Captain America: Steve Rogers #4
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Javier Pina
Nick Spencer is one of the best writers in comics today. He has a personality this uniquely his own that he utilizes fully in books like The Fix or Astonishing Ant-Man. However, when he writes his Captain America books that personality disappears and we are left with stiff characters and overly convoluted stories.
There are element inthis issue that have promise. Since the ‘Hail Hydra’ twist I wondered how far they would go with making Steve a true villain and this issue gave us the answer. He uses his new ridiculously designed shield in some truly brutal ways that hammer home that this is not at all the Steve Rogers we once knew. Where this issue suffers though is with some poor editing. There is so much crammed into this one book anything positive I took out gets overshadowed by pure muck.
We have Civil War 2 plot points that are seemingly just there to justified why Civil War II is listed on the cover. There is an unnecessarily long drop in to the Thunderbolts team that does little more than remind readers of just how awful that book has been. Not to mention major flashbacks to things that only happened one issue prior. All of this gets in the way of the story that is trying to be told here. A prime example of how less is often more. With the demand to add page content to justify price increases I fear this is going to be a common trend
Unlike many I was intrigued by Spencer’s choice to make Steve Rogers an Agent of Hydra. Anyone who has read a comic knows it will be undone in one way or another, but it could lead to some refreshing stories for the character in the meantime. Hey they did the unthinkable and brought Bucky back and that was one of the best Captain America stories ever. (Now in comics and film)
I still have hope that can occur. Every time I feel I have what will happen pegged Spencer goes a different direction. Here we see his child flashbacks develop in a way that makes you wounds how exactly did that turn him into a Hydra agent.
Going back to what could work with this series is how one of comics oldest rivalries has an inspired angle. It is not just blue blooded American vs a Nazi psychopath. Red Skull will clearly be dealing with the classic mantra of be worried for what you wish for. I only hope my wishes comes true an Spencer can break through all the static and make this book interesting again.
Captain Marvel #8
Writer: Ruth Gage, Christos Gage
Artist: Kris Anka
Carol Danvers is having quite the up and down year. Well for as much as a fictional character can. The year started out great as her new series debut and was critically well received. Her movie is shaping up nicely with one of Hollywood’s best young actresses attached. Not to mention she was being the lead character in Marvel comics they she should have been for a long time now.Then Civil War 2 came out and began to systemically take away everything that was working for the character. The decisions she was making were not only out of character for they were just down right wrong. Any good will the character built up was being chipped away with each passing installment.
The Captain Marvel series has been the one place readers could go to understand her side of the story. Captain Marvel #8 has so far done the best job laying out Danvers side of this conflict by not being afraid to show her human side. We see how well her plans work when put in proper action, and some much needed insight into how all the recent event have been impacting her on a personal, professional, and emotional level.
Easily the best part of this issue is Danver’s conversation with Hawkeye. What starts as the same disagreement that has gone on since the Civil War II event has begun evolves into something more rich. We finally see Danvers allow her hardened shell to open to allow doubt to seep in. Instead of weakening her position it strengthens it because it shows she is not blind of the downfalls of her position. She also knows that when fighting the battles she fight there are no good choices on the table. You simply have to pick the least bad one, and she makes her case for why her side is the lesser of two evils.
Action is light in this issue and that is okay. As someone who enjoys the political angle of this story this gave me a ton to chew out. Outside of the emotional interaction with Hawkeye there was a great back and forth with Blank Panther. It was like Marvel West Wing seeing very smart and intelligent people debate vitally important issues. Nearly all the Civil War tie ins have been varying levels of pointless. Captain Marvel #8 not only has a point it also makes Civil War II a much more compelling story.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Mike Hawthorne
In this issue we see events that have been building for some time finally come to the fiery conclusions as Deadpool and his Mercs for Money have their explosive falling out. Their scuffle offers a healthy amount of chuckles and fun bits of action for the majority of the issue. Watching Wade Wilson going crazy with a shotgun is a nice little treat. Especially with a well-timed Die Hard reference. Overall it is standard affair that will not amaze nor annoy.
Really though what is best about this issue is the promise of what comes next. The events here push Deadpool to the very brink. From not being able to see his daughter to catching his wife cheating on him with a werewolf things simply are not going his way. It is a nice injection of some melancholy to a character that has otherwise been an over exaggerated joke. Hopefully as we move to the next arc the character of Deadpool evolves even further.
