Monthly Archives: May, 2016

May’s Recaps in the Comic World

My, what a busy month this has been for comic books.

Thank you all very much for keeping up with our reviews, synopses, and discussions on the various comic topics this month. We cover not only new comics, but also the not-so-new, for anyone who is looking for anything new to read, or something to discuss with us.

That’s not to say we will only cover comics. I’m waiting for Kay to throw down on her favorite television shows and films soon enough to you.

With that said, feel free to catch up on any of the topics you might have missed this month by clicking below:

Batman, Vol. 1 (New 52): The Court of Owls

Daredevil: Out, by Brian Michael Bendis

The Marvel Comics classic, Infinity Gauntlet

Daredevil #6, part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel initiative

The Korean manhwa, Seduction

New 52’s Justice League, Vol. 6: Injustice League

DC’s critically acclaimed event, The Death of Superman

Harbinger, by Valiant Comics

Uncanny Avengers #9 (All-New, All-Different Marvel)

Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, and my critique on the controversy of Steve Rogers’ Hydra membership

May was exciting, but get ready for the comics, manga, manhwa, and other media we may cover in June.

Stay tuned!

 

–Kay & D.C.

The Steve Rogers/Hydra Issue

Welcome, all. This is D.C. here to throwdown on what everyone seems to be throwing down on. I thought it was time I wrote my own take on this.

As many of you know, read, or heard, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 came out this week. The end of the issue featured a single page, and a single sentence that seems to be throwing this whole country for a loop.

Dun dun dun…

 

 

What a visceral reaction this generated. What a visceral reaction it generated before people even got to read the issue.

True to my nature, I took the news with intrigue, I took the new articles with a grain of salt, and I disregarded the overwhelming rage sweeping the web and nerdom. I bought Issue #1 to see how this call came about, and how I would feel about it, taking into account my feelings towards Steve Rogers the character, and my almost 30-year experience with him.

How was Issue #1?

First off, let me say that I thought the first issue was okay. Steve’s costume, like anyone’s that changes, will always take time to get accustomed to. I have no malice towards the design, but I think the coloring on the costume wasn’t consistent with that on Jesus Saiz’s cover art it in general.

The dialogue of Cap’s supporting cast really needs work. I think writer Nick Spencer needs to take more time to read up on and to understand the psychology and the idiosyncracies of each character beyond Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers (both of whom were done well, in my eyes).

What pleased me was Nick Spencer’s internal dialogue of Steve Rogers. It showed that this twist in Cap’s association still appears to be rooted in the same values Rogers always had: nobility, altruism, and the belief that one person to change the world.

I was surprised by Sharon Carter’s appearance. When the hell did she get so old? There’s obviously something I missed in between the last books I read, so it’s time for me to do some backtracking.

Why all the hate?

Oh, we all know why there’s so much hate, but is it justified? I guess it depends on who you’re asking. I think critical assessment is what is missing in the discussion about Cap being a Hydra member. Common arguments are:

1. “That’s like saying Batman was responsible for his parents’ deaths!”

That comment has become trendy in the last couple of days. I don’t think I’m even going to dignify that incongruous comment with an analysis. It’s an asinine analogy. It’s illogical, and it’s nonsensical. Please don’t use this in an otherwise meaningful discussion.

2. So Steve’s a Nazi now? That’s stupid!

No. There was no indication that Steve Rogers is, or has ever been, a Nazi. Even if he were affiliated with Hydra from youth, those two points are not mutually inclusive. One does not become a Nazi by becoming a Hydra member, and vice-versa.

Why does that make sense?

Was there not a suicide bomber in issue #1 that wore a swastika and shacked up with white supremacists? Did that make him a white supremacist, or did he join up because he needed protection while in prison? Was it not stated that he had no problem with non-whites? Did that suicide bomber not have difficulty with his associates beating a non-white man to death?

It might be odd to say it, being a black man, but one does not need to wear a swastika to be a Nazi, neo-Nazi, supremacist, or whatever derivative that exists.

Does make the affiliation any less reprehensible? I want to see if that gets answered for Steve Rogers. 

But black-and-white is the way our world wants to work sometimes.

People forget that many, many people join a group or cause not because they believe in everything a group does, but because something in that cause resonates with their fear, anger, hate, love, and desires. One doesn’t need to agree with genocide or the horrific, ugly words; one only needs to agree with any number of beautiful, powerful or manipulative words that may come out of a speaker’s mouths.

(If anyone has seen “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” you understand my message. Beautiful and gripping film, by the way.)

So, no. Until further notice, I disagree with the argument that Rogers is a Nazi. They may have had leading members and done acts that one would liken to Nazism, but think about it like in the real world: does that mean EVERY member of a group do EVERYTHING good and bad related to that group?

