Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.
Kayleigh Hearn is Reading…
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Ed McGuinness and Javier Garron
Colored by Marte Gracia
Lettered by Travis Lanham
“And then the universe showed me something—that didn’t terrify me.”
No matter how hard I try to resist it, it’s difficult not to feel at least a little cynicism whenever a new comic book crossover event hits the stand. The Black Vortex event certainly aimed for greatness: it featured over a dozen heroes from the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men, as well as a slew of villains including the Brood and Thane (son of Thanos), and it was ultimately about nothing less than the corruption of absolute power. But it was also held back by a number of factors, including a multitude of different creative teams that never quite gelled, a lackluster MacGuffin, boring, action figure-ready character “upgrades,” and a larger cast than even its massive 13-chapter run could accomodate. (I’m still not sure why Nova and Captain Marvel had to be roped into this, though Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez’s Captain Marvel #14 was one of the strongest issues of the event.)
But it’s fun to have your cynicism broken by a few genuine surprises. I half-expected The Black Vortex to end with characters put back in the box for Secret Wars, but Omega throws the doors wide open for future stories, should the post-SW creative teams choose to tackle them—and most of these plot twists involve Kitty Pryde. Having finally submitted to The Black Vortex, Kitty becomes imbued with cosmic power, using her phasing powers on a tremendous scale to save the planet Spartax. The finale is just over-the-top enough not to be completely ridiculous, thanks largely to Ed McGuinness and Javier Carron’s fantastic rendition of Cosmic Kitty. Sam Humphries wisely places the universe in Kitty’s capable hands, which leads to some smart character moments—Kitty, after all, hates space and never wanted to use the Black Vortex to begin with.
Ultimately, The Black Vortex was too overcooked, never completely terrible but unlikely to be anyone’s favorite cosmic Marvel story. But if you love the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men hanging out and kicking Brood ass, this event ties the two ragtag teams even closer together, and even Storm promises that they’ll be seeing each other again sooner rather than later.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Tim Truman (pencils) and Enrique Alcatena (inks)
Colored by John Kalisz
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
“It reminds up on that deep level that we were once more than we are. That we can be more when the time comes.”
In its third week, DC’s Convergence event focuses on the pre-Crisis DC Universe. In this continuity, Hawkman and Hawkwoman are Thanagarian police officers assigned to Earth, now trapped in Gotham City after Tellos seals off the Gothams of multiple alternate Earths and traps them on a planet outside of time. Since most superheroes under the domes have been robbed of their powers, the Hawks are unique since their “powers” derive from Thanagarian science (and police training). After a year in captivity, things are breaking down throughout the city and they are doing their best to help maintain order. When they come upon a group of rioters using Thangarian technology, they follow them back to a sleeper cell of terrorists from their home planet. Together, they may be able to discover what is happening to Gotham City and maybe even get home, be it Earth or Thanagar.
Tim Truman, who’s best associated with Hawkman via his post-Crisis reboot of the character in Hawkworld, delivers some stunning art for this comic. While it’s different to see him drawing the Hawks in the brighter, more straight superhero costumes, he makes them look great. Since he’s not painting the book, as with Hawkworld, his art here has a much different texture, and that’s to the book’s benefit. His work here is lovely and kind of refreshing. It’s such a throw-back to Silver and Bronze Age styles and you just don’t see this kind of work in modern comics at all.
Jeff Parker and Tim Truman construct a rip-roaring adventure tale that also takes some time to reflect on why we look to mythology and heroes in times of disaster. Unlike most of the Convergence books I’ve read, which quickly set up the situation then move forward into full-on “eventness,” this one sits back and gives us a full issue of Hawkman and Hawkwoman before bringing in the overall meta-plot, and it serves it very well. Like the best of the Convergence books, the only real problem with this comic is that we only get to spend one more issue with these characters before they are cast back into ether.
Max Robinson is reading…
Written by Len Wein
Art by Kelly Jones
Colored by Michelle Madsen
“So how exactly do you intend to find The Batman — The most mysterious man in the world?”
“Under The Dome But With Alternate Universe Superheroes” event Convergence continues its tour through DC’s “greatest hits,” with a number of this weeks tie-ins focusing on Bronze Age incarnations of heroes such as Batman, The Flash and The Hawks. Not only does this issue see how the classic incarnation of the Avatar of The Green deals with his incarceration on Batman’s turf, it’s a rare Swamp Thing tale by character co-creator Len Wein (taking place continuity-wise right around the beginning of Alan Moore’s seminal run, even).
More than the other Convergence titles I read this week, this Swamp Thing story really feels like a book plucked from 1985. This is largely due to Wein’s script, which is appropriately corny and weird in all the right ways. Although it would’ve been nice if they could’ve paired Wein with co-creator Bernie Wrightson on this two issue mini, Jones’ art here is really excellent. There’s a Gene Colan-esque smokiness to his pages and his depiction of Swamp Thing as he decomposes over the course of a year gives the issue a much needed horror edge. Jones made his name with books like the Batman: Red Rain Elseworlds stories and, fittingly, that’s who Swamp Thing is slated to face off against next issue.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Stuart Moore
Art by Gus Storms (pencils) and Mark Farmer (inks)
Colored by John Rauch
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
“Do not give up hope.”
At this point for me as a reader, Convergence titles live and die on whether or not they make me feel something towards their characters. With a book starring a different iteration of Superman coming out every week, it’s easy to let your eyes glaze over and start skipping books. What sets a good tie-in apart is the ability to make the premise, usually a variant of “these characters have been powerless and trapped under the dome for a year,” into something personal and resonant. Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes does that with aplomb.
The Legion is a weird batch of characters, because they were among DC’s most popular heroes for a long time and then they sort of fizzled out. Reboots were met with varying degrees of success, but more often than not it’s been difficult to capture the old-fashioned charm. Moore and Storms have the situation pretty well in hand, with a Crisis on Infinite Earths-era take that doesn’t shy away from sincerity and vulnerability. The Legion struggles to cope with their captivity, especially Superboy, who’s stranded (he believes) thousands of years away from his home. They’re not shy about their pain, even going as far as self-pitying at times, but they rise to the challenge of being leaders. It’s nice to see some thought put into how dome life works, and the various Legionnaires taking on jobs in the city is clever. Storms’ pencils nail the classic designs without looking dated or silly, and Rauch’s color palette is soft and pleasant.
Like most Convergence books, the end of this issue is almost a letdown, with the isolated life the characters have carved out for themselves interrupted by some new opponents to fight (here, the Atomic Knights, complete with their riding dalmatians). I personally find the exploration of what heroes or villains are doing after running out of people to fight a little more interesting. Still, this event is essentially a giant March Madness bracket, so it had to happen.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!