Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

After the light stack from last week, I’m paying for it now! A ton of reviews coming your way:

The Amazing Spider-Man 584

by Marc Guggenheim and John Romita Jr.

We open on a news update to help remind readers what was going on in the political race that has been on the back-burner for a while, then switch to the old “I’m not voting” dialogue between Shocker and Boomerang. It’s hard to get into because after the Superhuman Registration Act, not too mention the number of times these guys have been arrested, as convicted felons, THEY CAN’T VOTE AT ALL! Shocker does not have a secret identity anymore, the cops have his ID and his fingerprints and… I give up. I think we’re just supposed to be happy the editor gets the book out on time, since half of them can’t do that for the entire year, and we’re not supposed to ask that the story make sense at the same time, it’s asking too much. I suppose the Marvel universe could be different, and every state has a law that allows crooks to vote once they get out of prison, but you can bet that the Shocker didn’t go to petition for his voting rights back the last time he got out of the slammer.

Wait, it gets worse. A police scientist has figured out a way to track the Spidey-tracers, but he claims it’s only accurate “within sixteen inches.” To normal people, this means that you have to get within sixteen inches before you get a reading. We can’t track plutonium from space, but there are sensors that can detect nuclear materials when you get close enough to them. But he hands Carlie a detector that already acts like a global GPS for the tracers.

There are a couple things wrong with this, one being that Spidey has other tracers around town, and the detector isn’t picking any of them up. Besides the real killer who has been using tracers, Peter also has his own personal stash of tracers, but the detector can magically find one specific stash and can’t see any others. Again, there are a ton of people who read this to catch mistakes before it goes to the printer, and it’s getting a little ridiculous that they can’t keep simple facts straight. If you’ve got a detector that can track an item in an entire city, then its range is not accurate to within sixteen inches, its range is accurate for miles!

The identity of Menace is revealed next, and it makes sense; the way Spidey figures it out is neat, too. Then comes the wedding proposal hinted at on the cover, and Carlie hits the jackpot. Are the tracers she finds Pete’s secret stash? Are they Vin’s? We don’t get the resolution they promise on the cover so much as the promise that this begins the path to a resolution. If they would describe things better and stop with the weird mistakes, this would be a better read.

Dark Avengers 1

by Brian Bendis and Mike Deodato

The title of this new series is slightly incongruent with its aim, because this is the new public team, which should most definitely not be “dark.” They will be in the public’s eye and the glaring spotlight of public scrutiny all the time. Still, I understand what the roster of the team is, and how they want to emphasize how much it ties into the current Dark Reign theme. It’s just a poor fit. You have a red, white and blue armored guy as the leader, so let’s hope if they want to “go dark,” he at least has a stealth mode.

The roster itself is cool. Deodato’s art superb the entire way through, even if the plot does feel eerily similar to Kurt Busiek’s original plan that turned into the Thunderbolts series. Victoria Hand, Norman’s new right-hand, hence probably, her name, mentions that they need a “Jarvis.” She’s right, but for the wrong reason, not understanding Jarvis’ special place in the role of the Avengers (see Mighty Avengers for this insight), but thinking solely along the lines of cleaning and maintenance. The scene where Norman stares at Ares after Ares makes an insightful statement regarding the symbolism of Cap and Iron Man is priceless. There is the little problem that Tony Stark should have had safeguards on anyone unauthorized trying to access his armors, but I’m guessing the Ghost, if not Norman, could figure a way around those.

All in all, a good first issue. With Deodato on art duty, every issue is sure to be a treat, and Bendis’ dialogue was good, even if it did follow his standard “let’s sit around and talk all the time” approach, with little in the way of action. I am hoping that the series will differentiate itself from the original Thunderbolts plot of villains infiltrating the Avengers until the one or two genuine heroes left realize that something’s rotten and take a stand.

Guardians of the Galaxy 9

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Brad Walker and Carlos Magno

Here’s another reason I love these writers: they bring Jack Flag into the spotlight. A minor character given life by Mark Gruenwald, Flag has been largely ignored by most other writers, but he has a good role here at Prison 42. Most of the issue concentrates on Blastaar’s forces trying to use the prison to get to Earth. Oh, and Mentor kills both Drax and Phyla, but I’m sure that’s just temporary so they can link up with Moondragon.

Starlord has a unique way of contacting the rest of the Guaridans, and Rocket Raccoon’s final words on the last page made me chuckle. As much as I lik ePelletier’s work, it took me a couple pages to realize there was a new art team doing things here, and it looks good.

The Mighty Avengers 21

by Brian Dan Slott and Khoi Pham

Slott has toned down his humor just a little as he takes over the writing chores on this book, but not a lot. Hank Pym is now calling himself the Wasp, for example. Khoi Pham does a better job here than I have seen him do recently anywhere else, but there’s still room for improvement. As loathe as I was to se them redesign the Vision to make him somehow teenager-like, there are better possibilities for him now that Slott is throwing the Scarlet Witch back into the mix.

