Monday, March 21, 2016

POBB March 16, 2016

Pick of the Brown Bag
March 16, 2016
Ray Tate

The Pick of the Brown Bag returns with reviews of All-New Wolverine, All-New X-Men, Black Canary, Doctor Who, James Bond, Red Sonja, Spider-Woman and Wynonna Earp.

George Mann’s Doctor Who starts well with the Doctor and Josie investigating a murder that happens while they’re in the room, with their backs turned.

Quick but plausible.

Their consistent tourist status casts the Doctor and his companion neatly in the roles of scapegoats until it becomes apparent they are indeed innocent.  

The case leads the Doctor and Josie to a serious injustice, but then the story goes off the rails with a revelation that involves Josie Day.

It’s not that the idea is a bad one.  The execution however leaves much for which to be desired.  The crux of this mini-series just isn’t strong enough.  The reader should be astonished, like the viewer of Series 9.

That might have happened had Mann seeded the rest of the mini with actual clues regarding Josie.  Instead my reaction was puzzlement.  Puzzlement doesn’t result from pieces falling into place.

That said.  Titan’s first foray of the eighth Doctor in Doctor Who was at worst uneven with the characterization of the Doctor and Josie Day needing polish.  At times, Mann’s Doctor drops into a stereotypic Doctor.  

The hug would have been more potent had Mann not added the tea nonsense.  Since the Doctor mentions tea again.  Then has the tea.

Other times, the Doctor’s quite good.  I’d like to see the Doctor show more of that steel.  

Josie Day is likable enough.  Perhaps now that Mann has released what he apparently internalized about Josie, she can become a little more concrete.  

Although I felt the trickery with Josie arose from nowhere, Mann misdirected me sweetly with the second surprise.  That was a moment of “Ahhhh, I missed that.  Well done.”  I’d like to feel more of this sensation in any new eighth Doctor future endeavors.

After an escape from certain death, Bond style, James returns to England with the intel he gathered from Germany.  M is none too pleased with Bond, and you cannot help but feel sorry for this put-upon 00.

Give the guy a break.  He just single-handedly decimated the drug distribution team and executed a fruitcake assassin.  Let me stress again.  Soooooooo good.

Fortunately, Moneypenny is available to soothe James’ troubled soul.

Warren Ellis appears to be born to be a Bond writer.  He gets Bond and the world in which he operates.  No matter the era.  James Bond is written in the language of violence and brutality where gender is equal because killers come in any sex.

The metal-armed killer bitch finds herself in Bond’s crosshairs.  Who will win? Who will crawl away to fight another day? Find out after Jason Masters remarkable fight choreography.

And now a word from Bela Lugosi...

Beware! Beware of the inventory issue!  

Actually, Black Canary despite being an inventory issue is quite good.  Writer Matthew Rosenberg relates an adventure that happened to D.D. alias the Black Canary and her new bandmates.

Okay.  Not a bad gig for an indie band and indicative of the pitfalls some celebrities must drop into.  Of course, embarrassment isn't D.D.'s only problem.

That's right.  It turns out the band is playing at a birthday party where the Batman rogue’s gallery is in attendance.  Wait.  It gets worse.

Kudos for the Team 7 reference.  It's not just gratuitous continuity but also a great little character moment suggesting writer Rosenberg has thought things through.  Mind you.  Valentine Chan appears to be retrofitted, but I’m not going to complain when Rosenberg engaged him so well.   All-Star Western artist Moritat completes the complement and makes Black Canary less of a mediocre old inventory issue but more like a special.

Wynonna Earp surprises by cutting through the build up of a season.  I imagined that creator/writer Beau Smith would orchestrate Wynonna’s slow chipping away at the vampire gang known as Chupacabra.  Instead, Smith cuts to the chase.

The reader and Doc Holiday isn’t the only one surprised.

The surly gentleman is U.S. Marshal Dolls, Wynonna’s superior.  He follows in the tradition of a lot of pissed off upper management, but you can’t be a maverick if there’s no procedure to begin with.

Wynonna Earp portrays the U.S. Marshals in a war against the monsters.  That’s not even close to what the actual U.S. Marshals do.  They hunt down escaped fugitives mostly.  Wynonna acts more like a supernatural-hunting DEA agent, stopping the illegal trafficking of body parts for occult digestion.

Regardless.  Wynonna Earp is mostly just fun.  The bad guys are suitably interesting with this bizarre smuggling operation, and Wynonna is fascinating in her deadly tactics, ably choreographed by Lora Innes.

