Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

Some normally good comics, being ruined by poor story, mediocre art, tardiness, and repetition. The good news is most of them are still passable reads. The bad news is, there aren’t many stars that shine this week.

Captain Marvel 1

by Brian reed and Lee Weeks

There was once a hero named Captain Marvel, who died a touching, poignant death. For no discernible reason, he was yanked out of the timestream and told that he should be a kind of warden for the captive super-humans in the Negative Zone during the Civil War. For no discernible reason, he agreed. He used to be a compassionate hero, and in the very first issue of the new series, he simply lets the villain Cyclone fall to his death. Welcome to Marvel Comics, where they will shortly due something similar with yanking Captain America from the past. And if that’s not enough, he also has amnesia. Sigh.

I had hopes for this title to have something that would recommend itself to the reader, but the formula used to make him seem relevant is to have the Mighty Avengers go up against a robot. This is a team with Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, Ares, Wonder Man, and the freaking Sentry on it. Any one of them could have drilled right through the robot. Instead, the robot begins taking them down like amateurs, so Captain Marvel can zoom in and save the day. The art is passable, but the story is trite. It is slightly possible that the next four issues of this miniseries will be better, but only because the first is so non-distinguishing. Pass.

Mystic Arcana: Sister Grimm 1

by C.B. Cebulski, Phil Noto, Daxid Sexton and Eric Nguyen

If you have any sense of the passing of time, you may have noticed that this is part 4 of a four-issue miniseries, and it is incredibly late. The only reason I got it was because I had it on my pull list, so it was automatically deposited in my box. Otherwise, I might have forgotten all about it. It’s a shame, too, because the cover is gorgeous (thank you, Marko Djurdjevic), and it does wrap things up fairly well. But the lateness will most likely have caused a massive drop in sales.

Nico Minoru is the centerpiece of the first part of this story, and the art is minimal and closer to what you might find in a popular girl’s anime mag, and the protagonist of the entire series, Ian McNee, does not interact with her at all. For those of us who like the Runaways, it provides a little more exposure to Nico, and is fairly solid writing.

The second part has much more detailed and complex art by Eric Nguyen, and the colors are very nicely done. The writing is really good, because they manage to wrap up every important point all within a ten-page story. Every panel works, and every component plays its own part in the unfolding drama. They also leave the door open for further adventures in the realm of magic, and if they are anything like this, I will be there. If only they can keep to a better printing schedule next time.

Nova 8

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Wellington Ives, and Scott Hanna

Sea Chen is gone from the art chores, so Nova himself does not look quite as impressive visually, but the other elements of the book have remained the same. Richard Rider is lost at an event line, sort of like a cosmic version of a flat Earth, where you get to the end of the universe and fall off the edge. Given what the rest of the Marvel universe looks like, the idea does not fit in well with everything else that has been established, but let’s just go along with it.

Nova is under severe pain and blacks out in the nowhere-that-is-the-end, and wakes up on a space station?!? And where are Gamora and Drax, who were pursuing him last issue? There is no mention, not one scene that establishes where they are. So far we are lacking good story-telling explanations, and poor continuity, just from the last panel of last issue to this issue.

We are introduced to some cool-looking aliens, who are soon turned into zombies of some sort. Meanwhile, Nova is able to operate on 17% power level and escape Discharge, who should be as fast as the Flash or Quicksilver. At which point he encounters a talking dog. The dog never explains why he is there, or how he got there, but Nova takes it pretty much in stride. Good for him, but the issue just isn’t making much sense as a stand-alone. We will need at least one or two more issues to understand what is going on, but this was not a good way to establish the first part of the story.

Thor 4

by J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel

Heads up, a cool variant cover by Lee Bermejo comes with Thor #4, so grab that one if you can. Straczynski takes our good Doctor Blake along with Doctors Without Borders to a Darfur-type situation, where he spends his time aiding the native Africans. The idea is a good one, that Blake knows he can no longer wait for people to come to him and ask for help, but rather, he should go out into the world and offer his help. However, it was really just a plot device to help him link up with the Warriors Three, so don’t expect him to continue that interesting thread.

