Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

A so-so spider, a couple good ones, and another title in danger of being dropped.

The Amazing Spider-Man 560

by Dan Slott and Marcos Martin

We pick up in the same abysmal place we left off, with Peter “Scumbucket” Parker using his amazing abilities… to elude the bodyguards of a celebrity during a paparazzi photo-fest. Menace is nowhere to be seen, and the new villain Paper Doll seems to magically know exactly the right places to go and people to stalk as she stalks the celebrity. There is absolutely no explanation given for how she knows who to spy on at the exact, correct time, to give her an excuse to kill someone. It’s a poor idea with so-so art.

I can’t wait for Peter to grow up again. If only Marvel doesn’t make it take another 20 years, because I don’t have that kind of patience. Pass on this title.

Fantastic Four 557

by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch

While this is an entertaining episode, I do have a few quibbles. For one thing, it’s getting oh-so-tiring to see every hero gather together for yet another menace that makes everyone decide to suspend their disagreement over the whole super-human registration thing. As hard-headed and uncompromising as Tony Stark has been the entire time, and with the death of Captain America, you would think that there would be some additional drama over it. Instead, everyone shows up, already prepared to unite, while at the same time over in Secret Invasion, Iron Man is still trying to arrest everybody. Will some editor-in-chief at Marvel please make a consistent ruling on how to handle this? Because they are mucking up every story this way.

The solution to the “unstoppable” enemy that can magically trounce every other hero on the planet is surprisingly easy, and Reed walks away from the whole alternate-planet project. I am hoping that the thread of “our planet will be dead in a few years” will be visited again in this title, or addressed somewhere else in Marvel, because if not, that means it was just a poorly thought plot device that will never manifest itself, which kind of invalidates everything else we just finished reading. So time will tell if there is more to finish what Millar started, or if Marvel will just wave their magic wand, say these are just stories and don’t have to make sense, and brush it under the rug. I know if I was trying to be more realistic, I would have Reed diving into the problem to work as fast as possible to save Earth. But more likely, they will move on to something completely different next issue. Sloppy.

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. 29

by Stuart Moore, and Roberto de la Torre, and Carlo Pagulayan

Hey, look at that, they finally changed the indicia! So for those poor comic store owners, please note that Invincible Iron Man has started a new series with an issue #1, and the old series has been identified as “Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.” beginning with this issue, #29. And good luck with those conversations with all your future customers who come in looking for back issues…

The plot with this new writer is a trifle confusing, because they head into Russia looking for a nuke, and a bomb does indeed go off. Now, if I were looking for a bomb and saw a mushroom cloud, I might think my mission had already ended in failure. However, in a big gaping hole in the plot, Iron Man seems to automatically know that there is still another active nuclear weapon hiding somewhere. Yeah, I can’t explain it either.

But wait, it gets better! (And by “better,” I mean ridiculously worse.) The bomb is almost microscopic. The writer actually has Tony narrate this: “I anticipated that… and installed atomic force microscopes in both gauntlets.” Why, how convenient! What a futurist! Isn’t it lovely how he can automatically become proficient at microscopic surgery, better than Stephen Strange in his heyday? Oh, and isn’t it convenient, that Tony forgets he has Extremis powers, and probably just could have hacked into the programming and shut it all down with a thought in the first place?

The writer lets us know that the all-knowing, all-powerful intelligence sources of S.H.I.E.L.D. do not know who the perpetrator is, but Tony Stark does. Rather than reveal details, though, they switch topics and move to another threat that takes all of five minutes to develop. It feels like there is at least five more minutes of exposition that have been skipped, and new readers will probably be lost. We’ll see if Mr. Moore improves any in the next couple of issues. Given what we’ve seen with this issue, I would not recommend this to anyone yet. It’s too so-so when there are more good reads out there.

X-Factor 31

by Peter David and Pablo Raimondi

X-Factor is usually a solid read, and this one is fairly good overall, but nothing really moves forward. It’s the final episode dealing with Arcade, but it mostly feels like just maintaining pace until you get to the real meat, which will probably resume next issue. One small thing: in the old days, when someone like Annihilus would erect an impenetrable barrier, you could understand how they would have the power to do something like that. These days, any low-life like Arcade can manage to do the same thing? Writers should be able to explain the resources of these villains rather than just work from the assumption that everyone already knows they can manage such an impressive feat.

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

I like what Rip Hunter says about continuity.

-- Posted by: Jim Brocius at May 30, 2008 7:42 PM