Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 2/15/17

marvel-roundup70We 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 Captain America: Sam Wilson 19, Captain America: Steve Rogers 11, Clone Conspiracy 5, Deadpool 27, Doctor Strange 17, Invincible Iron Man 4, Old Man Logan 18, Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat 15, Silk 17, and Uncanny Inhumans 19. Also, we discussed The Ultimates 2 4 on Thursday, and will be discussing The Mighty Thor 16 on Tuesday and Daredevil 17 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4

Captain America: Sam Wilson 19

White people still ask me why Mookie threw the can through the window. Twenty years later, they’re still asking me that. No black person ever, in 20 years, no person of color has ever asked me why.

Spike Lee, on Do the Right Thing

captain-america-sam-wilson-19Drew: We’re now coming up on the 30th anniversary of Do the Right Thing, but it sure doesn’t feel like much has changed: the cycle of cops killing unarmed black men, their communities erupting in anger in response, and white people just not getting what the big deal is continues to this day. When I first saw this film, it was in school, and was followed by a discussion of whether Mookie “did the right thing” — the kind of discussion that only a roomful of white people can have. Answers ranged from “No” to “Yes, because he helped defray the violence against the white people,” but there wasn’t a whole lot of understanding the incidents of the film as part of a larger real-world problem. Of course, at that time, Rodney King was a distant memory and BLM was still years away, so my young white peers (myself included) genuinely thought the kinds of systemic racism brought up in the movie were artefacts of another era. That’s a harder illusion to maintain today, where cameraphone videos put the violence in front of us on a regular basis, though I’m not sure white people are any better at understanding why that violence lead to riots.

It should be noted that the destruction of property that concludes Captain America: Sam Wilson 19 has a few differences than the one in Do the Right Thing — most importantly, that it isn’t in response to a death, but to an unequivocally unjust jury verdict. Either way, Sam saw this case as a powderkeg from the start, and did everything he could to keep it from blowing up. He gambled on his video evidence exonerating Rage, but it ended up only making his inevitable conviction more blood-boiling. He tried to put out the fire, it’s just the water he used turned out to be gasoline. It’s unlikely the verdict will stand — Sam has already tracked down the real culprits — but the damage is already done, driving at least one kid to take matters into his own hands.

Do the Right Thing

Writer Nick Spencer knows to let this moment play out silently, allowing the audience to project what they know (or don’t know) onto Angel Unzueta’s matter-of-fact sequence. It’s hard not to be reminded of Mookie silently emptying the garbage can before hurling it through Sal’s window — his motivations are either patently obvious or completely unknowable, depending on who you ask. The result is something shockingly similar to watching Do the Right Thing all those years ago; a portrait of the world around us as a Rorschach test.

slim-banner4

Captain America: Steve Rogers 11

captain-america-steve-rogers-11Patrick: Since Cap uttered the phrase “Hail Hydra,” the character has been something of an uncanny parallel to the rise of mainstream white nationalism in the American politics. We’ve all felt that sickening sink in our stomachs when reading that Steve Rogers has been a bad dude all along precisely because it feels like we’re coming to that realization about the parties and systems that currently govern us. The A.V. Club’s review of Civil War II: The Oath 1 harshly criticized the timeliness of the story’s themes, essentially burning a couple hundred words begging for an (Captain) America worth believing in. (Our own conversation was less critical of the issue, but expresses a lot of the same existential dread.) But while writer Nick Spencer has been very good at addressing the controversy that Hydra Cap represents, up until this point, he had not addressed the controversy that Hydra Cap is. Issue 11 finally takes a shot at tackling fan disbelief directly.

The centerpiece of this issue is a scene between Steve and Helmut Zemo. Whatever history Kobik has rewritten for Rogers is apparently a little hazy for Helmut. Readers are granted a view of history from Steve’s perspective, and through that perspective, we see these two as fast friends, making sacrifices for each other and sharing father figures. That’s supposed to grind against what the reader knows of these characters, just as it grinds against Helmut memories. The best moment of this whole issue is when Steve starts to speculate on all the reasons Helmut might not remember the events correctly, spouting a lot of fans’ initial reactions to the infamous “Hail Hydra” moment.

cap-doesnt-understand

Smartly, Spencer also folds Helmut’s doubts into a running theme of disinformation. Rogers admits that he’s unable to prove anything, but promises that he a) will explain and that b) in the meantime, Helmut will just have to trust him. Helmut takes that action, and while Steve clearly believes it to be true, readers know better. Cap was changed by the Cosmic Cube.

