Weekly Marvel Roundup for 06/22 – 06/28

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor and Eric Miller, CMRO Contributing Writer

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Editors Note: This issue of The Weekly Marvel Round up sees the last time that Eric will be sharing the review seat for the forseeable future. He has wisely decided to take some time off, at least for the summer, so I hope you will join with my in saying thank you for his sterling efforts over the last 47 issues.

Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies #1 (BattleWorld)
Written by James Robinson
Art by Steve Pugh and Jim Charalampidis

Synopsis –After Tigra treats us to an in-story situation that personifies the title of the series, we then get a brief recap of the Ultron side of things. Finally we meet out “protagonist”, Hank Pym from the Timely domain, who is being sent over the SHIELD for basically doing what Pym always does, building a robot.

Eric:
This is another book that takes us over the SHIELD and gives us a much bigger picture of what is going on there. Not only are there the Deadlands, where Elza Bloodstone is lost in at the moment, but we also have Perfection, Ultron’s little slice of heaven. Although we haven’t gotten much in the way of details as to how the Deadlands got that way, Perfection’s origin is given a little more background. Of course, you can’t have a book about Ultron without Pym somehow being involved, and this is no exception. Although it is a very odd choice, since it is the Pym from the Timely domain, which is the one that will be feature in the 1872. Like the other Zombie title, this is way more interesting then it sounded like when it was in the solicits.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
You know, I tend to like a bit of story along with my plot dump, but this just seems to keep on dumping. I like it that this is not ZOMBIES, rather it is ‘Marvel’ Zombies which tends to keep it a bit more PG rated. I know its really contradictory that I have no problems reading comics where people get horribly eviscerated, but ones where the dead are walking freak me out. Hopefully this has given them enough set up for the series that the next one will be better.
Story – 6/10
Art – 7/10

E is for Extinction #1 (WarZones)
Written by Chris Burnham
Art by Ramon Vilalobos and Ian Herring

Synopsis –
Way back in New X-Men #114 Xavier said the words ‘get out of my head or I’ll fire’ and Cassandra Nova left him. Only this time she didn’t and the result was messy. Skip forward many years and Magneto has won, he controls the X-Men and Scott and Emma are left to get old and fat alone with their powers fading.

Etienne:
Wow, I was moaning that there were no X-books for me in Secret Wars because I didn’t care about any of the ones they had released so far, but then they give us this and X-Men 92 in the same week. The art style takes a bit of getting used to, its even more stylised than the New X-Men from the early 00s, but over all this looks extremely interesting.
Story – 8/10
Art – 6/10

Eric:
Stylized, it looks like the old art style from New X-Men on steroids. Takes some getting used to is an understatement. I was not a fan of the art on the original series, and this is so much worse. But outside the art, this series is definitely hitting all the nostalgia points for anyone that was a fan of Grant Morrison’s run on the x-men. And it’s not just the characters. The concepts, like second mutations, are part of the conversation as well. I’ll give it a chance for now, but since I wasn’t a huge fan of the original run, I’ll probably be more nit-picky as we move along. Also, It has Quire in it, and I really hate him.
Story – 7/10
Art – 2/10

Korvac Saga #1 (WarZones)
Written by Dan Abbnet
Art by Otto Schmidt and Cris Peter

Synopsis –In the domain of the Forest Hills, there have been 7 incidents where an individual seems to suffer from some sort of disease or virus that eventually escalates into them being a danger to themselves and others. The Guardians don’t know what to make of it.

Eric:
There is actually a lot going on in this issue, but none of it has anything to do with what was taking place at the end of the Guardians 3000 series, like I thought for sure it would. Like Etienne has pointed out with other books in the WarZones, this follows a similar pattern. Introduction of all the players, some expected, some not. A mystery story begins, with only a handful of the key players aware of it. Questions about the fabric of Doom’s reality are starting to arise and we see the threads starting to unravel. I think it’s biggest problem is that I don’t care for the art work all that much.
Story – 7/10
Art – 4/10

Etienne:
I think the biggest problem with this book is that I simply have no hook to get me involved. Who are these characters, why do I care? And the art is ok, nothing special, but hang on, just how big are Black Widows boobs? Honestly that is utterly ridiculous, not to mention on the next page is must be ‘very cold’ if you get my meaning. This is not really what I expect from modern day marvel frankly.
Story – 4/10
Art – 4/10

X-Men ’92 #1 (BattleWorld)
Written by Chris Bower and Chris Sims
Art by Scott Koblish and Matt Milla

Synopsis –
We are back in the 90’s everyone is ‘bub’ and everything is ‘rad’. The Mutant War of Westchester is over and it is no longer Captain Summers, but merely Cyclops again. However Rogue Sentinels abound and the mutant sanctuary of Clear Mountain sounds too good to be true.

