marlowe1: (Teddy Bear)
91. Ms. Marvel No Normal by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona - This is the storyline that introduced Kamala to the world as Ms. Marvel and while the first issue is taking great pains to establish the character (she's a Muslim. She likes to smell bacon. Her parents are strict. Her best friend wears a hijab but by choice. Someone gives her alcohol and she gets angry when she finds out) that sometime seem a little overwhelming, all the wonderful stuff about Ms. Marvel was already in that first issue as blatant as the story was about establishing most of her personality (the fan fiction stuff and the fact that she wanted the big boot version of Ms. Marvel costume are wonderful and they never lost their charm under Wilson - although there's a Spiderman comic where it seems forced). So what else is there to say about this comic beyond how much you really should read it? I don't know, but I do think that Marvel is having a bit of a renaissance with character driven story telling instead of the old fashioned fight the bad guy superhero stuff and I rally think that this is the title that started it.

92.One Punch Man vol 2 by Yusuke Marata - In between reading this book and writing this review, I caught the show on Netflix and damn, it's great. Can't believe I missed this book until now but that's fine. I get to catch up on it. So this starts out with the story of the secret genetically modified group that Saitama just trashes and then realizes that he missed bargain day at the supermarket. Also the anti-work terrorist group makes up the end and they seem like broad parodies of student groups and a little too broad. It's fascinating in the same way that watching old 70s shows about "women's libbers" is fascinating. The conversation is entering society but people are purposefully missing the point (and this is the conversation about why we all have to work so fucking much. And apparently China is getting into the game as well as Bojack Horseman is popular among the "funeral culture" that considers Pepe the Frog in his original peeing all over himself form as an icon). Anyhow there's a super awesome killer dude who destroys that group and then Saitama just wants to stay out of it. That's the plot. The big faced crazy bug eyed fighting is also the draw but you can get that in a lot of manga. This is special.

93. Moon Knight: Lunatic by Jeff Lemire & Greg Smallwood - Just because I said that Marvel is going through a bit of a renaissance doesn't mean that they aren't putting out shit. This one came out last year and it's that old fucking trope of the main character waking up in a mental institution and being told that he's totally schizophrenic and everything in the series is just bullshit. It can be done well I think or I suppose or maybe theoretically you can see all the characters in a different light, but it's fucking old. It was old when Buffy did it and disgustingly inane when Smallville did it and there was a superhero vs. zombie series where it was kind of fun but only because I hadn't read the rest of the series. And this time I don't give a fuck about Moon Knight. There are some comic book characters that are established as part of the universe but weren't really famous when I was reading comics. When I was a teenager I think there was an attempt to start a Moon Knight comic and I think it was in the cool trippy shit genre of story telling that Marvel liked to do alongside Moonshadow and Blood, or maybe it was just normal. Anyhow I don't remember Moon Knight so this is supposed to sell me Moon Knight.

Instead it gave me some bullshit about Moon Knight being a dude who had a very elaborate fantasy life but is really a mental patient. But oh no, wait, he's actually Moon Knight and he's being fooled. Because that's the way these things always go.

94.Spiderman: Miles Morales by Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli - Like Steve Moffat, I sometimes defend Bendis but it's usually a weak defense that goes along the lines of he's not THAT bad. In both cases, there are enough great moments and stories to appreciate him when he's good. Bendis was great with Powers but utter shit with Civil War. I think that Miles Morales was his character when he was doing Ultimate Spiderman and it's fun to see Miles Morales in the Marvel Universe but please for the love of G-d LET SOMEONE ELSE WRITE THIS CHARACTER!!!!

I didn't mind this titles until the grandmother showed up. I even liked the fat friend who knows his secret identity and is his best friend. That seemed to be the character from the new Spiderman movie like revamped Peter Parker went and stole Miles Morales' best friend in the movies. There was even some great stuff about him trying to balance school and work and even the changes in illustration styles from realistic to cartoony were pure joy, especially when Morales meets Parker Spiderman and wants approval.

Only these good points made the crappy parts that much crappier. A blogger gets really excited that Morales is black because his costume ripped and while that echoes the diversity discussions we've been having about genre, it still seems like it's way too obvious to really be done well. Ok ok ok Bendis, you are writing a minority superhero and you've been doing it for a long time. Take your cookie and make the story work.

