Daredevil #18 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Daredevil

Issue #18

Written by Mark Waid, Art by Chris Samnee

Published: November 2012

Ah Mr. Waid how you love to torture us! Is Daredevil going crazy? Mark Waid keeps us guessing with another really good issue that keeps this super hot streak going for the Man Without Fear. Really, it has been 18 issues so far on this re-launch and I think the worst rated an ‘8’. That is some seriously consistent stuff from the Daredevil team!

This book continues the strained relationship between Foggy and Matt. Waid does a nice twist where Matt needs Foggy and Foggy needs Daredevil so they have to work together in a different manner. I really like how Foggy has been taken away from Matt as somewhat of a crutch and is being developed a bit on his own. For years the character was always a bit of a bumbler and used as more of a soft support to whatever was needed for the story but now he is becoming the story. There were quite a few pages devoted to Foggy and his job as a lawyer which ended up being pretty darn interesting. Their changing relationship is very intriguing. Heck, this entire series is just one interesting moment after another. That is probably why it won an Eisner award for best continuing series.

I am really enjoying the art in this series. Some people might not like it as much but the style reminds me more of late 80’s and early 90’s Daredevil. It isn’t super dark or overblown but just feels right. Plus there is a great attention to detail which I feel is really important in a book that centers on a hero who utilizes all the small details constantly to survive.

This is another hot rating coming in at 9.5 out of 10. I am still loving this Daredevil reboot and highly recommend it to anyone who will listen. Buy this book! It has just been a lot of great writing and is very interesting.

Avengers Academy #37 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Avengers Academy

Issue #37

Written by Christos Gage, Art by Tom Grummett

Published: November 2012

Wow what a great ending to this arc. It was dark and gritty with just enough of everything to keep me interested and happy. Props to Christos Gage for sticking to his guns and ending the arc in a powerful way that covered the spectrum of emotions and possibilities.

When this series started (not the arc) it was a bit different because of how it focused on the growth of each character and what they struggled with coming to grips with their powers and place within the world. Each one handled things differently and it was nice to see Gage let that develop as things went on. In the end of this issue we can look back and see what the characters have become which gives you an idea of where they might go in the future. I was especially impressed with how Veil and Finesse were almost forced into making life-changing decisions for themselves during the heat of battle and intensity. The scenes were fast and furious with lots of action which was fantastic but the plot was very strong and didn’t wrap everything up in a pretty bow. Of course in my opinion that is good because now there are plenty of possibilities of where you can go from here. Well, expect for the Briggs character…too bad because I liked how he was depicted. As usual I try not to get too in-depth in what happens in a issue to make sure this doesn’t cross into spoiler territory.

The art was solid by Tom Grummett as he came back to the fold for the end of the arc. I have enjoyed how he depicts the characters in a way that captures their youth. The battle scenes were mostly strong with good details.

This issue continues the strong run for Avengers Academy over the last 10+ book and gets another solid 9 out of 10. This year it has definitely been one of my Top 10 books to read and I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone. I am interested to see how the next issue will go and if they can maintain the dark moodiness in the plot that I have enjoyed so much.

The Damsel Problem, and How Marvel Seems to be Responding to It.

by Lindsey Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

It seems to be a problem with a lot of superhero movies–what do we do with the women? There’s usually a love interest in these types of films, and usually she ends up being rescued, but over time, it seems like we as moviegoers and storytellers have evolved past the damsel in distress stereotype. More and more, superhero’s girlfriends are expected to have some agency, some character beyond simply ‘Peter Parker’s girlfriend’ or ‘Captain America’s love interest.’ The damsel trope just seems tired and dated now, especially if your movie has only one female character and she inevitably falls into this role.

That’s not to say that damsel characters can’t also be fun and interesting, but I’m also encouraged by the seemingly conscious effort in the majority of Marvel movies to try giving their love interests a bit more agency, and to avoid the traditional “hero rescues the girl and saves the day” finale. Be warned: some spoilers abound.

Iron Man 2: Pepper Potts becomes CEO of Stark Industries. Tony swoops in and saves her at one point, but it’s only a brief moment, not an entire third act or action set piece. She also does not swoon. Not to mention: Black Widow, Black Widow, Black Widow. Sexualized? Yes, but so damn awesome!

Captain America: Peggy Carter has a position of authority in the military in the freaking 1940s, and while she experiences sexism as a result, it’s used more as a means for her to relate to puny little Steve than as a constant reminder that “LOOK! I’M A WOMAN DOING SOMETHING A MAN CAN DO!” (since movies that do nothing but make a big deal about the gender of their ass-kickers, pointing it out constantly, is obnoxious, clichéd, and usually not that empowering.)

