Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 05/29/2019

You know, when I talked to him last, Tom King told me that “he just wanted people to know how much he loved the comics medium”. I love the medium too. But I’ve been thinking about that conversation and it’s made me wonder, as a man leaving his forties, why I still love this medium as well? I think that’s the theme I’m tackling this week as I go through the list of titles I’ve put together to explore it further. So, let’s get to the list!

IDW Comics

Star Trek: Year Five #2

I’ve really been looking forward to the next issue of this series. I loved the first issue so much.

Last we left, the crew of the Enterprise discovered that a Tholian colony had been attacked and while rescuing a surviving Tholian child, the Enterprise has been approached by a Tholian vessel that, in this issue, accuses it of the crimes of the destruction of the colony and the abduction of a Tholian citizen.

I can’t help but get excited Kirk asks for McCoy and Spock to join him the briefing room for their counsel. Yeah – it has the sort of a vibe to it.

You see, as much as things are supposed to be enlightened in the 23rd century, there’s no escaping the human need for the advice of those closest to them. I have told my students that Shakespeare matters because even though his works were written in the 17th century, PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE! It’s the same in the 23rd, 24th or, with the new Picard show coming up, even the 25th century. Humanity will always be governed by loves, hates, prejudices, and the basic emotions that guide us. They, unlike us, are eternal and even though Star Trek espouses that people will be better, we are still guided by these basic drives. I like how Jackson Lanzing pays heed to that notion in this story.

They even thought to include Cyrillic in Chekov’s notion in how to combat Tholian weapons. What’s unique in my reading of this is that I actually know how to read Cyrillic as I studied Russian for two years and can read it! What a cool surprise to be able to actually make sense of a foreign language in something I love!

But here’s a question that only Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly can answer: when Kirk soliloquizes to himself about the people he’s lost, he mentions “Carol and David”. I’m hoping that he isn’t referencing their death, merely their absence.

In any event, they capture the right spirit of Kirk’s “cowboy diplomacy”; he seeks the counsel of the people who are closest to him, Uhura is recognized as a linguistic genius and the crew of the Enterprise manage to methodically come up with a solution to pacify the Tholians through the combination of resolve and Starfleet protocols. It’s entirely Star Trek.

Marvel Comics

Daredevil #6

Such juxtaposition from Chip Zdarsky and Lalit Kumar Sharma about how Matt Murdoch has reconciled himself with not being Daredevil and the need for his neighbourhood. After all, when we see in this issue how broken the legal system is, there is a greater need for people like Matt Murdoch. We have to wonder, does the US need heroes or just people who have special skills who think like heroes?

Well, the USA isn’t alone in that regard. People are people, regardless wherever you live.

Star Wars: Forever Crimson #1

Completely milking the Star Wars franchise at this point (because they can), but it allows for talents like Jan Duursema, Walt Simonson, Leonard Kirk, Luke Ross and other Star Wars comics talents to take to the spotlight with some of the great talent they’ve demonstrated in previous works. I want to particularly point out Jan Duursema, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Andrea Broccardo and others for their work on this issue.

Still, I had to love this issue because of the character accuracy. Even though it trips on the traditional “Star Warriors” vibe, isnt that what we want to see? After all, the characters from Episodes IV, V, and VI are what made this franchise so successful, isn’t it right that that we see more stories about them? I think so, and clearly, so does Marvel.

Look at that Simonson cover. Valance the Hunter was one of my original “new” Star Wars comics characters back in the late 70’s when Marvel had the rights to the franchise. It was all anyone cared about and to see new characters for this franchise, in comic book story format inflamed my love for both Star Wars and comics. It was like eggs and bacon – a perfect combination of flavours. They brought back Jaxon (everyone’s favorite meat-eating rabbit) and his attractive companion, Amaiza – thank you for upholding the legacy of my adolescent years (and others!) of reading Star Wars comic books. What a satisfying experience.

So cool …

Star Wars: Darth Vader – Dark Visions #4

Both Stephen Mooney (an artist I well love) and Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum need to be congratulated for this story. It’s not just about the majestic, undebatable nature of Darth Vader that needs to be addressed in this book, but the nature of the opponents he’s faced to give him this reputation.

Sure enough, in this book, we see a child, brought up in the environment of the rebellion, wanting to take a shot at Vader to reconcile all the past infidelities of his life as well as the answering the call to duty. It’s a cool one-shot type of adventure that totally justifies the scope of the medium this is set in. I love this series; anything that celebrates the evil majesty of Darth Vader is completely cool in my book.

DC Comics

Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1

Wow … just so stunning. The scope of this book’s premise is absolutely daring. To think: a destroyed world and a Batman saved – to save it, in return.

First of all, it’s a story from the team that got me back into Batman again, my pal Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder. These guys are such a great team and the relationship they have with each other not only borders on the most consummate of professionalism, but the deepest of respects.

They truly are the Team Supreme, to use a well-worn 80’s comic cliché. I think I love their collaboration. The know each other so well and have such a deep affinity for each other’s work that I don’t know why DC took them off Batman in the first place. Moreover, why haven’t they tapped them for work on other projects? It’s been a while since we’ve seen them together, but corporations compromise on artistic principles, even when they know they’ve got a clear winner. But, I digress.

