Today’s Super Comic — Mockingbird #5 (2016)

Zombies. A super-powered Mockingbird (sort of). Back-up in the form of the Miles Morales Spider-Man and Howard the Duck.

Yep, it’s a fun time indeed in Mockingbird #5. You really can’t go wrong with zombies overrunning a SHIELD medical facility. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before (or maybe it has—I can’t read everything, alas).

Writer Chelsea Cain has developed a distinct voice for this series, keeping both the humor and the stakes high throughout. She also brings an unconventional plotting style. Each of the first five issues can stand on its own as a self-contained story (well, maybe less so with #1 and #5), and they can ostensibly be reread in any order while still building the same larger narrative. I haven’t tried the latter, but the idea is certainly intriguing. Nothing wrong with a good structural experiment, especially since it’s all entertaining regardless.

I’m up for more.

Writer: Chelsea Cain

Penciler: Ibrahim Moustafa

Cover: Joelle Jones and Rachelle Rosenberg

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Mockingbird vol. 1: I Can Explain (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Captain America #2 (2004)

captain_america_vol_5_2I reviewed the first issue of this series over the summer and was reminded just how fantastic Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America was. So it’s past time I resumed re-reading, and issue #2 validates that decision.

Brubaker’s portrayal of Cap is spot-on, and the excellent artwork of Steve Epting and Michael Lark bolsters the writing’s effectiveness. Captain America has gravitas here (which will make key events later in the run all the more meaningful), and he never seems like anything less than a hero.

Cap and SHIELD investigate the assassination of an old enemy, one who has tried to kill them all a ridiculous number of times over the decades. No great loss for the world, but the death brings Cap no joy. Though not exactly torn up, he feels the loss of someone who had played a major role in his life. And yeah, he’s appropriately skeptical, given death’s unreliability in the Marvel Universe. It all combines into a reaction that’s perfectly in character, and perfectly human, while further enhancing that gravitas.

I’ll have to follow through with this series, too. (What’s one more to juggle?)

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artists: Steve Epting and Michael Lark

Cover: Steve Epting

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Captain America: Winter Soldier (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Black Widow #2 (2016)

black-widow-2The first issue dropped us in the middle of an intriguing scenario, without all the facts—Black Widow on the run from SHIELD, and not even she’s not certain she’s doing the right thing…whatever it is she’s doing. The second issue remains coy, but it reveals just enough more to further intrigue us.

Superheroes need weaknesses and flaws, because what’s the point of a protagonist who’s invincible? Or one who’s so formidable that she’s practically unstoppable and solutions come too easily? And Black Widow is easily among Marvel’s most formidable non-powered characters, but she also has her own special version of kryptonite—her own past.

It’s a great weakness for a character to have (well, it benefits the reader, not the character, of course). It raises the stakes in a personal way, much more so than a glowing space rock ever can (no offense, Superman).

So far, this series appears to be leveraging that weakness to thrilling effect.

Writers: Chris Samnee and Mark Waid

Artist: Chris Samnee

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Mockingbird #1 (2016)

mockingbird-1Once you’ve read a whole bunch of comic books over the course of twenty-five years, you often know more or less what to expect. But I did not expect the first issue of Mockingbird to be a sequence of examinations in a SHIELD medical facility…or for such a thing to be this entertaining.

It’s nice to be surprised, and this was a nice surprise indeed, full of mystery, sarcasm, and amusing visual gags.

The issue explains very little at this point, but it keeps you wondering what’s going on and what will happen in future issues…which is exactly what it needed to do.

I’m not familiar with writer Chelsea Cain or artist Kate Niemczyk, but this issue makes a tremendous first impression. I definitely need to see where the series goes from here.

(And in case you didn’t know, Mockingbird is the codename of Bobbi Morse, Adrianne Palicki’s character on the Agents of SHIELD television series. Now you know! Or you know again.)

Writer: Chelsea Cain

Artist: Kate Niemczyk

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Black Widow #1 (2016)

Black-Widow-1Black Widow #1 certainly doesn’t make the mistake of starting the story too early.

Page one gives us the hook—Black Widow is now an enemy of SHIELD. But writers Mark Waid and Chris Samnee wisely withhold the full explanation this issue. Instead, they treat us to Natasha’s thrilling escape from SHIELD, showing off her skills and resourcefulness and letting Samnee’s art tell most of the story.

It’s a great scenario for the character. It puts her in opposition to her allies…but maybe secretly doing it for their benefit? That mystery and ambiguity suits her. We truly don’t know if Natasha is doing the right thing, and she might not either.

I’ll have to read the next issues when they arrive on Marvel Unlimited…or maybe grab the trade paperback when it comes out. The first issue did its job—it sold me on the series. More, please.

Writers: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Artist: Chris Samnee

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up