Best Shots Reviews: MIGHTY THOR #705, CAVE CARSON HAS AN INTERSTELLAR EYE #1, CABLE #155

Cable #155
Credit: Daniel Warren Johnson (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Marvel Comics

The Mighty Thor #705
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by C.K. Stewart
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Even if you’re a lapsed reader of The Mighty Thor, this week’s #705 may still bring a tear to your eye. Superhero comics often struggle with tackling the death of long-standing characters; given the medium’s long history of deaths and returns, it’s very difficult for anyone to execute a storyline in this vein with a true sense of finality, but Aaron delivers a knockout emotional punch. “Death of the Mighty Thor” is about death and transition and consequences — about what could drive a person to make a choice they know they can never come back from, and the impact those choices have on those around them.

Artist Russell Dauterman colorist Matthew Wilson are at their best in this issue in quiet, slower moments — the opening flashback, the final pages — but their work falters in the action sequences. Wilson is a stellar colorist with an almost unmatched skill in bringing supernatural environment worlds like Asgard to life, but his pops of color are at times almost too much. In the fight with Mangog, Dauterman’s art is sometimes lost beneath the flames engulfing Asgard and the eye-catching blue whoosh of Mjolnir. The busy pages become particularly tough to follow as a digital reader — comiXology’s sometimes tricky guided panel view may be helpful here.

Despite the rough moments, though, Dauterman, Wilson, and Aaron (with excellent lettering from Joe Sabino) deliver a touching tribute to the strength and character of Jane Foster in this penultimate issue of the “Death of the Mighty Thor” arc. This issue never quite leans into the maudlin; the early conversation between Heimdall and Jane is gentle and filled with regret, but never saccharine, and Odinson’s anger in his final conversation with Jane feels explosive and genuine without being melodramatic.

Freya and Odin seem oblivious to the consequences of Jane’s decision to take up the hammer in the fight against Mangog, and Thor seems to lack the language to tell them — or the patience to work through his anger long enough to find the words. Aaron is careful about exploring the impact of Jane’s choice on both herself and those around her, without necessarily decentering Jane or minimizing the impact her willingness to die for Asgard will have on the superhero family she’s found who were desperate for her to focus that resolve on fighting cancer instead.

From the decision to have Jane take up the mantle of Thor to her battle with cancer and her decision to die on her own terms, this team has delivered a bold book that touches on emotionally complex issues with a laudable compassion and sensitivity. It’s tough to see Jane go, but The Mighty Thor #705 is a fitting tribute to an impressive character, and respects the idea that a person should be given the agency to face their end on their own terms as much as it respects how truly devastating watching someone make that decision can be. This issue has a sense of finality and permanence to it, but also a sense of lasting impact — it would be a shame for Jane Foster to be the “one true death” in comics in the long run, but at least in the short term, The Mighty Thor #705 there’s a sense that Jane’s passing will have a lasting impact on the story Aaron chooses to tell in the months to come.

Credit: DC Comics

Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye #1
Written by Jon Rivera
Art by Michael Avon Oeming, Nick Filardi, and Paul Maybury
Lettering by Clem Robins
Published by DC’s Young Animal
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

It’s the same ol’ Cave but a brand-new crazy in Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye #1, the latest from Gerard Way’s Young Animal’s “second season.” Trading the underground for the upper atmosphere, Cave Carson and his team now find themselves traipsing through the stars in a sort of indie rock-Doctor Who, supported by the dry, heartfelt wit of writer Jon Rivera and the hazy, mind-expanding artwork of Michael Avon Oeming and Nick Filardi. Cave Carson has always been a dark horse favorite in the overall scheme of Young Animal, but thanks to this new debut’s big and trippy new scope, Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye just may put ol’ Cave in the same rarified air as Shade, The Changing Girl and Doom Patrol.

Everything and nothing has changed for Team Carson since the reality-shaking events of Milk Wars. Still living an adventurer’s life, Cave, his daughter Chloe, and new member of the team Marc Bartow take a side trip to the palatial estate of uber-musician Star Adam, a sort of alien amalgamation of David Bowie and Prince whom Cave knew in vibrant times past. Star is an alien and his body is slowly imploding. He wants Cave and his family to give him a proper send-off in deep space.

Though we expect something to go horribly wrong (it does), thus to justify the new space-faring concept of the title, in the hands of Rivera, the setup is a lot more tender and funnier than you might expect. Backed by a witty and cleverly laid out flashback to Star Adam’s peak, Rivera and the art team really refocus this title on Cave, his tragicomic past, and his new focus on being a better father and friend. Keeping with the Young Animal brand, this new Cave Carson really fleshes out its characters while keeping a big central conceit at its core. But while the first volume seemed to rely on big set pieces and a multitude of ideas, Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye finds sure footing in its (relative) simplicity.

