Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 1

The Amazing Spider-Man 612

by Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta

Lots of cool covers from which to choose, and the inside art just doesn’t seem as good as any of them. Not that I mind Azaceta’s art, it fits in well with the focus on Electro, but he makes New York look too gothic, and I don’t like the way he does the webs on Spidey’s costume. The sudden weird desperation that Electro shows whenever a woman is around is new to me, too, and it certainly plays out awkwardly for those present. You'd think a guy like that would have more important things on his mind. What a chump.

The story is slightly ruined for me because I head to comics to get away from the real world, and I was really looking forward to the Gauntlet concept. Not that heroes haven’t been run through the meat-grinder before to face a ton of the bad guys, but it’s been a while. Instead, we mostly get Electro harping on a rant against a government bailout for the DB. Too many parallels to my current reality, Mr. Waid. It would be nicer to see some originality than to just have you rip stuff from today’s headlines and throw it in the comic. I don’t want to watch Law and Order here.

The second feature is written by Joe Kelly and illustrated by JM Ken Niimura. The style is a weird one that we’re not used to seeing in superhero comics, and smacks of a kid painting his family in front of a house sometimes. The story is gross, with Peter doing a friends with benefits thing as the Spider with Black Cat. Not only do they mess us with grammar by sticking the period outside the quotation marks (which Mark Waid got right earlier, thank you very much), but the story is mostly a recap of her deal that she will have sex with him as long as they keep their costumes on, and he can go do anything he wants in his civilian ID. That may be fine for an adolescent fantasy, but to see the writers take Peter down this path is a definite deviation from his previous choices regarding dating. I’ll have to rant about that soon.

The Mighty Avengers 31

by Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage and Khoi Pham

Ugh. Sean Chen used to display such skill. Now he draws stock faces and lazy same-hairs on everyone to give certain people an unshaven look, which is about the same length as the hair he draws on Hercules’ arms. It’s disappointing. The art as it is I would not call bad per se, but the fact that Chen has not grown at all for years as an artist is worrisome. When he first came on the scene, I was excited to see his style. Now I have to suffer from seeing someone with his face frozen wide open every page or two. Visually, it’s very boring.

Slott gives us a much better story, with Pietro realizing that the war he sparked between America and the Inhumans is what provoked the Unspoken to come out from underground. Much is made of Hank Pym’s status as a founding Avenger, part of Slott’s never-ending effort to re-cast Hank as a big hero worthy of the utmost respect. He may go too far, such as near the end when he puts a hand on BuckyCap’s shoulder and tells him Cap would be proud. I don’t mind it so much, it seems fitting given Hank’s history with Steve Rogers, but it is getting a little heavy-handed to have such blatant reminders every single issue.

There are some really good moments in this issue besides those. Hawkeye launches Cassie on an arrow just as he used to do with Scott Lang, Cassie’s father. Cap helps out with the teamwork, showing that he is willing to lose his shield for the duration if it will help the team achieve their objective. Quicksilver points out Radioactive Man used to be with the Masters of Evil, and Chen quickly fires back that Quicksilver used to be in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. It’s funny and pleasantly nostalgic at the same time. The Unspoken’s troubles are eerily parallel to the way Hank Pym feels about some of his past problems, and Pietro’s comment to Agent warning that the “commies win” is priceless.

The pièce de résistance, though, is Pietro returning the xerogen crystals to the Inhumans, and keeping up with his lie that a Skrull imposter performed all of his mistakes. Luna can see the truth, and she won’t give him up, but she loses all respect for her father. That’s just a ton of quality moments all jammed into one fantastic comic.

I think story-wise, this title just became my favorite Avengers mag. I’d really like to see Sean Chen experiment more with his style, or have a new artist come on the team.

