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 Tuesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Deadpool the Duck 1
Patrick: 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:
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.
Drew: 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:
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.
Moon Knight 10
Michael: 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.
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.
Spencer: 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.
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.
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.
Old Man Logan 16
Drew: 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!
Unworthy Thor 3
Taylor: 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.
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.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?