Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

The Amazing Spider-Man 592

by Mark Waid and Mike McKone

Spider-Man finally gets a break and witnesses JJJ’s own father standing up for the wall-crawler. Trying to take the high road, he actually reaches out a hand in truce to the man who is now mayor of New York… and is promptly shot down. His editorial nemesis now has new resources to bring down everyone’s favorite webbed menace, and in response? Pete decides to stay in costume full time, doing nothing but newsworthy good works 24/7, echoing the same idea over in Mighty Avengers this week.

McKone is having a blast drawing Spider-Man, and it shows. Aside from one back-breaking pose, Spidey looks real good. The background elements are generic, evidenced by Peter walking past photos on the wall, where you can’t tell what photo is actually in the holder. The physical appearance of a lot of things is very nondescript, and could use a little love. Still, the scene at the end is definitely something most people never thought they’d see in this comic, and is simultaneously funny, awkward, touching, and disgusting all at the same time. Why, Aunt May!

Avengers: The Initiative 23

by Christos N. Gage, and Humberto Ramos

The secret is finally out about MVP’s death, and all the cloning will hopefully be over now. Osborn is in the cat-bird’s seat as the revelation breaks on live news coverage, allowing him to swoop in, blame something else on his predecessor Tony Stark, and implement his own evil agenda with complete public support (and will the right-wingers please not comment on any metaphors for real life). Elsewhere, the Shadow Initiative is doing poorly and left stranded on their own, with no support coming from the now-defunct S.H.I.E.L.D.

Ramos’s elongated, square jawlines and manga-like eyes are wearing thin on me, and some of the dramatic impact that could come from these scenes is lost in the graphic presentation. I have the feeling his style would be better suited in different venues. The caricature aspect just doesn’t sit well with me, and can’t convey what the story seems to be trying to get across. The New Warriors jump ship after a little while, but we still have a large cast of characters. Get ready for that to change, because once Osborn solidifies his hooks into the Initiative, you just know it will be perverted towards his own ends.

Daredevil 118

by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, John Lucas, and Stefano Gaudiano

The Djurdjevic cover makes our resident devil really look the part, but the flecks of blood that are spurting around as he grits his teeth in a smile make you wonder how much you should really be rooting for him. We pick up on the Owl, a villain that under the old rules might have seemed… well, lame. In this atmosphere, with a realistic gritty atmosphere and some nice artwork, he comes across as gritty and dangerous, sprung by the Kingpin to tackle the Hand.

The snow effect is a little overdone for the art; perhaps a different coloring would have helped to bring out the details better. There are little details that the team can work on. For example, when the Kingpin is choking Turk, the letterer could have used a different type of word balloon to depict the difficulty in speaking with a meaty hand around his throat. With the scene looking much like any other scene in the comic, it comes across as if Turk is just having a regular conversation, waiting until the next panel to express his pain. Little touches like that can make a big difference in how a scene plays out.

The major developments are both interesting. One, in which the Owl declares he wants to purchase the Hand’s services, is intriguing. Is he following the Kingpin’s playbook, or has he already gone rogue, and is attempting a double-cross? The second is Foggy’s reaction to Matt’s shenanigans. Foggy has been a trusted friend for so long, but the fact is, it’s easy to agree with his viewpoint and take issue with Matt’s actions. The reader is left in the awkward position of agreeing with him, so it almost feels like your boss just fired your best friend, but you have to side with the boss. It’s a good book that can bring out those types of emotions as you’re reading it.

Guardians of the Galaxy 13

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Brad Walker

One thing I’ve noticed: between Gamora, Mantis, Drax, and Bug, that’s a heckuva lot of green on the page. The gallows-humor infects the entire issue, with a team that has a serious charge of responsibility is caught in a bar fight just before they have to defuse an interstellar war. Groot and Bug and Rocket Raccoon make for great characters to comment and participate in the activity. There are a bunch of ‘moments' in the book that bring forth good humor and dialogue.

Even better, Star-Lord’s attempt at diplomacy falls short, and not really due to any error of his own. As happens entirely too often in real-world attempts at diplomacy, often the other side just isn’t ready to compromise. Are they supposed to fight now? That defeats the purpose. The series is folding into the larger War of Kings story flawlessly, and giving us some unexpected laughs while they do it.

The Immortal Iron Fist 25

by Duane Swierczynski, Travel Foreman

All the toe-tapping secret code has been for naught, as it is revealed that the first Iron Fist is an imposter. The real first Iron Fist is the guy in charge of the city! Everyone breaks free, but that, too, is part of the master plan. Davos stands on the other side of the barrier with a gun, but at whom will he aim to shoot? It all wraps up next issue.

