Weekly Marvel Roundup for 10/27 – 11/02

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special #1 (Final Issue)
Written by Mike Costa and Art by Michael Dlalynas

Talk about a convoluted method to shoe horn in some old bad guys! Turns out Doc Oc and Abomination where merely robotic gamma infused creations of Dr Jude. The art in the comic is wonderful; it has a feeling of a much older style, but with modern quality and detailing, a perfect choice for a comic featuring the core of 60’s Marvel characters.

In the end it is a comic that has no real purpose as it is effectively a flash back of about a year ago but it really adds to the feeling that Spider-Oc maybe is not such a bad guy, or perhaps the longer he stays as Spider-Man, the more he becomes Parker.

X-Men – Battle of the Atom #2 (Final Issue)
Written by Jason Aaron and Art by Esad Ribic

First things first, this comic looks amazing; Ribic’s work on Thor was good, but this is just stunning. The story was heading towards a solid ‘meh.’ Not much resolution, nothing permanent happens, no one of any consequence dies. The comic starts becoming like the Return of the King with ending after ending until BAM, that last ending hits and it honestly was like a kick in the gut.

A fantastic ending and I love the sneaky peak at the five series that will spin back out of this one. If Infinity ends half as well as this, I will be a happy man.

Captain America: Living Legend #2
Written by Andy Diggle and Art by Augustin Alessio

After the basic ‘hero saves bad guy’ issue that began this series, I really was not remotely expecting the story to turn into this. It is not a bad thing at all as this starts to read like a creepy sci-fi horror story with fantastic atmospheric art.

Marvel is really putting out for all these limited series and this one is no exception. Everything above average and depending upon how they play it from here, this could turn out to be exceptional, or merely wilt under the weight of my expectations.

Trial of The Punisher #2 (Final Issue)
Written by Marc Guggenheim and Art by Mico Suayan

Over the years I have grown very tired of the Punisher. It is either toned down and a bit dull, because the punisher without the excessive death is a bit bland, but on the other hand when they take the restrictions off, it just becomes blood and gore porn. Here they placed it perfectly. Excessive when it needs it, quiet and calculating at other times.

This reads like a fantastic crime novel, throwing hints out and then steering you away just enough that when you finally realise what is happening all the pieces fall into place. The art has a few changes in places for flashbacks and I wish the whole comic was done like the Punisher/Daredevil sequences. The whole comic is good, but those pages are on a completely different level.

Deadpool Kills Deadpool #4 (Final Issue)
Written by Cullen Bunn and Art by Salvador Espin

Just when I thought that too much Deadpool was a bad thing and that this series had been bloated and spiralling downwards, Mr Bunn pulled it out of its death spiral into a more than decent barrel roll. Actually, the decreasing numbers of Deadpools in the comic really helped focus this into a much better comic.

The art is still great as it has been through the whole series and the three page fight montage was brilliantly executed. The only problem now is that I cannot get the ‘Montage’ song from Team America out of my head. I blame you Pandapool!

Avengers A.I. #5
Written by Samuel Ryan Humphries and Art by Valerio Schiti

Can we please just change this series completely? Stuff the Avengers bit and just rename it ‘Doombot A.I.’ Every single panel he is on is immensely entertaining and he utterly steals the comic because of it.

Pym has a revelation that he is bipolar and frankly I wish I could just rip those pages out and scrap them as the comic would both work and be better without them. This is very much a transitory comic between two bigger moments and this series has been fantastic so far, therefore I will forgive this week’s not being as great.

Infinity #5
Written by Jonathan Hickman and Art by Jerome Opena

So the Infinity series was about a master race invading the galaxy to destroy the Earth and anything else in their path; to snuff out existence rather than build it. What was the point, they went from unbeatable to a smear on Thors hammer in one issue?

Fortunately the battle on Earth itself is so much better it makes up for this seeming undervaluing of the Builders. Thanos has found his son, Blackbolt is in chains and the Illuminati have just returned, but will anyone else come to their aid? Wonderfully set up for the final few issues, just a shame that what appeared to be the main focus of the series went out with a whimper.

