Thursday, July 03, 2008

Canadian Woof #1

Kicking off a new Thursday special feature! Every week (or close enough) I'll be posting tintillating art pages of naked Wolverine for your (ok, for mine, really) enjoyment

Kicking off with something recent:

Source: Ultimate Origins #1 (Marvel Comics)
Artist: Butch Guise
Writer: Brian Bendis
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Vote Vote Vote

It's the Grand Final of Super-Villain Idol and I do need all the vtoes I can get to win this thing!

So if you're a fan of my blog and my writing (and you have a Comixfan user account) please visit this link and cast your votes in my favour!
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Green Lantern Code of Conduct - by G'Nort

Source: Justice League Unlimited #46 (Johhny DC / DC Comics)
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DC Capsule Reviews Week 23 2008

This will be the last capsules reviews for a week, as I take a week's holidays to sunny Portugal!

DC has a solid entertaining week with the premiere of Trinity, the much-waited return of Manhunter, a tribute to G'Nort and a wild sick interrogation scene from Midnighter...


(Rick Remender / Pat Olliffe / John Stanisci)

'Inside Out' part 4. Penultimate issue. Just when things really pick up pace, DC pulls the plug on this title. This issue is chock full of promising clues and hints about Ryan Choi's origins as the Atom, Chronos' involvement in his origins and ominous peeks into the apocalyptic future. Plus: Booster Gold, the return of the original Atom Ray Palmer and Lady Chronos - someone we already know? The humour is gone for good, replaced with a gritty apocalyptic sci-fi guilt-trip into a rookie super-hero's worst nightmare.



(Paul Dini / Dustin Nguyen / Derek Fridolfs)

Easily the best issue in the Dini run so far, as Batman tracks down a new serial killer in Gotham, welcomes Selina back into his life, and kicks back on the Bat-computer surfing the message boards...

Dini has become better with each issue at these done-in-one detective mysteries. The favourite Riddler is back with this issue (having a personal stake in this investigation), along with Catwoman -fresh off the Salvation Run planet and full of spite about Bruce's recent romantic adventures on both his titles.

Highlights of the issue, other than Selina announcing her new residency on the title (with the upcoming cancellation of her own), are the chilling reveal of the killer's identity - tying into the themes of rehabilitation and accountability running through the story-, and the sequence of pages with Batman munching on sandwiches and chatting on a detectives brain-trust online message board with Detective Chimp (Shadowpact) and a clueless Riddler!



(Peter Tomasi / Rags Morales / Michael Bair)

'Freefall' part 6. The different plotlines running through this story finally converge upon Talia Al Ghul and her concurrently-running schemes around the world to create her private super-powered army as protection against her resurrected father. The final focus is on the intriguing Mother of Champions story; we get a close look at the inhumane birthing process - with MoC reduced to a simple clog in a machine, being exploited and intruded even as she gives birth to a new litter of champions; the sequence is gruesome and sadistic in the way it's presented, underplayed and unglossed. Is the genetic donor and Daddy of Champions who I think it's going to be?

DC has stacked up a tremendous amount of talent on this title: Tomasi, Morales, and even Andy Kubert on covers, while next issue will even feature the first returned appearance of Ra's Al Ghul after the recent crossover. With all that going in its favour, I was sure hoping DC would make a better any effort to promote this book through house ads or internet hype. Just a way to tell fans 'hey look, we know we drove you all way after OYL and the other crossovers, but this title is amazingly good now, big stuff is happening, you should really come take a look'!



(Geoff Johns & Alex Ross / Fernando Pasarin / Rebecca Buchman)

'One World Under Gog' part 1. In a small African village, the assembled JSA unearth a forgotten God of the Third World! Geoff Johns eloquently captures the sense of awe and power in the collossal Gog, and the mixed air of reassurance and threat that his presence causes to the heroes and people - announcing his intent to save everyone and making people's lifelong maladies and trouble disappear with a nonchalant wave of his hand and a benevolent smile.

