First of May, first of May, outdoor comic reading starts today! Or something like that. This is a Marvel week. I try and spotlight things I haven’t mentioned usually, but the top three were all so strong this week, I felt like I couldn’t ignore them. Great titles coming out with great issues makes me a happy comic review girl!
This issue focuses on Kazimierz Kazimericzak, Kazi for us Americans. We intersperse between him charming Kate Bishop at a fancy party, and his backstory. It’s an unfortunately realistic tale. He grew up in a literal circus, before ethnic cleansing and horrific war tore his life apart and killed everyone he cared about. It could be Poland in the late 1930s, Bosnia, Rwanda, or one of way too many other similar stories (though it’s clearly eastern Europe, and he mentions he’s 34, so a better historian than me would know exactly which conflict.) When he says he comes from hell, he’s not far from the mark.
The similarities to a more famous clown-faced killer from a rival company are only superficial. While the Joker is a sociopath who takes glee in the suffering of others (sort of a super-schadenfreude), Kazi is more numb to the world. And while he claims to enjoy killing, he acts more as a hit-man than a terrorist. Still, you could do a lot worse than have a Joker-esque arch-enemy for the Hawkeyes.
And poor Kate. Watching her friend and mentor continually live a train-wreck of a life that’s entirely his own fault. Been there, done that. It’s no wonder she needs a break, and Kazi is certainly an interesting man, with a kind of poetic beauty over the surface of his broken soul.
This will not end well. And I hope that Kazi isn’t burned up in just this storyline, he’s interesting enough to keep around for a while.
Superior Spider-Man #9
That cover is not just kinda gross, but also apropos to the issue, as it’s entirely a battle between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius inside of their shared mind. SSM is decidedly the most controversial popular comic on the stands, and people either love it or hate it. This issue ups the ante once again, and once again, I’m in the camp that is loving it.
The ‘ghost’ of Peter Parker has been gaining control over his body that has been stolen by Doc Ock, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Otto is well established at being an expert on mind pattern superscience – the entire concept of the body swap is evidence of this, even if you aren’t familiar with the full history of Doctor Octopus. He uses one of his old devices (recovered in a previous issue), and attempts to erase Peter Parker, once and for all.
And the mental battle shows an extremely deep understanding of the two characters, as they trade metaphysical blow for blow. It’s really neat! Ultimately, it hinges on who can trap the other in their own logic, in a way, which is fitting for two scientists. And the stakes are, of course, superior. I’m not going to spoil how it ends, but it really is one of the greatest battles in Peter Parker history, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here!
All-New X-Men #11
The title poses the question of which of the All-New X-Men is going to be a dirty traitor and join up with Cyclops and Magneto and Team Antihero, but everyone probably already knows. This is a weird pseudo-crossover with Uncanny X-Men, where Team Antihero lives, and they’ve already published over there that it’s Angel. You really shouldn’t read just one of these two; with the same writer, they’re inextricably intertwined.
The real highlight of this issue, for me, was the aftermath. Of course nobody else was happy that Warren jumped ship, though it makes sense. (Time has not been kind at all to his present-day self.) Jean has a major flip-out and tries to mind control him, which is a bad idea, because Emma brought her pet psychic triplets, the Stepford Cuckoos, and they mind-slap her hard. Which really is a lesson she needed to learn.
Afterwards, she has a very nice heart to heart with Kitty Pryde. This is really the kind of thing women do, that men don’t very often. And it’s nice to see that Bendis has noticed this. Kitty definitely lets Jean know she’s skating on thin ice here, but in a way that’s full of comfort and support and acknowledgement of where she’s coming from. It felt genuine to me.
Meanwhile, Mystique masquerades as Pepper Potts, steals a lot of Tony Stark’s money, and continues to set up the X-Men as fall guys. Which seems to take at the end, as we move from an arc that was more full of social and emotional challenges, back to a more traditional physical one in the form of Uncanny Avengers. I’m of the opinion that you need all three to make a good comic, and this title is doing a good job at hitting its marks.
Those are my top ones this week. Also, Saturday was Free Comic Book Day! I picked up a few, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet. I’m going to roll those into next week’s pile, and we’ll see if free can compete with paid! Maybe, there’s some new stories from some good writers in the stack!