Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

All of these comics were worthy of purchase this week. Has that ever even happened before in one review/

The Amazing Spider-Man 573

by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr.

The Thunderbolts turn into bit players for the most part as Venom/Scorpion faces off against Anti-Venom, and the Green Goblin shows up, sounding strangely like either George Bush or Stephen Colbert: “you don’t have to be in the middle… choose a side.” Slott needs to turn off CNN. Goblin doesn’t stand a chance against our hero, naturally, but Ye Olde Self Destruct Sequence lets Osborn get away.

Harry’s girlfriend Lil decides to make a pass at Pete, and you know, he let it go a little too far. First she’s grasping his arm; okay, not a red alert, but still something to be aware of. Next she plants both hands on his chest. Red alert time! Pete not only waits for her to lock lips with him, but spends another whole panel taking it in, so to speak, before he decides this is a bad idea. There a re a lot of loose ends at the end of this, all of them seeds for exploration in the coming months. Good stuff overall, but it still feels like we are holding our breath. The confrontation between Green Goblin and Spidey was not as grandiose as it could have been, making the overall effect one of feeling like it’s just another day at the Spider-office.

A backup story with art by Patrick Olliffe is pleasantly upbeat, as Mark Waid grasps both the wit of Spider-Man himself, and the loony-ness that makes up the faux-personality on the Colbert Report, down to Colbert’s fear of bears. I can’t wait to see how much of the Marvel electorate Colbert catches.

Astonishing X-Men 27

by Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi

Andrea Silvestri helps out Simone Bianchi with a few ink washes in this issue, and things are starting to come across with a Heavy Metal feel to them artwise. The plot unfolds with two sets of underground mutants at war with each other, all going under the radar of the rest of us, including the X-Men. Actually, Agent Brand from S.W.O.R.D. shows up to help expand the horizons of the X-Men’s awareness, providing an education on what a ghost box is, and helping them to move further along in solving their current mystery.

There are a lot of things to appreciate in this run already. The Beast/Brand relationship is great fun, although it does tend to undercut the professionalism of Brand. The X-Men are being propelled into somewhat new environments, as Ellis introduces relatively new concepts along with new places in the Marvel universe that feel largely unexplored, with Brand as their guide. Cyclops has had enough erratic behavior in the X-titles lately that it is hard to tell if his sudden cussing is genuine or symptomatic of a nervous breakdown or enemy mind control attack.

The panel placement is a little different for the series too, with stripped-down panels overlapping. The effect allows for a widescreen movie feel, and helps the flow of the comic, since there is a ton of exposition to get through here. The atmosphere created by the art and writing is a novel one for an X-title. We end up in an underworld mystery, meaning you watch the team enter a hidden place, and there is a feeling that anybody could jump out of the shadows at any second. Instead of breaking this tension, they actually just continue along, slowly deducing one new piece after another, trying to put together the puzzle.

The result is proving to be stylistically unique from Whedon’s run, and distinct from every other X-title currently on sale. For a gripping read, pick this up.

Guardians of the Galaxy 6

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier

Notice how we have a new Guardians team, but the characters on the cover hark back to the original line-up? It will be neat to see how this incarnation of the team unveils their linkages to the better-known, older-but-future incarnation (and yes, I said “neat”). Turns out Drax was true to his word about killing everyone, but he only meant brain death for a few seconds. This forces the Skrulls to revert to their true forms and become detectable by whatever sensor Drax has with him.

DnA cram more super-hero-meets-hero-and-fights-in-a-misunderstanding than any other single issue I have read. Every newcomer to the clam-bake with the Skrulls has a hard time figuring out who to punch, and most of them make the wrong decision when they leap in. And just when things settle down, a new group comes in guns blazing, and the fighting starts all over again!

The key is that this group of Skrulls is a group of pacifists, and Cosmo is one freakishly powerful dog. After reading so many simpleton thought bubbles from Krypto, I am enjoying Cosmo a lot better right now, but I want to know how he can be so powerful, and how the Skrulls could successfully mind-wipe his memory, even with his permission.

The real bad news is out about how Starlord tampered with the minds of the entire group via Mantis to have them join up. The one criticism I have about this entire comic is the idea that Adam, Phyla, and Gamora could all be persuaded mentally without any alarm bells going off. This is a story device that is given to us suddenly, with no other description. A flashback to show at least one of the events, describing for us how the brainwashing went down, would have been helpful. The more interesting thing is this: Mantis can see the future, but she can also tell that the way the present is unraveling, someone is tampering with the natural future. And Starhawk is the one who is smiling about everything…

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. 34

by Christos N. Gage and Sean Chen

Wahoo! This issue is full of sheer awesomeness. What could be more kick-(censored) than a spaceship-sized version of the War Machine armor? If all goes according to plan, this series will end soon, and they can start up with a new War Machine #1. We get a ton of action, interspersed with quick flashbacks that show the reader the military background of Rhodes and his relationship with Tony Stark, and help explain why he stays in Russia, even though the Russians ordered him to butt out.

The Winter Guard is a welcome sight, but it is hard to believe Darkstar and probably Ursa Major would turn their backs on War Machine when he just helped them out. That tiny nitpick aside, Rhodey’s in trouble, so the cliffhanger is good, and the Adi Granov cover and Sean Chen inside art are great, so forget all the boring stuff that has governed this title for so many months. From issue 33 on, pick this stuff up!

Uncanny X Men 503

by Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and Greg Land

Pacing is great in this issue, starting with some New Mutants veterans talking about wanting to settle down and have some peace and quiet. They sound just like a ton of grizzled veterans I know. With the compressed time that is the Marvel universe, these mutants have gone through more than most average soldiers would in real life. For a guy on a bike, Empath does a good job with his juiced-up power levels to keep the veteran team at bay, and it’s a little funny to see the way they introduce character captions that identify people and their powers: Warren is introduced as “flight” and “money.”

Then we switch to an unsettling scene that makes me want to warn younger readers away, due to its sudden and risqué appearance. Just as unsettling for Scott is that someone else besides Emma may be using his head for a playground. The use of Pixie as a new hard-edge character is a little tough, considering Empath took down all of the other X-Men, but hopefully we will get to see her showcased more, to give us a proper exposure to her and let us see her true character.

The overall feel is that of a bad storm brewing. Greg Land continues to focus on faces overmuch, and leaves us little in the way of backgrounds in too many panels. He also has Scott smiling way too often still. Other than that, good stuff.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.