Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

The Amazing Spider-Man 568

by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr.

backup story by Mark Waid and Adi Granov

We’re kicking off a new story arc called “New Ways to Die!” I hope it’s not from embarrassment. They do a three-page recap at the beginning that ends with a showcase of the new villains Spidey has been fighting the last couple months, and at least five of them are kinda lame. I mean, do Screwball and the Bookie even count? Overdrive has limited potential for sure, and Freak is a walking cliché. Hey, at least we get to see some Romita Jr. artwork on Spidey again, so it’s not all bad.

Although Slott has the snappy patter down, and he does a good thing by linking up Ben Urich, Robbie and Peter, the entire political thing is tiring, and why in the world is Betty Brant still working at the old Bugle? We have a super-powered terrorist called (un-inventively enough) Menace, whose only goal seems to be to scare people against voting for Hollister. This opens the way for political jokes like “no villain left behind,” and Bennett quoting the tagline “fair and balanced.” If I wanted somebody ripping off Fox News and CNN, I’d rather just sit and watch Fox News and CNN I don’t want to be watching those channels, and I certainly don’t want their too-often repeated mindless chatter taglines eating up precious comic space. Slot either needs to move this plot along and get it over with, or at least come up with his own original political dialogue; something different than the real-world dredge I hear everyday.

In the middle of all of these events, we have a big hole: the Registration Act and the Initiative. New York is crawling with all of these villains and battles in broad daylight, but for some reason, no Initiative people seem to show up, and Iron Jerk is nowhere to be seen. It’s like they have just tried to forget that entire portion of the universe, like it was wiped out when Mephisto and Peter struck their deal. Considering how much the Initiative has permeated the rest of the Marvel Universe, its lack here is jarring. Hopefully it will be touched on a little bit at least when the Thunderbolts show up.

The backup story is great! Granov’s style fits the mood perfectly, and Waid’s writing makes you a little sympathetic for Eddie Brock. Not bad for only nine pages of story. This is everything that the main title should be… and isn’t.

Captain America 41

by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

What more can be said about Steve Epting’s art? He has increased his mastery of the use of lighting and shadows to great effect, and he always gives you a lot to look at on each page. He has definitely grown into one of my favorite artists. Brubaker actually has A.I.M. look like they know what they’re doing for a change as they successfully capture the Grand Director. The whole enchilada gets an upset this issue, as we get a glimpse into the Red Skull’s difficulties, see Faustus work at different ends, and try to figure out if Sin is doing what she’s supposed to or being manipulated by her abusive father, tricking her into doing precisely what he wants her to do. I tend to think she is going through a rebellious stage, myself.

Does this all really end next issue? And what will they do next? Like a good creative team, they always leave you wanting more.

Guardians of the Galaxy 4

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier

An interesting cover by Clint Langley starts off this Secret Invasion crossover, and for a change it is not a tiresome piece of dreck. The paranoia and suspicion that should come along with a group like this comes out fast and brutal. Adam Warlock acts like a man with a grand mission who is wringing his hands at having to deal with what is essentially meaningless paperwork. His frustration is palpable. And what in the world is going on with Drax?

Rather than hype the amazing changes and revelations, DnA, as the writers are known, simply release the comic and let us discover it for ourselves. Contrast the mystery of where this is headed with the obvious transparency of Bendis’ “Stark is a Skrull,” and “which of the ‘80s heroes are Skrulls – all of them,” plus some other fantastic flops, and you get the sense that the big events in Marvel for the future should be steered by people like DnA.

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. 32

by Stuart Moore, Carlo Pagulayan and Steve Kurth

Can we cancel this series, please? All of Stark’s powers are useless, but he overrides the problem with a simple appeal to Weir, who seizes control of the Overkill Mind when Tony slaps him. It’s just like the lameness of Good Will Hunting, where the psychologist hugs Matt Damon and simply repeats the phrase, “It’s not your fault,” three times. Like Dorothy’s slippers, that magic phrase repeated manages to do what nothing else in the world could do, and all will be well. Weir is magically able to override the Overkill Mind in four panels. Piece of cake. Not to mention devoid of any tension, creativity, or believability.

Moving on to Rahimov and his “thumbnail nukes,” one of which is immediately detected with a new setting on their magnometer, and guess what? Rahimov still managed to hide three other nukes in three different locations, evading the old and the new magnometer settings. How? By using “minimal fissionable material.” Might be nice, if Moore had any conception of the true laws of physics and how nukes really work, but why let something like reality interfere with the magic of Marvel? After all, they are still repeating their disgustingly ludicrous reference to “stimulated emission lasers,” which is meaninglessly repetitive.

Wait, it gets worse. Rahimov has his finger on the button, and promises to press it. Tony tries to jump him, and instead of pressing the button, the guy sits there and lets his booby trap hit Stark. Rahimov knows all about Tony’s new powers, and from his crippled status in his wheelchair, has single-handedly managed to counter every one of them. It’s like magic!

Then, there is at least one nuke that goes off, and Iron Man is at ground zero. He escapes with no damage, floating in the breeze. That’s right, Iron Man can survive a nuclear bomb within just a few hundred feet, and forget about any electromagnetic pulse damage, or the light intensity of a thousand suns, or the intense heat and x-rays…. There is no reason for anyone to be reading this comic anymore.

P.S. Because this was so stupid, let me point out that Rahimov knocks Tony on his butt with a static EM pulse… but the nuke’s EM pulse does nothing to him, from what we can see. Pathetic. Real writers used to actually read science magazines and textbooks and learn a little about what they put in their stories.

Uncanny X Men 501

by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Greg Land

The writers bump up the sexiness, so make sure you read it ahead of any youngsters, if you’re thinking about introducing them to the X-Men just now. Probably did it just to let Greg Land draw what he likes to draw. We’re back to the old story of bigots beating up on mutants, which Claremont thoroughly explored during his run on the X-Men years ago, but since hatred is so hard to stamp out, there is little sense of a re-run, since we know, for example, there are still active members of the KKK running around in this day and age. As tired as we might get of that kind of thing, we have to acknowledge there are still people out there who will fear and hate anything different.

The writing style is good, and they manage a new trick with the fastball special that is clever, although in the old days, they would have explained the conservation of momentum idea to the readers In some way. It looks like Nightcrawler manages to reverse the direction of the aluminum can, which he is definitely not supposed to be able to do, so I hope someone comes up with a good explanation, because it’s a neat trick.

X-Factor 34

by Peter David and Larry Stroman

The X-Factor/She-Hulk crossover wraps up here, but the art is too gimmicky, with a ton of pink shades colored everywhere, even when they are far away from the Talisman. The action gets a little nonsensical as She-Hulk tosses Monet out of her way, and then immediately calls for everybody to attack the bad guy. Why did you throw Monet off the attack, then? The issue ends happily enough, with everyone suspecting Stark of being a Skrull. What do you think She-Hulk will do when she finds out he’s just a big jerk? Stroman’s art does not seem to have improved any in all his years, so I can’t say I recommend it much. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen his stuff, but you tend to want to see them better than before, if possible. I don’t know how long he will be around, but the title would do better with a different artist.

X-Men: First Class 15

by Jeff Parker and Karl Kesel

Another group pose, even though Angel is not on the team right now. They really should work on covers that are more differentiating. Designing a good cover is an art form, and takes effort; right now it looks like they are coasting. The story involves Medusa and the Wizard, just after the Frightful Four were defeated by the Fantastic Four, and we are given another good story that fits in well with the past that we know during that time frame. Another good effort by the First Class crew.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.