Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 12/28/16

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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 Black Panther 9, Black Widow 9, Captain America: Steve Rogers 8, Extraordinary X-Men 17, Mighty Thor 14, Spider-Woman 14 and Uncanny Inhumans 17. Also, we discussed Civil War II 8 on Thursday and will be discussing Hulk 1 on Tuesdayso come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Black Panther 9

black-panther-9Ryan D.: Since Black Panther restarted, I have been skeptical about the role which T’Challa’s sister would play in the world of Wakanda when she returned from the Living Death. Now, she’s back, and I think that this might be the best thing to happen to the titular character yet. With her wisdom accumulated during her time in that spirit plane, Shuri’s look on ideology and strategy makes T’Challa’s approach, which we’ve been watching for eight issues, feel ham-fisted and unwieldy, which is exactly how I, as a reader, felt about him as a king.

Issue nine doesn’t feature any fisticuffs or dust-ups, but instead allows itself to affirm where each of the big pieces on the chess board are, ideologically. These conversations — and this is an issue comprised primarily of conversations — foreshadow the physical confrontations which will invariably come, so I do not mind the pacing dip. I am very happy with the change of artist back to its original which also accompanies this issue; I mean no disrespect to Chris Sprouse, but Brian Stelfreeze does a very admirable job with illustrating the people in this world:

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One thing which struck me in this title involves the very angular, lean look which the characters sport- everyone here has an eight pack and probably about four percent body fat. On top of this, writer Ta’Nehisi Coates, accomplished journalist extraordinaire, writes all of these characters as if they are all incredibly wise. While it is great hearing points argued by people with sound arguments, it’s almost unbelievable to me how thoughtful everyone seems to be. Some of the rebels, for example, must not be traditionally educated, and their characters are inherently more heart-lead than brain-lead, so it is odd hearing them speak just as eloquently as the royalty of the nation.

It’s telling to me about what kind of story is being told here by the very fact that we are on part 9 of this arc; the industry standard for one being about six issues deep. Coates continues to weave a nuanced political geography in this series, and while this dialogue-heavy, Dune-esque chapter might not be for everyone, I think the time invested here will pay off in the future, and keeps me guessing about who is — or if there is — a true good or bad guy in this series. If you’re a fan of ideological dissonance and the exploration of themes such as the pragmatic vs. philosophy of revolution, than number nine is for you. If not, maybe tune in next month to see whether Coates is prepared to knock some pieces off the game board.
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Black Widow 9

black-widow-9Spencer: Throughout Black Widow‘s entire run, Mark Waid has been quick to redirect all praise towards artist and co-writer Chris Samnee. Looking at Black Widow 9, it’s easy to see why — much like their exhilarating first issue, this month’s installment is driven almost solely by Samnee’s visuals, and it makes for a propulsive issue with several bravura sequences.

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The first comes on the very first page. We open on complete darkness, only for the silence to be instantly shattered by that jarring gunshot (which colorist Matthew Wilson even depicts in red, a stark contrast to the cool colors that fill the rest of the page). Samnee and Wilson take their time filling the page in with detail and color, which, at least to me, simulates the effect of the gunshot echoing across the landscape; we don’t even see Natasha until the fourth panel, but once we do, she immediately leaps into action. I love the detail of her clothes flying behind her as she dashes up the hill; it’s a bit cartoony, but in a good way, immediately showing us Nat’s urgency.

Samnee and Wilson use similar techniques for the next few pages, punctuating their slower, coolly-colored pages with sharp bursts of red-tinted violence, but once the all-out brawl between Natasha, Bucky, and Recluse breaks out, they shift gears entirely.

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There’s some beautiful choreography in play here — I love Recluse’s ballet-inspired kick in panel 3 — but I’m most impressed by the use of silhouette. It creates this almost poetic contrast to the violent red backgrounds, but it also amazes me how clear the action is even with all three combatants bathed in shadow; Samnee and Wilson keep just enough detail visible to make each character immediately recognizable.

