Hey Comic Impact! Let’s just jump right in.
- 1.Winter Soldier #18 by Jason Latour and Nic Klein [Marvel]
Instead of lamenting the fact that this is the second to last issue of the current Winter Soldier comic book I’m going to praise it and continue to tell you folks to read it because it is so damn good. This issue takes a look at the character of The Ghost and tells us her origin story. Jason Latour’s writing of this character tells us a very personal story brought to the page by different art styles from Nic Klein, who also colors each section brilliantly, and with awesome, awesome, lettering work from Caramagna. I know it probably makes me a terrible comic book fan but it wasn’t until I read this issue that I saw how well an art team and a letter can work so well together to create a work of art when it comes to a comic.
The origin of The Ghost starts off with her as a child training to be a soldier/warrior. These scenes are depicted in a very childlike manner even the subject matter is really serious. It’s drawn very beautifully but it’s colored almost like a coloring book, at least that’s what it reminded me of when I saw it at first. This was cemented when I saw the panel where The Ghost as a child kills some people and their faces and bodies are scratched over with red instead of shown bleeding or in a pool of blood.
As she grows older the art gets bolder and a little darker in the coloring bringing us to realize that this person isn’t the little girl that she once was. She has fully acknowledged the situation that was in and her position in life but she hasn’t accepted it. She’s still rebellious but she knows that if it wasn’t for the Winter Soldier she wouldn’t be where she is today and she doesn’t hold him responsible for killing her father. She forgives him because she has a bigger agenda.
The art in this book is spectacular, seriously, everything about it just so great. I don’t know where Nic Klein is going after he ends his run on this book but Marvel can’t let a talent like him go. As I stated above this book is also a great showing for Joe Caramagna and his lettering because there are just so many different styles of lettering he uses here. When Tesla is a little girl the narrative boxes use a girl type of handwriting as if Tesla was writing in a diary or journal. He uses the standard lettering we find in a lot of his other Marvel Comics, and a great typewriter font for when we read from a textbook that was written by Telsa’s father. Though it doesn’t come up in this issue I’ve already praised his use of Russian/English font. I’ve never geeked out over lettering before, it’s really amazing when someone shows talent in those regards and makes an already fantastic book stand out even more. This, to me, reinforces the fact that comic books are truly a collaborative effort where everyone who works on it should get credit for making a great issue of a comic book, and this is one amazing issue.
- 2.The Superior Spider-Man #9 by Dan Slott, Ryan Stegman, and Edgar Delgado [Marvel]
So this is it folks, the issue they’ve been building up to since the beginning of the series. This is the issue that makes or breaks this series for everyone who’s been on the fence about it. It is also the issue that pretty much reaffirms your love or hatred of the book. Now I’ve been a big proponent of the book, in fact I downright love it. I think Dan Slott and his team of fantastic artists have been doing an amazing job with this series and with this issue I still do. I know that a lot of people hated this issue so I’m not so much going to try to convince you why this issue was so good but I’m just going to tell you why I liked it so much and through that hopefully you’ll see why this might be one of the best Spider-Man stories we have gotten in the last few years.
I started picking up Spider-Man when Dan Slott and a group of writers like Joe Kelly, Zeb Wells, Mark Waid, and a few others were writing and it was decided to take the Amazing Spider-Man title thrice monthly. I felt it was a great starting off point to pick up a comic about a character that I come to love as much as I love Batman. I enjoyed a majority of the run from these writers but always felt that it needed a more focused take on the character with one voice rather with the many different. This is when Dan Slott took over the book as its sole writer and it went from being an enjoyable book to an fantastic book. Dan Slott loves Spider-Man, this much is true, and through Dan’s love of Spider-Man he has turned me into a lover of Spider-Man as well. I don’t think there’s anyone that loves Peter Parker and Spider-Man as much as Dan Slott, and he shows it every issue. With the Superior Spider-Man comic he’s getting the chance to tell his ultimate Spider-Man story. We all read comics and know this is a serialized story, there’s more going on and more happening each month in the book then what we get each issue. There is a grander story that Dan is telling here and readers have to realize that we’re in the second act of that story and that second act it just getting started. There needs to be some patience from you fans, because I trust Dan Slott. I believe that he has a plan, he’s not making this up as he goes along and Marvel wouldn’t have let him done something so drastic to one of their major characters if there wasn’t a longer story to tell.
The problem that a lot of people took with this issue is something that stemmed from the last issue, where Doc Spidey has found a small trace of Peter Parker’s brain activity and he has vowed to erase it. And erase it Doc Spidey does, but not without an all out war from Peter Parker. Peter loses, and it’s not for lack of trying or willpower. We have to remember that whatever residual memories or brain activity that was left of Peter wasn’t all of it, he was in his mind, but only partially and we have to see that Doc Spidey only wins when he plays Peter against his own rules of morality, and the need to be responsible and do the right thing. Doc Spidey gets Peter in a moment of weakness and uses that to delete him.
Folks, this is not the end, this is just the beginning.
