Thor #242 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Thor

Issue #242

Written by Len Wein, Art by John Buscema

Published: December 1975

Thor #242This issue was something straight out of the mid-sixties. I would almost say that it held a novel quality, but the issue isn’t ironic, it seems to take itself seriously.

We’ll start at the beginning. The first thing we come across is the power of Thor’s hammer to turn pyramid into a thriving forest. Where on Earth did his mallet get these sort of powers, and why has he never deemed to clean up after himself like this before?
It’s like Thor’s version of ice breath, here.

Next, we see Odin being Odin. He vacates his thrown and casts a spell on himself to forget everything, journeying to Earth to learn about life among humans. Then the second he’s back in power, he immediately disowns his son. This God has disowned his brave son more times than he’s exiled the evil one. This is classic Odin, and it is not a good thing.

Next thing we see the Warriors Three, and I’m going to pick on two things here, real fast. First, the hath’s and thou’s were way overdone. Second, Jane was taken to caves deep in the Earth, traveled inside of a netherworld inside a Great Pyramid, and then flew with Thor back across the country from California, and she still hasn’t changed her clothes?

Lastly, we see Jane kidnapped, again, and this time Thor doesn’t submit like he did just a few issues ago, he definitely doesn’t have a defined set of values. The icing on the cake for all of this is of course, a 60’s villain, Zarrko. Why?

Overall, none of this shows any sort of evolution from the 60’s, in fact it is a major backslide to Journey Into Mystery Days, in the way that your grandfather slides back into his teens. It’s just not cool…at all. I couldn’t give this issue any more than 1 out of 5 stars.

Giant-Size X-Men #1 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Giant-Size X-Men

Issue #1

Written by Len Wein, Art by Dave Cockrum

Published: May 1975

Giant-Size X-Men #1This is one of the most iconic issues of X-Men around, and for those reading the Order, it is a huge milestone.

The cover itself is inspiring, and as you turn inside to the first page, you know the art in the issue is going to be great. On top of the art, the first page shows true diversity in what is to become the second generation of X-Men. Wolverine is Canadian, Storm is African, Thunderbird is Native American, Colossus is Russian, Banshee is Irish, Nightcrawler is German, and Sunfire is Japanese.

As we move into the story we see very brief scenes of recruitment for the new members by Xavier. Xavier appeals to each characters desires to recruit them, such as Nightcrawler’s desire for acceptance, Colossus’s sense of duty, and Thunderbird’s sense of pride. We also get to see Wolverine’s hard side. A much needed introduction for this character after what many considered a weak debut in the Hulk’s title.

The second part of the issue involves all of the new mutants congregating together at Xavier’s mansion where he introduces everyone to Cyclops. Cyclops fills them in on what triggered Xavier’s immediate need for new X-Men, but to be honest, I felt this was a bit rushed. It makes sense where this picks up to a reader of the X-Men, but since that title had been cancelled years prior, there was an entire new generation of readers that may not have been familiar with the X-Men. Granted, I don’t know what type of reprints were out, but my main gripe is that in story, Cyclops is relating a tale to these new members without any sort of background on the team or introduction of himself. No one goes for orientation on the first day of a new job and has the trainer start barking orders. Usually there is an introduction of sorts. That being said, Krakoa is built up nicely as a mysterious place, full of danger.

Part three shows our new team arriving at the island. After a group of six mutants were overpowered in seconds on the last visit, I can’t say that the strategy of pairing in two’s was very wise. There is quite a bit of friction that can be sense also within each pair, as well as the group as a whole. We also see a darker side of Scott’s mind. He has always been a stand alone leader, but the loss of his team is clearly haunting him and shows how much he cares about his responsibility as the leader.

As the each land and the four teams see a newly risen temple, it is easy to see that splitting the groups up was partly filler for the issue, but it was enjoyable filler as readers are able to see each mutant in action. It keeps the pages from being too cluttered with too much action at once.

It is nice to see such a robust population of mutants on the pages, after the release of the original X-Men. The ensuing final battle is masterfully done. The mind of the island is a match for even Xavier, so fans don’t have to worry about an Odin type ending. The ever-present tension between Cyclops and Havok continues to exist as Lorna prepares to attack Krakoa, and Iceman still presents himself as creepy. I wish Beast had been apart of this issue as well, but the issue did not lack for his absence. Overall the issue was fantastic and carried a lot of historical weight.