I’m not trying to sell this issue’s actual story short — Iosef gets a fitting, surprisingly sad farewell, and Samnee and Waid are doing some interesting stuff with Nat and Bucky and what they may or may not remember about each other — but Samnee and Wilson’s action sequences continue to be this title greatest selling point, and I can’t see that changing any time soon.

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Captain America: Steve Rogers 8

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…the red skull is a nazi. This is the position of neo-nazi groups throughout the world right now. That is simple fact.

-Nick Spencer

Drew: When the first issue of this series came out, it was impossible to ignore the parallels between Red Skull’s recruitment pitch and the stump speeches Donald Trump was making around the country at the time. Turns out, writer Nick Spencer was more explicitly cribbing from the rhetoric of European neo-nazis, though I think quibbling about that difference is splitting hairs — the sentiments are largely the same, and undoubtedly share some inspiration. Either way, our focus on the Red Skull’s ideology meant we were necessarily giving short shrift to that of the series titular character. Having now had about 6 months to get to know this new Steve Rogers, we have a much better idea of who he is, and how exactly he (and us) might reconcile his unwavering moral compass with the ideology of Hydra.

Let me clarify: as ever, this series is decidedly NOT a defence of neo-nazism, and Steve’s status as Hydra sleeper agent shouldn’t be confused as an endorsement of neo-nazism (a point I only mention because the tweet quoted above was in response to continued confusion over this). Instead, this series has long been about the banality of evil — hateful ideology isn’t just held by mustache-twirling villains, but by seemingly decent, upstanding citizens. Steve Rogers is as seemingly decent and upstanding as they come, and while it’s not clear exactly what his vision for Hydra is, there’s little doubt that he’s a fascist. Only, he’s a fascist who works to destabilize fascist rebellions and fears his government’s reach exceeding its grasp. That last one is particularly salient in this issue, as his objections to Avril Kincaid’s deployment echo (and make direct reference to) his objections to Pleasant Hill.

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But of course, as a double-agent, it’s difficult to parse Steve’s true feelings. Are his objections sincere, or are they just part of the character he plays? It seems he organized the Chitauri attack that drew Avril out specifically to ask her for help in tracking down Kobik. Whether he agrees or disagrees with Avril’s deployment is irrelevant — all that matters is that he knew she would be deployed. In this way, the only glimpse (we think) we get of Steve’s unguarded opinion is when he’s talking to Erik Selvig, where Cap’s righteousness feels very familiar, even as its contains decidedly opposite ideology. We’re getting glimpses of Steve’s “no, you move” speech, but it’s now the world as we know it that needs to move.

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Extraordinary X-Men 17

extraordinary-x-men-17Patrick: I haven’t been reading this series for the last 16 issues, but I am in the market for as much IvX as Marvel has to throw at me. Usually, this kind of thing bites me in the ass — just because a series is taking part in an event I like doesn’t necessarily mean that these issues are going to up to the standard I’ve come to expect from the story. But, whatever — that just comes with the territory, right? Extraordinary X-Men 17 is not nearly as polished as the first two issues of the main event, or the Death of X mini-series, but it does drive at some compelling universal truths about fighting causes on micro- and macro-levels simultaneously.

The issue is maybe a little too precious about steeling Storm’s resolve to go to war against the Inhumans. We’re introduced to a young mutant named Maya, who is dying from M-Pox in the X-Haven. Her family tries to brighten her spirits by bringing Maya’s personal hero, Storm, to see her before she dies. Storm makes it, but only just in time to watch the child, now named Lucid for her ability to see through anything, succumb to the disease. Writer Jeff Lemire pulls no punches as Maya’s sister’s voiceover recounts everything Storm has been to her — icon, rebel, queen, warrior. This very neatly recalls Emma’s eulogy for Cyclops. The difference is that Storm is here to see the impact she’s had on a young girl who needs her. It’s dramatic as shit, and Lemire and artist Eric Koda cap it with a cathartic bolt of emotional lightning. It’s sort of a drag that the creative team sits in Storm’s explanation for her change of heart for two pages. We get it: shit got real. Had we cut from the spread of lightning streaking across the sky directly to Storm saying “we’re going to war,” it would have been f u c k i n g awesome.

