Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

This is a miserable week for Marvel, with just one or two exceptions.

Deadpool/GLI - Summer Fun Spectacular

by Fabian Nicieza, Dan Slott, Kieron Dwyer, Nelson, Paul Pelletier, and Clio Chiang (Phew!)

A special with Deadpool and the Great Lakes Initiative? Really? Were the fans clamoring for this particular gem? I didn't think so, but it actually is a gem. I'm guessing Fabian Nicieza concentrated on most of Deadpool's dialogue, while Dan Slott takes several punches at Marvel for the ridiculous stories they have told over the years that are supposed to count for continuity's sake.

The entire series drips with wonderful illustrations of the GLI and their habit of being losers, with an emphasis on the convergence of Mr. Immortal, a guy who cannot die, and Deadpool's penchant for cutting things up and maiming people all the time. Best of all are the Squirrel Girl interludes, which bring us fabulous reminders of Niels (Speedball's cat), and an encounter with Doctor Doom that is simply priceless. The only shame in this comic is that Squirrel Girl's plan to erase the Civil War didn't come to fruition. This was a thoroughly delightful diversion.

Exiles 96

by Chris Claremont and Clayton Henry

Speaking of Claremont introducing too many concepts (see New Excalibur review below). Psylocke is hijacked by a couple of new strangers and given a warning, and Betsy wonders why they can't fix things, because after all, aren't they "the Gods?" We have no other reference to show how she reached this conclusion, and for all we know, she's just having a vivid dream. Meanwhile, they are telling her that their day is done. Excuse me, but if your day is done, why are you still around? And if your day is done, how are you able to yank me here and do all these things? I smell a setup for "ye olde time traveling and/or alternate dimension threat to the universe" plot. Again. Yay.

The plot with the rest of the team is much better, and the art is nice, although there is very little background detail in many panels. The depiction of Reed Richards in this dimension is shown very nice artistically when we see him underground later, so pay close attention to the part where Blink is tied up (as if I had to tell you that...). There is still no mention or reminder of the fact that Morph is really Proteus, so I expect that situation to blow up in their faces in six months or so. Unless Claremont leaves it dangling while he introduces still more complexities. I like the characters a lot, though, so I'm hoping more is done with people like Blink and Longshot in the future.

New Excalibur 21

by Chris Claremont and Jeremy Haun

I'm in a holding pattern with this series as the main storyline continues, but Claremont is back to his old tricks of introducing too many concepts without closing out the old ones. We have an Albion with murky ambitions who has co-opted Lionheart, yet another character whose motivations have not been clearly shown. We still have an alternate version of the original X-Men running around, and they are nothing more than exactly that: an unexplained evil version of the X-Men. If they have a greater story to be told, it hasn't been covered yet. In the meantime, Dazzler seems to have copied Mr. Immortal's powers, as every time she gets killed, she comes back to life, and nobody has made it a priority to figure out how that can happen from out of nowhere.

The dialogue remains the same for most characters, which is bad, because it means the Juggernaught is talking more like a Professor X these days than a Cain Marko. Claremont has decided that every character will speak in a stilting, caveat-laden type of philosophical pondering manner, which would be fine for one or two people, but not for the whole cast. The art gets muddled as Sage slams into a platform, which shows Evil Angel next to Evil Cyclops, with Pete Wisdom on the very end. Yet Evil Angel abandons his buddy and decides to go save Wisdom instead?!? I hope things start to make more sense soon.

Nova 4

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Sean Chen, Scott Hanna, and Brian Denham

Now we get to the good stuff! The cover is by Adi Granov, and it is niiiice! Inside, you have multiple artists, which makes you wonder if Marvel is trying hard to make sure the title doesn't fall behind schedule. If so, kudos to them, multiple artists may be the best solution. This entire Annihilation: Conquest tie-in issue is well-written and well-drawn, and the ending is huge. I don't know if the change is permanent or a temporary situation, but it had me almost jumping out of my seat. I can't spoil this, I just gotta urge you to check out this book. It was my most enjoyable read in the last couple weeks of comics, whether Marvel, DC, or anyone else. (You notice the really good stuff, I write the least about, because it's more fun to just discover the actual good parts for yourself!)

Omega Flight 4

by Michael Avon Oeming and Scot Kolins

I'm trying to enjoy this series, but the creative team isn't making it easy. The very first page demonstrates the height of ludicrous, as Arachne's daughter is left alone with a prisoner, and is able to free him with no adult supervision, with one press of a button. No government installation, not even a Canadian one, would leave a minor unsupervised with a prisoner, let alone given access to any systems. To top it all off, she seems to know that her mother needs help. The problem with this is, at this point the team has done nothing other than get into a helicopter and fly away. It's not like she has an 'arachne-sense' ... does she?

