Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 2

Dark Reign: The List – X-Men 1

by Matt Fraction and Alan Davis

I have to say that Alan Davis does not usually make it onto my list of top artists, but I am very familiar with his style, and seeing his work is like looking upon an old friend, fondly. Mark Farmer adds good skills with the inks, but the backup feature is the first work printed by Matt Fraction, pencils by Sam Keith. So yet again, we pay an increased price for a section with reprint material. While this might have been a good idea when there was a chance that a lot of youngsters might get a look at it, the fact is that with trades and the average age of the reader, reprints are a big waste of everybody’s time.

For the plot, Osborn has controlled Marrina, Namor’s alien ex-wife first introduced in Alpha Flight, and unleashed her on Atlanteans everywhere. Namor brings a corpse of one of his people to the new X-Men island, Utopia, says he can’t stop the attacks, and then says no when offered help. ?!?!?!

This is a big waste of writing space. It allows Fraction to eat up a page of time as Emma tells the imperious king to shut up and accept the help. The Namor we know has never been that stupid. The attack on Marrina is a little better, utilizing a lot of the team. One of the problems with this ‘List’ series is that Osborn doesn’t seem to be making much headway on his list. Does that mean we’ll have to put up with a List sequel later? “The Second List: Everything Osborn Didn’t Get The First Time!” It sounds like he’s out getting groceries.

I’m still undecided if this was really worthy of a full issue. But at least we get to see more Alan Davis art.


Dark X-Men: the Confession 1

by Craig Kyle, Chris Yost and Bing Cansino

Ready for a third viewing of the Beast breaking into Scott and Emma’s room? They both decide to use this free time to air their dirty laundry, and Scott opens his mental black box, which shows the whole X-Force strategy. It’s a big waste of a comic, because half of it just recaps the X-force series itself, which hasn’t been all that great, while Emma mostly gives a recap of her sordid life, and finally admits she’s part of the Cabal.

The issue has already been overtaken by events, as their master plan was already carried out in the Utopia/Exodus storyline, and they already have their little island. The fallacies throughout are not examined, such as the fact that Scott thinks he’ll be cast out for his actions with X-Force. Does that mean Wolfsbane, X-23, Wolverine, Warren, Elixir, Warpath, etc. will all be exiles too?

At least we are finally halfway through Dark Reign, with two of the six revealing themselves. The Hood is having a few problems keeping his group together, so maybe it will all fall apart and we can get back to a more believable meta-story.


Fantastic Force 5

by Joe Ahearne and Neil Edwards

Man, talk about a week of late comics! Between The Confession and the Old Man Logan Conclusion, I almost forgot that this was supposed to be out already. For a series that turned bad so fast, this finale actually was a lot better. (Of course, I was expecting pure crud.)

A different artist in Neil Edwards makes for some crisp art, and the team battles both Ego and Gaea. The teamwork is cool, although Ahearne could have introduced the characters better. After more than a month, I had to remind myself who some of the characters were. Anyway, they give Ego a stroke, and Wolverine stays with Gaea and gets her pregnant. Nobody dies. The rest of the series was so bad, I’m not sure if it’s worth getting this issue, but I did enjoy most of it.


Spider-Woman

by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

Trying to read comics on the web for me has been difficult. They can’t seem to enable us to capture the full impact, and I have been tardy about trying to check out the webcomic. So I picked up the floppy version. Bendis and Maleev are a known team, from their dangerous run on Daredevil. Maleev is always trying to find something new in his bag of tricks to use, and I like his experimentation here. He does tend to overuse a rainy day scene after a while, but the dark world of espionage deserves some dreary settings every now and then.

Jessica goes from suicidal to working for SWORD, recruited by Abigail Brand to hunt down the few remaining Skrulls. Bendis works in a corny Mission Impossible tribute with the phrase “if you choose to accept” for her first mission. Longtime Marvel readers could have guessed she’d end up in Madripoor, which may signal too much predictability already for a new book.

The cool thing is the Spider-Man scene. Jessica already knows he’s a Skrull, but his conversation is close to the way Peter Parker might talk. It’s a little off, though, and it’s fun to see Bendis knows the character well enough to talk in an almost-successful imposter-speak. The possibilities for Jessica to cross paths with the X-Men again via SWORD, or link up with the Secret Warriors via her Hydra history are fun food for thought. A good start for a much-anticipated series.


