Marvel Inferno begins, with Moira McTaggert standing over the bodies of the Quiet Council.

Marvel Inferno #1! Comic Book Reviews 9/29

I have to be honest and forewarn readers, my opinions and feelings get pretty bleak and angry a bit this week. Not about Marvel Inferno, that’s fantastic and it starts the night off with good news. It’s when it comes to Deathstroke Inc. and Batman vs Bigby! that I have some things I need to get off my chest. If you skip around my personal feelings I understand. I would simply feel disingenuous if I didn’t admit my negative feelings on the problems surrounding those two books. But like I said, let’s start off in a happy place, one ironically named Marvel Inferno.

Marvel Inferno #1

Mystique is half transformed into Destiny as she stands over a grave in this alternate cover for Marvel Inferno.
Will this power couple burn it all to the ground?

Written by: Jonathan Hickman

Art by: Valerio Schiti

Coloring by: David Curiel

Lettering by: VC’s Joe Sabino

Jonathan Hickman is one of my favorite comic book writers, and it’s because of what he’s done for the X-Men. He’s helped to usher in the greatest era of X-Men comics (yeah, I said it), and I’m sad to see him go. 

But I love to watch the way he leaves.

Marvel Inferno, both in the way it’s written and the ideas it focuses on, acts as a sequel to House of X. While Swords of X was great, it felt like its own original entity. That’s what happens when you have multiple writers and worked for the better in that instance. So, thematically, this event is something people can feel comfortable reading. It’s also has a pristine air of quality where no piece of dialogue or narration feels wasted. 

To say this isn’t also because of the amazing art by Valerio Schiti, would be a crime. I find that a lot of the X-Men artists have similar art styles. If I binged House of X, Powers of X, and Marvel Inferno, you could have told me they were the same artist and I would have believed you. Okay, maybe that’s being hyperbolic, but still. This is not an insult, it’s a compliment because they’re all amazing, and form this comprehensive world and tone for the X-Men. Together, with Bob Quinn on Way of X, the X-Men titles feel especially connected. That continues with Marvel Inferno.

The story of Marvel Inferno itself spends more time building than I would have liked, admittedly. It makes sense, it’s been a few months since we last caught up with Mystique and her battle for Destiny. It’s been years since we’ve last seen Moira outside of a cameo in X of Swords. This means the issue does retread some trotted ground, but it wasn’t tiresome. 

The creative team behind Marvel Inferno adds new interesting and thematically gripping tidbits to old plot points and scenes to make them feel fresh again. Never will you feel like you’ve wasted your time as the creative team catches you up on what you need to know because they are weaving in new plot points and story elements.

And if all that doesn’t get you excited to read the rest of the series, the tingling feeling of the last few pages should. Do you want Krakoa to burn, or survive the Marvel Inferno?

Deathstroke Inc. #1

Deathstroke cleans off a sword as he asks, "You got a problem with it?"
Yeah, I do have a problem, this should be called “BLACK CANARY INC.”

Written by: Joshua Williamson

Art by: Howard Porter

Coloring by: Hi-Fi

Lettering by: Steve Wands

Now, I have many problems with this issue existing beyond just its quality and content. I’ll save that for last because, in terms of quality, this first issue is nothing special. The best thing about it is that it has Black Canary, who should have her own series. It doesn’t have the same bite or menace that the previous Deathstroke series had, the one by Christopher Priest. 

Joshua Williamson writes series that don’t have the morose storytelling that Deathstroke needs. He’s a fantastic writer for heroes coming into their own and trying to be symbols of hope. He’s written one of the best Flash runs there is and is about to do Justice League: Incarnate, a story about the heroes of the multiverse coming together to defeat the evilest evil there ever was. 

So why is he writing Deathstroke? This series is one of those that tries to paint him as a badass anti-hero, rather than an entertaining villain. While I’m sure that will appeal to a lot of people, it really turns me off and kind of disgusts me. There are a lot of tropes this series could have used for its premise to establish Deathstroke’s new status quo. I would have much preferred that he was being blackmailed or had a death wish rather him wanting to be there for a family he’s been nothing but the worst too. 

This issue isn’t terrible, it’s just not a good Deathstroke story, nor an appropriate one. This feels like Black Canary story, with the espionage, disguises, and spy work that would fit right at home in Chuck Dixon’s original Birds of Prey series. Sadly, Deathstroke comes in to both interrupt and ruin that fun dynamic. The action we get instead isn’t bad, and the motives of this new organization they work for is interesting, but this is series feels made in poor taste.

Let me explain what I mean. First and foremost, Black Canary deserves her own title. She should be more than a secondary character to Deathstroke. Secondly, Deathstroke should not be made a hero, ever, not even an anti-hero. 

Deathstroke, also known by his secret identity–Slade–to fans of the Teen Titans cartoon, is one of the biggest pieces of garbage in the DC Universe. It makes him a fantastic villain because he is so deeply flawed on a human level. There are garbage human beings just like him in the real world, albeit, nowhere near as effective at killing. 

This is a man who groomed and slept with an underage girl to kill a bunch of teenagers. This is a man who stalked, terrified, and possibly killed men for dating his daughter and son. There is nothing redeemable about Deathstroke when he’s written in-character.

The fact that he is trying again to play hero, is not only insulting but in incredibly poor taste. It’s only made worse by the Other History of the DC Universe cementing what a garbage human being he is. A comic book about Deathstroke should never be about him trying to seriously be a hero and justify his poor behavior. Sadly, that’s what this first issue seems to want to do, and I only hope it stops.

Do you think Deathstroke works as an anti-hero, or should he stick to being a villain?

Action Comics #1035

Lois comforts Jon as they watch Superman fly away, his reflection in the door mirror.
It’s a sad goodbye to say the least.

Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson 

Art by: Daniel Sampere

Coloring by: Adriano Lucas

Lettering by: David Sharpe

This is an ending to Clark’s time on Earth, but the beginning to what feels like something greater. While Warworld Rising ends, The Warworld Saga begins, and it has set up something spectacular. We have the Authority, a team of superheroes who have not had the spotlight in a long time backing Superman up. That’s one big plus. We also have the setup for Jon Kent becoming Superman in an organic and heartfelt passing of the torch. But most of all, we see Superman stand up as he should, with promises of hope that we can believe he’ll keep.

But enough about what the issue sets up, this issue wraps up a lot in a heartfelt fashion. This issue continues the trend of drawing out emotion by having the right bad things happen to Superman. 

Seeing him be kicked out of the Justice League is angering. Superman doesn’t deserve it, but it needs to happen, both for the sake of Superman and the League. He needs to go save the people on Warworld, and the League needs to protect Earth. It’s this short conversation with depth beyond words. It doesn’t hold back from painting the Justice League in a poor light but does so realistically. 

Then listening to him say goodbye to his son is agitating and cathartic. The creative team shows incredible skill by having us come to already understand why the situation had to happen as it did so we focus on Clark and his son. We shouldn’t still be upset alongside Jon, we should be proud of his heart as Clark is in that moment. Clark’s smile as Jon lays out his heart and his anger is the important thing, and not how much Jon wants to punch Batman in the face. Not that I don’t get that.

I would go into detail about his goodbye to Lois Lane, the love of his life, but I shouldn’t spoil that much. It exemplifies the emotional crux of why Superman has to go and defeat Mongul. There’s this love that he wants to bring to the people enslaved on Warwold. He wouldn’t be able to go if he didn’t have this love on Earth. Warworld Rising is going to go up there with some of the best Superman stories, and I have little doubt the rest of this Warworld run won’t be either.

Also, if Sampere’s shot of Superman and Batman standing together in the rain doesn’t get a poster I can buy, I’ll riot. 

Batman vs Bigby! A Wolf in Gotham #1

Bigby Wolf sneaks up on Batman as he watches over Gotham.
This fight is not going to go the way you think.

Written by: Bill Willingham

Penciling by: Brian Level, Jay Leisten

Coloring by: Lee Loughridge

Lettering by: Steve Wands

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the elephant in the room. I considered not reviewing this issue or reviewing this issue without mentioning its problematic nature. Both options felt dishonest.

I have to admit that I love Fables. It’s, bar none, my favorite comic book series of all time. It’s also been a while since I read it, and I’m much older now. I plan to give it a read-through and really analyze the problematic points that have been brought up to me in the years since it ended. 

Bill Willingham, the writer, and creator of Fables has problematic opinions that I fundamentally can’t abide supporting myself. Whether or not you do or can, is up to you. Feel free to skip to the review part of this section if you want. Because of his politics that I find to be against human dignity, I can’t financially support his new work. 

I did not purchase this issue, I borrowed it. At the same time, I didn’t stop my friend from buying it, not that I can. I usually don’t agree with pirating in most instances save for issues of availability or a lack of funds. This is also an example of when I think I could support it. If you disagree with a writer’s beliefs and don’t wish to fund their ability to support them, I would pirate or borrow the comic so you don’t fund it. If you disagree, I understand, though I would like to know why. That’s all I want to say about it.

But to the content of this issue… it’s a mixed bag. You might not want to read the rest of the series if this issue is all that we have in store for a crossover between Fables and Batman. For one thing, Bigby is barely in it, and there aren’t many hints of other famous Fables. It has been a while since I read the series, but I couldn’t recognize anyone. It makes me worry if there’s any real reason to have a Fables/Batman crossover.

What also doesn’t help, is how the creative team writes Batman and the way his Robins work. While I appreciate trying something new with the Dynamic Duo, having every Robin be Robin at the same time fundamentally changes the relationship. I jump at any story that puts Stephanie Brown back in the Robin costume, but it feels strange when Tim, Damian, and potential Jason and Dick are also all Robin. They don’t feel like Batman’s partners or family, they feel like soldiers. I personally find this take on Batman and Robin distasteful. It inherently makes Batman feel inhuman in an unlikable way. He becomes cold and calculating, rather than an impossible-to-believe beacon of justice. 

Batman’s characterization only makes this dynamic seem worse with the creative team seemingly taking a Bat-god approach to the writing. Do I think Batman should win one of his fights with Bigby Wolf? Of course, I always believe that David should beat Goliath. But the importance of every David vs Goliath story is lost when David beats Goliath in two pages. 

So for the return of Fables, I have to admit, this isn’t a stellar outing. It’s certainly not bad, but it’s different in ways I don’t love, and I want to want others who are considering reading it. Spoiler warning, I’d bet money that the killer is Molly Grace. It’s either a red herring or too obvious a twist.

Krakoa Burns in Marvel Inferno as Deathstroke Inc. Burns Away Potential

It’s the beginning of the end with Jonathan Hickman in Marvel Inferno, and I’m loving it as much as I love Superman’s goodbye to his friends and family in Action Comics #1035. Those are two books that made me feel all the emotions and feelings a good book should.

I cannot say the same about Deathstroke Inc. and Batman vs. Bigby! If the serious and angry tone I took as I went off script was annoying or not what you wanted, I understand. I don’t expect it to happen too much in the future. At the same time, I’m sorry, because I want to be honest about my feelings, how I chose to review books, and how I choose to support or not support books. 

If nothing else, I want to leave people with one thought. Deathstroke Inc. should literally just be a Birds of Prey book about Black Canary and Oracle being a dynamic duo once again.

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