Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/18/17

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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 Amazing Spider-Man 23, Cage 4, Captain America: Sam Wilson 18, Clone Conspiracy 4, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat 14, Star-Lord 2, Ultimates 2 3, Unbelievable Gwenpool 10 and Uncanny Inhumans 18. Also, we will be discussing Invincible Iron Man 3 on Monday, Deadpool the Duck 2 on Tuesday, and Black Widow 10 on Wednesdayso come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Amazing Spider-Man 23

Drewamazing-spider-man-23We’ve written at length how Clone Conspiracy has taken the wind out of the sails of Amazing Spider-Man — it’s effectively an Amazing Spider-Man story, but has sucked up all of the plot points for itself in order to be a satisfying read on its own. This has left ASM with little to do but fill in gaps that are necessarily inessential — moments that didn’t need to appear in Clone Conspiracy because the story works just fine without them. Issue 23 manages to turn that weakness into a strength, though, staking out emotional and psychological territory Clone Conspiracy doesn’t have time for, even though it might just hit on what’s so compelling about this premise.

The heart of this issue is Peter’s face time with Gwen, who tries to make the case for the value of these clones. Peter holds fast on his “clones are bad” platform, but Gwen suggests that his objections may have more to do with a martyr complex.

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Maybe Peter’s emphasis on his responsibilities makes him reluctant to accept a world where he’s no longer responsible for the deaths of his loved ones. That’s an intriguing idea that tilts at the very core of what makes Spider-Man tick, suggesting that his cause may be a bit more selfish than he lets on.

It’s not clear if this idea will be addressed in future issues (of either this series or Clone Conspiracy) — the issue has to somewhat inelegantly weave its way from and back to the events of Clone Conspiracy 4 — but this was a fascinating diversion. It still may not be “essential,” but it comes a heck of a lot closer than the recent tie-in issues.

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Cage 4

cage-4Taylor: One doesn’t Cage for the story. There’s a couple reasons for this such as the short length of the run (four issues), the fact that Luke Cage already stars in another excellent comic, and primarily because creator Genndy Tartakovsky doesn’t want you to anyway. Sure, this mini-series does have some sort of plot, but it’s basically the bare minimum needed to sustain anything that’s fit to be called a comic. Cage isn’t meant to be read because Tartakovsky wants you to view it. Any story that there is simply acts as the skeletal structure built support Tartakovsky’s amazing and endlessly entreating art.

In this ultimate issue of the mini-series Luke squares off against Professor Soos after surviving a gauntlet of abominable animal hybrids. It’s a hell of fight but Luke emerges victorious and is the recipient of a surprise party to thank him for his efforts. With such a simple story this issue could have easily failed but Tartakovsky’s art and Scott Willis’ colors make this issue a grand success. This is best exemplified on the pages when Soos and Cage go toe to toe trading blows and kicks.

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Under Tartakovsky’s pen characters’ faces and bodies bend, twist and mold in fun and unexpected ways. Think of the the utterly bizarre and oddly disquieting animation seen in Ren and Stimpy and you get the idea. The point of all these manipulations is to accentuate motion, contact, and emotion in way that most comics don’t dare to try. It’s clear that Tartakovsky cut his chops in the animated world with panels like the ones above and you could easily see how Cage could be turned into a funky cartoon. Willis’ colors perfectly complement the outrageous images they’re working with and vacillate between sickly greens, bright reads, and cool blues that all help to accentuate villainy, hard hits, and resolve respectively.

This issue is a ton of fun and just like the mini-series is a huge amount of fun to read from beginning to end. If only every Marvel hero got this treatment.

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Captain America Sam Wilson 18

captain-america-sam-wilson-18Patrick: Oh boy. This was a hard one for me, guys. Writer Nick Spencer spells out a lot of how people are feeling about the video in Sam’s possession, but holds back a lot of his cards about the social, political and moral ramifications of letting that video see the lights of day. And the crux of that hand is Steve “Hail Hydra” Rogers.

