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 All-New Inhumans 11, Civil War II Amazing Spider-Man 4, Deadpool 18, Gwenpool 6, Mockingbird 7, and Old Man Logan 11. Also, we discussed Uncanny Inhumans 13 Thursday and we’ll be discussing Black Panther 6 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
All-New Inhumans 11
Spencer: I was quite surprised when I turned to All-New Inhumans 11‘s letter column and discovered that this was the series’ final issue. It’s a crying shame this book didn’t get more time to build an audience — with Charles Soule juggling so many plots and characters over in Uncanny Inhumans, it was nice to have this companion title that could establish a more stable cast of Inhumans and dig a bit deeper into their personalities and relationships.
Those are the exact traits that James Asmus and Rhoald Marcellius focus on in their grand finale. As the issue opens, much of the cast are feeling isolated — work distracts Crystal from her daughter, Gorgon’s son is still in a coma, and Swain’s purposely cordoned herself off for fear of unintentionally manipulating others — and it’s only by trusting their crewmates and opening themselves up to their friends that they can begin to heal. Not every problem is solved in this issue, and not every dangling plot-thread is resolved (I’m curious to see if/when the Sky Spires will be addressed again), but it’s a powerful, positive step in the right direction.
It’s hard not to get a little misty-eyed over Crystal’s monologue here, especially in light of its meta-textual implications. The All-New Inhumans were no doubt characters that Asmus and his collaborators connected with and enjoyed revisiting again and again, and the same goes for readers of the book. We’re sad to see their adventures end, no doubt, but we’ll always have their companionship via back issues, and, hopefully, can continue to use the lessons we learn from the characters we love to make the world a better place for years to come.
Civil War II Amazing Spider-Man 4
Spencer: Sometimes it’s hard to write about a comic, not because it’s bad or has nothing to say, but because it makes its points with such eloquence that there’s really no need for me to reiterate them. Christos Gage and Travel Foreman’s Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man 4 has quite a bit to say about fate and responsibility, and makes its points so clearly that it just feels redundant for me to go over them again here; everything you need to know is right on the page, no subtext needed.
So instead, I want to talk about some of the smaller aspects I really enjoyed about this issue. First of all, I appreciate Gage treating Ulysses like an actual character, instead of just a prophecy delivery system. The idea that Ulysses’ own subconscious desires could be shaping his visions is a vital aspect of Civil War II, yet we’ve seen very little of what actually makes this kid tick; watching him attempt to use his visions for good and live up to his responsibilities, and perhaps even assess the morality of his own role within this conflict, is refreshing. I also appreciate the fact that Peter’s adventures lead him to take Captain Marvel’s side in this Civil War; nearly every tie-in I’ve read has featured characters either siding with Tony or turning against Carol after initially siding with her. We desperately needed a big character on Carol’s side, and Peter’s one who comes to it naturally, with over fifty years of preaching about “great responsibility” informing his decision.
Foreman and colorist Rain Beredo’s art is worth praising as well. Foreman’s attention to detail is astounding — just look at the detail in Stromm’s robots or even the row of townhomes in the background as Spider-Man and Clash talk above the city — and he approaches each panel from an unique angle, always emphasizing the characters’ movements in the process.
Take a look at panels one and three here, for example. In the first, the slant of the panel and the motion lines emphasize Peter slamming forward into Stromm, while in the third, the slant and motion lines emphasize the backwards motion of his ripping Stromm’s cybernetic limbs off. This particular page is one of Foreman’s more dynamic layouts, to the point where it might be a little confusing if not for letterer Joe Caramagna directing the readers’ eye in the proper direction. Essentially, this whole team is firing on all creative cylinders. This series will probably have more effect on Amazing Spider-Man than Civil War II going forward, but ultimately, I think it will be remembered as one of Civil War II‘s strongest tie-ins.
Michael: Gerry Duggan does Deadpool best when he’s riding the fine line between sarcastic and sympathetic – and by sympathetic I mean pathetic (I mean that as a compliment, honest!). The varied tragedies of Deadpool’s life make him the biblical Job of the Marvel Universe. Like many times before, Deadpool 18 provides Wade Wilson with a new low: without a wife and without an Uncanny Avengers team. Duggan doesn’t make Uncanny Avengers necessary reading – we don’t need to know the particulars of why the team has disbanded, only that it has.
Half of the issue deals with the fallout of Wade finding his wife Shiklah, and their subsequent attempt to kill one another. The remainder of the issue shows us how decent Wade can be, through the eyes of his former teammate Rogue. Deadpool can be a dirty sonofabitch, but the scenes he shares with Rogue are him being a genuine human being sharing his pain. He’s not trying to get into Rogue’s pants or anything he’s just asking Rogue to look out for her maybe-mutant daughter if she becomes an X-Man someday.
For being a crazy person, Wade is kinda sorta making some healthy life choices for himself in Deadpool 18. After he kills the Werewolf that was sleeping with Shiklah, she beats the ever-living crap out of him. She seems amused by the end of it all and asks Wade to come back home with her. Wade – a man who’s spent the better part of his life being a bad punchline – wisely declines.
“Something’s wrong. Murder isn’t working and that’s all we’re good at.”
