Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 08/07/2019

Kinda exploring the notion of belief this week. It doesn’t have to be religious or some sort of codified system of precepts, but just a sense of what is right, wrong and what is important to us in this world. Super-heroes and comic characters are so clear in what they stand for that it’s only natural for their readers to take some sort of inspiration from the code of conduct that they represent in their stories and how much of an impact they make.

Let’s get to the list for this week.

DC Comics

Batman #76

The “City of Bane” storyline continues and I have to say that it’s beginning to make a little more sense now that the partnership between Thomas Wayne and Bane has become a lot more apparent. In its initial issues, this storyline seemed more elaborate than it needed to be in order for it to make its point. Of course, Tom King was trying to show that you can defeat the Batman by breaking those values that he holds true and dear to him, and who better than to do that then your own father?

Even though Thomas Wayne is the Batman from another Earth, he still knows his son well enough to disagree with his fundamental reasons for being the Batman. Thomas Wayne’s own version of this symbol for hope against the darkness that his son fights against is actually a part of that darkness. His alliance with Bane is not only something diametrically opposed to that idea but it’s also something that is contrary to his own son’s existence, given that Bane has broken the Batman before and clearly seeks to do it again.

This is a diabolical in not only form and intent, but also is the ultimate betrayal a parent can perpetrate. It is clearly wrong on so many levels.

However, did it need to take this long to get to the point?

I like Tom and I think he’s a gifted writer but this is a storyline with a set-up that seems more complicated than needed to be. However, am I enjoying it? Yes. Do I want to see more of it? Yes. I like the notion that the Batman’s core beliefs are being tested to their limits, so of course I’ll continue to read it.

Lois Lane #2

The first issue of this dynamic new series from Greg Rucka and Mike Perkins took me by storm. After all, there are so many notions and ideas in this title: the integrity of the Press; the influence of capable women in society and an undoubtable assertion in the corruptibility of wealth in American society. So, like its predecessor, this title continues to kick ass as well.

This time, Lois gets a boost in the form of back-up from Rene Montoya, aka The Question. Not only does Montoya provide Lois with insight and inside investigatory information but she also provides some muscle that that is appropriate to the nature of the story. After all, even if Lois was to summon the Big Red “S” from the skies to save her whenever she needed it, it wouldn’t make for a very authentic story. I like how Rucka recognizes this notion and works in a hero to back Lane up that the reader can accept. It’s also of note how she distances herself from Superman by saying that this is “her fight”. It’s definitely a well-thought out story that has a strong dramatic pace to it.

The Dreaming #12

In the absence of belief there’s complete fantasy. When you have a fantasy story along the lines that Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely have dreamed up for us with this comic that delves deeply into the realm of the abstract, you just have to have faith that the creators are guiding you down a path that leads to a powerfully enjoyable story.

I guess that’s a belief in itself.

But it’s also a matter of faith. I confess that Spurrier’s story material leaves me gasping for air in a vain attempt to catch up with it. It’s powerfully esoteric and a type of story that I know I couldn’t write if my life depended upon it. It leaves my mouth agape as I try to make sense of it; light years ahead of my rationalization just increases my admiration for the fact that he can write and sustain a story at this altitude. It’s clearly a type of thinking that my mind couldn’t produce but can only appreciate.

Then, when you add Bilquis Evely’s incredible art to the equation, you get a comic book that is a truly fit vessel for the story it contains. It’s an absolutely smashing combination of talents which makes a book that makes your mind reel.

Marvel Comics

Star Wars #70

Like the last issue I reviewed, the pace doesn’t stop with this book, nor do the multiple plot directions. There is so much happening in this storyline titled ‘Rebels and Rogues” from Grek Pak and Phil Noto. Luke is learning more about the Force from a rogue he encounters while Chewbacca and C3P0 are still trying to save an indigenous population form the trap they set for a fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers. However, it’s the plot with Han Solo and Princess Leia masquerading as a honeymooning couple on a planet run by a criminal syndicate that really has my attention.

Star Wars has never been too much on reason – it’s about a fantasy that endears a fan to believe rather than reason. We accept this franchise on face value and that’s a very powerful ability it has, and given that it has been able to weave that spell for a continued forty years. People are drawn to this story in the same way that they want to hear of good news. It’s a very inspirational story when you look at it from the point of view of how much joy it has given people over the decades, and that’s something I can believe in.

Pak and Noto have picked up the torch from Keiron Gillen and other worthy predecessors and this comic is no different from the cinematic universe George Lucas created. This book should be considered Star Wars canon, in my humble opinion.

Dead Man Logan #9

Friends can be a powerful source of belief and given that Logan has lost most of his and has had no family of worth to celebrate, it’s a hell of a character motivator.

Ed Brisson and Mike Henderson have really run with this storyline, “Welcome Back, Logan,” and extrapolated Logan’s re-integration into the timeline he originated from. Society is gone, the bad guys are in control and all sorts of permutations of the super-villains we know from the regular 616 timeline pop up to threaten good folks, like the friends Loga left behind to alter history.

Of course, given the multiple-worlds idea, his timeline is still there, even though he has prevented another from turning into it.

In this timeline, the Hulks, under the Maestro, were the most powerful clan in the new universe. Now, the last Hulk is the most important thing to the former Wolverine. I love this idea. It’s the thing that Logan was able to secure in his old world that meant anything to him: the chance to make things good again. Is it any surprise that the last Hulk is named Bruce?

