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 Ms. Marvel 13, Old Man Logan 14 and Uncanny Inhumans 16. And come back on Friday for our discussion of Ghost Rider 1, on Monday for our discussion of Black Widow 8, and on Wednesday for our discussion of IvX 0! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ms. Marvel 13
Drew: Boy, timing sure is everything on inspiring messages, huh? Advice is mostly helpful before you need it — receive that same message when it’s too late and it’s hard not to hear it as “I told you so.” Still, good advice is good advice whenever we hear it, even if the timing makes us less receptive to it. Such is the case with Ms. Marvel 13, an inspiring message about how the massive bloc of non-voters truly could reshape our democracy if only they could be motivated to — a message that takes on a bitter tinge in the wake of our recent election, where a depressing 41.9% of voters (more than enough to tip the scales in any candidate’s favor) didn’t vote.
As I said, good advice is good advice, but I can’t help but wonder if this issue was meant to come out a month ago, when decidedly practical advice about mail-in ballots or visiting vote.usa.gov to register to vote would have had much more immediate value. As it is, this issue feels a bit like the Hillary signs I still see on my neighbors’ lawns — I appreciate the memory of that optimism, but being of reminded of the failure of that optimism also hurts. Fortunately, writer G. Willow Wilson provides a happier ending for the citizens of Jersey City, unexpectedly turning this issue into a bit of welcome escapism.
Indeed, while there are clear parallels to the recent presidential election, Wilson avoids creating an overt caricature of Trump (or his supporters). Sure, the villainous candidate Kamala hopes to defeat is an agent of Hydra, the organization famously led by an aged white supremacist who probably can’t grow his own hair, but we never see his outrageous platform positions or twitter rants. Which, to my eye, allows this issue to age a bit better than it would have, otherwise. This issue isn’t about Kamala fighting a candidate or even an ideology, but apathy itself. It turns out that message is still as timely as ever, so I’ll take it to heart, even if the advice on registering won’t matter for a while.
Old Man Logan 14
Spencer: When it comes to his Marvel Universe incarnation, I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood why Dracula’s such a big deal — in a world of powers and supervillains, he’s not all that special. While Dracula only appears in one panel of Old Man Logan 14, writer Jeff Lemire is still able to sell me a bit more on why he’s so feared. It’s not necessarily his power alone that’s so intimidating; it’s his massive army, and his ability to create as many vampire soldiers as he can sink his teeth into, that’s the real threat. This issue’s cliffhanger finds Logan being bitten by Dracula himself; knowing just what Logan’s capable of, and after watching him intimidate a Sentinel and the Howling Commandos alike throughout this issue, I’m finding the prospect of Old Vampire Logan far more frightening than Dracula himself.
Still, it’s not the threat of Dracula, but the prospect of losing Jubilee and Vampire-By-Night to his thrall that provides this issue with its stakes (pun fully intended). An interesting note about Old Man Logan 14 is that it features no flashbacks, which I think is a first for this series? In a way it makes sense — last month’s installment pretty much brought Logan’s story full circle — but it does seem like a bit of a wasted opportunity to dive more into why Jubilee means so much to Logan.
This issue also finds artist Filipe Andrade and colorist Jordie Bellaire filling in for series regulars Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo. Andrade’s sketchier, more jagged style is a departure from Sorrentino’s for sure, but still fits the tone of Logan’s adventures. Andrade passes the vital test of making Shogo irresistibly adorable (and kudos to Lemire for sticking with his signature “Buh”), but his action isn’t always easy to follow. There’s a couple of layouts that backtrack back and forth across the page without much rhyme or reason, and sometimes what’s actually happening just isn’t clear.
I’m guessing Manphibian leapt onto that wall between panels two and three, then reached down and tossed the male vampire off the catwalk? It’s not very clear, especially since the previous panels show the male vampire standing on the far side of the female, meaning that Manphibian would’ve had to have tossed him, then leapt to the wall — otherwise he couldn’t have reached him. Despite being such a departure from Old Man Logan‘s norm, this issue is still surprisingly enjoyable, but it’s details like this that keep it from hitting quite as hard as it should.
Uncanny Inhumans 15
Patrick: One of the great and/or alienating things about the X-Men is the stunning amount of baggage those characters bring along with them. And that’s not just the characters’ baggage, but the readers’ baggage with the characters. I don’t think we get to move past Jean Grey or Cyclops killing Xavier, or any number of traumatic things in the X-Past. The Inhumans need to have their versions of those trials to make readers forge those same kinds of attachment to their heroes. In Uncanny Inhumans 15, Charles Soule and R.B. Silva attempt just that, while also acknowledging that we may not know enough about the characters to be carrying so much baggage. Yet.
Auran is dead. OR IS SHE? Last issue, Reader and Auran’s daughters, Irelle and Triste, brought a version of Auran into existence based on interviews with other Inhumans about her. It’s one of those ideas that everyone knows is going to be bad, but they do it anyway, because come on: who wouldn’t want to see mom again? Soule and Silva introduce the idea that something is wrong in this incredible cold-open splash before the title page:
“That’s not how my powers work” is a pretty clear indication that something is fundamentally not right. Rather than starting with the more complex ideas that her personality is off, or that parts of her life experience are just missing all together, Soule leans on a mistake that a fan of superheroes might make: misunderstanding her powers. She’s not Ice Man, she’s not Wolverine, we don’t have 50 years of comics history shoving her abilities down our throats.
It’s a such a good science fiction question: how could anyone not-you ever hope to replicate all of you? Soule seems insistent on the answer: “they can’t.” That might be kind of off putting, but I kinda like the meta-assertion that an artist always needs to put something of themselves into a character to complete them. Otherwise, she’s just running around like a lunatic with ill-defined sound powers. In a world with Black Bolt’s voice, you gotta be clearer about what those powers are – right now, faux-Auran (Fauxran?) is armed with one of the strongest powers in the Marvel Universe.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?