Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 11/08/2017

You ever have one of those weeks when you just can’t stop? Determination, stubbornness, the sense of never giving up – whatever it is that fuels me, I must have gotten it from somewhere.

It’s a list with that theme this this week, and it’s a great one. Lots to read and lots to take your mind off the hectic pace you may be experiencing! Ah, the allure of comics … they force you to take a few moments for yourself and stop.

So, stop … and take a look at this list.

DC Comics

Action Comics #991

Well, if there’s one thing we know about the Man of Steel and that’s he doesn’t stop either. Sure enough, he must have learned this from Jor-El, because it looks like the father of Superman is back from the dead and he’s got a grudge against Planet Earth’s lack of compassion – and he’s ready to teach it, and his son, a lesson in Part 5 of ‘The Oz Effect’.

But that’s the thing about Superman: he never loses hope. Even with his father trying to tell him that Earth has none left, Superman is ready to replenish it.

I was intrigued by the return of Jor-El in previous issues, but this storyline wound up being just a bit too schmaltzy for my tastes. However, how can it not? It’s Superman and he IS the “Big Blue Boy-Scout”, right? But I really wanted to see a story develop where Superman actually was re-united with his father and whoever Mr. Oz is didn’t get reconciled for me. I was expecting something a little less predictable from Dan Jurgens on this one.

Mr. Miracle #4

Wow … Tom King likes to mess with people’s heads in this one. Scott Free goes on trial for his life and it seems that Orion and New Genesis is against him. But is it because he has been warped by the anti-life equation or has Orion? Simpler, could it be that Free has just gone insane? I’m really having a difficult time keeping my head around this storyline and everything will drop as soon as the last issue rolls around.

I want to love this one because it involves one of my favourite DC characters and one of my favourite writers, but I don’t know where it’s going.

What I do know is that it is the most riveting and tightly focused slice of comic that I’ve ever read. Watching the minutiae of Scott Free’s life come together is like trying to connect five or six random jigsaw pieces together of a 500-piece puzzle without the box cover. I’m forcing myself to pay attention to every detail in this series in a vain attempt to search for the connections.

After I finish reading this, I wind up thinking about it.

And then reading it again, to see if I missed something. I’m genuinely puzzled by this book and I’m going to keep on reading it until it makes more sense.

… ‘coz I’m that determined.

Batman Lost #1

Again … more of a theme of resilience in this tale of a Batman lost to the dark dimension of Barbatos. Barbatos, the Horned God who seeks to make the Batman his mule as he heralds his way into our reality. He torments Bruce Wayne with images of the other versions of Batman and how he is the unremarkable one that has merely inspired these other, better renditions that Barbatos will use to inflict his will on this reality.

The question is: will Bruce Wayne be able to dig deep into his identity and remember who he is?

It’s a wonderfully written interlude piece by Scott Snyder, James Tynion and Josh Williamson. Of course, the array of staggering art talent by Doug Mahnke, Yannick Paquette (I loved how they worked his Wonder Woman into this book) and Jorge Jimenez doesn’t hurt either. I have to say, I was really drawn to this dark, mad exploration of persona.

Ragman #2

Another new title that deals with character.

Ray Fawkes has a kind of combination Spawn/Moon Knight/Rogue Trooper paradigm going on here. If you’re a North American reader, then you won’t know the story of the clone soldier gone rogue on the polluted surface of Nu-Earth. It’s a British title, but basically this soldier is haunted by the spirits of his dead comrades as he roams the planet, searching for their killers. Of course, they’re actually computerized personality imprints, but the idea is the same.

In this book, Rory Regan’s father has been attacked by demonic spirits drawn to an enchanted cloak that can bind the spirits of the living. These demons are seeking to take the cloak back to their realm and has mortally wounded Regan’s father. Regan is bonded with the cloak and he combats the creatures and learns about the cloak’s powers.

Of course, in order to do this, he needs to confront his own demons in an attempt to control the power of the cloak.

It’s a pretty typical origin story, but it’s one that I can really appreciate. It’s a real escape into fantasy but it deals with the endurance needed to overcome the oppressive things in our lives that hold us back from achieving potential. I like the allegorical aspect to this story and the message it imparts really fits in well with the theme for this week!

Michael Cray #2

I am not really too clear on the background of this character. It’s an otherworlds story about an assassin who is somehow making his way through his world taking out almost-television versions of SDC superheroes. In Issue #1, Cray was given Oliver Queen, the eccentric millionaire who likes to hunt human prey. In #2, we see this conflict happen and then Cray is given a new contract – a police target. I’ll let you find out who it is.

