Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 09/12/2018

As in real life, it is in comics.

A misconception of learning among students these days is that learning is a process that involves simply knowing something that they didn’t know five minutes ago. Immediate gratification reveals its ugly self in yet another domain as we continue our catapulted journey through the twenty-first century.

Sometimes, comics are far too short to get a full appreciation of their stories or the talent involved in their creation. They require frequent re-readings in order to gain the full value of their messages – and that’s what I’ll be focusing on this week as we delve into the list I’ve put together.

So let’s begin!

DC Comics

Hawkman #4

Talk about waiting for knowledge … so far, Katar Hol has made his way across three different time zones and four different locations. Bryan Hitch and Robert Venditti have certainly piqued my interest with this fun romp as Hawkman rediscovers his past.

That’s what’s working for me this week with this book: the anticipation. I’m really excited to see where – and when – Hawkman lands next. It’s a rare joy to see an example of delayed gratification at play and something I’d love to show young people.

Image Comics

Hey Kids! Comics #2

Looking at the dark underbelly of the history of comic publishing has never been so much fun.

If there’s a sentiment that Howard Chaykin can be permanently associated with, it’s a sense of cynicism. But cynicism is a good thing; like learning, it’s uncomfortable and awkward, but through these moments of sharp reflection, we learn the truth. In this case, it’s that the origins of comics publishing isn’t as silver and frosty-framed as we think it was. It was hard-biting, knuckle-scraping work and it had to go through a lot to get to the point where it is today.

But it’s the caricatures of well-known comic personalities that Chaykin manages to include in this story that not only demonstrates his veteran status in the comic-book industry but also the versatility of his writing.

To say this is fun is a gross understatement of its intentions, but it would be also highly ironic.

So, this is a lot of fun.

IDW Comics

Star Trek TNG: Terra Incognita #3

Yeah, this is definitely a must for my pulls this week. I’m a big fan of super-fan writers Scott and David Tipton who manage to bring not only a high degree of accuracy to their portrayal of the characters from this beloved franchise, but also a degree of authenticity as well.

After all, who else but well-versed fans would even think about basing a story around an obscure character like the Vulcan Doctor Selar? Played by Suzie Plakson in the episode, “The Schizoid Man”, the character’s background is entertainingly explored in this issue. We see more bout the Vulcans’ acceptance of their emotions in trying times and in my mind, I’ve always felt that made them more believable. It’s reassuring to see the Tiptons share that perception as well.

I loved this story. I am a sucker for a “Mirror-Universe” story and one of the great sub-plots is the Mirror-Barclay establishing himself in this universe in the background while the main plot happens. It’s one of those story features what will not only establish longevity in this series but add a degree of anticipation for future stories. Keep writing, Tiptons! I’ll keep reading them!

Marvel Comics

Old Man Logan #47

Any chance I get to read about Alpha Flight – I’ll take it!

You need a Canadian to write Logan because great things like this happen. I’ve long applauded Ed Brisson’s treatment of this character who, at first, I thought was a cheap cash-cow exploiting a one-time other-worlds type of character. But Brisson has brought a degree of believability and won an astounding amount of reader loyalty to this book that I am simply agog at how much I am enjoying it. I look forward to reading this book every time it’s out.

Logan has patience in his older incarnation. He knows he has borrowed time too, and the way that Brisson reconciles these two opposing forces makes for a compelling story read.

The problem is, I know this book’s lifespan is limited. Brisson has already written Logan’s mortality into the story, so the hard part is knowing when it’s time to say goodbye. Until then, I look forward to seeing what’s left on Old Wolverine’s bucket list.

Journey into Mystery: The Birth of Krakoa #1

The original Nick Fury was always one of my favourite characters! I loved him as a World War II soldier but loved him more as the head of the International Espionage organization, SHIELD!

… but that was back when SHIELD didn’t use super-heroes – just cool spy gadgets and protected the world from terrorist organizations like HYDRA, AIM, and told super-heroes where to stick it!

In this reincarnation of one of the classic comics from the sixties that gave Marvel the edge on its counterparts, we see a classic tale of WW2 atomic irresponsibility as it not only endangers Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos, but it also sees the mutation of the island entity, Krakoa and how it came into existence.

Love it; absolutely loved every page of this. This book is what made comics such an appealing medium back in the sixties. Its accessibility, its ability to easily jump into the realm of fantasy in such an accepting manner. Everything about this book is why people saw the power of comics in its infancy.

It was a story that people wanted to love.

Dennis Hopeless did an incredible job with presenting this book. It’s what comics should be. I was also pleased to see Djibril Morissette-Phan’s work as well! He’s a talented young artist with a great deal of promise. He also deserves a great deal of acclaim for his work on this book too.

