Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/23 – 12/30

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/23 - 12/30

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/23 - 12/30

Reviews by MattzLadd, CMRO Contributor

 

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #1
Written By Kate Leth
Art By Brittney L. Williams and Megan Wilson

Synopsis – Patsy deals with significant changes in her life while faces from her past start to reappear.

The purpose behind this book has been notably skewed in a different direction from what I thought. An obvious reason for this series is the popularity of the character due to the Netflix series Jessica Jones, however the character who appears in that and Patsy in this are majorly different characters. The target audience is clearly younger readers and the majority of the book is very light-hearted, though strangely some of the themes are mature – as this is a character who has Hell directly tied into her past and in the first issue alone there’s frequent use of alcohol and employment issues – and because of this confusion I can only say that Kate Leth needs to stop operating between two disparate genres and to choose one. Besides the strange coming of this book, I thought the story was OK and that it was vaguely entertaining. Patsy’s enthusiasm and powers make for compelling scenes, and she works well with her supporting characters – one of which who is related to the spreading Inhumanity fairly well. The art style fluctuates often from very childish cartoon drawings to more mature images, which is another problem with the messy mixing of genres. I suppose this book has potential but only if it actually decides what it wants to be.
Story – 6/10
Art – 7/10

Daredevil #2
Written By Charles Soule
Art By Ron Garney and Matt Milla

Synopsis – Tenfingers’ plan progresses, but Daredevil recognises the power base behind the cult as power taken from a deadly organisation.

Soule fashions this issue’s story around the villain and the still mysterious loyalties of Blindspot, as he should have done to save the characters from being too vague and the plot suffering as a result. I love the character development given to Tenfingers’ ‘church’, its purpose and morals in Chinatown and the way it affects Sam Chung. The themes of this book are already proving to be effective and relatable and the position of each of the characters makes the situation complex enough to provoke thought and interpretation from the reader. The art style continues to detail the gloomy and sinister nature of Hell’s Kitchen masterfully and I especially liked the dialogue in this book. This first arc is proving itself to be appropriate for the Daredevil staple and it is also forming a great story with excellent new characters – not the least of which is Sam Chung, a promising advocate for Murdock.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2
Written By Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder
Art By Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain

Synopsis – Lunella watches helplessly as Devil Dinosaur drags her around, ultimately landing them both next to a band of threatening primates.

As I expected the writers of this book are treating the scenario very lightly – Devil might as well be a dangerous dog as far as the story is concerned, and the only real serious topic that the book addresses is Lunella’s fears about her Inhuman nature. This isn’t a particularly bad thing, it does make the title characters’ dynamic more fun and light-hearted, and the apparent villains of the piece are entertaining without them being intimidating, but the style does limit the target audience to younger readers. In any case, Lunella – in just two issues – has established herself to be an enthralling character with likeability and relatability. She works well with Devil Dinosaur and the two exist in a book with very appropriate and decent art. Even if the promising plot doesn’t work out, the characters and the art are good enough to prompt enough people to buy it.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Spider-Woman #2
Written By Dennis Hopeless
Art By Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez

Synopsis – Jess reluctantly engages the hostile Skrull force, but she’s trapped by more than just people and the baby is fast approaching…

It’s pretty crazy how fast this book descended into complete absurdity, but I am quite enjoying it anyway. There’s a lot of humour in this issue and most of it is effective. The Skrulls are amusing and motivated villains here and their personal history with Drew makes them more relevant than normal. The widespread assortment of female aliens also allows for comical lines from a two-headed teletubby creature, though as a whole they represent a form of female empowerment despite the obvious inhibition they all share. I have to say that the worst part of this book is the art, it’s sometimes unattractive and the proportions are a little off. The plot development on the other hand works well and the scenario established for the next few issues should be very compelling.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Star-Lord #2
Written By Sam Humphries
Art By Javier Garron and Antonia Fabela

Synopsis – Quill, against his better judgement, opposes Yondu and his Ravagers as they attempt to steal his stolen ship.

I really enjoyed this issue, as it epitomised Peter’s audacity and some of his core personality traits. Yondu and his band are also fun characters, and the small amount I know of his mainstream, non-3000 Guardians character is drawn from the recent MCU film, meaning he is tied in to Quill’s current popularity and so deserves to appear in this book. The events of this issue are both exciting and intense, and I don’t think there’s anything unappealing about a battle in space between formidable foes. Even if Quill does appear as a bit of a ‘Mary Sue’ (or a ‘Marty Stu if you’re pedantic about gender-specifics) the ending twists the outcome into a very interesting scenario which suggests a lot about Peter’s pivotal origin period and sets the book on an entertaining path with plenty of piracy and action content. I’m very happy with the direction in which this book is heading and I think it is in safe hands with Humphries.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Venom: Space Knight #2
Written By Robbie Thompson
Art By Ariel Olivetti

Synopsis – Venom continues following the voices in his head until they lead him to a ginormous spaceship that has been following him.

While there wasn’t a great deal of plot development in this issue, the dialogue was great and I love the slow building of Flash’s crew through the development of the supporting characters. His new role in the Marvel Universe is both interesting and broad, meaning the stories could consist of anything throughout the cosmos. This allows Thompson to be as original as he wishes and from these two issues alone it seems he intends to introduce entirely new casts and locales to entice readers. The villain reveal at the end of this book does not mean much as of yet but I am excited to see the first confrontation and eventual feud between them and Flash. I absolutely love the art – it’s definitely the most unique and peculiar of all the styles running right now, with Del Mundo’s Weirdworld as a very close second. Venom’s character design is used by Olivetti to its most extreme and there are certainly strange and experimental aliens for Olivetti to play around with.
Story – 8/10
Art – 10/10

Angela: Queen of Hel #3
Written By Marguerite Bennett
Art By Kim Jacinto, Israel Silva and Stephanie Hans

Synopsis – Angela begins her trials in Hel, but many forces from her past and present oppose her.

I hate it when the flaws of a title begin to shine through. The first two issues of this book were great because of the resolution to Sera’s tribulations at the end of ‘Asgard’s Assassin’, but since the calm after that storm Sera and Angela’s dialogue is both pointless and unrealistic. This issue is very overwritten and I really dislike Bennett’s casual dialogue writing, it appears lazy and rushed and her thoughtful dialogue from the more mythical characters is far better. Some of the plot development is convoluted, with a couple of characters introduced here and forced right into Angela’s origins just so a convenient serendipitous event can occur in the present events. The action is still great and I like the art, but the serious plot development is weak because of the blatant convenience – Angela just ‘wins’ a fight in this for no reason whatsoever other than she had to for the story to progress – and outside of the serious events the casual dialogue is extremely messy and overwritten.
Story – 5/10
Art – 8/10

The Astonishing Ant-Man #3
Written By Nick Spencer
Art By Ramon Rosanas and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis – Sam Wilson arrives to alert Ant-Man about an occurrence that links Cap’s feud with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Hench super-villain app.

There’s a certain balance between realism and the extravagance of the Marvel Universe that makes this book a stand-out in quality. The antagonist in each issue of this title could be anything because of the great ‘Hench’ app idea that is only possible to put in a book because of current popular culture, and Spencer has not taken the common route of bringing the main enemy to the forefront right away. This means that alongside the subplots of Scott’s personal troubles and career, the primary self-contained conflicts between Ant-Man and the diverse villains. This issue not only used this formula, but also a welcome appearance from Sam Wilson’s Cap that acknowledges the wider Universe – which not enough titles are doing at the moment. I loved the final scene of this issue because of the realism I mentioned – the scenario is not so simple as the Power Broker’s plan and Ant-Man singularly opposing him, it takes a realistic, complex path to flesh out all the characters involved and enhance interest. If this book continues with its strong characters and fluctuating battles, I will not have any problems with it.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Captain America: Sam Wilson #4
Written By Nick Spencer
Art By Paul Renaud and Romulo Fajardo

Synopsis – Serpent Solutions get the better of Sam, who is still struggling with his wolf form.

Talk about pay-off for a substantial build-up, because this issue was brilliant. We’ve seen Viper and whatever remains of his serpentine squad in the background for the first few issues, but now there’s a large focus on him and the plots that have been running since the start of the title reach their fruition here. Not only that, but the character development establishes them as not quite ‘villains’ but moral activists, and I found myself partially agreeing with some of their ideals. Cap’s role is mainly one of humour in this issue, which is fine as the quality drama comes often from the Serpents, but I really enjoyed his interactions with Diamondback – whom you might know as a reformed Serpent member who had a relationship with Steve Rogers. The action was good, the art was great (I absolutely prefer Renaud’s art to Acuña’s), and I am definitely invested and interested in these characters and the conflict between them for the remainder of this zany but intelligent arc.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Deadpool #4
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Guru-eFX

Synopsis – One of the Mercs goes too far with the wrong intentions and madness ensues.

I am very irritated about the change of pace in this issue. This series has been decent because of the Mercs themselves – how Duggan has taken a bunch of old, curious Marvel characters and has integrated them into an interesting story where each of them can develop as individual characters. Madcap brought the uneasy and unpredictable atmosphere, but I liked him as a hero and part of the team – this issue clearly opted for a safe option instead of making the impersonator someone actually surprising and made the previous development pointless so Madcap could be a wacky villain again. This issue falls back on Steve Rogers and Deadpool himself, unfortunately, and there were only a couple of appearances that contributed to the story in an entertaining way. The upcoming scenario between Madcap and the Mercs doesn’t look bad or banal, but the fact that Duggan strayed away from focusing on the Mercs for even a second makes me not appreciate this issue.
Story – 5/10
Art – 8/10

Extraordinary X-Men #4
Written By Jeff Lemire
Art By Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado

Synopsis – Logan and Jean reunite with the X-Men to battle the forces of Limbo, but time is running out to save their teammates from a sinister foe.

Mister Sinister is one of my all-time favourite villains and not just for the reason that I can insert ‘sinister’ puns into the synopsis of the book he appears in. Rather, I’ve loved his development over the years and he is an intimidating foe to the X-Men with a vast array of abilities and chilling morals. His mission in this arc is very interesting, and it involves the wider state of the Marvel Universe at the moment by focusing on the Terrigen Mists and their effect on mutants. The implications of his plan, if successful, could be cataclysmic, beneficent, but definitely pivotal in any case for the future of mutantkind. A certain character returns with the cliffhanger to further support Sinister’s theory and I for one am extremely intrigued as to the role of the character. The X-Men have strong roles in this issue, with the personal traumas of Colossus being capitalised upon and insight into the bond forming between Old Man Logan and the line-up. The dialogue is great and the characters suit everything they say, so that paired with exciting action and natural plot progression culminates into an excellent issue – one I enjoyed both as an avid fan of the X-Men and a fan of good stories in general.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

New Avengers #4
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Gerardo Sandoval and Dono Sanchez Almara

Synopsis – Moridun attacks Hulkling and the Knights of the Infinite just as he is learning of his heritage.

This was a very far-out and extraordinary tale in a very different genre to the Earth-bound exploits of the team’s first mission, but I think I enjoyed this more. Hulkling is an interesting character and for the writers to be able to have a character directly related to two fictional races that have been in Marvel Comics for decades now and each have expansive histories is fascinating. The role that Teddy is given in this issue seems immense and the villain facing the New Avengers easily matches the calibre of power that Hulkling now wields, and this issue is great for action to say the least. Of course, there are some narrative twists and the ending implies a more dramatic storyline to come in the future, so it seems now that the arc will step into the background for now to be replaced by something else. Some characters still deserve some attention (*cough*Pod*cough*) and some characters need not to be featured when the tone doesn’t fit their character – I literally only want to see Squirrel Girl when it’s a silly situation they find themselves in, but this book is operating fairly well and some of the characters have potential to bring in entertaining plotlines.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10
And, from a galaxy far far away…
Darth Vader #14
Written By Kieron Gillen
Art By Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado

Synopsis – Vader targets Leia, but she’s organised a backup plan against the Sith Lord that could cause excessive destruction.

This issue was going great, with its enclosed, isolated atmosphere, great dialogue from all the characters and intense, exciting encounters between well-matched foes until the conclusion arose. It introduced a third, completely random element that I can only see now as a convenient plot device because Gillen doesn’t actually know how to resolve the conflict between Luke, the rebels and Vader. While this element does have positive connotations for the action and wider battles in the concluding issues, this seems to be less personal overall for all the main players involved. To assess the quality of this issue alone, however, I cannot say it was bad by any stretch. Every character’s role was appropriate and exciting and there’s bound to be suspenseful battles occurring next issue – focusing maybe on a pair of Wookiees. The art is also very good and I noticed great uses of mist and atmosphere in the art to reflect upon the tone of this issue.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/16 – 12/23

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/16 - 12/23

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/16 - 12/23

Reviews by MattzLadd, CMRO Contributor

 

Squadron Supreme #1
Written By James Robinson
Art By Leonard Kirk, Paul Neary and Frank Martin

Synopsis – The Squadron Supreme take it upon themselves to defend the Earth from assumed threats – by any means necessary.

This team takes moral ambiguity to Punisher-levels, but with power tenfold and global accessibility. I’m happy the social response to the team and their reputation is a strong point of focus for this book, without that at this point it would literally be just action and conflict. The object of their aggression this issue is Namor, playing off the recent Incursion exploits, and each of the Squadron are survivors from their respective Earths. It’s fairly clear now in what form Earth-616 is restored after Secret Wars, meaning the battles have legitimate consequences (one in this issue that I am extremely irritated by) but the quality of the story is not decided by whether I am satisfied by the issue or not, so I will say that it was a great book with good art. Each member of the team is a strong personality and they each have assets and skills to bring, the cliffhanger insinuates some defence against them (a team I don’t think are capable of achieving anything) but the social implications of the team’s relaunch is very interesting.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Starbrand and Nightmask #1
Written By Greg Weisman
Art By Dominike Stanton and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis – Kevin and Adam adjust to a new life travelling space… and attending college.

