Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/4/17

marvel-roundup64
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 the Duck 1, Hawkeye 2, Moon Knight 10, Nova 2, Old Man Logan 16 and Unworthy Thor 3. We discussed Captain America Sam Wilson 17 on Thursday and U.S.Avengers 1 today, and we’ll be discussing Unstoppable Wasp 1 on Tuesdayso come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4

Deadpool the Duck 1

deadpool-the-duck-1Patrick: I won’t often say this, but everything you need to know about this issue is contained on the cover. Deadpool + Howard the Duck = Deadpool the Duck. No bullshit, the issue itself spends 18 pages with the left side of that equation as though it matters why these two characters are fused together to form one meta-aware wise-crackin’ anti-hero. Writer Stuart Moore goes to admirably subtle lengths to distinguish these characters from one another — for starters, Deadpool speaks basically non-stop, never allowing one of his thoughts to be expressed in a voice over box. The Howard sections, by comparison, are lousy with narration. In fact, Howard only quacks and says all of six words in the first page pages he appears in.

Their humor also comes from different places. Deadpool is largely locked in to whatever wackiness he can concoct in his safe-house scene with Agent Mary, scoring laughs off DYI home improvement jokes and half-assed efforts at self-improvement. Howard, on the other hand, is aggressively anti-social, seemingly only interested in what makes him a better comic book character. He’s literally looking to team up with another hero, but only if it means it’ll increase his “box office.” This is a Howard the Duck that’s aware he was in a shitty movie encountering Rocket Raccoon and Deadpool and knowing both of them were in successful movies. Whether or not Rocket and Wade know this is up for debate.

Moore’s handle on Deadpool’s voice is a lot more firm than his handle on Howard’s. It’s totally charming that Wade would imagine a disembodied Wolverine head as his spirit animal. But Howard’s over-blunt way of speaking doesn’t exactly come across as “the last sane man in a world gone mad.” At one point, he takes shelter in a cabin announcing himself as follows:

howard-introduces-himself

That’s such a weird mix of broad and specific, and it kinda just makes Howard come off as a dick.

Still, there’s something intriguing about jamming these two characters into one. I’ll be back next time to see how exactly Moore pulls off combining the character everyone loves in spite of themselves and the character who hates everyone.

slim-banner4

Hawkeye 2

hawkeye-2Drew: Did you ever meet somebody so incompetent that they had no idea they were incompetent? Everybody has. Maybe it was an overconfident classmate, or maybe its a coworker who can’t understand why they’re always passed over for promotion. There’s actually a word for this phenomenon: the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It’s most tragicomic when we think about it as a condition of existence — Florence Foster Jenkins is a great example — but I think we all experience this from time to time, ignorant to our own ineptitude. Of course, we’re usually self-aware enough to later recognize our incompetence, but that moment, when we realize we are (or were) actually in over our heads can be uncomfortable. That’s exactly the moment Kate is in in Hawkeye 2, as her simple open-and-shut case (which the title page confidently calls “closed”) turns out to be much more complicated than she thought.

But it’s easy to see where the confusion comes from. Kate really did apprehend a guy who really was harassing her client. Only, it turns out he wasn’t the only guy harassing her. But nevermind! Kate’s really good at stopping bad guys. Just look at her work over these sketchy frat dudes she found huddled around a scared girl in an alley:

Kate in action

I mean, come on, there’s no denying that she has skills. Moreover, there’s no denying that the art team of Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire have skills — this is a kinetic sequence, goosed by some lovely touches of red (Actually, I could probably fill up the rest of my space talking about how brilliant that use of red is, emanating from a neon sign introduced four pages earlier, but I should get back to Kate’s Dunning-Kruger moment). After a sequence like this, it’s easy to understand Kate’s swagger. She’s good at her job — at least the ass-kicking part.

Unfortunately, she’s less good at seeing the bigger picture, which leads her to rush into a cultish meeting without any real plan. If the meeting was just three frat dudes in an alley, she might not need a plan, but it turns out her case is a bit more complicated than that. She doesn’t know she’s in over her head until she’s really in over her head — running for her life without anywhere to turn. I have no doubt she’ll figure out a way to get out of it — she really is a boss when it comes to action — though I can’t help but wonder if she’s going to learn from her mistakes.

slim-banner4

Moon Knight 10

moon-knight-10Michael: Moon Knight 10 shows us the “birth” of Steven Grant, Marc Spector’s first alternate personality and imaginary friend. There’s a lot of subtext in those first few pages both in dialogue and visuals. Marc and Steven are getting to know one another, talking about what they want to be when they grow up. Steven knows he’s going to be famous and direct movies — a personality already fully formed and imagined by Marc. Marc himself says that he keeps changing his mind about what he wants to be — a common trait of our dissociative hero.

