Best Shots Comic Reviews: CYCLOPS #1, THE MOVEMENT #12 (Final Issue), More
CREDIT: Marvel Comics
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Russell Dauterman and Chris Sotomayor
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Marvel is expanding their cosmic lineup in unexpected ways. Greg Rucka and Russell Dauterman are tasked with bringing the leader of the X-Men to outer space, and while a reunion with the father he had thought to be dead looked like a concept primed for a schmaltzy retread, it ends up showing a lot of heart and potential. The older Cyclops might be one of the most divisive figures in the superhero community right now. but the younger one still has a lot to learn. In much of the same way that Marvel is taking a “filling in the gaps” approach to Spider-Man with Learning to Crawl, Cyclops allows Rucka to get into young Scott Summers’ head during his more formative years that we didn’t really get to see 50 years ago.
Admittedly, bringing young Scott into this future drastically changes the formula. This isn’t so much filling any gaps as it is allowing us to see how Scott grows as a person under completely different tutelage. If the older Scott was born out of Xavier’s philosophies, maybe the younger one is better off with his own blood. Maybe Xavier squashed something in Scott and forced him to succumb to his role on the team. Rucka raises those questions immediately and rightly so. Teenagers are constantly questioning themselves, their environments, their decisions and those around them. The All-New X-Men, on the whole, are a great way for the Marvel Universe to reflect on itself and especially for the X-Men to reflect (Beast was onto something after all). What sets us on our paths? How much control do we have? If it sounds like Rucka is exploring some of the themes that Jason Latour is in Wolverine and the X-Men, you’re absolutely right, but the difference is in execution. While Latour uses the X-Men’s mythology to explore themes of fate and fortune, nature and nurture, Rucka uses something much smaller but equally as important: a father’s relationship with his son. Corsair is easily just as much a star of this book as well and his struggles to be a father to Scott will be well-documented in this series.
Russell Dauterman’s art is a joy to behold. Fresh from his short stint on Nightwing, his characters are rendered with style and they’re extremely expressive. Considering the nature of the book, that’s an important quality as the writing will live and die with the art around it. Dauterman doesn’t fail to sell a line and at the same time deftly handles the action scenes. Chris Sotomayor’s coloring never overwhelms Dauterman’s clean lines. But similar to Laura Allred on Silver Surfer, Sotomayor fails use the blackness of space to create contrast, instead opting for an amalgamation of pink, purple and orange. It’s not that is doesn’t look like space. It’s more than it makes the book start to look too consistent regardless of setting because of the computer generated lighting effects.
Cyclops is serving up teen angst in space and I’m sold on it. Scott’s dealing with a lot right now. He misses Jean but at the same time, he’s struggling with it. He’s not sure if he made the right decision by running away with his father. And he hasn’t really even gotten to the moral ambiguity of his father’s profession. He says he wants to be good. But does he know that his father is good? He might be away from the insanity of the X-Men on Earth but he can’t really know what he’s gotten himself into. So far Rucka is writing this like the best television sci-fi. It hits beats as well as Farscape or Firefly and it’s just as much fun thanks to Russell Dauterman’s artwork. If you aren’t a fan of the current, older incarnation of Cyclops, I suggest you get onboard with this one.
Green Arrow #31
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
From the beginning of his run, it was clear that Jeff Lemire wanted to leave his mark on the struggling New 52 version of Green Arrow. Like Jack Kirby, Mike Grell and Andy Diggle before him, the significance of the island in Oliver Queen’s history has been massaged and manipulated to fit the mores of the age. “The Outsiders War” has added a new element to the mix, with the notion of predetermination and totemistic warring clans at the heart of the Queen family’s affinity for bows and arrows. It’s been an erratic journey, but with this sixth and final chapter in the arc, Lemire brings together many of the elements he’s been playing with from the start.
Like most overly complicated comic book wars between factions, this issue ultimately comes down to some confrontations between their various leaders. For the most part, Ollie is left holding the MacGuffin while the other elements pick each other off, and strangely this might be the closest this has come to Grell era since those initial Lemire issues. It’s ultimately Shado and her daughter Emiko that takes the tough decisions out of Oliver’s hands, although Lemire provides us with a satisfyingly noble hero moment for Green Arrow to conclusively end this chapter.
Sorrentino’s art continues to be next level material, almost immediately busting out a highly detailed green collage splash on the second and third pages. It’s a stark contrast to the minimalist backgrounds that Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo use to punctuate and highlight moments of violence throughout the issue. At one point, a severed hand appears to simply pause for inspection against a mustard yellow backdrop. In another, a full-page of red frames the black-and-white fatality of another character. It remains one of the most unique mixes of color and layout in a mainstream DC comic.
The final pages are not so much conclusive as a massive tease for the next arc, including another bit of wordplay on a famous Grell title. Yet it manages to feel organic, a mixture of old and new that doesn’t smack of being forced in sideways as an Easter egg for pre-Flashpoint fans desperate for some sign that ‘our‘ Ollie will return. With two arcs now under his belt, Lemire has shown the potential for a Green Arrow book under the New 52 banner. If it can shake the tenuous links it strives to maintain between the comic book and TV worlds, the Emerald Archer might just be one of DC’s preeminent books again.
Moon Knight #3
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
We've seen Marc Spector as a suit-wearing flatfoot. We've seen him as an armor-wearing avenger of the night. But the third side of the Crescent Crusader - the third aspect of the Moon Knight - shows that Warren Ellis has a plan beyond punchy one-shots, giving this hero more potential than we might realize.
Slowly but surely, Ellis has been teasing readers by trying to tie together Moon Knight's unwieldy continuity - the man's been a mercenary, a fighter for justice... and also a cab driver and a TV producer. Moon Knight has been all over the place, but in Ellis' hands, there seems to be a bit more controlled chaos, as these voices are the brain-damanged byproduct of something scarier - contact with another power, the dark Egyptian god Khonshu.
