In part one, we examined the books from DC and Boom! Here in part two, we’ll be looking at the books from Marvel and IDW. Additionally, we have two miniseries ending with this week.
First on the list is SCARLET SPIDER #4, which continues the plot thread established in the previous issue with Kaine versus the Assassins Guild. We get some backstory on what exactly our protagonist did to earn the organization’s ill will. It heavily involves Kaine’s past when he was a disfigured, degenerating clone completing hits for a paycheck. Not only that, but after his reformation, years following that life as a hired thug, his conscience starts catching up to him in a moment I really liked. If I haven’t stated this before, I’m loving this book.
Also of note is Aracley, the displaced Mexican amnesiac who’s displaying…odd qualities. A sudden grasp of basic English (among other languages) and a bizarre, almost psychic connection to Kaine. I suspect next issue we’ll get more on these sudden developments.
Next is WINTER SOLDIER #4, the other Marvel book starring a former supporting character turned hero (of sorts) that started in January of this year. I’m genuinely surprised I hadn’t noticed the connection until now. This issue pits Doom versus Doom (-bot) and (formerly) brainwashed soviet agent versus (currently) brainwashed soviet agent, all while trying to avoid an international incident.
If I haven’t mentioned before, I also love this series to death. Can’t you tell?
What I find very compelling about this current plot line is the Winter Soldier’s past with the soviet sleeper agents, and how he now needs to put down the men he helped train. They say a parent should never have to live to bury their children, but does the same hold true for a master living to see the day he decommissions his students (forcibly if need be)? And then there’s the very important question of when it becomes acceptable to abandon old loyalties. The Cold War is over, and the Soviet Union crumbled. But if these men don’t know it, are they wrong to keep fighting for what they perceive to be a cause that benefits their country?
The comic doesn’t really go into that last part, but it’s something to think about. Because WINTER SOLDIER is that kind of book. It’s a series about loyalty, betrayal, and how old wounds run deep. And apparently, the next issue has Bucky Barnes fighting a Gorilla wielding a machine gun. That’s always fun.
Know what else is fun? CARNAGE USA #5, the finale to the five part miniseries where the symbiotically enhanced serial killer Cletus Kasady takes over a town and fights the Avengers and some other symbiote users. It’s been a wild ride, and the last issue doesn’t disappoint.
Here are some things that happen in this issue, taken out of context: Kasady and Venom losing their symbiotes and fist fighting, both without a leg to stand on (literally). Captain America crippling a commanding officer emotionally (off panel). Zoo animals being taken over by symbiotes by the dozens. The Thing saying, “I’m fighting a giraffe, Cap! Let me wrap my mind around that and I’ll get back to you!”
I think this was one of the best miniseries I’ve read so far this year, which is saying something. In fact, that’s saying a lot given this is also one of the more disturbing things I’ve read so far this year. Especially in the art department. And while it’s certainly damn fun and funny, it’s got a bittersweet ending. I’m not going to spoil anything, but this comic doesn’t end all sunshine and rainbows.
Which is kind of ironic, given I’m told that Maximum Carnage ended with the titular villain getting defeated by a happiness ray. Comic books are weird.
Finally we have INFESTATION 2 #2, the finale to IDW’s big crossover event involving their various licensed properties fighting eldritch abominations from outside time. And it’s pretty underwhelming, all things considered.
Let’s be frank, I was probably supposed to read more than just the central narrative in this two part miniseries, and one miniseries involving GI Joe. But then, I can’t imagine how it’d have helped, except perhaps to keep the conflict fresh in my mind from one week to the next. As it stands, I’ve gone weeks, if not months, between reading books in this event, and not once did I really feel compelled to read anything I hadn’t already been in mind to read before this thing even started.
So way back in January, you’ll not recall that in one universe (that’s apparently only seen in these crossover events to my knowledge), the elder gods want into Earth, and a bunch of vampires have to stop them. And at the end of the issue, they do. They do in one of the biggest anticlimaxes I’ve ever seen, owing largely to the fact that I’ve entirely forgotten any tension from the first issue. And a two issue miniseries like this feels like barely anything was built up, so as soon as the conflict is brought up, it’s resolved, especially since this is supposed to be an Earth-shattering, apocalyptic disaster waiting to happen. The many characters (who could have been interesting to watch) get no time to do anything, partly because the book is so short, and partly because they’re fighting Lovecraftian horrors that can’t be killed and thus the only option is to stall until the main characters can shove a thing onto another thing and into a space-time thing. And then the conflict is over.
Not even the fact that they are, in order, a tumor bug pulled from Lovecraft’s stomach, a vampire’s heart with magic machines attached to it, and a hole to the subtle realms of the outer gods, can save this from being a huge let down.
And how did this stop Cthulhu from entering the other universes in this event? Or how did the brave efforts of those other guys make it more decisive for these guys in this book to lock the horrors out of their universe? In both cases, it doesn’t, because none of these are in any way connected except thematically. And when there is literally nothing at all stopping me from skipping all but the one or two miniseries that I’m remotely interested, what’s the point of this event at all?
Not to mention both this issue’s cover and the previous in this miniseries prominently display a number of characters from other involved franchises that participated in this event, yet not a single one makes even a cameo in either issue. Because the events in INFESTATION 2 have nothing to do with any of the others, and now I’m just going in circles.
I declare this event boring and useless. Goodnight! And let’s hope for a better event next year.