Welcome back for more reviews of comic books that were released the week of 03/21/18! I’ve selected another 5 books to take a look at and give you the run down on. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND!
Justice League # 41 (vol. 3)
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Pete Woods
Cover Artist: David Yardin
Justice League is one of DC’s premiere titles. For those that aren’t familiar, it features the team of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, the Flash, and Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. I’ve enjoyed the title since it “rebooted” with DC’s Rebirth but I have to admit, I miss the Martian Manhunter being a part of the team. Also, while I do like the new Green Lanterns, I feel like Hal Jordan is who should be representing the Green Lantern Corps on the Justice League.
Regardless of my feelings overall about the construction of the team, the current story being woven has been both intriguing and flawed. The team finds itself up against a villain that knows them better than they know themselves. The villain calls himself “The Fan” and he seems to know all of the team’s flaws. He believes that he is doing the team a favor by pushing them beyond their comfort level. Even going so far as taking extreme actions on behalf of the team. He most recently caused the Watchtower to come tumbling out of orbit and back to Earth.
This issue finds the team in the aftermath of the Watchtower crashing down to Earth. The Watchtower has landed somewhere in Eastern Africa. The team is trying to get the wreckage cleared out but, in the meantime, the league finds itself also trying to keep both sides of a conflict within the African nation at bay. One sect wants to claim the Watchtower and all of its alien technology for itself. They also want the Justice League to turnover the refugees that have taken advantage of the team being there and asked for protection. The team wants no part of whatever civil war is going on and are trying to remain neutral.
In the midst of all this, the Red Lion shows up. He is claiming control of the Watchtower since it landed in his nation. Wait…what? If the Red Lion makes you think of a certain Marvel character from the African nation of Wakanda, you’re not alone. You see, Christopher Priest once wrote Black Panther for Marvel. So, during his run on DC’s Deathstroke he introduced a new character called the Red Lion. Unfortunately, for Red Lion, he suffers from a severe lack of backstory which makes him totally unrelatable. Honestly, it just makes me not care about him one bit.
I typically enjoy Priest’s writing. I’ve enjoyed this story arc involving “The Fan” and how the League is trying to find its place in the world. However, I feel like he just doesn’t have a good grasp overall on the characters he is dealing with. The characterizations of Lanterns Baz and Cruz are off, maybe even reversed. Superman arguing with the Flash in seeming favor of guns seems out of character for the Man of Steel. It feels like Priest just doesn’t care at all about Cyborg. Cyborg has been characterized as being unable to make any decisions as leader of the team and takes a thorough beating at the hands of the Red fucking Lion. I hope things start to shape up soon.
Woods does a good job with the art throughout the issue. Although I really must laugh at how close the appearance of Red Lion is to Marvel’s Black Panther. I mean, essentially, he is the Black Panther just with a different color scheme. Regardless of this, the artwork is solid throughout the issue and helps to carry Priest’s complicated story forward.
3 out 5 stars
The Mighty Thor # 705
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist/Cover Artist: Russell Dauterman
I knew it was coming. Marvel had been forewarning and foreshadowing it for months. I still wasn’t prepared for it. This is it, the epic conclusion to The Death of the Mighty Thor story arc. Before I get into breaking down the issue I just have to say how much I have enjoyed Jane Foster as Thor. I had my doubts when it all started but I’ll be damned if she didn’t win me over. She has been brave. She has kicked ass. She’s been outright better than the Gods she has been protecting. Jane Foster’s Thor has been absolutely terrific in every way.
The whole story arc has been building up to the death of Jane Foster. If you haven’t been keeping up with Thor, you’ve really been missing out. Jane had been in the battle of her life against cancer. I’ve lost family to cancer. It fucking sucks. I’ve watched these family members suffer and going through treatment which can be just as awful. Suffice to say, this story has hit extremely close to home. Any time Jane uses Mjolnir to transform into Thor, the magical transformation drives the chemo from her system. Thus, she never seemed to be able to make any progress in her cancer treatments. Finally, several folks including Dr. Strange and the Odinson himself convinced Jane to stop being Thor and to take care of herself. They warned her if she changed to Thor one more time it would be the death of her.
