Hulk #23 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Hulk

Issue #23

Written by Jeph Loeb, Art by Ed McGuinness

Published: August 2010

Hulk #23 begins the wind-down of Jeph Loeb’s run on the title, with the next issue being his last. While Loeb’s run picked up a bit during Fall of the Hulks, now it reverts back to the nonsensical mess it began as. The issue does give a nice recap of the career of Thunderbolt Ross, aka the red Hulk, but raises way too many questions if the reader actually puts some thought into it.

Last issue, Ross was at the mercy of the red She-Hulk, aka his daughter. Now, she’s nowhere to be found. Apparently she just left him there and ran off to get stabbed by Skaar over in The Incredible Hulk, then healed, then jumped out of the helicarrier in Fall of the Hulks: Savage She-Hulks, then…oh, who knows. Her absence here is never explained, and nobody on the Hulk team seems to have made the effort to explain how things are supposedly working out.

Ross runs across the cosmic Hulk robot, which had previously dominated him in a fight, but this time Ross Hulks out and defeats him easily. How is this possible? It just is. We’re never given any explanation at all.

Most of the rest of the issue is filled with flashbacks about Ross’ life. This is admittedly pretty well- done – Loeb has added some nice tidbits to the old man’s history, and the art is done by a variety of different artists to match the era the flashbacks come from. On the downside, these flashbacks retcon some things that cause other stories to make less sense. For example, it migrates Loeb’s Hulk: Gray miniseries into canon, despite the fact that the Hulk from there had gray skin but the child-like intellect of the classic green Hulk – a combination which never happens and which ignores pretty much every Silver Age Hulk story. It also establishes that Doc Samson has been in MODOK’s pocket from day one, which invalidates every heroic thing that character has ever done. As a fan, I think I’d prefer to just imagine that Ross is suffering some delusions due to blood loss rather than remembering things accurately.

Ross suddenly goes from being in the helicarrier to the White House lawn. How does this happen? Who knows? It never gets explained. Notice a pattern? The Leader is also there, for no explicable reason. Why the smartest man on Earth would put himself directly in front of his old foe without any defenses is also never explained. The red Hulk drains away the Leader’s gamma radiation, rendering him normal again. Why anyone thought this was necessary is beyond me. It would have made more sense just to have the Leader escape, because we know the next time he’s needed as a villain he’ll be brought back in full gamma-irradiated form.

Ross then kills the Talbot robot that is standing in the White House and delivering an address to the public about the country being put under military control. Again, this makes no sense for several reasons. The Leader states that they had to use the Talbot robot because General Ross was presumed dead at the hands of the red Hulk. Why, then, did they use a robot likeness of a man who had been dead long before that? Heck, his death even got brought up at Ross’ funeral, and Steve Rogers, the current head of SHIELD, knows he was dead. And then there’s the issue of why Talbot is a robot when Bruce Banner’s own tech confirmed that he wasn’t, but I’ve mentioned that plot hole repeatedly in other reviews.

The issue ends with the red Hulk declaring himself in charge, which marks the second time General Ross has committed treason. It’s also very unlikely that anybody is going to accept the rule of a giant red monster who is a confirmed murderer, but that’s to the side of the point.

This issue is a great encapsulation of Loeb’s entire run on this book, in that it only makes a single degree of sense if you completely turn off your brain and look at the pretty pictures. But if pictures

were the only reason we read comics, then they’d be books of art rather than sequential storytelling. Overall, while this issue does bring some resolution to the red Hulk’s storyline of the past few years, it does so in a spectacularly unsatisfying manner.

Secret Avengers #35 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Secret Avengers

Issue #35

Written by Rick Remender, Art by Matteo Scalera

Published: February 2013

Ah! After reading this issue some of the weird quirks over the past few books make a lot more sense! Apparently Rick Remender had a far reaching plan…a very far reaching plan. He actually brought stuff from his very first arc on the title into play here.

My overall impression of the book is good. Remender has developed an interesting antagonist that brings some heavy-duty power to the table. There are some great battle scenes, lots of plot developments come at you and then a bunch of fun stuff thrown in. As Rick’s time on the book is drawing to a close he is wrapping everything up and tossing the kitchen sink in for good measure.

