You ever worry about taking the next step? I do. Some times the next stage of your career, your hobby, your whatever is rationally the obvious thing to do. Yet there are issues like: moving out of your comfort zone, the amount of effort involved, or even just downright anxiety get in the way of our success. Yet, we persist.
That’s what we’re looking at this week. Let’s get to the list.
Star Trek TNG Through the Mirror #4
The story of our TNG Mirror crew encountering their counterparts continues. On the Mirror side, the crew of the ISS Enterprise are uninhibited and resolute in their pursuit of the USS Enterprise for spare parts and as many resources they can get their hands on. On the other side, the crew of the USS Enterprise are not as ruthless and have a greater appreciation for life. Will this slow them down as they come face-to-face with their enemy, equally matched in determination and capability?
Which side deserves to succeed more? It’s one thing to recognize the USS Enterprise crew as our heroes, but we are equally fascinated by their opposite numbers, who we also want to see succeed for some perverse reason.
Carlos Nieto, J.K. Woodward and Scott and David Tipton have provided us with a rapid-fire story that completely matches our expectations of a match-up between the best crew in Starfleet. Do yourself a favour – don’t think about it and just get it.
Star Trek Discovery Succession #2
A little slower than the previous book, but this one has the distinction of being a canonical supplement to the current Star Trek show on the television. Co-written by Mike Johnson and Kirsten Beyer and drawn by Angel Hernandez, it’s definitely worth the wait.
In this book we are told the story of the Mirror Universe Michael Burnham who, adopted and raised by the empress, realizes that she will never sit on the throne. She is not a blood relative and that will keep her from succession.
This comic addresses an omission in the series, namely that we never learned what exactly it was that the other Burnham did to distance herself from Georgiou. This story seeks to fill in the missing information. But, in terms of moving up, this Burnham has no choice. She needs to sit on the throne and take the empire or it means her death from jealous relatives or a disappointed adopted mother who will see her as weak and underserving. Moving forward is actually moving to secure her own survival and that’s a pretty necessary next step.
The Silencer #5
Titled “Exit Strategy”, this is a story about next steps. In this case, a trained veteran mercenary like the Silencer always has a next step. It’s like second nature to her. You don’t walk into a room without knowing the exits; you sit in a corner so you see everyone approaching you and never eat at a place called ‘Mom’s’ – these are the habits turned emergency procedures that someone of the calibre as the Silencer has ingrained into her character.
Sometimes you get played though. It’s impossible to think of next steps when you are trying to figure who lied to you and how you are being taken advantage of. In this case, Honor Guest finds that her weakness isn’t in being able to think of next steps, it’s about where to place her trust. Dan Abnett and Viktor Bogdanovic are the creators on this story. Abnett and John Romita, Jr. came up with the character concept and I have to admit, that it’s proved to be an enjoyable one.
Rich – just rich. When you realize that the last five issues of this gloriously rich science fiction extravaganza have been a massively meticulous plan all along, the surprise is a huge reward. I like that the reader has been lulled into the plan all along.
When it comes down to family. You never know what’s going to happen. Plans go out the window when it comes to those we love. Our better judgement loses its efficacy when those closest to us throw a monkey wrench into the works.
In this case, Tabitha and her mother, Selena (a washed-up reality TV/bounty hunter star) are searching for Tab’s brother, Bubba. They’ve narrowed his location down to one of the many multi-versal dimensions and are ready to apprehend him – if they can keep him safe from the other bounty hunters on his trail.
Rachel Stott’s art is truly a blend of the concrete and the abstract when it comes to interpreting Si Spurrier’s story ideas. I mean, the notion of a placenta-based lifeform is completely mindblowing. It’s a fantastic combination of the original and predictable
And it’s those bonds of family that affect their decisions when it comes down to pushing themselves to get him before the other side does. For a hardcore sci-fi, there’s a lot more emotion and humanity in this book that takes you by surprise. But it’s also about the sense that you know that at some point, all your plans are going to go out the window.
Hit Girl #4
Wow – a joy-kill ride that has lasted four issues. It’s one thing to be shocked by little Mindy and see her as the sidekick to her dad during the first Kick-Ass issues, but this is unadulterated carnage from the perspective of a child with a warped sense of heroic principles reinforced by the memory of her dead father.
It’s the style of bloodthirsty planning in this book that really chills my beans. Can you imagine the degree of psychopathy we are looking at here when a ten-year old could plan a revenge killing with convicted mob executioner for the memory of an innocent kid? I’m stunned and flabbergasted by the scope of brutality in this title.
… and that’s not so much of a bad thing. I mean, there’s a place for a little ultraviolence, here and now, right? There’s skill in portraying violence doled out in measured amounts. When something that looks this chaotically violent is actually lulling you into a hypnotically reptilian state of mind, it’s easy to miss the planning and story behind it. However, when you make that realization that the story was there all along, well, this is the mark of a carefully laid-out tale.
Mark Millar and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz have ignited the fuse and blown this story up right in front of our faces, but the fact that underneath this violence a grieving mother receives a sense of balance for the murder of her son – well, that’s the balm that soothes everything over and slows down the blood-spattered rollercoaster to a slow crawl so that we can catch our breath.
Old Man Logan #40
Gotta protect your family. That’s a next step no-one ever questions. Which is what Ed Brisson presents to us in this story. In this situation, there is no question of what Glob should do. When you have a family, and someone as evil and close-minded as the Purifiers places them at risk, then your issues about personal success go out the window.
I love the fact that Logan can take the time to reassure Glob that he’s not alone and despite his sense of loneliness, that’s a decent thing for Wolvie to do. This shows his age. The great thing about getting older (yes, there are advantages to growing old), is that more than you’d think, you know the right thing to say.