3. “Steve Rogers stands up for [insert American value here], and this destroys everything about him/his core ideas!”

First off, we’re adults. Even if you’re not an adult, I would expect us all to argue points without ridiculous hyperbole. It makes you sound emotional, and emotional is a fast track to losing your point in any argument. It is the internet, and I’ll have to accept that people say very emotional things. But that doesn’t mean I’ll take anyone who uses hyperbole like “destroys everything” seriously in a debate.

I don’t like political debate, but I’ll tiptoe as best as I can. For anyone who says that Captain America stands for x, y, and z, and the values of America, I ask this:

If Cap is supposed to embody the ideas of America, which America are we talking about? Whose America? Because I can guarantee you that, from the past until now, people interpret what America was/is very differently. Some have seen America as utopia, but some have seen America as hell. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but that doesn’t make it any less probable.

But as for my view: America is imperfect. It has flaws, just as every person and nation does. Just as Captain America is. America is complex, and it should stand that Steve Rogers would be the same. Many “fans” and other outspoken opponents to this issue believe Cap should not have changed.

There have been times when Steve Rogers didn’t even know what America was anymore. The most recent example I can recall was in the Siege storyline, when Rogers allowed Bucky to keep the shield and identity of Captain America. What’s Rogers’ view of America been since then? Does anyone know for certain?

What is Captain America in an America that is constantly changing? What ARE America’s values now, as opposed to what they WERE?

Most importantly, how should those values and views of America be expressed? Should we damn or shy away from any expression that appears unfavorable to our sensibilities, no matter how possible it could be? Is that an American thing to do?

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4. “This is a crap/bad story!”

This goes right up there with my issues with hyperbole. I’ll make the argument against this type of comment very simple:

This is the first issue of a book, and the start of an arc. One issue does not make a crap book or arc. If you decide the entirety of a creative team’s run and the entirety of a character off of one page, then you are not a critical thinker at all. You are not properly vetting the book in any significant form, no matter how many issues of Captain America you’ve amassed, or how extensive you think your comic knowledge is.

Like I said before, Steve’s nobility and core values seem present to me still. Twisted, perhaps, but still. I hope he comes out of this better than now.

5. “This is liberal, destructive bulls#**!”

This is not an argument that has any sort of sense. But for the sake of argument…is a supportive view of Cap’s new status quo unpatriotic or “liberal?”

Well, I had a conversation with a coworker today about Cap’s new status. That coworker is a very proud former Navy man, and an extremely proud conservative. And yet, he explained to me the sensibility in Cap being a Hydra member. So…without going further, I think that fact alone would eliminate the “liberal” argument right there.

Nonetheless, I would expect intelligent people to take time to understand what is happening in this book, and no one can have complete understanding from one issue. I expect us to to do more than cry foul and spout purely subjective and nebulous reasons for why something is “uniformly” bad.

I think Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 had a very interesting and disconcerting twist on Steve’s life. If and when this status is reversed, I do hope there are lasting and real repercussions for Steve, his outlook on America, and how Americans see him.

What is your view of it?

END THROWNDOWN.

 

Uncanny Avengers #9

Hey, all. This is D.C. back to throwdown with you on a new issue I picked up today. The bug hit me, and after the damning and praiseworthy buzz about comics such as Captain America #1 and DC Rebirth this week, I had to buy some.

With that said, let’s take a gander at Uncanny Avengers #9.

ASSEMBLE!!!

CRASH COURSE!

For those who don’t know, Uncanny Avengers follows the adventures of the Avengers Unity Squad, a division of Avengers specifically composed of humans, mutants, and Inhumans to do what Avengers do…Which, if you read  my last blog regarding the Avengers’ role, that would be anyone’s guess. The current Unity Squad is lead by X-Man Rogue, with Captain America (Steve Rogers), Quicksilver, Doctor Voodoo, Deadpool, Cable, and new Inhuman Synapse.

Issue #9 is the start of “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” which details the return of founding Avenger Hank Pym to earth after his sort-of-self-imposed exile into space at the end of Rage of Ultron.

Highlights

I picked up this issue for two reasons:

1) Better art. I could not stand to pick up the first arc of Uncanny Avengers, not even the first volume TPB that came out, specifically because of Ryan Stegman’s art.

I’m sorry. There are few artists I will rip on, but this…Look at Rogue, Doctor Voodoo, Rogers, and Quicksilver. Look at the anatomy of each character on that cover. How in the nine circles of hell does Marvel justify charging anyone the money they did for piss-poor art like that? I have a relatively high tolerance for different kinds of art, but not a whole book of this:

I can’t stand consistently poor anatomical depictions and just all around ugly facial expressions. Even Synapse’s expressions look unappealing, and she’s wearing a mask.

