Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Winter Soldier #8

Dang, this book improved in a hurry. I figured I’d love the strong ties to the Marvel U in the opening arc, but this title is actually a lot more exciting in a world of its own. We’ve got Bucky, Black Widow, Jasper Sitwell, and that’s about it as far as long-standing Marvel characters go. Everyone and everything else in this title is all about spies. This is a thriller, not a super-hero title. In fact, I’d say this would make for a hell of a TV show.

As expected, Leo’s goal is to turn back the clock for Black Widow. He wants her to revert to the bad old days when she was a Russian spy, and it certainly looks like he’s succeeded. At this point, I’m fuzzy on Natasha’s true origin, but in one of her origins she was a ballerina, and I see she’s back to that career at the close of the issue. Probably going undercover!

Now, I’m fuzzy on Leo’s long-term goals, since the Cold War is over. Does he want to heat it back up? In the end, it doesn’t matter; because it’s great seeing Bucky and Jasper just rake themselves over the coals for failing to save the Widow. I hope Natasha gets to play some role in her eventual freedom; she’s too good to just be a woman in peril.

Michael Lark is a big part of the reason why this looks like a TV show. He does remove Jasper’s signature crew-cut, but I guess the guy needs to be modernized a bit. It could be a bit of a problem that everything is so dark. It’s fine for now, but Leo and Buck look pretty darn similar except for that robot arm.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Avengers #28

Man, I really respect that Marvel is keeping Rulk so hard to like. Bendis sure holds up his end here. On the one hand, I like that Rulk is trying to avoid having to fight Colossus again. It’s a great twist that the guy is so dang tough, yet he’s tactically avoiding a fight with the toughest guy he’s faced so far.

Rulk’s overwhelming self-confidence plays a big part too, as he’s certain he’s figured out Captain America’s unspoken orders. In truth, Rulk merely ramps up the hostilities and makes things worse. (Although the telepath-ridden X-Men do figure out Cap’s not behind it.) I do like that.

There’s not a lot going on here. Rulk first tries a plastic gun, and later resorts to Rulk strength to try and get the job done. As an aside, one of my favorite aspects of AvX is the way Magneto is just hanging out with the Phoenix Five. He didn’t get a power ramp like those others, but it sure seems like Magneto still feels at home amongst his amped-up teammates.

This is really just a showcase for Walt Simonson’s art. It’s sort of too bad that he’s drawing such weird versions of all these characters. Red Hulk instead of Hulk. White Queen and Cyclops in their amped-up gear. The art looks a tad rushed, but the storytelling is clear. Even if things are out of proportion a bit more than usual, they do look dramatic.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Avengers Academy #33

Now I’m just getting confused. In the core AvX series, I was clearly siding with the X-Men against those fancy-pants Avengers. But clearly, the X-Men are in the wrong and we’re supposed to be siding with the Avengers, the noble rebels on the run from the all-powerful space-mutants. But in this one, I side with Emma Frost.

The sentinels were built to slaughter mutants, and they’ve accomplished that goal many times. Heck, Emma Frost saw all her students killed right in front of her by the robotic murderers. Her offer to just destroy Juston’s Sentinel, but allow it to be rebuilt, seems positively reasonable. I appreciate that the Academy wants to stick together, but man, that’s a rough call. Surely some of them would side with the mutants.

Christos Gage does a great job with the characters involved, especially the students. I don’t know this Juston kid at all, but it’s very easy to see his emotional state and background from just a few effective flashbacks. (Besides, I’m pretty sure his Sentinel is just the Iron Giant, right?) Haz Mat has a nice moment exhibiting the self-centered worldview most teenagers express, but she’s not the best jerk in the issue. That award clearly goes to Quicksilver. It’s tough to write such an abrasive, annoying guy as likable, but Gage pulls it off. Like he usually does, Quicksilver steals the scene.

Man, Emma Frost’s costume is pretty tough to draw. It honestly looks like there are panels where Timothy Green II just draws her pants-less. I think there is one scene where it took some well-placed word bubbles to keep from showing a bare rear in a T-rated comic! Green draws everyone a bit young-looking, and that hurts Emma, Hank, and Tigra a bit. But his Sentinel is awesome, boasting detail in his nooks and crannies that really make him pop.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Daredevil #15

What a gorgeous cover.

So what exactly happens to DD’s senses? Is he getting his sight back, after losing his radar sense? That’s sure what it looks like. So no radar sense, but his sight is back and he’s super-sensitive with his other four senses. Mark Waid continues to put DD through his paces on this title.

I love the moment when DD is stuck in his vegetative state when he starts to panic, and he addresses his depression head on. He actually states how hard he has to work to maintain this attitude, and that just makes me like the character more.

I’m OK with the Avengers showing up with the last-minute save, because there is honestly no way DD could win this on his own. He’s not facing down Dr. Doom, but this Chancellor Beltane is practically Fourth World-ian in his design and outlook. Besides, Waid already showed us what happens when DD tries to handle these world-beaters on his own last issue; it’s time to call in the big guns.

And Chris Samnee brings the big guns. When Iron Man swoops in at the nick of time, it’s hard not to grin. The guy must have been flying pretty darn close to get there so quickly, but we can assume the Avengers knew DD was in trouble and were already looking. Samnee only draws the new Captain Marvel for a moment, and I’m not sure he got the memo on what her hair is exactly supposed to look like. Is that a mohawk?


Friday, July 27, 2012

Green Lantern #11

So it looks like we’re going to get a couple months set back on Earth, with Sinestro and Hal dealing with Black Hand, rather that whatever the Guardians have cooking this time. I suppose that’s only fair, Blackest Night was pretty darn awful for our heroes, and it makes sense they’d make that the number one priority.

Now, does Sinestro go a bit above and beyond in constantly pointing out how dangerous Black Hand is? I think so. Especially considering that BH seems to have lower goals this time. He just wants to kill some folks and reanimate them into zombies. Not bring back all the dead heroes in the DCU (it’s a good thing, since after the reboot we don’t know who’s dead!) I like that this title works equally well on another planet as it does with a “classic” bad guy with Earth-bound goals.

It’s also fun seeing a glimpse of Sinestro’ “bat cave,” he sure seems like the type to keep trophies, doesn’t he?

Doug Mahnke gets to indulge in some horror again, and boy is it spooky. The worst are the scenes with Black Hand’s family at the dinner table. Those skeletons are ALMOST natural in their poses, but everything is just a bit off. Look at that last panel where BH’s Mom is leaning over to peer at Hal and Sinestro. Spooky!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Secret Avengers #29

Hoo boy. I’m a big fan of the costumed villains of the Marvel U, so I’m pretty happy with this issue. Rick Remender absolutely packs this thing with characters. Most of whom I recognize, but I’ll admit I’m a bit fuzzy on a couple.