Nichelle Nichols, Futurama
Patrick: No one has a flawless role model, but you’ve really got to feel for poor Gwenpool, who takes obvious inspiration from one of the more deplorable heroes in the Marvel Universe. Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Deadpool, but he is… I believe Michael used the term “a dirty sonofabitch.” That’s accurate. He kills people willy-nilly, and his fourth-wall-breaking digressions literally trivialize the experiences of everyone else in his world. In Gwenpool 6, Gwen discovers just how alienating it can be to try to emulate one superhero from someone who finds so much success emulating another.
Of course, we’re talking about Miles Morales, who’s been around the block so many times, it might not be fair to say that he’s emulating Peter Parker anymore. Miles is his own Spider-Man, and he has internalized a lot of Peter’s social quirks and values, but they are genuinely his values. Gwen, on the other hand, lets the superficial connection she has to Deadpool — i.e., fourth-wall breaking — to dictate her morality. It’s an amazing story – writer Christopher Hastings sets up a world where Gwen’s pseudo-prophetic comic fandom gives her the ability to save lives, so we are initially on-board with Gwen’s actions. She confuses the hell out of poor Miles with talk of the Ultimate Universe and Secret Wars, but ultimately drills in to something useful: this kid Damian was going to detonate a bomb at the school.
That’s the groundwork for another happy-go-lucky Gwenpool adventure! Yay, let’s go home! But hold on: there are consequences to being like Deadpool, consequences to thinking your life is a comic book and the people you meet are comic book characters. When Gwen and Miles confront Damian, Miles goes into to superhero-counselor mode, trying to talk through the problem. Gwen takes aim and fires. She misses — thankfully — and artist Irene Strychalski makes the reader sit in that moment immediately thereafter, camera at an uncharacteristically dramatic low angle and with unexpected gritty detail filling out her cartoony designs.
This all leads Gwen to some pretty dark places. It’s really no surprise that these kinds of characters become villains (oh, Superboy Prime, originator of the site’s name!) but it’s heartbreaking to see that path slowly unfolding before her.
Ryan M.: The murder investigation in Mockingbird 7 plays out like an episode of Murder, She Wrote. We have a locked room mystery, quirky characters, a strangely accommodating Captain, suspects that seem incapable of murder, and Lance Hunter in the role of the dedicated sidekick. I love cozy mystery, so I found the rhythms of the story comforting, even as Chelsea Cain offered surprising moments of levity throughout. Cutaways and digressions characterize the series, and Cain is not holding back in an issue that takes every opportunity to explore what in another book might be a throwaway joke.
The page from The Boy Scouts Guide to Field Guide to Tracking acts as an exploration of a Hunter’s line. There is something really confident about using half a page not just to contextualize a joke, but to explore it’s implications for half a page without furthering the plot. It’s the attitude of, “I think this will be fun, so I’m going to show it to you.” The little moments like this, or the flight of fancy about Cruise Ship Bootcamp are not only fun, but they give us insight into how Bobbi’s mind works. During her investigation, she presents herself as a capable and focused super-spy with little time for nonsense, whereas the reader knows there is someone really clever and fun beneath that veneer. Which makes it all the more upsetting when her mask slips for a moment when Lincoln Slade touches her. Her expression becomes uneasy and you can see her fear. Of course, she quickly regains an angry sort of control, but we know that this confrontation isn’t easy for her. It’s a great place to leave the issue, because we know both that Bobbi will handle him like a boss and that it will be an internal challenge.
Old Man Logan 11
Drew: Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile has a simple enough premise — it’s a choose-your-own-adventure comic — but that simplicity belies an elegance inherent in that fusion. As with any choose-your-own-adventure, the branching narrative forces you to flip back and forth across numerous pages, but the graphic simplicity of the comics medium allows the reader to take in incidental bits of narrative as they flip through the pages. In prose, adjacent pages can be ignored as blocks of text, but in comics, those pages can be consumed at a glance, allowing every page of Meanwhile to resonate with the energy not just of what could be, but what has been and what will be — a distillation of whatever excitement choose-your-own-adventure stories offer. Old Man Logan 11 doesn’t necessarily celebrate reader autonomy in the same way, but it does manage to explore some of the bizarre formal hiccups that make Meanwhile so remarkable.
To get right down to it, there’s one sequence in particular that took my breath away.
True to form, artist Andrea Sorrentino sees to it that every issue has at least one show-stopping layout, but I might argue that this one takes on unique narrative significance. The page leading into this finds Logan and his foe engaged in seemingly identical fights in both timelines: his original, Old Man Logan timeline, and the current one. We can think of these as moments of reminiscence or deja vu for Logan — he lived through the first fight, and can remember it during the second — but we can also think of it as an alternate reality version of the same fight (the perspective his adversary might have of these two threads). The result is something that couldn’t adequately be expressed in prose or on film — particularly as the fights diverge into seemingly opposite outcomes.
I suspect the Old Man Logan purists will object to Logan popping his claws in the flashback story — and I have to admit, it does render his refusal to fight in Mark Millar’s original a little hollow — but I’m so enamored of this sequence, I don’t really care. Frankly, this issue makes a strong case for why this character works in the current timeline — the connections across time seem perfectly designed for the comics medium. This series still takes its time getting anywhere (which is odd, given how much faster it reads than anything else on my pull), but so long as its breadcrumbs are this enticing, I’ll follow that path anywhere.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?