Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

What’s that? Thought I couldn’t do 15 reviews in one night? Gotcha! Man, Marvel is churning out a lot of stuff…

Avengers: The Initiative 14

by Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage, and Stefano Caselli

This title actually got better due to Secret Invasion. Some lingering questions about Hank Pym are answered. Triathalon has officially become the new 3-D Man, and accepts his legacy from the old guard, which turns out to be able to detect a Skrull, despite all of the Skrulls’ precautions! Lately it has been revealed that Crusader is also a Skrull, and the way he panics and handles 3-D Man’s sudden reappearance at Initiative HQ is great. If every Initiative team has a Skrull, then we’re down to 49, because Hawaii just got Skrull-free. Good story and art here.

Captain America 39

by Ed Brubaker and Rob De La Torre

Brubaker’s run on Captain America has been excellent, and the art has thankfully kept up and added to the masterful story-telling. The Red Skull’s plot continues to unfold, with Bucky, Falcon, and Sharon all getting some good screen time.

The only puzzling thing is why the TV reporter describes things the way she does. The Skull’s political stooge gets fake-attacked so the fake Cap can show up to save the day and suddenly give a political endorsement. The weird part is, the attackers are described as “right wing radicals.” Really? Since when are domestic militia groups or skinheads or anarchists or whatever associated with “right” in any fashion? When people say right-wing in America, they usually translate to the Republicans, and left-wing tends toward the Democratic Party. It’s a little strange to think that news reporters would describe an attempted assassination as coming from a right-wing group. Domestic terrorists, Aryan Nation, sure. Right-wing? Really?

This is one of my favorite Marvel titles, but it doesn’t need my help in sales, it’s doing great already. Anyone out there not getting this comic yet? Let me just add my voice to the chorus that it is indeed worthy.

Daredevil 108

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

Brubaker again? Oh, all right. Murdock is getting sloppy and forgetting all his ninja skills, as well as his radar sense, as he gets a head-butt by a guy already in handcuffs. Talk about off your game! The backup characters are one of the real treats, appearances by Luke Cage and Dakota North, with a little Ben Urich thrown in. A solid issue as part two of a four-part story arc.

Fantastic Four 558

by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch

For those who have not heard, this title and the others by Millar all tie together in some way, including 1985, Wolverine, and the Wolverine: Old Man Logan mini-series. Bryan Hitch is exemplary as always, and it looks like the Thing gets taken down by a martial arts move. Maybe he needs to brush up on his old wrestling skills. Doctor Doom has been broken out from his arrest from over in the Mighty Avengers, but by some new super-powered people, and he is desperate to talk to Reed.

One awesome part in the story that some might take for granted, but I thought was priceless: Franklin leads Ben’s date and the new nanny to a panic room, explaining he has done this drill dozens of times. Franklin is old enough and been around enough disasters, it’s not really the nanny that needs to take care of him in these instances. Teach him math, help make his lunch, sure. But when the walls start coming down around your head, it’s the nanny who will need help.

There is a lot going on in this comic, and Millar makes sure to touch on some subterfuge with Ben’s new date, Sue’s new charity, Johnny’s thief girlfriend, and drop a couple bombshells about the nanny and Valeria, PLUS the person behind the new super-powered foes that just showed up. Phew! The great thing about all of these subplots is that they won’t run on for ten years, but the issue reads well and does not feel crammed.

This series is SO much improved compared to the last writer, it is fast becoming a must-read.

The Immortal Iron Fist 16

by Matt Fraction and David Aja

Enter the kiddies. Awww. Danny Rand takes an entire issue to show us his bleeding-heart liberal roots. It’s one thing for a person to show compassion, but Fraction goes way overboard and beats it into our heads with a ball-peen hammer. We open up with Danny offering time as an instructor at a dojo for kids in his spare time, and we are to believe that it takes an awesome amount of time to dismantle the rest of his company. Considering Bear Stearns imploded overnight, I’m not buying it. If you want to dismantle a company, you can do it pretty darn fast if you want.

Danny then thinks that he will spend the rest of his life going broke, but that contradicts his thought just before that. “I’m turning Rand into the world’s largest and most deeply funded not-for-profit charitable organization.” That’s nice, but when you set those up, just like that thought implies, you set it up with a nest egg that generates income, and you use the earnings to make the charitable donations. If you are wise with the initial set-up, you will never touch your original endowment. That way, instead of giving all the money away and letting it die out, you have managed to create a self-sustaining, long-term charitable organization that will keep on giving better tan the energizer Bunny. The idea that it will take Danny the rest of his life to go broke is ridiculous. Bill Gates could go broke tomorrow by donating everything to something, it wouldn’t take long at all.

Fraction needs to clarify if Danny is going broke, or if he is intelligently setting up a charity that will last a long time, because those are two different things, and you can’t tell between those two panels which one it is. It would be helpful to writers if they studied a little bit about economics before they wrote it down. Of course, it would also be nice if they had an editor worth two beans that could point out he contradicted himself just one panel later, but that’s a whole ‘nother essay at this point.

