Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part 1

Nation X: X-Factor 1

by Peter David and Valentine de Landro

It’s time for a one-shot that allows the X-Factor team to visit Cyclops’ merry group of mutants on Utopia island. They may have done this to avoid interrupting the normal flow of David’s regular X-Factor run. Too bad they didn’t extend that courtesy to Straczynski on Thor. Mr. David wastes little time in diminishing any true relevance of Shatterstar’s sexual preference by choosing to play it for laughs the entire way through. Not that it is bad to read, it’s actually funny, but it puts a little whole in the idea that he might have been trying to do anything serious with the topic. There is quite a bit of “screen time” devoted to the slapstick of it. There are a few other jokes that play out well too, and longtime readers will appreciate the significance of the perfectly-timed appearance of Magneto, Namor, and Emma.

The X-Factor team mingle among the other mutants, and tend to fit in well. Just when I think we might be done with the jokes and ready to get down to the meat of the story, Longshot asks Dazzler for a roll in the hay. It only proves that Mr. David has little respect for the original treatment of Longshot, and has decided to reduce any use of the character into the cheapest innuendo that comes to mind. It’s a waste of one of the better characters introduced to the Marvel universe within the last 20 years.

De Landro’s art services the story well, even if they do rely on a ton of colorist tricks to make up for the lack of background detail. The menace to the team is handled very quickly, and is really treated as a minor plot device to allow Scott Summers to declare that Utopia “has” to work. Madrox takes off with the rest of the team, but forgets to get Longshot. It’s like a popcorn summer movie: funny in places, attempting to have philosophical depth, but only just enough to get you to think it was worth the price of admission.

New Mutants 9

by Zeb Wells and Paul Davidson

Finally free of the lousy Necrosha storyline, this title has actually performed well for a change. Could it be that it takes nine months for this baby to find its footing? Wells does a fairly concise recap of Illyana’s status to help clear up things for anyone who might be confused as to how she is back, and how far removed she is from the original version. Cypher’s resurrection has also come with a power-up, as he can translate more than just the spoken and written languages: he can translate all information, including body language.

The art is fun, because it matches the atmosphere. Illyana reveals the next major threat, consisting of a group of dimensional travelers via Limbo that want to destroy the New Mutants and capture Illyana’s bloodstones. She conveniently leaves out the fact that there might be zero danger to the group if she wasn’t there. The story doesn’t tell too much about the end of Necrosha, save that everyone is alive and well, which we all knew would happen. Still, this is another case of poor publishing timing, as we see after the end of a major “event” before said event has actually concluded in its mother title. Next issue’s cover seems to imply that we will finally be given a reason for this team to exist, under Cyclops’ direction. It’s not like we needed one: it’s easy enough to believe that Scott put the original team back together again because he knows they can work wonders together. But we’ll see what nefarious reason he has.

The best issue of this title so far. Too bad the first eight had to stink.

Siege 1

by Brian Bendis and Olivier Coipel

Seven years in the making! A massive event to end all of the meta-events! Allegedly. And we start with a re-run. That’s right, the way Civil War started is the exact way Osborn and Loki arrange Siege to start. They maneuver Volstagg into a football stadium and force him into a blocking move that destroys a football stadium, complete with a ton of innocents. Presto, fabricated reason to invade and destroy all Asgardians. The art is pretty wicked cool, though.

Next we have the Dark Avengers trying to argue that they don’t want to go on this suicide mission. They voice some of the same arguments in the “back matter” text at the end, which is duplicative, and a waste. Plus, the back matter pages have an error, so whiles pages one and three have different art, they have the same text. Bendis has blamed this on an error at the printer’s, and those who want to read the full, corrected text can do so here. I don’t much care about the pointing of the fingers at the printer, because there is supposed to be somebody at the end who knows what the final product is supposed to look like, and if you want your product to have proper quality control, then someone should have caught it. If I print something using a company, I don’t send it out until I’ve seen the final copy, the finished work. So it’s a little sad that this magnificent first issue that has been hyped for so long, which costs $3.99… has an error in it. Way to put out a polished product, guys.

The next scene has the president, who is supposed to be Obama, trying to issue an order, but nobody is listening. It fits in well with the story, and who knows what consequences will come of it, but I can already see the partisan hacks arguing about how Bendis is a secret conservative, or how accurate and realistic it is that the president talks a good game, but is ultimately powerless and ineffectual. Hopefully the political junkies will keep it confined to the gutters and just let the rest of us enjoy the story, while they read too much into four panels.

Loki successfully manipulates everyone involved, which I like, and the invasion force is spear-headed by the Sentry. For those who are confused about Asgard’s location, the actual castle has been hovering over Broxton, Oklahoma, this entire time. The people of Asgard went to Latveria for a few issues, and at the end of the latest issue of Thor, were still there. Siege picks up later, after they all came back to stay in Broxton. Just as with their smattering of appearances of Steve Rogers before Reborn is over, and the New Mutants showing us the next storyline before Necrosha is over, Marvel just cannot get their timing down right. So, in the next issue of Thor, next month, the Asgardians will leave Latveria and resettle in their floating castle in Broxton, where Siege #1 begins. A good rule of thumb at this point is to buy all your comics, then wait a month without checking the internet, then check it just to see what order you should read your comics, so they can all make sense (Warning: this strategy is not applicable for any Mark Millar title at Marvel; it will always be more than a month behind schedule with anything else).

We end with a shot of… speak of the devil! There’s Steve Rogers! Again. For, like, the 100th time. Even though the final issue of Reborn is STILL not out. Gee, I wonder how Reborn will end? The art is awesome, the publishing mess-ups are maddening, the repetitive plot point from Civil War is unimaginative, and the back matter printing error is a big black eye. Is it any wonder that DC has seven of the top ten titles for sales last month, beating their record of six from the month previous? You simply cannot hawk a project like this for months and then have it come out this slip-shod way. They’re like the Microsoft of comics publishing now. I’m going to have to wait for Siege #1 2.0 to come out so I can get everything to work properly.

I’m sure next issue will be much better.

Ultimate Spider-Man 6

by Brian Bendis and David Lafuente

This issue is almost entirely focused on Johnny and Bobby moving in with Peter, but the cover is a nice action shot, to make you think they will do something besides sit around and talk the whole time. Lafuente’s art is uninspired, and he is still lazy enough to have six of seven panels have nothing but a person in front of complete blackness or indistinct light source behind him/her. It’s not as if he draws such intricate faces on people, hence Gwen Stacy having the alternating looks of looking like an evil witch from the movies or some Beverly Hills brat who has had a bad nose job.

The “Hood” manages to save Peter from the minor menace at his school, and the figure is revealed to by Kitty. Mysterio is shown to be gloating over his wisdom for hunting down Spider-Man, even though his attack failed?!? Way to pat yourself on the back, there guy. Somehow the police find his lair, and he blows up the entire building.

Yeah, I’m still bored. This is not the best way for Marvel to start off a new year.

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