Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 04/04/2018

It’s the little details in life that make for a good day.

I mean it. It’s a hard question for some people who feel overwhelmed by the dullness of routine and have lost a sense of excitement because of the predictable nature of their day. These are real issues for people who wake up in the morning and experience a sense of ennui at this prospect. How can anyone be excited when they know exactly what is going to happen from when they wake up ‘til when they go to bed in the evening?

For me, it’s about the little things. I have to write a list and see what I can check off by the end of the workday. In the course of these events, there is enough variety to keep me going and to give me a sense of accomplishment to look forward to. If not, then the day feels wasted and that’s just a real kick in the hoo-hoos, isn’t it? Accomplishing a variety of a little things in sequence – that’s my secret.

It’s the little things that matter in life. I’m looking for the details that make life more enjoyable for this week, so let’s get to the list with that in mind.

Image Comics

Analog #1

Yeah … too much connectivity has been a bugaboo with some folks I know. There has to be a critical point when all the information stored in the cloud, aka collection of data servers in the world, has got to burst and become common knowledge. But real life doesn’t matter – life goes on. Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan imagine this in their story about secrets getting out and now, paper and personal contact are the only way to make a secret secure in this post info-apocalypse world.

I have to say, I was really intrigued by the story. It’s a great concept and it’s a real-world issue to contemplate. With all the whistle-blowers, social media manipulation and international cyber-warfare that’s hitting the news these days, it’s a very timely idea to think about.

There’s a lot of detail in espionage and secrecy and this story is a throwback to when international couriers were the real operatives back “in the day”. But it’s a futuristic concept and I love the juxtaposition – especially when a bartender throws some kid out because he’s wearing networked wearable tech.

Great idea and I look forward to seeing how this story develops.

IDW Comics

IDW has had some serious losses in the last little while. Chris Ryall steps down, John Byrne announces the end of his fantastic Star Trek photo-novel series and now, IDW Group Editor, Sarah Gaydos is leaving to join Oni Press. It makes me seriously worry about the future of Star Trek comics at IDW. I hope they can continue to hold the license. In fact, I’m curious to know what CBS is thinking at this time.

Star Trek Discovery Annual #1

A glorious and detailed explanation for the mycelial network and the research that Lt. Stamets underwent in order to bring about the USS Discovery’s unique system of propulsion.

It’s the scientific detail that really gets my interest in this book. As this series is about looking at back-story, Discovery writer Kirsten Beyer and IDW’s Mike Johnson team up to present a thoroughly detailed look into not just the stages of research that brought this method of travel to creation, but they also do a pretty damn good job of explaining things like why a cadet is on board, the relationship between Stamets and Dr. Culber and the nature of Stamets’ partnership with the barely known research fellow, Justin Straal.

It’s a rich book that looks to explain, and dare I say it, justify a lot of the material that was presented to long-time Star Trek fans, who a good portion of them got what they were weren’t expecting.

Johnson and Beyer do an incredible job of explaining the science and all sorts of detailed bric-a-brac to their comic audience. Their adherence to scientific theory is astoundingly precise, and that’s what makes it more enjoyable for Star Trek Discovery fans to appreciate and easier for new-time fans to understand.

Demi-God #1

There is so much that I can’t get behind with this comic that it defies a detailed list of cardinal sins.

First – don’t try to re-work an over-used mythological motif like Hercules. It’s been done so many times before and honestly, Marvel has it. It’s theirs – leave it with them.

Second: the “zero to hero” angle is simply a repeat of a Disney film that we all know too well. Though I can get the fan-boy idea of becoming a super-hero (I mean, who hasn’t?), I think that’s a story motif that today’s reading audience can’t readily accept. I mean, it’s entertaining, but it’s not compelling.

Still, it got published, so clearly, I’m missing out on a few details here. Maybe there’s hope for me?

Sorry, Ron Marz

Marvel Comics

Black Bolt #12

This is the end of this book. I’m sad. I don’t want it to end.

Black Bolt has got to be one of the most difficult characters to not only write but develop. After all, he’s a king and that adds a huge dimension of details to keep in place.

But this one was a true tear-jerker. Loaded with second chances and reconciliation, this is the way I’d like this series to end. It’s not good-bye to this character; in fact, I see the end of this comic as a new beginning for these characters. Saladin Ahmed has given us a great development for this absentee husband, flawed father and dishonoured king. He has regained his family and learned about people – this makes him a better man for the next time he shows up. There are a lot of issues that Ahmed has managed to resolve for Black Bolt and he’s kept them together in a very conscientious manner.

If Marvel decides to rebirth this character in another series, I hope they put Ahmed on the book.

Iron Fist #79

A martial artist has to be very precise in the execution of his art and Danny Rand is no different. When you think of the intricacies of movement, timing, location and focus, Iron Fist is a walking array of precision.

