The theme this week is hopeless battles and why we fight them.
There’s a lot of reasons, and sure enough, they come up in this week’s selection of titles. I’ve got my own thoughts on the subject, but let’s get to them at the end of the list.
Star Trek TNG: Through the Mirror #2
We know the Terran Empire is a lost cause. That was Gene Roddenberry’s whole point when the story was first introduced. As a comparative, it’s a lesson. But as a life lesson, it’s golden. When people are unkind, unforgiving and selfish, eventually they will come to a place where their own inconsiderate unkindness will catch up on them.
Definitely a losing battle, but there’s something about Mirror Universe Picard that sees a fierce loyalty in preserving the Empire married with an over-active sense of motivated self-interest. Picard will save the Empire, but it’s all for him.
Also – the art. J.K. Woodward provides his painted glory for the second half of the book. It’s divine. The problem is: this is a weekly book and there’s no way on God’s green Earth that Woodward can paint that fast. |So the first half is provided by Chris Johnson. As I’m a devoted fan of Woodward’s work, it’s hard for me to compare the two.
Still, it’s completely fascinating in a totally twisted sense. And, oh my God … it’s the story I’ve always wanted to see in The Next Generation. Scott and David Tipton have created this amazing story and it’s just such a thrill to experience the perspective they’ve created for me and all of the other fans of the Mirror Universe stories that are just waiting to be told.
Batman: White Knight #8
The Joker’s insanity is as much a part of his legend as it is his character. There’s no way it can ever be done away with. It’s eternal and can’t be erased.
I liked the idea of this series when it first came out, but around issue #4, I felt there were too many moving parts that distracted away from the main idea of the Joker and Batman’s role reversal. Eight issues felt too long and the ramifications of this story – are they to be considered canon now?
Without spoiling it for anyone, Scott Murphy has made some drastic changes to the story of the Batman, that, as a fan, I’m not sure I’m happy with. As a writer, I can see the changes that other writers will have to deal with – or not, if this is simply an “Otherworlds” story. If it isn’t canon, then I think I can accept the story a lot more easily, but if not and it’s going to hold water in the DC Universe, then it doesn’t work for me.
Yeah … the feels are ripe in this issue. I feel for the kids who’s trying to do her best, though the world is set against her. I have a soft spot for the underdog in any story because I completely empathize with this character. Who hasn’t felt like they were “the little guy” in their life? I think Rose taps deeply into that emotion and Meredith Finch needs to be lauded for her ability to write a story that completely accomplishes that feeling for the reader.
Fantasy is the soul of storytelling. They make up the bulk of classic tales and exist in a particular mode all their own. But stories about trying to overcome overwhelming odds are definitely a plus for me.
Ig Guara is a startling young talent. He’s deserving of any accolades that find their way to him.
Southern Bastards #20
I’m fascinated by this story: the fact that the happiness of an entire small town in the backwoods, deep South is dependant upon if a high school football team wins or loses. The power that a ruthless and vindictive football coach can muster over this town s a truly frightening but captivating story.
Jason Aaron is a quiet guy when you meet him. He’s thoughtful, introspective and while a really nice guy, I find it hard to reconcile this quiet, pleasant dude with the lifestyle that he clearly knows way too much about. Still, practical experience and first-hand knowledge make for the most realistic stories.
Still, the build-up to the resolution of this particular episode didn’t happen the way I wanted. I know – not my story, but it was somewhat less cathartic than I thought it would be. And Coach Boss still goes on to influence the town, which means there’s more to this story to read.
Mutants can’t win. Period. But they have solace and take strength in the company of others in their number. Sometimes the outcome of the battle doesn’t matter as along as you can walk away from it and be with friends at the end of the day.
I love Greg Land’s cover on this book!
Gail Simone is one hell of a rich writer. The measure of a good comic writer is the amount of meaningful dialogue and exposition. It makes for a thicker read, but you get a meatier story and the 22 pages seems to last longer. That’s how you know you’re getting a good story written by someone who knows her craft.
Simone’s Domino is different. It’s a more intimate approach to the character than we’ve seen before. In previous incarnations, with other writers, Domino was always a second banana. She had minimal dialogue, was used to soak up damage and served as the token tough girl on the team.
Gail is writing Domino like she’s a friend. She uses her name (Neena) more often; she hangs out with friends and has one hell of a social network. But Simone also gives us greater insight into the makeup of her special powers and makes her far more vulnerable than I would expect from a hard-bitten merc like Domino.
The question is: why? What’s the reason for this take on this character? I mean, when I read this, it’s like Domino is almost a friend.
Huh … maybe Gail and I can talk about that in greater detail. But there’s no doubt that whatever the reason, you get more than your money’s worth when you read this story.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #16
“Burning Seas, Part IV” and the war on Mon Cala is in full swing. I’ve always been curious about exploring this historical part of Star Wars.
