Heroes & Villains: “Arcane #1”, A Hickman-less X-Men + More

It’s finally September! I’m not sure that’s worthy of exclamation, so I don’t know why I put that there. It’s also weird that the year is three quarters of the way over now and I don’t know where the year went. Don’t get me wrong, I can fully account for my time and how it was spent and I’m painfully aware of the passage of time but it’s just…surprising.

Since 2020 was largely spent inside 2021 feels very much like the extended dance mix of last year. That is to say, I don’t think things are getting much worse but they don’t exactly seem to be getting any better.

I should mention that my DMs are OPEN so feel free to slide up in there if you’re a comics creator and you’d like me to showcase your work. I bring this up because someone actually DID take me up on that offer and no one was more surprised than I. Twitter and Instagram are the modern day void into which we’re all screaming. I’m not particularly good at it since I refuse to play the game, I’ve seen too many people I know get next to no attention on those apps and how detrimental that can be for them. However, I am always watching. I see what you’re doing on there and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Arcane #1
Steele Filipek (W)
Mac Radwanski (A)
Ben Granoff (C)
Cosmic Lion Productions

Here we go! Hit me with that blurb:

Hogan is the new kid in town and he already knows that you don’t get involved in other peoples’ problems, but when he does it lands him neck-deep in all the occult mystery, monsters and madness that you can handle!

“ARCANE is an uncomfortable, unsettling and intriguing ride — and coming from the uncomfortable, unsettled and intriguing mind of Steele Filipek, I would expect no less!”

– Fabian Nicieza

Well, then…when your blurb includes a pull-quote from THE Fabian Nicieza I think you’re in pretty good shape.

The first issue of Arcane takes some big swings, like all decent first issues should, and some of them wind up connecting. The story focuses on Hogan and his first encounter with a magical MacGuffin (in this instance, a mystical pendant) and a surly hobo sorcerer. Much of the story is told via flashback which unfortunately lead to Arcane having a jumbled and inconsistent tone throughout. Many of the flashbacks serve to introduce us to who exactly Hogan is as a character and, so far, he comes off as about as likable as any other teenager has be (having once been a teenager, I’m including myself in that data set). There’s something to be said for that, while Peter Parker, most Robins, Billy Batson etc are the bastions of moral fortitude, they aren’t terribly real when it comes to being teens.

Without getting too far into spoiler territory, you can check out the book yourself, the issue kind of ends on a flat note. The main character essentially shrugs their shoulders after seeing some totally crazy stuff…I’m sure it’s entirely possible they’re in shock, but the ending seems a bit rushed even though it’s only part one of a three part story.

Speed Round

It’s time for a few assorted musings as I attempt to pad out the length of my column:

Twoicide Squad: Thanks to the advent of using my parents’ HBO Max password like any other gainfully employed 42 year old tightwad would, I watched James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Best DC movie yet? This movie does have some guy’s hanging dong in it, so…maybe. I found the movie to be perfectly fine and good. WB for sure let Gunn do whatever the hell he wanted with the movie and I, for one, think he should have tried to get away with more. I would be curious to see how the movie would have fared if it wasn’t hobbled by getting a hybrid release since theatre going is still being impacted by the pandemic (cheap shot: even though people still showed up for Shang Chi).

• I Just Got Here, I Must Be Going: I was reading earlier today that Jonathan Hickman’s tenure as lord and master of the X-Men books will soon be coming to an end after his Inferno book concludes. I’ve said time and time again that this is the most interested I’ve been in those books in literal decades and now I’m curious how Marvel is going to handle them going forward. After Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men concluded Marvel undid almost everything the books accomplished in almost two issues which put me off those titles for a long time.

• Say Hello To My Little Peter: I only briefly wrote about it but the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer was amazing, spectacular, and web of…wait. It was great. I feel like even though we’ve only seen a tiny bit of the movie it’s going to end up being completely beyond what any of us are expecting. Just think…what big reveals are they NOT showing us? If you’ve been following the rumors surrounding the production, then you know. Finally, this could be one of the more comic book-y premises ever for an MCU movie. Peter Parker has a problem so he goes to his pal Doctor Strange? The feels like something that could only ever work within the confines of a monthly comic book.

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