Like many issues the idea of action versus consequence is contained in each character’s motivations. Whether it is living up to expectations, maintaining a steadfast point of view without selling out or simply paying for sins of the past, this week’s comics show that progression, especially in terms of The Punisher. Different points in life dictate differing reflections.
Avengers Of The Wasteland #5 The key in creating new characters while not losing the essence of the ones that came before them is to saddle them with expectations while understanding that they need to make their own choices whether it is necessary or not. The path in this series is Dr. Doom and his need for one last battle that shows his mettle. The question becomes the intentions of those that carry the mantle of Thor, Ant Man or Captain America, what does it mean to be that person…and where does their own identity lie. Without spoiling any of the plot points, it is about the choices being made, whether it it is good or evil and how it reflects legacy.
Force Works 2020 #3 Robots overrunning an island is not a new occurrence but when it is two different factions of evil trying to find the less damaging side, it can be an interesting paradox. The members of Force Works led by War Machine are a diametric group even if they are paler reflections of The Avengers. Quake seems like the most straightforward but understands the necessity of her work while the others seem preoccupied by the sociological and philosophical intention of tech versus the greater good. In trying to save a world where does acceptable collateral damage lie. Force Works’ job as a team is to help cover up the elements of power while still maintaining to some standard of ethics. When a giant baddie in the form of Ultimo combines with a Deathlok giant it is a powerful visual image. The switched perspective in the final battle moments is well executed while the epilogue plays to the united front knowing that the greater good will prevail…for a few days.
Revenge Of The Cosmic Ghost Rider #5 Having someone as bad-ass as Frank Castle taking on the Ghost Rider mantle especially that of the Cosmic variety is a great idea. While the texture filters in with a mix of Heavy Metal and Lobo, the ride, however archetypal or metaphorical is rife with beauty. Mephisto, as a character who takes an innocent girl’s soul into the underworld, has enough charm and sarcasm to build an sinister yet alluring path to lure Castle down into the depths of Hell. Unlike some cosmic plots, this issue is both clear and convoluted in the most visceral way making for brisk action and story. Mephisto sitting on his chair in Vegas with a straw in a decapitated frat boy’s eye while Castle is roaring on a fire steed down Las Vegas Blvd. is the greatest kind of comic imagery. Then the resolution especially the irony of different deals made gives this story a beautiful kind of tragedy.
Scream: Curse Of Carnage #6 This continuing series with this entry “Suffer The Children Part I” shows our symbiote host finding her way through shelters just living a wandering existence. However now there seems to be a kidnapper on the loose taking young children. She feels a sense of protection for some but the symbiote inside her wants to look out for itself. At one point in the middle, she gets into a 3 way fight with Sandman and The Punisher who are all looking to dispense justice on a recent perp who is just one part of the puzzle. Each character here needs different information which all gets lost in a jumble. The more interesting story that moves towards the end is a mythical creature which, for all intents and purposes, provides a very focused point on what these kidnapped children are being groomed for.
By Tim Wassberg
The notion of identity and what it truly means is wrapped in the different personifications in these collections of issues. Whether it be Tony Stark losing control of his consciousness or Samurai Jack and Captain Kirk questioning who they really are, the ideal is based in the notions of self worth versus the ever bearing consequence of ego.
Marvel Action Avengers New Danger Vol. 1 The act of New Danger overcoming the most specifically focused member of the Avengers team in Tony Stark using the aspect of mind control is not a new contradiction since the fragile ego that motivates the character is well known. The aspect that is more mysterious is the idea of what a new villain would look like. The writers bring up a couple different teams, who, if one is completely familiar with all mythology, might work well but instead here feels more like filler. The only Avenger who truly comes through besides Tony in the opening dinner scene is Thor who is always looking, like Tony, for signs of acceptance or praise. Ultimately Tony’s force of will wins out but it seems like a foregone conclusion instead of one comprised of stakes.
Ghostbusters 35th Anniversary – The Real Ghostbusters This ode to the aspect what makes this version of the team more elevated than possibly new advances in the modern era seems more of a cautionary tale. A new trio of spook hunters have some insane new gadgets that really up the ante and makes the update seem quite motivated and pertinent….until the veneer is pulled back with a dimensional perspective and ultimately a realization of what makes these Real Ghostbusters unique. There is a play to an underground network of warlocks that has some legs but it’s possibility is never truly explored.
