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411’s Comic Reviews: Civil War II: Kingpin, Batman: Detective Comics #935, and more!

July 14, 2016 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

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Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review Roundtable! Each week we’ll be serving up a warm dish of reviews from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.

Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!

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Yesterday we asked, “Will Audiences Embrace the New Iron Man?”

Now on with the show!

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Civil War II: Kingpin #1

Review by RobF

The Kingpin is not going to let a little thing like an all-out super hero Civil War stop him from taking his rightful place in the criminal underworld. And now he has his own secret weapon in the war. Writer Matthew Rosenberg and a team of artists explore the other side of the War and the complexity of the man known as Wilson Fisk.

“Cui Bono”, Latin for “Who Benefits”, is a credo that Wilson Fisk, a.k.a the Kingpin, lives his life by. He is an opportunist and when he learns of Ulysses and his premonitions he comes up with a solution: get your own Inhuman who can block Ulysses’s predictions. And he will go to any length to accomplish this goal, from antagonizing Avengers to risking his own life.

The second part of the issue details the death and rebirth of Janus, the Kingpin’s ace in the hole. We see him go from a complete nobody to the jewel of the Kingpin’s crown, so important the big guy is willing to take a bullet (or several) for him.

The most interesting aspect of this story is the fact that there are no true heroes in it. While Kingpin is certainly no angel the Avengers don’t represent themselves too well either. Hawkeye, Night Thrasher, Sam Wilson Cap and Spectrum appear to mock and threaten an injured Fisk.

The first story is a grim and gritty take so it needed some down and dirty artwork and we got it from Ricardo Lopez Ortiz. I can’t say I loved it but I couldn’t really see any other style working here. The second is by Dalibor Talajic, whose artwork is clearly inspired by Steve Ditko. The two drastic styles of artwork word well here.

Like the legendary phoenix the Kingpin again rises from the ashes of obscurity to once again plague the Marvel U. Of all the Civil War tie-ins this one has the most promise. Let’s hope Rosenberg can keep the momentum going.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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The Wicked + The Divine #21

Review by Edward Tripp

To quote Martin Lawrence from Bad Boys II, “This shit just got real.” The Wicked + The Divine #21 goes full Game of Thrones and kicks off the largest battle thus far for the series. Persephone (Laura) and her team storm the gates of Valhalla to stop Anake from sacrificing Minerva. Kieron Gillen has done a great job in building to this battle and setting up the sides over the course of the last few issues. At this point in the series the timing feels right to have a fight of this scale involving all the remaining gods. Without spoiling the issue too much, not every god makes it out in one piece.

The artwork Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson provides the battle with a colorful and larger-than-life feel. In a series known for flamboyant characters this battle serves as a greatest hits for the remaining gods. Dionysus and his weaponized party goers entering the fray with an explosion of neon pastels and lights was one of my favorite moments of the issue. McKelvie and Wilson also manage to properly balance the epic battle outdoors with the dark scenes occurring inside of Valhalla. Once again this team provides the soul of this series with outstanding visuals that match the storytelling of Gillen.

Issue #21 marks roughly the halfway point for the series as Gillen has stated it will run 40 some issues or so. It also marks only the start of this series changing battle as we are left with a classic cliffhanger ending. Making this battle multiple issues works as it would be a shame to rush something that has been building for the entire first half of the series. I couldn’t help but feel these last few issues have reminded me of Game of Thrones with respect to each god playing the game for various reasons. While Persephone is fits the role of Daenerys, Anake is perfect blend of Cersei and Lady Olenna. You can’t help feel that if the battle doesn’t go her way she won’t have a backup plan ready (see page 19 for further proof of her cunning nature).

Once again Gillen and company provide a knockout issue loaded with action and deception. I’m already looking forward to seeing who will make it out the next issue with most of their limbs still attached. There is little doubt that aftermath of this battle will greatly change landscape of the series going into the second half of its run.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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Detective Comics #935

Review by Jonathan Durden

One of my favorite things about Batman is the Bat Family, and Detective Comics has plenty of it. If there is one thing I’ll never get enough of, it is the dynamic of all the different relationships of the members of the Bat Family. And this issue has that in spades.

Something I noticed that writer James Tynion IV is doing is bringing the other characters to the foreground, whilst Batman does his own thing sort of in the background. This makes sense when you consider we already have Tom King and David Finch’s Batman and the upcoming All Star Batman from Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr, and Declan Shalvey. So Tynion deciding to bring Batwoman into the leadership role of the new team is a good choice.

The new team is comprised of characters I know next to nothing about since I hadn’t read much Detective prior to Rebirth. However I know enough about them to understand their angle. Tynion brought back Cassandra Cain from his 26-issue run of Batman & Robin Eternal and added Spoiler and Clayface. An unlikely group of randoms it seems, but they show great promise and potential for later arcs. Red Robin is considered second in command, and he does a great job of being just that.

Eddy Barrow’s tackles the art for this serial and to me it fits perfectly with the tone of what Tynion is going for with the story. He also does a phenomenal job with full-page spreads and handling characters’ emotions panel-to-panel.

All-in-all, this was a solid issue, but it wasn’t anything that necessarily got me super excited for the next issue. If you like the Bat Family like I do, I think you will be sufficiently satisfied with this book. Personally I will be sticking with it for the BatFam. That, and Tynion is a writer that I’ve been keeping an eye on since I began my downward spiral into my obsession with comics. I think he’s written some really good stories and I think he’s got even greater stories ahead of him.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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Vision #9

Review by Sankalp G.

It amazes me what fantastic storytelling can do to the characters. It also means a lot to readers. That’s what Tom King has brought to the table. Killing characters (Civil War II) is one thing but when readers feel it, you can say that writer has done his job.

