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 us a quick note and we’ll try to take a look.

ASTONISHING X-MEN 22

By Joss Whedon, John Cassaday and Laura Martin

Just the other day, I asked a friend of mine what he thought of the most recent issue of Astonishing X-Men. He told me he hadn’t opened it yet and actually waits until he’s accumulated an entire story arc before sitting down to read the title. He feels the book reads better this way, that it’s easier to keep track of what’s going on. And I completely understand why. This issue made no sense to me whatsoever.

After what felt like a year for Astonishing X-Men to return to the shelves, we pick up where the last issue left off – I think. The team is scattered around Breakworld. Beast and Agent Brand are busy investigating The Retaliator. Cyclops and Emma are searching for S.W.O.R.D forces while fighting Danger. Colossus and Kitty Pride have sought refuge with Aghanne. And Wolverine, who finds himself on the variant cover of this issue, doesn’t really play a crucial role in anything. Now, I’ve commented, time and time again, on the trend in comics where issues are written for the trade paperback form. There’s nothing wrong with this but some stories just don’t read well as a monthly (or bi-monthly or whatever schedule this book is on) title when this approach is employed. And this book is definitely one of them. Astonishing X-Men comes out so infrequently that it’s hard to recall what’s happened in prior issues. This, for me, raises the question of whether the current story arc should’ve just come out as an original graphic novel. Probably. Would I have enjoyed it more? Doubtful.

At one time, Astonishing X-Men was probably one of my favorite titles, just behind Fables and Ultimate X-Men. The first few arcs were amazingly refreshing. The storytelling was wonderful. I found it a fascinating exploration of these well-known characters. But now I have a difficult time reading it. In fact, I have a hard time understanding it. And this story arc, in particular, just seems pointless.

But my displeasure with this title goes far deeper than just storytelling. Besides the fact that I find the latest arc unquestionably senseless, a large portion of my dislike now originates from the length of time I must wait in between issues. Not that long ago, I read an article regarding the delays surrounding comic books. Something we’ve all become way too familiar with. This article supposed that readers would rather deal with delays than forgo quality. Yes, there’s some truth to that but does it really have to be one or the other? There are a number of titles out there that are excellent in both story and art while still coming out with some regularity. This title is okay in story and good in art but comes out once in a blue moon. If you’re going to make me wait, it better be excellent. This issue was mediocre at best. I say pass.


THE ORDER 2

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

My first review for this title was very positive. Though the idea has been explored before, I felt it was a nice change of pace. I have a true appreciation for the concept of “real” people being recruited into the ranks of superhero teams. They have manufactured powers, potential side effects, possible complexes, etc. And I still really like the idea, I do, but I wasn’t as nuts about the current month’s issue of The Order.

This time out our newly formed team is in the heat of combat with a group of Soviet Super-Soldiers. However, most of the issue feels like it’s devoted to talking about the inexperienced squad. And it literally put me to sleep on my first read. Honest! I like that Fraction is taking his time to let us get to know the crop of new characters but it just seems like too much time. Each issue, from the looks of it, will dedicate a number of pages each month to the interview of one member. Cool. Though there’s probably a better way to introduce us to the players.

The art felt a little rushed this month. Actually, I had to check to see if a new artist was working on the title. It didn’t feel like the same book. But Kitson still does a capable job.

It’s too early to tell whether this title will be a keeper but right now I’m leaning toward a pass.


ULTIMATE FANTASIC FOUR 45

By Mike Carey, Pasqual Ferry and Justin Ponsor

One of my favorite parts of this book is the art. They couldn’t have picked a better team for this title. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love the otherworldly feel Ferry and Ponsor give Ultimate Fantastic Four. Each page is wonderful. And The Silver Searcher (Surfer) looks amazing. Thank you.

I had my doubts about the story. We’d wrapped up the Gah Lak Tus trilogy not that long ago so I was concerned that this was going to be a retread. And it hasn’t been. This issue finds our team transported to another world. The majority of them, now living in a blissful state of contentment, have no recollection of who they are except for poor Ben. It’s a fine idea. And the whole issue reads very well. But I just feel like something is lacking. If you an idea, let me know.

This one’s all about taste. Pick it up or pass.

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