On the Panel

Apr 29, 2014 | Posted by in Comics

Daredevil (2014) #2

Matt Murdock continues to adjust to life in San Francisco and we see a little of who the major players in the criminal element are on the West Coast.

I actually really liked the description of a hero that seemed like it was talking about Daredevil but turned out to actually be another blind superhero by name of The Shroud. At around the halfway point the expository backstory of The Shroud feels a little clunky but it was perhaps unavoidable given the obscurity of the character.

Matt’s setup of working for the Mayor’s office in his capacity as Daredevil is further explored here and the more I see of it, the more convinced I am that it’s the right direction for the character. Mark Waid is handling a character with his identity in the public domain far better than the Spider-Man comics did in the aftermath of Civil War. Looks like there will be no retcon to undo that character change. I also liked Matt’s reaction to The Owl being the equivalent to The Kingpin around these parts.

Overall, great stuff and -some clunky exposition aside- it was a very tight story that furthered the opening arc nicely. Daredevil feels incredibly fresh right now and it’s a joy to read.

Fantastic Four (2014) #3

I was expecting more from the big revelation in the last issue that The Human Torch is now without his powers. I remember a Johnny Storm who loved having super powers and the thought of losing them was something that he likely couldn’t live with. It was kind of the opposite to Ben Grimm’s outlook when the team started out.

Johnny’s reaction is pretty passive, he accepts what has happened and asks Reed to let him know if he can reverse the effects but doesn’t hold out much hope since Reed has been unable to cure Ben of his powers. I can accept that Johnny is happier with other aspects of his life than he used to be but I did expect something a bit more terms of emotion here. I do like that Ben and Johnny seem to have the opposite problem that is actually the same problem, creates the potential for an interesting dynamic.

The rest of the issue is primarily exposition, Valeria explains through a letter that she’s off to live with Doctor Doom for a while for whatever reason, other characters explain other things to one another and we are shown the new Frightful Four -they’re basically the Wrecking Crew being led by The Wizard-.

I’m hopeful that since the exposition is out of the way that the narrative pace can quicken and they can get back to telling a good story again because I was impressed by the first two issues of this comic.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.3. #14

The hundredth issue of this comic, despite the fact that it’s the third volume of it with a new numbering system as well as being actually issue 101 (the comic does point out that fact) splits the narrative into three stories concerning the titular heroes.

Up first is a story concerning Starlord’s father taking down The Guardians of the Galaxy one by one. As stories go it’s fairly average, there’s a good part where Starlord is struggling to get to sleep and the conversation with his father is alright but it’s not all that exciting when all is said and done, perhaps the excitement comes in the next part of the story. I do like that Venom is in the lineup now and the reaction that aliens have to “the parasite” really piqued my interest.

The second story is an origin story for Groot -the tree- which I actually really liked, there was no dialogue beyond that one thing Groot ever says but the visual imagery was very striking and the story flowed nicely from one panel to the next.

Closing off the issue is a short story featuring the first team to be called Guardians of the Galaxy who are still stuck in the 31st century. The story all but tells us they’re coming back to the past which is something I genuinely look forward to.

Overall, this book wasn’t a very good anniversary issue in that it doesn’t really celebrate anything. Aside from the Groot short the stories only serve to set up events that are yet to come in the comic, while that’s not a bad idea in itself there’s just not a lot else here. As I was starting to get engaged in the individual stories I was thrown into the next one. Above average stuff all around but not by much.

Original Sin #0

With this summer’s event due to start this issue gives a little bit of insight into Uatu -The Watcher- and what he represents, arguably this could be seen as a bit of a jumping on point for new readers. This has been something that Marvel has been doing a lot of these days and I can’t fault them for it at all. Anything that doesn’t betray the character while allowing new readers to become interested is good by me.

The reader is represented in this tale through Sam Alexander’s Nova who is fairly new to the identity. I liked the quick backstory we were given of him finding his father’s helmet and finding himself caught up in all these cosmic happenings. Sam seems like a fairly ordinary and relatable character in these pages which helps the reader grasp the massive world he is suddenly a part of.

Uatu comes across as distant an alien, barely saying a word throughout the comic and there is a great summary of his background going back quite far -inclusive of his “original sin”- which lets us see a side to him that is so seldom shown. I liked that we actually saw him watching other realities which featured cameos from the several What If? realities that we’ve seen over the years.

Much more of a mood piece than an actual story but no less effective, we are given interesting background into the two characters featured here and this comic does a nice job of setting up Original Sin in the sense of helping the reader to care about why killing Uatu is such a massive and tragic event.

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #12

The final issue of this comic coming a week after the final issue of Superior Spider-Man and it’s a strong ending to such a good series. As well as being the finale it serves as the second part of Doc Ock’s encounter with Norman Osborn that began in the last issue and left us on a cliffhanger after Norman infected a woman that Ock loved with a deadly virus.

