The Stack 11/28 – Action Comics, Ironheart, Heroes In Crisis, And More!

by Sage Ashford

The last week of November was surprisingly strong, given how often the end of the month tends to flag compared to the middle. This week we’re covering the first issue of Riri Williams’ latest ongoing, some stuff starring everyone’s favorite ninja brothers, and DC’s major event that shouldn’t be an event.  Let’s get into it.

Action Comics #1005
“Invisible Mafia Part 5”
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Art & Cover: Ryan Sook
Colors: Brad Anderson
This is the kind of reveal that blindsides you while also seeming like the only possible answer at the same time. You just don’t expect the Daily Planet to have anything other than supporting cast for Clark Kent, and even when they do occasionally become a villain it’s always through Improbable Circumstances and by the end of the issue or arc they’re back to normal. Here, Bendis’ new addition to the cast is immersed in the seedy underbelly of Metropolis, working as the muscle to the leader of the Invisible Mafia. Superman’s detractors spend so much time claiming the character is so difficult to write for without placing him in increasingly absurd, Akira Toriyama-ian situations where he’s facing world/galaxy/creation-buster threats, but Bendis is excelling here by making a compelling arc about how some of Superman’s most concerning threats are ones who aren’t in his power range.

Amazing Spider-Man #10
“Heist Part Three”
Writer: Nick Spencer
Pencilers: Humberto Ramos and Michele Bandini
And with this, the conversion of major mob boss Felicia Hardy back into charming cat burglar is complete. Shame. I might’ve been the only person, but I liked that as a transformation for her, getting away from the Kingpin and the usual subjects standing at the top of the totem pole. Watching her try to maintain some semblance of a soul while being in the same place as Wilson Fisk could have been compelling enough to center a comic around her, but Slott didn’t even finish his run before they undid it all.  Now we’ve reestablished the friendship with her and Spider-Man by having him reveal his identity to her once again. It seems like this is the path that led to him having to ask Doc Strange to mind wipe people in the first place, but Cat does make a strong argument that it’s completely messed up to have forgotten the face and identity of a person you dated.

Heroes in Crisis #3
“Master of the Lagoon”
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann, Lee Weeks
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
I feel like there’s an argument for this book being drastically better if it’s not trying to be an “event” comic, and just embraces being a comic about the trauma that would naturally come with being a superhero. There are some strong moments here–most especially with Wally, a young man struggling with having had an entire family ripped away from him thanks to some wibbly-wobbly alternate universe BS.  But then as soon as they try to get going with the main plotline again things are dragged right back down into a Serious Comic instead of a comic about serious issue, and I go back to being disappointed. Watching these characters go from broken wrecks to putting themselves together enough to venture out and do this impossible, noble task they risk their lives on daily was compelling enough–why’d we need a murder mystery, again?   And why’d we need Harley Quinn is a question I ask regularly, though I understand why.