The cool part starts next, as we get to see more of the Immortal Weapons, and Danny discovers something very interesting at the end, but it is interrupted by more charity work. After spending all those pages discussing how little time Danny had, and how he spends as much time with the kids as he can manage, we now go back to the bleeding-heart stuff and jump the shark, as Danny also manages to hand out soup and pillows to the homeless, AND buy back the old Heroes for Hire building, telling Luke Cage they can help other people here again. Okay, granted he doesn’t really sleep much anymore, but I sense a time-management problem here… unless he’s turning into Wolverine and can be in fifteen titles at once.

Not too bad of an issue, but I hope we don’t get a double-dose of “save the planet by throwing money at it” for the next six months. How has our war on poverty and our war on drugs gone for the pat 30 years now, anyway, since we threw a crapload of money at those? Have we won yet? Not the most mature story plot.

The Mighty Avengers 15

by Brian Bendis and John Romita Jr.

Tribute Skrull cover to Avengers (first series) #213.

It is the week for a Hank Pym spotlight, first over in the Initiative, and now here. Bendis messes up continuity again. In this issue of Mighty Avengers, Hank finds out from an undercover Skrull (he doesn’t know she is) that the New Avengers have formed. The problem? Bendis writes simultaneously over in New Avengers this week that the fake (i.e., Skrull) Hank Pym was already in place, when the Skrull-Spider-Woman informed him that the New Avengers team was just formed. The Skrull-Pym complains that they never called him. Well, if the real Pym had not been replaced yet, then this scene could not take place. If the real Pym had been captured already, then the formation of the New Avengers would also have already happened, and the Skrull-Pym would already have known about it when he took over the real Pym’s memories. Again, I’m gonna say it: EDITOR! WAKE UP!

The next problem is that at the end, Skrull-Pym gives Wasp the present of giant-growth. The problem? Wasp could grow to a giant during Chuck Austen’s run on Avengers, before the New Avengers even formed, so Bendis got that backwards in chronology as well.

If someone can point out how to reconcile these inconsistencies, it would help, because it feels like Bendis is lost in his own story, and contradicting himself all over the place. It is hard to enjoy it when the mistakes are as glaring as this.

Ms. Marvel 28

by Brian Reed and Adriana Melo

This title has gone off the rail, and is turning into a train wreck. Remember the idea about Carol being the best and improving? Gone. Remember how she used to hold life sacred? Gone. Remember when heroes used to try to take the enemy alive? Gone. Ms. Marvel now kills Skrulls and waits around long enough to watch them die lingering horrible deaths that she inflicts. Why is she not a super-villain now?

Her mental process claims she was a solider, and she finally has the war she needs. Except she was never a “soldier.” She was in Air Force Intelligence, and then became chief of security for NASA. There is nothing from her entire past as a human that qualified her as a soldier. The only way they can claim this is by actually discounting that past, and only count the time since she gained powers. In which case, she has spent most of that time not being a soldier, but being either a memory-wiped basket case, an incubator for baby Immortus, or a drunk. Oh, and her power level is enough to take on the entire armada invading New York, even as over in Secret invasion, the Skrulls can beat everybody else easily with their purple energy attacks.

This is going downhill fast, and I’m not sure how it can turn around, except for a new writer. The art is still fairly cool. Although, for a strong female character that feminists might champion, I imagine there is quite the angst over the fact that it’s the feminist-despised Greg Horn who keeps drawing the covers.

New Avengers 42

by Brian Bendis and Jim Cheung

Tribute Skrull cover to Avengers (first series) #221.

This issue is a flashback to explain the point in time that Jessica Drew was kidnapped, and the Skrull Queen takes her place. What happens to the original Jessica Drew’s body? Is it in a cocoon some place? The queen explains her war plan to all of the other dupes, and we find out who hired Electro back in New Avengers #1.

To clear up a tiny bit of the massive confusion going on, the burn-out effect at the end of the issue is the Scarlet Witch creating the House of M reality, which was then followed at the end of House of M by Wanda saying, “no more mutants,” which only took away most of the mutants, but for some unexplained reason left 198 of them untouched, and Iceman got his powers back before two issues had gone by. So to the innocent observer inside the Marvel universe, there would be no memory of House of M, only the Decimation event of M Day. Next issue tells us what happened to the Skrulls and what they did during House of M.

The inconsistencies were already mentioned in the above review of Mighty Avengers. If Bendis didn’t keep messing up all over the place, this would be a good story.

