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review 2017-06-08 23:52
DD wants to put a stop to crime in New York City
Daredevil (2015-) #21 - Charles Soule,Goran Sudzuka,Dan Panosian

I'm not sure quite how yet, but I know that the DA's office working with superheroes could happen a lot of different ways.   I love that Luke Cage and Echo are involved, particularly how he found a way for Echo to help.   It's ingenious and sneaky and very much like Matt; he thinks, and he's got legal training so he knows how to use a loophole.   

 

I'm eager to see what's going to happen, although suddenly realize that there's been no mention of Blindspot lately.   Part of me understands, but given what happened, and how much it should have hit him, I think that this would weigh on him a little longer.   I think Echo, who's deaf, reminded me of Blindspot to be honest. 

 

Still, the art is spectacular, and I love Soule's take on Daredevil as a DA.

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review 2017-06-08 23:36
Hey, another Aaron issue!
Doctor Strange (2015-) #20 - Jason Aaron,Chris Bachalo,Kevin Nowlan,Various

Not sure why 20 came out after issue 21, though?   But it was nice to find another Aaron issue, and one not connected to Secret Empire!   When Zelma's life is put on the line for Doctor Strange, he finds himself compelled to consider a solution that will save her life - but also change it forever.   A solution that, by the way, Wong finds so abhorrent that he walks out of the room when Doctor Strange makes the suggestion. 

 

And when Zelma is confronted with the choice, she chooses life no matter the cost.   What will it mean for her, and for Strange himself? 

 

I'm sad to see some things change, but excited by others.   This issue was funny, but showed Zelma to be more than the normal girl she thinks she is: she's warm, brave, and smart.   The art, the writing, everything is top notch, and this issue shakes things up for the next phase in the Doctor Strange series.   

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review 2017-06-08 01:44
Perfect follow up to issue one
Black Bolt (2017-) #2 - Saladin Ahmed,Christian Ward

For those who don't remember, I questioned why Black Bolt would be muzzled given the revelations at the end, said I'd be disappointed if it wasn't dealt with, and said I was sure it would be given how much thought Saladin Ahmed had put into this book.   Well, it was dealt with in this issue.   I hadn't given it much thought, as I started to keep up and even had to catch up on my comics at some point this month.   That being said, I was pleased when I saw it mentioned in this comic: I still couldn't quite get why the muzzle had been used, and now I know.

 

A lot gets resolved: who Black Bolt is with, at least the ones I wasn't quite sure of, and why they're in this prison.   And yet, this prison is meant to be a secret, known only to the Royal Family of Attilan, and there are far more, and far more sinister questions, such as how other people knew about this prison.  I also suspect that Black Bolt will eventually have to deal with his prison being used as a dumping ground.   It was meant to be used for the worst of the worst, people who were considered not only lost causes but also incredibly dangerous.   (At least as far as I understand.  I also believe that Maximus is an extreme case, as remember that it was he, not Black Bolt, who was to be confined to this prison.  The royal family may have given Maximus more chances than others, because he was part of their family, and because Black Bolt caused Maximus' insanity.   Black Bolt also was responsible for his family's deaths, and Maximus is Black Bolt's brother.   Blinky, apparently a child, who stole just enough to feed herself dinner is confined to prison.   And yet, I can't help but think if some in high places have chosen to use this prison to weed out those who are found lacking, the poor, the needy, is it possible that the royal family has also used this prison in such a way, even if too a lesser degree.   Perhaps someone they could have helped, but, hey, this was more convenient.   It's not an easy thought; it's highly uncomfortable, especially since I like Black Bolt so much - and want to continue liking him.   I've always viewed him as making sometimes terrible choices, but as having two bad choices and him choosing the one that would cause the least harm to his people.   But now, this is subverting that, and making me question how I view him.   Not comfortable, but perhaps a necessary new, hard look.   Did he really need to expose the world to Terrigen?   Or was that, perhaps, the easiest solution that he thought wouldn't cause harm?   Would he send someone away to a tortuous existence, even if there was a possibility of rehabilitation, if it was easier for him?  I thought I knew; now I'm not sure I do.)