Etienne:
I loved this series when I was younger. For those that do not know this is based on the X-Men cartoon series from the mid-90s which had a massive effect on my formative years reading comics. This captures the art style of the cartoon series perfectly and it feels like they could have practically walked out of the screen and onto the page. However some of the characterizations feel slightly off, and they cannot be covered up by reusing the characters catchphrases over and over again. Bub.

Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Eric:
I liked this a bit more then E for Extinction, and found it interesting that since E has retconned itself so that Cassandra Nova didn’t play out the way it did originally, this series has decided to do it’s own variation of that character and storyline, in it’s place. I have not seen as much of the cartoon as some, but since the cartoon is based on the 90s era comic characters I grew up with, it really doesn’t matter. Which ever 90s version of things you know, this series will be a great reminder of those days, including a lot of “extra” characters in there old costumes.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Infinity Gauntlet #2 (WarZones)
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Dustin Weaver

Synopsis –
The bugs have taken over, but fortunately ‘mum’ has come back with the power of a Nova to save them all. And her solution – lets me all of them Nova’s, including the damn dog… The problem is Thanos is interfering trying to reform the Infinity Gauntlet and it appears he has the Time Gem already.

Etienne:
The bit with the dog annoyed me intently and I really thought they killed in the next page, but I was wrong, it is a super dog and clearly unlike grandpa’s cannot be killed in a comic book. To be honest, I do not care much for this book at all, I do not like post-apocalyptic future stories, and this is very much in that vein. The only thing save it at the moment is a ruthless Thanos.
Story – 6/10
Art – 6/10

Eric:
See and I thought this was a little better then last issue, and I didn’t mind the stuff with the dog. Now that the focus seems to be moving onto the Gauntlet, and Thanos more, I much more interested. The post-apocalyptic thing I could take it or leave it, but now that the story is moving along it’s not so bad.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Modok Assassin #2 (WarZones)
Written by Christopher Yost
Art by Amilcar Pinna, Terry Pallot, Ed Tadeo and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis –
MODOK has angered the guild of Assassins by killing one of their own, but he has powerful protection. In an effort to take him down a Thor is shot down and when she awakens she takes out all her anger on first one she sees.

Etienne:
This is still a really bizarre concept and it seems to pick up exactly where Secret Avengers ended up, but with MODOK falling for yet another strong, powerful woman in a completely ridiculous fashion. Angela plays her part as Thor really well and this is still for a me a ‘secret’ success story.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Eric:
For some reason I only like Angela when she is a “guest” in another book. I loved her when she was in Guardians, and her interactions with them and especially Gamora where great. But I can’t stand her in her own solo title, nor do I like her all that much in her Secret Wars title, but I think she plays the part of a Thor in KillVille just perfectly. MODOK is great in this, again, and although I couldn’t stand Secret Avengers, I am enjoying this title immensely.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Planet Hulk #2 (WarZones)
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Marc Laming and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis –Doc Green, or this variation of him, is basically Captain and Devil’s tour guide through Greenland and is going to lead them to the Mud Kingdom. As long as the gamma charged plant and wild life doesn’t kill them or eat them first.

Eric:
So now that we are starting to get to the second issue of some of these series, we have seen some of the series that weren’t so great in the first issue get better. Then we have this title, which already had a great first issue. I’m pleased to say that the second issue was just as good if not better. It turns out that the Hulk we are focusing on is Doc Green, and a really disturbing version of him, at that. This book is definitely going into some weird stuff similar to Weirdworld and Where Monsters Dwell, but for some reason I feel more connection to it because of the three main characters. Also, this book looks incredible.
Story – 10/10
Art – 10/10

Etienne:
I am not quite as enamoured as Eric is, but this is still a good book; a book that is confusing as all heck at the same time. I have no idea what is really going on, but that is also the position of the Captain, so we seem to be following his journey in this book. It really reminds me of one of the 1960s farce films where a bad thing happens, they get away from the bad thing only to run into something worse, which in turn ends up being something worse. etc etc.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Where Monsters Dwell #2 (WarZones)
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Russ Braun and Dono Sanchez Almara

Synopsis –Karl Kaufman runs around screaming like a little girl when in danger, but then acts like a complete sexist ass the minute he’s not. And we still don’t know what Clemmie’s real motive are.