Pepe Larraz’s art is a very, very refreshing departure from the mess Stegman had.

The colors provided by David Curiel are bold, strong, and lush, and even give a cosmic feel when looking at scenes away from Earth. Curiel is a good complement to Larraz’s pencils.

Speaking of the picture above, that’s another reason why I picked up this issue:

2) Hank Pym’s return. It was one thing I was looking forward to since reading Rage of Ultron months ago (Please read if you hadn’t. Rick Remender does a great job of characterizing Hank Pym from beginning to end). It was only a matter of time that Pym, merged with his creation Ultron, would return to earth.

I had so many questions about how Pym’s character and demeanor would have changed by that point. Would he be angry? Confident? At peace with himself and Ultron? Would he hate the Avengers for never having respect for him, not only as a hero, but as a scientist and as a man?

These are the questions I had incubating in my mind since Rage of Ultron.

Now, while I did not get many answers, it was nice to see Pym, though I wish his cocky attitude were more tempered.

Hank Pym’s attitude was very unusual to me, and I have to praise writer Gerry Duggan for making me uncomfortable. How had Pym’s merger with Ultron affected him? We see how it affected him physically, and it was very frightening. But on a psychological level? Based on Pym’s dialogue, I feel the mental effects might be even more frightening that the physical.

Lowlights

1.) The cover. I don’t care what the Fox film did for Deadpool’s popularity, but I am sick to death of him being front and center in the covers of Uncanny Avengers. He may be funding the group, but he is not the leader. Rogue is. And she deserves to be featured. This book does not need to have a cover that gives the entire book a feel of “Deadpool and the Avengers” like the X-Men became “Wolverine and the X-Men” more and more. Deadpool has that benefit in all his other books being pushed ad nauseum.

2) The dialogue. I don’t know if writer Gerry Duggan knows who these characters are.

Gambit (who has a guest-appearance) and Rogue have mannerisms and idiosyncrasies that are very identifiable for anyone who’s read an X-Men comic. They’re adults, too, so you don’t expect their way of speaking–their accents, even–to be so absent or subdued. Duggan makes that happen, and that is NOT praiseworthy.

Rogue, in particular, sounds nothing like the southern belle she is known as. She sounds more like an uncertain leader. Rogue sounds nothing resembling the confident, fiery woman we have come to know, and that is disconcerting. Was there a de-evolution of her character after she absorbed Wonder Man? Surely that can’t be the impetus for such a change in her behavior and speech.

“I’ll?” What happened to her accent?! “Ah’ll”!!!

3) Not much happens in this issue. I don’t belief constant character development and action is necessary for every book, but for a book that starts a new arc, this issue provides little in the way of content. The focus is, of course, on Hank Pym’s return to Earth, which is done somewhat well. But the Avengers serve almost no purpose in this issue. I don’t think the Human Torch even had dialogue. Quicksilver and Cable had nothing substantial to say this issue, and even what they said rang hollow.

Recap

Uncanny Avengers #9 is a decent opening chapter to “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” I, for one, enjoyed Hank Pym’s return, and can’t wait to see how his fusion with Ultron affected him on every level. I was not familiar with Pepe Larraz’s art prior to this, but it is something I find very pleasing and a welcome change from the messiness of Ryan Stegman.

However, the characterization by Gerry Duggan leaves much to be desired. I don’t think he’s done his homework when it comes to understanding the characters he’s tasked with writing, in every aspect. Deadpool is easy to write for anyone who wants to write off the wall, nonsensical blabbering. It takes real skill to capture the other characters NOT like Deadpool.

Still, I will continue this arc to see where Gerry Duggan takes both the Unity Squad and Hank Pym.

END THROWDOWN.

GET SOME!

 

Hello, Harbinger…

“And what if God could be taught to be a better person?”

Wow, two blogs today, by both of us? Crazy.

D.C. here. Kay gave her review today on DC’s The Death of Superman, and I’m here to give you some insight into Valiant’s Harbinger:

Harbinger is the brainchild of writer Joshua Dysart; it is a series that details natural-born psiot Peter Stanchek’s crusade against power psiot leader Toyo Harada and his Harbinger Foundation. It is very much a David-and-Goliath tale with a very modern touch.

Valiant is uncharted territory for me, so I went into Harbinger with a relatively open mind. This blog covers the first two volumes, Omega Rising and Renegades.

Highlights

Character development. Joshua Dysart had this in spades, especially in Volume 2. In each issue of Renegades, we get a deeper look at each member of Stanchek’s motley crew. Each character is written well with emphasis on their particular skills showing in their mannerisms and thoughts.

