The Buy Pile: January 2017

The first comic book month of 2017 and quite an exciting one at that. With Doctor Strange’s Blood in the Aether arc drawing to a close, Ms Marvel facing a different kind of villain and the Champions in a bit of sticky situation, we’re kicking 2017 off in style. Let’s get started!

Amazing Spider-man #23

The penultimate Clone Conspiracy tie-in (Can it just end, please…). Spider-Parker is rightfully overwhelmed when he sees both his dead friends and enemies walking around in a seemingly idyllic town, happy as Larry. Perhaps the biggest shocker for him is seeing his former girlfriend, Gwen Stacey. He goes off with her to talk alone. Peter can’t accept Gwen as his Gwen and she is rather upset about his stubbornness. The conversation draws to a close after Gwen kisses Peter. They head back outside where things go south very quickly as all of Peter’s formally dead enemies attack him on the orders of the Jackal. Gwen tries to help Peter but is taken aback when her hands begin to turn a funny shade of yellow, similar to that of the Carrions! She calls out for Peter who suddenly sees what is happening.

I must admit, I’m getting a little tired of these tie-in issues as I do feel terribly detached from it all (As I say every time I review an issue of this title). This issue did provide an interesting look at complexity behind reintegrating the formally deceased and how their loved ones will react which was, to be fair, rather intriguing. We only have one more to go at least and then none other than Norman Osbourne is making a glorious comeback (Rather excited, to be honest, which is in part because these tie-ins are on the cusp of ending).

Champions #4

With the Champions aircraft rapidly falling out of the sky, Ms Marvel quickly issues instructions to her fellow team mates to try and keep the ship intact as much as possible, just about managing to keep them alive. Now floating on the ocean, they set about forming a plan to try and find land. Viv goes flies off for a little bit and returns, informing her team mates of a land mass relatively close by. The combined might of the Hulk and Cyclops gets the make shift boat moving and Cyclops relishes in being able to use his optic blasts so liberally without the fear of hurting anyone. Viv tries to fix Nova’s helmet and her rather awful ordeal, seeing her brother killed and mother take her own life, is made aware to Nova after he asks how she remains so calm (She doesn’t indulge in emotions anymore). The Champions are suddenly joined by an Atlantean vessel, accused of invading sovereign air space. They are imprisoned and try to work out how to escape without drowning. They manage to break free of their containment tubes and Viv empties the ship of water so that her team mates can breath. They break through the ship and manage to make it back to the surface. The issue ends with a snippet focusing on a young hero inspired by the Champions: Gwenpool (Groan…).

In terms of character development, Cyclops and Viv are showing stellar changes and this issue really focused on a sense of team building which was rather refreshing to see. Now to my biggest problem… Gwenpool. Of all the young heroes who could have cameoed in this book, she wasn’t really on my radar as I’m not overly fond of this oversaturated Deadpool universe (Which it might as well be, there are so many iterations of him (Though I do enjoy Deadpool as a character)). I hope I’m proven wrong but I’m not overly thrilled at the prospect of her appearing in this book. In fairness, my judgement is hardly fair as I haven’t actually read any Gwenpool. She may very well prove me wrong. I’m not getting my hopes up though…

Doctor Strange #16

After a quick flashback to Doctor Strange’s first exorcism, we see the good doctor in the foul clutches of the Dread Dormammu! Oh no! Naturally, Dormammu completely outmatches Doctor Strange whose best means of defence is the equivalent of a magic tooth pick to Dormammu. He throws Doctor Strange several hundreds of metres but the Doctor’s cloak keeps him from sinking. Good ol’ cloak of levitation, stellar performance as usual. Mordo is rather angry at Dormammu who promised Strange would be his to kill so Dormammu decides to cut his losses and set Mordo on fire (You could say the situation was getting pretty lit (Part of me is sorry but most of me isn’t)). Wong goes to Mr Misery to plead with him to help Doctor Strange to no avail. Meanwhile, Dormammu informs the Doctor that it was him who directed the Empirikul towards his reality. Another throwback to Doc’s first exorcism riles him up. He turns on Dormammu and unleashes all the magic the world has got left to offer, sending him to the realm of Shuma-Gorath, a giant starfish-thing who isn’t particularly friendly (Who Dormammu also helped the Empirikul locate). Zelma uses the ghost plane to send Mordo flying off, leaving just her and the Doctor. Question is, where is Wong? (In the clutches of Mr Misery (For the love of chicken nuggets, the doctor can’t catch a break)).

A stellar finale to a stellar arc. Dormammu was the obvious, natural choice for the final villain and it was pulled off very well. Seeing the Doctor give it his all one last time was enchanting to see. The next arc looks like it’s going to be another miserable one for the Doctor. I just hope Wong makes it back safe and sound.

