As stated previously, we’re behind schedule. No matter, just so long as it gets done. In part one, we looked at the books from DC and Dark Horse. Here in part two, we examine the offerings from Marvel and Valiant, including WINTER SOLDIER #13, SCARLET SPIDER #12, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699.1, and BLOODSHOT #6.
WINTER SOLDIER #13 goes a long way to get us out of the rut the series has been having for the last few months. It does this by having the titular hero brainwash himself to go kill Daredevil of all people, at the urging of Leo Novokov. Leo has Bucky’s girlfriend and ally Black Widow reprogrammed to his side, and a desperate Barnes was willing to do anything to get her back. As for why Daredevil was chosen as the target by Leo, there is a reason. A reason that clues the good guys into what Leo wants exactly, and how they can exploit it.
The latter being only vaguely described. We’re not privy to that little bit of deduction, unfortunately.
If there’s one thing this series as of late has done, its fairly accurately reproduce the feelings of the Cold War: threats, espionage, minor conflicts with largely unrelated small adversaries, and a whole lot of waiting around for a real battle that might not ever come. So kudos to the writers for living up to the theme established in the initial issues. Just too bad it had the glacial pace of the Cold War, and none of the Korean or Vietnam wars to distract us. And believe me, when I’m not distracted by awesome or forward progress or character development, I get antsy.
Ed Brubaker’s run on the series ends early next year, so here’s to this plotline getting resolved. When it does, I’ll give some more thought as to whether I’ll keep on with the series.
SCARLET SPIDER #12 returns the series from its involvement with Minimum Carnage (and yes, I do intend to write my retrospective on that) by making it actually matter in terms of Kaine’s characterization. Having experienced a mess of nonsense in the Microverse and the succeeding massacre in Houston by Carnage, Kaine is in an understandable funk. This issue is partly about Kaine’s friends helping him learn the lesson that no, he doesn’t have to be the killing machine he once was, and can do good in the world.
The other part is an armed robbery of the hotel Scarlet Spider stays at by armed goons dressed in Santa outfits. It’s like if Silent Night Deadly Night crossed over with Die Hard, and then you threw an extremely jaded, morally bent Spiderman into the mix. Here’s hoping there isn’t a sequel where some other clone of Peter Parker recounts the events here, lifting panels wholesale, and then goes on a rampage killing people. That wouldn’t be good, though we’d get a meme out of it I guess.
I lost track of that joke somewhere.
Also we get more character moments from Aracely, the amnesiac woman Kaine saved from slave traders, and who took up residence at his place. The one who is also psychic, something that’s grown larger as time goes on. Before she seemed only capable of sensing Kaine’s emotions. Now she freely sensing damn near anyone within a few hundred feet of her, and has grown more proactive along with it. She’s even got a swear jar going, which she upholds with a vigor.
True to form, living with the Scarlet Spider leaves the jar full by the end of the issue. I love this book.
I also love Amazing Spider-Man, but that’s ending in only a few days from this post. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699.1 takes a break from the fact that the entire series run, fifty years in the making, will end and be replaced by a new Spiderman title by basically advertising for yet another new series. Yep, it’s time to finally settle that lingering Micheal Morbius problem.
It’s a Point One issue, so if you really don’t care, there’s nothing stopping you from just skipping it (and this part of the post).
Micheal Morbius is the Living Vampire. Basically, as recounted in this issue, our dear friend Micheal suffered from debilitating anemia that he and his best friend tried for years to cure. For some reason that probably made more sense at the time, they decided to splice his DNA with that of a vampire bat in order to bolster his blood cell production. It worked, except for the part where he mutated into a bat-like creature, and became dependent on feasting upon the blood of the living. It’s a standard case of Convergence: we have a guy who is characteristically like a vampire, but without all the undead stuff consistent with any of the actual vampires of the Marvel universe. The old Spiderman writers reinvented the wheel so to speak using psuedo-science instead of mysticism, like reverse engineering a piece of technology by looking at what you want to do and trying to find a way to do it.
Maybe I’m the only one who finds such substitution interesting.
So that’s about it. Morbius takes advantage of Peter Parker’s escape from SHIELD containment (in the body of Doctor Octopus), and gets out himself. The Lizard (really Curt Connors trapped in the Lizard body, like this is some kind of blunt-force exposition from a sixties TV show) correctly points out to his sometimes friend/sometimes experimenter that Morbius doesn’t have jack going for him. And thus we set the stage for whatever Morbius’ ongoing series will be.
Am I going to cover said MORBIUS series? Eh, I’ll give it a shot. What could go wrong?
Finally we have BLOODSHOT #6, with the titular red-chested cyborg deep in the bowels of Project Rising Spirit. The mission: to access a computer terminal perported to contain Bloodshot’s real name and identity. The obstacle: four heavily armed, heavily mutated, and heavily unfriendly higher level mooks sent to kill Bloodshot at any cost. And believe me, this whole endeavor is costly across the board, for everyone involved.
It’s funny because Bloodshot’s healing factor still obeys the laws of conservation of matter, and he can’t keep eating damage forever. Okay so maybe it’s not so funny, but it is geeky.
If I were to describe Bloodshot’s entire strategy during this operation, it would be “have my nanomachines hack everything and wade into gunfire, hoping my healing holds out”. I’m kind of curious if the writers are aware of this, and plan to involve later issues in situations where our hero can’t count on his healing factor, or which cannot be easily solved with prodigious use thereof.
Before I forget, this issue also presents a more serious connection between Bloodshot the series and Harbinger. A connection onerously spoiled by the cover. Thankfully I follow both series, so I’m solid.
Are you similarly solid about this crossover? Are our Earthly physical laws a help or hindrance to fictional dramatic tension, or is it variable depending on the situation? If a series appropriately simulated tedious waiting indicative of its major influence, has it succeeded? Did you happen to notice Morbius was reintroduced to the Spiderman books in yet another Point One issue? Leave your comments below. Feedback is always appreciated.