Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

Agents of Atlas 7

by Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman, and Carlo Pagulayan

A well-crafted tale shows us that Namora and Namor have a definite attraction for each other, and Woo is willing to give her up as an asset if he needs to do so. The group�s mild exploration turns into an attack by a hostile animal, and Bob uses his telepathy to root out the true culprit. It�s Tulem! He is part of an old council that basically manufactured Namora through selective breeding to be a fit mate for Namor.

Tulem wants to have a strong heir to help the Atlantean people survive, but the revelation dims the lights between the two pale-skinned water-breathers. Hardman�s art is a nice change from the most common art form in comics, and the colorist�s choices for the underwater locales were excellent. Pagulayan draws the second feature, rendering us an excellent dragon, as Parker writes a tale that features a fight with a djinn, and the Ancient One in his prime side by side with the Yellow Claw! It�s all part of filling in the gaps for the history of the Atlas organization.

Easily one of the best new team books out there, showing no signs of slowing down.


Exiles 4

by Jeff Parker and Casey Jones

The team is in trouble at first glance, but since they�re on a robot planet, Polaris is the queen. Cerebro is the CPU of this world, with three main lieutenants: Ultron, Vision, and Machine Man. The art choices are excellent, including the Sentinel worm the team makes out of their former attackers. The alternate history discovered in robotic databanks gives us a quick two-page history of the machines taking over the world, but why would the team, after being attacked, fall asleep out in the open? Even Forge noted that robots don�t need sleep. You think the enemy might try to take them unawares?

Yup. In this case, though, the trio of walking robots is actually trying to keep the heroes alive. Evidently they are trying to figure out how to beat Cerebro after all. Blink is the only one not captured, and the Tallus actually gives her a clue to help out for a change. The art is great, with some neat android cameos by characters like Herbie, Super-Adaptoid, and the Awesome Android in the streets.

The final page is hard to decipher. Either Lorna was a robot from the beginning, or she is being turned into one. There is no sign of blood or bodily fluid, so perhaps Jocasta is doing a dissection? Or maybe they are trying to create their own android version? It�s a solid issue, with an interesting premise.


Fantastic Four 568

by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch

A lot of time is spent on Ben�s relationship, but the problem is they rushed them along so fast, it�s hard to remember how Debbie and Ben hit it off so well to begin with. Plus, are we sure the Thing still has tear ducts?

Hitch displays his traditional panoramas as the �new� Doctor Doom suddenly decides to reveal himself as the Maquis of Death. It�s an abrupt break from the previous issue, where we were led to believe this guy would assume the Doom role, and it hurts the flow of the story.

The sharks are here in one sequence, so maybe the title has jumped the shark itself: Millar reveals that this new villain is Clyde Wyncham. After Reed refusing a series of �deals� to spare his planet, the Maquis decides to tell the truth (allegedly). Clyde is a guy from Millar�s mini-series 1985, and he has reality-altering powers. The fact that it took soooo long for 1985 to tie in with the FF means that the Old Man Logan story over in the Wolverine title may also be revealed to in some fashion be related to this; for example, the death and destruction that lead to Logan�s desolate future.

The time-travel twists can make a pretzel out of your brain, because remember that this guy tutored Doctor Doom in the past. Bt Clyde does not become the Maquis until the future, which means some future event has let him loose, he has turned into the Maquis, and just now come back to this particular universe, but still managed to help make Doom into the monster that he is.

It has quickly turned into poorly-defined mush. Millar�s attempt to have all of his titles cross over and intertwine has hit a speed bump with me, personally. It feels clunky and artificial, and ruins any progress he was making. Throw out the 1985 nonsense and come up with another origin, and you would have kept the audience. As it is, I don�t think this issue reads very well, and unless he can quickly repair the damage, by next issue the whole series will run into trouble.


Invincible Iron Man 15

by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

Both Tony and Pepper would be dead right now if Madame Masque wasn�t so indecisive. It�s amazing that she could find them in the middle of a Russian snowfall, but you have to wonder about Pepper�s decision to sleep with a man who has literally a tenth of the brain he used to have. The confession of his hatred of being normal and Pepper�s witty response �we�re all kind of used to it by now� are great, and his inability to remember who Happy was can be heart-breaking.

