Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 02/07/2018

New Comic Day is a constant in the life of a true aficionado. Every Wednesday books arrive on the shelves of one’s local, comic store, waiting for you to cross off your list and pick them up. Or perhaps you have your own shelf, behind the counter, reserved with your name on it? Maybe you’re one of those folks who has them delivered to your door? Whatever your ritual, there’s a camaraderie built up between the owner and other comic fans on that every Wednesday that’s hard to describe. Whatever it is, it’s trusted, familiar and something to look forward to.

I look forward to this day. I’ve mentioned escapism and nostalgia before, but I haven’t mentioned the joy of anticipation of whatever the new stories are that I get to catch up on every week. New stories are always welcome, especially when they break up the monotony and dullness of our everyday lives.

Of course, it’s a solitary event. The brief contact folks have when they go to their comic shop is diminishing because of the decrease in “brick-and-mortar” comic shops. Places like Amazon or online services have now given us the convenience of enjoying our books at home, but at the cost of enjoying them by ourselves.

I miss walking into my comic book shop – sometimes more than twice a week – and talking about books with people, playing games or discussing the current geek stuff happening in the world. That’s what built up fandom and a love of the industry. Comic book writers and artists – we salute you, even if it’s by ourselves in isolation.

Let’s get to the list.

DC Comics

Batman #40

The temptation! Tom King really hits a nerve of every married man with this one: what if you were stuck alone and isolated with arguably one of the most desirable women in a place where time had no meaning and seemed to last forever? Would you still be faithful to the person you love?

It’s a really basic question, but enough to pique the interest of every married Batman fan. Again, it’s this basic note of humanity that is at the core of every one of King’s stories that manages to shine through. It’s almost like he’s using some template of everyday life to plot out his stories.

I wonder where this happily married father could be getting the inspiration for these thoroughly enjoyable and relatable stories?

But who cares where he gets the heat, as long as the fire stays in the kitchen, am I right, boys?

Superman #40

Nothing like having your dad as your best friend to kill the lonely blues. DC seems to be falling back on family values with both Batman and the Big Red “S”. On the anniversary of Krypton’s demise, we see Superman in the Fortress of Solitude and in his fatherly role, teaching his son about how to use his powers responsibly and ethically. During their reflection on Jon’s Kryptonian heritage, one of the sensors in the fortress detects a planet in space that is on the edge of destruction.

Superman and his son decide to save it. This is a classic story that could have been found on the shelf of any supermarket back in the 70’s. James Robinson has so thoroughly captured the flavour of the traditional Superman that I knew growing up.

I can almost smell the bubble gum in the check-out aisle.

Batman: White Knight #5

Batman is all by himself in this story from Sean Murphy, as everyone around him is seemingly taken in by the Joker’s transformation from villain to reformed civic crusader. This is definitely a frustrating place to be in but at the same time, I’m finding this story to be fairly laboured in that it’s too repetitive and the side-story about the shadowy connections the Wayne Family had to the Nazis is a little hard to swallow.

If the Joker has really reformed, then the story needs to change into one that sees Batman simply trying to out-do his new competitor and bring Gotham into a golden era. However, that’s just not feasible, given the nature of the character. So, it’s a sham.

If this is still a sham, as the Batman believes it, then the Joker has systematically isolated Batman from his allies and his power base. Now it’s time for a resolution. Eight issues in this series seems to be too many for this story, at least in my opinion.

Of course, I may be alone in that.

Image Comics

Kingsman: The Red Diamond #6 (of 6)

What a rip-roaring ride of a story. Completely cinematic in its execution and delivery and is definitely a great follow-up to a fantastic concept and the extension of a very entertaining franchise. As in every spy thriller, the spy wins the day, saves the world, gets the girl and … goes home to check on his mum.

I find I like Eggsy on the basis of discovering and realizing his potential rather than from the socio-economic perspective. Britain still has remnants of the class system kicking around, but so does every Western nation. Class is now decided by exploited opportunities and sometimes that’s a lonely road to travel. People often don’t like to see their friends succeed and it’s refreshing to see a character – even a fanciful and imagined one like a Kingsman, manage to find success yet still retain the love of his friends and family.

I’m looking forward to more work from Simon Fraser and Rob Williams. I think they’ve done this franchise a right proper job.

VS #1

This is a delightful throwback sci-fi story! Looking like it has emerged from the pages of the 1980’s masterwork, Epic, Illustrated, I really fell into the fabric of this offering from Ivan Brandon and Esad Ribic feet first and eyes wide open.

It’s a well-worked trope – war-turned-sport, but I have to confess that the concept of “space gladiators” still manages to grab even my jaded attention. I think stories about bloodsports capture the essence of the anti-hero as he or she struggles against overwhelming odds and can be very exciting. They can also be good platforms for social commentary.

The landscape scenery in this comic is simply stunning. It’s like the entire structure of the comic funnels down from the macro to the micro levels with the change of perspective from the expanse of space to the focus on one single character at the end of the story. Even if you aren’t into the story concept, I strongly encourage you to pick up this book for the sheer spectacular nature of the art. It really is a thing to behold.