Incredible Hercules 128

by Greg Pak, Fred van Lente, and Dietrich Smith

I think having the Sentry on any team of Avengers s a mistake. DC has had decades of experience finding suitable ways to challenge Superman, but the best they can do here is grabbing him by the cape and throwing him, and that’s supposed to take him out of action for a few pages? It plays well here, as it goes along with Van Lente’s whimsical style, but the problem is this is how almost everybody writing in Marvel’s universe is handling the Sentry these days, and it gets old fast.

Smith’s pencils are not very good, reminding me of the Disney movie more than anything else, with ugly-looking small dashes everywhere to depict body hair. It looks more like he has some kind of disease. Ares helps Osborn to reach a truce with the Olympian family, but not before a diversion allows Hercules to escape. They downplay the fact that somebody could have died when Hercules sinks a ship, and hasn’t that tactic been used by a ton of villains to escape in the past? I’m hoping our heroes, in opposing Osborn and company, don’t take to bad-guy tactics quite so easily next time.

The Mighty Avengers 24

by Brian Dan Slott and Khoi Pham

Not content to manipulate the good guys, Loki is fast at work undermining Osborn already. If he won everything, he would probably start planning how to undermine himself, just because he doesn’t know when to stop. Slott handles his character well, showing us a Loki at his mischievous best, assembling an entire group of Avengers solely to undermine Osborn’s ‘Dark’ group.

With magic and Pym’s portals, the group hops the globe, saving people in several different countries and creating a media sensation in record time, always a step ahead of Osborn and company. Almost ahead of Quicksilver too, but he catches up and lies to the camera, claiming to have been abducted by Skrulls. All those questionable actions he took while back? Evil Skrull duplicate! Pym and company let him get away with it, too, and unknown to them, it also presents Loki with a complication during his guise as the Scarlet Witch.

Sandoval keeps up with the action graphically, and it’s impressive how many things the creative team packs into one issue. If they’re not careful, they will make all of the Bendis-written, let’s-sit-around-and-talk-all-day teams look like slow-pokes.

New Avengers 52

by Brian Bendis and various

Speak of the devil, Dr. Strange shows up at the New Avengers’ crib, and they proceed to… sit down and talk a lot. For a book that consists more of dialogue than anything else, too bad they got a typo in the process (it should be, “…possess a power THAT would destroy you” when he’s talking to the Hood). The conversation is fairly good overall, as Bendis does have a way with flowing dialogue, even if Dr. Strange is a little less formal in his words than most of us are used to.

The alternating art team is composed of Billy Tan, Matt Banning, Justin Ponsor, interspersed with Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend and Antonio Fabela doing the parts with the Hood. I’m not sure I like the way it turns out, but at least we ended up with a comic book out on time. There’s a great scene with Cap and Ronin trying to get Spider-Man on board with thievery, as they try to justify their crimes in light of the stakes. In this case, it’s not early as bad as Hercules potentially killing people by sinking a ship, and it plays out in great humor. The final scene everyone should show to their significant other, as it is guaranteed to get a chuckle out of him/her. Just ask them to read the last three pages, it’ll be great. Or it will start an argument. But it will still be great, trust me.

Thor 601

by J. Michael Straczynski and Marko Djurdjevic

This title takes long enough to come out that you should probably read it first, before all of your other Marvel comics, in case you want to keep things in a semblance of chronological order in the way events are unfolding in the Dark Reign meta-story. As a result of Thor killing his grand-father, Mjolnir is broken, and the transformation back to Don Blake is painful. Djurdjevic has some fantastic art, and the writing and pacing is great, so that the reader will automatically impose different meaning on faces that essentially look the same. The change in Loki’s face when Thor’s name is mentioned on one page is fabulous.

The exchange between Balder, Loki, and Doctor Doom is masterfully written, and the comrades of Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg are a pleasure, even with the humorously disturbing ideas of what Volstagg may have been doing with his friend the goat. We can also all relate to William’s actions, and may have even wondered why it took him so long to chase after Kelda.

The height of writing, though, is the revelation of Loki to Don Blake (instead of Thor) that he is in Sif’s body. Loki’s wordplay is so deft, that even in this, there is a plausible deniability of wrongdoing, and even a blame that can be cast at Thor’s feet. Displaying more cunning, patience, and control than we have seen in a great while, Loki paints a picture woven with lies, but delivered so well, he might as well run for Congress.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.