Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 1

Sorry for the delay on the Marvel reviews this week, I had to put out the breaking news regarding Marvel and Disney first.

Avengers: The Initiative 27

by Christos N. Gage, and Rafa Sandoval

We take a break from the regular story for a slice-of-life point of view from one of the cannon fodder. Johnny Guitar writes a letter to his kid, describing his climb (of sorts) into the club of villains, and it’s a sad, pathetic tale. By which I mean Gage has written a good story. Johnny knows his own story is sad and pathetic, and when he finally thinks he has made the bigtime, he overhears that his entire group is basically being sent on a suicide mission to give cover for the big guns in taking back Prison 42 from Blastaar’s forces in the Negative Zone.

The art varies in the beginning, but picks up for part two of the story which gets us back to the rest of the cannon fodder group. Hardball picks this moment to help the Initiative, and Taskmaster seems happy to welcome him back to the fold. This title presented us with a good view from the lower levels of super-goon-hood: it still sucks. Even when you’ve got a get-out-of-jail-free card, the higher-ups still tend to treat you like a disposable napkin. Gage is successful in making us feel pity for these mooks who have taken too many wrong turns.

The cool part is that Tigra starts her revenge at the end, taking out one of the Brothers Grimm (who were among those involved in giving her a beat-down back when the Hood first wanted to make a statement). I’m eager to see this part escalate.


Fantastic Four 570

by Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham

Eaglesham moves over to Marvel, and DC has lost yet another star artist! Hmm, this pattern seems to have been going on for years. Anyway, Eaglesham gives us a stocky Reed Richards, leaning away from the slender, rubbery approach that most artists tend to give to him. We open with a flashback to Reed’s childhood, and prompting from his father to always try his best. While not convincing of itself, the aim is to show the reader that Reed has always been encouraged to step forward where others might hesitate. Sometimes it can be an asset, but other times, it can get someone in trouble.

The throwaway combat scene has robotic villains fighting the FF, but a simple switching of opponents ends the fight quickly, making the Wizard look like a chump. As poorly as that part was, Hickman takes the opportunity to use the Wizard and ask some related questions about man’s place in the universe, and just how much he should be tampering with things. Just how little is the divide between this mental breakdown of the Wizard, and Reed himself?

The Wizard’s statements reinforce Reed’s earlier calculations that led him to participate in the Civil War: the Earth is doomed, and marching inevitably towards its own end. Reed feels the responsibility to fix things. Picking u from the Dark Reign FF mini-series, Reed has reconstructed a machine that allows him to contact a like-minded group of people, who turn out to be alternate versions of himself. While it might have been more interesting if they were different people, this isn’t a bad idea in and of itself.

There is one problem: it feels like a re-run of Kang. For a classic Avengers storyline, Kang discovered the Council of Cross-Time Kangs, a plethora of alternate versions of himself who ad reached a successful stage and proved worthy to join the others. Sound familiar? That’s because this is the same story, only with Reed this time. This is why I wanted aliens and other people to be the wizards behind the curtain. As the story progresses, it feels way too much like something I’ve already seen.

That said, the variance of the Reeds is stylish and neat. The three founders of this Council show up at the end, all holding what appear to be complete Infinity Gauntlets. How you can have multiple versions one unique gems that hold infinite power leads us into some interesting quantum physics questions about degrees of infinity, but I better just end this review and say I will be interested to read the next issue.

If you didn’t like the last two creative teams, this new one looks promising. If you’re a new reader, I think it still reads well enough that you won’t be lost, and the art is great.


Guardians of the Galaxy 17

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Brad Walker

The cover is not the greatest choice, especially since Black Bolt might be dead. Starlord’s group has conveyed a message from the future, asking Adam Warlock and the rest fo the gang to stop the Fault from even beginning. The message comes too late. The bomb from the War of Kings has gone off, and the Fault is a rip in space/time that threatens all of the galaxy with a progressive growth. Some of the team head to Attilan to make sure the Inhumans aren’t planning to add any more surprises that will threaten to destroy the known universe.

Brad Walker’s pencils are solid, making for a pleasant view, and the conversation between Maximus and Groot is awesome. Meanwhile, Adam shows up with the Universal Chruch of Truth behind him, using their faith batteries as a power source to enable him to close the Fault. To do this, he has to graft our timeline onto an “unused future,” which turns out to be the future where Adam becomes the Magus!

Phyla has been a jerk lately, and it turns out that in order for Moondragon to be brought back, she had to agree to kill the “avatar of life” for Oblivion. All I can think is that Captain Mar-Vell would be so disappointed in her. She has not been behaving anything like a hero lately, and I’m just about ready for her to leave. Of course, she may not have much of a choice after what she has done. It’s a sign of good writing that they have been able to make me so irritated with a particular character. She’s like the person you love to hate now.

