Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted?, Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez
In the Spider-verse event, it turned out there was a world in which Gwen Stacey was bitten by the radioactive spider, and in the end Peter Parker actually died. The origins are a little murky, because thankfully they don’t rehash the origin story, leaving it just sketched in and suggested. This book has Gwen back in her own universe, leading her normal life… and leading her cop father an awful dance while she’s caped up. Her costume design is really cool (love the hood), and Rodriguez’s art works well — and it was a relief reading this so soon after The Movement, which was typically DC-ian in its gloomy colour palettes.
The story itself doesn’t really get on its feet here, I think; we’re still trying to get used to who Gwen is here and how her world has changed. Like, it turns out Mary Jane Watson is… a bit of a diva. And she and Gwen are in a rock band together. Which Gwen has been kind of letting down and might quit? Maybe? But then she turns up and it’s all good.
At times, it’s a little bit goofy — it might be less so if you’ve read Spider-verse, but suddenly having Spider-Ham (a version of Peter Parker who is a pig, no I am not kidding) appear as Gwen’s conscience is a bit outta nowhere from my point of view.
It’s not groundbreaking, except that it’s another female character stepping up and taking on a big role, and dealing in different ways with the same problems. I loved that Gwen went to speak to Aunt May, for example, and the way they talked things over. It’s not the level of quality of, say, Ms Marvel, but it’s fun and I’m looking forward to the next TPB. (And wondering why my pull list on Comixology has disappeared…)
I know that everyone thinks Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run has been the best thing since sliced bread, and I wish I could feel it too. I can see objectively that it’s good — I like Aja’s art, I like the inclusion of Kate Bishop as Hawkeye, I like that Clint’s a doofus and I love the experimental storytelling like the issue from Pizza-Dog’s point of view and showing Clint’s sign language. Hell, I love the inclusion of Clint’s brother, the way Fraction re-introduces Clint’s deafness (which I think was originally a story in the 70s?).
But somehow it just doesn’t quite come together for me — possibly because there’s a lot of visual storytelling, and I am a dunce when it comes to visual skills. I can’t even imagine rotating a simple shape, or picture someone’s face in my non-existent mind’s eye, so even if I spoke American Sign Language (which I don’t and wouldn’t, since when I learn it I’ll learn British Sign Language) I wouldn’t be able to read Clint’s signs, and… the dialogue in a comic really helps to orientate me.
I still think this run on Hawkeye is fun, but I just don’t appreciate it in the way other people do, and I’m sure there are awesome parts I’m not even appreciating. I suppose that’s, in part, why I’m an unlikely comics fan. Still, I get some enjoyment out of it, and I do see why this run has been so popular!
Spider-Woman: Spider-Verse, Dennis Hopeless, Greg Land
It might be because I don’t know any of Greg Land’s other work, but I don’t have the problem with his art in this book that other people identify. It sounds like he uses fairly formulaic compositions? But I’m not the greatest at visual-anything anyway, so it probably wouldn’t bother me. To me Jessica looks badass and capable, and uses her skillset well for fighting and spying.
The Spider-verse in general… Eh. I like the plethora of female stars that have come out of it, or had a part to play — Anya Corazon, Cindy Moon, Jessica Drew, Gwen Stacey… and the idea of all the alternate Peter Parkers was pretty cool. Silk acts pretty spoilt in some ways; haring off on her own and getting other people into trouble. Jessica shares some aspects of her background, a thing I mentioned in my review of Silk’s solo volume, but she’s much further along the road to finding her place in the world.
I love her friendship with Carol and the other Avengers, and so it’s nice that this volume finishes with her taking her leave of the Avengers, choosing to go and figure out who Jessica Drew is. It’s a fun enough volume, though perhaps not memorable.
If you’ve had your head in the sand for the last day or two, the title of this post might confuse you a little. There’s an article here which covers the basics, but this panel might just sum everything up best:
And we’re told that this isn’t an impostor. This really is Cap. Hell, Steve’s mother was recruited by Hydra, per some of the flashbacks in this comic.
Yep. The quintessential defender of the little guy is suddenly an agent of Hydra. You know, that Nazi organisation. The ones Steve Rogers has been fighting for seventy-five years of comics history, in various guises.