I really dug the flashbacks involved in Moon Knight 10 because they really ground the fantastical, mind fuckery elements that surround them. Greg Smallwood probably got a kick out of drawing the orgy of ‘80s pop culture evidence that was Marc’s bedroom. The first panel of the book shows Marc drawing spacemen and werewolves on the sidewalk, a nod to the events of previous issues. Smallwood gave me all of the dad feels when closes in on Marc’s father’s face as he realizes something might be very wrong with his son — it’s a heartbreaking look of concern.

dad

This issue also has Young Marc meeting Khonshu for the first time, in a foreboding and ominous manner. Between Khonshu promising young Marc that “you will come to me” and Moon Knight bargaining with Anubis for Crawley’s soul, there’s this theme of destiny and freedom. In simple terms, Marc is tired of Khonshu pulling his strings, so it’s time for that God to die.

slim-banner4

Nova 2

nova-2Spencer: Ramon Perez…god, Ramon Perez. I feel like I could take just about any single page of Perez’s art from Nova 2 and just gush about it for hours. Actually, let’s do that.

puberty-monster

The dinky sound effects as Sam hits the water in panel 1, and the meandering energy trail that results, are fun, expressive touches. The color work in panel 2 is just terrific; the deep hues of purple betray the Cancerverse monster as a foreign presence against that tamer, lighter melon sky, a presence so dangerous that he actually seems to warp the color of the sky behind him. Then there’s that final panel, the entirety of which effectively becomes part of Sam’s blast thanks to some simple color and motion lines. The way the monster’s tentacles originate from the gutter and overlap that panel is a brilliant trick of perspective, squaring Sam and the beast off while keeping them on entirely separate planes. And this is just one page! I could go on and on.

Amazingly, the writing easily keeps up with the standards set by the art. Perez and Jeff Loveness have such specific, idiosyncratic voices and viewpoints for each of these characters that pretty much anything they do becomes interesting as a result. For example, Sam doesn’t just fight a Cancerverse beast — he visualizes it as a personification of puberty because that’s what he’s pissed off about right now. And although Rich and Sam have just met, their relationship is already fascinating. Neither Nova fits easily into a “student” or “mentor” role; they both have quite a bit to teach each other, and quite a bit to learn as well.

I’d be remiss not to mention the humor, too.

sentence

Seriously, the jokes come at a fever pitch, and they’re funny, not just because of the actual punchlines, but because of the rapport Loveness, Perez, and letterer Albert Deschesne create. This is some Sorkin/Whedon-esque rapid-fire dialogue here (perhaps combined with a classic screwball comedy), the kind that usually works best on television or film, so the fact that this scene lands as well as it does is a testament to all the creators involved. I wasn’t expecting shtick from Nova, but man, Loveness and Perez delivered it anyway! This book is a delight.

slim-banner4

Old Man Logan 16

old-man-logan-16Drew: I have no idea how Mark Millar pitched the original Old Man Logan, but if that book got greenlit without anyone uttering the phrase “Unforgiven with Wolverine,” then nobody was doing their job. Of course, as the character is taken beyond that initial premise, its resemblance to Unforgiven should wear thinner and thinner. That is, it would if it weren’t for writer Jeff Lemire’s ever more inventive ways of keeping Logan’s connection to the Wasteland alive and well.

In previous issues, that connection was reinforced in flashbacks, albeit flashbacks to events that hadn’t yet occurred in this timeline. Here, the Wasteland appears in what seems like flash forwards. Or is it that the rest of the issue is appearing in flashback? It’s actually not clear exactly how the two timelines of this issue line up — Logan seems to somehow be back in the Wasteland, but his last memories are of helping Alpha Flight fight off the Brood. Those memories may be from the “present” of the Marvel Universe  — Captain Marvel working with Alpha Flight in space certainly suggests that — but they could also events from Logan’s original timeline (that he’s remembering from the distant past). Puck makes a vague reference to “everything that’s going on down on Earth,” which I suppose could be a reference to Civil War II, but could also be a reference to the villains attack that created the Wasteland in the first place.

