Last time we examined the offerings from DC comics. This time, we’re looking at Marvel and the independents, including THE DEFENDERS #8, SCARLET SPIDER #7, and HARBINGER #2.
First is THE DEFENDERS #8, where the team must invade the “nation” of Z’Gambo – a stretch of barren land covered in the bones of a hidden genocide – and fight John Aman, Prince of Orphans. Why do they need to invade a country and fight its immortal “ruler”? Because he killed Iron Fist’s compatriots…as well as (allegedly) T’Challa, the older male Black Panther and co-ruler of Wakanda.
I say “allegedly” because frankly I tend to get skeptical of any death in comic books these days, at least whenever it involves a decades old superhero. Which is to say no, Marvel, I’m not buying it.
Meanwhile, notorious thief and Spiderman villain/supporting character Black Cat also invades Z’Gambo at the behest of a group of antiquarians. She’s out to lift a seemingly innocuous golden frog from Aman’s vault of valuable stuff. Who wants to bet this is something much more important than it seems? Well besides me, since I know from reading to the end of this issue that it totally is, and there was never any doubt of same? And somehow Black Cat ends up teaming up with the Defenders, though for the life of me I can’t imagine why she would. She just sees a bunch of “good guys” as she puts it, and decides to jump in. Even though Aman was so distracted by the brawl that she could leave then and get away with a prize the antiquarians literally promised the world in exchange for.
Yeah, there’s altruism. But Black Cat doesn’t strike me as the most altruistic type, especially given the possibility of limitless wealth.
Next is SCARLET SPIDER #7, and actual superhero action. It’s sad when I have to look around for books where a superhero actually goes around fighting crime and being a superhero. Especially when one of the best examples of this happens to be Kaine, the guy least cut out to be a good guy by his own admission.
Although I’m probably overstating things a bit. Plenty of other books from various publishers have heroes doing heroic things. It’s just this one is the closest thing to classic, episodic crime-fighting, sees bad stuff happening and fixes it with ass-kicking action. It also helps that Kaine is a lot of fun to watch.
So he’s swinging around, bitching about the harsh Texas weather – take it from me, this is an “as you do” type of thing when you live in Texas – and suddenly a building belonging to one of the biggest industrial corporations gets hit by a rocket. A rocket launched by a bubbly woman (whom Kaine saves), who proceeds to take our red-clad hero back to her place for a little…action.
Let it never be said Kaine is not a pimp, ladies and gentlemen.
And then he comes back to check on that whole rocket thing, only to find the woman gone, the apartment swept clean, and the whole exploding rocket thing being covered up as a gas leak. So it’s up to him to figure out what’s going on. Or at least it is after Aracely, Kaine’s roommate(?) with a psychic connection to him, tells him to stop procrastinating and investigate, because him trying to not care about it is keeping her up at night.
I love this comic. I really do.
Speaking of psychics, HARBINGER #2 continues with Peter Stanchek, his schizoid friend Joe, and a dog (rather the mental projection of the powerful psionic Harada) being cornered by soldiers aiming to take the young mind-bender for themselves. That’s basically all I’m comfortable saying on the matter, except that Peter gets out of this predicament by blowing peoples’ minds.
I hesitate to mean that literally, given no Scanners-esque head-explosions occur in this comic (yet). But we can’t always get what we want.
Most if this issue is set up for later issues, as well as just showing what kind of power Peter has in his raw form. There’s a plethora of character moments here, be it from the ever paranoid Joe, the mind-controlled Kris who thankfully doesn’t remain too mind-controlled for long (owing to Peter learning from his mistakes at least), or from Mr. Tull, the agent who just can’t catch a break from the mind wipes. Beginning this installment also introduces us to a flashback of Harada and a psionic baby picked up in India named Darpan. We’ll be seeing more of him later, I’m sure.
I haven’t yet had the chance to sample the other new series from Valiant, but if they’re anything like Harbinger I have all the optimism in the world for the company’s return.