Oh, and Cray somehow has the ability to disintegrate objects with his hand.

Yeah … it’s a bit eclectic, but you have to admire the gumption to make this title work. Maybe I should do a little research into it …

Image Comics

Injection #15

Probably one of the most innovative stories about magic coexisting with the modern world out there. Warren Ellis likes to tinker with the secret history of the world. It’s a common theme for him but he does it so well. I also love Declan Shalvey’s work; it’s a lot of fun and it rarely disappoints.

But the struggle is rife in this story. A couple of secret operatives who know the secret of the magical threat to the world have to thwart it from coming to light. Their determination in the face of overwhelming danger makes for an action-packed story. It’s just too bad that it had to get wrapped up so quickly to make way for the new story in 2018.

Sigh … it’s a hard thing to wait for good things, isn’t it?

Kingsman: Red Diamond #3

Back to Mark Millar’s and Dave Gibbons’ creation – written by Rob Williams and Simon Fraser.

I love this character and while I have yet to see the second film, I’m glad to see more iterations of the character survive in comic form. After all, there’s nothing like the original medium in which a story is first introduced. I prefer the comic, thank you.

But though the characters and story premise are what you would expect, there’s something about Eggsy that’s a bit off, in the way Williams writes him. He’s not as cocky as when we were first introduced to him. The resentment is gone and is replaced with a milder version of the hero. Even the moments when he goes back to the projects seem forced and auxiliary. I know that Williams can’t keep flogging the dead horse of social inequality, but put him in positions in which we see how he struggles to behave rather than seeing where he used to be.

It’s a great romp though. A cunning villain with a master plan. I used to love James Bond stories but this one has me truly rooting for the underdog.

Marvel Comics

Star Wars #38

In search of a new base, we see the Star Warriors bring their rebellion back to the planet Jedha; or at least what’s left of it after the Grand Moff Tarkin had a go at it. Remember that one?

In this issue, the search for Kyber crystals is the Empire’s goal and Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie (with droids in tow) have to find the partisans who fought with Saw Gerrara.

There’s lots of new canon in this issue as the comic is clearly integrating new canon with old. Kieron Gillen has managed to weave the two sides together fairly well in hand with Lucasfilm’s efforts. There is something different about Salvador Larroca’s art technique in this one though. It seems to have a painted quality that I haven’t seen before. Perhaps it has always been there, and I just haven’t noticed, but the realism stands out enormously in this issue and I while I can’t complain about it, it definitely made me look twice at it. It’s excellent work.

Jessica Jones #14

In all honesty, I’ve never really enjoyed this character. I always thought that she was a second-rate character who simply gained a great deal of attention with the advent of the television show. I felt she was highly over-rated and I really couldn’t get into the show.

However, with Brian Bendis’s announcement that he is jumping ship and heading over to DC, I felt I should give it a go.

… and was I ever surprised at how human and compelling the story was. Of course I knew that Kilgrave had taken control of Jones and forced her to do … unsettling things. But I wasn’t prepared for the opening pages where Kilgrave (aka The Purple Man) had taken control of Jessica’s two-year old daughter in order to have a conversation with her.

That was downright creepy.

While the Purple Man is conversing with her, Jessica is simply thinking how to prevent him from killing her daughter or having her attack her own mother, because he “gets off” on watching people deal with moral quandaries. For a moment, it felt like I was truly in the presence of a monster terrorizing a helpless mother’s child, and that really got to me.

If you ever want to get to my core, it’s through a kid. Being a father who had to helplessly watch his own kid suffer under the thrall of a monstrous thing, I could completely relate to Jessica Jones. Her terror became my own as this story dredged up a lot of those memories, and I have to admit, to my surprise.

If a comic can do that to me, it’s a truly powerful thing that requires steadfast dedication, determination and a relentless amount of talent. That’s why this week, the honour being the Pick of the Week has got to go to Jessica Jones #15 and to Brian Michael Bendis. Where this has been a week of a frantic pace and one in which I’ve had to exercise some of my own resilience, it takes a story about a mother’s determination to protect her kid to make me stop, pause and be stunned by a very powerful drama.

Congratulations, Mr. Bendis – I hope you’ll find a lot of success in your new creative home.

Pick of the Week: Jessica Jones #15

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.