Slott knows his Avengers history, and brings in Chthon and another surprise villain while assembling his new team. It’s a good start, and an unusual team line-up. It will be interesting to see how Osborn and company treat this new team, and if there will be any difference between the status of this force and the New Avengers.

Thunderbolts 128

by Andy Diggle and Roberto de la Torre

We have a cover showing us seven villains for the new team, but we are not introduced to them all in this issue, which I did not like. President Obama makes another appearance in a Marvel comic book, but there are no news releases about this one. However, Ant-Man is typically humorous and amoral, and also manages to drop another Stephen Colbert reference (how much is he paying those guys at Marvel anyway?).

It is obvious now that Norman Osborn is the new Wolverine, managing to appear in four or five titles a month, always having plenty of time to set up his agenda, whether it’s a new team of Avengers or Thunderbolts. You’d think one team would be good enough for him, but he’s also got H.A.M.M.E.R, and no, to my knowledge it doesn’t stand for anything specific yet. Francesco Mattina put out a great cover, and hopefully we will see the rest of the new team next issue. A good enough reboot for this ongoing title, and it should play a big role in the Dark Reign campaign. This team seems to have succeeded the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as the villains with a license to do the dirty work, which is an extension of what it has been for a while. Who knows after Dark Reign is over, what this team will morph into next?

War Machine 2

by Greg Pak and Leonardo Manco

I have to admit, I felt a little cheated to see such good artwork by Sean Chen in the Iron Man title debuting a focus on War Machine, but we don’t get to see more of it when this new title actually starts up. Still, Leonardo Manco makes me wonder if he’s really good, or if it’s just hard to draw a bad War Machine picture. There’s a full support system for Rhodey in place, and he’s doing his thing, but Osborn manages to rear his ugly head here too, and it means we get to see Rhodey go up against Ares next issue.

Good stuff so far. It will be difficult to maintain the momentum and keep this a high-rated series, but I wish Greg Pak luck, he has done well in the past

X-Factor 39

by Peter David, Valentine De Landro

The start of X-Factor is unusual. In the recap page, Peter David specifically makes a plea not to post spoilers of this issue on the internet. Is this a gag, as have been the many jokes that Mr. David has put on this very recap page for so many months? At first I thought it was a joke, because it’s kind of arrogant for a writer to be so sure that his story is so freaking good that he knows you’re going to want to tell everyone else what happens. Proving some other famous comic writers wrong (that I will not name here, just to be nice), a ton of comic fans do actually read the recap page every time, and most people noticed the plea.

This did not stop any spoilers. A few reviewers did try to post all caps warnings that they really should read the issue first for themselves... and then ignored Peter David and wrote everything out anyway. Which he probably knew would happen. I tend to hate giving away surprises myself, so my reviews are generally a lot less specific than a bunch of other spoilerific (I call copyright and Trademark on that word!) sites, so it wasn’t hard for me to decide to honor Mr. David’s wishes.

After reading the story, which the cover suggests is about the newborn by Siryn and Madrox, I have to agree that some of my questions have been answered about how another mutant baby could be born. I also think that it was a very good story, with a good surprise or two in it. I’m not convinced it’s the best thing since sliced bread or worthy of all the sudden controversy, but I have no problem being nice to Mr. David and telling you here: it’s a great read, and even if you don’t normally collect X-Factor, you will probably think this is a good book to get. It is a little shocking.

This will also be the case for the next two issues, as he plans some knock-out scenes to take place there too. It turns out that Mr. David agrees with the last few posts that I (and some other reviewers) have made concerning the title: it’s unfocused, it’s losing steam. He has acknowledged this, and this new direction is his attempt to bring us better stories and increase sales. I wish him luck, and hope the next two issues are as good as this one. I also hope he always brings his “A-game” from now on, and does not find his title in the position of cancellation due to sales again. If he didn’t let the title get all unfocused to begin with, he wouldn’t be feeling this pressure.

For those who will not collect the title, or who could care less about shock or surprise, there are a ton of sites that have already spoiled the story in the last four days, so go ahead and look. I will do my part and refrain from the spoilers here, because I like the reader getting a good story and having the surprise be a part of the enjoyment of the book itself. I see no need to tell my friends what happens in a good movie just before they go see the movie, and some of my friends would think I was a jerk if I did. But the choice is yours.

X-Men: Legacy 220

by Mike Carey and Scot Eaton

Professor X enlists Gambit to get at his real sorrow in life, his failure to cure Rogue and help her control her powers. Mike Carey weaves a lot of background elements from the X-Men’s past, and some parts that are personally relevant to Rogue as he brings her back into play. Rogue was developed into a great character after her initial introduction back in the day, but the treatment of her has been less than great for years. It’s nice to see her in the spotlight for a change, and hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come.

Eaton’s art is better on some pages than others, and I can’t tell if it’s him that slacking on a few panels, or if the inker did him a disservice. Carey brings back a more recent X-Men villain and some space-faring bounty hunters at the same time, so tune in next issue for a continuance of this journey, it’s been good since day one of the re-titling of this series to Legacy.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.