I don’t even really need to explain why it’s wrong (though this article is a good one on that). Just think of the number of people who read this who now face the fact that Steve Rogers supposedly hates everything they are. It won’t even wash, I agree: no one is going to buy Steve Rogers as an actual Hydra agent. It must be brainwashing or alternate reality or a trick or… something. Because this isn’t the Steve Rogers we know and love — the character which sticks with us throughout different versions, whether he be played by Chris Evans or drawn with more muscles than is anatomically possible. The key thing about Captain America is not the suit, the colour scheme, the beefcake eye-candy. It’s the little guy he was, who kept on fighting and pushing, making the world a better place, never giving a damn what it cost him. Even when he could’ve taken advantage, cashed in, got whatever he wanted.
We know what Captain America wants: it’s justice tempered with mercy, and safety and freedom for everyone. This is not exactly compatible with Hydra’s goals.
Nah, what really sparked this post is all the counter-arguments which start with: You don’t understand comics if you think this is going to stick. Cap will be back to normal in a couple of issues. There’s no way they’re going to mess up this legacy.
I haven’t seen anyone convincingly arguing that this is not a punch in the face for a lot of people. So let’s use that metaphor: if someone hit you, are you going to sit back and wait weeks for them to unfold some narrative that justifies it? Are you going to say, “this person wouldn’t hit me, so it can’t really hurt even though they just hit me”? Are you going to accept them saying, “hey, sorry I hit you, but wait a couple of weeks and it won’t hurt anymore”?
It’s not about how comics work. We all know that the power of retcon is strong in comics. It’s about why anyone thought this was a good idea at all. This is just so fundamentally wrong, not just for the character but as a plot device, because it is so tone deaf. Sometimes you’ll run with a bad idea and somehow not see that it’s a bad idea, so while I’m not happy that Marvel ever let this go ahead, I’m more interested in what they do now. That people talk about it. That people who don’t get it turn around and listen.
It doesn’t matter if Cap is a Nazi for good or not. It matters that Marvel ever thought it was a good idea. But the thing that really gets my goat is this idea that I must not like/understand/read comics if I’m against this plotline. Guys, take a look at my blog. I’ll wait.
Evidently I do read comics, and if you comb back far enough, you’ll find that I don’t just wait for the trade paperback. I buy the comics on the day they come out. I bugged the life out of my local comic shop owner when he couldn’t put Young Avengers or Ms Marvel in my hands fast enough (what do you mean you only stocked enough for people’s pull lists, and no copies left over?). And then I get the trade paperbacks of ones I really like, to reread and lend and enjoy in future.
So yes, I do understand comics. And so maybe it’ll come better from me: you don’t need to understand comics to have an opinion on this questionable, harmful, hurtful, anti-Semetic issue of Captain America.
“You just don’t understand how comics work” is a way of ducking the responsibility for examining something that’s going on in your fandom. I haven’t even seen anyone who thinks this storyline isn’t a problem, I should emphasise. Everyone thinks it is. But some people are trying to sweep it under the rug because… what? Is it too hard to see what’s going on in the world reflected in comics?
Sorry, mates. Look up Cap’s origins. He was never apolitical, never just wish fulfillment, never intended not to be a comment. Comics, like everything else, are part of the world and have to exist within it. Nothing is above or beyond or below criticism.
Silk: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon, Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee
The main complaint I’ve heard about this (and Spider-Gwen, and Spider-Woman) is basically “oh noez, they’ve got WOMEN all up in my comics!” To which I say: “heck yeah, about time.” Silk’s first solo volume is reasonable, though the themes are familiar — Jessica Drew had some of the same adjustment problems from her spidery-past, Cindy has to learn to do the whole great-power-and-responsibility thing, coping with a normal life, and so on.
It’s fun enough, though not outstanding, and somewhat hobbled by the fact that it almost immediately gets swallowed up by Secret Wars at the end of the volume. That certainly didn’t have any kind of positive effect on solo storylines (not that I’ve seen anyone being fond of it elsewhere, either). Almost universally it just suddenly happens and derails all vestiges of solo plot.
Stacey Lee’s art is great, though — fluid lines, good expressions; it works for me very well, and I hope she illustrates future issues.
