OWN TIE-INS.

    Oh my god, shoot me now.

      • No, but a pretty good point. I think Bendis makes a point of Banner’s absence from the Hulking scene though, right? He says he hasn’t had an episode in over a year. That’s true, ya?

    • Who’s the artist on the book? I remember during Age Of Ultron that Bendis’ scripts had been finished for an absurd amount of time before Hitch finally turned in the finished artwork and thus the whole thing contradicted the on-going Superior Spider-Man arc. My guess is that Bendis was just working that far in advance and good portions of the art had been done for a while before publication. So much time and work put into these line-wide meta-narratives, it seems like you’d need to shut down a lot of major story ideas within solo books to get everything to line up properly. In my mind, the event always supersedes the solo book as the canon continuity for the overall universe, while the solo book supersedes fallout implications within that specific editor and family of titles (Bat-books, X-books, Spider-books, etc).

    • I’m not sure I get your contradiction. Civil War 3 sets up a situation where Bruce Banner has been in a situation where he hasn’t hulked out for ages, and in this moment, is making preparations to make sure he doesn’t Hulk out again (maybe because he has supposedly been cured and is afraid of relapse). The scenes are built on the idea that Banner isn’t, at this moment, the Hulk, and the only evidence they have of him being able to Hulk out is Ulysses’ vision. I mean, Carol specifically asking if his research his gamma related, which suggests that they understand Banner is ‘cured’ and therefore are afraid is research may cause him to become the Hulk again.

      I’m not sure about the specifics of Banner’s cure, but my interpretation of the scene is ‘Banner is cured and afraid of relapse. Ulysses provides evidence that he will’. To me, it was very clear that in the context of Civil War II, Bruce Banner is not the hulk, Bruce Banner hasn’t been the Hulk in almost a year, and that despite Banner’s earlier preparations, he is currently confident he can’t turn into the Hulk. And that a vision of the future suggests that Banner is going to relapse. Nothing contradicts what you just said. It is a totally reasonable possibility that Banner isn’t as cured as he thinks he is, and could suddenly Hulk out.

      Is there anything specific about the stuff in Totally Awesome Hulk that suggests that there is no chance of Banner relapsing? Anything that suggests Banner is 100% cured and couldn’t, due to some unforeseen thing, suddenly relapse and Hulk out? Anything that suggests the cure has worked exactly like everyone thinks it has worked?

      Because if there is the slightest possibility that Banner could relapse, everything makes sense. That’s all you need for this scenario to work. Just one single possibility that Banner isn’t 100% cured, and it is possible for Ulysses to see his vision and for the vision to be consistent with all of the facts from Totally Awesome Hulk

      • Yeah, I didn’t mind it at all, but that may be because I’ve never been invested in a Hulk title (only read the first issue of Totally Awesome, and I just couldn’t get in to Waid’s Hulk titles a few years ago). So I don’t have anything invested in either suggested continuity.

        I think Spencer’s objection is more about the reader not being in a place to care about Banner-as-Hulk because Banner hasn’t been Hulk in so long. The logic of it totally adds up, but we’re not in the same emotional space this issue asks us to be in – especially if we’re reading TAH.

        • My Hulk story is exactly the same as yours (and I mean exactly), so it is hard for me to state exactly what emotional headspace a reader would be who is up to date with Totally Awesome Hulk. But it felt to me that the emotional headspace Civil War asked us to be in was fear of relapse. To me, the stakes came from the fact that Banner hadn’t been Hulk for so long. There’s a reason I used the word relapse.

          What made the situation scary was the fact that Banner hadn’t been the Hulk in almost a year. Banner was thought to be powerless, Banner was ‘cured’. Every sign said Banner was fine… except Ulysses. Ulysses vision of the future was telling a completely different story to what everyone else was telling, and the fear that despite everything looking fine… everyone might be wrong. That without Ulysses’ ethically dubious power, we may not have enough information to make informed decisions.

          To me, unless there is something I have missed from not reading Totally Awesome Hulk, Bendis has set up the exact same emotional space as you would have from reading Totally Awesome Hulk. Banner’s fine… so why is Ulysses saying otherwise

      • Matt: “What made the situation scary was the fact that Banner hadn’t been the Hulk in almost a year. Banner was thought to be powerless, Banner was ‘cured’. Every sign said Banner was fine… except Ulysses. Ulysses vision of the future was telling a completely different story to what everyone else was telling, and the fear that despite everything looking fine… everyone might be wrong.”

