In this month’s Comic Book Corner, Shiri checks out a whole bunch of new Marvel titles including Black Panther and the Star Wars: Poe Dameron mini-series, while Sophie creeps back into The Haunted Mansion and investigates IDW’s new ongoing series, The X-Files.
TITLE: Star Wars: Poe Dameron #1
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Charles Soule
ARTIST: Phil Noto
Shiri is of the firm belief there is such thing as neither too much Star Wars nor too much Poe Dameron, so you can imagine her joy when this ongoing series was announced several months back (many of the Star Wars/Marvel joint ventures have been mini-series–better for the wallet no doubt, but a bummer for Shiri’s emotional wellbeing as she tends to get attached to fictional characters with some frequency). Poe is a fantastic character because, while he is part cocky daredevil (a fantastic, fantastic part) he, unlike those who came before in fulfillment of that role, is a team player rather than a loner, a man who openly and wonderfully cares about his family, his friends, his fellow pilots (most of the cocky bastards either don’t or pretend not to in defense of their tragically fragile souls), and even his adorable custom BB unit. He is also a man willing to give up his hero coat to another, which, Shiri would like to remind you, is something of a Big Deal. Because this is Poe Dameron’s book, we begin with a wild and impossible flight through rocky caverns in the service of a MISSION OF GREAT IMPORT ordered by none other than General Leia Organa: find Lor San Tekka and the map to Skywalker. Separated from his team, Poe ends up in something of a diplomatic situation, which he handles with his usual aplomb, charm, and blaster fire. Enter the First Order…
Shiri isn’t always a fan of the cliffhanger but it’s Poe and she’s pretty sure cliffhangers are part of his nature.
Note: For those of you who didn’t read Star Wars: Shattered Empire or who, like Shiri, did read it but totally forgot, we already know who Poe’s parents are. Both were prominent members of the Rebellion. His dad was Sergeant Dameron of the Pathfinder Strike Team, and his mom is pilot Shara Bey, who was instrumental in the victory on the moon of Endor and who has piloted strike team missions for Han, secret diplomatic missions for Leia, and a very important artifact recovery mission for Luke.
TITLE: Black Panther #1
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Ta-Nehsi Coates
ARTISTS: Brian Stelfreze and Laura Martin
Shiri likes some variety in her month’s selections and Black Panther has stepped up to fulfill her need for something more grounded and timely. Yes, there are still masked heroes and super soldiers, but there is also political strife, frustration, betrayal, love, honor, and desperation. Wakanda is in crisis. “Villany overwhelms” the nation and heroes are being executed for doing what is necessary and what is right. Black Panther has been unable to save neither his beloved sister nor his country from an interloper who can ferment rage into open rebellion. The great king T’Challa is powerless. His alter ego is mired down by responsibility and overwhelmed, sick that he has been forced to fight, to harm, his own people to protect the nation, at a complete loss as to what he should do next. This is the sort of superhero story Shiri loves most, because while Superman is all well and good, the true heroes are the ones who aren’t bullet proof. They are the ones who struggle. The ones who are, even if exceptional, even if extraordinary, so very human. The true heroes are those with something to lose and T’Challa is on the precipice of losing everything. He continues to fight, however, willing to lose it all if it means his nation and his people survive.
After what the Hulk did to Wakanda, no wonder he’s Team Iron Man…
TITLE: Moon Knight #1
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Jeff Lemire
ARTISTS: Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire
Shiri has a complicated relationship with Jeff Lemire; she loves a lot of what he does but some of it (looking at you, Sweet Tooth) has made her skin crawl to the extent she has to swallow hard and bury it under a pile of other stuff. He is, regardless, a master of digging into the soul of characters and laying them bare. While this can, in some cases, be exceedingly disturbing, it can also help the reader connect with characters who seem so far beyond normal humanity as to be untouchable. Shiri does have to admit to being a Moon Knight newb as far as the comics are concerned, though she has researched Marc Spector’s history for another project and found the analog of “Marvel’s Batman” to be pretty accurate. In issue #1 of the new run, however, we are given something different: a madman in a hospital, which clearly isn’t a hospital. At least we don’t think it is. But it could be. Maybe. Gods speak, realms shift, men are beasts, beasts are men, an obviously insane chosen one knows the truth, and the psychiatrist bears a striking resemblance to certain incarnations of one Natasha Romanoff–all perfectly plausible as “reality” in comic-universe but also as delusions in ours. This comic is going to be Shiri’s new monthly mind game.
