Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

The Amazing Spider-Man 544

by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada

The beginning of the end for Aunt May? That's what the entire build-up to the "One More Day" story has been leading us to, but the last time they killed off May, it was a genetic duplicate, and a really big waste of our time and money. Not to mention confusing, because I stopped reading Spidey after that, and when I picked up the comic again, Aunt May was alive and well, and I'm thinking, isn't she dead? Please be better, please...

Quesada and/or his inker seem to have a preoccupation with noses in this issue, as we are treated to the undersides, which is more a Gil Kane kind of thing, or a nose with so many lines marking it up, you wonder if Peter is wearing make-up to cover up a zit. The best art is when Iron Man shows up.

Speaking of which, the writers at Marvel have really messed this character up. The Iron Man Peter talks to is incredibly arrogant, and unwilling to listen to Peter for even two seconds without resorting to force. Even when there is a lull in the action, he is still a bigger jerk than he has been anytime in the last couple decades. It doesn't do well to have this guy be crying over Cap one second moaning about how it wasn't worth it, and saying Aunt May has to die for the cause the next. The trick is, Tony seems to bump up his jerk level times ten every time he sees Peter, so either Tony really doesn't like spiders, or Straczynski is trying his best to make Iron Man as unappealing as humanly possible, since it is usually when Straczynski is writing that Iron Jerk makes his biggest debuts.

I'm hoping the story grows better soon, because we have a slight disconnect between detectives closing in on Peter, and this issue introduces some new doctor who has somehow been stalling for Peter. We then bring in Jarvis, who would never in a million years been on Tony Stark's side in the Civil War, but was anyway, and he's breaking down and losing his composure over someone he just barely started having relations with. It's all too much, too fast, but they only have four issues to wrap this up, so Jarvis gets just a couple panels to break down and then he's over it. Well, that's one dangling plot line wrapped up, now for the rest! Here's hoping they slow things down to a believable pace next issue.

Exiles 98

by Chris Claremont and Ronan Cliquet

Where have all the artists gone? First Ron Garney disappears from Amazing Spider-Man, now Clayton Henry is off Exiles. Is it musical chairs month at Marvel? Well, Ronan is a cool name anyway (you didn't think it was just for a Kree, did you?), and the art is decent, if a little inconsistent, as some panels look like they received much more attention than others. Warpath is back, which may be good, but Claremont loves Betsy and Kitty so much, he just can't seem to go to any mutant series without bringing them (or some dimensional counterpart of them) along for the ride. The current "away team" adventure concludes a little shy on explanations, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks for how certain things happen, but it sets up for the next few issue to have each of the Exiles stranded, on their own, each in a different dimension, which could be fun.

Ms. Marvel 19

by Brian Reed, Aaron Lopresti, and Matt Ryan

I don't know why Tigra has been ignored for so long, but she is a visually exciting character, and Aaron Lopresti draws her as well as anybody else. As a matter of fact, Lopresti seems to be getting better as time passes, which is always good for a creative team. Machine Man ("Call me Aaron!!") provides great comic relief that never seems tired to me. There's a slight confusion as Ms. Marvel makes a comment about fighting dirty, but all she's doing is kicking someone, so I'm not sure why that is considered foul play, of all the things she could have done. The abilities of Sleepwalker and Machine Man are put to good use, and it is a pleasure to watch as a writer takes some B-list (okay, maybe C-list) characters and gives them some polish. This whole series is shaping up to be better than I thought it would be, and I have gone from cautiously giving it a chance to a full recommendation.

New Excalibur 23

by Chris Claremont and Jeremy Haun

Another new artist! Pat Oliffe is gone, and Jeremy Haun is in his place. I'm not complaining about it so much as wondering why the big shake-ups on all these titles with no announcements. This entire storyline seems to be a device to have Claremont kill one of his Shadow X-Men each issue, but even though there's a bit of action, nothing much changes to propel the story along, unless you count yet another death. The depiction of Marvel Girl's reaction is somewhat strange, as she is allegedly in horrible shock, but as she takes revenge on some of the enemy, she is nothing but grisly smiles, all the way. The final page has a shock ending that should not shock you one bit. I can't say any more about Claremont's dialogue than I have for the past few months. If I have to read one more word about someone's instincts, or hear yet another character exclaim, "What the devil?" as if it's the most favorite mutant catchphrase ever, I'm gonna scream.

Uncanny X-Men 490

by Ed Brubaker and Salvador Larroca

Oh wow, a creative team that didn't switch! One thing I have noticed with Brubaker's stories, you sort of have to hold your overall opinion until the very end, to decide if you really liked it. I like the implied appearance of Magneto soon, and I like Skids being under cover, but this issue he introduces yet another prophecy deus ex machina, and we're still having to deal with the same thing over in the poorly written and ever more-poorly drawn X-Men mag, so the idea that there is yet another person who has written down what will be, and the X-Men will simply show up and do what they have been destined to do feels really, really repetitive. Really.

Brubaker is developing the relations between Warpath and Hepzibah at a very natural pace, if a little at the cost of some of Hepzibah's established character. Warpath has never, in all the time he has been shown in the comics, really been given the greatest character since he was first introduced, so it will be nice if they can do something more to define his personality in the next few months. Despite the old prophecy trick, this story still holds your interest.

Chapter 10 of Endangered Species is written by Christos Gage and drawn by Tom Grummett, but with somewhat lacking inking in many places by Andrew Hennessy (my opinion only). The Beast comes up dry in his quest for mutant growth hormone, but it's not very clear why he couldn't ask for a fellow still-powered mutant volunteer to accomplish the same thing. He's willing to use a drug, but not willing to create it? The chapter ends on an epiphany for a cliffhanger, and it seems well done.

Wolverine 57

by Marc Guggenheim and Howard Chaykin

I really want to be able to say more good things about some of these comics, but they are just so confusing, and they don't have to be. We went from Wolverine #55, where Wild Child ditches Wolvie, to Wolvie being held captive in #56 with no explanation as to who nabbed him. He was crashing down in a plane in New Avengers, but just being drunk in a museum over in his Origins series, so when did he get captured by someone? Someone please be willing to comment below and explain these things, because sometimes I think I've missed something important, or maybe I'm going senile. The first page does nothing to bring you up to date on the last issue.

Wolverine is free and cheerfully slaying a new enemy, but with no explanation and no flashbacks to show us a new clue. What happened to hunting down Romulus? What happened to finding out who captured him? What happened to everything else that has happened the last couple months? There is no continuity, not even the most basic kind of transition. Blah!

Wraith 3

by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Kyle Host

This issue is actually one of the better reads this week. Nice use of shadow and darkness, nice art all around. Allied forces gather, a shock is given to Ronan, and some characters form the Annihilation storyline are given some play time, with really neat last page that merits looking at twice. If you're on a budget, pick up this one first, then Uncanny X-Men and Ms. Marvel. Rolling in the bucks? Check out Amazing Spider-Man next.

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