 

Then again, I think these are questions we should ask.   It's a timely question, as well, and while the links to current politics are more tenuous than some comics nowadays, there's still a link.   My idolization of Black Bolt?   It's not completely removed to how some people view politicians.   Yes, I'm thinking of one in particular, but it's true of anyone in power, or popular, or famous.   (And something I've done with other characters.  I loved Spike enough to excuse him for sexually assaulting Buffy, which I honestly still feel guilty about.   And I can use excuses: she told him no, yes, no, yes, yes, it didn't feel in character for either of them, etc, etc, and trust me, I used them all.   The point is we should hold everyone accountable, and that's hard to do when we like, and want to continue, liking them.  I was able to continue to like Spike because he not only realized what he'd done, but he took responsibility and tried to make himself a better man because of it, and what I should have taken from that storyline originally is that exact point.   Which ties back to Black Bolt because I'm hoping, if ugly things about him come to light, that he will take responsibility and try to make himself a better man because of it. But it also ties into Black Bolt, and I'm gonna come out and say Trump, because we can like Spike, Black Bolt, or, yeah, Trump all we want, but we should hold them accountable and question the decisions they make.)

 

It's not often that comic book series are this revelatory for me about specific characters.   They reveal more about their background, or their characters, or something.   They tell new stories.   Very rarely do they make me question what characters really are and how I look at them.   Robinson's Scarlet Witch did, and took a character I hated - for how she treated Vision a while - and made me adore her.   This is... revelatory in another way, that takes into account me and how I relate to my fiction.   It makes me want to continue adoring Black Bolt as much as I do, but also to hold him accountable, to make him a better man.   And as such, it makes me want to hold the people in the real world - myself included - accountable.   It's one of the reasons I'm telling the quite frankly humiliating way that I made excuses for Spike: it's part of my history, it's me holding myself responsible for my own actions, and wanting to make myself a better person.

 

And that's even rarer: a book that makes me reframe my own history and perspective, and informs who I want to be.  I'm not even sure this that this is what Ahmed was going for.   Did he want us to question if the royal family was perfect?   Did he want us to question the power dynamics used in real life?  I don't know.  What I do know is that some small moments, some really powerful small moments, made me think of all this.   I do believe that intent is very powerful when it comes to writing, and can be used exquisitely, but I also sometimes question intent versus interpretation.   In the end, sometimes what matters is what you get out of it, because perhaps this was subconsciously written in, perhaps it wasn't even something Ahmed thought of, at all.   But that doesn't change how powerful this message was to me when reading it: it's powerful, and in a way, it's hopeful.   Maybe we all make really boneheaded mistakes, but maybe how we react, how we make ourselves better - or not, or worse - is what's really important.   And maybe if that's true, there's hope for us all.   And maybe if that's true, it's worth trying to make things better, every single time. 

 

So, this sprawling, rambling review.   What it really wants to say is that there's more expanse: Black Bolt has gotten to the heart of the prison, and he not only meets, and fights, more people, but he finds out more about how the prison is being used, and what those prisoners plan to do about it all.   And this expanse comes with more light and color.   The first issue was bleaker: where is he, who he is, what's happening?   There were the ominous voices, and commands, and fighting and no real connection.   Black Bolt had to struggle to remember himself.  

 

Now that he knows the people, knows himself, knows more about this prison, this comic literally gets lighter and more color.   The first issue was muted, tense, fitting the scenario, the amnesia, the way Black Bolt was confined to a cell, and then a small part of the prison.  Ahmed opens up doorways, and Christian Ward responds by bringing in a larger color palette and lightening this up.  I wouldn't call the art happy, or lighthearted, by any means, but there's a definite correlation between the physical expansion and the expansion in color in my mind: brighter colored background, with yellow and greens the highlights.   (Although this trend started in issue one: it was dark, dark backgrounds with hints of color until Black Bolt met another prisoner from what I remember.  It definitely got brighter and more colorful towards the end, and I wonder if I'll see this trend continuing.   If not, then my theory was simply wrong, and I can deal with that: it happens often, and I've stopped trying to get too deep into these theories because I know I'm often wrong.   Still, fun to play around with before I know better!)

 

The art is fantastic.   I'd say there's less focus on Black Bolt's face - particularly his eyes. And this isn't a comment on Ward's skill, but rather something I suspected would happen.   Now that he's talking, those intense moments where you have to read his eyes are no longer necessary.   There's a pro and con to this, the pro being that Ward is freer to step back and focus on full scenes.   (In the same way that Ahmed is not confined to having to write scenes of intense eyes.)   The con is that I miss those intense eye panels.   There's something powerful in having to express oneself without speech, particularly in such a visual medium.   And Black Bolt himself spoke about that in Uncanny Inhumans, and I wish I had that particular comic with me.   He talked about the power that came from not speaking, and simply listening, and it's so much easier to portray that - writing wise and art wise - when you can't rely on him speaking.  You filter the information through what he hears, not what he says, and there's something powerful about telling a story like that, too.   Or at least reading one.  

