Brief Reviews (11/16 to 11/30, 2016)

I haven’t posted comics reviews since mid-September, but here are reviews of some comics that came out between November 16 and 30, 2016. Looks like I will be culling my pull-list significantly in the coming weeks.

black_panther_vol_6_8Black Panther vol. 6, #8 (released 11/16)
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Chris Sprouse (w/inks by Karl Story & Walden Wong; colors by Laura Martin)

I wrote a review of the first collected trade of Coates and Stelfreeze’s Black Panther for the Los Angeles Review of Books, which has not seen the light of day yet (hopefully in a few weeks), but one of my conclusions in it is that the comic is a lot more successful in the collected form than it felt like when I was reading it month to month. Perhaps that continues to be the problem, because this issue was boring and visually static. Talky. There are only four more issues of this first long 12-issue arc left, so I will probably finish it out, but for the next arc after that I am going to wait, flip through individual issues and then decide if it is worth getting the collected trade. No more individual issues for me. The cover of this issue (by Brian Stelfreeze and Laura Martin) was pretty amazing, however. Probably my favorite so far.

Monstress #8 (released 11/23)
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Art: Sana Takeda

Not only does this book remain gorgeous, but the world Liu is building seems to be opening up in delightful ways. The inclusion of a sea journey with a colorful and somewhat reluctant crew reminds of a D&D game in the ways I love D&D games, with fantasy maps and exploration and encountering new people. The fact that this is a woman-focused narrative approach to the fantasy world just reinforces how refreshing it is. I also think the book needed more supporting characters to avoid the limitations of the interactions between the taciturn protagonist, her child-like fox girl sidekick with her tendency to squeal in alternating delight and horror, and the two-tailed cat, ever haughty and dissembling..

moon_girl_and_devil_dinosaur_vol_1_13-smMoon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #13 (released 11/23)
Writers: Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare
Art: Natacha Bustos (w/colors by Tamra Bonvillain)
(Dream sequence art by Leonard Kirk and Tamra Bonvillain)

I love this book. Lunella is a great character that captures the confusion, arrogance and alternating power and powerlessness of childhood. The art remains fantastic, perfect for the feel of the book. And best of all, the Thing shows up on Yancy Street to have a talk with Moon Girl. I can’t wait til the next issue.

Patsy Walker aka Hell Cat #12 (released 11/16)
Writer: Kate Leth
Art: Brittany Williams (w/colors by Rachelle Rosenberg)

This book continues to be cute and I like the cartoony art style (though this issue had some weak spots), but I am not sure it is really for me. I am going to drop it, and maybe give my issues to someone I think will appreciate them more. Oh and Brittany Williams cover for this issue is fantastic!

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Robbie Reyes: Ghost Rider #1 (released 11/30)
Writer: Filipe Smith
Art: Danilo Beyruth (w/colors by: Val Staples and Jesus Aburtov)

What is the definition of insanity? Because once again I find myself trying out a Robbie Reyes comic because I want to like it and support a Latino Marvel character, but once again it is just not good. The art is strange, whether it is the bland static blocking of panels by Beyrutth in the main story, or the strangely proportioned Manga-influenced art of the writer, Filipe Smith, who did double duty for the back-up story. It is not that I am against manga influence, but rather it seems inexpertly done, and the stilted dialogue doesn’t help make up for it. I do like some of the more abstract decontextualized stylized action scenes, but without something meaty to hang it on, the visual story-telling is disjointed. The deeper immersion into the Marvel Universe, what with the guest appearances by Laura Kinney (All-New Wolverine) and the Totally Awesome Hulk (Amadeus Cho), would work for the title if the art was better, and the guest characters looked less like just some promising fan art pasted into the pages. I doubt I’ll be getting the second issue.

rom5_cvrregROM #5 (released 11/23)
Writers: Christos Gage & Chris Ryall
Art: Paolo Villanelli (w/colors by: Alessandra Alexakis)

This issue’s momentum was undermined by some crossover event–Revolution–with G.I. Joe and the Transformers. The first third of the book is a recap to catch us up on stuff that happened in the event books. Sigh. I guess I can’t escape crossover shenanigans even in IDW books. This ROM isn’t very likable, but that is not a deal-breaker for me. I am not the type that thinks protagonists need to be likable, but it does take away from the heroic tone I am used to from the Marvel book. The art remains on the average side (occasionally poor). So I have gone from seriously considering an ongoing series of posts about ROM to putting this series on the bubble.