        See, I didn’t get that from the issue at all. Marvel characters ALWAYS pile on Bruce and suspect him of becoming the Hulk almost 24/7. Nothing felt too unusual here. And I never got the slightest implication from the issue that the characters within the issue thought Banner was cured.

        Really, all the issue needed was someone saying “Ulysses saw Banner transforming into the Hulk? But I thought he was cured…” That’s ALL I needed, and I waited the entire issue for the line to come. But they pretty much treated things as if it were the status quo.

        And the jarring thing is that the two most recent issues of TA Hulk — the Civil War II tie-ins — were Banner spotlight stories, and went OUT OF THEIR WAY to show that Bruce couldn’t become the Hulk anymore. First of all, Amadeus became the Hulk because he TRANSFERRED THE HULK’S POWER from Banner into himself. Banner can’t become the Hulk because the Hulk is inside Amadeus now. Then the first of the two tie-in issues focused on Banner traveling across the country, nearly killing himself doing all the things he couldn’t do when he was the Hulk — gambling, getting into fights, thrill seeking, etc. etc. He even met with Tony Stark in this issue, who confirmed that Bruce was cured. Then the next issue was about Banner getting sick — something that never happened to him the entire time he was the Hulk — and Amadeus taking care of him.

        Beyond logistics, these two issues were about Bruce getting closure with the Hulk, and helping Amadeus take on the burden instead. By the end of the issues we had a Banner who had accepted that he was no longer the Hulk, and was at peace with it.

        And then Civil War II opens with Banner obsessing that he might become the Hulk again, doing gamma research hoping to prevent future outbreaks, and asking Hawkeye to kill him if he thinks he was ever going to transform again. These are not the actions of the Banner from the TA Hulk issues, who had come to accept and embrace that he was no longer the Hulk.

        And the thing is, if Banner was still the Hulk, if we were in Hulk status quo right now, I’d be totally fine with the issue. Everything Banner did, all the things I mentioned in the last paragraph, are perfectly in character for the “normal” Bruce Banner/Hulk. But not with the one who isn’t the Hulk anymore. Even if the other characters in the Marvel universe don’t believe Banner (which, reminder, Tony Stark canonically DOES — he confirmed himself that Bruce is no longer the Hulk), Banner himself had no more doubts about him being the Hulk. For the first time in his life, he was at peace.

        It’s jarring and contradictory, at least to me, if no one else.

        • A line about how they thought Banner was cured would have been a good line, and I’m surprised it wasn’t there (maybe because Bendis didn’t want people to focus too much on the idea that he is cured as an excuse to dismiss Ulysses’ vision?). But I think it still works.

          I mean, the only reason they all pile on Banner is that they specifically saw a vision of the future where Banner-Hulk (and not Amadeus Hulk or whatever other Hulks are running around). They have an actual reason to pile on to him. And the fact that he hasn’t transformed in a year is something accepted by the narrative. Nothing ever suggests that he is lying – in fact, the flashbacks around Hawkeye back up the idea of Banner currently being safe. No one ever suggests Banner is lying, or that Banne rhas successfully spent almost a year not turning into the Hulk. Every suggestion is that whatever Banner has been doing has prevented him Hulking out, whatever that thing was.

          The tie ins were, of course, emphasising Banner’s cured status, because the tension of the scene comes down to the fact that the only evidence is Ulysses. I don’t know what the timeline of the issues is, but I don’t see anything that majorly needs to be reconciled. We know he had dreams that were disturbing him, and that is what lead to this status quo in Civil War 3. With that, it is easy for me to connect all of the plot points into an answer

          The power of the Hulk was transferred to Amadeus, but not all of it – Banner has been Hulk too long and it was impossible to completely purge. No one noticed it, because despite the supergeniuses of the Marvel Universe doing whatever test they wanted, they couldn’t detect it – it was too small to be detected. With so little gamma in his body, Banner can do all of those things that he couldn’t do before, including getting into fights and falling ill. Then the dreams started, and Banner had realised that he still needed to be careful. He made his plans with Hawkeye, but he took steps to manage it. However, despite his plans, he was highly confident that he had everything managed – the idea of him Hulking out was something that baffled him.

          An easy, simple explanation. Banner wasn’t as cured as he thought he was.

