World War Hulk: Gamma Corps #3 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

World War Hulk: Gamma Corps

Issue #3

Written by Frank Tieri, Art by Carlos Ferreira

Published: November 2007

As we continue on with World War Hulk: Gamma Corps, part three of four remains flashback-heavy, but this time it isn’t our titular team that’s getting their backstory revealed. Instead, that honor goes to the villainous General Ryker, whose relationship with his wife gets explored while the team of gamma soldiers takes on the Hulk.

Fans from Paul Jenkins’ run on the Hulk in the early 2000s know that Ryker tormented our hero as a means of finding a cure to his wife’s cancer. Now, as the Gamma Corps take on the Hulk one at a time (a poor military tactic, but one that works here), we see the development of Ryker’s career, from government secret agent to almost-retiree to obsessed Ahab-like general once his wife falls ill. Ryker’s
story might have been compelling if this were the early 90s, back before shows like the X-Files made men in black with villainous yet sympathetic pasts something of a cliché. Instead, there’s nothing that really separates Ryker’s past from many other Cigarette-Smoking Man-style characters. We know all the beats – guy is involved in secret black ops for the good of America, has a woman he loves, chooses to retire to be with her, then becomes a full-fledged villain once she falls ill.

If Ryker’s story is too familiar, at least the main story’s fights involve something we haven’t really seen before in World War Hulk: the Hulk losing. Each team member focuses their attacks on the Hulk’s neck, and with the help of some tech that temporarily devolves him to his weaker gray form, they manage to break his neck at the end of the issue. The Hulk has seemed an unstoppable force throughout this crossover, so it’s jarring to see him taken down by characters who have never appeared outside this series. At the same time, a little bit of the drama is taken away by the fact that this story happens between the pages of World War Hulk #1, meaning that we already know the Hulk will be back to form and pulverizing Iron Man in under 24 hours. (As a matter of fact, shouldn’t the Hulk be fighting the X- Men right now in their crossover? Comics are confusing sometimes.)

On the continuity side of things, there are a couple of gaffes here that only the most diehard of fanboys will really bother with. For example, we see Ryker called to the site of the first Hulk/Wolverine battle, where they find some blood from the Hulk, but Wolverine wasn’t able to cut the Hulk during that battle. (Or, if you prefer, Peter David’s later retcon was that Wolverine did cut the Hulk, but the Hulk healed the wounds almost instantly. Either way, no blood was really spilled.) This shouldn’t bother most fans, but being a nitpicky and obsessive Hulk fan myself, I feel compelled to bring it up.

The art remains at the same level we’ve had throughout this story – good, but lacking a certain explosiveness in the action. And I think that’s pretty much a way to summarize the story in general. It’s not a bad story so far, but there’s nothing yet that really jumps off the page and makes this something that somebody should hunt down while searching for interesting back issues. World War Hulk: Gamma Corps has one issue left, and it’s going to need to be great in order to make this series a must-have.

Avengers Academy #27 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Avengers Academy

Issue #27

Written by Christos Gage, Art by Karl Moline

Published: May 2012

Just like that Gage jumps from respectability to confusion! I have a love hate relationship with Christos Gage as a story teller. In some books he flows a few nice stories together, but then every once and awhile he tosses in an issue with too much going on and the dialogue gets confusing and doesn’t follow the plot action on the pages.

First we have a big showdown with the Runaways and the Junior A-team. That is a lot of people to be fighting. I wish either the issue would have centered on a battle or been skipped. A few pages of smash and clash seemed weak comparatively. But at the same time I do have to give Gage some props for dealing with such a large cast. But that cast caused some confusing moments that I had to re-read and still went, why?

I am a bit bummed Tom is gone on art replaced by Karl Moline. I was just really enjoying his style. The sheer number of characters got very confusing and consistency was a serious issue for Moline. It is a very hard task for a new artist to jump into a team book that features a mash-up of two groups of characters. Hello, planning department? Let’s think about this a bit more next time.

So this book rates at 6 out of 10. If you follow this book then buy it to keep the story going but otherwise it is a pass even at $2.99 for the issue. If anything the best reason to buy this book is in hopes that popularity might spur a run on a new Runaways book line because those characters are still pretty cool, even in a limited storyline.