Point is, exactly when (or even if) any of this issue is taking place is hard to place. This adds an intriguing sense of urgency to both timelines, since we no longer understand the causal link — since we don’t know which is the flashback, we don’t know which one Logan has to survive. More importantly, we don’t know what the emotional stakes are; the events of one of these stories is informing the other, we just don’t know which. It’s a clever twist on the formula. Plus: WOLVERINE! IN! SPACE!

slim-banner4

Unworthy Thor 3

unworthy-thor-3Taylor: How person conceives of his or herself greatly impacts the way they act. If a student believes they are smart and capable, they more often than not will work hard on their school assignments. Similarly, if a person feels they aren’t worth a damn, it’s unlikely they’ll do things that are in their or other’s best interest. There are always exceptions to the situations, but as the Odinson learns in Unworthy Thor 3, your self-concept greatly impacts what you do with your life.

The Odinson is still jailed by the Collector and still struggling to get a Mjolnir. Beta Ray Bill manages to bust the Odinson out but it comes too late. Upon reflection, the Odinson now believes he is unworthy to wield Mjolnir. This is a big change for him. Previously, even though the Odinson didn’t control Mjolnir he felt in some way that he could still use the hammer, that he was still worthy. But after months and many hardships sans hammer he has had the epiphany that he no longer is worthy. Naturally, this sends him into a bought of Warrior Madness.

warrior-madness

The Odison knows that Warrior Madness is “the sin unpardonable” yet he relents to its power anyway. This is a key moment for the one-time Thor: by giving into madness he enters the realm of not giving a shit about anything or anyone. His justification for this is that he is now the Unworthy Thor from which this series takes it name.

What the Unworthy Thor will do next is hard to guess. His Warrior Madness has passed but now that he no longer conceives of himself as worthy of Mjolnir, what will he do? Are his morals lost? Freed from the binds of being a worthy superhero will he turn towards evil? No one knows, but this issue promises interesting things for the future of Unworthy Thor.

slim-banner4

The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

Advertisements

One comment on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/4/17

  1. Hawkeye: At times, it feels that Shane Black movies are long slapstick sequences even as they are plots. But a big part of what makes it work is that it is so well set up. To use an example, Tony Stark asks JARVIS to make a flight plan to go to Tennessee, then the Mandarin attacks, knocking Tony out. When Tony wakes up, despite wanting to be in California, he finds himself in the middle of the snow in Tennesse, BECAUSE JARVIS made a flight plan. Throughout Iron Man Three, or any of Shane Black’s movies, when things go wrong, there is a real clarity to why things go wrong. They often are payoffs of previous stuff (another example, the truck slamming into the Mark 42 after the Air Force One scene. We can see the bridge behind him, and then it cuts to another angle to surprise us with the truck). But even when he is surprising us by using new information, Shane Black uses clarity to make sure the way things go wrong never feels overly convenient.

    Hawkeye really wants to be a Shane Black movie. Which is a fantastic choice. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or the Nice Guys, but with Kate Bishop? Killer premise. But Thompson is missing the stuff that makes Black’s reversals so good. When Kate walked into the TBC, I thought I could see what was going to happen. Kate was infiltrating a group that seemed to be infecting the community with a hatred of woman. I thought everyone would know she was an infiltrator, BECAUSE she was a woman. That she made the silly mistake in thinking that a woman would be able to infiltrate a bunch of misogynists. That would have been a clever reversal. Instead, the wrong password thing feels convenient. It is the difference between Kate walking in and making a clear mistake, and Kate walking in but everything goes wrong because the plot requires it. Here’s a question, what would have happened if Larry walked in? Would TBC horribly attack him?

    Actually, the whole TBC scene is weird for more reasons than just that. I assumed TBC were going to be some supervillain equivalent of Red Pill movements. I mean, misogyny seems to be the key feature of TBC. So why are women in masks, as members? There are female MRAs, but without an attempt to properly explore that specific phenomenon, it feels like a distraction. Just like it feels weird that ordinary woman are getting infected by the Hate Plague, when they weren’t involved. Why is a threat whose primary feature currently appears to be a hatred of women like this? If the Hate Plague turns Pink Dress and Blue Hair into threats, who are the victims?

