As much as I liked this week’s comics, I found a few of them to be kind of completely racist. In at least three books, there was a person of color (black to be specific) killing people or otherwise made to look like a villain in some way. Other People of color were relegated to victim status, if they were in a comic at all (Scalped being a noted exception) It’s like the creators told themselves “Well we want some diversity, but we already have the lead and supporting cast locked in. What’s left…oh I know, the criminals! That’s not problematic, and wont enforce stereotypes at all.” It’s a trend that can been seen throughout fiction from movies to comics, and it continues to be a troubling one. So yeah, most of the comics I read this week were pretty good overall, but diversity and the depiction of race is a serious issue the comic industry needs to deal with.
The Flash #7
Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, Illustrated by Francis Manapul, Colored by Brian Buccellato
I haven’t bought the relationship between Barry Allen and Patty Spivot since the start. Partially it’s because I don’t find her character interesting, and partially because I don’t believe they have any real chemistry together. So when “Into the Light” kicked off with Barry talking about how he’s fallen for Patty as he tried to save her life, it rang false to me. Personally, I’m just counting the days until Barry hooks up with Iris West. THAT is a couple I can get behind.
Or maybe not, because Iris and some others got sucked into a vortex created by Barry when he tried to save Patty. So a good chunk of the issue was dedicated to the aftermath of that event, with Captain Cold going to jail, and Barry trying to rescue Iris and the others by traveling into another vortex. It was a solid issue, but a little scatterbrained. I was especially disappointed with the way Cold’s storyline was wrapped up so abruptly. He was hyped up to be this big bad ass, only to be tossed aside so that the story could shift to Barry’s new mission, and a new subplot involving Gorilla City. The one element that wasn’t disappointing was, surprise, the art. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellatto are just amazing in the way they use panel layouts and play around with time to create truly exciting work. I especially loved the double page spread of Barry running into a vortex to save Iris. It’s fantastic stuff, and their art makes The Flash a must read.
After six muddled issues packed with unlikable characters and dull storytelling, “To Hel and Back” offered a clarity of purpose and intent that George Perez’ short run sorely lacked. It was also a little fun, with a sarcastic sense of humor that never got nasty, and some pretty solid art too. In the comic by Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, and Jesus Merino, Superman attempted to fight off new villains as well as the constant demands from his coworkers at the Daily Planet. It was refreshing to see the spotlight fall back on Superman, as well as the return to a smaller supporting cast. The scene in the Planet had a nice, light touch, in contrast to the more serious dealings regarding new enemy Helspont. Now, while this was definitely a step up from the first six issues, it was still barely better than mediocre. It was as typical as superhero comics gets, with a little self awareness thrown in prevent it from being completely dull. The fights that book ended the comic were predictable, Helspont was a one-dimensional baddie with an uninspired design to go with an uninspired plan, and as much as I loved what Dan Jurgens did for Superman in the 90s, many of his poses and faces looked cut and pasted from old comics. Merino’s thick finishes did mesh well with Jurgens’ layouts though; the work had a nice texture to it, and didn’t overwhelm the pencils. I enjoyed this comic, but it just felt…old. Old in a different way than Perez’ run did, but old just the same.
Written by Geoff Johns, Pencilled by Ivan Reis, Inked by Joe Prado, and Colored by Rod Reis
Stop me if you think that you heard this one before: A villain is hunting and killing members of a forgotten superhero group, prompting present day heroes to try and find the killer before anyone else dies, while at the same time learning some long lost secrets about said group. This story has been told a million times, but that didn’t stop Geoff Johns from trotting out that old plot one more time in this latest story arc. This time around, the mystery involved the superhero team Aquaman belonged to before the Justice League, and the guy killing off his former teammates is none other than arch nemesis Black Manta. The setup here was so typical of these types of stories, but what saved it was the exciting art and the promise of learning about Aquaman’s past. His backstory is pretty blank right now, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of person he was before he joined The League. Also, his teammates on The Others all look pretty cool, so hopefully they’ll be developed well before they’re inevitably killed off.
