Comics Shotglass Reviews for 7/22/2015

Comics Shotglass Reviews for 7/22/2015

Conqueror kings, hot spies, failed superheroes, and a magical fixer headline this week's comics highlights.

Another week, another set of quick looks and musings about this week's comics. If you've missed my first two weekly articles, 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. This week, we've got Cyborg #1, Uncanny X-Men #35, Grayson #10, Wolf #1, Old Man Logan #3, and Weirdworld #2.

Cyborg #1

Written by David Walker
Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

Cyborg has been a contentious character in the New 52. Victor Stone has always been a hero that's associated with the Teen Titans. The classic Justice League is usually comprised of the Big Seven: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. In the New 52, Martian Manhunter was given a different direction, becoming a more closed-off, stoic figure. In his place, writer Geoff Johns put Cyborg, partially because he's one of his favorite characters and partially (I assume) because the Big Seven is pretty white.

The issue here is Cyborg is pretty boring. He always has been. He's got a solid premise as a healthy athelete who lost that only to become a hero, but he doesn't have a good direction. Like Ben Grimm, fixing his condition would remove Cyborg from the narrative playing field. Outside of the half-metal head, he also doesn't have a strong, visual style. I wouldn't say he was the least interesting member of the Teen Titans, but he's pretty close.

You can even see that in the New 52. Since his debut in Justice League #1 four years ago, Cyborg has had three different designs. I liked his last one, which he gained at the end of DC's Forever Evil crossover last year, but a new book means a new look. He's also done little more than be the Justice League's chauffeur, teleporting them from place to place.

Which brings us to Cyborg #1, which attempts and succeeds in giving young Victor Stone a personality. He's a bit self-deprecating and his relationship issues are clear, but he's immediately likable. Here, Victor is a non-scientist surrounded by scientists. Walker has him questioning his identity: is he Victor Stone, a person deserving of notice, or the living technology that's been left in his place for study?

Walker also attempts to give Cyborg a new villain, but it's more of a force than an opposite number at this point. Like other new solo books in DC's line - Starfire and Martian Manhunter - this opening issue is more about setting the chess board than kicking off the story proper. Decent, but I think I'll need a full arc to get a feel for it.

Uncanny X-Men #35

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Valero Schiti, Richard Isanove

This is an odd issue. The cover is Cyclops and Emma Frost by Kris Anka, who was the solicited artist, but the interior deals mainly with Cyclops' new recruits now that their leader has left the Revolution behind.

As new heroes, though they're continuing to do what they did under Cyclops' tutelage - protecting errant mutants - these characters are treated well by the media. That is until the media finds out that they're mutants, at which point the people turn on them. This has been the biggest issue with the X-Men's integration into the Marvel Universe: What's the real difference between mutants and those who gain their powers through other means? The public treats one completely different, even though they're functionally the same when it comes down to it. A powered person is a powered person and being born that way shouldn't really matter.

Now, you can say that fits with real-world racism: why do people hate a person of X background and not a person of Y background? But in-universe, many of the Avengers have proven to be as dangerous as the mutants. Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk have all been tied to fairly large horrific events, yet don't seem to suffer the same issue. And that's before you get to the fact many of the card-carrying, well-loved Avengers are mutants themselves. Are we supposed to assume the public thinks they're "the good ones"? I do wish Marvel would sit down and explore this a bit more, but alas.

This issue could do more on that end, but in the it doesn't. This is Bendis putting his toys back in the box as he's ending his run. He did the same in Avengers, wrapping up most of his plotlines in a few rushed issues and that's what's happening here. Next issue is Uncanny #600, the end to his run and the last hurrah of Cyclops for the foreseeable future.

Grayson #10

Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Mikel Janin, Jeremy Cox

Every month I wonder why Dick Grayson doesn't have a show on the CW. He's perfect for it.

What? I don't have much to say about this. Spies, double-crosses, and hot people; if that's your thing, try out Grayson.

Wolf #1

Written by Ales Kot
Art by Matt Taylor, Lee Loughridge

Ales Kot is a weird dude. If you enjoy spies in general and that old show The Prisoner, you might be up for the trippy weirdness of Kot's last series, Zero. To explain it for avid comic readers, you know how Grant Morrison gets when you give him free reign? That's where Kot's stories live.

Antoine Wolfe is black John Constantine. Wolfe is a magical fixer who lives in the supernatural mire of Los Angeles. He loves myths and he's a bit of one himself. His friend (colleague?) is a Lovecraftian horror. He's the opposite of Constantine in one major way though: Wolfe is immortal and all he wants to do is die.

Wolf #1 isn't as instantly magnetic as Zero was. It's odd and opaque. It's the kind of book you have to commit to. It's quick and jumpy. You have to want its weirdness.

Old Man Logan #3

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Andrea Sorrentino, Marcelo Maiolo

Of the two Bendis books I read this week, Old Man Logan is the more enjoyable of the two. This is Logan on a trip through all of Battleworld. Remember, each Battleworld region is a self-contained area whose inhabitants are not supposed to cross the boundaries. What kicked off this journey was Logan finding the head of an Ultron and going to investigate, but now we find ourselves in the Age of Apocalypse and Armor Wars areas of Battleworld.

This is essentially the same as the original Old Man Logan arc, writ over a larger area. Logan drops in, stabs someone, and then moves on. It's simple, but I'm finding it to be a lot of fun. Honestly, I'm looking forward to seeing Old Logan in the Marvel Universe proper, because a Wolverine who's tired of superheroics having to deal with them on a regular basis seems to be a fun premise.

Weirdworld #2

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Mike Del Mundo, Marco D'Alfonso

Jason Aaron is clearly having fun with this Conan the Barbarian pastiche. Arkon is a character that's only appeared in 15 issues of Marvel Comics at best. Weirdworld was an old fantasy series created by Doug Moench and Mike Ploog that had nothing to do with Arkon. That Aaron latched onto both properties as a vehicle for this kind of story is interesting.

The central conceit of Weirdworld is Arkon's drive to get home. The problem is, Arkon has clearly been wandering Weirdworld for a long time, as he has an extensive map of the place. He's been wandering so long that home is a memory, so he has a clearly defined goal with a fuzzy end. His random companion in this issue brings with him hints that everyone in Weirdworld may have lost their minds. Is Arkon's kingdom of Polemachus real anymore or is Arkon a man with more courage than sense?

Mike Del Mundo is absolutely rocking this book with some great painted-style art. I've missed fantasy books in the Marvel and DC universes, like The Warlord or Sword of the Atom. Hopefully, Weirdworld sticks around after Secret Wars.

What did you read this week? Did anything stick your fancy? Is there anything I should read? Let me know below!

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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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