Comic Fodder

Dana's Weekly Marvel Reviews - 01/09/08

A pretty great week for Marvel. A couple launches and a catch-up comic translated into a very solid showing. Let's keep 'em coming. Every week from Marvel should be like this! Now on with the reviews...

THE TWELVE #1 (OF 12)

By J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston

It’s pretty much common knowledge (if you’ve ever read any of my reviews) that I’m a big fan of J. Michael Straczynski. Midnight Nation, Rising Stars, Supreme Power, Strange have all been phenomenal outings by this scribe. So it should come as no surprise that I had some enormous expectations with this new endeavor – twelve long-forgotten superheroes from the 40’s are brought into today’s world after being cryogenically sealed by a World War II adversary. And I’m happy to report, he delivered in aces.

The entirety of this issue is told from the perspective of The Phantom Reporter, a hero who has no superpowers but a strong investigative skill. Using him as our eyes into this world was a perfect choice. It feels extremely logical that he should be the voice of this first installment (and assuming the rest), offering us a succinct history of the events that led us to this precise time. It’s a much uncomplicated approach, never muddied by information and circumstances that needn’t be there. A masterful first issue!

I don’t want to give away too many of the details since the impact of the many small discoveries throughout the book may be lessened for those who have yet to read it. What I will mention, and what I truly loved, was how JMS threw this title right into the current 616 Universe with a single comment: “In case you missed it, lieutenant, we had a freaking war last year between the capes and the masks over the superhuman registration act.” There’s a hope that these heroes will be an answer to the problems the world has been having with their superheroes. That they will do what their government asks because they believe in it. Can anyone say foreshadowing?

All in all, this was a most excellent issue that promises to have a most excellent run. If you haven’t picked up The Twelve, I strongly recommend you do. You won't be sorry. 9/10


THE MIGHTY AVENGERS #7

By Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, Danny Miki and Justin Ponsor

Though my reaction to prior issues of The Mighty Avengers has been pretty much so-so, I actually quite enjoyed this month’s installment. A large portion of my mediocre opinion of this title, I believe, has had a lot to do with the infrequency of its arrival (and the amount of time it took to get anywhere in its first story arc…but that’s an entirely different woe). With all the events taking place in the Marvel Universe, the time delays really made this book feel like every new issue was a back issue. I half expected to find a stack of comics I’d missed at the book store that would bring this title up to date with everything else I’d been reading. Instead, for the majority of its run, The Mighty Avengers subsisted in a bubble.

This issue brings the book closer to the current timeline. A number of months back, if you recall, Jessica Drew (a.k.a. Spider-Woman) stole the dead body of the Skrull that had been posing as Elektra from her team of covert heroes. The final pages of last month’s The Might Avengers revealed where she took it – to Tony Stark (no big surprise), who is on the mend from his transformation into Ultron. This still leaves me wondering where this book falls in line with World War Hulk. If anyone can tell me, I’d love to know. But it’s really neither here nor there in relation to this review.

For most of this issue, we get a recap of a lot of information we’ve already been made aware of in other books (i.e. the secret Skrull invasion) and are witness to the symbiote invasion of New York City. I’m hoping the resolution to this assault will be quick since it’s already been covered in a single issue of The New Avengers. I’d hate to have book on top of book concerning something of which we already know the outcome.

So I bet you’re wondering how I could possibly enjoy this issue with all my so-called qualms. Simply stated, I just feel it was well written. I realize this book is now playing catch-up. But it really makes for a great read. There’s a certain clip to the pages that I feel was lacking in the first arc. It’s moving, going somewhere, advancing the story, developing its characters. As a result, though I’m not a fan of delays – actually, I quite hate them – here’s to hoping this title never catches up to the rest of the books on the market. It gives it the life it’s needed since the start. 7/10

HULK #1

By Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines and Jason Keith

The concept of a new Hulk in the Marvel Universe is a fascinating one, and Jeph Loeb handles this first issue quite well. Though I’m a fan of Loeb’s work, I didn’t really expect to like it as much as I did. I’ve so enjoyed Greg Pak’s run on The Incredible Hulk that I couldn’t imagine anyone else successfully writing for a title that involved Hulk, no matter the incarnation. My opinion has now changed.

Doc Samson and Jen Walters investigate the death of The Abomination on Russian soil. All clues point to Hulk except he’s otherwise disposed (plus, the murder doesn’t fit his general method – the fatal blow was dealt by a gun). Loeb takes a nice approach in detailing how the assailant bumped off this gamma-radiated villain by recounting the affair through a blow-by-blow supposition. Some of the quips were a bit cheesy but didn’t detract from the overall storytelling technique. As the team continues to investigate the possibilities, we learn that the suspect is giving off so much radiation that he’s scorching the earth. It may be a small detail, but I really felt the need to make note. Lacing certain elements like this into a story always adds a nice amount of profundity to a book. The characters deepen, the story builds, the situations intensify. Anything that gives us insight into a facet of a book can only strengthen its complexity, inevitably translating into a great read. This book has already hit its stride.

The next chunk of the book is devoted to a wee scuffle with The Winter Guard. It was short but well rendered by Ed McGuinness. I liked his work with Loeb on Superman/Batman and feel he’s a nice choice of artist for this title. The faces are expressive, the fighting is dynamic, the layout is logical (I only mention this because I picked up a book recently that I couldn’t quite figure out how to read it. Left to right? Top to bottom? Etc...).

All in all, this was a very solid first issue. Sometimes, it can take a few books for a new title to really engage a reader. This one held me right from the start. 8/10
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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.