Thor: Jane is a constant active participant in the entire movie, even if Thor does most of the heavy lifting, mostly for comedy and/or storytelling purposes. While her team does need to be protected at the end, I think I can give them a pass because A) It’s a freakin’ mech thing powered by a god and it’s okay that Jane is not a physical fighter, and B) it’s more about Thor’s noble sacrifice for his friends (which includes a dude) than rescuing Jane in the traditional sense. Besides, Sif, though sometimes Thor’s lover in mythology/the comics, is a badass warrior chick who participates in the action and there’s no mention of her gender after one sort of cringe-worthy line, which admittedly does have a funny comeback that seems to be a response to the whole “A WOMAN?!” thing, so I forgive it. (As a note, Thor also briefly lets the camera linger on Thor’s body in a way that is usually reserved for female characters in films, while simultaneously keeping the ladies clothed. Necessary? No, but definitely a nice change of pace for a female viewer like myself.) Thor also gets points for having more than one major female character, and all of them very different.

The Avengers: Black Widow. Need I say more? Also, Maria Hill. So the movie has more than one active female character, even though, unfortunately, to my memory they don’t get to speak to one another.

The Amazing Spiderman: Gwen Stacy is capable as HELL in this movie! Regardless of my issues with it, this girl works at a lab out of high school, gets the cure Peter sorely needs, responds sensibly to a monster attack and avoids getting kidnapped, and actually participates in the action of the story in ways that make sense for her character. Though they tease the idea of a rescue, it manages to avoid Gwen actually being put in the traditional sort of peril, mainly because she’s too damn smart to let herself be snatched up so easily.

It’s not that Marvel movies are perfect in this regard, and Black Widow has yet to get her own movie and give us an actual starring role for a female hero, but looking back, I have to say I’m pretty impressed that Marvel seems to be trying to move away from the–well, let’s face it, the final act to most superhero movies.

CMRO Update (09/28/2012)

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New 52 Purge Moving into Editorial Ranks as Smith Leaves DC

by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor

DC editor Brian Smith announced on Twitter Thursday he would be leaving DC Comics to return to his career as a freelance writer and cartoonist.

“Last at DC this Friday! Good times, learned a LOT (good and bad). Back to freelance and creator owned comics for me,” Smith tweeted.

According to a rumor announced on The Beat, Smith’s leaving is the latest in in a series of editors being sent packing from DC largely for decisions made by higher ups in the editorial food chain. A similar situation occurred (minus the firings) during the weekly Countdown mini-series leading into Final Crisis when higher ups were making regular reversals to editorial decisions.

Smith recently came to wide attention for his part in Rob Liefeld’s sudden departure from the publisher over disputes with his editor’s, of whom Smith was one. Liefeld himself was quick to comment on Smith’s departure.

“So I walked out of DC due to my editor’s incompetence. Now he’s gone,” Liefeld tweeted following the announcement.

According to rumors it was often Smith’s job to deliver news Liefeld did not like and he ended up getting the brunt of Liefeld’s ire, the Beat reported.

Despite the harsh words, Smith received nothing but well-wishes from other co-workers and colleagues.

“Brian Smith is without question one of the smartest, most creative, and most organized editors I’ve ever worked with. He was an absolute pleasure in all regards. I am going to miss him terribly, but wish him only good things in his new adventures,” Gail Simone said in a statement.

Web of Spider-Man #129.1 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Web of Spider-Man

Issue #129.1

Written by Stuart Moore, Art by Damion Scott

Published: October 2012

For the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man is back. Now, I’m usually the first to whine and moan about oversaturating certain heroes, especially when the issue numbers start getting into decimals. However, it’s hard to argue with more Spider-Man. Spider-Man is one of my all-time favorite superheroes and I just can’t bring myself to complain about there being too much of him. That is, unless it’s not very good, then you’re diluting one of the all-time greats in a title that’s not even necessary.

Web of Spider-Man 129.1 has so little going for it, that I can’t even think of a positive thing to say off of the top of my head. I know that I’ve read worst comics, so it clearly could’ve been worse, but mad was it bad. To be fair, I’m not too familiar with the Web of Spider-Man title, so perhaps there’s something I’m missing, but it read like an episode of Scooby-Doo. Everyone felt so incredibly young, especially with the Brooklyn Avengers in the mix, and Damion Scott’s artwork certainly didn’t help matters. He’s a fine artist and I actually like his style, just not in this particular instance.

Spider-Man works so well because he’s a charming, funny guy in a dead serious world. In Web of Spider-Man 129.1, his world is goofier than he could ever hope to be. The Brooklyn Avengers are hard to take seriously and the issues conclusion feels so much like the aforementioned Scooby-Doo, where the monster will turn out to be the cranky old roller coaster operator in a suit. It’s beyond silly and it cheapens the character of Spider-Man.

I hate being dramatic, but this is one of the worst treatments of Spider-Man that I’ve seen in as long as I can remember, and Spider-Man has seen his fair share of disaster in the past.

CMRO Update (09/27/2012)

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Mark Millar signs as Fox Creative Consultant on Marvel films.

by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor

Popular comics writer Mark Millar has signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to serve as a creative consultant on the studio’s films based on licensed Marvel properties, the studio announced on Thursday.