It’s all very light on action, but that stinger at the end — wherein Task Master finds footage of the “Hail Hydra” moment that set the internet on fire — is so juicy and pulpy and exciting that any flagging pace is totally forgiven.

slim-banner4

Clone Conspiracy 5

clone-conspiracy-5Spencer: Despite being the final issue of a major event, Clone Conspiracy 5‘s best moments come when Dan Slott and Jim Cheung slow down enough to pay attention to the people trying to survive the havoc at New U. Jackal gets a gleefully insane monologue that shows how far he’s fallen from his supposedly heroic roots (he brags about not reviving Kaine with the rest of the world, showing that good intentions take a backseat to enforcing his will), J. Jonah Jameson shares a uncharacteristically humble sentiment, and Peter and Otto get a shared moment that acknowledges everything they’ve been through together in the past few years. Perhaps most significant are the (second) deaths of Gwen Stacy and her father. Captain Stacy gets a reversal of his original death, asking Gwen to protect Peter (instead of the other way around), and Gwen gets to go out on her own terms.

good-bye-gwen

In its own way, gaining agency over her own death is quite a victory for the victim of one of comics’ first fridgings.

These smart, satisfying character moments (as well as the issue’s resolution, which finds Peter and the survivors of New U learning their limits and vowing to use New U’s findings in more ethical ways) help Clone Conspiracy go out on largely fulfilling note, even if its actual action (and the actual solution to Jackal’s attack) is a tad underwhelming and simplistic. In the end, this finale is less about action and more about character, and in that area, it fully delivers.

slim-banner4

Deadpool 27

deadpool-27Michael: As “Secret Empire” approaches we are likely seeing the beginning of the end of “Hydra Cap.” Steve Rogers’ more insidious nature started to show for readers in Civil War: The Oath and for characters it starts in Deadpool 27. A group of time traveling, Captain America-inspired ruffians arrive at the Lincoln Memorial to stop evil Steve in his tracks. Once he realizes what they’re up to, Cap uses the mad dog Deadpool to take out these loose ends for good — which he does.

Oddly enough one of the first people in-story who seems to be on to Steve’s nefariousness is Agent Phil Coulson, who goes underground at the end of the issue to evaluate what he just witnessed. Deadpool 27 is an odd place for all of this to happen — and since it’s written by Gerry Duggan instead of Nick Spencer I wonder how it will fit into the endgame of the “Hydra Cap” story. Over the past year we’ve seen Steve plot against, betray and murder some of his friends. His taking advantage of Deadpool seems to be one of the more egregious offenses, however.

clear

The superhero community has a complicated relationship with Wade Wilson but he comes to it from a place of admiration. Wade looks up to Cap and appreciates the opportunities Cap has given him. To have Cap take advantage of Wade’s blind loyalty and killer instincts seems far more manipulative than past offense of his. Don’t get me wrong, I love the wickedness of it all but I also feel for our boy Wade — the puppy that the universe eternally kicks.

slim-banner4

Doctor Strange 17

doctor-strange-17Drew: I’ve never been a huge video game fan, but even I recognize the impatience in watching my MP bar slowly fill, and especially the feeling of vulnerability after spending all my MP on a power-up. That’s more or less exactly the situation Doctor Strange finds himself in here, trying to track down Wong (and stay alive in the Sanctum Sanctorum), even though he’s recently used up all of his magic defeating Dormammu. It forces Strange back into the mostly non-magical world that made the fallout of the Empirikul’s attack so thrilling, framing it as a simple expenditure of MP.

That may not sound particularly groundbreaking — superheroes have been allocating their resources (or suffering the consequences) since at least the first time Spider-Man ran out of web-fluid — but this issue is built around what Strange does instead of finding Wong. That is, he doesn’t have the magic to do what he needs to do, so he just bargains his way to whatever he can. In this case, that means helping the Man-Thing defeat “nazi ninja vampires” in exchange for some magical algae.

Algae

It feels like a non sequitur award for a side-mission, but that algae ends up being just the item Strange needs to fend of Mister Misery’s next attack: erasing all of Strange’s progress (in the form of people he saved as a surgeon).

Maybe I’m hitting the video game analogies too hard, but it’s hard not to with Frazer Irving’s slick CG art. Not that it looks like a video game, necessarily, but it certainly has a distinctive, shimmery quality that would lend itself quite well to atmospheric cut scenes. Someone with a bit more fluency in video games will have to corroborate whether this issue truly relied on video game pacing and grammar, but either way, it was a fun little read that sets up a totally new challenge for Strange next month.

slim-banner4

Invincible Iron Man 4

invincible-iron-man-4Spencer: Riri Williams spent the first few issues of Invincible Iron Man finding her feet as a superhero (mostly) on her own, so with issue 4 it’s time for Brian Michael Bendis and Stefano Caselli to integrate her more into the Iron Man mythology. In doing so, they not only highlight Riri’s strengths as a hero, but how much she still has to learn as well.

