Wolverine #307 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Wolverine

Issue #307

Written by Cullen Bunn, Art by Paul Pelletier

Published: July 2012

Something I touched on in my review of Wolverine 306 is Cullen Bunn’s affinity for gore, which is an ideal trait for the writer behind Wolverine. Wolverine is an animal, a beast; his preferred method of conflict resolution is separating his opponents at the midsection. Bunn recognizes that and Wolverine reads like a title that should be under Marvel’s MAX series. It’s not just the imagery that’s adult, either. The entire arc centers around Doctor Rot, who performs the unholiest of operations on his victims, removing vital organs and using them to create a twisted patchwork family. This stuff isn’t for kids, but Wolverine shouldn’t be.

For the most part, this arc has been a homerun. For the most part. It’s damn entertaining and appropriately scary at parts, but there was one little moment that stunk of lazy writing. It might not have jumped out the way it did if the issue wasn’t so well-written otherwise. At the end of issue 306, Rot’s family utters a phrase that shuts Wolverine down like a machine. This was an interesting moment and I was curious to learn the secrets behind it. The explanation, which I won’t get into here, is a rather lazy one and the whole thing is way too convenient, giving it a very deus-ex-machina vibe. Unless there’s an angle I’m not considering, it seems very much like a cheat.

While that little hiccup bugs me to no end, especially since I can think of an easy way around it, it certainly isn’t serious enough to ruin what’s otherwise a good issue. Lots of blood, body parts, and a deliciously cheesy sci-fi contraption, it’s medical macabre at its finest and the ending is nothing short of chilling, hopefully leading into a terrific finale. I just hope there isn’t anymore cheating. Tsk tsk.

Son of Hulk #2

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Son of Hulk

Issue #2

Written by Greg Pak, Art by Ron Garney

Published: September 2009

Skaar: Son of Hulk #2 has no problem getting into the action, and the plot and cast of characters is slowly beginning to build as well.

First of all, I have to say that I love the cover to this issue. The son of the Hulk riding a red dragon into battle hits on my love of both comics and sword and sorcery fantasy tales. Fortunately, covers don’t lie in this case, and what’s inside offers more of the same.

This issue focuses mostly on the fight between Skaar and Axeman Bone, going from a melee battle to an aerial assault as Skaar jumps on one of the three dragons that Bone’s troops have ready. The dragons unfortunately don’t last long, as Skaar winds up killing all of them even while disregarding the fact that it’s a long way to the ground. He winds up defeating Axeman Bone, but our villain survives his injuries and the fall to the ground to fight another day.

Meanwhile, the Axeman’s slaves are freed by a newcomer: Princess Omaka, who claims to be the rightful ruler of Sakaar. Omaka is a deadly fighter with cybernetic arms and claws that would make Wolverine turn green with envy. She gets Skaar’s attention, and whether the son of Hulk will see her as a friend or a foe is a question for future issues.

In a backup story, we have some natives of Sakaar discussing the Hulk’s rule and the destruction that came from it. One of the natives insists that the Hulk wasn’t at fault, while the other says that fault doesn’t matter – just by possessing the power he has, the Hulk – and by extension his son – puts everybody around him at risk. Knowing what we know about the Hulk, that’s a pretty compelling argument.

The art in this issue is better than in the last, with the colors being less murky and Ron Garney’s pencils working better this time around. The fight still takes place at night, which muddles up the action a bit, but it’s also thematically appropriate. The only major flaw of this issue is Skaar himself, who has yet to communicate in anything more than growls after two issues. Axeman Bone believes at this point that Skaar is nothing more than a mindless beast, and the readers don’t have much reason to believe otherwise. With a wholly new cast of characters in this series, it’s important to establish a strong lead, and we don’t have that just yet. Skaar is more a figure of myth and mystery, leaving us without an anchor to follow in this strange world. Luckily, the action more than makes up for it, and buys Greg Pak at least one more issue of interested readers.

All told, Skaar: Son of Hulk #2 doesn’t read a lot like a traditional comic book, but is more like a page out of The Savage Sword of Conan or other fantasy-themed comics of the past. With a universe full of more traditional superheroes, this is more than okay. If you’re a fan of these type of stories, this issue is worth checking out.

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Daredevil #14 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Daredevil

Issue #14

Written by Mark Waid, Art by Chris Samnee

Published: August 2012

Ahh this issue steps up the game again as Mark Waid writes a beautiful story that unfolds around our character. The last issue was a bit down (but still solid) for me but Waid goes full force on this book and completely captures my attention from the first page. Our hero stuck in his own glass coffin case? Well now that cliffhanger ending from the last book makes a little more sense!

Waid is really challenging the fiber that is Daredevil and Matt Murdock in this book. He is limiting the hero aspect by removing some of his abilities and plopping him down into a very touch predicament. Then on the other side we cut to Foggy and Kirsten who have a conversation which can only leave us concerned for Matt’s personal life. Sheesh can’t our favorite horned crusader ever get things easy in life? Of course not otherwise this book wouldn’t be so interesting!

