Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

A ton of good stuff, with one abysmally poor X-story.

Daredevil 107

by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano

Brubaker and Rucka are together again on the writing chores, so expect this series to stay grounded in gritty street-scene style, most likely without a ton of flashy super-villains (which is just fine with me). The real joy is the art, though. Lark and Gaudiano have fun with the environment, maintaining the grim and gritty feel of the world Murdock lives in. This issue is worth examining for how much the artists frame the story within the environment, taking time to show buildings and other background besides just a lot of talking heads, as many artists are wont to do. Compare Amazing Spider-Man, where one panel has a ton of snow, and the next has hardly any, to this issue. When it starts raining, the rain is present in every outdoor panel, and if the view is from a window, you can see the rain outside. I hope some of the other artists at Marvel are studying this comic for pointers.

The Immortal Iron Fist 15

by Matt Fraction and Khari Evans

We take a break from Danny Rand to visit an older Iron Fist, Ben Bang-Wen. When this title was conceived, it was with the premise that there were a fairly sizeable number of previous people to hold the title and power of Iron Fist, and the creative teams plan to explore several of them. The story is a fairly good one, although the first time we are exposed to the mental power of “perfect strategy mind,” the guy is wrong. Doh! One interesting thing is learned here: the power of the Iron Fist can be relinquished, and returned. Hmm…

Ms. Marvel 27

by Brian Reed and Andre Coelho

We’re hip-deep in Secret Invasion, and the captured Skrull reveals William Wagner is actually a Kree spy. Figures, Carol falls for a Kree man yet again. Despite her super-powered backup, Carol is played again, and the captured Skrull detonates, managing to take out Ms. Marvel’s entire ship, and who knows how many S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel.

It is at this point that I disagree with the direction that the writer takes. Carol chooses to confide in Wonder Man all of her feelings of inadequacy and of not being up to all the responsibility. Then she wants to throw all her cares aside in a bout of wild, carefree sex. Gee, way to screw up a formidable, independent woman, guys. Here’s a guy she loves more like a brother than anything else, and somehow the writer decided it was okay for her to forget that the man she really (allegedly) cares about is still out there, a kidnap victim during an invasion (!), and she wants to take a timeout for another kind of action. Reeeeeeal classy.

Remember back in the first issue, when Carol wanted to do her best to improve herself? And everything she wants is dumped in her lap: a new career, leadership of the Avengers, her own personal S.H.I.E.L.D. team, etc. Not bad for a newly-recovering alcoholic, yeah? But instead of paying attention to her history and having her look at a glass of booze, she substitutes sex instead, which can happen. But it just doesn’t make much sense, given the history of the character. We all know this is going to lead to an awkward conversation with Simon later, and for all we know, another pregnancy for her (remember Immortus?). This “be all you can be” storyline has turned rather quickly into “make as many stupid, wrong decisions as you can possibly make in the next couple weeks, but try not to fall off the wagon.” It’s a poor direction to steer Ms. Marvel in, and the focus should not be on sex at a time like this. Grow up, boys.

Thor 9

by J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Although Loki is a woman now (change!), Loki is still messing with everybody’s collective mind and stirring up trouble (same!). With just a few well-chosen words, she manages to make at least a few Asgardians question the nature and limitations of their newfound lease on life. It’s all a trick, of course, but it’s fun to watch alleged deities who have centuries of experience getting tricked by Loki manage t get fooled all over again. It’s almost like watching an episode of the Simpsons!

Thor has to become involved, of course, and who is to say whether all of Asgard needs to consult with him every time they interact with regular mortals or not? But that is paltry next to the bombshell that Loki lays on Balder. This is one of Marvel’s best-selling new titles, and for a reason. Check it out!

Uncanny X Men 498

by Ed Brubaker and Mike Choi

If it’s not one element, it’s another. By that I mean that the Russians have pieced together how suspicious it was that during House of M and Decimation, the entire world lost most of their mutants, while the American X-Men seem to have come out of it neatly unscratched (even Iceman managed to power up quick as a fiddle when it looked like he had been affected). The Russian won’t get any answers, though, in a brilliant escape made by Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Colossus. The way they get out of their predicament is one of the reasons why Brubaker is one of the best writers the X-Men have ever had; he shows their experience and instincts in a simple manner, and portrays these super-powered soldiers as the intelligent, fast-thinking veterans they are, unlike a ton of previous writers who have most of the X-Men falling all over themselves making rookie mistakes. It is one of the best traits that make this title the best it has been in many, many years. I can’t think of a better time to be reading Uncanny.