Guardians of the Galaxy #8 (Infinity)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and Art by Francesco Francavilla

There are times when I really like Francesco’s art in his smaller more ‘street’ level comics, but his intentionally limited colour palette (he does all the art in his comics) just really loses a lot of the grandeur of a space comic. His line work is fantastic, I wish he would let someone else colour it because there are entire sets of panels which are a blue background and flat red colour over his inks across all the characters. What is the point in beautifully drawing out the final reveal page, and then simply making that character all flat red?

The story is fun with the back and forth’s between the characters and the ‘save’ at the end is unexpected, but obvious if you stopped to think about it.

Uncanny X-Force #13
Written by Samuel Ryan Humphries and Art by Phil Briones and Angel Unzueta

It is bad enough that my favourite artist is off this comic again, but the cover art is appalling for this comic. Kris did the best cover this series has had with Spiral last time, so I have no idea what he was thinking when he put that lopsided monstrosity on this cover. Thank goodness the interior art is so fantastic that it blocks that cover from my mind and almost makes up for Alphona’s departure.

The story is really picking up, Cassandra Nova is taking over Hollywood in true movie style by shutting down the entire city, pouring blood over the moon and releasing the Revenants. This just keeps getting better and better.

Superior Spider-Man #20
Written by Dan Slot and Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli

I will not spoiler the comic, but I wish I could. I cannot believe that even Doc Oc-Spider could do that to her… Giuseppe, even if you had done nothing else all year long, page 6 of this comic would have made you my hero, but Dan, how could you write that?

This comic leaves me so torn. I really am starting to like Otto and the fact that he is trying to turn his life around, even if it is not his life, but this comic basically sees the beginning of the end for him and Murphy’s law is in full effect. Just when you think it cannot get any worse it does, and then it does again. Judging by the teaser for next time, it is still getting worse.

Avengers #22 (Infinity)
Written by Jonathan Hickman and Art by Leinil Francis Yu

It is really important to read this after Infinity 5, otherwise it totally spoils the final reveal of that comic. If anything this is a direct continuation from that story, there is no overlap and it might as well be a 50+ page combined comic. This comic wins the award for the fastest reading comic of the week, I reached the last page and was convinced half of it was missing. Unlike many comics like this I did not feel cheated by the speed of the read, just annoyed because I was really enjoying it.

I have to pay attention next time because need to remember to read them in the reverse order, planning out this series must have been a nightmare. The art is fantastic, the story while periphery is engaging and I cannot wait to see Thanos get his comeuppance.

Scarlet Spider #23
Written by Chistopher Yost and Art by Carlo Barberi

Ok, who screwed up and resurrected Kraven? And then killed him again, or did they? This comic is another one of the really good Marvel books that appear to be being cancelled because their numbering was getting too high. The editors seem to be scared of the number 25 as if they suffer from comic related vertigo. I am sure this will be back as soon as they can relaunch it as ‘Superior Scarlet Spider’ or ‘All New Scarlet Spider’.

Either way this comic is shocking and touching all at the same time, but it might also spell the end for Kaine’s happy new life in Houston.

ROM #1 Review

by Redsvetz, CMRO User

ROM

Issue #1

Written by Bill Mantlo, Art by Sal Buscema and John Romita Jr.

Published: December 1979

ROM #1. I had my sights set on this issue the day I started the big project and peeled back the pages of Essential Fantastic Four #1. I had read the entire run of ROM multiple times in the 80s, and part of the allure of reading the entire Marvel Universe, was reliving those golden moments from elementary school. My “feelings” for ROM are strong. I’ve got great memories of other comic books, but nothing comes close to ROM. It was the first comic I ever read back-to-back issues of, and the first comic I ever saw anyone keep in a plastic bag—my buddy Jamie, who lived next door, kept his issues in boxes in a file cabinet!

“Ooooo! Look at that cover! Who is ROM Spaceknight?”

“Wanna read ‘em?”