These two relatively new characters have been safely paired together as to not drop the responsibility of a solo ongoing on either of their heads, and this is a good move. Not only do the two have an entertaining dynamic, with Kevin’s relatability and youth and Adam’s otherworldly nature and reliability, but they are both incredibly powerful and work well enough together to prompt a series following them. There are certainly changes in their lives for the relaunch, as they are now acting as independent superheroes while attending college in civilian personas – the latter a thing that impacts Kevin specifically, just check his origin – and Weisman didn’t wait with a docile first issue either, the villains are ramping up and they are at least an equal threat to Starbrand and Nightmask’s power. There’s a degree of mystery paired with constant development with all the characters and orientation, making for a good vibe for this risky book. I am intrigued as to what the villain will be more than the protagonists’ daily exploits, but they aren’t bad characters and I think they will be able to grow in popularity with this series.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Weirdworld #1
Written By Sam Humphries
Art By Mike Del Mundo

Synopsis – We venture back into Weirdworld with Becca Rodriguez – an Earth girl who has already been through her own Hell and now finds herself in another.

This has been my most anticipated book for a few weeks now. Sam Humphries wrote one of the best books of Secret Wars and Mike Del Mundo produced the best art of any of the Battleworld books – coincidentally in the previous volume of the Weirdworld saga. Thus, I came into this already positively biased, but even if it was the other way around it wouldn’t have mattered, because this was a great book. I think I’ve praised Del Mundo’s work on Weirdworld enough with the last volume, so I’ll instead commend Humphries for being thrown into one of the most absurd titles with no experience and high expectations. His utilisation of the new but compelling Becca is a good choice and stories where normal people are in crazed situations often work well, plus Goleta provides ample amounts of humour and sword-wielding. I did expect to see Arkon feature in this as his quest for Polemachus still exists, but we know he is on Weirdworld so hope is not lost. I assumed Morgan le Fay would reprise her villainous role and I was right, and she also has a lot of potential left in her. I’m not quite sure what the ending represented but it looks cool so I don’t have any arguments. Overall, I love that this title came back and I love the creative team, and there couldn’t have been a better reintroduction to the setting.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Amazing Spider-Man #1.1
Written By Jose Molina
Art By Simone Bianchi and Israel Silva

Synopsis – Spidey investigates a group in Harlem when a recently deceased man comes back to life.

This was a fairly large mess and the story seemed incredibly rushed. There’s no apparent relevance to anything in the Marvel Universe with the main story, Peter is majorly shoehorned into being a part of the plot and it’s not even clear what Molina is trying to achieve with these characters. He’s stuck the ‘Santerians’ names on the front cover like they’re as important as the Fantastic Four yet they’re just some mystical group who appeared in three Daredevil issues once. Spidey’s commentary is a garbled load of fourth wall breaking and bad jokes, and there are so many random characters thrown in to a small amount of pages that you can’t tell who is who. I don’t get the ‘point one’ aspect, maybe it’s just because this story is not good enough to feature later in the actual ASM title, but this whole thing is literally drawn out of nowhere and I didn’t glean any redeeming factor of this at all aside from the decent art. Unfortunately, you could just look at Camuncoli’s art for much better quality for Spider-Man, and you’ll even get Slott’s great storytelling as well.
Story – 2/10
Art – 8/10

All-New Inhumans #2
Written By James Asmus and Charles Soule
Art By Stefano Caselli and Andres Mossa

Synopsis – Crystal and her team engage in a diplomatic mission to Sin-Cong, where the sinister Commissar claims the Terrigen Clouds had no effect.

I can easily say this was better than Avengers (v1) #18 where Sin-Cong first appeared, as this was an issue full of political intrigue mixed with the constant spread of Inhumanity and the growth of the already compelling Royal Inhuman Diplomatic Mission. The recently introduced characters such as Panacea and Swain are slowly having their dispositions revealed and their personalities fleshed out, as well as individual outlooks from other members of the team are being explored. The nation of Sin-Cong is very mysterious and it’s a great unique setting for these events to play out, the atmosphere is very eerie and everything revealed in this issue sets up what will likely be a thrilling continuation in this story arc. The art is phenomenal and the colours are a stand-out in quality, I think even if the plot wasn’t so interesting I would have enjoyed this book regardless. This is definitely among my favourite titles right now, and it’s a genius progression for the Inhumans to increase their popularity.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

All-New X-Men #2
Written By Dennis Hopeless
Art By Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy and Nolan Woodard

Synopsis – Scott bares his soul to Austin – Thirst – while Laura and Warren track the other members of the Ghosts of Cyclops.

Here’s where this book starts to become a little shaky. I think the one primary problem Hopeless has created in this series is that he’s only introduced one storyline. The drama featuring Scott and the Ghosts of Cyclops makes for a very enthralling plot, and I enjoyed everything involving that in this issue, but as for the rest of the X-Men, they have next to no purpose. It seems more like a Cyclops solo book with some light-hearted scenes detailing the other members – only half a page of dialogue between Hank and Bobby actually had any relevance to ongoing plot points. I do like the villains of this piece, as well as the action and Scott’s exploits, but this is an X-Men book, not a solo title, meaning Hopeless needs to introduce appropriate subplots for the other characters.
Story – 6/10
Art – 7/10

Illuminati #2
Written By Joshua Williamson
Art By Shawn Crystal and John Rauch

Synopsis – The Hood goes over his plan with the gathered Illuminati, and it involves challenging the Gods themselves.

The focus on Marvel villains is such a rich and vibrant area that I would say there should be much more titles revolving around them. Heroes get too much spotlight, and cutting a balance between hero and villain titles would dramatize every battle and situation tenfold. Every member of this Illuminati is an asset in their own way both through their abilities and their personalities, and the more development provided to each of them – the more I am sold on this book. Williamson introduces the best shady operation since the Hellfire Club in this issue, a place that becomes more interesting through each event that happens in the climax. I am looking forward to seeing what the Hood’s plan involves and how ingenious it will actually be, as well as what form the team will be in after it. The cliffhanger to this issue makes it out that the Illuminati will have to work together despite their differences, so we’ll finally see some convincing action from this book, after a surprising two issues of decent dialogue and complex themes. I’m not so sold on the art, however.
Story – 8/10
Art – 6/10

Mighty Thor #2
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson

Synopsis – Thor struggles against the countless attacks and schemes running throughout the Realms.

It seems that continuity is already becoming a problem, as examining the content of the above Illuminati issue, Enchantress between that issue and this is in completely different situations. Asgardia is the base of operations for the Asgardians there, yet Asgard if the focus of this. I’m sure it won’t take much work to resolve, but one of the main points of the Secret Wars reboot/launch was to absolve continuity issues. That aside, this book is awesome. The broadness of the plot makes each threat all the more significant and you can relate to the overwhelming pressure Jane Foster receives. There are countless strong and compelling personalities on both sides of the conflict and Loki’s return to villainy is much more satisfying than I could have hoped. There’s still much more to be explored and we haven’t even pierced the surface of the mystical and epic battles. This title will surely be a mainstay of Marvel in the coming year, and with stories of this calibre I have zero concerns for the quality.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Ms. Marvel #2
Written By G. Willow Wilson
Art By Takeshi Miyazawa and Ian Herring

Synopsis – The Hope Yards Development and Relocation Association give Kamala no other option than to fight them or be framed as their representative.

This issue takes a detour away from Kamala’s relationship issues to worsen the mystery and eeriness of the Hope Yards project, and to reveal the villains behind them. Wilson adopts some horror clichés to show the effectiveness of the villains and the scenario created works really well alongside Kamala’s perpetual double life crisis and strained relationships. The tone setting in to this book is quite unlike all of Ms. Marvel’s previous adventures so it will be nice to see how she deals with larger and broader threats and if we will see any other heroes included in the fight. It appears also that Bruno’s girlfriend Mike will be important, as between the cliffhanger and the already tense connection Kamala has with her, both girls are integral to this plot and I can’t wait to see their meeting. Miyazawa’s art is growing on me like I thought it would – I now think the decision to still include but wean Alphona’s style off in the first issue was a great technique to establish Miyazawa as a viable artist on the character when Alphona was tied to it since the beginning.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Silk #2
Written By Robbie Thompson
Art By Tana Ford and Ian Herring

Synopsis – Cindy is coming close to convincing Black Cat of her loyalty, but the foremost Spider authority has taken note of Silk’s actions.

The plot of this book is fairly good, but its execution is really very messy. Thompson is trying to pull off a repetitive narrative structure but it comes off as erratic and completely random, plus Cindy’s commentary is full of strange and unrealistic dialogue. The supporting characters are being constrained to very basic ideals, even Black Cat who has an expansive history behind her. As such, the story balances a lot on Cindy’s likeability and entertaining dialogue, but in this regard it falls fairly flat. While the plot has plenty of room to develop well and the characters can easily be amended into interesting integrations, Thompson needs to stray away from the problems he has created in the first two issues – meaning he needs to make the supporting characters more interesting, limit Cindy’s narration to only necessary lines and focus on the important plotlines without introducing too many.
Story – 5/10
Art – 7/10

Web Warriors #2
Written By Mike Costa
Art By David Baldeon, Scott Hanna, Livesay and Jason Keith

Synopsis – Gwen works on one of the Dillons’ doubts while the first skirmish between the Web Warriors and the Electros occurs.

This kind of ridiculous plot was inevitable as soon as Spider-Verse was introduced, and it progressed in the silly manner I predicted it would. There’s a nice plot device here that is common in situations like this – hopefully someone will understand my coined Vennema Multiversal scenario (if not then Marvel Database is your friend) – but as it is quickly resolved we are left with an absurd congregation of electricity and webbing that works fairly well but eliminates any personal development for any of the protagonists or villains. I see now that this arc needs to be taken very lightly to be enjoyed, its nothing more than action and AU versions of Spider-Man characters – including the increasingly irritating use of animals, ‘Electro-Horse’ is just a bit too much when paired with Spider-Ham. So I would only recommend this as a light-hearted battle romp with minimal story quality, and if you want character development then maybe turn to the solo titles for some of these characters.
Story – 6/10
Art – 7/10

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3
Written By Ryan North
Art By Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi

Synopsis – Doreen treads in thin ice in the past to avoid rupturing the timeline, but Nancy and Doctor Doom’s interruption threatens everything.

OK, despite my limited experience of Squirrel Girl – and her own limited appearances clocking in at around 65 issues – I’ve learnt that under this creative team you shouldn’t take anything you read here completely seriously. This is a book and a revised character targeted at younger audiences and adults with awful senses of humour, so I’m going to battle through my anger at the constant misrepresentation of villains and excessive, pointless narration to rate the quality of the book in the light of its purpose and intention: to entertain. Yet, since these are my reviews and nobody else’s, I can state with conviction that I was not entertained. It’s undeniable that there’s way too much dialogue and an additional sentence of hard-to-read text at the bottom of every page is cutting it close to 60s level standard of overwriting (and no, it is not a gimmick because Doreen is currently in the 60s). The only thing this book does cleverly and correctly is the fundamentals of time travel and the narrative structure in this sense, which is unfortunately restrained only to this arc and the rest of the title has next to no redeeming factors. The humour is weak, it’s overwritten, the villains are embarrassing and inaccurate and the character embodies the absurdity of comic books – which can be done right, but it unfortunately falls flat here.
Story – 3/10
Art – 6/10

Uncanny Inhumans #3
Written By Charles Soule
Art By Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten, Sunny Gho and Java Tartaglia

Synopsis – The Inhumans battle reluctantly against Blackagar and Medusa’s twisted son.

After the cataclysmic events of the second issue, I expected a final, desperate fight from the Inhumans in this book, and I got exactly what I wanted. The majority of this issue is action rather than character or plot development, but this is acceptable because of the ample set-up the first two issues gave us. The tragic life of Ahura is shown throughout the epic battles and we see a couple of startling revelations. You can see the pain that Medusa and Black Bolt specifically have to go through, even with the latter’s lack of dialogue – a remarkable feat for Soule here – and everything about this was a perfect but horrifying progression from all of these characters’ previous actions. The art is magnificent and of course there are plenty of large panels displaying the extravagance of the Inhuman abilities. I am very intrigued as to what the next issue will entail due to Medusa’s ending line, but I hope Soule doesn’t fall into the precarious Kang precedent of time travel and absurd timeline alteration.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Ultimate End #5 (Final Issue)
Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art By Mark Bagley, Scott Hanna and Justin Ponsor

Synopsis – Miles Morales tries against unlikely odds to convince the inhabitants of Manhattan of Doom’s false reign.

This book, while incredibly delayed (the fourth issue came out on the fifth of August) plays the necessary role of setting up the tone for the final issue of Secret Wars. It is fairly melodramatic and Bendis doesn’t tail the dialogue to any of the countless characters that appear in this book, instead running a continuous and unified internal decision for all of the characters as they go from fighting each other to ultimately coming together to oppose Doom. On the other hand, Bendis does manage to include sections of personal narration for Miles, 616’s Tony Stark and Peter Parker, and their sections are more effective emotionally than the widespread madness of dozens of characters muddling their thoughts together. The ending does basically reveal the restoration of the previous Multiverse, as many other books have already done, but the possibly of the Ultimate Universe returning in some form exists – yet I did notice the subtle phonological change that suggests otherwise. It appears only the conflict of the final Secret Wars issue will be new information which is disappointing, but it is understandable that Marvel needed to return to form as the event has gotten progressively weaker over time.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10
And, from a galaxy far far away…
Darth Vader Annual #1
Written By Kieron Gillen
Art By Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan and Jason Keith

Synopsis – Vader arrives on Shu-torun to remind the disappointing and concerning monarch of the Empire’s power.