          But the big thing is that the Totally Awesome Hulk issues were all about how Banner was fine, BECAUSE Civil War was all about the contradiction between the fact that Banner was supposed to be safe and the fact that Ulysses said otherwise. To say that the story would work better if Banner was the Hulk is to ignore the fact that the entire sequence is built on the idea that every other point of evidence says that Banner isn’t.

          Civil War 3 is the story of the superheroes of the Marvel Universe jumping on a man who all evidence says isn’t a threat, except for the vision of the future, to tragic results. The fact that everyone thought Banner couldn’t become the Hulk is exactly what makes the scene work so well.

          Could it have used a line that emphasised the fact that he was cured? Maybe. But I think the contradiction is supposed to be the point. That the two narratives at play (Banner is cured v Banner is going to Hulk out and kill everyone) is the point. I can’t see anything in Civil War that suggests Banner is supposed to be thought of as safe

  2. Ryan, I LOVED that panel you pulled from Gwenpool. First of all, Gurihiru draws the fucking cutest version of Gwen out-of costume. I always forget about her hair, and I’m always delighted to be reminded. But the room itself is so packed with the kinds of ephemera you’d expect of someone who is both a fan of the Marvel universe and a part of the “young Marvel” movement. Her posters are all Miles and Kamala and Kate. Even the “old guard” represented on her wall are heroes like She-Hulk and Captain Marvel and Jane Foster Thor.

    PLUS, the posters all almost appear to be panels, right as Gwen’s explaining that she’s in a fictional world. DOUBLE PLUS, the guns and weapons just laying around do a great job of emphasizing her identity as a Deadpool-like. It’s really a stellar panel.

    • I actually think many of the posters are actual covers. They are certainly all images that existed before Gwenpool. I swear I recognise that Kate Bishop poster as an actual cover (I was thinking it was from Matt Fraction’s Young Avenger’s Presents issue, but I was wrong). So it is actually using images that represent ‘superheores as fictional characters’

      What I love is that among all of the Young Marvel stuff you mention, there are other things. The penguin that doesn’t have anything to do with Marvel, or the leather jacket hanging up, that suggests more of a life outside of Marvel without ignoring the fact that Marvel comics is a large part of her life

      And yeah, her hair is great. I honestly really like the choice, as it both fits her, and helps move her away from Gwen Stacy. So many great stuff with Gwenpool.

      Also, before I do my big post, are you saving the Vision for an AC?

      • Oh yessir – Spencer and I will have a piece going up on… Tuesday? Wednesday? We should maybe start putting those in the RU’s just to assure y’all that we’re not skipping it.

        • Probably a good idea. Just helps everyone know when to talk about a book. Better to comment about the Vision in the right place, and after seeing your insights, than to have the discussion here

  3. Another “oh hey, should be we doing this all the time?” question: should we be starting all of our conversations with “SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY”? I felt silly putting it at the top of my Civil War II piece, but I could see someone checking out a “round up” without having read that particular issue yet, and not wanting it spoiled. If you’ve been to the site before, you know we spoil everything we talk about, but I have to assume we get some new readers sometimes.

  4. RE: Civil War II review. “Camera moves”? I understand what you are trying to say, but it’s weird to reference something that’s not involved in the process at all.

    • Hello, my evil twin (or are you the good twin? Who knows….)

      There is, of course, no camera in comics. However, there is the need for a term to describe from where in the scene we see the panel. I don’t know if there is an official term in comics, but I have used camera simply because that is what I would use if I was discussing it in film. It makes the point clear even if the camera in this case is imaginary.
      And because if a term used to discuss another medium works just as well in comics, why not use it?

      So that is why I use camera, and why I believe Patrick used it as well. Because it is the best term to describe what we wish to discuss

      • So many Matts!

        I also don’t love using imperfect terminology, but this is one of those where I really don’t know what else to call it. I feel a little justified in using the term to describe how something is drawn in some of these big event comics partially because the approach to visual storytelling is so cinematic. If we were talking about something that maybe flattens out the image a little more abstracts the space in a way unique to comics, I’d be a little more hesitant to talk about “the camera” with that language. Like, I wouldn’t use “camera” to discuss early issues of Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette’s Swamp Thing because Paquette’s visual vocabulary isn’t trying to mimic film – he presents multiple images at once, divided by borders that contribute thematically to the action. Basically, in some comics there’s an implied camera and in some there isn’t.