Uncanny X Men

by Matt Fraction and Greg Land

The fact that the X-Men live on their own island Utopia is now the launching point for the “Nation X” storyline. Cyclops has a council convened to figure out how to sustain operations and survive on the island, and Fraction is wise to remind readers that Emma is still holding a sliver of the Void in her diamond form. Danger takes over as jailor for Sebastian Shaw and the other captives, and assumes her role as permanent warden, which is a good fit.

Greg Land doesn’t give us much for backgrounds most of the time, although the colorist tries to give us something as often as not. I’m ready for the art team to change and just have Land do covers from now on, to be honest. His style does not lend itself well to a full issue of layouts, to when we could have more visually exciting stuff to look at. The fact that he alternates with Terry ‘cheesecake’ Dodson is one of the worst ideas ever for an art team. “Hey, let’s switch out a cheesecake artist with a guy who is infamous for drawing women in porn-star-like poses!” Marvel executive: “Brilliant!”

Fraction’s writing is better, and I see the pieces assembling for some good stuff if he can get to it. Magneto’s return is cool. However, the steps he is taking to get there are slow and plodding, and there isn’t a whole lot to keep us captivated in light of the art.


Wolverine: First Class

by Peter David and Dennis Calero

Awesome cover by Skottie Young. The inside art is also stepped up, making for a space adventure that has a little more oomph to it than most of the previous art teams on this title. In the wake of Secret invasion, we have to put up with yet another Skrulls-kidnap-Wolverine story, as if it hadn’t been done three times already. That said, the rest of the issue proceeds smoothly, with nice utilization of Kitty.

They also bring in Captain Marvel, and without editorial notations it’s hard for me to figure out if this is the real deal at this point in time, or the brainwashed Skrull imposter. I think it may be the Skrull, because the real Marvel was dead before they made the imposter, yes? The reference to Khn’nr means they already had the imposter up and running around, maybe. My memory’s a little foggy, because the whole Captain Marvel deal during Secret Invasion was kind of lame, so I didn’t devote a lot of effort to remembering it.

The story might have been better if wrapped up in one issue like we’re used to for this type of tale, but it’s actually to be continued. Eh, it was okay. Still not as good as Van Lente’s stuff. Nice art, though.


Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size 1

by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven

I guess the only question here is, was it worth the wait? Answer: no. As dramatic as McNiven’s panels might be on certain pages, it’s all just a big bloody mess, with Millar adding in every stereotype he can about rednecks and making a redneck Hulk clan.

There’s a small plot problem in that the Hulk eats Logan, but it’s hard to see how he could swallow him whole. Logan bursts out looking like he’s all in one piece, which would make sense, since it’s kinda hard to break his adamantium-laced bones. Why would Hulk think his stomach acids could digest that metal?

It’s all just a little silly, and should have been a separate mini-series, so they could have taken more time to do the art before they solicited the first issue. As it is, what could have been an epic has turned into a major embarrassment that will be remembered more for its lateness than anything else. Way to be professional, guys. I’m far too old to be wowed by McNiven’s art when it’s this late. The only person I can do that for is George Perez, and that’s partly because we know he’s had health problems.


Wolverine: Origins 40

by Daniel Way and Scot Eaton

So is this Romulus fellow a mutant who helped found the Roman Empire or not? They don’t reveal that aspect, it’s mostly just a showdown. The deadly sword proves not to be so deadly for Romulus, but the guy’s a big faker, with fake claws. The fight ends weirdly, with Logan having a hallucination just before the blade is thrown at his forehead. Really? That’s all it takes to knock Logan out? A blow to his reinforced forehead with the butt of a sword?!?

The payoff feels lackluster to me. Easton does great on the art with what he is given, but something is lost in the translation. Why would a centuries-old manipulator come out of hiding when he doesn’t have to, when the competition is not complete among all of his pawns? Why would he claim to want to live forever when the supposed reason for the recent competition would be to see who would take his place? How can someone so successful over the ages at staying in the shadows, someone who is already so old, be worried about death or whatever (it’s not clear), and be so openly clumsy?

This is a climax for the Origins title, and it just fell flat, exposing the weaknesses of the writer. Instead of making things interesting for Logan’s past, they have succumbed to a bad writer’s trap: making everything link together when it didn’t necessarily have to, and then having the mastermind that it all links to be a dud. His motivations are a dud, and it’s hard to take him seriously. Half of what was said out loud were lies, and we do not end up with a good sense of mystery, just frustration at being duped into buying a bunch of comics promising to lead somewhere promising, and it all leads to… a look-alike with fake claws?!?

This series needs to end, or get itself a new writer.

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