Peter Stanchek is a great character. He’s incredibly imperfect. He’s pathetic and self-loathing. He does foolish and terrible things that he envisions as being “out of love.” Peter is a teen that you just want to slap in the face…if he didn’t have his abilities. Peter is what many people are, and that makes him very believable, even with powers.

While Peter is special, he is nothing resembling the archetypal leader of a crusade against a monolithic man and his army. And he doesn’t have to be. Peter’s rage, ruthlessness, and raw power make him a force even Toyo Harada couldn’t ignore.

Well, that’s one way of getting booty…

Faith Herbert is the dork you can’t help but love. What isn’t there to love? She seems remarkably comfortable with herself, in spite of her being fat and alone. Her obsession with all things related to geek culture is a treat for any comic fan. Faith is self-aware She is quickly shown as the shining light of optimism in this series. She is easily the most well-adjusted of the renegades. For all her optimism, her past and fears make her so down to earth. One can’t help but find Faith endearing.

 

Kris Hathaway, the only human member of Peter’s ragtag renegade group, shows how adept and necessary she is to the group, and to the world of Valiant. She truly is, as she stated, the butterfly in a storm. Regardless, her intelligence and gusto help her to contend with the best and worst in this world. Her role in this series is prophetic a simple, introspective question:

“What if God could be taught to be a better person?”

There are so many characters that shine in this, even the antagonists. Toyo Harada truly shows he is a complex and charismatic man. Harada is a champion, yet he is also a monster. He is humble, yet he is ignoble. Toyo Harada is so calculated, yet incredibly flawed and hypocritical in his goals of what can at best be seen as outright manipulation, and at worst, genocide.

Even though he is irredemable, Harada is an understandable and believable antagonist. He is the makings of a cult leader, and how he behaves and how his followers behave make this series even more disturbing and enticing. Harada’s follower Livewire laid out Harada’s and Peter’s roles perfectly: There needs to be a balance. And this series has it so far:

Meet your leader

The cover art was phenomenal to me. So raw, with a perfect synergy with colors and pencils. The interior art, however, was MOSTLY great for the same reasons. You can tell when pencilers changed in some issues. Rotations in creative teams have always been a point of irritation for me before an arc or run is completed, but the cast of artists did not deviate terribly far throughout the first two volumes of Harbinger. As a whole, the art appeared effortless and effective.

Recap

Harbinger is a phenomenal read. There is nothing like having a protagonist, a morally gray and imperfect character, rise to what one can hope to be a hero. It is likewise frightening to see a cult army of this magnitude in the Harbinger Foundation. Joshua Dysart’s take on the protagonists and antagonists was very well done, especially when it came to tying each character’s psychologies to their own powers and skills.

I bought the remaining series in the mail, so I’m definitely looking forward to sharing where Dysart took this series.

END THROWDOWN.

The Death of Superman

Hey everybody this is Kay G. coming at you. Today I’ll be discussing “The Death of Superman.” This story is by far one of the best I’ve read by DC so far. The story is filled with action, loss, and so much emotion in every page, that you can’t put it down.

In “The Death of Superman”, Superman engages in battle with an unstoppable killing machine named Doomsday in the streets of Metropolis. The comic opens with a gloved fist punching a steel wall, accompanied by the caption that’s says “Doomsday is coming!” Following this the Justice League international(Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Maxima,Fire, Ice and Bloodwynd) responds to a call from a smashed big-rig outside of Ohio, and follows the trial of senseless destruction that leads them to a confrontation with the mysterious creature. This creature, Doomsday tears he team apart, starting by throwing a tree trunk through their aircraft. (The International League I’m not quite familiar with, but seem to be quite interesting. Maxima’s powers to me seem to be the most powerful.)

When Superman finally arrives, and the other members of the league follow the threat to a home of a single mother and her kids, where the battle with Doomsday destroys their home. All of the leagues powers by this time are exhausted out and it’s up to Superman to defeat Doomsday. Within their non-ending the city starts going in shambles.  Doomsday at point is driven below the ground, where he ruptures gas and electrical mains, leveling Newtown, a large section of Metropolis.

Superman and Doomsday strike swings at each other with all that they have. They use so much force that the shockwaves from their punches shatter windows. In front of the Daily Planet building, each fighter lands a massive blow upon his opponent. The two of them collapse and moments later, Superman succumbs to his battle wounds and inevitably dies, in Lois Lanes arms.

All the while this is happening in the story; press is surrounding Superman and Doomsday like vultures. Trying to get every detail, every shot, every blow captured for what will be the greatest and saddest story told in Metropolis. In the final moments of Superman’s death, fear is swept all through the town. Nobody expected Superman to fall.

