Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

Eight comics, eight reviews, served up fresh!

The Amazing Spider-Man 550

by Marc Guggenheim and Salvador Larroca

The second part of the second rotating creative team’s arc slowly fizzles, as an obscure character, the Blue Shield shows up to try to enforce the Registration Act with Spidey. Not only has he not called for backup, but he doesn’t use any powers either! What a waste of time. Spider-Man breaks away to go after the new Goblin-like menace, whose name is, lamely enough, Menace! Menace takes down Spidey like a rookie, as the entire creative team seems to have forgotten that he has Spider-sense. Very few things irritate me more than the handlers forgetting their main character’s powers. Lame.

The rest of the story picks up, as we leap-frog around, finally mentioning Jameson in the hospital, Peter checking on an alibi for Harry, and so on. There’s almost too much going on, as they try to fit in Harry’s new girlfriend, Lily, Jameson and wife, MJ/Payback, Menace, Mr. Bennett who now owns the DB, Betty Brant, the plot with the Spider-tracer killer, AND a guy who wants to sue Spider-Man. There just isn’t enough time to do justice to all of them without making the main plot sort of meaningless. The issue itself is saved in part by good artwork, and it’s not horrible, but it is slightly too busy to be very good. It is as good as some of the stories in the now-discontinued Spider-Man titles of the past couple years, and Guggenheim continues to give each character a good voice, so I’m hoping Menace turns out better than lame by the time we’re done.

Captain Marvel 3

by Brian Reed and Lee Weeks

The series picks up a tiny bit finally, as there is an attempt to tie things in with Secret Invasion. The storytelling is awkward as they try to shift the story back and forth in time, but the stage direction is clumsy. We start at the Pulse, without a sense of anything but the present. The second page makes the effort to tell you that you are in the “Now.” The next page of story does the real un-dramatic thing of flashing back a whole three minutes ago, and as soon as it’s done, it ends with Mar-Vell asking the exact same thing he did back when it was “Now.” It’s sort of like an amateur film student trying to be artsy, and it’s a waste of the attempt.

The good Captain tries to use his cosmic awareness later and manages a flashback to when he was held prisoner by Skrulls, in a setting that suggests he is a creation of the Skrulls, raising the question of whether this is really Captain Marvel who was captured, or if the Skrulls cooked him up as an experiment. Does this tie in with the villains he’s faced? The Cobalt Man and Cyclone that he faced were both dead, Mar-Vell was supposed to be dead… Is anyone in the universe who they say they are? It may take two more issues to find out if this was really Captain Marvel all along, or Captain Skrull. Guess they would have blown it if they marketed it as a five issue series of Captain Skrull, huh? It would be more entertaining than yanking him from the time stream, at least.

Fantastic Four 554

by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch

The new creative team could not come at a better time. We open up with the whole family going on a trip, and I must say, their vacations look nothing like mine. The thing that Millar and Hitch do well together is set the scene. It may take you a second look through the issue to realize that there isn’t much in the way of action in the entire book. The start of this run begins with the creative team showing you all of the characters, and giving you a sense of their take on each one. Despite there being little action, this is not to say that nothing is accomplished. Johnny has a new thing he likes to do, Ben has a new potential relationship, Sue is setting up a charity, and Reed is getting corralled into a doozy of a new adventure.

If you’re not familiar with Bryan Hitch’s work already, this is the perfect place to find out. Expectations are always high for this guy, and he doesn’t let you down. Millar’s writing can be one of those things where you either love him or hate him, but he usually does a good job, and it’s worth plunking down your hard-earned money to see what kind of ride he’s going to take our favorite foursome on (That’s right, I end my sentences with a preposition sometimes. Take that, college English teacher!). This one issue is already better than the previous six combined from the last creative team.

