Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part Two

Secret Invasion: Front Line 5

by Brian Reed and Marco Castiello

I didn’t want to get this final issue, partly because the art was so poor, and partly because the story itself was so poor. But I have done my duty and slowed down long enough to see how the car wreck turns out. Wasps’ bio-weapon fallout reaches Ben Urich and company, but does not kill them. For all of the allusions and hints that this stuff was fatal, you don’t see anybody actually dying from it, one of the biggest plot holes in the last couple issues of Secret Invasion.

Ben narrates the outcome of the various other bit characters that never caught my attention, that I could never bring myself to care what happened to in the first place. It’s like a wanna-be version of Astro City, but instead of empathizing with the “regular guy” viewpoints, you want to shout at the screen like you’re watching a horror movie, going, “Don’t run upstairs stupid! That’s where the serial killer is! Man, these guys are so stupid…”

The one complementary part of this mini-series is a good interview attempt between Urich and Norman Osborn, with Ben Urich’s muse spurring him to write finally, and we have the title for Urich’s next book: Dark Reign: Norman Osborn Takes Control.

They should have cancelled this idea and just printed the last eight pages of issue 5 as a backup tale in any other SI tie-in, and left it at that. The rest is worthless.

She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision 1

by Peter David and Muhmud A. Asrar

The one-shot special features the Lady Liberators again, and boy am I getting tired of reading that lame group name. she-Hulk’s band of women warriors are kidnapped by the Collector to keep them safe, but it’s not the true visage of the Collector we see, but his classic “old man” appearance. The threat is Unum (one out of many), who wants to destroy all female good guys.

We learn that Enmity is one of a “family” of seven cosmic beings, and formed Unum out of the followers of cosmic threats like Dormammu, Magus, and Annihilus. Seems the minions were tired of being disposable wastes, and they all somehow screamed as one and caught Enmity’s attention. Enmity merged them (And what did Dormammu do when he realized no flunky brought him his morning paper? When Magus ran out of sacrificial lambs? When Annihilus didn’t have anyone to give him his daily foot massage? Now there would have been a story!), and the new Unum went on a rampage.

Through logic and reason, She-Hulk points out to Unum that Enmity is not just having flunkies serve him/her/it, but it just goofing around, which makes Unum angry, so Unum stabs Enmity. The story is a little weird, mostly because it’s strange to think that cosmically-powered beings would not have much wisdom, but run around like mean galactic pranksters, but I understand they are trying to have a personification of one aspect of human emotions. The internal monologue of She-Hulk is a little preachy, and not too original, but the dialogue with her fellow warriors is fun, and Peter David has a few nice interactions between the different characters that take into account what each one knows about the other in current continuity, and I appreciate the effort.

Did Peter David try to get this published as a special because the regular She-Hulk title is being canceled? Maybe he had enough material done that he was able to persuade the Marvel powers-that-be to give him the green light to finish it. Whatever the case, it was an okay read.

What If? House of M #1

by Brian Reed, Jim McCann, and Paolo Pantalena

The cover is an interesting piece by Jim Cheung, with finishes by Marko Djurdjevic, and it looks nice! Instead of the Scarlet Witch saying, “No more mutants” (which didn’t work anyway, as we had a couple hundred mutants inexplicably left over), she says “No more powers.” This affects even magical beings like Doctor Strange too, and leaves the armored and cybernetic heroes to pick up the slack against all the regular and techno-villains.

One good part is showcasing the life of a normal Peter Parker, devoid of his old responsibilities. The internal art is a little strange, with overly huge lips for Maria hill, and rendering that makes her look like a sixty-year-old suffering from a bad smoking habit. The Red Skull has a somewhat-broken Cosmic Cube, and he wants to make it work right, while dressing himself in Doctor Doom’s armor for some unknown reason. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s supposed to be a rousing tale of standing up to evil. The good guys win, of course.

A backup tale is What If the Runaways became the Young Avengers?!, and this is part one of five parts, so they want to try this format and make you buy all five What If? titles that are coming out in the next few months. Written by C.B. Cebulski, and isn’t this guy getting a lot of work these days? The penciler is Patrick Spaziante, and with only one guy doing the inking, as opposed to five guys in the first story, the art is a step up in the backup story.

