GeekMom: Comic Book Corner—September 18th, 2013

Nova and Spidey Jerk...umm...Superior Spider-Man  Image: Copyright Marvel
Nova and Spidey Jerk…umm…Superior Spider-Man Image: Copyright Marvel

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. Corrina continues her look at DC’s Villain Month while Dakster reviews Marvel’s Nova. Lisa takes us into Pacific Rim and Rebecca gives us a nice overview of A Flight of Angels. Last but not least, Sophie gives us her views on The X-Files Season 10 #4  and why the writer should drop one element that’s driving her nuts.

Corrina—DC’s Villain Month: Top Pick: Shadow Thief #1 by Tom DeFalco and Chad Hardin

Justice League of America: Shadow Thief  Image: DC Comics
Justice League of America: Shadow Thief Image: DC Comics

This month, villains are taking over all of DC’s superhero titles, to tie-in with the Forever Evil event, in which an evil Justice League, the Crime Syndicate, has taken over the Earth and seemingly killed the Justice League. Five of the titles are direct tie-ins to the events, especially the Batman villains, while others I read feature villain origins in short stories of varying quality. DC has some good horror-style writers and artists working for them and it shows in some of this week’s tales.

The good news is that this week’s offerings seem far more varied than last week’s, if just as bleak. The best read, especially to those looking for a great one-off story, is Shadow Thief by Tom DeFalco, the former Marvel-Editor-in-Chief and Spider-Man scribe, and artist Chad Hardin. The Shadow Thief, Aviva, is a former Mossad agent who has made it her life’s mission to root out covert alien assaults on the Earth. To do so, she uses a weaponized containment suit also seems to be alien tech and allows her to instant transport. The suit doesn’t quite have a mind of its own, but it did remind me of the early Venom stories in Spider-Man. Since DeFalco introduced Spider-Man’s black costume, that’s not surprising. Overall, it’s an involving tale of one person’s descent into obsession with very creepy and sometimes spectacular art (the first splash page is Aviva falling from a high rise). I hope to see the Shadow-Thief again as she strikes me more as an anti-hero than a true villain.

Cheetah #1 is also written by a comic veteran, John Ostrander, the creator of the Suicide Squad, with art by Victor Ibanez. I have mixed feelings about the issue. On the one hand, the story is involving and weird, and features the re-appearance of an obscure DC character I like. On the other hand, the tradition of the Amazons as worst role models ever continues as even the faux Amazons that raised Barbara Minerva/the Cheetah turn out to be as evil as the real murdering Amazons in the current Wonder Woman title. The story picks us just after the Crime Syndicate has released the Cheetah and other villains from a maximum security prison. Cheetah uses her newfound freedom to clear up some family ties. Ibanez does a terrific job with the fur-covered Cheetah, making her sleek and terrifying, rather than cheesecakey. And Ostrander definitely makes her a force of nature and a great foe for Wonder Woman.

And there are the four Bat-titles: Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins, Scarecrow, and Clayface.  One, seeing the list made me realize how many great villains Batman has. Two, reading the comics had me very, very worried for the fate of Gotham. All the titles are set in the time after the Justice League’s supposed “death” and all but one feature the villains in Gotham, sorting out their new place in the world order. Oddly, Ra’s Al Ghul was the least interesting of the bunch, maybe because it’s essentially a static re-telling of his origin. Scarecrow is moody, tense, and a little bit confusing as the master of fear wanders Gotham looking for allies. Clayface actually manages to be a little bit funny in characterization of the villain as someone with incredible power who never really learns anything. Penguin, well, the Penguin makes an excellent point to his opponents in this tale whose message is to never underestimate a little guy with an umbrella.

The other villain books I read are Dial E (for evil), Arcane, H’el, and Eclipso. Arcane is a sick, twisted horror story and will no doubt please those who like horror. Eclipso is another tale of a revised villain origin, and keeps the dual nature of human versus demon. H’el brings back the Kryptonian villain from the recent Superman/Superboy/Supergirl crossover. I still find him dull  but this one might interest those who have a thing for stories set on Krypton before the explosion.

