Comic Recommendations: December 2, 2015

Dark Horse rolled out another issue of Angel & Faith: Season Ten building on the Archaeus intrigue; Batman and Robin Eternal #9 re-introduces one of the black sheep of the Bat-family to the New 52 (and I totally called it); at Image Comics it is Revival week once again, and it couldn’t have come too soon; and Marvel Comics certainly makes you feel like they’re just in the business of first issues and Star Wars.

UNSPOILED

  1. Revival #35 (Image Comics), Unspoiled Edition

Revival 35 01

Revival #35 is 100% adrenaline. Em Cypress has a hit out on her and Officer Dana Cypress is finding that the proper channels are no longer an option if she wants to save her sister. Revival is more than just Image’s other zombie book.

SPOILED

  1. Revival #35 (Image Comics), Spoiled Edition

Revival 35 02

I don’t know if I’ve ever read an issue of Revival with this much action, and even amid all of these highly kinetic panels there was quite a bit of story development. Here are some of the bigger topics that are addressed in Revival #35.

John Doe’s Last Stand

Revival 35 04

John Doe, or Jesse Blackdeer, has been one of the more formidable enemies of Revival, a highly skilled assassin with a perfect cover: because he was revived during his cremation he is kept in a coma to combat the terrible pain of continuously burning nerves. In the previous issue, John Doe was told to take out Em Cypress despite the fact that she reminds him of his recently deceased daughter Rose. Before he can decapitate Em and bury her body parts separately, he is stopped by a battle mad Dana, who has lured Jesse’s soul into reuniting with his body.

Revival 35 03

As is the case the Revivers, the reunion of body and soul results in the destruction of both, presumably a freeing experience.

For some time, however, it has been clear that John Doe was simply a key asset for a higher power with an unknown agenda. In fact, the backup asset nearly gets the best of Em before Dana shoots him in the mouth.

Revival 35 07

The next asset in line, unless I have been misreading the situation, would be Dana’s on-again off-again lover, the CDC Agent Ibrahaim Ramin, who has already been tasked at taking out Dana Cypress by some higher authority. The second act of Revival has made one thing clear: things are getting both messier and cleaner, messier in the sense that a lot of blood is being spilled, and cleaner in the sense that loose ends are getting tied up.

Revival 35 05

All of that said, I am happy that the tragic figure of Jesse Blackdeer can finally rest in peace. I try not to imagine what his existence must have been like.

Who Killed Martha Cypress?

Revival 35 06

Everything is up in the air, and yet Dana Cypress continues to have enough of her wits about her to keep asking, “Who killed my sister?” Before Jesse Blackdeer passes, he gives us our best response to date. Em was killed by the same person who created all of the Revivers.

Prior to Aaron Weimar’s death, much of this revelation was already implied. When Aaron returned from India, he attempted to repeat a formula for immortality in Wisconsin that he had learned there. It is unclear what the process was like, but we know that it happened at the abandoned grist mill, that it required a sacrifice, and that Aaron presumably brought some sort of arcane being back with him in order to complete the process. I think it is safe to say that the murder of Martha “Em” Cypress was the sacrifice needed in order to satisfy the dark entity, but it remains unclear who carried out the sacrifice.

Aaron Weimar was the best suspect for some time. After all, he was the one who started the whole thing. However, in a flashback we learn that he seems to be unwilling to go through with what the entity demanded of him. My knee-jerk reaction was that the being simply made the sacrifice itself, but I don’t think this is likely either. A dread god such as this would require the sacrifice as a symbol of devotion. The question is, “Who do we think this mysterious being could convince to do its bidding?” Right now, I think my prime suspect is Dana Cypress’s husband Derek Hinch. I am not certain what his motivation might be. Maybe he thinks that Em is responsible for he and Dana breaking up. Maybe it was an accident that just happened to bring about the Revival. There are two reasons I’m looking at Hinch: 1. it is clear that he is an important character but he’s been sitting undeveloped for a pretty long time, and 2. he and Em both go to the same college. This may not be enough for the rest of you to zero in on him, but I’ve watched enough movies that these two facts seem pretty incriminating.