Eric:
Like Planet Hulk, this deals with a couple of people travelling through a strange and savage land, and running for their lives from giant monsters trying to eat and kill them. But the setting, storyline, and monsters are so completely different, they have managed to make both books feel very fresh and different. The dynamic between the two main characters is great. I don’t think I could take Karl as a solo act, but with Clemmie, his character being written as a complete jerk comes off as comic relief. The monsters, so far have been great, and the artwork is incredible.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Etienne:
I don’t think he could be a solo act, he wouldn’t have anyone to embarrass himself with on his own. The end of the book amused me greatly, but the rest of it was merely a bit average. I am struggling to work out where this fits within the Marvel world because right now I think I am missing the point slightly.
Story – 6/10
Art – 9/10

Howard the Duck #4
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Joe Quinones, Katie Cook, Joe Rivera, Rico Renzi, Heather Breckel and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis –Howard visits Doctor Strange, and finds out about the Abundant Glove, basically the poor man’s Infinity Guantlet. Now he must stop the Skrull from last issue before he can find the final stone he needs to finish the glove.

Eric:
So, basically last issue, Howard ended up helping a skrull get some stone that happens to be part of a very weak Glove that bares a resemblance to the Infinity Gauntlet. It is meant to be a joke on the real Gauntlet. Also, for some reason this has a full page of flashback to the original Secret Wars, and even goes as far as to throw Deadpool into one of the panels. On top of all this, there is a little mini second story done in a completely different art style that I’m not even sure what to make of. I think the issue just had way to much going on this time.
Story – 5/10
Art – 6/10

Etienne:
Not funny enough to be a joke comic, not serious enough to be an ongoing proposition, it falls right in the middle. Deadpool works by being the crazy one in a serious world, but Howard seems to want to be the sensible one. The problem his he is in the real Marvel universe and it also wants to try and be sensible. This would work so much better out of continuity in a more silly setting where Howard can play the straight guy who is the butt of the universes jokes.
Story – 5/10
Art – 7/10

Uncanny Avengers #5 (Final Issue)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Daniel Acuna

Synopsis –The battle for Counter-Earth rages on, and the team tries to pull it together to finally get a handle on stopping the High Evolutionary.

Eric:
The end of this series, and it was pretty much a mess. But that is not surprising since the whole five issue run, coming off the big retcon of the twins origins from Axis, has not been very good. Unlike Etienne, I am a big fan of Remender’s previous work on many series like Uncanny X-Force, Secret Avengers, and the first volume of Uncanny Avengers, but I have had to admit that I have not been thrilled with this current volume or the twins retcon. Here’s hoping his Hail Hydra series during Secret Wars is an improvement.
Story – 1/10
Art – 4/10

Etienne:
Don’t sugar coat it, you weren’t happy with his writing in AXIS or at the end of Captain America, so don’t try and pretend this is a recent hiccup in an otherwise unblemished record. Give him a blank slate to drag into depths of despair and horror, and you will get a good book. Give him an ongoing universe and he will break it apart so he can use just the one little piece that he wants and to hell with the rest. Sorry, but this couldn’t haven’t ended soon enough, 5 issues was too long.
Story – 1/10
Art – 4/10

S.H.I.E.L.D. #7
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Greg Smallwood and Guru-eFX

Synopsis –
Daisy Johson AKA Skye AKA Quake is out to capture her father, Mr Hyde. Her mutation has caused untold side effects in her DNA and only he has the key to save her.

Etienne:
You see, this is what happens when I don’t get the second season of a TV at a time I can watch, I get spoilers in the most unlikely of places. However this made this comic so much more entertaining because I didn’t know who Skye had turned out to be, so this was a massive revelation.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Eric:
You realized they just retconned Daisy’s origin to match the show, right? In fact there are even articles, from when it came out who Skye was on the show, that point out the show was changing her origins to Inhuman from Mutant cause of the copyright issues over the term with Fox. And now they have actually changed her into an Inhuman in this issue to match the show. In fact, this story felt like its only purpose was to retcon the character for the show. It was a little too blatant for me. Especially since Daisy isn’t just “doing a lot of missions in space” right now, she isn’t even a member of SHIELD any more and hasn’t been since she quit 2 volumes of Secret Avengers ago. They even made Zabo look like Kyle MacLachlan. For a minute I wasn’t sure if I was reading an MU or MCU comic.
Story – 4/10
Art – 6/10

Loki: Agent of Asgard #15 (Last Days of)
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela

Synopsis –
It is the end of Days, Asgard is ending, the universe is ending – but at least this time they didn’t try and call it Ragnarok. Two Loki’s each trying to meet their own ends, one to destroy Asgard, the other to save a friend.