Dial E is written by literary fiction star China Mieville, who has been writing the weird and sometimes wonderful Dial H for Hero, and each page is by a different artist. And it’s…really outstandingly weird. Fun weird, confusing weird, but mostly amusing weird. Essentially, a group of kids get a hold of a magic deal that transforms them into villains. This is a good thing, as they’re being chased by bad guys who want the dial back and a number of cops. I laughed out loud when one of the transformations was a walking house. Half the time, I’m not sure what’s going on, but the imagination on this one bursts out of the page.

Dakster Sullivan — Nova Vol. 5 #7, story by Zebb Wells, with art by Paco Medina

Nova Vol 5 #7  Image: Copyright Marvel
Nova Vol 5 #7 Image: Copyright Marvel

Nova #7 carries on in the spirit of Issue #6, with Sam Alexander continuing to learn some valuable and much-needed lessons. Don’t let that description fool you into thinking that this issue will be all character growth, no action, though—because this installment has appearances by some major players in the superhero world, most notably Superior Spider-Man (AKA Doctor Octavius in Peter Parker’s body).

From the get-go, we can see Nova’s (AKA Sam Alexander) 15-year-old-ness shining through as he leaves his small hometown in Arizona for New York City and gets himself into situations he doesn’t quite grasp. Superior Spider-Man is the first “hero” Sam runs into, and quite frankly, I wasn’t impressed with the character. He exudes pomposity, which is incredibly annoying since he’s only been in the hero game himself for a little bit!

I can see why many fans are up in arms wanting Peter Parker back (see Amazing Spider-Man #700). Doctor Octavius doesn’t take the time to understand Nova, nor does he care to try. While I’m not sure that Peter Parker could have made Nova understand his new situation any better, I know that at very least, he wouldn’t have been a <Insert vulgar-but-GeekMom-appropriate term here. My choice is dick.> about it. If this issue did anything for me, it made me even less-likely to read Superior Spider-Man than was already the case.

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Despite Superior Spider-Man’s ::rolling my eyes:: wonderfully warm pep talk on the streets of New York City telling Nova to leave because they have enough heroes, Nova throws himself head-first into the Big Apple superhero game, causing some trouble along the way. Sam’s self-defeating behavior at this juncture is actually highly reminiscent of Kid Flash’s behavior in the New 52 revamp of Teen Titans. For instance, when Kid Flash forgets his high school science homework and runs at super-speed into a burning building only to have a back-draft erupt as a result of his super-speed—wait, come to think of it…a scene in Nova plays out just that way! I guess regardless of the universe, DC or Marvel, 15-year-old kids with powers are going to act like 15-year-old kids with powers.

After failing to help anyone, Nova flies back home desperate to put his new powers to some use and what happened next was unexpected, and at the same time, reminded me of why I subscribe to this series.

You know those moments when your child does something that just melts your heart and makes it impossible to be mad at them? The scenes that followed when Nova returned to Arizona did that for me. The mother in me just wanted to squeeze him into a big embarrassing hug after he finally realized he doesn’t have to rush into being a big hero right away.

While I wished Nova’s innocence would last just a little longer, the last page pretty much confirmed that Sam is about to find himself in over his head…with some very big bad guys heading his way.

Speaking of the last few pages, another character I’m enjoying in this series is the Watcher (AKA the Man on the Moon). I’m not all that familiar with the Watcher, but his brief moments in the Nova issues are a nice addition to the series. Without saying a word, I can see his concerns about the impending Infinity Wars building. He seems to genuinely care about the world surrounding him and I hope we get to see more of him. It would be awesome if someone would write a single issue back-story so we can learn more about who this character is and what his interest is in Nova.[Corrina breaking in here, Dakster..Ah, the Watcher. Hah! No single issue backstory coming. Because he’s The Watcher.]

