Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 5/10/17

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 All-New Wolverine 20, Amazing Spider-Man 27, America 3, and Silver Surfer 11. Also, we will be discussing Rocket 1 on Tuesday and Ms. Marvel 18 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4 All-New Wolverine 20

Drew: We’ll sometimes talk about comics creative teams as a kind of hybrid author of the work. It’s not my favorite analogy — it minimizes the value of collaboration, playing into notions of auteurship I don’t totally agree with — but it gets one important piece right: you can’t change one part of the team without effectively changing the series. Which is to say, Tom Taylor/David López is different from Tom Taylor/Marcio Takara is different from Tom Taylor/Nik Virella is different from Tom Taylor/Leonard Kirk. It’s obvious enough that All-New Wolverine would look different under each of those artists — they all have distinctly different styles — but the more important piece is that it feels different under each of those artists, as their sense of pacing and flow deeply affects the way each issue is read. Even with the same writer, different artists can drastically shift the tone of a series.

This isn’t the first issue of Wolverine Kirk has pencilled, but this one highlights his penchant for building compositions around a central figure. Look at how effective that is in this issue’s big chase scene:

Ambulance chasers

The central compositions make for an incredibly fast read. Compound that with a straightforward left-to-right direction of motion and some manga-inspired “subjective motion” lines, and you have a remarkably propulsive sequence.

Of course, the real value of Kirk’s approach to composition is in isolating Laura Kinney. She’s isolated when talking with the Marvel Universe’s greatest minds at the start of the issue, isolated again when her physiology becomes the subject of study climaxing in her literally being branded the messiah. Laura may be getting better at letting others get close to her, but the universe seems to be determined to set her apart. It’s a theme that’s 100% there in the writing, but Kirk’s sense of composition absolutely drives it home.

slim-banner4

Amazing Spider-Man 27

Patrick: I had a harder time getting into Spider-Man than most people I know. The crumminess of his incessant jokes actually annoyed me — and not in a  “it’s so grounded and relatable how annoying he’s being” kind of way. But at some point, you just gotta get wise to the fact that this is how the character is written — it’s who Peter is. What’s the harm in that, anyway? After all, he’s slingin’ webs around New York City fighting dudes in their pajamas, surely he’s allowed to have a little fun, right?

Amazing Spider-Man 27 puts Spidey into one of those contexts that’s so serious, so globally significant, that it becomes difficult to watch him quip his way through it. Spidey and Sable kick off the issue by invading her home country of Symkaria. Their goal is to shut down the exploitative weapons manufacturing industry that Norman Osborn has been running there, so it’s clear (to us) that they’re the good guys. The citizens of Symkaria aren’t as easily convinced, and they need their chosen hero, Sable to stand up for the revolution. She’s deadpan and sanctimonious, and artist Stuart Immonen draws her as a figure out of space and time.

Like, which of those panels is she supposed to be in? It looks like she’s lit by the second panel from the left and lit from the first panel on the right. But it’s her level-headed seriousness that almost instantly earns the support of the Symkarians.

Sable’s not the only one who takes this deadly seriously — poor Bobbi gives up her badge before ultimately betraying S.H.I.E.L.D. She’s not 100% certain why she’s doing this, but she does believe herself to be helping her friend Peter in his hour of need. The point is, there are a lot of noble people putting a lot on the line to do the right thing. And then there’s Peter. Pete’s still fighting Goblins, which is a Spider-Man trope so old that it feels intrinsically tied to Spidey’s origins. Writer Dan Slott taps into that primordial energy by recalling that famous Joker scene from Tim Burton’s Batman at the beginning of the issue. Osborn is having his bandages removed after another round of plastic surgery has left him permanently disfigured. The surgeon makes some excuses, but the damage has already been done.

So, okay: that’s what we’re channeling here. Spider-Man vs. Norman Osborn has underpinnings of Batman vs. Joker. It is SO WEIRD to me that Spider-Man’s tone snaps right back to inane quip-o-rama. He’s obsessed! He even makes Bobbi acknowledge the quality of his Scarface impression. I do believe Slott’s tracking Peter’s regression in this issue, and has him get tripped up when one of Sable’s Wild Pack dudes cracks a joke ahead of him. It’s a such a weird quirk of the character, and it feels so out of place amid a revolutionary war, but I think that’s the point. Everyone has something principled to fight for — but Peter’s still slingin’ webs at dudes in pajamas.

slim-banner4

America 3

Spencer: I was rough (although fair as well, I believe) on America 2, so it brings me a lot of pleasure to tell you all that America 3 has improved greatly, and specifically on some of the issues I pointed out last month. While America’s dialogue (courtesy of writer Gabby Rivera) still bugs me some, at least there’s less of it, and less expositional/snotty chatter especially. Pretty much everything America says this month is blunt and gets directly to whatever point she’s trying to make, making her feel much more like the America Chavez I know and love than she has the last few issues.