 

I kind of miss that.   Black Bolt's main appeals were twofold: the mythic quality and the power of words.   I think of the blind/mad man in Greek myths.   Unable to see,  or to think clearly, they still had wisdom that held not only a great power, but was inaccessible to others.   Black Bolt was mute, but that burden came with a great power that was also inaccessible to others.   And of course, someone who can explode his enemies toys by saying the single word 'war' speaks to my heart.   After all, I love reading, I love words, and Black Bolt spoke to the power of words more than any other character I've known.   I miss that about him, and I hope that soon, Ahmed and Ward will find themselves restricted by Black Bolt's inability to speak without wreaking destruction.   Because as much as I adore this story - and I do - I think that this creative team in particular could do so, so much with what speaks to me about Black Bolt. 

 

And I just realized: my two favorite books came out the same day this month.   Black Bolt and Lost Light?   (Both of which I read on the beach, so this was really just the absolute perfect day.)

 

Yeah, right, so, this is how I read Black Bolt: 

 

 

Digging my toes into the sand, and basking in the sun, while I glanced up to eat, drink, and be merry to this sight.   Oh, yeah, absolutely the best day ever.   

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-06-08 00:41
This just gets better and better
Transformers: Lost Light #6 - James Roberts,Jack Lawrence

I think most people who follow me know that I consider James Roberts to be not only my favorite Transformers author, but also a perfect author.  I'm not sure there's any other way to put it, although I went over a list of things in my head that he not only does well, but does consistently.   On top of that, he balances all these elements, and again, does so consistently. 

 

Pacing, characters, plot?   All perfect for me, every single time.   He's plotted out years in advance.   How do I know this?   Well, I don't, but it'd would be hard for you to convince me that he does, given how well even the smallest moment, that innocuous joke, a line thrown out, a silent panel, fits into plans that fall into place years later, real time.    On top of that, I'd be hard pressed to find a comic that crams more in here; I keep thinking about a review I read of 30 Rock, where they said the jokes come so hard and fast that if you leave the room for thirty seconds, you miss five jokes, and are lost on one subplot.   And while there are an amazing amount of one liners and humor in Roberts' books, there's more in there: serious ideas about government, towing the line, friendship, love, and what the world is and can be.   War, and the effects of war, are obviously a large part of this, and I say obviously because More Than Meets the Eye (MTMtE) is sort of about what you do after there's an uneasy peace after millions of years of war, with some bots who've been fighting since the beginning of the war. 

 

Lost Light (LL) is the sequel to More Than Meets the Eye, although I've seen them referred to as seasons and/or years, with LL being... third?   I honestly don't keep track of the comics that way; I honestly jumped in midway, and started collecting month by month, because I couldn't imagine waiting that long for the collections to come out.  I needed my fix, stat.  And while there are story arcs, and themes, I just take what I can get month by month, try to piece it together with what's come before, and try not to guess what's coming next, because I never, ever really guess what's really going on.   (By the way, Lost Light six wraps up the first, alternate universe story arc, it's brilliant, it's brutal, and it's hopeful.   It's a mix that I've become used to; Roberts mixes his tragedy and his optimism in an equal mix, and I've yet to find anything that hits home in quite this way.   It's what life is like, and he doesn't hold back the tragedies, the triumphs, or how they can overlap.)

 

I'm finding I don't really like reviews that synopsize, at least not when reviewing MTMtE or LL; I can find them everywhere, and it's more about how this comic makes me feel, as well as analysis of what's done correctly.   Going back to my first point, while I know that amongst the things that Roberts does perfectly is weave in different plots into one coherent story, this was a masterstroke in that department.   There was something about the cuts from one story to another, and how they weaved into the ending, that really made me take a literal second look.   After finishing, I went back to a couple pages, and saw how Roberts took me out of one scene and into another in a way that kept me on my toes: I wanted more information about every single storyline.   (Another thing he does consistently, and perfectly in my mind, is that when he juggles plots and subplots, he never has one that is less interesting to me: I want to know about them all.)