However, I’m drawn to the fighting spirit of the soldier-athlete. I am looking forward to picking the next issue up.

Marvel Comics

Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock #1

I had a bit of difficulty with appreciating this one. Adam Warlock is the ultimate lone hero. He walks alone because of his unique nature. Only he can wield the power of the Soul Gem, and as such, he should have poise and a grace about him. I didn’t sense that at all in Michael Allred’s art, for which I’m sad. Not to say that Allred’s talent is lacking; I just don’t think he was the right artist for the job.

Gerry Duggan presents us with a prologue to this publishing event, but to be fair I’m not sure I fully understood what is going to happen. It simply seemed like a review of Warlock’s history with some hints about a poor future from Kang the Conqueror.

Sad to say, I was disappointed. Adam Warlock was always one of my favourite classic characters. He’s a phenomenally messianic figure and there’s always room for one of those in an epic story.


X-Men Red #1

Taking the solitary first step forward, Jean Grey returns from the dead to begin the implementation of a vision that will assure Mutants of a save haven to grow and evolve alongside Humanity.

I don’t know if this is the solution to Mutantkind’s problems. I still see Jean Grey as a supporting character instead of a leading one and as she has returned from the Phoenix’s influence, will her power be enough to force Humanity’s governments to recognize a sovereign Mutant nation?

I think it’s also been done before too.

I had hopes for this title, especially as I have always loved the character of Jean Grey, but I can’t say that this one impressed me too much. However, I’ll give it some time and allow it to grow on me.

X-Men Gold #21

It feels great to be reading X-Men titles again, and this one was a great return to a classic X-Men stand-off with an original villain. Mesmero supported by Avalanche and Pyro, escape from prison and target a mutant bigot with political influence. It’s typical X-Men faire and something that I’ve been missing for a while.

Marc Guggenheim has the touch. We need more writers who have the ability to represent the classic vibe and historical continuity of the X-Men that can also be true to current readers and story techniques of today. By current techniques, I mean realism and character issues that readers can relate to. The best stories happen when impossible people do totally plausible things, and I think Guggenheim gets that..

This is an X-Men title that I can get behind.

Star Wars #43

I love watching Star Wars by myself. It’s a complete surrender to the world of fantasy that it’s an experience that I honestly don’t enjoy sharing with anyone – unless they get that feeling too. it’s the same with the comics.

This storyline wasn’t too bad in the end. I liked the tie-in to SWTLJ, and if there’s anything I really like, it’s adherence to historical continuity. More of this needs to happen. Not to sound intentionally sound like a reactionary conservative, but what’s the point in having a foundation for all these great stories to rest on if you don’t take care of it?

Sometimes it’s lonely being the one who keeps track of continuity.

IDW Publishing

Star Trek: New Visions #20

I miss the reruns of the original series, but thankfully there’s John Byrne to reproduce the same effect.

Yeah, it seems a bit over-dramatic, but I legitimately get the same feeling whenever I turn the pages of one of these books. A lot of folks love Byrne for his artistry, but sometimes I get the feeling that his writing never gets the same acclaim. After all, the guy is no slouch when it comes to writing comics. I mean, just look at his run on The Fantastic Four or his re-invention of Superman back in the 80’s. In fact, Byrne gave us the modern interpretation of Superman that most present writers cling to when they craft their own stories.

Byrne is a die-hard Trekkie. He is a generational product of th influence of the era that saw the original series in all its glory. He’s a gifted comic-book writer who can still remember the effect of seeing the show back in the sixties and manages to recreate the sense of wonder in discovering this show. For a lot od young folks, this book is their introduction to the original series and because of the 50-year difference, they may not know any different? That’s gotta make him feel good.

Does anyone tell him?

Well, “Isolation” is not only the theme for this week, but also for this issue as we see a story that begins with the systematic isolation of the individual bridge crew members as an alien species decides to investigate them by subjecting them to experiments designed to activate their stress levels and better understand them.

Of course, the alien takes on a more sadistic turn as he ramps up the experimentation and the bridge crew are left to face illusions in an attempt to test them.

I love the way that Byrne individually presents each of the Bridge crew and their in-character reactions to the situation. Not only does it display his story-telling talent but also his familiarity with the characters of the franchise. Byrne not only can writer an effective single-issue adventure, but he can also tie it into the original Star Trek that fans have definitely missed.

Which is a reminder to us: no matter how alone we are, there is a greater occurrence going on around us. This story is a great thing – the only graphic source of TOS storytelling. While there are still novels, this book is the only reminder of TOS visual imagery out there, and for that, I think I need to acknowledge Byrne’s work in this regard.

I’m picking Star Trek: New Visions #20 as the pick of the week for this installment. I love it … and I know that there are other Trek fans out there who also don’t feel alone because of it. Well done, Mr. Byrne.

I drink a toast to you, but no-one can see it.

Pick of the Week: Star Trek: New Visions #20

About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.