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Jul 242014

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

Thor: God of Thunder

Issue #24

Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Agustin Alessio & Esad Ribic

Published: September  2014

Thor: God of Thunder #24

This is the first time I have read Marvel comics religiously enough to be annoyed that a story was put on hold for a crossover series. Both Age of Ultron and Infinity, not to mention smaller ones like Battle of the Atom, all ran the ongoing series through the event, but for Original Sin they are creating ‘specials’ to replace them in the short term. In the past I was always reading collected trades, which in hindsight were for the most part these specials so I would not have noticed it breaking up the ongoing series, but this time it really annoys me. This issue wraps up the arc but not the story and there is so much more than needs to happen to conclude this.

I do wonder if it a sign of an astonishingly good book that the little things are what annoys me, or if it is those little niggles that mean this is merely a very good book, rather than a great one. I suppose that, as always, it is in the eye of the beholder, but I will give you my reasons and let you make up your own mind. This closes out the chapter on Roxxon and Broxton and I want to give Aaron a kick for those stupid names, or at least his decision to use them along side each other. This resolves the long running saga of Asgardia floating around Earth and for me that is a very good decision. With Attilan crashing to Earth in Infinity, Asgardia floating above Broxton, Helicarriers all across the globe, Madripoor flying around on a the head of a dragon and Roxxon clearly using more energy than it creates to hover factories in the sky, there was just too many objects inside Earth’s atmosphere and they spoilt the mystery and uniqueness of those places. Now with Asgardia gone it means there is always a reason for Thor to be torn between his two homes; no longer will it be possible for him to save people in New York at lunch and be home with the All-Mother for tea.

So, onto my niggles. The first one is still the ridiculousness of the situation; Thor has basically abdicated all of his power because Agger has run such an aggressive PR campaign making himself look like the good guy. In reality if Thor beat him to a bloody pulp and found the evidence of what he was then everything would be ok. Frankly in the past Thor has beaten up more ambiguously bad people and not had any issues, so this does annoy me, like the current run of Fantastic Four, in that it feels very contrived. If you move past this and accept that Thor is merely trying to comply with Earths laws, it does feel less of a problem; even if you know that one well placed Hammer throw would down each of Roxxons floating factories.

The next problem I have is with the characters faces. Thor is based on his movie version far too much and he looks incredibly young because of it. In all the other titles he is a battle hardened fighter clearly in his mid thirties or even forties (appearance wise, obviously he is actually 1000+ years old). Here he looks so young you question if he even needs to shave; even when he scowls there are hardly any lines on his face. However this pales into comparison with the All-Mother who looks even younger than Thor! You can make a character ‘unaging’ without making them this youthful. But again this is only part of the problem: Thor’s mother has exactly the same face as Thor’s girlfriend; it is really unnerving when you see it. Sure the All-Mother has her faced framed by a steel helmet and Roz has her red hair, but the nose, eyes and lips are identical, as if the same model was traced to provide both faces. Then again, you see Sif and Jane later in the issue and they also have the same features, perhaps this is some big cloning scandal yet to break in the Marvel world?

Now I have run out of niggles, I hope everyone will be able to make up their own mind as to how good this really is. Both endings to the book were heart warming and in one instance, rather terrifying. However I do have to mention that Thor suddenly became ridiculously strong for a few moments; while lifting an entire castle was a fitting moment in the comic, but made a mockery of times where he appears to be only as strong as Iron Man in other comics. The little girl was adorable, even if Thor is more than a little naive to think that an entire town can fit inside that structure, the sentiment was definitely well placed.

Overall, I love this book; I can overlook my little problems with it because it is so beautifully done. There is a lot of care and attention put into this, as there has been with the entire series, and it shows in all the little moments that other books simply leave out in exchange for more ‘kabooms.’ If every Marvel book was made like this, there would be a lot more delays, a lot less regularity, but I would swap that for the joy this book brings with it. I probably would not like the additional cost it would bring with it though.

Jul 242014

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer


Issue #1

Written by Mark Waid, Art by Mark Bagley

Published: June  2014

Hulk #1

For years, a general rule that I’ve had when it comes to the Incredible Hulk is that when Marvel drops the word “Incredible” from the title and just goes with the adjectiveless Hulk, it’s shorthand for “garbage ahead.”

This isn’t a hard and fast rule. For example, back when the Rampaging Hulk series shifted to become just The Hulk!, the quality actually improved a bit. But overall, series with an adjectiveless title have included John Byrne’s lackluster return to the book in the late 1990s (in which Mr. Byrne decided that the Hulk’s origin needed skrulls for some reason) and Jeph Loeb’s Red Hulk fiasco in the 2000s. Fortunately, the team of Mark Waid and Mark Bagley don’t seem to be following that trend for the new Hulk series, which gets off to a strong start.

One of the reasons this series starts off well is that Bagley finally brings some excellent art to a series that has been plagued by inconsistency in that area for years. The other main reason is that Waid leaves a lot of unanswered questions that keep us guessing. There’s a feeling of a mystery here, and it’s a mystery that actually seems to matter.

