- Posted by Johanna on August 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- PUBLISHER: Marvel
Ultimate Fallout #5
Writer: Nick Spencer / Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Luke Ross / Billy Tan
Like many many people, I was attracted by all the controversy over Ultimate Fallout #4. I wanted to see how Marvel was portraying their new diverse Spider-Man, the half-black, half-Hispanic Miles Morales. So I flipped through this issue, the next in the series, only to find … he’s not in the book at all.
Instead, we get two chapters, one with Quicksilver, another with Nick Fury, and lots and lots of talk. What a missed opportunity. No chance to show people who this new character is, or to demonstrate their commitment to the change. No opportunity to interest new readers, brought in by the news coverage. Not even any action or stunning visuals of superhero adventure. It’s very representative of Marvel’s line these days, but how disappointing that is.
Secret Avengers #15
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Scot Eaton and Jaime Mendoza
This is another of those “let’s try to make something everyone finds stupid about superheroes more realistic” stories that only winds up pointing how silly it all is. I compare them to picking a scab — it would heal better if you just forgot about it and left it alone. The classic Scab Story example, to me, was during the 1999 Batman “No Man’s Land” storyline, the one where they shut Gotham City off from the rest of the world. The result was some good storytelling, but fans kept asking (with some justification) where all the other heroes were, and why someone didn’t just fly in and help. So there were a couple of stories done to answer that question — Batman #566, with Superman, and JLA #32 — but they weren’t compelling or satisfying. Instead, they just made the problem more obvious, by dwelling on it. The question couldn’t be answered in a convincing, sensible way (because it was pure editorial fiat), so it should have been accepted as an assumption and ignored, not focused on.
Anyway, much of this issue involves the Black Widow crashing the offices of a webzine that’s running a piece on how Captain America isn’t really dead. So there’s a lot of debate over how much of a revolving door superhero death is — which doesn’t do anyone any good. Solid points — like how unrelateable that makes heroes to everyday folk — are glossed over and handwaved away, while Black Widow’s loss (of Bucky, someone she loved) seems artificial and overplayed. The web journalists are shown to be shallow, despicable opportunists who’ll run anything, even a lie, for hits — and that reaction from a comic writer is never attractive. It’s all posturing, from everyone involved.
Ultimately, Spencer wants us to feel sorry for the overstuffed redhead in the skin-tight catsuit for being a superhero, and that’s something that doesn’t fly for me. I want superheroes to act like people, not people asked to accept the ridiculous constraints the corporate superhero universe has become. We have been consistently trained to understand that superhero deaths mean nothing but a cheap attempt to bump sales — and then bump again when they return. That’s not our fault. The blame lies with the companies and their corporate stooges who have shown us this over and over.
There’s only one point of Spencer’s I can agree with, and that’s near the end, where the hard-boiled editor-in-chief points out that superheroes aren’t human any more. I agree with her, and that’s a shame. The ending, where the EIC does the “right” thing, also doesn’t make any sense for anyone who understands the web. It would only cause more discussion of the topic, now that there’s grounds for a conspiracy theory.
New Mutants #28
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Michael Ryan and Norman Lee
Hey, I finally feel like I understand these characters. And it only took two years’ worth of issues for someone to think “maybe people who weren’t reading the series back in 1985 would like to know who they are.”
Mostly, I really like Gus Grim, the Native American therapist who has no patience and doesn’t pull any punches. I would read a comic where he just traveled around the Marvel universe telling superheroes what their problems were. I thought for sure he was some old character brought back to cameo, but no, turns out he’s new with this issue. And he’s wonderful, a straight-ahead sharpshooter of psychiatry.
Dani Moonstar has brought him to Utopia to help her team, most of whom don’t want to talk to him or know the truth. As she introduces him to the various members, we learn who they are and what neuroses they have. The art’s nicely balanced between the emotion needed for this kind of story and the over-the-top excess of these larger-than-life characters.
I’d now like to read more about them, but since the following issue is a Fear Itself tie-in, I probably won’t get the chance. I hope we see Gus again sometime soon.