Mr Terrific (the man of science) and Mr Amazing (the man of faith) take the spotlight during the course of the JSA's talk with, well, God - as well as Johns' favourite character since the relaunch, the emotionally and physically scarred Damage. For a book with a cast of about two dozen, Johns juggles everyone in and out of rotation with such finesse that the plot and feel of the book never once gets bogged down - the same time where other books with lesser casts crumble under their own weight.


(Jim Starlin / Ron Lim / Rob Hunter)


The 52 Space Team of Adam Strange, Animal Man, and Starfire along with -hubba hubba- Hawkman fight an alien Tyrannosaurus Rex; the Weird returns; Bizarro eats junk food and watches Sesame Street.

comparing Space Epics, Marvel is clearly the winner as Annihillation and now Guardians of the Galaxy provide a more exciting plateau of adventures and serious threats of a real cosmic level, while DC's assembled space adventurers waste their time from issue to issue fighting one inconsequential threat after another...

On the plus side, Ron Lim really has gotten back into his groove after about 10 years of wasting about. I can only hope for an eventual X-Men 2099 reunion after this project, can't I? :)



(Marv Wolfman / Damion Scott / Robert Campanella)

Raven finally confronts the new Psycho-Pirate who has been experimenting with the emotions of the students in her high school - only to come face-to-mask with a surprise twist. This title has been a bother to read, even as a shift through it each month for my reviews; Raven is forced into an uncomfortable environment where she's forcibly written to get involved with and care for characters that I, as a reader, could really not give the time of day about...

As I've moaned about for 4 issues straight, the graffitti spray-paint art doesn't help matters in the slightest, making Raven feel like the wrong person to star in her own mini...



(Chuck Dixon / Rafael Albuquerque & Victor Ibanez)

Chuck Dixon may have been unceremoniously booted off the company for reasons yet unknown, but he least managed to set a lot of things right before going - foremost being the revival of Stephanie 'Spoiler' Brown and the restitution of Dr Leslie's good name after the character-defiling War Games crossover.

This oneshot is a celebration of Spoiler's return from the dead, featuring two stories by Dixon. In the first Robin and Spoiler go on their new first unofficial 'date' together (don't forget Tim has a gf now!), tracking down a team of kidnappers. The story is narrated by Stephanie, trying to come to terms with how Tim Wayne has changed since her 'death'. The second story reveals the untold story of Stephanie's time in hiding in Africa with Dr Leslie, the good work they did there, and the attack on the diseased village that led Stephanie to return to Gotham and take over the Spoiler mantle once more.

Both stories are admirable self-contained adventures that serve their purpose of reacquainting the reader with Stephanie and bringing out her vivrant personality. I hope she doesn't get tossed aside now that Dixon is again no longer around to protect her.



(Will Pfeiffer / Ron Randall)

UGH! Here I thought DC had learned their lesson on late books and interrupting storylines. Without any particular announcement, #30's conclusion of the (finally) exciting 'Supergirl wants to cure Cancer' storyline gets pushed back an issue for an inventory story, without much warning, or even an editorial box somewhere in the issue...

The story itself is quaint - Supergirl reminiscing about her home planet, remembering moments spent baby-sitting her cousin Kal-El and visiting the Fortress of Solitude for answers from her Uncle Jor-El's Crystal memory complex. It's an ok serviceable story but it goes on to ignore much of Jeph Loeb's confusing 'Supergirl is sent to Earth to kill Superman' mumbo-jumbo that actually gets resolved/addressed in the current story-arc conclusion. Grumble.



(Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza / Mark Bagley & Scott McDaniel / Art Thibert & Andy Owens)

If at first you don't succeed, try again (and FAIL), and again...

Well, third time is certainly the charm.

DC kicks off its third attempt at a weekly comic, and all the signs are pointing that they finally understand what they're doing.

The gist: two interconnecting stories each week: the first - the core ongoing story starring the big Three - by the regular team of Busiek, Bagley & Thibert (the founding team of the Thunderbolts, there's your guarantee right there), the second -featuring satellite characters and expanding on smaller moments during the main story - by Fabian Nicieza with three (ha!) rotating penciller/inker teams.

