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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

Avengers (1963 Series) #221

March 5, 2012 Leave a comment

February 4, 2012

Title: New Blood

Plot: Jim Shooter
Writer:
David Michelinie
Pencils:
Bob Hall
Inks:
Brett Breeding
Letters:
Janice Chiang
Colors:
Christie Scheele
Editor:
Jim Salicrup
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s an old-fashioned “Who’s going to join the Avengers?” issues, and this is a really fun one. Following some dastardly doings by Moondragon, the Avengers are down to four members. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Wasp each set out to look for recruits to join the ranks of Earth’s mightiest heroes.

Shooter and Michelinie really used the personalities of the Avengers they had well here, picking the new members based largely on how the others would go about finding them. Cap and Iron Man attempting to bring back Hawkeye makes sense, as does the Wasp throwing a garden party of sorts to invite some super-powered femmes who may be ripe for membership. The only thing that feels a little off is Thor’s attempt to recruit Spider-Man, but even that is easily justified with a quick conversation with Jarvis, who inadvertently points Thor in that direction.

Bob Hall and Brett Breeding do distinctive 80s art – the textures on the floors of Avengers mansion, the decorations at the Wasp’s house, the clothing and hairstyles of the characters involved… it’s all the sort of thing that you only saw in comic books of this particular time period. The book is quite a nostalgia trip for me as a reader.

The resulting team isn’t necessarily one of the legendary line-ups, but all six of the Avengers we’ve got at the end of the issue are characters who really define the team. Each of them feels like a classic Avenger, and four of them are actually going to be in the upcoming movie. What’s really amusing to me, though, is the list of “potential” Avengers we see on the cover (many of whom don’t appear in the issue at all). Of these 15 characters, only two of whom had previously been members of the team, eleven of them have been Avengers at some point in the 30 years since this issue was published. Funny how the Marvel Universe works, isn’t it?

Rating: 8/10

Marvel Treasury Edition #8

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment

December 23, 2011

This is one of two “Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag” editions of the Marvel Treasury series. Both issues were full of reprints wrapped in a Christmas cover, but at least some of the interior content was holiday-related. I was fortunate enough to snag them both a few weeks ago, so let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Title: Twas the Night Before Christmas (Reprinted from Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #10)

Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils:
Frank Springer
Inks:
Johnny Craig
Letterer:
Artie Simek
Editor:
Stan Lee
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

On Christmas Eve, Nick Fury is summoned to stop the Hate-Monger, a nasty Nazi remnant who has a plan to cleanse the Earth of “inferior” races, unless Nick can stop him. Fury being very much a World War II holdover himself, this sort of story was par for the course for him at this time period. The story itself was fine, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with Gary Friedrich’s script – clunky dialogue like “Save the sobs, sister! I ain’t dead yet!” permeate the story. The artwork isn’t the best either – odd poses and weak faces throughout. But at least this was a Christmas story… not the case with the next one.

Title: Spider-Man Goes Mad (Reprinted from Amazing Spider-Man #24)

Writer: Stan Lee
Art:
Steve Ditko
Letterer:
Sam Rosen
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

In this early Spider-Man tale, J. Jonah Jameson gets the idea to start running anti-Spider-Man testimony from the man on the street, thus removing himself from the equation and making his paper’s bias against the webslinger seem more legitimate. (It just goes to show you the media hasn’t really changed that much in the last 45 years.) When the stories appear, a psychiatrist offers Jameson a medical analysis that says Spider-Man is going mad… and to make matters worse, Spidey starts to believe it. Nice, classic tale from the Lee/Ditko era, fun to read, if not one of the greatest.

Title: Jingle Bombs (Reprinted from Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #7)

Writer: Steve Englehart
Art:
George Tuska & Billy Graham
Letterer:
John Costanza
Colors:
David Hunt
Editor:
Roy Thomas
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

Set in the days before he partnered up with Iron Fist, on Christmas Eve Luke cage runs into a trio of odd types with a pretty violent vision of Christmas. When Cage stands up to each of them, he discovers a different kind of villain is really behind the whole thing. The story is pretty good here – it’s a different kind of story, not just another Christmas Carol redux, as it seemed it would be. As he often did, though, Steve Englehart got a little preachy with the message of the story. Overall, though, it wasn’t bad, and it was a decent fit for Cage.

