Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

One issue this week was so horribly bad; it has its own web link to an individual review this week. If you do not want a detailed examination of how every single comic page can be messed up, avoid the next column, “How Not to Write a Comic Book,” about the Fantastic Four. In the meantime, avoid that title, whether you read the review or not. The rest of this week’s comics are reviewed below.


Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man 24

by Peter David and Joe Quesada

Part 2 of the “One More Day’ storyline continues here. J. Michael Straczynski gets to write every Spidey title as part of his grand finale on the wall-crawler. Straczynski has Peter visit one of his favorite characters, Dr. Strange, who helps him to visit every specialist there is, all at the same time. Hey, it’s magic! Betcha Peter is kicking himself for not doing this a couple months ago, when all this started (or however many days it has been, in Marvel time). Quesada is decent enough on the art, although a more ambitious artist would not have used the same border outline to depict Spidey’s visits to all the different characters.

We have some new creatures introduced, the Nightstalkers (no known relation to the super-villain of that name), and an editorial note that directs you to a previous issue, which actually already has editorial notes pointing you to a “miniseries that hasn’t been written yet,” so it’s impossible to know if this was Straczynski’s endgame from way back then, or if he intended to write a different Doctor Strange miniseries with the title, “The Other Side of Darkness,” and problems prevented that, so they changed it to fit this story. It will give you a headache if you think about it too much.

Overall, decent art, good enough to make you wish Quesada had time to practice more and do more, because if he stayed in the art game instead of his role as editor-in-chief, we could see some good stuff, but I guess being an artist does not pay quite as much. The writing is solid, and as long as Straczynski can finish this arc as good as the beginning, we have a good story on our hands.


Heroes For Hire 14

by Zeb Wells, Alvin Lee, and Clay Mann

Humbug may have started as a relatively lame hero, but his new costume looks cool. I’ll try not to spoil the story, but let’s just say the writer is leaving things open as to what side Humbug is really on. The art is relatively minimalist, and this issue is mostly a “how do we get from Point A to Point B,” so there is not a ton of story development. It may hold up as part of a trade, but there was a little something missing from it, if you were hoping for something that could stand on its own as a good issue for the month.


Nova 7

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

Here’s the best title this week, as is becoming usual for this creative team. We have multiple writers, multiple artists, and eye-catching covers by Adi Granov that depict an awesome sense of sci-fi fantasy. The collaboration makes for a visual feast every time, and a solid story. The best thing about this story is that it can stand alone as a single read for this month, and it fits in well with the overall series, and it successfully ties in with the overarching Annihilation: Conquest story, which is no mean feat. Every week, I am compelled to ask readers to pick this title up.

Readers, let me know what I have to do to convince you to purchase this book.


Wolverine 58

by Mark Guggenheim and Howard Chaykin

Allowing different writers to write the same character has drawbacks. In the Bendis Universe, Iron Man is in control and can successfully overcome any obstacle, and Dr. Strange has limits. In every other comic, Iron is being thrashed by Thor, Hulk, and bossed around by Dr. Strange. It feels inconsistent, but you just have to shrug it off to everybody wanting to play around in the exact same sandbox, at nearly the exact same time.

The story itself might take some getting used to as well. We are told that every time Wolverine “dies,” he has to fight a guy to come back to life. It is a mark of how lame and unforgettable the explanation is that I have to dig through my back issues to find the reference to Lazaer, someone who is still yet-another-unexplained-mystery in the abused history of Wolverine’s past. Newsflash: Straczynski already took this mystical-explanation route with Spider-Man, and did it a lot better over in the Amazing title. Why Marvel would let a duplicate-type story be done with Marvel’s other most-famous character, so close to each other, is a mystery to me. Marvel is becoming as complicated as pre-crisis DC used to be.

I’m not sure what to say about the series at this point. The way the regular series keeps doing flashbacks to his past interferes with the whole premise of the Wolverine: Origins series, and the two titles really should have a little something that separates them.


