Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 2

The Marvels Project 1

by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

Welcome to a beautiful 8-issue mini-series. Steve Epting has perfected his craft over the years, and knows how to depict compelling people, appropriate backgrounds, and colorful splash pages. In short, he�s a true pro, at the top of his form, and permanently on my favorites list for artists. He always chooses good projects, and he has a proven track record with his team-up on Captain America with Ed Brubaker.

We open with the death of Two-Gun Kid, who was sent back to his rightful place in the timeline to live out his last days. He has survived long enough to come in at the beginning of everything that is to come, and bequeaths his guns to Doctor Thomas Holloway. If that name sounds familiar, it�s because this is the guy who will become the original Angel, from Marvel Comics #1 way back in 1939. The more recent memory I have of him is being revealed as one of the main masterminds behind Scourge, but he started off as a good guy, and this story will show us the steps that took him there.

The rest of the story brings the American government into the developing world of super-powers during World War II. President Roosevelt meets with his secretive group of people to talk over some of the projects, and we learn that the original Human Torch�s creator, Phineas Horton, received the bulk of his funding from the government. We already knew the super-soldier project was a government work; Brubaker extends this concept further along the lines of the original development of super-human powers.

The nice thing about the idea is that it does not amount to a massive government conspiracy so much as them casting a wide net of money around, desperate to find any advantage over the German enemy. While the Manhattan Project will eventually prove the deciding factor, the reader knows from the history of the Marvel universe that the U.S. government will be revealed to have played a much bigger role in enabling many of these breakthroughs. We also learn one of the big reasons Namor sided with the Allies during WW II, as the Germans are shown to be dropping depth-charges on Atlantean subjects, using them for their own experiments.

It�s all good, with hints of Professor Erskine, and an appearance by Nick Fury and Red before they became the Howling Commandos. They have paid attention to continuity fairly well, and are able to craft a good story within those cracks that is well-drawn and very cohesive. Where DC created its own mini-brand with Crisis storylines, this one is reminiscent of Marvels, and the Marvels project will add to the mini-brand of special projects that are a good signature of their potential for great stories.

Ultimate Comics Avengers 1

by Mark Millar and Carlos Pacheco

Carol Danvers heads up SHIELD now, and Hawkeye is drafting Nick Fury for a black ops mission to get control of Captain America. Within just a few pages, Millar catches us up on the status of various players after Ultimatum, and leaps right into a new story. He does the obligatory debauchery scene that he tends to have in most of his comics, and luckily he has Tony Stark as a character, which allows it to feel in place.

Most of the story-telling is actually delegated to Pacheco, and the result is some good action scenes that don�t feel like filler, along with a Red Skull character who drops a bombshell on Cap, leading to Cap going off the reservation. It�s a good first issue, but it does not tell the reader where the new vision or thrust of the rebooted series is going just yet. It�s good enough to stand on its own, though, so I think we can be patient. The scenes still tend toward cinematic, but not overly as much as Bryan Hitch does. If we can move a little further away from that, Millar has a good chance to make something of this new series. Different is the key word: different from the regular Marvel. We�re not there yet, but I�m all for giving him a few issues to convince us they�re on the right track. Pacheco was a good choice for the artist.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 1

by Brian Bendis and David Lafuente

Peter the teenager gets a crap job. Oh, it�s about time. Bendis channels the everyday mundane, of which we are all familiar, and inflicts it upon Peter, giving us a humorous site that we can all relate to, in-between our guffaws. A Red Hood equivalent breaks up a robbery before Spidey can get to the scene, and Bendis shows us some benefits from JJJ�s nice editorial about the Spider: the cops like him now! It�s a little weird that in both universes, the city�s opinion actually reflects JJJ�s editorials, and it would be nice to see some regular folks bucking whatever trend, to show that everyone aren�t just a bunch of sheeple.

LaFuente�s style gives the book an all-ages feel that feels appropriate for the title, and the current age of Peter Parker. The interaction with Gwen and Aunt May and everyone is great. This reboot is not a totally new direction, what with bringing in a Red Hood character, when a totally new character might have been better, but we may have permanently lost Kingpin. Not sure how I feel about that, because the few times we saw Kingpin, he was a great foil for Spider-Man, but at least that�s one sign of Bendis shaking things up.

War of Kings 6

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier

A battle royale, between two royals! Black Bolt and Vulcan have powers that work in similar ways, making for an opponent that can actually stand toe-to-toe against Black Bolt for a change. For all of Meduas�s objections, once she learns that her husband is on a suicide mission, she still decides to abide by his decision and deception?!? Talk about someone who has been crushed as a person. At least Crystal has more sense, and tries to save him via Lockjaw�s teleportation. The scene with Gladiator is awesome. He comes out of a flaming structure, limply grasping the Imperial scepter. He is in total grief, but confronted by desperate citizens who turn to the hero of the Imperium for guidance and saving, and they are ready to make him Majestor immediately. You can tell he�s not too pleased with the notion right now, but we also know he feels responsible, and might assume the duty out of that sense of obligation. Pelletier�s pencils are at their best here.

The T-bomb detonates, with a hurt Vulcan grabbing Black Bolt at the last second. Do either f them survive? The bomb blows a tear in space/time, leading to the catastrophe predicted by Adam Warlock. This is definitely one series that will make its consequences felt throughout galaxies fro quite some time. The Shi�ar surrender, giving victory to the Kree and the Inhumans. It can be seen as a bit of a cheat, because we leave off thinking both Vulcan and Black Bolt are dead, but one or both may have somehow survived, and not everything is wrapped in a bow at the end.

I�m okay with it, because it doesn�t falsely end everything at once. Life is messy, and rarely does the conclusion of one thing correspond with the closure of two or three other things. We�ll get a one-shot �Who Will rule� next, and look to the Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy series to see other fallout from War of Kings. I dub this series tradeworthy!

War of Kings: Warriors 2

by Jay Ferber, Adriana Melo, and Ramon Perez

This series felt like an anthology, some nice tales that couldn�t find a way to fit within the rest of the saga, but offered as an additional option for readers. Crystal takes center stage in the first story, showing us a more fleshed-out scene that displays her own way of thinking that does not automatically follow the Royal Family and Black Bolt�s leadership quite as much as any other member of the family. This is probably due to gaining perspective after living among other cultures so much.

The real hit of this story is the clever use of her powers that is more subtle than usually shown, but also more effective. The traditional �weather blaster� display used by too many people gives way to detecting how many people are in a house through her powers over air. It�s a little bonus that you don�t get anywhere else. Melo�s art is good, but the panels do seem to showcase Crystal�s breasts an awful lot.

The second story has art that is lacking from Ramon Perez, and as usual, it�s because the artist is also doing the inking. This trend is worse than ever, and I wish the talent at Marvel would receive more ruthless guidance from the art directors about who should be allowed to do this for a finished comic product, and who would benefit from a separate inker�s help.

The story is better, showing a look into Lilandra�s past, and the emergence of her leadership skills, as well as wise learning on her part that she cannot lead if all she has is book knowledge. It shows her resolve, but the fact of her death in the main War of Kings story detracts from the final scene, because we know that despite all of her fiery, tempered resolve, she still fails in the end. It brings in a dose of bitter irony.

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

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