        Actually, now that I’m thinking about it – it might be weird how comfortable we are using the term camera when talking about CG movies or video games. There are, after all, no real cameras in those scenarios anyway.

        • I was thinking of Batwoman by J H Williams III as another example of a book that can’t be said to have a camera. But while some comics don’t have a ‘camera’ (just as some movies don’t have sound, or some music doesn’t have lyrics), I think the term is perfectly reasonable in discussing every other comic, where there is a camera being implied (love that description).

          Your point about animation and video games is just more proof that camera has a far broader term in art critique than discussion of the physical camera used in cinema. I mean, if you talk about the camera in a video game, we know exactly what is being referred to beause camera is simply the term used to describe that feature. There’s no need for comics to have a completely different vocabulary for critique when terms already exist. So, why not use the word camera? It is used in every other medium, and there needs to be a term to describe it

  5. Civil War II: I do like Bendis’ work. Quite simply, he has done some all time classics with his work on Daredevil and Ultimate Spiderman. Definitive stories. But Bendis’ work on teams and on events has never been fantastic, which is why I am surprised how much I am loving Civil War II.

    There are a couple of things that make this issue so masterful for me. Firstly, the structural choice to end the first act here. I remember the first Civil War being in a rush to start a war, leading to things like Maria Hill opening fire on Captain America for stating that he wasn’t going to follow a law that wasn’t even a law yet. This time, Bendis has extended the first act to great effect. People haven’t just chosen a side. Instead, everyone – even, to a degree, Tony – has tried their best to keep things calm, letting the pressure boil until it explodes. And saving the explosion here makes the coming Civil War feel much more natural and impactful than rushing to it. I understand exactly why a superhero would feel the need to go to war.

    But the true masterpiece is the fallout of Banner’s death. Bendis structured Banner’s death so that there are two contradictory stories. The story of ‘Banner’s fine’ and the story of ‘Banner’s about to Hulk out and kill us all’, and we have no idea which one is true. It is key to the set up, because after Hawkeye’s murder, Bendis spends the rest of the issue moving the blame away from Hawkeye.

    Usually, such a thing would be bullshit. Except here, it plays an important role. By making it that Hawkeye was only following Banner’s wishes, it forces us to avoid burying the Ulysses debate on whether Hawkeye’s actions were in the right. If Hawkeye was only following the wishes of Banner, then ultimately, the reason Banner died was… because of Ulysses. All the blame is shifted from Hawkeye to Ulysess, so that the tragedy of Banner’s death is at Ulysses feet. And if its Ulysses’ fault, we must then ask one question. What’s your opinion on police profiling?

    I criticised the first issue for its terrible inciting incident. This one, though? This is perfect. A hero is dead, a founding Avenger is dead, executed solely because of Ulysses’ power. This is the exact thing to cause a rift. I love it.

    Even better, Bendis does all this while keeping an eye on character. Taking the same cues that made Secret Wars great, Bendis has not let the scale of the event make him forget not to concentrate on character. By letting people just be wallpaper, Bendis has given time to actually explore his leads. And in this issue, he actually gets into the heads of Hawkeye and Banner. We don’t need a meaningless Spiderman page, if you can instead make us care about those who are actually in the centre of events.

    Instead of rushing to the battle, Bendis has let the tensions boil until primed to explode, and then unleashed a genius inciting incident. This is how events should go. I am now really looking forward to issue 4

    _____________________________________________________________

    Civil War – Choosing Sides: I have no idea why I chose to read this, but I am happy I did, for one reason. Because damn, Jeremy Whitley needs a Marvel book. Preferably replace the disappointing Ewing on the Ultimates.

    Whitley tells the story of Ms America, Monica Rambeau, Misty Knight and Storm at War Machine’s funeral. He combines a loving knowledge of continuity and a real understanding of character (the scene with Monica Rambeau takes one of Ewing’s ideas and shows just how fucking terribly Ewing did it by turning it into a powerful moment of grief, but my favourite line is ‘Sincere Kate is the worst. I want her to make fun of someone’. Says everything about America Chavez and Kate Bishop) to create four distinctly different, highly personal looks at mourning. Such great, powerful characterization, and I want to see more.

    Jeremy Whitley needs to do more for Marvel. I mean, he has proved he can combine character driven stories with playing around with Ultimates style concepts in an 8 page story about mourning (and with only 4 pages to do Ultiamtes style concepts).