Pepper Potts pleasantly surprised me this month. While I was mostly aware of Pepper’s more recent history (such as the Rescue armor), I didn’t quite realize how competent she had become in the field — which, in Invincible Iron Man 4, is best shown by her valiant hand-to-hand fight against Tomoe’s techno-ninjas. It makes sense, though — if you’re going to be a superhero, you need to know how to handle yourself, even if stripped of your weapons. It’s a skill Riri hasn’t fully mastered yet, but for now, she’s got scrambling and improvising down to an art-form — and that’s a good sign that she’s got what it takes to learn.

It takes the Tony Stark A.I. to fill in Riri on Tomoe’s powers and backstory, but once he does, she quickly hatches a plan.

virus

That plan, though, relies on Tony having already created the virus needed to take down Tomoe after their last encounter. What I see here, then, is that Riri very much has the skills needed to be a superhero, but this early in her career, she still needs the history, resources, and support provided by Stark’s company in order to save the day. Riri earns her place in the Iron Man legacy by showing that she knows how to use it to its fullest potential. The only things missing, though, are the unique qualities Riri brings to the Iron Man legacy — in that sense, I can’t wait to see this series’ focus again return a bit more to Riri’s more personal perspective.

slim-banner4

Old Man Logan 18

old-man-logan-18Ryan D: Old Man Logan 18 reads like a car crash, and a visually striking one at that. With the past arc splitting Logan from the Wasteland to a space station with Puck to save Alpha Flight, the Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino jerk the audience from place to place in the same manner as the titular character. Replete with smash cuts or creative transitions, Sorrentino again finds his feet amidst the chaos and treats readers to incredible page composition and visuals. As Drew lamented last issue, though, is this narrative pushing the Old Man to new ground, or is it bogging him down in the character’s lore?

Featuring Jean Grey seemed like an easy way to explain the reality-trip which Logan faces here, but part of me hoped that she played the role of red herring, and that there may have been bigger forces at play aside from her psychic manipulations and the Brood; however, this issue proves that it was Jean under the Brood’s influence the whole time. The important thing about this arc and how it changed the main character- as good arcs do- was to provide a springboard for Logan to jump back to the Wasteland to take care of some “unfinished business”, i.e. discovering the fate of Bruce Banner’s child, a child which Logan was charged to protect. The reveals here did not disappoint me, per se, but I do wonder whether there aren’t more pressing stories to tell with the character of Logan in this world before we send him back to the Wasteland from which he came.

Bigger issues aside, I find this series to be a joy to read, nine times out of ten, if only for Sorrentino’s superb work. Lemire must be thankful that, between this title and Moon Knight, his artists can give his ideas such incredible visual clarity. I could fill my room with posters of Sorrentino’s mind-boggling two-page spreads:

oml18-1

That remarkable image is just one of three of those aforementioned spreads in this issue alone. The kid is an all-star.

Taking Logan back to the Wasteland makes this past arc feel a bit filler-esque, as complicated and fun as it was, due to the fact that it took place in a bubble off-world, and a lot of it being in Logan’s head. I love learning more about Logan’s time in that dystopian nightmare, but I’m just as interested — if not more — about how it makes him act in the Marvel landscape. But I have faith in this creative team to deliver.

slim-banner4

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat 15

patsy-walker-aka-hellcat-15Ryan M: Much of Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! has been about her establishing an adult life, separate from her youth. She has built a community of friends, carved out a career, and distanced herself from her mother. In Patsy Waker, A.K.A. Hellcat! 15, she faces the tiger she built with all of her childhood fears and disarms it with an honest expression of the anxieties of adulthood.

fears

It’s an affecting moment in an issue that is otherwise a playful delight. Patsy’s illness gives us some fun costume changes, a tiny and then giant Jubilee and a few character beats for Sharon. Leth gives Sharon more depth as a character in this issue. We see both her natural desire to do good and her conscious awareness of the risks she is taking with her property. Ending the issue with Sharon’s beloved building zapped out of existence could prove to be a great way to build on this exploration of Sharon’s character.

I know I already mentioned that Jubilee came in three sizes in this issue, but Brittney Williams’ work is worth pointing out again. Little Jubilee was made even more adorable than usual with her little fists pumping at every small victory.  It’s impressive that in a series where every character rank somewhere between adorable and ultra-adorable, that Williams is able to find fresh depths of cuteness. Even Patsy’s germ-expelling sneezes have a sense of whimsy.