What I didn’t like was some of the miscellaneous aspects of the conflict. It gets a bit hairy with so many heroes in the action. That means less face time for my favorite guys…the actual Secret Avengers. The whole roster never seems to star in an issue anymore, just half of them at a time. This is a bit of a disservice to a pretty interesting roster. Captain Britain, for example, absolutely kills it in this book.

The art was up and down. I thought Matteo Scalera did some great scenes and had strong background visuals, especially his scale of characters. However, some of his facial expressions were less than stellar. Overall the action and panels flowed but a few hiccups here and there were distracting.

This issue fares as a 7.5 out of 10, just a shade higher than the last issue. While I enjoyed the developments, the lack of face time for the core team and a few inconsistencies in the art bothered me a bit. Still, it is a solid book and I will follow this series to its conclusion.

Avengers #2 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Avengers

Issue #2

Written by Jonathan Hickman, Art by Jerome Opena

Published: February 2013

I loved issue #1 so much I gave it my ultra-rare 10 rating. To say that I was eagerly anticipating this second issue would be like asking a fat kid if he loves cake (no disrespect towards fat kids…I used to be one).

It was nice that this booked slowed down a bit. We really got into the idea behind picking a larger team to help with big problems. For those who saw X-Men First Class it was very reminiscent of when Magneto and Xavier went all over the place to find new talent. Each character had a few panels devoted to them and the roster expansion was a combination of main-stays and little-used which felt perfect. With an idea to shake up the roster a bit, this was a great way to go about it.

The plot of the story itself was focused on the team and only lightly touched on the new villain sitting up on Mars. It worked well to have a slower pace this issue after the jam-packed first issue because nothing felt rushed. It was nice to get a bit more about characters rather than saying, “We’ve called you here today,” and suddenly you have a team (which has been done before).

The art by Jerome Opena is excellent and his style really seems to fit the vibe Jonathan Hickman has going so far. The combination of the two fits so well that I will be very happy if they stay together for at least the first dozen issues if not more.

Overall this was another very strong issue that scored a whopping 9.5 out of 10. To me this series is a must buy because it has started better than expected and looks like it is really heading in the right direction.

All New X-Men #4 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

All New X-Men

Issue #4

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Stuart Immonen

Published: February 2013

This feels sort of weird. The same artist for 4 straight issues seems out of place for a Bendis story. Not that I am complaining. Stuart Immonen’s level of art is a thing of beauty. Even working with a sometimes off script and dialogue he still creates vivid images and fantastic panels. This has been a very strong showing so far by a very good artist and really makes this whole re-launch very enjoyable.

Now, as for the story from Bendis he does some great things and horrible things within this issue. In a sense, it is almost like he has too much to work with that he feels compelled to try and do more than he should instead of exploring things more as they happen. Having read Bendis for a long time I know this is how he normally operates. It can be glaring when you compare it to other issues where he blends things so much more efficiently.

In this issue we have Cyclops finally meeting the younger versions of the X-Men. Some moments were really fantastic, but other parts just were odd. For example, Iceman seemed rather freaked out about his younger self. On the other hand, Scott Summers seemed to be like a weird old guy lusting after his past-girlfriend which didn’t mesh with the years of pain he always carried about her death. You would think he would be more respectful and less creepy. Angel gets shoved to the backburner, Jean goes from a 2 to a 9 on the power scale with no explanation, young Hank McCoy is spectacular, and older Scott delivers one of the most awkward and painful inner monologues in recent history. For me it was just back and forth with good and bad that seems like it could have been avoided with a slower pace and more time spent fleshing out ideas now, instead of trying to play catch-up at a later time; which Bendis does far too often in his arcs.

The bottom line is a solid 8 out of 10. I loved the art and there were some funny and interesting moments. While certain areas frustrated me they were not a turn off to avoid this issue or the fairly interesting re-launch.

Incredible Hulk #610 Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Incredible Hulk

Issue #610

Written by Greg Pak, Art by Paul Pelletier

Published: August 2010

As good as Greg Pak’s writing has been, it’s Paul Pelletier’s art that elevates The Incredible Hulk #610 from good to great. We are finally building up to a conclusion of Fall of the Hulks and World War Hulks, and this second to last issue delivers on all that has been promised since Pak’s return to the title.