Bruce Banner has been shot. Who did it? Why did they do it? What does it mean for the Hulk? These are all questions that have answers, but we don’t find them out here. Instead, we’re left dealing with the aftermath. Banner is in the custody of an organization that poses as SHIELD in order to bring in a world-renowned brain surgeon to save him but which is not SHIELD. That means that they were able to break into a secure facility, shoot Banner, and then escape without SHIELD coming down on them.

The group tries to get the brain surgeon to implant a device in Banner’s head that will allow them to control his transformations. They make the typical villain mistake of explaining their plan before it is complete, which is one of my few complaints about this issue. Banner, the Hulk, and possibly society itself are saved by the anesthesiologist, who wakes Banner up because the Hulk saved her family years ago. This is a nice touch to add – not everybody sees the Hulk as a baddie, and he’s saved many more lives than he’s ruined.

The Hulk breaks out of the facility with ease, but he’s left with his brain exposed. This is too much for even him to handle, and he reverts back to Banner. SHIELD tracks him down weeks later and finds that he has suffered severe brain damage and has gone from the world’s smartest man to a guy who doesn’t know the alphabet.

The issue ends with the line, “He’ll never be smart again,” which is pretty painful to read. Mainly, it’s annoying because I hate when superhero comics make those absolute declarations as though they were at all true. Here’s a little spoiler alert: Banner will be a genius again in three issues or less.

Despite a couple of small complaints, I like this issue. I’m not a fan of the constant Marvel reboots, but I feel like a break from the old series was necessary. This story seems to have more drive and intrigue to it than any of the disjointed adventures we saw in Waid’s last efforts. Hopefully, he can carry this momentum forward and deliver a title that deserves to have the word Incredible in front of it, even if it happens to remain adjectiveless for now.

Jul 242014

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

We’re still feeling the aftershocks of Amazon’s purchase of Comixology, beginning with the cancelling of in app purchases) and the quickened pace of other publishers developing their own in-house comic apps, particularly those from Marvel and Image.

Image doubled down on those stakes when they announced that their own app would be offering its comics DRM free, following the Baen model of worrying less about sales loss to piracy (assuming rightly that it would happen regardless of what they did) or controlling how often their readers read their books and paid for said privilege (it’s no surprise the entertainment industry’s answer to declining mass viewship is to try and make people pay for ever viewing/read, something they’ve not yet been able to actually achieve as people seem willing to pay subscriber fees and no more).

According to Bleeding Cool, Comixology is rumored to be following Image down that road, removing DRM from content it carries as well. Unlike the Image announcement this could have very large repercussions on the digital comics industry as the app not only provides most of the digital comics in play at the moment, but much of its output is provided by Marvel and DC, neither of which are particularly interested in DRM free output and both of whom would likely exit their Comixology agreements and focus more on their own products (something Marvel has already experimented with but which DC has tried its best to avoid).

Could they ever be forced by market pressure to bring their own tools into a DRM environment, or will the fracturing spell the end of the rapid growth in the digital comics movement (the way it basically killed the direct market in the 90s)?

Time will tell.

Jul 242014

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

Probably not, but it sounds like it was close, closer than anyone would rightly imagine.

Time Warner and 21st Century Fox (the studio arm of what had once been News Corp. before owner Rupert Murdoch split the company apart in the wake of the phone hacking scandal) announced that Warner had rejected an $80 billion dollar offer from Fox to acquire the studio and television arm of the company.

The idea of the deal alone sent shockwaves through the film industry as there had been no mention of such a deal or the fact that Warner Bros. could be on the block (since it merged with Time back in the 80s, and the divested itself of AOL after the disastrous 2000 merger). For comic book aficionados the shockwaves are even larger as the deal would have taken all DC properties with it (not to mention Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) at a time when the value of those properties are at their highest ever level within the company which currently is trying to create its own JUSTICE LEAGUE franchise to match what Marvel has done with THE AVENGERS.

Of course Fox has its own comic properties in the form of X-MEN and the soon to be rebooted FANTASTIC FOUR, but there’s nothing quite like owning your own, never mind the vast library of other films.

While the deal was struck down by Time Warner’s board (likely due to the fact that Murdoch was only offering non-voting stock in a 1:1.5 deal, with no cash involved) it does suggest to the industry at large that the studio may in fact be on the table and there are still plenty of acquisition happy firms out there, including Sony and Lionsgate (which will definitely want something to fill the hole made by the end of the HUNGER GAMES films next year), and of course current granddaddy Disney.

Not that any of those are particularly likely (apart from Lionsgate) as any merger would have to be approved by the SEC and many of these companies are too large to argue effectively against a lessening in competition, especially if Disney moves in.

Still, we could see a major change in the corporate comic landscape sometime in the near future (and the concomitant shift in executives that would go with it).

Jul 242014

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

It is well known that Marvel Studios plans for the long term, starting with the build to AVENGERS and following along with long-term sequel and new franchise plans heading out at least through AVENGERS 3 in 2018.  Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has mentioned more than once how far out their plans for films go in order to make certain the plots interlock in the ways needed for their larger storylines (such as the slow building Infinity Gauntlet which has been building since the first AVENGERS) to work across multiple films. According to his interview with New York Magazine earlier in the year, the latest planning poster he had printed out for his wall went out to 2028.