Chris Samnee is on the pencils and doing a fine job. I will be more than happy if he takes over full time as the series artist because he draws Daredevil really well. The character flows in his scenes and he is able to show a lot of frustration and angst. Overall the style still feels a bit like a throwback to the 80’s and 90’s which features leaner characters, but as that was my collecting heyday, I love it.

Overall I love where the story is going and how this series has been done by Mark Waid. It is still one of my Top 5 books to get each month and it should be for you as well. This book rated a solid 9 out of 10 and should be in everyone’s bag if you like a great story to go with a complex character. I can’t wait for the next issue as again we have a big cliffhanger.

The Amazing Spider-Man

by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor

The Amazing Spider-Man

Directed by Marc Webb

Released: June 2012

Normally a ground up re-boot would be seen as a mixed bag. It means that your series has gotten off track somewhere and needs to be brought back to its roots. Or that the filmmakers have completely run out of ideas and instead of chosen to go back over familiar paths, hoping audiences will follow along, rather than risk turning them away with something new.

Sony’s relaunch of the Spider-Man franchise didn’t have the first problem so much as lack of agreement among all involved as to where it should go. It may be suffering from the second at its heart, but Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” is charming and character-focused enough to make a worthy entrant in the series anyway.

The story is quite familiar, even if you’ve never read the comics. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an intelligent, shy high school student who’s good at science and photography but not talking to people, partly because has never quite gotten over being orphaned at a young age. When he discovers that his father’s longtime colleague, Dr. Curt Conner’s (Rhys Ifans) lives and works nearby he sneaks into the lab to find out what his father was working on when he left Peter behind and went into hiding. There he finds Conner’s various animal specimens he is using to try and give animal attributes to humans, including a room full of spiders …

Like the successful re-boots of the last decade, Webb and his screenwriters have taken what worked from the previous films, removed what didn’t or what wasn’t to their taste, and decided to at least temporarily avoid some of the major pieces of the mythos in favor of setting up their take on the character. Gone are J. Jonah Jameson, Mary Jane Watson and the Osborne Clan.

In its place is the story of Peter Parker and his quest to figure out who he is, especially after he starts developing strange abilities. Abilities he uses to search for a random mugger after his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) is killed, a search which ultimately leads him into a larger world of responsibility to use his powers once a giant lizard creature begins to rampage around the city.

Webb and his three screenwriters have taken more of a focus from the modern Spider-Man stories, particularly Ultimate Spider-Man, than the original 60s comic, making “The Amazing Spider-Man” less comic-book like than its predecessors. It’s still not aiming for ‘close to reality’ the way the James Bond and Batman re-boots have, but is certainly more modern. This Spider-Man is as likely to be playing games on his cellphone waiting for the monster he is following to show up as he is swinging through the skyline.

And Garfield, despite looking a bit too old for the part, makes a good Peter Parker and a good Spider-Man. He’s cast aside the comic-book nerdiness Peter is often imbued with, with a more realistic awkwardness befitting a teenager trying to figure out who he is, which is ultimately what “The Amazing Spider-Man” is all about. As a character he is both well thought out by the filmmakers and well executed by Garfield, a fact that refreshingly holds true across the board for both friends and adversaries alike. Hard assed police captain George Stacy (Dennis Leary) may want to bring Spider-Man in, but he’s also deep down willing to believe this crazy masked vigilante may be trying to do the right thing; old high-school bully Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) is actually a human being deep inside who empathizes with Peter after his uncle is killed. Even Conners only became the Lizard by accident while trying to prevent his employer (Irrfan Khan) from potentially poisoning a hospital.

He’s also, finally, been given something an equal in love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), a brainy high school senior who works for Dr. Conner’s whose resourceful and plucky enough to face the Lizard on her own without always needing saving.

Which doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of familiarity in the film, which is where counter-intuitively, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is often at its least interesting. The heart of the plot once again concerns a well-meaning scientist who begins turning into a monster, psychologically (as well as physically this time) as a result of his own work but who may still be basically decent deep inside. The action scenes have the frenetic quality of the previous films, although the moments of first person webslinging can be a little too frenetic to the point of being disorienting. And there is still an urge to making an icon out of the character he is too irreverent to hold and which can and does turn the film from exciting to campy at moments. A drawn out beat as a series of crane operators line themselves up to give Spider-Man a webslinging path is the worst but not sole infraction.

All in all, though, it holds up well. I’m not convinced we actually needed a completely re-launch of the Spider-Man Series just 10 years and three films after it started, but if we have to have one “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a good one to have.

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Avengers Academy #32 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Avengers Academy

Issue #32

Written by Christos Gage, Art by Timothy Green II

Published: August 2012

In the words of a young boy at a Miami Heat game after a loss, “Good effort, good effort.” This book is a solid effort by Gage. I really have enjoyed the junior Avengers themed stories for the most part because Christos can use them like a bit of a sounding board versus other main plots to gain a fresh perspective from our young heroes. Also I like that the old West Coast Avengers Mansion finally got dusted off for some use because the compound is so big you have lots of room to roam with a story and characters.