“Heck, yeah”

“OK, but you can only take out two at a time…”

I didn’t learn to read on comics, but I’m sure they aided my something or other or helped strengthen my taste for so and so. You know what I’m talking about… there’s a little part of me running around these pages that I’ve been quite interested in meeting up with again for quite a while now.

I brought one of my dad’s old briefcases over to Jamie’s and collected #1 and #2, holding them gingerly.

“Be careful with those!”

“I will!”

I was back at his house the next day for 3 and 4…

So. Here I am. Nearly 4000 books under my belt, I’ve arrived at one of the perceived pillars of my childhood, looking for the “Good Times.” I’ve spoken about this before—reliving past glories can be a tricky subject. Somehow they never quite live up to how awesome the little nuggets of memories you’ve got buried in the gray matter are supposed to be, but you go on looking for them anyway…

Let’s go:

Cover: Totally awesome! Shiny metal, glowing eyes, weapon drawn, astonished townsfolk. ROM is a bad motherf*cker!—9/10

Splash page: A tad on the busy side, but it conveys its message well. In the read-up to this issue I must’ve seen this page at least 30 times, as they used it in the house ad for ROM, but it’s still powerful, with ROM emerging from a flaming “comet.” (Is this an ape of Superman?)—7/10.

Story and Art: The first few pages are effective at conveying bewilderment for both of our protagonists as Brandy Clarke nearly hits ROM with her car and crashes. Buscema’s art here and throughout the book, is a bit on the mediocre side, although adequate. I’m sure I never had a problem with “Ol’ Trapezoid Mouth” in the 80s, but boy I do now. Check it out—90% of the people he draws have a weird grimace on their face.

So we’ve got ROM kicking butt and taking names (SHREET!) which throws the whole town into a tizzy and sends our sinister antagonists, identified as Dire Wraiths, scuttling off to plan a counterattack.

Meanwhile, ROM and Brandy begin to fall in love via the Universal Translator, and we get ROM’s origin told over a campfire—there are really no new ideas here, but Mantlo weaves it all together in a competent enough fashion to leave you wanting at least a little more. We’ve got some Norrin Radd (Silver Surfer) parallels as ROM was the first and noblest member of Galador, blah, blah, blah and the spaceknights defended their homeworld, yada, yada, yada and now ROM came to send all the filthy Dire Wraiths to limbo and chew bubble gum…AND NOW HE’S ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM.

The Wraiths counterattack, we see some decent action panels, ROM ends up sending a few more of the bastards to the interstellar DMV and we’ve got a wrap.—7/10

How it holds up:  I have to take issue with the ridiculously immediate attraction between ROM and Brandy. I realize it’s necessary for the future of the book, but C’mon. What’s she attracted to, his gleaming metal and demonic red eyes? I imagine his voice to be akin to that of Robocop, so that’s gotta be a turn off…His noble cause? That must be it, meh.

I suppose in 1979, The Wraiths were symbolic as communists looking to end the American way of life and ROM as a literal “knight in shining armor” to hit back against those nefarious forces. This “tension” of course, is diminished in the post-cold war era, but still holds some relevance to the guessing game of modern terrorism.—6/10

Recapturing the joy:  Yes, I enjoyed the hell out this book again. Yes, I want more, more, more. Was it as good as I remembered it? Hell no, but it’s still a blast and it did bring back plenty of “good” memories—8/10.

Overall:  Four shiny metal asses to bite out of five. ****

Dedicated to James Halley (1974-2000).

The Last of Us: American Dreams Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer

The Last of Us: American Dreams

Written by Neil Druckmann, Art by Faith Erin Hicks

Published: November 2013

Probably the most important item to mention when writing this review is that I have neither played, nor even heard of the video game that this comic is based on. This means I could have a decidedly different opinion of it from anyone who knows the game. I come into this with no preconceived ideas and honestly absolutely no idea what this comic is about. Interesting bit of back story to this; when offering to do these reviews I asked for two things. Firstly, I wanted to review anything that came up, but especially if they had very attractive women in them. Secondly, the only comics I would not review were zombie ones. Well, I am still waiting for the first one, but I sure got the second one. If it is possible to both love and hate something, then this comic is it.