While Jane tries to take care of herself, Asgard comes under attack from the hate-filled and seemingly unstoppable Mangog. It tears through the God’s of Asgard as if they were nothing. It even wipes the floor with Odin and the Odinson together. It seems all is lost for Asgard. The Mangog has sent Asgard hurtling towards the sun. It can’t be beaten. That is until Jane takes Mjolnir and, one last time, changes into Thor. She is successful in defeating the Mangog and even takes a moment to remind the Mangog that he was defeated by a mere mortal. It’s a powerful moment and embodies the bravery and selflessness that Jane has shown all throughout her time as Thor. In her final act, she asks the Odinson for one last kiss. It’s a beautiful moment. It broke my heart and I have no problem admitting that I wept.
Aaron’s story telling has been terrific all throughout this run. I can’t give him high enough praise for the way that the story came to a close. Jane was given a hero’s death. She gave the middle finger to cancer, once again showing her selflessness. Once again outdoing the God’s she was trying to save. Daring them…hoping that they would learn a lesson from her sacrifice. My heart broke into a thousand pieces even though I knew it was coming all along. A sure sign that Aaron did his job well.
Dauterman’s artwork as always is top notch. He’s been hand’s down one of my favorite artists in Marvel for some time. He has a lot to do in this issue with the brawl that ensues between Thor and the Mangog. He perfectly captures Jane’s final moments. His artwork for the final kiss is breathtaking and heartbreaking. A fitting end indeed for the incomparable Jane Foster.
5 out of 5 stars
Nightwing # 41 (vol. 4)
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist/Cover Artist: Bernard Chang
Nightwing is another of the DC books that I never bothered to read until the Rebirth titles came along. It’s not that I disliked Nightwing/Dick Grayson. It’s just that his solo stories never really appealed to me. I guess in some way he was always going to be Batman’s sidekick. I’m happy to admit that I have been wrong about Nightwing though. He’s really come into his own despite hanging on to all that Batman has taught him.
The current story arc came to a close in this issue. If you haven’t been following, Nightwing has been trying to hunt down an enigmatic villain known as the Judge. The Judge has confounded and escaped Dick twice before. Now, he’s back and is back to creating chaos and murder. The Judge is a super-natural villain. He lives in the sea and every so often he comes from the sea to begin a new reign of terror. He’s able to manipulate, corrupt, and brainwash any he comes across. Any, that is, except for Dick.
The Judge has made it his goal to get rid of all of Bludhaven’s casino’s. He wants for Bludhaven to return to it’s roots as a wharf and fishing town. He sees it as he is getting rid of all the evil and corruption that has come as a result of the greed that the casinos have brought. He uses his ability to manipulate people to murder, destroy buildings, and even confess their sins. He’s even been able to brainwash a detective into trying to murder Dick. At one point in this issue he even tries to manipulate Dick into letting him go by offering him what he really wants: the chance at a normal, peaceful life. Dick doesn’t fall for it though and is successful in finally apprehending his long time nemesis.
Humphries first story arc has been really well done. He’s done a great job overall of getting us to invest in the history of Bludhaven. He makes us feel Dick’s desperation in trying to catch the Judge. He even manages to make the Judge a compelling and even, in some ways, a relatable villain. I’m looking forward to seeing what adventure he takes Nightwing on next.
Chang’s artwork has been solid all throughout this story. I have to mention that I find his design for the Judge very unsettling. At one point during the story arc, the Judge reveals that he has sewn his own eyes shut. It’s really disturbing but helps to flesh out the character. There’s also a really well done scene towards the end of the book that shows the unique way that the Judge is imprisoned. It’s quite creative and befitting.
4 out 5 stars
Star Wars # 45 (vol. 2)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Cover Artist: David Marquez
Marvel’s run of Star Wars comics have been, in my opinion, a bit hit or miss. Some of the stories have been decent but most of them haven’t really been all that mind blowing. I think the most entertaining stories they have told have actually come in the side series such as Darth Vader and Darth Maul. The main book has, for me, failed to hit that sweet spot so far.
