The best blog from the best author you've never heard of. Assorted thoughts ranging from comic books to politics. Sometimes I even talk about writing.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Bags & Boards 6/1/16

We're back! Kind of sort. Hopefully. Anyway...comic book reviews! Beware spoilers.

Book of the Week
Civil War II #1
“Let’s say the guy here comes running up to us and says: ‘Oh, my God, I just saw a vision of the Hulk making out with Ultron and a baby popped out and the baby was a reincarnated Hitler’?”
In a light week this lands the top spot if only for its level of consequence. Marvel has found a new reason for its heroes to pummel each other. And I have to say, as logically challenged as the plotting of the first Civil War series was, at least that one had a relatable premise. On a tip from the Inhumans, Earth’s heroes team up in the right place and right time to save the world from annihilation (again). In the aftermath a group of them (with Tony Stark and Carol Danvers taking lead) learn that the Inhumans got their information from one of their newly hatched members (is hatched appropriate for a Terrigen induced cocoon?)—a man named Ulysses who can see the future. This sets up pages of dialogue—mostly between Ulysses, Stark, and Danvers—over the nature of his powers and whether or not they should be acted on. Since the world ending apocalypse Ulysses saw was averted by the heroes he warned, Stark points out that Ulysses is only seeing possible futures. Danvers doesn’t care; she sees an asset who can help her Ultimates stop threats before they emerge. The two argue their way down a rabbit hole of whether someone can be imprisoned before they commit a crime and then Stark storms off. In a philosophical, metaphysical, and science fiction sense the discussion between Danvers and Stark—abbreviated though it is—makes sense and does invite the reader to consider what makes a criminal and when that happens. The problem is that it’s all theoretical and hardly the kind of wrenching disagreement we expect for an event called “Civil War.” I’m sure that’s why this book has its sensational end with two apparent fatalities—both pretty major characters despite not quite being top tier. They died because Danvers got a tip from Ulysses and acted on it. No doubt this will be Tony’s causus belli. The recent Captain America: Civil War movie highlighted several things the comic book story it was based on got wrong—not least among them was ignoring the personal stories in play and focusing on big fights that, in their ferocity, were hardly believable. It’s hard to believe that a second Civil War, based not on an honest disagreement of heroes’ responsibility to society versus privacy and autonomy concerns but on a debate of when thought becomes criminal action, will fare any better than the first. I suspect this is the reason one of these two characters had to die at the end. And rather than include a huge spoiler this week, I’m going to put a “to be continued” on this review and finish up closing thoughts next week.


DC Rebirth Spotlight
Green Lanterns Rebirth #1
“When someone dies, they pass on the ring. Please tell me it was Guy Gardner.”
For an extended preview (that you have to pay to read) this book wasn’t too bad. Johns and Humphries start off by crafting a space-based mystery before taking us back to terra firma and reintroducing us to the newest Green Lanterns of Earth, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. Having not been around for their first appearances both Baz and Cruz were new to me. What little I saw here I liked. Simon Baz is maybe too sure of himself, especially in a fight—a quality that hasn’t always kept previous Green Lanterns on the straight and narrow. Jessica Cruz suffers from anxiety (and possibly agoraphobia) and seems woefully underinformed about the whole Green Lantern gig. The intriguing character building is derailed when Hal Jordan shows up riding the exposition express and talks our ear off for the rest of the issue; as good a value as $2.99 is, it still feels overpriced for this much non-story (though I didn’t pick up the Batman or Superman issues so I’m not sure how this stacks up). That said Green Lanterns offers the potential for very minor continuity confusion in a new series—always a plus when DC reboots its universe. Baz and Cruz are basically new characters, Hal Jordan has helpfully announced he’ll be off in space somewhere, and the big bad sounds unelated to past Green Lantern baggage; this is the kind of reboot that brings to mind soft loafers as opposed to new boots needing to be broken in.

Quick Hits
All New All Different Avengers #10
“Oh, God, you’re such a jerk.”
I’m not a fan of the new Nova series—mainly because it’s a little too accurate a portrayal of a teenager and why do I need that nostalgia as a 35 year old? But in the team setting Nova (as well as Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales) is portioned out in perfect doses, offset by Tony Stark, Sam Wilson, and Thor. This new story seems a vehicle for young Nova as the Avengers go off into space in search of Nova’s dad who was replaced by a shape shifting alien—far too common a problem in the Marvel universe. As was the case when this series began it’s the banter that interests me. Waid’s writing here calls to mind his X-Men run years earlier (which called to mind X-Men in the 90’s with its baseball and grocery shopping and the like). Waid might be the best ensemble writer Marvel has.


Credits
All New All Different Avengers #10
Mark Waid: writer
Mahmud Asrar: artist
Dave McCaig: color artist
VC’s Cory Petit: letterer
Alex Ross: cover artist

Civil War II #1
Brian Michael Bendis: writer
David Marquez: artist
Justin Ponsor: color artist
VC’s Clayton Cowles: letterer
Marko Djurdjevic: cover artist
Marvel Comics

Green Lanterns Rebirth #1
Geoff Johns & Sam Humphries: writers
Ethan Van Sciver & Ed Benes: artists
Jason Wright: colors
Travis Lanham: letters

Ethan Van Sciver & Jason Wright: cover artist

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