Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 03/31/2021

If you’ve ever gone through part of your day and wondered what’s missing today, then you’re not alone. I think we’ve all experienced that sort of absence at some point in our lives. Absences open the door for all sorts of stories: lost things to find, creating friendships or to bring a sense of what’s familiar. Whatever is missing, I bet it can be found in some of the comics we’re looking at this week.

Let’s get to the list.

Image Comics

Shadecraft #1

(Joe Henderson, Lee Garbet, Antonio Fabela, Simon Bowland)

Here’s the thing about this book – I had no idea that I could get so attached to archtype characters so fast. I mean, I get teen-age angst and the idea that kids move in social circles and that high school and acceptance by your peers is not only absent but can also be incredibly awkward. But there is definitely something about this story that compelled me to keep reading.

I was always the kid on the outside, so perhaps that makes me particularly sensitive to the lead character of the impulsive Zadie who tries to make sense of the world as her brother lies dormant in a coma.

Or so she thinks.

There is a darker (no shadow pun intended here) implication when we consider, Zadie’s social awkwardness aside, how she tries to reconcile the weird interactions she has had with shadows.

I find, sometimes, that Image Comics have a delayed effect in their first issues. We don’t get the full effect of their major issue until about the fourth issue. Delaying it that long has the unexpected ramification of losing readers to that point who can sustain the longevity of the story.

But there has to be more in the first issue that will keep them coming back for more.

Of course, there is a great deal to keep readers coming back for more in this initial book. After all, it isn’t often that a sister of a comatose sibling discovers there is some sort of link to her brother via shadows. Of course, I can’t say more, not just for fear of revealing more, but because I also don’t know the full story yet either, but I think that if Image revealed more information in their lesser-known books they could perhaps increase circulation amongst the readership?

Like I said: not an expert. But I hope that this is more information revealed in this intriguing book because I definitely want to learn more about “Crazy Zadie” and her comatose brother. I mean, that’s absence just waiting to be filled there!

Marvel Comics

X-Men #19

(Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar)

The absence of the reconnaissance team sent in to infiltrate the Vault is felt most keenly. Being away for over fifty years due to the temporal variance the Vault exists within not only allows Jonathan Hickman and Mahmud Asrar to explore a theme of loss and isolation but also demonstrate how far Hickman will go to create the most extreme type of team possible for this former flagship title.

The Krakoa Era of mutants essentially means immortality for the X-Men. While the team of Wolverine (formerly X-23), Darwin and Synch essentially engage on a suicide mission to discover what the Children of the Vault have in plan for the future of Mutantkind. Synch tells the story of the fifty years the team spends in isolation to determine the plans of the Vault, only to discover that they have inadvertently given the Vault the means of the mutants’ destruction.

Rather than give the story away, I can’t help but feel that there’s a lot missing from the X-Men that I’m used to. Even though I’ve followed this title for over thirty years, a lot of the themes of the X-Men I’m used to seem to be either absent or not palatable to the modern world. They are outsiders and by definition have lost their status as heroes to the rest of the world. But, when I read them in my youth, they were still able to save the world, despite their status. I think this comic needs to return to that.

In this iteration, they are consciously following their directives to secure the fate of their species, but I think heroes have to protect the world. I know this is perhaps a simplistic view of comic book heroes, but in this day and age, the world needs more of that. Quite frankly, the more I read about people thinking more about the world than themselves, well, shouldn’t that be the focus of a superhero comic?

Like I said, it’s about missing something and I’m missing the X-Men I grew up with, but I know that’s an impossibility to return to – still, it saddens me.

The Union #4

(Paul Grist, Andrea Di Vito, Le Beau Underwood, Nolan Woodard, VC’s Travis Lanham)

Where has this comic been in the last few years of my life? I can’t believe that I have missed this for the past four episodes. You see, the thing I like about this book is that it immediately takes me back to not only the traditional super-hero team origin issues, but these are either new or obscure characters that readers can experience a degree of idolatry.

I love team books. Also, I love nationalistic team books. When John Byrne came up with Alpha Flight back in the 80’s about a Canadian Superhero team, I was completely over the moon and I distinctly remember reading Issue #8 on the way to school when I was getting a ride. It was the greatest comic and I couldn’t stop talking about the nationalist references or the spin-off connections to The X-Men.

I will unabashedly state my own allegiance to Queen and Country, and living in Canada, I still get to do that. Why? Because I respect traditional institutions and it is so easy to dismiss the British Monarchy in this day and age because they don’t have a publicity apparatus the size of most global PR companies. Their own PR consists of a few staffers who don’t have the influence of the megalithic corporations that exist today. The result? The Monarchy can’t compete.

Of course, sometimes they don’t really do a lot to help themselves either. But, that’s what good PR does – either prevent you from shooting your foot or do a lot of damage control afterwards.

But, that aside, there is still a lot of historical respect to the type of jingoism this type of a comic can elicit. World War Two was probably Great Britain’s last gasp and thankfully, it sufficed. But the heroism of the people of that age who protected an island nation for almost two years before anyone else came to their aid that makes British Heroes and a book about British heroes naturally appealing.

Actually, given that a great amount of heroic fiction came out of Britain prior to World War Two, this is a book that actually fills a vacant spot in my own growing pantheon of superheroes and to be quite frank – I have missed a dyed-in-the-wool traditional superhero team to confront a master super villain like Dr. Croc! It just feels so reassuring and welcome.

We want our heroes outnumbered, out-gunned and facing overwhelming ideals. I mean, if you have generous patrons or an overwhelming state of shock to realize hat a good portion of the population of that gym has met their makes then you have to figure out what do to do is right. No condescension is necessary when people know what the right action is. This has always irritated me, given that leaders of these nations supposedly know how to behave appropriately.

It’s good to be reminded from time to time.

I also love Andrea Di Vito’s pencil work on this book. Clean lines – great definition. Certainly a talent.

The Union #4 is the pick of the week for this week. Reading this book feels like I’ve been missing something from my reading list and that’s a great feeling.

See you next week.

Pick of the Week: The Union #4

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.