All New Wolverine #13
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Nik Virella
Reusing a title of a recent classic Wolverine story does come off as a huge gimmick. Although Marvel does love to reuse titles—see Secret War, Secret Wars, The Secret War, ect… So perhaps wrier Tom Taylor is just sticking with tradition. It is way too early to tell if this story will live up to its namesake but so far things are looking good.
Flash forwards are a storytelling technique that are unquestionably overused. Here it actually works well as we see Laura surrounded by death and destruction. Knowing her history it is not surprising, but once the trigger scent is introduced stakes are immediately raised. Laura receives a suspicious package that contains said scent as a reminder she cannot escape her past. Now nearly every person she runs into you are concerned to have emotional ties to because chances are they are making it to the end of this issue. Considering how much progression Laura has made there is legit fear she will regress to feral past self.
Laura and Gabby’s relationship continues to grow. It makes sense when you think of the history of Wolverine. Back when Logan was alive he would often be partnered with a daughterly figure to soften him as a character. Tom Taylor has taken that tried and true concept and made it work for Laura in this series.
Amazing Spider-Man #19
Writer: Dan Slott, Christos Gage
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Javi Garron
While Dan Slott recent run on Amazing Spider-Man has been inconsistent I have to give him major credit with this issue. He got me. He truly got me. As we know Peter Parker has long been the poster child for the infamous saying, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ and what this issue demonstrates is how the amount of power Spider-Man has is dwarfed by the amount of responsibility he holds.
Here Jay Jameson Sr. continues to lack sick in his hospital bed as Peter still cannot fully explain why he does not trust the New U procedure. JJ sees death is near for his father and gets angry with Peter over his refusal to move forward with the procedure, but his true anger lies in the fact that his father would trust Peter over him. Jameson Sr. sees his son’s anguish and knows death is not too far away so he enlists Peter to travel to his home to retrieve a family heirloom he wishes to give to JJ. Peter takes the job but as luck will have it no job can be easy when you are Spider-Man.
There is a lot of junk on the edges of this story that ties into the ‘Dead No More’ that does what it can to ruin what is great about this issue. Those aspects of this issue may have their place in the long run but what really works here is the simple idea of Peter Parker trying to be there for his family while living up to his role as Spider-Man. The stakes start small but increase rapidly by the book’s end. I am not a fan of books that highlight a death is coming as a selling point. It is a cheap ploy that is used to hopefully sell a few more copies. Despite that the death that does occur works on multiple levels. It was the type of poetic end you can only get with comics.
Captain America – Sam Wilson #13
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Daniel Acuna
Captain America – Sam Wilson is gradually becoming the type of book it should have been all along. Spencer has stepped away from the lunacy of Sam Wilson turning into a werewolf and added some pointed political commentary that is a natural reflection of both the current state of our country and the fan reaction to this series. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room Spencer is lining it up in his sights and taking it out bit by bit.
In this issue US Agent attempts to #TakeBackTheShield after due to the backlash of Sam’s attack on the Americops. What was intriguing about this fight was how outmatched Sam Wilson was in both physical strength and combat ability. Unlike Steve Rogers he is unable to rely on his inhuman like fighting ability. That’s when Spencer had to use creative ways to utilize his bird sight powers that often go underused. Who would have thought owls at Central Park would prove so useful?
One point that did not sit well was how Wilson was so willing to become a walking surveillance system. Considering many of his political stances it was odd he would not consider the invasion of privacy a system like this would allow. Perhaps it will lead to something in the future but for now it is an inconsistent character decision.
Captain America – Steve Rogers #5
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Javier Pina
One day I would like to sit down and see how many different ways the same Civil War II events have been told in Marvel Comics. It is like Marvel is in this constant time loop where book after book regurgitates everything everyone knows is a slightly different ways. Here we see Captain America’s side of things and come to find out his role in these events are bigger than we realized.
It all comes off as a cheap ploy seeing how easy he can pull strings to get the exact results he needs. By the end it is nothing more than a glorified highlight reel of events we have already seen many many times already. These revels that are meant to be shocking come off as plainly dumb and force shocked value.
Most problematic is are the continuing flashbacks. Based on what we know these flashbacks are meant to be forced memories Red Skull gave Steve Rogers using the Cosmic Cube. Knowing that it is difficult to understand why he would have flashbacks to conversations he was not part of or would not have known happened. All of this has made this Steve Rogers secret Hydra Agent messy and poorly executed.
