Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 1

Avengers: The Initiative 30

by Christos N. Gage, and Jorge Molina

Nightmare is making his move, trying to physically manifest himself in the world through his son, Trauma. Nightmare lets Penance remember everything that happened, so Robbie realizes he is fighting his former comrades-in-arms. Justice and company basically bust in during all of this, recover Night Thrasher, and calmly walk out after Trauma puts up too much of a fight with daddy. Robbie chooses not to reveal to them that he is their old friend Speedball.

The art is inconsistent and generic. When I’m reading an independent book, or seeing cartoons scrawled in the side margins of a comedic book concerning superheroes, this does not bother me. For an allegedly professional comic book, this is a paint-by-the-numbers style, lacking any presence or majesty. The revelation at the end shows us Diamondback is an agent on the inside, and with the way that the Constrictor has been feeling lately, he may just join up next issue. While you might feel a lack of impact in a title like this that is already full of crooks and people who have switched sides many times, I’m glad to see Diamondback is still trying to live on the side of the angels. She deserves a focus issue, but I doubt it will happen.

This title seems to be a resting ground for artists that can’t get better jobs anywhere else. I’d like to see some fresh approach with someone who has a unique, developed style for a change. As it is, I am constantly asking if I want to pick up the next issue or not.

Dark Wolverine 80

by Daniel Way, Marjorie Liu, Stephen Segovia and Paco Diaz Luque

The Wolvie title that has ‘dark’ in it now, because regular Wolverine just wasn’t dark enough! We have the finale of a plot device which has been tortured in every other Marvel title for months now. I think there were two different issues last week that had a viral video spreading, with Osborn needing to do public relations damage control. This is what the Dark Reign has come to? Osborn running around in three or four titles, trying to keep a good image? Way to be dark, Marvel.

Osborn tries to be clever and prepares for Daken to go against his orders. A trap blows up the other villains, but with no bodies found, it will only be a matter of time until someone tries to dig up these d-grade bad guys. Daken comes out of the ruins with an innocent girl, and Osborn lies and spins to make it seem like everything is going the way he wants it to go. I’m hoping for something better soon, because this storyline was about one issue longer than we needed. Too bad, from the next month’s cover, it looks like Karla is being treated like the (censored) they have decided to write her into, and is moving from one bed to another, and finally getting to Daken. Boring, and probably a waste of time. When is Logan coming back?

Invincible Iron Man 20

by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

Because the first 20 issues weren’t painfully dragged out enough, we now have to put up with a lengthy five-issue story of putting Tony back together. After all that effort to make him stupid, and we’re just going to reverse it now? That basically up-ends the very reason he took himself out of play, to remove a weapon from Osborn’s arsenal. Even if he doesn’t remember any of the secret identities that Osborn wanted, an intelligent Tony Stark is still useful to get information from, so why not let him remain a vegetable until after Osborn’s threat is gone? At this rate, we’ll have to put up with the next story of how Tony gets his fortune back. Except that will only take one issue, because they consider that process boring, and can magically make it happen fast. Everything else takes the length of a trade paperback to accomplish. Anyone remember the old days of “Banner is smart now! Wait, he’s dumb next issue. Wait he’s smart again?" Someone spare me.

Fraction gives us a mental landscape of Tony trying to work from within his psyche to repair himself, but something dreadful happens when he switches to reality: six solid pages of a holographic Tony head… talking. Tony sounds stupid already in this message, but he wasn’t. He was still mostly a genius, but he speaks as if he’s confused from the start, and he speaks at the level of an eighth-grader. Remember that part about him being a genius? It’s like Fraction has been taking talking-head notes from Bendis. It’s pathetic. It’s out of tune for this character, and it is excruciatingly long. I started paging through the comic just to see if it would ever end.

The dialogue is contradictory, as he tells the audience to figure out if they want to bring him back, and then rambles on as if they’ve already decided to bring him back. Somehow, the magic that makes his repuslor beams is considered the keys to the kingdom, and as long as Osborn doesn’t get repulsor technology, he won’t be hard to beat. Like he doesn’t already have a hundred other types of energy beams at his disposal. Then he insists it will take him to beat Osborn, along with Cap and Thor. Didn’t he suggest earlier they might want to go on without him? Where ARE THE EDITORS?!?!?!? This is a horrible mess.

Masque recruits the Ghost to sneak in and kill Tony, despite Osborn’s orders for everyone to leave him alone. That’s the only slightly interesting thing happening. Poor Larroca has to draw all these Tony Stark faces, and then when we switch scenes, all he gets are barren desert scenes. Visually boring too. Good job, guys.

Ms. Marvel 47

by Brian Reed, Mike McCone, Rob Disalvo, and Derec Donovan

You have got to buy this comic. It is so bad, you can keep it by your desk as an example of what not to do. A semi-Wizard-like nameless villain gets busted, but the key is that on the third page, Ms. Marvel is carrying Spider-Man, and check out where she has her hand! That just has to be uncomfortable. For everyone who thought they would never see the day when Spidey became someone’s butt-puppet, you have to see this to believe it. This is the type of thing that TV censors would probably have outlawed if this was a TV show in the ‘60s, but it’s just incredibly, horribly hilarious.