This issue tells us about Victor Mancha. His ‘Son’ of Ultron years, Runaway days and how he has evolved. It tells us about his views, his story and then follows horror; which is associated with each issue of Vision. Victor, having captured Vin in the last issue tries to calm him down and tell him about the prophecy. Confused by what is happening around, Vin tries to escape. Victor, trying to contain him, accidentally overpowers, which results in (SPOILER) the deactivation of the Teen Synthezoid, Vin.

In the last 9 issues, we have seen many bad things happening to these clan of Visions. Still this death strikes hard. A character who is just 9 issues old made me care more than many other comic book deaths which have happened in the past two weeks. This issue is again pointing at the current event Civil War II in a way; interfering events in the present to avoid certain futures, resulting in the same future instead.

Art is always good, tone is consistent as well. One problem I found out was that Victor’s face was uneven in some of the pages. Writer Tom King himself had praise for the colorist. I mentioned in a previous review that if the tone is not consistent nor complementing the art/story, experience becomes awkward. Kudos to Jordie Bellaire for that. Cover is as always different but great. The main event in terms of art was the two panels separating the panel in the middle of the page, which is there in the whole issue showing the pain in which Vin is.

King himself talked about in fan letters that he expected this series to be cancelled and hence only thought about it as a 12-issue series. Now that I think about it, being a 12-issue series has resulted in a tight and entertaining, yet tragic ride with emotional feels along the way. He also talked about having readers for this kind of tragic stories. Sales aren’t that groundbreaking but it surely has made a splash.

This issue follows the trend and delivers like the rest. It brings us closer to the conclusion and literally, as preview shows, we are really closer to the prophecy of Agatha Harkness.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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Moon Knight #4

Review by Richard Bishop

The [i]Welcome to New Egypt[/i] storyline continues here as the group of escapees from the mental institution continue their travels into a New York City that isn’t exactly as they remembered. Having lost Crawley, who sacrificed himself last issue so that the others could escape the sewers, the group arrives above ground to see a city transformed, featuring a giant pyramid in the center and sand quickly rising around them. As they move, Khonshu provides guidance to Mr. Knight (that only he can hear) to explain that these changes are the work of Seth and that time is running out to reverse them and save the world they know. They are beset by challenges that seem real, with only Mr. Knight able to see behind the illusions hiding the true danger in the form of Seth’s minions, but in the process they lose yet another member of the team.

With numbers dwindling, they make their way to Gena’s old diner, where she fixes them a meal before bowing out of their quest, leaving just Mr. Knight and a newly-cognizant Marlene to soldier on. The two former lovers discuss her returning memories of their history together and the feelings they shared while they make their way to Seth’s stronghold, only to be stopped short by one more specter from their past: Moon Knight.

For a book outside the “mainstream” Marvel Universe of mega-crossovers and Deadpool guest appearances, this one is incredibly satisfying, and I’m more impressed by this title month after month. Jeff Lemire continues to work the “is Knight insane or not” angle masterfully, giving glimpses that either side of the argument might be the right answer, and Greg Smallwood’s art is appropriately dark and foreboding, mirroring the sense of despair that Mr. Knight and his fellow escapees are feeling. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, as Lemire lets Smallwood’s pencils tell the story, but what is spoken, particularly from Khonshu, propels the story forward nicely. Lastly, the gorgeous cover, showing an embracing Marc and Marlene, is worth the price of the book alone.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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Captain America: Sam Wilson #11

Review by Richard Bishop

In the aftermath of Jim Rhodes’ funeral last issue, Sam is visited by the head of each side of the argument in this [i]Civil War II[/i] tie-in, with both Tony Stark and Carol Danvers trying to convince him their position is the right one. Carol argues that using the precognitive powers of the Inhuman Ulysses can identify problems before they occur and allow them to be stopped proactively, while Tony argues that it is not precognition but rather data analysis that drives Ulysses’ predictions, which makes it profiling.

Interspersed with those interactions are scenes from Sam’s HQ, where he, Misty, D-Man, and the new Falcon are getting contacted on their hotline by regular citizens complaining about the actions of the Americops, who have been sent to deal with problem neighborhoods. They discuss what their response to those actions should be, but as they do, those actions draw the attention of former Avenger and New Warrior member Rage, who decides that he’s had enough and heads out to take matters into his own hands, leading Sam and nuFalcon off to stop him, even though the ramifications could have serious political repercussions for them. The issue wraps with another former Avenger being brought into the mix in the form of USAgent, who has been contacted by the U.S. Senate for unknown purposes.

I want to applaud this book for taking on some serious issues such as the treatment of minority communities by law enforcement and the debate about profiling even if the statistical data backs up the need to focus on certain areas more than others. It’s rare to find a book from the main two publishers these days that actually says something about our society, so points to CA:SW for doing so.

With that said, I find that Nick Spencer addresses these issues with all the subtlety of a kick to the groin. His political leanings are readily apparent, and he draws these as “black/white” issues (no pun intended) without recognizing that there may be some merit to the opposing view. The men behind the Americops’ deployment are stereotypes (Paul Keane is a Koch Brothers stand-in, while the senator from Texas and the talk-show host are Ted Cruz and Rush Limbaugh analogues), so Spencer diminishes his own argument about stereotyping by doing exactly the same thing in reverse. On the plus side, Daniel Acuna’s artwork is very nice and makes the book a joy to look at.

I want to give this a higher grade, because I think this book is onto something, but Spencer’s ham-handedness in discussing these delicate matters can’t be ignored.

Rating: 6 out of 10

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