Captain Marvel #9
Writer: Ruth Gage, Christos Gage
Artist: Kris Anka
Recently the Captain Marvel series has been Carol Danvers safe haven. The place where we would get her side of the story, and where we would see how these events have affected her on a personal level. Unlike the Civil War main title she has appeared human and sympathetic. That was true until this issue. She has now become a tyrant willing to betray friends and break laws to keep what she believes is peace.
Civil War II has official ruined the character of Carol Danvers and this title. What started as a joyous Science Fiction adventure has devolved into a dull repetitive political discussion. It is this same process recycled over and over. There is a vision showing someone is going to do something wrong, Carol Danvers goes to arrest them, they refuse to go to jail, and then the bad thing they were seen doing happens in their rebellion. Over and over again this same process happens just with different characters.
Hopefully when Civil War II ends Carol Danvers can regain Marvel her dignity and this Captain Marvel title can regain the quality it once had. Until then it is hard to get excited for a comic full of reruns.
The Clone Conspiracy #1
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Jim Cheung
There has been a lot of build up for the ‘Dead No More’ Clone Conspiracy story and so far the first issue continues that build up. Taking place shortly after the death of Jay Jameson Sr. we see Peter Parker doing what Peter Parker does best—question his decision making. He worries his pressuring on Jameson Sr. was the wrong call and led to his death. This leads him to investigate further by going back to the point where this all started. Parker became suspicious over New U after their operation on Parker Industry worker Jerry Salters so he decides to visit Jerry to check on his progression.
What is questionable about this is why is this happening now? Considering Parker’s concerns why did it take this long to make a rather basic decision? Obviously Spider-Man’s history shows us he is prone to make mistakes. So you can argue it makes sense on a character standpoint, but that does not mean it is not poor storytelling.
Logically these events should have occurred many issues ago, but Slott choose to keep story progression in limbo to act on them now. So we are left with a book that is ultimately dull. Every surprise was either predictable or previously reveled in issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Character development was minimal and the amount of excitement was even less. I am all for books taking their time but you have to give readers something to chew on to keep their interest. From the start this was an issue more interested in the story coming next rather than the story it was telling.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ron Garney
As a character Daredevil may have one of the most underrated rogues galleries of villains. From Kingpin to Bullseye to The Hand he has a major set of villains that have lasted for decades. Considering that legacy adding a new villain into the fold that will have some staying power is not quite that easy, but Vincent Van Gore (assuming that’s the name going forward) is showing some major promise.
All good new villains need a proper buildup and his was truly disturbing. His calling card of a beautifully drawn painting made of human blood gave the book a Seven esc type of feel. What brought it to another level is his haunting character design. He is not the type of villain we have seen Daredevil or any major Marvel character face off with before. That alone gives him a lot of promise.
My excitement for the Vincent Van Gore story line is partially why this issue was somewhat of a letdown. A pause is placed on that thread so we can deal with some Inhumans drama, because I assume there is some rule at Marvel that contractually obligates each series to insert them whenever they can. Yes we get a great fight between Daredevil and Karnack but everything else was a giant roadblock that slowed down story progression. I remember when Marvel would often force Wolverine and Spider-Man in every title they could, but at least that made sense because their appearance would lead to better book sales. The Inhumans cannot even sell their own books so putting them in other titles does not yield the same results. While I am excited for where this series is going , this was a throwaway issue that simply got in the way.
Darth Vader #25
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Darth Vader #25 marks the end to the first ever series dedicated to Science Fiction’s greatest villain. Overall this book had its ups and downs but luckily it is leaving on a high note. It displays just how much of a badass Darth Vader is and how any thought this book was weakening his evil persona were quite wrong. We see how Vader does not believe in compassion in any kind no matter who or what you are.
In a way it is sad to see this series end this soon. There are many more Vader stories to tell and it seemed we were just getting into the best part of his story. Maybe that is a good thing. Rather than continue to cash in on the popularity of Star Wars and Vaders name they are leaving us wanting more. An act that is not very common in today’s day and age of popular culture.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Are you not a fan of Deadpool? Do you hate what he has become in this last decade or so? Do you think it is impossible to tell a good Deadpool story? Well, while I cannot dismiss your beliefs as baseless even those who have written off Deadpool as a character should take your time and at least skim this issue. This is the type of story that shows a good comic can be made about any character at any time.
The story begins as an unknown women is about to commit sucidie by jumping off a building. Right away we are dealing with a different type of story from the normal Deadpool fair. Deadpool shows up and in his way tries to help this women change her mind about killing herself. Writer Gerry Duggan is dealing with delicate material here and handeling it with care. He never pushes Deadpool to act out of character to fit some sort of moral agenda. This may be a more sensitive Deadpool than most are used to but based on what has happened to him in recent months it makes sense. Wade Wilson’s life has been turned upside down bit by bit. So what better time to prioritize the way you look at life.