As this is an annual, you would think there would be more substance to a story. Alas, this plot is actually relatively weak and it relies absolutely on Vader’s presence and the background of this period in Star Wars canon to try and make an effective book. This seems on most counts a rushed half-hearted book from Gillen, presumably as he may be focusing on his other works at present, but he missed out by not developing the character of the King and his other two offspring. It’s blatantly apparent that the characters of Triple-Zero and Beetee are included solely to resolve the plot and Vader is left with a couple of good pieces of dialogue and a vaguely interesting lesson for a woman called Trios, but the only qualitative aspect of this book was the art and the large open panels. I’m only excessively irritated because the Star Wars Annual was brilliant, but in comparison this story was lacking and the moral was irrelevant.
Story – 4/10
Art – 8/10

Kanan #9
Written By Greg Weisman
Art By Pepe Larraz and David Curiel

Synopsis – Kanan departs on his first mission with Master Billaba, but Separatist forces lie in wait.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit, as the progression from Billaba and Kanan’s bonding over the previous issues has culminated in the latter being the former’s Padawan – meaning we are now exploring a very critical period to Kanan’s character. This mission on Kardoa was relevant because of Kanan’s apparent first ever assignment, and his first time working with forces of the wider Republic. The supporting characters of this issue are generally entertaining and there is a relatable dynamic throughout the group. The threat they face is significant enough to compel the reader to root for Kanan and his accomplices, but my main problem with the issue was that it all resolved painfully quickly when the story should have really been set over two issues with a jarring incident being the cliffhanger at the end. The final couple of pages are extremely rushed and messy and as a result the story loses some of its effect. It still achieved its task and purpose but to better the flow of narrative Weisman should have really reconsidered limiting the mission to one issue.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/09 – 12/16

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/09 - 12/16

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/09 - 12/16

Reviews by MattzLadd, CMRO Contributor

 

Gwenpool Holiday Special #1 (One-Shot)

Ever Green
Written By Charles Soule
Art By Langdon Foss and Megan Wilson

Synopsis – She-Hulk has to maintain an office party all night in order to save her financially weak building from being sold.

There probably could not have been a better choice than Jen Walters to lead this book with the bridging story. The story itself is great, continued from established supporting characters and with a real threat to Jen’s situation. I wouldn’t call this book at all the ‘Gwenpool’ Holiday Special, as she only appears in one disappointing section. It should have headlined She-Hulk or simply have gone with the ‘Marvel Holiday Special’. In any case, this story’s messages were really strong and they tie in brilliantly to Christmas and seasonal spirit. There are cameos galore from all around the Marvel Universe and the art isn’t half bad either. The Marvel specials I have read have usually been awful, but I’ve enjoyed this entire book greatly. Stay tuned for more detail…
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Ms. Grinch
Written By Margaret Stohl
Art By Juan Gedeon and Tamra Bonvillain

Synopsis – Kamala, with her religious affiliation, misses out on the festivities every year. But is Christmas really what she thinks it is?

This would have worked great on its own reflecting only on the spirit of Christmas and its very idea to inspire joy. I don’t know enough about Islam traditions to say specifically their restrictions, but Kamala nevertheless is irritated and with fair justification. The scenes in this book are each important to her and to the reader in their own way and by the end a great story has been told with ideal messages in a very short space of time. Of course the superhero twist allows for a different ending, but the theme is the same – Christmas is not exclusive regardless of its pagan origin or current religious opinions.
Story – 9/10
Art – 6/10

Hawkeye vs. Deadpool vs. the Holidays
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Danilo S. Beyruth and Cris Peter

Synopsis – Deadpool and Hawkeye hunt down a pickpocket and appeal to the merciful side of the holidays.

This wasn’t anything at all like the annoying romp I presumed it to be. Deadpool and Hawkeye actually have a strong, amusing relationship and with the inclusion of Kate Bishop the three are entertaining enough to watch. This short story, like the others, had a strong message that should appeal to all readers that didn’t just involve Deadpool saying something ridiculous. I admit to have dreaded this before starting it because of a certain name in the title – whose segment I am still concerned about, the story of the irritating amalgamation known as…
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Gwenpool’s Holiday Adventure
Written By Christopher Hastings
Art By Gurihiru

Synopsis – Gwen Poole – the apparent fusion of Gwen Stacy and… Deadpool – is hired to defeat a mysterious sword-wielder named Orto.

So this was exactly what I expected it to be. Gwen Stacy has become inexplicably popular very recently, and whose absurd idea wouldn’t it be to mix her ability to apparently be any character (see the Gwen Stacy variant month) with Deadpool’s fourth wall breaking, blatant violence and depressing one-liners. She is not a ‘good character’ in the traditional sense, but I suppose you could say she could provoke some entertainment. This short story featuring her was as underdeveloped as it could be, but the action was good and the art was magnificent. Don’t take that as meaning I want more Gwenpool, though, I don’t. I don’t.
Story – 4/10
Art – 10/10

Scarlet Witch #1
Written By James Robinson
Art By Vanesa Del Ray and Jordie Bellaire

Synopsis – Wanda Maximoff investigates the sudden death of a huge number of cats and how it relates to a creature called a Sonneillon.

While this issue had a good story and set up some potential plotlines, I can’t help but worry about the changes constantly happening throughout the title. Not only has Robinson stepped very close to changing the fundamentals of Wanda’s abilities – from the definitive chaos magic to the vague ‘witchcraft’ term – but there will apparently be a different artist working on the book on each issue. I can understand the benefits this has for the artists themselves but for readers it will certainly impede the flow of the story and it looks now that each issue will be entirely self-contained – a device that will fail sooner or later. I did like this story, with its historical connections and the conflict it brought about for Wanda, and the art wasn’t bad, but spending three quarters of an issue setting up the fight in the final few pages will not work every issue – that is why continued stories exist and the same artist should stick with it.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

All-New Hawkeye #2
Written By Jeff Lemire
Art By Ramón Pérez and Ian Herring

Synopsis – The Hawkeyes battle the Mandarin in the future and they avoid their relationship issues in the present.

A marked improvement from the first issue, this has a complex story with great dialogue and an appropriate dynamic between the two protagonists. The contrast between present and future really works here and a couple of much-needed supporting characters are brought in to invigorate attention. The Mandarin’s involvement is a little forced and I still don’t get why he’s wearing that sort of suit (maybe it will be the common fashion in thirty years) but he provides a required threat in the situation. The strange Project Communion children still have an important involvement, which is great as they represent a theme that the Hawkeyes are affected by, leading to better character development. I still can’t speak for the art, but at least the story is improving – I’m intrigued by the future set-up for the third issue.
Story – 8/10
Art – 5/10

Black Knight #2
Written By Frank Tieri
Art By Luca Pizzari, Kev Walker and Antonio Fabela

Synopsis – Dane succumbs to the Ebony Blade as the Avengers Unity Division mount an unlikely mission to apprehend him.

I don’t ever recall the Ebony Blade being presented as a negative force, nonetheless, I love this darker version of Dane and the weapon he wields. The Black Knight has always been a background hero at best, but I think acting as an antihero or even villain he would be much more popular and enthralling to read. The Avengers Unity Division are actually sufferable in this despite their own nonsensical book and the exposition behind Dane’s friendship with members of the team – Steve Rogers especially – contrasts brilliantly to the combat in the present. The art is really good, specifically in the broader scenes, it’s really growing on me as a whole the more I read. This is very much character rather than plot driven, obviously because the erratic nature of Weirdworld doesn’t allow for much plot consistency, but I have to qualms as Dane is a compelling protagonist and I am rooting for him to beat the Uncanny Avengers wholeheartedly.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Hercules #2
Written By Dan Abnett
Art By Luke Ross, Emilio Laiso and Guru-eFX

Synopsis – Hercules encounters more immigrating ancients as he strives to restore his reputation.

This was an excellent issue that followed on well from the plotlines established in the debut issue. Hercules’ problems are relatable and appropriate to his synoptic character development since his introduction. The growing threat of the ‘Uprising’, and whatever storm it may represent itself in, correlates to the real world and to great themes about generations and heroism. Even more interesting supporting characters are introduced and the basic idea of Hercules facing ancient creatures that will likely comprise most of some of these issues is not as black and white as was presumed. It’s great when writers stray away from using underdeveloped villains even though they still need grunts for the protagonist to fight – Abnett has manipulated this masterfully. The plot progression is smooth and mediated, allowing for subplots while still exceling the story at a natural rate. I really like the art and the revised character designs. Overall, I have to say I am enjoying this book and I am invested in it until this arc reaches its end.
Story – 8.5/10
Art – 9/10

Ultimates #2
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown

Synopsis – The Ultimates face Galactus with a plan that could affect even a being such as him.

Ewing provides an ingenious plot that plays beautifully upon Galactus’ own origin and personality paired with the distinctive abilities of each of this revolutionary line-up. The technology displayed here is beyond most Marvel creations at this point, showing the supreme intelligence of T’Challa and his team, to the extent that they achieve something I would have thought impossible in changing Galactus. I won’t say how, this is worth reading without my explanation, but these first two issues have certainly started off strong in every sense. I love the themes and the out-of-the-ordinary vibe I am getting from this, the team is stronger and works better together than any other active group right now and I am completely intrigued in what more there is focusing on Galactus and whatever they opt for beyond that. The art is stunning, definitely in my top five of the current books along with Mike Del Mundo, David Marquez, Ariel Olivetti and Stefano Caselli.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Contest of Champions #3
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, David Curiel and Andrew Crossley

Synopsis – The two teams are sent into the fray and old feuds are rekindled.

I really like the way this book is heading. It’s nice that it doesn’t try and formulate a complex plot, instead having action as the primary element and subplots as little more than set-ups for other battles. This works well among the countless other plot-heavy books that either fail miserably or detract from the enjoyment because of it, at least we know where we stand here. The line-ups from each team are already interesting, and there’s still plenty more characters to be added. There are a couple of inconsistencies inevitable when dealing with several different alternate universes, but they aren’t major. My only proper gripe with this is that I don’t see why the team organisers don’t do the ‘summoning’ themselves, it’s obvious that Maestro has his own agenda and I count the Collector as too intelligent to not acknowledge this. While most of the plot progression is predictable, there are some points that did surprise and entertain me that will come into fruition next issue. I love the art, and the action is both varied and exciting.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Deadpool #3
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Guru-eFX

Synopsis – Deadpool’s Mercs each deal with their non-existent pay checks and the renegade Deadpool impersonator shows his hand.

Thank God Duggan is straying away from the mindless humour towards a more dramatic and multi-aspect story. Each of Deadpool’s Mercs has short sections featuring each of them in this issue, hinting to personality traits and integral supporting characters. It’s great character development and Deadpool himself is in a serious state – arguably when he is at his most effective and compelling. I am interested in the villain of this story as the mystery surrounding him (or her… or it?) is rich enough with their previous actions and presence to sustain entertainment. Another subplot that I was expecting was introduced when the perpetual hero Stingray was revealed to be on the team, which should only improve the plot. I liked the action a lot in this issue and there were plenty of different scenarios to interest a range of readers. It appears this arc will reach its conclusion fairly soon, and its shaping up to be a good reveal, though of course there’s still possibility for failure.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Guardians of the Galaxy #3
Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art By Valerio Schiti and Richard Isanove

Synopsis – Hala wreaks havoc on Spartax and the Guardians find themselves overwhelmed by her power.

Apart from the introduced characters in the first stage of this book, there isn’t much narrative content in this issue – it is literally just small skirmishes with some of the Guardians while Hala asserts her power. She is an absolute threat but I assumed at the end of the second issue that Spartax was going to be outright destroyed – instead she just takes down vacant ships and inconclusively hunts the protagonists. The dialogue, too, is a waste of space here – and there’s far too much offhand humour for the serious situation they are in. Star-Lord and Hala are the only appropriate and enthralling characters in this book and the plot doesn’t achieve what it should have. While the art is good and there are some epic splash panels, I feel a little disappointed by this issue and its characters. I am sure the quality of the second issue will return next time, hopefully, but this issue was a bit of a blip in the progression.
Story – 6/10
Art – 8/10

Spider-Gwen #3
Written By Jason Latour
Art By Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi

Synopsis – Gwen turns to Earth-616’s Spider-Woman for advice and a familiar figure returns.

This issue was brilliant for world enrichment. There were a plethora of supporting characters – mainly promising variations of mainstream characters – introduced, such as the police officer Ben Grimm and the enigmatic Matt Murdock, that contribute towards the expanding plot that I am finally intrigued by. Gwen’s internal dilemma is fascinating to see with her unique comparison to 616 Gwen’s life and the Peter Parker we know, opposed to the drastically different world of Earth-65. The supporting characters each bring their own assets to the story, one of which that returned close to the end that casts huge implications on later stages of this plot, and their stories balance with Gwen’s thoughts well. I’m happy that the idiotic subplots running from the first issue have been left behind and Latour is focusing on the compelling and complex plot fully, leaving more room to develop aspects of narrative and relationship development.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Uncanny Avengers #3
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Ryan Stegman and Richard Isanove

Synopsis – The Shredded Man continues his attack with disappointing opposition from the Unity Division, even with Cable’s help.

Finally, this book is beginning to improve. We are provided with a little character development to the completely random and shoehorned Synapse (representing Inhumans) on the team and the villain states a formidable case. Of course, the team is still too weak and divided to form a defence, but even so Cable improves things and a couple of the members initiate subplots that could prove effective later down the line. Deadpool was actually sufferable in this issue and doesn’t treat absolutely everything as a joke, and the social outlooks on the team are intriguing to see. I suppose the art is decent enough and the dialogue was actually competent in place of the first two issues’ nonsense. This still isn’t as good as the other Avengers titles, which themselves are surpassed by plenty of other relaunch titles, but I can see this story isn’t a lost cause and the team could make something of themselves in time.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Amazing Spider-Man #4
Written By Dan Slott
Art By Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith and Marte Gracia

Synopsis – Spidey abandons Nick Fury at his time of need when Aunt May is threatened.

