Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 2

New Avengers Annual 3

by Brian Bendis and Mike Mayhew

Marvel’s annuals this year are well-intentioned, giving us little slices of the Dark Reign story to tie up some plotlines that have been dangling all over the place the last year or so (and wouldn’t Bendis have fun on his letters page with that dangling phrase?). This annual picks up after we lost Clint Barton in The List. Mockingbird discovers his note, and realizes he has gone to kill Osborn. Clint is tortured by the Dark Avengers and then turned over to Mentallo, who claims he is making him remember every nightmare of his life.

The weird part is, this is the Clint Barton from the House of M universe, but his memory has the death of the 616 Hawkeye take center-stage. If Bendis is going to insist this is “our” regular Hawkeye, then he can’t make me believe Hawkeye is willing to throw away Captain America’s philosophy and try to kill Osborn. He can have it one way or the other, but not both at the same time. It’s hard to have a debate about, because the lack of explanation has made Hawkeye’s continuity one of the most messed-up in recent history, allowing writers to do anything they want with him and ask us to believe it, rendering him almost worthless as an interesting character, because as a person, he has no consistent personality anymore.

As lovely as Mayhew’s art is, Mentallo shows Clint’s nightmares, many of which consist of him smiling at and making out with super-powered females, attending a wedding, etc. Granted, there’s some bad stuff in the imagery too, but the mixed bag is not necessarily composed of what I would call his absolute worst memories ever. Some of them looked downright sexy and/or fun.

The mental torture has Clint give up the brownstone location where the heroes were hiding, but they have already moved. Their ability to evade detection is so awesome, they’ve only moved a couple blocks away! Hah! No joke, that’s all they bothered to do. After all the effort and coordination to get Luke Cage back, there are only four female Avengers involved in Hawkeye’s rescue: Mockingbird, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), and Jessica Jones, digging out her old Jewel costume.

Then we have Steve Rogers appear at the end, in a nice scene that again helps to ruin the Reborn series. Setting aside my gripes with Hawkeye’s entire character, the lackadaisical way the New Avengers can be found/ can’t ever be found depending on the writer’s whim, and my disgust with seeing Captain America back in every title except his own… I actually liked this issue. Good art, if a little too static sometimes.

Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard 2

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Kevin Walker

Great dramatic cover, but the art inside is inconsistent, and still not impressive enough to convince anyone to give the Imperial Guard more time than they will get in this min-series. Hussar is portrayed poorly, conveying none of her lethality and menace. Too many boring backgrounds waste any attempt to properly showcase the nobility and stature of Gladiator, and lessen the impact of his words, when a different panel display and view would have driven home the longing of his words, and the weight of his responsibility.

A nice scene has Raza standing in front of the alien symbiote that formerly possessed him. He expresses regret to Ch’od, but hey! Is the symbiote silently talking to him? Asking him to break it free? There could be some interesting stories coming from this, if they give it enough room to run. The Starjammers are taking a portion of the Guard in to investigate an area of the fault, and they land on a dead biological ship that is about to be overrun with some microbial defense mechanism that, according to Oracle, is about to devour the entire ship.

It’s all a little too reminiscent of the Alien movies, and I really want to see something bigger and more important covered by this mini-series. Again, as with the New Avengers annual, despite its problems, this is one of the best issues Marvel put out this week.


by Kieron Gillen and Steven Sanders

With all the trouble that Noh-Varr has given everybody else, and the way he can evade detection, Gyrich is smart enough to round him up and imprison him in no time flat. He really makes the rest of the Marvel universe look like posers. I like Gyrich, so it’s nice to see how deadly the guy can be when he gets his hands on the proper resources. I think I would be much more afraid to see Gyrich in charge than Norman Osborn.

The writer spends all this time putting things in quotes and gets them right with the periods inside the quotation marks, so I have no idea why a question mark ends up outside the quotes in the next speech bubble. I think I have to resign myself to the fact that terrible spelling and grammar is now the order of the day for my comic books. I have trouble with the idea of letting any kids read them anymore. Forget adult subject matter, I feel like the old lady complaining someone put dirty graffiti on my wall, and worse… they spelled it wrong!

The art is lacking in backgrounds yet again, and seeing McCoy with a horse face automatically makes me want to cancel the title. The only saving grace is the machine that is helping Gyrich, and the nice arrests of a bunch of aliens present on the planet. I do wonder how and why they think Mentor can be on Earth and in the Imperial Guard mini-series at the same time, but I’m just going to say it’s a clone or a relative or something like that.

I have no idea how Gyrich is able to have guns pointed at Brand at the end of the series, as she is ostensibly in charge of the entire organization, but I might pick up the next issue to see it play out. The art, though. Ugh! It’s hard to stomach paying even $2.99 for the art. I’ll give it one more chance.

War Machine 12

by Greg Pak and Leonardo Manco

The wrap-up issue for this series is fairly nice, with some nice coloring and art that’s good enough to hold your attention. Ares pitches in a tiny bit for his champion, and the good guys outsmart Osborn, albeit with a little trick lifted straight from Star Trek 2: the Wrath of Kahn. Rhodes gets the cloned body that Tony Stark made for him with the help of his support team, and he downloads all the memories of pain and death into the minds of the Bainesville Ten as revenge for their crimes using some Ultimo tech.

We end with a normal Rhodes that has a fully-built War Machine suit. Although this series did not ever get the lift that I wanted it to, and went in a direction I did not expect or like all that much, I must admit that read altogether, Greg Pak has given us a story worthy of reading. The stage is set for more to be done with this character, if only Marvel will assemble a good creative team with an understanding of the dramatic appeal and uses for the War Machine armor. This is one of the more appealing and under-utilized characters within the Marvel universe. I usually don’t harp on diversity much, but if it helps any, the fact that Jim Rhodes is a black character, combined with the fact that good black characters need more screen time in the comic universes, spells an obvious need for someone to treat this character right in a good, long-lasting series of his own.

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