Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 07/03/2019

Plain and simple: the future concerns me. That’s the theme for this week as we enter into the first golden week of summer vacation for many students in North America. School is seen as a trial for many kids, instead of the privilege it is viewed as in other parts of the world. But many kids on the continent don’t see it as an investment in their future, but rather something that needs to be endured until they come of age and can strike out on their own in the world.

But how will they be ready for the future that awaits them? That’s my fear, and that’s the theme for this week.

Marvel Comics

Dead Man Logan #9

Won’t someone please think about the children? After all, they are future, as the song says.

Of course, Logan is thinking about the kids; two kids in particular, in fact. As he has returned to his timeline, he is reunited with both Dani Cage (the daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones) and the son of Bruce Banner, Bruce, Jr. Logan owes both of them a decent life, to make up for the sorrowful one he left them when he went away.

Logan’s present is an alternative future that was a warning in Old Man Logan. But in Dead Man Logan, this future is fixed and even though it isn’t the future in the regular timeline, it’s what he has to deal with. Consequences matter, and this is a lesson that most young people would do well to accept.

Of course, one of those consequences has come back to hunt Logan down, and it’s a familiar threat in the form of another clawed, regenerating mutant known as Sabretooth. Of course, he’s seen some physical changes as well and he’s got an army of trackers with him to bring Logan … somewhere.

I’m a big fan of Ed Brisson’s take on the warped futuristic version of my favourite mutant. He makes him a more reflective and responsible character as age does that to a person. Given Wolverine’s guilt over what happened to his family and then his friends, his fear of the future perfectly matches the theme for this week in an extreme harbinger-like way. With art like Mike Henderson’s and Declan Shalvey’s incredible cover, you can’t go wrong with this book.

Wolverine has learned about his future; why can’t the youth of today do the same?

Punisher #13

Given the state of affairs in Bagalia, it’s Wilson Fisk that Baron Zemo has to turn to in his hour of need. The Punisher is closing in on Zemo and it’s up to the Kingpin to save him.

There’s really no thinking here; Zemo is just plain running and I like how Matthew Rosenberg portrays him as a cheap, small-time criminal bully instead of the deposed ruler of a foreign state. Zemo has gone through a great deal of changes over the years. Originally, he was an upper-class, Prussian Nazi/HYDRA warlord when he and Captain America first crossed swords, but now he has become an opportunistic dilettante; kind of like a child with a great deal of resources and not a lot of vision.

Heh … I’ve taught more than my fair share of those over the years.

But Frank Castle is patient; ruthlessly so. To the point when he simply needs to follow his prey instead of trying tun him to ground. He’s the epitome of a master hunter and in this case, he knows the territory better than his prey. As Zemo has returned to New York, the Punisher simply has to wait for his prey to eventually turn on his hindquarters and face him.

Zemo resurrects an all-too familiar group that not only earns the Kingpin’s further disdain, but will also prove to probably be one of the Punisher’s finest story moments. I think Rosenberg and Szymon Kudranski are having a lot of fun with this title and I look forward to the upcoming storyline with great anticipation!

IDW Publishing

Star Trek: Year Five #3

Of course, there’s always Star Trek to fill me with a hopeful sense of the future. Sadly, not this time around.

But you know what I learned this year? My students can’t be bothered about Star Trek. This filled me with a massive sense of despair. The whole premise of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek was a sense that Humanity would overcome its sense of insecurities, rise above them to achieve a state in which people naturally thought about their fellow beings.

The creator team for this book has suddenly changed. Brandon Easton has replaced Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly, which seemed abrupt only three issues in, but who am I to question editorial directions? The artist role has also changed from Stephen Thomson to Martin Coccolo. While Lanzing and Kelly are titled as “showrunners” (whatever that means on a comic book), it’s difficult to reconcile with the sudden change of pace in the story in this issue.

There’s a great deal that’s already happened in the last few issues, but this third one has compounded all of these sub-plots together by adding another one into the mix as the crew of the Enterprise now have to contend with a further violation of the Prime Directive as they return to Sigma Iotia II (remember that episode?) to contend with Dr. McCoy’s lost communicator that has now allowed the Iotians space travel along the same lines as Earth.

It’s too busy. It’s richly detailed, don’t get me wrong. But there is so much happening in this issue. How can Kirk, Spock and McCoy contend with probable war with the Tholian Assembly, a refugee Tholian adolescent on board, Kirk’s relationship with Carol Marcus and now the interference with another culture’s development? There are too many sub-plots going on to effectively keep track of everything.

And if a reader with the last name of Kirk can’t, well, who can?

DC Comics

DCeased #3

I’ll tell you what’s sad: when a 13-year old tells me that he believes that the world will end in a zombie apocalypse instead of a potential nuclear annihilation threatened by the irresponsible nature of the American president, the malicious and backwards attitude of the Russian president or the capricious personality of the North Korean dictator. Yeah, these are all real threats in the world and some kid thinks that zombies are going to be the demise of the planet. Ignorance, fuelled by the proliferation of a repetitive theme, will be the end of us all, I swear.

Simply put, this is an apocalyptic vision of the end of the DC universe that I think is poorly timed. After The Walking Dead, the Marvel Zombies and the plethora of zombie fiction that’s made its way into popular culture, this is a little behind the times and quite frankly, I’m bored with this type of fiction.

It’s tired. Any casual reader of comics will look at this and immediately reference the other two comic works I’ve mentioned. Why would they want to read this, other than out of a casual curiosity? It’s not something that will attract sales and at best, it’ll be a fringe publication that people will collect out of a love of zombie fiction.

