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.

I’m a little late on the reviews for last week. Sorry about that. Family took me out of town. But I had lots to say about August 8th’s issues. So let’s start with…

INCREDIBLE HULK 109

By Greg Pak, Carlo Pagulayan, Jeffrey Huet and Chris Sotomayor

I’m starting to wonder what it’s like for those who are merely reading World War Hulk. Month to month, it becomes more and more evident that you’d be doing the story a veritable disservice if you aren’t reading both. I’ve tried to take a step back and look at World War Hulk on its own but the two seem so intertwined. I believe to experience the event as it should you must pick up both titles. It’s storytelling at its best.

Incredible Hulk is enormously rich with character moments. It’s probably my favorite part of this book. Not that World War Hulk is without them (I’m an enormous fan of the event); it’s just that this title seems to plunge deeper into the inner workings of those involved. Pak has crafted such an opulent story that the characters leap off the page. I was never a huge fan of Hercules until this event. It’s thanks to Pak’s work on this hero that I’ve discovered a new favorite character. Actually, I’ve become quite fond of the ragtag team that’s formed out of World War Hulk. Can I hope for a spin-off?

This issue’s art is wonderful. Pagulayan has captured the right amount of character and mixed it with some great action. I felt the image of Hulk being blasted by the military was better rendered in this issue – excellent!

If you aren’t reading Incredible Hulk, you should be. Pick this (and the rest of the) title up!


THE NEW AVENGERS 33

By Brian Michael Bendis, Leinil Yu and Dave McCaig

Dissention in the ranks can play really well in team comics. It easily lends itself to a taut, often gripping dynamic that allows a writer to shake things up when a title starts getting sluggish. Last issue, Bendis delved, quite heavily, into the matter of trust (or lack there of) for our heroes. I wasn’t thrilled with how it was executed since most of the story took place on a plane. There were some fantastic character moments and the idea that anyone of them could be a Skrull in disguise was decent but I want more in a comic. Hell, a single issue runs me three bucks. Give me some ass kicking.

This installment definitely delivers more than the last, namely, in the area of pace. Where the previous month’s issue seemed to plod along, this month’s finds itself clipping swiftly from one moment to the next. It supplies us with a healthy dose of character development and thoughtful storytelling. The best example, by far, is that of Clint’s flashback to when he was Hawkeye. We learn the important less Captain America taught him and the rest of the Avengers – “powers are only as useful as the soldier who wields them.” These are meaningful words. They also show us how Clint was able to step into the shoes of Ronin and no longer use his bow.

We’re also introduced to a group of classic villains brought together to bid on Luther Manning, codename Deathlok. I’m not sure if these characters will be utilized past this issue since it appears they were merely a device to introduce us to someone who appears to be the new Kingpin. I hope I’m wrong. I’d like to see this team go up against an actual group of villains. I’ve always enjoyed it when DC matches the League or the Titans or the Society up against some formidable foes.

Yu’s art is getting a bit long-in-the-tooth for me. He’s completely proficient in what he’s doing. The tone and mood are consistently captured. The characters are mostly discernable from one another. The panels are always active. But sometimes, I just want to look at pretty pictures. Pictures filled with detail. Images splashed with color. Characters that are attractive and appealing. Sequences that appear to be ripped from a movie.

All in all, this was a good issue. I’d say it’s worth a look-see.


ULTIMATE X-MEN 85

By Robert Kirkman, Yanick Paquette, Serge LaPointe and Stephane Peru

It should come as no surprise to those of you who may read my reviews that I haven’t been too keen on the direction Ultimate X-Men has been heading for the past few months. For me, it has been extremely troubling since this title was once one of my favorites. I always looked forward to reading it each month. Sadly, I now find myself mostly picking up this book solely out of obligation in hopes that it will find its way back to its former glory. So I have to question what exactly went wrong.

Currently, the status quo within this book has been completely disrupted which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Often times, circumstances such as these make for an excellent read, but, in the case of this title, it seems to have created a certain state of stasis. Charles Xavier is thought to be dead, the X-Men have been disbanded, Scott Summers has turned the mutant campus into a more traditional place of learning, Bishop has formed a covert X-team, and Jean Grey seems ever closer to becoming the Dark Phoenix. Sounds groovy, right? In theory, each event holds the potential for fantastic conflict and exciting stories but for some reason this book is still stuck on the shoulder spinning its wheels. I know there’s a reason that everything is happening. Kirkman has more than established himself as a talented writer. I just have to wonder, when all is said and done, will I actually care anymore? There are some definite doubts on my end.

This issue brings us one tiny step forward in the progression of the numerous stories being tackled in this book. With so much going on in one title, it can be hard to keep any sort of momentum in place. You get two pages for one story, a few for another, even more for the next, and so on. I’ve read a few books where this kind of storytelling has been entirely riveting. Tidbits are dangled. Innuendos are made. Characters are deepened. Piece by piece a story is constructed. When done well, the slow pace is a thoroughly captivating way to build tension, suspense, and drama. With the Ultimate X-Men, it’s created tedium.

Most of this tedium, once comprised of Scott’s new focus for the school, is now occupied by this new X-team. Personally, they seem like just a hodgepodge of characters. In a previous issue, Bishop stated that there’s a reason he must bring this specific group together (with the exception of Warren) but I simply don’t see it. Or maybe I don’t want to. My lack of vision might stem from my dislike of this Bishop character. This Ultimate version is just plain flat to me. There’s nothing very interesting about him. He doesn’t come off as the original anti-hero I’ve come to enjoy. He’s merely a generic leader.

Paquette is a completely competent artist. He creates some genuinely winning images in this month’s installment, but there seems to be a certain lack of vitality to his work. The page with Dazzler defeating a number of Sentinels was, dare I say, dazzling. Hank’s escape from Triskelion was terrific. Even the two-page fight sequence was spot-on. It’s just the rest of the pages seem not as dynamic as they could be. I’m hoping next month he’s able to capture the action and drama a bit more.

As it stands, this was pretty much a mediocre issue. Pick it up if you read it. Don’t if you don’t.

______________________________________________

Dana Severson is one of your resident reviewers of all things
Marvel. He is often found red-eyed and filled with caffeine.

I agree with your comments regarding Incredible Hulk and World War Hulk. It does seem that the two books lean on another enough that they seem inseparable. While WWH does seem to deal with things on a bit more of a macro level, Incredible Hulk is giving the reader great beats closer in on the ground (and better than Frontline, IMO).

DC is trying this same trick with Amazons Attack!, and rather than giving the reader a feeling of a vast conflict, you get a lot of overlap and a plodding story now written by two (or three or four) authors.

I'm a DC guy, and I've never read much in the way of Hulk, but this has been an enjoyable read for me. I haven't really read any other spin-offs of the WWH storyline, but I feel like I'm getting a good read and seeing most of the picture.

-- Posted by: ryan at August 17, 2007 5:34 PM