While in the store on Wednesday, I overheard two other customers express confusion about Marvel doing Mary Jane-themed variant covers for June, and why not Gwen Stacy? I briefly considered saying because some of us find Gwen duller than plain cake doughnuts, but it didn't seem worth the effort.
Steven Universe #2, by Melanie Gillman (writer), Katy farina (illustrator), Whitney Cogar (colorist), Mike Fiorentino (letterer) - Nice of Missy Pena to remember to include the safety fence Pearl insisted on installing after Amethyst nearly killed herself falling off the cliff. Gravity will always be our enemy.
Steven and Connie attempt to see a movie based on their favorite book series, but it's PG-13 (although Steven is 14, but he doesn't look it, I suppose). They try to get in by fusing, but are thwarted by lack of appropriate i.d. While walking away fuming, Stevonnie crashes into Kiki, and the two hit it off, Kiki even inviting Stevonnie to her prom. Which presents a bit of a problem since Stevonnie looks high school aged, but is two middle school kids fused into one. How to address the problem?
Which is a question I've had since the first time the two fused, since they do interact with the various high schoolers in town a lot. I don't have any idea how age works for a fusion, or how old Stevonnie is. And does Kiki need to know this fact about Stevonnie? My feeling would be yes, but if Stevonnie isn't ready to tell her, it would seem to be Stevonnie's right to keep that information private. But Kiki's feelings desreve consideration, but as Connie points out, it'd be kind of hard to explain to someone who would find the idea of two people fusing unusual.
I was going to quibble with the ending, how neatly it seems to tie up, but it isn't as though I wanted a lot of tears and heartbreak, and it's probably not a bad lesson for the presumably younger audience it's aimed at. Steven and Connie are worried about hurting Kiki, with the result that they're putting a lot of stress on themselves trying to avoid that. But when Stevonnie is at least somewhat open with Kiki, about wanting to be friends, Kiki's fine. Other people can be more resilient than we expect, providing we aren't being an ass about it.
My favorite page in the issue is the snapshot page of them trying on different outfits, since we get to see Kiki gradually feel more comfortable with it. The first two pictures she's staying in the background, avoiding eye contact. By the middle pair she's playing it up a little more, and by the last two she seems genuinely excited. During the dance, it looks like Cogar gradually went for darker blues and purples in the background as the scene progressed, which reflected Stevonnie's growing unease as they observe everyone else around them getting very close. And as Steven and Connie argue in the bathroom, the background colors again are mostly darker, which combined with Farina drawing them with hunched over shoulders, suggested the weight of the situation. Even when Cogar goes brighter, with a red or even a pink background, Steven and Connie are drawn as so angry or stressed the colors carries that more hostile sense, as opposed to a friendly warmth.
So, still suspect the book is aimed at younger readers, but enjoyed this issue more than the first issue
Iron Fist #1, by Ed Brisson (writer), Mike Perkins (artist), Andy Troy (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - The stripe down the side really makes the outfit look like a track suit. I think I'm still fondest of the long-sleeve, no high-collar or plunging neckline look David Aja gave him (see the cover to Immortal Iron Fist #3). Also, at least two of the three swords that are supposed to be menacing Danny are obscured by the title. Not great planning there.
So K'un-Lun was destroyed, and Danny's powers are fading. So he's roaming the world, spending his money to get into fights, hoping to find something. Also getting drunk and being a dick. He meets a fellow named Chochin, they fight a bit, they guy offers to bring him to some island and fight in a super-awesome tournament. I'm assuming K'un-Lun was destroyed in the last Iron Fist series, the Kaare Andrews one, but I'm not positive. Hadn't heard anything about Danny's powers waning in Power Man and Iron Fist, but a) I don't keep up on the book, and b) expecting consistent continuity in Marvel these days is a fool's errand.
I'm not sure this is necessarily what I was looking for in an Iron Fist book. Him in a mysterious tournament, sure that could be cool, especially if the tournament actually finishes (Brubaker and Fraction's kind of sputtered out halfway when the HYDRA thing took over in the rushed conclusion of their run). But Danny as some miserable wreck, beating up chumps in the hopes it'll rekindle his powers? Not so much. If he wants a real fight, go find Shang-Chi or something. Let Batroc kick the shit out of him.
I'm not sure about Mike Perkins' artwork. There are so many shadows, it feels very much like Deodato's art, which is can be good or bad, depending on what you're trying to draw. At one point, I thought I saw something in there that reminded me of Joe Kubert's some of the hatching on the hands, but I couldn't spot it again on subsequent readthroughs. Most of the fights are presented as a series of moments from the fight, a particular hit, rather than the fight as a single thing. The former style can work, but I prefer the latter, seeing how one thing leads to the next. It feels like the creative team put more thought and effort into it that way, beyond coming up with some cool-sounding name for what is essentially uppercutting a dude.
There's one fight/beating in the middle they do the other way that I thought worked pretty well. There's a three-panel sequence in the middle of it, when Danny starts to fight back where in the first panel he's lower, punching upward, then they're even in the second panel, and by the third, Danny's on the top, even as he's thinking to himself how he feels like he's punching down. And it looks as though his opponent is on his back, just trying to block punches, while Perkins draws that opponent with a wide-eyed look of fear in the panel. That was solid. And I thought it was interesting that Danny's last attempt to hit Choshin is blocked partway and left hanging. Then on the next page, after they've sat down, Choshin extends his hand in greeting, and it looks very similar, even down to the angle his hand is tilted at. Could be something, could be nothing.
If it is something, I'm not sure it's enough for me to stick around.