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Silver Surfer #5 – Review

By: Dan Slott (story), Michael Allred (art), Laura Allred (colors)

The Story: The Lord of Nightmares has his worst nightmare.

The Review: Of all the new Marvel titles I’ve picked up this year, Silver Surfer is probably the one I find hardest to review. It’s not enough for me to say that I enjoy it, which I do consistently; if my love for chicken nuggets taught me anything, it’s that enjoyment is a poor gauge for quality. My difficulty with Silver Surfer is figuring out what kind of title it wants to be. Is there any depth to be had, or is it just straight sci-fi-adventure?

This issue pushes the series toward the latter. From front to back, the plot is completely self-explanatory and almost childishly simple: the Lord of Nightmares has fallen asleep and must be awaken before the night has ended lest the world sleepwalk in bad dreams forever. That this is a done-in-one should already tell you that Norrin and Dawn have little difficulty with his particular challenge, making the situation seem less dire than everyone hypes it up to be.
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Bodies #2 – Review

By: Si Spencer (story), Meghan Hetrick, Dean Ornston, Tula Lotay, Phil Winslade (art), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: Four detectives are better than one.

The Review: I speak from some experience when I say that when you have a lot of people working on the same project, no matter how different they may be from each other, there has to be some common ground for them to stand on or the project fails. In Bodies, the differences between our four detectives are even greater from the spans of time that lies between them, but there has to be some reason why these four were chosen, and the best way to discover it is to see what they have in common.

This issue makes that task easy by calling attention to something the last issue downplayed: each of our detectives live under the pressure of discrimination. Edmond muses how his closeted homosexuality may result in his imprisonment; Charles Whiteman changed his name (Karl Weissman) to escape from anti-Semitic barbs like the one thrown by Sean Mahoney, uncle of the man he interrogated; Shahara can’t freely discuss her Muslim faith with comrade/romantic interest Barber, much less the racist protestors bashing her car.
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Saga #22 – Review

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

The Story: Drugs, affairs, and murder. Alana and Marko sure live the celebrity life.

The Review: It’s not a pleasant experience to witness a couple’s row, but it has its fascinations. There’s a reason why these things are often referred to as train wrecks; from the outside, the disinterested bystander can clearly see what’s going wrong, though the people involved seem completely oblivious. And while the old adage is right in saying it takes two to tango, you can usually pin the larger share of blame to one person or the other.

Alana and Marko’s spat thus breaks against the mold in that you come away as bewildered and at a loss as to what happened as they, Klara, and Izabel do. When it starts, you’re ready to side with Marko on this: he’s the thankless stay-at-home parent who never gets a break ever while his wife’s flying high at her job. Even Alana’s anger about him muttering Ginny’s name in his sleep doesn’t shift your opinion much; we know Marko’s not actually cheating with the purple-skinned dancer. Marko’s actually in a very good position to be self-righteous—at first.

The problem is instead of engaging Alana on the Ginny thing and sweeping it out of the way, he very obviously changes the subject to whether she’s ever been high in front of Hazel, which is a vaguer point of contention. His avoidance means one thing: there’s a genuine interest in Ginny, even if it isn’t physical (yet). So when he finally lashes at Alana, there’s guilt mixed in with the insecurity of not being the breadwinner (he cuts off Alana’s complaints about working and finishes “—so you can take care of helpless me…”), and the resentment that his wife isn’t at home even when she’s at home.

Ultimately, you’ll be able to forgive Marko easier than Alana, probably. While he’s immediately apologetic for his loss of temper, Alana escalates, ordering him to leave the house, which she significantly refers to as “…,” just as she refers to Hazel as “my house,” just as she refers to Hazel as “my daughter.” Having taken ownership of the rest of Marko’s life, he leaves him with nothing except—guess who?—Ginny. That won’t excuse any funny business that will likely happen between the two afterward, but it’ll be Alana who drove him there.

By doing so, they are now at their most vulnerable just when forces threaten to converge on the family once again. Not only does the unstable Dengo reach Alana’s workplace and violently leaves it in disarray, Prince Robot is on his trail thanks to assistance from Gale. The Landfallian agent claims to be doing so out of respect to the late princess, but as King Robot mentions earlier, the contract on Alana and Marko is still outstanding and Gale doesn’t seem like the type who forgets such things. So we’ve got two off-balance killer robots drawing towards our favorite couple; the fact that Upsher recognizes Alana’s Heist quote on the Open Circuit is negligible by comparison.*
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Superman #34 – Review

By: Geoff Johns (story), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Laura Martin (colors)

The Story: Superman and Ulysses’ first official team-up may be their last.