    And while Thompson’s dialogue has improved so much since I dropped Jem and the Holograms, it is really hurting the male friends. Kate is pitch perfect, Ramone’s is emotive, and the female victim is well done, but Quinn and Johnny sound so generic. Quinn sounds utterly uninteresting, and has some weird stuff. Him trying to ask Kate on a date is really weird. Why is he shocked that Kate’s next moves are to continue the case after she made clear that the two of them are going to track down the other guy? Maybe instead of saying ‘…oh, okay’, which makes no sense considering how clear Kate had made it that they were going to continue working on the case together before he asked his question, he should have said ‘Cool. um…’. It feels minor, but completely changes the transition between Kate stating the plan and the date into something that makes sense.
    Meanwhile, Johnny also feels very ‘I am going to explain everything exactly’, in the exact way that drove me nuts when I read Jem. I love the idea of Johnny going ‘you don’t need help, I’m not a lot of help, but me standing here looking pretty does make things easier on you’, but any sense of him being a person is sadly lost. Which is a shame, as it appears like he is going to be a recurring character (in fact, if you look at how the comic introduces him structurally, with him being introduced immediately after Quinn shows romantic interest, he is probably the third part of the love triangle). But where Johnny’s introduction feels like it should be about a man who is comfortable and secure about his masculinity as contrast to the toxic masculinity of the rest of the story, he instead feels like a bit of an exposition dump and nonentity through bad dialogue. I’m just thankful that, like in Jem and the Holograms, a fantastic art team is there to use their visuals to do the best thing they can do to give Quinn and Johnny the lives that the dialogue so utterly fails to provide.

    That isn’t to say the book is bad. The art. I love all the clever uses of green, like how all the tabs in Kate’s giant file are green or how Quinn/Watson’s jacket is green. The Green = Detective part of the book is a great choice, and I do like the idea of expanding Kate’s colour palate like that. Give Kate a truly interesting visual identity.
    I mentioned that the female characters were written well, and it can’t be understated how well Kate is written. Kate during the discussion with Detective Rivera is fantastic, as she does what Kate does and tries to craft the best looking identity, trying to emphasise her ‘superhero/detective’ life but being evasive on questions of her actual license. Thompson is doing a great job at writing both Kate Bishop, and in writing Kate Bishop as a Shane Black protagonist.
    The art is fantastic. Not only is it doing the hard work on characters like Quinn and Johnny, but is so wonderfully creates the world around Kate. It feels like LA. And the action is fantastic. The chase scene at the end is so well done, with all sorts of cleverly done stuff (look at the lettering in those two panels where Kate notices that everyone she runs past suffers the same Hate Plague. Progression implied by the caption boxes moving to the left of the page and opening up new space as Kate moves to the right). But the scene that Drew shows is the best. The way it shows Kate’s Archer Vision to build a plan, the fantastic show of her archery, both through dialogue and through art emphasising the impressiveness, the way Kate’s speed and skill is shown off. The effect of the red light (would love to see Drew expand on this). The sequence is perfect, until Johnny turns up.

    The comic is still good, but disappointing. It is a lot closer to what I was afraid of when I picked up last issue. I like it, but it is clear that it has taken a massive step down in quality, and I hope it can improve again. If it stays at this quality, the book will remain fun. But it will lose the depth and stuff that made the previous issue not only fun, but honest to god good. So I hope it can fix these issues, because the good stuff doesn’t deserve to be hurt by overly convenient plotting, poor characterisation, and thematic weirdness.

    Also, did the stuff with the police detective feel a bit off? In a story discussing misogyny, it feels weird to have a Hispanic Woman talk about how they aren’t actually crimes, isn’t there a slightly more empathetic approach for her character?

    _____________________________________________________________

    Nova: You know what? I think I’m going to try Nova. Keep meaning to, and the new series sounds good

    _____________________________________________________________

    Unworthy Thor: It is weird to see Aaron write bad Thor. This story isn’t working.

    The basic idea is good. Odinson wants a new hammer, and because of that, his worst impulses are taking over. Mocked by his fears and jealous over what he’s lost, he does the unforgivable and falls into Warrior Madness.

    But the story is full of action, and Coipel isn’t up to the task. But also, the action constantly proves frustrating, having things like Proxima Midnight suddenly turn up in and then leave in the essence of convenience. I feel I keep waiting for something to truly happen. But while we have lots of stuff happening in the background (including two people who speak with black speech bubbles for completely different reasons), nothing is honestly happening. I mean, Beta Ray Bill literally reiterated the same offer he made in the first issue. The Warrior Madness feels like it should have been meaningful, but we never get a sense that Odinson is losing himself in obsession, instead of just determined. Nor do we have any true sense of proper shame.

    Instead, we have a bunch of poorly strung together fight scenes one after another, never truly pausing before the next one. Honestly, the thing that interested me the most was the implications that Black Swan actually is now a servant of Thanos. Otherwise, I’m disappointed. I’m basically reading these solely because it will be important in the story of the actual good Thor book

What you got?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s