Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

Avengers/Invaders 5

by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Steve Sadowski

Here’s the cool thing about Alex Ross covers: he knows his subjects very well. For this issue, the Invaders are shown in full battle with the Mighty Avengers team, and the layouts of the Invaders are highly reminiscent of some older layouts from the original Invaders comic series. It helps create a war-like feel that reminds you of the World War II setting from which these time-traveling heroes come.

The skirmishes end with Namor and Cap taken prisoner, while the present Cap tells his past self Bucky to let Zemo’s rocket launch. Confused? That’s time travel for you. Just to catch up newer readers: the current, present-day Captain America used to be Bucky, the same Bucky that has time-traveled to the present. Real name James Barnes, he was thought dead for decades after the villainous Baron Zemo launched a rocket that Bucky tried to stop. Ed Brubaker wrote the ret-con in the Captain America series that showed Bucky never actually died; breaking free of Russian control, he eventually became a free agent and donned the garb of the recently departed Steve Rogers, becoming Captain America. It is this guy that approaches Bucky-from-the-past, and tries to plant an idea in Bucky’s head that will change the past. (Is there anybody out there reading this comic that didn’t already know all this? If so, this paragraph was for you.)

Iron Man tries to talk past-Steve Rogers into the dangers and why Cap has to be prevented form seeing the current world, and surprise! It actually seems to work. Now if only he would have tried harder with the now-dead Steve Rogers. The Human Torch is not willing to let his perception of the rights of the Life Model Decoys take a back seat. He flies off from the rest of the team to start up his own crusade. Continuum, smushtinuum! What’s fixing the unraveling of space-time in the face of equal restroom privileges for artificial people?

As with all good stories, this series continues to present strong individuals, each with their own agenda and desires, which complicates what might otherwise be a straightforward grab-them-and-mystically-send-them-back story.

Secret Invasion: Inhumans 3

by Joe Pokaski and Tom Raney

The series continues with child-friendly cartoon depictions that relate the relevant past history of the Inhumans to set the stage for what is to come. It’s a good device, and reads better than the standard black page with recap text. Medusa has taken the royal family in pursuit of Black Bolt and her son, and has assumed her rightful command. Crystal acts as her foil, questioning her every move. There is slightly more of an insubordination type of attitude coming from the royal members than in most previous tales involving them.

For a reason I don’t know off the top of my head, Ronan the Accuser agrees to help Medusa if Crystal becomes his wife(!), to which Medusa agrees. Whatever her reasoning, considering that the Inhumans were originally created due to Kree experiments, and they are exploring this relationship, is a nice use of existing continuity, and much better than the trashing of other aspects of continuity we have seen in the main Secret Invasion storyline.

Triton also gets the useless-Aquaman treatment from Medusa, something all water-breathers seem to suffer from, no matter what company or title. While we usually snicker when Aquaman is the butt of the joke, Triton appears more like a puppy dog you just kicked, as he sorrowfully accepts the ill treatment. Heaven forbid the day he does the Inhuman equivalent of going postal.

The final pages show what is as stake, and it’s a real doozy. It all wraps up next issue, and if you haven’t been getting this, it goes on my top ten list of trades to get for the year.

The Twelve 8

by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston

For a series named the Twelve, we don’t really get to see all of them every issue. The Phanton Reporter is used as our eyes most of the time, and this issue gives us the backstory of the Black Widow, with an excellent use of art and color to set the stage and show us an event from decades ago.

We also get a hint that the origin of Fiery Mask’s powers might not be what we have seen from the old comic reprints, suggesting at the very least a mystery, if not something a little off the beaten track from being a normal good guy. And what the heck happens to the Blue Blade when he tries to access Electro’s old memory backups? I think I know, but I’m not tellin’!

A couple extras pages at the end with Excello, Rockman, and Blue Blade setting up a clandestine meeting with Dynamic Man puts the pieces in play to kick into high gear soon. The use of old-time characters, the contained twelve issues, and a simulated dated feel makes this title feel like a Marvel version of Watchmen in a couple ways. It’s not quite as revolutionary, but still, not a bad story to be compared to, is it? It’s a good story so far, anyway.

