Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

This week is a transition week for Marvel, as they wrap up the Annihilation: Conquest miniseries, end all other mutant storylines in preparation to go into Messiah Complex, and churn out stories that do not necessarily have a huge impact on their universe, like Mythos and the Daredevil annual. Where’s our latest issue of Thor?

Daredevil Annual 1 – 2007

by by Ed Brubaker, Andre Parks, and Leandro Fernandez

The world of black-and-white turns even more grey, as the Tarantula finally gets out of jail. As enjoyable as the old comic stories are, it is refreshing to see some dimension given to old villains like this, as Tarantula, or Carlos, rather, tries to navigate the world as an ex-con. His new costume is fresh, and his methods only seem a little further down the grey line than Daradevil’s. The story made me care about what happens to the character, and want to see him a little more. Good story.

Iron Man 23

by Daniel & Charles Knauf, and Butch Guice

Butch Guice turns in some really good artwork, not the heavy lines he was experimenting with back when he was at Crossgen. Nice, solid stuff. The story breaks down a little as soon as we see Maria Hill spying on Iron Man via electronic surveillance. Why would Tony allow this? Why does he seem unaware of it? His Extremis-granted abilities should have him tied into his own video feed, especially considering he’s the one in charge. It comes across as a plot device given no more consideration other than to get from Point A to Point B, but it’s very clumsy.

This is one of the problems with trying to move a plot along when you ignore the “reality’ you have constructed. These guys are on board a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, with a fighter escort. Paragon is somehow able to get past all their sensors and into a close enough proximity to penetrate into the Helicarrier and attack Graviton, and nobody manages to get there to respond except for Iron Man. There are so many things wrong with this, it’s crazy.

What’s worse is Graviton kills himself. Talk about tragedy. Graviton was one of the few multi-dimensional villains from the early days of Marvel. He had a real personality, and always made things interesting. The idea that the writers could find no further use for such a colorful character other than to write him off as the result of a still-secret plot involving the Mandarin does not give us enough time to understand why someone who was so previously afraid of death, and so full of egotistic self-importance, would take such a drastic change.

Next, Tony is grilled for his conduct, when, as previously mentioned, nobody else from S.H.I.E.L.D. even managed to show up in time for the break-in. The house of cards falls down completely for Tony as part of the Superhuman Registration Act he wrote allows for Doc Samson to remove Tony from service and place him on leave. We are to believe that after all of the bonehead moves he made with Captain America and the Hulk and civil rights, that a little mumbling to himself and wanting to pursue a murder investigation are what puts him under what is almost house arrest. Please. You have to suspend a ton of disbelief for everything to work here. But at least we get the feeling that Tony has been hoisted by his own petard.

Mythos: Fantastic Four 1

by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera

For better or worse, this re-telling of the origin of the fabulous foursome reflects a little more of the movie that most of America saw, leaning slightly away from the classic origin. Purists of the Lee/Kirby origin may go a little crazy, but it’s a nice one-shot look at another way things might have gone down, with a realistic portrayal of the fear and paranoia of the U.S. government thrown in for good measure. Oh, and excellent painting by Paolo Rivera. These Mythos books make excellent handouts for anyone who might want an introduction to classic characters. If you can get your hands on some spares, hand them out for Halloween or something for next year.

New X Men 43

by Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle, and Skottie Young

Most regular comic fans will grimace at how Skottie Young draws characters like Cyclops, and the rest will be confused how Prodigal can get his “old” powers back, but not be able to learn any new ones. The whole issue is a setup for the Messiah Complex storyline, as the big threat heading for the mutants gets all the way there, then turns tail and runs to the Messiah Complex issue instead. Laura turns from a somewhat competent silent person into someone who is insecure and cuts herself to make herself feel alive. We went from some good writing last issue to so-so this time. We’ll see if the constraints of tying into Messiah Complex help to firm things up here.

