A quiet month with the end of Civil War II and Ms Marvel not having an issue this month (I’m as sad as you are but don’t worry, Wilson said she was just skipping December. The series isn’t getting cancelled (Not that I expected it to be, really)). Enough waffling, let’s get down to business.
Amazing Spider-man #22
Ben Reilly, Peter’s clone, is the Jackal! What?! (I don’t really get the significance too much, it feels like a big deal). Peter is a bit angry (Understatement) when Reilly offers to bring back Uncle Ben (It should not be done!) and equally confused at how Ben, who died in his arms, can be the Jackal. Ben then recalls his gruelling ordeal at the hands of Miles Warren. After flashbacking on his life up to his death, he awakes as the prisoner of Miles Warren. Warren goes full evil scientist and trials the limits of Ben Reilly’s body, executing him 25 times with different means each time (Some methods include: drowning, vivisection, electrocution and more (Gosh darn awful, quite frankly)). After an incredible feat of strength, he breaks free of his shackles and kills Warren. Or so we thought! He repays the “favour” and clones Warren’s body, confusing the real one into thinking he’s a clone and gaining his undying loyalty through the only solution to the degradation issue, a pill that has to be taken every day. Parker is shocked at the ordeal Ben has been through and offers to hear what Ben has to say about bringing back Uncle Ben.
It was inevitable that Uncle Ben would come up during this event and it would be a definite source of contention with the fans and rightly so. In my opinion, you can’t bring Uncle Ben back from the dead. It was his death from which Spider-man was born and to bring him back would, in a way, diminish this and his key part in it all. I would love Uncle Ben to be alive and well (He is a genuine superhero in his own right) but it just isn’t right or fair on Aunt May or Peter. This was the most enjoyable of all the tie-in issues so far for me, I found Ben Reilly’s story very compelling and rather upsetting.
Following Viv breaking Hulk’s heart by insulting his kiss, she makes the team aware of a serious situation in Sharzad involving the growing oppression of women’s rights. Hulk reveals a more battle ready vehicle than the taco truck (Side note: The Taco Truck can fly. Totally Awesome wheels for a Totally Awesome Hulk). On route, the team argues over who should be leader, Hulk, Ms Marvel and Cyclops being the top three choices. When the Champions arrive, they quickly apprehend some militia men and talk with the young girls who are being punished for just wanting to learn. Amal, the sort-of leader of the girls, forms a plan that benefits all parties. The Champions split and the militia men are lured to the town centre where they are attacked from below. The militia men are apprehended and Amal shows them whose boss by delivering some powerful words (She’s a very empowering character, let me tell you). The Champions depart where the leadership debate continues, Viv voting for Cyclops based on his experience alone. They are then shot out of the sky by a missile.
This issue addressed a very serious problem, the unfair treatment of women. After reviewing this issue, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany. My original disappointment in this book was far from fair. I think my expectation was that they would be a classic hero team fighting super villains but they are bigger, and better, than that. They fight real world problems and set an example for all who read this book. Back to the issue, it’s approach to the problem did not diminish the girls the Champions were defending by making them look too weak to fight their own battles which it could have done more easily. The girls formulated the plan to stop the terrorists and showed the terrorists who they were messing with. It was a brilliantly executed decision on the part of Waid. In addition to that key point, the leadership quarrel proved entertaining. If I’m honest, Ms Marvel or Cyclops would be better suited to the role of leader than the Hulk (Who has proven in the past to be a bit of loss cannon). Seeing Cyclops, Viv and Hulk grow as a part of the team is also proving to be an interesting side bit and, as ever, Viv’s dialogue is simply fantastic. Humberto Ramos’ art is also growing on me very quickly, his style accompanies the title rather well.
Champions #3 has opened my eyes to what is actually going on here. Young heroes setting the best possible example by tackling problems bigger than super villains in a way that empowers everyone involved. For that reason, I think I can appreciate and begin to like this series a bit more. We shall see what the future holds…
Doctor Strange #15
Doctor Strange is forced to go with the Orb whilst he watches crimes taking place, contributing himself through murdering one man and encouraging another to kill his neighbours. Meanwhile, Wong and Zelma are in search of the Doctor who tries to escape the Orb only to end up tied to the taxi bonnet, plummeting straight down into the ground (I should add, the taxi on a wall). Whilst the Orb tries to kill the good Doctor, Mordo is murdering people to cast a tracking spell to find Doctor Strange. Dormammu is not best pleased with his efforts. The taxi turns into a creepy looking side alley where, low and behold, Mr Misery is feeding on dead cats and dogs. Mordo shows up as well and then Zelma and Wong appear. The three villains all want a crack at Doctor Strange who is more than ready, after going through a bit of a rough time as it is, to punch some faces (So would I, to be fair). The number of villains evens out with the arrival of the Dread Dormammu. Oh no…
Wow. This penultimate was awesome. The Orb was perfectly haunting with his twisted take on the role of the Watcher. Mordo and Dormammu showing up for the finale next issue is both sensible and perfect as they are his 1st and 2nd greatest villains. How Aaron is going to follow this arc is beyond me.