Captain America: Civil War Prelude, Corona Pilgrim et al
So if you were wondering if this is worth getting, the answer is — unless you’re a fanatic collector of the MCU tie-in comics — no. It really doesn’t present much new material: I counted eight pages of new stuff, if we’re being generous. The rest was either recaps of the movies (which, if you’re enough of a fan to be grabbing the tie-in comics, you’ve probably seen) or excerpts from the original Civil War comics. And sure, that might prepare you for the film, I guess, but so would rewatching the movies so far. The movie adaptation (which I have now seen) is different enough from the original comic that it’s not at all necessary to read the comic as a companion.
Ms Marvel: Last Days, G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona
Between the main plot and the extra material, this contains team-ups between Kamala Khan and both Captain Marvel and Spider-man. Awesome. Unfortunately, the extra material makes very little sense because it’s from Amazing Spider-man issues seven and eight… so pretty much without context. There are some funny bits, though, with Peter Parker teaching Kamala the ways of snark.
The main plot is better, though it is a tie-in with the recent timeline convergence event type thing which I know basically nothing else about. It’s interesting to see Kamala team up with Carol, although Carol is pretty bland here (why is her costume all grey?); Kamala’s excited questions and chatter are perfect. Expressions and art are perfect for the series, as usual: I love the faces Kamala makes.
Also, cute points like Kamala nursing heartbreak by eating tons of hotdogs and philosophising to the hotdog stand owner.
The family stuff is great here, too: we see Kamala’s brother come into his own a bit, defending his choices in life, defending his sister, and not wanting the same sort of life as Kamala. He’s happy as he is, and Kamran is entirely wrong that Aamir is at all discontented or jealous. That’s nice to see, and also the section with Kamala’s mother telling her she knows she’s Ms Marvel — much better than an ever-oblivious Aunt May situation, like Ultimate Spider-man. Aaaaand it finally resolves some of the tension with Bruno’s feelings for Kamala, with a very sweet scene in which they remain definitely best friends, with plenty of potential for more… if they survive.
Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude, Will Pilgrim, Joe Bennett
This is probably the most disappointing of all the prelude books. If you know a little about the Avengers and you’ve seen all the other films, you’re covered. Don’t bother with this. It becomes especially pointless once you’ve actually seen the film, because it includes background on the Vision and Ultron which doesn’t apply so much anymore. Okay, it’s kind of cool to see a much more diverse team, including Jessica and Carol, but nearly all of this stuff is available elsewhere, and a big chunk of the book is just a retelling of the first Avengers film. Only it makes it a lot flatter and just lacks everything that made that a great spectacle: dialogue, fight scenes, team scenes… it’s all condensed down and drained.
Young Avengers: Family Matters, Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung Originally reviewed 25th August, 2013
I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first TPB somehow, but it is a lot of fun. I want more of Billy and Teddy, as a couple, at the same time as I want more of the team as a whole. I think I came out of this with half a dozen new ships. These novels make me fannish more than pretty much anything else I read, just as the Marvel movies make me ridiculously excited. I love the female characters, and I want more of them — heck, I want more of all of it. I’m enjoying the various revelations of how each Young Avenger came to have powers (or not, in Kate’s case).
In fact, now I’m envisioning a Young Avengers movie. It’d be too obvious to have Jennifer Lawrence for Kate, right?
Young Avengers: Sidekicks, Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung Originally reviewed 25th August, 2013
This series promises to be a lot of fun. You don’t need to know a lot about the main Marvel canon to understand this one: it’s mostly new characters, with some cameos from classics like Tony Stark and Steve Rogers (being very much ‘Superhusbands’: I mean, really, they swoop in with iron Man holding Steve by the waist, it’s practically Superman and Lois Lane). I liked the emotions flying around here: they’re teenagers dealing with superpowers, not superheroes who happen to be teenagers. They mess up and fight and they need to get to school in the morning.
I actually forgot about the gay couple in this series, but that’s one more reason to love it. You can talk all you like about the Cap/Iron Man subtext, but this is the real thing.
The adult Avengers’ roles here make sense, too. I like that they’re an obstacle to the Young Avengers that no one could call evil, in addition to the issue of super villains. I think having read some other Marvel comics would help here to understand just why the Avengers are no more, but a general knowledge is enough.