Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 04/11/2018

Any cause worth fighting for is worth reading about. Sometimes you have a cause – a belief in something bigger than yourself. It’s worth a battle even when people tell you to lay down. I’m about causes and about fighting. So that’s my take for this week’s review list. There may be only a few titles this time around, but it doesn’t make the struggle any less exciting to see what’s at stake. So let’s get to the list.

DC Comics

Wonder Woman #44

Wonder Woman against Darkseid. There’s no holding back on this story.

This entire issue a great, big fight scene and it’s impressive. Great action, lots of passion and a whole lot of revenge. Darkseid is the ultimate evil in the DC Universe and the fact that Wonder Woman can go toe-to-toe with him says something about how powerful she has become.

She’s always been a warrior, but now that she has the power of the entire Greek Pantheon absorbed within her, it’s hard to imagine exactly what could stop her.

However, Darkseid is … right?

James Robinson has an enormous task here, Herculean, you may say. He has to come up with a nemesis that’s capable of stopping Wonder Woman. It’s no surprise that he relies on the wielder of the Omega Beams himself to this end, but where do you go from here?

Great fight scene, excellent reasons for a battle, but it’s going to be hard to top this in future issues. I can’t see the Cheetah going up against Wonder Woman any more, unless she goes on some magical steroid regimen or something.

The Immortal Men #1

I don’t think I understand the reason for the fight in this book. In the attempt to introduce a new super-team, we not only don’t know enough about them to get invested in the story, but the main character is also too vague for me to gain any significant interest.

We’ve got a hero of great destiny, hunted by two groups; one is to destroy the hero – and eventually the world. The other group is searching for this hero, presumably for him to add to their number and save the world. It’s a pretty simple premise. But we don’t really get a lot of information about why we should be invested in this new super-group and their cause, whatever it may be.

Jim Lee, James Tynion IV and Ryan Benjamin all share credit in the storytelling in this book and I have to say, for such a collection of super-talents, I really wasn’t overwhelmed by it.

Image Comics

The Dead Hand #1

Now this is a story that arouses my curiousity. In the wake of the collapsing Soviet Union, the United States sends in a covert operative, trained in all forms of combat and with the mindset of being a super-hero for the democratic way of life … and he finds out it’s all been a lie.

How do you fight a lie?

With another lie, of course.

I’m positively intrigued by this book. The set-up is long and we aren’t given a great deal of information towards the latter half of the book, but it’s clear that there’s a political statement present. As someone who grew up in the Cold War years, I’m fascinated by any story set in this era. However, I’m also wary of the possibility that I’ve seen it before.

Stephen Mooney’s art is fantastic and I’m certainly enjoying it but at the same time I’m hoping that Kyle Higgins is going to show me something new.

IDW Publishing

Star Trek New Visions #21

My favourite franchise by my favourite comic creator – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Most importantly, it features Commander Kor, my second favourite Klingon warrior.

The Klingons are a hotly controversial topic in Star Trek: Discovery. Their physical changes have gone against years of established Klingon canon but with this story, Byrne brings us back to the time of the Klingons’ original physiognomy. John Colicos’s original Kor was an awesome Klingon, but to me, Michael Ansara’s Kang will always be my ultimate Klingon. Still, these are the templates that established these antagonists of Klingon lore.

However, what’s really interesting in this book, he gives Kor slight forehead ridges.

It’s always a fight to maintain an established canon, but Byrne does an incredible job of keeping a happy balance between the two eras of TOS and TNG. It’s also a great story dynamic, clearly based off the 1958 film, “The Defiant Ones”.

It’s funny, it’s exciting, but most importantly, it’s Trek. Whatever its incarnation, I love it.

Marvel Comics

Captain America #700

When it comes to the good fight, there’s no other super-hero you can think of who comes close to never giving up than Captain America. Ideal-wise, I want to love Captain America because of the values he represents, but in no way do I consider these exclusively American.

I can’t say that Issue #700 is a bit of a let-down. To be sure, it maintains the never-say-die spirit of Captain America, but it’s too quickly paced for the message to sink in and for it to be an unpredictable story. I knew where it heading as soon as the prospect to send Cap back to 2018 from the near future of 2025 appeared.

Sad, but for the 700th issue, I was expecting more.

Domino #1

Domino is a minor character but Simone’s status as a talented and successful writer is sure to elevate the character to new heights.

I don’t think anyone can be disappointed with Gail Simone. When it comes to writing strong female leads, she is the best, hands down. Not only is she the definitive voice when it comes to describing warrior women, but she also has a sense of humour that makes her characters fun as well as compelling.

I particularly enjoyed the moment with Domino’s ex-boyfriends gathered in the back corner of the party. That’s a moment of real humour that also validates this character’s history.

The combat sequences are great and the way that Simone describes Domino’s luck power is a very entertaining interpretation and opens the door for more potential stories to develop in the future.