The first issue is full of promise for a long and healthy run. Busiek right out of the gate gives us his definitive look on the relationships and interactions between Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman - their similarities, their differences (making some very astute observations) and the way they relate to each other. It has to be said also, the quaint bistro on the outskirts of Keystone makes for a nicer meeting point than a cocky private hidden other-dimensional wormhole, or the Bat-cave. Did Diana pick the venue this time round? ;)

The main story deals with the three sharing their experiences from a shared ominous dream, whilwe the back-up features the gathering of the heroes' opposing Trinity, including the sexy Morgane LeFey, the snarky Enigma (Riddler was busy), and ... just read on!

The only dark spot in an otherwise spotless issue: the cover (wow, usually it's the exact opposite these days). Much discussion has been made of the Trinity logo and cover design by Chip Kidd... The bottom line? Although it's a novel effort... it sucks. Really, it's a cheap (nar) Photoshop collage of the three logos, using the blurring effect (really? what self-respecting graphic designer ever uses blur on a publisheable logo? it never looks right, that's common knowledge) to conenct the three. I hope they see the light soon and switch to something more alluring.



(Matt Wayne / Carlo Barberi / Bob Petreca)

Final Issue. A love song to the Greatest of the Green Lantern Corps:

...wait for it...'s coming...




A team of the Corps' best (plus G'Nort) take to deep space to battle the Qwardians and Sinestro. Fans of the 'Super-buddies' and JLI will have a field day with this issue as G'Nort flies off with his trademarks irrelevant irreverence, laments his family's downfall ('bad dog!) and eventually even saves the world - with a bite that's louder than his bark.



(Marc Andreyko / Michael Gaydos)

She's back yet again! Manhunter is the clearest DC analog to Marvel's Spider-Girl!

Although not related in subject matter or theme, both titles have been struggling to find a large audience for year, shouldering cancellation after cancellation, but always taking a small break and coming back stronger thanks to their dedicated fanbase.

Manhunter is a divorced public defender and mom, who is disappointed by the lack of actual justice in the DC justice system and decides to take (you guessed it) justice into her own hands. There you have it, family drama, super-powered law, growing rookie super-hero pains, rare DC continuity gems - and the most entertainingly original and flawed super-heroine in years!

Although Andreyko catches up the reader on the running storylines through the recap pages, it's still worth hunting down the ultra-affordable collections to catch up on the rich supporting cast that Andreyko has assemble on the book - featuring every loveable C-rate hero DC has cancelled in recent decades: Chase, the Mark Shaw Manhunter, and even the man-loving Obsidian who has been acting as the JSA's wallpaper for oh-so-long!

On the art front, replacing Javier Pina as regular series, is Michael Gaydos (ALIAS), finally pried off Bendis' greedy fingers, along with new series cover artist Liam Sharp! What more do I need to show you to get you to give this title a chance?




(Keith Giffen / Lee Garbett / Rich Burchett)

Final Issue. The Midnighter is a sadistic psycho-@$ f**k killer. Memorise this to heart. Giffen spends his last issue just driving that point home, and juxtaposing it with the unconditional love he feels for his daughter.

I haven't been following the latest issues, so I felt completely out of the loop as to who this guy is strapped on the floor of Midnighter's cabin, what he tried to do to his daughter, and what's up with the duplicate Jennies by the end of the issue. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that this guy ticked Midnighter off, and this is what the big M does to people who mess with his own when he wants information out of them.

The utter sickness and depravity of the interrogation scene - Midnighter gradually amputating each of his victim's extremities, and then proceeding to cook them on a spit in front of him- is almost lost in the superhero fare art; the words and descriptions alone thankfully carry enough resonance to pull through, ignoring the visuals. I can only dread to imagine the utter sick this scene would cause under Darrick Robertson or Steve Dillon - the masters of gross-out. Just when that scene's over and you think you're safe to take a breather again, Giffen one-ups himself, and M tracks down the mastermind fishing on a boat and ties a fishing line around his neck, waiting for the first fish to bite on the end of the line and slash his neck open. Seriously, this is genius stuff that would make Ennis green with envy.