Easily the best moment was when Deadpool realized his skills were not enough. Depression is not something a super hero can simply save someone from. To act like it is would have mitigated everything about this book’s message. By letting Deadpool come to the realization that he was over is head the story had a a touching twist that made this a book to remember.
Deadpool Back in Black #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Salva Espin
One day they will run out of ideas for Deadpool comics. One day I am sure. That day is not today as Deadpool Back in Black #1 shows us what would happen if Deadpool were to merge with the Venom symbiote.
With a tie back to Deadpool Secret Wars the symbiote seeks out Deadpool after Spider-Man forces it from himself in one of the most infamous comic book moments of all time. For those who love Deadpool this will give you the type of humor and action you would expect. Those that are not huge fans should stay far, far away. At this point there is not that much to get excited about. I understand this idea for a What If? Issue or a special edition. A miniseries though is greatly pushing it as there was barely enough content to finish this issue.
Doctor Strange Annual #1
Writer: Kathryn Immonen, Robbie Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Doctor Strange Annual #1 offers a different type of flavor from the main title. Filled with more humor and wackiness this issue asks the question of who do you call to do home repair for the Sanctum Sanctorum? Of course the answer is to partner with a demon contractor who is just as difficult to deal with as a real life contractor.
It has been interesting seeing Dr. Strange have to take on the world without the ability to use magic. It has led him to become a fish out of water in a world his has lived in all of his life. For those that have read the main Doctor Strange title and thought it was overly serious this is a good issue to read. If Jason Aaron were to leave the main book I could see Kathryn Immonen stepping in to replace him to keep the series going with a different flavor.
Doctor Strange #12
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo
There is not a comic book writer working today that is better at subverting readers expectations than Jason Aaron. Doctor Strange is a hard enough character to write a story about already when he is fully powered. Now that Aaron has taken a big part of that away from him one wonders how exactly this series could continue and remain interesting.
Well Aaron knows what he is doing of course. He has taken that crutch away and made Strange rely more on his wits and creative thinking. Now when he is placed into a dangerous situation there are legitimate stake because he cannot just randomly state some peculiar incantation to get out of it with ease. He has to plan and prepare to supply himself with the proper tools. He has basically been turned into the magic version of Batman.
To further complicate matters Aaron brings in Strange’s biggest foe Baron Mordo. Aaron is setting the pieces brilliantly here. In true comic book fashion he is pushing our hero to his breaking point only to revel the challenges have just begun.
Chris Bachalo’s is not for everyone and does not work on all titles. Placing him on the Doctor Strange title was a great choice. His style has always been somewhat abstract so when you place him in a world where reality is subjective you allow him to let loose.
Great Lake Avengers #1
Writer: Zac Gorman
Artist: Will Robson
You have to give Marvel credit for their wiliness to take massive chances. Every so often we get another attempt to make the Great Lake Avengers work. Now with Marvel Now in full swing writer Zac Gorman has been slated to take his chance to write a book about these lovable losers. It does not take long to see Gorm is coming into this title with a strong reverence for these characters. Through his call backs to many past storylines and strong understanding of these characters’ he clearly has read a GLA comic or two in his life time.
That is also part of the problem. For fans of these characters this issue gives you a lot of winks and nods that add a lot of humor. For new readers there are moments where you feel like you are outside of a constant inside joke. Storywise everything is rather clear. After a series of strange legal issues Flatman and his fellow GLA members have found themselves the surprise owners of the Avengers trademark. In a trade Tony Stark and the rest of The Avengers will surely regret they make Flatman and the rest of his dysfunctional team members of Avenges again in return of the trademark. This leads Flatman to get the band together to reform the Midwest’s greatest heroic team.
When the Great Lake Avengers came out this type of joke was new. Now taking D list characters with strange or wacky powers and basing a book off of them is common place. In fact former member Squirrel Girl has her own successful solo title. Gorman has comedic chops but does not do enough to make this standout compare to other similar books. Longtime fans may get excited seeing some of these forgotten characters return. Other than that I do not see a bright future for this series.
Invincible Iron Man #14
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Invincible Iron Man #14 is the type of book that reminds me of why I love comics. Any series can pull off a great issue no matter how inconsistent past issues of been, and even an event that has been as inconstant as Civil War II can produce some great moments.
With Tony Stark’s world falling apart around him once again he comes to the realization that needs to attend an AA meeting. Knowing he cannot attempt any meeting he goes undercover but soon finds he is not alone as fellow teammate, sponsor, and new rival Carol Danvers is attending the same meeting.
