Inhumanity has taken root in the streets of New York, and it’s already given us two stand-out new characters in the pages of Fearless Defenders #10 and Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #3 & #4. As seen in the pages of Infinity #4, Black Bolt has detonated the Terrigen Bomb, and it is randomly activating Inhumans throughout the globe, and a couple of them are profiled in fun ways in these issues.
First, let’s look at Fearless! Which gives us a Hot, Fresh New Dance-Star with Ren Kimura, and an appropriately funky cover, as is the tradition with this series. We got served!
Ren is that girl in the foreground with the crazy razor-ribbon fingers. FD #10 introduces us to Ren as a young lesbian woman whose sternly traditional parents don’t do a lot of approving of her, because all she wants to do is dance! dance! dance! The X-Men have Dazzler, so the Inhumans now have Ren Kimura. She suddenly manifests the slicey powers, then walks out into the streets to see Caroline Le Fay absconding with some as-yet-unhatched Inhuman cocoons before Thanos’ goons destroy them – complete with her own team of villainesses like Titania, Shriek, Scorpia and Mindblast – then run afoul of the Defenders. The fighting ensues, then Ren finds her power to fight through the power of dance! dance! dance! Once they drive off Le Fay (with a somewhat lackluster effort to stop her from running off with the cocoons of innocent people – “lots of other people need our help!” Yeah, so do those people right in front of you who are being kidnapped by an evil witch, Misty Knight), Dr. Annabelle Riggs makes a love connection with Ren, the newest member of the team.
Writer Cullen Bunn is being fierce, and artist Will Sliney certainly draws her with stylish panache. Editor Ellie Pyle opens the letters page with “DON’T YOU JUST LOVE REN?” and you can’t help but get a little sense that maybe they’re all trying a smidge too hard with her, but hey, she’s just fine and kinda slick. As usual, Fearless Defenders is a fun book, and the kind of series where you can get away with dance! dance! dance! Step Up 2 The Streets!
Then, we’ve got the continuation of the Robert Rodi/Michael Del Mundo Fulmina story over in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #4, which started before the latest issue of Infinity and thus the mystery green cloud wasn’t quite defined. Now, we know Sylvia Prell is an Inhuman, and that she’s been transformed into living electricity, and in an effort to guide her into competence with her newfound powers, Spider-Man has instead inflicted her on New York’s power grid, which she intends to destroy out of her sheer spite for human technological progress. Thus, the challenge is laid at his feet to rein in the monster he’s helped create.
Rodi crafts an interesting look into Otto Octavius’ mind, and how it’s been affected by being Spider-Man. There’s palpable regret for his prior supervillainous ways, he’s frustrated by his own instincts to focus on small-scale heroism at the expense of the bigger picture he knows he needs to prioritize, and he’s even concerned with the development of his quipping penchant – although “catatonia got your tongue?” is hardly a Peter Parker-level jape. Rodi retains the Octo-Arrogance, but he also remains impressively level-headed when trying to talk Fulmina towards the realization that her silly dreamscape of a progress-less world will not result in a renewed devotion to art, poetry and song, but rather regression towards a more savage time – and he’s even got a dig towards the modern debate culture with ‘silence the thinker if you can’t answer his ideas, is that it?” The guy feels like a legitimate hero, despite his ill-gotten identity.
Superior Spider-Man is so incredibly great, and much more dynamic than we could ever have thought. He works on so many levels and with so many writers, from Dan Slott to Christopher Yost to Robert Rodi – it seems he’s refreshing and exciting for everybody who gets their hands on him. Del Mundo’s art remains well-suited for spider-action, and it always seems to be moving. This is one more winning entry in the finest hour of Otto Octavius, and both Fulmina and Ren feel like fully idiosyncratic characters from the get-go, and we look forward to seeing more of them.