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Loki: Agent of Asgard #7 – Review

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

The Story: In which Doom doesn’t engage in self-discovery.

The Review: My unfamiliarity with Marvel canon means the films can be as influential on my understanding of the characters as the comics. Freyja, for example, I’m used to thinking of as the ultimate mother, full of unconditional love even for the reprobates in her family. So it’s rather jarring to see her manipulative strong-arming of Loki into a joyless future just to ensure the happiness of everyone else’s. Her rationalization for ensuring Old Loki’s existence is all queen, but little mother:

“He is the Loki we need now. In this time of change, he brings a promise of security. The future he promises is a golden one for us all.”

Even Odin, not exactly known for touchy-feelyness, has second thoughts about the trade-off. “All but him, cursed to ever play the villain, to ever lose… How does the younger Loki take it?”

His wife wavers, but stays on point. “He…he will come to his senses in time.”
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Daredevil #9 – Review

By: Mark Waid (story), Chris Samnee (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: It’s true that children can really drive you off the wall.

The Review: For those of you who don’t know, I work in the dependency system as minors’ counsel—yes, my actual day job—so I have a soft spot for abused, neglected, or otherwise troubled kids. A lot of people say it’s hard work I’m doing, dealing with such emotionally trying issues from day to day, but in some ways, I find the job easy because unlike many attorneys, I rarely have difficulty feeling sympathy for my clients. It doesn’t take much for a kid to pull your heartstrings.

Fictional children get similar benefits, which sort of makes up for their lack of substance. Not like there aren’t any young characters as complex and memorable as adults (e.g., Huckleberry Finn, Scout Finch), but they just don’t have the same richness of experience. They see things simpler and more intensely than grown-ups, which is exactly the power exerted by the Purple Kids (which is what I’m calling them until Waid tells me otherwise) over the people around them. They have no agenda beyond fulfilling their immediate impulses, and no motivation besides subconsciously inflicting the pain they’ve suffered on others.
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Batman and Robin #35 – Review

By: Peter J. Tomasi (story), Patrick Gleason (pencils), Mick Gray (inks), John Kalisz (colors)

The Story: The Bat-family can’t let Bruce get away with all the fun working vacations.

The Review: Tomasi is one of those writers who seems fated to brushing the underside of greatness yet never managing to get on top. He’s got talent, great technical skills, and character insight second to none, but these only take you so far. To make it to the top requires a certain kind of originality and style, but moreover, it requires an almost reckless boldness, the guts to not only put a wild idea into action, but see it through to the very end even if it goes a little out of control.

With Robin Rises, Tomasi has an opportunity to embrace those qualities and finally break through the ceiling keeping him in the minors, but going big alone won’t do the trick. Sending the Bat-family to Apokolips is indisputably a great idea. Watching Bruce do his goddam Batman routine on Parademons and the likes of Glorious Godfrey—awesome. But without taking us someplace new, all Tomasi will have accomplished at the end of the day is a great fantasy battle rather than a great story.
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Justice League #35 – Review

Christ

By: Geoff Johns (story), Doug Mahnke & Ivan Reis (pencils), Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Christian Alamy, Ray McCarthy, Joe Prado (inks), Brad Anderson (colors)

The Story: Luthor introduces Bruce to his sister. No romance ensues.

The Review: Some congratulations are in order as Justice League has finally caught up with the rest of the DC line at issue 35. It always seemed a little weird that the publisher’s flagship book, which made its debut ahead of every other series in the line, somehow ended up one step behind everyone else, but that all ends here. You might be asking, Why the hell does this even matter? My answer: I don’t know; I just have a feeling it does, a bit.

Maybe it’s because DC seems to be in a quiet period of renovation right now, with the renaissance among the Bat-books and several new titles coming out besides. Rather than play catch up, Justice League should be standing among the new guard as elder statesman, showing it can still move with the best of them. It can’t, really—it’s too big and ponderously conventional for that—but it can at least move in a different direction when prodded.
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Arrow S03E02 – Review

By: Jake Coburn & Keto Shimizu (story)

The Story: I suppose it’d be trite to sing “Candle in the Wind” at another blonde’s funeral.

The Review: Sara may not have been with the show from the beginning, but over the second season she became the most prominent figure of the Lances, an active player in both Ollie’s present and past lives. Her last-second death in the third season premiere delivered the desired shock, but respect demands that not be the end of it. The worst mistake the show could have made after such an event would be to start this episode with the funeral. Fortunately, Arrow has proven its integrity in these matters.

Much of the change in the second season was driven by the death of Tommy Merlyn: Ollie’s shift from vengeance to heroism and Dinah’s downward spiral, the effects of both rippling through all the other show’s characters. These changes were a direct response to the circumstances of his death—selflessly saving Dinah in the midst of his father’s ruin—and it looks like Sara’s passing will inspire a similar, albeit smaller period of self-reflection.
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The Flash S01E02 – Review

By: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns (story)

The Story: It takes a one-man army to defeat a one-man army.

The Review: As much as I like the brighter, more upbeat tone of The Flash, I see the red flags for a day when it becomes downright cartoonish. Today is not that day (or, more accurately, two days ago, when this episode actually broadcast); the show is still establishing its basic identity and reaching out to new viewers, so attention-seeking broadness is actually reasonable—from a marketing standpoint—even if it grates against the story a little bit.

But this episode does bear traits you tend to see in comics rather than TV, even from the cold open. As Barry speeds in and out of a burning apartment building to save those inside, the people he brings out look soot-stained and bewildered, more like they’ve had a bad run-in with a chimney than experienced a raging firestorm. It’s silly to the point of being family-friendly, which is at odds with the darker turns the episode takes later on.
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The Legend of Korra S04E02 – Review

By: Michael Dante DiMartino (story)

The Story: Korra struggles to appreciate the philosophy of one step at a time.

The Review: Given the major changes in Team Avatar’s lives, at some point we had to go back and see why things ended up as they did. Most important of all is figuring out exactly what Korra’s deal is. The fact that she can stand, run, jump, and bend all four elements is, by any standard, a huge step up from wheelchair confinement, but she’s not the type to be satisfied until she’s a raring 100 percent. She’s almost there, but something’s holding her back.

This flashback episode tells us she’s already gone through several dark hours of the night, first to even wanting to recover, then to pushing herself from wiggling a toe to taking steps. There has been anguish and her usual outrage, but steady progress through it all. A full recovery seemed guaranteed, but she encountered a block when it came to actual battle and picking up the mantle of Avatar once more.
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