Let’s just pump the breaks for a second to get on the same page. Rage is in jail after trying to bust up a robbery perpetrated by some D-List supervillains (including one of Spencer’s old favorites from Superior Foes, Speed Demon). It was the Americops that arrested him, and in so doing, beat the everloving shit out of him. Sam offers Rage all of the Avengers-outs he can think of — including access to blind and/or hulking attorneys — but Rage elects to let the debacle unfold as it would for any other black man, hoping to shine a light on a fundamentally broken (and hopelessly racist) system. That’s a noble sacrifice on Rage’s part, if not necessarily the smartest course of action for him personally. Put a pin in that idea.

Through the magic of bird-telepathy, Sam obtains a video of the arrest, and the content is fucking brutal – a violent misuse of power. Sam’s team sees this as a no-brainer: you release the video because people have a right to know what’s going on. That’s true: keeping secrets, especially dangerous ones, is demonstrably wrong. And I’m totally with them until Sam asks his ol’ buddy Steve Rogers what to do. Steve — it should be remembered — is an agent of Hydra, and actively working to destabilize America. Steve agrees: release the tape.

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Spencer never clues us in to Steve’s strategy here, but artist Daniel Acuña quietly insists on the sinisterness of his intentions.

And Steve is right! This video is going to cause chaos, distrust and instability. But Sam is also right! People have the right to know when their institutions are failing them. It’s a heartbreaking reminder that what is right and what is safe are not always the same thing. Is Sam’s sacrifice as noble as Rage’s? Was Rage’s sacrifice that noble in the first place? How does anyone do any social good without causing more problems?

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Clone Conspiracy 4

clone-conspiracy-4Spencer: Dan Slott and Jim Cheung’s Clone Conspiracy 4 speeds through numerous plot developments and pivotal turning points at a pace I imagine could be quite divisive among readers. We move from twist to twist so fast that they don’t always have a chance to hit as hard as they should, yet slowing down could easily lead to filler; Slott knows these characters so well that even if one of their decisions feels a bit sudden, they never feel forced, so why waste time with hand-wringing? Of course Peter could never betray Uncle Ben’s morals/memory; of course Otto would rather destroy everything around him than watch Anna Maria be insulted or hurt. The only decisions that didn’t have me immediately nodding my head “of course!” were Jackal/Ben Reilly’s.

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It’s easy to simply blame Reilly’s actions on his madness (as even I initially did), but there’s more to it than that. Reilly’s so convinced in his own righteousness, so convinced that he’s the good guy, that nobody can tell him otherwise. When faced with people who disagree with him, when faced with sound logic, evidence, and reasoning that he’s in the wrong, Reilly would rather remake the world to fit his view of “right” than admit he’s wrong. Given the recent election, doesn’t that deluded viewpoint sound all too familiar, and all too real? The difference here is that Reilly has the power to quite literally remake the world to suit his vision.

I know Peter will stop him; as always, the fun lies in seeing how he’ll do it. Still, the question I really wanna see answered is how Peter was able to come to the decision not to help Reilly when so many of his doppelgängers gave in and became Reilly’s willing partner. The reason why could reveal quite a bit about Reilly, about Peter Parker, and about Clone Conspiracy as a whole.

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Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat 14

patsy-walker-aka-hellcat-14Ryan M: Belonging and acceptance are basic human needs. While the plot of Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat 14 is about Hellcat foiling Black Cat’s plans, thematically Kate Leth explores that drive for acceptance. This folds back into the primary conflict as Black Cat finds herself frustrated and disappointed in the blind approval from her minions. As it turns out, yes-men aren’t very fun to hang out with. Meanwhile, Hellcat doesn’t even consider wielding the magic claws of obedience, secure that her friends don’t need the extra encouragement to be on her side.

In a major step for Ian, he confronts his ex-girlfriend about her treatment of him and her inability to accept him. Throughout their relationship, he felt forced to conform to her expectations of manhood.

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Brittney Williams shows his pain with a single panel, showing Ian literally forced into a corner. Ian’s story line in this book has been about him choosing to use his powers for good, falling for Tom and becoming more himself. The series has been about Patsy separating her present from her complicated and painful past. Now, we see that Ian is doing the same. In the middle panel on the right, we see in silhouette as Ian throws his parting words to Zoe. The image reinforces the emotional distance he feels from her. His eyes are facing front and he has no need to dwell on the past. I love the nuance of this story. It’s not just about an old girlfriend showing up and getting jealous or about someone you love not accepting your sexual and gender identity. Zoe and the life they had together are not treated as purely bad. I mean, Ian got a pretty sweet jacket out of it. Ian is in a much better place now and Leth gives him this moment where he moves on without needing anything from Zoe. Of course, in the end she does apologize, but that’s just a bonus.