If you haven’t been reading, the main Star Wars book takes place in between Episodes IV and V. Currently, the Rebellion is in search of a new base of operations. They are also in the midst of trying to recruit some new allies. Princess Leia is trying to convince the Mon Calamari to send their fleet to the aid of the Rebellion. The planet of Mon Cala is Imperial occupied though. Not to mention that the Empire abducted and has imprisoned the king of the Mon Calamari people. As a result, the current leader of the Mon Calamari refuses to aid the Rebellion for fear of what could happen to their planet and their king.
The pacing of this issue is a bit slow. There’s no action to speak of. Instead, we are let in on the political dealings in the Rebellion as they try to figure out how best to convince the Mon Calamari to side with them. They are also trying to decide whether or not Mon Cala will make a good spot for a new base for the Rebellion. While these discussions are taking place we are also taken along to the mess hall with Han, Luke, and Chewie. Han tries to get Luke to have an alcoholic beverage with him but Luke maintains his desire for milk. During the issue we get to see a lot of familiar faces such as Wedge, Hobby, Mon Mothma, General Dodonna, Hera Syndulla, and Zeb Orrelios.
While the issue has no action, Gillen still does a good job of keeping us invested in the story. He’s building up to something larger and he gives us the building blocks that will get us there. His characterizations are spot on for this era of the Rebellion. Luke is still very much starry eyed. Han is still very much the smooth-talking, sarcastic pirate. Leia is portrayed as wise and daring, willing to do whatever she feels is necessary to guarantee the survival of the Rebellion. We get a fun easter egg moment when Hobby tells Luke about training with Hera.
In my opinion, where this main Star Wars book always shines is with Salvador Larroca’s beautiful artwork. He does a fantastic job of capturing the likenesses of the characters from the films. When you look at Han you could almost swear you were staring at Harrison Ford. When you look at Leia, you feel like you’re staring at Carrie Fisher. I could go on and on. He really delivers on trying to give you nostalgic feelings for the characters and even environments.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Tales of Suspense # 1o3
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Travel Foreman
Cover Artist: Yasmine Putri
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when Marvel announced they were bringing back Tales of Suspense. I knew that Hawkeye (Clint Barton) and the Winter Soldier were going to be involved so I was interested just from knowing that alone. The tale that has been woven has been intriguing and even…gasp…suspenseful at times. It’s featured some odd twists to try to keep readers off the scent of where this was going to ultimately end up. It’s certainly kept me coming back for more.
The story being told is Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier are both investigating a series of assassinations that have all the hallmarks of being related to someone they both hold dear. Hawkeye thinks the murders are being done by the supposedly dead Black Widow. The Winter Soldier is skeptical of this and thinks they have someone that is trying to emulate Natasha.
As this issue opens, we are given the answer as to who is committing these murders: it is, indeed, the Black Widow. We are then given the tale of just how it is that Natasha is alive. Make no mistake, she was definitely killed by evil Captain America during the events of Secret Empire. However, the Red Room brought her back to life through the use of cloning. Natasha is taken aback by this discovery but, in true Black Widow fashion, she stays calm and assesses the situation. She develops a plan for getting out of the Red Room and trying to shut them down for good.
My hat is off to Matthew Rosenberg who has woven an incredibly intricate tale thus far. He did a fantastic job throwing us off the trail and planting seeds of doubt in our minds. Then, when the big reveal finally does happen he gives us a sinister and complete backstory as to how Natasha was returned to life. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this all resolves itself.
Travel Foreman deserves a lot of praise for his work on the book. This book is written like a suspense/thriller and his artwork mirrors that. It is properly dark and gritty to match the dark tale being told. Some props should also certainly be given to colorist Rachelle Rosenberg as her use of color in different shades and gradients help give the book the proper gritty, shadowy tone.
4.5 out of 5 stars
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