Comics Shotglass Reviews for 10/14/15: Somewhat New, Kinda Different

Comics Shotglass Reviews for 10/14/15: Somewhat New, Kinda Different

Old-school Superman is back for all those who can't leave the past behind.

This week I'm going to kick off my preamble with a few comics that I read, but weren't worth a full review. Strange Fruit #2, a tale of a black Superman-type figure in 1920s Deep South, moves rather slow again this issue. Things happen, but I feel like not much is driving forward? I'm not sure if that's Waid's writing of Jones' art lacking impact. A-Force #5 is solid wrap up to the Secret Wars mini series, with heroine ex-machina Singularity cleaning everything up at the end. I assume Singularity will be the force that brings the Marvel Universe A-Force back together and Marvel's smart to keep Jorge Molina on art because he does a great job here.

Happy Quicksilver is a good change though.

Uncanny Avengers #1 was really uneven, both from Duggan's writing and Stegman's art. A larger part of the problem I've had with this title is the team is generally unlikable and that hasn't changed in this incarnation. They don't seem like they enjoy each other, so the act of reading about their adventures isn't all that enjoyable either. Spider-Gwen #1 is pretty much a direct continuation of the previous series, so if you read that, you'll be right at home here. I am liking her version of Captain America though.

This week, I'm covering Superman: Lois and Clark #1, Captain America: Sam Wilson #1, Switch #1, Spider-Man 2009 #1, Batman #45, and Ms. Marvel #19. Walking Dead #147 is also on the docket, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Like always, this series highlights just a few of the comic books on sale each week, without delving into heavy spoilers. If you're interested in any book, click on the title and it'll take you to that book's Comixology page. Let us proceed.

Superman: Lois and Clark #1

Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Lee Weeks, Scott Hanna, Brad Anderson

This is very confusing. This ongoing series spins out of the Convergence: Superman book, but instead of taking place in a different universe, it takes place in the current DC Universe. This Superman, who for all intents and purposes is the Superman we had prior to the New 52, is now a refugee on Earth Prime with Lois and their son Jon. Say hello to the Whites. (That's not a joke, that's their new last name.)

This is the same thing that happened in the Star Trek reboots with Spock, but the difference is Spock isn't a nigh-invulnerable superhuman and we don't have a book focused on him. The issue is illustrated right from the outset of the book: Superman was there when the Justice League first came together to fight Darkseid, but he just watched from a nearby building. That means anytime the current DCU was in trouble - Throne of Atlantis, Trinity War, Forever Evil, Doomed - the classic Superman has been on hand and just decided to do nothing. It's the same problem I had with Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows: in order to accommodate a family, a superhero has to stop being their very best.

So old Superman has been quietly fixing things like natural disasters, keeping tabs on people who could potentially become his old villains, and raising his son in rural California. It's a solid premise and what's here is pretty good, I just feel it undermines the original Superman and his current counterpart. That said, like Renew Your Vows, most classic Superman fans won't care, because they get to see their Superman back in action again. If that's enough for you, Jurgens and team have you covered.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #1

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Daniel Acuna

When I picked up the other All-New, All-Different Marvel titles, this is a bit closer to what I expected. If you're not up to speed, the original Captain America (Steve Rogers) had his super-soldier serum removed, so he's old now. Given that status quo, the mantle of Captain America has passed on to his longtime partner Sam Wilson, also known as the Falcon. Rick Remender was the architect of this status quo, but honestly he didn't do wonders with Wilson. Spencer has a more compelling take here.

In recent times, Rogers has had the backing of the US government and SHIELD, having been the director of that spy organization at times. Sam Wilson on the other hand is a different man. Pulled from our current events, Sam feels the country is heading in the wrong direction and Captain America is supposed to be the very best that our country has to offer. So Sam takes a public stand and separates from the government and SHIELD, vowing to work for the people directly. He even sets up a video hotline so citizens can reach out to him for help directly. (Bless his heart, he mostly gets what you'd expect from the internet.)

After years of Steve Rogers toeing the status quo, Sam Wilson goes a different direction and takes his lumps for it. This Cap now rides coach. This Cap puts criminals away, but SHIELD generally gives him the cold shoulder. He's got new partners in Misty Knight and a reformed D-Man. He gets help from his brother's church. And he's fighting the Sons of the Serpent in Arizona to help illegal immigrants. Sam Wilson is what Captain America should be in our modern era: Doing what's right regardless of where it lands you. Great start at making Sam Wilson a great Captain America.

Switch #1

Written by Stjepan Sejic
Art by Stjepan Sejic

This is apparently based on a webcomic, but I've never really been into the whole Witchblade or Darkness thing, so it's all-new to me. Switch is a self-contained redux of the whole Witchblade story, with the mythical weapon being the confluence between the Darkness and the Angelus, two forces as old as the universe. Passed down through history, the Witchblade is the balance between both forces. That balance has now passed onto Mary, an average high school student.

