My pull-list – 26 July 2017

The final issue of Occupy Avengers? This title had so much promise and Marvel barely gave it a chance! I’ll need a separate post to review the whole run. Also this week Azrael battles his AI self in Detective Comics and a not-so-mad scientist rules in Wonder Woman.

Detective Comics #961: Intelligence (Part 4)

Detective Comics #961 cover

This arc is so patchy. It might just be my knee-jerk dislike of Azrael, but I’m not sure. The flashback thread of teenage Bruce and young Zatana reaches its climax as Zatana’s father discovers them playing with a dangerous artefact called the Gnosis Sphere and wipes Bruce’s memory of the incident. As a disoriented Bruce stumbles from the room he literally walks into Ras Al Ghul. It’s a brief encounter, a moment young Bruce probably forgot, but a moment fraught with significance and power.

In the present, Bruce is still trying to persuade Zatana that he needs the sphere. She’s not easy to convince but it looks as if she might be just beginning to crack when they are interrupted by a distress call, presumably from Luke/Batwing.

Which brings me to the least engaging part of this arc. And I don’t know why I’m being so negative because I can’t pinpoint what’s wrong. It had the right ingredients: Jean-Paul/Azrael’s psychological struggle against an AI that appears to exist within his own mind, lots of action as Batwoman and Cassandra/Orphan join the fight (and that little Shakespeare scene from the last issue gets a really nice payoff here) and a fascinating reveal in the final panel. But I just don’t feel engaged with this part. What am I missing?

Occupy Avengers #9

Occupy Avengers #9 cover

Not only has Marvel cancelled Occupy Avengers just as the new team was coming together but as a finale this sucks, because it’s a tie-in. I’ve avoided most of the Secret Empire stuff because frankly a story in which America is taken over by fascists is a bit too close to reality just now. But I know enough not to be completely lost.

So, recap. Hawkeye has put together an awesome team and they are wandering around looking for wrongs to write when he is recruited by Black Widow to join her fight against Hydra. This leaves Hawkeye’s team down by one Hawkeye, as they, well, pretty much fight against Hydra. Seems to me that Tilda and Red Wolf, stopping goons stealing crops from poor farmers, have the more worthwhile fight but I can see that Hawkeye is loyal to his old comrades even if they did turn against him only eight issues back.

But couldn’t they be given a better end than this? Am I supposed to think everyone died? It sure looks that way. Or is that “continued in (some other title I’m not gonna buy)” as cynical as it seems? Whatever, this was an awesome team and I’ll miss them.

Wonder Woman #27: Heart of the Amazon (Part 2)

Wonder Woman #27 cover

After the literally explosive cliffhanger of #26, we see Wonder Woman pick herself up and deal with the aftermath. I guess she took most of the blast since, though she is unhurt so us the little girl she was shielding and it appears the only other casualty is Etta.

What follows is a fascinating twist. I love how many different shades are packed in to what is, on the surface, a simple encounter. Wonder Woman carries Etta to medical help and is then herself drugged by the doctor. Doctor Crawford, we are told, has been working on this drug powerful enough to incapacitate Wonder Woman for years. Does this mean Etta was aware of it? “They” don’t know Crawford has a working version because Crawford needed the opportunity to use it so she can steal Wonder Woman’s blood.

It appears to be a standard bad-guy plot, but moments later we learn that Crawford is desperate to cure herself of a genetic disease and believes Amazon blood is her only chance. Does this justify her actions? No, but it makes her a bit more sympathetic. The serum she creates does make her stronger. But it also warps her personality. She basically Hulks out. And here is the next little twist: is this a glimpse of a Dark Diana? Or is there something else in the serum?

Diana wins their battle, leaving us without answers. So far. It’s unclear whether the next issue will pick up those threads. (And the art is still awful.)