Etienne:
There are parts of this book I liked and parts I didn’t, but over all this was much better than the last issue. We got to see what made Verity work, where she came from and in the end, where is is going(gone). I still have an issue with Odin with a Mini-gun, but frankly this worked out a lot better than I expected, and it stuck me in the middle of a personal nightmare. If you command the dead, then every soldier you kill feeds your army, for me that is a terrifying concept.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Eric:
Yeah, ok the mini-gun is a little over the top, but the overall story is decent. I liked Varity’s back story, and it is more interesting then one would think. The whole fight with Asgardia was pretty much your typical end of the world scenarios for the Asgardians, and I liked the twist at the end.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Daredevil #16
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson

Synopsis –Daredevil has been “outed” worse then he’s ever been “outed” before, so of course, his last resort is to ask for help from his greatest enemy, Wilson Fisk. But Fisk has a few angles he’s working of his own.

Eric:
This was basically a set up for the big finale, although the end of the issue called the next issue “part 1” and according to the solicits, next issue might be the last issue. I like that Fisk has been brought in for the finale. I mean if this is supposed to be the last 616 Daredevil story, how can Fisk not be involved. This series has been really good lately, and even for a setup issue, this continues that trend. I am really looking forward to the finale.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Etienne:
I wouldn’t even call it a set up issue, it is so much the continuation of the previous storyline. Matts offer is bizzare and frankly I have no idea why Fisk would take him up on it. Frankly if he does it proves that all villains are their own worst enemies because you need to kill your enemies, not play with them.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Black Widow #19 (Last Days of)
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Phil Noto

Synopsis –
Natasha is remembering her first missions when she was a young spy for the Russians. Memories like that are hard to forget, especially when you needed to put your mission before your friend.

Etienne:
Most of the ‘last days of’ stories are like this – one page in the present and then the rest of the comic set in the distant past remembering something else. This was a really interesting story, but I find it very odd to be reminiscing at a time like this. Then again they do say when you die your life flashes before your eyes…
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Eric:
Well, I guess we can look at it two ways. Either we can get a flashback show so they can tell a story that isn’t necessarily about the end of the world, but it does have correlations with it, or we get what Mighty Avengers and Ms. Marvel are doing by showing us a sad, emotion filled ending of the little people as they come to terms with the end of everything. I mean there’s not really many avenues of choice at this point in the game. For me, I’m glad we get some issues like this one and Magneto or else I would be to sad to even finish half of these Last Days Of issues.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

The Punisher #19 (Last Days of)
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mitch Gerards and Andy W. Clift

Synopsis –Picking up right after Punisher’s cameo in Secret Wars #1, with the end of the world happening, Punisher decides to go out punishing terrorist.

Eric:
This issue is not bad, but over the last few issues this series has gotten really good, and I felt this issue was just a little too generic. I mean it was basically Punisher just running around doing his thing to a bunch of terrorist. They took a generic bad guy, and threw Punisher at them, just so they could show him doing a lot of violent, punisher type things at the end. I mean it was decent action, but with no real build up, and not much of a point in my opinion.
Story – 5/10
Art – 8/10

Etienne:
Generic bad guy? That was blatantly Ben Kingsley doing a Mandarin impression! I have to agree it was a bit generic in the type of story, but stylistically it was pretty impressive. This series had a really up and down middle, but the end of it has been one success after another, so I can take this as being just a teeny bit less successful than the previous few issues.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Highway 616 Episode 6: ’92 Ways to Hate the Duck

Highway 616

 

Welcome to Episode #6 of Highway 616 and boy do I hate the Duck! This episode looks at the nature of digital first comics, particularly the Marvel Infinite series and we review a comic based on my favourite cartoon of all time – X-Men ’92 #1. Then we take a turn for the dark as I look into the depths of despair that is caused by being forced to read Howard the Duck #4 – it can’t be that bad, can it?

 

The Incredible Hercules #135 – Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

The Incredible Hercules

Issue #135

Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente with Art by Rodney Buchemi and Guillem Mari

Published: November 2009

Hercules 135cI’m a huge fan of that wonderful place where role-playing games and comic books meet, so The Incredible Hercules #135 is right up my alley. From the preview page which reads like the front of an old TSR RPG module to the shared experience of your character dying on the first roll, this comic captures the nostalgia of old-timey gamey right away.