I would have said I enjoyed this as a deviation from the Zodiac focus, but in reality it isn’t a deviation at all. The Norman Osborn plot is now running simultaneously to Zodiac, which has concerning implications for the flow of the next few issues – Slott might have introduced too many plot points, and with the reoccurring cliffhanger of even more Spidey villains being brought in I can only hope it doesn’t get too cluttered. Both main plots are great in their own ways, Zodiac vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. for the changes Peter has made to Spider-Man and his retinue and Norman Osborn for the personal connections Peter has. This issue worked really well as the first stage of a wider battle between Parker and Osborn’s Goblin force, with a rural setting and a couple of interesting supporting characters. It’s pretty easy to pick up the subtext and presume directions the story is heading in, but anything could happen really. As I mentioned, another villain is introduced with the cliffhanger in a similar way to Rhino – with aspects that I am very thoughtful about and a mysterious figure I can’t wait to see revealed. The art is still really good. Apart from the minor concerns I have with the title, I really enjoyed this issue.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Spider-Man 2099 #4
Written By Peter David
Art By Will Sliney and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis – Roberta Mendez investigates Miguel’s basement and a sinister bandit from 2099 prepares to strike.

Finally, we get some insight into Roberta’s role in this book and in the world. The story has been preoccupied with Miguel and Tempest of late but since her civilian introduction in the first issue I have been thinking about this. Her schizophrenic state between herself and 2099’s Captain America pays off with great action and unique dialogue, against an equally promising villain whom may have appeared in previous volumes of this name… Miguel’s own inclusion was far more removed from fighting, and it didn’t have any of the plot points explored in previous issues. This method of developing Roberta and the 2099 inhabitants works well alongside the quiet periods of ‘Fist’ and Spider-Man’s exploits in the present day. The ending opens a lot of doors for Peter David to follow while bringing the main story back into focus, but I’m glad the supporting characters are coming into their own.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Secret Wars #8
Written By Jonathan Hickman
Art By Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina

Synopsis – Chaos erupts as Doom personally enters the fray, while Black Panther and Namor approach.

We’re back on track for the most part after the bungled seventh issue. This issue is really good for action, most of the dialogue and the confrontations. The main Incursion survivors and the despots of Battleworld are receiving the most focus as it should be, provided they are Fantastic Four-related as this story is turning out to be. I liked most of the battles and events transpiring here, but I just have one qualm – we don’t receive any answers. Almost everything, apart from a couple of demises, is a set-up for the final issue – which the only way I can see working is if it is a ginormous issue, for there needs to be a lengthy, non-convoluted battle between Doom, Black Panther and whoever else has been shown to have enough power to take down the almost God-level Doom, as well as answers to all the established plotlines and appropriate endings for the departing Battleworld alternates. In an ideal world the final issue would be huge but thoroughly entertaining and continuous from set precedents, but I already know it won’t be perfect and perhaps Secret Wars was doomed from the start. If I’m rating from issues alone, however, I liked this a lot – though it is what I expected from the seventh issue with the final two stretching out the points I made earlier.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

And, from a galaxy far far away…

Star Wars Annual #1
Written By Kieron Gillen
Art By Angel Unzueta and Paul Mounts

Synopsis – Eneb Ray acts undercover in Coruscant as Tharius Demo, until Leia assigns him a task that could endanger not only his position, but his life…

This story came seemingly out of nowhere, completely disconnected from current comic Star Wars events and set in an unclear time period, but nonetheless I really enjoyed this book. The protagonist is complex, not necessarily likeable but enthralling, while his engaging situation is available only to the fantastic Star Wars Universe. The utilisation of the Emporer – a surprisingly underused villain – is perfect for the scenario and as always he is chilling and intimidating. The themes are absolutely the strong point of the issue, despite them staying internalised to connections only to Star Wars and the war between the rebels and the Empire, and the art is beautiful. I hope this character returns in some form, he seems certainly interesting enough to inspire multiple other storylines, but Gillen and Marvel have proved they can tell effective self-contained stories that thoroughly entertain and provide a strong message.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/02 – 12/09

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/02 - 12/09

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 12/02 - 12/09

Reviews by MattzLadd, CMRO Contributor

 

All-New Inhumans #1
Written By Charles Soule and James Asmus
Art By Stefano Caselli, Nico Leon and Andres Mossa

Synopsis – As the Terrigen cloud continues to spread, so too does the negative social response to Inhumanity. A diplomatic mission is formed to attempt to negate the tension.

I was expecting this as one of the introductory books alongside other Inhuman titles because of Marvel’s promotion of the race, much like great series we have seen from the X-Men in the past. After reading this, I am vastly impressed by the thought put into this and the quality of this book. The primary characters are all strong personalities and it’s great to see Gorgon and Crystal get the spotlight as the Inhuman brand expands. They are each with their accomplices going through interesting dramatic storylines that coincide with the global events and the balance of dialogue with action is brilliant. The art is absolutely one of the best of the relaunch and there’s loads of potential with the diverse cast of characters and compelling narrative situation.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

All-New X-Men #1
Written By Dennis Hopeless
Art By Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy and Nolan Woodard

Synopsis – The young Scott Summers targets a mutant group of Cyclops sympathisers while the rest of the All-New X-Men track him.

I would call the All-New X-Men, specifically the time-displaced members from the past, one of the standout most interesting teams introduced in recent years. Their character development as a contrast to their written adventures in the 60s is fascinating to see and how they have adapted to the present world and the state of the X-Men is something special that only a team so rich and extensive can achieve. This story focuses on Scott Summers, a good choice in light of recent events, and as mutant distrust is still running rampant there are of course storylines for the team to immerse themselves in. This issue and ostensibly the next few also highlight a mutant group called the ‘Ghosts of Cyclops’ and of course their name alone suggests their personal connection to Scott and his older counterpart. Scott’s reactions to them and their actions in this book are absolutely great, plus his tribulations with them accompanied by the reintroductions of each member of the team make for a flowing, attentive story. The message given to us by the end fits well with the theme of this book, I can only hope it continues to stay on track and the separate arcs are interesting, but so far my doubts are alleviated.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Daredevil #1
Written By Charles Soule
Art By Ron Garney and Matt Milla

Synopsis – Matt Murdock, operating on a different side of the law, continues to fight the Kitchen’s scum as Daredevil, only with a new addition…

I am greatly intrigued already in everything transpiring in this book. Sam Chung, though we know very little about him and his capabilities, represents a social class in the location that struggles with difficult lives. The cliffhanger to this issue hints at possible jeapordy for Chung, from a chilling, strange new villain with an expansive list of subordinates. The narrative wastes no time and jumps right in to the middle of this story via both Daredevil and Murdock’s involvement with an informant from Tenfinger’s gang, with Blindspot’s appearance cutting in at points to establish him as a primary character in this book. I can’t speak for anything beyond this arc, but with the changes in Matt’s character and situation set into place and the supporting characters being brought in I’m excited for great stories, dramatic fight scenes and getting to know Blindspot and the curious villain Tenfingers. The art is very different from the previous volume, with a darker and sketchier tone. At present I don’t think it is as good as Samnee’s style but I know already that it will grow on me. The colouring is really cool.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Guardians of Infinity #1
Written By Dan Abnett
Art By Carlo Barberi, Walden Wong and Israel Silva

Synopsis – A structure somehow existing at three different points in time simultaneously brings two known Guardians of the Galaxy teams to face an unknown third.

I suppose this was always going to happen eventually, with the continued presence of the Guardians based in the 31st Century and the rise in popularity with the current Guardians line-up. It appears Abnett has selected only a few members from each team’s wider roster, however, as presumably if the three Guardians’ form one single team then it would work better with lesser numbers. I do enjoy seeing the interactions between the Guardians of the present and future, and with the inclusion of a very promising team from the past (featuring a flarking Rigellian!) the time-separated exploits could literally be anything from anytime. This issue is almost entirely orientation but it does have some light-hearted humour littered throughout and a common space threat allows for some decent action towards the end. The quality of the next issues will obviously impinge on the characters, but with the safe prominence of Rocket, Groot and Drax I don’t have many concerns about sustaining entertainment. There’s not much substance in the plot otherwise, though the art is decent enough to maintain attention.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Red Wolf #1
Written By Nathan Edmondson
Art By Dalibor Talajic, José Marzan, Jr. and Miroslav Mrva

Synopsis – Red Wolf embarks on a mission to prove himself as a viable sheriff in Timely, 1872.

I stated in my review of the last issue of 1872 that I wanted to see this return and the adventures in Timely to continue. The western takes on many of the characters were always enjoyable to see and with the realistic(ish) spin on modern abilities the book had a unique selling point to distinguish itself to readers. This book started off well enough, the drama within Timely is still not resolved and so there’s plenty to play with – Duggan even set up some plot points Edmondson could have easily inherited here – but for some absolutely bizarre reason he has twisted this story into everything it shouldn’t be, and I am severely worried by the cliffhanger. The great thing about this book is the time period and setting style, but that appears to be in jeopardy now due to some stupid decision by the creative team. If this twist is not resolved soon I don’t believe it has any precedent set for telling a good story, nor is the art particularly good enough to hold the book up by itself. Honestly, I do not know why they chose to do this, but I can’t think of a single reason why this would be a good thing for the book when they already had a perfect scenario set up.
Story – 3/10
Art – 7/10

Spidey #1
Written By Robbie Thompson
Art By Nick Bradshaw and Jim Campbell

Synopsis – The Spider-Man early days are retold with a light-hearted spin and the emergence of Spidey’s rogues gallery as a prominent feature.

While it’s true that the early days of Spidey have been told to death (I was listening recently to some video where it went into how many hours of content between the films and TV shows focus on Parker’s high school days when he graduated very early on in the comic books, and it was a high number) I can appreciate and understand the purpose of this book and the decent timing of its appearance. In the recent years of Marvel a vast majority of books have taken on a dark tone and Peter Parker has been subject to the same treatment. It is nice once in a while to return to traditional storytelling aimed towards younger audience, and despite the excessive quantity of early Spider-Man tales I wouldn’t go as far as saying they have lost the entertainment factor. We’ll be able to see iconic villains retold over this run and of course the relationship development between Peter and his peers is fantastic. The art is also very good and in a bright cartoon style. I would definitely recommend this as a brilliant light read in between the darker and more serious events transpiring currently.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

The Totally Awesome Hulk #1
Written By Greg Pak
Art By Frank Cho and Sonia Oback

Synopsis – Amadeus Cho takes up the reins of the Hulk in order to combat an increase in monstrous beings.

I don’t know how on earth Cho came to be in this position, as there’s no precedent set for his new form nor have I heard anything about Banner stepping down from the position. It also seems that the creative team are nerfing Cho’s intelligence (though they still state him as one of the foremost super-geniuses) in place of the Hulk’s formidable strength. While he still maintains his general intelligence while in that form – as well as his courtship tendencies – he certainly wouldn’t appear as a genius at first glance. The plot in which he and his sister find themselves is very light at the moment, literally only consisting of a couple of monster appearances and the reveal of a far-out threat with the ending. I am more intrigued into the story leading up to this and the hints towards Banner’s disposition on one certain page, but in the meantime the wild action and great art could certainly tide me over. Cho is a likeable character and his new form as the Hulk opens a lot of doors for his character development, so this book doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all at the moment.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

All-New, All-Different Avengers #2
Written By Mark Waid
Art By Adam Kubert and Sonia Oback

Synopsis – The team finally converges as Warbringer follows an irregular path in search of relics.

Now this issue was a tiny bit disconcerting. I praised the first issue for what it appeared at first to set up: slow but sensible introductions of each of the team’s members in the face of a viable threat. The first issue did this well enough, so I was hoping for a decent fight this issue and maybe a couple more characters thrown in. Nope, everything is thrown in randomly and it’s very messy and convenient. It is too unclear as to what Warbringer’s plan is and the mere fact that he is Nova’s arch-enemy is not enough to justify his importance, and the enigmatic Mr. Gryphon whose only link to the story is through Stark’s financial issues is largely shoehorned in with a contradictory relationship with the primary villain. A lot of the humour seems forced and not very humorous, plus even though the members seem to work well enough together (unlike the irritating Uncanny Avengers) the plot just isn’t compelling, nor is the entire scenario. It’s a little annoying that I have issues with each of the Avengers teams (ANAD’s plot, UA’s stupidity and inefficiency, NA’s use of Squirrel Girl (I’m kind of joking with this last one)) but nevertheless I expected more from such a staple to the Marvel Universe and this issue let me down.
Story – 5/10
Art – 7/10

Howard the Duck #2
Written By Chip Zdarsky
Art By Veronica Fish

Synopsis – The story of Linda and Shocket, the female clones of Howard and Rocket, is told in anticipation of their collaboration in the third issue.

Zdarsky has tried a really interesting thing with this issue, referring back to previous events in the last Howard the Duck volume and continuing the story set up there. The origin of Linda the Duck and Shocket Raccoon is actually captivating – their characters are developed smoothly over a very short space and their personalities progress from basic traits into fully-formed ideals and histories. Their adoptive father ‘Dee’ is also a compelling character, and his integration into the Collector’s organisation forms the connection between the female clones, the antagonist Tivan and Howard the Duck. The plot is largely self-contained but nothing is introduced that seems like a waste of space and the origin is actually emotional and relatable. This issue did a great job of establishing the imminently important characters of Linda and Shocket and how they are important to Howard so they can tie in with the next issues. I’m intrigued in the plot arc and I can only hope it continues. The guest artist Veronica Fish is not as good as Quinones, admittedly, but the art was at least admirable.
Story – 9/10
Art – 6/10

Nova #2
Written By Sean Ryan
Art By Cory Smith and David Curiel

Synopsis – Sam and his father engage an overwhelming creature while Sam’s friends grow suspicious of his sudden departures.