It’s pretty funny, after two or three issues in space, it’s like nothing happened and we’re right back dealing with the Father storyline. Evil robots infiltrating the team and plans for world domination from the Secret Empire. It does feel like the John Steel/Max Fury thing is out of nowhere, a bit. I didn’t read this book for awhile, has that story been sitting since issue 12?

Our heroes are Hawkeye, Valkyrie, frat-boy Venom, and a suspicious Ant-Man. That’s it. The rest of the team is off dealing with other problems, so having them face off against this many bad guys is not gonna go well. I do have some hope that Eric O’Grady isn’t a robot, though; it seems he’s showing some remorse over his “situation” so perhaps he’s salvageable. (It also makes me laugh that Black Widow is just hanging at the Lighthouse HQ while her team is in danger.) Couldn’t Hawkeye wrangle up a couple of reserves?

Two villains take center stage, Taskmaster and the new Princess Python. But there are a LOT more in cameos and in just a couple panels. Here’s who I spotted: Scarecrow, Whiplash, Brothers Grimm, Ringer, Constrictor, El Diablo, Crossfire, Griffon, Carrion, Killer Shrike, Stilt-(Wo)Man, Madcap, Vengeance, Circus of Crime, Coachwhip, Digitek?, U-Foes, Batroc, Madame Masque, Arcade, the BiBeast (!!!). And there’s a couple I don’t remember. Some Octopus lady, a big gal, possibly Dread Knight or Dark Wraith, and a couple ladies I think Remender resurrected in his Punisher series. Help me out, nerds! Who are these last couple folks?

So yeah, I think our heroes might be in trouble.

Matteo Scalera does a serviceable job, but he’s got big shoes to fill. Gabriel Hardman’s work was extraordinary, and Warren Ellis had a row of fantastic artists for his whole run. Scalera’s work is a tad dark, and his takes on these classics are a tad scratchy. That said, his work fits the tone of the story well. I’d just love to see some of these villains from someone like Patrick Zircher or Scott Kolins.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Captain Marvel #1

I was very excited about this comic, but after reading it, I’m a little confused.

Kelly Sue DeConnick has been inconsistent for me so far. Sometimes I really enjoy her stories, other times they leave me cold. It’s fitting that this book gives me both reactions. I really enjoyed the easy banter between Captain Marvel and Captain America to open the book, and while Absorbing Man went down a bit easily, that sure establishes Carol Danvers’ bonafides pretty quickly. That’s the sort of action I was expecting and hoping for from the title.

Then the book switches into a confusing set of flashbacks featuring a pilot that Carol idolized in her past. There is also a sequence with a former co-worker (perhaps from an earlier series?).I appreciate the attempt to fill a supporting cast, but this is not good material for a first issue. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s nothing here that grabs me. Instead of speeding along wanting more, I found myself wondering if we’d get any more pages of action. (We do get a few pages in space with Cap M wearing a BAD helmet.)

Did I miss something? When did Ms. Marvel actually change into this new uniform? I thought I was caught up on the entire Avengers’ goings-on these days, but clearly I’m not. I have a soft spot for the old Ms. Marvel, so I still need to be won over on the switch. That said, I appreciate the “promotion” for Carol, who I do enjoy as a heroic character.

The penciler for this title is a new guy working through some issues. Dexter Soy’s art is pretty, but it doesn’t match the tone established by that cover at all. I expected a bright, super-heroic book similar to Daredevil or Spider-Man; instead I get a muddier version of Gabrielle Del’Otto. Soy has a lot of potential, but I’m not sure I dig his style for such a straight-forward super-hero book. The art is murky throughout, in both the action and drama set pieces. I think he’d be more suited to a book like Moon Knight or Guardians of the Galaxy. I could see him making hay on a book with a dark tone. (Or maybe it’s that my hopes and expectations are way different from what this title will offer!)

The next issue box has a phrase like “now that we’ve got the set-up out of the way, things heat up next issue!” So I’m giving this one more chance to grab me. But isn’t that the job of issue 1?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fantastic Four #608

So this is sort of interesting. I’m not sure what the goal of this little two-part story was, but Jonathan Hickman has essentially brought T’Challa back to the Black Panther role without removing his sister Shuri, the current Black Panther.

Now, I’m such a BP fan that I’ve basically avoided reading any and all Shuri as BP stories. I’m a purist; I want T’Challa wearing the uniform. And in fact, many creators at Marvel seem to agree since they show T’Challa still serving in the role Hickman’s approach fixes that. T’Challa will now be the Black Panther of Legend, or something, channeling the experience and fighting abilities of all the Panthers that have gone before him. (Note that if he’s also getting their strength, he is actually going to be super-human now!). Shuri will continue being the Black Panther of the Living, getting her powers from the heart-shaped root per the classic origin. I suppose that’s fine, as long as I can just keep reading about the real BP. I do wonder if this is a long-term plan for Black Panther to serve on Hickman’s Marvel NOW Avengers.

There are a few elements that I’m less certain about in the story. First of all, tying BP’s return to power to the AvX makes sense, considering how devastated Wakanda is in that series. That said, I always liked the Panther off on his own, basically running this one corner of the world perfectly. I’m also fuzzy on the inclusion of Egyptian deities into the history of Wakanda. Have we had clues in the past that the Panther God is really Bast, of Egyptian fame? That just seems a tad odd. Again, I liked the Panther God as its own thing, a totem of power for this Marvel-specific country.

The FF mainly observe in this story, and the resolution has very little to do with any of our protagonists. This whole thing is a set up for Bast to get T’Challa ready to help inspire Wakanda after Namor screws it up during AvX.

Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art is always a treat. His lantern-jawed heroes tend to do better with a lot of action, and this issue is a bit talky, but everything is still clear. Seeing his take on the classic, capes & stripes Black Panther uniform really makes me wish we were seeing a bit more his take.


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review


I fully expected to enjoy this flick, but there was a part of me that was worried. You see, I’m one of those hipsters who talks badly about Batman Begins, I love annoying people asking “Where’s Batman” during that one. And I heard that was a big gripe for Dark Knight Rises. So I was all ready to make my complaints here too. But Christopher Nolan was way ahead of me. While there were long sequences with no Batman, instead we got Bane.