X-Factor 24

by Peter David and Khoi Pham

Every aspect of the latest events manipulating X-Factor are revealed to be ploys by Huber, who comes across as a generic Mr. Sinister. We are treated to yet another massively-powerful mutant, in a world with only 200 or so mutants left, and Xavier didn’t know about this guy, either. Wonder if he can get a refund on Cerebro? In the middle of the Huber mystery, Huber himself is mystified by Rictor’s immunity to Huber’s powers. Well, so are we. Also, the grand plan to eliminate all mutants rested upon him manipulating X-Factor? The story is stretching a little bit, but hopefully peter David will do better next month.

At least we also get to read Chapter 15 of the endangered Species story! Christopher Yost writes a great segment that shows how limited the Beast’s thinking has been the whole time, with help by Andrea Divito on art duties. Science, sorcery, faith, nothing seems to help. Pointed towards magic when science has been exhausted, we see that nothing else seems to yield the answer either (Hey, didn’t Doctor Strange spend a lot of magic telling Spider-Man he couldn’t help Peter out, too? I’m sensing a pattern here…). The Beast leaves the Sanctum Sanctorum even more clueless than he already was.


X-Men: Die by the Sword 1

by Chris Claremont and Juan Santacruz

It’s crossover time, as Marvel lets Claremont play with both of the X-titles he is writing, combining the teams of Excalibur and the Exiles. The linkages between Longshot and Dazzler, Thunderbird and Nocturne, and Captain Brittain and Psylocke have tons of potential. One drawback is the story starts before we have read the end of the current story arc in Excalibur, so if there was the smallest chance of any surprises over in the Excalibur title, they are gone by the time you get to page two of this one.

The good news is that Claremont knows enough about the complexities of the X-Men, time travel, and alternate dimensions, that he does a marvelous job with the exposition. He explains the relationships with minimal words that still allow new readers to have a clue as to what might be happening with each of the characters, and allows for a couple editorial balloons here and there to introduce some characters.

The main villain reminds me too much of Mr. Mxyztplk, and Roma is brought in to signal yet another threat to end all life as we know it, as if we haven’t seen five of those this month already. I’m on the fence with the first issue, happy with Claremont’s writing so far, but hoping he does not fall into a cookie-cutter against-all-odds story that has been repeated too much, and often by Claremont specifically, in the past. As long as we don’t hear how Psylocke’s telekinesis can shatter mountains, we should be okay. Be forewarned; do not expect a new reader to really follow everything that goes on here.

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

Just a note or two on the One More Day issue:

I'm pretty sure that, while Quesada does indeed have a fetish for Art Nouveau designs, his usage for the same border design on all the panels showing Spidey's consultations is that simply... it's all part of the same spell.
It SHOULD look the same.

If the panel designs were different, then it would look like a rookie artist who is just "jerking it" on paper.


- Then, as for JMS' "Other Side of Darkness" mini that he was to have written several years ago...
he never got around to it, and instead recycled a film-treatment that he had written for a Doctor Strange film project.
That treatment then became the horrid "Strange" mini-series wherein he basically ripped the Matrix and made Strange into Neo.

However, on the positive side, he obviously meant to do something along these lines as shown in the "One More Day" sequence, but there IS a huge plot hole there.

If the reason that Doc brought Spider-Man back to his Sanctum at THAT specific time was because he KNEW that he wasn't there at the time, then it would stand to reason that he was - somewhere else.

NOT there treating Spider-Man in a time-displaced fashion.

He was obviously away on the mission that originally WOULD have been shown in the "Other Side of Darkness" mini, but instead, all we get is this half-assed scene.

All in all, Quesada does a good job at Doctor Strange, but the rest of the art suffers.
And the story, while very well "tied-together" in an overall "plotted out from day-one" angle, is still not all that good given the prep-time involved.

~P~
P-TOR

-- Posted by: SanctumSanctorumComix at November 9, 2007 8:31 PM