The story starts out in a typical dream-sequence. Batman is following a lead on a case he’s been studying for a year. He pieces together a satellite image over that time of a chalk-outline of a dead Batman. After he is shot by a dead child … the story begins.

What I like about this story is that it fits mold of an “Otherworlds” story – where everything has been destroyed and our heroes have to rebuild everything from the ground up, as well has having the dream sequence beginning, that means that this story can potentially fit back into the mainstream regular DC Universe again at some point.

It’s also a story that’s unabashedly meant for a hardcover compilation. In that, I admire the honesty behind its ambition, but it’s one that didn’t have a brazen cliffhanger at the end. I mean, the value of a continued story is that it evokes a desire to learn more about it without resorting to an obvious tactic. I naturally want to know more by the implied material – Joker, the origin of Omega and so forth.

Batman has woken into an apocalyptic new world in which he is younger. If I had a criticism about this story, it would be that it still wasn’t totally clear to me how he managed that transition into the new world. Was he preserved in a device buried in the sand, locked in a computer-generated virtual word, or was there an actual Batcave still standing under all that sand? If so, why did he come out with the same straitjacket and helmet? That part was a little muddled, according to my perception.

Still, it’s good to see Capullo and Snyder back together again. It’s a premise that will clearly be successful, even if just on the merits of these superbly-talented creators.

Doomsday Clock #10

First criticism out of the way: this story is taking too long! Again … hardcover compilation coming to your nearest bigbox bookstore near you.

Okay, frustration aside, the gorgeous cover by Gary Frank is so film noire that it begs to be loved. You can’t help but sit and stare at it, taking in all the story details. It’s a superb beginning to this comic that is rooted in the mundane glamour of Hollywood that, let’s face it, we all take for granted.

This is a book about scientific extrapolation mixed in with the quasi-religious concept of predestination.

Only in comics, folks.

Let me explain what I’m thinking here. I’m no scientist, but the entire idea of the Multiverse is founded on the principle that causality changes on the basis of a variety of choices that we all have. Well, in this case, in comics terms, the Multiverse has a number of comic universes where this has happened. World War Two was won by the Nazis, Queen Elizabeth was never born and all sorts of infinite probabilities will happen.

It’s apparent that Geoff Johns is buying into the advanced theory of the “Many Worlds Interpretation” variant of this idea. Like I said, I’m not a science buff – all my science I’ve learned is from science-fiction, but this is new to me and it accounts for the idea that more probabilities are occurring even more than the 52 universes of the DC Multiverse. Of course, DC can’t account for all of them – that would be silly – but Johns is trying to in this comic the fact that there have been three iterations of the appearance of Superman: 1938, 1956 and in 1986.

If you comic fans look backwards in your issues, you’ll see that DC Comics has re-invented Superman to be more current with the same decades of these appearances.

Superman is the linchpin for the DC Multiverse.

… pause …

Yeah – my mind was blown with that idea too.

Geoff Johns has done something completely universe-blowing here, and I don’t think people realize the implications that this will have on the DC Multiverse for years to come.

As Superman is the literary focal point for the DC Universe, Johns has made him the focal point for the entire multiverse. In his Curt Swann, John Byrne iterations – whatever, these are both literary AND temporal anchor points that make Superman the most important character in the Multiverse. But he is also the flagship character in the DC Universe – and Johns has just solidified that with making him the central aspect of the story of this book. In fact, this like the issue that postulates the “grand unifying theory” of the DC Universe that hopes to bring all of different realities in the Multiverse together!

…and Dr. Manhattan realizes this and is influenced by the heroic virtues of the main universe that the bulk of DC comics are set in, and I am in complete agreement with this. Yes, the DC Universe is one where heroes follow their consciences, regardless of the consequences. So yes, even though Carver Coleman has been beaten by a corrupt cop, he still checks to see if he is alive, because heroism, even in the common man, is a universal value in this reality. That’s different from Dr. Manhattan’s reality of the “Watchmen” universe.

Did Johns talk to Morrison about this ahead of time? I’m asking, because this completely works with Grant Morrison’s “Multiversity”.

Mind. Blown.

Superman is the hope that changes people in this universe, including Dr. Manhattan. That is exactly what comics are about. We NEED to believe in something greater than ourselves, and comics give us that capacity to believe. It is our new mythology and like the gods of old, these stories seek to entertain, explain and instruct us about what we should be. This is why I read comics, because, unlike any other medium, you are immediately inflamed with the passion to change things or believe in things because comics have both a visual and textual way of communicating that value in such an immediate way that you can’t wait for the next issue to continue that idea.

This is the issue that has made this series complete in my eyes, it’s why I love comics – and it’s the pick of the week.

Gary Frank and Geoff Johns need to call up Tom King and say thank you for this.

I hope your week has the same virtue of heroism and thinking about the influence you can have on the folks in your immediate circle.

Until next week!

Pick of the Week: Doomsday Clock #10 

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.