Bane is one of my favorite characters in the comics. I love the idea of an anti-Batman, a kid who was raised in prison, paying for his parents’ crimes rather than blessed to be raised in wealth. Bane became the tough guy he is through training, determination, and anger, the same motivators that worked for Bruce Wayne, but Bane didn’t have any of the advantages. He’s smart, strong, fast, and best of all, he dresses like a luchadore. Now, Nolan removed that aspect of the character, but Bane still gets some pretty heavy lifting in the film. Heck, this storyline combines Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall, and No Man’s Land all in a couple hours, and Bane is responsible for all of them!

From the opening sequence on, Tom Hardy is a force of nature as Bane. Again, I’m a big Hardy fan after seeing Bronson, Warriors, and Inception. But man, every time the guy lurched onto the screen I wanted to giggle. His lines were fantastic, and the over-acting was perfect. With only his eyes showing, Hardy had to ramp up the emotions he projects from just his eyes and it totally works. Fantastic. “Do you feel powerful now…?”

Anne Hathaway was a respectable Catwoman, but she was hard to figure out. I suppose that’s true of Catwoman in almost any genre, though, she’s not exactly forthcoming. I’m not sure I totally bought the relationship between her and Batman, the only thing that makes it work is that she did find out that Bruce Wayne is Batman. I also liked her playing such a crucial role in the explosive finale; although you KNOW Bane won that fight…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt will get his super-hero movie someday. Keep working on it, kid! He played the most heroic character in this film. He’s the perfect amalgam of Commissioner Gordon and Batman, and I do hope that he’s a bit well-adjusted than our lead. Gordon has a pretty fun role here too, with lots of dramatic pronouncements, but still getting a fair amount of action scenes too. And Alfred, oh Alfred. I wish I could hear you talk without chuckling.

As for Christian Bale, I’m sure it’s because of his role this time, but I wasn’t as enamored with him as I was in Dark Knight. He’s still good, but it’s always rough watching the “aging hero” story, you know? I just don’t buy him as a quitter! I did enjoy his moment to rise, and it was awesome seeing him “fight like a younger man.” And his toys! The tumblers look good during the day, surprisingly, and the Bat is a nice addition to the mythos. I expect we’ll see it shortly in the comics. I'm not sure the batsuit looked quite as strong in all that bright light, though. Does anyone agree?

So really, a darn entertaining flick that left me happy. The trilogy stands up remarkably well, and while it did peak with Dark Knight, this third film is a close second. I don’t think Nolan is returning to the franchise, so we’re destined for a reboot, but really, we can’t complain about three movies this great with such an amazing cast. This is another one I’ll be buying on blu-ray.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Batman & Robin #11

It’s tough when two comics featuring the same character come out on the same week. Scott Snyder’s Batman was awesome, while this issue by Peter Tomasi is merely solid. There’s nothing bad about the story, but it’s a middle chapter featuring a new villain compared to a climax featuring a status-quo changing antagonist. It’s a tough matchup. I do appreciate Tomasi reigning in his bloodlust, though! Commissioner Gordon actually mentions that no one has died yet!

The legion of villains assembled last issue, this time they are running through Gotham, branding innocent civilians with a flaming symbol of the bat. It’s a neat moment, making the citizens fear their protector, but you know it can’t last. Tomasi plays it nicely when Batman goes blasting down the street in the Batmobile with the scared citizens watching him go by, hoping he can succeed.

I still don’t know enough about the main villain, Terminus, to know if he has much staying power. He’s the mastermind, but he really hasn’t spent too much time on-panel. I’m even fuzzy on his long-term plan, unless the end game is just to make Batman angry buy hurting Gotham?

There’s also a sequence with the Red Hood, but I’m so confused on what’s happened and what hasn’t in the new 52, I can’t get too worked up over it.

Patrick Gleason turns in another solid effort. He’s clearly having fun drawing these oddball new villains; it’s like a Gleason-created rogue’s gallery. I liked seeing the flaming brand burn away the outer layer of the bat-armor too. Batman still looks battle-weary, but capable running around in the damaged suit.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fantastic Four Annual #33

I’m sort of torn on this one. I absolutely love Alan Davis’ work, both writing and drawing. I also have read just about every Clandestine book that he’s done (I quit the ongoing when he left.) So this was an easy sell for me. But that said, as someone who has read a lot of Clandestine, I was having a hard time remembering who all these guys are. It’s just been too long! I’ve been reading comics for decades, I hate to say it, but sometimes those little recap pages are a big help!

I remember the lady with liquid metal powers, the patriarch of the family, the blue guy and the enhanced senses guy. I even remember Cuckoo, the magician. But I’m fuzzy on Vincent, and I don’t remember those two ghosts at all. Unfortunately, those three are the biggest players in the story!

And this is barely a Fantastic Four comic. I mean, Davis has the Thing and the Torch’s voices down, they are perfectly in character. But they’re little more than observers going on a tour of the Clandestine back-story. I’m not complaining, but I could see how someone looking for a FF story would be disappointed.

Davis’ Dr. Strange makes me miss the “real” version of the character. Davis does an amazing job with Strange’s intricate costume and powers. Stories like this that take place outside the “modern” storyline really makes me appreciate the timeless looks of most characters. No need for constant references to Civil War or AvX, just give us some solid adventure!

I’m sure this will all make more sense as the story continues, and of course, I’ll be getting the next annuals too. I look forward to Davis giving us timeless versions of DD and Wolverine in the next chapters!

Good (boosted by that wonderful art!)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Green Lantern Corps #11

For those of you who think I hate everything DC is producing, I give you exhibit A: Green Lantern Corps. This book is just a thrill ride from start to finish. Peter Tomasi is giving us exactly what we want, but in an exciting, original story.

The Alpha Lanterns are clearly overstepping their bounds. It’s been bad enough so far, but when they start torturing Kilowog, the heart of the Corps, no one can justify choosing their side any longer. And c’mon, seeing Salaak, the Guardians’ errand boy, side with Gardner and Stewart is fantastic. And then, to escalate things even further, he sends the entire corps into the Sciencells to attack the Alphas! C’mon, that’s just awesome, the long awaited face turn for Salaak is a great moment, and the Alphas have got to be shaking in their boots. (Although it seems that Alpha Lantern Varix is the only one doubting his side at the moment. I sort of thought Boodika might be the one to turn?)

I can’t remember seeing all those experiments in the core of Oa. Did we know the Guardians bred the Psions? That’s a pretty bad mess-up, but I don’t remember seeing it before. The Manhunters and Alphas are long-established mistakes, so it’s neat seeing them all combining into a HUGE mistake at the close of the issue. I wonder if the Corps and the Alphas will have to team up to clean this up.

