This week in Heroes and Villains our selection of new Marvel Comics include the other team of X-Men in the aftermath of the Inhumans/Mutants war, a team-up of two of my least-liked characters, the latest adventure of a future television star, and perhaps the end of the ‘good’ Captain America. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on X-Men Blue #1, Deadpool Vs. The Punisher #1, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #19, and Captain America: Sam Wilson #21… beware of spoilers…
Any discussion of X-Men this week sadly must include the controversy of last week’s X-Men Gold and artist Ardian Syaf’s inclusion of religiously charged possible hate speech into the book. As someone who has gone on record as being opposed to too much reality in comics, this is too much, and the artist being dismissed from Marvel is a good thing. I enjoyed the book last week myself, and never noticed anything, but was offended when it was pointed out to me. That said, I’m not a Pepsi drinker either, so what do I know?
Back to business, X-Men Blue features the time-displaced original X-Men led by the older Beast of our world, who is now imbued with mystical abilities (weird, but I’ll roll with it). The opening sequence has them tracking down old X-foe Black Tom Cassidy. Just like in the old days, where there’s Black Tom, the Juggernaut is nearby. Chaos ensues. Like X-Men Gold, this is a fun superhero comic, much unlike the doom and gloom soap opera that the X-books have been in the last few decades. I really enjoyed this.
Writer Cullen Bunn has a fun spin on the X-Kids, and his essay in the letters column is full of passion for these characters and the future. There’s a shocker in regards to who is really leading the team and his agenda, and a back-up story with Wendigo and possibly Wolverine. I have to confess however, the page of what is to come has me less excited for this comic than the comic itself. None of that stuff interested me, much like the Wendigo stuff. Time will tell, but until then, this one is a definite yes.
Deadpool and Punisher
I’ve talked about this before, here and here, but Deadpool and the Punisher are just not in my wheelhouse. To me they are villains, and killers, sooo not my thing. My heroes don’t kill. But here in Deadpool Vs. The Punisher, they are at least on opposite sides, perhaps I’ll be half-happy when one of them goes down.
Writer Fred Van Lente, who was on a panel I had the pleasure of moderating at last week’s Camden Comic Con, brings the goods in this issue. The villains are put on opposing sides by the Punisher’s raid on Club Vs., where street criminals bet on newsfeeds of superheroes fighting super-villains (a novel idea I really like). Deadpool’s friend, The Bank, is a silent partner in the club, so when the Punisher comes calling, Deadpool is there to protect his friend and family. When the family goes boom, the two go to war.
I have to say that despite my dislike of the characters, and my dislike of the over the top violence, I kinda dug this issue, and might check into the next installment at least. Both the Punisher and Deadpool are played to their full strengths without getting silly or too dark, so I wasn’t turned off by the mayhem or moroseness. This one is a buy.
Just recently announced, Squirrel Girl will be getting a TV series on Freeform with the New Warriors, a group she was originally supposed to be a member of, so what better time to check in on her current series at Marvel? Oh, and if you’re not following Squirrel Girl on Twitter, you don’t know what you’re missing, love the opening interactive page of issue #19.
The issue at hands begins immediately with the flashback/monologue of villainess Melissa Morbeck telling Squirrel Girl her origins in controlling animals. It’s a bit cliché but writer Ryan North’s comments at the bottom of some pages make it hilarious. Again, this was another comic I quite enjoyed, recommended. And did I mention it’s got bears with guns? Does it really get better than that? Much fun.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #21 is more of Nick Spencer weaving his Secret Empire storyline throughout the Marvel Universe. I will be happy when it’s all over, much like an unwanted guest, it refuses to leave… and it hasn’t even started officially yet. I guess I just want my Captain America back, the good guy, the one who doesn’t kill. At this point, really, is there anything that separates Steve Rogers from Frank Castle?
The issue begins with a splash of Rage, a character I always liked from Larry Hama’s Avengers run, but didn’t care for in his later New Warriors incarnation. I was hopeful to see him in action again, but it looks as if I’ll have to go into back issues for that, and I won’t like it. Most of the comic is Sam’s letter to Misty Knight, followed by his stepping down as Captain America. The reasons for this are outlined well with a history lesson of the character, sadly leading the way to Steve Rogers’ Secret Empire.
This Falcon monologue is blended with vignettes of the other cast members and what they’re up to and thinking, but sadly also with Rogers murdering an old man. This is not what I want to read. I can’t say I liked the story, but I respect the skill of the endeavor. Nick Spencer is a good writer, I just don’t like what he’s writing. Those who are Spencer fans, or anticipating Secret Empire will want this key issue, but I am not among them.