Predictably, trouble breaks out and Thor intervenes, but unlike many of the superheroes who insist they can’t get involved in other countries’ affairs, Thor comes up with a controversial – but effective – temporary solution to the big problem. Let’s see how Iron man feels about that! Straczynski is a little repetitive with his portrayal of the Africans, because those who read Straczynski’s take on the Squadron Supreme will recall the heroes being told the same thing: white men should get out of Africa and let them fix their own problems.

Overall a good enough story, but even inside the story itself, Thor admits things are taking to long to develop. This is one of those that could be read quickly when it comes out in a six-issue trade paperback, and it might read better, so if you can wait for the trade, do so. Based on next issue’s cover, we’re going after Sif next.

Wolverine 59

by Mark Guggenheim and Howard Chaykin

It’s part 3 of this idea that Wolverine battles the Angel of Death every time he wants to come back, and Doctor Strange acts as Logan’s guide. Chaykin’s art does not stand up well to depicting Stephen Strange, who comes across as a guy with too high of a forehead, who has been to the buffet a couple too many times.

Logan decides he wants to live, and ends up facing not Lazer, but the different versions of himself through time, the original James, Weapon X, and so on. Then, with no warning or reason, we switch from Logan fighting himself to the Gorgon killing him. Logan comes to some revelation about his resurrection by the Hand, and… Presto! Wolverine’s alive again! Yeah, the whole thing is pretty lame. I can’t wait for this story to end, and Chaykin needs to move on to a different project. His style cannot project an adequate sense of ferocity onto the main character, and it leaves you fairly unmoved.

X-Factor 25

by Peter David and Scot Eaton

Chapter 3 of the Messiah Complex crossover, and I am really digging Eaton’s art. My last comment about Chaykin not being able to convey a sense of ferocity? Check out Wolfsbane on the first page of the story! It’s all part of a setup to place a mole inside the Purifiers, and it goes according to plan. Of course, the plan belonged to Cyclops, not Jamie Madrox, so take that into account.

There’s something that I can’t wrap my head around with the next part of the story: Madrox and Layla Miller go to visit Forge, who claims he can use a chronal tracer to find mutants. He has been coming up dry, but now he has two branches of time that involve their problem with the lack of more mutants around lately. Why Forge could explore all of these other dead-end timelines, but needs Madrox to go investigate these other two is beyond me, and is never explained.

Anyway, Layla Miller messes things up by joining a duplicate for what was supposed to be a one-way trip, and then Jamie collapses unexpectedly. This is one of those crossovers that introduces a mystery, and you just know you’re going to have to learn the answer later. But in a good way, not in a way like, say, you just encountered a telepathically-talking dog inside the severed head of a Celestial, and instead of asking the dog some pertinent questions about being there, and being telepathic, you just bring the dog along with you. This is slightly better than that. Which makes X-Factor one of the better reads of the week.

X-Men: Die by the Sword 3

by Chris Claremont and Juan Santacruz

If you have read Claremont before, you really don’t need to read him again in this series. A celestially-powered loony-tune is attacking Roma, and the fate of all creation is at stake. Tons of people from the Captain Britain Corps are dying, but this is all being done much better over in Green Lantern, and with much better art. It takes 11 pages to get to either the Exiles or the Excalibur team, and even then we’ve got a couple of other celestial figures who are slumming in the bodies of a slightly-older-than-middle-age married duo. All they are there for is to pass the baton, but they don’t seem to be very helpful for anything other than to say they used to save everything and… they’re done with that now.

Then we switch back to the main battle, and Saturnyne’s big strategy is to drag out a really big gun, and that doesn’t work, and finally, the Exiles show up and are somehow ten times more effective than the entire Captain Britain Corps. I don’t think I want to read any more of this. Saturnyne could do me a big favor and just shoot me with that big gun…

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