Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

Okay, I admit it. I went to a party and watched the Super Bowl before I came back to finish the reviews this week. But it was worth it!

Avengers: The Initiative 21

by Christos N. Gage, and Humberto Ramos

Don’t be alarmed by the cover, this is not a re-run. They have simply stamped that old “Disassembled” label on the Initiative title, so I suppose this is their way of saying they are going to wreck the whole thing. Does it also mean they will restart it as two different titles, or just kill Hawkeye again, and create a big continuity error involving Dr. Strange? But I’m not critical, no…

Okay, digression over. The clone Thor, Clor breaks free in the middle of half the Initiative trying to leave. I have never been a fan of Ramos’ style, and it hasn’t grown on me through the years, so I’m halfway to quitting the title already. I hate to say that, because I have nothing against Humberto Ramos personally, and for all I know he’s the greatest guy in the world. But since art is subjective, and I know what I like, I have to acknowledge that me no likey this. The characters all have misshapen proportions, and there is no background detail worth anything.

Gage tries to juggle all of the cast at least, before throwing the New Warriors back into the mix. This is a necessity because their own series tanked so bad. It’s such a shame to see such a cool character like Night Thrasher reduced to this. Sigh. Ramos needs to do something else besides super-hero comics, and more needs to happen in the story before I can recommend any of this to someone.

Captain America 46

by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

Just when I think Steve Epting cannot impress me more… check out the cover to this month’s issue! It’s simple in nature, with Namor bursting out of the water to confront the new Captain America. Granted, Cap has to be standing on a reef, with Namor launching himself from something much, much deeper than the foot or so that Cap is standing in, but still. It’s an eye-catching cover, and one of the best I’ve seen from Epting. If I ever have the nerve to try a top ten list of artists, he is definitely going to be on it from now on.

The insides continue the tale of Cap’s history as Winter Soldier catching up to him, and involving the Invaders as well, with Chin having kidnapped the remains of the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond. Brubaker packs every decade of interaction between Cap and Namor into three pages, and does it well. The good news is that Brubaker gets to handle Cap all to himself, whereas half of Marvel’s titles are advertising “Dark Reign” on their covers, so you know they are all part of the new meta-event at Marvel. The good series like Cap here, they get to continue without any interference, only reflecting Dark Reign if the writer is so inclined to participate.

This is one of those issues that is the middle part of a story, and as such, we need to wait, but it already looks like this story arc will be trade-worthy for both story and art.

Fantastic Four 563

by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch

Millar exaggerates Johnny’s debauchery, because Millar always tries to see what he can get away with, so after all these years, when you think the Human Torch might have grown up a little bit, he gets caught with chippies dressed up as the Scarlet Witch and Storm. I SO wish news of this would get back to the ladies, but I doubt that will ever happen. It’s a throwaway scene, and it doesn’t ring true for regular Human Torch. Ultimate Human Torch it might have, but Marvel will let Millar get away with it.

Most of the focus is on the Thing’s engagement, and Hitch does well with his cinematic style, even for generally domestic scenes. Then we get a peek at the two men who helped make Doctor Doom into what he is today, and it looks like these two gents have been laying waste to one dimension after another. It would be interesting to see a break-out of the alternate universes, because half of them have been eaten by Marvel Zombies, and maybe there’s some overlap where the Exiles have saved some of these, and then the Doom creators have swooped in and destroyed everything. How many universes are left these days? Anyway, the excess with Johnny aside, it’s a good issue.

Ms. Marvel 35

by Brian Reed and Patrick Olliffe

We’re in the middle of the Mason/Rossi collaboration with Ms. Marvel, who cannot use her costume or powers due to Dark Reign. Instead she travels to a suicide of one of the Captain Marvel cults, and finds the alternate-universe Noh-Varr there against Osborn’s wishes. While the side-trip is somewhat interesting, and Olliffe is reasonably good on art chores, we are still treading water.