- 3.Hawkeye #10 by Matt Fraction and Francesco Francavilla [Marvel]
I read this comic 3 times. The first time I read the whole thing like one would read a normal comic. I liked it but didn’t fully follow the story of what was happening until I got to the end. Then before riding this review I decided to read it again but in parts. I read the Kate stuff first, all the stuff in blue and with Hawkeye. The story of her meeting Kazi and getting to know him, flirting with him and letting off a little steam from working and being taken into the whirlwind of Hawkeye’s life. It was all very nice and cute. It read like a romantic scene that was very well directed and lighted by guest artist Francesco Francavilla. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Francavilla is an amazing artist and along with Fraction have set a really nice scene in a comic that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. As I said, it was masterfully colored. The blues and pinks are just vibrant and really set the scene, with the orange highlighting something underneath that the characters are hiding.
The third time I read it I read the other half of the comic the one that told the origin of Kazi, the man that Kate is talking to. We get to see where he came from, how he grew up, (very different from Kate), and what his ties to the book are, he’s working as a hitman for the Bros. Kate doesn’t know that though. This is where the coloring comes in and does a great job. I mentioned before that there were some orange highlighting in the Kate/Kazi pages, the orange was mostly on him and in the flashback pages for him the pages are colored in black and different shades of orange. These orange colors represent the fire and explosions at different points in the story. When there’s no fire to me they represent the lowest form of light in the room but it also represents all the terrible things that Kazi has done in his life.
These two stories come together at the end. As Kate is yelling at Clint for being an ass and taking out his anger on her we see that Kazi has a job to do at Clint’s building. Kazi is surprised to see Kate there. At first I thought that Clint was upset because of how things ended last issue with someone shooting Gil. Kate walks away from Clint and then we turn the page to see Clint talking with Gil and then finding out that Kazi was the one who shot Gil, where we’re back to orange and red, depicting bad things happening. Kazi shooting Gil was a surprise but now we know who did it and who was behind it hit. I can’t stress enough how amazing this book is and as much as I love David Aja’s work I love when they have other artists come in to do an issue. Francavilla is an amazing artist and a storyteller and if you’re not reading this comic you should be and if you don’t want to just pick this issue up for it’s amazing artist showcase.
- 4.Swamp Thing #20 by Charles Soule and Kano
This is the second part of a two part story featuring Scarecrow and Superman. Last issue focused more on the Scarecrow guest part as he was the one who dosed Swamp Thing with the fear gas. This issue has more Superman and uses the character very well. I don’t read a lot of the DC 52 and I haven’t read any Superman title so I don’t know how he’s been used in this new continuity but this issue takes what we know of the character of Superman and uses them extremely well that it actually made me a little bit more of a fan of the character, because normally I don’t really care one way or the other.
In this issue we are shown Swamp Thing’s fears thanks to the Scarecrow toxin. The toxin takes Swamp Thing on a trip showing him his life as it could have been if he didn’t sacrifice his body and let the green take over him. He is shown a family with Abby and all the great work he’s going to do as a scientist. As he’s in his mind seeing all this on the outside vines are going out of him and out of the greenhouse attacking and destroying parts of Metropolis. After a few heroics from Superman he flies to the green house and burns out the toxins from Swamp Thing’s body. Swamp Thing retracts all the vegetation that he’s grown, since he can do that now, it is part of his powers and he has a heart to heart with Superman. Swamp Thing has been struggling with his human side for the last few issues and he knows that Superman is from another world and I loved the exchange between them. Swamp Thing asks Superman “You don’t have to act like a human but you choose to, how do you do it?” and Superman responds with “I connect, I find people to help. It’s our choice, we’re not monsters, we can be as human as we want to be.” And that’s a simple truth that might be able to help save Swamp Thing; all he needed to do was hear it from someone like Superman.
- 5.Thanos Rising #2 by Jason Aaron, Simone Bianchi, and Ive Svorcina [Marvel]
Thanos is still a teenager in this issue and hasn’t become the full on Thanos we know today. This issue read like the secret origin of Dr. Frankenstein or a mad scientist type from the old black and white horror films. And at the same time it’s still a story of self discovery and the need to know who you are and why you’re different, just all done in a really messed up way.
Thanos has been experimenting to find the answer that he’s searching for using lizards and smaller animals in said experiments then upgrading to apes and finally using human beings. These series of events tell us one very major thing about Thanos, and that is that his moral compass has dwindled but not to the point where it’s all gone. He kills two teenagers to continue his experiments but when they prove to be fruitless he has a conversation with the girl that’s keeping an eye on him and she asks him if he enjoyed killing the teens and experimenting on them. Thanos is actually offended at this notion, saying that he’s not a common butcher and that it was all in the name of science. There’s still some sort of morality in Thanos but those lines are starting to blur. But as he’s burying the bodies he announces that he’s done with science because it has failed him.
In reality though, as much as Thanos is trying to hold on to some sort of humanity he admits to the girl that he did enjoy killing the teenagers but he admits it remorsefully, he is ashamed by what he has admitted, he pleads with the girl to run away with him, but she puts him in his place which might be the final push that Thanos needed to get to be the man he is today. He loves this girl but she asks him what makes him worthy of anyone’s love. And that’s the clincher. Thanos has never been loved, not truly, and he’s missed out on the nurture and care of a mother, remember she wanted to kill him as soon as he was born. His father is busy with his own life in science and experimenting, and he doesn’t have time for Thanos. There was mention of a brother but we haven’t met him and then there’s the girl he loves who doesn’t love him back. It’s been a hard road for Thanos since birth. And it’s no surprise that this issue ends with his mother on a slab ready to be experimented on, because who better to look at when trying to figure out why you’re so messed up than your own flesh and blood.