Comic Fodder

Dana's Marvel Comic Reviews

Each week Comics Fodder will bring you a number of reviews from the Marvel Universe. Some books will inevitably be missed. But should any reader feel a certain Marvel title has been shamefully overlooked by me, take a gander at my comic counterpart’s reviews. If he’s missed it too, drop a quick note and we’ll try take a look.

World War Hulk 2

By Greg Pak, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson and Christina Strain

The first issue of this title did far from disappoint with its mix of fantastic storytelling and stellar action which led expectations, at least mine, to be a bit lofty for its second chapter. Since I’m a huge fan of Pak, I tend to afford him (as with any writer I enjoy) certain allowances when a story goes astray for one reason or another. Well, none were needed. This outing was even better than the last.

The most recent installment pretty much throws us right into the thick of battle. Hulk and his Warbound face off against a slew of heavy-hitting superheroes. And it’s a battle that takes us from cover to cover. An unbelievably epic confrontation filled with character and emotion. The plotting is perfect. The pacing is fluid. To watch each hero fall one by one, should impress even the harshest critic.

By far, one of my favorite moments was the brief, yet poignant skirmish between Hulk and She-Hulk. She tries to speak to him cousin to cousin but to no avail. I was quite literally shocked to see what he did to her when she failed to walk away. The image is still emblazoned in my brain. And it also serves to show how deep Hulk’s anger truly goes – family ties mean nothing. Another wonderfully horrifying image happens about halfway into the book when The Hulk faces off against The Thing. It’s an excellent fight. But the way in which the green-one brings down this formidable opponent is nothing short of ruthless. You even see a few specs of rock fly. Superb! Actually, the whole comic is filled with images that are both staggering and astounding. It brings to mind the saying “actions speak louder than words.” Pak knows this well and demonstrates how true that statement can be.

And speaking of action, I have to give the art team props. They definitely brought this issue home. My initial reaction to Romita working on this book wasn’t all that great. I never found a flavor for his style. But as I’ve become more and more exposed to his creations, the more and more I appreciate the design and composition of each piece.

There’s a reason Hulk is called incredible. Pick this title up!

The Order 1

By Matt Fraction, Barry Kitson, Mark Morales and Dean White

With all these new-fangled title spinning out of The Initiative, I was more than prepared to not like this book. Actually, I kind of hoped I wouldn’t – I can barely keep myself in boards and bags. But The Order is leaps and bounds better than I had hoped. It’s a topnotch premise with lots of room to explore.

The Order is the S.H.I.E.L.D.-sanctioned super hero team from the Fifty-State Initiative for the state of California (wow, that was a mouthful) made up of volunteers that were all heroes in the “real” world. Each volunteer has been trained to use their artificially replicated biological superpowers and will serve for one year as an agent of the U.S. government. The team is “backed by the finest public relations and marketing push money can buy.” Did I already mention this is a topnotch premise?

We start off the issue with a new team of superheroes sent to bring down “Infernal Man.” And in all reality, it’s a decent clash. One of the members, said to be expendable (gotta love that), is even melted during the conflict. And following a few valiant attempts, the villain is brought down. A few members of the team are enthused or, to be more accurate, a little full of themselves so they decide to hit the town to “party like superheroes.” But the only caveat is that they’ve each signed moral contracts forbidding them to drink in public. What are they going to do, fire them? Yep. As far as premises go, topnotch, huh?

I love the idea of this sort of corporate take on super hero teams. Everyone is replaceable. It’s not a new approach but it’s still not a standard one. Fraction does a great job in the set up and pacing of this first issue. And I’m excited to see where he takes it. If it’s anything like he’s established, this should be a promising title. But it’s not just about a corporate run team, there’s some wonderful character development, especially in the case of Anthem, the appointed team leader. He pretty much drives the story as we see a ton of this issue from his perspective.