While we see how brilliant the Mon Calamari are in their defence of their homeworld, we also know form a canonical perspective that it is for naught. Eventually the Empire will occupy the planet, but it’s extremely entertaining to see how the battles happen.
The real story, of course, is how Charles Soule manages to work Darth Vader’s continued hunt of left-over Jedi into the fabric of the story. As Jedi Master Ferren Barr has been advising the Mon Cala king, as the net closes, Master Barr knows that he must leave this planet in order to help others against the Empire. But this builds up the hapless plight of the Rebellion and adds layers of stories to the struggle, that, if you are like me, made the original trilogy so good.
Wonderful issue – so much fun.
Star Wars: Thrawn #4
My favourite Marvel Star Wars title so far. Thrawn’s rise to power is not only respectful of one of the most enigmatic characters to come out of ancillary media (to become canon) but is clearly enjoyable for those who secretly subscribe to the Imperial way of rule. You know, those people who hate the idea of fighting a hopeless battle? Still, we won’t judge.
After all, Thrawn IS military excellence incarnate. I want him to succeed, despite the side he is on. Also, remember: he is a non-human and the Empire tends to value human over alien members of the Imperium. So, he already has a disadvantage, but he manages to overcome it through dispassionate calculation and firm attention to detail. Now those are true super-powers.
Jody Houser – you are my hero.
New Mutants: Dead Souls #3
I remember this team as the champions of lost causes. They were kids, finding their way and trying to make sense of their powers and growing up. Most of their battles were either draws or losses, but they learned something in the process.
That vibe doesn’t exist any more as they’ve all grown up and I think that’s what was missing from the first two issues.
However, there definitely is a stronger sense of team in this issue. The story is getting stronger and I didn’t get that vibe the last time I read this book. We have to remember that there was a huge bond amongst these mutants and that should be reflected in their history together. As the team grew to include other members in its roster, that bond stretched. But I think this book would have seen more nostalgic success if the original roster had been brought back together in their new adult personas.
Adam Gorham is the artist for this book. A really decent guy and a talented penciller (I actually have one of his pieces of my favourite New Mutant, Magick), I’m really glad to see his work on this title.
I want this title to continue. I think these are characters that need more time in the Marvel Universe. Imagine the dynamics between Shan, Bobby, Sam, Rahne and Dani as grown-ups? Illyana is probably my favourite character and is indispensable, but the heyday of the new Mutants was the Cypher and Warlock era too. We need all these characters back to replace the resonance. Making them paranormal investigators doesn’t celebrate that history. It’s a cool angle, but I think it shouldn’t be the main focus. Let ‘em train the next generation while doing this.
Old Man Logan #39
Like I said above, Mutants can never win. Racism and bigotry seem to be permanent characteristics of the human species. Ed Brisson makes this point so strongly in this story. Old Man Logan has arrived in the 616-present universe from an alternate future that has seen the logical development of these traits. The world is a wasteland, governed by fear and selfishness.
So, as Logan has to deal with a failing healing factor and re-establishing bonds with people he knew to be dead and gone, he also has to try to reintegrate himself into this world. His body is failing and it’s too emotionally difficult to bond with people he’d seen die. So Logan’s fighting a no-win scenario every day he continues to exist in this reality.
But how can he not?
Suffering from adamantium poisoning, the loss of one set of his claws, a permanently blinded eye and an astronomically high white blood cell count that to my untrained eye seems super-cancerous, how can this guy continue? It’s painful to be around his friends, but at the same time, he can’t abandon them.
Particularly the kids. Logan has a soft spot for the kids at Xavier’s and the storyline that Brisson has prepared for us is definitely a compelling one that makes me want to cheer on this aged hero. It’s a story that makes you ask yourself if you’d have the guts to keep up the fight.
I always feel like I’m fighting a hopeless battle. I’m sure a lot of you out there do too. Sometimes they’re unavoidable and the only thing you can do is roll up your sleeves, spit into your hands and look trouble in the eye and ask: “who’s first?”
Because it’s not about the winning or the losing – it’s about having the guts to keep on fighting. Even when the odds are hopelessly stacked against you, to lay down means to die, and I don’t have a death wish.
I’ve had examples in my life, but I learned that myself. I don’t give up.
That’s why Ed Brisson needs to get recognized as being the writer of the comic of the week, Old Man Logan #39. Ibraim Roberson’s art wonderfully compliments the story, we see Logan as barely healing, half-blind and struggling to remain conscious most of the time. Roberson does a good job of displaying Logan’s decrepit state of being.
Brisson completely captures Logan’s fighting spirit. Though that sounds a bit trite, there’s no way that Brisson can ever pull Logan out of this condition. He’s dead on his feet, but in true Wolverine fashion, if he’s still standing, he’s still fighting.
That’s the way I want to go down – still fighting.
Until next week, keep up the good fight.