This month the GeekMoms have been reading a marvelous mixture of comic originals, and TV/film/theme park franchise books. Catch up with Poe Dameron, the 999 Happy Haunts, Tank Girl, Doctor Strange, and the clones of Orphan Black (amongst others) in this month’s Comic Book Corner.
TITLE: The Haunted Mansion #3
PUBLISHER: Disney Kingdoms
WRITER: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Jorge Coelho and Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Sophie was excited to read the third issue of The Haunted Mansion from Marvel’s Disney Kingdoms imprint. This month The Captain is continuing his hunt for the treasure inside the mansion. After coming up empty once again, he realizes that the only place left to search is the one part of the house he doesn’t dare to tread. Instead, he gatecrashes the ballroom where young Danny is still under the room’s spell, which forces people to stay at the party forever. The Captain attacks Danny and hurls him from the room, breaking the spell.
Danny immediately encounters the Hatbox Ghost – a beloved character to fans of the original Disneyland attraction. The Hatbox Ghost has apparently been away from the Mansion for a long time, a knowing nod to the fate of the original animatronic which was removed from the attraction mere months after it opened in 1969. The character wouldn’t re-materialise there for another 46 years! Although unwilling to interfere in the events unfolding inside the mansion, the Hatbox Ghost agrees to give Danny a tour which conveniently whisks him away from the Captain’s reach. The tour takes in the Endless Staircase, the Library, and the Ghostly Materials Gallery – all based on rooms within the attraction. The latter in particular has a few neat easter eggs for Haunted Mansion fans worldwide to spot. The Hatbox Ghost explains to Danny that all the buildings he sees in the gallery are connected through the magic of the mansion and that all are, “reminders that in death, we should celebrate life”.
The Captain catches up with Danny in the library, where he reveals he has taken Leota hostage. Threatening to smash her crystal ball, The Captain forces Leota to reveal that Danny’s grandfather is not in the mansion. She lied to entice Danny inside, knowing that a living soul was needed to help the ghosts. Bored of her story, The Captain smashes the ball anyway, seemingly destroying Leota. The Captain threatens Danny with death if he doesn’t agree to search the last remaining room; the attic – home to Constance the Bride…
TITLE: The X-Files (2016) #2
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
WRITER: Joe Harris
ARTISTS: Matthew Dow Smith and Jordie Bellaire
Sophie picked up The X-Files #2 from IDW Publishing, For his second outing into The X-Files revival universe, Joe Harris steps away from the show’s convoluted mythology and into a classic Monster-of-The-Week story, which also happens to be the first two-parter from the new series. “Los Dios de Los Muertos”, which for you non-Spanish speakers translates as “The Gods of The Dead”, begins in Mexico where two children, Rosa and Enrico, rush to board a train headed for the United States border. They are attempting to flee someone named Justianiano who they fear, “will not take [their] leaving well.” The children are clearly correct in their assessment because soon the train is stopped by armed cartel enforcers searching for them. The others on the train do not give away their hiding place, apparently in fear of something worse than the cartel. Behind the enforcers, a pair of glowing faces with red eyes and pointed teeth hover in the shadows above the children. The next day, a truck is found in Laredo, Texas. Inside is a bloodbath filled with the remains of 37 migrant workers. There is only one survivor, Rosa.
Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate the case, which Mulder soon links to Santa Muerta, the Death Angel “fetishized” by Mexican cartels. Scully worries about the traumatized young girl left behind after the slaughter who has drawn pictures of the same angel hovering over the train, but Mulder is convinced her older brother is somehow connected to the incident and sets out to find him. Out at their hire car, Mulder finds a marigold, a flower that “figure[s] prominently in Mexican Day of the Dead rituals guiding the spirits.” As he sets off to find Enrico, who has made it was to a large southwest style villa, we spot the same glowing eyes and sharp teeth staring out from the rear of the car.
Sophie much preferred this issue to the season debut but would have probably liked it better if it wasn’t a two-parter. As it is, she thought the story felt slightly too dragged out and noticed once again some heavy-handed attempts to throw in up-to-date references to remind us what decade it is. I don’t think we’re in the 90s anymore Toto… Regardless, the evil smiling faces in the shadows had her thoroughly creeped out (and reminded of Welcome to Night Vale’s Smiling God) and she finds herself, once again, concerned for Mulder’s well-being until the next issue.
TITLE: Star Wars: Poe Dameron #2
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Charles Soule
ARTIST: Phil Noto
Shiri continues in her firm belief there is such thing as neither too much Star Wars nor too much Poe Dameron, who, it seems, cannot help but be brave, snarky, and self-sacrificing in a wonderful, cocky but caring package. In this month’s installment, readers are not only treated to plenty more Poe but also to the introduction of the uber-creepy Agent Terex who, it seems, even Phasma can’t stomach. The mystery of the Creche and their weird, glowing, blue egg deepens when Terex threatens their sanctum and each member of the elusive group appears willing to die for said weird, glowing, blue egg. Shiri also enjoyed spending some time with Black Squadron’s other pilots, including Snap Wexley, Jessica Pava, L’ulo (who was Shara Bey’s wingman back in Shattered Empire), and others. Shiri appreciated the insight into the team’s dynamics and even had a few more of her lingering TFA questions answered. A few self-aware jokes regarding the similarities between aspects of the original trilogy and this new one bright unexpected lightness to a dark scene. Issue #2 ends on a cliffhanger involving both a dogfight and the forced hatching of the aforementioned weird, blue, glowing egg.
