November, far less busy than October but none the less enjoyable. With Justice League entering it’s third arc, another Rogue troubling Doctor Strange and election day in Ms Marvel, lots of interesting stuff going on. Let’s get started.
Amazing Spider-man #21
This tie-in issue focuses in on Kaine Parker, the first clone of Peter Parker. Following his “birth” from the remains of a huge dead spider, he goes in search of a cure for the growing Carrion virus, a virus that makes people an awful lot like zombies just faster and more terrifying. Infected himself, he goes to the worlds heavily affected by the virus without having to worry about contracting the virus. He arrives on one world where Spider-Gwen provides some much needed support which results in the retrieval of a victim, his own Carrion-afflicted self. No cure is found but they pinpoint the origin to Parker Industries who, moreover, are tied with New U before the outbreak starts. Gwen infiltrates one world whilst Kaine goes off on one final mission: Save everyone else.
As interesting as these current stories are, I can’t help but feel a little detached from it all. The look into Kaine’s life was an intriguing read but, without the main Clone Conspiracy book alongside it, I’m not really sure what to make of it all. The further I progress into the current issues of Spider-man, the more I feel like I should be reading Clone Conspiracy. I might try and get it when it comes out as a graphic novel and then revisit these issues. Next month: The Jackal revealed!
Amazing Spider-man Annual #1
The first story of this annual sees Parker in Mexico where he is awarding a scholarship to Mateo Rodriguez which is cut short by Itzpapalotl who has come to purify everyone. He defeats the demon and places it back under the spell of an imprisoning mask. However, El Diablo takes the mask once he has left and menacingly warns of great sorrow coming now that he has all nine masks of death. The next issue throws back to an earlier storyline involving Mr Negative’s mind control drug. When Mr Negative’s men re-emerge Cloak and Dagger are on hand to defend Dr Wu against the Neon Dragon and to preserve the antidote to the drug. Cloak and Dagger apprehend the thugs and then head home to relax, leaving Spidey to do the cleaning up. The last story sees Spider-man take some improv lessons to improve his inter-fight banter which, to be honest, is a bit weird considering the natural wit I associate with the character.
Two great stories and then one “meh” story. It was awesome to see El Diablo appear as I hadn’t seen him in a while and I’m ever so curious to see if there is a follow up on him and his nine masks of death. The Cloak and Dagger story was excellent and going back to Shanghai was very enjoyable. The Improv lesson story felt a little weird as I mentioned. This issue felt more welcoming than the main issues and was a nice reprieve from the rather morbid tone of the main issues.
The team go on a camping trip to bond. They show off their power sets (Actually quite helpful) to each other so they can assess the team’s strength. Whilst Hulk demonstrates just how high he can jump (Which is high) Viv makes the remaining Champions aware that she has built in Wi-Fi which, suprise surprise, is followed with the 3 former Avengers getting their phones out (Her password: evenanandro1dcancry, too many feels (She lost her brother back in The Vision)). Viv gets a little defensive after Ms Marvel suggests ghost stories (The whole human but not human thing, she interpreted it as a micro aggression). When Hulk eventually lands again, Cyclops, who had been hiding in the shadows, bursts out to defend the other heroes. After the confusion is cleared up, Cyclops is given a place on the team. The issue ends with a passionate kiss between Viv and the Hulk, marking Viv’s first ever kiss.
I don’t really know what to say about this issue. I did enjoy the premise of a camping trip to bond as a new team and all of Viv’s dialogue was a delight (As it has proven to be from the get-go). Cyclops joining the team was also great as I was really looking forward to him being a part of it. However, I still didn’t find this issue all that enjoyable as a whole. I think my inability to connect with the team, one I thought I would really connect with over shared interests, has put a bit of a dampener on the book as a whole for me (Which I know is a bit silly but it’s just a very personal thing). This may very well change, once Avengers hit #4 I instantly felt more connected to the team. We shall have to see what the future holds…
Doctor Strange #14
Doctor Strange finds himself in a hellish diner run by the Devil’s Daughter, Satanna. She wants the Doctor to become an attraction for her Hell but he has to die in order for him to become a permanent resident. She feeds him some rather nasty bacon, the natural best method when surrounded by demons who could do it far easier and, probably, more painfully. Becoming his astral form, he enters his own body in the hopes of forcing the dodgy bacon out of his stomach. Finding it mutating in his stomach, he thinks of stuff that make him sick (Newark being the clincher) and, low and behold, the bacon begins to rise out of his stomach and onto Master Pandemonium, the poor chef who cooked it (and who also has demons for hand (Which might sound cool but is an actual nightmare when they are conscious beings in their own right)). He escapes Hell through a dumpster in Newark and hails a taxi. The driver: The Orb (Creepy eye ball head guy).
This series has yet to miss the mark and this issue is no different. It was very different from previous issues, as all the “Blood in the Aether” issues have been, and this one was brilliant. The idea of killing off Doctor Strange with hell bacon was definitely disturbed, more so because Satanna wanted to keep him as an attraction, but pretty amusing in its own right (I sound a little weird saying that but, hey, I am a little weird so whatever). The return of the Orb promises to be eventful to say the least (He has one of the former Watcher’s eyes in his chest (Creepy, beyond belief)).