New Warriors 13

by Kevin Grevioux and Reilly Brown

Egad, but this is bad art. Poor introduction of characters, hard to figure out who is who on any particular panel. I heard they were switching to the “other” New Warriors team soon, the one from Avengers: Initiative, so I hope that happens soon, and with a different artist. And a different writer. It sounds like the current Night Thrasher has lied to his entire team the whole time, probably to resurrect his brother, too, not Chris’ sister. We are not even given a reason for anyone else to hang around and wait for Thrash’s explanation. Avoid this title like the plague; it is sure to be cancelled in less than twelve issues.

She-Hulk 30

by Peter David and Val Semeiks

Another amusing romp with Peter David. The whole story that got She-Hulk disbarred is wrapped up (sort of). I don’t quite know why Bran agreed to become involved in the first place. Reading Peter David’s work is weird for me, because he has his characters use a ton of dialogue and old jokes that I use in real life, which I used before I even knew who Peter David was. It’s as if he eavesdropped on my childhood. It is familiar and disturbing at the same time. But almost always a good read. Heads-up: Secret Invasion tie-in next month.

Thunderbolts 121

by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato, Jr.

Do Ellis and Deodato have to go? They have been awesome! This is another great comic, with Dr. Samson relishing the excuse he has to punch Karla Sofen, plus Songbird finally has an excuse to hit Osborn. Way to release ease tension, guys! The really intriguing thing is how the crisis is resolved, giving Bulls-Eye a part to play, and making the intra-team relationships just as complicated as they have always been. Thunderbolts hasn’t been this good since the series started. Heads-up: Secret Invasion tie-in next month.

Uncanny X Men 499

by Ed Brubaker Mike Choi, and Ben Oliver

Is it Ben Oliver who does the artwork for the hippie scenes? Because it’s a mess. We see from a third-party’s viewpoint a ton of optic blasts going multiple different directions simultaneously. The problem with that is, there is no possible way you can have Cyclops fire five optic blasts and have them going in all different directions. I let it go on page two, but then it happens again! When we actually get to see Cyclops, he is throwing one blast at a time, not five or six, but a few pages later, we see four more optic blasts, three of which are heading in one direction, so let’s say he could do that, but then there’s a fourth one running perpendicular to the others?!?

The situation gets resolved, anyway, but Lady Mastermind gets away, and is immediately recruited by a shadowy figure. The much better part of the story is the fight between Omega Red and the three MuX-eteers, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine. Although the scenes are a little too dark (literally, not enough light) for my taste, the battle feels real and dangerous, and it is ended in a fun way. All gearing up for #500 next month.

Wolverine: First Class 4

by Fred Van Lente and Salva Espin

Alan Davis on the cover, yay! The is the second part of a story with the High Evolutionary, and it reads well by the story and the art at the same time. It is still proving to be superior to its First Class companion book with the original X-team. How long can they keep this level of creative effort fresh? I’m buying it for as long as they do, because this is good stuff. I think older fans will really get a kick out of this.

X-Men: First Class 13

by Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz

Better than last issue, the x-Men get an introduction to Machine Man, and the classic misunderstanding-so-heroes-must-fight ensues, but the cliché is charming in this setting, and it fits in with the time period, at least. We get a glimpse into the literalness of an android, and also see hints of the obnoxious, hilarious ‘droid that Aaron turns into via Nextwave and Ms. Marvel. The creative team does a very good job this time around, in a series that has got to be tough to be golden every time. I expect this series to be hit and miss, and this month it’s a hit!

X-Men: Legacy 213

by Mike Carey and Scot Eaton

Say what you want about Mike Carey, he knows his continuity for the X-Men, better than Bendis understands his own Invasion story. The Legacy title of X-Men should be a study lesson for Bendis on how to get his facts straight, and with the convoluted history of all of the characters in the X-Men’s history, this one is a lot harder to pull off. It’s harder mainly because Carey is borrowing from 30 years worth of history that wasn’t his, whereas Bendis had free reign to create half of his stuff, what with writing multiple titles the last few years, and doing a lot of the setup for Secret Invasion by himself.

So what I’m saying is, Carey and is editorial team are showing how to weave an entertaining story with great art without any inconsistencies that I can spot, and other people should be paying attention, because this is the bar that has been set, and the rest of Marvel is hard-pressed to rise to it.

Gambit and Shaw team up while Mr. Sinister roots around in Professor X’s mind to show what a jerk he was to Scott and the rest of the X-Men all the time. We also see more of Sinister’s past, and the development at the end of the story is just too cool for me to talk about here, I won’t spoil it for you.

Note: The continuity is very tough to follow here, so for the benefit of those who have not collected every mutant issue from Marvel in the past 30 years, Doctor Mueller was the head of a project called Black Womb, which funded genetic research. Mueller is immortal, but her skin does not fare well with the passage of time. She is also the grand-matriarch of the Summers clan, which makes her related to Cyclops. The drawback to this much continuity is that if you’re still a little/lot confused, you’ll have to do some internet research to get the full background. Maybe Marvel will do a one-shot encyclopedia that connects all the dots for us one day; that would be a handy resource better than some of the other resource books they have been releasing lately.

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