Quasar 4

by Christos N. Gage and Mike Lilly

I can’t find a normal listing for the credits, but if you’re wondering, that’s another awesome cover by Matt Wilson .The story flows awkwardly as pages three and four are not a two-page splash, but supposed to be two separate splash pages. The effect is momentarily confusing, and should have been avoided. You can’t claim that they don’t know how to write a story, because even with all the action that’s going on, and all of the dangling plotlines that have to be resolved, the writer still makes sure to have the two main characters declare their undying love for each other.

I am at odds with this miniseries, because although it is the weakest of the four Annihilation titles, the art is breathtaking. The Super-Adaptoid, for all its high-level computer intelligence, is stupid enough to spit out her own quantum energy at her, which, let’s face it, is retarded. We do have an awesome two-page splash panel of quantum energy creations that is worth the price for the entire comic itself; it has to be one of the busiest, most exciting scenes I have seen all year, full of creativity.

That said, the notion behind the scene is a cliché Star Trek plot device, as Quasar makes the computer short-circuit with the Marvel equivalent of asking it to compute Pi. Then we get into the part of the story that makes no sense. Wendell Vaughn, the previous quasar, is inside the quantum bands. I might be able to buy this, if not for them stressing that the quantum bands were cut off from all inputs, and completely drained of energy. Since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only change form, if you have expelled all of your energy, there should be nothing left to sustain Wendell Vaughn. Go read Firestorm over in DC for a slightly better story of the same type that shows how Ronnie Raymond hung around for a little too long, as well.

Wait, it gets better. Maybe. Quasar spends the next one page scooping up every single member of the Phalanx and… hurling them into the sun. Sigh. The threat that has been hanging over their head is so much Swiss cheese as soon as the heroine gets her full power back. I won’t spoil the reveal of the savior they went to save, but the mysterious voice belongs to the Supreme Intelligence, which means we’re reading this out of order, as the supreme Intelligence had an unfortunate turn in Wraith #4, which has already come out.

As you can see, I have several problems with the writing, but despite that, I find it was still a good read, as long as you don’t actually stop to think about it. Treat it as one of those mindless movies you see in the summertime and you’ll be fine. Next up is the series itself, Annihilation: Conquest #1.

X-Men: Messiah Complex 1

by Ed Brubaker and Marc Silvestri

I’m a sucker for Silvestri’s art. It may take him a while to crank it out, but it’s always worth the wait. He looks like he is in top form, and one of the attention-getting covers is by David Finch. Cyclops is back in classic form as the field leader, and it feels right. The Sentinels are still standing guard over the mansion, but it seems like the X-Men have been given permission to go off and do whatever they feel like, because there is no objection to any of their actions from the government.

Blockbuster and Prism show up as casualties on the field by the time the X-Men arrive to the scene of a new mutant birth, but that doesn’t mean much, as Sinister has always managed to resurrect them whenever he felt like. Considering how often they’ve died, you wonder why he doesn’t contract out for better hired help. The writing is not perfect, as there are a couple of Marauders who are never given names, so a new reader would be a little confused trying to keep track of everyone. Not good if Marvel wants to get new readers onto the X-titles, but that may be a near-impossibility for anyone except those who aren’t bothered by the fact that they start something in the middle.

This is a solid beginning issue for a 12-chapter story that will cross over into Uncanny, X-Factor, New X-Men, and X-Men, in that order, for each issue for the next three months. You also get eight or nine splash pages in the back of this issue, which are all pretty cool. The overall story idea is great, and hopefully the execution on each title will be as good.

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

re: New X-Men

Laura was shown as a cutter back in NYX when she first showed up, so it's not a new thing for her. Speaking of NYX, she was also shown to be pretty insecure and letting others run her life at that point.

-- Posted by: Josh at November 5, 2007 2:08 PM

Thanks for that correction, Josh, I had not read NYX. Hmm, I suppose the real question then is why we haven't seen that side of her in the New X-Men until just now?

-- Posted by: tpull at November 5, 2007 7:58 PM

I'm going to go with these are the first couple of issues where the kids have had any down time. They've been going from one crisis to the next, so they haven't had a chance to reflect or be still.

Since these issues are the set up for Messiah CompleX, it's pretty much the last chance the writers are going to have to show who the kids are before everything changes.

-- Posted by: Josh at November 6, 2007 9:04 AM