What’s happening is that Amadeus and his nemesis, Pythagoras Dupree, are playing a role-playing game where Amadeus, the player, can’t win because Pythagoras, the Game Master, has rigged the scenario. Except that this isn’t really happening – it’s all part of an elaborate plan for Pythagoras to show his superiority before killing Amadeus.

The bulk of the story takes place in this imaginary RPG setting which evokes the type of craziness you would expect from a pulp radio serial. The homage touches on parody a couple of times, such as through the introduction of the villainous Dr. Japanazi, but never gets too silly.

If Amadeus’ time in this comic has been a coming of age story, this issue is the point where he needs to set aside childish things and complete his destiny as a hero. He ultimately manages to break through Pythagoras’ illusions and realizes that he’s a lot smarter than even he gave himself credit for. If you can buy that intelligence is something that can be measured and ranked (rather than the real world truth that multiple kinds of intelligence exist and that it’s way more complex than sports standings), you’ll be able to enjoy this story for the quasi-superhero origin story that it is.

The art is lovely and properly able to evoke the period that the game is set in. It also handles transitions between the game world, the “real” world, and the real real world very well. The story is layered in such a way that it might be confusing to some readers, but I don’t think it ever gets too complex to follow. This whole tale is basically a deconstruction of the superhero origin tale, so as long as you’re willing to accept the panels as metaphors rather than something that’s “really” happening, you should be fine.

As a whole, Amadeus’ story doesn’t quite have the same hilarious appeal as Herc’s adventures around this time, but he’s surprisingly capable of carrying a title on his own. The Incredible Hercules #135 is a fun ride that manages to be complex without getting confusing, and I highly recommend it.

The Portable Frank – Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

The Portable Frank

Written and created by Jim Woodring

Published: March 2013

The Portable Frank - dJim Woodring’s Frank character is fairly iconic, and if you’re looking at anthologies, you likely already have some idea of whether or not you’re going to like it. Frank himself is an anthropomorphic creature of dubious distinction who lives in an ambiguous landscape called the Unifactor. The Portable Frank collects a number of Frank stories that feature characters like Manhog, Pupshaw, and a number of amorphous, blob-like creatures, all of whom factor into Frank’s wanderings.

Woodring’s world is hallucinogenic and philosophical, rarely stopping to hold your hand or explain what’s going on, or why. The entire anthology is mostly voiceless, relying on visual splendor and sensation, the subtle shift of emotion between different moments of melancholy, wonder, curiosity, and frustration. One particular standout for me was “Truth of Plenitude,” which cycles through so many emotions and ends with a mysterious moment of creation. Frank isn’t afraid to be ambiguous (the main character’s design is testament to that), and in doing so it asks a lot of the reader.

Visually, it’s a wild ride, reminiscent of Krazy Kat’s desert, only with a more fantastic edge. Whilst Krazy Kat’s desert is constantly changing, though, Frank’s universe has a certain level of consistency to it. It’s wild, but there’s a logic to it, a certain structure that keeps it from being easily dismissed as a world of dream logic.

The Portable Frank has many virtues, but I think its ambiguity will unavoidably alienate some. Despite recognizing Frank’s many virtues, I found it overall difficult to connect with. I often felt adrift at sea whilst reading Frank, and I wasn’t always drawn in enough by the art or the world to want to spend much time contemplating the meaning behind it all. I didn’t find it particularly funny or pretty, though it was never boring. It’s certainly a good anthology to check out if you want to leap on board the Frank train, but it’s also not for everyone, and I have to admit that I don’t quite think it’s for me.

Hulk #16 – Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Hulk

Issue #16

Written by Gerry Duggan with Art by Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy and Jason Keith

July 2015

Hulk 016-1cAfter an early cancellation, the Incredible Hulk had a single continuous series that ran from 1968 until 1999 before getting relaunched. Now Hulk #16 brings a close to the character’s third relaunch in four years. Such is the way of modern comics.

It’s hard to figure out what to make of this conclusion because the next big Marvel event, “Secret Wars” is now underway and we don’t yet know how that event will affect Marvel’s current lineup. I assume the Hulk’s story will continue after “Secret Wars” reaches its conclusion, because this certainly doesn’t feel like a solid ending. If anything, “The Omega Hulk” closes with a whimper rather than a bang.