This issue really showed us that despite having helped the Avengers bring down Cyclops in the AvX war and facing off in space in a battle for the Ultimate Nulifer, Nova is still a 15-year-old with powers he doesn’t quite understand. He has skill, but those moments of heroism were more about him being in the right place at the right time. In the wake of these lucky moments, though, it’s time Sam learns he has to walk before he can run. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will have much time to learn with the impending Infinity War right behind him.

I’m comfortable recommending Nova Vol. 5 to anyone 10-years-old and up.

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Rebecca Angel—A Flight of Angels  by various writers and art by Rebecca Guay

A Flight of Angels came out a couple years ago from the talented Rebecca Guay, and I only just had a chance to read it. Wow. The artwork is lush, the story is intriguing, and the characters stay with you. An angel falls to the earth and is found by creatures of the fairie, who all tell stories trying to guess who the angel is, why he fell, and the connection between the worlds of human, fae, angels, and demons.

Lisa Kay Tate—Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero, by Travis Beacham, illustrated by Sean Chen, Yvel Guichet, and Pericles Junior.

Guillermo Del Toro’s epic tribute to Japanese monster movies caught me be surprise this summer, as everything from the viral poster campaign to gratuitous Idris Elba pontifications, turned me into an instant fan.

This hardcover graphic novel from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures is a perfect companion to the film, providing back-stories for many of the main players. Although it is more character-driven than it is action-packed, it isn’t lacking on excitement, suspense, or emotional punch.

Aside from the beautifully done cover art by Alex Ross, the illustrations are nothing spectacular, but stay on par with many comic book movie adaptations. It was the stories that grabbed me like a Kaiju from the deep, and gave me a bigger appreciation for what the main protagonists went through. Characterization was not the movie’s strong point, so this comic filled in some plot holes.

Tales From Year Zero is certainly worth a read, especially for those who were left the movie with a few questions. This title is recommended for the “tweens” and up due to very mild indications of sexual situations and violence.

Sophie Brown—The X-Files: Season 10 #4  by, Joe Harris and art by Michael Walsh

Excuse me Mr. Harris, can we talk for a minute? Thank you.

X-Files Season 10 Issue 4  Image: IDW Publishing
X-Files Season 10 Issue 4 Image: IDW Publishing

We’re up to issue four of the “Believers” plot arc now and yet again we’re running up against the same issue. I know it might not seem like a big deal to you, but to those of us who’ve stayed with The X-Files from the beginning—that’s 20 years now in case you missed last week’s celebrations—it’s a game changer.

William Scully is not just Scully’s son, he’s Mulder’s son too. Mulder says it in the second film. It’s accepted. The fandom has moved on. Constantly having Scully refer to William as “my son” or worse “my baby”—he’s about seven years old now, he’s NOT a baby anymore—when she’s talking to Mulder drags me kicking and screaming out of the fictional universe I’ve immersed myself in daily for almost two decades. Oh and having other characters refer to him as “William Scully” to her face is weird; he’s her child, she knows his name fairly well and by now even new-to-the-X-Files readers have got that bit of information lodged firmly into their sub craniums.

Drop it OK?

Right, now we’ve got that cleared up we can get back to the issue at hand. The issue opens with a dramatic teaser for this month’s ending, but soon we’re back with Scully who is still traipsing through snowy forests with her acolyte companion, and Mulder who is still rushing about dramatically doing whatever it is Mulder usually does when he thinks Scully might be “in peril™”.

The first half of issue four is very, very slow—I mean there are five whole pages devoted to not much more than Scully entering a local store to try and make a phone call. The Gunmen are back doing semi-magical things with computers (seriously, someone explain to me that logic leap they make on the first panel of page 18) and Scully is acting uncharacteristically dumb. The pace picks up a little by page 15 and keeps us guessing through to the end. However, it has to be said that despite the action, very little actually happens in this issue.