Ultimates #13 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Ultimates

Issue #13

Written by Mark Millar, Art by Bryan Hitch

Published: April 2004

This issue was spectacular. We see an entire alien fleet attacking Earth and the Ultimates appearing to wage an epic battle. With a series that is already underscored with many details in regards to what a threat superhumans can be, we see multiple superhumans doing incredible things. Thor takes out a large portion of the armada with his lightning, and follows it up with some banter between himself and Fury with the ‘pacifist with a big, scary hammer,’ remark.

Tony shows himself as being powerful by rerouting an entire ship to avoid allowing it to crash into a major city. Tony’s fear at facing these aliens adds some realism to the scenario. He’s a man that if fighting an inoperable tumor and is already facing his mortality anyway, but is scared to death of those he is fighting, even with his Iron Man armor. Captain America’s one on one fight with Herr Keisler was pretty cool too. We see Captain America not wanting the talk coming from his counterpart, and he shows how angry he is over the entire situation.

The idea of bringing the Hulk into the fray was a good last ditch attempt to turn the tide of battle. I really have to feel sorry for Banner after seeing him have the hell beat out of him and being thrown out of the plane. Even after the events that transpired in the previous issues with Banner, knowing him from the main continuity, and seeing him be humiliated and beaten like this really kind of hurt. The Widow and Wasp portion of the story weren’t very interesting, but it was short, and it still adds the urgency of the bomb needing to be defused.

I gave this issue 5/5 stars because of the amazing action scenes and the ability of the writer to throw in some character development.

Ultimate X-Men #12 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Ultimate X-Men

Issue #12

Written by Mark Millar, Art by Adam Kubert

Published: January 2002

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

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

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

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

Tales to Astonish #89 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO Contributing Writer

Tales to Astonish

Issue #89

Written by Stan Lee, Art by Bill Everett

Published: March 1967

The ending to the first story is my main focus of review for the first half of the issue. We see Namor defeat the robot by ‘signaling’ the spaceship that dropped the robot in the first place. The deduction that the robot was not of this world was ridiculous. A race that has an underwater camera in the 60’s, in a world where villains create robots like it’s baking a cake, should not have doubts that the robot could be of Earth. The deduction causes Namor to use a plot device that we have seen in Marvel comics quite a bit. We saw Reed Richards signal the parents in ‘Infant Terrible’, and we saw Xavier use his mind to contact the Stranger after Magneto escaped the planet on which he had been exiled with Toad. This makes for a very weak end. Dues ex Machina’s epitome.

The second half of the comic was just as weak as the first half. We see Bruce Banner confronted by the Stranger, who attempts to control the Hulk into destroying human civilization. The Stranger wants to make the Universe a safer place by reshaping humanity. There are many other races out there that the Stranger could be focusing on, races that do invade other worlds, races that do battle in the stars, races that can even travel beyond their own moon. The Stranger concerns himself with Earth rather than the Colonizers or Skrulls. He doesn’t tackle Galactus, or any other cosmic entity that may need to be tangled with. Instead he chooses to focus on a planet that will probably wipe itself out with nuclear weapons before they can even look to expand their horizons beyond the next planet over. This was during the Cold War, it was much hyped that a nuclear holocaust could take place any second. The Stranger would have had a much easier time making the Soviet Union and America attack each other, and then sweep in and scoop up the pieces. That’s the Mandarins plan. Instead, he wants to use man as a wrecking crew. Despite that man being the Hulk and virtually unequalled in power, he still is one man. The Stranger is pretty much the opposite of the Watcher, except, even though he is willing to interfere with planets, he isn’t willing to get his hands dirty and wipe out humanity himself.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO Contributing Writer

Amazing Spider-Man Annual

Issue #3

Written by Stan Lee, Art by Steve Ditko

Published: January 1966

This issue pulled out all the stops when it came to guest stars. Usually, I am not a fan of throwing in too many guest stars, and sometimes even one is too many. This issue really utilized the guest appearances in a positive, strong showing, though.

