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This has been a fun week of comic book surprises. The Flash #65 ended "The Price" arc on an unexpected note, while Image Comics’ soon-to-be-released series, Ascender, was a refreshing start, as was Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #1. I also check out Heroes in Crisis #6, Punk Mambo #1, Star Trek: The Q Conflict #2, and the newest Captain Marvel series, Captain Marvel: Braver & Mightier #1.
'The Flash' #65
"The Price" is paid, but not in the way we expected. Gotham Girl lives to torment Batman readers, while the Flash’s life falls apart. Is this the end? Or is it the beginning of something much worse? The finale of this crossover teases more doom and gloom for the DC Universe and its heroes, with 2019’s comic book event: The Year of the Villain.
It isn’t clear yet if said villain was the one helping Gotham Girl, but the events of this crossover seem to have well and truly driven Flash and Batman apart. This is a real pity, considering the two of them appeared to make a good team in other titles, like the Doomsday Clock series. Will this falling out also affect the remainder of their solo series and Heroes in Crisis? We will have to wait and see.
'Star Trek: The Q Conflict' #2
The contest begins in the second instalment of this exciting Star Trek crossover series. The four crews of Enterprise, Enterprise-D, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager are mixed together and chosen by the main villains, Trelane, Q, the Organians, and the Metrons. Each team is then dispatched in the race to pick up a MacGuffin. Whoever wins notches up a victory for their respective godlike being.
I absolutely love seeing all these characters together, and the writers know how to ensure no one comes across as especially dumb or annoying (except Quark, he was born annoying). How the writers are able to capture the exact speaking styles of each character is beyond me. It’s a gift, one that makes this series especially absorbing. I can’t wait to read more!
'Heroes in Crisis' #6
This one felt more like a filler issue. The contents were practically a re-tread of the previous instalment. The plot doesn’t move forward much aside from a little more understanding of what Harley Quinn was doing at Sanctuary, and an inkling of mystery around Wally West’s time at the facility.
Aside from that, the focus on Gnarrk is… perhaps not as exciting to me. I love that he struggles to formulate full sentences, yet spouts Keats at the drop of the hat. It makes him a complex character, if not the most interesting.
With three issues left in the series, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and tie up loose threads, because at this point it feels like Tom King is dragging the pages out to reach the end of the series instead of concluding plot points along the way.
'Age of X-Man: X-Tremists' #1
Well, it seems that in utopia, X-Tremists are supposedly the good guys working to establish law and order. Their main job is to arrest and mind-wipe any mutant found to have intimate relations with another. Led by Fred Dukes, the team comprises Psylocke, Jubilee, Moneta, Northstar, and Bobby "Iceman" Drake. When they’re deployed to arrest a couple for their third infraction, a simple op opens a can of worms. Is this perfect world ready to handle the truth?
This series is incredible and gripping, but what’s most interesting is how different the characters are from their real selves. It’s hard to dislike Bobby Drake, but in this issue, he comes across as an insensitive and ruthless bigot. However, the final panel… does it belie some greater turmoil? I love AUs and this expansive world has me hooked. I can’t wait to read more, but hopefully the writers will be able to handle a rather explosive topic with balanced sensitivity.
Comic Book Number Ones
Captain Marvel: Braver & Mightier #1 is another series that capitalises on the release of Marvel’s first female superhero-led film. It’s Carol Danvers Day, and she’s running late for her own celebration because of an alien attack above Earth. The aliens are an unknown race, and powerful to boot. Can Captain Marvel defeat them in time for the festivities?
This was a fun comic and much of the dialogue ties in with the upcoming film. Jody Houser even adds a little nod to Brie Larson’s campaign to bring in more diverse members of the press. The art is vibrant, but I felt like Carol was drawn a little too slim and young. She looks much more powerful in the concurrently running Captain Marvel series by Kelly Thompson.
Punk Mambo #1 brings back another Valiant-verse character and she’s got trouble a-plenty. When Punk Mambo’s trusted deus ex machina, a Loa named Ayezan, is captured, it severs their bond rendering Punk Mambo less powerful and more in pain. To get Aye back, she heads to Haiti with the spirit of Marie Laveau—and that’s when the adventures begin.
I feel like my lack of connection or knowledge of this character deters me from becoming immersed in this series. Perhaps the problem is that hindering female characters with a power-impediment to propel a series forward has never felt like the best writing move for me. Fans will love this adventure, but it didn’t capture my imagination. It will be out on April 24.
Ascender #1 is set in a post-Apocalyptic world where a magician who goes by the title Mother has wiped out technology and rules with an iron fist. Mother is feared and reviled, but there appears to be another magic-wielder who is helping the Rebels fight her army. Elsewhere, Mila is tired of her meaningless existence, and wishes for something more. Then, her wish comes true.
Despite the stark art, this first issue is an engrossing read, with a well-built world. I found Mila to be a bit of brat, but she’ll probably grow out of it over the course of the series. Mother and her magic are very intriguing. I highly recommend checking out this issue when it’s released on April 24.
Stay tuned for more comic reviews in the first week of March!