Giffen has had his hand in many pies lately, I wish we could see him really focus on one or two adult readers titles and really let his creative juices loose like here. As for Midnighter, it's amazing his solo title lasted as long as it did with Wildstorm's current state, but it's been a average to good run overall.


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Monday, June 30, 2008

Midnight Snack

Keith Giffen on the Authority - NOW!

Does DC actually know they're publishing this? To think they got queasy over The Boys!

Source: Midnighter #20 (Wildstorm - DC Comics)
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Itsy Bitsy Spider...

Source: Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1 (Marvel Comics)
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Love Hurts

Source: Amazing Spider-Man #561 (Marvel Comics)
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Marvel Capsule Reviews Week 23 2008

One last stretch of reviews before I depart for my holidays on Tuesday!

It's a week of odd pairings! Spider-Woman hits on Iron-Man (though one or both might be Skrulls- hmm), Bruce Banner hits on Marvel Girl, Rockslide hits on his teacher, the Enchantress seduces teen Spider-Man, She-Hulk picks on Red Hulk, Red Hulk picks on some deer, the Thing picks his nose and just what does G stand for in the new MODOG?

The answers will baffle you:


(Dan Slott / Marcos Martin)

'Peter Parker: Paparazzi' part 3. Brilliantly played mr Slott!

With all that fan distress over Peter forgetting his marriage and getting it on with other women other than his wife, noone really thought that MJ would be the first one to move on and shack up with a new beau.

Yeah, that's right, MJ is back, and she's the mysterious romantic interest of the Hollywood actor that Peter has been trying to take snaps of in his new day job as a celebrity Paparazzi. She's also the target of the paranoid stalker Paper Doll that Spidey has been chasing for the past three issues. Now they all converge upon the actor's villa, with Spidey kicking 2-dimensional goth stalker boot-ay, while MJ hides away in the panic room talking through a distorted sound system. Brilliant.

It's a deeply emotionally charged scenario, full of romantic irony and dramatic coincidencs; Slott doesn't let a single opportunity to explore the different facets of this, here through the dialogue between Spidey and who he thinks is just a secret Hollywood paramour. Does MJ really remember everything from the deal with Mephisto? She knows who Peter is, but... And what is the significance of her meeting with Jackpot's alterego in the end of the issue?

This is the best issue of Brand New Day so far, and it's got me excited enough to last throughout the next 12 issues at least!

Meanwhile, Marcos Martin excels in both his minimalistic approach to the character design - showing less but capturing every subtle nuance in the characterisation on the characters' eyes-, and his storytelling, with the stunning action sequence that would make Eisner envious! (ooooh, tall praise!)



(Simone Bianchi & Salvador Larroca)

Way Expensive for a regular-sized sketchbook edition. Shouldn't this have been free as a promotional item?


I did buy it, mostly because of my uncertainty it would be collected along with the regular issues eventually. For the rest of the run I'll be HC-trade-waiting.

What do you get for your big wad of money? Character designs, costume designs, some random notes, and very detailed maps and blueprints of the X-Men's new San Fran base. If you're a genuine X-geek you're bound to get excited with these tidbits, especially the look at Dazzler and hints of her joining the AXM team soon.

Concerning the costume designs themselves, they do look exquisite with Simone Bianchi's pencils, but then again ,what doesn't! I'm intrigued to see how other artists interpret them ,the big Xs might end up looking clunky, and I'm unsure any other artist could make that weird tiara setup for Storm, and the dorky Colossus costume work...


(Alex Ross & Jim Krueger / Steve Sadowski)

Geez, I hope this fight of the month formula doesn't keep up for long. After last issue's intro and 'vs Thunderbolts', the present-stranded Invaders from WWII fight against Iron Man and his Mighty Avengers.

