Captain Marvel #2 Review and Insights

There is a fair amount to describe here, and some of the insights and points of interests in the art and character conflicts are listed in this review. Spoiler Warning! This review contains some spoilers for Captain Marvel #2 (under the All New, All Different Marvel comics letterhead).

Captain Marvel #2 Cover

  • Astronauts stand to attention, looking to the top right
  • Cover characters are diverse, from all different backgrounds
  • Captain Marvel herself stands closest to the viewer
  • All astronauts salute here, except for the Alpha Flight member holding the flag
  • The flag has half of Captain Marvel’s Hela star, plus an Alpha Flight logo

This cover captures everything readers need to know about Captain Marvel’s new position, and her character. She’s a leader, and she’s a character with close ties to the audience. She’s forward-thinking. Staring off to the right, in the direction of the comic – the direction readers will be reading the story – establishes her as forward thinking.

She stands closest to reader, at the front of the astronauts. Together, they evoke the Carol Corp, a team, and a  concept, built up in her recent story arcs. Alpha Flight’s matching uniforms helps convey this close tie. The corp dress in Captain marvel costumes. This comic continues that relationship.

Artwork

  • Light and shadow are prominent
  • Green colours, purple colours, and primary colours set tone
  • Comical body language breaks up tense moments

Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight explore a derelict spaceship, and the darkness of these scenes builds mystery and tension. Purple light, and Green light are signposts. They point out where dangerous alien technology is prominent.

It’s a warning to the characters.

Scenes on the Alpha Flight space station are in full colour. Red, blue, and yellow spark up in these scenes. Safety vs Danger plays out this way. Wendy Kawasaki is a character enthused about exploring. Her shifting, comical body language offsets the super heroes tense posture.

Character Conflict

  • Captain Marvel is very protective of Wendy
  • In another sense, Aurora looks out for Sasquatch
  • Several of these Canadian heroes have a history, and it shows
  • Agent Brand is generally frustrated in Captain Marvel #2

Wendy’s enthusiasm cuts through the tone of this comic. What would have been a more dark wander down spaceship corridors blossoms into an adventure. The science fiction element is subverted when Puck, Aurora, and Sasquatch (who is furry, tall, and in space – Chewbacca) pick up on Wendy’s conversation points. Romance even sparks between two of the Alpha Flight old guard.

Insights

What begins as a crashed-alien-ship exploration story, shouting out to Alien and Deadspace, changes into a mystery set up and launched into space. Some scenes are even reminiscent of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes.

There’s a lot for Captain Marvel to do here. Agent Brand deals with a more tedious interrogation, however. Frustration does not take Brand’s attention away from the health of her new crew. Wendy and Carol specifically, will need her help to escape from new and unexpected dangers.

There is a small Wizard of Oz tie here Puck and Sasquatch become like the Tin Man and Scarecrow when they go in search of the “Heart” and “Brain” of the lost spaceship.

detail

Captain Marvel #2. Published by Marvel Comics.

Batman #49 Review and Insights

There is a lot to describe here, so I’ve selected some insights into the comic’s artwork and character conflicts, and unpacked a few of them. A spoiler warning for anyone not caught up on the latest story arc.

Batman #49 uses interesting visual metaphors of trauma and darkness to depict Bruce’s journey down into the Batcave, and the potential return of the Dark Knight.

Batman #49 Cover Art

  • A stark Batman shadow fills half the cover
  • Bruce Wayne himself is in pain
  • This shadow is the cause of his pain.
  • The shadow used on the right of the cover balances
    the composition.
  • The amber light, like a fire, draws the eye toward Bruce

With one hand touching his head in anguish, and the other grasping at the air like a claw, Bruce is in pain, struggling with the trauma of becoming The Batman again. This trauma plays out during the issue.