Also, I hate to gripe on artistic talent so generally, but Koda’s artwork in this issue leaves a lot to be desired. His storytelling impulses are all pretty good, but the final work distractingly lacks polish.

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That weird circle is supposed to be Maya’s head. The strength of Lemire’s ideas more than make up for these shortcomings.

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Mighty Thor 14

mighty-thor-14Taylor: Jane Foster knows a thing or two about losing. Every time she powers down from being Thor her cancer is worse and it seems it is only a matter of time before she loses the battle for her life. With this is mind, it should come as no shock that Thor also handles losing well, even if it happens in the most horrendous fashion.

Malekith is continuing his rampage through Alfheim and, despite getting help from heroes of the ten realms, Thor is unable to stop him from destroying eons-old structures and artifacts. He has also sucked Alfheim dry of all its resources to destroy it and fuel his army of dark elves. Throughout this entire issue things of this nature occur again and again. Indeed, if hard pressed it would still be difficult to find a bright spot in this dark issue that is just loss after loss for our heroes.

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Jane is her usual strong self after this crushing loss to the dark forces, and that should come as no surprise. Well-versed in what it means to lose, Jane knows how to deal with situations like these. The question now is if her compatriots can learn the same lessons from losing that she has. If they do, perhaps they will see, just as Jane has, that loss can fuel, drive, and sustain you through difficult times. They say that it is always darkest before the dawn, and we can only hope that proves true in this series.

Regardless of what does happen, it’s exciting to see Jane take on the leadership role among her ten-realmed peers. As Thor, she is one of the strongest gods in the universe and it only seems right that she should now use this power to inspire and lead others in their time of need. Paired with the fall of Odin it’s enticing to think what will happen to Jane should she persevere through this loss and lead the ten realms into prosperity once more.

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Spider-Woman 14

spider-woman-14Spencer: Grief is complicated. I know; understatement of the century, right? But the truth of the matter is that no two people grieve the same, and this alone can spark conflict in an already turbulent time. Jessica Drew’s deeply bereaved in Spider-Woman 14 after the death of her crime-fighting partner, nanny, and best friend Roger Gocking, a.k.a. the Porcupine. Dennis Hopeless, Veronica Fish, and Rachelle Rosenberg fill the issue’s opening sequences with so many heartbreaking, well observed details; Jessica’s breakdown when she starts referring to Roger in the past-tense, the way a sinister shade of red (anger? grief?) is overtaking her memories of Roger, the way the Pumpkin Bomb that killed Roger seems to be mocking Jess.

It’s a perfect portrait of someone distraught and grieving, but Jess quickly puts on her game face. She’s a mother, so she has to be strong for her son. Moreover, she’s a superhero, a woman of action, so there’s only so much moping she can do. For Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman, grieving means taking action. It means avenging the death of her partner. But it means something else entirely for Roger’s ex-wife, the woman raising his daughter and planning his funeral.

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To Jessica, Roger becoming a hero was a victory, but to Olivia, it’s just another disappointment. All Olivia wants to do is grieve without having to face the woman she blames for Roger’s death, but that accusation nearly brings her and Jess to blows before Ben Urich (ever the collected voice of reason) intervenes. He points out that Olivia has a point, but that’s essentially irrelevant. She and Jess need to allow each other room to grieve instead of clashing and pointing fingers. Neither one is wrong; they’re just different.

When discussing issue 13 I mentioned how I was initially worried Roger was returning to his criminal ways and how, after all the work he’d put into reforming, that probably would have hurt me more than even his death. Hopeless and Fish feint this way themselves when Jessica intercepts someone in the Porcupine suit robbing a bank. Jess makes it clear that she’s pissed no matter who’s in the suit, but the fact that she continues to call this Porcupine Roger makes it clear that she, too, shares my fears.

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This is such an unusual cliffhanger, ending an issue mid-punch, in a small panel instead of a big flashy splash page, but it also illustrates how gutted Jess is. Just the possibility that her friend may have faked his death and returned to crime has her barely able to fight back, reduced to pleading as she lies prone on the floor. I feel so bad for Jessica. I feel so bad for everyone in this issue.

