Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 1

The Amazing Spider-Man 606

by Joe Kelly and Mike McCone

We get a quick peek at the imprisonment of Madame Web, and that’s sure to be trouble for Peter later, but right now the main focus is on his relationships. Between Michelle, Norah and MJ, you’d think that would be enough, but today the Black Cat gets thrown into the mix. How many people out there want to trade lives with him right now? Joe Kelly keeps the jokes coming all while Black Cat uses her bad luck powers on Spidey.

McCone does well with making the characters jump through hoops and twists their bodies into all sorts of angles as they dodge danger, but sometimes the proportions are a little off, and you find yourself looking at a Spider-Man with a head that’s a little too large for the rest of his body. The real question is this: was Felicia still using her bad luck powers when she kisses Spider-Man and it gets caught on a video billboard for MJ to spot? Yikes!

Avengers: The Initiative 28

by Christos N. Gage, and Rafa Sandoval

The title picks up a tiny bit, as we get to explore some different state teams within the Initiative. Prodigy turns against Osborn at the spur of the moment in front of the TV cameras, and now he’s on the lam. The New Warriors (trying to give themselves an Avengers title) runs to Prodigy’s aid, but Night Thrasher gets captured.

The art is a little erratic, as some panels have nice tight lines, and others are fairly loose. The colorist does a good job of covering areas and adding a dynamic to pages that might otherwise be too static. The middle pages are eaten up by Osborn, Taskmaster and the rest manipulating the various amateurs and villains under their care, trying to hold everything together. You’d think between Clint Barton, Prodigy and others getting all this airtime blowing the whistle on the villain situation, we would see more civilians or government authorities getting suspicious, but not yet. It is starting to stretch the believability that the American population would be so silent through all of this for so long. It would be good to see some dissent from someone other than the odd reporter.

Fantastic Four 571

by Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham

Here’s a comic that quickly moved back several notches in my reading order, which means it has already become one of my favorites. Even though the current plot is a retread of an old Kang storyline, the art is superb, and the potential had me very interested. Let me tell you, they do not disappoint. Even better than Bryan Hitch on the last creative team’s run, Eaglesham’s layouts are impressive: they still have a sense of the cinematic to them, but at the same time they still have the proper semblance of a comic feel.

Reed has a lot of things on his mind, and he starts in a way we usually don’t see, with him basically listing all of his achievements and bragging about his intelligence to his wife. Longtime fans might object to this kind of braggadocio, but his point is that, “I’m an expert in many things… but it’s you I’ve studied the most.” It’s a compliment and a chastisement at the same time, reminding Sue that as familiar and loving as he is with her, his talents cause him to have big responsibilities. In the past, Reed as shared these with his family, but in this case, he’s going solo.

What follows is an initiation into the Council of alternate Reed Richards, as “our” Reed learns to think on an even bigger scale. The Council makes it a point to show him all of the good things, but also shows him the bad things that come with their chosen path. This is already a nice break from cliché, where the protagonist is shown a paradise, but has to discover the snake secretly on his own later. Reed is offered a choice: go back to your own world and keep on keeping on, or join them and fix the entire multiverse.

Just as Reed has made his decision, they are betrayed by one of their own, and their next opponent is the Celestials! The art is exciting all the way through, and so is the pacing of the story. This is one of my favorite FF reads in years.

Guardians of the Galaxy 18

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Wesley Craig

The focus shifts to the team that went into the future to stop calamity. They are loose in time/space, shifting to alternate worlds. Wesley Craig does his own inking, and it’s a big mistake. The abrupt change in art style does not work for me, and looks like something simple intended for kids. Any pleasure at seeing Killraven after all this time is destroyed by the terrible way he is drawn.

At the end, the group might have reached the current mainstream future, where the Magus is triumphant, but between the art and the cast, this issue is one of the worst of the entire title’s run. Without characters like Adam Warlock and Gamorra, the people like Bug, Cosmo and Jack Flag are just not good enough to sustain interest for long. I hope they wrap this up quickly, it’s the only wrong turn I have seen this creative team take.