X-Men: Magneto Testament 2

by Greg Pak and Carmine Di Giandomenico

Magneto’s dad is the focus of this issue, as he attempts to keep his family together and figure out the new rules under Hitler’s rule. Things do not go well for him, and it is both heart-breaking and based on events that actually happened in real Nazi Germany. Echoing the themes covered in Maus, we see the depravity, the torture of human life, and the value of gold to the oppressed Jews. This is one of those stories that might give you insight as to just why there has developed a stereotype of a greedy race of people. This stereotype was already in existence, and used by the Nazi government to fan the flames of hate against the Jewish population. However, the use of money, particularly gold, could save the life of yourself, your family and friends. Sometimes, because of the greedy nature of other people, they had to use a lot more gold than you might think fair, in an attempt to secure their lives, if not their freedoms.

Every so often a comic series comes along that speaks truth, that issues a reminder of past history, and a warning not to let it happen again. This is a great series, and very moving. I am officially grateful that Greg Pak is a comic book writer, for being able to intertwine the main character’s past into a true historical event that everyone who claims to have compassion for his fellow human being should study. If kids in high school find history boring, they should be given this in trade format, and then let loose in the library to find other books that spark their interest on the subject.

My most recommended read of the month.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny 2

by various

Three stories in one issue, with the main one written by Mike Carey. Michael Ryan does the art, which isn’t too great, as Mystique tortures Bobby. Is she hurting him, or in her own way helping him to develop his true potential? We’ve gone down this road before, with the White Queen trying to clue Iceman in on his potential, but it was never explored properly. If they insist on visiting this situation again, please let Bobby’s growth continue, rather than lapse back into his pathetic background self again.

The second story is really short, written by Skottie Young and penciled by Daniel Panosian, according to the credits. Looking like it belongs in Mad Magazine, the Juggernaught is misunderstood yet again, but the story ha about as much impact upon the reader as bullets do on ol’ Jugs.

The third story is the real highlight, as Chris Yost turns the spotlight on the White Queen, and discusses some of the fallout that has been missing on her involvement with the good guys. Paco Diaz puts out the best art in this issue, taking the opportunity to draw a sexy Emma Frost, while Yost drops in some nice Easter eggs hinting at Mojo in one panel educating Hisako, to Colossus in a training room, reminiscent of classic Danger Room strength scenarios. Logan has to be the one to play camp counselor to Emma’s insecurities, and it all feels appropriate. This one is worth picking up for this story alone, even if you don’t get the whole series.

X-Men: Original Sin 1

by Daniel Way and Mike Deodato, and Mike Carey and Scot Eaton

Original Sin. Sins of the Father. Ever notice how these titles involving the X-Men, and Professor X and Wolverine particularly, always have some kind of biblical theme to them? The cover is better than average, showing Logan’s son Daken as a puzzle with a few pieces missing. Neat! Also more creative than most covers out there these days.

Deodato is at high form, making me wish he had an entire X-title all to himself, so we can see him focus on more than just one character like Hulk or Wolverine. Deodato is one of those utmost professionals, who makes an attempt to have every person be unique in their face, just as the other greats like George Perez try to do. One of the biggest problems in comic art today is artists who use stock faces for everyone. It doesn’t matter if it’s Chaykin or Frank, too many older artists are just as guilty as the newer guys.

Taking place right after Cyclops’ confrontation with Professor X in X-Men: Legacy, this one-shot starts off a five-part Wolverine saga that will tie his history even more tightly to Professor X’s than anything we have ever seen before. What will happen to his son Daken at the end? What is up with that last page and the deal with Charlie and Logan? It looks like the Wolverine: Origins series will finally get back on track and deal more directly with Logan’s past. That means I’m back to collecting that series again, hoping for good writing and great art. This one-shot is a good start.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.