And then we get the broadly stereotypical Hispanic Grandmother who is trying to whip her grandson into shape with tough love. She could have been a decent character in another writer's hands but Bendis just feels lazy like she's completely one note and just there to get in Miles' way. Even when Kamala shows up to see if he wants to patrol (a clumsy cameo if there ever was one since what the hell is she going all the way out to Brooklyn to "patrol" with Miles? And no, nothing I've seen in either characters makes it believable that she's got a crush on him and wants to date him) she's just kind of there to support his Tough Hispanic Grandmother. And then she disappears - back to Jersey City. I read another story with Kamala in Spiderman that's even worse when it comes to capturing the character but I think that Bendis' weakness is even more obvious when you realize that Morales comes off as a much more interesting character when he shows up in Ms. Marvel than he does in his own title. Not even going to compare cameo Morales to cameo Kamala because cameo Kamala is the worst, but G. Willow Wilson should find many equally talented writers and just take over the whole damn company.
marlowe1: (Spinning Tardis)
76.All New Captain America: Fear Him by Dennis Hopeless, Rick Remender & Mast & Geoffo - In the 80s, superhero comics found their adolescence. So many heroes were angsty and trying to do the right thing and living in a world with very clear messages. The messages seemed pretty deep if you were a teenager but were pretty blatant is you weren't. By the 90s superheroes regressed into the power fantasies with way too many damn mutants all over the place and Superman running out of stories so they decided to kill him. Somewhere in the last couple decades, they finally grew up and started telling stories that went beyond the power fantasies.

Ok. I'm still a little surprised that I like superhero comics again. Who knew what a little character development could do?

So anyhow, this one has Sam Wilson fighting a supremely silly villain who might as well be a clone of the Scarecrow villain from Batman. He even has the silly mask and the freakout juice. The heart of the comic though is Sam and Steve's son (who is Nomad, I guess) running around the sewer systems and finding a colony of runaway kids. The part where Sam agrees to leave them alone while tripping balls on the fear juice is quite great.

77. One Punch Man 10 by Yusuke Murata - There's a joy in One Punch Man fucking around with the narrative tropes of the genre. No matter how dangerous or nasty the villain becomes, the ending is right there in the title. This is the first one I've read and I immediately put the rest of the series on hold at the library. Sadly, they don't have them past this collection yet so I will have to wait awhile to find out how our hero fares in the big martial arts contest where he's in disguise. But the first part where Garo is the monster who is beating all other heroes is the best setup until he just runs into our hero at a grocery store and Saitama goes "what are you bothering me for" and knocks him out as if it's no big thing. This joke might get old but not yet.

78. Powers: Gods - One of the insights into Raymond Chandler is that his mysteries are often not mysteries at all. No matter how much corruption Philip Marlowe digs up, the answer the to mystery is often just the client or the daughter of the client. The world is still a mess but the mystery itself is simple. Most of the Powers stories fall into these patterns. There's someone dead at the beginning, a lot of investigation that hints at a huge world of corruption and conspiracy, and then the killer is just some guy. Sometimes there's a big world changing event (like the Superman character killing a bunch of towns) but mostly it's a simple solution to a mystery with complex implications. The first few series were about superheroes as rock stars (including one where it turns out that the superhero just had a heart attack while fucking a groupie) but after the series went to Marvel the rock star metaphor went to a straight detective story.

So this one is totally a Raymond Chandler type with the background of superheroes who are powerful enough to be Greek gods, or at least they claim. Damocles is dead and the rest of the gods are not forthcoming. Hades is fucked up and Hecate is living in a church. There's a lot of talk about how gods can be superheroes as this is a takeoff on the Marvel titles. Artemis dies and who the fuck knows what's going on. And then a couple of humans who took the superhero juice that makes them crazy were super pumped and killed the rest of the gods. For revenge. For a rape. And a cover-up.

The epilogue seems more like an afterthought to lead to Bureau than an actual ending. Everything is done and then the last goddess alive in the pantheon gets pissed and tries to flood Chicago. All the big heroes disappear and the cops become FBI agents.

79.Captain Marvel: Rise of Alpha Flight by Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters - I just looked up the writers and found out that they were the producers on Agent Carter. They also wrote Dollhouse episodes. This was still pretty dead. I don't really like Captain America that much and putting her on a spaceship to negotiate with a kill spaceship that recognizes her as Kree because of her symbol and then gets all genocidal is too Babylon 5 for my taste. Interesting to see Alpha Flight but they got boring since I was reading the John Byrne run.

80. Ms. Marvel: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson and Jacob Wyatt - Kamala Khan is the best. Actually Ms. Marvel is why I am trying to read Captain Marvel and being bored all over again the Carol Danvers. Maybe Ms. Marvel is why I don't like Captain Marvel because damnit Captain Marvel screwed up as a mentor. This continues the Inventor/Mr Edison who is half-bird and also using millennials as batteries there are plenty who think that they are useless (political points tend to be obvious in the comic just because they are still looking for teenage audience). But the sight gags are great. The part where she gets Lockjaw to protect her and she's hugging him for her parents is adorable. And how many superheroes run into Wolverine and start talking about their Wolverine fan fiction?

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Tim Lieder

July 2017

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