I'm all for the formulaic 'meet-misunderstand-fight' scenario that all team-ups must follow (well, it wouldn't have been as fun if they just all got along and sipped tea for 22 pages), but this one really stretches it. The Invaders come off as overly trigger-happy -- Bucky actually opens fire on Ms Marvel before they get a chance to investigate if they really are Nazis as they presume... What if she wasn't bullet-proof? I get that Bucky is now retconned as this psychotic crazy killer kid, but would Cap really approve and foster such a 'shoot first / ask questions later' approach? Do we really need to have Bucky rip out his fingernail and use it to slash through his arm for the plastic explosives he has stashed under his skin? The whole sequence felt so sickeningly out of place in this otherwise-typical superhero confrontation. Iron Man is probably the best-written character on the book, with Krueger eloquently and succinctly capturing the post-Civil War survivor's guilt, right before the long-waited (re)match between Stark and Captain America.

Ignoring (hard as it is) the disbelief and characterisation issues, the fight itself is intense and imaginative. Most everyone gets a chance to shine, while the Sentry is kept conveniently out of the spotlight for obvious power balance reasons. Again, an explanation would go a long way, why he doesn't do a usual Superman/God fit and wipe out the entire opposing team in a wink.

Steve Sadowski is making a big comeback to mainstream superheroics with this book, his style having changed a great deal since his JSA days. Impressive and dynamic as it always is, I reckon he would benefit from an actual inker instead of what I'm guessing is digital inking from inLight Studios. That technique never delivers worthwhile results, as cost-effective as it is.



(Duane Swierczynski / Ariel Olivetti)

'War Baby' part 4.

The title is slowly coming together. Olivetti finally gets a decent handle on his characters who stop shifting in size between panels; Bishop gets a decent characterisation and clear motivation, safely taking him out of cackling villain territory and making this confrontation about means and ethics -- would you kill an innocent baby if it meant saving the lives of millions? I still wish we got a more believable explanation about the baby's significance in enabling Bishop's nightmarish future, as well as more solid clues / plot points about what happened to the mutants in this current timeline and why Cannonball is apparently the last X-Man standing.



(Matt Fraction / Salvador Larroca)

Stane Jr is using kamikaze fanatics to mass-produce living walking nuclear bombs;

AGM (Advance Genocide Mechanics) unleash the MODOG (you guessed it: Mental Organism Designed Only for Genocide, MODOK's Communist cousin);

the Philippines get (and lose) their first ever superhero team: Triumph Division (with a short-lived but imaginative line-up tat would make Morrison and Milligan incredibly envious);

Pepper Potts suddenly realises she's jealous of Tony after a certain blockbuster hit (ugh, that one sucked);

Thor and Iron-Man share a brief moment as a sequel to JMS' demeaning feud in Thor #3;

Tony Stark is interesting!

Fraction could well turn out to be the greatest thing to have happened to Iron Man since David Micheline...



(Mark Millar / John Romita Jr / Tom Palmer)

Sick! This comic made me sick and wheezy in my gut. I think it's actually the first time graphic violence in a comic made me actually - physically- sick. I applaud you gents!

What is so special about Kick-Ass? Millar takes special care to ground this book in reality. Our reality. This teen doesn't just wake up one day, decide to put on a superhero costume and he suddenly gets to kick mob ass and jump over rooftops in the dead of night. He gets a lucky break after a terrifying accident, he gets famous and way too cocky for his own good. JRJR has underplayed the violence - keeping it small, believable but getting maximum reaction but not glossing over any of it, keeping it utterly painful and graphic; keeping it real... when this issue the single barrier is lifted and the violence escalates to new lethal, Frank Miller/Garth Ennis/Tarantino levels of sick -- well, all bets are off.



(Jeph Loeb / Arthur Adams, Frank Cho & Herb Trimpe)

King-Size indeed!

I'm a recent convert to the joys of Loeb's Hulk. I guess I needed to turn some switches in my head to allow me to enjoy the pure fangeek joy of it. Of course it's the kind of writing that only works with bigger-than-life spandex artists and bright eye-gouging superhero colours.

