Comic Fodder

Special Marvel Review: Everything I’m NOT Reading

The comic guy gave me a stack and said to read them. Is it a trap? Are these actually good, and he’s trying to get me hooked on more? Or is this simply some patient revenge he has heaped upon me, like your buddy who went to that disgustingly miserable movie, and then made sure to tell you it was awesome, so you too would experience the pain?

Cable 7

by Duane Swierczynski and Ariel Olivetti

Since Cable and X-Force started at the same time, I suppose I should give some props to treating them just like the X-Force team. They are in their “dark” outfits, their eyes are all glowy red, and they all basically have sharp claws, to one degree or another. Olivetti’s art always makes me stop to examine it, partly because it’s good, but partly because it is also tainted with that machinima feel to it.

Swierczynski tells a relatively good story, as Bishop is cornered by Cyclops while Cable spends a year in real time putting down roots with the newborn mutant. Bishop’s plan is to destroy the foundations of time itself, because even though Cable’s time travel method is broken and he can only move forward, Bishop still can’t catch up to him. The storytelling has slightly improved since the last time I looked, and the premise is a little interesting. Bishop is acting slightly more sane these days, and not as much of a cop-out lunatic stereotype as when this series started.

I might glance through the next issue to see if they can maintain their momentum. Best of DC and Marvel for the trash bin that was handed to me.

Deadpool 2

by Daniel Way and Paco Medina

Reboot Deadpool, but let Daniel Way write it? That’s like trying to play solitaire while you’re missing half the deck of cards. Where is the humor? Paco Medina does well enough on the art, managing to represent in picture form the oddities that Deadpool gets himself into, but the writing is plain cheese. The original style of Deadpool was basically a mercenary Spider-Man. He was willing to kill, and he ran his mouth so much that even heroes wanted to kill him just to shut him up. Now we seem to be stuck with multiple-personality Deadpool, and we’ll have to put up with psycho discussions between himself and himself. It’s one thing to do it on occasion, it’s another to make it a full-time aspect of his personality.

The premise of this issue is that Nick Fury has secretly commissioned Deadpool to infiltrate the Skrulls and wipe them out. Wade does this easily by surrendering to them, then sweet-talking their resident Skrull “genius” into cloning him and letting him train the clones. What follows is cartoon nonsense that uses Deadpool as an excuse to act crazy. Deadpool was fun-loving and a little different morally than others, but the way the Skrulls mindlessly follow his every order makes a mockery of the entire Secret Invasion storyline. How can this race plan in secret for decades to destroy us, but they immediately obey the whims of a decidedly random crazy guy?

The story does not even maintain its own consistency, as the way the pictures show it, all of the Deadpool-Skrulls seem to die easily when they are shot in the head, as opposed to immediately healing and getting back in the fight. The sad thing is, it’s still better than a few other issues of Secret Invasion.

Nice cover by Clayton Crain, but this is not the Deadpool we know and love, this is a poor attempt by someone trying to convince us he understands the character. If there is a regular Deadpool fan who loved previous incarnations and also likes this one, I’d like to hear about it, because I’m not feeling this at all.

Eternals 5

by Charles and Daniel Knauf and Daniel Acuna

Acuna’s art is so CGI, it breaks me out of the comic and makes me think I’m watching one of those classic Japanese-ripped-off Saturday morning cartoons. Although the coloring helps to make it fit in with some of the cosmic aspect of the Celestials, the rest of the time it comes across as a rush job by someone who should know better than to ink his own pencils. I am learning that very few of the young modern artists know how to properly ink their own stuff.

Coming in at issue 5 (of 12, I believe), it is a little complicated to follow, but they lose me on the first page with some nonsense about the Watcher. The Celestial wants to report on him for breaking his oath and interfering in human affairs. Excuse me, but why would any Celestial ever care about that? Unless Uatu is going to interfere with the Celestial’s plans, who is he going to tattle to? To my knowledge, Uatu’s race made a pact among themselves to watch only; they did not take an oath to the Celestials. There is no cosmic balance that needs to be made right between them. Is there some new retroactive association between Celestials and Watchers that I haven’t heard of prior to this? Is the Earth-X series becoming in continuity all of a sudden and nobody gave me the memo? Somebody needs to buy me a vowel.

Okay, let’s move on to page two, shall we? Man, will this be a long review! Kidding. Most of the rest of the art is dark and with little background. Wherever there is background, it looks randomly computer-generated and filled in, as if not done by human hands taking the time to craft the picture at all. And conveniently, Gilgamesh manages to plant himself right into Makkari’s path, even at the speed he is going.

It appears as if Marvel has attempted to use Neil Gaiman to reboot the Eternals, and the writers are trying to follow in those steps to redefine their place in the Marvel universe. The attempt has already failed, and cannot maintain my interest. This cosmic atmosphere pales beside the great work DnA are doing on Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Expectations are higher now, and this doesn’t meet it.

