After a two-week hiatus, I’m back from San Diego Comic Con! Did ya miss me?
Definitely the greatest show on Earth, plus you also get to run into celebrities, comic creators as they’re moving from point A to Point B. Some aren’t as accessible as you’d like, but at least you get to see them in their element, and if anything doesn’t work out the way you want, you just shrug your shoulders, grimace and say to yourself: “that’s Comic-Con for you.”
I got a chance to sit down with some awesome comic creators on this trip. It was great to meet them, introduce myself and talk about some of the factors in their lives that made them want to create comics in the first place. I was also able to interview the cast of Star Trek: Discovery, drop in at Nerdist House and basically hang out with a bunch of my writer and artist friends from the different publishing houses like IDW and Marvel and explore new trends in storytelling.
I’ll be posting some specific interviews in the near future. But in the meantime, let’s get back to reading comics for this week.
This is part two of Tom King’s Cold Days arc. It’s a drier flavour for King’s writing; perhaps something to cleanse the palate from the Batman/Catwoman ‘bait-n-switch’ story of two issues ago. I can’t say I enjoyed this particular story too much. As Bruce Wayne sits, deliberating with a jury, we’re shown a different public side of Wayne that isn’t normally seen, wrestling with the fact that perhaps Batman is actually causing more harm than good as Mr. Freeze claims that the Batman used excessive force in his capture. He’s deliberate, rational and decidedly not the playboy image that Wayne has carefully crafted to mask his Batman identity.
It was hard to believe, to be frank. Bruce Wayne has used this veneer for untold issues of Batman comics and while it may have been a logical presentation of the character to King, it just didn’t sit with me.
Of course, is Batman still a officially deputized member of the Gotham Police Force? I may have missed that. If not, then it’s a bit of a story hole, isn’t it? If I missed it, then mea culpa.
Lee Weeks, however, was a new artist for me and I have to say I really enjoyed this work. I’d like to see more of it, especially in a supernatural setting. The backgrounds and character expressions seemed really well suited to a story in that genre.
Watching Wayne talk openly about the death of his parents, rigorously arguing with the jury about outstanding factors in the case that didn’t make sense to him, and then reading a disjointed series of conversations with the individual jurors all lent themselves to a chaotic, rambling storyline. It was hard to follow and hard to rationalize this Bruce Wayne with his usual billionaire self.
Batman doesn’t second-guess himself. Sad to say, but this Tom King story didn’t do it for me.
… and that’s a first.
Mr. Miracle #10
On to the other King story that I read this week. It seems that the only creator I really enjoy from DC is Tom King.
Mr. Miracle is an example of resurrecting a fairly obscure character and making a dynamite story out of it. King mixes in real-life events and normalizes the life and background of both Scott Free and Big Barda by placing them in a context of everyday life that readers can relate to.
Then he hits them between the eyes with a notion that if he sacrifices his son to Darkseid, that will halt all war between Apokolips and New Genesis.
The fate of these two planets is in the balance and Scott Free’s everyday, normalized life has now taken on a dimension of choice that we, the acclimatized readers of Mr. Miracle’s life can now be a part of. We share in this choice because King and Mitch Gerads have made it ours to care about.
… Despite this high drama, it still doesn’t stop them from plugging The Sherriff of Babylon surreptitiously in the comic though. Did you notice? It’s funny, but aside from that one, I think I own every t-shirt that Scott Free has in this issue.
Scott Free’s modus operandum is to escape out of boxes. Darkseid thinks he has his adopted son trapped in a morale quandry. If Jacob is sacrificed to Darkseid, the war is over, but Scott gives up his only son – the way he was given up to Apokolips. But, if he spares his son, then the war continues. It would seem to be a no-win scenario, but by the end of the book. Not only does Mr. Miracle have an alternative, but a plan to escape Darkseid’s trap.
I feel somewhat cheated though that this is the only trap that we’ve seen so far. This is a very subtle super-hero story in which the life of Big Barda and Mr. Miracle has been presented in a dreary domestic way. Aside from using boom tubes as Ubers or drinking with Booster Gold and the Blue Beetle, their lifestyle is a fairly Millennial way of life and that domesticity is the canvas in which the actual super-hero stuff is set against. It under-rates the heroic exploits and even though I enjoy the story, sometimes I feel it’s a little pretentious. But, that doesn’t stop me from eagerly running to the store to pick up my copy.
Still, like I said, Tom King is the only DC writer whose work I really follow on a regular basis.
Star Trek: Discovery – Succession #4
One betrayal after another. Writers, Mike Johnson and Kirsten Beyer along with talented penciller, Angel Hernandez complete their story of the Terran Empire after Georgiou’s absence from the Mirror Universe. There is some good storytelling in this book, as we can expect no less from two veteran Star Trek writers. It wraps itself up quite nicely with an added dimension of betrayal on an epic scale.