Like McGuiness in the monthly, and these two amazing guests in this special: the legendary Arthur Adams and the babe-alicious Frank Cho. The former handles a Red Hulk vs Wendigo slugfest, while the latter, very fittingly, gives us the nitty gritty on the She-Hulk/Red Hulk slugfest that was ommitted from the regular title. Don't overthink it, just switch off and enjoy the guilty pleasure splash pages of monsters and babes kicking and punching each other in bright colours that pop out of the page.

Legendary Hulk artist Herb Trimpe also makes a comeback to the character with a short story featuring a retelling of the original Abomination's origins.

The reprint section features the famous original Hulk-Wendigo fight that introduced Wolverine, and mysteriously the Avengers issue featuring Valkyrie and the female Avengers or rather 'Lady Liberators'. Is it a hint concerning the Red Hulk's real identity? Is Red a Lady as I seemingly suspect? Freaaaaky.



(Marc Sumerak / David Nakayama / Vicente Cifuentes)

It's all laid out on the cover: Spidey gets the power of Thor - kinda -!

It's a fun fun fun issue, stretching a nifty gag into an actual plot and running wild with every possible fight scenario that could come of it. No need to overthink, just enjoy the cool Asgardian Spidey armour design with the goofy Thor-cap and the silly oversized hammer!


NOVA #14

(Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning / Wellinton Alves / Scott Hanna)

Mark Waid had wisely said (and i very liberally paraphrase): if you don't have an amazingly new approach to Galactus or a thrilling story to tell about him that noone before you has though to do, just leave the poor guy alone to his cravings. Other people have surely done the 'Oh no Galactus is about to eat a planet, I must find a way to save them, right after I fight and reason with his herald Silver Surfer', in grander and more appropriate ways.

DnA really don't yet justify their digging up of the World Devourer for this story, as it simply follows down the predictable paths outlined above. May I suggest the original Stan & Jack stories? Or even Waid's FF for the absolutely last time anything new was doing with the Big Purple Glutton.



(Matt Fraction & Rick Remender / Howard Chaykin)

'Jigsaw' part 3. Jigsaw's after the Punisher - and this time he's outsourced the job to the Hand's deadly assassins. Fraction handles the enormity of the Hand's threat appropriately - these ninjas are the deadliest fighters on the face of the Marvel Universe after all; after certain recent Bendis and Millar-penned ninja overdoses, it's great to see the Hand get its good name cred back. Meanwhile G.W. Bridge (X-Force) has assembled his anti-Punisher all-Girl team of Silver Sable, Contessa Valeria de la Fontaine and Domino, and is reviewing the case of Jigsaw's murdering fake Punisher. It was refreshing to see the good guys actually figure a setup out instead of blindly falling into a villain's plan.

As fun and gorey as the issue was, the general premise of 'Punisher as part of ongoing Marvel continuity' kept shouting in the bakc of my head about silly minutia during the entire read. If this is a continuity book, then who's that leading the Hand? Is it Skrullektra? Is that the Skrull Contessa as part of Bridge's anti-Punisher team or the real deal?

Grrr, just shut up and let me enjoy the stabbing fun! (Punisher turns another fan schizo)



(Brian Michael Bendis / Leinil Francis Yu / Mark Morales)

The pacing of this thing is giving me a migraine. So, the Young Avengers and the Initiative (the junior versions of New/Mighty Avengers) fight it up against the invading Super-Skrulls in NY, Captain Marvel invades Thunderbolts mountain (following the 'Who Do You Trust' one-shot, and leading into Thunderbolts), Spider-Woman casts some serious doubt over Tony Stark (though she could be just playing him), Jarvis takes down the Heli-Carrier (again...), Nick Fury shows up with his new Howling Commandos (from Mighty Avengers #13), while the rest of the Savage Land Avengers are nowhere to be seen.

In terms of structure and plot, it's more reminiscent of the original DC Crisis - a good thing in my mind - yet hardly a self-contained event. It could seriously benefit from editorial boxes or at least a back page listing all the links between different titles as they all weave in and out. Characters are introduced off-book and make an appearance here, before their story is resolved in a whole different title altogether... Not every fan knows to check Newsarama or the blogs for the connections.

Between this and Final Crisis, this looks likely to be an amazing summer for Big Events!