Title: Heaven is a Very Small Place (Reprinted from Incredible Hulk #147)

Writer: Roy Thomas
Art:
Herb Trimpe
Inks:
John Severin
Letterer:
Sam Rosen
Editor:
Stan Lee
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

This story, on the other hand, is just… weird. On one of his many self-imposed exiles in an effort to be just left alone, the Hulk sees a strange little town appear out of the ether. At first, it seems like a paradise, like a place where he could finally be treated like everyone else, but as he continues his journey through the town, things turn out to not be what they seem. It sounds like the set-up for a Christmas story but it isn’t, it’s just plain confusing. Some very nice Herb Trimpe artwork helps, but this is definitely not one of the best efforts from the great Roy Thomas.

Title: Eternity! Eternity! (Reprinted from Doctor Strange #180)

Writer: Roy Thomas
Art:
Gene Colan
Inks:
Tom Palmer
Letterer:
Sam Rosen
Editor:
Stan Lee
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

This is a much better Thomas story. On New Year’s Eve, Stephen Strange has a strange vision of Eternity, embodiment of the universe, locked in battle against the maniacal entity called Nightmare. He shrugs it off and tries to ring in the new year with Clea, but it soon becomes apparent that his dream was much more than that. It’s a good story with great art, but it ends on a cliffhanger. Considering the stories in this book that had nothing to do with the holidays, one really has to wonder why Marvel didn’t cut those and finish this story.

Overall it’s not a bad little collection, but it could have been better.

Rating: 7/10

Black Panther (2005 Series) #30

October 20, 2011 Leave a comment

August 26, 2007

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: Absolutely No Way To Win Part 3
Rating: Parental Advisory

Zombie Skrulls, Galactus Zombies… the Fantastic Four is in a tight spot.

Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Pencils: Francis Portela
Inks: Francis Portela
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Cory Petit
Editor: Axel Alonso
Cover Art: Arthur Suydam
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Still in the Marvel Zombies universe, the new Fantastic Four find themselves being chased down by a zombie Skrull version of the original FF, which isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds. As they do this, the Marvel Zombies continue their plan to turn the Skrull homeworld into a buffet, and one of them suggests they start using their new powers to the fullest.

While I’m not one of the ones crying that the Marvel Zombies are getting overexposed, I do think that perhaps they weren’t put to the best use this issue. By their very nature, the Zombies are a very dark, tongue-in-cheek concept, but some of their dialogue this issue (particularly Spider-Man and the Hulk) goes past simply tongue-in-cheek to simply absurd. The plot works well, the action works well, but the dialogue doesn’t work.

What does work is Portela’s art – his style almost perfectly mimics Sean Phillips’ designs for the Zombies from the original series, and the still-living heroes don’t clash at all with that vision.

Overall, this storyline has been surprisingly good. It just gets a bit too silly here at the conclusion.

Rating: 6/10

Avengers: The Initiative #5

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

August 26, 2007

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Secret Weapons (A World War Hulk tie-in)
Rating: T+

With the Initiative kids MIA, the Shadow Initiative has to break them out!

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Stefano Caselli
Colors: Daniele Rudoni
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Jim Cheung
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Initiative members sent into Manhattan for crowd control instead decided to throw down with the Hulk themselves, and got captured. Now, to keep them from becoming another “New Warriors” incident, Gyrich sends in his secret strike force of Initiative members to break them out.

This issue succeeds on several levels. First of all, we’ve established the second major faction of our cast – finding a home for Trauma and Bengal works nicely, and I simply love the fact that Slott is carrying over the Constrictor’s storyline from his own deeply-missed Thing series. We get a few more clues about the mysterious Mutant Zero, and the Scarlet Spiders show what their purpose is. All in all, everything fits together extremely well.

