Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

I’d say five out of eight are good this week. I want all eight good. No, make that great! Get on it, Marvel!

The Amazing Spider-Man 553

by Bob Gale and Phil Jimenez

Awesome cover, weak story. Considering how many writers are involved in charting the course of Spider-Man, you would think it might lend itself to some stronger story-telling. Alas, just like Hollywood, when you have too many cooks in the kitchen, what comes out is mush. You wouldn’t mind it, or even necessarily notice it if you were eight years old, but when you’re an older reader (as most of us are) it is painful to the intelligence some times.

Spidey is hanging on a wall, and unlike the past FORTY YEARS OF HIS COMIC LIFE, he does not leap into the thick of things. He stays on the wall, and lets a disoriented creature get shot in the head by scared police. Sorry for yelling, but since when did Peter give up his courage? He’s dressing up in a colorful costume and running out precisely to jump into things. Even Spidey can’t believe it. We are treated to a thought balloon of him going, “Why did I wait?” The entire reading audience is asking the same thing. Meanwhile, Jimenez’s art is good, but the layouts and style make it look like he’s cribbing George Perez’s style too much.

Next, the editor of the DB tells Peter that he is against a certain political candidate, and to go downtown to take some unflattering pictures of him. So much for the objective press, eh? Peter takes the assignment, even though the subject of animosity is his friend’s dad. Since when did Peter give up his principles because he needed money? The Peter that Ben and May raised was used to being broke, but he at least had some principles. Hmm, looks like Mephisto also took away Parker’s bravery, his integrity… what HASN’T Spider-Man lost in this reboot “do-over”” of his life?

Elsewhere, getting shot in the head did nothing to the new Freak other than make him enter a brand new cocoon. This is their idea of good storytelling? Hey, he evolved to be bullet-proof when he came out, isn’t that convenient? But hey, at least we got one panel (one!) with Aunt May in it this issue. You know, the entire reason we’re in this state of sad repair? The object of his ultimate sacrifice with Mary Jane. She gets one panel.

Hey, they finally have him refilling his web shooters! Only one issue too late, because he somehow went from empty to 100% in the last two issues. The new webbing is thick, and the brilliant scientist that Parker is, who has created this webbing that nobody else has been able to duplicate… forgets the first principle of the scientific method and installs it without any testing. And then it promptly jams on him. All to artificially set up a cliff-hanger ending to mirror the last one, where Spidey had no webbing and a politician died. A politician that nobody cares about, because no one took the time to develop the character for us to care.

One cute thing is that the writer took time to make one politician give a speech that is torn straight from the Democrats, with him promising voters everything under the moon, and the other guy gives a pro-business speech you might expect from a Republican. Except in this turn of events the newspaper is supporting the pro-business guy and opposing the “everything for the children” guy, but we are not given a reason. Much like the reset, or the rest of this storyline. We are never given a reason.

Annihilation: Conquest 5

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Tom Raney

The exact opposite of the Spider-Man title, the writers of this story understand that they have to give the reader an explanation of how Ultron went from Mighty Avengers to the leader of the Phalanx. They not only do this, but they do it in the middle of the High Evolutionary turning traitor on the heroes, and giving a good premise for the relationship between Ultron and the Phalanx, and why Ultron wants to blend organics and technology, dovetailing quite nicely from his recent experience with Tony Stark over in Mighty Avengers. Knockout cover by Aleski Briclot, by the way.

The rest of the gang rescues Starlord while Ronan launches the Sentry fleet he recovered from last issue. Can they really wrap all this up in only one more issue? The entire read is very tight, with fast action and great art. It has surprised me enough to become one of my favorite titles, along with Nova.

Fantastic Four 555

by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch

This second issue of the Millar-Hitch team is still mostly set-up, but what a set-up it is! The world faces environmental destruction in less than ten years, and the brightest minds and wealthiest people have teamed up to create a whole new planet Earth for the population! It’s an ambitious story, and well-served by Hitch’s cinematic style. He draws impressive backgrounds to help give the reader a sense of scale befitting the goal.

