THE BEST OF MARVEL
Captain Marvel #4 (writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick; artists: Dexter Soy & Al Barrionuevo)
At this point I owe a great debt to Doctor Who for giving the world the phrase “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff”, as had that never been written, I would have had to -shudder- actually explain what the heck goes on in half of the comics I read. Anyway, due to the aforementioned WWTWS, Carol Danvers is in World War II with a bunch of lady pilots called the Banshees. The gender issue is handled in a reasonably realistic way- it’s made clear that the Banshees are not treated as equals by the men, that their current role as civil service ferry pilots is a purely civilian one, and that their previous experience is pretty much limited to crop-dusting. Their spirit, however, turns the comic from just another humdrum military pride poster into something genuinely fun and interesting. It’s everything Blackhawks should have been, and more. What really makes it for me, is that Carol Danvers slides into their group perfectly- she doesn’t fix everything with her 21st century ways, but works respectfully alongside them. This issue was dedicated to the recently-passed first female astronaut Sally Ride, and I can’t think of a more perfect tribute.
Call me a sadist, but I’m a sucker for good people being forced to do bad things. It’s nice to see a conflict behind the hitting of things, y’know? Karma’s half-sister has infected the A-X-Men with nano-worms, and orders them to capture the island of Madripoor for her or she will do unspeakable things to their bodies, turning Northstar blind by way of demonstration. This, quite unexpectedly, fractures the team into those who believe they should do as she says, and those who believe no compromise should be made. The result is a beloved X-Man falling to a firey, melty doom that I hope will not be permanent.
Another thing I’m a sucker for is clone angst, which goes a long way towards explaining my undying love for X-23, Scarlet Spider and Bentley 23 of the FF. Bentley, a young boy whose interests appear to revolve around ping pong and cheeseburgers, is the cloned spawn of Fantastic Four nemesis the Wizard, with all the emotional turmoil that inevitably brings. This story is standard clone fare, pretty much revolving around the idea of good and evil being a choice rather than a destiny, but seen through the eyes of the FF kids, it’s given an innocent and heartwarming twist. Unusually for a clone, Bentley gets a sort of closure about his identity, and the writer resists the urge to foreshadow him eventually turning evil. All in all, it’s a fresh take on a classic plot, with the added bonus of a bunch of cute genius kids.
I never really got into Ultimate Marvel, I have to say. I thought Ultimate X-Men went to hell pretty quickly, and beyond that my only real knowledge was of the death of Peter Parker and the rise of Miles Morales, and the fact that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are apparently sleeping together. So I kinda regarded the Ultimate universe as “that place where all the mental shit happens”, and didn’t read it, not even (it shames me to admit) for the purposes of these reviews. But I read this one, and I’m glad I did. Captain America becomes President of the United States, which aren’t so united any more, but he soon fixes that by beating the crap out of warring generals and forcing them to kiss and make up. He shrugs off assassination attempts and government corruption like it ain’t no thang, and is a sexy and badass counterpart to the more diplomatic Cap-616. This comic made me want to jump on the sofa shouting “USA! USA!” and that’s not a feeling I usually (or indeed ever) experience.
DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON
Absolutely nothing. Seriously. Marvel has had a wonderful week, and you pretty much can’t go wrong whatever you buy. Take a whole galaxy of gold stars, Marvel, you wonderful people you.
Spider-Man solves the Alpha problem in The Amazing Spider-Man #694!
Meet the missing link between humans and mutants in X-Men #36!
Rogue and Magneto talk about their relationship in X-Men Legacy #274!