Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 8/3/16

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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 Deadpool 16, Doctor Strange 10, Moon Knight 5, Uncanny Inhumans 12, and Vote Loki 3.

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Deadpool 16

Deadpool 16Patrick: You know what line of criticism I hate? “It’s trying too hard.” First of all, I sorta reject the idea that the amount of effort put in to a work of art would automatically translate to my level of enjoyment of the art. But more importantly – every piece of fiction you take in is the result of hundreds of man-hours, late nights and unspeakable amounts of money. Arguably, an artist has to “try too hard” to even get anything made. Deadpool is one of those characters that attracts that criticism: maybe he makes too many jokes or the violence is too relentless or the fourth wall is too completely obliterated. Leave it to Gerry Duggan to put Deadpool in a place to levy that same criticism against someone trying (perhaps “too hard”) to be Deadpool.

Solo takes center stage in this issue, as he recounts an adventure wherein he (as Deadpool) is about to be set up for the assassination of a visiting foreign dignitary, but discovers the set-up and saves the day. It’s actually a pretty cool — if simple — story, and the action of the story is firmly of the Solo variety. First of all, he makes the decision to actually save the ambassador, which isn’t something I’d expect Deadpool to do, but he also leans on that teleporting ability. (That’s an ability that is nicely telegraphed in the first couple pages, just in case you forgot that Solo can do that… like me. I forgot that.) But everything else is Solo actively trying to be something he’s not. The costume part of that equation is easy – he looks just like Deadpool. But the “Merc with the Mouth” part is trickier, so Solo occasionally stumbles, shouting “Enchiladas!” like it’s some kind of battle-cry.

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And it’s those moments of “huh?” where Wade interjects with some kind of commentary. My favorite observation about Solo’s impression of Deadpool is: “…when you try to speak as me, you sound like Poochie the Dog.” It’s a nice little admission that writing Deadpool (or pretending to be Deadpool) does take a lot of effort, and sometimes that is going to look like “trying too hard.”
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Doctor Strange 10

Doctor Strange 10Spencer: To the Imperikul, the world is black and white: science is good and must be praised, magic is evil and must be eliminated. I think we all know, though, that things are never that simple. In the first few installments of this storyline, Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo showed why it was so important to save magic, but in Doctor Strange 10, they remind us that this doesn’t mean that magic is blameless either.

After all, magic did destroy the Imperikul’s entire world, and despite all the good Steven Strange’s done with it, he’s caused quite a bit of harm as well. Strange comes face-to-face with his mistakes this month in the form of the monster in his basement, a creature composed solely of years and years of Strange’s pain given physical form (and sentience!). Probably the most important moment in this entire arc is when Strange and his monster team up.

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Strange is forced to acknowledge his past mistakes by literally wearing them like a dark suit of armor, and it’s only once he does so that the tide of the battle turns in his favor. Now that Strange’s admitted the mistakes he’s made with his magic, he’s finally able to benefit from all the good he’s done with his abilities as well. He’s still a doctor, and his former patients come to his aide in his darkest hour, finally repaying him for all the battles he’s won, all the good he’s done, and all the sacrifices he’s made.

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So the moral of this storyline seems to be that nothing is purely good or purely evil — we need to acknowledge the faults of even the most worthwhile pursuits in order to keep them worthwhile. While magic never deserved to be so ruthlessly purged, perhaps it had existed without oversight for too long, and now Strange and his surviving magical cohorts will have to deal with the consequences of that, even after saving the day. This wasn’t an easy victory, but it was certainly an earned one.

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Moon Knight 5

Moon KnightSpencer: Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood’s Moon Knight can be awfully hard to follow at times, and in many ways, that’s very much by design — Lemire and Smallwood clearly want their readers to be questioning what’s real and what’s an illusion just like Marc Spector himself is. Moon Knight 5 serves as the conclusion to the “Welcome to New Egypt” storyline, and sure enough, there’s quite a few plot points that remain unexplained. It can be frustrating at times, but again, that may just be the point: Moon Knight himself is just as frustrated by this whole adventure, and it leads him to an interesting place.

It turns out that Seth’s attack was always a red herring; Khonshu himself is the culprit. His goal all along has been to free Spector so that he can use Spector’s body as a replacement for his own failing one. It’s unclear whether his attack on New York is an illusion or indeed real, or even why Khonshu needed Spector to come to him when he’s been visiting Spector throughout his entire journey, but no matter what, discovering his master’s hidden agenda has Spector pissed. In the light of such a reveal, such a betrayal, what can you even do?

You can say “no.”

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Marc may not know what’s real or not, but he knows that he’s tired of being manipulated and mislead. More importantly, he’s also tired of watching people he cares about get hurt in the crossfire. Spector can’t affect a world he doesn’t understand, but he can affect his own reactions to it — it may be the only power he has right now.