The other half of the comic has Maria Hill trying to get a package to BuckyCap via the Black Widow, but the time it takes the Widow to pull Hill up on a line is crazy, considering the government goons after them have flight capability. Larroca�s art seems to rely too much on CGI effects by his computer program than true artistry, as he adds in blur effects for half the action shots, and leaves us with uninspiring plain backgrounds for too many of the panels. Madame Masque confronts Tony at the end, and we still don�t know what�s in Hill�s package. It�s like the story arc that just won�t end. Tony�s nearly a vegetable already, on a stretchy premise that is turning a one-issue story into a Lord of the Rings-type walkabout. What a waste of potential for the current Dark Reign atmosphere.


Reborn 1

by Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice

We have a tough pick of covers for this first issue. Picking up from Captain America #600, we learn that Hank Pym has become the go-to guy when you need help from a true good guy. Awkward that someone with so many problems in the past has turned into your only recourse for safety, huh? The plot threads from the past several issues of Cap are explained here (mostly), and we learn that Sharon Carter was a key focus point to allow the Red Skull and company to bring Steve Rogers back into current time/space.

Black Widow and BuckyCap head into an Osborn HQ to acquire the Skull�s Doom machine (a riff on Doctor Doom�s old time platform), but it�s a trap! Ares and Venom plus assorted goons are waiting. The Hitch/Guice combination is awesome, with nice dark lines added to cinematic splash pages. While Osborn actually conspires with Arnim Zola at Thunderbolts Mountain, we learn Steve Rogers has come unstuck in time, moving through different parts of his life, hopscotch style.

Next issue might give us the rest of the explanation, because even Osborn seems to have trouble following Zola�s description of what really happened to Rogers. The bigger question on everybody�s mind is this: Brubaker did so well to manage the transition from Rogers to Barnes, what happens to Barnes once ol� Steve is back?


Uncanny X Men 513

by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson

Picking up straight from the Dark Utopia special, Cyclops is on the run, and everything is going Osborn�s way, as Emma steps up to take over the new public X-Men team. Emma gets one choice to fill a spot, and it�s Namor. Somewhere along the way, Osborn has found and hired Dark Beast, which is cool, but it would be nice to have seen it happen other than just have the guy pop up lie magic. How did Osborn know this guy even existed? Dodson�s pencils are messy and nondescript, with the big chair representing the Omega Machine poor on dimensions, making it hard for the human eye to decipher where someone can even sit properly.

A small group of mutants tries to force the public to take notice, and causes a scene to draw out the Dark x-Men and force an arrest. The TV catches everything, and we end with Cyclops deciding he wants to �talk� with Osborn. The art has no depth, and Cyclops� chin on the final panel looks disgusting. I�m halfway towards dropping this title.


War of Kings 5

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier

The news of Lilandra�s death has put a major crimp in the plans of the Inhumans. The inner circle of Maximus, Karnak, Black Bolt and Medusa launch their contingency plan: to unleash the Terrigen Mists in a bomb-like device to turn everyone into an Inhuman. Two problems with this plan; one, Crystal and Ronan know the mists don�t work well on the Kree, which would leave them as a universal underclass. Two, Medusa finds out a little late that Black Bolt has to stay with the device to power it, making it a suicide mission for the Inhuman king. Bet she wishes she had listened to Crystal now, huh?

Things aren�t going any better for poor Vulcan. Lilandra�s death has made her a martyr, and entire planets are erupting in civil war. Talon starts issuing orders and putting Vulcan in his place, and Vulcan�s power is ineffective when he tries to protest. Unable to take any direction, Vulcan decides to be the spear of an attack on the Inhuman city Attilan.

Pelletier does a good job showing emotions for much of an issue that is talking heads, and also shows us a cool series of Gladiator mad with rage and grief, on a rampage against the people responsible for Lilandra�s death. The Starjammers, for all their powers fell helpless to do anything else to affect the ongoing struggle, and we end with Vulcan breaking into Black bolt�s suicide vessel for their final showdown.

The exciting thing about this series is that I know who I want to win, but I have no idea how things will turn out. But no matter what, the writing duo DnA have earned my trust, so it�s a good feeling to have.


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

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