Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

Ten, count ‘em, ten reviews!

The Amazing Spider-Man 543

by by J. Michael Straczynski and Ron Garney

We're into the swan song for Straczynski for his run on Spider-Man, and it seems to me, it was a s good of a run as most, and better than many. Peter's world-famous face hasn't gotten him into trouble yet, but paying all in cash for the hospital bills has. Mary Jane has proven to be a trooper, and the conclusion will take place in "One More Day." The creative team has neatly maneuvered Peter into being a criminal, yet it's hard for the reader to argue that he would do anything different, given the circumstances. So yeah, we still have a Spider-Man moaning about how unfair the world is to him, but instead of the same-old, same-old, the reader will probably have a little sympathy for the dude this time.

The Immortal Iron Fist 8

by by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Roy Allan Martinez

Multiple writers and multiple artists, and if it keeps a good title on its monthly schedule, count me in! We've seen the end of an older Iron Fist who paradoxically managed to exist and pull down the power same as Danny Rand, which was a bit of a tough spell to believe. Now, Danny has a book to guide him, which will only serve to make him a more powerful contender in the future.

This issue introduces us to a tournament, and all of the possible opponents, and the impending match-ups could be intriguing to witness. Why they called this issue "Round 1," though, when it was really just an exhibition match, is beyond me.Round1 will not actually begin until next issue, titled "Round 2." Go figure. Good covers, though!

Iron Man 21

by Daniel & Charles Knauf, and Roberto de la Torre

After months (probably just six weeks, Marvel time, the way they do that) of the wool being pulled over Tony's eyes, a quick nightmare with Captain America helps him to figure out almost every facet of the opposition's plan. The entire issue is setup for what comes next, but there is almost zero action, and we are introduced to a throwaway character in a bid to make us feel sympathy, but it falls a little short. He is also having visions, and it's hard to tell if these are hallucinations, past memories blending in with his imagination, or what. The writers are keeping the Initiative as a main focus of events, which is nice, considering it's Tony's baby, but the overall story is missing something, there's not much to grip the reader for this standalone issue. It's almost as if they got caught up in their grand epic, and forgot that you have to have some good, exciting beats every once in a while to keep the momentum going. In other words, half of the pages would have ended up on the cutting room floor if this were a movie.

Mystic Arcana 3

by Jeff Parker and Juan Santacruz, and by David Sexton and Eric Nguyen

Okay, I'm pretty sure they messed up the numbering system on their own series, because the previous two issues were both number 1, with a different character. This issue has a #1 on the cover, but the indicia registers it as #3. Yes folks, the editing has gotten so disgustingly miserable on the books, Marvel cannot even keep straight what they're calling and numbering their own series anymore. Maybe we should ask someone else to take over the editing reigns... like a six year old.

The first story focuses on the Scarlet Witch as a young gypsy, before Magneto got his tender hooks into her. The art is decent, but the colors are better (thank you, Wil Quintana). There are a lot of mystical beings that long-time readers will recognize, but a new reader could have used better hints. The overall story does not jibe the best with the way we know things have turned out in the present, but a good writer will use this as a vehicle for future stories about the Scarlet Witch. If any smart people recognize her potential, and drag her out of the limbo Bendis through her into.

The second story by David Sexton is much better: better told, better drawn, better everything. And the ending, while maybe a little predictable, was still solid. The final issue will focus on Sister Grimm from the Runaways, and hopefully Marvel has gotten enough mileage from this series to spark some other titles to focus on the area of Marvel Universe Magic!

Sensational Spider-Man 40

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

The first six pages of this story use the past to walk through memory lane as a setup for the current mental state of Peter Parker, which leads him to a visit in the back alley with a dumpster which will not ever cross him again. It also allows him to meet up with a mysterious stranger, who we will call God, because they can't quite bring themselves to do it. Considering how much punishment other figures like Job have taken in the Bible, it's a little weird to think that Peter's troubles call for such a meeting, but it's a story, so suspend your disbelief and give it a good read-through. If you try to think about how it doesn't make sense, it might ruin things too much.

If you read it for what it is, this is a nice end-cap to what Aguirre-Sacasa wants to say with these characters, while he leaves the actual resolution of the Aunt May crisis to Straczynski in his upcoming "One More Day" finale. This issue a nice, touching finale to a good run, and actually can stand alone, even if you haven't read much of what has come before. And hey, how many times do you see God presented in comics anymore in a serous fashion? Check it out.