After nefarious ex-boyfriends, a girl gang, a witch, and a villain who tries to out cat-pun her, it is a relief for Patsy to have a conflict that isn’t about her defeating a baddie. Now, she has to contend with the unintentional effects of her reality-bending cold. Taking personal responsibility is another step to adulthood, which Leth and Williams will likely make adorable and charming.

slim-banner4

Silk 17

silk-17Taylor: It’s easy, when watching a zombie movie, to forget how truly horrifying it is. Maybe that’s because zombies have been around for a while in so many stories they fail to be moving. But the idea of seeing the dead reanimated is truly terrifying and it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to see someone you know who had died, resurrected. That’s the case in Silk 17 when New-U resurrectees start to disintegrate in horrifying fashion.

Caught in the bowels of the New-U headquarters Cindy has to fight her way out with Hector and Mattie Franklin. They’re successful and eventually put an end to the disaster, with some help from Spider-Man, but it comes at a cost. Mattie, who was/is a role model for Cindy is killed when all the New-U clones are destroyed.

lost-twice

Seeing Cindy hold the empty costume for Spider-Woman hammers home the really scary thing about zombies and the undead. Sure, the idea of people rising from the grave is terrifying, but more than that, imagine seeing return from the grave only to see them lost once again? It’s a frightening idea and perhaps hints at why people find zombies so scary and an endless source for horrific story telling.

The only exception to all this horror is Hector, who hilariously dies again and is cast into ghost form once more. This is twice Hector has died and twice he has become a ghost so the horror of seeing death acts as a foil to all the death elsewhere. It’s a weird bit of comic relief in this issue that also serves as a reminder that he and Cindy shared something real and romantic in this arc. Will that kiss lead to more or will corporeal differences intervene?

slim-banner4

Uncanny Inhumans 19

uncanny-inhumans-19Patrick: Emma Frost is the shit. You can put her up on a list with the most bad-ass, influential revolutionaries in the Marvel Universe. The trick she pulls surrounding Cyclops’ death metastasized the Mutant resistance to the Inhumans’ free-roaming Terrigen cloud, and actually gave her people a fighting chance. But her heroism (or villain-ism, depending on how you view the conflict of IvX) is destined to play out in secret as only a handful of Mutants know the truth of her actions. Also, she’s a liar, literally presenting false realities to further her agenda, so it’s hard to celebrate her too much. That makes for some very exciting dynamics on the X side, but what about the on the I side? Uncanny Inhumans 19 reminds us that Maximus the Mad is always waiting in the wings to complicate matters.

Maximus takes Lineage, Triton and the Unspoken into the belly of some ancient sea-beast to start collecting ingredients for more Terrigen. We could actually stop right there at the set-up: nothing would be more disruptive to this war right now than the knowledge that Inhumans can simply create more of the poison that’s currently circling the globe. Literally no other Inhuman or Mutant is considering this as a possibility, either as a reason to make more war, or to broker a peace, and it’s unclear which Maximus wants to do with it. What is clear is that he wants to be the one in control of this resource when it comes time to make either peace or war. He’s a relentlessly ambitious character: a wildcard in the truest sense of the word. His unpredictability plays out during this fetch-quest as he hands one of his compatriots — The Unspoken — over to the Fish Queen in exchange for some of those raw materials for Terrigen. He’s even one step ahead of Lineage, who thinks he can out-betray Maximus the Mad (yeah, right, buddy).

Charles Soule writes Maximus as endlessly smart, and even charming, as he slithers and backstabs his way back to power. I love this shit-eating grin on the final page.

maximus

And just like Frost, he believes himself to be the hero of his story. It’s a masterful stroke for an Inhuman character this conflict too conveniently forgot about.

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

8 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 2/15/17

  1. Captain America: Sam Wilson: Drew, is there a meaningful different between this issue and Do the Right Thing? I don’t think the fact that this isn’t a response to death matters. As you said, this was an unequivocally unjust jury verdict. Whether death or false imprisonment, the true crime is the same. Racism. And that’s the important thing. To make a point that there wasn’t death here unintentionally makes a case against the kid. The fact that there was no death isn’t important. Because death or imprisonment, it is the exact same racism

    _______________________________________________________________

    Captain America: Steve Rogers: Lots to say about this issue. I do love the little things, like the fact that the Guardians of the Galaxy all turned up to the funeral of one of their own. Especially as using Peter Quill to persuade Carol is actually clever tactics. Former teammate (and boss) of Carol, and someone naturally on Steve’s side.