Guantanimo Two

The incident at the detention center made national headlines somehow, and this is a big deal. Some people are calling for stronger security at the compound while others are putting pressure on the authorities to explain why these Revivers are still being detained. I would love to say that the next step will be the liberation of the Revivers, but if I know anything about politics it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Campaigns of understanding don’t show the immediate and proximal results that reactionary citizens crave, so I expect that security is going to get worse, the Revivers are going to be treated more harshly, and things in general are going to get ugly.

Revival 35 09

As a side note, did anyone notice that the feds used Dana’s blitz on the detention center as a cover-up for what they did with Jeannie Gorski? That’s some shady work there.

Get Yourself a Cooler and Lay Yourself Low

Revival 35 08

Very little about what Officer Dana Cypress did to save her sister was what we would call legal. Throw in the fact that if either are brought in by the authorities it is more than likely a death warrant being served by our mysterious villain and it seems pretty clear that Dana and Em need to disappear. It is difficult to imagine what it must feel like for Dana to abandon her son, but I understand her motives. What I think is going on is that Dana cannot trust herself as the defender of her family after the way she has treated her sister Em over the years. This is the tragic flaw of one of the most positive characters in comics today. Dana needs to prove to herself that she can take care of her sister. I think the ultimate test is going to be a circumstance where Dana can either learn the identity of Em’s killer or act to keep her sister from harm. These are two separate motivations. I just hope Dana makes the right choice.

* * *

Invincible Iron Man 02 02

Since the dawn of Iron Man, Tony Stark has been a difficult character to relate to. In the early years, the real charm was the adventure factor, which fueled his comics until he became an Avengers support figure. The greatest leap forward was the 2008 film Iron Man where Robert Downey Jr. brought Tony Stark right off the pages. Well, it’s been seven years since that movie was released and Tony Stark / Iron Man is certainly in need of another boost. This is where Brian Michael Bendis and his new series Invincible Iron Man come in.

In order to rehabilitate an Iron Man comic, you need to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. The former comes easy for Bendis. A master of dialogue-driven stories — I remember loving the issues of Ultimate Spider-man comprised mostly of Peter Parker just talking to his schoolmates — Bendis is able to take advantage of Tony Stark’s fast-talking humor to the fullest. Meanwhile, David Marquez does a great job delivering fantastic stills of the Iron Man armor and highly energized action scenes.

Invincible Iron Man 02 04

As for eliminating the negative, that takes a little more finesse. To make Tony Stark easy to relate to — which he almost never has been — Bendis takes it slow, sanding down his edges by introducing a love interest that he really seems to want to do right by and reinforcing it all by his earnest desire to help people in need.

Invincible Iron Man 01 03

 

One thing I’m particularly excited about is how Invincible Iron Man fits in with a couple of the other series in the All-New, All-Different Marvel imprint that are really working right now. After a meeting with an all-new, all-different Dr. Doom, Stark brings a trans-dimensional Wand of Watoomb to Doctor Strange, who is currently featured in a self-titled series by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo. The most recent issue features Mary Jane Watson, straight out of the pages of Dan Slott’s The Amazing Spider-man. We’ve talked a few times about the need for smaller crossover events like that between Slott’s The Amazing Spider-man, Mark Waid’s Daredevil, and Greg Rucka’s Punisher, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Aaron, Slott, and Bendis follow a similar formula with their current titles.

Here’s my pitch: Mephisto has returned in The Amazing Spider-man, and Spider-man enlists the help of Doctor Strange (Doctor Strange) and his trainee Illyana Rasputin. Mephisto manipulate’s Tony Stark’s girlfriend (Invincible Iron Man) into curing Illyana of her mutant teleportation powers to take her off the board.

Invincible Iron Man 01 02

Ultimately, the team overpowers Mephisto, and when they do there’s a strange side-effect: May Parker drops dead and Peter and Mary Jane remember their history and their marriage. Epilogue: Pete and MJ start a new chapter in The Amazing Spider-man, Illyana becomes a full-time student of the arcane in Doctor Strange, and Tony Stark has to deal with the consequences of the public knowing that mutants can be cured in Invincible Iron Man. Boom. Hire me, Marvel!

Invincible Iron Man 03 02

Next week, I’m looking forward to getting caught up on Extraordinary X-Men, which reminds me… I have another pitch for Marvel: a series following the first mutant born after Decimation and written by the current writer of All-New X-MenHope by Hopeless. What do you think? Also, tell me what you think about this week’s comics, your favorites, the let-downs, whatever. Let’s talk shop. Comic shop.

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