Starlord 2

by Keith Giffen and Timothy Green II

Now here's a group that knows how to tell a story. Giffen makes sure to give us captions that identify all of Starlord's team, and we join them right in the action. That's not to say that there aren't any problems here. There's the big problem of the Kree sending one little suicide squad to take out a production facility, but if they fail, aren't the Kree in big trouble? You would hope we see evidence of some type of contingency plan, considering how little faith they expressed in the idea that Starlord's team would succeed.

The cover alone should grab you, as Nic Klein has drawn a Rocket Racoon pointing a gun right at you, and Giffen's genius is that he knows it's ridiculous, but it's part of Marvel canon, so we're going to use it anyway, and when he commits to that, he actually makes it work, which is why the fanboys love him. Bug makes for reasonably good comic relief, and quite naturally, the world falls down around what was a lousy plan to begin with (which they knew).

The reader may feel a couple deaths are lame, as the reasons are somewhat exaggerated and cliche, but it may also trigger a nostalgic feel, as if you're watching a classic cheesy episode of Battlestar Galactica. The overall feel is cinematic, and hopefully the rest of it will not be quite so filled with cliche. Even so, it's entertaining. The art is detailed in some places, and simplistic with little background detail in others, and it's hard to know if that is by the artist's choice, or from just following thumbnail storyboards that Giffen gave to him. Some panels, it would be nice to have a little extra something in the background, but that's a small criticism overall.

Thunderbolts 116

by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato, Jr.

Ellis and Deodato are at the helm, and the team is a mess! Moonstone is injured, Bullseye has been maneuvered off the team from all appearances, and Penance is losing it. There is a ton of potential drama at every turn, all of it solidly depicted within the context of the Initiative. They even manage to put in a Captain America vigil mention.

This may be the best comic this week, as the next super powered fugitive the Thunderbolts has to go after takes an interesting twist, and the reader tries to figure out who's agenda is really being fueled, Norman Osborn's or Moonstone's., or both. All this, and six whole pages to introduce a new character, too. Ellis is a favorite writer of mine, and Deodato is a favorite artist, so I'm sitting pretty, ready to enjoy every iota of this comic!

Wolverine 56

by Jason Aaron and Howard Chaykin

I may be committing heresy to some minds, but Howard Chaykin's art does not always work for me. His "hot" women are always drawn the same way, and he always goes overboard with the forehead lines on almost everyone. That said, for this specific issue, his style seems to fit.

A somewhat novel idea starts us off, with Wolvie imprisoned in a hole, and the method of keeping him incapacitated is by having alternating shifts of workers fire high-caliber bullets into him from above. Nasty. Niiiice. How much does that job pay, anyway?

Logan does a nice mental job to get out of his jam, and the issue stands alone in a really great way. If you don't normally pick up Wolverine, but want to read just one good Wolverine story, try this one out. The last page is slightly disturbing, but makes for a cool story.

X-Men 202

by Mike Carey and Humberto Ramos

I'm fairly certain this title is selling well simply on momentum, as people desperately hope for it to get better. Well, it does get a little better here. Chris Bachalo is not doing art chores, so we're left with Humberto Ramos, who is still bad, but not as bad as the combination of the two, if that can be believed. The story is also starting to pick up better than the last couple of months. A\Although it's a stretch to think that Iceman has gotten so freaking good with his powers from nowhere that he can actually block Sunfire's powers.

Feint follows misdirection, as the Acolytes try for Destiny's diaries, and the X-Men regroup. David shows potential as he figures out what Blindfold actually did, and you get the sense that when all the good mutants finally get their act together, there's going to be some ugly payback. Oh, and Colossus makes a good joke, and almost makes the entire issue worth buying, near the end.

Chapter 9 of the Endangered Species story is next, by Christos Gage and Scot Eaton, as we find the two Beasts working on Genosha, and Henry falling ever more over the thin, grey line that separates good from evil. Hank finally hits on a possible way to revitalize the mutant population, but considering how brilliant he's supposed to be, I'm wondering why he didn't think of it earlier. Solid writing and art.

X-Men: First Class 3

by Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz

Okat, the art maybe won't win any awards, and the writing may not either, but this title is just plain fun. The youthful vigor and innocence of the five original X-Men is guaranteed to put a smile on any fan's face. The team meshes well together, and they figure out a good way to overcome every obstacle, with some hilarious reactions from "Professor X." Maybe they should just try to reunite the original team over in the current X-Men mag, and maybe they wouldn't be such a mess. Hey, Jean's got to come back sometime, right? Right?


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