After the knock-down, drag-out fight of the past couple of issues, the Hulk resorts to talking things out this time around. Rather than try to kill the She-Hulk, he instead trusts her with a needle that won’t cure him but will cause him enough pain to allow Jen to kill him if she needs to. Basically, he’s giving her a kill switch to take him out if he ever goes bad. Since “Secret Wars” will include the evil Hulk incarnation known as the Maestro, this could come into play…maybe…if the writers and editors are on the same page here.

I’m not so sure about that last bit, because this series has a lot of loose ends and unresolved plotlines that seem almost like they got forgotten. For example, there’s the fact that the Hulk’s gamma cures had a bunch of extra code in them that wasn’t needed to reverse a transformation. Was this part of Doc Green’s master plan, something Gammon did, or just a red herring? We might never know.

Gammon and the Leader are still out there plotting away, and it seems like the Hulk’s fight against them should be what closes out this story. Instead, we get a lot of quiet contemplation, which is kind of nice to see coming from a big rampaging monster like the Hulk. He decides to let his intellect fade so he won’t become the Maestro, and everything seems to end bittersweetly ever after.

The Hulk and Banner also reach an agreement and learn to live with themselves in this story, but I don’t think that should be considered at all groundbreaking. After all, it has literally been the resolution of every single major story arc for the past 15 years. I hope the next run starts off with the idea of Banner and the Hulk having a truce between themselves to be the norm rather than something that is supposed to feel groundbreaking.

We end with a resolution between Bruce and Betty, who admits that she had him shot and expresses her love for him anyway. If we view this scene as the end of the Hulk in the Marvel Universe (which got blown up in Secret Wars #1), then I feel a bit underwhelmed. A resolution between Betty and Bruce happened in a more satisfying way in 2011 when Greg Pak finished his run with the “Heart of the Monster” storyline. While it’s still nice here, I feel kind of robbed to think that four years of stories have brought us back to the exact same place we were in at the end of that run.

The backup story in this issue is…less good. It features Banner’s lab assistants bringing back Lyra (despite the project being given up as hopeless just a few issues ago) and is more poorly-paced comedy than anything. Turns out that Lyra tamed the dimension of evil she landed in, but winds up getting pulled back to Earth. There she makes the lab assistants part of her new harem, because…I don’t even know. Among this story’s other flaws, it leaves me wishing Marvel would figure out how old Lyra is supposed to be. A little while ago she was a high schooler. Now apparently she’s building a harem.

So this is the end of “The Omega Hulk.” How does Gerry Duggan’s first big Hulk story work out?

Overall, I would say it’s been a good tale. Duggan is obviously familiar with the character and used continuity in a way that was effective without being confusing to new readers. He did a good job on drama, not such a great job on big fight scenes. The art was outstanding thanks to Mark Bagley. The story suffered from some notable plot holes, especially the sudden revelation that Betty had Bruce shot, which actually makes no sense if you look back at the “Who Shot Banner” storyline that preceded Duggan’s.

Despite a few flaws, I would qualify “The Omega Hulk” as a success. The Hulk’s had a rough few years in terms of quality storytelling, with some extremely talented writers struggling with the character despite their abilities. Duggan and Bagley managed to get me excited and interested in what was going on in the Hulk’s life again. I hear tell that at least Duggan will be back after “Secret Wars” wraps up, and I’m hoping his next story builds on the quality of his first one, delivering something that has the same charm but fewer plot holes and pacing issues.

All told, Hulk #16 isn’t much of a conclusion, but it does give hope for the future that the bright spots of “The Omega Hulk” will shine even brighter in issues to come.

Buzz – Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Buzz

Issue #0

Oni Press

Written by Ananth Panagariya with Art by Tessa Stone

Published: December 2013

Buzz -dFrom the combined efforts of Ananth Panagariya (writing) and Tessa Stone (art) comes Buzz!, a quirky comic about a world of back-alley spelling bees and high-stakes spellathons that could mean life or death for those with the vocabularies strong enough to compete.