Tom Taylor concludes the first X-23 as Wolverine storyarc in style.  Taylor makes everybody intelligent to some degree.  The bad guy knows Wolverine’s coming for him.  Wolverine knows he knows, and she employs a beautiful means to outwit him.

Nope.  It’s more complex than this satisfying scene from artists Lopez, Navarrot and Fairbairn.  Taylor gives the reader and the characters closure; he echoes a smart moment in Machete but in a whole new way; he employs Wolverine’s toe-claws in an unexpected instance that’s just filled with venom but also restraint.  Surprisingly, Wolverine was all about controlling the killer instinct, the legendary berserker rage.

Only one panel in Wolverine set off my alarm bells.  

Aigh! Not Maria Hill! Is this before or after she demonstrates crap spy skills in Black Widow?  Doesn’t matter.   Maria Hill as stated previously is the shittiest SHIELD agent on the face of the earth.

Spider-Woman features the typical baby problems, information and humor that you can find anywhere in fiction or fact for that matter.  The data about how to safely put down a baby for sleep is especially well researched and appropriately extensive.  

Javier Rodriguez's artwork isn't quite so impressive now that he's down to earth, but how could you match something like this?

It's nevertheless ninety-percent lovely.  Guest stars include Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, Hellcat and She-Hulk.  No Tigra.  Damn it.  Regular cast members Ben Urich and the Porcupine return, and a D-List villain shows up to be zapped.

All of this is cool, but what makes Spider-Woman notable is that with the revelation of the father, the series becomes the most feminist story in superhero comics since The Powers that Be healed Batgirl and Gail Simone expunged ninety-five percent of The Killing Joke.  It surpasses even the moment that Kate Spencer alias Manhunter learned she was pregnant, lost the embryo or fetus and logically expressed zero emotion since she was unaware of the whole gestation in the first place.

There are a lot of assholes out there that think women have been literally put on the earth to be baby making machines.  That's untrue.  Primate females simply evolved the means to become pregnant.  With few adaptations, males could have easily been selected for the process.  It was all chance preserved through lineage.

Spider-Woman didn't get pregnant because of a misuse or ignorance about birth control.  Nor did she become pregnant through science fiction or fantasy means.  Marvel has performed this feat numerous times, at various abominable points in their continuity.  Spider-Woman's pregnancy represents a choice from a thoroughly modern, liberated woman.  In fact, Spider-Woman's choice reverses the stress of gender contributions to pregnancy.

The third issue of Red Sonja embarks with a return to form.

See.  I finally recognize Red Sonja.  She looks and speaks like the She-Devil.  Her origin story doesn't matter because it never mattered to creator Robert E. Howard.  Sonja just appeared in the short story "Shadow of the Vulture," and in the sixteenth century to boot.  So why should we be concerned?

Writer Marguerite Bennett begins shaping up the dark-haired king into a credible villain—explaining how this ascendency happened when issue one and two gave not a clue.  We only knew he was Sonja's ex-lover.  Many will find this surprising, but former Marvel writer Roy Thomas coined the idea that Sonja would remain chaste until some one beat her in fair combat.  I think Thomas did that specifically to avoid any romantic entanglements in Red Sonja.  He didn't want a male hero to undermine the She-Devil.  He didn't want the title to become a love story.

Bennett got rid of that.  She furthermore may be drawing in lesbian undertones beneath the scene where Sonja hides out with her actress friend Midyan.  This gibes with the subtext within the premiere.

Robert E. Howard probably didn't know and/or care if the LGBT community existed.  He wrote boys only ripping yarns from a number of historical and Hyborean perspectives.  Roy Thomas probably wouldn't have been able to put such flourishes into his work had he wanted.  Dynamite however has given Bennett considerably more freedom.  As a result, we get a more textured, inclusive Red Sonja.  It's certainly not a problem.  However, as Bennett paces to the conclusion, she enters wtf territory.  I mean.  Yes, Savas the King is clearly nutty, but man, the imagery feels like being hit by a brick.

This is the first issue of All-New X-Men that felt like a real ensemble cast.  Previously writer Dennis Hopeless spotlit Cyclops and Wolverine.  This time around, we get let in on the thoughts and points of view of the rest of the team.

All the inner and outer dialogue is well-written, and the cast come off as individuals.  Some more interesting than others, but I'm starting to get a feel for Evan, Apocalypse Jr, and Equinox.

The Beast's realizations offer the most appropriately thoughtful reading experience.  He's considering what we older fans opine.

Although the Blob was always bad news...

…even to the X-Men.

Uncanny X-Men #3

Despite the coordination of Cyclops and Professor X.  In the end, Hopeless concludes his character arcs by letting the Angel soar.  As a result, he turns Angel from B-Lister to a solid A.

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