The final confrontation with the Hulk is equally strong. While this storyline really serves only as a sidebar to the main World War Hulk plot, it advances the storylines of this title significantly, using the crossover mainly as a background. The changes to Trauma, the continued problems Cloud 9 is having, and the introduction to the second team all works well. Plus, Slapstick gets the best line of the series thus far.

Caselli’s artwork seems to be drawing some real division amongst fans, which surprises me, as I think it’s a perfect fit. He’s got a really good handle on all the kids, placing a ninja-like character such as Bengal next to a goofy hero like Slapstick, with neither of them looking out of place. His fights are dynamic, and Mutant Zero’s big scene comes off perfectly.

This continues to be a surprisingly strong comic, and it works wonderfully with the entire World War Hulk crossover.

Rating: 8/10

Heroes For Hire (2007 Series) #13

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

September 11, 2007

Quick Rating: Below Average
Title: Incarceration (A World War Hulk tie-in)
Rating: T+

Captured by the Warbound – betrayed by Humbug!

Writer: Zeb Wells & Fred Van Lente
Pencils: Clay Mann & John Bosco
Inks: Terry Pallot
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Cover Art: Sana Takeda
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Well, here we are. The infamous “tentacle rape” cover of Heroes For Hire. Is it tacky? Is it tasteless? Maybe. But one thing’s for sure – they’d better be grateful for it, because without that cover, there’d be nothing about this issue interesting enough to talk about.

The Heroes For Hire (in a move so ludicrous that one of them even points it out) followed their member Humbug into the Hulk-occupied Manhattan, where Colleen evidently slew an infant and covered the team in its blood to help them evade detection. Somehow, the aliens took offense to this and now have the team captured. They spend virtually the entire issue debating what to do with them – with each other, with the treacherous Humbug, and the team debates what to do amongst each other. I’ve got no problem with a talking heads issue, provided the heads in question are interesting. These aren’t.

The characters here are lifeless, and the fact that even they recognize they’ve got no business being involved with the Hulk’s storyline doesn’t make this any better.

Fred Van Lente and John Bosco bring us a back-up story – essentially, a sort of initiation of the Scorpion pre-World War Hulk. It’s a decent enough little story, although it feels somewhat out of place, as the only link to the main title is that it co-stars Paladin (and not in such a fashion that it feels like his story or his book). The art on this one isn’t as good as the main title, though – a little too angular for my tastes.

This issue falls short pretty much all over.

Rating: 4/10

World War Hulk: Frontline #1

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

June 26, 2007

Quick Rating: Average
Rating: T+

Ben Urich and Sally Floyd need a big scoop for their paper. Will the Hulk’s world war do the trick?

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Ramon Bachs
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Cover Art: John Watson
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It’s been a few months since Ben Urich and Sally Floyd launched their new alternative newspaper, and they’re struggling… until a mysterious benefactor gives them the funds to stay afloat. Now all they need is a story to make their mark. Then, on cue, the Hulk arrives on Earth with an ultimatum.

The big problem with this book is that the writer is trying to do too much in one comic. There are no less than five separate storylines going on at once. You start out with a newsroom drama about a struggling paper. You throw in a mystery about who would give them the money – anonymously – to help the newspaper succeed. Then the Hulk arrives and the story shifts to being about how a reporter will cover such an event. Then we have two additional, connected stories that seem totally out-of-place, a story about an envoy from the Hulk’s Warbound attempting to establish diplomatic relations with the city of New York (the city, mind you, that they just invaded), which is further compounded by a murder mystery. And unlike the previous Frontline miniseries, this isn’t divided up among various stories in a single issue, this is all ostensibly in one story.

Ramon Bach’s art looks good. He handles the talking head stuff at the beginning just as well as he does the sci-fi/alien encounters in the second half of the book. The problem, as I said, is that there’s simply too much going on here. The book feels like it’s trying to do everything at once, and as a result, it isn’t doing any of it as effectively as it could.

Rating: 5/10