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The Muppets #1

July 23, 2012 Leave a comment

July 13, 2012

Title: The Four Seasons: Spring

Writer: Roger Langridge
Art: Roger Langridge
Letters: Litomilano S.r.l.
Colors: Kawaii Creative Studio
Cover Art: Elisabetta Melaranci & Silvano Scolari
Publisher: Marvel Comics/Disney Comics

Although Disney’s purchase of Marvel Comics a while back hasn’t hurt Marvel in the slightest, the same can’t be said for Disney’s presence in the comic book marketplace. The Disney comics, which were in very good hands with Boom! Studios at the time, quickly went away, and all we’ve gotten so far are a few Tron comics and a very lackluster Toy Story miniseries.

Fortunately, there was still one last Roger Langridge Muppet Show arc that never got to see print with Boom!, and finally, it’s seeing the light of day. In “Spring,” the first part of “The Four Seasons,” backstage at the Muppet Show is consumed with thoughts of love. Animal has fallen for one of the guests, an ape named Meredith, but a broken heart is left in its wake.

At its best, Roger Langridge’s Muppet comics have been an incredible examination of the wild humor and incredibly bizarre world that made the TV show so great. This issue isn’t quite as wild or as crazy, but he makes up for it with a nice little character arc for Animal. The issue is a little different from what you’d typically expect from this creator and these characters, but it still feels very much like a Muppet story. Langridge also continues to bring in the classic Muppet sketches and even the songs he did in the rest of his run.

We also get a lovely cover here by Elisabetta Melaranci and Silvano Scolari, a nice, lush image that’s very different from the interior art, but not in a bad way.

Although Langridge is done both with the Muppets and with Marvel, there’s still life in this property. With another movie being scripted, hopefully Disney and Marvel will be convinced to keep this property going.

 

Rating: 8/10

Marvel Universe Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #1

July 16, 2012 Leave a comment

June 15, 2012

Title: Enter the Mandarin

Writer: Christopher Yost
Pencils:
Chris Jones
Inks:
Victor Olazaba
Letters:
Clayton Cowles
Colors:
Sotocolor
Editor:
Stephen Wacker
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

It’s the first issue of the new comic with a remarkably unwieldy title, based on the hit cartoon show recently cancelled by Disney XD! Which kind of makes the whole thing seem futile, actually, which is a shame as it’s a really good series and a pretty solid comic book. In this first story, the Mandarin attacks, sending a dragon in to attack Stark Tower. As the Dragon causes chaos, Iron Man leads the Avengers to take the fight straight to the source.

This is a good story – quick, but classic in the style and format. Jones – who similarly is doing really good work over on DC’s Young Justice comic book – does a very good job of imitating the style of the show while still giving us the sort of dynamic comic book storytelling that you want in a book of this nature.

Title: The Fury Files: Iron Fist

Adapted By: Chris Eliopoulos

The second feature in this issue shows Nick Fury’s file on a new hero, not (yet, at least) a member of the Avengers: Iron Fist. Eliopoulos uses stills from the cartoon itself to show off who Iron Fist is, both as a character, and his capabilities as a superhero. For a young fan who may not be reading the other comics, it’s a good introduction to the character.

Title: Assembly Line

Writer: Christopher Yost
Pencils:
Adam DeKraker
Inks:
Terry Pallot
Letters:
Joe Caramagna
Colors:
Sotocolor
Editor:
Stephen Wacker

The second full story focuses on Maria Hill and Agent Coulson, reviewing some of the Avengers’ recent cases to determine their worth as a fighting unit. This one is definitely for fans of the show, showing the episodes where the battled Graviton, Wonder Man, the Leader and Kang, showing the introduction of Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Panther to the team… basically giving a rundown of all of Season 1 from Hill’s perspective. It doesn’t necessarily give us any new information, but it’s a good way to give a different angle on the events we’re already familiar with.

Shame the TV show is already on the chopping block. It’s a good half-hour of action and this comic is a worthy adaptation of it.

Rating: 7/10

New Thunderbolts #6

July 9, 2012 Leave a comment

March 12, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: City of Heroes?

The new Thunderbolts are New York’s only hope to be saved from Hydra!

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Co-Plotter: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Gary Erskine
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Albert Deschesne
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Tom Grummett
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Hydra’s plans become clear as the terrorist army overruns a New York without Avengers to protect it. Although may of the second-string heroes come out of the woodwork, only the Thunderbolts have the inside knowledge to save the day – because Baron Strucker has been bankrolling them from the beginning.