At the end of the issue, Leth offers a sitcom “glad everything is back to normal” ending only to have Hellcat’s sneeze turn gold into fish. Yes, that sounds like a Mad Libs sentence, but it’s also a great way to tie up one arc while still leaving the reader wanting answers.

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Star-Lord 2

star-lord-2Spencer: While it took me by surprise at first, it’s ultimately rather fitting that so much of Chip Zdarsky and Kris Anka’s Star-Lord 2 is devoted to establishing Peter Quill’s new status quo. Since Peter’s now stranded on a planet he barely knows, still just beginning the process of establishing a new life for himself, it only makes sense that figuring out just exactly what his series will be will be a bit of a process too, even if it means throwing out a concept as a second issue cliffhanger that likely would have been the main selling point of any other series.

As much as the concept(s) drives the story (and provides the pathos) in Star-Lord, though, it’s Peter’s charisma that makes the book so much fun to read. Peter’s kind of like a big puppy dog, the kind who is perpetually enthusiastic and just wants to have adventures and make friends, but who often gets in trouble because he doesn’t understand his own strength. Sure Peter screws up plenty, both in general and in this title, but how can you stay mad at a face like this?

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As much as Anka’s being (rightly) praised for bringing sexy back to Star-Lord, it’s his ability to capture pure joy in Peter’s expression over and over that most impresses me. Zdarsky also keeps Peter easy to root for by framing him as the ultimate underdog. It’s not just that he’s a stranger in a strange place; literally nothing goes Peter’s way, and pretty much everyone looks down on him. His vigilantism has somehow made an enemy out of Matt Murdock of all people, and even hero-worshipper extraordinaire Ms. Marvel ends up telling him off. The fact that Star-Lord is powerless is thrown around constantly to invalidate his experience as a hero, even when his sweet acrobatic skills show that he’s still got what it takes to do some good (even if he sometimes needs a little help from his friends). Peter Quill’s not perfect by any means, but Zdarsky and Anka have made him into someone I desperately want to see succeed, and that’s a major asset to this series.
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Ultimates 2 3

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You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch.

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Drew: This quote comes from the movie — the book has a similar quote, but doesn’t quite capture the sentiment that the third track of a mix tape is ideally less exciting than the first two. It’s obviously not a hard-and-fast rule — again, Nick Hornby doesn’t explicitly endorse this logic in the book — but I think it tends to apply to serialized storytelling, too. (Case in point, the third episode of LOST was a Kate episode.) It certainly seems to be the case with Ultimates 2 3, which, after reuniting the team and establishing the stakes of their mission, largely hits the breaks to put the rest of the pieces in place. It’s clearly essential to the series moving forward, but can’t help but feel like a letdown after the thrill of those first two issues.

This issue opens with an introduction to the Troubleshooters, a group commissioned for the express purpose of reining in superhero groups like the Ultimates. We don’t get enough time with these characters to say much about them, but it’s clear they’re designed as kind of mirror images of the Ultimates. Of course, the Troubleshooters aren’t the only force working against the Ultimates — Master Order and Lord Chaos have decided to reshape the hierarchy of the universe, combining to form Logos.

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We get even less time to understand the threat Logos poses — it’s introduced on the final page — but if I remember my Greek correctly, Logos is the divine reason implicit in the cosmos. That is, the will of this being is the logic of the cosmos. That’s about the most absolute power I can imagine, so am not holding out much hope that this will work out for anyone. Which is to say: this issue sets up conflicts that are much more interesting than anything in the issue itself, but that’s almost certainly by design.

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Unbelievable Gwenpool 10

unbelieveable-gwenpool-10Patrick: For a series that seems convinced that crazier is better, it really is remarkable how much real world disappointment, confusion and misunderstanding is at the heart of The Unbelievable Gwenpool. Issue 10 opens on the achingly mundane exchange between an elderly couple discussing the most everyday of topics: what are we going to have for dinner. They’re cute and all, but there’s no real reason to develop these “background characters” (as Gwen calls them) other than to quietly insist on their reality, even while escalating the insanity around them. And that’s Gwen’s problem: she rests in that insanity because she’s still coming from a place that doesn’t allow her to see this world as “real.”