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Uncanny Inhumans 12

Uncanny InhumansPatrick: I think I’ve finally figured out the thematic difference between the X-Men and the Inhumans. While the X-Men are narrative tools to express the individual’s experience of being different, the Inhumans always come with a fully-formed culture. Xavier’s pupils may have to protect their own reputation against the actions of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but there’s never a singular governing body that purports to represent All Mutants. But when one Inhuman does something bad, all other immediately appear culpable by association. Uncanny Inhumans 12 addresses some of that anxiety-by-association.

Someone has attacked Stark Tower. Medusa, who has spent the last several days waging a non-violent war against Tony Stark, knows that she and her people are going to be held responsible unless they can find out who’s really behind this. Unfortunately for Medusa, not only was the attack perpetrated by a group of Inhuman terrorists, they were conscripted by her own brother-in-law, Maximus The Mad. Of course, Medusa’s investigation first leads her to cross some even closer relations off her list of suspects before she arrives at that still-upsettingly-close conclusion. She questions both her ex-husand and her son, both of whom were plausible suspects. There are so many different perspectives within the mega-group that is “the Inhumans,” that it’s kind of terrifying to consider that they are all lumped together as one autonomous entity.

Writer Charles Soule and artist Carlos Pacheco do such a great job of using superpowers and hooky designs to introduce a flood of new characters – all from that little terrorist group. We know Lash already, but Serrata, Grove, Bone Mama and Kacy all make distinctive, graphical impressions. I’m particularly enamored with Pacheco’s depiction of Grove’s powers because it looks like something that only makes sense on the comic book page.

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He fills the sky with rainbows! There’s gotta be over a dozen other Inhumans featured in the this issue and the only thing we really learn by spending time with so many of them is that they are anything but unified behind Medusa’s concept of what the “Inhumans” are.

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Vote Loki 3

Vote LokiSpencer: When we covered Vote Loki‘s first issue, I was fairly excited about the book. Loki running for president is a killer concept, and writer Christopher Hastings drew some chilling comparisons to our current election cycle (whether intentionally or not). That’s why I’m particularly sad to say that Vote Loki 3 is a disappointment. Hastings and artist Langdon Foss fail to draw any more depth from their premise, relying on the exact same beats that made up the first two issues.

This month, anti-Loki reporter Nisa manages to leak footage of Loki attacking Latveria, a move that directly contradicts the stance he took in the debate — this nearly derails his entire campaign, until Loki, as he is known to do, spins it to his advantage. Hastings and Foss get a couple of really nice character beats out of this plot (Nisa’s relief, followed by her disbelief when Loki gets off the hook), but otherwise, it falls completely flat. This story is a complete rehash of last month’s (only with Latveria instead of a cult), making Nisa and Loki’s struggle less of a political satire and more of a “Roadrunner vs. Wile E. Coyote” sort of thing (just with less laughs). It also manages to make Loki uninteresting — his appeal lies in his unpredictability, but now that Hastings has established a pattern, we know exactly what Loki’s going to do any time Nisa tries to take him down. That’s no fun!

I’m pretty sure that next month’s issue is this series’ conclusion, and that’s a bit of a relief, if only because I have no idea whether Loki will win this election or not, or what he’ll do if he does, and that uncertainty is exciting. Everything leading up to that point, though, is suffering from a serious case of diminishing returns.

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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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4 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 8/3/16

  1. Yeah, Vote Loki was definitely a missed opportunity. I loved the promise of the first issue, but #2 was terrible. I didn’t even bother to pick up #3 and your review confirms that my decision was correct.

    • I’m the same. The first issue had promise (though I wanted for teeth and some real political satire), but the second issue threw it all away. Didn’t bother reading this, and the Round-up confirms I was right.

      It is such a shame this book is so, so disappointing. The premise is amazing

  2. I think I’m glad I dropped Moon Knight.

    I’m glad I read Doc Strange. I’m not sure what will happen next, if he’s on to find the lost magic or take part in the Civil War. If anyone should have an opinion on pre-cogs, it certainly could be the Sorceror Supreme.

  3. Doctor Strange: To me, the best way of looking at this story is through the lens of costs. I mean, Doctor Strange literally says that he is the worst Sorcerer Supreme ever right next to a sequence where he passes his costs off to someone else. Everything that happens is because of his refusal to deal with the costs, and things only change from him actually accepting thee consequences.

    And when he does, a different sort of consequence occurs. The people who come to help are the people that Doctor Strange has helped. Doctor Strange saving the day has consequences. Aaron has been very clear. Using magic means incurring debt. But at the very end, we are reminded that there is another consequence. Youve saved people. And what goes around, comes around.

    And so, even as Doctor Strange is punished for his ignorance (magic is still dead), he is rewarded for his heroism (as he defeats the Empirkul).

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