This feels like an Ultimate-style reimagining of both Top Cow properties. Sara Pezzini, the classic Witchblade wielder, doesn't seem to be anywhere to be found. Tony Estacado is the bearer of the Darkness, not Jackie, but he has no idea what his birthright entails. And Mary seems to be able to call on the souls of previous Witchblade bearers to fuel her powers. Well, "call on" isn't quite right. They can take her over… and not all of the bearers were good people.

As someone who only tangentially knows these characters, this was a great start for this series. The story is solid, the characters are likeable and Sejic is absolutely killing it on the art duties as well. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

New Avengers #1

Written by Al Ewing
Art by Gerardo Sandoval, Dono Sanchez Almara

New Avengers reads like Grant Morrison Lite. All the oddness and the random screaming of Morrison's work has found it's way into this title.

I like everything here in concept. Ewing did great work on Mighty Avengers and Sandoval is a decent artist with shades of Joe Mad. Songbird, Hulking, Wiccan, Squirrel Girl, Power Man, White Tiger, and Sunspot is a solid team. A.I.M. as an Avengers Science Squad? The Maker as a villian? Man, this all sounds good.

It just doesn't come together all that well and for the life of me, I can't understand why. There's some good moments in this book, but I'm not feeling them as a team yet. I think I need to know what differs the science Avengers from the regular Avengers. Why do we need this team? I trust Ewing will answer that question, but for now, we're flailing around a bit.

Spider-Man 2099 #1

Written by Peter David
Art by Will Sliney, Frank D'Armata

Miguel O'Hara used to be Spider-Man in the year 2099. Then he was brought forward into the modern Marvel Universe. Now, he's not even Spider-Man anymore, working as the head of Research and Development at Parker Industries New York. (Yes, Peter Parker's company.)

In his digs, he's got a great office, a solid executive team, and a temporal portal that takes him back to 2099 any time he wants. Unfortunately, 2099 is a hell hole at the moment; Miguel's main motivation is figuring out what he needs to change in the present to get "his" 2099 back. Other than that, life is great, to the point that O'Hara has no desire to be Spider-Man anymore. Why should he, when there's Peter, Miles, Silk, and Spider-Woman around to protect New York?

This issue is a lot like Iron Man from last week. It's all setup until David kicks things into high gear with that last page. Hell, Miguel is never in costume in this issue. Despite that, the ending teases bigger things to come even, if the outcome was horribly predictable. There's also hints that something is not quite right here, with an appearance by Roberta Mendez, who was Captain America 2099 during Secret Wars. Is this another merge to the current Marvel timeline?

Batman #45

Written by Scott Synder
Art by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, Fco Plascencia

Synder and company are still working out who this new Batman is, both from a philosophy standpoint and a capability one. This issue asks, can Batman really work if he's part of a larger system? Gordon initially believed so, but in his desire to catch a villain, he had to go off the grid, becoming more like the Batman of old. Was that the right course of action? What's better: the Batman who will do anything to save his city or the Batman who works within the system?

Alongside that plot and the build-up of the new adversary, Mr. Bloom, we're also getting more time with Bruce Wayne. Wayne lacks the memories and the fighting prowess that made him Batman, so now he has to find out who Bruce Wayne is. Wayne was previously a mask for Batman; without the Bat, what does he do with his life?

This issue also has this Batman getting his Robin in roundabout way, with Duke Thomas eliciting help from the new Batman's pit crew. I'm looking forward to seeing Thomas being brought into this book more often, even while he headlines the ensemble cast over in We Are Robin. There's room for the character in both books, especially if he's going to live up to his hinted potential.

Ms. Marvel #19

Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring

Ms. Marvel wraps up in fine style. Kamala Khan is one of the best new characters to come from Marvel in a long time. This issue is the end of the first volume of this title, taking place before the events of Secret Wars. We already know that this book will be coming back under the All-New, All-Different banner under the same team, but this issue caps off a number of relationships built up over the course of this run.

The most resonate ones are handled at the beginning and end of the book. The first is Kamala's talk with her mother, who revealed last issue that she knew about her daughter's extracurricular activities. It's a great moment over a couple of pages, especially coming after Kamala's team-up with her idol, Captain Marvel.

The ending is also pitch perfect, with Kamala and her best friend Bruno talking about the feelings that have been building up over the course of this run. I won't spoil the decision Kamala makes in regards to their relationship, but it's one that's right for the character. Really, this entire issue - which features no fighting - is just full of love and the connections between the people in Kamala's life. It doesn't quite hit the high bar set by Al Ewing's last issue of Mighty Avengers, but it's great.

Looking forward to Kamala moving on to bigger things!

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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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