Any comic book reader is well aware of Tony Stark’s past endeavors with alcohol but Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers are far less talked about. It is odd considering how huge Civil War II has been that it took up until this issue to address this aspect of their characters. In a way I wish the discussion Carol and Tony have here was in the main title, because it was the only time during this storyline it felt like we were seeing two friends who care about each other debate about an issue they also care deeply about. If Civil War II has more moments like this and less pointless battles just because it would be such a stronger story.
Jessica Jones #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Even as a Brian Michael Bendis fan I have found myself enjoying his writing less and less. The breaking point has come with Civil War II that is doing everything possible to make Marvel books nearly unreadable. So seeing him return to the character of Jessica Jones is a mixed bag of anticipation. Part of me hopes he can recapture the magic he created with this character years ago, but a bigger part of me worries he simply does not have it anymore.
Well after the first issue while it is still not clear if this series can hit the same level of Alias it is at least the best thing Bendis has written in some time. It is refreshing seeing him get back to basics and right a slimmed down story not muddled with the need to have world changing consequences. For those who have wondered why Marvel has given Bendis so much to do it is a book like this that shows you he does have some truly amazing talent.
Specifically Bendis shows his skill in structured comic book storytelling. From the start mystery is built as Jessica Jones is released from prison. Why she is being released or why she was there in the first place is never known. She attempts to pick up her like it previously by going back into the private eye business. She picks up a case where a women thinks her husband has been switched with a doppelganger from another dimension. We often seen major heroes deal with this situation so it’s a new twist placing that situation in the lives of everyday people. Throughout her investigation a nagging question keeps coming up that she is unable to escape from.
“Where is the baby?” is the question Jones keeps getting asked from a variety of sources. Bendis allows that question to fester in the background as he directs our attention to Jessica’s most recent case. That is until the final moments with the true stakes of that question are made clear.
Bendis is the type of writer that does best when he has fewer toys play with. When you put him on team books you often get one voice divided out amount different characters. With a book like Jessica Jones he gives everyone their own distinct personality. Being the creator of Jessica Jones and the person who redefined a character like Luke Cage he understands how these people communicate. So even though this book is filled with the amount of Bendis dialog you would expect it is good Bendis dialog. You do not look at a page filled with world balloons and dip your head in frustration. In fact the conversations flow so well you barely even notice how long they go on for.
Readers of books like Powerman and Iron Fist may take issue with the fact that this book pays little attention to what has occurred in that series. It is not overtly stated but I get the sense this series is taking place in its own corner of the Marvel universe. Similar to the way books in the Marvel Max and Knights series use to work. So if you are someone who is a stickler for continuity the way Bendis ignores pretty much every Jessica Jones story that was not his will probably annoy you a great deal. For those that simply care about the book at hand everything you need is within these pages.
Death of X #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Death of X #1 is the series that was meant to finally reveal what has happened to Cyclops and set up the eventually showdown between the Inhumans and X-Men. The key world there is finally as the issues with Terrigen mist cloud feel like they have been going on for years at this point. Having such a massive time frame from the events in Death of X and the current state of Marvel mitigates a great deal of the stories impact. The events that take place are designed to be hugely important, yet no one in the X-Men or Inhuman world mentions them in any detail. As characters they have apparently moved on yet as readers we are now going backwards. If they seem not to care all that much why should we?
Even if you remove the odd timing of everything the book itself is ultimately lackluster. We have two stories as one focuses on the Uncanny X-Men team still being headed by Cyclops and the other on the Inhumans as they follow the Terrigen mist cloud. After traveling to Muir island the X-Men are shocked to discover everyone has died due to the effects of the Terrigen mist.
Every shock so far lacks punch and every major death comes off as a trivial excuse to force unearned emotion. Death of X #1 is a product of a storyline that has already gone on for far too long and was not all the engaging to begin with. Unless this series can majorly improve in upcoming issues it is time for Marvel to admit the manufacturing of this mutant against Inhumans rivalry has plainly failed.
Uncanny X-Men #14
Uncanny X-Men #14 brings us the showdown between Magento and Pyslocke that has been a long time coming. Since the relaunch of this series their reluctant partnership has brought some of the most tense drama to this series so far. While the overall comic has been plainly standard, seeing these two titans butt heads made this issue better than it should have been.
Uncanny X-Men’s biggest problem is its lack of life. Major storylines end with a whimper. The end of last issue reveled the mighty Exodus was back to the world of the X-Men. That revel could have led to something exciting for the next few issues. Instead we got a standard fight between him and Magento that had its moments but ultimately was forgettable. Looking at the current state of the X-Men books this is actually better than most. As an X-Men fan knowing that is a hard pill to swallow.