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #3
The issue opens with an origin story for Kushala, one of my favourite Sorcerers at the moment. Following the murder of her mother and father, she pleas to the Creator to help but is met with something far more sinister: The Spirit of Vengeance. If being a Ghost Rider wasn’t enough, she is forever haunted by the souls of those she killed. The issue cuts back to Camelot where the team enter Merlin’s topsy-turvy library in search of weapons. They uncover a book full of the names of people who have great magic which Merlin used to track and imprison them. The shock is cut short when several dark spirits attack the team but Newton throws up a shield just in time to protect them. Kushala tries to help the spirits but the Forgotten appears and attacks the team (Again, it’s becoming a bit of running theme). Kushala is fuming after the poor souls are destroyed and is overcome by the Spirit which unleashes its might on the Forgotten. It disappears to a hollow where Newton suggests going to end it once and for all.
There is definitely something shady going with Newton after a snippet suggests that he has ulterior motives. All these secrets are definitely messing with my mind and it is definitely giving the world of magic a more sinister feel. Exciting stuff none the less.
Justice League #10
The Justice League have gone to Denver to confront James Palmer, the hacker believed to be behind the attack in last month’s issues. The situation is quickly cleared up when it is revealed that he wasn’t the man behind (A pretty good twist which was cool). He explains that he was trying to ‘Robin Hood’ money off big corporations to help those affected by the Kindred attack. He informs the League that the code used to attack them can only be found in written form beneath his bed. It turns out that his daughter, Lily, had taken the code with the intention of creating an A.I assistance who knew what you wanted exactly and performed the task quickly which she called Genie. However, she didn’t cause the attack. It was her younger brother Bobby who had been innocently talking to the app about what had happened to his mum whilst playing with his Justice League figures. They quickly learn that Bobby wanted all the villains to attack the League. Suddenly, the house comes under attack from the likes of Giganta, Major Disaster, Mammoth and more, all motivated by the $750 billion reward. Things are just about manageable until Amazo, a robot who can mimic metahuman abilities, rocks up. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
An absolutely smashing issue of the Justice League, quite possible my favourite so far. The interaction of the League with the Palmer family was truly touching and the League’s display of such compassion was wonderful. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, a whole load of obscure villains roll up and I sure do love me some obscure villains. Just perfect!
Justice League #11
It’s the Justice League vs a whole bunch of villains! Amazo is posing the biggest threat but some of the others aren’t too easily beaten either with the likes of Psimon, Mammoth and Scarecrow causing a bit of an issue. The latter is put down by James Palmer with a baseball bat (Whoop whoop! 1-0 to the civilians for that takedown!). Things get a touch more serious when the villains get their hands on the tablet containing Genie (If you are going to push the League, might as well push it to the limit, right?). Meanwhile, Jessica Cruz, the former Green Lantern member of the team, is taking on some villains in Seattle when sees what is going down in Denver. The villains are determined to get back the tablet (Flash nabbed it, not that surprising really) and Lily, the mastermind behind it, but the League aren’t having any of it. Lily, being rather intelligent, gains access to Amazo’s programming and turns him against the villains (2-0 for the civilians for quick thinking!). However, Major Disaster tries to destroy Denver with an eruption that the Lanterns (Jess flies by in the nick of time) and Amazo contain the explosion. With the dust now settled, Jess is welcomed back with open arms to the team and Batman promises to look after the Palmer family and their neighbourhood through Wayne Enterprises.
A solid end to what has been a brilliant arc. The big fight was well executed and having the Palmers lend a hand was great to see, especially Lily’s stellar idea of taking control of Amazo. The next two issues are going to be a bit weird with Justice League VS Suicide Squad taking over (I can’t seem to escape events…) but there are only two of them so it’s quite as bad as Spider-man.
That concludes the 2016 comic book year and what a year it has been. It being my first full year collecting new and up-to-date comics, I must say it has been a brilliant one. 2017 is set to be even more exciting than 2016 with Secret Empire beginning to take shape as the Marvel summer event (Which actually sounds rather original, expect to hear more soon). As ever, if you have any thoughts or questions please leave them in the comments.