Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Other Comics I've Read Recently

While I spent a lot of time binging on Transformers comics recently, there were some other superhero-type ones I finally got around to reading too.  In part it's because I got a new Fire tablet on Prime Day so I wanted to read the stuff I had downloaded to the old tablet instead of re-downloading it. And I had to get a tooth pulled so I wasn't doing much else.

The Vision, Volume 1:  After reading Tom King's brilliant Omega Men, I was interested in reading his Vision series for Marvel, which is kind of like American Beauty or a John Updike novel only with synthezoids.  Attempting to become more human the cybernetic Avenger the Vision makes himself a wife and twins Viv and Vin and moves them all into a home in Alexandria, Virginia.  Things don't go how he plans though when a bad guy named Grim Reaper tries to murder his family while he's away, which nearly kills his daughter and unleashes a psychotic side to his wife's personality.  It's not really a superhero comic, though superheroics are referenced, more a comic about what it means to be human.  At some point I hope to get volume 2, which I think was also the conclusion. (4/5)

The Vision, Volume 2:  Well "some point" turned out to be about a week later since it was on sale on Amazon.  This completes the arc as the Avengers send Vision's "half-brother" Victor to spy on him and the family.  But when Vision's son Vin stumbles upon Victor reporting to the Avengers, Victor kills him.  The Vision then takes on the Avengers and in one of those bad comic book fights defeats Iron Man, Thor (Jane Foster), Captain America (Sam Wilson), Scarlet Witch, and Medusa in the span of like five panels.  But before he can finish the job, his wife sacrifices herself to save him.  Like the first part it's a good exploration of humanity and family.  Another excellent limited series from King; I should get around to his Rebirth Batman to see how he does with an actual ongoing. (4/5) (Fun Fact:  I recently bought the first two volumes of Rebirth era Batman but I haven't had the chance to read them yet.)

Justice League 3001, Volume 2:  I mostly enjoyed the first volume of this series that deals with clones of familiar heroes Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and also has gender swapped versions of Green Lantern (Guy Gardner version) and the Flash.  That volume ended with Supergirl arriving from the 21st Century and then some evil androids showing up and blowing Superman's head off.  This picks up with Batman sacrificing himself to get the rest of the team to relative safety as the androids and their leader "Lady Styx" are taking over the whole galaxy.  Interestingly at this point then is for this volume the League is entirely female--which is maybe why it was canceled after issue 12.  I mean you kill off Batman and you don't have Harley Quinn involved it's hard to sell a DC comic series like that.  The impending cancellation really fucked things up as there was a lot of stuff left hanging and threads not wrapped up.  I'm not sure if they ever solved any of that in other DC titles or not.  Really brought down what was otherwise a decent story. (2.5/5)

Superwoman, Vol 1:  This is one of the lesser-known Rebirth era titles.  It borrows from the recent Thor storyline where Thor's former girlfriend Jane Foster gains Thor's powers but that power was also killing her.  When New 52 Superman dies, some of his power is absorbed by Lois Lane and Lana Lang.  Lois gets Superman's strength while Lana is like the "Electric Blue" era Superman, more specifically when he was split into a blue and a red guy since she has all his electrical powers but is red.  They form a team, each being called Superwoman, but on their first real mission to stop a rogue aircraft carrier, Lois is killed. Now it's up to Lana to stop the killer...with the help of Steel.  And Steel's niece.  And Steel's niece's girlfriend, who's some kind of witch.  And Steel's niece's other friends.  And a bunch of random citizens.  And Lex Luthor, who has created a suit of armor and started calling himself Superman.  The story was OK but I think it needed to be smaller.  When you're trying to introduce a new character it's nice if you actually focus on that character and not a whole bunch of other people.  I mean it'd be like if Detective Comics #27 in 1939 had introduced Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman, Spoiler, Azrael, Bluebird, and all the other Bat allies.  Batman would get lost in the shuffle.  I just think a smaller threat for the first volume would have worked better and lead into a bigger threat once the character is more firmly established.  Maybe that's just me.  It would also help if you're well-versed in the recent Superman comics to know what all is going on. (2.5/5)

Teen Titans:  The Judas Contract:  This four-issue limited series was recently adapted into an animated movie I haven't gotten around to watching.  The gist is that when the mercenary Deathstroke's son dies, he takes up a contract to kill the Teen Titans.  To do this he plants a mole in their midst in the form of a girl named Terra who has the power to control the ground with earthquakes and mountains of dirt and crap like that.  Anyway, it's kind of lame how in the second issue we're shown in flashback how Deathstroke captures all of the Titans except Dick Grayson, who then adopts a godawful disco suit and starts calling himself Nightwing.  Since it's like 35 years later you can safely assume the Titans survive.  I guess in 1982 this was an important story but by itself it's really no big deal. I'm not sure how the movie compares, though I assume there are better costumes. (2.5/5)

