Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Marvel Capsule Reviews Week 19 2008

Whoa. You turn your head around for a second and suddenly the world is upside down. So, Spidey is quippy and carefree, Bendis' Avengers don't suck no more, Secret Invasion is entertaining, and Iron-Man is not a prick? Ah, but cruel vengeful Karma, look what's happened to the darling X-books in retaliation... BOO!

Plus: Zombie Wolvie and Spidey vs H.E.R.B.I.E.(s)!


(Bob Gale / Barry Kitson / Mark Farmer)

It's catch-up time on your spidey subplots (and a big welcome to Modern Master Barry Kitson)!

Peter is moving out of Aunt May's (about time, and the old bird concurs), the Hollister campaign gets hit by Menace (the Goblin knock-off), the Fabulous Freak (the ever-adapting animalistic rodent villain) resurfaces - this time in full Armadillo gear- and spidey deals smack to save the day. Honest! It's thick-plotted, fast-paced and way full of quips, what's not to like?



(Jim Krueger / Alex ross / Steve Sadowski)

The Invaders are fighting the Nazis in WWII. Spider-man is fighting the Thunderbolts in 2008 (bloody brilliant quippage btw, get Krueger on a Spider-book fast!). Cue in an unexplainable time-warp and you get a royal Invaders vs Thunderbolts fight as a tasty warm-up to this sure-to-be-epic maxi-series from the creators of Earth-X. It's good to see the Invaders show up with some actual personality and team dynamic; I was disappointed with some of the wasted opportunities in this match-up: that's Baron Strucker's boy posing as Swordsman, not just any German... Sadowski is a prime choice for this and an excellent replacement for the usual team's artist Dougie Braithwaite.




(Duane Swierczynski / Ariel Olivetti)

What's wrong with this title? Three issues in and not much has been revealed. Cable's in the future with the new mutant baby girl. Bishop's hunting him down like a raving/cackling 2-dimensional villain (seriously, is he a Skrull or something? How do they explain this personality lobotomy), throwing trucks and ammo around. This issue Cable gets bandaged up while Bishop is taken hostage. Is that all this title will be? A Road Runner chase with a baby strap-on in a vaguely-defined somewhat-bleak future? At least it doesn't take more than a minute to read through...



(Matt Fraction / Salvador Larroca)

...and suddenly Fraction's 5-year World Domination plan jumps into focus. I honestly couldn't be more excited for a creator jumping on a character like Iron Man. Millionaire playboy, recovering alcoholic, armoured super-hero, genius futurist inventor, and head of a super-spy organisation? Fraction juggles ALL of Stark's contradicting facets with ease, drops him into a real-life political plateau, and introduces an exciting (and interestingly disturbed) new technological opponent /slash/ (love doing that) arch-nemesis: Stane Jr or Iron Man v.2.0. Good days are coming.



(Jon Favreau / Adi Granov)

A timeless Iron Man adventure, starring the boozing womanizing Tony Stark of yore, secret identity intact, Iron Man still posing as his bodyguard.

The mini... Hmm, what else... It's set in Vegas (duh), features art by Adi Granov (so you might as well be watching the movie Iron Man bursting through the page in realistic glory), sex, lizards and a giant honking big Golden Dragon --who seems to demand splash pages every time he makes an appearance. Divas...

It's not terribly interesting yet, and I can't wrap my head around the notion of a) Iron Man punching a C4-strapped air pirate through the hull of the airplane mid-flight, or b)noone figuring out his secret identity after Iron Man shows up (again mid-flight) after Stark loudly excused himself to the toilet -- but that cover and the art inside make up for any discrepancies inside. Woofta!



(Brian K Vaughan / Eduardo Risso)

That's something new: Zombie Logan! Just in case you were wondering what happens when an undying incorporeal Hiroshima survivor rips out Wolvie's heart and eats it... All-out mindless berserker rage action to wrap up a very special mini-series.



(Marc Sumerak / Ryan Stegman)

Peter tours his Latverian foreign exchange student buddy Kristoff around NY until they get blindsided by the Fantastic Four! Worth a look for the Latverian eye view on the NYC cityscape and Spidey fighting a horde of H.E.R.B.I.E. robots!



(Brian Bendis / Alex Maleev)

In yet another flashback vignette, Bendis reveals the secret origins of the new hush-hush secret Howling Commandos (shouldn't they be the Whispering Commandos then?):
Daisy (from Secret War, which I still haven't read)
Phobos (Son of Ares, fear powers)
Yo Yo Rodriguez (Daughter of the Griffin (?), can run to anywhere in the world for a bit before getting slingshot back to start. cute)
J.T. (Grandson of the Western Ghost Rider/Phantom Rider)
Layla Miller (of X-Factor fame)
Dr Druid Jr (guess)
Jerry Sledge (?).