Amazing Spider-Man #681 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Amazing Spider-Man

Issue #681

Written by Dan Slott & Christopher Yost, Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Published: May 2012

Spidey in space. This is always a fun idea. To start, I really like the idea of teaming Spiderman with the Human Torch. They both have a similar attitude that allows for fun dialogue and a lot of inter-character banter. Plus as a bonus we get a good look at John Jameson and his ranting and raving.

Slott has done a really nice job of making a classic comic book story. We have bad guys with a villainous plan complete with bad guy speeches. We have good guys who have to figure out another way to win because the environment is not conducive to what they do best. Then of course we have wise cracks. It finishes off with the standard, “Why that idea is so crazy that it just might work!” Who doesn’t love that!

The art was really good. Space is always a fun medium for background and while normally I am not much of a big fan of Camuncoli, his work here seems different and more refined. I thought he did a bang up job and honestly the flow was much better than I expected from him. Spiderman was a little more lean and mean and the Torch looked great. Some of the blurriness added to the background gave an interesting impression of the effects the lack of air was having on the scene which was excellent.

Overall I am rating this book at a solid 9 out of 10 much like the last issue. As the story goes along with Slott and Yost at the controls I find myself more intrigued for a Spiderman title than I have in a while which is a good thing.

World War Hulk #4 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

World War Hulk

Issue #4

Written by Greg Pak, Art by John Romita Jr.

Published: November 2007

While the first three issues of World War Hulk have been full-on action, World War Hulk #4 takes a much darker turn. The issue opens with the advertised battle between the now demon-possessed Doctor Strange and the Hulk, but the battle is much shorter than one might expect. Strange has the upper hand through the fight, but when he inadvertently puts innocent lives at risk, he stops himself long enough for the Hulk to recover and take him out. From then on, this issue is about the Hulk explaining his point of view to the heroes who have hunted and harassed him over the years, all in the most brutal way possible.

The issue’s themes really get going when the Hulk saves the innocents that Strange put in danger. Rick Jones calls him on it, telling him that he is Banner. The Hulk retorts, “Banner is me,” which is pretty profound on a couple of levels. First, it’s one of the few times when the Hulk has admitted that he and Banner are the same person. Second, it highlights the dichotomy of the character – is the Hulk an aspect of Bruce Banner, or the “real” Banner, with the 98-pound weakling only being a mask?

With the heroes who shot him into space captured, the Hulk begins the games in the great arena. Before the fighting starts, a number of civilians come forth to present their grievances. Black Bolt declared war between the Inhumans and America, resulting in the deaths of innocents. Tony Stark and Reed Richards cloned Thor during the Civil War event, resulting in the death of Goliath. And Doctor Strange just barely nearly killed a number of people after drinking the essence of a demon.

All of this is, naturally, one-sided and somewhat inaccurate. But that’s part of the Hulk’s point. Throughout his existence, the heroes have assumed the Hulk to be a menace, rarely giving him a chance to explain why he did what he did. Even the penultimate rampage that killed people and got him exiled to space came about because a high dose of radiation left the Hulk temporarily mindless and out of control. Despite that fact, none of the heroes gave the Hulk a chance to defend himself. Heck, they didn’t even ask the Thing about it, as he and the Human Torch were on hand to witness what really happened. Now the tables are turned – the heroes are the ones without a chance to defend themselves. They are the ones branded as murderers and monsters, and they don’t get to speak in their defense.

The Hulk then puts the heroes through the first two trials he faced on Sakaar: a battle against a monster and then against fellow slaves. The heroes manage to defeat the monster, but the obedience disks they wear forces them to fight among themselves. At the end of the issue, Reed has Tony lined up for a death blow, and we see that the Hulk has descended into the depths of rage himself as he gives the thumbs down, ordering Reed to kill.

The first half of World War Hulk offered straight-out fighting, but this story presents the themes of the saga between its battles. This is about the Hulk exacting his revenge on heroes who have wronged him for years. At the same time, because the Hulk is motivated by rage and revenge, he is the bad guy here, too.