Artwork

  • There is significant anguish on the faces of Alfred, Julie, and Bruce throughout
  • Different and unique versions of Gotham appear
  • White and blue colours appear throughout the comic alongside heavily inked shadows
  • The trauma of becoming The Batman is represented by a huge, fiery red beast attacking a clean and ideal city

This issue marks part nine of the Super Heavy story arc.  On multiple other worlds, Batmen are dying. On one of these worlds, Bruce Wayne protects the city alongside the Council of Owls. This cleaned up and reformed Court of Owls uses an army of Talon’s. Bruce himself has employed teams of engineers and custodians to help run an organised and brightly lit Batcave.

Character Conflicts

  • Alfred deeply desires Bruce stay as he is – kind, unsophisticated, partnered, and happy
  • Bruce wants the truth, and to confront his trauma, descending into the Batcave to activate a memory machine
  • Julie Madison realises she must be the one to terminate the bearded Bruce, and return The Batman to life.
  • There is a shocking revelation about Julie’s parents

The large science fiction item of this story is the memory machine. This item has appeared before – a device that ensures The Batman lives on. It sends electrical surges around the Batcave when it activates.

In this case, Bruce can use the machine to return The Batman to life through him. There is a cost, however. The trauma, the shadow of the Batman, is powerful, and could kill him. Without Julie Madison’s intervention, it almost does exactly that.

Insights

My understanding of the story here, is that the scenes of an ideal Gotham are what Batman imagines he could be if he merged his current calm outlook with the Batman’s shadows. Unfortunately, they are completely incompatible.

The Batman is far to heavy a weight on the mind to bear. That is clear from the character’s stress, the dark cover, and metaphor in the artwork – the ideal Batman suits up with the Bat crew, and tries to save the white and clean Gotham. A red and black beast destroys this city however. A visual representation of Batman’s darkness and shadows.

An endless series of Batmen cloned from Bruce is a regimented and well-ordered version of Superman’s Bizzaro.

Bringing a monster to life with a machine and surges of electricity ties back to Frankenstein.

The idea that Bruce must terminate his softer civilian persona to return to the super heroic identity also lines up with The Doctor’s experiences in the Doctor Who episodes Human Nature and The Family of Blood.

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/a/a3/Batman_Vol_2_49.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20160210183552

Published by DC comics

Secret Six #4

Top five insights into Secret Six #4:

  • New diversity in its cast of characters – introducing Porcelain as a non-binary gendered character
  • Dark storytelling, but strong comedy from the Ventriloquist and a veteran, returning character – Ragdoll
  • The return of veteran Secret Six characters Ragdoll, Jeanette, and Scandal Savage
  • Artwork showing an excellent and carefully planned action scene
  • A theme of animal welfare – characters safeguard small animals from harm

Conflict in this issue falls between Mockingbird’s mercenaries, who are three familiar characters, and the Secret Six. Comic relief balances out the darker parts of the conflict

Reintroducing Ragdoll, Jeanette, and Scandal brings to light the role of a character already seen in past issues. A red haired woman, who helped capture Catman back in Secret Six #1, is seen to be working with
Mockingbird – the mastermind who is hunting the Secret Six. Mockingbird wants the Secret Six captured and punished for their past crimes. This mystery mastermind is ruthless, holding a hostage to force Scandal, to work for him.

That’s the key conflict in the story. Half of the original Secret Six combat with the new team. Veteran Secret Six fans will no doubt enjoy seeing Ragdoll’s unusual, comic relief dialogue return to the issue. Ventriloquist has provided excellent comic relief so far in Secret Six. Both Ventriloquist and Ragdoll making clever quips adds to the issues sense of comedy.

Porcelain shows trust in the team, revealing more of her personality. Big Shot is accepting, while Strix collects a Lawn Gnome

Porcelain shows more layers, as she shares her non-binary perspective with her new team. Porcelain identifies as a woman sometimes, and as a man sometimes. She expresses her identity through her
dress choices. Wearing masculine gendered clothing, she tells Catman, Big Shot, Strix, and the ventriloquist about her identity as a non-binary person. Initially, it seems Big Shot has an
issue with her gender fluidity. He gives her a masculine, grey hat to wear. He says: “a fella’s got to look sharp”, showing acceptance.

