Comics Shotglass Reviews for 02/10/2016: Into The Unknown

Comics Shotglass Reviews for 02/10/2016: Into The Unknown

Deadpool is out in theatres this week, but who needs movies when you have comics?

Week two of the new format continues apace! All-New, All-Different Marvel is settling into its groove, DC Comics post-Convergence is about to undergo some more changes, and Image is going in hard on new series and mini-series. Let's see what I felt was some of the best or most interesting work out there this week!

As always, links to each book are below; just click on the comic titles and it'll take you to the Comixology page for that book. I tend to keep spoilers to a minimum, but I promise nothing.

Ultimates #4

Written by Al Ewing
Art by Kenneth Rocafort, Dan Brown

This is technically a book under the Avengers line-up, but what Ewing and Rocafort are actually creating is a book that fills the hole left by the absence of the Fantastic Four. Following the events of Secret Wars, the FF as a team of explorers and superheroes is off the table for the time being. The Ultimates are set up with super-science and considerable resources to solve problems that other heroes don't even see coming. Sure, there are five on the team - Blue Marvel, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spectrum, and Ms. America - but how their adventures play out is very much in the Fantastic Four style.

This issue is primarily about fleshing out the world of Adam Brashear, the Blue Marvel. Introduced in his own standalone mini-series in 2008, Blue Marvel hasn't had the history some of the other Ultimates carry. This is a cliff notes to some of the major points in his life, like how he gained his powers and how those powers affected his friendships and family.

The Ultimates are attempting to get outside of the Prime universe to fix some temporal anomalies. To do so, they're heading through the Neutral Zone, a plce where matter and anti-matter co-exist. This space is large part of Blue Marvel's origins, so they end up meeting a former friend of his who eventually became the villain Anti-Man. The man who killed his wife. They also meet Kevin Brashear, Adam's oldest son and the first human to step outside of the Omniverse.

In the end, this issue reinforces the Ultimates' mission statement. Sure, they have heavy hitters like Spectrum and Captain Marvel, but the point is to solve problems, and that's frequently not done at the end of a fist. Anti-Man has hurt Adam and his family, but he's also a former friend in need of help. Solving his problem and potentially reforming him is better than punching him. Keeping him locked away somewhere isn't a real solution and Ewing's Ultimates understand that.

Personally, Ultimates is the best Avengers book Marvel has right now, even if it's not really an Avengers book.

Batman #49

Written by Scott Synder, James Tynion IV
Art by Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbairn

Batman is not Bruce Wayne. Jim Gordon carries the name, wearing a robotic suit to help him fight crime. He does not operate out of Wayne Manor. He is not helped by Alfred Pennyworth, but instead by a trained team of police officers. Bruce Wayne is a philanthropist with a beard, who lacks the training and prowess to be the Batman. This is the current status quo.

Things have begun to fall apart for Bruce Wayne. Gordon has fallen to new villain Mr. Bloom and Bruce Wayne is all that's left. His amnesia is fading and he remembers his calling again, but he still lacks the skills of Batman. His last ditch effort is a machine built by Batman to ensure that Gotham would always have a Batman. A machine that would pass the skills and the drive onto a clone. So this Bruce Wayne, one unencumbered by Batman, must dive in to take on the mantle once again.

The issue is split betweem this story and a window into other Batmen, as Bruce Wayne becomes Batman again and again, ultimately failing each time. In the end, someone, neither Bruce Wayne or Alfred, has to make the ultimate sacrifice: Bruce Wayne, the calm and happy adult who's not haunted by the deaths of his parents, must die for Batman to live.

It's a sad statement and testament to what drives Batman, that someone cannot be him without being that fundamentally broken. (The closest we've gotten was the excellent Dick Grayson era.)

Second Sight #1

Written by David Hine
Art by Alberto Ponticelli, John Kalisz

Ray Pilgrim is a psychic. Ray Pilgrim is also a serial killer. Well, to be honest, the spirit that possesses him, that only he can see, is the serial killer. (I doubt the police would understand the distinction.) As Ray's ghost kills others, Ray is able to use his psychic powers and unique look into the minds of serial killers to help the police catch other murderers.

The book takes place in two times. In the past, when Ray first began to use his powers for good and evil, and in the present day, when Ray's daughter Toni is trying to expose the Wednesday Club. The Club is a powerful group of individuals who have allegedly been kidnapping, abusing, and killing young children. If Ray doesn't want Toni to fall to the Club next, then he needs get back in the game.

This first issue is worldbuilding for Hine, establishing Ray's particular situation between him and his horrific alter-ego, including the current ruin that is his life. Second Sight has impressed me enough with the premise - the art was a bit spotty in this first issue - that I'll give issue #2 a chance to kick thing into high gear.

Quick Shots

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.

The Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond the Stars #4

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Nick Pitarra, Michael Garland

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and former dog Laika have been cruising the deepest reaches of space, getting caught up in all sorts of shenanigans. Here, their adventure comes to an end, and a civilization falls. Great end to this - mini-series? - in the ongoing Manhattan Projects story.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #5

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Mahmud Asrar, Dave McCaig

The Vision is evil, Kang is back, Captain America is really confused about his kiss with Thor, Ms. Marvel's out of the team, and Spider-Man is the smart one, staying out of all the drama. Waid is starting to get on track and Asrar is a better artist than Kubert for this series. Not firing on all cylinders yet, but getting better.

Deadpool #7

Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Scott Koblish, Nick Filardi

Deadpool memory is on the fritz and all he has to go by is a book of past wrongs done against him. So begins Deadpool's quest to get back at all those people. This book is always fun.

Oh, and Deadpool is out in theatres this week. Go and see it!

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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