Wolverine: First Class 3

by Fred Van Lente and Salva Espin

This First Class title has quickly overshadowed the original, with slightly more extravagant art, and more mature storytelling. The plots are well thought-out, and fit in strongly with established continuity, whereas some of the X-Men: First Class issues might have small contradictions, or have no apparent impact. Sometimes you get through with an X-Men: First Class issue and think, “So what?” this title has more of an impact, and all in a good way. Take a peek and see what happened when the X-Men were trying to locate Magneto when Kitty was a newbie.

X-Force 4

by Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, and Clayton Crain

If it seems like I am enjoying most of Marvel’s books lately, I am. Ther are relatively few complaints with the comics this week, but there is always one X-ception. Why this title is doing well, I have no clue.

The computer art is blatantly artificial CGI-looking, and the characterization has all gone to (censored). Normally staunch Logan blows his cool with X-23 in a scene that I can never imagine happening in a million years. It is also artificial, and quickly the reader becomes aware that the scene was only written to help make another scene happen. Disgusting. What does this achieve? It allows the writers to turn X-23 from an emotionless single-minded killer who has been given a mission into a thinking person who stands there and lets Wolfsbane gut her. Talk about retarded.

Rahne wakes up fully healed, and yet somehow inexplicably brainwashed, programmed to steal Angel’s wings. How did Reverend Craig know Rahne would be anywhere near Angel? There is no way he could have known, but there you have it. The magic of emotionless, rote storytelling. Everything goes according to the villain’s plan, because they are SO brilliant and mastermind-y!

The scene transitions are abysmal; witness Risman saying he has to go get back to “them,” and the next panel, you’re already inside the next room with Bastion and Risman. No sense of the scene or any context of the surrounding environment.

Moving on to more sloppy story, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is getting nowhere with her investigation because there’s a mole in S.H.I.E.L.D. (who’s not a Skrull!) who is covering things up for the bad guys. Is there anyone who can’t get into S.H.I.E.L.D. these days? It is a very tiring concept, that the most elite, secure espionage unit in the entire world is riddled with double agents and spies. Oh, and Warpath is inexplicably, conveniently absent from all the action, only showing up after Wolfsbane is gone. They are hanging out in a cabin in the snow, for crife’s sake! What else is there to do, and where else is there to go around here? If I were Wolverine, I would be gutting Warpath for abandoning his post watching a wounded teammate. This is not addressed at all within the story.

Wait, it gets worse. The villains get their hands on Angel’s wings, and when trying to heal Angel, Josh makes the comment that the cells are not mutant, or human, or even organic. Guess what, then they’re not cells. The evil scientist later comments that every cell in the wings has the Apocalypse strand, not just the blood cells. For some reason, Warren reacts to having his wings torn off by transforming all the way back into the blue-skinned Archangel he used to be under Apocalypse. Their “scientific” explanations as they go along are worthless; in the old days, comic writers used to take the cutting edge of scientific knowledge and help educate the reader. Today, all they do is utter techno-babble that we know is wrong, all to propel their unimaginative story ideas. Marvel writer: “Hey, make Angel into Archangel! Let’s recycle an idea that’s already been done!” Marvel editor: “Brilliant!”

Please stay away from this comic. I buy it only to supply a public warning notice against a bad comic.

X-Men: First Class 12

by Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz

This issue is a little weird, as we are shown Angel’s aunt, who looks amazingly like Laura Croft. I can’t decide if it is cutesy-funny, or insulting to have this as the new archetype for female archaeologists and explorers. The story focuses on Angel finding a community where he is genuinely accepted, and can cut loose in an entire society, not just a few select, secretive friends. It’s not bad, but now we need to know why Warren ever bothered to come back from paradise.

X-Men: Legacy 212

by Mike Carey, Scot Eaton, and Mike Deodato

David Finch gives us another awesome cover, while inside we are treated to one of the best treatments of Gambit since the character’s inception. This is starting to feel like a new golden age for the two main X-titles. Maybe that’s because they are letting all of the lesser talent play with less-worthwhile topics in titles like Young X-Men and X-Force.

Mike Carey pulls back more of the curtain on Mr. Sinister’s experiments at Alamagordo, and his intentions towards the mutant children at the time. Meanwhile, Deodato’s flashback art is impressive. The whole thing reads like a suspense thriller, and it’s got me hooked!

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