Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 2

Assault on New Olympus 1

by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and Rodney Buchemi

Note: if you’re following the meta-story, read X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas 2 before reading this issue.

A quick recap tells us Amatsu-Mikaboshi is responsible for killing Zeus and sending the Olympians to Earth. Athena strikes out with most of the “neutral” Olympians in her attempt to form a force to go against Hera. We get to see Mikaboshi kill the Kree deities, although I think that could have been an entire issue in and of itself if handled correctly. I wonder if they will be brought back as easily as the rest of the Marvel characters later. If so, it kind of diminishes Mikaboshi’s threat.

Hercules goes to meet Hebe, and finds her in a lip-lock with Peter Parker. After the requisite fight, everyone makes up. The traditional Pak/Van Lente humor is present throughout the issue, and the art was nicely handled, such that I flowed through the book without being distracted or disappointed. That tends to mean it wasn’t awesome, because I tend to stop and look twice at art that is particularly impressive, but if it’s good enough to help the story flow so well, I certainly have no complaints.

Hera starts her plan of using mortals in key positions of power as thralls, and Spidey brings in some New Avengers backup. We follow the fun to Incredible Hercules 138 in a couple weeks.

The second feature has Phorcys, the creator of the sirens, calling Venus home to do her job of securing him human food. It’s nice to see Jeff Parker utilizing legends and myths just as well as the Pak/Van Lente team. Gabriel Hardman does a good job on the art here, and boy is he getting around a lot lately. The Agents of Atlas show up and put in a good fight, but can’t seem to make much progress.

The feature ends at a good stopping place, although it is right in the middle. This is where the Agents of Atlas become a back-up feature in the Hercules title. On one hand, it stinks that we can’t get a full Agents story every month, but if the quality can be successfully adapted to the shorter page count, I’ll take some good Agents stuff wherever I can get it.

Captain America: Reborn 4

by Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice

The threads are coming together! Hank Pym and Reed Richards get a message from Cap via Vision, and learn that the nano-particles in Sharon Carter’s blood are basically a way to track Cap down through time. Unfortunately, Osborn handed Sharon over to the Red Skull, and is now in Latveria, where Doctor Doom has been helping Arnim Zola out in repairing or re-creating a variant on Doom’s time machine.

The art is still nicely cinematic, lots of big pictures and splash panels, but the Hitch/Guice combination really has an added dimension, and brings out some more “worldly” details than we normally get from Bryan Hitch’s work. I’d definitely like to see these two collaborate again sometime. Cap is hurting from his ordeal through time, but when he gets to the end of it, he seems to have some sort of sudden battle with the Red Skull. When Cap gets up off the table, it’s the Red Skull inside his body.

We’ve seen this type of stuff before with the Skull, including being in a cloned body from Cap in the past, but it is still a little chilling to see it happen this way. And since the series is over in one more issue, we know it won’t be dragged out like Dark Reign has been.

House of M: Masters of Evil 4

by Christos N. Gage and Manuel Garcia

The end of the road, with a nice manipulation from Magneto involving using Nitro to blow up innocents, a facet of the Civil War that is mimicked somewhat here in the House of M dimension. The Hood allows his group to disperse, knowing that Magneto’s forces are coming for him. Garcia’s art is good, but he does slack off a little, giving us some drab brown backgrounds in too many places.

The showdown is fun as the Red Guard comes in to tackle the super-powered foes, and the end was pretty much assured. Easily half of the group stayed to try to give the humans time to escape the massacre, and the deserters like Wizard and Chemistro are now helping the resistance. Titania was thrown to safety at the last minute, and now serves as the traveling witness, much like WW II survivors, making sure the story stays alive.

While it was easy to see where the story was heading, it was a good take on things, and some good match-ups and ideas sprinkled throughout the entire series. Good job by all involved.

The Torch 3

by Alex Ross, Mike Carey, and Patrick Berkenkotter

The Thinker didn’t do as good a job as he had thought in wiping out Jim Hammond’s personality. It feels like it’s wrong to see the original Human Torch killing innocents; you want to believe that heroes have personalities strong enough that they will not do things that they would never willingly do in the first place. Here, though, he is under someone else’s control, and they order the pointing and the shooting, and Hammond obeys.

The Thinker has a master plan involving the Horton cells. By studying Toro, he has learned that the cells can be absorbed by humans. Now he has whipped up a batch of modified cells that he can use to control everyone else. The first thing he doe sis order the irritating thorn in his side, Toussaint, to shoot himself.

Toro breaks free and helps Hammond to shake off the evil control, and they break up the batch of cell solution. The Thinker takes the setback surprisingly well, and teleports out, planning to set up shop somewhere else and continue with his plan. The spilled solution infects Toussaint, the fish life, and even reaches Namor and some Atlanteans! It’s a cool twist, and I’m eager to see what happens next.

Ultimate Comics Armor Wars 1

by Warren Ellis and Steve Kurth

Unlike the two regular titles, this mini-series still has “Comics” in its title. I have no idea why they do these things. Probably just to irritate the anal retentive people like myself. Skipping over Justine Hammer making out with Tony, we track a Doctor Faustus down, who has hijacked Tony’s technology. Speaking of anal retentive, they left the ‘s’ of off “paintings” just before they meet the good doctor, showing that the legions of editors, sales and marketing people, letters, etc., just cannot proof-read a comic anymore these days. It would be nice if just one week went by where DC and Marvel could spell all their words correctly. If you want to do story nonsense like claiming your ship has no weapons and then shoot missiles out of it (-cough-Ellis-cough), you can, but please at least try to get the words down correctly.

The issue is a little boring, which is why I have to spend so much time on the nit-picky stuff. They show off Tony’s new repulsor weapon once and then get another name, and follow it to a guy named Bram Velsing. Ellis peppers the issue with his traditional sardonic wit, but it can’t save the purple Iron Man that comes out attacking at the end. The original Armor Wars was so much better than this.

Leave it to Marvel to spend all that time cleaning house, only to take an old story, slap “Ultimate” on the front of it, and give us a watered-down re-run. What, exactly, is “ultimate” about any aspect of this? I’m disappointed that this is all Ellis could come up with.

X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas 2

by Jeff parker, Carlo Pagulayan, Gabriel Hardman, Chris Samnee, and Carlos Rodriguez

Wow, but that’s a lot of artists for one issue. The battle is fun and the art is great. It’s still a regular cliché story of the two teams fighting at first, and then making friends. The fun part is that Namor is the one who plays peacemaker for a change. There a re a couple of plot points that they se as places to change the artist, and it works well within that structure.

The second part of the issue has Aphrodite holding Venus captive. The rest of her team arrives to the rescue, and there is an awesome joke in the middle where she asks, “Why does this happen to all my statues?” I think it’s worth the purchase for that joke alone. This is where Aphrodite gets the idea to bring in Phorcys, which picks up in Assault on New Olympus 1.

I would have been happy to keep buying the Agents’ regular series, but if this treatment helps to raise their profile and interest in the group, then I’m all for it. (I’m still storing these two issues behind my regular Atlas series, alpha-order be hanged!)

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