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 Doctor Strange 18, Hawkeye 4, Moon Knight 12, and Silk 18. Also, we’ll be discussing America 1 on Monday and the Unstoppable Wasp 3 on Tuesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Doctor Strange 18
Drew: Superhero team-up! We’ve seen a ton of mediocre team-ups over the years, but the best ones still stand out for finding unexpected ways to thrust two beloved characters together. One of the surest ways to get good results is when the writer happens to be writing the solo series for both characters — as the current “voice” for both, there’s some insurance there that the heroes will be consistent with how they’re portrayed elsewhere, from the turns of phrase they use to the themes that might resonate with them. Such is the case with Doctor Strange 18, which pairs Stephen with Thor, but more importantly, with Jane Foster.
Last month’s cliffhanger established that all of Stephen’s former patients have been infected by Mr. Misery, and now require brain surgery to remove tumors. But, Doctor Strange’s whole thing is that he can’t do brain surgery anymore, so he calls upon the one other superhero M.D. he knows: Thor. Only, you know, that Thor is actually Jane Foster isn’t exactly public knowledge. That gives Thor some pause, but she couldn’t really turn her back on all these people in need, so we get maybe the greatest line in comics history:
Scrub in, Doctor Thor, and let’s get cutting.
This is Jason Aaron at his goofiest, and it’s an absolute blast. When Mister Misery shows up to put a ticking clock on all of these patients, Thor resolves to complete the surgeries with the speed of lightning, melting her scalpels along the way.
Meanwhile, artist Chris Bachalo seems to be having just as much fun, flipping and twisting the grotesque Mister Misery in every way he can. I was particularly impressed at the way Bachalo approached following both Doctor Strange and Thor once the battle with Mister Misery heated up, effectively foregrounding one while following the other in the background:
This layout manages to capture both the massiveness of Mister Misery and the claustrophobia of fighting him, all while tracking what our two characters are across the room from one another. It’s an absolute delight.
Spencer: Quite often, when a story has some sort of real-life, political allegory, I end up disappointed when the ending can’t fully resolve that issue and inevitably resorts to fisticuffs and explosions. Not so, though, with Hawkeye 4. Admittedly, Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero have moved past the initial stalking and misogyny that kick-started their story, but the conclusion still successfully tackles an important subject: how and why the hate that fuels those kind of behaviors is created, and how to deal with it.
Meet Aggregate. He has the ability to empower himself by absorbing the hatred of others, and has been using the Take Back Control meetings and primer patches to amplify L.A.’s hatred, giving him more to feed off of. Whether Aggregate cares one way or another about any of the groups he’s stoking up hate against is essentially irrelevant; his end goal is simply to gain more power for himself. It’s no different for many real life groups (political or otherwise), who preach hate against marginalized groups simply to keep themselves in power. With that in mind, it’s interesting to see how Kate and company deal with Aggregate and his minions. Poor brainwashed Mikka is freed from Aggregate’s control through pure love, and that makes sense; often (although certainly not always), those who have been deceived by this kind of hatemongering can eventually see the error of their ways thanks to experience, empathy, and yes, love. That’s not gonna be enough to deal with the likes of Aggregate, though.
Instead, Kate has to physically restrain him (in a clever action sequence) and essentially ram the power of pure love (in the form of The Sound of Music) right down his throat. Even then, this doesn’t result in a the kind of joyful reunion it did with Mikka; instead, Aggregate writhes in pain, the hatred forcibly ejected from his body in the form of a sickly green liquid. What this resolution says to me is that, even when dealing with hatemongers like Aggregate, we can’t give up on the principles of love and empathy — but we can’t rely solely on them either. Action, and likely even force, is still required. And we can’t expect a big happy ending — when dealing with the likes of Aggregate, reformation takes a back seat to the priority of stopping them from hurting more people.
Moon Knight 12
Michael: Moon Knight 12 is like the third act of movie where the supporting cast comes back to save the hero before sending him on to the climax. Seriously, there’s like three separate deus ex machinas here from Marc Spector’s different personas. It’s hard to tell where the real meaning of it all lies in the present day adventures of Moon Knight 12, which take place in “The Overvoid.”
In a flashback to his days as a mercenary, one of Marc’s targets: “The Wolf” mentions how, as a mercenary, Marc is “broken into pieces” and that he will never be whole again. That’s really the resounding theme of this series — Marc coming to terms with the different pieces of himself.
Jeff Lemire shows us that Marc’s personalities were not so simply exorcised as Marc believed, but only Marc can face the challenge ahead.
There’s a Campbellian quality that’s present in the mystical narrative of The Overvoid. Marc essentially makes a(nother) deal with the devil by agreeing to rescue Anubis’ wife in exchange for Crawley’s soul.
Greg Smallwood continues to relish in the Moon Knightiness of the book: dealing in the blinding whites of the negative space between the borderless panels. Comics art is choreographed to move your eye from left to right and zig-zag to the next line. With that white negative space it feels like the panels are forcefully shifted by our gaze and that zig-zag is more evident.
Moon Knight continues to be a series that I think I know what’s going on but am also completely ready to be proven wrong.
Spencer: Silk 18 is a bit of a reboot for the character, using the tragic ending of “Clone Conspiracy” as a wake-up call for Cindy Moon. Addled from watching her predecessor die (again) and her mentor lose his job for his role in the New U fiasco, Cindy’s questioning her entire life, and she’s not entirely wrong to; everything about her current status quo has been influenced by other people, from her job at the Fact Channel (which she took to find her parents, which she has since succeeded in doing) to her superheroic lifestyle (which she’d been groomed for by Ezekiel). The question on Cindy’s mind now is: what does she want to do with her life?
It’s a question that could come across perhaps a tad bit selfish under a lesser creative team, but Robbie Thompson and Tana Ford channel the turmoil Cindy is feeling throughout the entire issue (the pain just bubbles up in those graveyard sequences especially, and the frantic cuts in Dr. Sinclair’s office capture her scattered state of mind perfectly — and I continue to love that the creative team portrays therapy as a vital, healthy, and helpful aspect of Cindy’s life), tapping us directly into her pain, loss, and unmoored sense of confusion. Perhaps more importantly, Thompson and Ford base their new direction for Cindy on a vital part of her personality.
Cindy Moon has to help those in need; it’s a part of who she is. That’s why her decision to work for Mockingbird at S.H.I.E.L.D. just makes sense: it will not only allow Cindy to help people for a living, but to find the most effective way to do so. It’s a smart decision on Cindy’s (and Thompson and Ford’s) behalf, and one I’m glad to see her make.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?