A tie-in to the Damnation event, Iron Fist discovers his predecessor, Orson Randall in the transformed Las Vegas, fighting in the Octagon for a chance at redemption from Hell. The trick is: he has to fight 24 fights in 24 hours in order to regain his soul and get out of the infernal realm. But it’s a deal with details that weigh in the Devil’s favour.

Heh – that Mephisto. Contractual details, counter-proposals and everything. Precision meets precision in this great Ed Brisson story of knowing the value of things. One of the most important principles in your life is your friend. Regardless of the agreements made, that one detail stands out above them all.

I liked this story: even in Hell, you should still know where you stand with your friends.

Marvel Two-In-One #5

While Ryan Stegman’s cover is absolutely amazing – Chip Zdarsky scares me.

How can anyone have so much fun writing a story while paying special care and attention to the details and nuances that have been established over the fifty years of the Fantastic Four’s existence? Continuity is so important in dealing with a property like the FF. Fans have expectations about their fandom and It’ important to pay attention to those details while at the same time bringing a new story to bear.

That’s why Zdarsky scares me. In this issue, it’s an effortless exercise. Not only does he have the nuances of an enraged Thing, but he also has the aspect of a defeated and mentally broken-down Reed Richards. What a wonderful prelude to the announced return of the Fantastic Four! But, the aspect and to all outward appearances, it’s literally like he’s breathing. If fans don’t appreciate his talent in rendering this version of the dimensionally-fractured FF, then what are they reading? This is certainly an issue that I’ve been following in the hopes that the Fantastic Four are due for a return, and sure enough – there it is! Zdarsky definitely has a lot to be credited for in this case!

New Mutants: Dead Souls #2

Speaking with Adam Gorham at Toronto Comic-Con this past March, we talked about his work. In my opinion, treating this like a mini-series is a mistake. With the upcoming movie and the new attention that’s being drawn towards the New Mutants, this needs to be a premiere title again.

I’m just not so sure about the direction of being a paranormal investigation force. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, but there needs to be a new role for this group, and it needs to be without the title of the “New Mutants”. That was good for the eighties, but these kids have grown up. Get a new generation of New Mutants and make it cyclical. Every decade there needs to be a new bunch of kids to apply this title to. Make it a hazing ritual or something, but Rahne Sinclair cannot be a New Mutant any more.

Still, while the title intrigues me. I can’t say that Matthew Rosenberg got it completely to my expectations on this one. I’m normally a Matthew Rosenberg acolyte, but in this case, there were a couple of things that didn’t register on my authenticity meter.

First: why was the Russian scientist not only in the same spot where he should have been for forty years, but he was also the same age?

Second: the transition in page 14 where the super-powered antagonist knocks out Strong Guy (I’m trying to be deliberately vague here so I don’t spoil it) is a little vague. It’s difficult to make out what happened. I had to go back and re-read it to get the sequence clear.

There’s a lot this title has to offer, but it’s the details that I’m concerned about. It’s not a franchise that needs mystery – we all need what this group is capable of. While Ilyana Rasputin might be the right character for a little bit of mystery, it’s also important to remember that she has very close friendships that might be affected by the new direction she seems to be going in.

I’m sticking with it. I want to see which way that Marvel is going to get a fair appraisal of its direction.

Star Wars #46

Hee hee … it’s Star Wars time again and I’m ever-so jazzed to read a title like this. Let’s face it – a franchise like this – can you imagine the overwhelming amount of details that writers like Kieron Killen has to keep in his head in order to placate the legions of Star Wars fan-boys and girls out there? Particularly when this is a story set in between Episode IV and Episode V? Oh my – the continuum experts must be freaking out in an effort to keep all of story matters intact.

When working out an entire operation to kidnap a Grand Moff, it’s imperative to remember that the success of the operation lies within its planning details. This is not only an incredibly engaging story from Keiron Gillen but one to learn from as we see how the operative details of the plot work well within the confines of the auspices of the continuum. But, in all seriousness, it’s the dialogue that represents the personalities of the characters that makes it all worthwhile! Gillen has a knack for realising these characters towards an audience’s expectations but Salvador Larroca has the vision.

Every time one of these issues hits the shelves, I’m so eager to pick it up. Seriously … Star Wars is such a cash cow for this company but it’s the talent like Gillen and Larroca that make me want to pick it up every month. They know their shit.

DC Comics

The Curse of Brimstone #1

I can definitely relate to the protagonist in this story. Overwhelming bills, hard-pressed to make ends meet – I mean, I’m a teacher. C’mon.

But that doesn’t disguise the fact that this is an overworked story motif. I’ve written stories myself about doing deals with the devil and there’s nothing surprisingly entertaining about them. Phillip Tan and Justin Jordan share the art work and the story concept while Justin Jordan gets the tag for the dialogue. While I can’t say the artwork particularly overwhelmed me, the script-work was fairly authentic. I could hear this being spoken in my head.