While they are frequently closed mouths about exactly what those films will be, it seems likely that at least they will release at some of those plans this year at Comic Con with news that the studio has announced 5 new dates it is targeting for films.

According to the press release from Marvel, the studio will release films on July 27, 2017November 3, 2017July 6, 2018, November 2, 2018 and May 3, 2019.

Those films will be in addition to CAPTAIN AMERICA 3 on May 6, 2016, DOCTOR STRANGE on July 8, 2016 and AVENGERS 3 at some point in 2017, which will make 2018 the studios first three film year (a reality many have been anticipating for some time).

The studio gave no hints as to what to expect on those dates though many films have been talked about in active development including potential CAPTAIN MARVEL and BLACK PANTHER franchises. Other dates may well be set aside for anticipated sequels including THOR 3, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2, ANT-MAN 2 and possibly even IRON MAN 4.

Jul 242014
  • Doc Savage #3 (v2) to add Monk, Long Tom, Johnny (William Littlejohn), Renny (John Renwick), Contessa de Chabrol, Ham, Doc Savage, Inferno (Giovanni Stavros), Marla (Monks Secretary), Veronica Curtis and Frank Curtis and add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #2 (v2) to add Quentin Tane, Long Tom, Monk, Ham, Johnny (William Littlejohn), Renny (John Renwick), Mad Viking (Jared Rutter), Desmond Jenks, Thorne Shaw, Sandy Tane and Doc Savage and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #1 (v2) to add Silver Ziggurat, Wiggens Tripp, Winston Tremaine, Doc Savage, Long Tom, Johnny (William Littlejohn), Renny (John Renwick), Angelica Tremaine, Ham and Monk and add Ziggurats and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #8 (v1) to add Corto Oveja, Pat Savage, Tiny (Pat Savage Friend), Cere Oveja, El Rabanos and Werewolf (Doc Savage Villain) and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #7 (v1) to add Cere Oveja, Tiny (Pat Savage Friend), Boatface, Werewolf (Doc Savage Villain), El Rabanos, Corto Oveja and Pat Savage.
  • Doc Savage #5 (v1) to add Jean Morris and Griswold Rock.
  • Doc Savage #6 (v1) to add Griswold Rock and Jean Morris.
  • Marvel Team-Up #122 (v1) to update Joe Robertson, J. Jonah Jameson and Spider-Man and add Daily Bugle and New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Captain Marvel #25 (v1) to add New York Police Department.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #130 (v1) to add New York Police Department.
  • Shogun Warriors #19 to add United States Armed Forces and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Team America #5 to update RU Reddy, Wolf (Thunderiders) and Honcho and add United States Armed Forces and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Fantastic Four #216 (v1) to update Blastaar and add New York Police Department.
  • Shogun Warriors #20 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Shogun Warriors #18 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Marvel Super Special #10 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Fantastic Four Annual #14 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Marvel Spotlight #4 (v2) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Fantastic Four #215 (v1) to update Blastaar and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Incredible Hulk Annual #11b to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Incredible Hulk Annual #11a to update Fantastic Four and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #138 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Fantastic Four #217 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
Jul 232014

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

The undeniable success Marvel had with its Superior Spider-Man stunt over the past year—with its massive sales for Amazing Spider-Man’s sign off and then even larger sales for Amazing Spider-Man’s return—had to have some sort of shake up in how Marvel does things and the House of Ideas has started to make its plans known in a series of high profile announcements.

Starting with a visit to the View early in the week, Marvel announced that writer Jason Aaron’s current run on Thor will encompass the legendary Odinson being judged as unworthy to wield Mjolnir (as already foreshadowed in Avengers) with the hammer being taken up by a woman (identity to be revealed at some future date) who will take Thor’s place in the Marvel Universe, at least for some time.

Then Wednesday Joe Quesada arrived on The Colbert Report to announce that Steven Rogers would be putting aside the mask of Captain America in the pages of Rick Remenders’ Captain America book, with long time alley Sam Wilson, A/K/A The Falcon, taking over the wearing of the red, white and blue.

The big changes are part of Marvel’s latest (and beginning to become annual) line-wide soft-relaunch to keep its annual sales figures supported, this one known as Avengers NOW!.

While the mass media has made much hey out of the line up changes with several front page stories (due in part to the way in which the information was released, and of course the limelight brought about by the success of the related films), long time comic-readers are likely much more measured in their reactions as this will be approximately the eleventy-millionth time for either character to temporarily lose their places with the expectation that they will likely take them back in 12 months or so, if for no other reason than the inherent conservatism of super-hero fans. It’s a feeling that has likely been increased following the year long push for readers to accept the Dr. Octopus Spider-Man status quo as permanent despite plans calling along for Peter Parker to return to the book, not to mention the successful film series starring the classic versions of (most) of the characters.