Someone needs to go back to Jack Kirby’s initial conception of these characters and appreciate them for what they are. How about keeping them a little separate from the rest of the Marvel universe for starters? Not good enough to make me pick it up again, but better than most of that DC pile.

Patsy Walker: Hellcat 3

by Kathryn Immonen and David LaFuente

Patsy Walker has a unique history in Marvel comics, starting in a romance series and then making the jump to the super-hero genre. The first page is cute, but does not help clue the reader in. The next page reveals more nepotism in Marvel, as yet another relative has gotten a gig: the writer is related to Stuart Immonen, who not-coincidentally drew the cover. K. Immonen wrote Patsy Walker once before, in Marvel comics presents. It was bad then, too.

This is one of the worst comics I have ever read. The artist gives us purple-blue fur on a monster, thrown against a deeper purple background. There is almost zero inking, meaning here is yet another artist who decided to do everything himself, and didn’t I just complain about that two seconds ago? Marvel is getting cheap or something. Pay for a decent inker!!!

Nothing tells the reader what is going on, anywhere in this comic. Hellcat is on another plane, with strange companions, in a place that has different rules than ours. She seems to take everything in stride automatically, with nonsense conversations with nonsense dialogue that is not entertaining in the slightest. Is there any way I can make my comic store owner pay me money for having taken the time to read this? This comic needs to come with its own decoder ring.

Ultimate X-Men 97

by Aron Coleite and Mark Brooks

The creative team tries to tie things into Ultimatum, doing strange things such as giving Professor X the abilities of Wolverine. Now perhaps this could conceivably happen within the confines of the Ultimate universe, but they did not do a proper job of explaining how it could be, making the whole thing come across as slightly ridiculous. Plus, Charlie butchered a dinosaur for no other reason than a field test. Not cool.

The rest of the issue is a slugfest of X-Men vs. X-Men, and they do not do a good enough job of helping me to keep track of who is on which side, making the entire book meaningless. Plus the artist made Colossus look like an overage metal fat man. And for some reason, Wolverine is the only man who has hair on his arms. Please tell me this is the Ultimate book that is going to be canceled.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

Re: Hellcat
If you had any kind of clue as to what you were talking about you’d be aware that Mrs Immonen was writing the occasional comic book before she was “Mrs Immonen”.

The Pasty Walker miniseries launched out of the success of the 3-part story in Marvel Comics Presents; Marvel is a business and capitalizes on success. Business isn’t generally run on, ‘let’s give the wife of the best artist in comics yet another chance at a comic’.
No matter what you think.
Or “think”.

Shall we assume your “opinion” of one of the best artists to ever work in comics, John Romita JR, was also simply a case of “more nepotism”?

As for you being able to follow the rather clear story line, maybe you don’t need a “decoder ring” but simply someone a little smarter than you to explain it for you? [rhetorical]
And expanding your cultural knowledge outside of the world of the X-Men would certainly allow you access to the rather clever dialogue and references within the text.

David LaFuente’s art is rather stunning. You prefer bold lines, that’s fine, (hell, get your Sharpie out and ink over the pages yourself) but that’s not what LaFuente is going for in this story. Maybe you’ll like what he does in the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man Annual a little better; generally a good artist augments their style for a particular story.

Always keep in mind, you do NOT have a right to an opinion, only an INFORMED opinion.

Happy Reading.

-- Posted by: jay at October 8, 2008 4:42 AM

While I appreciate the fact that she was a writer before she got married, it is still no coincidence that her husband was brought in to do the cover because they thought it might help sales, just as Marko Djurdjevic's wife recently worked on a title for which he did the covers at Marvel, adding to the recent pattern. You are jumping to conclusions, and I can only guess you are emotionally reacting to my criticism because you really enjoy the title.

I don't appreciate the snide insults. It might help if you actually did explain what is going on in that book. For someone whose first issue was #3, it was not accessible to me as a new reader. All you have done is hurl insults, without helping to clear anything up for me. Considering my last five posts on this page, I think it can reasonably be said that I read more than the X-Men, and in fact those titles are also a frequent target of my "poison pen."

I did mention the previous story in Marvel Comics Presents, but in point of fact, that wasn't very "successful," and sales of this title are only around 12,000.

Always keep in mind, I DO have the right to my opinion, and we can disagree on things like art style and our respective, subjective like or dislike for it. But if you want to do me the favor of making sure my opinion is informed, it would be more helpful if you would actually clue me in about the story rather than tell me I'm a clueless simpleton who can't appreciate good art and putting words in my mouth about Romita Jr.

Other than that, good post!


-- Posted by: Anonymous at October 8, 2008 10:15 AM

Jay, I think general we look for something other than ad hominem attacks at Comic Fodder. It's not going to persuade us as commentators or reviewers to give a book a second chance, and the negative association with the fanbase for the book has an unfortunate cooling effect.

I'm not going to say Travis wasn't harsh (he was), but you also seem to have missed the point of the post: These are comics Travis wasn't following, so what is the experience of stepping in and trying to make heads or tails of a few randomly selected books. Patsy Walker didn't work for Travis from a story perspective or from an artistic perspective.

