Comic Recommendations: December 23, 2015

Dark Horse Comics delivered another Archie/anime-esque issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10; over at DC we got another issue of Miller and Azzarello’s Dark Knight III; we start to see Mikey’s side of things in the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW); Saga #32!!!!!! (nuff said); and Marvel hit us with some interesting stories with Amazing Spider-man, Darth Vader, and Extraordinary X-Men.


  1. Saga #32 (Image Comics), Unspoiled Edition

Saga 32 01

The past few issues of Saga have been somewhat dark and hopeless. Life goes on, but it is not always what we would like it to be. Saga #32 introduces the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not sure what was hinted at in the solicits, but I don’t want to spoil anything for those who read only this portion. All you need to know is that this is a pretty good issue of Saga.

  1. Amazing Spider-man #5 (Marvel Comics), Unspoiled Edition

Amazing Spider-man 05 01

Who would have thought that Dan Slott could transform the Zodiac into a legitimate threat in his new Amazing Spider-man volume? Well, he has, and this new Scorpio is quite menacing, but the real thing that is interesting about Amazing Spider-man #5 is the question of whether Peter Parker is responsible enough for the great power associated with being the owner of a multi-national corporation.


  1. Saga #32 (Image Comics), Spoiled Edition

Saga 32 02

It was pretty difficult to see young Hazel apart from her family. Sure, her life doesn’t seem like it is all death and torture, but this family belongs together. Their existence is a symbolic overcoming of the warring forces of the universe, the classic Shakespearean tale reimagined. Maybe that’s why Saga #32 felt so satisfying. Reuniting Marko and Alana felt just a little bit like resurrecting Romeo and Juliet.

I really like this side of Marko and Alana. Their love in the beginning of this series was really honest, but despite their own wartorn pasts it was also somewhat immature. Between the passion behind their drive to rescue their daughter and the tension surrounding their pact to keep from making love until Hazel is safe, Marko and Alana have never been more electrifying. When Marko is skeptical of making the literal leap of faith in order to escape on their tree space ship and he realizes that leaps like that are why he married Alana, I just felt this rush of joy, love, and inspiration. Every couple of issues Brian K. Vaughan is able to deliver these bursts of pure emotion that I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered elsewhere.

Saga 32 03

What I’m wondering is whether or not Saga translates the same to single readers as it does to readers who are in couples. When Saga came out, I had been dating a beautiful girl for just under two years and everything about their romance felt as revolutionary as our own. I feel strongly that our society functions on loneliness, which means that the pursuit of love is a rebellion against social entropy. Now that Marko and Alana have been together for years, I feel like their mutual suffering has forged them into something much bigger than they were before. As I read about this, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that my wife and I have been together closer to a decade than to a day and that we have survived some pretty difficult struggles. However, for the single readers out there, did the marital problems of Alana and Marko and their time apart hurt you deeply? Did their love drive you mad with joy? Did their recent return as a team make you want to shout?

Saga 32 04

I think however you answer these questions determines the quality of Brian K. Vaughan as a writer. If it doesn’t translate, then he’s merely preaching to the choir. However, if it does make you feel the same way it seems pretty clear that Vaughan can leverage his readers’ imaginations and aim them toward real, true feelings. Saga isn’t over just yet, which makes me a little uneasy about bringing Marko and Alana back together so soon. I really hope that they have the best, but we know how these things go. For now, I think I’ll ride the high of the Marko/Alana team-up!

  1. Amazing Spider-man #5 (Marvel Comics), Spoiled Edition

Amazing Spider-man 05 03

I was originally bored when it was hinted that the mind of Doctor Octopus was now inside Peter Parker’s robot assistant The Living Brain, but in Amazing Spider-man #5 it appears that Octavius’s plan for destroying Peter Parker / Spider-man is much more nuanced than some of his past plots. When he uses Parker Industries nanotech to illegally infiltrate London’s closed security grid, he pushes Pete into a very sticky international business situation where the image of his company is on the line. Perhaps even more dangerous is the fact that Octavius / The Living Brain framed Sajani in the process, especially considering what Sajani knows about Peter Parker / Spider-man and how she already has some villainous intentions.