Fernando Pasarin is a great storyteller. His panels are filled with detail and I can recognize specific Lanterns even in the background. Best of all, the guy understands how to use splash pages. In the New 52, tons of artists are using splash pages to skimp out on drawing too many panels. Needless splashes deaden their impact, but Pasarin uses them to great effect in this issue once again.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

AvX #8

So in my opinion, there is no coming back for Namor after this. I know the Phoenix Force is influencing its five hosts pretty severely, but man, there is no way Namor can show his face with the X-Men or Avengers after he attacked Wakanda like this. I mean, he’s blasting tidal waves through the main streets and sending sea monsters to attack the populace. I don’t care if he’s mad at the Avengers for not respecting the X-Men’s new role in world power; this is a bad guy move plain and simple. I’m not sure if that’s Bendis’ take on the situation or the official Marvel direction, but I had been cheering for the X-Men until now.

Captain America says it straight out, with Namor’s attack, all support for the X-Men as good guys is basically gone. The X-Men have acted like tyrants, like the Avengers feared all along. The Marvel U populace and all the readers need to realize the Avengers are the protagonists here.

As for the actual fight, it’s nice and brutal. Red Hulk comes out of it the worst, with Namor handing out more damage than Rulk has ever absorbed. Bendis puts together a great team of heavy hitters to confront Namor. Beast, Vision, Rulk, Spidey, DD, Thor, Falcon, Thing, Dr. Strange, Valkyrie, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver show up to aid Black Panther and Cap. That’s one heck of a powerful lineup! Honestly, I could have read another 10 pages of these guys battling each other.

I’m intrigued at how Cyclops is reacting to this attack, since he clearly wasn’t aware of it. It seems Emma Frost is fine, but I’d hope at least Cyclops and Colossus are showing some remorse. It sure doesn’t feel like it when they show up and chase off the Avengers, though. As for the boost in power that the Phoenix Four now feel? I wonder if any of the remaining hosts might try to take out his or her peer to taste a little more power? Talk about a bad guy move…

Adam Kubert is a great artist, but some of this feels a tad rushed. Cap looks skinnier than normal in the panels where he’s running around fighting Atlanteans. My bigger problem is some confusion during the battle. Scarlet Witch and Namor are in a power-blast facedown, and the next panel has Vision flying away with Wanda. Was she hurt? Exhausted? What happened? That said, most of the battle is well-laid out, especially the bruisers’ moments. When Thor, Thing, or Rulk are going toe to toe with Namor, it looks nice.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

AvX: Versus #4

Hey now, I’m calling foul! Weren’t we promised real winners and losers in this battle-book? I seem to remember Spidey’s retreat as a victory for Colossus. By those rules, didn’t DD’s retreat from Psylocke count as an X-victory? The dialogue is a bit forced; the two characters seem to match up better visually than anything else. The ninja background is so ridiculous for Psylocke, combined with her non-visual powers, the actual match breaks down a bit once put to paper. Rick Remender is stuck with two characters that don’t actually play that well off each other. The actual fight is gorgeous, though. Brandon Peterson outdoes himself with the gorgeous city-scapes complete with John Woo-style doves. The sound effects are a nice addition; they really popped in this one.

As for the second fight, I’m not sure I care. The Phoenix Five are so boosted beyond their normal abilities, and the power-up is so obviously temporary, that I can’t put much weight behind this result. Thor would normally win this fight, so his loss doesn’t tarnish him at all (that seems to be true of most of the X-wins). One side-effect of the Phoenix force possession seems to be super-arousal. I suppose Emma is just messing with Thor, but based on her behavior in other books, I think she’s just amped up and almost hitting on the big blonde guy. (I loved her mockery of his hair, though!) Kaare Andrews’ art is pretty cartoony, and he clearly loves drawing ladies. I think my favorite panel is the one where Thor shatters Emma’s diamond form, leaving two enormous diamond buttcheeks still standing. Oh my.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Batman #11

Hah! Scott Snyder knows his stuff. After all the wailing and crying last month about the mysterious Thomas Wayne being Bruce’s brother, Snyder has the last laugh. I mean, let’s all remember what villains do… they LIE.

This issue is packed with dialogue. It’s a long read just due to the amount of madness that Owlman spews throughout the issue. It’s honestly wonderful, seeing Owlman yell, rant, and explain all his innermost motivations, while Batman just takes it. Then BAM, Bats nails his “brother” with both a devastating one-liner and a solid body-blow each time. This is a believable, exciting final chapter for the series, and Owlman instantly belongs amongst Batman’s rogues. There’s no real reason to believe this guy is Thomas Wayne, he very clearly has been manipulated his whole life. But it’s a great mind-game.

And Batman doesn’t care! I mean, he’s going to research, sure, cause he’s Batman. But he doesn’t care while the fight is going, it honestly feels like Bats is just sitting there, getting pummeled so that he can pop out a great tough guy line during the fight. “Ooh, he said history; I can bust him on that one!” So awesome.

Greg Capullo is still doing neat stuff with the art. The battle is good, but I love the actual maze on the recap page, when Bruce is talking about the next steps. Capullo is doing original ideas here that make the book feel fun and new. I don’t love the white owl mask on Owlman, but I love the goggles underneath. The little plastic-explosive launcher is a neat gadget too. I hope Batman gets one!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Walking Dead #100

Wow. I'm really upset by this comic. And frankly, the thought that this is going to be one of the highest-selling comics of all time is quite the statement for our pet art form. This comic is absolutely brutal. Just an awful experience for those of us who have spent years with the characters.

I was enraged when Tyreese died. I was saddened when Lori died. I was disappointed when Abraham bought it. But this death here... man, it just crushes your heart, huh? I mean, these are made up characters, but wow, this one is going to stay with any real fans of the Walking Dead for a long time. For the first time, this world feels like it is too far gone to try to survive in. It may be that some of those dead folks got off easy.

And this jerk Negan, I absolutely can't wait for whatever comeuppance he's got coming. I know he's got all the cards right now, but so did the Governor, and even if Rick doesn't make it, I have faith that someone else in our cast is gonna make this guy pay. I'm already anxious for it. In one issue, Robert Kirkman has created a guy I hate as much as the Governor.

And Charlie Adlard. I read an interview how he turns off his brain to draw this, how after he gets over the shock of reading the script, he just turns into a pencil robot. I'd think he had to, because this is just crushing artwork. That one panel, the splash after the initial hit. Ugh. Almost made me sick reading it.

So c'mon Rick. Start working out a plan to kill a whole lotta people, cause I think all these guys gotta go.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Invincible Iron Man: Stark Resilient TPB 2

One of Fractions greatest accomplishments with this storyline is the creation of the Stark Resilient staff. I can’t remember all their names, but the five or six folks who make up the new company are all recognizable and entertaining. I especially love the slacker who is playing cell phone games and Bejeweled around Stark’s technological radar sense. Fraction’s other fantastic idea is the crowd-sourcing of Detroit Steel’s backup. The Hammers release a Detroit Steel app that lets you play as Steel’s wingman, piloting a drone battling in the same theater as the big hero. It’s a great idea that gamers all over would be blasting away at Iron Man, yet still think they are saving the world.