Strix deciding to adopt a lawn gnome she finds in the front yard, and sampling a cookie rather than joining Catman in a scuffle against Ragdoll also add some great humor to the comic that plays out expertly through the artwork

Several romantic connections build romance as a theme here, while several other characters protect small animals from harm, which adds an animal welfare theme

Romance is important in Secret Six #4. Big Shot is very careful about a vase that his wife made for him. He pauses his battle with Jeanette the banshee to carefully place the vase out of harms way. Jeanette says she thinks it is a romantic gesture. Scandal Savage is working for Mockingbird because the mastermind has captured her partner. While they are not named, she goes to great lengths to rescue them
from Mockingbird.

Care for small animals is also brought up twice. Jeanette and Scandal will not allow Ragdoll to hurt squirrels and other woodland creatures. Catman also claims that Scandal brought him a pet cat while he
was in captivity earlier in his career. He says that this gesture “saved everything”.

Secret Six #4 is published by DC comics July 15 2015. Writer – Gail Simone. Artists – Ken Lashley & Tom Derenick. Colours – Jason Wright. Letters – Travis Lanham. ($2.99 USD).

Earth 2: Society #2

Top 5 Moments in Earth 2: Society #2

  • The unexpected return of Wesley Dodds and the Sandmen, giving their teleporting skills to help protect the survivors of Earth 2 from a new villain.
  • An attack on TSS Overwatch one: Terry Sloan, Sonia Sato, and Wesley Dodds escape the ships own defense systems, which fires bright, burning lasers and tries to self-destruct with the team still inside.
  • The Batman of Earth 2 – Dick Grayson in a yellow and purple batsuit – recruits cyborg bats to help him scan a network of tunnels.
  • The Flash, Huntress, Red Arrow, Mr.Terrific, and Jimmy Olsen, heroes from Earth 2, are back to protect the fledgling society.
  • Artwork of each ship in Earth 2’s flotilla of spaceships landing on their new planet shows off how each hero savrd their people from crashing, guiding the ships from the atmosphere to the surface.

The conflict between Terry Sloan and Batman – Dick Grayson – makes up the core of this comic book.

Terry Sloan versus Batman plays out as the key conflict. Batman believes Sloan crashed the flotilla deliberately. Sloan knows a new metahuman working in secret caused the crash. Without evidence, Batman pursues Sloan. Arresting this man for his crime occupies Batman’s attitude and thoughts completely.  Earth 2: Society #2 revolves around this core storytelling point.

Huntress is motivated to save an item stolen from Wayne Enterprises. She has lost her father – Bruce Wayne – and her old planet. She wants to reclaim her lost home.

Sloan stole a valuable piece of Wayne Enterprises technology. Huntress wants it back. She’s the last living Wayne. It’s a box that has enough power to terraform a planet, but to her, it’s a part of her identity. Any piece of her past is valuable. She left Earth 2 after losing her father when Darkseid launched a final attack. This story was told in Huntress and Power Girl. Her desire to rebuild a life back home is strong and sharp from these repeated losses.

Terry Sloan has good intentions in trying to rebuild Earth 2 instantly. But what about the life that currently lives on the new planet they found? Sloan’s actions brings out this line of questioning: what happens to the current culture of a world once a new culture builds a colony?

Sloan plans to wipe out this new world they have found using the terraforming box. It can copy all life from one planet, and rebuild that copy on a new planet. Instantly, Sloan can rebuild Earth 2. There’s a brief message in all this action. The Earth 2 survivors have come to a new world. Colonization is their goal. What happens to the preexisting life on this new world? The comic poses this question through Sloan’s actions. He modifies J Robert Oppenheimer’s words, saying “I have become life, builder of worlds”.

Earth 2: Society #2 is published by DC Comics. Writer – Daniel H Wilson. Artist – Jorge Jiminez. Colourists – John Rauch and Andrew Dalhouse. Letterer – Travis Lanham. ($2.99 USD) Published July 8 2015.

