Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part 2

The Age of Heroes 2

by multiple teams

Four quick stories this time, but nothing really outstanding. We start with Gravity, by Sean McKeever and David Baldeon. He’s already been there and done that, even up to the cliché of dying and coming back to life. He’s more into a normal life these days, but a stupid punk with powers named Warhead gets in the way. There, the story runs into a small problem.

Gravity decides to make Warhead attack him and burn out his powers, but Warhead creates an explosion just like Nuklo did, which started the entire Civil War. You remember, the one where the kid heroes got blamed for the children that died, and launched an entire movement to register superhumans? Well, a lot of kids lose their lives here because Warhead doesn’t care about human life. McKeever writes it off, as Gravity shrugs and says he can’t blame himself. Instead of causing severe psychological trauma, as per Speedball/Penance, this serves an inspiration instead to have Gravity go back to being a hero. Nothing like a massacre to get you pumped, huh? Ridiculous. Does nobody at Marvel watch what these guys do? If only Iron Man and everyone else had acted the same way, then the entire last couple of years didn’t need to have happened, right?

The next story is slightly better, with Brian Reed writing from the viewpoint of Norah Winters, a supporting character from Spider-Man, and one of the few bright new lights in the series. Except she’s mostly been pushed aside and forgotten for a while. Chad Hardin’s pencils are good as we see the American Son show up to stop a bad guy. The big mystery: is it really Harry Osborn in the suit? It’s a plug for the series, but not enough to really make you want to buy it.

Paul Cornell writes a quick two-page story about the Young Masters, but it doesn’t seem if they really know whether they want to be heroes or villains. Mark Brooks draws a fairly cool Thor who just “happens” to be flying right by their window for some inspiration to steer them in the right direction. Finally, we get a one page(!) story with Dan Slott and Ty Templeton showing Gauntlet serving with the soldiers in Afghanistan, reminding us who the real heroes are. Depending on your mood, it’s either corny, or right on the mark. Or a bit of both.

The Amazing Spider-Man 633

Zeb Wells, Chris Bachalo, and Emma Rios

Hey, remember when we were going to get Amazing Spider-Man three times a month? Yeah, those were the days. Well, instead of announcing a change in their schedule or something, they just fell behind schedule. So you get two comics this week, one Spidey after the other, as Marvel scrambles to catch up. At least when DC tried their Trinity and 52 experiments, they stayed on schedule.

We end the Lizard’s tale for this installment of “The Gauntlet,” as Peter battles each of his rogues, who all just happen to have gotten slight upgrades in their powers. What a coincidence for it to happen to all of them at the same time! I have a sneaking suspicion that Emma Rios was called in to help them catch up the schedule.

For all that the Lizard claims to have killed Curt Connors, some feelings still creep back in. That is all that spares Spidey this time. Peter shows back up at his Aunt May’s, all weepy because he thinks he has lost Curt and son Billy, and for some reason this has gotten to him when nothing else has. Magically, Aunt May is strong enough to wipe away her brainwashing and be there for Peter. Bachalo’s art style is easily identifiable, and it seems to have suited this story well. As much as some of his style is not my cup of tea, I appreciate his uniqueness when there is so much sameness in a lot of today’s art.

Overall, this entire Gauntlet is taking forever to build up, and it relies on the same crutch every time: upgrade the baddie, have him face Spidey, then have him gathered up by Team Kraven. How many times must we watch this? Lee and Kirby could have done all this in two or three issues. Okay, slight exaggeration, but it feels like I’ve been reading the same story for two years, and just like the prisoner who complains because his fries are lousy and there aren’t enough of them, the lousy story is also late. Ptheh!

The Amazing Spider-Man 634

by Joe Kelly, Michael Lark, and Stefano Gaudiano

The Grim Hunt is finally here! Granted, it arrives just when I’ve become fed p by the whole thing, but the Lark/Gaudiano team is always a cool treat for art. We open on Peter being sick, even though his physical body never gets normal sickness. It must be psychological, a reaction to all of his hard knocks lately. There’s no room in the book to mention that he caused some of those knocks, like when Peter, the professional life-long photographer, PHOTOSHOPPED a picture to create news.

A blood-soaked Kaine, Peter’s clone, shows up at his doorstep, and isn’t he lucky his roommate Michelle isn’t around to see it. But he has to hurry, so maybe he leaves the bllod behind for Michelle to clean up? Arachne is under attack, the same Julia Carpenter that also used to call herself Spider-Woman, and Peter swings to the rescue (somewhat clueless still). Team Kraven tries to take on both of them, and fails… but Spider-Man falls off a building after hearing some loud drums. I’m sure they’ll explain that eventually.

Arachne takes him to Mattie Franklin’s apartment, and Ezekiel shows up to hopefully explain things next issue. Mattie is sacrificed to bring some kind of wolf-creature up out of the original Kraven’s grave. Sasha claims the only way to really bring the guy back is with the “blood of the Spyder,” which we assume is Peter.

A backup tale by J.M. DeMatteis and Max Fiumara shows us Kraven’s state of mind just before his suicide (after he thought he killed Spider-Man). He is already thinking suicidal thoughts, and his hunts and sexual adventures all seem hollow, as he realizes he has little honor, and not much of things in life that make him think it is worthwhile to continue. We end with Kaine agreeing to attack him as part of a job Kraven refused to complete. It reads well, and adds a little extra something to the backstory just before Kraven’s big exit from this life.

Whatever mystery they have been building up this whole time, there’s a bigger mystery now: when will the next issue be out? Because they’re still behind schedule.

Dark Wolverine 87

by Daniel Way, Marjorie Liu and Mierco Pierfederici

Ug. Daken wakes up, his Muramasa blades removed, wandering the streets of Rome. Street urchins try to pick his pocket, as if they haven’t learned by now who is dangerous by instinct alone. Merciless Daken actually tries to give a street urchin advice, and chases her away, instead of killing her for the offense. We have way too many panels with no words and nothing happening. I guess we’re supposed to be captivated by this wretch of a guy who is feeling sad for his sorry self.

All of that effort to build him up into an enigma with his own agenda, potting and planning to rule everything, and he’s just basically bumming around Europe kicking himself for realizing that he’s never going to succeed. Then we have to waste the rest of the entire issue as another con-man tries to pick him up so he can roll him in an alley with an accomplice. The art is horrendous, with the coloring even worse, when it’s usually the coloring that tries to make up for the lack of detail. Instead, even the coloring blobs are ridiculous.

The sort is worthless, the art is lousy, and the next two issues have “Frankencastle.” Canceled. Only get the next ones if you want a four-part decompressed crossover with Punisher, where likely daddy Wolverine will have to come to the rescue or some such nonsense. Worst comic this week. This series has no purpose, and should have been put out of its pain six months ago.

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