The plot centered around Spider-Man becoming an Avenger, so that part was easy to incorporate. Having the Avengers issue a summons to Iron Man and Thor, who are currently on leave, was a simple but plausible way of pulling those two into the issue. Now, as we’ve seen, the Avengers have been searching for the Hulk for a long time. Since the Hulk has been in New York looking for Rick (TtA stories), having Spider-Man hunt him down as part of the test seemed believable, also. Even Daredevil’s guest appearance was done well. It was brief but lent credit to Spider-Man’s strength.

Later on in the issue we see this strength tested. I am sure that if more of the Avengers had entered the fight, then Spider-Man would have fallen, but the Web Slinger did hold his own in a brawl against Goliath, Hawkeye, Wasp, and Captain America. This really does show that he has come into his own as a superhero. The fight scenes all around in this issue were very well done.

There were two weaknesses with the comic. The first was Peter Parker’s thought process on joining the Avengers. He seems wishy washy on the whole idea until the very end when he says he really wanted it.  He worries about Aunt May, but then just goes for it. It seems very rash. He also allows his temper to get the best of him for absolutely no reason at all. Parker has gone on rampages before, but he had a legitimate reason to be angry. It was slightly out of character for him.

The second weakness was a very small detail. Spider-Man is able to hold the Hulk with his webbing. The Hulk doesn’t tear it until Spider-Man begins taking layers of it off. Even assuming the Hulk would have broken free, why has Spider-Man been unable to hold other super powered beings with his webbing? Two of the last few villains Spider-Man faced were Joe Smith and the Rhino. Both of which used their strength to tear the webbing. Doctor Octopus regularly tears the webbing with his mechanical arms, and I would put the Hulk vs Doc Ock any day.

Other than those two minor things this was a very strong issue. I give it 4/5 stars.

Thor #136 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Thor

Issue #136

Written by Stan Lee, Art by Jack Kirby

Published: January 1967

A lot of good plot points were hit in this issue, and had they been spaced out over a little bit longer, it could have been a great story.

First we see Jane get thrown in Asgard’s way of life with no warning or time to adjust. This seems a little insensitive on not just Odin’s part, but Thor’s as well. He tells her not to worry, but doesn’t actually try to empathize with her. Oh sure, he makes a statement on her behalf to Odin one time, but it is barely a whimper. Then to top it all off, instead of being uncomfortable for five minutes and trying to make it through the fear, she just gives up and begs to be sent home. That’s a way to fight for ‘love’.

Thor laments for a few seconds before he fights alongside Sif, who he almost instantly falls for. I think we know what organ Thor uses to gauge love with. It is like the ultimate rebound, for sure, but it is truly unfair to Sif if that’s what this is.

This is also the first issue of the Troll-Asgard War, and it is a brief introduction. The pacing on this portion of the issue was very well done. They introduce a few elements, but do not delve into the actual war yet.

The Tales of Asgard portion was also on the weak side. The battle was quickly done, which is to be expected in these side tales, but Odin mentions a miracle to his comrade. Then all of a sudden, Thor knows about the miracle as well. If that were so then they should have known when they first got to that realm issues ago that they were there to do battle, and never should have planned to return to Asgard as they had.

As I mentioned, there are some great plot points, Jane Foster in Asgard, Jane fighting for immortality, Jane restarting her life, Sif’s introduction, Thor moving on past Jane, and the Troll Asgard War. The pacing of the first issue was just done too hastily. This could have been a four or five issue arc in itself, and the story would not have needed much filler for those issues.

Overall, 3 out of 5 stars.

Fantastic Four #55 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Fantastic Four

Issue #55

Written by Stan Lee, Art by Jack Kirby

Published: October 1966

This issue was the best I read in awhile. I honestly didn’t expect much. Ben, pure strength, battling a cosmic entity. It sounded like a one sided battle that would just prove to be mostly filler. Boy was I wrong.

To start I will say that the battle was mostly one sided, but Ben got in a few good shots because the Silver Surfer was only trying to defend himself. The battle isn’t what made this a great comic.

The best thing about this comic was the character development regarding the Silver Surfer. He was a character that has only briefly appeared before in the Fantastic Four comics, similar to Namor the Sub-Mariner.