Jul 232014
  • Force Works #9b to add Century, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), John Walker, Amanda Chaney and Happy Hogan and add Force Works.
  • Giant-Size Spider-Man #3 to add Monk, Renny (John Renwick), Long Tom, Desinna, Tarros, Ham and Johnny (William Littlejohn) and update Doc Savage and add New York Police Department.
  • Marvel Two-in-One #21 to add Renny (John Renwick) and Monk.
  • Doc Savage #2 (v1) to add Renny (John Renwick), Son of the Feathered Serpent, Morning Breeze, Carlos Avispa, King Chaac, Princess Monja, Monk, Long Tom, Doc Savage, Ham and Johnny (William Littlejohn) and add Red Fingers.
  • Doc Savage #4 (v1) to add Harry Pace , Lorna Zane, Ull, Hugh McCoy, Pat Savage, Monk, Long Tom, Ham and Doc Savage and add Silver Deaths-Heads and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #7 (v1) to add Ham, Monk, Doc Savage and Renny (John Renwick) and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #6 (v1) to add Renny (John Renwick), Monk, Ham and Doc Savage and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #1 (v1) to add Ham, Johnny (William Littlejohn), Long Tom, Monk, Renny (John Renwick), Son of the Feathered Serpent and Doc Savage and add Red Fingers and New York Police Department.
  • Doc Savage #5 (v1) to add Johnny (William Littlejohn), Renny (John Renwick), Long Tom, Ham, Monk and Doc Savage and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #8 (v1) to add Doc Savage, Monk, Renny (John Renwick) and Ham and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Doc Savage #3 (v1) to add Ull, Pat Savage, Hugh McCoy, Harry Pace , Lorna Zane, Long Tom, Monk, Ham and Doc Savage and add Silver Deaths-Heads and New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #135 (v1) to add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Captain America #336 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Daredevil #249 (v1) to remove Darla and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #130 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Classic X-Men #16 to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #132 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #133 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #136 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #137 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #129 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Power Man and Iron Fist #62 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Power Man and Iron Fist #61 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • X-Men #131 (v1) to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Updated Doc Savage
Jul 222014

Weekly Marvel Roundup 07/13 - 07/19


Savage Hulk #2
Written and Drawn by Alan Davis with Mark Farmer and Matt Hollingsworth
Let me see. I dislike older comics because I find their art painful and the stories horribly scripted. I hate comics that needlessly mess with the timeline and insert in nonsense stories for effect. I am not the Hulk’s biggest fan. So if I said this book was about the Hulk, set in a space in the 70’s X-Men continuity and drawn with the intention of aping that style then you would be unsurprised to hear that I am not this books biggest fan.

I have stopped reading Savage Wolverine because it stopped being a current 616 book and became a bunch of flashbacks, flash forwards and future-history comics. Well fortunately I think I can do the same here, because this brings nothing to the Marvel Now! timeline and based on the last page of the comic, I really do not want to see how much more they can break continuity.

Original Sin: Hulk Vs Iron Man #2
Written by Mark Waid and Kieron Gillen with Art by Luke Ross and Guru e-FX
Well we have now learnt an important fact of Marvels convoluted time line; Banner became the Hulk a decade ago, so that is 50 years of time compressed into 10. I am not sure if it matters, I expect in another 20 years they will say it has only been 12 years because even with slowing down time as much as they have, by 2100 they will still be old men and no longer appealing to the current generation.

Much of my complaint with the previous comic also applies here. They are crow-baring in some extra history into a time where inter-comic crossovers were limited to ‘who is punching who this week.’ However there is a difference; what they are doing here is giving an explanation for something that happened, yet has never been explained; no one knows whose finger that was that pressed the fire button all that time ago in Incredible Hulk #1. Ok, I am sure that they are not going to make it Tony’s finger and imply that he intentionally fired the bomb while Bruce was out there, but I am giving them some creative licence to re-write that bit into an accident or sabotage.

I am not certain why I prefer this to Savage Hulk, I think it is because they are trying to give some background and interweave this story into the past, rather than simply imply that a gigantic event went untold between the end of one comic and the start of the next.

Silver Surfer #4
Written by Dan Slot with Art by Michael Allred and Laura Allred
I hate comics where nothing happens, even more so if their entire purpose was to build up to a reveal on the last page. So, why then do I like this one? I have to say I think I might be coming down with something, even the art in this book is starting to grow on me; then again the Surfer does still look like he is wearing too much eye liner.

This book does have a meaningless Guardians crossover in it; anyone would think there was a film coming out soon? However it does give a few amusing moments, but it is likely to cause a few problems for our resident Marvel Now organiser working out when these guys possibly found time to patrol the solar system while also being split up and put on trial.

This is one of those times where art, style, writing and content each on their own would have me very much uninterested, but combined they certainly give more than I would expect. However saving it to last, while I hate an entire comic being a built up to one page, it is a pretty decent last page so credit where credit is due.

Elektra #4
Written by W. Haden Blackman with Art by Michael Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso
I think my previous worry about this series has come back to haunt me. I did have a concern that this was more style than substance and I am certain that is the case in this issue. I found much of this book really hard to follow, but at the same time had a lot of fun not understanding it. The book is unquestionably gorgeous to look at; the problem is there is absolutely no line between real and imaginary. Now I do realise that this is intentional, Elektra is undergoing some pretty mind bending situations, but as the reader I would love it if things were a little less blurred.