John Romita Jr.’s pencils are still decent here, but his style is starting to get a little sloppy as the story goes on. He does get one terrific panel of the Hulk’s panicked face as a building falls on innocents, showing that even in the Hulk’s rage he can still be a hero. As the parallels to Planet Hulk grow, however, his art pales in comparison to the work done by Carlo Pagulayan.

The real treat here is Greg Pak, who really gets the Hulk and doesn’t mind putting him in morally difficult situations. The Hulk is not the monster that people make him out to be, but when he’s this angry he’s certainly no hero, either. The only downside to the writing is another mostly-pointless appearance by the Sentry as he finally decides to enter the battle, setting the scene for the final issue.

Again, though, this is more a problem of Marvel never knowing what to do with the Sentry than Pak specifically.

World War Hulk #4 is more grim than the previous issues, but it is very strong. If you had doubts that this crossover had deeper themes and was more than just a series of random fights set up to appeal to fanboys, then this issue should dispel them.

FF #15 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

FF

Issue #15

Written by Jonathan Hickman, Art by Nick Dragotta

Published: April 2012

FF is an odd series. Not a bad one, but an odd one. It’s very much a Fantastic Four series, but with a bit of the mysticism of Silver Surfer and just a dash of Thor. It has a very unique feel, made possible by Franklin Richards and his reality-altering powers. And while it isn’t exactly my cup of tea, it has a certain undeniable charm.

Franklin used his new powers to create an alternate universe, which he’s been given a tour of by a mysterious white figure, before heading back to Earth with Nathaniel Richards and the Kids of the Future Foundation to stop the Mad Celestials from destroying our universe. It’s a complex story, and maybe a bit convoluted, but FF is really the kind of book where you just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Our story kicks off with the preteen ensemble known as the Power Pack showing up to whisk everybody off to configure a weapon that could stop the Celestials. Jonathan Hickman writes in a very serialized format, which isn’t a good thing or a bad thing, just a thing. New readers to the comic will be undoubtedly lost, but as I said, it’s not as big of an issue as it might seem.

FF is, above all, a lot of fun. And issue #15 features plenty of the humorous moloids, enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. And while the action is exciting enough, Hickman has trouble conveying the proper level of tension for a threat of such magnitude. It doesn’t ruin the story, but it could definitely be more compelling given the subject matter.

And yet here I am, anticipating the next issue. Maybe this is my cup of tea after all, or maybe Hickman is just that good.

Amazing Spider-Man #680 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Amazing Spider-Man

Issue #680

Written by Dan Slott & Christopher Yost, Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Published: April 2012

And the writing duo of Dan Slott and Chris Yost knocks another one out of the park! Slott and Yost have taken Amazing Spider-Man and turned it into the pulpy goodness that I crave, with a superhero that I love! And in issue #680, they’ve done something that isn’t easy to do – made me sympathize with the forever crotchety J. Jonah Jameson. Jonah just lost his wife, he’s on the outs with his father, and his son is currently up in space – which allows Jonah a few minutes of pride before the connection is lost and Horizon receives all sorts of error messages from the space station.

It’s a heck of a lot of fun seeing Jonah and Peter square off again. This time around, Jonah may not be his boss, but as mayor of New York City, he’s still very much in an authority position. When the connection is lost to the Apogee space station, Peter disappears from Horizon and shows up at the Baxter building. Soon after, Spider-Man and Johnny Storm are headed up into space for their own adventure.

There was a lot to love in this issue. The aforementioned Jonah/Peter scenes, Spider-Man and Johnny Storm make for a hilarious pairing, and the mystery surrounding the space station is done really well. It’s a very solid issue with an exciting plot. The story that’s being set up can go either way. Spider-Man has a great rogues gallery and its good to see some favorites, but the inclusion of good characters doesn’t necessarily make for a good story. Only time will tell in that regard. Still, above all else, Slott and Yost manage to keep Amazing Spider-Man entertaining while Giuseppe Camuncoli, Klaus Janson, and Frank D’Armata keep it looking pretty. I haven’t yet regretted coming back for more. Web on!