Salvador LaRocca has a lot of new designs to work on in this trade. I’m not sure I love all the new designs, but there is no denying the sleeker look makes Iron Man look more futuristic. I don’t love the big eyes on all the suits, but I do like the new repulsor nodes dotting Stark’s new suit. War Machine and Rescue both look way too much like Iron Man, though. WM was always Iron Man with cannons and a paint job, so I’m not too worried about that, but I felt that Rescue’s old elongated helmet and swooping curves made her stand out from the star of the book. The new Rescue suit doesn’t differentiate itself much. Detroit Steel is a nice design. He harkens back to Firepower or the Iron Monger; he just dominates more of the page than the slim Iron Man. And Tony Stark might make fun of the chainsaw blade slung under Steel’s gauntlet, but it sure seemed to be pretty effective!

And I will never get tired of seeing Sawyer from LOST starring as Tony Stark. It makes me chuckle every time I see it.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Invincible Iron Man: Stark Resilient TPB 1

Boy, waiting for the omnibus of Matt Fraction’s run on Invincible Iron Man sure leaves a guy far behind. I’m just now getting to the Heroic Age era of this title, complete with the new Iron Man armor and the debut of Detroit Steel. My little nephews already have a toy of Detroit Steel! That’s got to be the fastest character turnaround ever, right?

This story picks up with Tony Stark broke and beaten, but he’s got a plan. He’s going to make his repulsor tech available to the world, for free, but the gadgets that get plugged in, that’s where there’s a profit. It’s odd, this whole story reminded me of the old WildCATS series where Spartan was going to give everyone HALO batteries. Is it just me, or is this similar? I also find it interesting that Marvel and Fraction have really moved up Stark’s weaponeering days. I mean, I remember he had been out of the gun business for awhile during Armor Wars, but in this story we are seeing that Stark was still manufacturing SHIELD weapons up through Dark Reign! It’s interesting how creators get to go to the same well if they just wait long enough. I’m sure in 2019 we’ll have some crackerjack writer talking about how Stark is thinking about getting out of the weapons biz all over again.

The villains for this arc are the Hammer Girls, the wife and daughter of Justin Hammer. Now, Justin Hammer is one of my favorite Iron Man baddies; I always loved the way he had a small legion of super-powered flunkies on hand to take on Iron Man. There’s a bit of that here, since the Hammers employ both Detroit Steel and Spymaster, but only Steel gets an actual conflict. I will admit it’s a great touch that Tony never figures out that his first prototype car gets blown up by Spymaster. The guy is good at his job!

It’s also interesting seeing how Marvel was pushing the Iron Man Family concept at this time. Iron Man II must have come out in here, because Jim Rhodes is right back front and center. I’m not complaining, I like War Machine, but he hasn’t had a big role in the series so far, yet he’s scoring team-up covers like the olden days. Rescue/Pepper Potts also makes a return. I like Rescue, I think she’s a great supporting character with potential to be a lead, so I’m glad she’s back on the scene. It’s neat having J.A.R.V.I.S. in his movie incarnation too.

(Continued tomorrow)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Comic Con 2012 News

We've got Neil Gaiman returning to Sandman! (Not sure how I feel about that, these creator reunions are often disappointing!)

Jeff Parker writing Red She-Hulk! (Parker is always great, and I love super-strong heroines. Sold!)

Marvel NOW announcements! (Who isn't excited about Uncanny Avengers?)

I've got opinions you probably don't care about!

If you do want to see them, follow me on Twitter!


Back Issue Review: Detective Comics #569 & 570

I’ve got to get quicker on my reading so I can still make digital recommendations while Comixology is selling comics for cheap! They had a nice Catwoman sale last weekend, and I grabbed these two old issues, but now the price has hopped back up to $1.99 each. They are probably worth it, though.

Mike W. Barr writes the Batman of a different era. He says “Chum” all the time, he makes witty comments, and he calls Jason Todd/Robin “Jay” in the heat of battle. I kind of like this Batman, although he’s actually a bit scary. With modern Batman, he’s angry all the time, right? You know that angry fellow could haul off and beat the crap out of somebody at any moment. With this Batman of the past, Bats might be laughing and making puns then lose it and almost beat a villain to death! It’s crazy!

This story has the Joker trying to reprogram Catwoman to return to her life of crime. At this point, she was trying to get Bats to settle down with her (I like Robin’s reaction to their “alone time.”) Joker doesn’t like this, so he has a strange dude, Dr. Moon, use a CAT scan machine to reprogram Selina’s brain. Dr. Moon is creepy and cool, was the guy ever used again? I love the idea of a “normal” person being able to hang in the Joker’s world. He’s a creeper for sure.

Catwoman doesn’t get a whole lot to do, she spends much of the two issues either being captured or brainwashed. Now, she looks fantastic thanks to Alan Davis’ art, but she doesn’t get to do much in the story. Joker is really just a project manager too; he’s got a gang that does most of the fighting and Dr. Moon handles the brain work. Joker’s an idea man and punching bag.

How many Detective issues did Davis do? I’ve read a couple now, and his Batman is fantastic. I love the yellow, gray, and blue suit best, so seeing it rendered by Davis is a real treat. And boy, few artists can get as much expression and emotion out of a masked face as Davis does here. The 80’s feel of the issue is a strong point, with Joker’s hair and Selina’s costume both looking great.

I’ll leave you with some wisdom of Batman, courtesy of Barr. When Robin has spent a few minutes hanging with a woman of… doubtful character, he says

“Boy, she really knows how to make a guy feel good!”
Batman: “That’s what she’s best at, chum.”
Robin (surprised): “Huh? You mean she’s a… a…”
Batman: “She’s a Lady, chum… just like Selina.”

Wise words, Batman.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #1-3

What happened in this series? I don’t know.

Why did Sea Guy’s allies change from allies to enemies? I don’t know.

How did Chubby Da Chuna return to give Sea Guy advice? I think I know, but then how can other people see him?

What is the secret of the outside world that so bothers some of the cast? Unclear.

How did that tiny moth create a wave of flame that destroyed the city? Don’t ask me.

So clearly, I don’t understand a lot of what Morrison is doing in this title. But much like the first Seaguy mini, I absolutely love the book. There is a palpable sense of sadness and loss just permeating the book. I don’t understand the Post-Dad world, but clearly Mickey Eye is a cruel corporation/mascot, and I’m glad Seaguy finally stands up to him.