As of last issue, Betty is dying after being stabbed by Skaar. She explains that it took her nearly killing her father in Hulk #22 to snap her out of the Leader’s brainwashing, but she’d still rather die that lose herself by becoming the red She-Hulk again. The choice isn’t hers, though, and when Samson shows up it gets her mad enough to Hulk out again. This time, though, she’s in enough control to leave the helicarrier and fight the Hulked-out soldiers in Washington, DC, which apparently explains her appearance in Fall of the Hulks: Savage She-Hulks #3.

Meanwhile, it’s up to Banner and the newly rescued smartest men on Earth to stop the Leader and MODOK. They succeed with some help from a gamma-irradiated Amadeus Cho, whose big brain became even bigger due to the Leader’s burst of gamma and cosmic energy. This is, in my opinion, an acceptable way to foil the Leader. He doesn’t lose because of some failure to calculate things properly but rather because of arrogance. From the introduction of the Intelligencia, he’s refused to accept that Amadeus is close to his level of intellect, and now it comes back to bite him.

Amadeus manages to reconfigure the laws of physics to reverse MODOK’s transformation, reverting him to a normal human. I have the same problem with this as with the red Hulk doing something similar to the Leader in Hulk #23 – it’s just going to get undone and rendered meaningless down the line. Meanwhile, Banner shows his true colors by trying to kill the Leader, but the villain teleports away (only to encounter the red Hulk in the aforementioned Hulk #23).

The process that created the Hulked-out soldiers is unstable, and all of Washington, DC’s attackers are going to die in a couple hours unless Banner can do something. This is where Pelletier’s art really shines. Through the issue, Banner has been getting subtly more muscular, starting as puny on page one and getting slightly buffer as the story goes on. This could be rendered an inconsistency, but it’s actually a subtle hint at Banner’s upcoming transformation. Putting himself at risk, Banner saves everybody by using the Leader’s machinery to reverse the flow of energy from the Hulked-out soldiers back to himself.

He gets some help in this process from Doc Samson, who returns to being heroic after spending this event as a villain, ultimately sacrificing his life. Again, this is one of those things that will be undone down the road when somebody decides to use Samson again, but considering how much damage this event has done to his character – including retconning things so that he was always working for MODOK – maybe it’s best to give him a few years as a dead man before using him again.

While the energy-draining process kills Samson, it powers up the gamma-charged cells in Banner’s body, finally turning him back into the Hulk. Of special note is the panel where the “Banner regammifcation” reaches 100%, in which Pelletier produces an almost exact replica of the panel from The Incredible Hulk #1 where Banner was first his by gamma rays. Also of note is the absolutely glorious two-page splash of the Hulk’s return after almost a year of dormancy. The issue ends with Skaar preparing to fight the Hulk, saying, “Finally.” I think Skaar speaks both for himself and the readers who have eagerly awaited the Hulk’s return on that count.

In our backup story, Hiro-Kala encounters the Worldmind of planet K’ai and uses it to turn the tables on Axeman Bone, saving himself while gaining immense power once again. This is about the same level of quality as we’ve seen from the rest of Hiro-Kala’s story, but is significant in that the backup tale and the Hulk’s tales will collide in the upcoming Dark Son storyline.

Overall, this is a fantastic issue and probably marks the high point of Greg Pak’s return. Paul Pelletier steals the show with some truly amazing art, and it’s remarkable how quickly he has improved on this series. The Intelligencia’s plot is defeated in a reasonable way that keeps them as menaces, even though the Leader and MODOK will be on ice for a little while due to their depowering. And next issue delivers us the long-promised battle between Skaar and the Hulk’s Green Scar persona. All told, while Fall of the Hulks and World War Hulks have had their ups and downs, this issue makes up for any flaws the stories previously had.

Iron Man #4 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

Iron Man

Issue #4

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Greg Land

Published: February 2013

What the hell? Where did Iron Man go? I know the cover (of this overpriced $4 comic) says Iron Man…but this isn’t Iron Man.

Iron Man is not a one and done type of comic. He has a long, storied history and so far I honestly hate how this re-launch has handled him. One-and-done is fine between arcs but why try and tackle specific Tony Stark issues in just a single book? I will admit that Kieron Gillen is a good writer and given the parameters he is working in the story is okay, but it is not how I like to see an iconic centerpiece of the Marvel Universe be treated.

