Heroes and Villains – Reviewing Recent Comics 5-25-2017


This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out in recent weeks while we were away, including selections from Marvel, DC, Dynamite, Boom!, and IDW. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Secret Empire #2, Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1, The Sovereigns #1, Star Trek: Mirror Broken #1, and Justice League #21… be warned, there be spoilers…

Secret Empire

Let’s face it, there’s not a lot to be said about the whole Captain America/Hydra/Secret Empire thing at this point. I’m bled dry, and it’s just a matter of waiting it out until the reboot, or the reality reset, or however the heck Marvel plans to get out of this mess. Until then, and possibly thereafter, Cap has been ruined for me, and I imagine I’m not alone, but let’s not beat this poor dead horse again – there’s probably nothing left of him, like the legacy of a certain star-spangled Avenger.

This is a grim world, ruled by Hydra, with New York City imprisoned in the Darkforce Dimension, Las Vegas destroyed, Inhumans hunted, mutants exiled, and Captain America sits on a Hydra throne while the world dies slowly. With his one hundredth birthday coming up in a few months, I wonder what Jack Kirby would make of this, and what has happened to one of his greatest creations.


Rick Jones has returned from the dead in the form of a recording, which outlines for what’s left of the non-enslaved Avengers exactly what happened to Steve Rogers, and that possibly finding the scattered shards of the Cosmic Cube might make all this better. I was frankly disappointed that after all of this serious and dark and gritty for so many months, Nick Spencer has relented to end it all with a traditional, clichéd, superhero quest.

And the revelation at the end of another Steve Rogers? It didn’t fill me with any hope at all, and certainly not the hope Spencer wanted it to instill in readers. Secret Empire is a misery to read, and it’s not just put me off of Captain America, but Marvel Comics as well. It will take more than a reboot or reset to get me back.


A comic that has hype by Joe Hill on its cover has high praise indeed, and Victor LaValle’s Destroyer is a tale of terror set apart from much on the comic shelves these days. LaValle is a new voice that is rocking this world, and his Destroyer is unlike anything we’ve seen before. This is a tale of Frankenstein’s three hundred year old monster and his return to civilization. He is a terrible force of nature, and he keeps coming, once he’s heard Frankenstein’s lineage has continued, and the current doctor is meddling with creating life as well.


I was mesmerized by this comic, and want more. I devoured LaValle’s text page on what drove him to write this, and preordered his novel The Changeling. That’s how much I loved this, and the art of Dietrich Smith and subdued hues of Joana LaFuente are spellbinding as well as moody. This certainly washed the taste of Secret Empire from my mouth, and actually reinvigorated my faith in comic books and visual storytelling. Highly recommended.


Although I did not recognize this fact at first, once I started reading I realized I knew these characters. Granted, I didn’t know the Gold Key superheroes in their original form of course, but once Valiant Comics revived them in the 1980s, I started reading them, both their new and old adventures. I loved Turok Son of Stone, Doctor Solar, and especially Magnus Robot Fighter. Now granted, I doubt these will be versions I am aware of, as I believe these properties have changed hands more than a couple times since the days of Valiant, but I’m game to give this comic a try.


One of the oddities of the comic book industry is the conceit of the zero-numbered issue, sort of like a prologue to a first issue, so no longer can one buy a first issue of a give title and expect to be in on the ground floor. Such is the case with The Sovereigns #1, as these heroes already know each other, and one has already fallen to a new threat. Nevertheless, it’s not so much that anything was missed as this seems to be a reassembly of the heroes.

Regarding the changes to these characters in the Dynamite Entertainment versions of them, they seem to be solely cosmetic. Magnus is part machine; Doctor Spektor is like Alan Moore crossed with Doctor Strange; Solar is now a woman – but the essence of their characters is still there. Their behavior is appropriate to their past incarnations – they don’t do or say anything that would make me question them. Maybe that’s why I’m down with hippie Doctor Spektor but not Hydra Captain America. This one was fun, I’d like to see more.

Star Trek

From all appearances, it looks like we’re visiting the Mirror Universe premise again with Star Trek: Mirror Broken #1, a rather twisty tale of The Next Generation crew. Remember the good old days when if you wanted to write about evil versions of heroes, you could visit an alternate universe or write an issue of What If? My favorite part of this comic is the cover, where Captain Picard has a goatee, ya see, that’s how you know he’s evil. Maybe all evil Captains should do that.


Jokes aside, this was really intriguing and not at all what I expected. This wasn’t about the TNG crew in the Mirror Universe, this was the TNG crew of the Mirror Universe. Since the events of the classic Star Trek TV episode “Mirror Mirror,” things have changed there. Spock’s empire, inspired by the words of our Kirk, has been overrun by a Klingon/Cardassian alliance. The TNG crew now mans the ISS Stragazer, but they have their eyes on the wreckage of the ISS Enterprise. Beam me up, I’m in on this one, accessible, fun read, and it’s Star Trek.

Justice League

At a time when most days it’s hard to remember who is and isn’t an Avenger, let alone who is on what team of Avengers, it was refreshing to at least recognize the roster of the latest issue of Justice League, and also be able to say, yeah, that’s the Justice League. Marvel, really, it’s been years since we had that with the Avengers, get on the ball. The League’s current roster, under writer and artist Bryan Hitch, is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg, and those two new Green Lanterns – easy peasy.


Like recent episodes of The Flash, and the current storyline “The Button” teaming the Flash and the Batman, this Justice League adventure, part two of “Endless,” seems to be a time travel mystery worthy of Doctor Who. The Flash has apparently emerged from the time stream, in the future, and needs to prevent those events from happening and saving lives. There’s a misunderstanding, a problem, a solution, and some superhero action too, not bad. I liked this, maybe not enough for a commitment, but not bad.

And also, if you want to know what I thought of The Flash #22, the return of Jay Garrick, and that whole Watchmen button mess, you can read that here. What did
you think of these comics? See you next time.


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