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Top 5 Comic Book Moments of the Week: Reclaiming identity in the face of the Multiverse

From fresh perspectives of the Multiverse to new reclamations of personal identity, this week's return to comics leans on the philosophical side
'Lois Lane' #10 (Rucka/Perkins/Troy/DC Comics)
'Lois Lane' #10 (Rucka/Perkins/Troy/DC Comics)

Spoilers for comics released on May 13

After an extended hiatus, comics are slowly making their way back to stores. The comics industry is finding new ways to get products out to readers. Whether it's through digital-first issues, alternate distributors or simply a reduced list of titles released every week, comics are back. We take a look at this week's best moments, featuring multiversal conversations, identities reclaimed and a Cosmic Cube showing up in a surprising place.

5. Platinum chooses free will

Panels from 'Metal Men' #6 (DiDio/Davis/Wright/DC Comics)

Just how much free will the Metal Men actually have is a matter of some confusion. The first issue of the 'Metal Men' maxi-series revealed Will Magnus' greatest secret — that the Metal Men have never truly been alive and that their famous responsometers only simulated artificial intelligence. What that seems to mean, effectively, is that the Metal Men are free to make their own choices — as long as their choices remain within the confines of their programming, all of which was designed by Magnus himself. However, things have changed with the appearance of the Nth Metal Man, and his offer to give the Metal Men true free will.

One by one, the Metal Men agreed. Platinum was the last to do so, out of loyalty to Will Magnus. However, enough doubt was instilled in her by the Nth Metal Man for her to question her origins. Platinum finds out that her entire personality and programmed love for Will Magnus was based on one of Will's failed relationships — he had programmed Platinum to love him when the woman he'd been stalking refused to return his affections. This revelation is all Platinum needed to finally want to reject Will's programming and become a true, thinking being herself.

4. The Cosmic Cube at Ravencroft

Panel from 'Ravencroft' #4 (Tieri/Unzueta/Rosenberg/Marvel Comics)

Marvel has been upping the prominence of its own version of Arkham Asylum — Ravencroft. It's been revealing the dark history of the asylum, and in the latest issue of the 'Ravencroft' miniseries, a flashback reveals that the Cosmic Cube is a part of its history as well. Years ago, a young J Jonah Jameson picked up a call from an ex-patient of the institute, seeking his own revenge on Ravencroft for his mistreatment.

This "man of mystery" is revealed to be wielding a Cosmic Cube, which he claims to have been given to him by aliens. The man uses the cube to erase everyone in the institute from existence — everyone aside from the demons that lurked beneath the foundations. The exact significance of this moment remains unclear, but the Cosmic Cube is one of the most powerful artifacts in the Marvel Universe. The nature of this event remains a mystery — but it has larger implications for Ravencroft's place in Marvel history.

3. Justice League battle Tartarus' monsters

Panel from 'Justice League' #44 (Venditti/Xermanico/Fajardo Jr/DC Comics)

'Justice League' #44 kicks off a new story arc with 'Cold War Part 1: Monsters Within'. It's an action-heavy issue that sees the most powerful Greek monsters of myth rise from their prison in Tartarus, to unleash their resentment upon the surface of the modern world. Scylla, Cerberus, and the Hydra are just some of the beasts pouring forth from a pit in the ground. The League manage to defeat them all, but they're pushed to their limits in a fantastic art sequence by Xermanico and Romulo Fajardo Jr. It can be challenging to put the Justice League up against a threat that pushes them all to their limits, but unleashing every beast that's ever been imprisoned in Tartarus all at once is a great start.

2. Gwen Stacy is tired of playing 'What If...?'

Panel from 'Ghost-Spider' #9 (McGuire/Guara/Herring/Marvel Comics)

Before her introduction in the lead up to Marvel Comics' 'Spider-Verse' event, the most famous Gwen Stacy in Marvel's history was the one who died from being thrown off a bridge. That legacy has always hung over Spider-Gwen — now the Ghost-Spider — who has a closer connection to the Multiverse than most. After a talk from her father, where he once again tries to discourage her from risking her life as a superhero, Gwen Stacy points out how many people look at the universe as a game of 'What If...?'. She is aware of her unique place in the Multiverse — in most other universes, it's Peter Parker who gets chosen to be its main spider-hero. Releasing her frustrations by turning into Gwenom, Gwen Stacy emphasized that she's tired of second-guessing herself — she is aware of the unique opportunity she's been given in her universe, and she plans to live up to it.

1. Lois Lane explains the Multiverse

Panels from 'Lois Lane' #10 (Rucka/Perkins/Troy/DC Comics)

Gwen Stacy isn't the only one whose mind is on the Multiverse. The DC universe has been through so many iterations that even Earth Prime is a multiverse unto itself. Lois Lane explains the unique nature of that multiverse in 'Lois Lane' #10. Lois reveals that all the various Crises that the DC Multiverse has been through has led to a certain amount of inter-universe bleed, meaning that some people in the DC Universe are combinations of several versions of themselves and might remember other lives they haven't lived. Lois Lane has been subject to that effect herself, as the current version of her is a mix of her post and pre-Flashpoint self. Through her explanation, we see just how that works from a more street-level view of the Multiverse, explaining just how different versions of characters see themselves in a universe that keeps rewriting its own history.