The Stack: Jan. 9th, 2019 – Avengers, Captain Marvel, Die, Justice League And More!

by Sage Ashford

Last week was a big deal in comics, as Avengers, Justice League and more all hit the stands. We’ll get into those and more, as we draw closer to the major event for Marvel this year in War of the Realms, and have just a bit of time to look at one of my favorite books from the first week of the year.

Avengers #12
“The Agents of Wakanda”
By Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, & Cory Smith

This was largely about Jason Aaron starting down the road for his War of the Realms mega-event. This is the benefit of having one writer do most of the major work for a crossover; Thor and Avengers inform one another, but neither’s necessary to understand the other if you don’t care about buying both.

It’s a strong issue too, with Aaron really digging into the deep cuts to build the support staff for the Avengers, dubbed the “Agents of Wakanda”. Featuring characters like Broo from his Wolverine and the X-Men run, Dr. Nemesis from the Utopia era of the X-Men, Fat Cobra from the Immortal Iron Fist and more, it almost feels like a memorial to the characters created during the modern Marvel era from 2005 on. It’s got some classics for the oldheads too though; Ka-Zar and the original Wasp both make appearances, which probably means this is just Aaron writing about his favorite B and C-tier characters. This isn’t a bad thing–writers championing less popular characters is usually the only way fans ever see their lesser-known favorites.

That said, it’s not like this issue is satisfied setting up for the upcoming massive crossover. We’re also given a bit of set up for the next major mission the team has to deal with: a large-scale battle with vampires. There seems to be a major, all-encompassing vampire story in mind, involving Morbius and referencing an unseen Queen of the Vampires from Odin’s “Avengers B.C.”. Speaking of Odin, I love that one of Black Panther’ “information sources” is the All-Father. The Agents of Wakanda are already several times more competent than SHIELD, as they should be, since they’re led by a more competent leader than anyone who tried to run SHIELD.

Jason Aaron really understands what the Avengers book is for: it’s the touchstone for the entire Marvel Universe. One issue you’re reading about Namor, the next Gorilla Man and the Wasp. It’s the perfect book for someone who wants to see as much of the MU as possible.

Captain Marvel #1
“Re-Entry”
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Color Artist: Tamra Bonvillain

This is the perfect way to handle an opening issue.  People are saying this is the best Captain Marvel since she took the name, and I believe it. Within the confines of a single issue Thompson establishes everything we need to know about Carol Danvers’ place in the Marvel Universe. We get to meet her best friend Jessica Drew, we get a glimpse of her love life as she reconnects with James Rhodes, we get to see her take on a new role as she mentors a young hero (and it’s another more obscure character we haven’t seen in a while), and we see how she fits into the new Avengers.

Granted, none of that seems to matter given the ending, which throws Marvel into some strange alternate timeline where she’s forced to be a freedom fighter, but at least before they did all that we figured out who she was.  A lot of series just make the assumption you know who a character is and throw you into the deep in. But with the Captain Marvel film two months away, this was the perfect time to set the table, to explain who Carol is, and

Die #2
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Save us from the imaginations of the sad boys.

Okay, let’s be clear: I absolutely love Die so far. Kieron Gillen is in his element here, while Stephanie Hans is doing great work with every issue, making this world look beautiful and heartbreaking at once. But…ugh. I’m tired of stories like this. It seems every body has some ruined fantasy story just dying to get out of them.

We can create anything, but sometimes it seems like all we create are broken tomorrows and yesterdays, and it’s frustrating. Tolkien’s world was captivating because it was the first, but also because it was beautiful–no one forgets the first time they read about Rivendell or Lothlorien. And even if the entire point of Die is a bunch of children who created a fucked up world and now they have to deal with their creation, the end result is still another horrible, dystopian fantastical world, you just hung a lampshade on it.

Justice League #15
“Escape from Hawkworld Part Two”
Story: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Pencils: Jim Cheung and Stephen Segovia
Inks: Mark Morales and Stephen Segovia
Colors: Tomeu Morey and Wil Quintana

If I wasn’t sure of it before, seeing part of the Justice League perform a heist on a time-displaced version of Thanagar to discover the secrets of the multiverse to save all of creation has convinced me. This is the best successor to Morrison’s JLA, just having the biggest and best heroes taking on the most impossible challenges the DC Universe has to offer. But I will say I’m a bit frustrated we’re leaning in the direction of showing the “multiverse before this one”, knowing the actual prior multiverse was reset by Dr. Manhattan. This upcoming story won’t be about that, so it’s just muddying the waters.