To be honest, I doubt anyone would have the same experience reading this comic that I did; very few people are going to walk into a book store and randomly pick up the first trade that they come across, but that is effectively how this works for me. Sure, if the cover says ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ then I have a fairly good grasp on what the comic is about. For this one, and quite a few others, half the fun has been finding out what the story was about without any expectations telling me I was going to love or hate it. From the moment I started reading I was fascinated by where this was going with the young girl looking out of the coach window, all the military people milling about and the guy being frisked against the wall.

I have a young daughter, quite a lot younger than the girl shown in this comic, but it has left me open to feeling over protective towards young female protagonists and there are many times throughout this comic that I just want to pick her up and give her a hug. Watching her reaching out to the soldier who I guess rescued her and being gently turned down is heart breaking. The art does clever things with the perspective at times as Ellie is shown being towered over by adults and on a par with younger people, more so than would actually be indicated by her actual height. I do not even know if this was a conscious decision by the artist, but it makes me feel so much more protective towards her at the beginning of the comic, but by the time she takes control at the end, there is never this shot showing how small she is again.

Ellie has been sent to a military school in one of the safe districts, an area where the infection has not spread and they can protect those inside from the parasitic fungal zombies outside. Actually you never seem to find out what has infected the people from reading the comic, that info came from the back cover, and honestly, you do not need to know it. Not knowing makes it feel more creepy and it makes that initial moment where you finally meet one of them, even more unnerving.
Ellie does not fit in at any of the schools she has been to, forever getting into fights, and the moment she steps foot in this school she finds another one. To be fair, this one is definitely not her fault, but it does not stop the principal from dragging her into his office after another girl, Riley, has saved her from a beating. Riley is a definite wild child, waiting to escape from the rigid structure of the military school and into the arms of the ‘Firefiles’ who are an underground group of people fighting against the military and the zombie hoards. It is obvious where this is leading and Ellie and Riley both escape over the fence off in search of rebels and a free life. But what they find is death, murder, violence and the sense that even when you think it is as bad as it can get, it can get worse.

It is strange because in every way, I should hate the art in this comic. Everything I have ever said about neatness of lines, clarity, and repetition of shape when it comes to characters goes straight out. This is not your usual comic art and nor should it be. The art is ‘cute,’ grainy, dirty and I love every frame of it. It is punctuated with fully painted pages between the chapters and this break of style, even for a single page at a time, is beautifully done; well except chapter three, which is horribly, but still wonderful. What you are most drawn to are her eyes; throughout the entire story you could hide everything apart from them and you would get every emotion and thought that you need to. The middle panel on the second page sums up how well this comic portrays emotions without a single word and it is a haunting picture that makes me want to go and hug my daughter as a surrogate for Ellie.

So, how do I sum this one up? The comic is about zombies, which I hate. There is a lot of violence towards young(ish) girls, which I hate. The art style is about as far from my favourite as you can get. Add this all together and you produce a comic for which the worst thing I can say about it is that we cannot get a sequel because this is a prequel to a video game. If I had a PS3, I would go out and buy the game just to find out where this comic leads.

Lots of Courts Say No to Lots of Comic Lawsuits

by Joshua Starnes, CMRO Editor

Following the thrashing the heirs of the Seigel family received in court last year when their appeal of the decision to award DC full copyright of Superman failed, it seems both inevitable and unsurprising that the same court would rule the same way regarding jack Kirby’s estate in relation to Marvel.

According to Deadline, the Second Circuit court of appeals has refused a new hearing to appeal the last ruling against them, meaning short of a hearing by the Supreme Court, the matter is now settled and not in the artists favor.

An interesting tidbit in the Deadline segment is that at one point during the legal process Marvel did try and settle with the Kirby family (the same as DC had with the Siegel family before the latest lawsuit). The settlement seems to have been rejected in favor of pushing forward with a desire for full copyright return, a strategy which ultimately brought them nothing, the exact same turn of events which happened to the Siegel family last year.