Mind you, that does make her ruthlessly effective. Despite not knowing how to operated the M.O.D.O.K. battle station, Gwen is able to rescue her friends and send a fleet of Teuthian war ships packing. Increasingly, however, her trope-addled brain is starting to looking fucking nuts, in profoundly dangerous ways. At the end of the issue, Gwen brags out how her plan was executed without harming any civilians (y’know, because she asked the NYPD to evacuate the neighborhood ahead of the attack). We can only assume that no one was hurt if we believe that the elderly couple from the beginning was the only family that missed this call. But hey — we know that’s not true.

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Where’s my casual reassurance that those two out by the car made it out alive?

It’s interesting that in recent years Gerry Duggan has made the case that Deadpool’s forth wall breaking is the result of his mental illness, effectively drawing a clear line between cause and effect. Christopher Hastings seems to be drawing that same through-line, just in the opposite direction: Gwen’s knowledge that she’s running around a fictional world gradually makes her crazier and crazier. By the end of the issue, her Gwen-Army is gone and her friends are scattered to the wind, but does that represent any real consequences Gwen? It’s hard to say. She tears up and pouts a little, but then she’s right back to taking miscellaneous mercenary jobs.

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Uncanny Inhuman 18

uncanny-inhumans-18Spencer: By the end of Uncanny Inhumans 18, Charles Soule and Kim Jacinto have set in motion a development that could end up having major repercussions on IvX. Indeed, Maximus is correct when he says that the ability to create more Terrigen would effectively end the war between the mutants and the Inhumans — but with Maximus the Mad, nothing is ever that simple. That’s a fact Soule and Jacinto drive home throughout this issue, which mostly serves as a character study of Maximus and his new posse.

I was just talking yesterday about how vital a good script is, and Soule excels in that area this month, giving Maximus, Lineage, and the Unspoken each distinct voices and crackling dialogue. Maximus, again, is the stand-out in that regard; he fills the issue with a manic, almost giddy energy that perfectly matches his mindset.

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This is the moment that defines Maximus for me; he’s not just about mindless chaos, but needs a spark of inspiration to fuel his madness. In a way, it echoes how creators must feel about Maximus — his particular brand of chaos won’t work in every story, but when an opportunity for Maximus to strike naturally opens in one, then he’ll easily take over the entire thing. With that in mind, Soule is probably wise to limit Maximus’ role in IvX to the tie-ins for now — we don’t need him stealing the spotlight just yet.

I’m also impressed with how Soule and Jacinto continue to explore Maximus’ cronies as well. The gag about the Unspoken just being a cranky old man gets a lot of mileage, and Lineage’s more laid-back, casual attitude masks how horrific he can actually be.

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At first glance Lineage’s abilities would appear to be fairly benign, but here Jacinto and Soule show us not only how grotesque they actually are, but the toll they take on what must be hundreds of thousands of souls just looking for peace. As always, Uncanny Inhumans continues to build and explore the world of the Inhumans in a complex, compelling way; I can’t wait to see what these guys will do next, and how they’ll inevitably mix into IvX when the time comes.

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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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One comment on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 1/18/17

  1. Black Panther – World of Wakanda: The frustrating thing about this book is not all the things it does wrong, but the things it does right. Every scene has a purpose. Every character has a perspective. All wasted on poor execution. This reminds me of Jem and the Holograms, in a way. Because ultimately, so much of this could be fixed with better dialogue. There would still be some problems, but I can only imagine what would happen if Roxanne Gay was given story credit, and another, experienced comic writer did the actual script.

    They’ve just announced another Black Panther book, and I love that these books are successful enough that Black Panther can support three books. And the new premise sounds fantastic. But I wonder what would happen if you could get people like Walker and Priest in there, either doing their own work or working alongside Coates and Gay

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    Captain America, Sam Wilson: The sad thing about reactionary politics is that they are a reaction. Which means the very force that gives them power is the very progress we fight for. As Van Jones so articulately said, Trump’s victory was a blacklash. Which is the tension in this issue. Sam knows what the right thing is, but he also knows that this same thing will fuel the reactionary movements he fights against. Nobody cared about #BlueLivesMatters until there was an actual attempt to hold police accountable for the deaths of unarmed black men.