“Mark is simply one of the most original voices in comics today and will be an invaluable resource to us and to our filmmakers as we look for fresh opportunities to innovate within our shared Marvel universe,” Fox president of production Emma Watts said in a statement.

Outside of Disney, 20th Century Fox retains the films rights to the most Marvel tent pole properties – specifically The X-Men and the Fantastic Four (including the Silver Surfer and Galactus), as well as Daredevil though that license is preparing to revert back to Marvel.

“As someone who has spent his entire life obsessed with both comic books and movies, this is essentially my dream gig as it’s a unique combination of both,” Millar added. “I spent 10 years working at Marvel and am really happy with the work I did on the comic side of things, so the idea of working with these characters now in a brand new medium is enormously exciting for me.”

One of the leaders in the modern Marvel film paradigm since its release of the first “X-Men” film in 2000, the studio is hard at work on its sixth entry into the series with James Mangold’s The Wolverine targeted for next year. Director Matthew Vaughn is also committed to another entry in the series, X-Men: Days of Future Past which is set to begin shooting in January. The studio is also hard at work preparing a reboot of the Fantastic Four, currently under the hand of Chronicle director Josh Trank.

“James Mangold is incredible, Matthew Vaughn’s one of my closest pals, and Josh Trank gave us, in my opinion, one of the greatest superhero movies of the last decade with Chronicle. The invitation to join this crew was maybe the coolest phone call I’ve ever had,” Millar said.

Millar’s role will put him in a position similar to Marvel Studios ‘Brain Trust,’ a collection of filmmakers and comics creators from the publisher who worked together to keep a joint feel to each of Marvel’s superhero films which includes John Favreau, Joe Quesada and Brian Bendis among others.

Millar is no stranger to the film world. He has already worked with Vaughn on the adaptation of his Kick Ass series (the sequel to which is currently filming in London), one of several films of his properties which have been adapted to the big screen.  Several others are currently in the works including War Heroes and The Secret Service.

Watts announcement also cited the fact that Fox has its own shared universe of Marvel properties, the same as Disney. With Millar’s guidance and following the success of The Avengers, an X-Men/Fantastic Four cross-over film no longer seems like the stretch it might once have been.

Dark Reign: The List – Hulk #1 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Dark Reign: The List – Hulk

Issue #1

Written by Greg Pak, Art by Ben Oliver

Published: December 2009

Normally, I begin a Greg Pak-written Hulk comic by gushing over how great the writer is. Today, I’ll start off with the art. Dark Reign: The List – Hulk is a beautiful piece of work. Ben Oliver’s art strikes a nice balance between the classic comic book style and the painted style made popular by folks like Alex Ross. He makes the characters seem realistic without losing any of the big action that a Hulk comic contains. Combined with Pak’s stellar writing, this issue is a winner for fans.

The story is part of the Dark Reign: The List story arc, in which Norman Osborn, who has gained an implausible amount of power remarkably quickly, is working on eliminating those who oppose him. Bruce Banner lands on the list by virtue of saving of ex-girlfriend Kate Waynesboro from Osborn’s clutches. Dr. Waynesboro, now possessed of the Old Power, was being tortured by Osborn’s assistant Victoria Hand as they try to convert her mystical might into a workable energy source. Banner overrides the facility’s security, then introduces the guards to his son Skaar, thus saving the day.

Osborn’s solution to the problem is a clever one: turn Banner back into the Hulk. The Hulk, for all his might, is typically a neutral party who doesn’t meddle in the affairs of others. Banner, on the other hand, has developed a proactive heroic streak. Osborn dispatches Hand and Ms. Marvel to make this happen.

One nice thing about this story is that while Banner remains one of the smartest people alive, he is not infallible. He manages to out-plan Hand and Ms. Marvel, but still gets tripped up when an Old Power factory he destroys also turns out to be a gamma research facility, thus recharging his cells with gamma radiation and bringing him one step closer to becoming the Hulk. We all knew this would happen eventually, and even Banner doesn’t act surprised, saying that Osborn is just speeding up the process. Skaar is quite happy, since he will get to try to kill the Hulk sooner rather than later. And Osborn is happy, since he now gets to cross Bruce Banner off his list.

The comic comes with a backup story which details the first appearance of the Green Goblin and guest-stars the Hulk. It’s typical goofy Silver Age fun, with Spider-Man being lured to Hollywood to film a movie, only to discover that the guys hired to play his old enemies the Enforcers are actually the Enforcers themselves. It’s a very appropriate backstory, considering that it introduces the Green Goblin and guest-stars the Hulk – an encounter that is actually referenced by Osborn in the main story.

Overall, this is a terrific issue. The art is gorgeous, the villain actually has an interesting and clever plan to deal with Banner, and Bruce himself gets to strut his stuff without being unbeatable. Best of all, we now have official confirmation that there is basically a countdown to Banner becoming the Hulk once again.