Iron Lad is leading the rest of the Runaways, and training them to defeat Victor, whom in the regular universe actually became one of the team. The group isn’t doing so well, but we get to see a living Gert again, and a twist at the end that sets up the main conflict of the story. I liked this one better than the main story

Wolverine: Manifest Destiny 2

by Jason Aaron and Stephen Segovia

When you have been reading comics for as long as I have, and you become used to a monthly publishing schedule, you get a sense of things. You know when your alarm clock fails to go off, but your body wakes you up anyway? My internal comic clock tells me this issue was late, but I could be wrong. Most of the time, I’ll get a new sack of comics, hold one up, and say, “Hey, isn’t this one late?” 90 times out of a hundred, the store owner tells me of course, and we make some jokes about wildly expecting comic publishers to keep things on schedule. Hah! What fun…

The art style is growing on me a little bit, and the setup is okay. Logan did something bad years ago, and his former girlfriend is now the big bad boss, who sends four powered flunkies at Logan and nearly kills him. The new villains are cool, and I like the powers they display, a little off the beaten track from the standard stuff, and things that should be shown in titles like Avengers: the Initiative.

We see a little flashback of how Logan got into this mess in the first place years ago, and a wizened old Master Po saves Logan and announces he will train him to fight right. I am liking this story much more now, but the one hard part to swallow, after all these years of seeing Wolverine scrap, is the idea that he doesn’t know how to fight.

In order for this story to work, Jason Aaron has to have Wolverine jump in against foes he knows nothing about, and do nothing more complicated than stumble around like a punch-drunk boxer. We all know Wolvie is a seasoned veteran of countless battles, so this does not quite fit the character. If the story took place twenty years earlier, then we might have something. As it is, I want to set that aside and give the series a chance, because I did like this issue.

X-Infernus 1

by C.B. Cebulski and Giuseppe Camuncoli

Didn’t I just make a comment about this Cebulski guy getting a lot of Marvel jobs lately? The cover is drawn by David Finch, and he gives us a strikingly sexy Illyana Rasputin. Even if she doe shave horns sprouting from her head, cloven red hooves, a tail… waitaminnit, lemme look at this picture again… Nope, still sexy as all get out. Man, Finch is good!

The opening two pages show Colossus upset that they can’t reach Illyana, whom he knows is alive. These two pages did not impress me art-wise, but it gets better. The full history of Illyana is complicated, and would take up a whole column, but suffice it to say she died of the Legacy Virus. Bad writers had Belasco spot a version of her during House of M, and he either pulled her out of there, or somehow cobbled together a substitute Darchylde out of whatever essence he could pull together from the realm of Limbo. How much of the original Illyana is there? We may never know; it may be 1%, it may be 85%. Can’t be more than that, though!

More poor writing had Illyana create a soul stone out of part of Pixie’s soul, and Pixie can now perform magic. As lousy as each of the subsequent steps that brought us to this point were, the result is Marvel trying to revisit what it thought was a very successful event from 1989, called Inferno. This is more or less being billed a s a sequel, and Cebulski is making a valiant attempt at having all of it make sense.

Will he succeed? I’m going to check out the entire mini-series before I render my verdict. We end up seeing a devilish gathering of Mephisto, Blackheart, Hela, Satannish, and Dormammu. Belasco’s daughter Witchfire approaches them and asks to join their select group in place of Belasco if she accomplishes her goal of conquering Limbo. The one part that made no sense to me was Pixie pulling Illyana’s Soulsword out of Nightcrawler. Maybe it will be cleared up soon.
Already much better than I thought it would be.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny 4

by various

Mike Carey is on a roll, with Bobby Drake understanding more about how to use his powers than ever before. Will other writers maintain this, or will Bobby default back into a third-rate character? Mystique escapes from his ice prison easily enough, proving that Iceman isn’t a genius yet. Better art this time by Michael Ryan.

The second story has Cessily walking with X-23, full of teenage angst at being a mutant. We’ve seen it before, and Andre Coelho’s art is sub-standard. However, we have (yet again!) C.B. Cebulski to the rescue, using silly putty to make an imprint of Cessily, and X-23 uses that to illustrate her point. I have to give Cebulski bonus points for using silly putty, as some of my fondest memories as a kid involve pressing silly putty to my Legion comics and transferring images of the superheroes onto tracing paper and cutting them out, rearranging them to my heart’s content.

James Asmus writes a Nightcrawler tale, covering his grief over the loss of Kitty Pryde. Takeshi Miyazawa is the artist, and I have never liked his style. I don’t like it much here, either, but I’ll take what mourning I can get for the loss of Kitty. Not bad overall, but nothing in here that is really essential until you’re a huge fanboy must-collect-everything kind of guy.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.