    A key idea recently is that Sam has been afraid to be too out there, and not pushing the boundaries far enough after things went so wrong the first time. And so everyone pushes him to go further. But the reason Steve pushes Sam is the exact same reason why Sam is so unwilling to do it in the first place. That it will also fuel the reactionary politics that Sam fights against. Because ultimately, people will rally behind the Americops, just as they will rally behind Rage.

    But I also wonder if this is Steve Roger’s first mistake. Is Trump a reaction to progress? Yes. But the fact is, progress happened. And progress is much harder to put back in the bottle than you think (just look at all the problems the Republicans are having repealing ObamaCare). No matter how far backwards they push things, you can’t put it all back in the box. Maybe you can kill ObamaCare, but BlackLivesMatters or half a dozen of other things will still be there. Steve has condoned a move that goes against his interests, anticipating the reaction. But even if it works, and brings down Sam Wilson, such an action is going to mobilise people like Misty, Falcon, D-Man and Rage. Steve has ignored the fact that he has just given his enemy a win, and that is oging to hurt him. Because the video is out there.

    Also, I love Rage’s plan. Not the best for him, personally, but a brave statement. I still need to watch all of the great OJ Simpson stuff we got last year, but the OJ story is famously one that combined every facet of America’s culture. So what happens when you remove all of the advantage that OJ uniquely had, and give the spotlight OJ got to an ordinary black American? That would be a telling story about America

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    Captain Marvel: I refuse to believe that a character is not for me. Some characters may require a very specific take to work, but I believe there is a take on every character that I will enjoy. So I keep trying to give Captain Marvel a chance. She shouldn’t be this hard for me to like. She honestly isn’t so unique to require a very specific take. Quite simply, I struggle to see why I shouldn’t care for her is I just get some good storytelling. And yet, with every try, I just keep failing. There are a couple of moments Bendis and Hopeless has done showing Carol as a character with an infinite ability to commit herself to helping others, but I wouldn’t say they have made me interested in Carol. And yet, I keep trying.

    The new comic has that same idea as what I mentioned, but it is hard to say that it is fantastic. It has some great ideas, with Carol dealing with fame, with alien refugee camps, with Alpha Flight funding, with using the Planetary Shield of Spencer’s work as a framing of the story. But the actual story itself ends up being boring. It has some moments that seem to want to be spectacle driven, which a high points. But even those end up being disappointing. Carol fights a boring shapechanger in a boring way before doing something that should be cool but feels disappointing and saves a boring Kree kid.

    I think a big problem is that it takes the least interesting approach to the ideas. For example, the opening is on the set of the Captain Marvel TV Show that Carol is frustrated about. Carol needs the show to be successful, to leverage of her famous status to fund Alpha Flight. But she hates what has been made, thanks to Hollywood sexism. Great idea. But the ways the sexist elements of the show are represented are obvious. Captain Marvel gets beautiful long hair and cleavage, and spends her time kissing superheroes! Could we have a more insidious sexism, instead of a strawman. Hell, I don’t even know if I would call it a realistic depiction of Hollywood sexism. Hollywood is far too obsessed with accuracy and bragging about an actor’s transformation to do something as obvious as have one of the most famous and popular women in the world look wrong. Just as when Hillary Clinton shows up on a show, they make an attempt to make the person look like Hillary Clinton, Hollywood would make the attempt to make Carol Danvers look like Carol Danvers. Trust me, Hollywood knows how to be massively sexist without doing something as obvious as giving a famous figure cleavage (want a clever idea? The studio has made a choice to do some long winded ‘origin’ show, focusing on how she became Captain Marvel. Therefore, giving Hollywood the excuse to use her old, embarrassingly sexist costume. Or maybe they disempower on the excuse of creating tension, and instead make someone who should be able to bench-press two tonnes constantly require men’s help and/or smother the empowerment of Carol as a powerful woman by making her superpowers seem ineffective).

    Also, the choice to repair her friendship with Jessica so quickly after Hopeless had the break up was a bad mistake. There was an interesting story to tell which didn’t rely on fixing it immediately. It should have been fixed, but not that fast. Why not explore what it means that they don’t see each other any more. Especially when a big theme is how alienated and alone Carol finds herself, after Civil War II and its reverberations.

