MERA / THE BEEF / LOCKJAW / BLACK PANTHER [Reviews]: Throne-ish.
With regrets I have not been reading the current Aquaman run–and despite this miniseries being more subsidiary story to the current arc than it is a full feature title–I wasn’t lost in this issue. Writer Dan Abnett meshes in slight recaps as the narrative unfolds with Mera wounded and unable to breath underwater thus leaving her stranded on land dealing with the political ramifications of Arthur and the battle below. At the same time, Orm has been enjoying the land life, living in “Family Man” mode but is starting to feel the tide turn as the siren songs call him back to the depths.
As an initial issue, it’s a solid start and held my attention all on its own. The artwork flows smoothly across the panels, there are gorgeous close-ups of Mera, and has a very pronounced “DC style” throughout. My one grievance in this first issue is that it is supposed to be about the Queen of Atlantis, yet Mera’s story is sort of overshadowed by Orm. That being said, I’m looking forward to the possible opportunities it could have on the expansion of Mera’s overall presence as a lead in comics. As the comics and cinematic universes continue to grow, Mera’s appeal reaches a wider audience and in some current aspects and demographics, her popularity surpasses her widely more famous husband, Arthur Curry, The Aquaman. She’s an intriguing heroine with a long overdue spotlight. 4.25/5 Mermaid Scales.
What do you get when you cross the Hulk with Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”? You get The Beef, the latest offering from Image. Mild-mannered meat factory worker Chuck (ha ha! Get it?!) Carter transforms through a combination of consuming overly processed burgers with diet soda and rage at seeing his crush threatened because this is somehow also a romance—seriously, the subtitle is “A Biochemical Romance”. Shaky Kane‘s art is a bit on the cartoony side, an interesting contrast to the graphic cow murder depicted. Honestly, though, the best part of the comic is the behind-the-scenes section detailing the creation of the cover. Otherwise, it’s pretty meh. 2.25/5 Bibles.
After the dumpster fire of a television series, how do you get me to pay attention to anything involving the Inhumans? Why, you unleash the hounds! Or in the case of Lockjaw, the gigantic, super-powered hound! Truth be told I wasn’t expecting much beyond some goofy and adorable antics similar to Pet Avengers and Lockjaw #1 definitely has that. However, in making the primary focus of the issue his human partner, wrtiter Daniel Kibblesmith (are we sure it isn’t Kibbles-n-bits-smith? You can’t make this stuff up…) and artist Carlos Villa were able to add some rather unexpected drama and emotion to create a thoroughly entertaining story. The surprise cameos from other Marvel Universe characters was also a delightful surprise. If you want a silly, slobbery bulldog and a trip aboard the feels train Lockjaw is gonna be the series for you. 4/5 I’m a sucker for a cute face, even if it’s got a tuning fork in the middle of it’s.
We’re in a Black Panther moment right now or, more accurately, a Black Panther movement. Smashing box office records, inspiring both kids and kids at heart, Black Panther: The Movie represents the infinite possibilities of self determination. It’s only fitting that, in the Black Panther Annual #1, we receive three stories of a present, past, and future of the potentials and limits of self determination. “Back in Black” speaks of a more democratic Wakanda, with the will of the people having more of a say. Taking place after the land has revealed its secrets the world, agent and ally Everett Ross narrates a dense tale of espionage and intrigue. Allies are now enemies and alliances shift. Written by Priest (Deathstroke) and illustrated by Mike Perkins, “Back in Black” is a noirish looking whodunit set in present day.
Don McGregor and Daniel Acuña conceptualize the alternative past of “Panther’s Heart”. In this story, King T’Challa honors a prematurely lost love in a most noble fashion. Acuña, set to be lead artist on the BP comic relaunch, creates a beautifully fluid backdrop of various Wakandan terrain for McGregor’s sad and moody tale. Writer Reggie Hudlin and artist Ken Lashley bring an alternative future to life in “Black to the Future, Part II”, reimagining a lasting marital union between Black Panther and Omega level X-Men Storm and the ripple effects of such an alliance both genetically and politically. As with most dynastic families, as power increases so do ambitions, enemies, fears, conflicts, and assets to protect. It really is quite brilliant and I’d love to see an expanded version of this one. As conceived of by some of Marvel’s finest writers and illustrators, this annual isn’t merely entertainment; each story is challenging intellectually and emotionally in its own right. This book is worth reading for both rabid and casual Black Panther fans. 4/5 Bibles.