This story is epic, a great storytelling to Superman’s final battle. A story I highly recommend to anyone interested in Superman or anyone who just wants a great read.  I know while reading this I had quite a few questions. Mostly about whom the International League was along with Supergirl and Lex Luther. (All answers that could be found by my human wiki, you all know him as D.C Jackson ha). Overall I liked the story; it had great writing and storytelling. Plus even if it was an older comic, the art was pretty well down too.

This is Kay G. over and out. Thanks for reading.

Justice League, Vol. 6: Injustice League

Hey, this is D.C. back to throw down on DC’s Justice League, Vol. 6.

Image result for justice league injustice league

Justice League, Vol. 6: Injustice League isn’t a spectacular story. It’s a realignment of the Justice League after the events of Forever Evil, when Earth-3’s Crime Syndicate of America tried to take over Earth-0. After Lex Luthor’s efforts in liberating the world, he seeks to join the Justice League, which has lost some of the public’s faith.

It goes without saying that the heroes do not take his bid very well at all.

Beyond that, the League, with dissatisfaction building against it, bolsters its ranks with the addition of Shazam (formerly Captain Marvel, for those who dislike change), Captain Cold, and Jessica Cruz, who becomes the first Earth-0 Power Ring.

Highlights and Lowlights

I’ll be honest: I don’t like Lex Luthor. I’ve never liked the character. However, his focus is treated pretty well in this arc for the exact reasons I dislike him. Almost nothing has changed of him.  In spite of his latest heroic endeavor, Lex is still the same schemer (what on earth is his plan with Owlman?!), still the same selfish bully, and still the same old narcissistic bastard. The only difference is that the world views Luthor in a heroic light.

The New Justice League!

Jessica Cruz was also, in my eyes, a delight. It is interesting to see a different take on a Green Lantern analog whose ring, which houses a sinister figure, uses the user’s fear to control and empower them. And Jessica, a(n understandably) whiny agoraphobic, has ample fear to provide Volthoom.

Jessica’s introduction is relatively quick and sufficient, providing enough information that will lead the reader and the Justice League into the next story arc, “Darkseid War.” I look forward to seeing Jessica Cruz’s evolution in the DC Universe, and as one of the Justice League’s fledgling heroes.

I also enjoyed the New 52 iteration of Doom Patrol, even though there’s not too much new with them. The personalities of Robotman and Negative Man seem much more different than past iterations; more depressing. Elasti-Girl, in particular, has become so much more unnerving than any of her incarnations that I’d seen. I love creepy characters, so I’m fine with this revamp in Elasti-Girl’s characterization.

And then there’s Niles Caulder, the Chief, the “benefactor” of the Doom Patrol. He’s probably the one character I can think of that is an even more reprehensible bastard than Luthor. Caulder’s greed, lust for power, and pathological need to control and manipulate others is perhaps greater than Luthor’s.

The epitome of greed

Now for one minus against Vol. 6: Injustice League…Geoff Johns or his editors made a typo with Rita FARR’s name when she was introduced. I can understand typos–we all make them–but I don’t believe typos in names should be as acceptable, especially during an introduction:

Farr or Starr…she’s still creepy…

I was bothered that the Justice League did not try harder to take back Element Woman, who was one of their newest members before Forever Evil. She just got relegated to the Doom Patrol with not much of a fight on the League’s part. Was Emily Sung that insignificant? No follow up on that? What the heck?

(Given that there’s no word of Doom Patrol in DC Rebirth, it’s a shame that we may not see any follow up to this anytime soon.)

The best part of Injustice League, to me, was how PETTY Batman and Superman with Lex Luthor, especially during the Power Ring and Amazo Virus arc. They have their own VERY valid reasons for not liking or wanting Luthor on the team, but I couldn’t help but laugh at how incredibly smug both of these heroes were to him at any opportunity.

Speaking of Amazo…the Amazo Virus arc was extremely enjoyable. It had a tone of horror and suspense (favorite genres of mine), and how metahumans were truly powerless when a contagion of Luthor’s own design is released. I found this New 52 iteration of Amazo to be pretty damn interesting–even more interesting that the Amazo that already was seen in Forever Evil. Still, this Amazo is a creature of science linked to Professor Ivo, but with a more macabre streak. Amazo’s mimicry powers still exists, but with a refreshing update.

If anything was done right in DC’s New 52 line, Amazo would be one of them:

Even though Captain Cold was named as a new member of the Justice League, there isn’t much seen of him with the team outside of the Amazo arc. If he is supposed to be more than just Luthor’s bodyguard, I hope I see more of him once I read Darkseid War.

