Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review: 04/08/2015

Convergence is the big publishing event that’s dominating the comic reader’s market this week. The question is: will this be the event that DC needs to restore order to its universe? Heck, is that even its goal? When a company floods the market with titles, it’s designed to saturate it with its product. Stories, sad to say, take a backseat to dollars produced. After all, a company can’t grow without profit.

Where is the happy medium between profit and art? I wish I knew the answer to that one.

Still, we can’t ignore the other titles out there. After all, these are the comics that fade into the background when a major publishing event takes place. So let’s take a look at them.

 Image Comics

Rat Queens #10


You know, I love this book, but Stjepan Sejic’s art has been a welcome addition to its make-up and just another reason to appreciate it. You also have to love the homage paid to Boris Vallejo’s classic Conan on the cover. But that’s the main thrust of the comic: to show fantasy gamers that female heroes are just as kick-ass as their male compatriots. It’s a welcome breath of fresh air. The fact that it’s Hannah rescuing Sawyer just reinforces this notion.

This was the conclusion to a story arc that seemed to spell certain doom for the Rat Queens and all their friends in the town of Stockade. The various retrospectives were a little jarring to the story continuity and I found that the humour sometime took a little of the poignancy away from the story. It can’t always be funny, but for example, when Dave the Orc cleric was holding open the way for Violet, there was a meaningful look between the two of them that was spoiled by Violet’s joke. I know this is to be a light-hearted book, but if you’re going to add a little bit of pathos, make it stick.

Other than that, Rat Queens is always a fun book. I can’t wait for the reveals in next issue.

 Jupiter’s Circle #1


I love classic Americana-style stories set in the heydays of the late 50’s, early sixties. It had a certain glamour that has never been perfectly replicated. One of the reasons why Mad Men is so popular, I suppose. But despite the strictures and standards, everyone still had their secrets and vices – and super-heroes were no different. Alcoholism, homosexuality and the constant paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover are strong features of this book that Millar all ties together in a compelling Cold War era storyline that gets you truly hooked.

The art stylings of Wilfredo Torres are perfect for this time-specific story. Very reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke, Torres manages to create an atmosphere that is completely appropriate. His pastel colour choices evoke images and atmosphere of the fifties to a tee. I think I enjoyed this more than the first issue of Jupiter’s Legacy.

 IDW Publishing

Star Trek: Planet of the Apes #5


Finally … the sad but surprisingly quick end to this series. It was quirky;  it was an odd mash-up, but perhaps because of their proximity in time and shared writers (David Gerrold who wrote “The Trouble with Tribbles” novelized The Battle for the Planet of the Apes), it somehow worked. I’d have to say that the ending of this comic was the typical ending you would have expected to find in an original Star Trek: TOS series, so in that respect, it was true to form. I enjoyed it – it was a walk off the beaten path and definitely something that you’d enjoy.

 DC Comics

Astro City #22


Another gem. I love the heavy narrative in these books. Busiek really excels at character building. I love the slow but inevitable discovery of these characters and their abilities as well as the retrospective view of what brought them to Astro City.

There’s a combined John Carter/Dr. Strange vibe in this story as we get to learn more about Starfighter – who has to be my favourite character that I’ve met in this unique city of heroes so far. But there’s also a theme of understanding one’s role in the universe that really struck a resonant chord with me. Busiek definitely has a way of using the superhero genre and its extreme perspective of life to make you consider the really simple things in your own. Astro City is a comic that makes you think, even well after you’ve put it down. That’s its strength.

 Convergence #1


Now for the main event.


The stakes are really high in this series. Though it does have a “Battleworld” sort of feel to it (thanks to a friend who coined that one for me – can I be sued for that?) it’s also pretty significant in that there isn’t going to be a resolution of all the various universes in the DC cosmology – it’s an elimination match.

Now, I’m actually pretty concerned about this. If you haven’t figured out my point of view when it comes to publishing universes, I’m all about preserving both continuums and continuity. Chris Claremont once told me that was an editor’s job to figure out, but I have to go one step further and say that it’s a writer’s responsibility to know about his characters and where they fit, but also about the consequences of omitting those details when writing in a shared universe.

I don’t want to see some of these universes disappear.

I see Convergence as the possible definitive benchmark that DC was hoping all of the other publishing events were supposed to be – though to be fair, I don’t think that any have had the positive effects that the original Crisis on Infinite Earths had. For the most part, that was a real story-building event that created some majorly and positive epic characters and after-effects. The New 52 matched it in effect, but failed to reach the same level of significance. As a side note, it was pretty cool to see those events and the others in between get a nod from Telos in this comic.

All the cities have been collected and the appearance of Flashpoint’s Thomas Wayne and other familiar characters have been elected to introduce Telos – Brainiac’s servant to determine which representatives of the multiverse will become dominant.

Convergence #1 was a pretty dramatic and thoughtful entrance into this huge undertaking. I was entertained but I was more provoked into thinking about the events that are to come. I’m hoping this is good because it certainly has the potential to be.  But let’s look at some of the other comics that are included in this event.

