MAGNUS / ICEMAN / DARTH VADER / BATMAN [Reviews]: Just kiss the girl!
Summer is in full swing, fellow congregation: time to bust out those cold beers, barbecues, and swim-gear! And, let’s not forget, time to break out the reading material. Here we are, once again laying into some of the upcoming titles from our various respective publishers. We’ve got an ice-cold look, a look at everyone’s favorite Sith, and the start of a new chapter in the life of everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader (fitting, giving the passing of the newly late Adam West. Farewell, old chum.)
Let’s crank up the margaritas, pour one out for out late Dark Knight, and jump right in to see what we can look forward to with this week’s latest titles.
Magnus #1 does a good job dialing in and engaging right away with new readers. Everything you need to know is here. A robot butler commits a grisly murder and our protagonist, who begins the issue as Dr. Magnus, Robot Psychiatrist (an interesting inversion of the original robot-fightin’ source material), is the only one who can go into The Cloud and get to the bottom of this mess before the story breaks and humanity comes for the robots with their proverbial pitchforks. Kyle Higgins lays down an economical, no-nonsense script that hums right along, and Jorge Fornes and Chris O’Halloran deliver crisp art moving the action forward in a style that recalls the more conservative storytelling from Aja/Hollingsworth’s already-immortal run on Hawkeye a few years back with a one-page digression into a riff on Sienkiewicz’s “Demon Bear,” which is always fine with me. All in all, this is very charming presentation throughout. The only thing that would crank it up a little bit more is if there was a little bit more narrative acceleration there at the end to propel us on through to the next issue. I was digging the ride and then it kind of just ended without punching me in the face. Which I guess I prefer. Don’t judge me. 4/5 Exit Presents.
Life sucks when you’re Bobby Drake. That’s seems to be the underlying theme of Iceman. Sina Grace weaves a coming-of-age story that doesn’t quite work as well as it should—perhaps because the lead is trying to find himself in his 30’s, and by then it’s usually accepted that a person has since come of age some time ago. If the series had been focused on a younger, more naive version of Iceman, it might ring a bit true, but here, it seems a bit insincere and off…Iceman is waaay into the “man” part of his name to be doubting himself at this point. This title might benefit a bit with a younger version of this character, as his naivete would come across as less odd and more natural.
Whether he’s struggling through online dating to find his first boyfriend (while his time-displaced younger self is happily in a relationship with the Inhuman Romeo), or trying to correct his parents when they say “Well, things happen when you become a mutant”, it seems wrong somehow, even though they’re completely believable (and relatable) situations. Hopefully the next few issues in the series improves, because this Iceman seems frozen in a drama of his own making, and none of it seems particularly entertaining. 2.75/5 Bibles.
Well here we are with the first issue of Darth Vader….wait, I thought we already got this 2 years ago? Yes Marvel has brought us another Darth Vader comic, but this time it’s a new run with a different time frame, and so we start back at #1. In 2015 we were given Darth Vader after many years of dealing with the rebels and the destruction of the first Death Star. But what about Vader during his first days, his initial moments with his armor and dealing with the loss of his love, Padme? Marvel is giving us an insight into that era of his life with this new run. It picks up literally right where Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ended, giving us the answers to “what happened next?” after the infamous scene of Vader screaming “NO!” and crushing the droids around him.
I was a little leary at first, as the initial dialogue between Vader and Palpatine didn’t quite fit, and an interesting mention about Sith lightsabers, but it the story worked well enough and the following scenes kept me entertained and hooked. I actually was disappointed when I turned the last page only to find I had to wait another month to read more. Damn cliffhangers! The art and scenes, created by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, and David Curiel, are very well done, and I loved the inclusion of seeing his point of view. Vader is represented well, showing his newly found rage and determination in the early days of his transformation. The dialogue, by Charles Soule, does okay, with some areas feeling a little off, and others really helping to explain the situation without overdoing it. Overall, it’s a decent starting point with solid hope that the following comics will pull us in even more. “Saint Patrick” will be watching this new run with great interest. 4.25/5 Red Lightsabers.
This is so close to being a classic issue. Self-contained, character-driven, and drawing upon the well-established history of Batman and one of his more prolific antagonists. Here, the story focuses on Batman trying to mentor Gotham Girl, the newest superpowered hero in Gotham who has been reappearing in this new iteration of Gotham since the Rebirth was instigated. Here, they discuss their respective purposes and goals, and what each needs to be, in their own estimations, “happy”. And here, Bruce reveals a truth that perhaps he’d never wanted to admit to himself: he remains Batman not through some idealism or drive, but simply through fear. He is afraid of being happy, and of being or doing what he thinks will make him happy. He doesn’t believe himself worthy of happiness, driving himself eternally to push himself further and harder than anybody else.
Writer Tom King gets into a very personal version of Batman here, one who is reflective and introspective, and, in trying to guide Gotham Girl to find and redefine some sort of purpose in her life, comes to his own conclusion about what he wants out of his own life. The art by David Finch and Danny Miki, is simplistic cutting right through to the essence of the dialogue. Here is a prime example of the art and script complimenting each other and adding to the greater story. The expressions on Gotham Girl are particularly graceful: lost, innocent, and unsure of herself, and contrasted against the shadowy roughness of Batman himself. But by the end of this issue, Batman makes a decision, and proposition, that will reverberate through his life. It’s one that is perhaps a long time coming, and…given the aftermath and implication of “The Button” storyline…raises the stakes and evolution of the Dark Knight. This is a solid story, simple, to-the-point, and adds to some of the central characters of the DC Universe. 4/5 Water Tower Conversations.