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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

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Howard the Duck (2007 Series) #1

December 6, 2011 1 comment

October 2, 2007

Quick Rating: Average
Title: The Most Dangerous Game Fowl
Rating: A

Is AIM interested in Howard?

Writer: Ty Templeton
Pencils: Juan Bobillo
Inks: Marcelo Sosa
Colors: Nestor Pereyra
Letters: Nate Piekos
Editor: Aubrey Sitterson
Cover Art: Juan Bobillo
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It’s trademark renewal time (or something), and that means it’s time for a new Howard the Duck miniseries. Last we saw Howard (in the Civil War: Choosing Sides one-shot), he was lining up to register despite the fact that he’s about as far from a superhero as you can get. Now he and Beverly are back in Detroit. Bad dreams are plaguing Howard, Bev is getting her big shot as an actress, and some would-be supervillains are planting their flags.

This issue is a mixed bag, to be blunt. The humor is pretty good – there’s a nice bit where Howard pretty much echoes my feelings for Civil War during a talk radio exchange, for instance – and Beverly’s innocence helps drive the plot along. The rating disturbs me, though – there’s a good bit of implied sex in here, which I don’t have a problem with in general, but I don’t really think should be in a comic with an “All Ages” rating. (Considering that Howard’s last miniseries was a MAX book makes it even more ironic.)

The artwork, similarly, is seriously mixed. I have the same problem with Juan Bobillo here that I did on She-Hulk: he draws people and backgrounds wonderfully, but the non-human characters look consistently off-model and unappealing. The Thing, the Man-Thing, the various monsters Howard plays poker with… just don’t work for me. And I don’t like the redesign for Howard himself at all. The rumor mill has it that the redesign is part of a settlement with Disney, who has never been happy with Howard’s superficial similarities to their own Duck family, but that doesn’t make the new Howard, with his narrow beak and bloodshot eyes, look any better. [2011 Note: This was written before Disney bought Marvel comics. Now they own Howard.]

In the end, the good and bad pretty much counteract each other and make this book a wash.

Rating: 5/10

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

X-Men (2010 Series) #16

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment

August 28, 2011

Title: Betrayal in the Bermuda Triangle Part One

Writer: Victor Gishler
Art:
Jorge Molina
Colorist:
Guru EFX
Letterer:
Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist:
Jorge Molina
Editor:
Nick Lowe
Publisher:
Marvel Comics

The Future Foundation is in the Bermuda Triangle on a scientific research trip, when they stumble upon a mysterious message left for Scott Summers and Magneto. The two teams get together to explore another dimension in the hopes of finding the woman who left the message… who happens to be one of Scott’s old flames.

After the last story arc, Victor Gishler has returned to do what this book was really about in the first place – connecting the X-Men to the greater Marvel Universe. The interaction with the Future Foundation is cool – Spider-Man and the Thing interact with Wolverine all the time these days, of course, but having Reed and Sue in the mix is interesting. Not quite as interesting as the Magneto/Dr. Doom interaction. Both legendary villains are now in an alliance of sorts with their longtime enemies, and Doom especially is uncomfortable about it. The friction makes for a very entertaining read. I’m kind of surprised that Marvel didn’t push the FF tie-in harder, though. Going by the cover, you’d think that Doom was the only guest-star in this issue.

Gishler also draws in a wider net of X-Men than he’s used in the past, with Dr. Nemesis and Pixie getting prime spots next to Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Wolverine. The rather diverse group of characters is fun, and we get a mix here that I doubt we’ve ever seen in comics before.

I really like Jorge Molina and Guru EFX’s work on this issue, particularly on Doom. The different art style on FF sometimes makes it hard to get a feel for Doom’s new look – seeing the white cloak against the silver armor here is particularly striking.

Very good issue, well worth reading.

Rating: 8/10

Ultimate Spider-Man #68

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

November 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Popular

The Human Torch is going back to high school… with a certain arachnid.

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

When Reed Richards and Sue Storm suggest Johnny goes back to school to get his high school diploma, he’s not wild about the idea. You know he’s going to break down and go, though, because if he didn’t there would be no team-up. Johnny, predictably, winds up attending Peter Parker’s high school and falls in with his group of friends, including a smitten Liz Allen.

You’ve got to remind yourself, as you’re reading this, that the Ultimate Fantastic Four is not yet the world-famous team of adventurers their mainstream counterparts are. The characters are in hiding and the sight of someone bursting into flame is pretty startling, even for a guy with spider-powers. Bendis balances these reactions very well. In addition, this is a surprisingly strong issue for Mary Jane. We get to see several sides of her as she struggles to help her friends with various problems, and even see her slip up a bit with Peter.