But Khonshu has four aspects. We've seen Spector take the role of the Pathfinder, searching through the underground depths of New York City for a cyborg patchwork killer. We've seen him assume the role of Defender, hunting down a deranged sniper before he crossed off all the targets on his list.
And now we get to see the Embracer. And in the case of Marc Spector, that means embracing his extra-normal heritage as the Avatar of Khonshu.
Without giving too much (more) away, Ellis has a very smart take on Moon Knight's adventures, as the Lunar Avenger takes on a gang of ghost punks. Not only does this fit nicely within Spector's increasingly off-kilter Rogue's Gallery, but the black humor injected into this story is counterbalanced by the immense ass-kicking they first give our hero. Of course there's a solution to every problem, and Ellis's solution is simple, elegant and to-the-point. While some may say it's taking a page out of the Dan Slott/Amazing Spider-Man playbook, I think Ellis's spin on this darker, more superstitious Moon Knight is a great change of pace.
And it's also a great place for artist Declan Shalvey to strut his stuff. Shalvey's been doing some superb designwork with the different aspects of Moon Knight, and this issue makes our hero look as scary and weird as he's ever, ever been. Shalvey also does great work with the sheer brutality of this comic, especially when the ghost punks get their first punches into the surprisingly hapless Spector. Colorist Jordie Bellaire continues to dominate here, particularly the way she makes the all-white Moon Knight pop on every page, even when he's punching a green cloud surrounding a green ghost, and the painterly quality she gives Marc Spector's unmasked face as he licks his wounds at home provides a delightful contrast.
The only double-edged sword for this comic is, at least for now, the done-in-one nature of these stories makes this comic feel just a little light on narrative, particularly the way that Ellis spends the second half of the comic letting Spector go to town on his adversaries. But I have the feeling that's not going to last forever. We still have one more aspect of the Moon Knight - the Watcher of Overnight Travelers - and I have the feeling that once these four aspects are out in the cold moon light, there's going to be bigger and better things in store for Moon Knight.
The Movement #12
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Freddie Williams II and Chris Sotomayor
Lettering by Carlos M. Mangual
Published by DC Comics
Review by Michael Moccio
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
When The Movement got cancelled back in February, writer Gail Simone summed it up best: “Unfortunately, this book just never found a big enough audience. The people who loved it, loved it hard…” I fell into the category that tried the series out when it first started and then dropped it, only to pick it up later with fervent haste; after putting it down as boring and uninspired, I became one of the people who loved it hard. On the surface, The Movement #12 is a little too convenient for a wrap-up for the series, but it’s one that packs a whole lot of heart and deserves the happy ending it became.
At its core, The Movement breathed life into no-name characters in a no-name city. Virtue, Katharsis, Mouse, Tremor, Burden, and Vengeance Moth became some of the most identifiable characters in the DC Universe to date. This issue focused primarily on these characters and sent them off with a fond farewell. Where we learn all of Virtue’s past, readers are rewarded with a backstory that encourages us to rise above tragedy and look for the best in people. Where we see Burden’s actions after breaking ties with his family, Simone tells us that the past doesn’t define us and that we’re in control of who we are in the future. The list goes on and on, but what remains is that Simone made these characters first and foremost people.
Regardless of their gender, sexuality, or physical ability, all of these characters are heroes in their own right and anyone picking up this book will find something with which they can identify. This book is everything fans have been asking DC for in terms of diversity, story, and meaning. Most people reading this book will immediately identify with Virtue’s dreams and idealism. We all had that point in our lives where we dreamed big, and Virtue’s dreams characterize the innocence and innate goodness still inside her. Simone wouldn’t have been able to convey that to the fullest extent without artist Freddie Williams II. The double page spread of The Movement characters fighting alongside the Justice League is breathtaking and just downright inspiring. There’s so much going on in the page, but because we’re invested in these characters and the image just looks downright awesome, you’ll take your time in looking it over. There’s no dialogue on the page, but Williams’ illustration says enough: this is the penultimate image for The Movement, where these characters who came to life within the story due to Simone’s writing come to life on the page due to Williams’ and colorist Chris Sotomayor’s artistic abilities.
Although this is a final issue, there’s still relevant story that unfolds. Simone manages to tie up the Rainmaker plotline nicely, taking the opportunity to examine how far parents will go for their children. This kind of storytelling—where Simone takes each and every opportunity to tie actions back to the theme—is indicative of how much thought she put into the narrative. She understands exactly what a character-driven story is and how to take advantage of that kind of storytelling. This all culminates into an engaging story that will make people want to reread the series from the beginning to capture the full effect of this twelve issue series without interruption.
The only failing of this issue is that everything falls into place a little too nicely. Between Virtue explaining her past and everyone coming out relatively unscathed, I was expecting a bit more of a bittersweet ending. This minor flaw—which most will most likely not even consider a flaw—pales in comparison to the fact that these characters have earned their ending. Readers will feel absolutely satisfied with the story Simone set out to tell; however, expect to be wanting for more. There’s still so much to explore and be done with The Movement, and it’s a shame Simone and the creative team won’t be able to explore that now.
If there’s any book that deserves to be continued, it’s this one. The Movement #12 captures all the heart of the series and allows these characters to shine. While the idea of this story may have been inaccessible to readers in the beginning, Simone and the creative team slowly but surely showed us the cores of these characters and ultimately won readers over. The final image of The Movement encapsulates everything that was great about it: the sense of family and camaraderie amongst an unusual and diverse group of people that overcome their problems together. That should make everyone want to be a part of the Movement, too.