But fear not, weirdos! This new Cave Carson still has plenty psychedelic visuals to go along with its empathetic focus. Capped off by a stocky but eye-grabbing back up story from Rivera and artist Paul Maybury, this first issue really sets the tonal and structural bar for the title’s visuals. And it sets it pretty freaking high — deploying splashy, cosmically minded layouts and blockly expressive character models, artist Michael Avon Oeming and colorist Nick Filardi really run with the new intergalactic concept while weaving through the debut issue visuals touchstones of ‘70’s psych-rock and classic Jack Kirby space epics.

Right from the jump Oeming and Filardi are working to sear your eyeballs with neon. Opening with a blacklight poster of an establishing shot of Star Adam’s immense mansion and growing outward from there, the visuals of this new Cave Carson are consistently stunning and unconventionally appealing. Inset into page backgrounds like dotted newsprint and aged, tea stained looking parchment, the art team is constantly shifting their visual tone and point of view, even as the script stays focused. One minute we are looking at a pulsing, star-centered depiction of a good trip and the next we are pulled into a vortexed crash sequence where the action in the spaceship is rendered as a rolling swirl cutting through the blackness of space. While I appreciate this new volume’s focus on character, I appreciate even more Michael Avon Oeming and Nick Filardi’s commitment to keeping Cave Carson looking weird and beautiful.

Armed with sharp visuals and a deep well of heart, Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye #1 is another big win for DC’s Young Animal. Coming out of the dirt and looking toward the stars, Team Carson and its fantastic creative team has really found a groove thanks to the solid foundation of the previous volume, a newfound focus, and the table-clearing madness that was Milk Wars. Hopefully now Cave Carson can make the jump the Young Animal A-list along with his new cosmic status quo.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Cable #155
Written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler
Art by German Peralta and Jesus Aburtov
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Time keeps on slippin’ into the future for Nathan Christopher Charles Dayspring Askani’Son Summers, but writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler have plans to take Cable back through his past. Because of the time traveling nature of the character, Cable’s has a hard time being present in the lives of the rest of the X-Family, and this writing team seeks to address some of that. This debut issue sets up the rest of their “Past Fears” arc by introducing a new villain and giving us a quick overview of what’s to come, but there are still some growing pains here. Cable’s history is one of the more complicated ones, leading to clunky exposition, while artist German Peralta labors through some sections of the script. But if you’re looking for a potentially good Cable story, you could do a lot worse than here.

Thompson and Nadler’s stars have been on the rise with the success of The Dregs and more recently their body horror comic Come Into Me. It’s easy to see a lot of who they are as writers here in Cable #155, but it's clear that they do get a bit bogged down by the weight of continuity before hopefully freeing themselves up to play with it. The book opens with Nathan as a child before shunting us to his present mission in the future. The narration works to set up some of the themes that the writers will be playing with, namely fear, regret and family.

And for all the clumsy expository dialogue, there’s a lot to like here. First and foremost, the writers have a clear affection for the character and the stories he’s appeared in previously. While that may seem like an obvious observation, they do a deft bit of character work between Nathan and Hope that rings really true to who they both are. Similarly, the new villain, Metus, slides into this narrative pretty easily. While his appearance through much of Cable’s history may be a massive retcon, it’s fun to actually see Nathan up against something new, even if it is going to pull him back through some familiar territory. Plus Thompson and Nadler get to explore the more horrific sides of the techno-organic virus, and only time will tell exactly what that’ll mean for our hero.

German Peralta’s a bit of a casualty of some of the unevenness in the script, but really breaks out once he and the writers can start forging their own path. Some of Peralta’s panel design and page layouts could use some work, however, particularly in the first half. There’s an effort made to show parallels between Hope and Cable that seem really heavy-handed. And because of the general earnestness of the script, there’s a feeling that none of it is supposed to be played for humor, so having a shot where a massive gun blocks most of the panel that also calls back to an earlier panel just seems like a bug rather than an intended feature. However, when Peralta gets to dig into Cable, Metus and Hope facing off, he turns in some really riveting pages with much better angles and composition. And he handles the body horror stuff with an eye toward Katsuhiro Otomo’s work on Akira. His interpretation of the techno-organic virus is fairly exciting. Colorist Jesus Aburtov does his best work toward the end of the book as well. His coloring gives the book a more painterly vibe that sets it apart drastically from the last arc and supports the tone of the story.

This a good start for a new creative team. We know we’ll be visiting past eras of Cable’s history and they'll be filtered through this new villain, but I’m excited to see what that really means. Certain eras of the character have become iconic because those creative teams pushed Cable in new directions or expanded on his history. This arc looks to do a little bit of both and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of room for failure, as looking back on the past sometimes means retcons, and the X-Men’s particularly convoluted history shows that retcons aren’t always a good thing. But the creative team looks to have a plan, and if they can show us what they show on the back half of this issue, Cable is sure to improve and have one of his better adventures in years.

Twitter activity