New Exiles 2

by Chris Claremont and Tom Grummett

It is hard to find much to recommend for the re-launch of this series, except for some good artwork. Claremont continues to use thought bubbles, which might be charming if there was an improvement in the way he used them, but it’s like being stuck in the 1980s. An even bigger puzzler is why Psylocke is not madder about Sabretooth clamping a tracking device on her arm. This second issue launches the team into another world that needs to be fixed, but no real development of anything else. It feels like a rinse-and-repeat. With no mystery surrounding the Tallus anymore, the series has lost direction, nothing more than an endless series of different universes that only the Exiles can save. I can’t find any reason to care, and that’s a bad sign for a story.

Nova Annual 1

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Nic Klein, Mahmud A. Asrar, Klebs & Wellington Alves, and Juan Vlasco & Nelson Pereira

Nova is experiencing flashes of his past, and allegedly his future. Trying no to spoil too much, let me simply ay the art is eye-catching, and his struggle with the techno-virus is progressively worsening. The saga continues into the very next issue of Nova, which means the annual fit very nicely into the overall story, and was not an experiment with a novice artist, or a lame packaging of some fill-in story. As annuals go, this is a very good one.

Wolverine 62

by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney

Continuity alert, as the new creative team decides that Mystique and Logan actually had an initial meeting back in 1921. Setting aside any problems that might entail with what we already know about the mutant universe history, one of the best things about this issue is that Ron Garney shows with his artwork that he has grown as an artist. His work is noticeably better than it used to be, and that is always something that needs to be recognized in an artist. I hope he continues to work on improving his craft.

The plot itself is fairly nasty, but in a good way, in that Mystique sets a nice trap for Wolvie. The real misgiving is how Cyclops is handled. It was one thing to turn Havok into a kill-or-be-killed kind of guy, because his own father, Corsair, did something similar when he ended up in space with no backup and few alternatives. Scott Summers, however, has always had an appreciation for life. It appears to have gone out the window, as he orders Logan to bring Mystique back in a body bag. Now, I could write up a story centering on Cyclops and detailing how his attitudes have changed, based on his possession by Apocalypse and the death (again) of Jean, and everything else that has been happening. The point is, that drastic a change in a character needs to be explained to the reader, and we never got that story. His new attitude is shocking in its ruthlessness, an jars any long-time reader out of the narrative. They are at least consistent, though, as he acts the same way in the new X-Force title.

Bottom line, this is an okay start for the new creative team, and an improvement in several ways. If you haven’t been picking this title up, now may be the a good time to start.

X-Factor 28

by Peter David and Pablo Raimondi

The main focus of this issue is Rahne leaving the team to join X-Force, which she is not supposed to tell anyone else about, for fear of… we are given no explanation why it has to be such a big secret. Characterization is wonderful for this title, as Rictor has trouble without his powers, Monet shows what a pain she can be even when she’s half-trying to be nice, and Jaime continues to show that he is in over his head, and maybe it’s a mistake for him to lead a team. Oh, and Siryn is indeed pregnant, and yes, it’s Jaime’s kid. That part had been telegraphed pretty well in earlier issues. This is another issue that does not have much action, but a lot of good characterization.

X-Force 1

by craig Kyle, Chris Yost, and Clayton Crain

It’s a suicide squad, complete with disavowment of their actions. Cyclops has reassembled his Claw Squad, with Wolverine in the lead. Wolfsbane, X-23, and Warpath complete the unit, and it’s a good enough start for a new series, but it assumes you know everything that has gone before. There are no real flashbacks, and no clear reason for why Rahne has to be part of this. So as far as first issues go, only pick this up if you’ve been along on the mutant train for a year or two, or if you just don’t care that the writer does not give you a complete understanding of events.

Cyclops continues to be a murderous jerk, and just as in Wolverine’s own title, appears to be giving Logan marching orders like Logan is his lap-dog. As much history of contention as there is between Scott and Logan, there should be some kind of pushback, but Logan acts as if it is natural for Scott to point, and Logan to jump at his command. This is not a self-contained first issue either, they attempt to end it with a cliff-hanger, which of course will mean nothing next issue. An average start to an average mutant title, with good art, slightly above average writing, and a lot of room for improvement. It might end up on the top ten for sales simply because it’s a new mutant title, and who’s not a sucker for that?

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

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