The Review: I don’t often speculate as to how a story will go—partly because of my natural cautiousness and partly because I’m frequently wrong—but I’m about 99.99% sure that a big showdown between Neil (a.k.a. Ulysses) and Clark will ensue sooner or later. I base this on one theory only: you don’t create a direct Superman analogue without intending to match him up with the real thing. That’s just how things roll in superhero comics; it’s almost a waste otherwise.

So every issue, I’m looking for signs of where Neil and Clark’s relationship will go sour. It’s a difficult task because the two of them are as similar as they can get without actually being the same character from parallel universes. Both are gentle giants who believe deeply in peace and hope (and who don’t stand for threats to any of those things). Neil’s forgiveness of his parents for rocketing him away (and his dad for giving up on the search for him) is gratefully given and free from bitterness. Even Clark couldn’t have done better in that situation.
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Daredevil #7 – Review

By: Mark Waid (story) Javier Rodriguez (art), Alvaro Lopez (inks)

The Story: It’s a jungle out there. Daredevil and confusion everywhere.

The Review: I tend to dread it when writers—specifically comic book writers and superhero writers especially—bring in political dimensions to their stories. Politics are an impenetrable morass of complications and the higher up you go, the worse it becomes. Once you get to the international stage, forget it; you need to be committed to understanding this stuff 24/7 before you can truly understand it. Superhero writers invariably oversimplify things and it almost always reflects poorly on the story.

Not even a great like Waid is immune. I confess I’m not up to speed on Wakandan politics, this being the side-effect of not being a total Marvel devotee. But I really don’t understand why, if Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, it would need to outsource its research to the U.S. at all. Even setting that aside, the plan to extradite the three protesting nun who didn’t actually expose Wakanda’s doings strikes me as overly complicated. Shuri justifies herself thusly, “Those women risked embarrassing Wakanda. If I declare that to be a crime, then it is.” She’s the Queen of Hearts in full-body black spandex.

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The Wicked + The Divine #3 – Review

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

The Story: Baphomet and the Morrigan prove that sex and rage go hand-in-hand with religion.

The Review: Religion as reality TV seems to be the throughline of this series, and I’ll be very interested to see the point Gillen’s trying to make with that. The simplistic theory is religion is mere entertainment for the masses, vacuous and prone to unnecessary conflict. The squabbles among the different gods are motivated by competition for attention, to obtain the largest number of fans/believers, all of which seems pointless when the gods are doomed to disappear in a couple years anyway.

It’s easy to sign onto this theory as you watch the Morrigan and Baphomet confront each other in the Underground. After a romp in the sack a few days earlier (thus providing him with an alibi for Luci’s frame-up), they now bring their darkest powers to bear against each other simply because Baphomet tried to usurp the Morrigan’s chosen venue. Their blowout is pure overgrown drama, the toxic, juvenile stuff of Jersey Shore‘s worst nightmares.
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The Multiversity #1 – Review

By: Grant Morrison (story), Ivan Reis (pencils), Joe Prado (inks), Nei Ruffino (colors)

The Story: It’s the Superman-Captain Carrot team-up you’ve all been waiting for.

The Review: At least, it arrives, a project long-touted and already somewhat overhyped. It’s not just the Morrison name, although there’s certainly that; it’s also the fact that he’s working on a project so aligned to his talents and interests, one that sprawls not only over the DCU proper but the entire Multiverse as well. Any good DC fan is sure to be interested in how the Multiverse’s current structure looks now and how it may be used in the future.

Personally, I’m bummed that arbitrary limitation of 52 worlds remains in place, although Thunderer (Earth-7), one of the many featured heroes, refers to them as “fifty-two known worlds,” suggesting unknown ones may pop up later. But even with the cap in place, Morrison has a massive playground to run wild in, using each Earth to site different themes of heroes, almost all of them with a sly wink. Earth-23 is home to an all-black Justice League; Earth-36, where Red Racer and Power Torch (Flash and Green Lantern doppelgangers) are lovers; Earth-11, in which all our favorite characters’ genders are reversed.
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