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Uncanny Inhumans 17

uncanny-inhumans-17Drew: I’m not much of a podcast listener, but I absolutely love Radiolab. The show has introduced me to so many ideas, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but it’s a testament to the consistency of the show that one of its most indelible moments comes from its very first episode, “Who Am I?”, which advances the theory that your sense of self — your very identity — is essentially a story you tell yourself. The objective accuracy of that story may vary from detail to detail, but the point is, it’s your story. This idea has been present throughout the current “A Song of Endings” arc of Uncanny Inhumans, which is brought to a poetic, thematically rich end in issue 17.

In constructing Auran out of the memories of other people, Treste and Irelle accidentally robbed their mother of her sense of self. She was no longer the story she told her self, but a conglomeration of the stories other people told about her. Exactly what that would mean for Auran is hard to describe — truly an identity crisis only comic book characters will ever experience — but artist R.B. Silva goes a long way to doing so when Sterilon meets her psychological embodiment on a metaphysical plane:

Sterilon and Aruan

She’s a patchwork of countless perspectives, so has countless eyes, and doesn’t quite fit together into any coherent identity. Sterilon offers to smooth over these inconsistencies, but can’t actually give Auran her story back. What he can give back is Black Bolt’s powers, which sets off another only-for-comics identity crisis, where Black Bolt wonders if he’s more valuable to his people as a weapon or as an orator. These are fascinating ideas — fun places for comics storytelling to go — a trait that has always been a strength of writer Charles Soule, but has become a particularly important piece of this series’ identity. It allows us to know this series even as it continues to change.

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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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5 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 12/28/16

  1. Spider-Woman was a rough read – but an excellent one. I’m really worried for Jess right now and who may be in that Porcupine suit. If it really is Roger – maybe he’s making it look like he’s gone back to his old ways, but he’s doing what Cindy did with Black Cat over in SILK? I’m still not discounting Bobbi having a role in this somehow. Can’t wait for #15. Spider-Woman never lets me down. It’ so consistently excellent.

    Uncanny Inhumans was just fantastic. This was the last story Soule gets to tell before the series wraps up with IvX. What a great way to end it to. I love Auran and I am so glad she’s back.

    Black Widow was amazing as usual. I love Samnee’s artwork and that’s how most of the story has been told. It’s just so fantastic.

  2. Black Panther: I think this is by far the best issue of Coates’ run. Shuri’s return is the best thing to happen to this book, and her approach changes the shape of the board. Every character that makes up this story is given such great depth this issue, thanks to the fact the endgame is now beginning. I don’t even believe there is a pacing dip. THe fact that we have Shuri so exactly specify strong plans (damn, I love the line ‘in the same way you would handle any other man in mourning… by consoling him, of course’ line)

    And the political theory have never been intertwined better. Coates has always had fantastic points to make, but here is where it fits the actual storytelling the best. The ideas of Wakanda having believed its own myths is a powerful idea, especially with what is happening in AMerica today. And while previously Coates has struggled to prove exactly why Tetu is such a threat, he effortlessly manages to explain that despite Tetu’s admirable goals, revolution is a bad thing. Previously, we relied mostly on the line about burning the house down, but seeing the tensions between Tetu’s revolution and the Midnight Angels makes everything so clear. Revolution has stopped being a mean to an end, and become the end itself. Tetu is just as responsible for the crimes of his people and T’Challa is of his own, but Tetu is ignoring it in the name of revolution. Again, it is something that I find scarily familiar, looking at the Bernie Bros and how many people were willing to throw women and POC under the bus in the name of revolution. Combine that with Changmire’s despair at the path his ideals have led to, and we actually have really strong storytelling.

    There is still some clunkiness in the story, but here, all characters are getting powerful moments that define the shape of the story, provide them depth and speak to theme. That’s impressive. This first arc has been disappointing, but seeing this issue makes me very interested in the second arc. Coates seems to be learning fast, and if he can stay at this level consistently, the next arc could be very good

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    Captain America: I don’t think Steve is having the Chitauri attack to draw April out, though that was a nice advantage. I think Steve has much bigger plans with the Chitauri. As he says, a large enough attack would create all sorts of openings for systemic change. Steve may be trying to defeat the Red Skull, but he’s also trying to take over the world and recreate it into a HYDRA utopia. Which means we have another great issue of why Steve Rogers is the best supervillain in comics. Seeing him manipulate.