The best moment for America comes during her scene with Storm (which Rivera and artists Joe Quinones and Stacey Lee wisely focus most of the issue on, giving it the needed time to breathe that previous issues didn’t always have). Storm’s trying to teach America to open up her senses and use her powers in new ways through meditation, but America knows that she learns best through fighting, not thinking, and her strategy pays off. This is who the America Chavez of this series needs to be: as supremely self-confident and in touch with herself as she’s ever been, but also aware that she needs to learn and willing to do so in her own way.

Much like the previous issue, America 3 is still overflowing with imaginative concepts, but again, this time around the creative team actually slows down enough to dig into them, making everything feel much more cohesive. In fact, it’s with this issue that the themes of this series finally start to become clear: America is about the ways families can guide, support, and inspire us, be they our blood ancestors or the family we’ve chosen for ourselves. The mysterious Madrimar, who appears to be one of America’s ancestors, is guiding her through a journey of self-discovery from afar, using a community of powerful female mentors including Peggy Carter and Storm. Meanwhile, America remembers how she grew up with love because of the people who accepted her like family, even if she wasn’t technically their blood.

This is important because it allows America to approach the Chavez Guerillas (who kidnapped her ex, Lisa) with that same compassion rather than hate. The Guerillas and the Leelumultipass Phi Theta Betas all look to America the way she once looked towards her adopted families, and it’s powerful to see America learn to pass that inspiration down to the next generation and be there for people the way people were once there for her. I think the days of America Chavez being a true loner may soon be in the past.

slim-banner4

Silver Surfer 11

Drew: Is there anything more frustrating than being late, in spite of your best efforts? It only ever seems to happen when the stakes are at their highest (a job interview, a friend’s wedding, a flight, etc) and always caused by something you couldn’t have anticipated (unseasonable weather, a fluke traffic snarl, a malfunction on public transit). It’s the kind of thing we only notice when it conforms to those specifics, but it’s hard not to feel like the universe is conspiring against us, setting forth the oddest circumstances just when they’d be the least convenient. Such is the case for Dan and Norrin in Silver Surfer 11, albeit with stakes decidedly higher — and inconveniences decidedly less likely — than anything I have ever experienced.

Time has passed quickly since Dawn’s last visit to Earth, and her twin sense tells her that Eve is in labor. She’s determined to get back in time to see the birth of her niece, but with over half a billion light years to travel, that’s a tall order. What’s worse, Norrin is already committed to defending the Pollen Nation from invading Bearbarians. It’s the kind of absurd detail that Dan Slott and Michael Allred have made a defining feature of this series, and tips us off that this story will be more of a Planes, Trains, and Automobiles-style comedy of errors than a tragedy.

Which is good, because their primary obstacle is pretty absurd — a warrior with a bruised ego, determined to face Norrin in combat. When escaping and feigning defeat fail, Norrin is forced to quickly wallop the poor guy, further destroying his sense of self. It’s the first hint at tragedy in an issue that played Norrin and Dawn’s struggles for comedy, but it isn’t the last. When they finally arrive in Anchor Bay, Dawn is disappointed to see that she missed the birth of her niece. But that isn’t the only thing she missed.

Dawn's dad

It’s a brutal twist, made all the more unexpected because we’re expecting a punchline, of sorts. Slott and Allred lead us to believe we know what this story is, only to abruptly yank the rug out from under us at the last moment. It’s devastatingly effective.

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

2 comments on “Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 5/10/17

  1. All-New Wolverine: Maybe I’d be more generous about the art of this book if they got a better artist, who didn’t take a book that tried to embrace the essence of the bright, shiny superheroics and turned it into something so dull and lifeless. You know what? This book is a damn Marvel movie! A book so perfectly tapped into the essence of superhero comics, but afflicted by terrible work in the colours. Marvel Studios threw away the Alexa and gave James Gunn a RED 8K, so could Marvel Comics give this book a better colourist?

    Though to be fair, the art doesn’t help. In the second page, Nadia and Peter look drugged and half asleep, while Doctor Strange is squinting at something in the distance. Bobbi has a barbie doll style vacant stare, Amadeus’ hair makes him look like a damn troll and what the hell happened to Henry McCoy? Great page composition, but not an inspiring start. Though at least Laura gets a couple of expressions that look natural. Only a couple, but at least it is something.