I think pointing out Mrs. Immonen's prior work or tracing her background with comics would have been ultimately much more useful than what we got.

-- Posted by: Ryan at October 8, 2008 12:28 PM

I’d gather you’re an experienced enough comic book reader to understand that reading issue 3 of a five issue mini is *hardly* a fair ground for such a blind-eyed “review”. And that fact that you *couldn’t* get a grasp of the story with just one issue sounds more like proof of a half-decent story being told, as opposed to a Bendis-type, very weak plot, stretched out over 5 or 6 issues.
Do you also practice having an “opinion” about movies from just watching 10 minutes 3/5th of the way in and then walking out? ‘Man, that Psycho is the worst movie I’ve ever seen, some stupid shower scene where someone kills a girl and I don’t even know why!!’

The MCP Hellcat was obviously “successful” enough to allow this mini.
Again, Marvel = business. Not charity.

Stuart doing the covers…what exactly is wrong with that? Comics is all about ‘stars’ doing the covers, as you point out. And if it was ALL about marketing, while *I* think Immonen is the best artist around, he’s, rather oddly, not the marquee name that many, many lesser talented artists are.
And it’s probably not much more than a hop, skip and a jump in thinking to figure out that he actually likes working with his wife, and that he may have wished to drawn the interiors but couldn’t make time for such a commitment due to other projects.

My informed opinion, again the only kind anyone has a “right” to, is not based on emotionally being tied to the story. It’s a FUN comic. Damn nicely illustrated.
There’s not enough of them.
Simple as that.

My apologies for not taking the time to hold your hand and tell you about the story line you’ve already given your “opinion” about…

-- Posted by: j_ay at October 9, 2008 4:35 AM

You're not going to hear me say anything negative about Stuart Immonen. The man is a top-flight talent, hands-down.

The creation of a new Patsy Walker series seems a bit odd, given the cancellation range for a series is generally just under the 20K range, and at 12K for the last run, the math is enough to raise a few questions. If 12K in sales is a success these days, woe unto the Big 2 and the comic industry.

Again, I'd argue that the point of Travis's post was to review comics he wasn't reading, handed to him at this point in time. That includes mid-series Patsy Walker titles. He was intentionally going in blind and uninformed to FORM an opinion. That was kind of the point.

I am not one that believes a comic should give full exposition with every issue, but it's an interesting narrative problem. At some point you can't apologize or explain every detail of what has come before. But your argument suggests that Marvel is so resigned to falling numbers after a first issue that they won't (and SHOULDN'T) do anything to stop the bleeding of readers after issue 1 in the actual storytelling or how they manage the reader experience.

If they are looking to build the Patsy Walker franchise, I would assume they would very much want the dollars of everyone willing to look at any single issue of the comic. But getting to the trade may be the goal (although if the series is selling 12K copies, the success of the trade seems dubious at best).

To take the logic to the extreme, should nobody pick up a Batman comic or Spider-Man comic because its too late and the writers owe them no explanation for what's going on this late in the game?

As per forming an opinion based on too little information: It's what movie trailers ask audiences to do all the time (Especially in this age of showing as little story as possible). The backs of book jackets and a quick perusal are what we have before committing to a book. We pick a candidate based on their campaign versus how they execute their job. It's what people do when they test drive cars to guess if that's the car they want to buy.

It's also how most people came into comics as kids, by randomly selecting comics off the shelf at some mid-point in some story.

Nobody gets to be the arbiter of who has the *right* to an opinion. That's absurd. Whether the opinion is informed or not, that's another story. But that was also the POINT of the post.

Also, I can't believe we're arguing over @#$%ing Patsy Walker.

-- Posted by: Ryan at October 9, 2008 9:45 AM

Nice reply to Jay, Travis.

Unfortunately, way too many people are very rude when it comes to the internet, and they type things that they wouldn't say to their own family.

...and thank you, Travis, for your weekly reviews! I enjoy them, they help me find new sources of enjoyment, and your opinions are interesting to me.

And, Jay, I doubt that you are a bad or arrogant person. Just learn how to respond with some politeness (and I wish most political conversations on chatsites would improve their tone, as well).

-- Posted by: TonyJazzz at October 10, 2008 4:34 PM

Thanks for the kind words, TonyJazzz. I know better than to take insults too personally, because odds are I just gored somebody's "sacred cow" favorite comic series. Look for an article soon about etiquette involving comics, friends, critiques, and maybe even political blogs too, since you mentioned that.


-- Posted by: tpull at October 10, 2008 7:45 PM

I have known Travis for many years,and though we have had many differences of opinion comics related and otherwise, I have always respected his intelligence and his sincerity. You may assail the man's positions all you want(I have on several occasions, it's fun!)but leave out the personal slams,you are comics reviewers not politicans, we expect far more of you.

-- Posted by: earl jones at October 11, 2008 8:48 AM