Recap

Justice League, Vol. 6: Injustice League has all kinds of characterizations and shakeups that drive its plot. We see oddly, yet understandably, petty reactions from Superman and Batman towards Lex Luthor’s efforts to force his way into the Justice League. Most of the characters get snippets of highlights throughout the arc, but I particularly liked Geoff John’s take on the new Power Ring and Amazo. The arc as whole was satisfying, and sets the tone going into Darkseid War with plenty clues and questions. This was enough for me to pick up the next volume.

Till next time: END THROWDOWN.

The Horrors of Seduction

This is D.C. back to catch up with my throwdowns (life). But first, let me make an announcement:

This blog by Kay and me was always supposed to be about fiction in general. Kay has an education in film and media studies, while my love has been geared towards comic books. Regardless of that, our blog was always meant to be not just about comics–as it’s mostly been–but also about any kind of medium or fictional work.

To that end, I’m writing about this bit of craziness:

 

Seduction is a manhwa–think Korean comic book–by Yang San Park and Lee Hwa.

The story sums up as this: a family of three is torn asunder in so many ways. We get a look at why a married couple’s relationship is cracking. We also see how the brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who has loved her brother-in-law since she was a child, feel about one another. We also look at the motivations and behavior of all three characters (so far), and what they are trying to preserve.

And how it goes completely wrong.

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…Eep…

I’ll say one thing about Seduction. It is horrendously realistic and brutal, even with its stereotypically over-melodramatic Korean flare…I say that as a lover of K-dramas, haha.

You’ll feel a multitude of things when reading it. You’ll feel rage at one character, and then feel sympathy and even a sense of relation to that same character once you read his or her backstory. You will get angry at many characters for the choices they make while thinking, “Why doesn’t [x] just leave [y]?! Fuck [y]!!!” But then you have to sit and think about the realism of Seduction and how there ARE people who can’t cope with the difficulties of relationships, with infidelity, and with the hell that envelopes their lives…or the hell they pursue.

 

Why did the man, Chun Chan-Sik marry his wife? How has his wife, Jung Yoo-Mi, felt up to this point? Why did she even date Chan-Sik in the first place? Does Yoo-Mi even have feelings? How has Yoo-Mi’s younger sister, Sae-Mi, felt about both her sister and Chan-Sik?

These three have built up over a decade of life together, with all kinds of underlying issues and repressed emotions and behavior that we all have. How do these three act out their insecurities, their anger, their sadness and joy? Who’s in the wrong here? Who’s in the right? Is anyone right or wrong in this?

If you think think someone is completely at fault or completely right or wrong, then you have lived an incredibly charmed, naive, or idealistic life.

i006.jpg

A glimpse into Yoo-Mi’s background…

Seduction is horrifyingly and unapologetically realistic. It is certainly too graphic and realistic for the lowest common denominator or “common” reader that looks only for escapism.

I think there is a staggering amount of character development in Seduction. Depending on the life you’ve had, it’s hard to like any of these characters, or it’s hard to hate them. In my view, no one here is forgivable, but neither is anyone malicious (minus a man who want targets Yoo-Mi for sex).

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Either way, you can’t deny the torment everyone feels at their lives. It’s something we’ve seen in at least one person in our lives, from people who continue to dig themselves into holes of despair in lieu of facing their torment head-on.

If you end up feeling uncomfortable, sad, or angry, then I think Seduction served its purpose.

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END THROWDOWN.

Daredevil: Elektric Connection, Part 1

Welcome, all. D.C. back to throw down on another book. Not a trade or graphic novel this time.

Funny thing is, it’d been many years since I’d bought a single issue of any comic book. After reaching adult age, I finally realized that spending $200 a month of comics was just…well, insane. Unfortunately, Free Comic Book Day broke my fasting with single issues, and I decided to dabble in a few issues for fun again.

I just finished this book:

Daredevil (again!)

For my first sojourn into the All-New, All-Different Marvel initiative, I read up on Daredevil #6. I figured this would be a good jumping-on point for me, since this is the beginning of the storyline “Elektric Connection.”

One of the things I read of Daredevil was that, since Secret Wars, Matt Murdock somehow managed to erase the knowledge of his secret identity from the memories of everyone. I wasn’t particularly happy with this “going back in time” aspect, and I was waiting to see a VERY good reason how Murdock managed that.

By the time Daredevil #6 starts, it’s clear that not only has Murdock’s mindwipe trick not been revealed, but that it has some very serious consequences. Elektra’s appearance is proof of that.