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captain_america_sam_wilson_vol_1_15Sam Wilson: Captain America #15 (released 11/16)
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Angel Unzueta (w/colors by John Rauch)

This was a one-shot fill-in story and it felt like a one-shot fill-in story meant to specifically pull at the nostalgic heart strings of Gen-Xers like me who remember the Unlimited Class Wrestling aspect of the Marvel Universe from the early 1980s, featured both in Captain America and in the Thing’s solo book. The story is nothing special, and neither is the art. I do like the use of wrestling, which has a strong connection to comics in a lot of ways. The whole face and heel dynamic kinda fits. I don’t know how I feel about D-Man being gay (is this the first time we’ve learned this? Was it revealed in some issue I missed or some other series?). Not that it is not handled in a normalized way, but that D-Man has been a joke of a character for a long-time, a mentally-ill alcoholic homeless never-was who ranges from the butt of jokes to a pitiable figure at best. In that context the choice to make him gay rings with an imagined snicker that gives me a bad feeling. Maybe I am being unfair.  But one thing I am certain of is that Nick Spencer relies a little too heavily on a snarky quick-witted mean girl voice that leads to character dialog all starting to sound the same. It was refreshing in Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and it is the perfect asshole tone for The Fix, but appeared too often in his now cancelled Ant-Man book, and here it just doesn’t work.

spider-man_vol_2_9Spider-Man vol. 2, #11 (released 11/16)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Nico Leon (w/colors by Marte Garcia)

This is the kind of issue that might’ve been good despite its plot emerging from events in an issue of Civil War II and (apparently) concluded in those pages as well, if it had merely focused on Miles Morales’s supporting cast in a meaningful way. The stuff with Ganke and the vlogger girl got close, but ultimately I wish I had not purchased this issue, and it puts Spider-Man on the bubble for me. I never really liked this series, but bought it because I like the character, or what I imagine the ideal character to be like (as I explained in my recent post about the Invisible Woman), and wanted to see firsthand how Bendis was handling Miles’s Latinidad, but I should just give up and wait til someone better gets to write the character for a change.

Star Wars vol. 2, #25 (released 11/23)
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Jorge Molina (w/colors by Matt Milla)

This continues to be a fun adventure serial, which, given Star Wars’ influences makes perfect sense, but I am not a fan of the direction of the art, and after nearly two and a half years of collecting it, I have decided the time has come to stop getting it. I am thinking of donating them to a friend’s kids. So, this isn’t on “the bubble.” It is already off my pull-list. Still, for a franchise-property book, you could do a whole lot worse (and some of those Ben Kenobi one-shot stories do).

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The Mighty Thor vol. 2, #13 (released 11/23)
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Steve Epting (w/colors by Frank Martin)

Without Russell Dauterman’s animated style and Mike Wilson’s colors this book turns into a gray slog. Too bad, because the League of the Realms is one of my favorite aspects of recent Thor series, and I like the over-the-top fantasy battle action. Definitely plan on sticking with this book and the new Unworthy Thor book as well, but the art is a big reason for both, so if fill-in artists become too common I will drop one or both.

all-new_wolverine_vol_1_14All-New Wolverine #14 (released 11/16)
Writer: Tom Taylor
Art: Nik Virella (w/inks by Scott Hanna, and colors by Michael Garland & Jesus Aburtov)

This book is good. I might prefer more of a Laura and Gabby roadtrip type story with them traveling from place to place helping people and getting into trouble, with a focus on characterization, but the way the new Wolverine must navigate her recurring powerlessness when it comes to other people trying (and sometimes succeeding) in using her body and killer instincts against her will, the pain in palpable. The fill-in artist did a decent job, but I miss Takara.

Wonder Woman vol. 5, #11 (released 11/23)
Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Liam Sharp (w/colors by Laura Martin)

I must not be that smart, because despite this being the conclusion of “The Lies” story arc, I still have no clue what the heck is going on. The art here is dark and underdeveloped, though I think it is the coloring that is making it worse. This series is on the bubble for me, and unless something interesting and exciting happens in the next issue of the current timeline, some new and compelling adventure, this comic is going from on the bubble to my cut list.

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On The Bubble: Black Panther, Rom, Sam Wilson: Captain America, Spider-ManWonder Woman

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