Relatively new comics have arrived, as I did not end up waiting a month to buy some really expensive first issues. Yeah, well, I'm kind of in a hurry. Patience is not one of my virtues.
Secret Wars: Agents of Atlas #1, by Tom Taylor (writer), Steve Pugh (artist), Tamra Bonvillain (color artist), Joe Sabino (letterer) - Looking at the cover, it's interesting Zemo has multiple different WANTED posters for Jimmy Woo. It makes me think he (or someone who works for him) had lots of photos of Jimmy, and just wanted to plaster them all over the city.
So it is a one-shot set on Battleworld, in a section controlled by a Zemo - is there more than one of those? - where the Atlas Foundation is an underground resistance movement. SHIELD only works to serve Zemo's interests, but Phil Coulson is tired of that, and wants to help Atlas find their missing leader Jimmy Woo. The team agrees to let him come along, and Gorilla Man finds Jimmy, but doesn't realize the one doing it is Zemo's young son, who kills him. What the kid didn't realize is that whole curse aspect of Gorilla Man's existence, so now he's the talking gorilla. As it turns out, Zemo's whole goal was to lure Venus in, because a transmission of her singing during a raid, made him fall in love with her. And as Venus points out, given her history, that's a bad move for the old man. So now a talking gorilla runs that city. Still better than Mr. Sinister, the Maestro, or any version of Tony Stark.
early in the story, Coulson keeps mentioning his assistant has other talents when Ken complains the kid is too stupid to realize a talking Gorilla (with a visitor badge that says "Gorilla Man" on it) is a gorilla, not a monkey. "Other talents", is the exact phrasing. Does that mean Coulson promoted the guy because they're having sex? Like corporate guys having an attractive secretary who can't type or take dictation kind of thing? Or did he mean the guy is good at busting skulls, but kind of an idiot? I'm inclined towards the latter, if only because there was never any indication of what other skills the guy has.
What Venus does to Zemo is interesting in light of a story I remember Jeff Parker writing during Secret Invasion, where Venus wasn't willing to make some Skrulls march to their deaths in the ocean (Jimmy said he understood, then ordered M-11 to death ray them, because dudes from the '50s don't fuck around when little green men invade Earth). Here, she lures Zemo in and literally walks his stupid ass off a ledge. Steve Pugh helps because he purposefully gives her this neutral look all through the exchange. She doesn't seem angry, but she isn't smiling. She lets Heinrich project whatever he wants so he'll follow her, completely ignoring what she's saying. I guess we could be meant to read she's singing all this to him, so he's enthralled, but I don't think so. There's nothing in Jimmy or anyone else's reactions that suggests that. Zemo's just That Dude, sure he's found a way to her heart.
It was a pretty solid book. The plot was fairly engaging. Though had the team never had Venus sing before? Shouldn't they have known it was a risk before now? That keeps hanging me up. There were some good character bits, although they all rely on you caring about the characters beforehand. I don't think Taylor did enough to where I would have necessarily felt bad about Ken's death if I didn't already like the character coming in. Frankly, I though Gorilla-Man's voice was a little off, and most of the other characters didn't get enough dialogue to tell one way or the other. Except M-11, which I think they did get right. You could chalk the differences up to alternate universe easily enough, though that brings us back to the same point. The story is banking on past stories to provide the emotional connection for the reader, but these aren't those characters, not exactly. It's the New 52 problem all over again, but as one-off, this works pretty well.
There are times I though Pugh might be photo-referencing actual pictures of gorillas for Ken's facial expressions, but I can't be sure of that, and otherwise I was fine with his art. Everything was clear, at least some of the Weapon X subjects had bizarre enough anatomy to suggest Zemo's experiments, and Helmut's transformation looked suitably terrifying to him. Might have been worth dragging out a few more panels, really let the horror sink in..
Astonishing Ant-Man #1, by Nick Spencer (writer), Ramon Rosanas (artist), Jordan Boyd (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer), Idette Winecoor (designer) - Here we see Scott after he just promised to provide non dairy creamer in the break room. Although, between the way he has his hand placed, and the position of Beetle's wing, I thought he was carrying a dagger or something. Like Scott was literally going to stab these super-crooks in the back. Also, is Porcupine standing slightly hunched because he knows Beetle's wings are going to obscure his face otherwise, or is he drunk? Or injured? Is Scott skimping on health insurance, too?
Scott's still trying to make his business work, and hasn't entirely pissed off his primary investor yet. He has pissed off his daughter, by continuing to publicly stay out of her life, while secretly watching over her. And Darren Cross is still trying to take revenge on him, though he wasn't prepared for the world of today. He's right, though, paying 1.2 billion dollars just to be on the board of the company. It can't possibly be worth that much just to avoid having to directly converse with super-powered hitmen you want to hire. At any rate, it kept Scott from getting his head lopped off by Whirlwind, but it cost him a security contract at a big art museum, and may have succeeded in pissing off the primary investor. No idea if any of that is why he's in prison.
So, Miami P.D. sent a cop to act as liaison for the possible security gig, and it's the guy currently married to Scott's ex, and what the hell look was he going for? He had the Caruso dark glasses, but with a white suit coat. Just laughable. And they've taken the Pym Particles out of Cassie's system entirely now, so no more Young Avengering for her. That seems more than a little stupid and pointless, but I guess if she could get herself into danger then Scott's excuse for staying out of her life would seem even more obviously stupid. Like a super-villain, assuming they know Lang is Ant-Man and Cassie is his daughter, is going to care than Scott doesn't seem to be spending time with her? No, they're still going to figure she's his daughter, and if they attack her, he will show up eventually. It's just such an obviously bad decision.
The Power Broker - I'm assuming he's new - is a nice design. Little understated with the suit, but the lavender skin and jaw-thing make him stand out a bit. I'm sure he reminds me of someone, but I can't place it. I'm curious how much of an ongoing threat he'd be in this book, or if he and Cross end up against each other, given their differing views on things. Cross is very much about creating or innovating in what he sees as concrete ways, while the Broker is working with what's already there, ostensibly to make it more efficiently utilized, but really just making sure he gets a cut of all the transactions. Beyond the Broker, though, I'm still cold on the art. The colors all seem very calm and subdued, which blunts the effect of important scenes, and the fight scene didn't do much for me, brief as it was.
There's something about it all that doesn't connect, which is true of the book in general. It was on the border with me before the relaunch, and this hasn't changed my opinion. I'm curious to see what Spencer has planned with all the other villains he's going to bring in, but I'm not sure I'll be sticking around long enough to find out.