Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 12/18/2019

If a story can completely capture my attention and allow me to lose myself in it for a brief segment of time out of my day, then I consider that time well-spent, and that’s what keeps me coming back for more.

The immersive factor a story can generate for me is the them for this week and that’s what makes the list. So, let’s get to it and see what it’s in store for us.

DC Comics

Doomsday Clock #12 (of 12)

I’ll admit that I’ve been distracted by this series. Not to belittle the work of Gary Frank (whose work I completely and fully admire), but Geoff Johns has kinda left me in the dust with this one. I have to be honest, my expectation for this was that of a single Rosetta Stone book that would help to put the entire perspective of the DC Universe into synch, especially where the Watchmen fit into the grand scheme of things. However, I have to confess that I was let down in this regard.

Look, I loved Johns’ attempt at putting the DC Multiverse together with his Multiversity – I mean, I have the hardcopy on the shelf behind me, but while that was a savagely honest attempt at reconciling the various universes to follow probability to its ultimate conclusion in these, for this book we were focused on this one universe and Johns had to resolve the entire plot in one final issue book. But – it was one universe. Greater things have been

It was entertaining, in that we did see more of an extended role for Dr. Manhattan, and who can argue with Superman being the lynchpin for the entire DC Multiverse? It’s a real-time historical nod that resonates strongly with long-time comic readers and is impossible to overlook. But, in the end, this book left us with questions as opposed to definite answers, and for someone who read The Watchmen when it first came out in the eighties, that’s a hard omission to overlook.

I can’t help but feel that the high expectations for this book were ultimately let down in the end. That saddens me. It captured my attention, but in the end, the promises weren’t delivered.

Marvel Comics

New Mutants #4

Of course, this title is going to grab my attention; it’s the 21st century visualization of my 20th century adolescent comic reading foundation. I grew up with The New Mutants – they were one of the titles I cut my teeth on in appreciating visual storytelling. I think, that was the case with writer, Ed Brisson as well.

Boom-Boom with whiskey (Canadian Whiskey, no less) dispels those notions from my mind. This is a new day and age, and as a teacher, I can appreciate that the adolescents of those days are no longer the ones that we know today. Kids change, and in these times, a lot faster than we think. However, even with that in mind, it’s still comforting to see that Brisson remembers Boom-Boom’s character, puts a 21st century twist on it and makes her the most important character in this story.

With Armor and company in danger and needing rescue in their search for Beak and Angel in Nebraska, it’s a surprise that a drunken Boom-Boom, arguably the most irresponsible and immature of the mutant cast should be the one to consider their absence from Krakoa. But, I like it. It’s a throwback vibe to an age that I remember (and collected well) that resonates strongly within me.

It’s also a chance for a greater spotlight on Marco Failla’s art. I’m not overly familiar with his work, but it’s certainly something that I will now be aware of in future books. It’s striking and definitely something to know.

In the end, I am eager to see the resolution of this storyline. Remember: The New Mutants has now increased its roster to include more than just the core members, who, by now, should really be considered fully-fledged X-Men by now, but the old readers like me will have a hard time making that discretion! Ah, it inspires the “good old days”.

Daredevil #15

“Through Hell”, Part Five is the continued work of writer, Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto, continuing this introspective arc of Matt Murdoch exploring his role in seeking to do better for his fellow man, either as the lawyer or the vigilante. Despite his enhanced senses and agility, he still has issues with failing at both vocations.

However, there also is a subplot of the Kingpin also trying to go legit, not only as the Mayor of New York but as a respected businessman. However, the issue with the Kingpin is not his enhanced super-strength but his intense insecurity as being unable to compete at the same levels as his peers.

There’s definitely a parallel between these two characters that is hard to ignore and this comparison has my attention as I love character interplay and extrapolation. Sure enough, there’s plenty enough of these two things to go around as Wilson Fisk discovers vulnerability and Matt Murdoch discovers a new strength without being either of his two identities. The culminating points for both of these two characters in this book is more than enough to hold my attention – it has my curiousity for what comes next. What’s more, I seem to be rooting for both Murdoch and Fisk, which is also an additional bonus.

