So, I admit it's been a while. I've been rethinking the format of Comics Shotglass Reviews since 2016 began, because while I read comics weekly, it can be hard to write sizable reviews for each and every comic I read. Hell, it's hard to do it for just the best and the brightest each week, with all of the other work I have. (USgamer is gracious enough to let me talk comics, movies, and television, but video games come first.)
So while I'm figuring out the new format, the column will change and morph until I have something I'm happy with. I want to get this back on track, but I also want to expand with the occasional graphic novel spotlight for readers who don't collect weekly comics and branch out to some other mediums. So, for the foreseeable future, just take this as "under construction".
- Written by Brian Michael Bendis
- Art by Sara Pichelli, Gaetano Carlucci, Justin Ponsor
Following the world-shattering and world-fixing events of Secret Wars, Ultimate Universe Spider-Man Miles Morales is now a denizen of the Prime Marvel Universe. (The 616 moniker is gone. The Marvel Universe in the comics is the first one created under the new order.) For his trouble in standing up to Doctor Doom in Battleworld, Miles' friends and family were given a one way ticket to the big time. Even his mother came back to life.
This is a setup issue, letting you know where Miles stands in relation to his world. He's New York City's Spider-Man, taking over for a Peter Parker who's setting his sights globally. He's an Avenger. And he's also bombing out of school hard. I guess you can't have everything.
The interesting thing about Miles in high school is his contrast between Peter at the same age; thanks to the out-of-continuity Spidey comic, we get to see both young Spider-Men side-by-side. Miles is a far more proactive Spider-Man. While Peter was driven by a sense of guilt from not preventing Uncle Ben's death, Miles is Spider-Man because he can't stand to not use his powers to save people. (His mother is no longer dead, and there's no indication if he remembers his time in the Ultimate Universe.) When he tries to leave class in response to police sirens, his teacher is unwilling to let Miles go to the bathroom. In response, Miles leave anyways, no good reason given. Saving people as Spider-Man takes priority over his day-to-day life.
Later in the issue, when Miles is fighting the villain with the rest of the Avengers, he doesn't hesitate to scoop up Captain America's shield to protect himself. Young Peter would be awed by the weight of what it represents; Miles has that moment, but then it's back to being a hero using the tools at his disposal.
The clear setup here is that the dual identity thing isn't going to work for Miles. Something has to give. His grades are tanking, which is worrying his mother. (His father knows he's Spider-Man.) Unlike a young Peter Parker, Miles has no problem asking girls out, but can't keep them because superhero stuff is always getting in the way. His best friend Ganke is absolutely right; he needs a girlfriend who understands why he might be an hour late to a date. But who will that be?
It's a solid take by Bendis, who no longer has to worry about grand Ultimate Universe crossovers derailing the hard work of establishing who Miles Morales is. (Now he has to worry about Marvel Universe crossovers.) I hope he gets a chance to let Miles shine through and build on his ongoing apprenticeship under Peter Parker. Spider-Man #1 is a bit late to the game, but it feels like it was worth the wait.
- Written by Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder
- Art by Ardian Syaf, Jonathan Glapion, Scott Hanna, Sandra Hope, Tomeu Morey, Wil Quintana
Superman continues to change. We're at the penultimate issue of Greg Pak's run on Action Comics and while it's been a bit uneven, Pak probably has the best handle on New 52 Superman of any writer to date. He's got the right mix of nobility and brashness to make him heroic, but interesting. He enjoys getting into a good scrap, but his heart is in the right place.
In this issue, up is down as Superman finds himself now powered by Kryptonite. The events that stole his powers in the first place were started by the immortal Vandal Savage and to give himself a fighting chance, Superman mainlines some kryptonite. It's a last ditch effort that looks like it'll only last a single issue, but the effects are interesting.
Superman has been roughing it for the latter part of Pak's run, with a diminished powerset. His joy here at finally being powerful again is understandable. And he is joyful, with Wonder Woman noting that she hasn't seen him smile in quite a while. That happiness is what makes this Superman a bit more human than his previous perfect counterpart. And despite that, he does the right thing, saving people whenever he can. That's a strong Superman and Pak gets it. I'm sad to see his run coming to an end.
- Written by Tom King
- Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire
Vision is the oddest comic Marvel publishes and this is the company that releases Squirrel Girl every month. The Vision has wiped his emotions and created a family: his wife Virginia and his two kids Viv and Vin. The idea is Vision is trying to learn what it means to be human by living the in suburbs of DC. Unfortunately, the Grim Reaper attacked the family while Vision was away and in response, Virginia killed him. So the family is keeping it from Vision, Virginia is being blackmailed by someone who saw her dispose of the body, Viv is healing from the attack, and Vin is slowly losing any connection with humanity at all.
The weird thing about Vision is it's not about Vision. The book is entirely about his family and the dark things they experience while he's off saving the world as an Avenger. It's about a father who believes that his family is all that's right and normal with the world. That couldn't be further from the truth. This is a family drama about secrets and lies. The house of cards is already crashing down around him and Vision doesn't even know it. This is like something that belongs in the Black Mirror.
Damn, this is a great book.
Here's where I'll post a cool panel or two from comics with only a few words. This is more about letting you folks know about something cool I read, without going too far into detail.
- Written by Al Ewing
- Art by Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, David Curiel
Marvel Comics has let Al Ewing bring back Night Thrasher in 2016. He's like Batman with a skateboard. All is right with the world.
- Written by Charles Soule
- Art by Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten, Sunny Gho
The son of Black Bolt and Medusa is super-powerful and super-scary.
- Written by Kelly Thompson, G. Willow Wilson
- Art by Jorge Molina, Laura Martin
The book relies wholly on knowing the events of the previous A-Force mini during Secret Wars, but it's a ton of fun otherwise. Dazzler is the best.