Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

Pull up a chair and a sickness bag, because this week’s reads are only useful if you need to get rid of some waste. Penance was good, and Uncanny tried to be, but the rest are hopeless.

The Amazing Spider-Man 552

by Bob Gale and Phil Jimenez

I feel bad for Marvel and for all the different creative teams on this title. I also think the editors are doing them a major disservice, because their attention to detail stinks to high heaven. The major reason an innocent woman died last issue is that Peter had run out of money to buy web fluid. Even though the final panel of last issue has him hanging upside-down from his webbing, I let it slide, didn’t even mention it, because maybe it was artistic license, and not supposed to be a final shot of him in his “actual” state.

So this issue, the new creative team takes over, and Spidey has PLENTY of web fluid! There is no mention of his previous lack, he spins it like it grows on trees. He was thinking about using money from his latest photo shoot to pay back people, not buying replacement web fluid. No matter what else happens this issue, they have ruined the previous story. This is not years-long continuity we’re talking about people, and I am not an addict for continuity porn (well, maybe that can be debated, but that’s a story for another day). These teams are not even maintaining consistency for one issue! Whatever the editors are being paid, it’s too much.

The rest of the story is poor anyway. A major plot element is that Spidey tears the seat of his pants on some fencing. Way to go, Spider-Sense! All the while, he proves amazingly incompetent to catch one lone thief. Between this and his failure to save the councilwoman last issue, I think Mephisto did something more than just reset his life. It’s like we are watching a clumsy Parker kid just moments after he learned he had powers in the first place.

Wait, it gets worse. The thief is able to slip out of the massive amounts of webbing after Spidey finally caught him, and drops into Curt Connors’ lab. The lab where people leave open briefcases of biohazard material just lying around. Yup, after all those years of handling potentially life-threatening biological materials, ol’ Connors just up and leaves it sitting out in the open where anyone can grab a handful. The CDC would have his license in a heartbeat. This is clumsy storytelling, pure and simple. It is easily the worst issue of this Brand New Crap We’ll Be Dishing Out For Twenty Years that they’re selling us.

The big mistake is that there’s not one or two other Spidey titles for us to go to, in the hopes that they will be better. Pass on this one, guys, even Jimenez’s cool art can’t save this stinker. We will be stuck with one lousy Spider-Man title, poorly written, though usually well-drawn, for the foreseeable future. If we can’t sack the major powers-that-be for getting us into this lousy situation in the first place, can we at least ask that the story have a little consistency from one issue to the next? Gah!!!!!!

Cable 1

by Duane Swierczynski and Ariel Olivetti

The character of Cable has gone through so many permutations over the years, it’s easy for Marvel to wipe his slate clean and revamp him. It makes for lousy character development and growth, because you have to forget the vast majority of what has come before in order to accept whatever new treatment they give him.

This new title has him as self-appointed protector for yet another new mutant baby, on whom the fate of all mutantkind and/or humanity rests. It’s a role that used to belong to Cable, until Marvel lost site of what to do with him. The story starts in 2043 A.D., and Cable is immediately bushwhacked in New Jersey by armed bandits. No sign of any other life at all, just three goons with guns, ready to shake down Cable. Gee, way to develop a story, folks!

After a diaper change (for the baby, although maybe Cable had to change his shorts too, for all we know), he finds a bar(!) with people (!!) where he sits down for a beer (!!!) until Bishop shows up shooting. It is such a shame to see Bishop brought down so low. His character was one of the best additions to the X-Men in years, and now he’s a bloodthirsty lunatic with a cyborg arm. Great. Olivetti’s CG-animated style of art wears thin after you’ve seen it for a couple years, because there is no change or growth in it. With a lack of story and so-so art, this title most likely will not last long. I’ll have to think long and hard before I plop down money to see if anything better happens next issue. Actually, no I won’t. I’m canceling this, it’s a waste of time. I don’t need to watch the car wreck of how they pummel Cable and Bishop into shallow caricatures of what they used to be.

Penance: Relentless 5

by Paul Jenkins and Paul Gulacy

The end is here, the final showdown between Nitro and Penance. Baldwin’s spouting of numbers one after the other really doesn’t make much sense, although maybe it’s supposed to for him? I end up more confused than anything else, because Baldwin wraps Nitro up in the Penance suit, and Baldwin declares that (somehow) the pain that Nitro feels will be fed into Baldwin himself. Then it kicks in, and I realize that Baldwin is actually explaining how the suit works for him when he’s wearing it, and that Nitro will feel the same pain being shot back into him as the suit is on him now. The wording could have been better for the reader to avoid confusion.

