Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 03/21/2018

We all have expectations. We have expectations of ourselves, our friends and definitely what we want from a comic. Though these are all subjective things, sometimes there are some universal constants that we can all agree upon. So, this week, we’re looking for expectations in the picks for this week. Let’s get to the list!

DC Comics

Batman #43

Tom King certainly lives up to the expectations I’ve set for him in this issue. The world is literally against Batman and Catwoman. Poison Ivy has taken control of the Earth’s population through her connection to the Green, including its super-powered denizens (Superman, Wonder Woman, et. al.) and how can Batman stand against that?

Well, in the way that we’ve always expected him to: using his strategic mind to overcome all seemingly overwhelming obstacles. Poison Ivy’s weakness is – well, let’s just say she can melt to pudding when Batman manages to reveal her Achilles’ Heel.

It’s a really riveting read. The bar is set so high and after the pummeling Batman took from Poison Ivy’s influence over Superman, it would be hard to imagine how he could overcome this. However, as the story unfolds, we see that Batman has a greater sense of the big picture.

Mikel Janin’s artwork is always spectacular. I enjoy his stylings and would love to see how he would fare on a science fiction project.

King entertains us, but not at the expense of transcending the limitations of the character. If Batman is to succeed, it has to be in a way that is recognizably in line with the character. Additionally, the new relationship that King has brought Batman into also has to meet with our expectations. Not only does Catwoman prove herself to be a resourceful ally, but the partner he needs her to be. Batman is too mature for a “Boy Wonder” – though his son, is also a loyal soldier, he needs a real life-partner who sees his goals as her own.

King has made Batman his own character – but also within the expectations of his audience.

Superman #43

I mentioned this last time I looked at the Bizzarro-verse, but I’ve just never really liked this villain. However, Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi have taken the idea of the son of Bizarro and made a fairly good run with it. The inclusion of the Bizzarro-world alternatives like Robin, Lois Lane and so forth fleshes out the world somewhat and gives it a greater sense of appeal, but. Bizzarro has just always seemed to me to be a lazy villain creation. Still, it’s been an accepted part of Superman canon for so long, it’s not within my purview to naysay the concept any more. Bizzarro is here to stay.

Joe Prado’s artwork is always great. It’s very enjoyable and always a pleasure to see. His collaboration with Gleason is just a good thing that needs to be seen.

Regardless of how I feel, it does make sense – and fall within the realm of expectations of this character that Bizzarro Jon would have problems with his own dad. Let’s face it: Superman and Superboy have an ideal parent-child relationship; the Bizzarros wouldn’t. So, though I don’t like the villain, I can’t disagree with Gleason’s portray of it.

Even if reading the Bizzarro dialogue does make my head hurt from time to time. Imagine writing in it.

Deadman #5

I can’t say I’ve gotten into this book too much, Neal Adams’ status as a legendary creator isn’t enough for me to sustain an interest in this character. Deadman had his own book years ago, but I have to be frank, he was never much of a solitary interest for me. I always found him to be a great supporting character, or, at best, a great side-story.

I just found that there are too many characters in this story to gain a sense of appreciation for Deadman. I think that’s the issue with this book. Deadman isn’t enough of a lead to carry his own book and the presence of all the other heavyweights in the story (Dr. Fate, The Spectre, Zatanna) just makes this a disappointing read., given my expectations of the writer/artist and the established nature of the character


Marvel Comics

Dr. Strange: Damnation #3

I actually didn’t think I would enjoy this story in the beginning, but I have to pleasantly admit that I was wrong. I think I’ve always had an issue with Mephisto, given that the former governing morales of the Judeo-Christian outlook of the 1960’s in which Mephisto was created have been replaced with more modern perspectives.

Yeah, Mephisto is the devil. Well, not THE devil we know from lore, because that would just be pure Satanism. But modern audiences now relegate Mephisto to just the ruler of another dimension that seeks to unnerve humanity by appearing as a quasi-religious figure.

Yeah – that’s a better way of looking at it.

However, if there was one place where the devil could reign supreme, it would surely be within the realm of everyone’s acceptance that Las Vegas would be the place. I just have a problem that the entire contingent of the Avengers would be so easily taken – including Dr. Strange, as we saw last issue. That leaves his manservant, Wong, Iron Fist and Ghost Rider – oh, and the ghost of an intelligent and talking Bassett hound to take the fight.

We expect our friends, regardless of their situation to take up our fights. It’s just a commonly held belief that your friends are with you. I think, despite its inherent weirdness, that’s the thing that keeps me glued to this book. Literally, Stephen Strange’s friends will go to Hell and back for him. I think I can count on one hand the number of friends who would do that for me, and I can sadly think about those who I thought would.

This story appeals to me. I don’t know how Donny Cates and Nick Spencer came up with it, but I am learning that Cates just loves to have fun with his books. Still, it would be fun to sit in his study and just observe his process in action.