Amazing Spider-man 05 02

If that weren’t enough, Scorpio is revealed as one of Parker Industries’ largest shareholders. Since we’re already wondering what Doctor Octopus’s endgame is, why don’t we throw Scorpio’s endgame into the mix? With Scorpio’s stock interests he is clearly concerned with one of two things, power or money. I would assume that he wishes to attain some level of power considering the fact that his organization is attacking Parker Industries and driving a wedge between the company and their SHIELD contracts. These do not seem like things you do in order to turn a profit. Of course, there’s also the off chance that the surveillance fiasco could be seen internationally as a test run, something that might secure Parker Industries some highly profitable contracts from the public and private sector alike. This doesn’t seem like something Peter Parker would agree with, especially with what would happen with that kind of power in the wrong hands — one might assume that Parker’s tech might even make SHIELD obsolete — but if Scorpio is able to wrestle control of the board anything is possible.

Amazing Spider-man 05 04

With Scorpio’s presumed schemes for either power or money (or both) in mind, one has to wonder whether Octavius is complicit with Scorpio’s agenda or whether he is marching to the beat of his own drum. Doctor Octopus is not often a tool in another mastermind’s scheme —  the man has enough ego to give Dr. Doom a run for his money — but he might play the fool in order to accomplish his own personal goals. Something tells me that Otto is unaware of Scorpio’s plans and is only coincidentally assisting in furthering the ends of the Zodiac. I would feel more inclined to suggest that he is manipulating Sajani than Scorpio, but something tells me that Otto Octavius is currently going rogue. I think he might be a little more short-sighted than usual, and I think he might just accidentally foil Scorpio’s plans.

Regardless of how these many moving parts end up working together or against one another, I am really enjoying the theme Dan Slott is playing with surrounding the massive power that CEO Peter Parker is currently playing with and the unimaginable responsibility that must go along with it. One scene that was particularly noteworthy was Johnny Storm’s comment that Peter might be burning the candle at both ends. As it stands, this current volume of Amazing Spider-man reads more as a Greek tragedy than a heroic action/adventure book. Peter Parker exhibits so much confidence regarding his business, the technology that he is creating, his contracts, and his interpersonal relationships, and it comes off as the type of hubris that precedes a fall. I am reminded of Ian Malcolm’s “standing on the shoulders of geniuses” rant from Jurassic Park. Parker Industries was the brainchild of Otto Octavius, not Peter Parker. Parker simply kept it going, building his Babel higher and higher. While I love the idea of playing with different responsibilities, I really think that Peter Parker is going to fail miserably. I find it hard to imagine a situation where he does not. Businesses are built slowly and surely. You have to have a strong foundation before you can build toward the stars, and the fastest way to make money quickly is to make money slowly. I’m not suggesting that Peter Parker isn’t a hard-working guy. What I’m suggesting is that if he’s going to try to do everything he just needs to slow down.

Of course, maybe if this business venture crashes and burns, Peter Parker might step back and consider what really matters to him, like starting a family. (Still crossing my fingers that Mephisto is going to reverse the deal and Pete and MJ are going to re-marry.)

* * *

All-New X-Men 02 01

I was told to check out the newest volume of All-New X-Men by Dennis Hopeless, which deals with the fallout from the death of Scott Summers (as told in Extraordinary X-Men). I actually got a chance to talk to Hopeless at the Cherry Capital Con, and I really like him as a person. I’m happy that he’s getting a chance to write a Cyclops story, because during our previous discussion he expressed a strong desire to write post-AvX Cyclops stories. What All-New X-Menproves is that Hopeless has a deep love for Scott Summers and that he’s concerned with making these young X-Men feel young. I think more people should love Scott Summers / Cyclops like Dennis Hopeless does. The version of Cyclops that we have been given in the 90s animated series and just about all other subsequent television and film representations has created a generation of people who default to hating Cyclops, but I think that he is perhaps the best developed character in the Marvel universe.

The next suggestion I am going to look into is Totally Awesome Hulk. It is hard not to love a title that I assume is making fun of Marvel’s adjective-driven new series. Here’s to hoping there’s a lot more to love about the series than just the title. Next time we get to read the last set of new comics for 2015. I’m excited, personally. Let me know if any of you have any interest in a new comics of 2015 roundup post. I think something like that might be fun.

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