All of them (?) super-powered legacies, with Bendis making it a specific point to address in each case that none of them are actually mutants although born with powers. Why the hatred, Brian?

It's a recipe team book intro issue with a central figure going door to door, spouting their origins in their face and recruiting them for a shady leader figure. They do make for an interesting mix of personalities, can't wait to see more.



(Matt Fraction & Rick Remender / Howard Chaykin)

'Jigsaw' part 2.

Fraction's run on this book has been building up to this. Jigsaw is back, draped as the Anti-Punisher and surrounding himself with his own Punisher family, shooting down criminals and civilians with alarming frequency, pinning everything on poor Frank. Jigsaw is a pleasure to read, with the distinctive voice and mannerisms Fraction has coloured his speech with. Unfortunately all things come to an end, as signalled by this issue's introduction to Rick Remender as co-writer in the middle of an arc, slowly starting to pull a guards switch. And ''yo yo check it out'' (sorry too much American Idol) Howard Chaykin is doing the art. I mean... Do you really need more reason to pick this up? Goferit.



(Brian Bendis / Leinil Francis Yu / Mark Morales)

Holy! This might not turn out to be a mess after all.

The combined Avengers teams encounter a ship full of lost 70s and 80s heroes in the Savage Land. We're talking a Who's Who of 'Skrully' heroes specifically selected to mess with these Avengers' (and the readers') heads. From last issue's reveal I didn't really expect to actually find myself baffled and involved in this 'who do you trust' game. But then this is why this is the issue that won me over to this SI buzz.

Some of the 'invaders' are obvious red herrings: Phoenix, 80s Emma, 70s (pre X-Men!) Wolverine, Avengers Beast, web-pits Spidey, Thor, Cap, Invisible Woman... These would be too 'loud', the reveals would be too staggering for the Marvel Universe (and would simply shit all over a lot of beloved stories).

On the other hand, superhero Jessica Jones, Hawkeye, the original Ms Marvel, Mockingbird, Vision, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, 'fro Luke Cage... I would totally see some of these working. Bendis picks the perfect candidate to seed doubt into my non-believer mind, with Mockingbird, an old favourite character I would LOVE to see returned.

The battle flies hard and fast, I do wish we got to see more of it elsewhere. There were some quick highlights, but so many other wasted opportunities. Shouldn't someone question all these characters? Wouldn't Wolverine freak over Jean returned to life? Shouldn't someone acknowledge Wolvie was replaced by a Skrull once before? Did Cage not notice his wife up there? Wonder-man versus the Beast?

Leinil Yu finally proves he's earned his super-star status, returning to an earlier tighter and defined line style but infusing it with the fluidity of his New Avengers work. This is the sort of artwork I'd like to see from him on Avengers from now on.

p.s. what's going on with this page? Leinil has had storytelling mishaps before, but I'd have hoped the editor to be on top of these for their mega-event:



(Peter David / Pablo Raimondi)

It's an X-Factor issue by the series regular creative team showcasing Quicksilver in enjoyable PAD-esque deconstruction fashion; Pietro's found himself in jail, having finally hit rock bottom, hallucinating about his father, sister, wife, kid and that wise-ass Layla Miller, trying to make sense of his situation and climb back up again. and that he does. It's a redemption issue, as a pay-off to all the work David and Hine have done with Quicksilver since House of M. Why this isn't dealt with in a normal fill-in issue of X-Factor (other titles ship bi-weekly for a month on a random basis) is a mystery, as this special is sure to sell less than the title's normal numbers.



(Mark Guggenheim / Yannick Paquette)

How stupid are these kids?

'Cyclops' shows up on their doorsteps and he's assembling young untrained teen mutants to make a killing squad for his former students who have all suddenly and inexplicably turned evil.


So he has the kids train in a 'Danger Cave' (which can emulate Moonstar's psionic attack? I'll just let that slide) and then splits them into two groups, sending them (unsupervised! with two very expensive private jets) to kill the New Mutants?

Ok, we get it, Cyclops is Donald Pierce in disguise, Cerebro isn't picking up his signal, this whole mission is a fib. What I still don't get is why we had to get deprived of the fan-favourite New X-Men roster just when it was starting to shine to get saddled with this mismatch of idiots.

p.s. a Danger room sequence? Are we already playing that lame plot card? sheesh


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