It seems like a thing that only a hardcore continuity geek would care about, but two things. One: I’m right here, so you don’t have to be mean. Two, unlike Spider-Man being alive in the Far from Home trailer, this is one of those things people actually will get confused about when they try to invest into DC continuity, so hopefully if Snyder and Tynion haven’t at least thought about how this plays out, the story is strong enough people can overlook any inconsistency issues.

The Green Lantern #3
“Slave Lords of the Stars”
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff

DC spent so much time trying to figure out how to do sci-fi military stories for Green Lantern that no one ever thought what would happen if they just did science fiction cop stories. Morrison does exactly that, and cranks the science fiction up as high as possible. This week, Hal Jordan saves Earth itself from being sold into slavery after the planet is shrunken and kidnapped. He gets to punch a dude who looks like Zeus in the face, and even kills someone, which you’d think will have repercussions considering cops generally aren’t supposed to murder people.   If next month’s solicitations are anything to go by though, he gets a pass and we start chasing down the Blackstars.

What’s interesting here is so far Morrison hasn’t done anything at all with the Green Lantern mythology Geoff Johns spent eight years crafting. There aren’t any Lanterns of other colors yet, no mentions of Sinestro or any of the popular villains we’ve known.  He brings in Evil Star but only to kill the character off, he brings in the Darkstars but immediately creates an off shoot of them. Three issues in and it really seems like Morrison gets what makes Green Lantern special: it’s space, just make it all up as you go along. Granted, that’s what Morrison’s been doing since he came to DC but it works especially well here–I haven’t missed a single “extra” Lantern Corps since the comic started.

Tony Stark – Iron Man #7
“Stark Realities: Part Two: Out of Control”
Writer: Dan Slott with Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Color Artist: Edgar Delgado

One of the points that was made during the 2000s Iron Man comics was that Tony Stark had elevated himself so much as a hero he was above all of his former foes. We’d see this several times during that decade, as it would take multiple threats at once to appear more than a minor threat to the hero. And here again is a small reference to that moment, where Stark is smart enough to immediately pick up on the attempt of an old enemy’s sabotage attempts…right before Controller reveals he’s found a way to one-up our hero.  Hopefully Slott will reinvigorate a number of Tony’s old villains.  Making a new group of villains for a hero isn’t easy, and Iron Man’s got some great rogues that deserve a re-imagining for today.   Considering America’s current frustrations with Russia, now more than ever would be the best time to bring back Crimson Dynamo.

Also, this issue Tony makes a decision that will no doubt have repercussions considering how much he supposedly cares about artificial life. He uses Friday against her will to operate his armor since the Controller leaves him without an OS for his suit. That’s going to come back on him given how many AI characters with Strong Opinions are present just in this issue alone. They should put him on trial in cyberspace or something–he’s part AI at this point, they have jurisdiction. Also, at some point he’s going to need to figure out how to run this suit without being so overly reliant on an operating system–he ran versions of this thing for decades without one, after all.

X-23 #8
“X-Assassin Part 2”
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Penciler: Diego Olortegui

Okay, so this is mostly here because Diego Olortegui’s spread here is beautiful. In two pages it explains who Gabrielle Kinney is as a character (innocent yet effective Wolverine) and why you should like her (she kicks seven kinds of ass)–something every character should get at least once. All that said…Is there a version of Wolverine that doesn’t work? The main version works, an old man works, a teenage girl works, a pre-teen girl works, a chibi anime version who’s literally immortal and doesn’t want to hurt anyone works. He might just be the most bulletproof character archetype ever.

Young Justice #1
“Seven Crises”
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez

More panel porn, this time courtesy of Patrick Gleason and Alejandro Sanchez. If anything was more impressive than X-23 this week, it was the return of Impulse leaping through panels like he’s fucking Deadpool saving the innocent kiddies (and kitties!) of Metropolis.  Anyway, after three years of “Rebirth” we’ve finally restored one of the franchises I was hoping would make a return, right in time for the return of the (incredible) new season of the Young Justice cartoon series.

How is it? Well, it’s a lot like Impulse–manic, quick moving, and occasionally nonsensical because it’s too obsessed with all the explody bits. You can tell Bendis really wanted to get all the characters together but since he couldn’t reasonably have them already together since they’ve been too long apart, he rushed through it. So Jinny Hex just happens to be in Metropolis when people from Gemworld attack looking for Superman, Cassie Sandsmark just happens to be going to school in Metropolis, and Impulse is “just passing by” here when he could’ve been any number of other places. It’s convenient–a little too convenient–but it’s been 15 years since a “Young Justice” comic existed for DC’s primary Earth, so I won’t complain.

Plus, the Real Superboy is back!  …Right? (I’m a little unsure about this. Feels like a future plot point.)

See you in seven.

Sage Ashford

A writer with way too many hobbies, Sage can often be found catching up on the latest anime, or reading a stack of comics between Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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