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #4

The issue opens with Nina approaching Merlin about the location of her brother, a rather reckless sorcerer. The Sorcerers Supreme arrive at the hollow to find the Forgotten waiting for them. It brings them up to speed with just what Merlin had been doing to his fellow sorcerers, locking them up and leaving them to die. It attempts to right this wrong and release all the rather angry sorcerers back into the world. It puts the sorcerers under a trance but they manage to break free and attack the Forgotten, pushing it towards the cell where the other sorcerers are being kept. Newton deals a heavy blow and breaks the Forgotten up into the people who made it. Nina finds her brother just about alive but some of the other souls aren’t as lucky. Newton, meanwhile, heads up to one lying a top a rock. He then stabs a rather hefty blade into the poor guys chest and rather graphically pulls a book out of him, claiming it to be the word of the God. With it, he intends to become a God himself which the other Sorcerers don’t like the sound of. They go to attack him, Kushala in demon form. However, Newton casts them aside with ease and takes the Spirit of Vengeance from Kushala and transfers it to himself. He flings them all into the prison cell but not until he takes of Yao’s arm (The reason behind that isn’t clear, I think he just went a little power crazy and did it because he could). The issue ends with Merlin informing Nina that she will be the one to imprison her brother.

Newton has set the benchmark for snakes in 2017 pretty high. His betrayal of the team wasn’t unexpected but I didn’t quite expect it to be quite so… Violent. His use of the Mindful one was rather upsetting as the Mindful one had no control over himself and he was really stating to connect with the team. Gosh darn it Newton…

Justice League #12

Maxwell Lord IV is being interrogated by none other than Amanda Waller, head of Taskforce X or, as they are better known, Suicide Squad, following Checkmate, his organisation, attacking one of her prisoner-carrying trains. The issue then delves into Maxwell Lord’s past, losing his father and having his mother force him to promise to basically become a cold hearted sociopath. He rose rapidly to Royalty-ranking in Checkmate following the “sacrifice” of Jason Cameron, the previous Black King. We then fast forward to an alien invasion where Checkmate move in to apprehend not only the aliens but the Justice League, the last line of defence between Earth and the invasion. The interrogation turns on its head rather quickly when Lord appears to take control of Amanda Waller, the most terrifying, stubborn women around in my opinion, with ease. He gleans some important information from here but she manages to break free. He then manages to overpower the guards, called in following the incident, and escapes. The issue ends with Lord revealing his plan: Assemble a team who will ensure he can dominate those who would stand against him.

This tie-in issue, thankfully, preceded the actual event, acting as prelude of sorts, which made it far less alien to me than the Spider-man issues. The focus on Maxwell Lord was rather interesting as my only real exposure to him is glimpses of his character on the Supergirl TV show. It was also great to see Amanda Waller who still scares me. All in all, a more accessible tie-in issue which is always much appreciated.

Justice League #13

Steve Trevor is discussing his weekend plans with Leah, the receptionist at the Picket, when something shakes the building. Superman has just smashed his way into the White House. The Green Lanterns are surrounding Earth in an energy shield, Aquaman has summoned a defensive line of animals around the shores of the USA, Flash has dismantled over 400 LGM-Minuteman (Watchmen Reference?!) Rockets and Wonder Woman has control of the Senate. To round it off, Cyborg takes control of Communications and the power grid. Leah, the receptionist, is overcome by the same thing controlling the Justice League and tries to take a chunk out of Steve’s leg (January comics are apparently costing characters an arm and a leg, disgraceful). He apprehends her to see the night shift burst out of the door, all afflicted with the same condition. He makes a run for it and manages to find some people not affected and drives back the controlled humans with a UV light. He runs home after the people he was with turn where he finds his niece and nephew attempting to kill his sister with a hot poker (It’s also a rather violent month…). Eclipso, the villain behind this chaos, challenges Steve which results in his family being freed. Suddenly, the Sun goes dark and the family, including Steve, are overcome with the same curse. Eclipso has gained global domination…

Surprisingly, another issue that was accessible to me, a reader not following the event book. A character focus on Steve Trevor, rather important in Wonder Woman’s universe, was great to see as I’m not overly familiar with his character. It wasn’t as detailed as #12 in terms of back story but it was enjoyable. Better yet, that concludes the Justice League VS. Suicide Squad tie-ins (And that is how it should be, minimal).

Ms Marvel #14 

Heroes need a way to unwind after a long day battling Ultron or rescuing civilians from a burning building. For Ms Marvel, World of Battlecraft provides her with a sanctuary from all the chaos currently affecting her reality. She can do as she pleases without fear of judgement. However, a comment from a team mate followed by their immediate departure offline sends Kamala Khan’s world spinning. He/she appears to know what street she lives on! She panics for a short while but manages to track down the player who made the comment. She heads to New York City, home of the player, where she finds him on the floor trying to fix his computer which had been plagued with the blue screen of death (Dun dun dun!). He had no control over his character which sends Ms Marvel’s world further a kilter. She heads back to New Jersey, trying to work out how she can track down someone who could be anywhere in the world. A voice suddenly starts mocking her, the voice of the character from the game, who has gained access to the electronics in the surrounding area. She tries to seek refuge in Circle Q, where Bruno was formally employed, where she is met to hear her name being chanted over the speaker system.

I must confess to only clocking on that this was addressing the issue of safety online a few days after reading it (I can be a bit slow occasionally, I’m only human) which, to be honest, reflects the excellent subtly that Wilson employs here. Recently, Ms Marvel has not been having the best time of it so I do feel a bit sorry for her when one of her last ports of refuge is cruelly taken from her. More importantly, her strong sense of loneliness was a little heart-breaking. Hopefully things will pick up in the next issue in terms of some positivity.

Well… In reflection, January was quite a violent month for comic book characters physically and metaphorically. February is looking to be a rather intriguing month with new arcs starting and current arcs developing further. As always, please leave all thoughts and questions in the comments. Thank you.

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