Unlike some mysteries (like LOST, Prometheus, or Final Crisis) I don’t feel like the parts of the story lessen my experience. Morrison has plopped us into a strange, uneasy world, and much like Seaguy, we’ve got to do the best we can.

Is this what Invisibles is like?

Cameron Stewart does such a great job with this book. The oddball ideas and characters pop out on every page, and he sells it. Heck, I even believe that Seaguy’s alternate career is possible; soon there will be bull-dressers in the real world too.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury TPB

It is a simple fact: There are no better books on the stands than Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics. The world he’s created is wonderful, with only BPRD reaching the level of brilliance he’s achieved in this core title. The fact that Mignola has only been writing is a testament to his story and the tremendous skills of Duncan Fegredo. Fegredo is so good, I haven’t missed Mignola’s art, and I love Mignola’s art!

This trade just about brings things full circle. The creatures outside space and time have waited a long time to return to Earth, and they do so by taking over the form of the witch queen Nimue. The design on Nimue is fantastic, and her gradual transformation into the dragon is subtle and chilling. It’s thrilling seeing first her arms elongate, then her tiny little tail. The battle is huge, climactic, and the tremendous destruction gives it some high stakes. I hate seeing innocent bystanders die in comic books, but man, it sort of has to happen when the world is about to end. And things sure look bleak at the close of this chapter. Sure, Hellboy voices his intention to return to the BPRD, but he’s going to have a pretty big obstacle blocking his return to active duty.

The Hellboy vs. Dragon fight takes much of the book, but it is packed with other treasures too. The hedgehog warrior might have been my new favorite character, especially after the scene of his fall. That little guy lying there bleeding... I showed it to my daughters and told them it was “the saddest comic ever.”

The armies of the Dragon get a lot of stirring moments. Having them massed around the Nimue’s castle really gave me a Helm’s Deep vibe. The epic battle between the hordes of creatures and the “honored dead of England” must have been awesome, but Mignola and Fegredo would have needed another 20 pages to do it justice.

So the next arc is Hellboy in Hell. That should be pretty sweet. And we can keep up with the fall of the world in BPRD. Sounds like a plan.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Invincible #93

I haven’t counted pages, but this felt like a really short issue. Perhaps it’s the multi-splash page battles with the Flaxans, but this was over in a jiffy.

I appreciate Kirkman’s novel approach to the Robot and Monster Girl story, but is it me or is this dragging on a bit? I suppose that’s how the plan must have felt to our heroes while they were trapped, but man! I’m also having a hard time remembering how Monster Girl’s powers worked while she was exiled. I thought Robot had stabilized her back in her adult form, but she’s clearly kiddie-sized on that cover. And we still don’t know what exactly happened during the decades the two lovebirds spent together, but I still hold out hope they can get back together.

I think part of my lack of enthusiasm for this issue is the lack of a voice for the Flaxans. Kirkman excels at writing his villains, and the Flaxans really don’t have much detail to them. They need a Super-Skrull type champion to give them a face I can root against. Maybe that last page is giving us someone like that?

I still love Bulletproof as the new Invincible. The whole “screw-up brother” ostracized by his family is a neat idea, one I don’t remember seeing before. Bulletproof/Invincible II has a “public” ID, it’s just the wrong brother! I’m not sure why Zandalle is putting himself through all this torture, but it’s hard not to pull for the guy when you see these glimpses of his life.

This book belongs to Ryan Ottley. I love the way he draws the entire cast. Cory Walker still does a nice job, but I’ll be happy when Ottley is handling the whole thing again. Maybe give Walker a spin-off?


Monday, July 9, 2012

AvX #6 & 7

So the X-Men are still pretty much the bad guys, right? I mean, Cyclops is doing his best to maintain his boyscout status, but clearly, the rest of the Phoenix Five are not doing so well. I suppose Colossus might still be OK, since he hasn’t done anything, but Namor, Emma Frost, and Magik are all looking a lot like villains.

Emma Frost full-on torches Hawkeye, and while we know he survives, that’s got to be a pretty traumatic experience. I’m also amazed that Scarlet Witch retained her “break people apart/House of M powers.” She touches Namor and he makes like the Thing and crumbles! It’s an interesting twist that she’s the one Avenger the Phoenix Five fear, but c’mon, couldn’t we have seen a bit more of the reunion? This lady has been dead for a long time, and last I saw (in issue 0 of this very series) she was not on good terms with the team!

It’s amazing that with a 12 part series, I can still feel like I’m missing stuff. When did Namor and Emma start cheating on Cyclops? I guess the X-Factor and other X-people reunion happened off-screen somewhere, since Havok and Polaris are now clearly with the X-Men? It’s like I missed the pieces where Cyclops put his plan into action, and we’re already in the middle of it. This really feels like a series written by a bunch of different people. “I thought YOU were writing Cyclops’ master plan!”

There are some great elements in here. Black Panther is back where he belongs at the forefront of the Avengers. Tony Stark’s self-obsession is always entertaining. Captain America seems a lot more ragged than I can remember. As I said above, I really like Cyclops trying to toe the line and prove the X-Men are still a force for good.

(And we’ve got some wonderful set up for the next couple issues of Versus, no doubt about that.)

Olivier Coipel’s pencils are still an acquired taste, but I really like his stuff now. His Black Panther is simply awesome, and I love the cutaway shots of Utopia with Magneto floating serenely, guarding his kingdom. Best of all, Coipel’s Hawkeye actually looks pretty cool before he pulls a Johnny Storm.

It’s funny. I’m so clearly supposed to be cheering for the on-the-run Avengers that I find myself pulling for the X-Men. The Avengers had their chance!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

New Mutants #25-28

So… I guess DnA aren’t coming back to the Guardians of the Galaxy, huh? With a film in the works, it’s time for Marvel to put the book into bigger, more famous hands, and that means if I want my diet of solid entertainment, it’s time to follow DnA to their next title. New Mutants.

I buckled down and digitally purchased these issues before a 99 cent sale. That’s how I’m reading a whole lot of books these days, but I decided I couldn’t wait. Part of that had to do with Leandro Fernandez’ unique art on the first arc, but the greater factor was the villain up there on the cover. I love me some Sugar Man, so this popped into must-buy for me.

After Age of X and the Fall of the New Mutants, the team is in shambles. Cannonball has taken himself off active duty. Magik is locked up so she can’t betray anyone else, and confidence is low amongst the remaining members. Well, Cypher seems fine, but that’s because he’s become a human robot, calculating and deciphering clues and meaning from the world around him. He’s almost PBS’ Sherlock, which is fine with me.