The writing team of DnA have packed a ton of stuff into this one issue, and it all propels the meta-story for Marvel’s galactic area forward, while still proving to be entertaining and have pleasant art. This continues to be one of Marvel’s most under-rated titles.


Incredible Hercules 133

by Greg Pak, Fred van Lente, and Rodney Buchemi

Speaking of under-rated titles. I keep expecting to pick this book up and find the magic has gone, but instead I get a quality book. Amadeus Cho gets a solo story, off on his quest to find his sister. He journeys to the city that started sponsoring all of the “genius quizzes” in the first place, and finds it is probably backed by the Olympus Group. They throw some cool science ideas out, and then we get to watch as the ever-confident Amadeus gets knocked out.

The town is made of different math than the rest of the world, which makes all of Cho’s calculations useless. It’s a neat story, and will continue next issue. The art is not the greatest, but considering Buchemi did his own inks, it’s not bad either. I keep wondering when they will try a re-launch and just give Hercules his own series starting at #1.


Ms. Marvel 44

by Brian Reed and Sana Takeda

The pieces come together… literally. The alien gets stronger the closer that the real Carol Danvers gets, and Osborn and Moonstone finally figure this out. Some of the comic is eaten up by full-page spreads of the Dark Avengers and such, but those are actually some of the better images. The inking, such as it is, is better now, but still nowhere as good as it might be with a separate, dedicated inker. I really need somebody in the industry to give me a breakdown on all of these people who are doing the art and inks together now, because it has to be for economic reasons. I’m really starting to feel ripped off when I know the art could have been better if done by a traditional art team.

Moonstone heads off to kill Danvers just when the alien Ms. Marvel has the upper hand against Osborn. It’s not Shakespeare, but the last couple of issues have been better than the ten or twelve before that. It’s still the worst read on this entire page.


New Avengers 56

by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen

Osborn just can’t catch a break, can he? The Hood is awol, and his wanna-be Masters of Evil fill-ins have decided they want to “renegotiate.” Mockingbird holds her own for a few minutes, wondering like I am why Clint is throwing up. What super-powers have been deactivated on him?!?

The de-powering device works on the Sentry too, and Jonas Harrow is able to hack into even Osborn’s armor. Why, oh why can’t people just go along with the dreams of this world conqueror? Elsewhere, Loki as taken Parker Robbins to the Norn Stones, and start to transform him. We end with the Dark Avengers at the ground, with the Wrecking Crew and all the other B-list villains standing menacingly over them. It is hard to run things and keep everybody’s ambition in check, isn’t it?

Yet another title where the villains have taken over, pushing the alleged main characters out of the scene. It’s entertaining for now, but I am hoping we’re getting to the end of it. It’s hard to imagine the heroes can be kept down this long.


Nova

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Andrea DiVito

Daniel Acuna puts out a marvelous cover, reminiscent of a World War II scene depicting an ongoing battle. Inside, Divito shows us why he is one of my favorites: he can actually do his own inking and have it come out looking good! Richard’s younger brother, Robbie, is still alive, and the Nova Corps take down all of the immediate bad guys. Rich, as Nova Prime, has a fun conversation with Blastaar that lets everyone leave in one piece.

The issue plays out well, with Richard announcing his plans to reassemble the Nova Corps, but at a slower, more controlled pace that will hopefully leave less good-looking corpses behind. In just a few issues, DnA have given Nova a great supporting cast and transitioned from Richard and Worldmind (“It is vital you pay attention…”) to a group title almost. They also introduce a new mystery on the final page that intrigues me. Good job for a single issue!


Secret Warriors 7

by Brian Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, and Alessandro Vitti

The new artist doesn’t help a whole lot, because we’re still missing an inker, in what has become a common refrain for me. Not sure how to handle it other than to make sure fans know on each title when they pick up the book if they’re getting a “full” art team, or closer to half the effort. It’s all very borderline anime and trying to make up for things with color and shading, and if I wanted this, I’d watch old Saturday-morning cartoons.

The plot becomes more involved with the Dark Reign meta-story, so why isn’t Dark Reign plastered on the top of the comic like every other title? Strucker asks Osborn to kill Nick Fury, and Osborn call sin Ares, who will want to go after his son. The ‘super’ part of Fury’s operation has knocked over a Hydra bank to fund the war effort, and while Fury is out, a call comes in from the Black Widow, announcing her blown cover from the Thunderbolts title.

It’s all good fun if you’ve been following this event with all these other magazines, but I’m not sure how well it reads for someone whose only interest is the Secret Warriors themselves. The story reads okay, if a teensy bit slow, and I could use a little better effort on the art. It’s keeping me interested, but not at the levels which previous hype would have suggested. It’s almost as if the book doesn’t know its own identity: should it focus on the espionage aspect of Fury’s life, or is it another superteam book? The amalgamation is not working well when trying to do it all, and I think things will improve if the creative team can head squarely in a unified direction.

Still better than Ms. Marvel.


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