    But what really interests me in this issue is just how fantastically Spencer is doing long term, multi book storytelling. We knew that an alien invasion was going to feature somehow, but how effortlessly this book intertwines with Thunderbolts is impressive. The choice to make Steve mastermind the invasion instead of having it as a threat that serves as a catalyst for the main plot is great. But how nearly every Thunderbolts plot point is addressed is also pretty impressive. It is going to be very interesting to see how the plots of all the books involved intertwine as the story goes on, because this story is astonishingly big and Spencer is actually doing a great job keeping it tight, even with so many books and so many writers

    Also, I disagree with ‘Instead, this series has long been about the banality of evil — hateful ideology isn’t just held by mustache-twirling villains, but by seemingly decent, upstanding citizens’. Considering the extraordinary circumstances that have led to this, to me it is about how easy it is to overlook evil when it infects an institution we trust. It is about how dangerous it is when evil successfully subverts what was good. The only thing that makes Steve Rogers’ plans work is the fact that we allow them to by sheer virtue of the fact that he’s Steve Rogers. Kind of like some of the shocking journalism that has happened since Trump has become President Elect, that has refused to apply proper journalistic scrutiny is all of his blatant lies because he is now President Elect and good by virtue of winning the election. Steve Rogers hasn’t always been evil, just as the Presidency hasn’t always been evil. But we are ignoring Steve ROgers for the same reason we are ignoring the many, many, many problems of our current President Elect. Because we would rather pretend that things are like they always have been than look at the current evidence

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    Extraordinary X-Men: So, I picked up this because I am trying to give Inhumans v X-Men a chance (I also, stupidly, picked up Uncanny Inhumans)

    In some ways, it may be my favourite Lemire story. A bit too precious story, but the story of Alisha and Maya works. Where I have complained before about how Lemire’s Waid-like characterisation, these characters are so simple that the dramatic construct works perfectly. They don’t feel grossly simplistic, because the story is supposed to be simple.

    But the Storm stuff is just wrong. The basic arc here is right, but she begins in the wrong place. She already decided to go to war. In fact, the comic references the fact that she backstabbed Beast because of that. Yet for some reason, she finds herself redeciding. The arc should be about how she struggles to take that final step. Instead, this feels like it comes after IvX 0, not IvX 1. Fix that, and this would be very good. Art issues aside (yeah, the storytelling impulses in the art are all in the right palce. WHich is why the actual quality is so disappointing)

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    Infamous Iron Man: Really wish the Thing wasn’t dealt with so quickly, but I guess if we are going to have Pepper turn up in Rescue armour soon, that has to happen for escalation purposes.

    A big thing here is Doom’s motive rant. The best thing about Doom here is the fact that ultimately, he is still Doom. His actions to protect Amara feel absolutely supervillainy, even as he explains how each and every step was done to protect her. Because that is ultimately his motive. He became god, and he failed. He failed spectacularly. THe Battleworld failed, because ultimately, he wasn’t good enough. And in those final moments, he actually had to admit that. That’s how Reed won.

    Forced to look into the mirror and see himself lacking, he is making an honest attempt at improving himself. Taking inspiration from his peers, he is now following the path laid by Reed and Tony. And using his knowledge of the supervillain community to do that job better than everyone. A great motive for Doom’s shift, that takes full advantage. And even better, Amara has the perfect response. Doom doing this because he feels he wasn’t a godly enough to be a god is not that good a motive.

    Civil War II forced Bendis to accelerate his plans for his books and screwed them up. But now that he is starting the second phase, free from Civil War II, it looks like they are going to soar. Both books are really exciting now

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    Mighty Thor: Combining the unification of all 10 Realms with the fall of Alfheim is fantastic. That final line about how all who will be next works so we have seen everyone unite to stop Maliketh and fail.