    But the key scene here is the stuff with Zemo. It is always impressive when a writer manages to take a complex, contradictory character history and turns those inconsistencies into a story (and please note, this is different to shit like Avengers Forever, which values correcting inconsistencies over having a story). But Spencer does something a little smarter. He finds that take that reconciles things, builds Zemo a psychology around that take, AND then uses his knowledge of that psychology to craft the perfect narrative for Steve to provide to manipulate Zemo even when Steve himself believes it.

    But urgh, the flashbacks continue to annoy me. WHY IS HYDRA SO EVIL IN THE FLASHBACKS! These flashbacks are a narrative written by Kobik, informed by her conception of what HYDRA is (and, notably, before Bucky challenged that idea). And yet, the flashbacks show HYDRA pushing Steve down a path he is so morally uncomfortable with he needs to be bailed out by Zemo. Even if you say that Steve struggled to kill Erksine because it was his first kill, why does Zemo feel the need to cover it up from HYDRA? Why can’t HYDRA know? Surely Kobik’s fantasy HYDRA wouldn’t punish Steve. I keep asking myself why Kobik has written this story of HYDRA, as opposed to one that doesn’t appear to be 99% bad guy.

    _______________________________________________________________

    Deadpool: The fact that Duggan is doing a major story beat isn’t too surprising, as his Uncanny Avengers is apparently a key book in the greater arc. The fact that Duggan is developing this idea in Deadpool is surprising.

    Still, a good issue. THe premise is pretty perfect, using the irony of the situation for all its worth. As you say, Michael, it is the wickedness of this issue that makes it work. To see Deadpool so exploited and manipulated is horrible

    _______________________________________________________________

    Doctor Strange: Damn, is there a better way to hit back at Doctor Strange? I loved how in Doctor Strange: The Oath, Vaughn combined his use of magic with is nature as a doctor, and here we have it again. How else do you hurt Doctor Strange, than attac those he tries to heal? Because ultimately, underneath all the many thing Doctor Strange is, he is a healer. That is the primary idea. There s the reason the final act of his movie took place not in a city being destroyed, but in a city whose vast destruction was being reversed by Strange himself. Such a delightfully wicked way to attack Doctor Strange. I love it.

    And to make things better, a crossover with Thor, everyone’s favourite pagan god who talks like she doesn’t know what an antibiotic is but is actual an experienced medical practioner. A lot of my discussion of this book is how important the idea of Strange being strange is. THat what makes him, him is the fact that he is this glorious weirdo. Now Aaron is building a story all baout both halves of his name. Because is there anything that is a better fit for a title called Doctor Strange than the good Doctor performing surgery with a Norse God as his nurse?

    _______________________________________________________________

    Gamora: This book is slightly annoying with its prophecy nonsense, as well as the sense of humour Gamora has – generic MCU quippy instead of a more grimmer, blacker humour that Gamora would better suit. But in so many other ways, it works. THe art is fantastic – beautiful and chaotic. And the confrontation with L’Wit is fantastic. Gamora’s speech, a brutal attack on the idea of fairness, is a fantastic PoV of where she at this point of her life – a dismaissla of any concept of morality out of the idea that the world doesn’t support it. Perfect representation of her view.

    But the real thing is the ending. The best way to do a prequel is to play it as a tragedy. It comes from knowing where the ending is, and knowing that by the end of this story, you are left with the flawed character who begun the real story. This is especially true of a character like Gamora, whose beginning is as a woman responsible for untold atrocities. Which is what makes the ending so good. We know that Gamora can only end this story as the last Zen-Whoberi. So what better twist than to reveal that there are still Zen-Whoberi left?

    _______________________________________________________________

    Invincible Iron Man: You know what? I don’t think anyone noticed last arc how great the Technoninjas are as Iron Man villains. They are the perfect new addition to the Iron Man mythos. Last arc, we were distracted by the fact that the arc is crap. But now that Invincible Iron Man is honest to god great, we get to see how great they are. As technological villains, they fit perfectly into the sorts of technological stories Iron Man is best with, but with powers that remove the ability to use the Iron Man armour. These are villains that push Iron man to use his intelligence, to prove that being a technological base dsuperhero means more than having the biggest piece of technology, but having the brains to best use technology, whether it is a billion dollar suit of armour or a crappy laptop with questionable browser history.