Princess Leia #5 – Comic Review

In the final issue, Princess Leia rescues a friend almost lost to the empire, and inspires afraid and angry men and women to support her cause. Princess Leia #5 offers:

  • Detailed artwork
  • Character’s that address issues of prejudice and fairness
  • A strong ethic about the importance of making clear statements

Details in the artwork set up a strong atmosphere, and help show off key character moments. Silent moments are also brought out to help give the comic artwork a sense of pace and flow, with silent moments taking place just after dramatic actions.

Roughly in the centre of the comic, a space scene shows off a fleet of spaceships carrying Alderaanian people fleeing the empire. A massive Star Destroyer looms into view, and as Leia delivers a key speech, the comic jumps from ship to ship.

Evaan saves Leia from imperial storm troopers with a powerful blaster that fires bright purple light. They succeed in saving an other Alderaanian captive of the empire –  a woman named Jace. The lettering and laser light colour match in this panel. Definitely an effective design choice.

Another strong moment in the artwork is the planet Espirion. On this world, the skies are blue, but the people have bright crimson skin and facial markings.

There are some great moments in the artwork where characters are silent. The artwork captures a character’s face just moments after they have asked a telling question, or made a strong statement. Leia beams when she sees her friends again. One silent scene may be missing dialogue, however, as it appears Leia is saying something to her friend Evaan, but there is no speech bubble.

Conflict between Leia and Jora marks a key conflict in the comic. Leia brings a measured response to Jora’s prejudice and fears.

After the rescue of Jace from the imperial commander who held her captive, Leia confronts another problem. Jora is a prejudiced Alderaanian. Jora reacts badly on Espirion. Jora says “The sight of our world’s descendants with alien features — well, I wasn’t at all prepared…”

The source of prejudice is most often fear. Jora fears change. Under threat from the empire destroying Alderaan, and hunting down its surviving citizens, she is no doubt feeling some measure of terror. With so few people left, perhaps she fears losing what little of Alderaan culture, arts, and tradition is left. Regardless, Leia’s response to her prejudice is measured. Leia admits that sending Jora to Espirion to fine support was a mistake. Leia wanted adventure instead. Rescuing her friend Jace from the empire’s forces was more fun than diplomacy.

Through Leia’s interaction with Jora, there is significant character development.

Evaan’s character has also changed. A Rebel Alliance X-Wing pilot, Evaan once treated Leia very formally. After watching Leia almost abandon her Alderaan salvation plan just to rescue one, single life, Evaan says she considered Leia a friend, not a princess that she must serve.

Leia delivers a moving speech proclaiming the importance of wisdom and imagination over rage and fear. It’s her courage in standing up, and making a statement that is most important here.

Leia says, “we will defend ourselves. But we won’t land one blow more than necessary. We are not our enemy.” He speech inspires the dejected and offended leader of Espirion – a man named Beon – to save Leia’s people from being wiped out of the sky by an Imperial Star Destroyer.

Leia and Beon describe why her speech was important briefly toward the end of the issue. Beon comments that her speech describes the type of society that he wants to live in. And it does sounds good: Leia proclaims that Alderaan culture represents a world where fear is relieved with imagination, and wisdom takes helps calm rage. War is not an answer to conflict.

The only issue being that Beon has the Star Destroyer itself wiped out. Many people working for the empire don’t make it. This is the paradox of war. Defending a country from attack means being prepared to destroy enemies. Princess Leia #5 focuses more on what makes a good society rather than the double edge of war.

What’s most important about these final scenes in the comic is that Leia stood up and made a statement, with the assistance of R2D2 to expand the audience of listeners to be as wide as possible.

With a strong voice, Leia speaks up about her values in the face of impending attack.

There were alternatives. Like Jora, she could have made the mistake of disengaging. Isolation, and running away from the battle back to the Rebel Alliance could have been an option. Instead, she stood up onto a platform and made a statement. Presenting the ethic of making a stand in a clear way is where Princess Leia #5 excels.