We finally visit that suggestion Bendis popped from Spidey in the New Avengers: a date with Carol. Because he hasn’t had enough booty calls lately, what with sleeping with his roommate, the Black Cat, and flirting with MJ and Norah. And his cousins. We continue with the new state of comics, with Carol referring to herself ‘being dead,’ which is a conversation that almost any two superheroes can have with each other these days.

The backgrounds are slim and unattractive, and although some of the dialogue is witty, it’s mostly boring. Remember how Stark had six pages of the same talking head? We get a few pages of Peter and Carol being awkward, trying to make small talk. The artist tries to pan in and out a couple times to shake things up, but it’s really just a bunch of our time wasted on boring small talk, and poorly done at that. The different artists make this a cluttered comic with abrupt changes in style, and some is good, and the rest is poor. We end with this being nothing but a one-off fantasy of Bendis, written by his buddy, just to get it out of the way, because the fans would have been hounding him forever about it, and Bendis doesn’t want the grief. We move on to close out this series with the next four issues, just so they can say she had a 50-issue run.

New Avengers 59

by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen

The team regroups and plans to rescue Luke Cage. Since his arrest was so public, Osborn has to do surgery and rescue Cage’s life. The main team performs a distraction attack on Camp HAMMER, drawing everybody there while some of Luke’s friends rescue him from another location. Because even though you have Doctor Voodoo and Doctor Strange, they can visit him via astral projection, but for some reason, nobody can teleport anymore.

Immonen does okay with the art, and the surprise is that Osborn has planted something next to Luke’s heart. Will it track him? Make him blow up? We’ll see soon. It’s an average issue, with the cover not meaning much as it relates to the inside story.

New Mutants 7

by Zeb Wells and Diogenes Neves

Cypher is having a crisis of conscience, as he struggles against Selene’s control. The Hellions bust in to fight the New Mutants, and Jet-Stream gets cut in half, allowing them to remind us that these zombies don’t die when you do things like that to them. The New Mutants act like a bunch of amateurs, as the Hellions break through a wall to regroup, and Jet-Stream somehow ends up back against the same wall, even though he jumped away from it two panels earlier to grab Cypher. Not bad for a guy missing his legs, huh? And thanks to those New Mutants, for letting him do it!

Amara is hurt, and instead of Cannonball flying her to get help quickly, he assings her aid to Dani and Bobby. The two slowest members, since they don’t have Sunspot flying any more. Illyana could teleport her, but she insists she doesn’t know where the infirmary is. It’s a BRAND NEW ISLAND!!! They only have maybe six or seven buildings on the entire island, and she doesn’t know where anything is. What has she been doing while there, playing her Playstation? Warlock is at the bottom of the sea, slowly repairing himself. Yet another title where I can’t wait for the pain to end. There is nothing to recommend itself to reading here. There is no good characterization of the people, any one of the lines could be said by someone else. This is decompression at its worst.

Secret Warriors 10

by Jonathan Hickman, and Alessandro Vitti

Finally, we get a good story! Flashbacks tell us the history of Phobos and his father Ares. A lot of pages are eaten up using a page each to summarize things like Secret Invasion, the List, and recent issues of Dark Avengers and Secret Warriors. As much as I hate re-runs, they at least try to show us the steps that have brought us to this point. In the old days, they would have done it in half the pages, but used a lot more exposition. I think I would have preferred it that way, just to help out readers who haven’t collected all thirty comics.

Phobos is taken before all the other deities from multiple pantheons, where he is greeted not as a mortal, for which a case can be made, but rather he is accepted as an equal, and worthy to belong to this group of immortals. Then Ares drops the bombshell on him, that he has to die to be reborn. So this is what we’re doing to new heroes now, is it? Everybody else in Marvel and DC has died, so the newbies have to be killed immediately these days, just to get it out of the way? This is just so he can relate when it’s time for him to date Ms. Marvel, isn’t it?

Kidding aside, I liked this issue, and the different styles Vitti used for the different time periods was cool.

Thor Giant-Size Finale 1

by J. Michael Straczynski and Marko Djurdjevic

Ready for the rip-off? We get a regular issue of Thor. They slap a special title on it and charge us an extra dollar and give us…a preview of the next issue of Thor. Six pages and the cover. Really, guys? I’m a little sick of the scams Marvel runs with these giant-size issues. Oh, we also get a reprint of Journey Into Mystery 83, Thor’s first appearance. Whoopee.

The final issue of Straczynski’s run has the best character I liked, Bill, get killed. He died a good death, but man, I really liked him. That’s the sign of a good writer, to take a mere mortal and drop him in the middle of Asgard, and have you not think it to be too awkward, but have it fit, and have the guy grow on you. There are some good fat jokes that Hogun makes against Volstagg, who beats the Doombots trying to attack Don Blake. Don is injured, though, and will actually have a reason to use his cane in his mortal form, slightly reminiscent of the writers who keep putting Xavier back in his wheelchair every few years.

Kelda swears vengeance on Loki for Bill’s death, and Balder tries to summon Thor back to Asgard. It’s a great finale. I jut wish they had made it the next regular issue in the title. Back-issue hunters are going to get a migraine trying to track these down in chronological order unless they stick to the trades.

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