I do also have a few more standard problems with this book. For starters, why is it that every supposedly ‘poor’ hero has his or her own intergalactic space ship and why does every wackjob villain seem to have managed to cobble together a similar effective vehicle using a box of scraps they found in a cave? (Apparently that’s rule 64, I only learnt that yesterday). 

One thing I found hilarious was that the villain in this book appears to be able to swim underwater less than 3 inches deep; there is no other way that he could strangle a bird from under the water while it was walking around. I do find it ironic that this leapt out at me, but I completely missed the gaff in Original Sin #6 as I will mention below.
This book is really good to look at, not so great to read; 12 months ago I would have said it was just my sort of comic, but I think I need more now.

Secret Avengers #5
Written by Ales Kot with Art by Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson
If ever a book has profited by a relaunch, it is this one. The previous volume was hardly a bad book, but it got so wound up in its own double/triple agents that I started to question my own sanity. This book does one thing and it does it extremely well; I want to know more. I do not buy this because of the art, to be frank, it really is not very pretty; I certainly do not buy it for the characters because it shows them in the worst possible light. I buy it because I have absolutely no idea where this is going, no clue who is on whose side and given the shock nature of this issue, who is going to be maimed next!

Maria Hill is in league with MODOK to the point where I am nearly screaming at them to get a room. If he was not some gigantic head on mechanical legs I very much think that there was something going on with them. Coluson is upset, Fury is in pain, Widow is being devious and Hawkeye is getting the cold shoulder. Oh, and did I mention that an alien killing machine is pregnant?

She-Hulk #6
Written by Charles Soule with Art by Ron Wimberley
They are really turning every stone to find an artist for this one, I am just not certain that’s the right place to look; maybe they should try and get them from the same place the other comics they produce get theirs from. Ok, this is an improvement, but that is definitely not a compliment. If I had not seen the previous issues then this would get a solid thumbs down from me as although it is different, it is still subpar. 

One of my pet hates is inconsistent art; I can accept inconsistency to a point between artists, you need to allow for them to express themselves, but there are limits. There are at least four completely incompatible depictions of She-Hulk in this comic. The cover has the traditional fine featured, defined muscle but slim athletic build; the introduction page has the original artist who made her look like a wide faced Princess Fiona; then we have the She-Hulk lawyer who has such masculine features and a grey skin tone I thought it was a completely separate character; and finally we have her fighting where she suddenly ‘Hulks out,’ grows and rips her clothes.

This is a mess and the mess is not with the story. I want to read this story, I really do, but right now I would swap all of this for practically any other artist, including some that I really do not like, and then I would genuinely enjoy this book.

Ms. Marvel #6
Written by G. Willon Wilson with art by Jacob Wyatt and Ian Herring
Why does Marvel always insist on changing two things at the same time, one that I like and one that I hate? This issue sees the introduction of a new artist, who is not even close to Alphona who did the first 5, but it also sees the introduction of a Muslim character who is not a stereotypical idiot. So while on the one hand Marvel have answered my prayers and given us Shelkh Abdullah who is what an older role model should be, they take away my only ‘pull’ the series had which was an artist that I love.

While learning about a new superhero finding their powers was interesting, the story now is edging towards farce. This parrot headed villain is ridiculous and reminds me of a Scooby Doo baddy. You simply cannot take him seriously, but then he is put to shame by the crocodiles with frikkin laser beams on their heads. Throw in a giant crocodile and what must be one of the last cameos by the soon to be deceased Wolverine and I am barely conscious by the time I get to the end of the comic.

This starts out well, goes rapidly downhill and is terribly let down by the art which reminds me of a Sunday newpaper comic strip with its wobbly lines and muddy colours.

Original Sins #6
Written by Jason Aaron with Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin
I am certain someone is going to laugh at me for this, but I am saying it anyway; why on earth does Midas look exactly like Ben Grimm? I will be honest, it is not the only part of this comic that has me puzzled; the one thing I really want an answer to is how can the Black Widow and an unhealing factored Wolverine survive an explosion from 1 foot that was big enough to bring a building down around them? I will accept Tony Stark, the Iron Man armour can take punches from Thor, I will even just about swallow Captain America managing to huddle down behind his shield, but the other two? They are crispy fried and squashed. What puzzles me even more is how I missed it the first time round and someone had to point it out for me!

Moving on from that throw away moment of silliness, the rest of this is as good as this series has been, if not a little bit slower than previously. The last couple of issues have moved less than the start of the series with everything feeling very static and plot-dumpy, however when you have a plot like this to dump, it is all worth it.

I love the last page of this comic, they are really working very hard on their cliffhangers and this one is an absolute classic. They are not your traditional ‘to be continued’ endings where you see a cloaked figure behind our heroes ready to strike, only to find out it is their mum with the tea tray in the next month; what they are is a statement that you need to buy the next issue so you can find out how that image will change the way you think about comics for a while.

