Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

The Amazing Spider-Man 576

by Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo

This cover matches up with last week’s cover for the Spidey-Hammerhead fisticuffs. While some of Bachalo’s stuff is impressive, I can’t shake the feeling that he is not the right artist for Spider-Man. He has a tendency to show Peter Parker as a skinny dude, and Spidey is all-too often drawn close to that as well. For someone who can bench-press cars, the lack of definition makes it off-putting for me to watch.

Joe Kelly, on the other hand, has a good feel for Peter’s sarcasm, and Norah is a refreshing change of pace for the title; I know a few girls who have her attitude, and it’s a little different from the classic Mary Jane type of “tiger” attitude. The plot is simple enough, as Spidey finally uses his brain instead of trying to slug it out with a goon called “Hammerhead.” A few intelligent strikes, and it’s game over. Things are looking up, with the next issue blurb telling us they will FINALLY get back to the Spider-Tracer killer. I can’t remember the last time they let a plot dangle unaddressed for so long.

Avengers: The Initiative Special 1

by Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage, and Steve Uy

I get to see my home state’s team of the Initiative, the Heavy Hitters. It doesn’t reflect Las Vegas’ gambling theme too closely, but I suppose it could be a reference to the whales that keep the casinos flush and prevent me from having to pay a state tax. The one criticism I have regarding the Initiative members is the rapid reproduction of the same super powers. If you ever had a chance to shake up the Marvel universe, the Initiative would be it. And what do we get? More super strength, super speed, more heroes with cold powers… blech! Give me a new power! Give me something a little more original!

Okay, rant over. Steve Uy is a new name to me, and he shouldn’t be inking his own work. To be honest, he does better than some other artists who have been around longer, but he needs to grow his own style. A lot of these newer artists all look like they took art lessons from the same Cracker Jacks box. On the plus side, we get to see Komodo’s origin, and we get back to a lingering sub-plot involving Hardball’s involuntary servitude to Hydra. The choices Hardball makes may surprise you, and it makes for a good story, if nothing else. I have to be a critical of the artist one more time, because he had a chance to do some great depictions of Las Vegas casinos, and we are left with blurry, half-finished constructions in the background that ruin what could have been a great chance for him to shine.

A backup story focusing on Trauma is much more effective for the artist, and the revelation at the end is a zinger. Something tells me Trauma and his parentage is going to become the center of attention in the regular series before too much longer.

Invincible Iron Man 7

by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

Fraction continues his September 11 analogy to the destruction of Stark’s businesses, and claims he will rebuild, because “it’s what we do.” He says it twice in a row, even though in real life, it has been many years, and we have not rebuilt much at the World Trade Center. It’s nice when you can make things happen in your fictional universe the way you think they should have gone down for real.

Larroca is at the height of his game on art, but there is some CGI-effect stuff that makes too much of the details have a blurry feel to them, and it was overdone throughout the issue. The plot has Iron Man following up on the black market that allowed his technology to be stolen by Stane. It’s a faint whisper of the issue back in the classic “Armor Wars” saga, and doesn’t have as much impact here. Spider-Man is along for the ride, and, in keeping with their inconsistency, the writer has Iron Man let Spidey walk away as an unregistered hero, unlike the jerk he has been about it every other time. Remember, this is the same guy that tried to arrest Peter when his aunt was on his death bed. Oh wait, Mephisto wiped that out, didn’t he?
There’s no telling what the baseline attitude is supposed to be for Tony Stark, because somehow Mephisto wiped his memory of those events, or they never happened, or… the combination of the Mephisto do-over and the nonsense of the registration plot make for a very awkward circumstance, and it’s hard to see how to please anyone with the effects.

The issue is fairly good overall if you just take it as a normal team-up issue, but Marvel really needs to come to some sort of resolution with the registration issue and Spider-Man. Otherwise, every story that calls for a team-up with an “authorized” hero is going to either be sidetracked by it, or improperly ignore it and brush it aside.

Ms. Marvel Special: Storyteller 1

by Brian Reed and Giuseppe Camuncoli

More diversionary tales of Ms. Marvel, as she remains in a sort of limbo from the rest of the Marvel universe, not interacting with any of her old supporting cast, and not reflecting any current state of affairs in Marvel Proper. Reed does finally bring back the original concept of the title, that of Carol making herself the best she can possibly be. The effort brings her back into contact with Gavin, a reality manipulator that A.I.M. tried to control.

This is my first sight of Camuncoli’s art, and I have mixed feelings. It’s good enough for this issue, but he could stand to improve how he draws certain objects. He also makes sure to give us a rear-end shot of Ms. Marvel in her pirate costume, and is this really the sort of thing artists should be concentrating on? It’s not that I necessarily mind that kind of image, but when I’m in the middle of an action story, it is remarkably incongruous to suddenly see such an obvious attempt at a cheese shot of some woman’s derrier. It makes me think a bunch of horny teenagers are making my comics.

The end result is mixed, with Gavin on the loose and coming into his own powers better than before. Will he turn into the new version of Molecule Man? I’m starting to lose track of the total number of reality manipulators that can alter anything they want at a whim. Hey! You think I could ask him to undo Mephisto’s stuff?

Ultimatum 1

by Jeph Loeb and David Finch

It’s here at last! Marvel’s big attempt to shake up the Ultimate universe. One of my biggest complaints about this universe is how it had a big chance to truly diverge from the “regular” Earth-616 universe, and give us an entertaining twist on familiar characters, and allow us to be entertained with a whole new toybox. The X-Men version was the biggest disappointment to me, but the whole place was slanting too far towards the norm that we get in the old comics. Thankfully, only a few years into this experiment, other people inside Marvel made the same observations, and planned to do something about it. And thus we have Ultimatum.

There is a reason why I feel a slight twinge of hope with Ultimatum, while Secret invasion and Final Crisis have made me feel dead inside. With Ultimatum, depending on what happens, we actually have a chance to really shake things up. Civil War has done nothing to shake things up, as I have gone on about (possibly too much lately) in describing the impossible situation Spider-Man is in from the effects. After each major event, they still end up putting everything back to the way it was. If they stick to their guns, Ultimatum can kill anyone. Ultimatum can change the configuration of the Fantastic Four permanently. Ultimatum can cancel some titles and give us brand new ones. If they have guts.

Jeph Loeb gets to write the story, and the opening issue is mostly scene-setting, as he attempts to introduce every character. David Finch is his normal superb self, drawing even more in the cinematic style than usual. Cataclysm strikes in the form of water drenching everywhere; even Latveria ends up frozen. From Professor X’s comments, we may have lost Dazzler, the Beast, and Nightcrawler, although that last one makes no sense, since he should have been able to teleport to safety. Magneto is the source of the destruction, from an awesome-looking floating headquarters.

It’s a good first issue. As with most mini-series, it is hard to judge the entirety until it is finished, but come back here, fans, and I’ll give you updates on how it goes for each of the next four issues!
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.