The entire series is visually dark, but I'm not sure if the darkness was planned because the storyline deals with demons, or simply a happy accident with the styles of the artist and the colorist. The demons are rather generic, and the stage direction is a little confusing on a couple of pages, so you may have to go back a time or two and re-examine something to make sure you follow everything that's happening. In the meantime, U.S. Agent has decided he is using a gun now, for some unexplained reason, and Talisman reacts to a punch from Piledriver as if it barely bothered her. I know she absorbs magic, but how did she absorb the physical force of the blow as well? She has never been able to do something like that before, so chalk it up to an incomplete understanding of the nature of her powers.

The stage direction gets worse as Talisman tries to save some innocents; you can't tell if she is in pain because of the force of debris raining down on her magic shield, or because maybe she just got hit on the head by a falling rock. Which makes you wonder how she can handle Piledriver's punch if she gets brained by one small rock. U.S. Agent comes back and his gun is nowhere to be found, and he doesn't know who Beta Ray Bill is at all, which I guess means he never bothered to read the Avengers' files when he had access to them. Finally, we catch a glimpse of Arachne's daughter again in one of the final panels, which pulls you up short to figure out if Guardian is having a flashback, if someone else is having a vision, or if she somehow showed up at the fight.

It's a brave attempt, but this series could be so much better. Too much is left to the artist, and some of that is confusing. Considering this title has an assistant editor and two editors, I'm a little surprised they did not make this story a little tighter somehow. I'm going to hang with it for the final issue, but right now I'm feeling like I sat through an entire movie, hoping at some point it would get better, and now I'm trying to figure out if I can get my money back.

Punisher War Journal 9

by Matt Fraction and Ariel Olivetti

Is it possible to warn people to run away screaming from a comic book? Because this is just getting disgusting. I thought this would be the conclusion of the ongoing storyline, but it's not, and there's no real end in sight, at the rate we're going. I had hopes for Matt Fraction, and they have crumbled. Olivetti is also wearing a little thin, because he shows no variation in his style to depict a lot of the characters.

We start the story and quickly go into still more flashbacks, but whereas Tarantino did it well in Pulp Fiction, this is like an instruction manual on how not to do time-shifting. Worse, the story ends at almost the exact same moment in time we started, with almost no real movement forward. Lump it in with Nazi-like villains, the most unimaginative ever, and you've got a boring plot stuck in neutral. This one I'm walking out on, and you know it's bad, fans, when you actually are near the end and decide that it's just not worth any more time wasted to get to the final scene. No more reviews for this series, it's just been dropped.

Wraith 1

by Javier Grillo-Markuach and Kyle Hotz

Another brilliant cover by Adi Granov, which leaves you wishing he could have drawn the whole issue. Not that the inside art is bad, but Granov's stuff is just plain cool. The new character Wraith is introduced, and he speaks softly and appears to be Kree. His implied bounty hunter nature and space motorcycle are a little too derivative of Lobo, but this guy is much more serious than Lobo ever was. He's got a neat polymorphic weapon, and additional powers as well.

The Phalanx are slightly less group-thinkers and a little more independent than they used to be, and it slips in their public announcement too (unless it was a mistake by the writer). Pay close attention to the repeating public announcement: it should be robotically-identical as it is repeated, but it is not the same each time, and gives you the impression of a cop following his beat, yelling out something slightly different through is megaphone each time with slight variations from the script. Does this mean the members of the Phalanx are more likely to vary from their gestalt script, or just sloppy writing? Time will tell. These are the types of questions the editor should be asking the writer before the issues goes to be published.

There should be a checklist at your local comic store for the multi-title Annihilation: Conquest storyline, but it would be a lot better if Marvel would also add it at the end of each book, so readers would know where to go to read the next part of the story. If you're a casual reader, it might be harder for you to know how to get the full story, as opposed to each of the individual series involved. This is a good #1 issue, I recommend it. I also recommend the entire Annihilation: Conquest story right now.

X-Factor 21

by Peter David and Pablo Raimondi

***Potential spoiler here***
Peter David has a good penchant for balancing several plot threads all at the same time, within the bigger context of the storyline, and it makes for good reading. He introduces a new character who looks a little too reminiscent of Cable, and it's hard to figure if he can read everyone's mind, or if he just has a very interesting version of super hearing. There are a few comedic gems, with Guido showing up in the middle on a tense moment, and Monet's curiosity question to Madrox, followed by a not-so-subtle hint that she may be pregnant. One new plot element is actually ripped out of an episode of the Boston legal TV show, which got the idea from somewhere else, so you have to wonder if its getting a little too easy to see where Mr. David possibly gets some of his ideas. Sometimes what you read may feel strangely derivative, but it's entertaining for sure.

The backup feature has another part of the Endangered Species Story arc (Chapter 3, if that helps you to keep track), with an interesting encounter between the Beast and the High Evolutionary. I have to wonder if the idea of breaking it up into a series of eight-page segments is good, because on one hand, the tension and mystery are developed quite well in this eight pages. On the other hand, it would have been much more entertaining to have read chapters 1-3 in one sitting. But it's good, and that's the most important thing!

That's it for this week's haul, check out Dana's reviews soon for the rest of the Marvel section. And let me know if you want me to label mini-series, so you know at the top that Wraith is #1 of a four-issue limited, things like that. We always want to know what additional details the fans think would be useful.


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