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Loki: Agent of Asgard #6 – Review

By: Al Ewing (story), Jorge Coelho (art), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: God versus man-who-thinks-he’s-a-god.

The Review: I’m not quite sure I understand the four-month break since #5. Loki‘s been a fun series so far, but it’s not such a masterpiece that it can withstand that kind of delay without losing readers along the way. I mean, this isn’t Saga or Hawkeye.* To bring back my favorite relationship metaphor, you’ve really got to be invested in the story, or else truly love the characters, to be away from them for that long and not develop a wandering eye. Or you’ve got to be a reviewer and this is your semi-job.

Frankly, you’re also not impressed that you have to read two separate series to understand the context of the returning issue. Most times, you don’t take those editor’s captions very seriously; they’re more like marketing-driven suggestions than required reading. But here, without reading Fantastic Four Annual #1 or Original Sin: The Tenth Realm, you’re left confused as to the current and future state of Latveria that drives our villain to target our hero.
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Saga #23 – Review

By: Brian K. Vaughan (story), Fiona Staples (art)

The Story: As always, children are the best guards against philandering.

The Review: Although the name of the creative game is to strive for the unexpected, Vaughan is one of the few writers who actually seems to do so regularly—which is why this last arc has been a bit of a puzzle. After firing a warning shot that this is the story of how Marko and Alana split up, Vaughan has proceeded on a very familiar trajectory of building up their mutual resentment and adding temptation in the form of Ginny. For once, it looked like Vaughan was going the predictable route.

But the point of Saga has always been about subverting its space opera background with the everyday anxieties and challenges of contemporary relationships, and the cheating partner definitely qualifies. [Spoiler alert!] So I don’t know what to make of this issue revealing Marko and Alana’s “split up” in its literal sense, with Marko left behind on Gardenia while his family is forced by Dengo to take off to parts unknown. Should we be giddy with relief that Vaughan defeated our expectations and our favorite couple still have a romantic future together, or should we suspect maybe he’s just pandering to popular demand and thus wimping out on an uncomfortable change?
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Superman: Doomed #2 – Review

By: Too many to list—check out the review.

The Story: Superman, now with the rage of a thousand suns and the brains of seven billion minds.

The Review: As you may know, it’s very important for me to make a good-faith attempt to figure out what a writer (or writers, as the case may be) is trying to do before passing judgment on it. Stories like Doomed are thus the most difficult for me to review because I never know whether it makes sense to criticize something for being over-the-top when its intention is to be so. In cases like these, you can only find the true merit of the story by peeling away its many distracting layers of plot twists.

If the intention of Doomed was to produce the biggest, wildest story possible, Greg Pak and Charles Soule have definitely succeeded: seven billion souls at risk, Superman as Doomsday, Wonder Woman coercing Mongul in the Phantom Zone, Lois Lane as a telepathic Brainiac-avatar, the list goes on. And by the issue’s end, there’s no denying that Pak-Soule manage to coordinate all their moving pieces to reach a sensible resolution that trails into a potentially even bigger storyline. Yes, it’s quite diverting, even entertaining. But is it satisfying? Well, that’s a more complicated question.
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Superman: Futures End #1 – Review

By: Dan Jurgens (story), Lee Weeks (art), Dave McCaig (colors)

The Story: Lois has no shame about ferreting a kid’s secrets.

The Review: It is with a sigh of relief that we reach the end of the month and my last Futures End review. There’ve been one or two good ones in the bunch, but for the most part, these tie-ins have reminded me why I dropped the Event rather than made me regret giving it up. At least we get to end on an issue exploring one of the better twists from Futures End: the revelation of Billy Batson as the masked Superman, unleashing a storm of questions, all variations on Why.

As it turns out, his reasons are rather prosaic, almost disappointingly so. [Spoiler alert!] Owing the real Man of Steel a favor after he Phantom Zoned a treacherous Black Adam into submission, Billy accepts the Justice League’s request to wear the “S” after Clark disappears. A sensible, but fairly uninspired explanation. You can’t put your finger on it, but something’s definitely missing from the story, something very much like pizzazz.
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The Wicked + The Divine #4 – Review

By: Kieron Gillen (story), Jamie McKelvie (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: Love is letting a person break out of jail herself.

The Review: It’s not often that I can pat myself on the back for an analysis well done—I’m more likely to have my theories shot down than anything else—but I’m thinking I did a pretty good one for #2: “[P]erhaps that’s in Luci’s future. If Ananke is in control of this hopeless, almost pointless situation the Pantheon is in, maybe Luci’s inspired, rebellious nature—and her tendency toward damnation—is key to breaking the cycle.”

And what do you suppose Ananke tells Laura this issue? “Lucifer has always had trouble believing in the gods, including herself. We must make the world understand how unlike the rest of the Pantheon the Great Rebel is. Otherwise this risks being the last Recurrence…and inspiration will leave the world forever.” Boom! Nailed it. Allow me another sentence to revel in my rightness; my ego needs sustenance for the many falls ahead.
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Gotham S01E01 – Review

By: Bruno Heller (story)

The Story: There’s a war going on, and Gordon has to pick a side.

The Review: Sheesh, talk about when pouring when it rains—although not literally, because I’m in California and it never rains here. All told, DC’s got three new shows (Gotham, The Flash, Constantine) out this year, with a couple more in the works (I, Zombie, Supergirl), and Marvel has Daredevil and Agent Carter coming quickly down the pike. Excited as I am, it would take another of me to cover them all, so my goal for the next few months is weeding for the shows that have potential.

Looking at Gotham, I have much the same concern as I did with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Both shows stake themselves in the worlds of beloved franchises, yet are largely removed from them. They are the cousins of a celebrity family, torn between wanting to be appreciated for themselves yet dependent on the preexisting adoration for their more famous kin. Throughout its pilot, Gotham struggles with these dual motivations, thrusting toward the surface of something relatively original while chained to the mythos that provides its audience.
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Superman/Wonder Woman: Futures End #1 – Review

By: Charles Soule (story), Bart Sears (art), Blond (colors)

The Story: The best kind of war is one fought for peace.

The Review: The story of this issue follows from the events of Wonder Woman: Futures End #1, but frankly, you’d have been better off reading this one first. I don’t usually discuss such a major plot point this early on in a review, but consider it a public service announcement: within four pages, Clark shows up to reveal to Diana that not only does he remain unchanged by Nemesis, everything we saw in the Wonder Woman tie-in was just a dream, a horrible, horrible dream.

As if reading a thoroughly mediocre issue isn’t disheartening enough, to be told that almost none of it mattered anyway is enough to make you want to give up the series altogether.* Diana’s conflict with Nemesis is the only survivor of Clark’s revelation, which is unfortunate because it has virtually nothing going for it. Nemesis may be on the verge of total world conquest—only a small battalion of Amazons and Clark are free from her control—but none of the other Futures End titles reflect that. Given that, everything happening in this issue is as imaginary as those that happened before.
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