While the premise is a bit hackneyed, the fact remains that the devil is always the details… Yeah, sorry, couldn’t resist.

Astro City #51

Reliving details of an unpleasant life-experience make for truly heart-rending stories.

Wow .. Brent Anderson. His art is really endearing.

You know, April 1 was my daughter’s cancer diagnosis date. Every April Fool’s Day, we can’t join in the laughter because this is a day filled with bad memories. I can’t forget the trauma, or the five-year battle after that. I get trauma and I totally understand the damage that can be caused by having a clear and detailed memory of the event that traumatized you.

That’s this story, completely.

I can’t say too much more about how I truly feel about this story, as that would spoil it. But Kurt Busiek has a knack for finding the human interest in super-human stories. They tug at that one heart-string that really gets you and they become poignant stories that after you close the book, you lean back in your chair, purse your lips and nod to yourself. It’s a story that connects both reader and writer and, in that moment, you have something in common. That’s a rare feature.

Batman: White Knight #7

Ride of the Batmobiles … but that’s pretty much it. There is such a thing as being over-detailed and this story suffers from it. Sean Murphy tries to cram so much into this mini-series: the Wayne Family’s secret Nazi past, the emergence of a new Joker, the death of Alfred, and the re-emergence of the old Joker – which readers knew had to happen.

While this story captured my fancy in the initial stages, it’s gone on far too long. This is an example of adding too much to the story in the hopes that it will have an impact on the continuity. Batman – giving up his cowl after this? Yeah – I don’t see that happening and it’s one of those over-dramatized telegraphs that will just lead to disappointment.

Batman #44

If there’s a character that knows how to pay attention to the most minute specks of information, it’s this one.

Ironically, the focus of this issue isn’t Batman, but rather Catwoman. Titled “Something Old, Something New …”, I have to say, given Catwoman’s proclivity for “borrowed items”, I kinda had a sense where this was going, leading up to the wedding and all.

… Nothing could prepare me for the subtlety and the emotional impact of the choice of the dress though. This is a detail that matters to all brides – and one that I should be more sensitive to.

Although, full disclaimer: I HATE the wedding shows, can’t be bothered with the nuances and the intricate amount of sensory appreciation that goes into the choice of the wedding dress. I also can’t get the build-up and the angst. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I just don’t get the fascination.

But Tom King does. And why? Because he’s married too.

This taps into what I’ve been saying all along about King’s writing motivation; his modus operandi is all family. I’m married and I get why my wife wanted to choose the dress that would not only make her look to be the most beautiful bride I could imagine but it had to also be an expression of her personality and what she wanted to present to me as the woman who I will love forever.

But think about the nuances of this story. First, Catwoman doesn’t have a mum or a female relative who will take her to a dress-fitting. She breaks in and does it herself. Second, the meaningful glance between her and Alfred is priceless – he’s about as close as family as she and Bruce Wayne will ever have. That was a perfect, perfect element of this story. Finally, the whole retrospective of Batman’s encounters with Catwoman in all her incarnations was more than just a stroll down retro-lane, it was a chance to see how their relationship evolved over the years and the growing romantic tension is palpable. It is a better get-together story than any wedding reception could produce.

But look at Mikel Janin’s work. How perfect is this? Even down to the “cheeky” and nonchalant poses that he manages while Selina is making herself comfortable in the bridal boutique. It’s completely catlike and it’s a real joy to perceive. As someone Twitter put it: “Janin nails it every time.” Yeah, I’m going to steal that line.

I daresay King had to consult his wife on some input for this story. After all, everyone knows that our “better halves” know us better than ourselves. I totally get it.

Which is why, this has to be the Pick of the Week. But really, it has to be King’s wife that gets the credit here. After all, there’s no way that King could have realized the importance of a bride’s wedding dress unless he was married first. Selina Kyle chooses a dress – at the most expensive store she can think of, breaks in and literally steals the dress she wants. How in-line with this character is this choice of action? It’s so perfect (purr-fect) that this is the ONLY way this woman would get her dress.

Also, the trip down memory lane is such a courtship recollection. I remember being at weddings when the stories leading up to the nuptial ceremony were so inappropriate, I am dying to find out how King will write this one. I mean, let’s face it: the wedding itself promises to be such a powerful issue with such a lead-up like this issue.

King knows family. King knows comics. I wish I had his gift to integrate the two together. Perhaps my own family life would flow so smoothly?

In any event, this has got to be a perfect choice for this week’s topic. The seamless integration of comics and relatable life is such a powerful draw for any audience. I want to know how he does it.

Perhaps it’s an ability to see how all the details connect together?

Yeah … that’s gotta be it. Until next week.

Pick of the Week: Batman #44

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.