The dramatic relationships with Sam, his friends and Jesse are only exacerbated in these pages. It is a bit of a convenient use of a gigantic mine monster (apparently its literal name) to display an unusual event near the end of this book, the action regarding it was good however and said event was very unusual. Aside from the conflict in the latter stages and Sam’s dialogue with his friends there wasn’t really much else going on. Sam’s family dynamic is fairly amusing and of course a scenario in which a family member needs to be on call to protect the Universe can allow for entertaining situations, but this issue specifically felt a little light on the subplots. There is an excellent cliffhanger to relieve the subplot sacrifice and the art is great, but I don’t feel like this issue deserves a high award for the story aspect.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Vision #2
Written By Tom King
Art By Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire

Synopsis – Virginia keeps her husband from the truth about Grim Reaper and Vin causes trouble at school.

Once again King has delivered an absolute masterpiece. Each page of this book offers a narratively intense scene, either riddled with imagery and connections to the real world or emotionally provoking. The ostensible perfection of the Visions set by the first issue has now been ripped to shreds and the situation the family finds themselves in, with Vin’s misunderstanding of humanity and its fragility and the ever increasing void between Virginia and Vision, is both uncomfortable to watch and fascinating. The family apart from Vision, though they have literally had two issues of content, are brilliant characters with surprising depth, and the climax to this issue can only spell worse things to come for them. The art is sometimes relied on to progress the story without the need of dialogue or the interesting commentary, and it holds itself up, though the balance between good art and intense plot development works just as well as each on their own. I am excessively involved in the events of this title now and know without a doubt that Tom King is a staple if not revolutionary writer for series of this calibre.
Story – 10/10
Art – 8/10

Doctor Strange #3
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey and Mark Irwin

Synopsis – A naked Doctor Strange is accosted across New York City by the ravenous Een’Gawori, but there’s an even more powerful force behind them.

This was an absolutely mad book, and the plot is shaping up to be so broad and consuming that I’m surprised it is confined to just this Doctor Strange book. There is a nice flow of development in any case and the art style showing the realm of magic existing simultaneously with the physical world is great to look at. While the vast majority of this issue is just crazy Doctor Strange versus slugs antics (he’s finally got the axe!) the conclusion was particularly enthralling – it appears a new race or otherworldly syndicate will play an integral role as antagonists to Strange and their abilities have the precedent set that he will have an immeasurably difficult time dealing with – though he does seem to have been buffed magically since the relaunch. I hope the next few issues live up to my expectations and provide an astounding conflict utilising vibrant settings and incomprehensible magic, and this issue was definitely entertaining.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Extraordinary X-Men #3
Written By Jeff Lemire
Art By Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado

Synopsis – Jean and Logan reconnect while the X-Men battle against the hordes of Limbo.

This book does a very good job of balancing the action and madness of Limbo with the drama and emotion between the time-displaced versions of Jean and Logan – the former of which from the past and the latter from the future. I think the discussion is the better part of the issue because of the unique scenario they find themselves in, and of course Logan’s disturbing history can be interpreted by the telepathic Grey so the conversation goes further than most of the introverted Logan’s discussions. The conflict in Limbo allows for a couple of younger X-Men to become more integrated with the core team which was interesting to see and there’s some mystery surrounding a new character with strange abilities (which are a kind of deus ex machina at the moment but still). The plot progression moves well, as do the characters, but I think the major combat should be resolved as soon as possible so this book can focus on one appropriate arc rather than completely disparate scenes.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Invincible Iron Man #4
Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art By David Marquez and Justin Ponsor

Synopsis – Iron Man faces a force of bionic ninjas and Doctor Doom re-emerges to help Tony with Madame Masque.

In light of the recent news that David Marquez will be providing the art for the non-Secret Wars sequel to Civil War, I’ve been looking forward to refreshing myself on his skill with this issue. I can say without a doubt that he’s one of the absolute best artists working on the relaunch right now and Bendis is a far cry from the worst writer. Though not a great deal involving Whitney Frost and her exploits is covered here, there are some entertaining scenes with Tony’s visit to a sick children’s establishment and the epic fight between him and the ninjas in the first part of the issue. The inclusion of Mary Jane and her purpose is as yet unclear, but her character is pursuing a new direction in life and there will be no Peter Parker to hold her back from a full Iron Man integration. The conclusion to here is largely a set-up for the next issue, of which I am more excited about, but there was some good stuff here and I could honestly look at Marquez and Ponsor’s art all day long.
Story – 8/10
Art – 10/10

And, from a galaxy far far away…

Star Wars #13
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Mike Deodato and Frank Martin, Jr.

Synopsis – Luke’s crew reunites, but Doctor Aphra and her sinister droids are right behind them…

The progression of Vader Down is flowing very well, despite my initial concerns about a six-part event involving only Vader and his inevitable encounter with Luke. However, the plotting Doctor Aphra, Triple Zero and BT-1 have provided a great distraction from Vader’s exploits while still featuring him on the sidelines in the past two issues. Triple Zero is obviously the most eccentric and therefore interesting of the three, and the battles involving him in this issue are really good. BT-1 too is a powerhouse and a real threat to the crew, who also display some epic moves of their own. Leia’s development and integration is becoming more important, likely because of a certain meeting at the end of the issue that will be explored next, so I believe Luke’s group has encapsulated their purpose for the first instance of Vader Down and I’d like to see the primary storyline returned to for some awesome events in the latter stages.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/25 – 12/02

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/25 - 12/02

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/25 - 12/02

 

Reviews by MattzLadd, CMRO Contributor

 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1
Written By Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare
Art By Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain

Synopsis – Lunella Lafayette is a young, irreverent genius whose devices lead her into dangerous territory… and into the path of the Devil.

Devil Dinosaur (and Moon Boy) is a character who is rarely visited and Lunella is a brand new character so there are clearly some risks being taken here. Thankfully, and surprisingly, the titled ‘Moon Girl’ is beautifully written here. She is intelligent, witty, extremely likeable and relatable. Her exploits in the world are interesting and she connects to mainstream Marvel through a couple of references – firstly her presumably dormant Inhumanity and secondly her rejected but deserved place amongst such special organisations such as the Future Foundation. This comic is written humorously and there’s a great flow, leading up to the climax in which a curious Kree device is mishandled and Devil Dinosaur is thrust into the present after some final character development with his former partner. The art is done in a cute but detailed style which is suitable for this series. The cliffhanger allows for an auspicious second issue – one I did not think I would be already excited for – but the rich themes and enjoyable characters of this issue cannot be discounted.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Silk #1
Written By Robbie Thompson
Art By Stacey Lee and Ian Herring

Synopsis – Silk is playing double agent while searching for more information on her family, but a personal enemy could prove a problem…

The narrative structure of this issue is well done. We’re caught up on events through Cindy’s commentary, but the spacing between her clarifications allows for twists and turns in what we observe in the art. Most of the exposition is finished by the end and the supporting and featured characters are all set up and primed for quality scenes. The dialogue is fairly humorous, though it does come off as overly cheesy at some points. It’s still entertaining enough to follow Silk’s exploits, even though her small publication history doesn’t provide many interesting plotlines to follow. Thompson has apparently decided to stay within the bounds of Cindy’s personal relations and the villains that have affected her directly since her emergence into the world, which to coin a phrase is a ‘better safe than sorry’ decision. This is not a bad choice to make, in fact I fully support it, especially as later on in this series Cindy will have plenty of opportunities to branch out through collaborations or introductions of different villains. As for the art, it’s OK. There’s definitely better out there right now, but there’s also worse and the mediocrity shouldn’t put anybody off.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Venom: Space Knight #1
Written By Robbie Thompson
Art By Ariel Olivetti

Synopsis – Flash Thompson, as an Agent of the Cosmos (though he doesn’t know what exactly that entails) hunts down a pirate on a peculiar planet.

I love it when significant character development progresses smoothly over an extended period of time – Agent Venom was an earthbound character, until his initiation into the Guardians of the Galaxy, and now he has his own solo title revolving around adventures in the wider galaxy. This adventure includes a far-out planet, the best capitalisation of alien languages and some actually promising supporting characters. The plot doesn’t have much substance but its execution is a lot of fun and this art is fantastic. It reminds me a lot of Clayton Crain – who is in my top five comic book artists of all time – so I have to bow down to Ariel Olivetti for doing an astounding job on this issue and hopefully the entire series. The setup for the next issue is exciting and there’s already some plotlines running regarding Flash, the Venom symbiote and a freshly inducted robot companion.
Story – 8/10
Art – 10/10

All-New Wolverine #2
Written By Tom Taylor
Art By David Lopez, David Navarrot and Nathan Fairbairn

Synopsis – Laura is employed by Alchemax to track down a group of hostiles, though they’re more connected to Laura than she knows.

Laura’s rethought morality is explored in great detail throughout this issue, in situations that she would have dealt with very differently a short while ago. The transition from her anti-heroism to her good nature is clearly difficult and Taylor handles the character very well in these scenes. A few important supporting characters are introduced in this issue that have a lot of potential for character development as a group. Their appearances also appear to be a task for the artists but they’ve used some convenient techniques to clarify the differences. The conclusion of this issue is the most eventful, as blood is shed and the megacorporation of Alchemax reveal their true motivations. However, the plot still isn’t that simple, as a villain reveals himself to my utter surprise that takes the cliffhanger into a completely different direction. If Taylor sticks to the core idea he is currently using, though, everything should go smoothly.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Angela: Queen of Hel #2
Written By Marguerite Bennett
Art By Kim Jacinto, Israel Silva and Stephanie Hans

Synopsis – Sera recounts the beginning of her battle through Hel with Angela.

I can respect the narrative structure of this book, as it mostly takes place eight months before the present – where through dramatic irony we already know Angela becomes the Queen of Hel. The progression of titles that I believe were all written by Bennett makes for a clear connection between the stories and I really like both Angela and Sera’s character developments through each series. The change in their relationship in this book is drastically different from before after a series of fatal events. Angela is different in her own right, though Sera’s salvation ostensibly came in the form of a new enigmatic and threatening character. The action in this book is great and the themes are showing through the text well. Jacinto’s art is growing on me, not that it is better than Hans’, but the splash pages and the character designs are exceptional. The plot points are mostly set up here for the next few issues, insinuating exciting scenarios to come and plenty of intricate battles.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Carnage #2
Written By Gerry Conway
Art By Mike Perkins and Andy Troy

Synopsis – John Jameson’s past comes back to haunt him as Carnage chases them deeper into the mines.

I was excited for this – and a couple of other game changers – ever since the characters were introduced in the first issue. Situations such as these when the reader can know more about the characters prior to reading this make it all the more enriched. This issue was very good, with Conway playing to his strengths with the utilisation of the setting and atmosphere – great horror techniques are employed widely throughout this issue – and the artists detailing the gloomy tunnels beautifully and etching in a sense of claustrophobia. Carnage is a great villain because of his insanity and unpredictability – we are shown his movements through what the team above ground can glean from cameras and Carnage’s random movements increase the danger of the below ground team. The supporting cast is very good because they each have their personality traits and the conflict about how each member wants to go about the situation makes sense and allows the reader to identify with each character individually. A section in this issue reveals that there’s more to the scenario than we thought, which could prove detrimental to the horror story or could make it much better, but this issue on its own entertained me greatly the whole way through.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Guardians of the Galaxy #2
Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art By Valerio Schiti and Richard Isanove

Synopsis – Hala’s motivations are revealed and she targets Peter Quill to exact a personal revenge.

Wow, in the first few pages a brilliant story was told that makes me both very interested in this new villain and impressed by the progression of Marvel continuity to allow this villain to exist. I found myself kind of supporting her, also, which probably isn’t the right emotional state I should be in as the Guardians are the heroes of this book and I know a fair amount about the Kree. In any case, the action shown through her and the Guardians is excellent and each character gets attention in the fight. The threat that Hala represents is vast and exciting, as she demonstrates with an astounding promise and an incredible final page. I think the art is very good and despite the large amount of dialogue and several double-page spreads the issue didn’t lose pace and I am extremely interested as to what will happen next.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2
Written By Frank Barbiere
Art By Brent Schoonover and Nick Filardi

Synopsis – Dum-Dum, Vampire by Night and Manphibian go out into the field to combat the unexplained Egyptian spirits.

I love this title so much right now. Even though this issue only focuses on three of the many members of the Howling Commandos, the trio’s propitious teamwork represents the potential this group actually has, and each of their respective abilities are addressed. There’s less humour in this than the first issue, but the lack of amusement is easily replaced by interesting subplots and the fantastic developments of the low grade villains and creatures on the outskirts of mainstream Marvel. One character in particular is drawn into the fray this issue who will inevitably prove impactful. The S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Kraye was seemingly pointless and uninteresting from the first issue, but here he is briefly touched upon and an eerie scene instantly has invigorated his character’s role in this series. The art isn’t the best but it isn’t unappealing by any stretch. This is proving to absolutely be one of the best new titles with the ANAD movement.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2
Written By Ryan North
Art By Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi

Synopsis – Doreen is transported to the past in a strange manner and only Nancy in the present remembers she exists.

I dread having to read Squirrel Girl because I hardly identify with it and there’s far too much written content with far too little point. I will say that this story has a vaguely imaginative plot and its references to the change in time period and characters from the wider Marvel Universe are entertaining, but the story is literally pulled from nowhere with zero connection to the first issue that set up storylines for the next issues to follow. I’m sure North will resolve this arc with a silly scheme featuring a famous and recognised villain who does not act normally and is twisted into a pathetic Tumblr caricature of himself so Squirrel Girl can beat him, and I’m sure people will love it – I just won’t be one of them. The art is OK and Nancy’s involvement is less irritable than Doreen’s, but I still can’t say I’m looking forward to the third issue.
Story – 5/10
Art – 6/10

Hail Hydra #4 (Final Issue)
Written By Rick Remender
Art By Roland Boschi and Chris Chuckry

Synopsis – Ian and Ellie fight a hopeless battle against the overwhelming forces of Hydra.

