Marvel Knights 20th #3
Frank's search for answers to the question of past-lives for our familiar heroes takes him on a tour filled with uncanny faces, including a convict Tony Stark, a hot-headed ex-med student turned cop Donald Blake, and a mysterious medium known as Wanda. Wanda's insight into Frank's true nature, the beast buried within, coupled with an enigmatic encounter with Loki, helps shape the path ahead for the heroes of Marvel Knights-- a path that leads to Wakanda.
Understanding of where this issue is headed and what the central notion is becomes slightly clearer with this issue, in part thanks to the sharp dialogue provided by Tini Howard. Subtle hints abound with the introduction of Loki (notice the Asgardian font used by Petit here– a nice touch pointing to the notion that the effected are restricted to this realm), Wanda’s reference to a “machine” (Cosmic Cube, maybe?), and her children’s noting that the handwriting on the notes is not a child’s handwriting.
While the mystery of what happened and how it can be reversed takes center stage, the real focal point here seems to be an investigation into human nature. Stripped of their pasts and presents, the characters still seem to be unable to overcome their primary drives. Whether this is a commentary on human nature or the spirit of iconic characters is unclear. Perhaps it is a blend of both.
In an era of comics fandom defined by adaptation, I find it striking to consider that these characters, taken out of their familiar settings, stripped to their core, can still resonate as their true forms. As we watch Officer Blake shoot first and ask questions later, it is hard to imagine the Mighty Thor charging headstrong into a battle with little to no though or preparation, operating solely on instinct and raw power. Costumes change, powers come and go, and origins are as fluid as river rapids, but perhaps the spirit of these characters is immutable.
Cates' love letter to Marvel Knights continues and long-time fans of the work done by the imprint over the last 20 years will not be disappointed.
Marvel Knights 20th #3: The Past is Prologue
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 9/10
Art - 6/10
Color - 7/10
Cover Art - 7/10
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