Comic Fodder

Dana's Marvel Comic Book Reviews

WORLD WAR HULK #5 (OF 5)

By Greg Pak, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson and Christina Strain

With this month’s issue of World War Hulk, Marvel’s latest comic book event comes to a “smashing” close. It’s always a bit tricky to end a limited series that has a number of crossover elements. You’re not only working with the characters to which the event is relevant, but also those that make up a number of other properties. It can be difficult to find that balance between development and consequence. You always want the event to mean something, yet not destroy other books to come. Normally, I expect only the titles directly linked to the event to be truly affected in a significant way. For this alone, I believe the final issue of World War Hulk is a success. But there’s so much more that works in this finale than simply that.

One of the elements I’ve appreciated most about World War Hulk is that it always felt like it was going somewhere. We’ve all read titles, be them limited or ongoing, that don’t necessarily feel like there’s an actual plan in place. There was never one of those filler issues we’ve all come to expect from a sweeping story. None of the players reacted to something in a totally uncharacteristic way just to advance the plot. What this title has consistently held is great storytelling. And this issue, much like the rest of the run, was just that. It offered a wonderful mix of action and development throughout.

Though most of this issue was devoted to The Incredible Hulk versus The Sentry battle, which was quite a doozie, Pak left himself ample room to resolve some of the loose ends. He offers us an ending with revelations, twists, and new conditions that should stir up a great deal of interest surrounding what will happen next.

My only complaint about this issue, as well as the entire run, is the art. I’ve never been a huge fan of Romita Jr. His work is competent but never as inspired as other artists. This issue in particular really shows his weakness. With so much emphasis placed on this battle, the art really needed a heaping-helping of vitality, something his work lacks. Every punch looked like every other punch. This should have been an awe-inspiring fight, and in the hands of better artist, I believe it could have been, but with Romita Jr., it’s simply standard fare. I really believe the enormity of the title was just a bit out of his reach. All the same, a good finale for World War Hulk. Pick it up!


THE NEW AVENGERS #36

By Brian Michael Bendis, Leinil Yu and Dave McCaig

If you’ve ever read any of my recent reviews for The New Avengers, you know my stance on this particular artist’s work so I won’t bemoan the fact that he’s still on this title. What I will tell you is that this month’s issue was a very solid read. I was actually quite surprised by how much took place in the pages. Lately, Bendis has seemed to be on a piece by delicate piece offering of information. This month is a totally different story.

Through the eyes of Luke Cage, we are able to witness first-hand the skirmish between the Venom-transformed superheroes (after a mysterious virus is dropped on New York) and the government-backed team. It was a shockingly quick account that was still able to do justice to the story. I wasn’t expecting such a speedy resolution. Don’t get me wrong, I’m complaining. What would’ve normally taken Bendis six issues to tell (admit it, he can be a little long in the tooth) is relayed in about the first half of the book. It was exciting and fast-paced – something that hasn’t really been present in this title as of late. If we could get more issues like this one, I’d be a very happy man.

The second half of the issues basically brings us up to speed with where everything is to date. There’s a great couple pages devoted to Wolverine and Jessica Drew, a few more to the whereabouts of The Hood, and a pretty cool final page which obviously leads us to next months issue. My only issue, or at least a point of contention, is I’m totally confused on when all this takes place. With everything that was going on with World War Hulk and The Might Avengers, I have no idea where anything lies within continuity.

Though I’m still not a fan of the art, and I’m confused on where this story actually falls, I’d definitely tell anyone to pick it up.


AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #7

By Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli and Daniele Rudoni

After last month’s bizarrely drawn installment, Avengers: The Initiative gets back on track with its seventh issue. And it might just be its best issue yet. I’ve been a fan of this title since the beginning, feeling it’s one of the best to spin out of Civil War. It always seems to bring characters that are not normally in the forefront directly into the spotlight. With Slott writing, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Just look at his work on She-Hulk. He was always quick to use some of the more obscure characters as crucial players to a story. I’m glad he still has this penchant. And with his rich knowledge of the Marvel Universe, he does it so well!

This month’s focus is pretty much on the Scarlet Spiders, three heroes dressed in identical Stark Spider-Man armor. When they were first introduced issues ago, I didn’t give them a second thought and assumed they wouldn’t play much of a role in any story. Needless to say, I was wrong. I’ve always said I was crap at predictions – well, this is a prime example of that statement. The Scarlet Spiders are brought into the game when The Vulturions snatch an attaché case from the hands of Baron Von Blitzschlag (a sentence I never thought I’d write). We quickly learn that the three Spiders are not yet public and are overly protective of Blitzschlag. I thought the latter was an odd tidbit of information to provide, of course, until I hit the last page. When the Scarlet Spiders remove there masks to reveal… Okay, I won’t spoil it. But I was quite impressed. A nice twist I didn’t see coming.

The art is topnotch. Caselli is a fantastic talent, and a perfect choice for this title. My fingers are crossed (which has made this hard to type) that he will be with this book for awhile. So many comics these days have a revolving door with the art. It’s hard to hit a decent stride with a book when the artists (and writers) change. And don’t they say change is bad?

For my money, I’d pick up this book again.


QUICK TAKES


HOUSE OF M: AVENGERS #1 (OF 5)

By Christos N. Gage, Mike Perkins and Laura Martin

I felt like I was one of the few fans of House of M so when I saw this limited-series was set to come out, I was pretty happy. Sadly, the first issue didn’t do a lot for me. It was a fine story with a good pace and some interesting elements but nothing that I couldn’t do without. Which leads me to question why now after all this time are we seeing a story from the House of M? Wouldn’t this have better served as a supplement to the main event at the time of its release? All in all, it was a standard comic book. Take or leave it.

THOR #4

By J. Michael Straczynski, Oliver Coipel and Mark Morales

I dig Thor. I dig Straczynski. I dig Coipel. So do the three mesh well for this newly launched title? Yes. Everything is there to make a solid, well-thought-out book. We’re still pretty much in the beginning stages for this title, but it’s in the set-up where Straczynski’s strength really lies. His follow-through is great too, it’s just that I love the way he allows the story to unfold. Does anyone remember Supreme Power? Need I say more? Pick it up!

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #48

By Mike Carey, Mark Brooks, Jaime Mendoza and Justin Ponsor

Another solid issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four from Carey. He just seems like the perfect fit for this title. And with the addition of Brooks last month as artist, I think this arc should shape up rather well. We’re still in the beginning of the arc so I must reserve final judgment for later but as it stands, I think this is a title worth picking up.
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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.