I love Remender – here he has twisted the Secret Wars formula into something of his own choosing while still staying within all the boundaries set. The entire Hydra scenario is ridiculously imaginative and the utilisation of many Steve Rogers-related characters from the protagonists Ian and Ellie and the various villains from Cap’s past works really well. The setting is vast, industrial and gloomy and the artists have played around to the best of their ability with this throughout the book. I don’t particularly love the art, however, of course I’ll always prefer a Remender/Opeña match-up, but Boschi’s work is not unattractive. The conclusion to this book uses some dark themes like futility and strays away from the Hail Mary plays that work for an uplifting ending. We end up following Ian and Ellie’s desperate flight from terrifying enemies and the diverse villains (especially Doctor Mindbubble) help to enrich their characters ready for their inevitable return at a point sooner or later. Needless to say, I have enjoyed reading this series, and this paired with other latecomers to Secret Wars are making for a pleasant departure of the event.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Groot #6 (Final Issue)
Written By Jeff Loveness
Art By Brian Kesinger

Synopsis – Groot and Rocket head to Earth in an attempt to locate a girl important to Groot’s past.

The last group of issues were great because of their humour and action, though this issue – and I love titles when they do this – instead focused on character development and emotive themes to encapsulate the end of the series. Groot’s rather extensive and articulate thoughts are translated by a source provided by Kitty Pryde and accompanied by swathes of cool cameos. The few humorous moments at the start of the issue are great and they set up the introductory format of the change from humour to drama. The rest of the issue exploring a certain girl named Hannah and her relationship to Groot is absolutely beautiful. Groot’s character development and part of his origin that I didn’t know before now is remarkably interesting and I would very much like to know more – meaning, yes, Groot Volume Two, you are wanted. The themes and concepts detailed at the end are relatable and appropriate for readers of all ages, and to finish I really adore the art.
Story – 10/10
Art – 9/10

S.H.I.E.L.D. #12 (Final Issue)
Written By Mark Waid
Art By Joe Bennett, Alejandro Sicat, Ed Tadeo, Walden Wong and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis – An alternate turn of events sees a time traveller murder Odin and plunge all the realms into chaos. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have one chance to restore order.

I quite enjoyed this regardless of its irrelevance to the ongoing events of the 616 continuity. It does seem a little out of place as the final issue of a relatively important title, though this book has been providing self-contained one-shots for a while now. The Agent’s infiltration of Asgard in this issue is exciting and as expected we see alternate versions of some of our favourite Asgardians. I think the real benefit to reading this though is to see a S.H.I.E.L.D. team from a doomed scenario and their final efforts to save everything. The team pick up assets that were fun to see equipped by mostly ordinary people and their fights with the Asgardians were action-packed. The dialogue is mostly compelling and of course there’s an attractive setting, as well as a satisfying ending. Despite the random place this issue is in, it is a decent book.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Silver Surfer #15
Written By Dan Slott
Art By Michael Allred and Laura Allred

Synopsis – Dawn and the Surfer come to the end of completing their idealistic Universe, but Glorian has his own plans…

OK, I guess I was correct in thinking that this is where it happened – it being the fulcrum of Secret Wars and all of the future of Earth-616. This was such a far out and insane story that I found myself lost at many points with characters being brought back from the Surfer’s recent villains and supporting characters, but I got the gist and effect of everything. Some events that transpired do seem a little convenient and even convoluted, but I’ll count on Secret Wars #9 to go into more detail. Even though this tells us basically what will happen following Secret Wars in an overall sense as well as the new ongoings being published (I do think everything should have been pushed back beyond Secret Wars’ conclusion so it could actually have some dramatic tension) it is not a bad thing that has happened. This issue was actually interesting to a great extent and it is remarkably intelligent with Greenwood’s choices and the dupe effect (thanks Marvel Zombies). It is curious that the remaking of the Universe is explored in a non-mainstream Silver Surfer title, but at least we get an explanation and drama and emotion to go with it.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10
And, from a galaxy far far away…
Chewbacca #4
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Phil Noto

Synopsis – Chewie and Zarro infiltrate Andelm IV’s spaceport and encounter Jaum’s forces.

All aboard the train of suspension of disbelief for another far-fetched action romp. Sure, this is Star Wars, I’m not trying to say Wookiees or the Force are classed as ordinary, but the entire conflict of this series is tailed around Chewbacca having to need to win every time for the plot to move forward. So here we see Chewie and Zarro admitted through to Jaum’s vicinity for no reason whatsoever and the antagonists’ ensuing flee after Chewie hits one person. I really only can appreciate the art and some of the action is entertaining, aside from that the plot is extremely weak and Chewie’s inability to be a protagonist paired with the mediocre character of Zarro doesn’t cut it.
Story – 4/10
Art – 8/10

Darth Vader #13
Written By Kieron Gillen
Art By Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado

Synopsis – The rebels find it difficult to restrain Vader as the Sith’s search for Luke Skywalker intensifies.

I am very satisfied with the direction in which Vader Down is heading. Vader himself is as menacing and compelling as ever and this event is set in an integral period of the Star Wars canon where Luke, Vader and many other characters experience pivotal developments. This issue focuses on bringing in Leia and Han – whose moral differences could result in dramatic scenes – and thankfully Doctor Aphra’s inclusion is not forced by any stretch and I am really enjoying her sinister companion Triple Zero. There’s a couple of different plot points weaned in to accompany Vader’s plight that occupy small spaces in this book which is a great narrative technique for maintaining interest and they work well. They also don’t overstep their boundaries to distract from the point of the story which I admire even more. The art is excellent and the frequent use of large, detailed panels improves the flow of reading and lets the artists display their skill.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/18 – 11/25

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/18 – 11/25

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/18 – 11/25

Reviews by MattzLadd, CMRO Contributor

 

Black Knight #1
Written By Frank Tieri
Art By Luca Pizzari and Antonio Fabela

Synopsis – Dane Whitman reigns as the King of New Avalon. Location: Weirdworld.

This is without a doubt the perfect place for the Black Knight right now. It’s awesome to see Weirdworld emerging into the spotlight and until Arkon returns with his saga of the realm we’ll have Dane Whitman to act as a blade-swinging explorer of the crazed and inexplicable place. Dane hasn’t received much attention in recent years, perhaps because he is orientated to the ‘knights and dragons’ sort of story that Marvel haven’t been playing with very much, but he’s an interesting character and his sword – the Ebony Blade – is iconic enough to provoke twists and epic battles throughout this series. Already Tieri is hinting at a sinister side to the blade and its effect on its wielder. That paired with the unpredictable enemies of Weirdworld makes for an unclear direction for Whitman and his cast, but I’m hoping it will be an entertaining one. The supporting characters are fairly cliché for a story of this type, but they’ll likely go through some character development over the next few issues to amend that. The art could be better, but the setting is not wasted by the artists and there are some alluring splash pages in this issue.
Story – 9/10
Art – 7/10

Mighty Thor #1
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson

Synopsis – Jane Foster is endangering her own life because of her other identity – the Mighty Thor – but a foreboding war arises that requires her and Mjolnir.

I was at first put off by the size of this issue, but after reading I don’t care that Aaron packed so much into this. The writing is great and I found myself thoroughly entertained, interested, and certainly not bored by this book. Each plot point introduced or carried over from the previous volume works perfectly and plenty of emotion, action and drama find their place throughout the pages. Jane Foster acts as both the tragic, conflicted person that you can’t help but pity and the powerful protagonist that you support in their missions, and that formula works really well for this book. The supporting cast are utilized brilliantly in each of their positions, with the recent plot development for some characters continuing with them and several mysteries existing for others. For one familiar with the populace of Asgard and the many other realms, there are some enticing scenes with each race’s personality traits combining, and the plethora of opposers to Thor are both eccentric and threatening. The plot arises nicely and enters suddenly and loudly just when it is needed, and already the setup for the next issues is established. Finally, I love the art – the creative team handles all of the character looks, no matter how varied, expertly.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Ms. Marvel #1
Written By G. Willow Wilson
Art By Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring

Synopsis – Kamala finally gets a handle on her hectic life as an Avenger and a student, but during her busy months, Bruno made some changes…

Kamala has finally come into her own as a recognized hero and a member of an on-call team, meaning a large portion of her time that she had previously spent doing other things is now spent being a superhero. However, Wilson explores the concept of this responsibility and subtly links it to real life situations: obligations that form as teenagers get older, finding your place in the world etc. The theme is tied in to the Ms. Marvel story with Kamala’s friend and potential partner Bruno having moved on from their intimate discussion at the end of Marvel’s ‘Last Days Of’ stint in the first volume to a different girl – Mike (short for Michaela). Kamala acts appropriately to the relationship, and her emotions are affected for most of the issue because of that. This drama does comprise the majority of the book, in the place of the introduction and development of an antagonist – though a mysterious organisation is growing in New Jersey that will encounter Kamala properly soon – and because of the quality of this book’s supporting cast the story works very well. I do prefer Alphona’s art to Miyazawa’s, though the latter’s is very good in its own respect, but I hope the recognised art style for the Ms. Marvel book doesn’t go away and preferably doesn’t take a back seat either.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Secret Wars Too #1 (One-Shot)

Sraw Terces
Written By Jonathan Hickman
Art By Brian Churilla and Tamra Bonvillain

Synopsis – Jonathan Hickman doesn’t have an ending for Secret Wars.

I enjoyed this section a lot, it even made me search for the appearances of a couple of writers I didn’t already know so I could pick out the cameos, but in light of Issue #7 of the main title – what I considered to be perhaps the start of a terrible ending to the event – maybe Hickman here was warning us of what is to come. On the other hand, he probably has a good ending anyway and #7 was just a blip, and it is nice to see some of the writers are at least having fun with Secret Wars.
Story – 8/10
Art – 6/10

Great Incomprehensibility
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Jacopo Camagni and Jesus Aburtov

Synopsis – Peter Parker makes a different decision when faced with the thief who ultimately kills Uncle Ben, but will someone’s Uncle Glen pay the price for it?

And here we have it, the first of the absurd and ridiculous sections of this book. It is almost entirely made up of mediocre jokes and words that rhyme with Ben, but the alternate decision this Peter makes is actually interesting (and that Thor is pretty funny). The art is excellent, in a good comical style and there is some great colouring here.
Story – 5/10
Art – 9/10

Pizza Quest
Written By Kate Leth
Art By Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson

Synopsis – Kate Bishop enlists Ms. America in her quest to find things related to her life before the Final Incursion.

If this story didn’t explore Bishop’s slight regaining of her old memories, then I could discount it as completely pointless, but it does. The memory epiphanies were very important in the earlier stages of Battleworld, and I actually mostly forgot about it now but I suppose it should still be going on – so props to Kate Leth for continuing that. There are a couple of good jokes in here otherwise, but it’s mostly just jumping from location to location with next to no plot, and the art isn’t anything special.
Story – 4/10
Art – 5/10

Last Days of D-Man
Written By Kyle Starks
Art By Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain

Synopsis – D-Man is summoned back to Earth and gets his life back on track – but unfortunately this is set before the Final Incursion.

I don’t really understand the attention that D-Man has been getting recently. The only thing I find interesting about him is his Wolverine / original Daredevil costume mashup, and he’s not a great representative for C-list villains. The book isn’t very funny and there’s very little plot – and damn this book for making me see Villalobos’ disgusting wrinkled art again.
Story – 3/10
Art – 4/10

#GalHackedTus
Written By Rob Guillory
Art By Rob Guillory

Synopsis – Galactus sends Peter Parker to a very personal domain when the Watcher hacks his food blog.

This currently holds the title for strangest story in this book, between shoehorned internet culture references and a weird homage to the film Being John Malkovich, and it feels more like Rob Guillory serving his own desires instead of making things clear and amusing to us (maybe that’s why he made sure he did all the work and made all the subsequent decisions for this extract). Nevertheless, the art isn’t bad, and there were one or two good Spider-Man jokes.
Story – 4/10
Art – 7/10

The Bear Without Fear
Written By Ryan Browne
Art By Ryan Browne

Synopsis – Beardevil heeds several Scott Summers’ requests and stops Wolverine from going out with Jean Grey.

Wow, and the title is passed over. Seriously, I am concerned about what state of mind Ryan Browne was in when he wrote this. This is an extremely strange story, with random bear appearances and too many versions of Scott Summers. The art is decent, and I suppose it is a quite funny extract, but… I think this book is negatively affecting my intelligence.
Story – 6/10
Art – 8/10

Doom: Behind the Tyranny
Written By Eric Powell
Art By Eric Powell

Synopsis – Doctor Doom prepares for his upcoming role as God in the Marvel Secret Wars event.

This was a funny little three page sketch, using the idea of the characters in the real world as a meta mockumentary. The art is pretty good too. But, honestly, I’m done with this book now. Hopefully forever.
Story – 7/10
Art – 8/10

Spider-Woman #1
Written By Dennis Hopeless
Art By Javier Rodriguez and Alvara Lopez

Synopsis – Jessica Drew is pregnant and her life as a superhero is now inhibited. Between her boring maternity leave and training of the redeemed Porcupine – she itches to be Spider-Woman again.

The pregnancy of Jessica Drew is a good direction to take and Hopeless having it as an inciting incident of this volume as opposed to setting it up elsewhere makes for a degree of renewed interest in the character. We don’t know who the father is, but the baby is certainly taking focus away from Drew’s life as Spider-Woman. As such, this book is now predominately following the drama of her normal life and her relationships with her friends and co-workers, and that formula requires entertaining supporting characters and decent amounts of humour. Do we get that? Sort of. I like Porcupine and many mainstream Marvel heroes are often included, but the menial nature of Drew’s current life isn’t exactly enticing and the best part of this book is Carol Danvers’ interjection with her alien involvements and how that could affect Jessica’s birth process. It also seems that Hopeless hasn’t decided on one clear plotline to follow aside from the baby, plus the art isn’t good enough to sustain the book on its own. The ending is fairly imaginative and promising, but I’m not that compelled by this issue to be signed on for the whole series.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

Star-Lord #1
Written By Sam Humphries
Art By Javier Garron, Antonio Fabela and Frank D’Armata

Synopsis – A young Peter Quill is underappreciated at a NASA facility and unbeknownst to everyone he has his eye on the stars.