The copy I ended up with was the variant edition so I have McNiven’s work on the cover. I’m a pretty big fan of his, and even though I knew the interior art wasn’t going to be his, I was still a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, Kitson does a more than fine job with the artistic duties but that’s one of the issues of having one person do the cover and someone else do the rest.

From my fingers to your eyes, pick up this book!

Captain America 28

By Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Mike Perkins and Frank D’Armata

It’s hard to come up with new things to say about a book that is as consistently good as this one is so let me simply say that if you’re not reading this title, you should be. Brubaker does such an amazing job of smoothly moving from one scene to the next (some are only a page long). He’s giving us pieces of a puzzle in this character drama that we can’t yet see how they’ll fit together, or if they’ll fit together. I’ll refrain from giving a play by play but must make mention of the letter Tony receives from Steve. It’s his final wishes. Just between the two of them. We don’t get to read it, just witness the reaction. It’s a great touch. And I know will send die-hard fans into frenzy of speculation (yep, I’m hypothesizing too).

With great plotting and pacing, this book never fails to satisfy. The same can definitely be said of the art. There’s a great quality to the work. I’d probably still pick up the book if the story was crap (but it isn’t so let’s not test this theory). Epting has a real knack for capturing the right mood and tone. But still makes the action sequences look dynamic. You know, I’m almost positive I’ve written something very similar about him in a previous review.

As I said before, you should pick this book up!

Avengers: The Initiative 4

By Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli and Daniele Rudoni

I have to admit my enthusiasm for this book is waning. I think it’s mostly due to the introduction of five additional characters in this month’s issue – not that nuts for any of ‘em. That being said, what I do appreciate about this title is that Slott seems to be switching his focus from character to character in each issue. Things can get a bit tricky if readers don’t find favor in the character we’re following, but, as it stands, it’s a nice idea. This issue focuses on Hardball. And some light is shed on a character that seems far more conflicted than what outward appearances would lend. He’s an okay character, not as interesting as some of the other newbies in the variety of Initiative titles, but a fine chap. The pacing is fine. There’s a nice mix of humor and character development. Not a lot of action this time out. But the next issue should be fun based on the final two pages.

A fine effort, but I’m on the fence.

Ultimate Spider-Man 111

By Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen

I had every intention of writing a review on this title but I’m heading off on vacation and ran out of time. And really, who am I going to sway either way on this book. It's Bendis. ‘Nuff Said!


Dana Severson is one of your resident reviewers of all things
Marvel. He’s 5’9”and 160 lbs with blonde hair and blue eyes.
He likes – wait, wrong site – Never mind.

Dana, there's a warning signal in the back of my head with this title: the people who train to be super heroes can only tolerate the process for one year. Although there is no indication they will die from their power burnout after that year, it raises the shadow of that infinitely-better series Strikeforce: Morituri, written by Peter Gillis and Brent Anderson, later taken over by James Hudnall and Mark Bagley. With this one-year time limit and the interchangeable nature of the cast, this new title is constantly going to be compared to Morituri, and in that sense, I can practically guarantee it will come up short. My opinion only, though.

(This guest reviewer buttinsky has been brought to you by... what do you mean I don't have any sponsors?!?)


-- Posted by: tpull at July 22, 2007 12:28 AM

I, myself, was wondering about this premise so close on the heels of X-Statix. Of course, the flavor of how the premise was executed seemed significantly different, so I looked forward to hearing how the title might shake out.

My concern now is that its the concept which is interesting, but are the supporting characters interesting enough to carry it off? Let alone, if they do, knowing the characters are temporary almost dares the reader not to become too invested in any particular character. It almost seems to guarantee a set-up in which any likable characters will be killed off/ removed just to prove a point about the rough and tumble world of The Order.

Maybe I'm a little cynical, but, again, the memories of X-Force/ X-Statix are still relatively fresh, and, before that, Bratpack, etc...

I give Marvel kudos for trying out the idea. It's a great way to use the Initiative idea to try out new concepts. We'll see how it goes.

-- Posted by: ryan at July 22, 2007 3:07 PM