This is a dimension of Wolverine that is refreshingly new. Brisson’s take on this character is speculatively accurate and very entertaining. Loving Ibraim Robertson’s work too; it’s a new discovery for me and one that is well-received. “Glob Loves, Man Kills” is a story that I’ll always have a sweet spot for.
Invincible Iron Man #600
Sometimes, there are too many things to do and not only does that interfere with your direction in the choices we have to make, but it also messes up a story. In this milestone book, Tony not only reboots his own body, comes out of hiding, establishes some crazy future for himself and also manages to resurrect one of his friends. Come on … too much going on to effectively enjoy.
The whole ending to Brian Michael Bendis’s run on this book seems rushed, with aspects of a story that needed time to mature to be properly enjoyed. I just feel that Bendis is throwing the kitchen sink at us in an attempt to create a memorable storyline to go out on, but in the end, it really just has too much happening to effectively get a good appreciation of it all.
I feel bad though. This was supposed to be Bendis’s swan song and it just didn’t do a lot for me. But hey … who am I?
Doctor Strange #390
End of an era for Donny Cates. I’m sure he’s got his own next steps in mind, but this is it for him. He’s done writing and will pass on the story writing to Mark Waid. In his notes at the end of the book, he has a tone of bittersweet resignation that makes it clear that this is one he’ll miss.
I liked the quality of redemption he brought to Stephen Strange. He’s fallible and imperfect and that’s a dimension we’re not used to seeing in the Sorcerer Supreme. We take his word as the end all and be all of matter magic. Cates showed us a character who needs human company and is strengthened by it.
It was an odd story – to be fair. The sequence with Spider-Man talking to a spider seemed out of place and a little whimsical but it’s Cates’s last ride. He’s allowed this indulgence.
Frazer Irving’s art was a new experience for me too. It had somewhat of a chalky texture to it. I’d like to know more of the process involved in its making.
In short, farewell, Cates. We’ll see you in Stephen Strange’s dreams, perhaps?
Star Wars Annual #4
This was a bit of a romp for Cullen Bunn. The events of this story take place before Star Wars #8 – which meant I had to go on a bit of a scavenger hunt to find this issue and re-familiarize myself with its events, but it’s clear that this is a fun story for him to write. It’s a bit of a comedy of errors, actually. Each character has their own agenda as they search for the two missing lightsabers and smuggler extraordinaire, Sana Starros, gets into her own set of troubles as well. The end result is a fast-paced action story with streaks of comedy laced throughout the tale.
There’s no time to think in this story. No next steps – just reaction time as Luke and Sana need to escape the mutual misadventures. Some times it’s just necessary to do, rather than to contemplate.
The combination of art stylings in this book are also of note. We get the work of Ario Anindito, Roland Boschi, and Marc Laming in this story and I was really impressed by how much they complement each other.
An excellent story.
X-Men Gold #28
Marc Guggenheim has my complete fealty. He knows the X-Men, even to the point when he can predict their next steps as much as he could predict a friend’s behaviour. So of course, as any good writer does, he makes a story about it.
Peter Rasputin’s rescue is obviously of paramount importance to the X-Men, but with the impending nuptials ahead, also to Kitty Pryde. But we know they’ll be successful as we can see the advertisements for the wedding issue!
Going into space, borrowing Canadian space technology, seeing members of Alpha Flight again – these are moments from the story that really grabbed my attention. I love how Guggenheim gives each character their own unique spotlight in the story. At least, that’s how it seemed to me.
Still, the teamwork present in this issue is not about thinking or improvising; it’s about knowing your friends so well that you can intuit the next action with the firm knowledge that they have your back, they know you have theirs. I love these relationships because it gives me hope for the future.
Star Wars #48
“Mutiny at Mon Cala” continues. Like the last Star Wars story, there is not a lot of room for meticulous planning. Typically, the Star Warriors’ plans go awry when unforeseen circumstances get in the way.
Leia, Luke and Hand discover that the Mon Cala king is dying. Only his words can sway his people to give their fleet to the Rebellion, and he cannot be moved. Improvisation instead of planning next steps, people.
There are people out there who are gifted with improvisational skills. They flow from one scenario to the next and these are people with innate charm, imagination and adaptability. Except for the charm, I like to think I’m one of these people.
But this only happens when people let you down. In this story, Kieron Gillen shows us what happens when our heroes have a setback that even they can’t adapt to. The level of heroic fantasy in Star Wars is in the epic-sized proportions and along with that goes a willing suspension of disbelief. These characters never lose but only because a near-impossible thing happens.
Not in this case. They planned, they improvised and then they failed. And as Han says, ‘when the deal goes bad, you get out.’
But conscience and second thoughts also play in this story and towards the end, the Regent has a bout of conscience that works favourably in the rebels’ favour.
Salvador Larroca manages to capture this struggle of emotions perfectly, even with a physiognomy like the Mon Calamar, you still see a range of human emotions on an alien face.
I teach Star Wars to my students because it is the one story that best persuades its audience to readily surrender their disbelief. Why does it do that? Because we want to believe that even without a plan, things work out when you have the best intentions at heart.
I worry about taking the next steps – as do some of you, I’m sure. But in Star Wars, the heroes accept whatever happens to them – plan or no plan – and still move on to achieve improvised success in a dramatic and flamboyant way. Adversity becomes synonymous with adventure in this case, and perhaps fill sus with some inspiration that we can do the same thing in real life.
What we fail to remember is that this is a real life, not a fantasy story. we have real consequences and they only have the imaginations of gifted writers to script them out of the dangers they find themselves in.
Congratulations to Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca for their storytelling. Star Wars #48 is the pick of the week for this list. I want to dream I can be brave enough to take the next step towards success and maybe, if I let them, Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie can continue to show me how.
Until next week – may the Force be with you, as you choose your own next steps.