    And then there is Pepper. I was a bit worried that Pepper would be too competent this issue – the thing I like about Rescue was that Pepper was a superhero, but focused more on the Search and Rescue stuff than the punching bad guys stuff. I didn’t want her to be some expert at being a superhero. I wanted Pepper to be someone who has her own strengths a as superhero, and in a completely different way to what Tony had or what Riri wants to be. Bendis didn’t go into the nuances of Pepper’s capabilities this issue, because it was about Riri, but he does Pepper really well.
    Pepper quickly realises they are out classed. Because she’s smart like that. She finds out that Riri can’t fight, so gets her to run away. Both because it is smart, and because she is heroic enough to sacrifice herself. This is the easy stuff. But the important thing is that when it comes to her fighting, Bendis gets the balance just right. Pepper knows how to fight, as she always has. Hell, she probably has spent a lot of time learning to fight even before becoming Rescue, because being Tony’s closest companion requires self defence skills ever since his identity as Iron Man was revealed. But ignoring that, she proved she could fight in Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man, both in and out of the suit. But what is so right is that Pepper can fight, but she isn’t good at it. She’s got enough basics to defend herself, but she is constantly getting knocked around. All Pepper has in this issue is enough to know how not to die. She gets cut, she gets hits… Pepper proves to be a superhero, but she has the exact level of ability you would expect from someone with her unique take on being a superhero. That is what I want from Rescue. Also, that line about her name is so perfect.

    Caselli’s art has always been fantastic, and he proves to be able to do action so sensationally. Bendis has, on occasion, attempted to do a Warren Ellis ‘basically one long fight scene issue’, like that terrible GotG arc explaining Richard Rider’s imprisonment in the Cancerverse. He usually doesn’t do a good job. But with Caselli, the action works perfectly (I love how that first page uses blur towards the bottom, giving a a camera zooming in and a build in intensity). Pepper’s punches hit hard, Pepper’s wound look like they hurt… Everything I want from a fight, which is especially impressive considering how often we avoid doing that with female characters.
    Bur Riri’s action sequences are even better. The rule I crafted for myself, to make great action sequences, is to have the situation constantly change. And Riri’s sequences get this so right, to create one of the best action sequences in comics, outside of Warren Ellis. Every panel gives a new addition to Riri’s escape, creating the most entertaining fight scene through the rapid change in circumstances that combine environment (Matt’s second rule of Fight Scenes: Use the Environment, it makes things interesting) and Riri’s own character (Matt’s third rule: How can you use the way they fight to reveal character? Matt’s fourth rule: Did you notice that the first three rules are also the key to making a good story? THere is a reason for that. A fight scene is a story itself).
    Riri grabs a sword, but has it knocked away because of inexperience. She runs after it, only to run out of rooftop. To escape the technoninjas, she leaps down to the balcony below, then uses her quick thinking to find a replacement weapon in a flowerpot.. THis shocks the ninja, and the small space knocks him into the other, and they both go off the edge. Brilliant. Constantly moving forward, with the environment and the changes in the environment informing action to create fantastic new situations. Riri’s inexperience and her quick thinking are highlighted, as well as the requirement of a little luck. Everything you want in a fight. And then this is followed up with even more action, even if it isn’t a fight. One and a half pages of Riri acting, with the only dialogue being a ‘You!’. She looks down, shocked. Goes inside, looking worried. Trepidatiously, she sneaks through the woman’s apartment. The moment she’s out, she throws caution to the wind and runs with purpose. She stops only when she notices the boy with the laptop, now with purpose. Fantastic action.

    Which is so important, as this really is Riri’s issue. I disagree with you, Spencer, that this issue isn’t about Riri’s personal perspective. This issue doesn’t show the unique qualities Riri brings to the Iron Man mythos, but to me, the key idea here is about how Riri proves to be a superhero when the chips are down. This is Riri’s first true superhero fight, a crucible of ‘are you a hero?’. Before exploring the nuances that make Riri different from Tony, I think that it is important to see her first succeed in the challenge of ‘Technological Superhero 101′. Run before you can walk. This series has already made clear it wants to explore what it means to learn to be a superhero, and that means doing the challenges like this. And, in fact, I believe the fact that Riri doesn’t provide a unique perspective at the moment IS important. Tony sent Riri the Tony AI because he said she was the Future, and that’s important. Despite her genius, she isn’t special yet. She’s still ordinary (think of how the recap pages are designed to look like Riri vlogging to her computer, complete with uncomfortable camera angle). I would argue that is central to everything Riri has gone through so far, especially this issue. She’s clever, but she’s totally out of her depth. She’s unready, unprepared. Tomoe the Techno Golem has revealed just how painfully ordinary Riri is. And yet she still wins. And that’s the point. That she’s unprepared and placed into the worst case scenario (superhero fight without tech) and still finds a way to win. THe Future belongs to the unprepared girl who still found a way to win (important note: Tony didn’t make the virus, Riri did. Tony made a virus, but only in theory. Just like Rir already had made when she asked. She actually writes the virus up on the spot. Tony’s only contribution was to provide the armour). What happens when she finds that unique quality she provides the Iron Man mythos? She stops being the Future and becomes the Present. This isn’t the story of a superhero. This is the story of how someone becomes a superhero. And I am loving the arc Bendis has given us so far