The star of this opening arc is Mirage, and it’s not close. Cypher gets a few choice words of dialogue, but he’s the only competition. Sunspot, Karma, Magma, and Warlock are there to fill out the team and banter. DnA have good voices for all of them, but the focus here is on the de-powered Dani Moonstar. To be honest, she seems to be doing just fine She sure seems to have moved up in the archery and combat departments. Her arrows are like mini-spears and she takes on Sugar Man one-on-one, so she’s pretty friggin’ tough.

Sugar Man is there because DnA are rescuing a character from limbo. Paul Cornell brought X-Man back in the Dark X-Men mini, but he’s been gone ever since. In this story he comes back to Utopia ready to sign on with the New Mutants. His powers are greatly diminished down to basic TK, but that makes him a better fit for a team book.

I’ve always like Fernandez’ art, and this is no exception. I like his take on Warlock and Sunspot especially. He always does a great job on faces, so having the leads all mask-less is a good choice. I’m not sure if Fernandez sticks around, but I’d sure like to see him working with this cast some more. The designs for Sugar Man’s new lackeys get the point across without too much complication.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Secret Avengers #28

Time to just admit it. I’m horribly confused. The story playing out in this comic has little to nothing to do with the one in Avengers starring the same characters. I’m usually pretty good and putting that aside. (“Sure, Wolverine just went straight from Mr. Sinister’s dungeon to Ultron’s lab. Why not?”) This time, I just don’t see how that works. It’s like Bendis and Rick Remender picked up the same plot point from a brainstorming meeting and wrote independent stories without consulting the editors. I mean, this is just weird!

In this chapter/universe, the space Avengers are concentrating on freeing the Kree from mind control. I feel like I missed a chapter or something, because this new mind-based villain came out of nowhere for me. Minister Marvel is an entertaining villain, but I really didn’t see his involvement coming (and it felt a bit unnecessary in the greater Phoenix plot).

I do like that Remender has Ms. Marvel utilize her Binary power-set. It’s just another piece of evidence that Remender and I grew up on the same comics and like the same things. Binary was always one of the cooler Starjammers. (Admittedly, not a lot of competition in the Starjammers.)

Renato Guedes’ art isn’t typical for the Avengers. His soft pencil lines combined with the faded coloring makes this look a lot more arty than we usually get from our super-comics. It actually does work. I’ll admit characters like Valkyrie, Thor, and Beast look better than War Machine or Captain Britain. He seems to have a better grip on flowing hair and exposed faces than on metal or masks.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Captain America & Iron Man #633

I think this is the first series I’m collecting monthly on a digital basis. It won’t be the last, but it is the first.

Cullen Bunn knows his Marvel. Madripoor is always a neat hive of scum and villainy, and part of its charm is that it can serve any type of criminal. From dock thugs to high-priced weaponeers, they all work in Madripoor. This issue follows Iron Man and Cap as they infiltrate a weapons trade show in an attempt to buy a powerful new weapon. Cap’s undercover and using his sweet energy shield, while Iron Man is relying on his armor as always. I was wondering how Batroc’s Brigade would be a challenge for the two alpha heroes, and we have our answer. Tech is going bye-bye, so the simply-armed Brigade may be a pretty sweet challenge after all.

I love Batroc’s Brigade. Batroc himself is a classic, and that level of villain group doesn’t get enough panel time. They’re just a bunch of villains with bills to pay; a Sinister Six who care a lot about their wallets. I think everyone's got to love Zaran, the Weapons Master, right?

I’m pleased that Bunn is keeping the through-story going. Cap is still chasing down Kash, the villain from the Hawkeye arc. Swapping out the 2nd billing every month makes for fun covers, but the continuing story is a plus to sell Cap’s second ongoing title. (Plus it's "official" numbering continues from the original series.)

Barry Kitson is a huge upgrade for this book. I never realized how much I missed Batroc until I saw him bouncing around attacking the Avengers as realized by Kitson. I honestly can’t believe that a non-headliner title like this is the right place for him, but I’m not complaining. If Marvel wants to put artists with a classic, timeless feel on this book, I won’t complain.

Bunn has a lot of potential, and he writes the kinds of comics I enjoy. I'll be keeping an eye out for his work from now on.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

X-Men Legacy #269

It seems that the tie-in books are going to be spoiling things for AvX on a regular basis. This issue of X-Men Legacy features Rogue going up against Ms. Marvel. It’s status quo, though, because I guess as of the next issue of AvX, the X-Men are actively hunting down and capturing the Avengers! It’s a pretty great high concept, and Gage does a great job with it.

Even though every person reading the series knows that the Phoenix Five are a bad idea; that they’re going to turn bad, I love that the X-Men are in denial. They really are making the world a better place, now that they don’t have to hide anymore. It’s easy for the X-people to dismiss the Avengers’ fear. Gage gives a great argument: The Avengers really liked the status quo before, so they never tried to change the world. Now that the X-Men are actually making the world a safer place, the Avengers are just jealous.

Rogue and Ms. Marvel have a long history, and that certainly plays into the tensions between them here. Rogue reacts in a fashion much more violent than usual, and Ms. Marvel spends most of the fight trying to maintain her composure. It makes sense that Rogue’s re-taking of the Ms. Marvel power-set would set Carol Danvers off. (Any hope that Rogue gets to keep those powers full-time again? Maybe adding in other mutants too?)

David Baldeon does a nice job once the book turns violent. I’m not a huge fan of his style, but I have to say he does a great job with fight choreography. I almost got upset when Rogue absorbed the electrical current and punched Ms. M, but I looked again and saw that Rogue was just channeling the current through her Ms. Marvel-boosted form.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Daredevil #14

Sometimes I confuse myself. I have adored Mark Waid’s Daredevil since the relaunch, yet it is almost always the last book on my stack I get around to reading. If I love it so much, why am I not in a greater hurry to read it? It’s almost like the spectacle of Batman or AvX gets me through the comic shop door, but I need to close my weekly reading with the good stuff.

This issue is no exception. Waid has built a new status quo for DD that is paying dividends. With DD’s theft of the Omega Drive, Dr. Doom and Latveria are obviously angry. Doom doesn’t even make an appearance in this comic, leaving Matt Murdock to his underlings. This showdown was telegraphed back in issue 2. But obviously, Daredevil can’t billy-club his way through Doom’s armor, so Waid throws out a new (and already memorable) new underling in Chancellor Exchequer Beltane. Beltane has a personal, devious, and frankly cruel punishment in line for DD, and it instantly makes him a despicable foe. Doom could really use a competent henchman/2nd banana, so I’ve got high hopes for this guy.