Ironheart #1
Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Artists: Kevin Libranda & Luciano Vecchio
Color Artist: Matt Milla
A good writer is good no matter the medium, something Eve Ewing proves here by knocking it out of the park with this first issue about Ironheart, the new teenaged armored hero on the block. First issues are hard because there’s so much you have to do. In this book along, Ewing sets up Riri’s new status quo, gives her an introductory villain to test her competence, makes a future villain group to pit her against down the line, introduces a supporting cast/potential love interest, and creates us a killer hook to bring us back. Ewing doesn’t just excel at everything in a first issue, she makes it look easy, and it’s all pitch perfect for one of my favorite characters of the last five years.  Now we just have to hope Marvel can manage to not cancel it inside of a year.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #33
Written by: Marguerite Bennett
Illustrated by: Simone Di Meo, French Carlomagno, Francesco Mortarino
Colors by: Walter Baiamonte, French Carlomagno
Beyond the Grid gets better with every issue. After setting up the Rangers’ new status quo of being lost in an alternate universe, we’re finally getting some background on just what that universe is. In DC terms, they wound up in the Dark Multiverse–a place where everything is dying, and the morphing grid doesn’t even exist. It’s a little weird to take them away from their usual Earthling surroundings, but at the same time it’s hard to think of a place they belong in more.  They usually have things too easy, but here the Rangers are in a place where they can actually do some good, even though they’re battling an impossible challenge. At the same time, since a comic isn’t bound by budgetary issues or needs to reuse the same sets, it’s almost a cop out to just rely on the same settings as the series.  The Power Rangers comic should be as over the top as possible.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Macro-Series: Leonardo #1
Story and Art: Sophie Campbell
Colors: Brittany Peer
While presumably this entire macro-series will wind up having some relevance later, this feels like the most obviously important comic to future developments of the IDW Turtles-verse we’ve gotten in the series thus far.  It’s also artistically the strongest, as Sophie Campbell and Brittany Peer kill it on the art duties, creating what has to be one of the most beautiful books to come out all November. They perfectly evoke an ethereal feel of a world caught between reality and the astral plane, perfect for a comic centered around the most spiritually-conscious member of the group, Leonardo.
The ongoing IDW story about the Turtles desperately trying to keep their family together in spite of outside forces doing everything to tear them apart has made this universe one of the strongest and most unique incarnation of the characters yet. Currently, our heroes’ biggest challenge is having their father serve as the head of the Foot ninja clan, leaving Leonardo in charge of Clan Hamato, essentially working as Splinter’s subordinate. But with Karai back in the picture, the possibility of another battle for succession is on the horizon. And judging by the end of issue 88, that may be on the table far sooner than we think.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #88
Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, & Tom Waltz
Art: Dave Wachter
Colors: Ronda Pattison
I’m not sure if the 4Kids cartoon ever explained why Bishop was able to beat four highly trained ninja, but I’m positive the answer wasn’t this. It’s a twist on the “humans are the real monsters” idea, though I actually think Bishop being physiologically stunted hurts the overall argument. A negative side to human nature involves assuming that which is different is “wrong”, twisted, or evil–so Bishop actually living up to that is…unfortunate, to say the least.  And this issue sets him up as a truly irredeemable character as well, going so far as to attempt to nuke the island the Utrom and Triceratons are from….using the body of one of the Turtles’ allies. It’s a monstrous act, and while the mutates are likely not going to succeed in killing all humans, from Slash’s last words to Old Hob…”They have to be stopped.”, it’s safe to assume Bishop isn’t going to make it out alive when they finally pay this storyline off going towards issue #100.

The Silencer #11
“Cold Cold Heart Part One”
Storytellers: Jack Herbert & Dan Abnett
Colors: Mike Spicer
Of course the one thing Talia would’ve learned from dating Bruce…would be the Batman Gambit. Eleven issues of a Leviathan civil war and the ending is “Talia points how how much better she is at it than everyone else, they all agree and join her”. These “New Age of DC Heroes” books haven’t fared all that well–most of them are either canceled or the main creative team has already dipped, but Silencer appears to be the one exception. She’s been awesome enough for writers on Arrow to include her in the newest season of the show, and alongside Bendis’ Action Comics, this book seems to be setting up the long-neglected espionage corner of the DC Universe again. I’m not against that; Silencer’s one of the coolest new characters to come out of DC in a while, and the more reason they give readers to want to follow her the better.

Titans #30
Writer: Dan Abnett
Pencils: Minkyu Jung
Inks: John Dell, Scott Hanna
Colors: Adriano Lucas, HI-FI
Just when all hope for making it back home seemed lost, the Titans’ distress beacon attracts a familiar face.  If you’re thinking this is random, here’s a fun fact: Before Kyle Rayner joined Morrison’s JLA, the character spent roughly two years as a member of the Titans alongside Impulse and…Donna Troy. This is actually where Kyle and Donna’s relationship came from, and while I’m not super excited at the thought of someone reigniting that old flame, I am happy they’ve found something for the character to do. With Morrison using Hal Jordan pretty much as the sole Earth Green Lantern, John Stewart a member of Snyder’s Justice League and Jessica in the “Ghost Sector”, that leaves three other Earth Lanterns with basically nothing to do. And while I’m sad for Simon and Guy, neither of them are my favorite hero–so if this gives Kyle a home for the forseeable future, I’m all for it.

Uncanny X-Men #3
“Disassembled Part 3”
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson, & Ed Brisson
Artist: Yildiray Cinar
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Hey look–the thing I predicted turned out to be true.  The allure of using a character who wields as much power as Legion as a villain is too great.  I’d love to see him join the X-Men for an extended period of time though, and there may yet be an opportunity for that given he’s not exactly the primary villain. Instead, it looks like we’re headed towards a utopian version of Age of Apocalypse, with X-Man and his acolytes arriving to bring a new era to the world.  I didn’t expect Disassembled to dovetail into Age of X-Man, but given the size and scale of it at least they’ll be continuing to focus on all the active members of the group for once.
See you in seven.

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