Most of this issue details Ock’s desire for revenge which surprisingly includes him trying to beat Norman to death. I liked this as it was nicely in character for Ock, he was always an intelligent and calculating man but he was not above losing his temper should something push him far enough. This issue explores those two sides to the character in an organic way and details an obsession that grew from his hatred of Norman Osborn following this event.

Something this issue does very well is highlights the similarities between Ock and Peter Parker, the two of them found a nemesis in Norman Osborn, a man who killed women that both men loved. The parallel is a very effective one and lends much more gravity to the conflict in the last issues of Superior Spider-Man, I really like the idea that the conflict is a personal one for the two men that shared a body and the recognition from Ock that it would take Peter to stop Osborn. It seems that getting revenge through Osborn being stopped even if he’s not the one to do it is enough for Ock and he could die content with that knowledge. There is some confusion in the issue when it switches narrators from Peter to Ock in the final two pages, it does give an effective epilogue to both the story and the comic as a whole but the switch is somewhat clumsy.

Overall, I really liked this. The story was tight and the characters were all spot on, the story makes Ock a sympathetic character and treats him with respect. I like that Peter’s narration is filled with respect for his fallen foe. As you may have seen I don’t often comment on artwork but it was particularly striking here, the style was reminiscent of the 90s which is when the stories referenced in this were written, was a nice touch to have this blend in artistically. As an epilogue this works well in general and pays due respect to the characters involved.

What If? Age of Ultron #4

Yet another installment of What If Random Avengers had just randomly dropped dead at random points? Again, the story wasn’t bad but it really is horribly mistitled. This could all have been folded into the one shot What If? mold and nobody would really have cared but the lack of adherence to the title character is very bizarre.

Anyway, the unfortunate Avenger to die in this issue is none other than Captain America himself, appearing to die before he was even unfrozen. This causes Tony Stark and the rest of the Illuminati to come up with an idea of bringing back Captain America because the symbol is important to America more so than the man. The candidate chosen is surprising Frank Castle AKA The Punisher, most likely because of his military background and training. The results are spectacular, lots of people are saved, crises averted and the symbolic nature of Captain America goes down a treat. So much so that many more Captain Americas are created, one for each state at first and the symbol grows.

I liked this issue, I thought the idea of Frank Castle becoming Captain America was great and it was fun to see him acclimating to that role and finding a form of redemption in himself through these actions. There was a touching moment where a young woman comes face to face with him years after his retirement and sees him as a hero even if he doesn’t. The idea of Frank Castle becoming more heroic and less self serving vigilante is something I would like to see folded into the mainstream continuity at some point. I doubt that it’ll happen but given all the changes that the characters seem to have been undergoing of late it might not be outside the realms of possibility, as with everything time will certainly tell.

Batman Eternal #3

Loved this issue, the plot moved forward at a nice pace and the character beats were spot on. We see that Gordon isn’t alone within the police force and his reputation alone is enough to earn him implicit trust by some of those under him -well just one in this issue but it’s mentioned there are more- which gives him some support when things inevitably fall apart very soon.

I really liked the use of Batman in this issue doing what he does best, busting down doors and interrogating people. He’s single mindedly looking for Carmine Falcone and threatens The Penguin -among others- who apparently knows nothing. Batman’s dedication to his friend’s cause is unsurprising yet handled very well here, I really like the undercurrent of impatience in his actions shown by the lack of finesse to his interrogations.

Another great thing about this issue is the use of teenage Stephanie Brown who inadvertently finds out about her villain father which finds her on the wrong side of a gun. She is written very much like a teenager and feels real in ever speech bubble, she’s seemingly innocent and in over her head in all of this, I look forward to further development on this.

Making Forbes the head of Gotham P.D. in Gordon’s absence and the instant announcement of the war on Batman sets up some great potential story threads to come, I always love stories where Batman is fighting the police and is in a situation where the law and the criminals are out to get them, should be some great drama upcoming.

What else can I say other than I loved this? It was well written, well drawn, well paced and sets things up nicely for what will come next. Colour me interested.

Superman (2011) #30

Seems that Doomed is pretty much upon us and it’s actually off to a pretty good start here. I haven’t read an awful lot of New 52 Superman so it’s good to see that he’s being handled well here.

The story involves Superman returning to his alter ego’s home town of Smallville because their is something strange going on there. He reads the Kryptonian symbols for “Doom” as crop circles and finds a hugely radioactive being called The Eradicator -specifically The Eradicator of Krypton- who is there to warn Superman that Earth will die a horrible death and Superman can do nothing to stop it.

Secondary plots include the residents of the bottle city of Kandor about to escape and Lois Lane apparently mind controlled by some being called the collector, the latter going somewhat over my head but I hope it’ll become relevant so that I can get caught up on the backstory.

I liked this because it has a huge sense of foreboding to it, it was light on action -save for Superman being punched into space- and heavy on tone. There is a definite sense that something big is coming and knowing what I do about Doomsday, it’s not going to be an easy problem to solve. Quite excited for Doomed I must say.