    Artistic inconsistency is all over this issue. Monica tells Laura to take her clothes off and be examined, which she does. But later on the issue, after they relocate and Monica’s examination begins, Laura is dressed in everything but her jacket. The constant frustration of the art should make what could end up being a really good story suffer. It has some problems with how Monica is rushed, and I miss how last issue uniquely worked as a two hander between Laura and Riri. But the art…

    Though I have to say, I am really loving how the new costume is conceptualised. I’ve mentioned many times how I love my costumes tactile, instead of pretending it is spandex, and I love seeing how Laura’s costume works – that it is a jacket that is placed over a bodysuit

    _____________________________________________________________

    America: This was a big improvement. Some stuff was honestly magical, like America weaving dimensions and feeling the multiverse. While other moments were fantastic looks at America. I love the choice to make Buddy her favourite show, as well as the fact she refuses to admit it. I love that meditation doesn’t work, but a fight does. THis is the first time this series really showed that America was a brawler. And I love the idea of her travelling for people who looked like her, and picking up the variety of Hispanic culture. Works well for a hundred different reasons.

    But it is still full of problems. I saw someone accuse Storm of being a Magical Negro this issue, and she kind of is. Unlike Peggy, Storm in this issue seems to have very little to her except to be a mentor. She doesn’t feel like a character, just a story point. And the Chavez Guerillas stuff is odd. For a group who have come together because of a threat of energy monsters, they seem easily distracted. Are they fangirls who just want to be with their hero, or are they calling for their hero to return. Youc an combine the two, easily. But not when you spend all your time watching Buffy. If they want to be more than fangirls, they have to do anything.

    _____________________________________________________________

    Black Panther & the Crew: Let’s talk about structure. I’ve mentioned structure as being the skeleton a lot, but let’s develop that more. Structure provides the rules around content, and therefore is one of the most influential elements of content.

    For example, let’s have a look at your Alternating Currents. The structure is always the same. Two writers each write about an issue, one at a time. The first writer writes their piece, then ends with a series of discussion questions. The second writer then writes a response to what the first writer does, ending with a conclusion. Each piece begins with the writer’s name in bold. At the very bottom, AFTER the comment section but at the very top of the Comment form, is the line ‘What you got?’ (a line that is always above the comment form, even if you press Reply).
    This has a great effect on the meaning of your content. For example, a Retcon Punch piece suggests that meaning is relative, that there are multiple perspectives to a single comic. That ultimately, you guys set up the critique as a discussion, instead of an essay. You have two distinct, named people in every piece (with histories throughout the site), and an invitation to discuss more (an invitation only found AFTER going past the discussion from the commenting proletariat like me). The structure dictates the content – by the very structure of a Retcon Punch piece, nothing is ever definite because the very idea of a second take is built into the very structure.
    I’ve used structure to specifically control the message of my comments multiple times . In my Secret Empire comment (https://retcon-punch.com/2017/05/09/secret-empire-1/#comment-128671), I structured my comment as a series of smaller comments, each focused on a single scene as an examples of a single idea I wished to discuss, complete with punny reference title that summarised the idea . The strength of this is that it showed complexity – a story where every part was meaningful, and there were multiple meaningful discussion to have, not just one. There were two weaknesses with this approach. The first was the disconnectedness – I could show Secret Empire was a complex book that required a complex opinion, but I couldn’t represent the ways that these complex idea interweaved each other. I treated them as separate conversations, not one big conversation. Secondly, the need to root each piece in a specific scene made it hard to discuss elements best left to an issue wide. The fact I couldn’t find a spot for the art is something I regret. For DC Rebirth/Captain America, Steve Rogers 1 (https://retcon-punch.com/2016/05/27/dc-universe-rebirth-1/#comment-126096, https://retcon-punch.com/2016/05/31/steve-rogers-captain-america-1/#comment-126151), I used parallelism in my conclusions to specifically place the two books at specific sides of a single continuum, with DC Rebirth representing bankrupt, regressive writing and Steve Rogers representing challenging, progressive writing. And in what I think is still my best comment, for the first issue of the Vision (https://retcon-punch.com/2015/11/05/the-vision-1/#comment-122867), I wrote an essay designed so that each paragraph represented a single idea BUT also flowed into the next, showign teh complexity of the comic and the way that complexity interweaved with each other to make an even more complex taperstry (which I utterly failed to do with Secret Empire). Each case, the very structure dictated a sizeable portion of what I conveyed.

    Which is all to say, thank god Coates’ has changed is structure for Black Panther & the Crew, because in doing so, he has so perfectly addressed the flaws. He begins each issue with a flashback to Ezra’s past. Like the parables in the main book, these work so well because they have to stand on their own. These scenes can’t connect to any other scene in the issue, so they have to be self contained. Which is when Coates is at his best. When he is forced to keep everything in a contained space, instead of an 11 issue epic, the very structure forces him to have a beginning and an ending.
    So, Coates’ new structure for the Crew takes this principle and doubles down on it. He places constraints that forces the content to take a specific shape, and that shape is much better suited for Coates’ talents than the structure he uses in the main book. Each issue is narrated by a single character, and each issue, that character changes. Assuming a six issue arc, that means that Coates only has a single issue with each character per arc. Knowing that, in this case, Ororo won’t get to be a perspective character for a couple of arcs, Coates is forced to push everything he wants to discuss about Ororo in one issue. Everything about her connection to Harlem, her identity troubles with respect to the place she was born but not raised, her grief that she is struggling with in a time of great loss, fits into a single issue. Just as Misty’s was.

