Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

Normal reviews might be gone for next week, as I’ll be out of town and the publishing schedule gets pushed back a little for the holidays, but I’ll get all of these done this week, even if I have to stay up into the wee hours!

The Amazing Spider-Man 581

by Dan Slott and Mike McKone

The sad thing is that this tracer-killer plot is going on forever. The good thing is that they are at least addressing it starting now. For a couple of pages, and then we take a little diversion down ret-con lane to explain how Dead Harry Osborn was just European Rehab Harry. Harry and Peter take a road trip to see Harry’s ex, Liz, who has her brother the Molten Man restrained in her house.

Honestly, the cover is cool, and Slott does as well as he could with this ret-con, and McKone’s art is pleasing to look at with anyone’s eyes. But the changing creative teams have got too much cooking, and they are not moving the right stories along at the right times. If this were real life, yours or mine, we might have our personal stories going this way as weird things pop up each day that divert us, but for our entertaining stories, we tend to like a more linear track for things. The tracer-killer plot is WAY overdue to be done and over with, and that’s just one of a dozen plotlines that are getting lost each month. Menace? The political race? The Negative guy? They even have peter saying these very things to himself in his thought bubbles! Well, writers, how about you pay attention to Peter’s thoughts and start cleaning up some of these stories?

The end effect is making me care nothing for Harry and this new adventure, because I’ve been waiting for progress on ANY of the others. This was a decent issue as a standalone, but as part of their publishing effort, they just lost a ton of momentum that had been building.

Avengers: The Initiative 19

by Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage, Harvey Tolibao and Bong Dazo

Secret Invasion ends here? Maybe? I’m torn, because the ending smacks so loudly of the way Scarlet Witch did things for House of M that it breaks your heart at the idea of having to go through another storyline like that for next issue, possibly.

The somewhat cool part of the action is that we get a snapshot of many of the Initiative teams as the Kill Krew has split into six strike forces. Some of this could have been drawn out for another full issue to give us more detail, but they manage to pack a lot of places and team members into limited number of panels, as well as a full page plugging SI #8.

The so-so bordering on bad? Spinner is a cool character, but might be dead, it’s not clear yet. Also, the idea that 3-D Man kills Crusader after all that Crusader had just done was a little… hard to believe. The worst? Crusader uses his wish ring to wish “it could’ve ended differently,” and we fade there. So what happens next issue, a House of C that has Crusader on top of his dream world? Please say no, because it’s way too early to be cribbing Bendis’ plots.

I’m left feeling uncertain if I liked this issue or not. I may be able to tell after I read next month’s issue.

The Mighty Avengers 20

by Brian Bendis, Lee Weeks, Jim Cheung and Carlo Pagulayan

Marvel has good timing for the end of SI, as this epilogue comes out right after all of the action is done. The issue is centered on the real Hank Pym, and his assimilation into the present after his captivity by the Skrulls. Ms. Marvel fills him in on everything with a bunch of one-page splash pages that readers would all have to have read so they could understand what it means: Ms. Marvel is giving Hank the short version of House of M, Civil War, Cap’s death, World War Hulk, and SI. New readers might have no clue about what most of those pages meant. For those of us who have been along for the ride, they look like great pages.

After that, we have the memorial service for Janet, the Wasp. Hank has decided to blame Tony Stark for everything, which is a teensy bit weird, considering Ms. Marvel was the person he got his information from, and she was on Tony’s side. This is either a big boo-boo on Bendis’ part, or it means that even when someone sided with Tony, it is so apparent that he has been a (censored)-weed about things that it’s easy to cast the majority of the blame on him.

This is mostly a transition issue so the new creative team can take over, and hopefully we won’t have a bunch of strong-men like Sentry, Ares, and Wonder Man all on the same team, because man has that been boring.

Thunderbolts 127

by Andy Diggle and Roberto de la Torre

The editor, letterer, and any other proofreaders have already failed after the recap page, because the ‘r’ in “your back” on the first panel is missing. Way to start off your mag, folks. I mentioned an error in one of the DC reviews too. This must be the month for shoddy work. The rest of the issue is better, and I like the fight sequence between Bulls-eye and Songbird. The comic does lose a little something as it goes, though, as Karla seems to be really loyal to Norman Osborn one minute, then declaring “to hell with this team” after Songbird rams a ship into the control room. That’s a little fickle, even for her.

The problem with this issue is that it does not give us much of an idea of what will come next. Is Moonstone gone for good? Will the new team have only the bad guys on it? Will we ever see Penance or Radioactive Man again? The series has morphed so that there is no longer any original member of the team left, and the name no longer means what it once did, from Kurt Busiek’s original (better) idea than what we have been left with.

I have no idea what to recommend with this comic, other than to say I will give it a chance. It’s nowhere near as good as it was when it first started as a series, but it may still be worth getting each time it comes out.

Uncanny X Men 505

by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson

I miss Brubaker and Mike Choi. Let me tick off my normal complaint about Rachel Dodson doing inadequate inking work on her husband’s pencils, and how long am I going to have to suffer through that? The story flips through so many characters, giving us little snapshots, but not enough meat for each one. All too many pages are still just excuses for Dodson to draw sexy women and no background details. All of the momentum has quickly been sucked out of this title. That took, what, two issues?

Since White Queen is going to be a part of Dark Reign, this title will be yet another one tying into the Dark Reign that is consuming Marvel. The good part is that they seem to have timed things better than DC has with all of the Final crisis and Batman R.I.P. stuff, so the flow of reading should be good over the next couple of months. But there wasn’t much worth reading here for Uncanny this time.

X-Factor 38

by Peter David, Larry Stroman, and Nelson

The team saves Darwin from the new mastermind, but things fall apart as Rictor decides to take Theresa to the hospital, as her water just broke. For some unknown reason, powerless Rictor pulls a gun on at least ten armed federal agents, right in front of a pregnant woman. To make matters worse, one agent calls out a warning of the gun, and then orders them to aim “clear of the woman”?!?! I got news for you, if there’s a pregnant woman anywhere in the line of fire, no federal agent is ever going to fire his weapon. The whole thing is inane, and makes for an excuse for Valerie Cooper to get shot by a deflected bullet. It’s one of the stupidest scenes I’ve seen in a comic this entire month.

Mr. David would do better if he can explore how Siryn can possibly be giving birth to a mutant baby in this day and age. It’s a mystery that has been building for months, and one that should be garnering a lot more attention from all sorts of people. Talk about ignored plot potential. This happens to Peter David a lot when editorial interference knocks him off his intended path. As soon as he was ordered to get rid of Rahne as a team member, this book has plummeted in quality. X-Factor has no special meaning, it’s simply another X-title these days, and not one of the better ones any more.

X-Men: Legacy 219

by Mike Carey and Phil Briones

It’s showdown time between Charles Xavier and the Juggernaught! While the art isn’t the greatest, it seems hard for artists like Scot Eaton to pump out a constant stream of artwork for a solid year, so I guess we were due for an artist switch-out. I long for the days when an artist could put in a full twelve issues per year worth of content on one particular title, though. I imagine Mike Carey gave the artist a lot of guidance to fill in the continuity-laden flashbacks.

I won’t spoil the story, but it was a fun read, especially in how Xavier chose to confront his step-brother. One of the reasons this issue appealed to me is that it returned Cain Marko to his true personality, not the weird “trying to go straight” nonsense that we had to put up with for the last couple of years. It never made any sense to me, and it had the unintended effect of making Juggernaught less impressive, as he usually had trouble putting an end to whatever the team he was on came across, as opposed to the normal situation of him being the one thing that everything else finds hard to stop. Excellent work by Mike Carey.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.