Issue #6 was decent. I had been looking to reading more by Charles Soule since his work on Death of Wolverine, and his take on Daredevil is quickly growing on me. I enjoyed Soule’s showing what goes through Matt’s thoughts, especialy when he sees Elektra for what appears to be the first time in a while. Of course, we see the darkness oozing from Elektra’s pores as much as her beauty.

The art by penciler Matteo Buffagni and colorist Matt Milla, however, caught me off-guard. My initial thought was, “I’m can’t see this fitting the essence of Daredevil well.” The first few pages seemed too block-like to me. The colors by Milla came off as too bright on Daredevil’s costume. Too…electric. Too dissimilar to the ugliness and darkness which rules Hell’s Kitchen.

I’M BLIND!

But as I read through the issue more, the artwork grew on me as much as Soule’s writing. I got used to it, because it became apparent that the color contrast between Daredevil and Matt Murdock is key to this creative team’s run.

The panels of Matt in court and in the bar were shown very well by the art. I did not care for Elektra’s design during her fight with Daredevil, but more so when she appears in Matt’s bail hearing. Buffagni drew the assassin beautifully.

Damn it to Charles Soule, he surprised me with the end of issue #6. It was a twist I hadn’t seen coming, and now “Elektric Connections” provided so many questions in so few pages. What the hell did Murdock do to wipe everyone’s memory of his being Daredevil? What consequences did this wipe have on the backgrounds and minds of those who knew both of his identities–the Black Widow, for example? It’s apparent that it’s affected Elektra’s life in unexpected ways.

And I’m looking forward to the next stage of this arc.

Pick it up! END THROWDOWN.

Infinity Gauntlet

This is D.C. back to throw down on a classic.

Marvel’s 1991 event, Infinity Gauntlet, by Jim Starlin and artists George Perez and Ron Lim chronicles the desperate attempt by Marvel’s last heroes to combat a newly-resurrected and omnipotent Thanos after he wipes out half of the universe’s inhabitants.

We see how Thanos’ desperation and ego take sadistic turns after he is brought back to life by Death (yes, the embodiment of Death) to establish her idea of balance between life and death.

Or, was it Thanos’ interpretation of what Death defined as balance?

However the case, true to Thanos’ nature, he uses his resurrection as a means to achieve godhood through the Infinity Gems.

The path to godhood is here!

Lesson of the day: The six Infinity Gems are imbued with overwhelming power that grants any one who holds a gem complete dominion of one fundamental aspect: space, reality, mind, soul, power, and time. Each infinity gem instinctively calls to one another, and each successive accumulation grants the user greater power. Having all six gems together in the Infinity Gauntlet gives the user unlimited power.

In Thanos’ case, path to omnipotence is assisted by the trickster Mephisto, whose own motivations were nebulous at best. On the opposition are the remaining heroes (and Dr. Doom), lead by a likewise-newly resurrected Adam Warlock. What happens is an epic battle of ants against an atomic bomb.

Highlights

Infinity Gauntlet addresses some very basic questions: what would you do for love, for acknowledgement? How far would you take your efforts to be accepted by the one love of your life? The saddest part of Infinity Gauntlet is a recurring theme often seen among egomaniacs who obtain unlimited power: they defeat themselves with their own inadequacies. Thanos is no different. Untold power, and the best he could do is act like a lonely boy who is desperate for the love of an aloof woman.

Sigh…So desperate…

I was particularly shocked when the primal cosmic abstracts convened to judge Thanos’ actions, and the Living Tribunal itself saw the Titan’s actions as just natural selection: that the strong overcome the weak. There is a sense of dread when you realize that the proverbial judge of the multiverse rules in favor of Thanos’ ascension.

When you’re fighting a murderous, insane, all-powerful god whose every will is reality, expect to lose. And expect to die badly. Marvel’s heroes do that in glorious and brutal fashion, if for no other reason than for Thanos to try to please the silent and cryptic Death once more.

And yet every attempt on Thanos’ part to appeal to Mistress Death fails. Why?

THANOS REIGNS

The one thing I was confused by was Mephisto’s role in this event. Why did the trickster manipulate Thanos so much to annihilate the universe? Why did he betray him later? Why was Thanos even listening to Mephisto in the first place? None of these were particularly clear, but with Mephisto…well, he’s a devil. His reasons could’ve been just for enjoyment and chaos.

This sneaky devil…

Adam Warlock, for all his siding with the righteous, is more disturbing than Thanos himself. Warlock’s actions are manipulative and barely altruistic, yet he is also humble to those he willingly opens his soul to. As the reader, we never get to see the depths of Warlock’s soul like the Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange do–both of whom readily support Warlock’s efforts–but even that doesn’t quite erase the unease I feel about Adam. Nonetheless, it makes me feel unjustly judgmental.