Hell, I know I’ll collect it, just to have it on my shelf. Why? Because I’m a mindless comic zombie. I like Tom Taylor’s work, but I just can’t see this being a big seller for DC.

Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1

I am a classic Doom Patrol reader and I was an avid The New Doom Patrol reader. Hell, I even remember the fact that the Doom Patrol was DC’s answer to The X-Men way back in the sixties. In the Eighties, The New Teen Titans even featured a story arc that focused on the connection of Changeling as a connection to that original DC team of outsiders.

This is NOT that Doom Patrol, and thinking about the future, I wonder if anyone ever thinks about the past?

I … yeah. Described as a cosmically weird book, and featuring art by James Harvey, I had a very hard time getting behind this. I didn’t know half of the recent references that were brought up to introduce some of the changes, and in the first issue of a new comic, I doubt the intended readers did either. It was difficult to follow the fantasy landscape of the plot and, as an original Doom Patrol reader, I couldn’t reconcile the characters in this book with who I used to know.

Even the lettering was difficult to read. It was thickly blockish and read like an elementary school student’s reading primer. I found it irritating.

No disrespect intended, but I didn’t understand what Gerard Way and Jeremy Lambert were trying to do.

Lois Lane #1

Greg Rucka has the honour writing this title. As much as I am worried about our future, I have to say that the more women are involved in its care, the better I feel.

It’s not just a kiss-ass statement. As a husband, a father of daughters, a teacher of female students and a colleague of women teachers, I can tell you that most of the successful interactions in my life have mostly been when women are involved. I have had make friends turn their backs on me but the women in my life have never let me down.

Lois Lane is the character that DC needed to exploit more in its story creation. In fact, this is a book that has the promise of becoming an incredibly successful television series and I don’t know if they’ve even realized that.

I think Greg Rucka does though. He’s got a gift for writing strong female leader characters and in this case, he’s demonstrating that gift in abundance. He can also clearly see trends, which allows him to envision potential extreme futures that make for excellent stories. Throw in some personal drama and, viola! Instant hit story.

But this is more about the future, it’s about conscience. I’ve covered Greg Rucka’s writing in the past with strong characters like Forever Carlyle in the Image title Lazarus. Hell, I’ve even moderated this guy and he has a serious conscience about the way we treat the planet, each other and how we govern ourselves. The story arc of this first issue is titled “Enemy of the People”, which is clearly an allegorical acknowledgement of the necessity of the free press in a western democratic society, and how much it’s threatened.

Lois’s super-power is her influence. She has contacts in the super-human community; she has dynamic insight into the workings of the government and she is sharp when it comes to her questioning. She is a journalist and those who write about what they are able to glean about the wrongs of society have more of a power than people know.

The parallels between this book and the present incorrect state of affairs in the U.S. are well-taken. Even the title is a direct reference to CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s own same-titled book bout the exact same issue. Even his own ejection and revocation of press privileges from the White House are also mirrored in this story.

These are things that directly impact on our welfare. The presence of a free press to report on the wrongdoings of a government is a vital necessary aspect to any society’s well-being. The US is led by a hopelessly corrupt individual and this book not only allegorizes this issue but gives readers a recognizable and acceptable hero who can champion this cause.

Let’s face it: writers for DC only have DC characters to draw upon, unless they want to create new characters, that become the property of DC when so written. Lois Lane has been a character waiting for the 21st century. Not only does she have a purpose other than being “Superman’s girlfriend” (as was the subtitle under the main title in the early 70’s), and now, his wife, but she is also a force of powerful influence. She reveals truth, confronts injustice and spreads awareness of these matters to the general public, despite the intimidation of a corrupt government,

Of course, whoever thought that the corrupt government would be internationally recognized as the United States? When DC envisioned Lex Luthor as the president of the United States, who would have thought that Real Life would have put someone in that position who was wholly worse?

There’s nothing that could make this book better – other than the soulful art of Mike Perkins. You know, Mike Perkins has a heart. In fact, when he donated art to the “Love is Love” event at MegaCon a couple of years back that featured the first same-sex character proposing to his significant other (It was Alpha Flight’s Northstar, by the way), I bought it. Mike Perkins definitely has a conscience and you know that this is the type of story that he’d get behind.

This is a character you can admire; not because she has super-powers, not because she’s Superman’s wife but because she’s an accomplished journalist who not only knows her job, but knows her obligations. One of those obligations is to uncover and preserve the truth for future generations. Journalists are the midwives of history. They bring it to light, present it to the world and let it develop as it grows older. It’s a solemn duty and one that often gets under-rated with the glamour of the current media platforms.

Lois Lane really doesn’t hold truck with that. She’s just someone who uses her gifts to tell a story and that’s a hell of a super-power that we can appreciate in real life.

Of course, this has to be the pick of the week. As someone who is concerned with the welfare of tomorrow’s leaders on a daily basis, I have to tell you, it’s stories like these that I look for to not only give me comfort that someone is actively thinking the way I do, but also as a source of inspiration that I can share with the young. People need to see that regular people can become super-heroes in regular ways. Granted, Lois Lane has super-hero contacts in order to get her stories – which something that could never happen in real life – but she also gets ejected from the White House for asking questions that upsets the present administration. That’s something that is completely relevant for present times that younger readers can see and understand that it is a heroic feat. This is a book that’s smart, relevant and very timely.

Seeing this, maybe that will help the youth of today become leaders of tomorrow. Thanks for giving me some comfort and hope, Greg Rucka and Mike Perkins.

Until next week, may you – and I – see our futures a little bit better.

Pick of the Week: Lois Lane #1

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.