That would probably be a bit weird for him though.

Weapon H #1

This is a bit hackneyed and exploitative. Despite the fact that they have one of the Hulk’s best contemporary writers on the job – Greg Pak – and Cory Smith’s art is out of this world, it’s the idea that fails to live up to what an audience would want. The combination of a character that has the powers of Wolverine and the Hulk seems a bit too much and to be honest, too much to expect.

The storytelling is fine, the art is fine – the idea is not.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #25

I’m not a Poe Dameron fan – in fact, after the last Star Wars film, he seems to be too much of a flawed character to want to read anything about him.

But in this book, I have to confess that Charles Soule writes this character that defies my expectation of him. In fact, Soule turns this story into a redemptive one in which we see the way Dameron should have been portrayed in the film. I get that the character was supposed to be impetuous and impulsive, but at the same time, he also has to be successful. A hero is not only measured by his expectations but also by his deeds.

In this book, Dameron measures up. Soule did right by this story and it was actually a fun one to read.

Star Wars #45

Kieron Gillen knows Star Wars and he knows these characters. I don’t think that I’ve ever read a book by him about this franchise that I couldn’t accept. I know I’ve loved most of them but in all honesty, he and Jason Aaron rank at the top of the best writers Marvel has assigned to this book.

This is Part Two of “Mutiny at Mon Cala” and Gillen knows how to display his characters. When Red Squadron is reunited, it’s time for a drink, but not for Luke Skywalker. His drink of choice? Milk. How perfect is that? It’s an excellent representation of these favourite characters and Gillen is the man who knows how to write them.

I really love Salvador Larroca’s art as well. Crisp, clear and the lines are perfect. Not to mention the expressions he manages with these characters. The realization is amazing and this would be an artist at a convention that I would definitely jump at the chance form whom to commission original art. That would be a memory, for sure.

X-Men Gold #20

Again … Marc Guggenheim is another writer who we can expect great things from. Though most of the X-Men Gold team are incarcerated in a federal prison, their combat skills haven’t deserted them. It’s a good reminder to the fans that Kitty Pryde has not only been taught how to fight by Wolverine himself but remember that mini-series when she was kidnapped and trained as a ninja? Uh-huh, well, Guggenheim also reminds us as Storm, Kitty and Rachel square off against the dominant inmates who are just itching to take a chunk out of their hides.

It’s a great prison scene, but Guggenheim reminds us of these classic moments when the X-Men were at the top of their game. It’s a good story that lives up to all those wonderful story elements from the past. I am loving reading this book.

Image Comics

Kick-Ass #2

The first Kick-Ass was a unique concept. The idea of an everyday joe who wanted to experience the thrill of vigilante justice. Though he got more than he bargained for, reality often doesn’t measure up to comic book fantasies, as we all know. Sure enough, when a hero’s super power becomes the steel plate in his head, then that becomes a stark reminder to the rest of us that heroes aren’t necessarily made by choice but by circumstances.

When issue #1 of the Kick-Ass relaunch came out last month I thought it was just going to be a re-hashed version of the first Kick-Ass. I was wrong.

Patience Lee, the new incarnation of the everyman character, has a bit more of an edge to her. First, she’s an struggling mother searching for any way to provide for her family in the wake of her deadbeat husband abandoning her and their kids. Not to mention she’s a veteran of combat in the Middle East and is a martial arts expert. There’s already a lot more to this Kick-Ass than the previous one.

However, this Kick-Ass’s motivations are also not what I expected. In fact, they initially dispelled the myth of the super-hero even more, which is more surprising given that this character is a combat-tested veteran with the ability to take out four fully-armed thugs. Yet with this ability, she starts out just fighting to provide for her family. It defied my expectations of a super-hero but completely fulfills my understanding of a mother – a fighting mother. In many species, it’s the female with offspring facing a threat who’s the deadliest and, sure enough, Millar gives us a character who lives up to that concept.

This week’s issue #2, however, shows us that a moral conscience is beginning to tug at Patience, and we wonder if this may be the true beginning of her origin as a superhero. There’s rousing action, drama and a visceral sense of agreement that Patience is given a reason to become a “real” hero.

I’ve been pleased to see John Romita Jr. reprising his art talents on this franchise given that he was the original artist for the first Kick-Ass. It only seems right that he and Mark Millar should be pairing together to bring us this new rendition of a much loved character.

I’m declaring this the Pick of the Week. I know that if my kids’ welfare was at stake, I’d beg, borrow or steal to provide for them. In fact, there was a time when we were hard-pressed to make sure my eldest received the best medical care she could, and I had to place myself in an extended harsh situation to make sure I was able to bring home a paycheck.

Mark Millar is a visceralist, and as a fellow Scot I can relate to that.

Expect me next week.

Pick of the Week: Kick-Ass #2

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.