Happy Monday! This past week, we got the second episode of Marvel's latest hit, along with the first three episodes of an animated Image Comics adaptation. Let's get right into my reactions to both series', along with this week's Pull List.
SPOILER WARNING: If you aren't caught up on TFATWS or Invincible, get out of here and don't come back until you are!
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier-Episode Two
Marvel is doing a really good job at making everyone hate John Walker, while also kind of making the audience feel a bit bad about hating him. The dude isn't really a BAD guy per se, but more of a personification of a lot of the struggles Sam Wilson is currently facing. If you were given the opportunity to become the next Captain America, I have a hard time believing anyone would say no.
While not having any evil intentions, John Walker perfectly represents a system that continues to work against Sam, as the government tells him giving up the Shield was "doing the right thing," only to immediately pass it on to a malleable, idealized white dude. By the end of the series, I hope John Walker doesn't turn out to be some sort of HYDRA sleeper cell or something but instead continues to serve as a strong rival for Sam as he tries to reclaim the Shield.
Continuing on the many identities of Captain America, I was so hyped to see that they introduced Isaiah Bradley into the MCU. A soldier that was part of an experiment to recreate the original super-soldier serum, Isaiah briefly took on the mantle of Captain America in the comics in secrets missions against the Nazis before being court-martialed and imprisoned by the US for stealing Captain America's costume.
While retconning can be tough in a universe like the MCU, I think that the introduction of Isaiah serves as a good metaphor for a lot of the soldiers of color who were largely ignored following their return home from World War 2. Isaiah's origins seem pretty similar in this on-screen adaptation, with the only major difference being some years pushed forward. I really hope we get to see more of Isaiah's story before the series ends.
While overall I thought this was a good episode, I felt like the Flag Smashers subplot was a bit weak this week. After two episodes, I still don't really feel like we have a lot of insight into what motivates these characters, and in a show where the other themes are interwoven pretty well, these antagonists feel a bit out of place.
Basel's Score: Some really good character development, but the central conflict took a pretty big backseat.
If you want to introduce anyone to the superhero genre (although there probably aren't many who hasn't seen any superhero content these days), this is the show to watch. While Invincible definitely comments on a lot of superhero tropes, it doesn't full-on satirize them like The Boys, making this an engaging story for any level of fan.
The cast of Invincible is honestly stacked, with some really fun cameos every single episode, and really talented actors in nearly every supporting role, with my personal favorite being Jason Mantzoukas as Rex Splode. The core family voiced by Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh, and J.K Simmons has a great dynamic, with the relationship between Invincible (Yeun) and Omni-Man (Simmons) being especially refreshing.
It's cool to see the "have to impress my parents to uphold the family name" trope tweaked with a father figure that isn't overbearing. While Invincible definitely struggles with the pressure of living up to his father's legacy, the pressure in movies like Sky High or Iron Man isn't really there. While I enjoy this dynamic, I have a feeling it's going to make the eventual father-son confrontation all the more heartbreaking. Omni-Man is up to something seriously devious by taking down the Guardians of the Globe, and given his power set, Invincible will probably be the only one to be able to take him down.
Until then, I'm really enjoying Invincible as he finds his place in his own super-powered universe.
Basel's Score: Fun characters, exciting scenarios, and a tense subplot that should result in a great finale.
My Pull List
Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing #1: In honor of the Man-Thing's 50th Anniversary, Marvel seems to be sending some of their top heroes to investigate the strangest resident of the Florida Everglades. It seems like someone has possessed the Man-Thing in order to spread his powers worldwide, setting up some solid superhero vs. swamp monster action. (Out March 31st)
X-Men Legends #2: Given their eventual introduction into the MCU this decade, I think we're about to enter another X-Men renaissance. Legends are bringing the best of Marvel's bullpen out to expand the stories of key periods in the X-Men mythos, so this one will definitely be worth a read for any new or long-time fan. (Out March 31st)
Cult of Dracula #1: To be honest, I have no idea how this series will be, but any story involving a mysterious vampire-adjacent cult usually has enough to hold my attention. (Out March 31st)
What I'm Into This Week- HBO's Spawn
Spawn has been one of my favorite on-screen time capsules recently. Released when the comic book series was still breaking ground in the world of independent comics, Spawn really provides a great look at the over-the-top dark and hardcore nature of 1990's comic book storytelling, as well as the grungy style of animation at the time popularized by shows like Batman: The Animated Series.
See you next week!