In part one, we looked at what DC and Boom Studios had to offer. Here in part two, we look at the efforts from Marvel and IDW. Includes CAPTAIN MARVEL #4, THE PUNISHER #16, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #694, and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION/DOCTOR WHO: ASSIMILATION 2 #5. Because I have enough on my plate these days.
So first up is CAPTAIN MARVEL #4, where the titular heroine teams up with some female soldiers to fight the Kree tech-armed Japanese forces on a Peruvian island during WWII.
Normal people would gawk at such a description. For a comic book fan, this is Wednesday.
One of the things I really liked about this story arc was how Carol Danvers interacted with the group of 40s era female soldiers (well, civilian pilots that got stranded in the time warp in the same way Carol was). Makes me wish we could have more time to spend with this group. Anyway, the issue kind of resolves the “stuck in Peru with enemies shooting at you” problem, but Captain Marvel isn’t out of the frying pan yet. It ends with her doing the time warp again, but not to her own time.
Damnit, I’m stuck with this series. It’s too good to just casually drop.
Thankfully – and also unfortunately – another series is ending. THE PUNISHER #16 marks the end of the current series, as well as Greg Rucka’s time with Marvel comics. Turns out the writer has had no end of problems with the mainstream comic industry, and is going independent so he can work on his own creator owned work. May he have all the good fortune life can bestow upon this endeavor.
It’s a bitter sweet conclusion we have here. On the one hand, I’ve been following this series for the last year, so it’s hard to see it go. On the other hand, the series was dragging a bit near the end, and thankfully this last issue does a great job wrapping up the Cole-Alves plot. The Exchange has finally been dismantled, and her revenge is finally fulfilled. But it couldn’t be as simple as that, especially after a major character in the series winds up dead. And Cole-Alves is the blame. What’s to be done with a Punisher (Punishette?) who became the exact thing she fought against?
Spoiling this issue any more would be so criminal I’d ask the Punisher himself to come kill me for my flagrantly illicit ways, but suffice to say the sidekick must be taken out of the picture. Both from a narrative standpoint, and simply because there cannot be two Punishers running around. The status quo can’t handle it. So her being “retired” as it were had to happen. Though I’m loath to say goodbye to this book, it’s the best thing for it.
Will I be reading the upcoming Punisher: War Zone? Maybe, I don’t know. There’s no way a succeeding series could capture the same vibe as this one. I’ll keep my ear to the ground, but it’s another place to drop a title. Stay tuned for a retrospective whenever I get around to it.
Speaking of endings – and series soon to be canceled and replaced with new ones – AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #694 marks the conclusion of the infamous Alpha storyline. Determined to end his irstwhile protege’s reign of irresponsibility, Peter Parker works around the clock looking for a viable method of ridding Alpha of his super powers. And then a space warlord invades Earth.
Again, for guys like me, this is Wednesday.
And wouldn’t you know it? Peter’s Aunt May and her husband JJ Jameson Sr just so happen to be trying to fly to Boston as the invasion starts, and Alpha proves his total disregard for peoples’ safety by spraying energy wildly. Thankfully for all of us, Spiderman is a big damn hero, and even manages to find a solution to his Alpha problem. And solution that results in what could be a future return of the would-be super-powered superstar. As a hero? As a villain? It’s not clear, though Marvel would be wise to keep him in reserve for down the line. There’s story ideas in there.
When everyone heard about Alpha and realized it was a teenaged sidekick for Spiderman, everyone assumed it was Marvel’s latest attempt to replace the wall-crawler. This naturally was an unfounded fear, since if One More Day taught us anything, it’s that Marvel doesn’t like to allow Spiderman to progress as a character. I exaggerate, but I doubt Marvel would casually replace Peter Parker with some arbitrary neonate, especially given all the work they’ve put into building his brand in the last year alone. This doubt proved correct as the Alpha storyline ventured into a completely different direction. If anything, the prospect of an apprentice superhero for Spiderman seems to me a great idea with potential.
As this medium has taught me repeatedly, we can’t always get what we want. We can get a good story out of it, however, and this was one. Now let’s get to that Hobgoblin thing already.
Lastly is STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION/DOCTOR WHO: ASSIMILATION 2 #5, of miniseries with the frustratingly long name. Having scouted a planet recently invaded by the combined and glorious forces of the Borg and the Cybermen, the crew of the Enterprise and the Doctor’s party discover that the marriage between the two mechanically inclined races has suffered a bitter divorce. As we learn – or rather than The Doctor and Guinan speculate to have happened – the Cybermen’s insatiable lust for power caused them to betray their Borg allies. The Cybermen now move full tilt towards the Borg homeworld, intent on upgrading them and then the entire universe.
The Doctor suggests the Enterprise join forces with the Borg, who ask Captain Picard for assistance. Picard says nuts to that noise, and the readers not already familiar with Star Trek history learn of Picard’s former assimilation into the Borg collective. Anyone who watched Star Trek First Contact knows how much Picard despises the Borg. Meaning The Doctor has to use drastic measures to convince the captain to meet with them.
This issue is great, portraying the reluctance Picard has to aligning with his most hated enemy, the ones that enslaved his body and mind in flashback scenes that mirror the original show. It also presents the very logical question “Why not just let the two forces grind against each other until they’re both near dead, then swoop in with a much more prepared Federation force to mop up the remaining pieces”? And then shows us exactly why it wouldn’t be a good idea, simply because while Star Trek works under more realistic rules of warfare, Doctor Who’s Cybermen have a more “far-out” scale to them, which means they can accomplish stuff despite what logic dictates simply by virtue of the British show’s…we’ll say lax realism. Watch a standard episode of Doctor Who, and it’ll be obvious the show plays fast and loose with what’s possible or likely.
Which gives them an unfair advantage against the comparatively more restrained Next Generation Star Trek. And I fully understand how insane that sounds, Star Trek being the more level-headed show.
Was my explanation of the dynamics of Doctor Who physics as compared to Star Trek physics at all coherent? Did you catch why I said it’s Wednesday instead of it’s Tuesday? Are you sad to see Greg Rucka leave Marvel? What, if anything, did you assume the Alpha storyline would amount to? Leave a comment below.