 

I keep thinking Roberts can't get more perfect, can he?   And then he shows me that, hey, look, he's been working on this thing, or maybe he's just been doing his thing, and look, it's even more perfect.   And somehow, in all this, he doesn't drop the ball on any other aspect. 

 

You know what?   The next time someone asks me for the great novel, I'm just going to tell them it's More Than Meets the Eye followed up by Lost Light.   Because I've been giving this a lot of thought.   Is there an actual perfect writer?   Who would I consider better than Roberts?   

 

Yes, yes there is.   James Roberts.   And no one.   

 

And sort of off topic, but just to let  you know, to make a truly reading perfect experience, have a copy of MTMtE, Lost Light, and/or Black Bolt, and have this view while you dig your feet into the sand: 

 

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review 2017-06-04 00:25
This is on a James Roberts level
Transformers: Till All Are One #10 - Mairghread Scott,Sara Pitre-Durocher

And this is no mean feat, nor an insult.   See, as most of you know, James Roberts is the stick I judge things by, particularly when it comes to Transformers comics.   And while Mairghread Scott has been running a very close second - unsurprising, given her writing credits  on Transformers Prime, my favorite of the Transformers cartoons - this is the first issue where I've felt that this series is at a Roberts level of excitement to me.   Ask me any other month?  I was looking forward to More Than Meets the Eye the most, and Till All Are One a close second.   (Of course, it's Lost Light now, but same thing: that was my top pick of the month, followed very closely by Till All Are One.)

 

I finally have two Transformers series that I'm looking forward to equally.   I've been keeping an eye on Knock Out, hoping for more of the Knock Out/Breakdown vibes from Prime.   (Although Scott has said that it would be Breakdown from the show, with a new name since Breakdown was already in the comics.   That was a fascinating relationship and I've been eager to see more, and haven't yet.   I keep hoping for that, though, and this makes me even more excited to see what could happen with those two bots.)

 

See, this issue?   The focal point is Blast Off and his unrequited love for Onslaught.   And boy, is that full of issues.   Where do I start?   The fact that Onslaught barely notices that Blast Off exists.   (I mean, Starscream keeps saying Onslaught doesn't notice at all - but that can't be true.   After all, they're part of the same combiner now, so Onslaught must have some inkling that Blast Off exists and that he can merge with him and the other bots who form Bruticus.)   Or that, as Starscream says, Onslaught is a monster - and Blast Off is not.   How does Blast Off even justify feeling love for Onslaught?   It's twisted, it's honest, and it's something that Starscream could - and does - use to try and control Bruticus through what he sees as Blast Off's weakness.   

 

The solution, the way that Starscream manipulates Blast off, is just as slow and devious and cringingly awful as the way that Starscream manages to put down and goad Blast Off all at once throughout this issue.   And the fact that Starscream infiltrates Blast Off's mind, and dreams, to get this done is the perfect way to twist that knife a little deeper: it's creepy and a violation - as Blast Off points out when he first realizes what's happening.   It makes his eventual, and reluctant, acceptance of Starscream's proposal all that more sleazy feeling, and it's a coup that feels very Roberts to me.   

 

And while I not only had this series on my radar from day one, since I saw the announcement in Windblade, I believe, I've also loved it unabashedly.   And yet this issue made me perk up and pay more attention.   There is something nuanced, and brilliant, and unsettling about every single panel in this issue that made my hair stand up straight, and made me sit up, perk up, and pay more attention than I have in the past.  

 

This feels the most perfect of a perfect run of issues so far.   If you'd asked me earlier, I'd say the fact that the Badgeless issue came out a couple days after the police in Dallas were shot - a chilling timing that couldn't be foreseen - was the most spine-chilling thing that would happen in this series.   And despite the importance of that issue, and the uncanniness of having Ironhide plead with the Decepticons to join him, and make sure the police force - the Badgeless - were kept honest, this issue simply manages to get under my skin even more. 

 

Brava, Scott.   Brava.   You had my full attention before, and while I'm not sure what else I can give, you have that as well now.   

 

And I've forgotten to give a shout out to the artist.   I have to say, this might be one of my favorites as far as illustrations for the Transformers series go so far.   (Actually, second favorite.   My favorite were some of the Windblade comics.)   Just really intense, really gorgeous art with lush colors.   Brain too fried by amazingness of writing to rave more about the art, though.   When I think about this story, the whole twisted storyline just honestly dominates in my mind.

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