    Also, I swear Jeremy Whitley wrote Ms America as secretly in love with Kate Bishop. It felt like they were going to run off and kiss

    _____________________________________________________________

    Gwenpool: I am impressed with just how effortlessly Hastings sets the scene so that we understand just how outmatched Gwen is, but completely buy her victory. No sudden competence jump, just a girl who takes advantage of the fact that she learns surprisingly fast. Hastings is doing a fantastic job of rooting Gwen’s existence in a way that lets her be competent while fully acknowledging how out of her depth she is, and this is the perfect proof. Gwen can win fights, but only through preparation, quick thinking, playing to her strengths and dirty cheating. This is no easy piece of escapism

    And I like how actually fighting instead of running/dodging actually gives her, for the first time, a real step forward – Cecil returns. She has to deal with the consequences of her new actions and replace MODOK as the leader, but the girl all about escapism chooses not to, and gets a friend out of it. Hastings is doing such a good job with this book.

    _____________________________________________________________

    New Avengers:

    I really enjoyed every book I’ve read this week from Marvel, except this one. Everyone seems to be on the top of their game… except Ewing. I gave New Avengers another try, and it has gotten better. Moving away from the problem solving side of things and towards spy hijinks has helped fixed a lot of the problems. Rapid reversals and quick plotting work great fighting SHIELD etc where it didn’t with New Avengers’ ordinary adventures.

    But a speedy, twisty plot is basically the only thing that New Avengers has. Ewing has a masterful knowledge of continuity, but seems only interested is referencing. He’ll reference Songbird and Hawkeye’s close relationship from the Thunderbolts, but he won’t use Hawkeye’s status as Songbird’s mentor to make Songbird betrayal sting. There is a hell of a lot of that in New Avengers, and the latest issue just continues that.

    New Avengers has improved – the plotting is now great fun. But it works by moving so fast, that it only really works in the moment. Yet the moment you finish it, you forget it because ultimately, it has no substance other than reversals. I mean, credit where credit is to using Ulysses’ visions in a clever way, but other than that, there really isn’t that much. Bring back the Ewing who wrote Loki

    Oh, and whoever redesigned Songbird’s outfit didn’t understand what the carapace Songbird has is supposed to be. Removing that and replacing them with shoulder-pads means she technically can’t use her powers. Someone in editorial should have caught that

    _____________________________________________________________

    Power Man and Iron Fist: I love the little reveals in this issue connecting the two of them to She Hulk and War machine. I love especially that Luke Cage’s last interaction wasn’t positive. Luke’s tragedy was that he never got the chance to make peace. In a book about the importance of friendship, is anything more tragic than a friend dyign before you had the chance to make amends? Taylor is right – this issue is proof that corporate events don’t have to compromise artistic values.

    In fact, they synthesise so well in this issue. This book has always been about the community. The community they live in is a key character, and few books have taken such a community based approach to the event. Even Ms Marvel used Kamala’s personal friends as a twist.

    Here, Power Man and Iron Fist wants to explore the effect on the community, and quite successfully does that wonderful touch of quiet subversiveness as it explores the dangers of profiling on the black community.

    Just a great tie in

    • I’m way behind, but I’m surprised you’re down on the Ultimates. It’s about the only team book by Marvel that I have found even slightly engaging. I think I like it just because of how far out sci-fi wonky it is. I’ll have to re-read issue 8. Maybe I am not as bothered by it because I’m ignoring most of the main Civil War II line.

      • I’ve only read the first two issues (or was it three), but it really disappointed me, and from what I see about the other arcs, it seems to have the same issues. Quite simply, the Ultimates seemed to make impossible problems simplistic.

        Of course, the book could never make the problems actually impossible. But the wonky sci fi felt far too easy to deal with. The spectacle of what Ultimates promised only works if the challenges do feel impossible. Yet the Ultimates seem far too competent, and too able to make a plan that works without enough hitches.

        And then the actual character stuff was disappointing. Too much ‘let me exposit where I currently am in my arc’ and not enough actual character stuff. The Civil War: Changing Sides story I discussed actually had Monica Rambeau struggle to have the will to literally hold herself together, while the first issue of Ultimates simply had Monica explain how her powers worked. Both were discussing the same idea – Monica’s powers force disconnect her to the point where Monica’s very humanity is a construct from her will. But Ewing simply states that, where Whitley actually has Monic ahave to deal with it.