    Honestly, I truly love this book

    _______________________________________________________________

    Patsy Walker: I’m wondering how much more of this I am going to read. Nice to see that Patsy getting injured last arc had a purpose, even if it made the previous arc very messy in how things did transition properly. But while there is a lot of good stuff (and you express it all very well. Patsy not fighting a villain, adult anxieties, the origins of the tiger, the cuteness. Though you missed Ms Canada Chavez), I again feel like we have another arc where all the elements of a good story are there, but aren’t going to combine into a coherent, functional story. For example, if Mr Sniffles is Patsy’s childhood fears, and defeated by adult anxieties, why is he powered by Patsy’s fears of being an inadequate superhero, one of her adult responsibilities. This book continues to be too messy for my tastes

    _______________________________________________________________

    Spiderman: After two good issues in the Miles/Gwen crossover, this issue didn’t really do it for me. Other than a fantastic gag using dimensional travel, this felt like one of those issues that spun the wheel. Disappointing. I would say Bendis at his worst, but he has much worse types of stories. But one of those stuff that truly demonstrates the bad half of Bendis’ output

    _______________________________________________________________

    Starlord: This is worth it just for the best Daredevil joke ever. ‘You know, for a guy so judgy, you’re pretty quick to believe me’. As is the line about the nice embossing on Daredevil’s business cards.

    But the real stuff that works is how lost Star Lord is in a world that isn’t his own. He’s the lost twenty something who is unsure where they are in life, made even better by the fact that the ordinary world is foreign to him. He wants nice, simple answers, where broken bridges can be mended and making things squares forgives creating the situation in the first place. That difficulty in trying to fit the real world is done so keenly, and so subtly. This is the sort of book that actually works on a much subtler level than you expect, hiding what it is to be a sleeper success. Not great, but good in ways that you don’t notice

    • I think the obvious difference is that Rage can (and will) be exonerated. They both demonstrate the racism inherent in our system, for sure — arguably, this instance is more frustrating, because it’s not down to the actions of one cop, but a jury of twelve citizens — but Rage can recover from this in a way Radio Rahim can’t. As they say: where there’s life, there’s hope.

      • I guess I’m cynical enough that I can only imagine extraordinary circumstances exonerating Rage. At least by Spencer’s hand, I can’t see an easy solution. I don’t think the justice system here cares enough to correct the mistake. Note that the jury took ten minutes to make the decision, despite testimony of (the unpoular) Captain America and the existence of the tape (the tape was rendered inadmissible, but also the sort of thing they would have known).

        And then there is also the fact that we are talking about these events from the perspective of a young black kid. We can say, from our objective standpoint as a reader who knows that this is a story and will have payoff, that Rage will eventually get out of prison. But to your average black kid, where is the hope? What reason would he have to believe that there is a chance of exoneration? Hell, he probably already knows that the chances of exoneration are nonexistent. To him, is there any difference between Rage and Radio Rahim?

        That’s my ultimate point. We shouldn’t let our perspective overwrite the perspective of the kid who matters. To him, I can’t see why Radio Rahim and Rage are distinctly different. Superficially, they are different. But in every way that matters, it is the same ugly narrative. And that’s important. Because it is that ugly narrative, that racist narrative that repeats and repeats, which is the true reason that Mookie/the kid do what they do

        • Sam already has the actual perpetrator in custody. I get that our criminal justice system is fucked up, but someone else confessing to the crime is not really something that can be ignored in a case as high-profile as this one.

          But even if Rage’s conviction stood (and because of his obstinance, was never appealed), he could only be sentenced to a maximum of 7 years (burglary of a non-residential building in New York is a class D nonviolent felony), and that’s only if the offender has a criminal record AND is older than 19 — neither of which may be true for Rage (though I’m not sure about either). 7 years is a long time, don’t get me wrong, but it’s decidedly not a death sentence. I’m not saying this to invalidate that kid’s reaction, but I think most people see a difference between being killed in the street and being railroaded by a racist criminal justice system. Both are unjust, for sure, but only one of them can be corrected.

        • Yeah, Speed Demon has been captured, but you can imagine some lines about unreliability of witness testimony, not enough evidence to reopen the case (I mean, Rage intentionally doesn’t have the necessary legal representation to properly fight this) and general apathy from the law.

          And the fact that Rage will only be incarcerated for a couple of years is going to be something that stays with him his whole life. That he spends a good portion of his young adult life in prison, then has to live with that for the rest of his life – something that can affect his job prospects and many other things.