There are a couple of questions with the story. Ben brings up Sue’s new charity project as a possible opening for Alyssa to go after Reed, but did news of Sue’s charity travel that fast, that Alyssa could find out about it before the story started? Of bigger concern, how in the world did this disaster creep up without the heroes noticing? Tony Stark has 30-odd plans for improving the world, Reed has 101, but for all of their monitoring, sensor sweeps, high-tech bugging, and futuristic vision that we have been treated to for the past several years, neither of them has a clue about this impending disaster? Either the disaster itself is fake, or they are wrong. By next issue, we should have Reed confirm or deny the threat. Either way, this is already a good read.

New Exiles 3

by Chris Claremont and Tom Grummett

The creative team on this title is impressive, and visually it comes across well. Between Grummett and Hanna, plus Orzechowski on the lettering, there is a lot to be said for it. The writing is weird. The Invisible Woman whips up an invisible jet, and Rogue picks it up to fly an entire group for a distance, but then Sue envelops Rogue in the field. This somehow translates into the invisible projection making everyone inside it invisible as well?!? Her powers have never worked this way. Did we switch over to the DC universe and get on board Wonder Woman’s plane without me realizing it?

The rest of the story is filler. Bad guys show up, fight ensues, and this universe’s version of the Black Panther shows up. It’s a woman, but she is black, if that matters to anyone. The intimation is that the other villains all follow her orders. Maybe we’ll find out some real information next issue, and the story will actually move forward. Right now, it’s all just a little clueless.

Nova 11

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier

Pelletier’s pencils look better than ever, but I think a lot of the credit has to go to Rick Magyar as the inker. If you want to compare, go back and look at Pelletier’s work on Fantastic Four and compare it with this, and you will see what a difference a good inker makes. The story is still related to the ongoing Annihilation: Conquest storyline, even though it is not officially given a credit as a tie-in, per se. It features the return of an old hero, too. Pick it up, I’m not going to spoil it for you!

Thunderbolts 119

by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato, Jr.

Here’s a fun thing to do with this month’s Thunderbolts cover: put it down on the table in front of you. Now rotate it ninety degrees. Still a good cover? Rotate it ninety degrees again. And again. It looks great from every angle! Which one is your favorite? I’m taking a poll…

I am still waiting to find out how D-list villains like Blue Streak gained psychic powers, but aside from that, this is a killer episode. The four “prisoners” are manipulating the thoughts and feelings of the Thunderbolts crew for an as-yet unrevealed agenda. The battle scenes are well-orchestrated, and have more meaning than do the meaningless slug-fests in a title like New Exiles. Just wait until you see neat treats like Doc Samson’s mental prowess, and what happens when Swordsman goes up against Venom!

Wolverine 63

by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney

The story is part 2 of Wolvie hunting Mystique, while flashing back to the first time (in a ret-con kind of way) they first met. It’s a little better in seeing the way Mystique keeps ahead of Wolverine, but only because he shows a little restraint for appearance’s sake. Given his marching orders by Cyclops, though, he might be better suited to just go berserker and get it over with. But then this would only be a one-issue story instead of a four-part saga!

The problem with this is that it feels like a needless diversion. All of the momentum that had been building since way back during the House of M days has been lost. Logan had recovered many of his memories, and was on the trail of the new mastermind who was behind almost all of his difficulties. With the Messiah Complex stuff out of the way, he should be getting back to that. Instead, he’s playing cat-and-mouse with someone he should have gone “Snickt!” on a long time ago. The entire issue feels like a holding pattern while we wait for something better.

X-Factor 29

by Peter David and Valentine de Landro

Is there a reason Rahne up and left X-Factor to go join X-Force? I can’t figure out what it is, and maybe Peter David can’t either, because Rictor burns Rahne’s note, ensuring that we don’t find out that way. He had to address it somehow, but Mr. David has always been in the poor man’s position of setting up some interesting storylines, and then have them all blown to pieces by big crossovers and editorial decisions on what to do with some of the characters he’s writing.

The team is falling apart, more than usual, and Arcade enters the picture. Anyone familiar with Arcade’s style would have picked up on it halfway through; although, it is possible some of the illusions are not his doing. Time will tell. This is not a good time to jump onto the title, though, as most of the plot developments proceed fairly naturally, but they have all been previously established. If you’re not on board yet, you might want to wait for the trade at this stage.

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