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    Gamora: The great thing about getting a writer from the Marvel Studios machine is her strong handle on some real basic, but real essential stuff. I praised the last issue for giving everyone a strong goals, and this continues here. But there are so many other simple, but great stuff here. Like the setting itself, which creates a fantastic series of ticking clocks. The world is literally about to end. This puts constraints on the narrative, forcing characters to have to act quickly and pushing meaningful decisions – no character has the time not to prioritise. Combine that with the fact that Perlman continues to introduce new characters with goals and decisions, and you have a really good cast.

    It is a shame that the second half of this issues then messes up. A boring fight made worse by the fact that it messes things up at the end through meaninglessness. It honestly would have been better if we cut the entire fight, and had Gamora wake up captured by the cult.

    The art is fantastic. Really great cosmic scenes, creating spectacular skies and incredible cosmic events. Truly perfect for this sort of book, and would love to see Checchetto do more cosmic books. And there are some great panels even ignoring that, like a lovely shot of Gamora piloting her spacecraft, looking determined, while an HUD element of her cockpit overlaps her face in such a way that it looks like tears running down her face. That is pure Gamora. Determined, but a sadness underneath.

    Though I think Gamora is too funny. I never saw Gamora as a particularly funny character (at least, not in the cliche Marvel Studios way). Gamora needs a different sort of humour. Not the sort of thing where she makes cheesy one liners.

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    Monsters Unleashed: Superheroes v Kaiju is quite simply a great premise. Kaiju stories are famous for just how much character is placed in their giant monsters. They are all unique and distinctive, all the great things that make a supervillain great. And yet, they are distinctive enough to be something fresh. Of course, Monsters Unleashed could never have as strong a premise as Night of the Monster Men – quite simply, Batman v Kaijus are more interesting, because Kaijus are so completely outside of Batman’s context that you get to enjoy the contrast between urban vigilantes and giant monsters. Meanwhile, the greater Marvel Universe isn’t that unused to giant monsters, and Fing Fam Foom used to be in Iron Man’s Rogue’s Gallery. But Batman wasted the fantastic premise on a terrible story that proved that a bad Batman line could get even worse, complete with a moment where the Batfamily, known for their massive distaste of guns, shoot kaiju with giant guns. So it is put to Marvel to do it right

    And it is fun. The nature of the fact that you have literal gods involved means that instead of each individual kaiju being its own major threat, they are basically very interesting mooks. The power level is simply too high for the kaiju to be a threat for any other reason except as an infinite wave of bad guys (another reason why it is a shame that Night of the Monster Men was terrible. Batman’s low power level makes each individual Kaiju a massive threat). But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to see characters like Hulk and Thor fight giant monsters. It is fun to see Drax fighting monsters.

    And then there is the other great thing. Instead of being a narrative built around Iron Man and Captain America, it is a narrative built around Lunella and Elsa Bloodstone. I love that we are giving minor character the spotlight. It is great that we have an event that is all about a threat so specific that we need heroes with expertise outside the main ones. We need more events that are about giving the spotlight to smaller heroes.

    This isn’t sensational or deep. So far, there is little actual drama and just a lot of punching things. And while it is easily better than Night of the Monster Men, it simply pales in comparison to what Night of the Monster Men would have been if it was written with a base level of competence, instead of the shitty writing it actually had (and that’s before you deal with the fact the Night of the Monster Men had all sorts of Rebirth issues). But it is fun

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    Patsy Walker: THIS ARC IS OVER! Hooray!

    Back Cat and Patsy have been so frustrating this arc, being a massive distraction from the core of the arc around Ian and Zoe. Their relationship was fantastic, as we saw Ian have to come to terms with what is ex did to him, and Zoe finally understanding what she did wrong. So great.

    And yet it kept having Patsy and Black Cat getting in the way, stealing back the spotlight just after it seems like the spotlight is returning to Ian (remember the big dramatic injury that Patsy got, only to be ignored?). Black Cat wasn’t a good villain, just doing the exact same thing as the villain of the first arc. And she existed solely to be a bad guy for the story. I wish we could have had a version of this story that focused more on Ian (here’s an idea. Why shouldn’t Ian or Zoe break the claws? The idea of either Ian, knowing what it is like to be controlled, or Zoe, realising how horrible it is to control others, choosing to break the claws instead of controlling people to fight Black Cat, would be so much more meaningful that Patsy doing so).