    I also love the consistency of Maliketh’s crimes in this issue. He has drained and destroyed ALfheim, but that is not the only way he exploits the world for his own gain. He turns Lady Wazira, one of the League of Realms, into the new Kurse, and his magical kiss (does anyone know exactly what that kiss meant?) appeared to be Maliketh draining something from the queen.

    THis has, secretly, been a villain arc. It is all about the evil of Maliketh, and exactly what makes him so horrible just as he is about to make his move such that all the Realms will burn. Never cared for Maliketh that much before Aaron, but Aaron has made Maliketh a fantastic villain. A conqueror whose villainy lies not just in how he conquers, but how he drains and exploits the very things he controls. What makes Maliketh scary is even if you beat him, you have to deal with the destruction he has left behind

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    Rocket Raccoon: DId you hear that Bendis is leaving Guardians? It is a miracle! Can’t wait to see what the next take is going to be. But until then, I’m hoping these new solo books are going to work. Though Rocket… doesn’t

    I like the choice to be a slightly more serious. I’ve always been surprised how they approach Rocket as a funny animal book, because in the main Guardian books and the movie, the big joke is that he isn’t a funny animal. He is a well rounded, complex character, whose big joke is that he is all that and a Raccoon.

    But the book doesn’t really work. THer is a great part of culture shock where Rocket tries to get a homeless vetrean some food, only to come into problems with the fact that Earth doesn’t acknowledge the Korbonite-Jovian Accords. But too much of this issue is Rocket walking around, saying ‘this is bad, I hate it’.

    The potential of ROcket stuck on a world he doesn’t like, dealing with the problems of being both an alien and a raccoon, could have been great. But he doesn’t do anything, until the end. Disappointing.

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    Spiderman: The usual complaint about Bendis is that he writes for the trade, but I think he is doing something really different here. A modern twist on a really classic story structure. This is his take on the infinite soap style that comics used to have. But unlike older comics, that often clumsily forced a villain in, Bendis is instead simply… writing. Each issue is quite simply the next chapter. Not self contained, because it is part of an infinitely long story. But each issue is its own, distinct chapter. It becomes something like, say, Game of Thrones, where each episode updates you on the next part of its epic story. THis is just the story of MIles’ life, adn the story continues and continues because that is what Miles’ life is like. There are no easy beginnings and endings, just major moments. It is an especially great way to approach SPiderman, a character who has always benefited from that sort of soapy approach (the tragedy of Spiderman in adaptions is that he would be perfect for TV, but has powers that only a movie can afford).

    With this issue, the focus is entirely on Miles’ father, as the choices he made when Miles disappeared during Civil War II have to be dealt with. He is now an agent of SHIELD again. Which means this is actually one of Bendis’ stronger issues. Bendis’ greatest strength has probably been his noir tales, and noir and espionage tales are full of many of the same tropes. The mission he is assigned is a drug sting, and Bendis can use all his abilities to write compelling noir to really sell the experience of Miles’ father undercover. Just as he can use those abilities in the ending reveal of the deceptions and their meaning.

    Has Bendis ever done a proper spy story?

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    Spiderwoman: Damn, this is a hard book to read, and for all the best reasons. I love how Hopeless has just kept building and building Jessica’s world. The effects of Jessica’s breakup with Carol weigh on the scene where Carol appears, and is more powerful because of that. Seeing Jessica alone because of the complexly crafted triangle of Olivia, Jessica and Roger works so perfectly. So, so much has happened, that as this book reaches its most dramatic storyline, it is so powerful.