What a player…

As a classic, it is easy to read the dramatic writing and use of literary devices in a book like this. One particular note I found pleasing was that many characters that appeared shared their own thoughts of the apocalyptic events that occurred, including Thanos. We get a peek into the minds and feelings of many characters.

The ending to Infinity Crisis is just as dramatic and perhaps one of the most humbling endings in comics I’ve read. You get a look at just how does a God, an insane God, fall from grace, how Adam Warlock steals godhood from him, and most importantly, how the heroes view Warlock having the same level of power Thanos held. Is he was worthy as Thanos was unworthy? The follow-up series, Warlock and the Infinity Watch, covers just that.

What he said!

I believe Infinity Gauntlet isn’t simply a battle against a mad Titan. It’s simply Thanos’ story. Even when others’ thoughts are highlighted, Thanos’ stands out with a varied, layered personality. He shows aspirations, insanity, rage, narcissism…stereotypical trademarks in villains. But Thanos also shows love, desperation, pain from neglect, apathy, and disgust, and an unusual amount of introspection and humility by the end of Infinity Gauntlet. To me, Thanos is both protagonist and antagonist.

Bravo for being stereotypical and non-stereotypical

Verdict

Infinity Gauntlet is a must-read classic for any fan. The story captures not only the plight of heroes, but the plight of the villain. Thanos is the man you understand and see that he is not only a murderous Titan with an obsession with death and Death, but that he has very human flaws and very human emotions. It is satisfying to see that even a monster of Thanos’ caliber can quickly go from narcissistic nihilist to humbled man.

END THROWDOWN.

Daredevil: Out

This is D.C. here to finally throw down on this:

Daredevil, Volume 5: Out, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.

It seems silly to even give a small intro, but for those who don’t know…Daredevil is Matt Murdock, a lawyer who was blinded by a radioactive isotope, but which also gave him superhuman senses and a radar similar to echolocation. Daredevil was eventually trained as a ninja and protects the gritty part of New York, Hell’s Kitchen. He is known as the Man Without Fear…oh, and he has an awful, awful relationship history.

Volume 5: Out covers how Daredevil struggles to gain some semblance of control after his secret identity is sold to the press. The stress in Matt’s personal and vigilante lives from the outing is further complicated by his defending the first White Tiger, Hector Ayala, who is under trial for murder.

The Pluses

For those who’ve watched Netflix’s Daredevil, you see how masochistic and self-destructive the titular character is. You see that in spades in the comics as well. Brian Michael Bendis tackled the tormented mindset of Daredevil, and especially the unbridled anger and sociopathy lurking beneath the surface. Even better, it was refreshing to read Foggy Nelson rip into Matt for how everything that’s happened up to this point has been his own fault.

 

Brian Michael Bendis writes nearly every guest character to my liking: you see Spider-Man’s typical wisecracking bravado; Elektra’s sense of enigma; even Black Widow’s uncertain mastery of English when she says, “How do you say…” It was a trip t0 read Bendis’ take on each character.

However, I found it interesting how proper Luke Cage and Jessica Jones were written. I expected much more gruff language out of those two. Not Marvel Max level of profanity, but still.

Alex Maleev did a phenomenal job with his art and captured the essence of what one would imagine reading Daredevil. It’s not cute, cartoonish, or even horrific. It’s just raw and human, sort of how I imagine a pulp, street-level hero like Daredevil to be portrayed.

The murder trial of the first White Tiger, Hector Ayala was just gripping and rough to read. It was fantastic to read a trial that only Matt Murdock can take on. It was as sensational as you can expect any murder trial to go, with the Marvel flair sprinkled in.

Matt, the best there is at what he does

Finally, the covers for these issues were about as fantastic and fitting as the interior art.

The Minuses

Really? The only things I didn’t like were very minor inconsistencies in Alex Maleev’s penciling of both Black Widow and Matt Murdock. One word used during the White Tiger’s trial.

I’m a forensics person (seriously; I have a master’s degree in it), and the fact that the term “blood splatter” is used in Ayala’s trial instead of the correct term, “blood spatter,” it just burns my butthole. It’s improper, but it’s just a wrinkle in the overall storyline.

The Verdict?

Daredevil, Volume 5 was a fantastic read. You get action, but the with the knowledge that the action is NOT important to the overall plot of this story. You get even more insight into Matt Murdock’s mentality and how he takes getting his identity sold out to the public. You see just how self-destructive Murdock actually is. You also see emotion, and how lost and uncertain Matt feels.

Maleev’s art is perfect for capturing the essence and world of Daredevil. I definitely look forward to reading and finding more of Bendis and Maleev’s Daredevil run.

END THROWDOWN.