    This arc begun with Patsy being confronted with the fact that she was treating Ian as a sidekick, and that even as she is mostly a great friend, that is a bit shitty. SO it is a shame that throughout this arc, Patsy keeps seizing the spotlight away from Ian, and making him a sidekick again. Hopefully the next arc doesn’t suffer this same problem

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    Spider-Gwen: It is interesting how S.I.L.K is almost being developed into a multiversal Spiderman threat specifically to fuel SpiderGwen crossovers. Actually makes them a great villain, especially when you get to enjoy a Doctor Octopus with an actual octopus for arms alongside it. S.I.L.K is turning into a fantastic fuel for just getting Gwen to interact with other Spiderpeople, and it is honestly great.

    Miles gets plunged into Gwen’s world in a way that didn’t happen with Spiderwomen, by virtue of getting caught up in Matt Murdock’s schemes etc. Just as Gwen is finding herself in the middle of a big Miles’ father story. Which works really well, for a first date. It is supposed to be about getting to know the other person. And it does things quite cleverly. Gwen needs to infiltrate a swanky club, so requires her prom dress. Which brings up Peter and places her past in the forefront. I mean, she is literally wearing it. Meanwhile, Miles sees the parallel version of his father, with all that entails.

    I actually like the combination of first date and important story stuff that makes this up. If they pull it off, we could have a very meaningful ending to an arc that seemed like a cute mash up. Going strong so far

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    Starlord: I am loving Brand’s fashion sense is this book.

    But more importantly, I do love how they do Peter in this book. You guys explain a lot of what makes him work so well, but my favourite part is that he is actually doing the right things in the wrong way. Even as Edmund has a lot to teach Peter about love, Peter did do the right thing it letting Edmund get out and do something. He was irresponsible to what he did, but it was ultimately good for Edmund. Just as it was good for Ms Marvel that Peter actually helped (loved the emphasis of how Star Lord’s helmet provides tactical information. He is useful). Peter’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t know the right thing, but he needs to know how to do the right thing the right way. Really cool.

    Also, I love the new outfit. The original version of that outfit looked much better with the red detailing. But without the helm and the new, crazier lines, the white looks really good. I would love it if the version with the red and the helm returns, as it is amazing, but I love his current one

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    Unbelievable Gwenpool: Gwenpool does the best climaxes, as they are all rooted in character, despite their insanity. A big idea is that both Gwen adn Vincent have to admit that their views of the world are wrong and adapt. Gwen can’t think of this like a comic book, and has to be responsible, doing things like giving the police time to warn everyone (while using an oblivious old couple for drama/humour). And Vincent has to admit this is a comic book universe, and finds himself in the spotlight as a superhero. He can’t hide behind the false idea of ‘normalcy’.

    And, in pure Gwenpool story arc resolution, we have a large heaping of consequences. Because there are no endings in real life, like there are in escapist entertainment. Last time, Gwen found herself in charge of an organisation she had no ability to run. This time, despite learning her lesson, she learns it too late and the team is forced to dissolve. She messed up, and no amount of realising that it is wrong and trying to make amends will ignore the fact that things happened that need to be fixed. And because they weren’t, the group dissolved instead.

    And, faced with that hard lesson, Gwen runs. Going to be interesting to see what happens next.

    Also, I love the Poole Boys. So perfect

    _____________________________________________________________

    Uncanny Inhumans: Isn’t Lineage supposed to be a major villain? The Unspoken certainly is supposed to. They feel like flunkies. I disagree that Lineage feels particularly horrific. I feel like a story about the big Inhuman bad guys coming together to take advantage of the war/Maximus’ inspiration should be more interesting. Instead, Soule is treating what should be major characters as inessential. Basically jokes.

    I disagree that Soule is creating a complex, compelling world for the Inhumans, at least with this issue. It feels so simple and basic. It says something that you talk so much about Maximus. Because honestly, in what should be an ensemble, it is all about Maximus. Even Triton feels like someone who makes his choice because it is obligatory.

    Too simple, too small minded for a story that should be much bigger

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