Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

Marvel produces almost half of the top 100 comics sold per month. Which ones are worth reading? Maybe this will help you decide:

The Amazing Spider-Man 541

by by J. Michael Straczynski and Ron Garney

Peter Parker is going slightly more Punisher these days, with Aunt May in the hospital. He might as well, since Punisher is trying to imitate Captain America anyway. In the meantime, Peter pretends he has Daredevil's ability to tell lies as he questions a pawn in the game. Hey, let's all switch costumes, too!

Garney's art is hit or miss with me, but he tries to fit the dark mood and atmosphere of the situation. There is a good blend that alternates between scenes heavy with dialogue, and scenes that speak for themselves, with no need for words. Also, special bonus points for a couple of editor's notes that actually reference old issues.

Straczynski handles the Kingpin well, and you can almost imagine a soundtrack playing in the final few scenes. A new reader could pick up this issue alone and not be lost, even though we're smack dab in the middle of a storyline. Good appeal to old and new readers.

Annihilation: Conquest Prologue

by by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Mike Perkins

Annihilation proved such a big success, Marvel decided they wanted to capitalize on it and go further. This could have been an attempt to simply milk whatever inertia remained in comic sales from a popular series, but instead we have what looks like a gorgeous new story.

The Prologue sets the stage for a new threat to the galaxy, one that has been ignored for quite a few years. The art is incredibly rich, and helped to a large extent by both the inks and the colors.

Due to Marvel's tendency to want to introduce some sexual diversity, there always seems to be enough hints about Phyla's and Moondragon's relationship (despite no hint of this from Moondragon over the decades, including her seduction of Thor), but they don't hit you over the head with it too much.

Marvel has a large number of characters and backdrops in their intergalactic universe, and this series looks to be an excellent way to explore them. I'll be reading each of the titles involved. If they are anything like the Prologue, we're in for a treat.

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America 4

by by Jeff Loeb and David Finch

It's official, David Finch is one of my top ten artists right now. This part of Fallen Son centers on Spider-Man, with the fourth stage of grief being depression. Jeff Loeb starts with a totally unnecessary fight with the Rhino, made all the more sad because of its pointlessness, completely in fitting with the depression theme. Wolverine shows up to help Spidey make a little sense out of things.

Danny Miki on inks and Frank D'Armata on colors makes this one of the best comics of the month, visually. I did mention Finch doing the art, right? Even if the rest of the series isn't your cup of tea, pick this one up.

Heroes for Hire 11

by Zeb Wells and Clay Mann

This World War Hulk crossover is a book people are either going to love or hate. For example, Shang Chi has messed up his chi by messing around with Tarantula. Long-time fans may find this to be heresy, while others think it is entirely reasonable. I haven't made up my mind, so I am suspending judgement while it develops.

Humbug has been co-opted by insects from the Savage Land, and been given warning about the impending attack by the Hulk and his crew. The group seems clueless how to handle anything, and are basically pressed into service by S.H.I.E.L.D. for emergency rescue duty. Poor humbug: he finally looks cool, and I get the sense he's not long for this world. I'm neutral on recommending this, but completists will feel the compulsion to buy it, to get the entire storyline of World War Hulk.

Iron Man 19

by Christos N. Gage and Butch Guice

The Hulk is back, and he's mad. Wait, that's not very unusual. Well, he's also reasonably intelligent, and actually has a mission, instead of rampaging around randomly. Is there anything scarier than a smart guy with an agenda? I wonder if Tony Stark is feeling any sense of irony right now...

Reading the story will feel a tiny bit like a repeat, as they acknowledge things going on in the rest of the World War Hulk storyline, but basically the Hulk has taken out Black Bolt, and is commanding the evacuation of New York while Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Doctor Strange are brought to him. The story as it stands by itself is fairly good, with two caveats, both story nitpicks.

The first is that Iron Man has known that the Hulk might get back to Earth, and has been preparing for it. Any yet again, Mr. Futurist-who-knows-better-than-anyone-else is caught with his pants down, as the Hulk takes out everything Tony throws at him without breaking a sweat. How many times is Tony going to get blind-sided and surprised, when he is specifically supposed to be the man with all the answers? That was the entire reason he orchestrated the entire Civil War: "I'm the smartest man here, trust me to do all this." For the smartest man, he's being portrayed as falling short, whether it's facing the Hulk, the New Avengers, or the vast terrorist groups plaguing the world. He's always getting surprised and sometimes beaten.

The second problem, and this is a slightly bigger beef I have with the story: Iron Man issues a temporary amnesty to all unregistered superhumans to deal with the threat. WHAT THE (CENSORED)?!?!?!? The only amnesty before was at the end of the Civil War, when he offered them terms of surrender. The entire concept behind registration was that it did not matter that threats to the world were handled, superhumans NEEDED to be registered and supervised, no matter what. Now, just like most governments in the world, policy is set aside whenever is proves convenient to them, putting the nail in the coffin once and for all about how lame the explanations given for the civil War really were. Forget when Spidey saves a widow from a falling chunk of concrete, he needs to be arrested! But all of Tony's speeches about principle and how this was needed go flying out the window when Hulk comes seeking revenge on Tony's butt. Yet again, Captain America is proven right, that Tony does whatever he wants to, as long as he gets his way. Let's hope Tony stays away from the booze, or who knows what else he'll do.

This story made me mad. That means it actually made me feel emotional, which means it's good to read right now. The second-worst thing you can say about a comic is, "Meh, it didn't do anything for me." Pick it up if you can.

Mythos: Spider-Man 1

by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera

The story is so familiar, you have to ask if it really needed to be told again. But hey, it's dutifully told, with few changes to make any continuity buffs mad, and beautifully painted, and if anyone ever wants to know Spidey's origin, this is a heckuva lot cheaper than trying to buy Amazing Fantasy 15! Very nice art that still comes across as nostalgic.

Sensational Spider-Man 38

by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Lee Weeks, and Stefano Gaudiano

Eddie Brock is back! He's delusional, but that's fine, because I missed where Scorpion somehow became the next Venom anyway. In the meantime, even normal citizens are catching on that Spidey's head is not entirely in the game, as a civilian stops him from just taking off and asks, "Aren't you supposed to offer me some comfort?"

There is a little disconnect between this title and the Amazing title, because in one, Spidey wants to use his blood to save Aunt May, and here he wants a seance from Madame Web. The reader almost needs a chronological timeline to figure out what happens when. That confusion aside, if you just read them as separate stories, each one reads well.

X-Men: Endangered Species

by Mike Carey and Scot Eaton

This one-shot starts with a funeral, and they keep you in suspense as to who it is, so I might as well too. The main purpose is to wander through memory lane, recap the events in the X-universe the last few months, and to set the stage for the coming summer X-Men crossover.

Eaton's art is great, and the banter somewhat reminiscent of Fabian Nicieza's run. There are a couple of really good story beats, as Professor X confronts Sebastian Shaw, and Cannonball raises a very good question with Bishop: you're from the future, dude, why didn't you warn us about SOME of this stuff? Gee! Also, Jamie Madrox volunteers to single-handedly (but multiple-bodily) repopulate the mutant population. A nice finish with Wolverine and Cyclops, who hasn't been getting much screen time in most titles.

Good enough to buy, but not if you're going to skip the entire Endangered Species event.

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

hello i am trying to trace a comic but i do not know the name of it. All i know is that it is shang chi and it is two men fighting a shark and were could get a copy of it

thank you
Chris Horton

-- Posted by: Christopher Horton at June 27, 2007 7:33 AM