Personally, I never liked Namor’s guest appearances. The Silver Surfer on the other hand proved to be a different story. He believes he has humans figured out when he returns to Alicia. Humans are barbaric for greed or power, and they kill without warrant. However, though he is able to beat Ben Grimm in battle, he sees that not all actions are driven by such base emotions. He sees that there are some emotions that are so complex that they will require deeper study.

It is also great to see Mr. Fantastic set Ben straight. It seems like I have been reading forever about Ben feeling sorry for himself. He has been thinking Alicia only loves him out of pity, or that he’s not good looking enough for her. It was good to see a comic character tell him exactly how I have been feeling. He’s as stupid as he looks when he acts like that.

We also get a bonus in just a few pages of Johnny Storm. While I’m not a fan of Johnny fighting tooth and nail for a woman he barely even knows, it was nice to see the hope instilled in the story by Lockjaw’s appearance.

Tales of Suspense #81 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Tales of Suspense

Issue #81

Written by Stan Lee, Art by Jack Kirby

Published: June 1966

I much anticipated this issue. We saw in the issues of Tales of Suspense (and Tales to Astonish) that Tony was going to testify for Senator Byrd’s committee and the Cosmic Cube in the hands of the Red Skull.

Tony seems to have decided tor relinquish his secrets regarding the Iron Man armor, and perhaps his secret identity as well. This makes the reader tense with the expectations of what to follow. I’ve been a fan of comic for years, but because I’ve never read this arc in particular, I do not know what exactly will happen with Tony’s identity and that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

We also see Titanium Man return to the scene. Personally, I found the introductory arc involving the Titanium Man to be incredible. It was emotional and action packed.

The only weak spot during all this great plot is nothing much happens in this issue. We see Tony thinking while heading to Washington in various modes of transportation, and we see the revitalization, preparation, and initial return of Titanium man. That one sentence sums it all up.

The Cosmic Cube issue was very lackluster in comparison to what it could have been. I can understand the Red Skull wanting to see Cap pulverized and punished, but one artificial man could never accomplish that. Then he buys that Captain America will serve him. He may feel overconfident, but he has learned through countless battles with his archenemy to never let his guard down around Captain America. The loss of the cube is very anti-climatic and the worst part is, the cube was man-made by A.I.M, so it could easily be recreated as some point, but Captain America doesn’t seem to consider this. He focuses solely on the one cube that has been buried.

Overall with such monumental appearances and letdowns, it all evens out for a 3 out of 5 stars rating.

Strange Tales #146 Review

by jfpj1991, CMRO User

Strange Tales

Issue #146

Written by Stan Lee, Art by Jack Kirby

Published: July 1966

There were two things about the first part of this issue that really stood out to me.

The first was the pacing. We see the action sequences as Fury employs various methods of attack against the differing types of androids being created in the base of THEM. This is simultaneous with what we see at the base. There seems to be a growing sentiment within the top tiers of the hierarchy that Fury is not the man for the job. This is first shown by the general’s disregard for the two security agent’s assigned duty requirements. Later this is also shown within the board room, despite Fury showing how competent he can be when dealing with real threats like Hydra.

The second was how neatly THEM and AIM was connected in them mind of the audience and Fury. The writers have been linking the two for a few issues, prior to this, but this time we finally see it all come full circle. We know that the two entities are one in the same now. This issue also shows that unlike many fanatical groups, the geniuses that comprise AIM are not willing to sacrifice their own lives to kill Nick Fury. This develops the character of AIM as a whole, and allows Fury an advantage to know his enemy a little better.

The second portion of this issue was a huge letdown. It wrapped up almost every storyline that Strange has had. First we see Dorammamu fighting Eternity. There are some well drawn panels (points for that) regarding the fight but it seems so short for such an epic battle. I do realize that it is difficult to draw a fight sequence when the battle is taking place on a plane that is supposed to be beyond human comprehension. Therefore, I cannot deduct many points for that particular item. The rest of the story wrapped up too neatly for my taste. The woman, Clea, was saved. Mordo was instantly the prisoner of the Ancient One, and Strange, along with essentially a newly sworn in army, run off to fight evil. This would create a decent jumping on point in the future for new readers of the time, but I feel this could have all been resolved over the course of several issues, rather than being rushed.

Because of the points I mentioned from the Fury story, and the nature of Dr. Strange, I give this issue a solid 3 stars out of 5.