Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part Two

Here's the last the regular reviews of the year, I'll be heading out of town for the holidays. But fret not, 2009 looks to be a big year for Filmfodder, especially in the comic book arena. I'll also try to put out some of my personal Top 10 lists to put an end-cap on the year. And if I can find a computer during the holidays, I may squeeze in one or two reviews after all. Stranger things have happened during Christmas. but I make no promises!

The Age of the Sentry 4

by Jeff Parker, Nick Dragotta, Paul Tobin and Ramon Rosanas

This is a strange mix of a comic book. On one hand, the two tales are intentionally written and drawn to resemble an older time in comics, so that fact alone may make this title NOT somebody’s cup of tea. However, in the middle of the issue, we cut to a modern scene with a parent telling his boy another Sentry story. Cranio always plays a role in the story, and at one point, the modern Sentry is standing on an asteroid with a modern Cranio observing a bunch of imploding suns, just before Sentry is thrust back into the cartoony adventures of yester-year.

The stories will jar a knowledgeable reader, because they play havoc with or ignore established continuity for a nutty ride. I also have not been able to figure out if any letters on the letter’s page are real, or if they have all been made up. Only two more issues to go in order to unravel the mystery of how these fun zany stories play into what is currently happening with Sentry himself, and what role the old man talking to his son play in all of this. It’s interesting, but a hard one for me to recommend without being at the final issue and looking at the series as a whole. I guess I’d say hold off for now, and I’ll let you know if I think it’s a trade-worthy purchase.

Invincible Iron Man 8

by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

We got a little Steranko-esque cover this month as the final effects of Secret Invasion are felt. Tony Stark has lost his Extremis abilities, which is a good thing, because the different writers either used them to make him all-powerful, or forgot half the things he could do. At this point, he’s lucky he can make his suit fly. Greedy little fiend that Norman Osborn is, he can’t help but try to illegally query government databases for Spider-Man’s secret identity, triggering a virus Tony set up.

Now Osborn will be pursuing Tony, who has the entire superhuman database downloaded into his skull. It seems Extremis may be gone, but the cerebral upgrade it gave to Tony stayed. As if he wasn’t brilliant enough already. For some strange reason, Maria Hill has thrown her lot in with Tony, despite all of their fighting. It’s a break from her character, and I don’t like it, but I’ll hang around and see what they do with her. The defining traits of her character have faded fast, though, and she is becoming a cipher for any writer to use, in any way desired, which makes her less interesting. Larroca is doing good on the art, but has Tony doing a scrunchy-faced smile a couple times too many this issue, so hopefully he gets that out of his system soon.

Anyway, just like that, Tony is now public enemy #1. How quickly things change. Hey, maybe he can room with Spider-Man…

New Exiles 16

by Chris Claremont and Jim Seeley

Mostly more of the same, with the characters all speaking in a stilted manner, somewhat similar to each other, and voicing out what actions they are taking, while hamming it up with sayings like, “You showed me the noble, honorable path.” Those speeches come way too often in Claremont stories. A lot of the picture choices seem aimed to let Seely draw as many sexy women poses as he can possibly fit into one comic. I’m only buying this so I can have the complete collection. Yeah, I’m probably stupid.

Thor God-Size Special 1

by Matt Fraction, Dan Bereton, Doug Braithwaite, Mike Allred, and Miguel Angel Sepulveda

I really like these Thor specials. They fill the “Thor gap” in-between his regular issues, and the art style and care that goes into them, even with the tone of the narrative, gives it a mythic, legendary feel to it that it deserves to have, and helps to give them a different tone than almost any other comic out there.

Four parts with four different artists, and we open up with some good Bereton stuff that sets the stage, showing how Skurge the Executioner met his demise. Then Braithwaite illustrates the part where someone is tampering with everyone’s memories of SKurge. After a somewhat cool confrontation with Hela, Allred then takes over on a magically weird trip to find the Enchantress at the end. I’m normally not fond of Allred’s style, but it fits very well here, and I found myself appreciating it.

Then Sepulveda brings us home. I don’t want to say too much about the rest of the story, which means it’s worth paying for to find out how everything goes down. They also include at the end, a reprint of Thor #362, the original death story of the Executioner. 38 pages of original art, plus a reprint that is almost necessary, for $3.99 plus tax. I declare it good, but I don’t know why they called it “God Size.” I mean, really, it’s the size of some other specials. They must be running out of good names for these one-shots…

Ultimate Fantastic Four 59

by Joe Pokaski and Tyler Kirkham

As much as Ultimate X-Men needed to end, I was a little surprised to hear the FF was going away too, but let’s admit it, they weren’t deviating enough from the regular universe to keep this thing going. Even Spider-Man is facing the same problem right now. Ultimatum is their chance to mix things up and genuinely take things in a new direction. Unlike What If stories or one-shots that show us what “might have been,” Marvel has a chance to put some familiar characters in some really uncomfortable ground and mix things up a bit. The series are all called “Ultimate,” right? No guts, no glory!

This issue is fairly interesting, with Ben shrinking down and flying a craft into Sue to help heal her. Interspersed are some flashbacks that give us more insight into Sue’s character and her past interactions with Ben, which are all good to read. I think this title could have had a little more steam, but let’s see what Marvel throws at us next, and see if we can really call it “Ultimate.”

X-Men: Kingbreaker 1

by Christopher Yost and Dustin Weaver

War of Kings (WoK) starts here! After the Secret Invasion, the Skrulls are going to be receiving a visit from the Kree soon. But first, the Shi’ar are acting up under the rule of Vulcan, and going on a galaxy-wide war path. This four-issue mini-series kicks off with some nice art, and a better concept of Manifest Destiny than we are seeing in the titled story going on in the X-titles right now.

This comic tries to fit in a lot of stuff, including the “new” Spelljammers team of Korvus, Lilandra, Polaris, and Marvel Girl. Havok isn’t breaking, and Raza and Ch’od (stealing the show with a funny quip) are imprisoned too, and it reminds me – where the heck is Hepzibah with the X-teams these days on Earth? The art is good, and the scene-setting of this first issue was great, so I’m going to suggest people check this out. The concept alone of the entire War of Kings saga that will be winding its way through the Marvel universe promises to be ten times more exciting than the Secret Invasion (SI) dreck that one might argue had to precede it, or these subsequent stories would not have been made necessary. So there’s a little consolation for those of you who got sick of SI, check out WoK instead!
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.