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #2
The issue opens with a flashback to a fight between Wiccan and the Dust daughters where something sinister is whispered in his ear. It then cuts back to the team, still shocked by the death of Merlin, fighting the Forgotten to little avail. Wiccan teleports the team away to a beach but they suddenly sink into the sand. The Mindful one manages to drag them all out and they decide to head to Merlin’s library in Camelot in the hopes of finding weapons to defeat the Forgotten. Camelot is a little worse for wear with the death of Merlin making it more vulnerable. The issue ends with Merlin recruiting Wiccan with the offer of removing a mark that seals his fate: Death.
Another very strong issue from this title. With Wiccan being one of the few characters I’m more familiar with, it was great to have a bit of focus on him and to see Hulking as well was a treat. As Merlin’s secrets begin to unravel, this title gets all the more interesting. Next month: Kushala, Demon Rider!
Justice League #8
Outbreak begins! Cyborg is chilling at the Watchtower and Batman is in the Batcave when, suddenly, the Watchtower begins to fall from its orbital position with Cyborg unable to do anything and Batman’s vehicles/gadgets begin to attack him. This issue then cuts to the home of the one casualty from the Extinction Machines arc, Diane Palmer, where her children are feeling deprived of some much needed attention from their father who has locked himself away in the garage. Cyborg is just able to boom tube the Watchtower back into the space saving, San Francisco in the process. He unites the Justice League to try and work out who hacked the Watchtower. The hacker takes control of Cyborg again and gains access to Green Lantern’s Ring. Oh dear…
An intriguing if slightly strange opening issue to this arc. The idea of a hacker reeking havoc on the Justice League is rather well executed with the two most technological members facing the brunt of the attack. It gets a little weird when the hacker is then able to gain access to Baz’s ring but I guess it is a form of high-end alien technology. Still, a little unrealistic (I’m aware that comics don’t pride themselves on their strong roots to realism but a little bit is always nice).
Justice League #9
Batman and Alfred are rather battle-worn whilst standing in the ruins of the Batcave. However, their efforts are not unrewarded as Alfred has managed to gain access to the code used to hack the Batcave and the Watchtower. Meanwhile, the other members of the League are fighting desperately against Green Lantern’s ring to little avail. The League use their individual powers to try and take out a few of the green beasts with resounding success. Batman traces the origin of the code to Denver, the location of the Palmer household. Cyborg, in a attempt to remove the code from his system, overloads himself with electrical power causing him to reset. Baz gains control of his ring again and the League go to the Palmer home to confront Mr Palmer, the mastermind behind the hack.
Seeing the full might of Baz’s ring is pretty awesome and the difficulty the Justice League face in fighting the ring creations off does justice (Forgive me) to a character who could quite easily apprehend the League if he so wished. This arc is definitely on an upward slope in terms of quality.
Ms Marvel #13
Kamala is back in New Jersey and Mike is present in class! Mike is rightly upset with the departure of her boyfriend half way round the world (and I’m just glad she hasn’t been forgotten). Her rather mundane lesson takes an interesting turn when her brother-in-law Gabe is introduced as the newest member of the class. He’s been moved to due to redistricting (No idea – divide or organize (an area) into new political or school districts (There you go)) and Kamala senses something fishy is going on. She goes, as Ms Marvel, to see the Mayor where the plot thickens through a written note: Help! She does some research with the help of Mike and discovers a Hydra agent is running for mayor. To prevent him taking power, Ms Marvel goes around New Jersey to encourage people to vote, preferably against Chuckworthy, but it doesn’t go all that well. Rather grumpy at the resistance from voters, she delivers a pretty great speech stating why it is important for everyone to vote and the rights they are entitled to so they can vote. Chuckworthy isn’t too pleased by the spirited speech given by Ms Marvel but his attempts to quiet her fall short tremendously. She leads the people to the polls and the far nicer former librarian is sworn in as Mayor.
Ms Marvel doesn’t mess around when she says she wants to help New Jersey (Though I do miss Karachi, it was such an interesting change of scenery which I thought deserved a little bit more time). Although this was published a little after the US Election (And this review even later), it rings some serious truth which, I think, is a pretty great use of a comic, especially one as great as Ms Marvel. On review, I enjoyed this issue more the second time around. Plus, the mystery surrounding Mike is finally over!
And that concludes November! I’m aiming to get December and January out before the halfway mark of February and that will mean I’m back on track with these Buy Pile posts. I also need to get Civil War II reviewed but I’m interested if people want to hear a issue-by-issue review or just a general review of the event (Please indicate preference in the comments). On top of Civil War II, I intend to read and review the first arc of Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (Easier said than done, surprising I know) and review the slightly older Fraction Hawkeye stories (The first two graphic novels) because they both deserve some recognition (Though I am struggling to get through Black Panther, I think it requires more focus than I can give it at gone 10 at night). If you have any thoughts, feedback or questions please leave them in the comments.