Realm of Kings One-Shot

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Leonardo Manco and Mahmud Asrar

Quasar plays Alice going down the rabbit hole to see how far he can get into the Fault, this rip between space and time that Black Bolt and Vulcan started with the T-bomb. He comes out into an alternate Earth, with some interesting differences between these Avengers and the ones he knows. The art is cool and the visuals are exciting. We find out the Avengers have sold their souls to the “many-angled ones,” and need a new place to infect. They want to backtrack Quasar’s path so they can invade!

The Vision emerges to spring Quasar from jail, but we don’t learn who else might be in this nightmare dimension who are also fighting. Quasar makes it out, but returns to the regular Earth in the flesh, not his energy form. Is it really our Quasar? Does this guy belong to the alternate Earth? Is it the real deal, but infected? We’ll find out in the Realm of Kings mini-series, Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy over the next five months.

Clint Langley starts us off with an awesome cover, and the artists did well with the panel layouts. DnA are in good form with the writing, making this one-shot a hit for me. I’d recommend it if you have any extra dough to spare.

Realm of Kings: Inhumans 1

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Pablo Raimondi

Stejpan Seijic gives us a dramatic cover for this mini-series, and I find myself enjoying Raimondi’s interior art even better than I did when he was on X-Factor. DnA have Crystal bonding closer to Ronan, and show more of the Inhumans (not just Crystal) really taking to their responsibility to wisely rule the Kree, and manage the conquered Shi’ar empire.

I like this series already for a couple reasons. One: Ronan. He is being “softened” in his relationship with Crystal, which is fun to see, but I can’t help but feel that he has some ruthlessness in him still, and it may come out at the most delicious moment. It may take months or years for that moment to come, but I hope it does. Two, the royal politics. Karnak points out that Gorgon may make a great symbol for the Kree, and Medusa takes it under note, reminding all that she holds the throne only until her son Ahura is old and wise enough to rule. And all the while, Maximus stands there, trusted. Heh. This is just a ton of fun waiting to blow up in everyone’s collective face.

Wolverine: Origins 42

by Daniel Way and Doug Braithwaite

This issue started with some of the same thoughts as last issue, which made me stop and make sure I hadn’t bought the same issue by mistake. That’s what the recap page is for guys, you don’t have to put the re-run part into Logan’s thoughts so much. The glaring hole in the middle of Wolverine from the tree trunk that went through it has been shoved to his left side, and look remarkably less dramatic than it did when it happened last issue (which is probably 15 minutes in Marvel time).

Daniel Way inserts a lot of cross-continuity talk, referring to Cloak's difficulties being drawn into X-force activity, and using one panel to remind us that the Silver Samurai had his hand cut off by adamantium claws. These minimal aspects are okay for longtime readers, and those of us who collect several different titles. However, if you’re not immersed into Marvel comics, the sparse explanation might make you glaze over these scenes without having much context.

In both cases, they could use a little more exposition, but I understand the choice to save time and talk, especially when the niche audience for comics is the way it is. Still, I always keep an eye out for the idea that a newer reader has picked up the comic, and this is one of those choices that might alienate a new reader.

The glaring problem comes from those of us that do read other comics, because somebody else seems to be ordering around the Hand. Someone else meaning Romulus. We all know Daredevil is in charge. Does the left Hand not know what the right Hand is doing? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

For as smart and cunning as Romulus is, he seems to be at an astounding loss to figure out what Logan is doing. The legend of this guy’s manipulations is falling short whenever we see the actual person. He strikes us as nothing close to the master villain that has so plagued Wolverine’s life. I might be biased because I am so turned off by the Logan-like mimicry of Romulus, seeing it as a cheap cop-out when they could have at least given us some original look. The implication that there is some derivative nature going from Romulus to Logan, or vice versa, is a really bad cliché to have sprung on us after all this time.

I’m not sure I would be getting this if not for Doug Braithwaite’s art. Daniel Way has some limitations as a storyteller that are impacting this title down to the foundation of what it is supposed to be. I have no idea how long they plan to string this along, but for me, I hope the end comes soon, because I’m ready to finish this. The whole series is beginning to feel like a run-on sentence.

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