Finally we’re moving in directions allowing the key members of the Guardians of the Galaxy to be featured and developed on their own, letting us become more familiar and attached to the characters and their histories. For the first solo issue of Star-Lord ever, this was very good. Humphries is focusing on an integral period in Quill’s past which we certainly do not know enough about. Most stories cover his mother’s death and depending on the version whatever Peter is in possession of thereafter, but few detail his turbulent flying lessons or his time alone on Earth. Already we meet some refreshing supporting characters in a promising setting and Quill has a clear motive for the events in this issue. The recent popularity of the MCU’s Yondu and his outlaws is capitalised on and they will undoubtedly be inducted here soon. The climax is entertaining and leaves things on a real cliffhanger, and the art is pretty fine.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Uncanny Avengers Annual #1
Written By James Robinson
Art By Marc Laming, Jose Giles, Jordan Boyd and Veronica Gandini

Synopsis – When the spirit of a Nazi witch and her zombified army returns, the Unity Division and the Department of the Uncanny ally to combat her.

I understand the purpose of this book as far as establishing the background behind Declan Dane – the Emerald Warlock – before his antagonistic appearance in the upcoming Scarlet Witch ongoing. Unfortunately, his eccentric personality only goes so far and it doesn’t take much to figure out his true motivations. Moreover, too many new characters are introduced to try and form a self-contained story that are simply discarded by the end of the issue. The Nazi witch is fairly ridiculous and the plot regarding her later doesn’t make any sense, and when it is resolved it is completely convoluted and irritating. The Unity Division hardly factors into the story to herald their team’s name on the front of the book – most of the team is featured for literally one panel – and I and I would assume most other readers do not care about the ‘Department of the Uncanny’ or their contradictory and unexplained plight. The only redeeming factors are that the art is good and that there are a fair amount of cameos from older heroes. Apart from that, this book has about as much quality and intelligent plotlines than the normal Uncanny Avengers book.
Story – 3/10
Art – 8/10

Astonishing Ant-Man #2
Written By Nick Spencer
Art By Ramon Rosanas and Jordan Boyd

Synopsis – Scott’s old flame, Darla, returns as Ant-Man’s Security Solutions is hired at the same time as other mysterious developments…

Reading through this I was confused as to the rushed nature of the character’s appearances and their seemingly convoluted changes in their relationships with Scott. The pages featuring Grizzly and Machinesmith (whom are great as supporting characters) was completely separated from everything that happened with Scott, though on reflection there appears to be layers of manipulation and subtext from both Spencer and Scott’s enemies in this book. In any case, most of the dialogue is entertaining and the art is really good. Scott’s commentary almost breaks the fourth wall in some places, but it just contributes to the humour in this series and the whole situation isn’t supposed to be taken completely seriously. The plot development was great and I’m really liking the ‘Hench’ app plot device as an opposition to Scott’s admirable business, and everything is moving smoothly through to further issues and the conclusion of this arc.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Deadpool #2
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot and Val Staples

Synopsis – Deadpool’s mercenaries-for-hire head out on jobs and not everything with Wilson is as it seems…

I was not particularly looking forward to this issue. The first missed the mark somewhat and was fairly hectic with its plot, but this issue marked a significant improvement from Duggan in both focus and character development. I love how despite the impersonation team being mostly together, small parts of individual character development are slipped in and these characters are enriched because of it. Their personalities are showing through, such as the team’s moral split and a couple of the characters’ misinterpretations of heroism – it really makes each situation much more interesting. We also see some pivotal information about Wilson’s past, but the revealing of said events might lead into disastrous consequences for Deadpool and his cohorts by an unidentified enemy. I’m overjoyed that this book isn’t stuffed full of absurd humour – there’s actually some dramatic scenarios and subtext throughout the dialogue. The art is excellent, to top it off. Duggan might just have removed most of my concerns with this issue.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Extraordinary X-Men #2
Written By Jeff Lemire
Art By Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado

Synopsis – Magik and Colossus encounter an old foe when searching for Nightcrawler.

This book has really achieved something by restricting the cast of an X-Book to less than a dozen characters. True, it may be helped by the fact that there are three (or four?) X-Men focused books coming out soon, but I like the fact that Lemire is only featuring a smaller cast of characters, especially ones this developed and integrated. Old Man Logan alone has a wealth of storylines open to explore now that he is in Earth-616 (still waiting on that explanation) and a new setting for Storm’s X-Haven raises concerning questions about Illyana and an array of villains. Speaking of which, it appears a villain has been chosen that I am very happy about, and already there may have been collateral damage caused from the scenario involving the Inhumans and the poisonous nature they have on mutantkind. We know these characters well and it is great to see their relationships with each other and their consistent opinions and personalities still providing enjoyment to readers. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series heads next.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Uncanny Inhumans #2
Written By Charles Soule
Art By Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten and Sunny Gho

Synopsis – Inhumanity itself is attacked as potentially the biggest threat of all time strikes a devastating blow.

This issue suddenly took an imaginative and complex turn with the interjection of Kang the Conqueror (whom I usually discard as convoluted and irritating, but works well in this situation) and a certain protégé of his. There are huge implications to what happens in this book – and it could potentially be far-reaching unless Soule messes the whole thing up. I like how the events narrow the featured characters until it is literally just the core Inhumans, which will always be my favourite of the group, and the included supporting characters from outside Inhumanity. Each character has unique relations with one another and paired with each of their responses to the threat facing them, we see a really interesting progression for the characters. The great art is absolutely capitalised on to show large and extravagant locations throughout history and the cliffhanger is one that could revolutionise a pivotal character and his role in the future for a long time.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Captain America: Sam Wilson #3
Written By Nick Spencer
Art By Daniel Acuña and Mike Choi

Synopsis – A strange new plot unfolds that includes a very ordinary market for extraordinary changes.

I don’t know how I feel about this issue completely changing the tone of the first two issues, as it has now gone from a political drama to an absurd genetic mad scientist plot. It’s certainly still interesting, and maybe even more entertaining now, but the change of pace is sudden and some of the characters underestimate the situation. As soon as Spencer decides on a plot point to follow, I can’t appreciate the fluctuations in the story. This issue is funny, nevertheless, and the villain is eccentric and his minions even more so. The room for character development is limited, but the focus on a far-reaching story negates the need for it. I won’t be able to say more until it is clear exactly what the enemy’s plot is and how certain individuals factor into it, but there are worse directions to head in. The art has gotten slightly worse with the inclusion of Mike Choi, but I can understand if Acuña was having a difficult time.
Story – 7/10
Art – 7/10

New Avengers #3
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Gerardo Sandoval and Dono Sanchez Almara

Synopsis – The Skrulls are in a desperate situation and turn to an Earth-borne heir for support.

The first arc of this series ended rather abruptly, but thankfully it has been replaced by a plot that is very interesting and promising, not just for the New Avengers but for the establishment of the galaxy’s races in this new Universe. There are also developments regarding what appears to be the upcoming antagonist, the one that the Maker was indebted to in some form during the first two issues. The content aside from this plot was also good, as the team is building relations with each other and each character is being developed individually – which is important for characters such as Pod whom which a lot of mysteries still surround. This issue is largely just setting up for the next issue and the progression of this arc, but there’s a lot of merit to be found and the art is decent. I was concerned about the line-up at first but they are quickly proving themselves to be potentially efficient and entertaining.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10
And, from a galaxy far far away…
Star Wars: Vader Down #1
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Mike Deodato and Frank Martin Jr.

Synopsis – Vader’s search for the rebel pilot who destroyed the Death Star brings him to Vrogas Vas, but an entire rebel company lies in wait…

This was a very promising start to what could be a very successful story. The progression from the Darth Vader book into this is completely natural, and the inclusion of many heroic Star Wars characters does prompt the deviation into a self-contained event book. This issue is action-packed, and Vader is really at his best here – relatively unstoppable and menacing to the extreme. It’s obvious that the reader will root for Luke and the rebels, but the focus on Vader as the primary antagonist is deserved and you can respect his formidable skill shown in combat. I am a little apprehensive that a great deal of orientation is covered in this book, meaning the later stages of the six-part series could easily fall in quality, but so far I am enjoying the events on Vrogas Vas. There’s some potential for character intensive events also, although Aaron does have to stay within the bounds of the original trilogy’s canon, but we’ll see. The art is excellent, I’m happy to be looking at Deodato’s work once more. Even if the event isn’t plot-heavy, it will look good in any case.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Kanan – The Last Padawan #8
Written By Greg Weisman
Art By Pepe Larraz and David Curiel

Synopsis – Kanan, as Caleb Dume, fights with Master Billaba as the Jedi Temple is assaulted.

This was a very good book for action, featuring traditional Jedi lightsabers against the hunter-utilised ravaging explosives. Following Kanan, we see the conflicted character of Billaba in detail and Kanan’s own over-enthusiasm leads both of them into precarious situations. The villain’s motivations aren’t explained outright, though there are some hints towards a wider plot of distrust against the Jedi. However, as this arc is set in the past I can’t see it culminating into anything we haven’t noticed before. Due to the setting, there are a plethora of cameos from recognised Jedi Masters accompanying the young supporting cast to Kanan. The art illustrates them all very well and the fighting is completely enthralling. I can only assume this arc is primarily devoted to developing Caleb Dume as a newly initiated Padawan and him learning the ways of the Force – if so then Weisman is doing relatively well in showing us this. I enjoyed this issue nevertheless.
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Star Wars #12
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Justin Ponsor

Synopsis – Grakkus and the Gamemaster’s interests collide as the final showdown on Smuggler’s Moon erupts.

This was a fantastic conclusion to a very entertaining and intelligent arc. There were a lot of different plotlines and characters to deal with, but Aaron managed them all masterfully and uniting them all for the final issue made for a great read. This book has plenty of action, drama and even some humour, and each character gets their respective due to either wrap up their storyline or simply address their situation. The complex subplots regarding the Gamemaster are finally made clear, and Grakkus gets his surprising turn in the spotlight. This does have a very chaotic battle scene full of lightsabers and blasters, which makes for a difficult job for the artists but one they pull off well. The ending is definitely satisfying and there’s much to dwell on for whatever follows next, as well as a certain antagonist who will enter the fray and cause some drastic changes to occur. A sincere congratulations is required from all those who had a hand in making this arc.
Story – 9/10
Art – 8/10

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/11 – 11/18

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/11 – 11/18

Weekly Marvel Roundup for 11/11 – 11/18

Reviews by MattzLadd, CMRO Contributor

 

All-New, All-Different Avengers #1
Written By Mark Waid
Art By Adam Kubert and Sonia Oback

Synopsis – One of Nova’s old enemies returns, and makes use of a mysterious ally before Cap, Iron Man and Spider-Man enter the fray.

I was expecting this team to be already set up or at least with the members being together, but it seems Waid is going to engage in a few issues of orientation – which I suppose could be fun to see. I noticed the instant blending of themes that are running through each character’s solo titles at the moment, with Cap’s racial adversity and Tony’s financial situation featuring in this book. It’s nice to see a clear acknowledgement of continuity with characters who appear in more than one place, it really fleshes out the world, and I expect good things to come from the development of this team. There’s also a rare opportunity in the fact that a lot of these heroes don’t know one another, meaning fresh ideas in relationships can be explored – just check the cover of Issue #4 – and there can be a whole new atmosphere to the combat and teamwork displayed. While it’s mostly unclear as to the antagonist’s background, and more than half the team have not even been introduced, this book is immediately entertaining and certainly more enticing to me than the other Avengers-related teams at the moment.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

All-New Hawkeye #1
Written By Jeff Lemire
Art By Ramón Pérez and Ian Herring

Synopsis – Clint and Kate experience troubles in the present and in twenty years from now, and it seems a past failure connects the stories.

Kate Bishop is developed and fully fleshed out by now with her own distinctive personality, and finally the realisation has dawned that she and Clint aren’t actually very compatible. The successes and mistakes of the pair of Hawkeyes culminate in a decision and, via the balancing between the future and the present, we are able to see the effects of the present on their relationship in the future to some degree. I made the mistake of thinking there was some time displacement involvement as when the older Hawkeyes were introduced Clint looked older whereas Kate still looked young – but I can put that down to the pretty bad art that we get in both of the scenarios. I’m still not sure if I like the writing in this book – it’s not bad but it doesn’t capture my attention, though this sort of Hawkeye book has been great before. The villain is interesting (with a very curious new outfit) and I’m sure something good could come of this, but for the first issue this just didn’t quite do it for me.
Story – 6/10
Art – 5/10

All-New Wolverine #1
Written By Tom Taylor
Art By David Lopez, David Navarrot and Nathan Fairbairn

Synopsis – Laura Kinney, the new Wolverine, is hunting down a hostile woman in Paris – and remnants of her creation still plague her.

I feel as if this position has been open to Laura for a while now, and that she has always been fitting for it. She is the clone of Logan to an extent, and as such the fundamental aspects of being Wolverine fit in well with her – the ruthless formidability as well as the mental liabilities both Logan and Laura have overcome, the latter only recently. Angel as a supporting character could work very well, and if their interactions aren’t anything special then their combat team-ups will certainly be. And, as a focus for the plot, Taylor has made a good decision with featuring characters tied directly to the backstory of Kinney and making it about her rather than a complex plot that doesn’t introduce and orientate Laura to the role of Wolverine. It won’t take much to figure out who the antagonists of this book will be, but that kind of interaction, avoiding spoilers, hasn’t been explored too much that there can’t be new ideas thrown into the mix. The art is very good, and I love the new suit. Can’t wait for the next issue!
Story – 8/10
Art – 9/10

Carnage #1
Written By Gerry Conway
Art By Mike Perkins and Andy Troy

Synopsis – Cletus Kasady is drawn into an elaborate trap when he hears one of his intended victims survived an attack in the past.