Magneto #7
Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta , Javier Fernandez, Jordie Bellaire and Dan Brown
Before I get stuck in, I need to say this is a good book and has been since the start of the series. That said, I am starting to have an issue with it. The biggest problem with this book and its lead character is that his powers are too ill defined now. Fair enough, gone are the times he can move a steel structure into orbit, I can accept that, but the power of the plot seems to have more effect on him than any logical deficiencies on his part. 

At the beginning of this series he levelled a building using a combination of the blob and a Helicopter, but now he seems nearly incapable. Fair enough at the start of the issue he explains that the cell he is in is not in fact stopping him from escaping because he wants to know where he is to be taken, but once he is there it really falls apart. He comes across a creature who is skinned in metal, the singular sort of creature who is completely at his mercy, yet he tries to punch it. Seriously, punches a great big steel beast in the face. What makes it worse; he actually manages to make it bleed!

The way he finally defeats it is laughable, why did he need to use his hands? Turn what he turned out, in and it was all sorted for him. He then proceeds to punch a few guards when hitting them on the head with their own weapons would have been far easier. I was about to accept that he was injured and tired and therefore his powers were not at their peak, that is until at the end of the comic he rips and entire steel bared cell in half.

Bring back some sanity to his power usage and this is still a fantastic book, but the holes in it right now are glaring.

Avengers World #9
Written by Nick Spencer with Art by Stefano Caselli and Andres Mossa
This comic really comes down to a check list of the things I love and hate about it. On the plus side is really gorgeous art with some pretty spectacular crowd scenes and detailed backgrounds even in small panels. On the downside is the really hard to follow narrative method that has started 4 currently unconnected stories across the last 6 months which means you only pick up on any one of them about once every 2 and half months. Add to that the difficult to follow time travel nature of this issue with locations that do not appear in other comics and you understand why I find this interesting and bemusing at the same time.

The final page really deserves a kicking. I will not give it away but basically in the future time line they meet the Avengers of that time. These Avengers are all really quite young and it goes into detail explaining who they are. They are all utterly ridiculous along the lines of Wolverine and X-23 having a child, that level of stupidity. I would have accepted one of them being out on a limb like that, but not all of them. I really do wonder if Mr Spencer has been hiding under a rock for the last few years and not noticed that most of the people listed on that page hate each other with a deep and unabiding passion.

This issue is not for me, but the book as a whole will be fine because next week it is likely to be back underground in Italy or in the sky, on a dragons head in Madripoor. Actually, in hindsight all the stories are a bit ‘out there’ perhaps this should not surprise me.

All-New X-Factor #11
Written by Peter David with Art by Carmine Di Giandomenico and Lee Loughridge
I say this every time, but this comic gets better each issue, and at this rate is going to be one of my favourite series. That is not to say it is without its faults, there is still way too much yellow in the colour palette; almost all the backgrounds are on the yellow-orange spectrum and I am not certain why. However that is about as far as my complaints with the art go, which is really quite something considering how much I hated the first issue. What makes it even stranger is that nothing has actually changed. I fired up a copy of the first issue expecting to see a marked difference, but there was none; this art style has really just grown on me over time.

This is the end of the second arc, the first was putting the team together, and this is testing them out to their fullest. I am sure that next month there will be a big rounding up waste of space where nothing happens, but that means that this issue got all the really good bits. Gambit naked and being tortured is unendingly funny, but I am very grateful for where they put his hand restraints.

The second to last page is glorious, it probably is not even that difficult to do, but it looks absolutely fantastic and the fade away on the last page is equally effective. I really hope this comic keeps up this level, but knowing my luck, it will be cancelled by Christmas.

X-Men #16
Written by Brian Wood with Art by Matteo Buffanagni, Gerardo Sandoval and Paul Mounts
This book gets a big plus point for managing to be a single story rather than the recent trend for an anthology book; however they probably chose the weakest issue in which to make the change. There is some drivel here about someone from the future changing the past and why that may or may not be correct. Who cares? Time travel from the future only matters to the future, not the present, so if you care not for the future you left, then changing the present is utterly irrelevant to you. Unless you kill your own mother that is, which as it turns out is presently a possibility.

There is a living forest out to get them, an imprisoned vampire, Storm being her usual bossy-britches and a villain whose entire plan revolves around the X-Men being stupid. This team is uninspired, the book has been pulled from end to end by crossovers and character overuse; I am not certain anything can save this book from its own falling readership and lacklustre stories. Even Sandoval cannot make me interested in this book and that is like a bee refusing honey.

Nova #19
Written by Gerry Duggan with Art by David Baldeon, Terry Pallot and David Cuirel
This book has the best cover this year and it was not even done by Mark Brooks! Paco, take a bow, that is horrifying and wonderful all at the same time. To be honest, the rest of the book lives up to it; the art is fantastic, if a little stylized; the story is funny, unsurprising with Duggan at the helm; and the villain is suitably nasty with a convoluted enough plan to make Goldfinger jealous.

Rocket turns up and tries to help Sam, but his idea of help involves shooting things with a very big gun. The moment where he is used as a living scarf will stay with me for a long time, but what I want to know is where he was hiding his uniform! This book works all round, there are no weak spots and it is great to see Nova being such a pivotal part of the Marvel Now universe, or perhaps I should say ‘Novas.’