Considering the nature of this title, I’m really rather surprised at how many of the ongoing subplots are resolved this issue. Granted, most of then are resolved in a fashion that leaves more questions, but a lot of them are resolutions that leave more questions. Nicieza manages to pack an incredible amount of story into what’s basically an all-action issue, but he doesn’t make it seem crammed or bloated. Throughout the battle, stories and ideas are ticked off one at a time, adding up to the final package. We get the truth about Speed Demon, about Joystick, and about Captain Marvel, and despite some of the complaints I really don’t have any problem with his new status quo, although I must admit I don’t quite grasp the reasoning behind it. (There’s something bizarrely Freudian going on there, and I really hope Nicieza is planning to give us more of an explanation later on.)

Some of the stuff, such as Songbird’s actions in this issue, aren’t that surprising, but at the same time they work for her and show how far the character has come. The same goes for Mach-IV, still stuck in his old Beetle armor, but still displaying the true hero he’s become.

Tom Grummet again does a solidly entertaining job with this issue. He’s got some of the most action to draw that I’ve ever seen in a single issue, not just a fight scene but a city-wide fight scene involving hundreds of enemy agents and cameos from a lot of heroes outside of the main cast. This is the sort of thing that you usually have to see in a big summer crossover. He also gets points for a knockout cover – imagine, a cover that actually invokes the events of the issue. I’m amazed that Marvel let this get to the printer.

This book wraps up a lot of things, but there’s still plenty out there to keep us occupied. I can’t wait to see where it’ll go next.

Rating: 8/10

American Dream #1

July 4, 2012 Leave a comment

May 9, 2008

American Dream #1 (Marvel Comics)
By Tom DeFalco, Todd Nauck, Ron Frenz

The latest Spider-Girl spin-off focuses on the heir to the shield of Captain America. Shannon Carter, a.k.a. American Dream, is starting to feel a litte disconnect from the world. Her teammates in the Avengers all have normal lives in their secret identities — other friends, other interests — and she’s stuck wondering if she has any identity behind her mask. Complicating matters, however, are Red Queen and Ion Man, the remnants of the Revengers, who plan to destroy the Avengers starting with their “weakest link”: the non-powered American Dream. This is a nice start. Shannon’s dilemma is very evocative of problems Steve Rogers has had over the years, as is the idea of villains underestimating our hero just because she doesn’t have any super-powers. Todd Nauck, of WildGuard fame, is a perfect choice for this miniseries — he does teen superheroes and sci-fi tech extremely well, and the characters fall just perfectly into his style. Good first issue, enough to make me look forward to issue #2.
Rating: 7.10

 

Ultimate Spider-Man #73

July 2, 2012 Leave a comment

March 4, 2005

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: Hobgoblin Part 2

What has Harry been up to?

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: J.D. Smith
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Cover Art: Mark Bagley
Publisher: Marvel Comics

When this book is on, it’s one of the best comic books on the market. Unfortunately, it isn’t on this issue. Ultimate Spider-Man #73 is a perfect example of how this title sometimes misfires. There’s nothing wrong with it, there’s nothing in here that’s bad, it’s just that the events in these 22 pages in no way were deserving of an entire issue to tell.

This issue, we flashback to where Harry Osborn has been since leaving the cast of this title many moons ago. That’s it. The entire issue is a Harry flashback that shows where he’s been, what he’s been up to, how he’s been on the sidelines of some of the other events we’ve seen, and how much he may or may not remember. This is all good information. This is all important information for the story. But by the end of this issue, absolutely nothing has changed in the status quo, the story hasn’t progressed one iota. This information would have been far better served worked into another issue with actual plot progression.

Mark Bagley, as always, does a great job on the artwork. We get to see his rendition of Nick Fury and a return of the Green Goblin, plus some recreations of earlier scenes in this series and in the lackluster Ultimate Six. He does a lot with very little story.

Brian Michael Bendis is a good writer, and it’s a relief to hear that this title will be slacking back on the ridiculous number of issues that were put out last year, but since it will finally be on a sane release schedule, it’s even more important that each issue move the plot forward. This one just doesn’t measure up.

Rating: 6/10

She-Hulk (2004) #12

June 25, 2012 Leave a comment

February 19, 2005

Quick Rating: Excellent
Title: Some Disassembly Required

It’s She-Hulk versus Titania in the title bout!

Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Paul Pelletier
Inks: Rick Magyar
Colors: Dave Kemp
Letters: Dave Sharp
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Mike Mayhew
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This may be the first time doing a review has ever almost gotten me in trouble. I’m working the sound effects for my community theatre this weekend, and since I had a little downtime (and have already seen the play five times by now), I made the mistake of reading this comic book in the booth. I almost laughed loud enough for the audience to hear me.

Here’s the bullet points – Titania, who hates the She-Hulk, has taken the Power Gem from the Champion to take her down. Forced to stay in her human form for reasons that are perfectly logical, although will take people by surprise if they aren’t familiar with some Marvel continuity, She-Hulk is trapped in human form and is forced to call in reinforcement. Lots of reinforcements. Unexpected reinforcements.

Since the first issue, the two best things about this title have been the humor and the rampant mining of Marvel continuity. This issue Dan Slott turns both of these factors up to eleven. She-Hulk goes to an incredibly unlikely source to figure out how to take down Titania, and the guest-stars make perfect sense and exist to complement her, not steal the show. There are some outrageously funny moments here – such as Hercules asking his Damage Control foreman if he can take a break to go save the city and Stu telling off not only some obnoxious characters, but taking a good-natured poke at readers who may take things too seriously.

Since this is the last issue of “season one” (Marvel has promised to bring this title back later this year, and the last page even includes a self-referential gag to let the readers know when it will be back), Slott wraps up a lot of storylines or at least brings them to a point of logical resolution, where we can accept things being left for a while. We get resolution for She-Hulk, Titania, Southpaw and the law firm. We even get a little resolution for some story threads left over from Avengers Disassembled, which tie into story elements in this book.

Paul Pelletier is at the absolute top of his game. The characters look great, the fight scenes are fantastic and the visual gags all just plain work. There are panels where your jaw just drops and panels where you laugh out loud. I’m in love with this book.

This same creative team is going to take some time off to do the upcoming GLA (that’s Great Lakes Avengers) miniseries, which promises to have a lot of the same comedic sensibilities, so you can bank on me following them there. But man, I can’t wait for this book to come back for season two.

Rating: 10/10

Avengers Vs. X-Men #2

June 18, 2012 Leave a comment

June 5, 2012

Title: Round 2

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction
Script:
Jason Aaron
Pencils:
John Romita Jr.
Inks:
Scott Hanna
Letters:
Chris Eliopoulos
Colors:
Laura Martin
Cover Art:
Jim Cheung & Laura Martin
Editor:
Tom Brevoort
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

With the Phoenix Force returning to Earth, Hope Summers seems to be the logical candidate for its chosen host. The Avengers have come to Utopia so that Captain America can ask Cyclops to turn the girl over into their custody. Cyclops isn’t having any of that, though, and this issue, war breaks out.

This issue is almost entirely action – it’s the Avengers vs. the X-Men, just as the title of the book promises. On that front, at least, it delivers. There’s a lot of fighting and a lot of property damage and a lot of hero-on-hero violence as the characters draw their sides and decide quickly who’s going to fight who. Some of this is fairly logical – Doctor Strange battling Magik, for instance, or Quicksilver heading straight in to trade blows with his father, Magneto.

The problem is still that the whole book is lacking in logical sense. Cyclops seemed ready for a fight long before Captain America arrived, and the rest of the X-Men with him. Captain America came in with an entire helicarrier full of Avengers. The thing that just doesn’t make sense, though, is why. Given the number of times these characters have worked together in the past, the notion that these two heroes would go in expecting a battle, having basically decided that negotiation is not an option, is absurd. There’s never any chance that this issue could be talked out, because Captain America comes in with his big guns and Cyclops is already waiting to throw a punch from the moment he arrives. This issue, which basically just follows the violence, is notable only for a pretty effective scene where it becomes clear exactly what Wolverine’s priorities are. Although he’s not the only character to have a foot in both the Avenger and X-Men camps, he’s probably the most interesting one, and it’s not hard to see this entire miniseries shaking out to be the ultimate Wolverine showcase.

John Romita Jr., as I’ve said before, is a strong artist, but not particularly suited for large-scale cosmic events like this one. He’s more of a street level artist, and the way the moments of big power fall flat here makes that clear.

After two issues, I already feel like this miniseries – one I hoped would escape the problems of Civil War, is simply doomed to repeat them.

Rating: 6/10