Monday, September 28, 2015

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 9/23

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #19
Story: Christos Gage & Nicholas Brendon
Art: Rebekah Isaacs & Dan Jackson

The last time I wrote about an issue of Buffy Season 10, it was an issue about my least favorite Whedon character, Andrew Wells. This issue is pretty much the opposite, featuring one of my top three Whedon characters of all time, Rupert Giles. Giles was resurrected at the end of the previous season of Angel & Faith, but has since been trapped in the body of a pre-teen. This issue, Willow finds a way to get Giles back to closer to his own age, if only for one day. And like any redblooded man, the first thing he does is go for a booty call to his on-again/off-again lady friend, Olivia. But after that, when Olivia has to go to work, we get to see exactly what Giles will do with thr rest of his day, which is... not much. Remembering back to the TV series, Giles was always most comfortable when he was a Watcher, when he had someone to look out for. He never built his own life. And so he tries to (unsuccessfully) offer Buffy advice, and goes drinking with Xander. Gage has been giving Giles a fascinating journey this season, being a middle aged man in the hormonal body of a twelve year old, and it's great to see him realize how much he can/wants to change his life. The issue ends with one of those scenes between Buddy and Giles that always touches me, with him clearly as the surrogate father to take the place of the biological one that abandoned her. And speaking of Hank Summers; king of the jerkbags, he returns this issue, to take Buffy and Dawn out to lunch, tell them he's getting married again, and tell Buffy she's not invited to the wedding, since she's a Slayer and people die around her and he has step-kids to consider. You think that's harsh, right? Well, he doesn't sugar coat it much beyond that. And while Dawn is deeply offended for Buffy, Buffy seems to understand where he's coming from. But even though this season has been about really growing up and finding your place in an adult world, it's clear how much it hurts Buffy, and how it's the perfect time to have one big hug with her grown-up mentor. And for those of you who like your conflict a little more physical, have no fear; there's a hellhound that tries to kill Giles and Xander too. It's an issue that mixes all the pathos, humor, character, and action fans expect from a Joss Whedon related story perfectly, and as we enter the last ten issues of Season 10, I can't wait to see what Gage, Brendon, and master artist Rebekah Isaacs has in store for us.

Grayson #12
Story: Tom King & Tim Seeley
Art: Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus, Juan Castro, & Jeromy Cox

And then there was the day Dick Grayson came home. After deciding to leave Spyral after the disastrous missions he's undertaken recently and with the mission he was sent to perform by Batman complete, Dick finds Gotham a changed place. And by Gotham, I mean Bruce, who has forgotten much of his life. But while Dick is done with Spyral, Spyral is not done with Dick, as Agent Zero comes to tell him he has a day to say goodbye to his loved ones before he comes back into the fold. So we see Dick meet up with the better part of the Bat family, with varied reactions. The red duo, Red Hood and Red Robin, are angry and Jason, unsurprisingly, throws a punch. Batgirl simply turns and swings away, not willing to listen initially. And the warm reunion between Dick and Damian, as each thought the other was dead, is heartwarming. I had forgotten how much I loved the dynamic between those two from when they were Batman and Robin together, Each meeting is started with a splash page full of quotes from Dick's relationship with the character, many of which a sharp eyed Bat fan will remember. But it's really an issue about family. Each person, Alfred, Bruce, Jason, Tim, Barbara, and Damian, mean something different to Dick, and we get to see him tell them how he feels. But hidden in that is a clever code, something from earlier in the series, as Dick begins his own plans to get out from under Spyral. I love it when the Batman family acts like that, a family, so seeing them reunited here is a great turn. Add in Mikal Janin's stellar pencils, and you get a comic any Batfan should check out. I love the different flavors we get from each Bat title currently, but it's also nice to step away from the high spy action of Grayson for an issue, to get a treat that gives us this insight into how Dick Grayson ticks.

And Dan Grote returns to the team-up between the Merc with a Mouth and the Mad Titan...

Deadpool vs. Thanos #2
Story: Tim Seeley
Art: Elmo Bondoc and Ruth Redmond

Spoilers for my Thursdays with Wade column for roughly 10 weeks from now.

When the living embodiment of Death went missing last issue, it brought all kinds of people back from the dead, which, if this story took place prior to the Marvel NOW relaunch in 2013 as the recap page says, means this was the third such resurrection incident in the Marvel Universe in a fairly short period, if you remember the Necrosha (2009) and Chaos War (2010) stories.

This time around, the reversal of Death, or Great Undeathening, whatever you care to call it, has brought back an extremely important character to Deadpool’s past, the tormentor known as Ajax. Or Francis. Or the Attending. Or the A-Man. Or the Abyss Man. Or Big Baby Jesus.

Ajax was Dr. Killebrew’s assistant during Wade Wilson’s time in the Weapon X program. He got his jollies by torturing the rejects. He was created by Joe Kelly and Walter McDaniel and first appeared in 1998’s Deadpool #14, and was killed by DP five issues later. He is expected to be the main bad guy in next year’s Deadpool movie, played by Ed Skrein, who most recently starred in the “Refueling” of the Transporter franchise.

So that’s why he’s back from the dead.

Ajax doesn’t show up until the end, though. The bulk of this issue shows Deadpool and Thanos traipsing around an abandoned Shi’ar platinum-mining operation based on a logic leap made by old Chin-Riblets, which is my new nickname for Thanos forever and ever. There they fight an anthropomorphic death cult led by Bucky O’Hare (not really), followed by the pre-movie Guardians of the Galaxy. This leads to some musing by Thanos about how even when Death was a going concern, it still was a mutable power, given how many times Thanos and the various Guardians have come back from the dead over the years. Or, as Deadpool puts it, “Someone has to die for real! I mean, what is this, a Marvel comic?!”

Now, let me ask a no-prize question. Both issues of this series to date have identified Deadpool as a mutant. And while I self-identify as a big DP fan, I feel like I’m missing a retcon here, as to my knowledge, he was never been a mutant. His healing factor is a copy of Wolverine’s that was grafted onto him, for lack of a better term. His ability to teleport is technology-based. Granted, it’s become canon that his memories are fluid, leaving his past open to all manner of revision, such as that time he fought in the original Secret Wars or helped Tony Stark overcome his alcoholism, but if somebody could help me see the light on this one, I’d very much appreciate it.

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