And what a cliffhanger!

Chris Samnee’s art is perfect. Beltane’s outfit is the perfect blend of Kirby’s Latveria and Fourth World. He looks like he walked out of a Prussian battlefield into Marvel Comics. Samnee had big shoes to fill getting this regular gig, and I’m happy he’s handling it so well. Instead of continuing in exactly the same tone as the previous artists, this work almost looks like Michael Lark or Francesco Francavilla. That’s fine company.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Green Lantern Corps #10

This comic has been firing on all cylinders for some time now.

Peter Tomasi is doing some cool stuff here, picking up on plot threads he and Geoff Johns laid down a long time ago. (Although I think the Alpha Lanterns were Grant Morrison creations, weren’t they?) The Alpha Lanterns are still acting like “rat bastards” according to Guy Gardner. They found John Stewart guilty of killing a fellow Lantern, and now they are just deciding how to execute Stewart for his crimes. The entire issue passes with Stewart quietly accepting his fate with a stoic face. Guy Gardner is uncharacteristically quiet too, but you know that can’t last.

The mood is never better than when the Alphas sentence Stewart. Expecting the Corps to sit there quietly and accept it is a big mistake, and while they are quiet, there is already a whole lot of plotting going on. The issue ends with a small team of Lanterns rebelling against the Alphas, and really, that’s the only way this story could go.

I’m not sure what Johns and Tomasi have planned for the Guardians, but clearly they are forcing the Corps to lash out against the Alphas. The Alphas are almost as flawed as the Manhunters were with their lack of emotion and understanding. For some reason, the Guardians are forcing this confrontation.

Fernando Pasarin is a great GL artist. He gets the Earth Lanterns perfectly, but he also delivers the alien Lanterns too. I particularly dig Isamot’s stubby little arms. Soon he’ll be able to stop wearing his ring on his tail! I also have to mention how great the Alphas look. Cold, dangerous, and confused is a hard combo to pull off, but Pasarin does it.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Avengers Academy #32

 Christos Gage does a much better job with this issue than the last one in tying in to the greater AvX plot. With the Phoenix Five out to reform the Earth into X-Utopia, it makes sense that at least one of them would target sentinels as a weapon that has to go. Making that person be Emma Frost makes even more sense, after her experiences in Genosha.

Gage does a great job establishing Juston and his Sentinel in the early pages. By forcing a confrontation with X-23, the conflict is clearly established. I didn’t even see the parallel until it was almost upon me, but Gage does a great job showing X-23’s thought process too.

Hank Pym is back at the Academy, and I loved the fake tone of respect he and Emma use when dealing with each other. (Even with Emma Frost in gold, fiery underpants). The whole conversation felt like two adults talking to each other knowing full well that little ears are listening. Pym tries to play it smart for most of the issue, but I have to be pleased at how the book ends, the Academy is gearing up for another fight. And this time, it’s one that makes sense!

Is Hercules still around? I think he’d enjoy taking on Emma Frost.

Timothy Green’s art takes a little bit of getting used to. He’s got a manga-flair that works well on Groot and Rocket Raccoon, but isn’t quite as intuitive when used on people. He’s got a bit of a Karl Moline flavor to his work, but there is some mid-90’s influence too, with all the screaming faces. Hopefully he’ll get more time with Quicksilver, Tigra, and the other faculty next issue.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Iron Age #1-3

Issue 1 features the Hank Pym team-up, written by Christos Gage with art from Lee Weeks. I’m a huge Weeks fan, so this is an easy sell for me. This storyline focuses on modern-Tony trying to get his Avengers buddies to help, so it’s a can’t miss. This is another look at that 80’s Avengers roster that I love so much, so the team is Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Wasp, Cap, Thor, and Starfox. That’s a great team! And they fight Ultron! Gage has always had a knack for Marvel History, so this really lets him show off his skills. I loved this one.

The second part of the issue focuses on Captain Britain. Rob Williams and Ben Oliver are riffing on an old Alan Moore Captain Britain storyline, at least as far as I remember. In any case, Britain is in a police state, mutants are being rounded up, and Captain Britain is fighting them off alone. When Iron Man shows up with his future agenda, Cap B can’t help but be disappointed. This is a good little done-in-one. Captain Britain is a character I never really cared for as a kid, but I seem to be getting some affection for the big lug now. Entertaining.

Issue 2 part 1 is another can’t miss. I love Power Man. Luke Cage in the yellow shirt is just plain awesome, so watching he and Iron Fist team up with Iron Man is a treat. Jen Van Meter and Nick Dragotta do a wonderful job making this feel like an old 70’s issue with an added factor (modern Tony). Dagotta gets to lay out a lot of great Marvel blasts from the past, including the the Heroes for Hire, Scorpion, Tinkerer, and Daughters of the Dragon.

Part 2 by Elliott Kalan and Ron Frenz feels like a lost issue of Marvel Team-Up. Iron Man and the Human Torch infiltrate the Latverian embassy to take on Doc Doom for the next piece of equipment. If for no other reason, this issue is fun since it features red-suited Torch and nose-armor Iron Man. These forgotten looks are very much of their time, but it’s neat seeing them again. The Torch is one of only a few characters that modern Tony lays out the truth for. It’s neat seeing Johnny Storm roll with the punches, he’s not put off at all by his time-hopping team-up.

Issue 3 part 1 features Dazzler in her fantastic 70’s getup. Louise Simonson writes both her and Tony well, with the rookie Dazzler coming off as earnest and hopeful. I like that the character hasn’t changed all that much in the intervening years, just gotten more powerful. Not every hero needs to have travelled down a dark path, a point this story drives home. Plus, it features the Hellfire Club, so it ties in nicely to X-history. Todd Nauck’s art is always fun, but this is the… bustiest I’ve ever seen him draw. Dazzler is falling out of her top through most of the issue; doesn’t that silver suit come with a zipper? And man, she has a disco ball necklace. Wonderful.

Part 2 is a flashback to the Uncanny X-Men’s attack on the Hellfire Club. Rob Williams and Roberto De La Torre do a great job making this feel like it fit between the pages of the original story. I’m also intrigued that Williams makes Nightcrawler the smart one on the team; it’s nice seeing Kurt Wagner again. Now the X-Men really have been through the ringer over the years, so Tony’s melancholy at seeing them is a great touch. Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Colossus. That line-up was a pretty great team, wasn’t it?

If you like classic Marvel, you can’t go wrong with this series. Available for cheap on Comixology, I recommend this to anyone who loves older eras of current Marvel favorites. A product of 2011, it’s already a tad dated (with some sadness about the then-dead Human Torch) but it’s darn entertaining.