Incredible Hercules 135

by Greg Pak, Fred van Lente, and Rodney Buchemi

Like the Guardians series, the team here is switching back and forth between Amadeus Cho and Hercules, so we get to see Cho this time. The greatest thing is the choose-your-own-adventure intro page, complete with the most outrageous type of D&D rules to figure out combat. Anyone with the slightest experience with this stuff will be in stitches on the first page alone. It’s great to see creators use this page for more than just a simple text recap, and it highlights the possibilities that so many people are missing. When writers like Grant Morrison complain that nobody reads the recap page, he’s seeing it as an obstacle. Everyone reads the Hercules recap page, and it adds to the experience of the book.

Cho runs through an obstacle course featuring Mastermind Excello, and darn it all if Marvel isn’t trying as hard as they can to keep cast members of the Twelve maintaining a presence in Marvel comics. Cho figures out the intellectual maze, and also reveals that his female companion has been Athena in disguise the whole time. Meanwhile, Hercules’ wife crosses paths with Aunt May! Nice.

Ms. Marvel 45

by Brian Reed and Philippe Briones

You need to actually read through all four paragraphs of the recap page here to keep track of the story because it has become so convoluted. The alien Ms. Marvel dukes it out with Moonstone… again! In one of the worst scenes this week in comics, there are at least a dozen HAMMER agents pointing guns at the civilian Carol Danvers, still thinking of herself as Catherine. They are given orders to shoot her… and she dodges every bullet and crosses the distance between them, and takes them all out without a scratch. Which means that nobody in the Marvel universe can properly aim and shoot a gun. It’s beyond ridiculous at this point, and the constant showing of these scenes in comics only highlights the lack of imagination running rampant.

Meanwhile, Moonstone grabs civilians, flies them up high, and proceeds to throw them every which way, forcing the alien Ms. Marvel to save everyone. You remember what I said earlier about the Americans falling fro the whole Dark Reign thing without a peep? Do you think we will see any more fallout (pun intended) from Moonstone’s actions? Maybe those people she dropped will complaint to their Congressperson or something? More likely nothing will change, and the villains will continue to do public things like this, and we are supposed to believe they are still successful at deceiving the public. It’s really bad.

The storytellers show up when Osborn blasts Catherine/Carol, and deposit her in the alien Ms. Marvel body. Gee, I wonder what will happen next issue? I bet we get to see her fight Moonstone. Again. Will they just cancel this series already? I am so bored…

New Avengers 57

by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen

The bad guys have the upper hand, but are still willing to deal with Osborn, as long as they cut out the Hood. Immonen usually does better with his art, but the weaknesses show up when he does a big panel to feature all of the villains. Their details are sparse, some are so poorly drawn you can’t even recognize them. I understand that this is not central to the theme of this book, but it looks sloppy, and feels like they are not taking care to give us their best.

Then, contrary to the history of every Avengers airplane being easy to crash (for a reference, see every other issue of every Avengers title in history), Mockingbird manages to surprise and overpower every villain with a single craft. The rest of the villains stand around like idiots as the Avengers get away, even though half of them are staggering or being carried. It’s a little ridiculous.

The ending is cool, though, with Luke Cage offering to surrender, and then collapsing. The Hood also figures out how to manipulate the Norn Stones. One of the best developments Bendis is doing is his work on Luke Cage, almost to the exclusion of the rest of the plot. Whatever man-love Bendis has for the character, I hope he works through it soon so we can get a little more entertaining stuff with the other characters in this title. He might as well change the name to Luke Cage and his Avengers at this point.

Nova 29

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Kevin Sharpe

Pure adventure ensues here, with a Star Trek feel. Richard and his group board a derelict ship, looking for signs of life. They encounter an old Nova soldier who was warped millions of light ears away, and was upholding the law as he made his way back to familiar territory. Along the way he has arrested several bad guys, one of which is being hunted by Monark Starstalker, bounty hunter extraordinaire! He looks a little too much like Kang with all the purple, and a little prettier than most bounty hunters you might meet.

The problem is that Starstalker launched a nano-attack on Worldmind, and the effort to beat that back has Ego trying to reassert control already. Plus, the prisoner that Starstalker is after, has some minions trying to bust him out of prison, and they are also known as Mindless Ones! Kevin Sharpe does an excellent job, using the panels to move the story along precisely with the fast developments, showing all of the remaining Nova Corps members and still giving us some cool action and good scenes.

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