    Structure dictates content, and structure’s dictating this book to such an extent that I’m not reading it because it is too interesting not to, like the main book. I’m reading it because I am honestly looking forward to it.

    Also, the weird thing about this book, with its focus on Harlem and its structure with respect to character introductions was that I forgot that it was a Black Panther book for a moment. I read that initial set up and got surprised to hear Wakanda mentioned, because I just wasn’t conceptualising this as a Black Panther book, like I was for Misty and Ororo

    _____________________________________________________________

    Guardians of the Galaxy Mother Entropy: THIS is the mastermind of the story that Marvel Studios is building three Phases of movies towards? It is getting really hard to see what the big deal about Starlin is, from this. Hope it is just a bad book.

    Last issue, I complained that it felt rushed. This issue, nothing happened, with the promise of nothing happening next issue. Mother Entropy turns up, and states the need to test the Guardians (and Pip). And so we get 11 pages of the characters of them facing their fears. The only one worth a damn, surprisingly, is Peter’s. The threat of learning his father wasn’t J’Son, but an enigma (and therefore losing that idea of roots that going to space was supposed to solve), is clever, as is Peter’s response. The rest are just obvious and banal, especially the characters that Starlin is supposed to be an expert on (Drax and Gamora). Hell, Pip the Troll, who should only be there because this is a Starlin book and Starlin wants to play with the toys he played with back there, shows himself to be a pointless character. His fear just reveals himself as an empty hedonist character. Terrible, but even worse when he has to spend all miniseries standing alongside five fascinating hedonists.

    After all that space achieving essentially nothing, Mother Entropy says there needs to be another test, which leads to the cliffhanger, where we find that everyone finds themself in a different body. Groot is in Peter’s body. Drax is in Pip’s body, Pip is in Drax’s body and I have no idea about the rest. The lines that Peter, Gamora and Rocket get do nothing to reveal character. I think, because of Drax and Pip, Groot and Peter swapped and Rocket and Gamora swapped. But it isn’t clear.
    Oh, and to make this worse, whoever is in Gamora’s body’s first thought is to perv on the fact that they have breasts. Just to make things worse. I’ll let Duggan and Gunn provide me my Guardians fix

    _____________________________________________________________

    Secret Warriors: I don’t know why I picked this up… but I really liked it.

    I think the success is the fact that it isn’t an Inhuman book, but a Secret Warriors book. To put it another way, it knows it needs more of a hook than the fact that it is an Inhuman book, which I think SOule suffered from (or being anti-democracy, which Ewing’s stuff suffers from). Instead, it tells the sort of spy story that you expect from a book named after the iconic first run. Daisy Johnston fighting Steve Rogers during Secret Empire? Why wouldn’t I want to read that?

    So yeah, this is Daisy’s book. In fact, it is such a Daisy book that the only reason this Inhuman team get together is not out of some grand Inhuman story, but because the Inhuman concentration camps are exactly part of Daisy’s plan, and so she found herself surrounded by Inhumans.

    The book owes a lot to the Civil War movie, loving the giant white text that Civil War used for its modern espionage approach. But there is much more to it than just that. The art uses colour well. The flashbacks, compared to the bright, powerful colours of the present, have duller colours, clearly differentiating the time periods. And yet, it is an always vibrant image whanks to the clever combination of artist and colourist.

    And the character stuff works well. Daisy is the centre, with effort placed into making sure that each one has a dynamic with Daisy. Which really works for the drama. Kamala is the idealist. Lunella is the reckless one. Karnak’s apathy. Each reflect on Daisy, creating a great cast.

    THis isn’t a great book,, but it is a good one. Fun spy hijinks, that looks like it will shift between different versions of spy stories with ease. A cast well designed to play off Daisy. Great use of art, and a good sense of humour about it. I’m happy

    _____________________________________________________________

    Gwenpool: It is sad to say that this arc didn’t really work. I thought last issue was about set up and punchline, but no, this was just too complex. It couldn’t fit Kate and Ghost Rider, nor have the time to properly do anything with Cecil. Two issues wasn’t enough space, and it really needed more space, or get rid of the other superheroes and focus on Cecil. Disappointing. Hope next arc gets back to the usual level.

    Also, considering Kate’s history has given her two of the most distinctive cars that comics characters has ever had, did anyone find it was weird to have her drive around a car that is specifically not her car, when it isn’t either her car from Fraction’s Hawkeye or her current one in her own book?

  2. Hey, my comment is apparently waiting moderation, probably because of the links. Just to make sure you are aware

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