It satisfies both immediate gratification with its one-shot story, but also reaches back into a time when people could appreciate comics. It’s a retro-wonder!

Daredevil #608

Again, this is a story that reaches back into the sixties. When Stan Lee came up with the idea of creating a fictitious brother for Matt Murdock to hide his identity, it was an idea that was could have come from a sitcom script. In reality, Stan probably got the idea from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with its constant shifting of identities and whatnot. But if today’s comic fans are interested in the origins of Mike Murdock, then they’ll need to do a bit of research, I’m pleased to say.

Still, this is a great throwback to the heydays of comics. I saw Charles Soule at Fan Expo Canada at the end of August and had to tell him how much I admire what he does with the properties he’s been entrusted with.

Because he knows them so well. He knows their details, their idiosyncrasies, and even obscure little bits of background like Murdock’s fake brother who has become real because of the Reader’s ability to turn fantasy into reality.

Of course, the question that Soule has us ponder in this story is: when is a person real? It’s a philosophical question that Matt Murdock has to wrestle with and in a sense, he was responsible for his brother and as an orphan growing up without family, the temptation to have a sibling compounds the notion of Mike’s sentience.

There’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. Definitely worth a read and see for yourself.

Fantastic Four #2

Okay … I’ve been dying to read this!

(There’s that anticipation I was talking about.)

I mean, after the last issue held a layer of suspense over us so heavy it threatened to break our sanities, Dan Slott throws Issue #2 at us with not only the entire cosmic future at stake but even universes that the Future Foundation created that we don’t even know about! I mean, this is imagination-staggering stuff here!

What a fantastic (no pun intended) return to the Marvel Universe. And to think they were okay all this time!

I really enjoyed how Slott brought us up to speed with the Future Foundation’s activities creating the sense of security while at the same time reinforcing their family bond. However, the appearance of a villain of cosmic proportions also warrants the need for all of the Fantastic Four to reunite.

But we get more than we realize!

While I’m not going to give it away, I will say that this not only satisfies a sense of immediate gratification but also gives the reader a faith in that the remainder of the story to come is as good as the last episode. There’s a lot of promise in this book and it’s clear that Dan Slott is the guy to bring it all home.

I can’t leave out Sara Pichelli here. She has a very warm approach to her characters. It not only emphasizes the family dimension that Slott showed us in the first of the story but also the sense that the real first family is back.

Can’t wait for more.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #21

Just …

I can’t …

Let me try to start again,

How Charles Soule manages to delve into the depths of Vader’s character is absolutely and overwhelmingly astounding. I mean, I am awed by how well he manages to balance Vader’s subservience to the Emperor with his own silent machinations and desires. After all, what could Darth Vader desire after everything has been taken from him and he has remanded his life to the service of evil?

To understand evil, of course.

That’s what we see in this issue. We get a greater insight into the nature of Vader and see more of his loyalty to the discipline of the Dark Side. Soule shows us that there is more to Vader than just a thug or the Emperor’s right-hand man. He has a desire – a thirst to understand the mysteries of the Dark Side, this aspect of the Force that calls to him because of his natural affinity to it. After all, as he is such a powerful Force sensitive, it just makes sense that he would be a natural target for the Dark Side – and Palpatine to control.

But Soule shows us a learner. It’s a vastly different perspective of Vader than what we’re used to and it’s to Soule’s credit that he can open our eyes to view this dimension of the evillest character of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Giuseppe Camuncoli is one of the talents that needs to break out into more books. I mean, I love his work on this book, but I’d love to see him tackle the Avengers, X-Men or another major Marvel property. The guy has skillz, no doubt. His artistry borders on photo-realism and what he can do with the limited emotional range Vader has manages to convey an abundance of meaning.

Vader returns to the place of his creation. The world of Mustafar is now his to create a sanctum of his own for residence and for studying the nature of the Dark Side. He is given a ship, a designer and the blessing of the Emperor to proceed – along with another gift of a mysterious nature.

Yeah … this is the pick of the week, for sure. It’s not a surprise, as this has been the pick before in the past. But it’s talents like Soule and Camuncoli who create not only a rich reading experience, complete with backstory but manage to extrapolate that backstory into something new. The new elements that Soule introduces in this book not only create curiosity but a desire to see the story unfold. It isn’t a case of just reading something that meets the expectations of the character we know from the films, but a new character with added growth and dimension.

That should satisfy even the most jaded millennial who thinks he or she knows everything about Star Wars. Maybe they’ll learn something with this book?

Until next week!

Pick of the Week: Darth Vader #21

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.