On top of all that this new suit of armor each issue is rather ridiculous. Yes, the new suit looked cool as hell, but the idea is being overplayed that he has such amazing technology to use each issue.

The art by Greg Land sucks. Yes, when Tony is Iron Man the suit looks great. Everything else looks awful. The contrast is just too much.

Honestly it bothers me to be writing this review. I have read Iron Man for a long time and have stuck through the good times and the bad. This newest rendition is just wrong to me and trying to do too many things at once to stand out. I just don’t get it. I am sure there will be people that like it but it just doesn’t work for me.

The rating is a 5 out of 10. I don’t recommend this book or re-launch to anyone. At the very least flip through a few pages before you pony up $4 for this. But in my opinion it is a waste of time  and money.

Ultimate X-Men #12 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Ultimate X-Men

Issue #12

Written by Mark Millar, Art by Adam Kubert

Published: January 2002

In every form of media you will find examples of a creator, be it director, writer, or artist, who attempts to convey a message in their work.  Sometimes the finished product is something spectacular, and sometimes it falls short. Issue #12 of Ultimate X-Men falls into the spectacular category. The issue finishes off the ‘Return to Weapon X’ story arc with a masterful stroke. We see Jean forgive Wolverine, as she now understands him on a more base level. This is the start of a nature vs nurture theme for the issue. As on the opposite side of the issue we hear Sabertooth talk about being born a monster and he is nothing more than that.

Then to add another layer of ethical depth, we see the idea of killing in cold blood once the battle is over as a hot topic. If the debate was between the Brotherhood and X-Men it would not be as important, but the X-Men are debating among themselves on the topic. Colossus and Storm seem more than willing to take lives, and we even see Beast hunting Dr. Cornelius (reference to Planet of the Apes?). Then on the opposite side you have Jean, Cyclops and Iceman trying to talk them down. It’s a great philosophical debate that culminates in a surprise from Xavier in the form of a confession to Jean.

In addition we see some great action between the mutants as they battle over whether to kill or not, and even more action from Wolverine and Sabertooth. The panel showing Sabertooth being tackled off the cliff is just beautiful and the height really makes you wonder how even a healing factor can help.

Overall this issue really delivered a display of ethical debate in an entertaining form, and in a better form than I can put into words in this review. This issue gets a 5/5 and wraps up the arc nicely.

CMRO Update (12/23/2012)

Updated

Added

CMRO Update (12/22/2012)

Updated

Added

Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #4 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Marvel Adventures Super Heroes

Issue #4

Written by Paul Tobin, Art by Ronan Cliquet

Published: September 2010

Kraven the Hunter is after a certain Merc with a Mouth, and a chance encounter with select members of the Avengers results in an uneasy team-up. But while Wade Wilson is certainly annoying (and I mean that in the nicest possible way), is he anything compared to the reckless, willful Kraven, whose complete lack of regard for human life that stands in the way of his quarry is perhaps the real problem here?

This was a fun issue, mostly due to a whole lot of little things. Much of the issue is dedicated to the team’s interactions as they embark on what they think is a routine, fairly banal mission. There are some genuinely funny moments (even outside of Deadpool’s usual hilarity) that has the result of the team feeling like an actual team who joke and bicker and have actual relationships with one another. The character interactions are fun and natural, and there’s even a surprisingly insightful and welcome speech from Tony Stark of all people about the pitfalls of categorizing people into gendered stereotypes. Unexpected, but welcome. There’s also a subplot developing around Steve Rogers’ apparent romantic feelings for Sue Storm, which is just understated enough to come off as sweet and not gimmicky.

It’s also an attractive-looking issue. The art has a nice weight to it, none of the crazy anatomy of some titles, and some nice poses. While the expressions are generally pretty standard, there are also a few crazed smiles from Black Widow in the background that made me laugh.

Your tolerance level for Deadpool may vary, but he’s strange enough here to satisfy, and as a mostly background player, he doesn’t overwhelm the issue with zaniness or meta humour. The issue overall has a nice balance, a good combination of elements that results in a thoroughly enjoyable book.