The next issue should be fantastic so long as they manage to live up to their promises, but even if they find a way of weaselling out of it, this is a book I look forward to every month.

Uncanny X-Men #23
Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Kris Anka
This is strange comic for me, I knew I had read all of this week’s books, but when it came to putting something down on paper, I realised I remembered nothing about this one at all. Having re-read it, I think I know why. This issue has no over arching story, nor does anything typically dramatic happen, but what it does do is set up at least four clear story plots and probably even a few I missed. So while it is not necessarily the most memorable comic, it is really rather important.

Although nothing blows up and no one dies, there are some rather rare events in the comic, including; Scott admitting he was wrong, that has to be a first; a two page silent section where Dazzler goes slightly loopy ending with a picture of a pair of scissors; and the She-Hulk drops the ‘C’ bomb in Storms lap.

I complained previously that this comic had lost direction before the last little arc, but now it appears to have so much direction I hope they give themselves time to explore them all. This looks to be the X-title with the most potential currently, closely followed by All-New. Unsurprisingly they are both written by Bendis, do you think he has time to take on a few more series?

Thunderbolts #28
Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker with Art by Gerado Sandoval and Israel Silva
I know that Sandoval’s art style is not for everyone, but I absolutely love this book! Yes I know some of the women look like they have been wearing a corset from birth and I know that some of the facial expressions are over played, but it has such life and detail with a feeling of movement even in the most static of scenes. He uses digital effects where they really work (Ghost riders spinning chains) but he resists the urge to use them every time someone moves quickly. I could fill the rest of the page with why I love the art, but that would be doing a disservice to the story.

This comic does a wonderful trick of giving each character their own time, it genuinely feels like five mini-comics all in one book, but without them being unconnected like an anthology. In fact the comic feels a lot longer than the standard 20 page fair, but does so without being slow or being over wordy, it is a miraculous trick.

I could also go on about all the bits in the comic I loved, but there is literally something on every page. This is about as good as this book gets, but I heard the sad news that it only has a few issues left before cancellation. In the meantime I hope this carries on to a glorious ending, it is just shame it cannot go out with a proper bang and kill the lot of them.