This reads much like a horror story, and I think that is a perfect style for a Carnage book especially to work with. The team setting themselves against Kasady are introduced after the prologue, and they are a mix of recognisable Marvel characters and volatile backup plans. It’s entirely appropriate for a plan of this sort to be instigated against Kasady – who is apparently a free man – and it seems as if there are possibilities for success, though when dealing with a symbiote there are obviously unclear factors. The next issues will presumably focus on a mix between atmospheric horror and combat, both of which I will be happy with in the place of drama and character development. The art is excellent too and there are some very attractive splash pages. I enjoyed this book and it has a lot of potential with an interesting cast.
Story – 7/10
Art – 9/10

Illuminati #1
Written By Joshua Williamson
Art By Shawn Crystal and John Rauch

Synopsis – Mary MacPherran – the superpowered Titania – aims to lead a clean life with no return to crime, but her husband and the Hood have other ideas.

I like teams comprised of villains a lot, especially when they are the focus of a book. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, and insights such as this into motivations behind villainy, in all its forms, is intriguing to explore. Mary finds herself unable to find work because of her past crimes, and the local heroes always assume she is up to no good. It’s easy to sympathise with her character, and she proves a viable protagonist for this book aside from the rather unstable Parker Robbins who organises the rest of the team. Moreover, this new Illuminati is made up of lesser known villains, which is great because I love learning more about relatively underdeveloped characters. There are some good discussions of the state of the new world and the opportunities available in it, and I’m sure there are going to be endeavours into fun and dramatic villainy in issues to come. While this is maybe not as compelling as the original Illuminati, the team has potential and I’m happy to see a book focusing on villains and these sorts of characters alongside the countless hero titles.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Ultimates #1
Written By Al Ewing
Art By Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown

Synopsis – The Ultimates – a team comprised of experts and powerhouses who deal with ultimate problems.

I am very happy with this team. I like all of the characters and they each play to their strengths while in the team. It’s more mature and serious than most other teams, and for such a small roster they achieve a remarkably powerful line-up. I would compare them to the original Illuminati if they don’t state this issue that they are more conservative, perhaps better, than that organisation. What we receive is an intelligent and entertaining read from characters that have the ability to achieve dimensional travel and defend themselves from any number of enemies facing them. They certainly go for the heavy hitter first in this issue, and their approach is fascinating and unprecedented. The art is absolutely beautiful, and Ewing has proven he’s audacious enough to present outlandish scenarios but maintain a book’s integrity. I expect great things from this team and this book, and I can say it’s definitely off to a good start.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Web Warriors #1
Written By Mike Costa
Art By David Baldeon, Scott Hanna and Jason Keith

Synopsis – A redeemed Karn aids a selection of Spiders as they watch over the Universes that lost their arachnid protector.

We’ve seen enough of the Spider-Verse shtick now to know largely what to expect – and sure enough the primary plot element of this book was coming eventually. However, the sinister antagonists of the Web Warriors seem to me as a larger threat than the Inheritors ever were. They’re a concern on an inescapable level, and with the Spiders’ powers being limited to – well – Spider powers, there will definitely be a difficult fight to make up the rest of this arc. The characters themselves are decent, the most interesting is obviously Gwen, but her character insights belong with her own book. The rest of the team work well together, but alone I don’t think Spider-Ham would work facing off against the Howard the Duck book or even Squirrel Girl and May’s exhausted her interest over the years. I’m still intrigued with the morality of Spider-Man Noir, and the character development of Billy Braddock has been really good, and I would like to see focuses on those characters alongside the implications we have with the villains.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Spider-Gwen #2
Written By Jason Latour
Art By Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi

Synopsis – Captain America aims to arrest Spider-Woman, but the intervention of a swarm of Lizards preoccupies the two.

I feel like the best parts of this series and its Universe are found with George Stacy, and in this issue a supporting character that I did not expect to see: Uncle Ben Parker. Suddenly I thought more about Peter’s strange but engaging life in Gwen’s books, how his death affected the dynamic of Gwen and Ben and George especially. Those sections of this issue were very good. As for Captain America and Gwen, well, it was OK. This Cap’s backstory is different enough to capture my attention, but there have been swathes of alternate mainstream characters recently and there isn’t really anything special here. I’m happy that the world’s organisations and characters are expanding – it helps to sustain interest in the title – and the complicated situation regarding Gwen’s vigilante status and this new S.H.I.E.L.D. resembles great themes about Peter Parker’s early career also. The humour is little better than the mediocre first issue, but I can ignore it for now as the scenarios are mostly excellent and the action is good. I suppose I’m still on board with Gwen and her cast – for the near future, at least.
Story – 8/10
Art – 8/10

Uncanny Avengers #2
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Ryan Stegman and Richard Isanove

Synopsis – The Unity Division falls apart as the situation in Boston worsens.

I’m really not enjoying most things about this book. Deadpool’s presence is atrocious, and the rest of the team seem as pissed off about him as I am. The villain’s motivations aren’t very convincing, not are the particulars of his powers clear. The team still can’t work together – and this situation should prompt intervention from any one of the many more efficient teams in the area. There isn’t much action or plot development related directly to the story, though there are some major Secret Wars spoilers regarding a couple of characters that I think has arrived too prematurely, reducing the dramatics of when this thing actually happens. And finally, to further ridicule the plot, there are time travel and future elements introduced, which absolutely should not be part of this story – though a certain character and potential team member could improve the roster a little. The art continues to be relatively bland and proportionally strange.
Story – 5/10
Art – 7/10

Spider-Man 2099 #3
Written By Peter David
Art By Will Sliney and Rachelle Rosenberg

Synopsis – Miguel’s emotion and the capabilities of his new suit lead him to concerning grey areas.

The action in this issue is great – each of the combatants have their own assets and liabilities and there’s a noticeable narrative contrast between Miguel’s rage and Doctor Cronos is both eccentric and threatening. The art is beautiful – Sliney and Rosenberg use techniques of pathetic fallacy and the utilisation of setting to increase the drama of the situation. As for the plot, there’s a new mysterious syndicate apparently behind everything, not just Cronos himself, meaning Miguel engaged in moral areas that few Spider characters venture to. The character’s motivations for this volume are excellent as well as tragic, and I love seeing the change in his relationships and interactions because of the proceedings in the past issues.
Story – 9/10
Art – 10/10

Captain America: White #4
Written By Jeph Loeb
Art By Tim Sale and Dave Stewart

Synopsis – Bucky makes a catastrophic decision, and Cap is forced into a situation where he can’t win.

This has turned into a great World War Two story with interesting inclusions of a strange French group and the foremost of Cap’s golden age rogues gallery. The ‘colour’ stories of Loeb are, from what I have seen, focused on the inner relationships and personality of a character, and the drama – and often tragedy – of what comes with them. This book lost focus slightly with the second and third issue, but I’m glad that by the end of this issue we are again addressing Steve and Bucky’s relationship. The Howling Commandos are good supporting characters, and they do their job representing the conflict against the Nazis, but the real story should be about this period in which Cap is preserving his secret identity, with the burden of Bucky weighing on his concerns. Aside from their relationship there’s some good morals about wartime included and a cliché betrayal that was admittedly necessary for the conclusion. I still can’t appreciate the art, but the climax of this issue was especially good – and the issue was decent on the whole.
Story – 8/10
Art – 5/10

Squadron Sinister #4 (Final Issue)
Written By Marc Guggenheim
Art By Carlos Pacheco, Mariano Taibo and Frank Martin

Synopsis – Nighthawk’s plot reaches its end, with a final battle between him and Hyperion.

This was honestly a very strange conclusion that flitted about from scene to scene and had no constant flowing plot throughout the story. I don’t understand why Guggenheim didn’t just use all the plot elements he had introduced in the last three issues, the final fight could have taken up most of the issue and the ending of Nighthawk’s scheme in this could have been a great ending with an effective moral. Instead, he brings in irrelevant characters that are ineffectual and are discarded at the end of the issue, as well as changing the theme to one that has not been applied throughout the series. I have been expecting a certain character’s involvement, and we got it here, but the appearance at that moment rendered the entire battle between Hyperion and Nighthawk pointless in any case. It’s an absolute shame to see that every interesting thing the first three issues set up was destroyed in the conclusion. I’m bewildered as to how badly Guggenheim messed this up, in almost every aspect.
Story – 3/10
Art – 9/10

Thors #4 (Final Issue)
Written By Jason Aaron
Art By Chris Sprouse, Karl Story and Israel Silva

Synopsis – Thorlief and Thor the Unworthy battle Rune Thor and Destroyer Thor, as Doom’s rule is called into question.

I enjoyed this a lot for its action and for some of its themes, but I find myself lost on what this title was about in the first place. Rune Thor attempts to explain his reasons for killing the Jane Fosters and the Don Blakes, but I don’t think he really explained it very well at all. I’ve resolved it in my own head as the sanctity of being a Thor, and the human connections that Thor has had since his introduction to Marvel fifty years ago being a crucial part of his life, but Aaron didn’t convey that – if it was about that – very clearly at all. The sudden questioning of Doom exists only for its convenience, also. The latest issue of Secret Wars (which I disliked, but we’ll get to that) suddenly has the Thors’ interjection, and of course they needed to set a precedent for that here, but it should have begun weeks ago instead of seeming completely contrived in the middle of this issue. I did like the action and Thor the Unworthy’s scenes especially, as well as the open ending, but the motivation of the antagonists was unclear and as such it detracted from the point of the story.
Story – 6/10
Art – 9/10

Infinity Gauntlet #5 (Final Issue)
Written By Dustin Weaver and Gerry Duggan
Art By Dustin Weaver and Rain Beredo

Synopsis – Thanos and the Novas race to capture the final Infinity Stone, while Gamora, Groot and Star-Lord distract the Behemoth.

Take a landscape ravaged by the Annihilation Wave, a greed-crazed Thanos with five Infinity Stones and a Nova-powered family as the last defence against the Mad Titan, and you have a great book. This issue was epic to say the least, and Thanos’ scenes were extraordinarily good. The clash of greed with family makes for an intensive mixing of themes that extend beyond this story to be relatable to everyday life. The climax of this book is a little convoluted, and I would have expected a different outcome, but the events were entirely appropriate to the situation, and with a slight suspension of disbelief this issue is enjoyable in every way. Thanos is a fascinating character, and his search for Infinity Stones are often his most compelling arcs, and I would definitely count this book among the best of them. The new ‘Bakian’ characters are also interesting, and they represent a powerful theme of family and unity that should be associated with the Nova Corps. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back in some form, though this series on its own is still brilliant.
Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

Secret Wars #7
Written By Jonathan Hickman
Art By Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina

Synopsis – A war erupts between the Prophet’s forces and Doom’s Barons, and the Incursion survivors further their plans.

I must say, I am extremely disappointed by this issue. For what was, only a short time ago, the penultimate issue of Secret Wars – absolutely nothing is achieved here. Around half of the issue is wasted featuring pointless AU Barons that have either done everything they should in their own books or should have been featured weeks ago if Hickman wanted them to have any relevance to the story. There is far too much offhanded humour in the place of what should be serious drama and an intense address of the themes of Battleworld, and neither Hickman nor the characters seem to be taking the situation seriously at all. The conflict plays heavily on recognisable characters being in turn attacked by the following character, many act completely contradictory to their established personalities, and the now trite ‘multiple Hulks’ scenario is employed yet again. There’s still plenty of confusion regarding the Thing, the Shield, the ulterior motives of the zombies and the real extent of Doom’s power (maybe they’re just ignoring what he was able to do in Attilan Rising now?) and instead of answers Hickman should be providing us with – he throws paltry jokes and meaningless fights at us. I sincerely hope this is just the place where Hickman throws all the rubbish to instead get back to the plot and the characters next issue, or maybe this is the beginning of an awful end to Secret Wars. For this issue, just count the number of ‘shoulds’ in this review.
Story – 3/10
Art – 8/10
And, from a galaxy far far away…
Chewbacca #3
Written By Gerry Duggan
Art By Phil Noto

Synopsis – Zarro is finally reunited with the rest of the miners, but is there any way out of the mines?

Unfortunately, there is still no twist or character introduction that I was hoping for – and this issue does very little to progress the plot. Moreover, the situation becomes even more hopeless at the end, and I can’t help but be apprehensive about the final two issues as they’ll likely contain a lot of convoluted action and deus ex machinas. Though the themes of unity and home are becoming more prominent, the weight of the story is still minimal and there’s so much pressure put on Zarro to be a likeable protagonist and carry the interest that she really can’t overcome. Chewbacca’s grunts and roars are as unintelligible as always, and I’ve started to skip past them to finish the book faster. The art is still great, and Noto does a great job, but as someone who wants a good plot over good art this book simply isn’t pulling its weight and I can’t see it getting any better.
Story – 5/10
Art – 8/10

Darth Vader #12
Written By Kieron Gillen
Art By Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado

Synopsis – Aphra’s safety is in Vader’s hands, and the rebel locations converge on a foreboding location.

Finally, Vader reclaims the upper hand. I conveyed my distaste for the past few issues in their respective reviews because the character’s actions seemed – to me – seemed out of place. The stereotypical confident thief Aphra had the advantage over Vader, but no longer. Here he shines as brightly and destructively as the first great issues of this book, and his relationships with his subordinates and accomplices are restored to what they should be. I am both concerned and excited for the upcoming crossover arc ‘Vader Down’ in which presumably Luke Skywalker and his allies will ambush and overpower Vader – but it should provide some good art and some great action. Nevertheless, these Star Wars books are progressing and flowing well, and a crossover event should reinvigorate interest and allow some potentially awesome things to occur.
Story – 8/10
Art – 7/10

Avengers Inspirations 37: Spider-Man vs the Strangest Foe of All Time, Doctor Octopus

Avengers Inspirations

 

Jon and Lily are back behind the microphone to discuss Spider-Man’s first encounter with one of his greatest enemies, Dr. Octopus! But first, it’s time to see how the Agents of SHIELD were faring in the final weeks before the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So strap in for betrayal and mistrust, followed by Spidey’s first big failure!