After the laugh-out-loud Wolverine team-up and the unrelenting bleak tone of Carnage, this issue is kind of back to normal. There are some amusing, lighthearted moments, but there are heavier moments too. The issue is light on action but heavy on character content, and that makes up for any deficiency.

Mark Bagley gets to play with some characters he doesn’t get to use as much this issue, doing a solid job on the FF, particularly the Thing. It’s still weird to see a young Reed Richards, but you learn to get used to it. The issue is extremely heavy on dialogue and Bagley has to carry the weight of a lot of talking heads scenes – something, as luck would have it – he does very well.

As usual, Ultimate Spider-Man is a solid title, the strongest of Marvel’s Ultimate line. This issue works for people who read the title for the emotion and character interaction. If you’re looking for fisticuffs, you’ll have to wait.

Rating: 8/10

She-Hulk (2004 Series) #9

August 14, 2011 Leave a comment

November 19, 2004

Quick Rating: Great
Title: Strong Enough

Back on Earth, She-Hulk’s got to deal with her increased power level. Meanwhile, Hercules has some legal troubles of his own.

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

She-Hulk is one of those titles that everyone who samples it seems to love, but there aren’t enough readers. So if I’m persuading people, I can either write a list of each and every thing I love about this book, or I can just tell you to read She-Hulk #9, because it’s all in here.

This is a done-in-one story, but it picks up on the ongoing plot threads of the title and introduces a few more, while still supplying the reader everything he could need to know to enjoy the title. Back on Earth, the She-Hulk discovers that she doesn’t have total control over her increased strength, and she looks for help in a very logical place – her old friend Reed Richards. Meanwhile another attorney at her firm has her own problems – the Constrictor has filed a lawsuit against Shuklie’s sometime teammate Hercules for beating him (badly) in a superhero rumble.

You want to know what this issue has? Guest-stars. Comedy. A dash of romance. A faithful nod to continuity without being confusing. Logic. An ending you don’t see coming but that fits perfectly. And even a few tidbits that warn us there may be some bad times to come for our heroine.

You know what else it’s got? Great art. Paul Pelletier joins this issue as the regular penciller (after doing a two-issue stint a few months back), and he couldn’t be more welcome. He does incredible superheroes, including a more muscular She-Hulk than we’re used to, and does it in such a way that the casual reader is aware that things are unusual. He’s got a great feel for layout and storytelling, and his poses and choreography are second to none. He does a great Fantastic Four as well – his rendition of the Thing is one of the best I’ve seen in quite a while.

Haven’t tried this title yet? No time like the present. This issue gives you two complete storylines twined together (as opposed to some comics that take six issues to tell one), and the trade paperback of the first issue is on sale now. Jump on, folks. You won’t regret it.

Rating: 9/10

The Thing (2006 Series) #5

August 11, 2011 Leave a comment

March 29, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Give Till it Hurts…

Time to clean up Yancy Street!

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Andrea DiVito
Colors: Laura Villari
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Andrea DiVito
Publisher: Marvel Comics

There seems to be an unwritten rule about Dan Slott’s work – it’s universally entertaining, but not nearly enough people are reading it. It was certainly the case with She-Hulk, and now the same is holding true for The Thing, but make no mistake, this is one of Marvel’s best titles.

Last issue, Ben Grimm learned a valuable lesson about the right way to handle his billions of dollars, and this issue he starts by trying to make right one of his more recent mistakes – blowing off a promise to work at a Yancy Street pawn shop to help make amends for one of his earliest mistakes. As he works at the shop, as he sees the lives of the people in his old neighborhood, Ben starts to think of ways to make things right. Of course, not everybody is a fan of his methods.

As usual, Slott laces this issue with bits of Marvel history, not only stretching back to the earliest days of this character, but to the more recent (and brilliant) Karl Kesel story that established for certain that Ben Grimm is Jewish. The relationship between the mountainous Ben and the tiny Mr. Scheckerberg is amusing in and of itself, although the misunderstanding that happens in this issue seems to have a pretty simple, built-in explanation.

Andrea DiVito’s art, as always, is wonderful. This is one of the best renditions of Ben I think I’ve ever seen, and we even get to see him with a pretty diverse wardrobe as opposed to just wearing his FF trunks all the time. This is a low-action issue, but there’s a nice setup for a major fight next issue that I can’t wait for.

So in short – a fantastic comic book, a great issue, a small audience. If you’re not picking up this comic book, you’re wrong. Go get it – go get it now.

Rating: 8/10