Written by Brian Azzarello, Illustrated by Eduardo Risso
Everyone in “Spaceman” is looking for their own personal treasure, and most of them don’t care how many people they hurt to get it. In a world that’s completely fallen apart, that desire is all they have. The fifth issue of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s miniseries tightened the screws on Orson, as more people came out of the woodwork to capture missing reality star Tara for themselves, or to otherwise capitalize on her situation. It was bleak stuff, with Orson and Tara the only positive force in the center of all the darkness.
Eduardo Risso continued to amaze with his simple, expressive linework. His style is cartoon like, but it also has a lot of dramatic heft to it as well. There were a few large shots of characters traveling around the partially submerged ruins of America, and they were breathtaking in its beauty and tragedy. Risso and Azzarello have been working together for a long time, and for good reason; they’re perfect together.
Written by Jason Aaron, Illustrated by R.M. Guera, Colored by Giulia Brusco
When I reviewed the last issue of Scalped, I talked about how Dash Bad Horse still hasn’t answered for the crimes he committed throughout the series. Well, the sword began to fall in the second part of “Trail’s End”.
The body of FBI Agent Britt “Diesel” Fillenworth, who Dash murdered, was finally found in the badlands, sending the ex-FBI agent into a panic. Meanwhile, Red Crow’s lawyer continued to try and discredit Dash by revealing to his client that his daughter Carol had an abortion after she became pregnant with Dash’s child. As Bad Horse’s world began to fall apart, the only thing he could do is run. But where? Away from the Rez? Or towards Catcher, the man who killed his mother, and who has now gone on a killing spree, targeting former Tribal Council leaders for their crimes against their people?
It was exciting to see the dominoes that were set up months and years ago finally fall, right on Dash’s head. I empathize with him, but at the same time he’s done a lot of bad things that he needs to pay for in order to truly become a man that his mom would be proud of. Actions have consequences. It’s a complex situation in a book that has been full of multidimensional characters and morally grey areas from the start. Anyway, this was a greatly entertaining comic that dripped with tension and dread from start to finish. But my favorite moment was a quieter one. In the middle of the story, Dash, Red Crow, and Catcher are all shown in three successive, silent panels, each moving towards their final destiny. It was kind of like a “quiet before the storm” moment, before they all confront each other in one way or another. I can’t wait to see what happens when they do.
Angel and Faith #8
Written by Christos Gage, Illustrated by Rebekah Issacs, Colored by Dan Jackson
This issue played out pretty much exactly how I thought it would. Of course Faith’s dad turned out to be bad news, and of course his story ended the way it did. The plot did what it had to in order to put Faith in the position she found herself in at the end of this comic. Part Three of “Daddy Issues” was yet another job well done by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs though, so I can’t trash it that much. The plotting, predictable as it was, was flawless, and the way Faith’s story weaved into the Drusilla storyline was great. Issacs continued to do a solid job, especially with the emotional confrontation between Faith and her father. It was a powerful moment, even if it was telegraphed from the start.
Written by Mark Waid, Penciled by Paolo Rivera, Inked by Joe Rivera, Colored by Javier Rodriguez
I didn’t know much about the Mole Man coming into this storyline, and I definitely didn’t realize he could be as dangerous or compelling as he was in this issue. It just goes to show that you don’t need to make a character look or act more “badass” if you just write them in a real way. I don’t know, maybe he was written like this before and I’m just ignorant? Whatever! This was a great comic.
The fight between Mole Man and Daredevil was an emotionally charged one for both combatants, and it was perfectly staged and executed by the art team led by Paolo Rivera. He and his father, who inked this issue, did a masterful job working with the large swaths of black that covered a good chunk of this story. It was beautiful. Issue #10 also allowed readers to empathize with Mole Man, who was searching for the body of a dead woman who showed him compassion and kindness in his past life as a scientist so that he could say goodbye. Yeah, what he did was completely disgusting, but I can see where his twisted ass was coming from. This was a somber comic, one where no one really won.
Next time! Marvel will launch their biggest event in years with Avengers vs. X-Men, and I can’t wait to not read it!