          But most importantly, to the little kid, none of that matters. One of the most shocking things I learned during the Ferguson protests was these stories of just how black parents raise their children to deal with the police. And here is that exact same story. Black Men sent to prison because the justice system is designed to fill prisons with black men (there is a reason that crack cocaine gave such high prison sentences).
          You are right that most can see that Rage has a chance of being corrected, but I have a feeling that that is mostly white people. How many black people have given up hope on the idea that the problem can be corrected, just because the law technically allows it? How often does it really get corrected. He has been raised in a world where the police will shoot you or throw you in prison, and justice never matters. He’ll have been taught by his parents about how important it is to be careful around police, because a single mistake could end up screwing his life up, with no hope of fixing it. And the police, especially the new Americops, would have only confirmed those suspicions.

          I think it is important to make sure we don’t suggest in any way that the kid’s actions are less righteous than Mookie’s, because at the end of the day, the specifics don’t matter. What happened to Radio Rahim and what happened to Rage are the exact same narrative. In the real world, neither ending has a real chance of getting fixed. THe only difference is that one ends your life, and the other ruins it. Same story, same racism, same justification for Mookie/the kid’s actions.

  2. So, I just read one of the most irresponsible comics that Marvel ever released. The first issue of the second volume of Marvel Adventures: Superheroes. The Marvel Adventures line was Marvel’s kid friendly line, that used to exist before it got cancelled and replaced with a line of companion comics for the Marvel animated shows.

    Now, my general view is that children don’t need to be talked down to, and that they can handle the complexity of discussing, for example, structural racism (Zootopia) or Emotional Psychology (Inside Out). But, I have a limit when you combine that with satire.

    I’ve heard someone say that satire doesn’t work if some of the people you’re aiming at don’t get it. And there is some truth to that. Many of our great works of satire, like Fight Club or Starship Troopers, are famous for having just as many people miss the point (especially Fight Club). SO considering how many adults fall for satire, I think it is important to make sure that any satire is very careful.

    Which is important, because Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes is either a satire of the fascist nature of superheroes, or a fun story about a bunch of fascist heroes. It is hard to say without knowing where the story will eventually end. And either is inappropriate for kids.

    It is a story about a bunch of people who think because they are powerful enough and rich enough, they should be allowed to enforce their will on the world, to ‘protect against forces beyond normal control. But also as soldiers to eliminate threats to world piece’. Yet the only assurances they offer as they make their demands is that they will ‘fight the bad guys’. They refuse any form of accountability, while expecting valuable intel in return, and a major antagonist of the issue is the UN, who refuse to let the Avengers operate without some sort of control. Not very heroic. There is a reason why, after Siege finished the Civil War metaplot and the SHRA was signed, a key idea was that every Avengers team had a SHIELD liaison. Because ultimately, the important takeaway of the Civil War is that there needs to be some accountability, a need for a better system than to hope that our protectors always do the right thing. But the Avengers in this comic completely refuse accountability. Which isn’t a bad thing, if it was satire.

    And there is a lot of evidence. A key part of satire is the wink, and there are a lot of things that seem to wink. The constant hypocrisies, the fact that the UN always make good points, the fact that certain moment are specifically highlighted, and the use of environment to make the characters feel laughable. But there is no large wink. Nothing equivalent to Neil Patrick Harris walking in wearing an SS Uniform. Which is to say, as this series continues, those small winks could get forgotten or overwhelmed by what is essentially a justification for satire.

    But if it is satire, and I think that this issue, at least, is satire, why is this the centrepiece of the kid’s line. Kid’s stories can explore fascism. Legend of Korra is proof you can do a nuanced look at fascism. But is it responsible to write a very subtle satire, using some of the highest profile superheroes (including Captain America) in a series for kids? The reason why Zootopia, Inside Out and Legend of Korra are so good at exploring mature ideas to kids is because they do so in a way designed to facilitate understanding. THis comic seems destined to fall into the Fight Club trap. And there is a reason Fight CLub isn’t a kid’s movie

    • So, I read some more of this. I was hoping for the Avengers to attack Latveria to take down the evil Doctor Doom. Or some other unprovoked action, and build the case that it was satire. Still be inappropriate for the kid’s line, but better than careless fascism. Instead, you have stories so small you have to wonder the purpose of building the first issue plot around the UN was. Small stories of theft and blackmail.

      It actually gets hard to discuss the issues, in that the interpretation of the stories necessarily get mixed up with the fact that the first issue is about a bunch of fascists. When Black Widow is being elitist, is that a sign of toxic fascist ideology or just ordinary characterisation that only looks fascist because in the first issue she was a fucking fascist?

      That first issue is one of the most secretly toxic issues of a comic I can remember…

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