Comic Fodder

Marvel Comic Reviews: Week of May 16

The Mighty Avengers 3

By Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Cho and Jason Keith

I wasn’t initially even going to pick up this book but my childhood loyalty to the Avengers, no matter what the incarnation, inevitably won out. The first two issues of this latest series basically depicted the recruitment and formation of a new band of superheroes, consisting of the usual suspects and a couple, dare I say, B-lister’s to round out the lineup. Once assembled, excuse the pun, the team finds themselves responding to an attack on New York City by the Mole Man. As they fight his throng of monsters, Iron Man’s armor unexpectedly transforms him into a naked woman who looks “exactly” like the Wasp. Personally, I didn’t see the resemblance. And I’m not being glib. It wasn’t until one of the characters mentioned that she looked like Janet that I even realized it. I think it’s a nice touch. Anyway, this once Iron Man, now female being is – wait for it – the new manifestation of Ultron. Yes, that pesky android is back for another go.

In the third issue of The Mighty Avengers, we only really take a few baby steps forward. I’m not exactly sure how long this story arc plans to be, but if this issue is any indication, we might be in for a long haul. There is a pretty decent fight between Sentry and the Ultron fembot that runs throughout the majority of the issue but I have to admit I wanted a little more. I know there’s been this trend over the last few years where comics seem to be written to be put into trade paperback form but I just don’t think that necessarily works all the time. For me, this was one of those issues where a lot of fighting happens, save for the rendezvous between Hank Pym and Tigra, which, with her inclusion on the cover, lead me to believe she too was now going to be part of the team, and not much else.

There were two definite threads in this issue that seemed to become missed opportunities to explore deeper content. Carol Danvers is finally in a place to lead a team and achieve the respect she’s so longed for when, with the loss of Tony Stark and the incapacitation of Maria Hill, Natasha Romanoff is put in charge. What does this mean for Carol? Will Natasha now lead this group of Avengers? I thought we’d see Carol’s insecurities spring back in some way. And where has Sentry’s psychosis gone? I’d like to see some expansion on that. I know he’s literally fighting throughout the issue but this character should remain complex. Though he is extremely powerful, no one knows if they can trust him and his mental state in an actual fight. It’s the character’s flaws that make them great.

The art was fine for the issue as it has been since the beginning of the title. The characters look good and are well defined, namely the women. The detail is all there. However, I’m not quite sure if it fits the overall tone. It feels like it should be a bit darker, with some edge. I mean, Tony Stark’s Iron Man morphed into a female Ultron and is most likely dead, well, comic book dead. I do have to give Cho credit in creating a great deal of movement in the art. I’ve seen so many books with action sequences that just lay on the page. His definitely do not.

All in all, this was a passable issue; a standard mid-arc installment that will take us from point A to point B.

The Ultimates Vol. 2 13

By Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary, and Laura Martin

It’s been a long, long time coming, but we finally get to experience the end of Millar’s run on The Ultimates. I had every intention of rereading at least issues eleven and twelve before delving into this one. It only made sense. It’d been almost eight months, I believe, since the last issue. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait. And for the most part, it drew me right back into the fold. The book starts off with a struggle of will between Thor and Loki. I’ve really enjoyed what the creators have done with the character of Thor throughout this volume of the title. I mean, wouldn’t you think someone had approximately one penny in the piggybank if they touted that they were a god? It’s a nice take on an often unquestioning universe created in comics.

As their battle ensues, the action quickly evolves on an epic scale, and I mean epic, leading to an eight-page foldout like nothing I’ve ever seen. Not that I’ve seen a lot, but still enough to be impressed. When I first heard they were planning such a spread, I did have my doubts. And felt that it was probably something that wasn’t needed. As it now stands, it really wasn’t necessary but still very, very cool.

As the battle comes to a close, with Thor inevitably defeating Loki, we find the last third of the book devoted to a sort of wrap up of loose ends. Some people may complain that it wasn’t enough or be upset with, for example, the direction Millar takes Hawkeye in the end of this book but I must say I was not at all disappointed. Even though it was unsettling, it was nice to see some raw retribution. Though, the very end of the book had me confused. I wasn’t quite sure why it was included. It didn’t mar this issue in the least. It simply left me wondering if I should be reading into it.

Hitch, as always, handles each page deftly. The action sequences are smooth and vital. The characters clearly and appropriately portrayed. The depiction of Thor finally bringing down Loki was stunning. And of course, the eight-page foldout was beautiful. When it comes to Hitch, for me, I rarely have complaints.

All in all, this was a great end to great book. Even if you’re waiting to read it in trade, pick up this issue. I’m not sure how or what they plan for the eight-pager.

Ultimate X-Men 82

By Robert Kirkman, Pascal Alixe, Danny Miki and Jose Villarrubia

For the most part, I’ve always really liked this title. But since Kirkman has taken it over, I’ve been pretty much unimpressed. And this issue is no exception. Portions of this story sort of work, yet other chunks don’t. Currently, we have three things going on in this issue. There’s a new arc that entails Nightcrawler and the Morlocks. There’s the continuation of the fallout from Cable’s presence in this series which brings about Scott Summers and Jean Grey reestablishing Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youngsters without Charles. And then there’s Bishop’s recruitment of a new team of X-Men following their disbandment by Scott (based on Marvel Previews, it’ll take a couple months for Bishop to enlist his team of choice).

That being said, it isn’t the back and forth between the various stories that brings about the downfall of this book, it’s actually the dialogue. A great deal of it seems very stilted and a reiteration of information we should already know. It’s kind of like coming into a room and saying you’re going to turn on a light, instead of just turning on a light. And Alixe’s artwork doesn’t do much to advance the story along. It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just that it’s not good. I’ve been such a faithful reader of this title that it’s been hard to see it go in the direction it has. Bring on some true drama, some true action.

As it stands, this title, sadly, seems to be plodding along.