 Convergence Question #1


Our first look at life under the domes as the separated cities experience isolation and their culture breaking down into anarchy. It’s a real look at how Renee Montoya along with the Huntress are struggling to keep order along with a few surprise helpers like Poison Ivy and Harvey Dent. Dent is the real focus in this story and it’s definitely an engaging one by Greg Rucka whose story telling skills have never failed to entertain me. A good foray into the worlds of Convergence.

 Convergence Justice League #1


Not the Justice League story I was expecting. Remember that time when Zatanna decided to hold a girl’s night out? Well, this comic kinda rips on that story where a de-powered Supergirl, Zatanna, Black Canary, Vixen and Jade are in a Gotham under a dome for a year after a baby shower. A pining Mera is with them. However, in a neighbouring dome, the Atlantis from Flashpoint is beside them. We’ll talk about that later.

Sorry for the spoilers ahead …

Just as Telos makes his announcement (as shown in Convergence #1) and lifts all the domes, the girls get their powers back … only to find that Mera has been kidnapped by Crazy King Arthur from Flashpoint. Remember his Mera was killed, right? Well, in King Arthur’s mind, the gods have given them another chance and he decides to abduct Mera and force his love upon her.

That’s pretty much it. It was a little weak, especially considering that this was a Justice League story. I was expecting the heavy-hitters to show up, not the second stringers and in a lame story idea like this. I wasn’t too impressed with this book, but it’s got to start from somewhere, I suppose.

 Convergence: The Atom #1


Yeah … again, not overly impressed with this one. Ray Palmer is insane and under the dome, he still seems to have his powers … or not. That wasn’t overly clear. Also, Slade Wilson is around and chooses the time after a year of being hidden in this displaced Gotham  to show up and face the Atom after being called out on television … well, it was all a little vague and weird.

I’ve always felt that the Atom was an under-rated character and in the pages of The 52 (not the New 52 – don’t get them mixed up now), poor Ray Palmer got a bit of a raw deal. Of course, his successor, Ryan Choi got a worse one in the years to come afterwards, but I was hoping for a bit of redemption for this character.

What’s cool about this event is that with the separated cities, there’s a dynamic that’s common to all of them that sees super heroes directly interacting with the innocents they’re supposed to be protecting. It’s a very positive dynamic and one that needs to be admired even it is only a unexpected side effect of the story telling that has to be done within the trapped confines of kidnapped cities.

 Marvel Comics

 Ant-Man #4


The cover completely sold me on this issue, even before I opened it. I mean, I‘m a sucker for anything classically 80’s driven and the arch-typical Tubbs and Crockett scene from Miami Vice days on the cover really hooked me. That tells me this is a comic where the creators are having fun.

While the humour is an amazing and essential backdrop for the real story in this book, what’s also really awesome is the way that Nick Spencer uses third-rate villains and stooges as major characters in this book. We know they’re no-names, but really, so is Scott Lang. Everyone assumes he’s Hank Pym or an exterminator. It’s great to see the little jokes like Lang considering dental and health benefits for his fledgling company while avoiding a trained security cadre until … WHAM! You’re suddenly hit by the cliffhanger. The pacing is really well done in this book and I’m definitely keeping it on my list.

 Darth Vader #4


Definitely a lot of fun to see Vader scrambling from the bottom to get back on top again. The dialogue is immendley clipped and minimalist, which is completely in line with Vader’s character. In this issue we see the Dark Lord of the Sith return to Geonosis in search of an active droid factory to create a much-needed private army. However, it’s the characters of the two killer droids and the rogue archeologist he picked up in Issue #3 that have captured my attention. Though Vader is a lone wolf, it’s definitely satisfying to see him develop an ersatz chemistry with these incredibly intriguing and entertaining characters. There are also a few flashbacks into his Revenge of the Sith days that can be seen that provide some authenticity to the story. Kieron Gillen knows what he’s doing with this character and this comic and marvel had better not let him go.

So the pick of the week has got to go to:

Convergence #1

Actually, I am a bit surprised, to be honest. I really enjoyed Marvel’s Darth Vader more and Ant-Man #4 was just a hell of a lot of fun. But I think it’s the daring nature of Convergence that has my attention. The sheer scope of this comic’s objective is to bring a degree of order to an entire collection of universes! Even if they don’t exist, I still feel that to be a daunting task of cosmological magnitude. In all candor, I am awed by the range of this undertaking and I truly want it to succeed.

DC, the ball is in your court. You have my attention, along with millions of other fans. Please don’t screw this one up!

However, that’s what a major publishing event is supposed to do, right? They have our attention, and even if they do screw it up, they have our dollars. Still, I’m hoping that the line between artistic integrity and profit will be satisfied in this undertaking.

So I’m doing my bit and giving it my endorsement as it stands right now. Make it a good one, guys, please?

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.

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