Mother Panic, Volume 1:  The world needed another Batman-related comic book series like it needed another Spider-Man movie reboot franchise, but while it wasn't needed, Mother Panic is not bad. The slant on this is: what if Paris Hilton were a Caped Crusader at night? Violet Paige is a rich celebrity party girl whose father died mysteriously and whose mother suffers from early-onset Alzheimer's. (The latter is not an original concept; I did that with the aunt of my superhero Emma Earl in my Tales of the Scarlet Knight series back in 2009. Suck it Gerard Way.) She went to a boarding school that was a cover for a place that performed medical experiments on its children, sort of like the place Wade Wilson goes to in Deadpool. In this case it made Violet stronger than average. And then...somehow she got a white costume that made me think of a fox and a fancy glider thing and goes looking for revenge on people who put her in that position. In the first three comics she also inadvertently saves some children and encounters Batwoman, who like Violet is a lesbian, so maybe they can do something with that later. The second half of this first volume then has her fighting another student from the boarding school who had been given loads of plastic surgery. And she makes friends with this guy called Ratcatcher who talks to rats. (I had a guy like that in my Tales of the Scarlet Knight series too. Suck it again, Gerard Way.)  Really I can't say I liked this a lot but I also can't say I didn't like it. I guess I'd have to see more of it to decide. Maybe if I get a free review copy of that I will. (3/5)

Secret Wars:  For about 30 years Marvel mocked DC for rebooting their universe with Crisis on Infinite Earths back in 1985 and its two sequels in later decades.  But in 2015 Marvel pretty much does the same thing while referencing its 1984 series Secret Wars, despite that there really isn't so much a secret WAR so much as a secret destruction and rebuilding of the universe.  Not a lot of it makes much sense unless you're really well-versed on Marvel comics for the last 50 years (which I'm not) but basically when all the various parts of the "multiverse" were collapsing for...reasons, Dr. Doom uses god-like power to stitch together a planet called "Battleworld" with a bunch of different fiefdoms that like Disney World each have a different theme:  one is full of Marvel Zombies, another Old Man Logan, another the "Ultimate" Marvel comics universe, another for Age of Ultron, and so on.  A few heroes like Reed Richards, Star-Lord, and Spider-Man escaped all this and try to stop Doom.  It was all pretty lame and boring, because again I'm an outsider for the most part.  And it's the sort of series where like IDW's Revolution you really need to read all the side issues, which for this there were probably like 50 of them.  The volume I got from Amazon only had the main 9 issues, so I wasn't going to spend a bunch more money on this. (2/5)

Civil War II:  Following Secret Wars, this was the next big Marvel "event" series.  It shamelessly rips off Minority Report when a new Inhuman named Ulysses (who went to Ohio State so you know he just suuuuucks) who has visions of the future shows up.  Captain Marvel instantly wants to use these visions to try to prevent future disasters, even when her boyfriend James "War Machine" Rhodes is killed by Thanos and She-Hulk is potentially crippled.  (Is she?  We never really get back to that.)  Iron Man disagrees and kidnaps the kid to study his brain and reveal what the heroes are already finding out:  the predictions are not iron clad (pun intended).  When there's a vision of the Hulk killing everyone, they rush to confront Bruce Banner, who's then killed by Hawkeye before he can change into the Hulk.  Hawkeye walks free thanks to a video will Banner left that appointed Hawkeye to kill him if he should start Hulking out again.  And then there are fights for no good reason.  The original Civil War had something big at stake:  whether superheroes would be forced to register with the government, exposing their secret identities.  That would have had huge implications, whereas this really doesn't, especially since Ulysses is conveniently beamed up by the Watchers or Beyonders or some higher alien lifeform at the end.  This is just a philosophical question that isn't all that compelling for a story that's supposed to shake up the Marvel universe.  You might get more out of it if you read the side issues, but why bother?  Six months later they launched into the NEXT "event" series: Secret Empire.  Which will launch into the next event, and so on ad nauseum.  (2/5)

I think by now I've read just about every big Marvel event of this century.  The best of the lot are Civil War, House of M, and Age of Ultron.  Avengers vs X-Men, Secret Invasion and Original Sins were OK.  Fear Itself, Secret Wars, and Civil War II were pretty meh.  Siege was lame.  I don't even follow Marvel comics monthly and I have event fatigue.

3 comments:

  1. The Vision series sounds pretty good. I haven't read most of Secret Wars, but I wasn't too impressed. Marvel's big events are becoming overblown and repetitive. The rest of your reviews seem spot on, but I haven't read them.

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  2. I was totally uninterested in Vision till John Byrne did a masterful exploration of his character back in the day. Since then I've lost interest. The new comic sounds pretty good.

    I'm sad that I haven't read any Rebirth comics. I wondered how they were going to deal with Superwoman since there were conflicting explanations about who she was before the release. That's pretty clever to split her in two (basically). You're right that a smaller threat would have been smarter from the sound of it.

    I've read some of Civil War II and it never really interested me. The moral argument was OK, but I couldn't really get into it. Plus, they killed my favorite C-list character. {No Spoilers}

    Good reviews Pat and enjoy your new Fire Tablet.

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