Princess Leia #5 is published by Marvel Comics ($3.99USD) Mark Waid (Writer) Terry Dodson (Pencils) Rachel Dodson (Inks) Jordie Bellaire (Colourist) VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover artwork by Terry and Rachel Dodson.

We are Robin #1 – Comic Review

Duke Thomas and a team of new Robins recruit their skills to help clean Gotham, and bring back some justice in the aftermath of Batman: EndgameWe are Robin #1 offers:

  • Strong lettering and colour choices
  • New and returning characters from Gotham City
  • Themes of clean versus dirty spaces, mortality, and class

Standout colouring and lettering choices are effective in bringing out the voice of We are Robin #1 and creating an immersive Gotham City. The new team of Robins arrive in a dynamic moment.

Lettering and text choices stand out effectively from the background, with black and yellow. The colour choices for the font bring the letters forward. Combined with the short and to-the-point voice of the title character, getting immersed in the comic happens quickly. Gotham City feels tangible and solid in this comic.

Artwork for Gotham’s streets, alleys, fire escapes, and sewers is typically coloured brown and asphalt grey. Bright and selective costume choices stand out from these dreary shades. Colour choices are consistent with the other depictions of Gotham City in other Batman related comic books.

Another strong moment in the artwork has a team of Robin’s arrive to help Duke Thomas – the viewpoint character.

They are ragtag, and are dressed in various street clothes and sports equipment coloured in red, yellow, and green to match the colours of Robin’s costume. Similar to The Movement, also from DC comics, the youth of Gotham with the skills to make a difference take a stand. Dynamic action marks their first appearance here in We are Robin #1.

Duke Thomas and Doctor Leslie Thompkins think about mortality and responsibility. In the aftermath of Batman: Endgame, several new characters form a team of Robins, and consider Duke Thomas for recruitment.

To the characters of We are Robin #1, mortality and responsibility are at the front of their minds. Duke Thomas has a shifting view of mortality. It changes based on the situation. In a fight at school, addiction to the adrenaline, and how close that pushes him to mortal danger is at the front of his mind. Heights are a fear of his. He makes another comment about mortality when faced with jumping down a fire escape. What he fears more is loss of identity, and the threat that his missing parents might forget who they are, and what they value.

Doctor Leslie Thompkins speaks across to Duke. Despite an age difference, she does not talk down to him. Doctor Thompkins asks Duke to take responsibility for himself, and stop alternatively fighting while searching for his parents. Duke regrets going against her plans. Clearly, she inspired some respect by being
forthright with him, and not patronising.

Ultimately, Duke takes responsibility in hunting for his parents. He comments on how The Batman has bailed on Gotham. Another loss from the aftermath of Batman: Endgame was the disappearance of The Batman and Bruce Wayne.

A range of themes are brought up overall: mortality, class, and clean versus dirty spaces. Cleaning up Gotham seems to be a priority for the Robins. If Duke joined them, he would find a way to act on his values and motivations.

The comic addresses mortality through Duke Thompson, and class from the villain of the comic, who arrives later in the story, and talks about how the attacking symbols of Gotham’s opulence. Clean versus dirty spaces and behaviour is also brought up by Duke Thomas: there is some inconsistency to Duke’s character. A gap between the values he wants to live up to, and the actions that support those values. In this instance, he respects his mothers values of clean speaking, eating, and living. Despite this, he refuses to clean a bathroom, and begins to use slang, what he calls imprecise language. It’s something we all strive for – to step up and take action on the values we uphold.

Robin is an identity Duke Thomas can use to take action. The Robins use precise language. Duke would be on his way to living his values if he joined them.

We are Robin #1 is published by DC Entertainment ($3.99 USD) Lee Bermejo (Story). Jorge Corona and Khary Randolph (Art.) Rob Haynes (Breakdowns). Trish Mulvihill and Emilio Lopez (Colours). Jared K Fletcher (Lettering). Cover artwork by Lee Bermejo.

