Below are brief reviews of some comics that came out the weeks of 6/15 and 6/22, except for Nighthawk #1, which came out in May.
My only complaint about this book is how long we have to sometime wait between issues, but that being said, the wait is always worth it. Look, the story here is fantastic as always: tense, touching, heartrending, angering, bad-ass, but if you are waiting for the trade on this one, you need to reconsider. The letters pages and the back matter make the individual issues worth getting, because I know of no other comic book that is focused on women and issues of race and gender in a way that develops a community of people discussing their range of experiences and outlooks. It makes Bitch Planet into something like a comic book mashed up with a well-written zine. Buy it.
Totally Awesome Hulk #7 (released 6/22)
Written: Greg Pak
Art by: Alan Davis (w/inks by Mark Farmer and colors by Chris Sotomayor)
So I know I said last time that it wasn’t very likely that I would keep up with this book, but when I flipped through it at the store I noticed the Alan Davis art and that it focused on a cured Bruce Banner. I wanted to see how it played out and found I liked it. Bruce Banner as a kind of reckless to the point of being suicidal survivor of his Hulk days works, but more than that the complexity of his feelings about the Hulk and other superheroes and being cured and still being really fucking angry comes through in what appears to be part one of a multi-part story.
This series remains great. One of the things I love about it is that it is an all-ages book. The one area I’d like more development in it, however, is more of a supporting cast, giving some life and roundness to the other kids at school and maybe a couple of teachers. Still, the art is great, the action is fun and it keeps you wanting more, which adds up to a fine comic book.
Ms. Marvel vol. 4, #8 (released 6/22)
Written by: G. Willow Wilson
Art by: Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona (w/colors by Ian Herring w/ Irma Kniivila)
While this is the most direct Civil War II tie-in I have read so far (I’ve been trying to avoid them), and while the premise of the event is basically a rip-off of Minority Report, this was a good issue because Wilson works to put the notion of pre-crime in conversation with the notion of profiling and keeps the big event BS from ruining the grounded and local tone of the book. Personally, I think having Captain Marvel be on the pro-pre-crime side seems out of character, but whatcha gonna do?
Wow. This incredibly violent book has Nighthawk as a kind of Black Batman on the edge of becoming exactly what he claims to be against, if not there already. I appreciate the explicit handling of race, and the use of Chicago over New York for a change, but I don’t know. . .This comic gives me the shivers, not necessarily because of the graphic violence, but because of my worry that stories like these reinforce the narrative of savage and violent blackness, even as it tries to (I think) reveal the savage brutality of whiteness as an a normalized ideology. Yet, even as issue #2 doubles down on its explicit racial concerns I find myself transfixed and anxious to see how this series plays out. I recommend it.
I love this book. This issue is a Power Man and Iron Fist Roshemon, with different callers to the Yo, Jimbo radio show having different versions of a battle between the Heroes for Hire and Manslaughter Marsdale, including our heroes and Marsdale himself. The DJ is drawn to look like Samuel Jackson in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, making me wonder if anyone ever asks this guy if he’s Nick Fury’s brother (surely they made Fury Black in the 616 after the most recent Secret Wars, right?). Anyway, like I said I love the book. I love Flaviano’s fill-in art for Sanford Greene, and I love the one-off issue between longer arcs. I hope this book lasts a good long time.
The Mighty Thor vol. 2, #8 (released 6/22)
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Russel Dautermen (w/ colors by Matthew Wilson)
I am still enjoying this series, but while I appreciate Dauterman’s return to full art duties much of his art here seemed off. The proportions seemed weird, the inking was a little heavy handed. Or perhaps it was the subject matter. It is Dauterman’s Asgardian scenes that I love. He has an incredible ability to evoke Kirby through Simonson while maintaining his own style, though the color palette really helps, lots of rich blues. But in this issue we are mostly in nondescript board and interrogation rooms. Attention to Mise-en-scene is an important part of a successful Thor book and this issue fell flat in that area.
This comic is great. It feels like a mix of Sandman (“I’m made of stories,” Loki claims at one point) and what the new Howard the Duck should’ve been like (oh and an element of Prez of course). Loki is written with just the right about of trickster charm. I have to say, I think the post-MCU version of Loki has been a move in a positive direction, making his villainy and shenanigans more in line with trickery and more playful. Maybe it isn’t a post MCU-Loki, maybe it is a post-Kieron Gillen Loki. I don’t know for sure, I just know I like it. This is the comic for the Trump moment, the joke that becomes reality and increasingly less funny. A comic about the foolishness of the electorate in an era where no publicity is bad publicity. This review might be influenced by the Brexit result that came in as I was reading this, but if you ask this American, the Brits just voted for Loki.
Wonder Woman vol. 5, #1 (released 6/22)
Written: Greg Rucka
Art by: Liam Sharp (w/Laura Marin on colors)
In “Lies” (part 1) Rucka sticks with the meta-fictional element of a character without an anchor, kind of floating amid all the recent changes and various contradictions in her story, but since this is a superhero tale, this means there are physical manifestations of this confusion, like Diana’s inability to find Themyscira. All this is fine, and the parallel story of Steve Trevor American Commando, or whatever the heck he is supposed to be, suggest the possibility for complexity in the book, but I could do without the cliche as hell “African Warlord” BS and the use of African locals are set-dressing, which is way too fucking common in comics. The art is not quite my style -a little too slick, I like my superheroes more cartoon-y, and the portion of the story focused on Diana is a little too decompressed. Perhaps if the sense of suspense I suspect Rucka and Sharp were going for had been accomplished, I’d have no complaint, but as it stands it felt like what took 12 pages to tell could have been done in two. I am looking forward to the concurrent “Year One” story, which will alternate with “Lies.”