Extraordinary X-Men #13
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Victor Ibanez
It is no secret that recent times have not been great for the X-Men. With Marvel’s shifting focus to the Inhumans the children of the atom are becoming an afterthought. Even the Apocalypse Wars event this summer lack both fanfare and quality. Somehow even with super low expectations that story was still able to disappoint. Considering all this when a solid issue of any X-Men title comes out it’s hard not to want to oversell it. Extraordinary X-Men #13 is not a great comic but it does show there is still good to be had with these characters.
We are now in the aftermath of the Apocalypse War. Apocalypse is in X-Men custody and many of the X-Men members are off on their own adventures. Both Nightcrawler and Icemen are attempting to locate Colossus but are not having much luck. Easily the best part of this issue was the interaction between Nightcrawler and Ice Man. X-Men comics are at their best when the relationships between the characters are at the forefront. It is still odd seeing Iceman play the role of responsibility against Nightcrawler’s kill them all and let god sort them out mindset, but that’s part of what is so intriguing about their dynamic here.
Beyond that there’s not much going on. Wolverine and Forge apparently like each other even less now as they simply cannot agree on what to do about their new house guest. Illyana’s is on her own quest and she too has a good back and forth with leader Storm. Why the character moments work here nothing else does. Plot wise there is still nothing that demands your attention as reader. Even as a fan of the character of Apocalypse I have yet to be intrigued about his storyline.
We are now thirteen issues into this series and it has yet to form any sort of identity. With the future of the X-Men up in the air it pains me to think of a world without an X-Men book. Perhaps though it would be better than this world were we have these books that barely exist. Sure they are there. You can physically see and read them. However, there is almost no reason to read them beyond blind obligation at this point. Maybe a separation will do us all some good.
International Iron Man #6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
I am not one who minds when comics shake things up. When large elements of characters are adjusted to serve a new story I do not object if it leads to a good comic. Still, even I do not understand the motivation behind changing Tony Stark’s birth parents. You are taking a character that has been built on legacy and yanking that element away from him for a reason to be determined later.
International Iron Man was the series that was supposed to determine that reason. Six issues in and we are still waiting. By itself this issue is a fine little story. If I did not know any better I could see it as a nice introduction into a small scale series surrounding a low level part time S.H.I.E.L.D. agent part time rock star. I was kind of getting excited to read that comic. When this is meant to be the introduction into who Tony Stark’s parents really are it is rather underwhelming. Everyone wants to hear the story about how their parents met until they do. Apparently that notion is also true for Tony Stark.
Star Wars #22
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jorge Molina
This is the type of story the Star Wars comic was created. Who doesn’t want to see their favorite Star Wars rebels attempt to steal a Star Destroyer? Before we even get to that twist Jason Aaron drops us right into an epic space battle to give this book one adrenaline filled opening.
It is in these sequences Jorge Molina’s art comes alive. His panels are full and detailed giving your eyes a ton to take in and enjoy. This man can draw one yeck of a spaceship. Artistically there are some hiccups as many of Molina’s faces just look off. Almost like someone badly Photoshopped images of the real actors to fit each scene.
Jason Aaron does have the voices of these characters down. It is the closest thing we have gotten to the movies themselves. The interaction between Han, Leia, and Luke is pitch perfect. My biggest issue with this series has been how it so often lacks stakes. When you know where everything is headed it can be challenging to get invested. This issue does not have that problem because I become transfixed the sheer guts of this story. It is so crazy it just might work and I am certainly sticking around to see if it does.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
Earlier this year I thought this series hit its apex when it was able to pull off a choose your own adventure comic in stunning fashion. Fast forward to now and this issue may have even topped that accomplishment, which is impressive when you consider Squirrel Girl is actually sleeping the entire time.
That is because she is facing off against Nightmare. For reasons known mainly to him he is attempting to use Squirrel Girls hidden subconscious fears against her. A standard story you may assume, but this is Unbeatable Squirrel Girl was are talking about here. She does not do standard.
Writer Ryan North must sit in a room and spend hours thinking of insane concepts that should make writing a story nearly impossible. Here he has Squirrel Girl fight off the likes of Venom and Doc Oct not by using superpowers but by incorporating computer programming into her fighting tactics. Seriously she actually breaks out the binary to take down Venom. You may be asking yourself how is that even possible. Well somehow they make it work in a way that is both educational and entertaining. If you walk into a comic book store and see a number of people randomly counting on their hands this issue is the reason why.
For those of you who have stayed away from this book because it centers on Squirrel Girl I beg you to pick up this issue. It showcases everything that has been great about this series since it started—a creative narrative that incorporates classic characters in inventive ways, a massive amount of charming wit, and a touching message that makes you feel good about yourself without being overly sappy. Without question this one of the best and most consistent books Marvel is currently publishing.