    Something as simple as Jessica fighting a man in a Porcupine suit is powerful and full of complexities. In one of the comment sections of one of the most interesting film articles I have ever read (a discussion of Tony Stark’s wine cellar in Iron Man Three, and how the specific bottles inform Tony’s character), someone described a specific bottle of wine as ‘not subtle, but it is full of subtlety’. It is a phrase that has stuck with me ever since, and few comics feel like they deserve that phrase than this one. And honestly, that is why it is so sensational. Spencer, I love what you say about the odd nature of the cliffhanger. It is a masterclass in how to do a cliffhanger, because of how it breaks from the cliches because it truly understands what a cliffhange is

    Because nothing is a better cliffhanger than the possibility that Roger is actually punching Jessica

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    Thunderbolts: Still not a great book, though benefits from the fact that it is second only to the Steve Rogers book of being in the middle of the interesting parts of SPencer’s epic. Bucky and Steve come face to face, and Bucky sees that the two of them are currently on opposing sides – without realising just how different their sides really are. Kobik is finding herself torn between loyalties to both the Red SKull and Bucky. Melissa fully commits to the THunderbolts and states that SHIELD is corrupt and broken (in what is actually a cleverly done scene).

    And meanwhile, Ghost has returned. Which is great, as HHost is a character who should remain associated to the Thunderbolts. Probably connected to the Zemo stuff we are about to get.

    This book has a lot it needs to improve, but it is really taking advantage of its close connection to the STeve ROgers book

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    Uncanny Inhumans: So I was silly, and accidentally picked this up. Still, I wanted to give the Inhumans a try.

    Was a bit disappointed. I came half way through a story, so I am missing stuff. But I struggle to work out who this issue is about. Auran gets a coda at the end, but it is hard to see Auran as an actual character in this issue. She is quite simply a bomb. An interestingly described bomb, but a ticking time bomb. A plot device in someone else’s story. It is hard to make a point about identity with respect to Auran using just this issue, as she spends the time tied up and gagged. Previous issues may have explored what it means for her to have an incomplete identity, but in this issue, it is solely the particular reason why Sterlion is needed to fix the problem.

    And they really don’t do a lot with Black Bolt. I’ll be interested in where Drew gets the idea that Black Bolt is choosing between being a weapon or an orator. Because nothing suggests Black Bolt represents the Inhumans as an orator. Instead, it felt like a question of, after everything, Black Bolt should take the chance to be free. Has he done enough? Is he allowed to enjoy a life where he can speak?

    But nothing in this issue explores what that would mean. Black Bolt talks a lot, but he never does anything that makes us feel like the loss of his voice is that bad. He simply resolves the crisis. Imagine if his voice was used to display personality traits that he never gets the chance to show. You could have fun with him enjoying flirtatious banter, of having interactions where he enjoys being able to be an equal participant. But instead, he runs around asking for what is required like he’s a plot device in someone else’s story. The closest we get to any sense of loss is that Black Bolt apologises to Medusa. Forgetting the fact that Medusa is the one character Black Bolt could always talk to, because of their psychic link, the moment plays more like Black Bolt’s moment of grace. The ‘I’m going to lose my voice again, but at least I can say the most important thing’. But here’s the problem. Now that Black Bolt has said ‘I’m sorry’, what else does he want/need to say? Now that he has said ‘I’m sorry’, why would it be meaningful for Black Bolt to have a voice. Because there is no evidence that being able to speak was that meaningful to Black Bolt.

    Maybe other issues explored the topics more thoroughly, but this issue certainly failed to give the plots of Auran or Black Bolt meaning. Instead, they both felt like plot devices in the other’s story. A shame.

    Though I have to say, I love the cover.

    • Hey Matthew, I recommend you head over to AttilanRising.com (shameless plug for my podcast ha) and read Doc’s review of Uncanny Inhumans 17. Auran was really popular for the 2 issues she showed up Soule’s Initial Inhuman run and that’s why this arc packs a punch. It’s also the last arc Soule is doing with Uncanny before IvX ends the series out.

      It might not change your opinion but it may explains things a bit better. The Inhumans are pretty awesome, I think you just jumped in at weird point.

      • My problem is less about not knowing a lot about Auran but the fact that Auran doesn’t really do much in this issue. She is simply a plot device, and not a character. Which is a problem, when I can say the same thing, mostly, for Black Bolt. Having greater context would certainly make me care about Auran more, but I don’t think it changes the fact that ultimately, it is disappointing that neither Auran nor Black Bolt do anything

        But thanks for the site.I’ll certainly take a look, as I want to give Inhumans a try

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