He represents a belief to Logan. He’s something that Wolverine was able to salvage from this road-wreck of a timeline and of course he’s ready to defend it.

Of course, the question is who is interested in the last Hulk enough to resurrect the remainder of the last Sabretooths to hunt him down and send him to one of the last human settlements to get him?

I’ve never been disappointed by anything that Ed Brisson has crafted. This book is no exception.

House of X #2

Jonathan Hickman applies his “other-verse” sense of story creation to this new spin on the X-Men saga. This was released to reviewers later than the other titles for this week so forgive me for the delay this week. Usually I get this out by 9am but the best laid plans, and all that.

Moira McTaggart gets more attention than what she’s been used getting in this issue. McTaggart – world renowned genetics researcher and former lover of Charles Xavier is a mutant with probably one of the most unique abilities we’ve ever seen.

Gifted with the ability to reincarnate herself, she learns from every lifetime and this makes for a really interesting perspective on the entire history of the X-Men. Think of it: her beliefs are constantly challenged by her experiences. If she fails, then she goes back to the beginning and uses an entire lifetime, and subsequently more lifetimes’ worth of knowledge to change the situation.

It’s a staggering development that will have enormous repercussions on the X-Men franchise and an amazing story concept.

Pepe Larraz’s artwork is striking. It’s crisp, clean and leaves no room for misunderstanding. It accentuates Hickman’s storytelling in a masterful way.

Hickman must have a mutant ability of his own to be able to conceive and execute this incredible story. I’ve loved his other works like East of West and to apply that same style of story-creation to the X-Men is something this franchise has needed in a very long time.

Punisher #14

Just … wow. Matthew Rosenberg makes the Punisher wholly admirable.

Okay – not with the maiming, the killing and the lack of conscience, but I have to completely admire his dedication to his own personal set of beliefs. That’s what Matthew Rosenberg gives to me. His presentation of the Punisher as a ruthless killing machine isn’t based on a mechanical model; Rosenberg understands the base motivation behind this character and he represents him well within the parameters of this origin. As a character with a base set of beliefs, I can completely respect that.

Rosenberg is a guy who grew up with Marvel comics and he knows the basis behind this character. I love that.

In this issue, he decides to share the love. Baron Zemo has decided to take the fight to Frank Castle and Hell’s Kitchen has become the battleground with 500 of his troops disguised as UN soldiers invading New York City with Mayor Fisk’s permission – ohm, and also with the Thunderbolts in pursuit as well. How can Frank stand alone against this crowd?

He can’t. Which is why the Black Widow enlists some of her friends to help the Punisher repulse these invaders and a great team-up story ensues. I don’t think Rosenberg can do anything wrong with this title and I have to think it’s his best work. I’d love to know the personal connections behind why he resonates so strongly with him, but in the moment, I don’t care. I love this book and I love Rosenberg’s work on it – and that’s something I can believe in.

Daredevil #9

When we talk about belief, it’s not possible to ignore what Chip Zdarsky is doing with his run on Daredevil.

There is a great deal of attention to Matthew Murdoch’s belief system in Part Four of “No Devils, Only God” and I think that’s awesome. Matt Murdoch SHOULD ask Reed Richards if there is a God. Given the fact that Richards has encountered many met-physical entities, why was this not done in the past? I love it and I love Zdarsky’s (Reed Richards) answer to that – why not? It’s not like anyone in the world can confirm or deny that there is a God, but Richards’ answer to the Daredevil is that he has met beings who exists within the realm of the abstract; so why couldn’t there be a God? However, if there is one, then he or she is clearly someone who wants Humanity to make its own, carefully reasoned decisions based on an over-all idea of what is right.

I love this notion. I think (in my own personal recollection of comic book history) that it is the first serious examination of if there is a God or not. I hate to give away the resolution of this conversation between Daredevil and Mr. Fantastic, but I think this is a watershed moment in comics history in that it’s the first serious, open discussion between characters about the existence or non-existence of God.

That’s cool in itself.

I think what disturbs me about the concept of atheism is that it’s such an easy cop-out. It’s so mentally comfortable to easily dismiss the existence of a greater being regardless of religious belief because of the lack of empirical evidence. I get that, but again, it’s because it’s such a lazy attitude. I find that atheists don’t believe because it’s the easiest way to believe; in other words, they really don’t want to believe in anything that requires a leap of faith.

How often do we rely on hunches? That’s a part of human nature but it’s also an essential part of a belief system. In Daredevil #9, Murdock is making that same sort of assumption in trying to rationalize his place in the world. Is he a part of God’s plan or is he just some sort of freak natural occurrence? I love this concept and we see that even though Matt is just a human trying to figure his place in the universe, he knows he is a force for good within his beliefs.

Matt Murdock is trying to reconcile his place, reaching out to people in pain in an attempt to alleviate his own. Is there anything wrong with trying to do the right thing out of love, responsibility and thinking about your fellow person?

No, there isn’t. That’s why this issue is the pick of the week. I love it as well as the philosophical bent behind it. I don’t know if that’s what Zdarsky intended, but even if he didn’t, that’s the interpretation I’m taking for this review.

It’s awesome. I believe in it.

Make sure your upcoming week is guided by belief, hopefully belief in your own story.

Pick of the Week: Daredevil #9

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.