I see this as additional canonical material to the Star Trek universe and given that it is usually my focus over at Trekcore.com, I love the fact that comics can be a supplementary medium to expanding on the Star Trek: Discovery story. In fact, I was hardly surprised to learn that not only Ted Sullivan, head writer for the show and a good number of the cast (Mary Chieffo and Anthony Rapp) also are excited to be in these comics.
This is a good conclusion to the story. I can’t reveal the ending, but I will say that I think this Michael Burnham would make a really good Terran Empress. However, the ending will surprise folks, that’s for sure, and I think it’s the only way it could have gone down. I must confess that I’d like to know more about the Imperial Succession, past this era. For example, who is the Emperor in TOS days? Also, the Mirror Universe is expanded in other IDW comics like Star Trek TNG: Terra Incognita so that indicates that it’s a popular topic that fans want to see explored.
Dejah Thoris #7
I was always fan of this franchise. I have fond memories of when I was a little boy transfixed by the notion that in the 19th century, Edgar Rice Burroughs had conceived of life on the planet Mars and that there was a way to get to it that didn’t involve space travel. It was the essence of the purest fantasy and there was always a stack of his books on my desk at school just waiting for free time so I could lose myself in them.
I love that Any Chu and Pasquale have captured that same spirit. With Dejah as the prime character though, we get to see another welcome addition to the ranks of female adventurers in comic literature. She is a princess of Helium who can do as she pleases, including discovering the identity of an assassin on board the most advanced warship in the Helium navy.
It’s a great story and definitely one that reminds me of reading those stories. This is a worthy ERB new story that I can nostalgically read, re-living the joys of discovery of other Barsoomian stories.
Astonishing X-Men #14
I had a chance to sit down with Matthew Rosenberg at SDCC last week. The thing that strikes me about this guy’s style is that he knows the personalities of every X-Man right down to the most inconspicuous mannerism. I asked him how he developed that trait and gave me an answer that really resonated with me. I discovered that I had a lot in common with this guy.
(I’ll talk more about this in my interview piece coming up this week!)
But that’s what draws me to his writing. He knows the X-Men, at least as well as me. True fans of this franchise will love the fine detail that he includes in his plot development, his dialogue and how the backgrounds of the characters are expertly woven into their decision-making process.
In this issue, the team that Havok is struggling to put together seem to be going along with the idea. But there are so many things going on in the background that it’s a gifted way in which Rosenberg manages to distract the reader away from that idea by exploiting the personalities and histories of the various characters towards that end. Colossus is smarting over the wedding debacle; Beast is simply curious about the reavers, Warpath is just keeping tabs on Havok for Kitty. Oh, and Banshee?
Banshee’s doing okay. Read the book and see what I mean.
There’s so much going on in this book and I love to see the return of Dazzler. Rosenberg is clearly an X-Men historian and it’s rich, rich story material. Coupled with Greg Land’s amazing artistry, this is a book that I’m so happy to be following.
Star Wars #52
This is part three of the “Hope Dies” arc and is probably the best example of and Imperial betrayal story that I have ever read in this franchise.
This story is the essence of Star Wars. Overwhelming numbers, untenable situations and miraculously overcoming no-win scenarios that make for the most dramatic of fairy tales. This is a true romance in the same spirit of Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers or Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood. I love these stories because when the heroes win, they win with style.
In this story, we see the Rebel Fleet immobilized by Queen Trios’s sabotage and trapped by the fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers surrounding them. The fighters in their hangar bays are likewise held captive by the inoperative systems but Han Solo knows that they can get out if they simply fly at them. But with the Imperial Fleet blocking transmissions, the only way to let them know is by getting a physical message to the rebels inside their ships. He has to get on board the Rebel flagship.
But Darth Vader in his advanced TIE Fighter will have something to say about that.
Darth Vader versus Han Solo is the ultimate starfighter combat story. What a titanic match-up to see Solo’s bucket of bolts freighter go up against Vader’s state-of-the-art starfighter and his mastery of the Force. It’s a truly epic combat sequence and is everything that a true Star Wars fan would drool to read.
Plus, the last splash page makes for another fanboy moment that has to be seen and loved.
… And for that sake alone, that’s why this has to be the pick of the week.
Keiron Gillen and Salvador Larroca never fail to let me down. In this book, they are simply triumphant in their rendering of the classic Star Wars vibe.
Comics adding to the established canon of a successful franchise is often an underrated phenomenon. Star Wars, Star Trek, whatever – there is such a high degree of flexibility and freedom in storytelling that I was fortunate to witness at SDCC 2018. But this is not lost on producers or actors who also see possibilities from comics, which is why there is such a huge explosion of television productions lately.
Larroca and Gillen are a happy part of this storytelling phenomenon, albeit on the other end. But, this is a great thing because this is how comics will survive.
Until next week!