That’s all the critique, because the art was great, and the story itself resolves fairly well. I will avoid giving all the details here, because a ton of people will be going for the whole trade, as opposed to buying the mini-series one month at a time. Let me just say it is worth the read, and ends about as well as any mini-series can. It remains to be seen if there will be any consequences for Robbie in the main Thunderbolts title, relating back to his actions here. Hey, maybe they’ll put Nitro on the team!

Uncanny X Men 496

by Ed Brubaker and Mike Choi


Marvel spoils the mention of the X-Man who dies at the end of Whedon’s run on Astonishing. Way to go, Marvel douche-bags. Well, at least they didn’t run a press conference on it like they did when Cap got shot.

The story is getting weird, as some powerful woman is causing a flashback to the 60s at the precise location where all of the X-Men were supposed to rendezvous. The White Queen is able to shield herself and Cyclops from its effects, and we’ll find out more next issue. That’s right, not a lot of action still. They also include a sighting of Tiamut, the dreaming Celestial, as a reference to the recent Eternals mini-series, but nobody bothers to include an editorial reference, so Marvel blows yet another chance to act on the potential for a reader’s interest to get piqued, so they might consult the reference and go check out that storyline, buying more of Marvel’s books. Way not to go, editors!

The main attraction for this issue is a focus on Colossus as he travels back to his native Russia with Wolverine and Nightcrawler in tow. Brubaker has studied up on his history, as Peter pays respects to the gravesite of his family, and later in a bar, Logan makes a crack about Peter looking for Juggernaut, a reference to the last historical time we saw these three chilling over brewskies. The bar scene is resplendent, with Mike Choi showing us vodka glasses and Russians playing chess (the chessboards are built into all of the bar tables) while the fireplace roars, a lovely domestic scene that almost rings true to life.

The interaction between the three long-time friends is very genuine, and the scene is worth more than fifty fight scenes, although they do manage to scum up a barfight later as well. This is probably one of the best titles out this week, if you skip over that THEY RUINED THE END OF ASTONISHING X-MEN! Not that I’m bitter or anything…

X-Force 2

by Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, and Clayton Crain

Kyle and Yost play around with the lame flashback routine, as if they can generate some sense of mystery or suspense by having S.H.I.E.L.D. stumble around trying to figure things out. Risman’s big bullet shot last issue did not result in Rahne’s death, as hinted, but rather, he shot her in the… knee. Yes, that is the big payoff from last issue. Did you get chills, folks? Because this is Marvel’s new way of giving us chills. They have Spidey magically get tons of new web fluid, they ruin the endings of their comics, they butcher character development, and they have a cliffhanger ending that ends on someone who has only been shot in the knee, it turns out. It’s like they don’t even want us to enjoy comics anymore.

Wait (and sing along if this sounds familiar), it gets worse. Laura had the warehouse rigged to blow with explosives the whole time. Cyclops confirms her mission was to eliminate Risman. So let’s leave off the major gaping plot hole from last issue where Rahne joins Wolverine’s team, then is not shown as part of the undercover force approaching Risman’s place, and how surprised Logan was that his team member was already a hostage, and skip right up to the new main question on this lousy story: why didn’t she just blow the whole place and eliminate Risman in the first place? She didn’t know Rahne was a prisoner! With the press of one button, mission accomplished. It’s not like she showed herself reluctant to do it.

Back at the X-Ranch, Cyclops is still acting like a homicidal paranoid with delusions of grandeur, as he tries to stop the others from telling Angel that Rahne is a prisoner. We never find out why Cyclops wants to keep all this hush-hush. We’re supposed to believe these “dark” missions give them some kind of plausible deniability if the other mutants don’t find out the dirty details. This is the same guy who sent his entire team in against the Marauders on the storyline leading to the formation of X-Force in the first place, but now he wants to keep numbers to a minimum? Spidey was bad enough this month, but these guys aren’t even maintaining story consistency in the same issue, let alone from one issue to another.

The final disgusting part is a matter of personal taste. Nimrod was a cool sentinel from the future, but as happens with villains all too often as time goes by, new writers don’t know how to handle them very well. Nimrod was torn apart, and brought back as Bastion, a really, really lame villain. Instead of bringing Nimrod back, the writers have resurrected Bastion, and their master plan is to go bring back yet another re-run villain, the Magus. So X-Force, which used to be the New Mutants, who faced off against Magus, has now been reformed. And the new team has to deal with… all of the villains the last X-Force already defeated? How long until they bring back Stryfe? So much for Cyclops’ big speech about how X-Force is need to combat NEW threats…

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