I read comics. So should you.

The Stack-6/7/17

In new books, rants, reviews on June 8, 2017 at 7:46 pm

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This week in comics: A trio of comics dealing with the consequences of pursuing vengeance, Shade helps us come to terms with our impending decrepitude, and a boring hetero cis dude for some reason feels compelled to talk about how Iceman tackles coming out as a gay superhero. But first, it’s time to play, ‘What lame-ass stunt are collectors hoarding this week?’:

batcat

This. It’s this utter nonsense right here. Now I think our heroes should be allowed to be happy, but this is so out of character for Bats.

There wasn’t a whole lot of levity in this week’s pile, and that’s fine. Just because your granny still calls them ‘funnybooks’ does not mean that they have to be a constant chucklefest. Within the pages of the incredibly strong number ones and assorted ongoing storylines, shit did indeed get real. And it was oh so good. Let’s take a closer look.

Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1 (Victor LaValle, Dietrich Smith, Joana Lafuente, Jim Campbell-Boom! Studios): You have to be cautious and respectful when building upon a classic story, and you have to possess a clear purpose, or it’s just more lazy fanfic. LaValle understands this, and his vision for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein brings its characters into the modern world in clever and heartbreaking ways, while keeping true to the themes of conquering death and exploring the darker side of humanity. The monster, up until now exiled in Antarctica, is suddenly and violently reunited with us, and the remaining scientists aware of his existence are attempting to mobilize to greet him. History repeats itself, but with shiny new technology, and the added tragedy of race relations and gun violence in America. UPDATE: I realize this book is two weeks old, but Diamond shorted me and I only just got it now. It made such an impact that I just had to add it to the official stack anyway.

Extremity #4 (Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer, Rus Wooton-Image): I don’t know how they do it. This series is a story of bloody revenge, dressed in a world of fantastic post-apocalyptic tribalism, and it manages to be completely fresh and engaging despite how familiar those concepts are in modern fiction. I suspect it’s primarily because the human (and even not-so-human) emotion on display is genuinely complex, warts and all. It hits the heart as hard as the lush, kinetic artwork hits the eyeballs. And if that is too touchy-feely for you, I’ll have you know that there’s badass airships, giant spider creatures, and lots of punching, too.

Spider-Man #17 (Brian Michael Bendis, Oscar Bazaldua, Justin Ponsor, VC’s Cory Petit-Marvel): Miles has been struggling with a lot lately. Ever since receiving the vision that showed him killing Captain America during the last Civil War event, he’s been worried that he’ll snap and go too far. He’s had a crisis of confidence, and it has only gotten worse since he beat up everyone in a bar while pursuing a purse snatcher. SPOILERS After seeing his friend Bombshell hospitalized from an encounter with Hammerhead, rage takes over and he foolishly puts himself in a very dangerous situation–one which could cost him his life. I always enjoy storylines that remind us that superheroing is, even for those with special powers, insanely stupid and dangerous business. You can bitch about grim and gritty™ all you like; without stakes that we can relate to, there’s no story, and no reason to engage with it.

Shade the Changing Girl #9 (Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte-DC/Young Animal): Have I mentioned before that this book is brilliant? I did? Several times? Well, it is. There’s so much to chew on in each issue, regardless of whether you’re a new reader or an old fart like me who considers the Milligan run their prized possession. Speaking of the elderly, in this issue Shade delves deeper into Gotham City, attending a concert featuring her favorite Earth band, The Sonic Booms. The problem is, in her excitement, she forgot how long transmissions from our planet take to reach her home of Meta. The Booms are well beyond their prime, and so are all of their human fans. Not satisfied with this revelation, she uses her madness powers to try to help everyone recapture those glory days, if only briefly. Then, it’s on to the next adventure. Ah, youth…

The Unsound #1 (Cullen Bunn, Jack T. Cole, Jim Campbell-Boom! Studios): This one gets filed under ‘Things You Don’t See Much in Comics and There’s Probably a Very Good Reason For That’. The thing in this case is madness. Many of the best horror stories focus on it, and that’s understandable, since there isn’t much that’s more terrifying than learning that your senses and intellect, the very things that read and interpret the world around you, are possibly unreliable, and may actually be turning against you. It can be hard to communicate that feeling convincingly, in any kind of narrative, but this creative team has nailed it. There’s page after page of images that will elicit the following reactions: “Well that’s not right”, “What the hell am I looking at?”, and “NOPE NOPE NOPE”. Asylums have not been this unsettling since they let Grant Morrison play in Arkham.

Iceman #1 (Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Joe Sabino-Marvel): Okay, I need to preface this review with full disclosure. What you’re about to read is written by a heterosexual man whose understanding of being homosexual comes from friends, a mishmash of entertainment that runs the gamut from insultingly uninformed to explicit and enlightening, and the Babadook. What I’m getting at is that while I’m not qualified to speak about this with anything close to authority or experience, I’m an ally who is doing his best, and I mean no disrespect or harm. Okay, on we go.

Bobby Drake, the mutant known as Iceman, has recently met his younger self (X-Men are always involved in wacky time displacement crap that makes little to no sense), and it sparked a profound, live-changing epiphany. Bobby is gay, and he’s not sure what to do with that knowledge. He isn’t ready to share this with his family, since they are still not handling his life as a superhero very well. He wants to get out there and date, but his day-to-day is utter chaos, and besides, teaching and training the kids at The Xavier Institute is a full time job. Those lame dad jokes aren’t going to tell themselves.

The thing about this issue, and again, this is just the two cents from someone on the outside, is that Bobby and his struggle feel very true-to-life. He isn’t presented as a stereotype, and he’s allowed plenty of room to just do his thing. Alone in his room, trying to think up a description of himself for a dating site, or talking to himself outside a hospital after the adrenaline from a fight spins down, he takes a look at his situation and arrives at the conclusion that most of us do, from any walk of life:

*shrug*

That does it for this week. As always, thanks for reading, and for reading comics. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter at the links below, and feel free to comment, complain, and share. Don’t forget to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

 

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