Story-wise, Buzz! is pretty quirky, and a lot of the humour comes from puns and various plays on words. Naturally enough, given the spelling-based premise, a lot of the fun comes in the language, though it rockets along at such a madcap pace that it’s hard not to get caught up in the infectious energy it offers. The story, about a young speller named Webster who gets roped into competing in the ‘bees, is surprisingly heartfelt, and alongside a thoughtful and funny exploration of mythology-building, it’s also a nice coming of age story. Panagariya’s blend of action comic parody and linguistic humour really works here, and that along with engaging characters

Tessa Stone, of Hanna is Not A Boy’s Name fame, is in top form here. The yellow/black/white colour scheme (recalling a bee) is weird and engrossing, and her rendering of motion and cartoonish outbursts of expression are really wonderful to behold. Stone is an artist of rare talent, one whose sense of style is backed up with creative layouts and page constructions, and it’s hard to imagine something she can’t do with a comic page and still knock it out of the park. Buzz! looks gorgeous, and more importantly, like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Buzz! is such a wonderful comic that I’m sad there’s only one volume, but what we do have works just fine as a standalone, and comes highly recommended on all counts. A fun, clever little romp with gorgeous art as a great bonus.

Silk #5 – Review

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Silk

Issue #5

Written by Robbie Thompson with Art by Stacy Lee and Ian Herring

Published June 2015

Silk 005 -1 - aSilk has been one of those ‘quiet’ Marvel titles. By that I mean it is not one of the big name flashy ones that get advertising money thrown at them, but equally it is not one of those runaway accidental success stories like Spider-Gwen. That does mean it has a tendency to get a bit lost from time to time. I have said this before, but this title really does suffer from being a ‘third wheel’ in the trio of Spider-Gwen and Spider-Woman. One is the established name, the other the new ‘hip’ thing, leaving Silk a little overshadowed and lonely.

That is why I have made it my mission to review all of her books, because I really do like it, and I want to get people interested in the story. Now I realise this is entirely for selfish reasons – I want more of this and therefore I want more people to buy it. The big problem for me, is that I am running out of things to say about it and that is never a good thing.

Do not get me wrong, there is nothing ‘bad’ about this series, but equally there is nothing massively exciting either. Really this entire issue revolves around a final page reveal with the rest of the book taken up with a vaguely entertaining fight an a few character moments with JJ. Actually it is JJ that rather much saves the beginning of this issue and that was a big surprise for me.

We get re-introduced to the ‘villain’ she helped in issue 3,  as he is forced to return to his former profession as the Black Cat has his daughter held captive. He comes clean and tells her that all he has to do is take her to the Black Cats lair and his daughter will be freed. Obviously the plan was that he tricked her into going into an ambush, but instead she enlists him and Spider-Man as her back up. Seeing how mad she was at Peter in the last issue, that is quite a surprise and her on-again-off-again friend with benefits is roped into the rescue mission.

As I said above, it is really the final few pages of this book that make this worth reading, and like usual, there is absolutely no way I am going to spoil them for you; go out and buy a copy, I promise it is worth it. However it is the start of the issue that provides an equally impressive moment; proof that JJ has a heart. Catching Cindy working on her families case in work hours would have been a near capital crime for the harsh workaholic boss, but his recent decline since he lost his mayoralty seems to have given him a different perspective. Instead of berating her, he sits down to help her and it is a wonderful personal moment for a character who has been given little time to be anything other than a metaphorical punching bag for Spider-Man’s jokes.

However that is pretty much all I can say about this issue. It is a real shame because the series is interesting, the art different (in a good way) and the concept intriguing. More than anything I feel it has been let down a lot by editorial; there is no way they should have approved two rival Spider-girl/woman series to be spun* out of Spider-Verse, doubly so when they had only just introduced Jessica Drew’s new solo book. There is only so much ‘thought-space’ you can use for your audience and despite all three characters having very different back stories, they visually and metaphorically fill the same niche.

I really like this character, but I like her far better as a back up character for Peter, than I do in her own title. She feels like a story plot, rather than a protagonist at least in the short term. If Peter has to come and save her, then it will prove my point even more because you should not need to be constantly saved in your own book, it just makes you look weak and that is not the feeling you want put across for what should have been a premier-Spider-title.

*accidental pun, but I’ll take it all the same!

The Incredible Hercules #134 – Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

The Incredible Hercules

Issue #134

Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente with Art by Reilly Brown, Nelson DeCastro and Guillem Mari

Published: November 2009

Hercules 134cIf you want an issue that perfectly establishes the wondrous combination of buffoonery and awesomeness that is Hercules, The Incredible Hercules #134 is the perfect issue to go with. Part two of “The Replacement Thor” arc is a humor-focused story, but delivers on almost every joke it makes.