It’s also worth noting that both families were represented by the same lawyer, Marc Toberoff, who managed to lose with the same strategy twice.

In slightly better court news, Deadline also reports that the company occasionally known as Stan Lee Media (but better known as a lawyer with a consortium of equity capitalists paying his court fees) has lost its latest endeavor to try and take whatever it can from Stan Lee’s past.

After several years of trying and failing to claim copyright over all of Stan Lee’s characters created at Marvel, SLM next filed suit claiming copyright over the character Conan under the dubious logic that Stan Lee had signed over the rights for everything he had ever worked on while at Marvel, which did include Conan, meaning that the rights for that character also transferred to SLM.

SLM already lost that battle once and this week they lost it again on appeal which, according to Deadline, means “there is now no legal sword at all hanging over Universal Pictures reboot The Legend Of Conan, with a script by Andrea Berloff and the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the role he first played way back in 1982.”

Bring it on!

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Superior Foes of Spider-Man

Issue #4

Written by Nick Spencer, Art by Steve Lieber

Published: December 2013

Nick Spencer, you son of a gun. You spent an entire issue making me fall in love with a character, really embracing him, just to rip my heart out and stop on it. It was brilliant, though. I won’t argue with that. I should’ve known better than to try to relate to a criminal.

Superior Foes 4 features the Sinister Six, though at the start of the issue there are only four of them. They still call themselves the Sinister Six, though. Go figure. Boomerang, who was recently leading the team, has been kicked out. The first few pages follow the Six before the focus changes to Boomerang for the rest of the issue.

He’s really the star of the issue. Not only does the narrative follow him, but we see just as much of Fred Myers as we do his villainous alter-ego. When he goes to bar and hits on a bartender who’s clearly not a fan of his, we can’t help but sympathize his rejection. He’s not being a villain at that point; he’s just being an unlucky schmuck.

And when he frees the Six, making a Breaking Bad reference while doing so, it’s hard not to love the guy. For that brief moment he’s the hero and he’s throwing out wise crack’s like Spider-Man in his prime. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading the issue.

Then there’s the big middle finger of an ending. I’m not mad at Spencer. It’s my fault for letting my guard down. At one point in the issue, Boomerang says, in these exact words: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hardened criminal.”

I should’ve taken that to heart. Superior Foes 4 is a fun, funny little character study and well worth anyone’s time.

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #4 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up

Issue #4

Written by Robert Rodi, Art by Michael del Mundo

Published: November 2013

This is my first issue of Superior Spider-Man Team Up. I’ve loved every issue of Superior Spider-Man (I think), so when I got a chance to review Team Up, I took it. I’ve never heard of Robert Rodi, Michael Del Mundo, or Marco D’Alfonso. But you can be sure I know their names now.

For starters Team Up 4 is one of the prettiest comics I’ve seen in a while. Del Mundo pencils absolutely flow and he and D’Alfonso’s colors are bright and vibrant and wonderful. Visually, the comic is just an absolute treat. There’s some fantastic layouts (which Rodi may have very well had a hand in), including one particularly impressive panel where the antagonist, Fulmina, uses the lights of the city to paint her face. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.

To be fair, the book is called Superior Spider-Man Team Up and the actually teaming up doesn’t really exist. Luke Cage is in the book for barely over a page and in that time he and Spidey fight much more than they get along. Still, I can’t complain when the issue is as good as it is.

Next to Dan Slott himself, Rodi does the best job of writing Octavius as Spider-Man. There’s even one brief, brilliant moment where we see Otto himself. He’s gone in a flash, but he was there long enough for someone else to notice. I don’t think that moment will ever matter in the grand scheme, but you never know.

When I spend a review just ranting and rambling, like I just did with this one, you know that I truly enjoyed the comic. I’m very sad that Rodi’s run on the comic was over in the blink of an eye. Chris Yost returns next issue, and I like Yost very much, but I need to hunt down Rodi’s other work as soon as possible.