Other than having a now super powered Emma Frost popping by to relate a bit of the AvX crossover, this book featured some nice plot about Juston Seyfert, his toy Sentinel, and X-23. With such a large cast I do enjoy when we get to focus more on the development of a few characters at a time and Juston is very unique (because he has a giant mutant killing robot as a sidekick). Part of the downside of the crossover is that I feel Gage is doing too much in including AvX elements plus pushing his own plot line which makes for a crowded read. But if you are used to this series then it really isn’t anything new because Gage does this all the time.

For art we switch from Tom Grummett to Timothy Green. It is not a major change of pace even though Green has his own unique style. He does present a slightly different look and tone to the whole book compared to Grummett but I have no complaints about his overall work. Again when dealing with such a large cast including the crossover that is a lot of faces and bodies to re-create so the artist always gets a slight pass. But overall he does well with good expressions and character comparisons.

This book rates a solid 8 out of 10. I liked the read and it fit well with the AvX crossover. You should read this as part of the crossover but this series is strong in its own right and has been a solid pick for months as Gage has developed and shaped these young players in an interesting manner.

Avengers vs. X-Men #6 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Avengers vs. X-Men

Issue #6

Written by Jonathan Hickman, Art by Olivier Coipel

Published: August 2012

Welcome to Utopia with the Phoenix Five (sounds like a boy band) transforming the world into a better place. In just over a week they have helped countless people around the globe without asking for a single thing in return or acting power hungry in anyway. Obviously this is a huge problem, at least to Captain America, and by God he is going to stop them come hell or high water!

I just cannot get on board with this plot line. Captain America is being the hugest douche bag on the entire planet. All he cares about is wiping out the Phoenix Five like they are the new era Nazi’s. Sure I get the idea that ultimate power can corrupt and he really doesn’t like Cyclops, but hey man give peace a chance. Plus, what the heck is going on with Iron Fist?

However with my complaints I do like a lot about this issue. The massive amount of story we pour through quickly is nice after the plodding start to this series. Hickman is on the lead and scripts a solid story together now that we have the Phoenix Five mutants being all powerful. It is like he has a bunch of super powered toys to play with in Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus (love it), Magik, and Namor. There is a whole lot of high-level stuff going on with lots of emotion and plot ideas.

For the art we shift over to Olivier Coipel being the main guy and his style does fit well with what Jonathan Hickman is doing. There is a more grand sense of style to go with the ‘all-powerful’ nature of the new Fab Five. Again, art with so many players is hard so he gets a slight pass on individual characters not being their absolute best, but really solid work across the board.

So how does this one rate? I am giving it a solid 8.5 out of 10. This issue and the last have really got me on board with the crossover after a very slow start. I am digging it now and really want more because this story has the potential to change the face of the current universe. If you weren’t really into this series before I do recommend grabbing issue #5 and this one and following it from here.

Son of Hulk #1 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Son of Hulk

Issue #1

Written by Greg Pak, Art by Ron Garney

Published: June 2008

While Bruce Banner is escaping from a SHIELD facility and the red Hulk is smashing around Marvel Earth, something else is going on the ruined planet of Sakaar. When we last saw the world, it had been all but destroyed by a warp core explosion, leaving the Hulk to seek vengeance back on Earth. Now in Skaar: Son of Hulk #1, we learn that not everybody died.

The titular character, Skaar, doesn’t get much in the way of lines here. In fact, a lot of the issue uses silent panels to convey the setting of Sakaar. The world is a much darker place, partly because Carlo Pagulayan, the artist who brought Sakaar to life in Planet Hulk, has been replaced by Ron Garney. Garney’s pencils aren’t as clean and crisp as Pagulayan’s, leaving the post-cataclysm Sakaar looking…well, more post-cataclysmic. The art is very good for what it is, although the inking and colors tend to get murky at parts, giving the feeling that some of Garney’s talent is getting obscured.

Skaar is indeed the son of the Hulk, protected by Caiera the Oldstrong’s Old Power even as her body disintegrates. A Shadow Child, we learn, can run within a few days of being born. Combined with the hereditary power of the Hulk, Skaar is up and smashing as soon as he emerges from the lava pit in which he is born.

A lot of the story get glossed over as we jump forward in time. One month after Skaar’s birth, we find that somebody named Axeman Bone is killing children on Sakaar. One year later, we see Skaar, now an adolescent, teamed with some villagers who are on the run from the Axeman. Bone shatters Skaar’s body, but that won’t keep Skaar down for long. With the Hulk’s strength and Caiera’s Old Power, he’s going to be very difficult to kill. How Axeman Bone manages to survive the coming fight will have to be learned next issue.

Skaar: Son of Hulk #1 isn’t a great story for new readers to jump into. This issue is mostly setup and takes a lot of time to let the art do the talking, relying on a minimum of dialogue and setup. It seems to be a story mostly intended for those who read Planet Hulk and World War Hulk and who want to see what other Hulk-related wonders writer Greg Pak can come up with. As a setup chapter, this issue doesn’t do anything to wow the reader, but it also doesn’t do anything to make us worry that Pak has lost his touch. He’s taking his time to set things up here, and for fans that know what he’s capable of, it’s worth the wait.

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