Facing the dark elven queen, Hercules-pretending-to-be-Thor thinks with his, um…hammer…and decides to woo Queen Alflyse rather than smite her. Alflyse, for her part, is receptive to the wooing – after all, the dark elves fear Thor, but if she can distract the thunder-god with her feminine wiles, they still have a chance to invade Asgard.

In order to prove his worth, Hercules needs to pass three tests – one of endurance (getting an anvil dropped on his head), one of wits (solving a difficult chess scenario – which Herc does by ripping off a line from Star Trek), and one of virtue. Herc fails the latter one, thanks to the fact that he’s easily distracted when Alflyse shows some leg, but two out of three is enough for the dark elven queen to accept him.

All the while, kid Zeus plays the straight man, consistently infuriated by Hercules’ antics. Things get worse when he reads up on the legends of Thor’s deeds and decides that Herc can never live up to the Asgardian’s heroism. (Apparently Zeus didn’t read about the time that Thor had to wear one of Freyja’s dresses in order to get his hammer back – or one of the dozens of other similarly compromising situations the thunder god has found himself in.)

Through “wit” and charm, Hercules manages to win Alflyse’s favor…with one problem. After some partying and seduction, he wakes up in bed with Alflyse to find that he’s married the dark elven queen and is thus bound to lead her army against Asgard – the very thing he was supposed to be preventing.

All is not lost, though, for the Warriors Three are on the job. They have an ingenious plan – one that involves bringing the real Thor into the fray. But since Thor is banished from Asgard and Alflyse needs to remain convinced that she’s now married to the thunderer, our Asgardian pretty-boy needs to dress up as Hercules to do battle with the fake Thor.

In short, next issue is Hercules dressed as Thor fighting Thor dressed as Hercules. It’s like somebody took a sitcom and smashed it into a superhero comic book, and I love it.

The art in this issue is great, especially when it comes to facial expressions as Hercules takes the…unexpected…road. The story is hilarious. If you don’t like silly fun in your comic books, this isn’t an issue for you. But if you like to laugh and have a good time while observing Hercules’ antics, I highly recommend The Incredible Hercules #134.

Hulk #15 – Review

by Charlie Brooks, CMRO Contributing Writer

Hulk

Issue #15

Written by Gerry Duggan with Art by Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy and Jason Keith

June 2015

Hulk (2014-) 015-000cHulk #15 really feels like it could have been combined with Hulk #14 without losing anything. Despite that, it has some interesting character moments and finally brings about the end of the Hulk/red Hulk feud – although not the ongoing rivalry between the Hulk and Thunderbolt Ross.

The majority of this issue is a straight continuation of last issue’s battle, with the two Hulks knocking each other across state lines and setting off seismic activity that can be felt throughout the United States. It’s a lot of big action, but for once the art of Mark Bagley isn’t impressing me. From an aesthetic point of view it looks great as always, but the fight doesn’t feel quite as earth-shattering and epic as the story seems to want.

The Hulk winds up dominating this portion of the fight, although he needs a save from Bruce Banner in order to win. Last issue saw the red Hulk knock Doc Green through the air hard enough to render him unconscious, turning him back to Banner as he plummeted to earth. It would be very easy for Banner to just accept his fate, but he seems to have some fight in him despite the damage done by his alter ego. As a result, he breaks his own hand in order to get enough adrenalin to bring the Hulk back out.

Without his energy absorption ability, the red Hulk is outclassed, and the fight eventually leads to Thunderbolt Ross losing his gamma power. Now the bitter, hard-nosed general that he once was, he has to face trial for desertion – though really, it should be for treason since he did the whole “Let’s take over the country” thing on national television not long ago.

It’s a bit contrived that the army is able to arrive at the exact spot where the battle ends and arrest Ross immediately, since they didn’t even know he was the red Hulk. But the important thing is that Ross is Ross again, and I’m sure we’ll soon see him back in uniform and leading a squadron of Hulkbusters.

Following the defeat of Ross, the Hulk decides to deal with somebody else he hates: Banner. The details of that conversation will likely be revealed later, but it’s always interesting to see those two guys interact with one another.

The issue ends with the Hulk walking into New York City, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be depowering Jen Walters any time soon, as she has all the Avengers backing her up and the Hulk is dying due to the Extremis in his brain.

Next issue brings us to the end of this series. As always seems to happen with these final issues, it feels like there’s too much left to tie up in a single issue, especially with Gammon and the Leader still at large. Regardless of where the series is going it’s been an interesting ride so far. While I think Hulk #15 was a bit superfluous with content that could have been put into the last issue, I am interested and maybe even a little excited to see how things turn out.