Zdarsky is definitely an odd sort of chap (anyone who’s met him or even read his tweets will know what I mean), but there’s no doubt he has the pulse of this character in his stories. Checchetto is a definite artist who has more than my attention – he has my anticipation in wondering what his next project will be.

Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1

This title has my attention for one simple reason: because Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be out in the theatres this week. However, why are we exploring this character just before the presumed culmination of the franchise? I get that Marvel and Disney are now one, and that anything that Marvel prints about this franchise is now canon, but the exploration into this character comes way tooooo late.

This isn’t Charles Soule’s or Will Sliney’s fault – both are excellent creators and their work stands by itself without any of my crude attempts to praise or correct it, but this really is a case of project being left on someone’s desk for too long. I mean, we needed to know more about the Knights of Ren or Supreme Leader Snoke way back in the release of Episode Seven. The gap between Episode Six and Seven was far too long for fans to readily accept that the Resistance was the Republic that had been upset by a Rebellion that resembled the Empire under the leadership of some guy that looked like the Emperor.

If I sound sarcastic, it’s because it’s my destiny.

I love Star Wars, but Episodes 7 & 8 really changed the tempo of the series for me. As much as I want to look forward to the release of Episode 9, I have to admit to some trepidation as I worry that the original flair of adventure and romantic fairy-tales has been replaced by the notions of political correctness and 21st century parables. Star Wars didn’t have to mean anything; it was just a fantasy story with timeless virtues of heroism, sacrifice and beating the odds.

But there was a continuity behind it that gave those values meaning.

J.J. Abrams isn’t a guy for tradition. He upset the order of Star Trek (even after admitting that he was never a fan of Star Trek) and now he’s seeking to supplant the original story of Star Wars with his own vision.

Sadly, this comes into play when you have creators like Soule who understand the history of the continuity but now their storytelling talents have to find a balance between continuity and the direction of story directors like Abrams. Sadly, there are too many storytellers with conflicting perspectives that aren’t adherent to the original vision of George Lucas.

Soule does a good job of reconciling the story we learned of Ben Solo’s departure from Luke Skywalkers’ Jedi Temple and we even learn a smidgin of information about Supreme Leader Snoke’s background. But, we still don’t have a full picture and I think that’s the downfall of the recent episodes in that their brief interstitial explanations (ie: the “crawl”) try too hard and reveal not enough information to give viewers an accurate understanding of what happened in between. For two movies, we haven’t known who Rey is and that doesn’t give some viewers enough reason to care about her.

It’s the same thing for Ben Solo. Introduced to us as Kylo Ren, we really don’t have a vested interest in him until we find out he’s the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Soule gives us a bit of insight into his origins but his storytelling is hampered by the ineffectual storytelling of the official franchise. I like Soule, I like what he tries to do in this book, but sadly, it’s not enough to make me want to hold my attention unless something more definitively explanatory comes out.

Really – this should have been done a lot earlier.

IDW Publishing

Wellington #1

Artist Delilah Dawson and Writer Aaron Mahnke bring us this alternate tale of the Duke of Wellington. Of course, as a student of History and a lover of the Napoleonic Wars in particular, this definitely has captured my attention. I mean, “Old Hooky” is a National British hero and can I be less of a Brit than to appreciate a national hero?

I liked it.

I know that’s a very limited and general statement, but it’s a pretty straightforward story. Predictable in its premise but likeable in its execution. While the premise may be simple, it doesn’t detract from how enjoyable this type of story can be. After all, the word story is an integral part of the word “History”, so taking a vibrant element from history to make a comic book is completely understandable and entertaining.

This was the first issue; it’s establishing setting, introducing premise and characters. There is a limited amount of story to consider but despite this, I’m intrigued and looking forward to what happens next.

Star Trek: Year Five #9

Well, what can I say? With a nickname like “Captain Kirk”, it’s difficult to let a Star Trek comic go by without me paying attention to it.

Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly take the roles of “script directors” on this issue, whereas in the past they have been either “Show Runners” or actual writers. While their roles seem to be amorphous in this series, at least there is a solid direction that is manifesting itself in line with the eventual destination of Captain Kirk and the Enterprise facing a disastrous dilemma. However, whatever fate the crew of the USS Enterprise discover, it’ll be in line with what has preceded. That alone, gives me faith in the integrity of the story continuum, in that there actually is one, and I respect that. So, yeah, the creators of this book have my attention.