I’m hoping that this is calm before the storm. This opening arc ties up next month so I’m expecting some major resolution (and some epic forehead sex) in October. I have to say that opening a new X-Files season in a brand new format by splitting Mulder and Scully up for the last three issues of a five-issue arc was a risky gambit to play.

The X-Files lived on the interaction between the pair and because the comic is missing out on that vital dynamic the cracks are really showing.

Oh and one last thing. Page 16; panel six. That had better be a reaction to the acolytes and nothing more because if you so much as dare I will not be held accountable for my actions…

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC-Comics-Old.jpg marvel-logo1.jpg

100 Bullets Brother Lono #4 (Of 8)
Action Comics #23.3 (Lex Luthor) GM
Arrow #11
Arrow Vol. 1 TP
Batman #23.3 (The Penguin)
Batman ’66 #3
Batman ’66 #3
Batman And Robin #23.3 (Ra’s al Ghul And The League Of Assassins)
Batman Beyond Universe #2
Batman The Dark Knight #23.3 (Clayface)
Batwoman Vol. 2 To Drown The World TP GM
Batwoman Vol. 3 World’s Finest HC GM
Detective Comics #23.3 (The Scarecrow)
Fables #133
Flash #23.3 (The Rogues)
Green Lantern #23.3 (Black Hand)
Justice League #23.3 (Dial E)
Justice League Dark #23.2 (Eclipso)
Justice League Of America #7.3 (Shadow Thief) GM
Secret Society Of Super-Villains Vol. 1 TP
Stormwatch Vol. 3 Betrayal TP GM
Superman #23.3 (H’el)
Swamp Thing #23.1 (Arcane)
Teen Titans #23.2 (Deathstroke)
Unwritten Tommy Taylor And The Ship That Sank Twice HC
Wonder Woman #23.1 (The Cheetah)
World Of Warcraft Pearl Of Pandaria TP
All-New X-Men Vol. 3 Out Of Their Depth HC GM
Cable And X-Force #14
Captain Marvel #16 GM
Daredevil #31
Disney Princess Magazine #16 (Disney Publishing Worldwide) KF10
Infinity #3 (Of 6)
Inhumans The Origin Of The Inhumans TP
Iron Man Epic Collection The Enemy Within TP
Marvel Masterworks Daredevil Vol. 7 HC
Morbius The Living Vampire #9
New Avengers #10
Powers Bureau #7
Red She-Hulk Vol. 2 Route 616 TP
Savage Wolverine #8
Secret Avengers #9
Superior Carnage #3 (Of 5)
Superior Spider-Man #18
Thor God Of Thunder #13
Thunderbolts #15
Thunderbolts Vol. 2 Red Scare TP
Ultimate Comics X-Men #31
Uncanny X-Men #12
Venom #41
Wolverine MAX #11
Wolverine The Return Of Weapon X TP
X-Men Legacy #17
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

Doctor Who #13
Ghostbusters #7
Half Past Danger #5 (Of 6)
Joe Hill’s The Cape Deluxe Edition HC
Popeye Classics #14
Popeye Classics Vol. 2 HC
Star Trek Best Of Klingons TP
Star Trek The Newspaper Strips Vol. 2 1981-1983 HC
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Vol. 6 TP
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #3 KF10
Transformers Regeneration One #0
Transformers Robots In Disguise Vol. 4 TP
X-Files Season 10 #4
Angel And Faith Vol. 4 Death And Consequences TP
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #111 (Lake Of Fire Part 2 Of 5)
Buzzkill #1 (Of 4)
Conan The Barbarian #20
Conan The Phenomenon TP
Dream Thief #5 (Of 5)
Kiss Me Satan #1
Smoke Ashes TP
Star Wars Dark Times A Spark Remains #3 (Of 5)
Star Wars Dark Times Vol. 6 Fire Carrier TP
Star Wars Vol. 1 In The Shadow Of Yavin TP
Strain The Fall #3

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading / KF10 = Kid-Friendly for 10-years old and younger

Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.