TITLE: The Unbelievable Gwenpool #1
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Christopher Hastings
ARTISTS: Gurihiru and Danilo Beyruth
Shiri is pretty enamoured of the conceit in this book: Gwen Poole (Gwenpool) is convinced she’s living in a comic book and thus, there are certain universal laws (the hero can’t die in issue one, the extras are inconsequential, everything will work out in the end) that cannot be denied. Everyone is is pretty sure Gwen is nuts but they humor her for some absurd reason never elucidated. Frankly, Shiri doesn’t care because the framework is perfect for any Deadpool book but especially this one, in which the Mouthy Merc in question is an adorable, anime-eyed, pixie with Rainbow Bright Hair. Much like Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland, the round lines, and bright colors might lead one to believe this is one of Deadpool‘s child-friendly incarnations; that would be an incorrect assumption. There are plenty of blood and guts throughout, and a nasty reality check at the end, but Gwen’s cocky attitude and unfettered joy make The Unbelievable Gwenpool #1 a lovely, escapist read for fans of both Gwen Stacy and Deadpool.
TITLE: The X-Files (2016) #1
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
WRITER: Joe Harris
ARTISTS: Matthew Dow Smith and Jordie Bellaire
Sophie picked up the first issue of The X-Files, a new ongoing series from IDW Publishing set during the recent six-episode revival series of the show. The series brings across the creative team who were previously working on IDW’s other X-Files series, Season 11, which was ended by the publisher around the time of the TV show’s revival. This new series sees the Mulder and Scully we saw on TV back working at the FBI under Assistant Director Walter Skinner. In issue one, “Active Shooter,” they are assigned to investigate a mass shooting at a Maryland mall after an employee at a food court burger chain opens fire and kills 17 people. Mulder and Scully are initially confused by their requested presence at what is, depressingly, an all too normal crime scene, however, it doesn’t take long for Mulder to notice that something is amiss. Soon the two of them are in the thick of things when another active shooter situation begins and Mulder discovers a third incident nearby.
IDW have their work cut out with this new series given how many X-Files fans feel burned by their previous Seasons 10 and 11 being publicized as canon, then suddenly dropped from that status once Fox brought the TV show back. Right now, Sophie feels slightly put out by the introduction of yet another overarching conspiracy with a shadowy bad guy manipulating Mulder and Scully given that the series is supposedly set during the short miniseries. Honestly, she would have preferred to just see Mulder and Scully investigating monsters, mutants, and murderers together.
TITLE: The Haunted Mansion #2
PUBLISHER: Disney Kingdoms
WRITER: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Jorge Coelho and Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Sophie also picked up issue two of Disney Kingdoms’ The Haunted Mansion and continued to be deeply impressed by this stunningly spooky and impressively illustrated story. The Haunted Mansion continues to throw in dozens of little Easter eggs for fans of the attraction to pick up on and this issue also introduces many more beloved characters from the ride including the infamous Hatbox Ghost, the Duelling Ghosts, and the Hitchhiking Ghosts. Picking up right where the last issue left off, Danny continues to explore the Mansion with Leota’s musicians, soon finding himself inside Sophie’s favorite ride scene: the ballroom. Here Danny meets Pickwick, host of this eternal swinging wake, who reveals a little more of the secrets behind both the Mansion itself, and the Captain’s curse. Danny too reveals more about himself and his relationship with his recently deceased Grandad. In the depths of the Mansion, the Captain is the final character to speak, revealing to readers some of his past including how he came to the Mansion and his personal quest. The issue ends on a mild cliffhanger that is perfect for younger readers, and Sophie now cannot wait for issue three to drop through her letterbox.
GeekMom received some comic issues for review purposes.