Mad Max Fury Road: Furiosa #1 – Comic Review

This comic has a Mature rating, and is pitched at older readers

Mad Max Fury Road: Furiosa #1 tells the story of five women kept inside a vault, who set out with Imperator Furiosa for escape and freedom. Mad Max Fury Road: Furiosa #1 offers:

  • Artwork that shows strong, mature scenes and gives insight through body language.
  • Themes of slavery, equality, and environmental protection.
  • A message from the film: humans are not objects.

Artwork is violent in this comic. Furiosa’s body language reveals some insights into her character.

The artwork depicts a dangerous and violent future. Immortan Joe, with help from the Organic Mechanic, pursues and assaults the five young women kept in captivity: Toast the Knowing, Splendid Angharad, Capable, Dag, and Cheedo the Fragile. While no scenes of assault are shown, several characters react to off panel violence. The artwork sets a distressing tone, with shadows, thunder, lighting, blood and darkness.

Character body language and facial expression gives information for Furiosa’s character. Her dialogue is kept brief. She always stands when other characters enter the room. She sits and makes gestures with her hands only when she is alone with the five women.

Furiosa is a silent, stoic character with an outward persona concealing her plans to find The Green Place. Ms Giddy teaches the five women, and is the first to see the women as humans, and not objects.

At the beginning, a story teller with tattoos similar to Ms.Giddy’s body artwork appears. She and the story teller are living historical artifacts. The ink tells the history of the world in minuscule writing. The storyteller cautions agains history repeating itself, saying that history stands between us, and the future. We repeat it if we do not understand it.

Ms Giddy is the first to regard the five captive women as human, and not objects. In short conversation with Furiosa, she says: “These are fine young women with strong minds. But if they stay here, they will perish, and with them all hope. They need a leader”.

Furiosa is a silent guardian, watching over everyone, and the portal separating the five women from the wastelands outside. She gives a description of the Green Place. A memory of when she was taken. From what she recounts, the history of The Green place is an oasis in the wasteland: “The Land of Many Mothers, there were plants, trees, and animals”.

Up until this point in the story, Furiosa is stoic, and silent. The impression is that she survived so long under the iron brutality of the tyrannical world by keeping a powerful persona to protect herself, while slowly planning a way to escape.

Time and History are a large theme here, but importantly, the comic makes a statement that people are not things – women are not objects. The comic repeats and expounds the message of the film.

Preservation of the human race, and of history, are what’s at stake in the story playing out here. All the characters know that human life on earth could end from drought, starvation, and poison. Their hope for the future is agriculture inside the citadel, and five young women who are not infected with the wastelands poison.

The comic does not shy away from showing the captivity and slavery. Human future is at stake, but the women are used to ensure one man’s future, rather than the best future.

Ms. Giddy and Furiosa have a vision for the future, with equality and clean air and water for a community. The deluded military leader Immortan Joe only wants to permanently brand and imprint himself on the world forever. All life must reflect his image.

This is my Ms. Giddy, the preserver of history, and Furiosa, a warrior and survivor, are heroic. They stood up to the Immortan despite his success in reshaping most of what is left of the wasteland world into a reflection of himself. The large scale themes of equality against slavery, and an environmental message play out from this conflict. Time and history are a large theme here, where characters with significant wisdom advise everyone to understand the past of repeat it.

More importantly, Giddy and Furiosa make a statement in their actions that the women he kept captive are people and not objects. The white, painted letters from the film Mad Max: Fury Road appear here again, when one of the women says “we are not things”, repeating a strong message of the film.

Mad Max Fury Road: Furiosa #1 is published by Vertigo Comics. ($4.99 USD) George Miller (Story.) Nico Lathouris and Mark Sexton (Script.) Mark Sexton, Tristain Jones, and Szymon Kudranski (A.) Michael Spicer (C.) Clem Robins (L.) Cover artwork by Tommy Lee Edwards.