Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

The Amazing Spider-Man 549

by Marc Guggenheim and Salvador Larroca

It’s a brand new day with the same old (censored). Guess what, a new goblin-type villain is in town. Nothing like resetting your character, promising great things, and then instantly going for the recycle bin to pull out a goblin for Spidey. Guggenheim has some good feel for Parker’s thought process and character, but what good does it do for a creative team to execute good dialogue if the overall strategy is a re-run, right when we were promised something new? A new Goblin is not what the doctor ordered.

The art is fairly impressive, and props have to go to Larroca for that. One good thing Marvel is doing is putting some decent artists on the title. If the successive artists that switch on and off can keep up their fervor and respect for the work they are each putting into this, Spider-Man could be one of the better drawn comics in the industry for a long, long time.

I do have to wonder about the wisdom of the rotating creative teams, though, because the drawbacks are already obvious. There is no mention or appearance of Aunt May, no real update for J. Jonah Jameson, and nothing past the recap page about Mr. Negative, which was how this restart opened up. Are we going to see-saw between plots, alternating between Mr. Negative, the new Goblin, and whatever different subject the next creative team to fill in wants to talk about? The book already feels schizo to me.

It would be good to read these as stand-alone arcs, like in the old days when you could pick up a Superman story and not worry too much about what happened in the issue before or the issue after it. We do not live in those times anymore; for better or worse, we live in a continuous story type of universe. As much as Guggenheim has a good way with words, and is writing as well as he ever has (and doing an even better job co-writing his new TV series, El Stone), and as pleasant as Larroca’s art is, the alternating creative teams are already doing a poor job of following each other and maintaining the various story elements from mini-arc to mini-arc. It would have been better to have two separate titles.

Annihilation: Conquest 4

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Tom Raney

The covers for this series are just excellent every time, and however much time it takes to do a full project, it would be great to see a twelve-issue series drawn by Aleksi Briclot. Turn the page and get pencils by Tom Raney and inks by Scott Hanna, and you’ve got my favorite comic of the week.

The story continues to keep a reader’s interest strong, with the setup of a seemingly-unstoppable enemy, and a hearty band of resistance fighters that manage to put up a good fight, and make it all remain believable (well, as believable as you can, acknowledging that this is comic-book land). The screen time of the characters is very well spaced, better than 52, and a much more pleasant read than the poorly-paced Countdown title over in the Distinguished Competition. Instead of hoping and skipping around to characters that do not necessarily have a tie-in to each other, the first page starts with Ultron, who is torturing Starlord. We move to Mantis, who is mentally protecting Starlord, down to Blastaar and company, who are now looking for Mantis and Bug and others, and then we see the others, Groot and Rocket Raccoon. And for the entire time, each character is mentioned by name, so a new reader can know who each one is. Brilliant!

A couple other twists and turns make you think things will go better for our heroes, and then possibly ruin all of their hopes. The last couple pages make things even more interesting. It’s a shame this is only a six issue mini-series, because the cosmic feel of it, and the massive armadas of forces involved, make me think there is a ton of potential to show more things going on in the galaxy. If the Shi’ar get involved, for example, the conflict could last for years. The Silver Surfer would have time to add to the struggle. Earth could finally weigh in. One can only hope that Marvel has a plan to continue to show us more of the wonderful cosmos of adventure they have finally started showcasing in a great way.

Ms. Marvel 24

by Brian Reed, Aaron Lopresti, and Matt Ryan

The conclusion of the Brood storyline is also the end of the blue alien story, and it reads reasonably well. However, there was a definite sense of déjà vu that goes back to the Alien movies, as the Brood queen appears to be dead, and then suddenly comes back and kills again, requiring a scene for, “this time when I kill you, stay dead,” that we have all seen repeated countless times in various horror movies. Also, Carol must have been borrowing notes from the Sentry, because part of her solution to the queen is to throw her into the sun. That never gets old, does it?

Strangely, as Ms. Marvel plummets back to Earth, she crashes in the water and somehow changes form her Ms. Marvel clothes to her civilian clothes. Recovering in her apartment, she thinks hard about the negative things that Cru saw in her psyche. Only time will tell if this will give her the incentive to change her ways. The series itself started with a wake-up call, but it didn’t really take. I actually sympathize with that a little bit, because how many times has someone declared she will change her life, and then gone straight back to the stupid things that made said life a wreck? How many times do we hold a chat with ourselves and try to psyche up to really change for the better, and do it for real this time? How many times do we stop a month later, do a reality check, and realize that we didn’t change nearly as much as we were hoping?

The end I’ll try not to spoil, but it starts the tie-in with the Secret Invasion storyline, and I’m pretty sure it’s another of how Tony Stark I’m-a-futurist is going to be proven to be an incorrect (censored) again.

Silver Surfer: In Thy Name 4

by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat

The pain is over, and so is this mini-series. I was on the borderline to even try it out in the first place, and now I’m pretty sure I’ll be trying to avoid any writing by Spurrier, and any art chores by Huat. The beginning spews a bunch of attempts at cosmic-amoeba life, and really fails to make much sense in its attempt to impress you with its evolutionary panorama.

We cut to the Surfer trying to bully two alien races with deception, which has never really been the Surfer’s strong suit. We are supposed to believe that this is the only idea he could come up with, that he begins to think it will actually work, and then be surprised when his lies fall apart and violence breaks out. As a matter of fact, he is so sure of his position with setting up a false Galactus as a boogey man against the two races, he actually turns into a bully and talks down to the two alien leaders as if they were tardy schoolchildren who were refusing to do their homework.

Silver Surfer is blindsided, his deception is ruined, and the leaders use their political skill stop spin everything so the planned war can proceed. And once his great(?) plan is ruined, we then see his thoughts about how easy it is to rage than stop and think. I’m not entirely sure, but I think Jack Kirby might be spinning in his grave. The Surfer departs, no more ideas, and simply lets the war happen. Hopefully they give the character over to Abnett and Lanning and let them incorporate him into Annihilation: Conquest, or at least give him a respectful hiatus until Marvel can figure out to lend him to people who actually understand the character and have a good idea of what to do with him.

Uncanny X Men 495

by Ed Brubaker and Mike Choi

I have to suspend judgment on this new chapter of the X-Men until I see more of it. We open with a vacation in the Savage Land, with some really nice art, but also see a strange conversation between Cyclops and Iron Man. Tony Stark is talking about registering the mutants, but since Professor X took them public quite a while ago, and there’s only around 190 left, aren’t they already in the government’s database? One thing we know for sure the bureaucrats did when they fenced them all in at the X-Mansion was to write up a ton of documents detailing who each one was. If there’s one thing the government’s good at, it’s writing up a lot of reports.

The issue is mostly a setup for all that will soon follow, and there are some gorgeous panels drawn by Choi, so if you’ve been away from the X-Men for a while, this might be a good place to come back and take a look at a potentially new direction for them.

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