Star Trek: Year Five #1 This new element of story is a great transition into a more stakes-filled vision but also one that ties in with canon in a very specific way. An aspect of the Tholions with an interesting political strategy seems to be motivating the underpinings of the story. What works interestingly is seemingly the worry on Kirk’s face both when reflecting back on a decision he needed to make but also a promotion that might be coming his way. Unlike many of the Star Trek comics releases sometimes, with the exception of some like “Waypoint”, this progression feels undeniably grounded in the lore.
Samurai Jack: Lost Worlds #1 The essence of Samurai Jack and also the irony is that his life and journey has been made into the aspects primarily of lore and mythology. The aspect of what he truly believes in whether it be himself or those he defends becomes muddled. What this story progression seems to do with an interesting doppelgänger is question who Jack is but what he means to his followers who have banded together to follow his very philosophy. It is this ideal of hero worship that is an interesting diametric that can be observed like what Obi Wan really did for all those years on Tatooine. Jack himself both resurrected and old is not sure he can live up to that standard.
Clue: Candlestick #1 The structure of the story of this specific board game has such possibility depending on how the world is expanded. What is interesting to follow is how rigid the ideas at least in this inkling are maintained. Firstly the art is not very dynamic in a story that has utter possibilities in both noir and modern in every which way. The juxtaposition in certain ways of Mrs. White and Mr. Boddy seems shoddy at best while trying to drop clues that, while they might be pertinent later, seem to not to have impact like they should in an overall context. The motivations of the characters have not been transitioned in a certain way to the perceptions of a new time.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of choice but also the rule of command permeates the essence of many of the stories in collection between the essence of morality but also practical application.
The Q Conflict #3 The continuing structure of the omnipresent beings staging a gladiator competition of sorts combining the different crews across the pantheon (except Discovery) is a bit more clean and concise in this issue simply because there is a little more explanation of the interpersonal struggles at play. Q’s moral ineptitude but gray area of perspective continues to personify the complicity. Trelane integrates a notion of galactic capture-the-flag which is interesting especially when he ups the stakes with a planet killer. The stakes, as one of the characters points out, keep the situation from becoming too dire.
Star Wars Adventures #20 This tome has Anakin and Master Yoda on a planet where they discover an old friend with the power of invisibility. The thematic of realizing that which you cannot see but what can be perceived resounds in the story especially when Anakin uses a very simple problem solving tactical maneuver that really helps to continue to define the kind of Jedi he might have become. The secondary story in this issue tells a similar progression in that of Wild Space using a story of Padewan Barriss in a similar way by showing a quest/journey to recover a book for her master is not for the end result but what is learned along the way.
Star Trek: Terra Incognita #5 Like the Animated series episode “The Infinite Vulcan”, this story continues to examine the notion about messing with genetic code and the idea of what is better for a society in terms of progress or nostalgia. The crew of the Enterprise uses practical deduction to make their work easier but the dynamic between the command presence of Dr. Crusher versus Worf is an interesting dynamic that was never brought to a head per se during the series. While it doesn’t get too heated, the balance of the warrior mindset versus the medical mindset rests in the passive aggressive which is an interesting path. The mirror structure underneath continues to coalesce but with no true progression in this issue.
Star Wars – Flight Of The Falcon One Shot Hondo as a character has always been an interesting comic bright spot in the Star Wars universe and hopefully with get a tinge of live action impression at some point. This story follows Hondo having holed up on Baatu with the Falcon while Chewbacca is away. Mahko is a flyer and an all-around sharp flyer who, like Han Solo, has her emotions and priorities in both worlds. She is perhaps a little naive, wears her heart too much on her sleeve and trusts even though it will not turn out well. Hondo agrees to a race with the Falcon for some extra money and almost gets it stolen from him with a chicken tug-of-war with a tractor beam. It is a little childish on Hondo’s part especially when he tries to talk Chewie into letting him do it on a results basis. That said, this one shot really has a sense of character work that comes off both effortless but also organic.
By Tim Wassberg