Legendary Star-Lord, Star Lord, Kitty Pryde, CoverLegendary Star-Lord #9

Sam Humphries (W), Paco Medina (A)
Marvel Comics
February 18, 2015

The Black Vortex event finally gains momentum in its third chapter, but those looking forward to the conflict depicted on the cover will be disappointed. Kitty and Star-Lord’s relationship problems don’t escalate beyond “mild scolding,” though who knows, maybe they re-enact scenes from Reservoir Dogs on their dates.

The X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy square off against their friends who have been transformed by the Black Vortex, and young Angel submits to the ancient artifact and gets a cosmic upgrade. (I guess no one told time-displaced Warren about that whole Archangel/Horseman of the Apocalypse thing, eh?) Kitty is justifiably angry at Star-Lord for getting her students into a deadly situation, but that’s quickly pushed aside for more action and explosions.

The Black Vortex still feels like a fairly conventional “absolute power corrupts absolutely” story, but at least now the plot is moving forward. Paco Medina’s transformed Angel feels suitably scary, and he delivers on the issue’s big, “oh damn, that’s cool” scene, which is a swordfight between Gamora and Storm. Legendary Star-Lord #9 is the most promising chapter of The Black Vortex so far, which gives me some hope for the story ahead.

— Kayleigh

Doctor Who, cover, Eleventh DoctorDoctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #8

Al Ewing (W), Warren Pleece (A), Hi-Fi (C)
Marvel
February 1, 2015

After the Doctor, Jones and ARC’s failure last issue, Alice has to negotiate for the fate of three civilizations–all the while grappling with her late mother’s apparent return courtesy of SERVEYOUinc. It’s not a huge spoiler to say she has some problems coming to terms with the finality of death in a universe that includes the likes of Time Lords and their TARDISes (not to mention Rory Williams, unknown to her but alluded to for our sakes by the Doctor).

True to so many of the best Doctor Who stories, Alice’s personal victory gives her what’s needed to triumph at world saving, but only in the darkest, most bittersweet way. Though she has the strength to dismiss SERVEYOUinc’s simulacrum, Alice is plunged back into depression. Because of that she’s unaffected by the rapturous, life-sapping beauty of the voyage beyond the Gates of Creation, and returns safely to end the Amstron-J’arrodic war. The Doctor, furious on her behalf, prepares to take them to SERVEYOUinc HQ for a showdown–one that promises to reveal just how he fell into his own wish-fulfillment trap a few issues back.

I’m a sucker for stories in which the protagonists have to struggle with tough emotional problems at the same time as they save the universe especially, so this comic should have been right up my alley. And yet…for a comic which does so much to forward the overarching plot, it feels weirdly like filler. There are just a few too many ideas running around to a few pages, and the big emotional moments fault just that little bit flat because they don’t have enough room to breathe. These days it’s more common to see a story stretched over too many issues rather than compressed into too few, but in this case I wouldn’t have minded waiting another month for the boss fight.

— Mai

Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comics, cover, Kamala KhanMs. Marvel #11

G. Willow Wilson (W), Adrian Alphona (A), Ian Herring (C)
Marvel
February 4, 2015

Speaking of boss fights, Ms. Marvel‘s second arc wraps with the climactic battle between Kamala and her allies versus the Inventor and his robots.

Perhaps the most unusual choice Wilson and Alphona have made with this title is to play it low-key. It seems bizarre to describe a story that includes a shape-shifting superhero, a half-man, half-cockatiel mad scientist, giant robots, giant alligators, a teleporting giant dog, the queen of Attilan, Wolverine, and a nefarious plot to harvest Millenials for energy as “intimate,” but that’s exactly what it is: one young girl working with and within her community to better it.

Many, many commentators before me have noted the parallels between teen underdog superhero Kamala Khan and former teen underdog Peter Parker. Amazing Spider-Man was founded on the premise that a hero with human flaws would be more likeable and more interesting to read about than an icon. Ms. Marvel takes that one step further and suggests that hero is also a kinder one. As one of the cops points out this issue, not that many superheroes devote their time to tracking down missing teenagers. Kamala’s devotion to her community is explicitly linked to her reliance on it; her conviction that the kids are worth saving is what persuades them to come to her aid.

Next issue, a change of pace with a Valentine’s issue guest-starring Loki! And art by Elmo Bondoc, whose art is cute enough that I might not even miss Alphona.

— Mai

Silk, cover, Marvel ComicsSilk #1

Robbie Thompson (W), Stacey Lee (A)
Marvel Comics
February 18, 2015

Silk is one of the highly-anticipated (by me, anyways) new titles to come out of the Spider-Verse event. Penned by Supernatural writer Robbie Thompson and drawn by Stacey Lee, this comic introduces Cindy Moon as the new web-slinging superhero of New York. But don’t worry Parker fans, Peter is still around, and occasionally fights crime beside Silk, despite her best efforts to avoid him.

In the first issue we learn Cindy’s backstory: after being bitten by the same spider that bit Peter, she was forced to isolate herself in a bunker for ten years by a mysterious man named Ezekiel Sims. Since her escape she has begun working with the Daily Bugle to gain access to their information resources in an attempt to locate the family she left behind. In her spare time she fights a new villain named Dragonclaw, who is really just a pawn for a more familiar rogue from the Spider-Man canon.

I’m really enjoying the tone of the comic so far; it falls in line with Ms. Marvel and Batgirl as a book that caters to young women. It’s fun and snarky, but also doesn’t shy away from the fact that Cindy has survived an incredibly traumatic experience and is still dealing with its effects. I liked that Thompson and Lee sprinkled Cindy’s flashbacks throughout the comic, separating them with a more subdued color palette. They also make it clear that she is suffering from post-traumatic stress, as that the memories are often triggered by something in her surroundings.

Between Cindy’s relationship with Peter, corporate conspiracies, gang violence, and, from the looks of next issue’s cover, possible Hydra involvement there is already so much going on in Silk, and I can’t wait to read more!

— KM

sandman, cover, vertigoThe Sandman: Overture: The Special Edition #4

Neil Gaiman (W), J.H. Williams III (A)
Vertigo
February 25, 2015

Morpheus’ quest to find and kill the insane star continues. In this issue, we meet the Endless’ father. He’s never named, but I’m guessing he’s Time, and it’s implied that their mother is Night. Morpheus asks for his help, and their conversation takes place at the same time, after, and before the rest of the events in this issue. Morpheus also stands with his cat-self and the little girl Hope in front of the city of stars, asking for entry into their realm to take care of the insane star. Eventually the stars let Morpheus in, and he relates the story of the first annulet and the first time he was supposed to kill to the insane star. And how he failed.

All of this refers back to the original Sandman series. Rose was an annulet with Endless blood in her, a plot by Desire to get Morpheus to kill one of their own and thus to be vulnerable to the Kindly Ones. Morpheus mentions to Rose that he once failed in his duties, and a star went insane. The series also begins with Morpheus just free of some confinement, never specified, that left him weak enough for a cult to capture and imprison him for seventy years.

It’s so satisfying to have some of these little mysteries answered. The art in this new series is really experimental, with Time’s shifting appearance drawn in a Art Nouveau style in the same panel with Morpheus’ own watercolor and fire making it obvious that he isn’t part of his father’s realm. Hope’s fate is really upsetting, and beautifully drawn, as is the final page, where the stars imprison Morpheus in a Superman-style diamond that is the event horizon of a dark star. Despite knowing Morpheus is somehow freed, I can’t wait to see how it happens.

— Sarah