(Paul Tobin, Tony Lee & Yamanaka Akira/ Derec Aucoin, Ramon Bachs & Yamanaka Akira)

'Bang for your buck' doesn't begin doing this anthology title justice. Cosby & Panniccia on he credits should have been guarantee enough. 100+ pages of comics for all tastes:

Tobin & Aucoin provide the headline unusual team-up. Marvel Girl and Spidey are tasked from SHIELD with baby-sitting the 'man who turns into Hulk', trying to keep him calm, tranquil and non-Green while all sorts of super-villainy erupts around them. It's an oddball gag premise and Sumerak milks it for all it's worth, making these characters shine off each other and provide humorous exchanges as Banner geekily hits on the underage Jean Grey, Spidey fusses over his personal life and they both try to sneakily fight evil over dinner without Banner noticing. Sure, there's a lot of creative freedoms taken with the characters, but for a non-continuity Marvel Adventures story, the only criterion that matters is the fun factor.

Lee & Bachs provide a heart-warming run-of-the-mill story of Spidey discovering a homeless kid who uses his super-hero identity to score sympathy free meals in the local convenience store. A bit too overhanded to elicit any response from me as I ended up speed-reading through the half of it to move on.

Two full-issue reprints: the Bagley-riffic Venom Lethal Protector #1 and the touching Spiderman: Death * Destiny #3 with Lee Weeks.

Finally, another installment of the Manga Spider-Man J, with Friendly Tokyo Spidey facing off against the Japanese Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom! While not usually a fan of this particular series, I fell in love with Yamanaka's rendition of hot-headed Johnny (the dude works soooo well in terms of Manga's physical emotionality) and his bonding with Spidey J.



(Brian Michael Bendis / Butch Guice)


So: Nick Fury, Wolverine (James Howlett) and Fisk (one of Kingpin's ancestors? Wilson himself?) are stationed together during WWII; after an unfortunate slight, they are all captured and experimented upon as part of Operation Rebirth: the project that would eventually create Cap. Nick Fury is revealed as the first successful Captain America (freaky), while the experiments on Howlett lead to the creation of the mutant X-gene that will later spread and populate the Ultimate Earth with mutants...

I do recognize the inherent geekboy-cool appeal of this sort of reveals and twisty interconnectedness, but in the end -- do we care? In the context of the Ultimate Universe - the supposedly accessible edge-cool reinterpretation of the heroes in a modern setting- this sort of enhanced continuity hurts the accessibility of the titles and ultimately (har har) doesn't feel as significant since it's not the 'real' thing anyhow. If the series of revelations happened in the 616 universe instead, they would feel like prima-donna-ism and hollow changes for their own sake that wouldn't stand the test of time. In the end, the only real mark of merit is the value of the story itself; so far it's stayed to much on the surface, relying on the familiarity with the characters to give out a steady supply of shocks and geek-gasms.



(Marc Guggenheim / Yannick Paquette / Ray Snyder & Kris Justice)

Surprise Surprise, the young blond (could he really look more generic) new mutant recruit turns out to be a turncoat for Donald Pierce! Shock! As mentioned in the previous reviews, do they actually hire him out from Xavier's every time a new team starts, to provide predictable plot twists and be a punching bag for the X-Men's young? As for 'Ink', the mutant who gets a different power for each tatoo on his body - is there a specific reason his tattoos only appear for a few panels each and are then forgotten about? Do they dissipate? How does he really have time to get new ones between fight scenes? Is there any pseudo-sci/fi logic behind them or are they simply an ultra-convenient plot device to have around?


The plot and setup still don't make much sense in the broader X-universe scheme of things. We all assume 'Cyclops' ('d better be) is a dupe and the original New Mutants aren't really evil world-usurpers, but this issue doesn't provide any hints at all to that end.

Ignoring aaaaaaall that, we do get a very dynamic and exciting choreographed battle sequence between the Young X-Men and the lava-cious Magma.

Once more, can we please bury this car-wreck and bring the New X-Men kids back in the forefront under Kyle and Yost? Hmmm?


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