Ghazi has turned himself into a survivable suicide bomber, if that makes sense, and the readers are still not clued into the full story behind the heroes’ attempt to get Osborn, nor why Ms. Marvel said all those months ago that she had to kill him. Here’s another contradiction: Carol gets fabricated papers for her new identity from a government agency, right when Norman Osborn is supposed to have full access and full control over everything. But as long as Carol doesn’t wear anything flashy and use her powers, she’s invisible?!? It’s not very good writing.

This title has already lost all of the bounce it got from being a Secret Invasion tie-in. Can being linked to Dark Reign save it?

New Avengers 49

by Brian Bendis and Billy Tan

Luke Cage has gone to Osborn to help find his baby. I have a small problem with this because he gave up so fast on his hero friends, but being a panicky new father can do strange things to a man, and Luke has decided to put his faith in Norman. Long story short, Luke gets the baby back, and Bullseye shoots Skrull Jarvis. (This is being posted Sunday night, so I doubt I’m spoiling much for a book that’s been out for four days or so already.)

However, after all of the principled stand that Cage took during the Civil War, here he just lies and goes back on his agreement to work for Norman. While men are complex, and may make a decision to be honorable in one instance, and back-stab in another, most men try to make a code for his life and stick to it. Bendis is all over the map with this character, having him perform whatever expedient action he wants him to one minute, then have him trying to take the moral high ground the next. It doesn’t work very well, and we don’t have a good rationale for what type of man Luke Cage is.

This issue catches up to the Dark Avengers #1, where Osborn’s new team is revealed, which causes personal affront to at least half of the New Avengers. The one thing that really makes this comic good is the final scene, where Clint Barton takes charge and decides to take everything back from Osborn, before things get any worse. Granted, this could be screwed up by next issue, but the final couple pages here are really good.

Nova 21

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Wellington Alves

Here’s another title that does not tie in with Dark Reign, and the commotion is addressed by Reed Richards, not Norman Osborn. Worldmind had taken Ego the living planet as his host, and it leads to a big confrontation between Nova and Worldmind. Worldmind has been planning this for months, and is convinced that he sees the big picture, while Rich has a more limited (say it: human) view of things.

Worldmind has a (allegedly) willing host in Ego, and now he wants Rich to download the main reserves of the Nova Force into the power cells on the planet, so the load can be taken off of Rich’s back. As Rich tries to convince the Fantastic Four that an entire planet appearing is not a threat, he also voices his concerns about the possibility of this new Corps being novices due for more death.

The Worldmind breaks in and lets everyone know that there might have been some stress pressures on Rich’s mind, and they need to get that big Nova Force out of him. This is after Reed geeks out and has a nice scientific exchange with the Worldmind, which is pure comic genius, perfectly in character with Reed.

At the end, though, something feels off to Rich. Is he jealous? Is he feeling left out? Has he cracked? Is he just unwilling to give up so much power? Or is something really not right here? We don’t know right away, but the Worldmind strips him of his power, regardless. We end with Rich being thrown out of the Corps!

This is truly one of Marvel’s best series. I never know what’s going to happen next, but it all feels natural, and the surprises are great. As always, my highest recommendation. I can’t say much more about Alves and his great art skills, either.

She-Hulk 37

by Peter David and Steve Scott

Jen is being scatter-brained, and while she’s gone, Jazinda has taken a bounty while impersonating Jen. Unfortunately, she’s up against Man-elephant, who is a little out of her league. It’s obvious pretty quickly that Jazinda is posing for She-Hulk, all while Mallory is trying to woo the real article back into her law firm. Jen feels so happy to belong that she doesn’t quite seem to mind that Mallory is basically using her.

This is one of the problems with the way Peter David writes She-Hulk: she used to be a pretty strong character, but honestly, she’s a little lost and pathetic these days, and it doesn’t feel like it has happened organically, it feels like an artificial weight the writer is trying out. That aside, the cool development is that Man-Elephant helps to reveal Jazinda as a Skrull, and who knows what complications this will have? Oh, goody!
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

I only get Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk and I agree on both. Ms. Marvel, both the character and title, is a mess all over the place and She-Hulk has been wallowing in self pity since PD took over. I'm curious what is happening with the cancellation of the title and relaunch with the "new" She-Hulk but not sure I'm curious enough to pick it up.

-- Posted by: David at February 6, 2009 1:28 PM