Gail also deftly weaves between humour and combat using the relationships between the characters as a medium. Domino’s friendship with Inez is the type you want with you in a fight – but, also when you’re feeling down. If you can’t count on your friends in a fight, then are they really your friends?

I like her style of transition. Simone can move from one character dynamic to another as easily as breathing.

Pick the book up. It’s a chance for marvel fans to re-familiarize themselves with this warrior character but it’s also another chance to enjoy some unique Simone storytelling.

Doctor Strange #388

Part three of ” Bleeding Neon” and back in Las Vegas-turned-Hell, Stephen Strange not only fights for his soul but also for those of his friends who have come to rescue him and the people of Vegas as well.

But this is a real trip – not only does Doctor Strange have to contend with the illusionary prison of being trapped in Mephisto’s new realm, but he can’t trust his own senses.

I like that Donny Cates recognizes that Strange’s own lack of confidence and sense of guilt is affecting his ability to fight more than any sense of power loss or other magical weakness. It’s about the way that a fighter perceives himself in combat – the confidence he needs to have before going into a battle that makes the fight. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

Old Man Logan #38

Wolverine’s usual fighting style is to get in close, take as much damage as possible, trusting his healing factor to save him and then do as much damage as possible. However, this tactic doesn’t work for Old Man Logan. His healing factor is barely functioning, but that doesn’t make him less of a fighter.

Concede the battle to win the war is the operative phrase in this comic though. Sometimes the best fighters know when to quit, regroup and recoup their losses so that they can fight again. It doesn’t mean the fight is done – just on hold.

Great book and a fantastic resolution of this arc by Ed Brisson. Seeing the Kingpin skirt around the shadows of the law makes for an entertaining read but seeing Logan rely more on his years of experience than his waning powers makes it even more.

Darth Vader #14

I’ve always been curious about the battles on Mon Cala. Now we get to learn how the aquatic races of that planet managed to defend themselves in the light of the Imperial occupation of their planet. It’s a fascinating story and something that has only been alluded to in Star Wars canon. After all, I remember Admiral Ackbar being a slave to Grand Moff Tarkin, but this story really gets into it.

Remember: the Mon Calamari are an aquatic species. Their above-ocean cities are simply courtesies to guests. On the advice of the remaining Jedi that Vader has to hunt down, they destroy their cities, securing the majority of their civilization underwater.

Darth Vader – my favourite villain. It’s going to be interesting to see how Charles Soule manages to make him more villainous surrounded by water and I can’t wait to see how this story continues!

Star Wars: Thrawn #3

The there are those who fight with their minds. Thrawn is a warrior who can strategize, predict, deduct and Brainiac his way into winning a fight.

Wait – that was a DC reference to a Marvel comic. Sorry.

But, in the racially intolerant Empire, the alien Thrawn is rising to achieve great power and status. This is the story of his rise to power. His ability to perceive tactical advantage and think strategically makes him such a compelling character. Every scrap of dialogue makes this comic a meal and every nuance of Thrawn’s story makes this comic something like reading Sun Tzu.

This is definitely one of the most engaging titles to date. I hope it also means that Thrawn is now considered canon, given his Marvel legitimacy.

Even the scene where Thrawn observes a martial arts master practising his art and defeats him is one to learn from. After the bout, he bows respectfully and thanks the master for his instruction. That respect is returned and not only have we learned that Thrawn can handle himself physically, but the way in which he goes about obtaining knowledge – even the respect – is carefully delivered.

Thrawn’s posture is rigid and controlled – expertly drawn by Luke Ross who clearly has this character dead to rights. His body language and mannerisms are carefully expressed and this is an artist who clearly has the right interpretation of Thrawn and the other characters in this story.

But Jody Houser has his finger on the pulse of this character as well. Houser takes the spotlight off Thrawn in this issue and looks at the history of Thrawn, Arihnda Pryce – the former owner of a Doonium mine on the planet Lothal. When the Empire takes control of her operation, she learns very quickly how to accumulate her own power, assemble allies and Thrawn is one of those she cultivates – and from whom he also learns.

That’s the attraction to Thrawn’s character: he’s the ultimate gamer. It’s not just about what he can do, it’s about what knows he needs to learn and he becomes a better fighter. Knowledge of his enemy’s weakness is one thing, but knowledge and improvement in his own flaws is another. Thrawn just doesn’t rise to power – he grows stronger by conquering his weaknesses.

This is the Pick of the Week. It’s about the strategic fight. Knowing your enemy but most importantly, knowing your own capabilities and employing your tactical advantages optimally to ensure your success. As someone who doesn’t have that capacity, but respects those who do, this is a fascinating read that I think a lot of other readers will also enjoy.

Fight the good fight – until next week.

Pick of the Week:  Star Wars: Thrawn #3

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.