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 prominent members of the Rebellion, dad was Sergeant Dameron of the Pathfinder Strike Team and mom is pilot Shara Bey, who was instrumental in the victory on Endor’s moon and has piloted strike team missions for Han, secret diplomatic missions for Leia, and a very important artifact recovery mission for Luke.
TITLE: Doctor Strange #7
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Jason Aaron
ARTISTS: Chris Bachalo and various inkers
One of the many things Shiri enjoys about comics is the intermingling of science fiction and fantasy and one of the comics bridging the two particularly well right now is Doctor Strange. Something is amiss in the magical realm and Strange is attempting to discover what is draining magic and murdering Sorcerers Supreme from other dimensions. In issue #7 readers discover the answer is “Science,” but Shiri isn’t going to ruin the story by spilling any other details because it’s simply incomplete without Bachalo’s kinetic, frantic lines to accompany the tale. Escaping their captors only through the sacrifice of one of their own, Marvel’s magic users must decide if they will save themselves or continue to fight what appears to be a hopeless battle to save magic and themselves. Seeing Stephen Strange bereft of snark is a portentous thing and lends an extra edge of darkness to what is proving a pivotal event in the current Marvel Comics universe. The books are also providing Aaron the opportunity to assemble some kick-butt magical teams readers might not otherwise have the chance to experience. Also, there are evil trees.
TITLE: Thunderbolts #1
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Jim Zub
ARTISTS: Jon Malin and Matt Yackey
Shiri has a soft spot for anti/questionable heroes in general, and Bucky Barnes in particular. She was, as such very excited to get the first issue of Thunderbolts in front of her face. Bucky, along with a team of super-criminals freed from Maria Hill’s Pleasant Hill super-max, proceeds to inflict some much deserved chaotic good upon S.H.I.E.L.D. and the director whose lies and deceptions resulted in the deaths of several innocent people. Bucky also saved (or stole, depending on one’s point of view) Kobik, the cosmic cube fragment manifested as young child that Hill was using to illegally and immorally alter the minds of the Pleasant Hill prisoners, and is attempting to keep Kobik safe from S.H.I.E.L.D. and anyone else who might want to use her as a weapon. Mayhem, of course, ensues with Bucky barely being able to control his team and Kobik acting as any small child with ultimate power might. Though the art is, perhaps, not Shiri’s favorite style, she will definitely continue getting the book because the writing is fantastic and the possibilities for darkly comic moments, wild-card Bucky being the reasonable one in a group completely incapable of restraining itself, and the likelihood of disaster are simply too fantastic to pass up.
TITLE: Moon Knight: Welcome to New Egypt #2
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Jeff Lemire
ARTISTS: Gregg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire
Shiri is pleased that Moon Knight continues to be both deliciously creepy and thought-provoking. Gaining a little confidence in his own reality, Marc Spector challenges his therapist only to find himself once more being the victim of cruel orderlies. While incapacitated, Marc is visited by Khonshu, who explains that Earth is about to be invaded by Immortals from another dimension. Donning his Moon Knight mask, Mark leads an escape attempt that, while successful puts both him and his compatriots in even greater danger. From mummies. Which, for the record, are outside of the hospital and which they can all see. We have yet to discover whether or not Spector has actually had a psychotic break or is being played by a very cruel, very evil, very far-reaching enemy. It also reminds Shiri of the sad state of mental heath care in the United States, and the world at large, the stigma and fear still attached, which lead to her writing a Gather ‘Round Padawans column about that very thing.
TITLE: Tank Girl #1
WRITER: Alan Martin
ARTISTS: Brett Parson
Anika loves Tank Girl. The comic, the character, the film, the idea, the mess. Because Tank Girl IS a mess, generally and specifically, but that’s what makes her great? Tank Girl has always lived (and thrived) on the fringes of society making as much noise as she can. So an initially crowdfunded revival makes perfect sense — was wildly successful for what it was, and now we have more Tank Girl.
In this case literally: the arc opens with the introduction of Tank Girl’s biggest fan, an art dealer who comes into possession of The Tank and decides to reinvent herself. Everything that happens in the comic is incredibly coincidental and random but in Tank Girl the plot is never the point. The art is stylized and adorable and in your face. There are two scenes with the women in their underwear. One is for plot reasons that come off as questionably necessary given the toplessness, and the other actually feels out of character given the woman’s transformation from uptight secret fangirl trapped in a boring existence to All New Tank Girl. Or to put it more clearly — here is Anika reading this comic, and this character is basically her, and she knows she would wear cute pajamas in that scene not just cute undies. But that said, Anika does love the art and she does love the fact that she’s reading this comic and this character is basically her.
Samantha is easing her way back into comic books. Historically she has enjoyed comics that break away from the standard superhero/villain flavors and tends to prefer her comics involve everyday people. She has also thoroughly enjoyed watching Orphan Black on television and was excited when the chance to review this comic series came along. So far she has not been disappointed, as issue #1 introduces us to a feisty 17-year-old clone named Veera. In issue #1 we see Veera discover that her guardian has a camera installed in her bedroom and that leads to a confrontation and escape by Veera. Before she leaves she manages to find that her guardian has cameras watching two other young women and she sets off to find them. She finds the first one at the end of this issue.
Issue #2 had Samantha following Veera and Niki as they make their way to Poland from Helsinki to find the other young woman Veera’s uncle had been monitoring. She saw the girls working together to stay safe, just like in the troubled sisterhood of the clones from the television show. The first two issues seem a nice backstory to the television show and Samantha very much enjoyed the inclusion of resident bad girl Rachel just as she is starting at Dyad. She feels the series has some real potential for those who already watch and enjoy the television series.