        Ewing has done great stuff. Just yesterday, Ewing had his brilliant reply to Nick Spencer’s question about why the Democrat convention has a bunch of guys endlessly chanting Bernie (‘Fleshbernie has failed them, with his grotesque meat body. Ideobernie must now be summoned from the realm of forms’, a line that is both funny and full of characterization). Ultimates just seems to lack all of that, being to focused on story points to care about character moments or challenges.

        • I will not disagree that The Ultimates seem to solve the impossible remarkably easily. Each problem feels like it could be a yearlong arc, instead its wrapped up in a couple of pages. I’m enjoying it anyway (and I’ve talked some on this blog about my appreciation of stories that are wrapped up in one or two issues), but I can see why others would feel that the story is being shortchanged.

        • I don’t necessarily want a year long arc (I too like one or two issue stories, done right. Discussed this a couple of times with respect to Batgirl and Gotham Academy). There possibly is a way of resolving the Ultimate’s stories in two issues. But yeah, I felt the wonder of the Ultimates sci fi severely undercut by the fact that everything was so easy. What was supposed to be epic in scope turned into ‘we can account for nearly everything in our plan, so that it mostly isn’t dangerous’. And when the character work is also bad, it is hard to be happy with the final outcome.

          I wish there were a couple more moments of consoles exploding, and supergeniuses having to scramble to piece together a patchwork solution because they had no idea that they needed to prepare for this level of activity. A story where the smartest, most powerful Avengers team ever is shown to be hilariously underpowered and barely smart enough to achieve their goals. Or at least a story where they had to work a little bit more for their successes

        • “I wish there were a couple more moments of consoles exploding, and supergeniuses having to scramble … Or at least a story where they had to work a little bit more for their successes.”

          I agree with all of that. Even with that lacking, I think it’s solid wacky sci-fi, and I’m hoping the easy fixes turn out to be solid short stories that lead to more big fixes with the team being outmatched down the road. I wonder (as always) if the necessity of CWII changed some of the pacing of the stories, if Ewing needed to jam that stuff in the first six months since some of his big players are big players in Civil War.

        • Not sure if it is Civil War. Short arcs seems to be Ewing’s thing, as Loki was very similar. And New Avengers, while involved in both Pleasant Hill and Civil War, is distant to both of them to have flexibility yet also shares structural similarities (though New Avengers got a lot better by issue 7, when the plot changed to fast paced, full of reversals spy storytelling).

          It is just how Ewing works,and I think Ewing’s style doesn’t work as well with the stories he is telling now. Which is unfortunate. I think he needs to move away from large casts and big Plots, and return to smaller casts and an emphasis on characters counterplotting each other (as I said, New Avengers still has massive issues with its cast, but now that the Maker and SHIELD are major story influences, the war between the three of them works really well as each character acts in reaction to another)

        • I’m interested that you’re liking New Avengers. I reacted very negatively to it through its first arc. I’m not sure I remember why, but I didn’t like anything Avengers or X-Men or Inhumans (for a variety of reasons).

          And you’re right, it might be a Ewing thing. I’ll keep reading for a while. It’s working for me at an acceptable level and I do think the team might have an interesting make-up post Civil War (or nothing might change – I’m never sure with Marvel events).

        • First six issues of New Avengers is very, very bad. But after that, they focus on a spy v spy v spy thing where nearly every issue has a game changing turn. It still has issues (in some ways, it moves too fast), but it is so kinetic that there is always something happening. A very fun read, but not a deep one.

          If you want a book with vibrant ideas (not Ultimates level scale, by Mecha v Kaiju and armies of Dum Dum Dugan style ideas), really fast stories and lots and lots of turns, it is great. Characters are about as empty, if not emptier, than Ultimates (except Roberto, who as the leader basically defines the personality of his entire team), but they are so unimportant it doesn’t really matter. New Avengers is like a roller-coaster. A very fun ride, but not much else.

          It wouldn’t be the worst idea to start again at issue 7 or 8 (8 is where it truly turns into the ride that it is)

  6. I’m not convinced that Spidey’s comments about the black suit phase were a sub-in for Mind-wiping. The Black Suit era of Spidey led to Venom and Carnage, both of whom have their own current comics. The black suit (and most of you are too young to remember it) was the COOLEST THING EVER and the whole Venom story was completely insane at the time.

    So I don’t know if I agree that it wasn’t any more than, “Hey, I wore a black suit for a while too. That suit and it’s relatives are still trying to eat me and my loved ones.”

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