Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

Disagree or strongly agree? Am I being too easy on these guys or too harsh? Don't be shy, go ahead and comment on the reviews below:

Exiles 95

by Chris Claremont and Clayton Henry

Heather Hudson is missing and the bugs are gone! Just another day at the Exiles office. The storyline takes a little breather from the action as the small mystery is solved, but to their credit, nobody on the team suggests that they stop doing the missions and pack it in. One thing not mentioned is the fact that Morph is actually Proteus, so if a new reader picks up the next couple issues and it becomes a factor, it's possible to get confused. You would think there would be one panel in the issue where a member worries about it. If I was on the team, I'd worry about it every second!

The art is decent, but Blink is looking more like your average woman than the youngster she's supposed to be. One small problem with the dialogue is that Claremont's style has not changed all that much through the years, so a lot of the exposition might remind you of speeches given by Storm or Wolverine in older X-Men comics. The Wolverine/Psylocke exchange might as well have been Logan/Kitty Pryde. For long-time readers, it would benefit Claremont to shake up the words and thoughts his characters use, so decades-long X-Men fans don't have the nagging impression they have just purchased a reprint.

This is a good jumping-on point to the title for new readers, if you want to avoid confusion.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man 21

by Peter David and Todd Nauck

Ever read a comic that reminds you of M.A.S.H.? The TV show was good at throwing in laughs, and then switching to a very serious moment in a heartbeat, and the first couple pages are excellent here. Very funny, and then BAM! Nauck's artwork is good, but a little simplistic style right now. It will be interesting to see what direction he grows in the next couple years. He draws a good Spidey, but the rest of the characters are slightly too cartoony (if that's not a word, then I just invented it, okay?) in appearance for my tastes. There's a couple of very good beats between Robbie and J.J.J. and the last pages is very true-to-life, and well done.

There may be a slight continuity problem, as Ero (Miss Arrow) insists that Peter's stingers only come out when he faces someone "whose being is rooted in primal forces of chaos and darkness," but we know he has used them against El Muerto, Iron Man-- wait, never mind...

Mystic Arcana 1

by Louise Simonson and Steve Scott

The first issue of this four-part miniseries focuses on Illyana Rasputin, the one we know and love. Steeped in the mystical narrative of hidden knowledge, this issue is a delight of words and pictures. The artistic team throws in a ton of details to feast on, complete with scene changes that alter the mood and perspective entirely.

The story fits seamlessly in with an old New Mutants storyline, with Illyana and Dani Moonstar on the run from Belasco, and long-time readers are in for a treat, as the characterization is very well done. This series could serve as a stepping stone for Marvel to explore a lot of flavor and interesting characters in the magical part of the Marvel Universe. The next issue features Sister Grimm, and if it's anything close to as good as this first issue, it will be worth your while.

New X-Men 39

by Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle, and Skottie Young

The second part of the Quest for Magik storyline starts, and you didn't want to miss part one, or you might be confused. Illyana is supposed to be the Magik from the house of M reality, apparently, and who knows how that happened. We may or may not get an explanation later, and it may or may not make any sense. There's also the small case of all of the mutants being held helpless in restraints one second, and the next, just about everybody can break free with little or no effort at all.

The story aside, the art is a little trying right now. It looks like a child's Saturday morning cartoon, but the previous issue had limbs getting cut off and other decidedly non-kiddie demon violence. It calls for some kind of Bill Sienkiewicz or Barry Windsor-Smith type of art, but we are left with an unharmonious feel between the art and the actual content of the story. The backgrounds are somewhat sparse in detail as well, which makes it all look rushed.

I wish I could say good things about the colors, but I don't like the "lightness" of everything there either. In the meantime, the kids are mostly all of one mind and dialogue, for the most part interchangeable, which leaves me feeling hard to keep track of who's who, who's where, and why I should care if what's-his-face just died, especially since it's Limbo, and anyone can be brought back at any time. I don't believe a major character is gone for good when I see the death, and I could care less if the throwaway characters are... well, thrown away.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend picking up the title at this time. I'm holding on out of inertia from when it was better, and hoping it will be good again soon. I'll keep you posted.

Nova 3

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Sean Chen

Sean Chen's art alone is almost reason enough to pick up this title, although he has had better inkers teamed up with him before. Nova is a galactic policeman now, a good idea long overdue. The concept of one guy trying his best to take care of things a whole team used to handle is a good one, and one I can personally relate to (admittedly, on a slightly smaller scale). Right now, though, he is home for a little R&R, in this Initiative crossover.

The cover may be a bit misleading, as Nova's confrontation with Penance is not as explosive as you might expect. Robbie Baldwin is less an angry youth than an insecure emo boy, but it makes sense that he would sound less angry when to one of the few people he could still consider a friend.

Iron Man's new extremis abilities are not taken into account, as he shows up personally to call off the Thunderbolts. If he were really concerned about innocents getting hurt, it would have been more realistic to have him send a communique instantly to Moonstone or Osborn himself, but then we wouldn't have the dramatic tension inherent in a personal confrontation. This will probably happen a lot, as some writers may not fully understand all of the new capabilities that come with extremis.

It is very interesting to see Richard looking at the grander scope of things than Tony Stark. It presents an interesting juxtaposition between the man who should be the older, wise sage who can take in the bigger picture, and the kid from New York who used to be very unsure and only seeing what was in front of his face. We are reminded yet again that Tony has his agenda and will focus only on that, while Richard Rider has grown and changed. This is the type of story progression and growth that is worth reading. Give this title a try, if you're not already.

Punisher War Journal 8

by Matt Fraction and Ariel Olivetti

The Punisher has his own philosophical take on what Captain America meant, and what Cap would approve of, and it just helps prove how "slightly off-kilter" he is in the head, but he's still got better arguments than the Hate Monger! There's a good story beat between Tony Stark and G.W. Bridge that is really cool. There's a little time-shifting in the story-telling, but only a little chance of confusing you, even if you missed the previous issue. Olivetti's artwork is tight, but he doesn't go much for background details. The inking and the colors are very well done.

Due mostly to the ongoing references to Captain America, this title is being treated as an initiative-related comic right now. It is not too important to the overall story to be familiar with prior events, though. The one problem with the story is that most of it is a flashback to show us how Frank got to where he is now, but it is not the most exciting flashback.

There is also a rookie continuity mistake within the story, where the villain starts to take off his gloves to strangle Frank, and then after the flashback part is over, it takes us back to the present, where the villain still has his gloves on, and is simply punching Frank and threatening to shoot him. You wonder if he tried to strangle the Punisher off-panel, and his neck was so tough it didn't work? If Fraction can avoid simple flaws like that in the future, his storytelling would greatly improve. I'm neutral on recommending the title to anyone right now.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.