Jul 222014
  • Ultimates Last Stand #2 to add Thor (Ultimate), Human Torch (Ultimate), Captain America (Ultimate), Iron Man (Ultimate), Spider-Man (Miles Morales) (Ultimate), Hawkeye (Ultimate), Spider-Woman (Ultimate), Magma (Ultimate), Armor (Ultimate), Link (Ultimate), Guardian (Ultimate), Colossus (Ultimate), Jean Grey (Ultimate), Kitty Pryde (Ultimate), Mr. Fantastic (Ultimate), Amadeus Cho (Ultimate), Black Widow (Monica Chang) (Ultimate), Thing (Ultimate) and Invisible Woman (Ultimate) and add X-Men, SHIELD and Ultimates.
  • Cataclysm Ultimate Spider-Man #2 to add Invisible Woman (Ultimate), Human Torch (Ultimate), Iron Man (Ultimate), Hawkeye (Ultimate), Thor (Ultimate), Captain America (Ultimate), Jefferson Davis (Ultimate), Bombshell (Lana Baumgartner) (Ultimate), Cloak (Ultimate), Tandy Bowen (Ultimate), Spider-Woman (Ultimate), Thing (Ultimate) and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) (Ultimate) and add Ultimates and Young Ultimates.
  • Cataclysm Ultimate Spider-Man #3 to add Spider-Man (Miles Morales) (Ultimate), Captain America (Ultimate), Tandy Bowen (Ultimate), Bombshell (Lana Baumgartner) (Ultimate), Cloak (Ultimate), Jefferson Davis (Ultimate), J. Jonah Jameson (Ultimate) and Spider-Woman (Ultimate) and add Young Ultimates.
  • Cataclysm Ultimates #3 to add Hulk (Ultimate), Punisher (Ultimate), Gah Lak Tus (Ultimate), George Tarleton (Ultimate), Phil Coulson (Ultimate), Black Widow (Monica Chang) (Ultimate), Emil Blonsky (Ultimate), Abigail Brand (Ultimate), Stature (Ultimate), Hercules (Ultimate), Falcon (Ultimate), Machine Man (Ultimate), Dum Dum Duggan (Ultimate) and Nick Fury (Ultimate) and add AIM, SHIELD and Howling Commandos.
  • Cataclysm Ultimates #2 to add Hulk (Ultimate), Gah Lak Tus (Ultimate), George Tarleton (Ultimate), Hercules (Ultimate), Falcon (Ultimate), Dum Dum Duggan (Ultimate), Machine Man (Ultimate), Nick Fury (Ultimate), Stature (Ultimate), Abigail Brand (Ultimate), Punisher (Ultimate) and Emil Blonsky (Ultimate) and add AIM and Howling Commandos.
  • Cataclysm Ultimates #1 to add Hulk (Ultimate), Gah Lak Tus (Ultimate), George Tarleton (Ultimate), Iron Man (Ultimate), Emil Blonsky (Ultimate), Hercules (Ultimate), Dum Dum Duggan (Ultimate), Punisher (Ultimate), Machine Man (Ultimate), Abigail Brand (Ultimate), Falcon (Ultimate), Stature (Ultimate) and Nick Fury (Ultimate) and add Howling Commandos and AIM.
  • Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos Annual #3 to add Bull McGiveney (Silver Age WWII), Jasper Sitwell, Samuel Sawyer, Dino Manelli, Eric Koenig, Percival Pinkerton, Isadore Cohen, Robert Ralston, Gabriel Jones, Dum Dum Dugan and Nick Fury and add SHIELD and Howling Commandos and remove Harrington Byrd and remove United States Armed Forces and to update creator listings.
  • Ultimates Last Stand #5 to add Iron Man (Ultimate), Invisible Woman (Ultimate), Mr. Fantastic (Ultimate), Spider-Man (Miles Morales) (Ultimate), Kitty Pryde (Ultimate), Thor (Ultimate), Thing (Ultimate), Black Widow (Monica Chang) (Ultimate), Wolverine (Jimmy Hudson) (Ultimate), Jean Grey (Ultimate) and Storm (Ultimate) and add SHIELD, X-Men and Ultimates.
  • Ultimates Last Stand #4 to add Spider-Man (Miles Morales) (Ultimate), Amadeus Cho (Ultimate), Black Widow (Monica Chang) (Ultimate), Mr. Fantastic (Ultimate), Magma (Ultimate), Guardian (Ultimate), Iceman (Ultimate), Rogue (Ultimate), Colossus (Ultimate), Wolverine (Jimmy Hudson) (Ultimate), Storm (Ultimate), Jean Grey (Ultimate), Kitty Pryde (Ultimate), Invisible Woman (Ultimate), Hawkeye (Ultimate), Thor (Ultimate), Iron Man (Ultimate) and Captain America (Ultimate) and add SHIELD, X-Men and Ultimates.
  • Ultimates Last Stand #3 to add Iron Man (Ultimate), Mr. Fantastic (Ultimate), Spider-Man (Miles Morales) (Ultimate), Captain America (Ultimate), Invisible Woman (Ultimate), Amadeus Cho (Ultimate), Black Widow (Monica Chang) (Ultimate), Thing (Ultimate), Human Torch (Ultimate), Hawkeye (Ultimate), Spider-Woman (Ultimate) and Thor (Ultimate) and add SHIELD and Ultimates and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Force Works #8 to add Rachel Carpenter, Hawkeye, Century, John Walker, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, P.L.A.T.O., Consuela Sanchez, Living Lightning, Abraham Zimmer, Fisher Todd, Recorder RE-404, Felix Alvarez, Mrs. Arbogast, Bethany Cabe, Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts, Agatha Harkness, Erica Sondheim, Henry Pym, Philip Grant, Captain America and Amanda Chaney and add Force Works and Stark Industries.
  • War Machine #13 (v1) to add Sheva Joseph, Rae LaCoste, James Rhodes, Locomotive Breath, Gunship, Quarry and Sanction (Aaron) and add Rush Club and Worldwatch.
  • War Machine #12 (v1) to add Ranald Jeffries, Sheva Joseph, Quarry, Gunship, Sanction (Aaron), Locomotive Breath, Rae LaCoste and James Rhodes and add Worldwatch and Rush Club.
  • Invaders #3 (v1) to add Bucky, Sub-Mariner, Human Torch (Jim Hammond), Toro, U-Man, Bill Stuart and Captain America and add Invaders, Atlanteans, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Armed Forces and Nazi Party.
  • War is Hell #14 (v1) to add John Kowalski, Stefan Von Hargin (Silver Age WWII), David Mueller (Silver Age WWII) and Death and add Nazi Party.
  • Invaders #5 (v1) to add Bill Stuart, Red Skull, Toro, Human Torch (Jim Hammond), Sub-Mariner, Bucky and Captain America and add Invaders, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Nazi Party.
  • Invaders #4 (v1) to add Betty Dean-Prentiss, U-Man, Sub-Mariner, Bucky, Human Torch (Jim Hammond), Toro, Captain America and C.B. Slinkard (Silver Age WWII) and add Atlanteans, Nazi Party, United States Armed Forces and Invaders.
  • Force Works #9a to add Scarlet Witch, John Walker, Iron Man, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Century and Dreamguard and add Force Works.
  • War is Hell #15 (v1) to add John Kowalski, Death, Lucien Dax (Silver Age WWII), Sergio Chiari (Silver Age WWII) and Guiseppe Tamarelli (Silver Age WWII) and add British Armed Forces and Italian Fascist Army.
  • Iron Man #313 (v1) to add Bethany Cabe and Iron Man.
  • Power Man and Iron Fist #59 (v1) to update Rafael Scarfe and add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Master of Kung Fu #121 to update Shang-Chi and Denis Smith and add Central Intelligence Agency and Freelance Restorations and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Power Man and Iron Fist #60 (v1) to update Rafael Scarfe and add New York Police Department and to update general comic information (story title, page count, etc).
  • Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #71 (v1) to update Ben Urich, Betty Brant, Unable to select database_studentd register1-22