Marvel Pick Of The Week – March 2, 2016 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Avengers Standoff: Assault On Pleasant Hill Alpha #1, by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz

I live in North Carolina, and early voting for our primaries opened this week, so I may be a little more sensitive to a terrific political thriller than usual. That said, Nick Spencer’s spring crossover is shaping up to be the best storyline of 2016.

For an in-depth recap of the plot, check out Bam Smack Pow’s As It Stands feature. In brief, current Captain America Sam Wilson and former Captain America Steve Rogers each learn about Pleasant Hill, a prison where super villains are transformed into bland, complacent villagers and allowed to roam an Americana that Republicans swear existed before people got all up about civil rights and equality of diverse populations. Maria Hill tours Rogers through the town, making a series of jokes as he grows ever more aghast at the willful invalidation of human identity SHIELD allows in service of incarceration. By the end, the villains have risen up as every reader knew they would, and it’s almost too scary to read.

The part that gets me, the part that forced this entertaining thriller to the top of the stack, is how funny this book is. Nick Spencer has shown spectacular comic timing in Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and Captain America: Sam Wilson, so it’s no surprise that I was smiling at least every second page with jokes tossed around while Maria Hill introduces America’s latest answer to overpowered threat. When Steve Rogers chokes out that this atrocity is “the Guantanamo Bay of alternate realities,” she deadpans, “You know, you spend weeks trying to figure out what to put on the postcards, and then he just comes out with it, like it’s so easy.” When Rogers fails to laugh at the fact that she has forcibly overwritten the existence of The Trapster with a background character called Groundskeeper Willie, she groans, “You know, people say you don’t get these references because you were trapped in ice – but frankly, I think it’s just because you’re kind of a snob.” It’s a riot, but it’s a distraction. Because Maria Hill has forgotten about the human component to what she’s doing. She serves the greater purpose of American safety and the prevention of global catastrophe, and you could argue that she’s right, but to do so, she has to jettison her conscience. This is why voting is so important. This is why when we pass around memes making fun of overt racism in political forerunners, we lose the point that America stands to voluntarily trade the safety of our minorities for the comfort of the majority. We lose the point that people with minimal scientific advising stand to make major decisions about our country’s impact on the global environment. Spencer’s script is so beautifully metaphoric on these points. No one believes themselves to be the villain in their story, but it is up to folks like the Captains America to show some objectivity to the people in power, and it is up to all of us to make our voices heard at the polls. Keep spreading the memes through your newsfeed – they’re funny, and humor is great. But follow that up. Get to the polls. Be the hero we all need.

(Former Bam Smack Pow editor Nick Tylwalk loved it, too!)

Honorable Mentions:

Uncanny X-Men 4, because Mystique and Fantomex have the best catty dialogue this side of Dynasty.

Black Widow 1, because Black Widow was falling out of a helicarrier one time and she straight up stole a guy’s jetpack ten thousand feet above the ground because OF COURSE SHE DID. I love this book already.

Spider-Man 2, because in a great issue of Miles fighting a Death Metal Blackheart and talking about diversity representation, Bendis can’t help but give Tony Stark the kind of zippy dialogue that steals the show.

Daredevil/Punisher: Seventh Circle 1, for this killer shot of the new Daredevil costume. Guys, Marvel does a terrible job advertising their digital Infinite Comics, but this is Charles Soule writing my new favorite Daredevil/Punisher story, and there are a LOT of fantastic Daredevil/Punisher stories.

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