By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. Happy New Comic Book Day! This is Casual Wednesdays With DoomRocket, a podcast series where each week we discuss our feelings concerning the comics that mean the most to us, and the industry news that affects us all. This week, MJ & Jarrod discuss the latest news surround Jennifer Walters, now formerly known as the Sensational She-Hulk. Then they share their Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues of the week, and read their reviews for ‘The Astonishing Ant-Man’ #12 and ‘Trinity’ #1.
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MJ’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues:
Hellboy and the BPRD 1954: Black Sun #1 — Dark Horse Comics/$3.99
The Mighty Thor #11 — Marvel Comics/$3.99
Seven to Eternity #1 — Image Comics/$3.99
Patsy Walker: AKA Hellcat #10 — Marvel Comics/$3.99
The Wicked + the Divine: 1831 AD — Image Comics/$3.99
Jarrod’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues:
Britannia #1 — Valiant/$3.99
Trinity #1 — DC Comics/$2.99
Hot Damn #5 — IDW Publishing/$3.99
Demonic #2 — Image Comics/$2.99
Superman #7 — DC Comics/$2.99
REVIEWS FOR SEPTEMBER 21, 2016
Script, art, and colors by Francis Manapul.
Letters by Steve Wands.
MJ: DC (and Marvel too) have been giving high-profile writing gigs to many of their A-list artists, and though the current Bryan Hitch-penned Justice League series doesn’t exactly tickle my fancy, the Francis Manapul penned and pencilled Trinity title is one I was rather excited to read. I’ve been a fan of Manapul’s work since way back when on Legion of Superheroes, and he’s only grown as an artist and storyteller in the (holy crap) eight years he’s been working at DC. Trinity has always been an excellent concept for a series (as exhibited by the frequent use of the same title for other limited series in the past) and with Manapul helming, it’s just as gorgeous a book as one would expect. And with less mandated continuity involvement (like the aforementioned Justice League) it can hopefully have the freedom to focus on developing the relationship between Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman in a way that has been sadly neglected in the past six years.
There’s no way this book wasn’t going to be a wonder to behold. (No pun intended.) Within the first five pages are impressive double page spreads introducing Wonder Woman and Batman respectively, with large, simple panels laid out in the shape of each character’s symbol behind each imposing silhouette. Throughout the issue we see lots of wide panoramic expanses of the Midwestern farmlands Superman and his family call home now, and Manapul colors the book so we can see the sky darken from late afternoon to dusk to late twilight, with gleaming orangey-rose sunsets eventually melting into deep purpley-blues. It’s gorgeous.
This is the first time Manapul is pulling solo duties writing, drawing, and coloring, and the result is a gorgeous first issue, with a light and almost sweet tone throughout, but choppy story flow issues are apparent. While no one will be questioning Manapul’s visual artistry here, the narration gets clunky at points, with dialogue feeling necessitated by the plot instead of driving it forward. Many of the conversations don’t seem to have a point, or (in the case of Lois and Diana’s talk near the end) could have used more refinement to remove the obnoxiousness of feeling the need to have Diana reassure Lois that she’s not a threat to her marriage. Relationship insecurity is the last thing I’d expect to see in Lois Lane, although shoe-horning in this kind of bullshit old-hat rivalry is yet another example of why an in-continuity relationship between Wonder Woman and Superman was such a bad idea in the first place. Not to mention, even though it made for a dang awesome visual on the second and third pages, what the heck happened to that wild boar carcass that Diana brought to dinner…?
Like the Rebirth initiative itself, the book touches on multiple past DC continuities: visual references (all double-page spreads, again) come one after the other, first to the ol’ Rainbow Batman suit from the Silver Age, preceding a recreated shot of Superman from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s first New 52 Justice League arc, followed by a scene from the extremely recent Wonder Woman storyline “The Lies” by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp. I very much hope that this reverence to all eras means Trinity will be building upon classic continuity, the curated best parts of the New 52, and the wide expanse of quality continuity being offered in the current DC Universe to truly delve into the unique relationship shared by DC’s preeminent superheroes. A beautiful comic, and well worth a read.
8 out of 10
The Astonishing Ant-Man #12
Written by Nick Spencer.
Art by Brent Schoonover (with Ramon Rosanas).
Colors by Jordan Boyd.
Letters by VC’s Travis Lanham.
JJ: It hasn’t bothered me one bit that The Astonishing Ant-Man took an entire year to reveal its biggest secret. “How in the heck did Scott Lang buffoon his way back to prison?” It was enough to know that he did. Every successive issue since the All-New, All-Different debut last year has told this story in a painstakingly methodical, but still very casual fashion, and I’ve enjoyed every single panel of it. In fact, I would have willingly read through 100 issues detailing the excruciating minutiae of Lang’s everyday life leading up to his second bid in the hoosegow if it meant that Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas were locked in for the duration.
That’s right, writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas have been quietly building one of the funniest, sweetest, engaging, most exciting, and utterly unforgettable comic book runs in recent memory. What’s more, they’ve somehow been able to do that without much interference from the world around it. In the rare instance where a guest star pops by Scott’s book — be they Avenger, supervillain, or former Future Foundation — they never come lugging in their own baggage. Spencer & Rosanas have been given carte blanche to make Mr. Lang matter just as much as anyone else in the Marvel U. If anything, Marvel has made itself an even richer place by letting them do so.
Considering how often Marvel Comics tends to indulge in its baser instincts by killing off its characters for a cheap buck, it’s a small wonder that Astonishing Ant-Man has been left alone long enough to truly thrive — pun absolutely intended. Don’t forget, they put that poor dummy Scott on the chopping block once. He got better. They all get better. That’s just business as usual in superhero comics. In Astonishing Ant-Man, that’s just another part of its charm.
The twelfth issue of Astonishing Ant-Man is another example of how all that extra wiggle room from Marvel’s latest event du jour — that being the incredibly, uncannily, sensationally mopey Civil War II — is giving this series plenty of room to grow. Here, what you see on Julian Tedesco’s cover is precisely what you get: the trial of the Ant-Man, played outside of current Marvel events, all for the betterment of the story at hand. Here, Scott Lang attempts to beat the wrap he took on behalf of his just-acting-out daughter Cassie by employing the best trial attorney in the 616, Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk. You’ll notice she’s a little more mobile here than in other books I can mention. That’s because Astonishing Ant-Man rules and it respects the characters with whom they’ve been given.
Sadly, Ramon Rosanas sits most of this issue out. I missed having him here, though Brent Schoonover’s fill-ins do just enough to get us where we need to go. Schoonover channels Mike Allred in places, Rosanas in others, though his chunky panel work puts letterer Travis Lanham through quite a gauntlet at times; there are panels that are so confining, Lanham’s words work overtime to jam themselves in just to maintain story flow. Spencer’s words are still sharp as ever, but part of the brilliance of Ant-Man is that Rosanas’ impeccable sequential timing and consistent character work helps Spencer’s rapid-fire stream of jokes land more often than when they don’t. I ended up wondering how Rosanas would handle the material, especially when a certain villain from Hank Pym’s past comes rearing their ugly head.
I won’t give away who that is or what they’re here to do, but know that the next years’ worth of Astonishing Ant-Man ought to be just as delightful, engaging, and charming as the last. So long as Spencer & Rosanas stay put, this will remain one of the best Marvel books published today.
7.5 out of 10
Check back next week for more from Casual Wednesdays!
Before: “Superhero Deaths Don’t Mean A Damn Thing,” here.