Silvia Califano provides the art for this story and, as in the past, I am thoroughly enjoying her work. It’s a detailed and energetic rendering of not just the characters but the scenery of the aquatic species the USS Enterprise returns to her/his/its planet. Fluid in all concepts, this species identifies itself and its environment to whatever context is at hand. In this story, written by Jim McCann, the aquatic species finds itself at odds with the land species that has “hardened” itself to not only a fluidic perspective, but also to an aggressive way of life.

I admire the adherence to IDIC in this story, and its straightforwardness in the presentation of a typical Star Trek storyline. Star Trek was meant to explore new ways of life and while some may not subscribe to this perspective then the beauty of the show’s philosophy is that people seek out their own way of life. The idea is tolerance and acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you adopt the lifestyle or choices that others have made for your own, you still understand and accept what other people may do. This story illustrates that ideal while in a first contact scenario.

Of course, we are highly anticipating the overall plot in which Agent Gary Seven and his shapeshifting partner Isis (who adopted the identity of an Obsidian Tholian) who have the responsibility of maintaining temporal order (oooh – plot foreshadowing to the Temporal Prime Directive), as we saw in TOS. So, everything in between is pretty much story candy. Still, it’s the little details like the shuttle crat “Sagan”, the fact that Chekov is in the Landing Party and that Sulu has a romantic attachment to the alien character who has no gender identification – which I am sure will be noticed by George Takei. After all, love is love, right?

A story that definitely caught my eye.

Star Trek: Picard – Countdown #2

IDW made the right decision in obtaining the license for this franchise. With the renewed interest in Star Trek: Discovery and now Star Trek: Picard, this must be a money-maker for them! So, again, yeah – this is a natural attachment for me.

Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson continue this story for us, in which Picard’s rescue attempt of a Romulan Colony facing annihilation has been met with the habitual Romulan secrecy and paranoia in dealing with other species, but has now manifested into racial devaluation and discrimination.

Yeah, kind of a blatant racism story angle highlighting the idealistic superiority of the Federation, but it works in this case, and the readers (ie: Star Trek fans) easily accept its overt nature in rescuing the Romulans, only to discover that there is a population of a servitor race who they regard as less than Romulan who they did not figure into their rescue calculations. What will Picard do?

Angel Hernandez was tasked to provide the art for this book. He’s an excellent talent and has a good deal of experience when it comes to Trek titles. So, of course, I have no objections to his work. In fact, he is a Trek artist whose work I am sorely lacking in my own personal collection! I need to remedy that.

A very cool story.

You see, in attracting my attention, I also like my attention to be held until the next installment of the story can be made manifest. The fact that there is an impending television series in the wing, along with one of the Star Trek: Discovery writers working on this story, leads me to not only accept this story from a fan affiliation but also from a canonical perspective. Yeah – this will have definite implications on the Picard show that will drop in January. In all honesty, I think I’m more excited about this show than I am about Discovery.

Why? Because of the canon. Yeah – while running the risk of being defined as a grumpy old boomer, the fact remains that a franchise’s acceptance is based upon its historical adherence. There has to be a cause and effect in all things. As it is in the study of history, it is in entertainment. A devoted audience pays attention to continuum. While it is easy to dismiss as fan ravings and “get a life” (Sorry, William Shatner, as much as it pains me, in this case you’re wrong) matters because being aware of details in a fandom is life to an audience; that’s how a franchise survives.

This is the pick of the week; not just because of my own adherence to a fandom that survives because people think about it, but because of the talent of the interstitial creators like Mike Johnson, Kirsten Beyer, and Angel Hernandez who provide the gap of information between the episodes and that set up the show. This is like assigned essential reading for any fan and while that may seem like homework, I suggest that it’s a case of fandom devotion. If you aren’t reading this now then at some point, you need to. It’s about knowing the underlying factors to the series and makes the enjoyment of the series a fuller experience.

If there was a class in fully appreciating Star Trek, how cool would this be as assigned reading?

Yeah, I know. That’s why, as a teacher and a fan of Star Trek, this book has my attention and it’s the pick of the week!

May you be attentive to the things you love this week!

Pick of the Week: Star Trek: Picard – Countdown #2

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.