Monday, May 6, 2013

Comic Book Reviews - May 7th, 2013

As yesterday was a DC fest of reviews, today is all Marvel, primarily "Marvel Now" books.

The second Dark Avengers comic book is a spin-off from both the "Dark Reign" mega-event and the last Thunderbolts book. The team features corollaries to some of the most popular Avengers: USAgent for Captain America, Skaar for Hulk, Ragnarok for Thor, Trickshot for Hawkeye, Toxie Doxie for Scarlet Witch, Moonstone for Captain/Ms. Marvel, and Ai Apaec for Spider-Man. The current storyline has them in an alternate universe in which New York City is divided into gang and tribe-style territories run by Dr. Strange, Iron Man Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, and Spider-Man, following a major battle that resulted in the deaths of Hulk and Thor. There's some fairly good scripting and artwork in this one, and the story and characterization is fun to read. Moonstone constantly being forced to dress up as Ms. Marvel (something begun by Norman Osborne in the original Dark Avengers series) provides a little comic relief. The use of a character like Ragnarok, which I would've normally thought of as just a throwaway bit for Civil War is an interesting touch, as is the unique way Toxie Doxie gives John Walker (USAgent) back his mobility. This really isn't a top-tier book by any stretch, but it currently reminds me of Exiles, with this strange dystopian verve on the MU. It's definitely worth a read.

Scraping the bottom of the Marvel barrel, we have Nova. Now, this title is a natural, as a tie-in to both the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series and the planned Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  But, unfortunately, this series has none of the fun of the cartoon series, and little of the majesty of what you would hope a GOTG movie would have. We're stuck with Sam Alexander instead of Richard Rider in the Nova Corps gear - a young kid with no experience in using the abilities the uniform gives him. We've got a cameo by the Pointer err the Watcher, and Gamora and Rocket Raccoon stop by with a less-than-inspiring training session for the kid. And issue three brings in the Chitauri, in all their Avengers movie glory. Considering that these were the Marvel Ultimate Universe version of the Skrulls, one wonders what unseen retro-continuity effects these aliens will have played in galactic politics. From their armada, they appeared to have fared much better than their namesakes during the Annihilation Wave. I've read almost everything in Nova before, mostly in the Jaime Reyes incarnations of Blue Beetle. The only difference is that Sam Alexander can take off his helmet and walk away, something I hope rapidly declining sales will make him do soon, so we can get back to a proper Man Called Nova.

I really cannot call myself the biggest X-Men/mutie book fan. I was back in the early days, up until Dave Cockrum left the book the second time. I did manage to be the only person on the planet to trade his copy of X-Men #94 for an issue of Two-Gun Kid (in my defense, it did have a kick-ass pin-up with all of Matt Hawk's gizmos). The X-Men have just grown so exponentially since I started reading them (X-Men #63, if I recall correctly, back in the reprint/nearly-canceled years), and that exponential growth, coupled with the bad artwork of the nineties that other people thought was exceedingly brilliant (even after all the artists went over to Image), left a sour taste in my mouth. The last time I tried any X-book was Grant Morrison's brilliant run on New X-Men. I've started reading the "Marvel Now" versions, in the aftermath of Avengers vs. X-Men, beginning with the excellent Cable vs. X-Force.

Cable's a character I never liked. Much like most of the nineties creations, I saw him as just a bozo with a gun, and usually one the size of a small sofa. The same with Domino, only with smaller guns <insert bad joke here>. But this series has an interesting cast, with Colossus from the proper New Uncanny X-Men, Forge, and golden age Marvel hero Dr. Nemesis. Cable and X-Force are a strike force working save lives by being proactive in trying to make sure Cable's prophetic visions don't come true. From Cable arguing with his daughter Hope (who wants to be involved in all parts of her father's life) to Forge and Dr. Nemesis' video game and giant monster contests, to Domino and Colossus getting a little frisky, this is a wonderfully written book with some great artwork. This is a book any comic fan should at least give a try once. You'll probably be back for more.

Well, to make a post even stranger (at least for me), here's another book for a character I never thought I could recommend. Wolverine has become an interesting character, but somehow his multitude of appearances in nearly every Marvel Comics title, at least as of late, haven't become tiresome. I personally haven't read a Wolvie solo book since the pioneering Chris Claremont-Frank Miller mini-series of the early eighties. I never got into his first on-going series, as the whole "Patch" thing seemed so stupid. But having enjoyed seeing the character in New X-Men and the Avengers titles, I thought I'd give the character another try. Savage Wolverine doesn't disappoint, though the series is more of a off-beat team-up tale (at least so far) instead of a straight Wolverine book. It's set in the Savage Land, with Wolverine, Shanna the She-Devil and and Amadeus Cho trying to find the secret behind an strange island, all for different reason. Frank Cho handles the story and art chores, while Jason Keith gets cover credit for being the colorist (finally at least someone remembers the important job a colorist does on a comic ... y'know they used to be called "four-color comics" for a reason). The tale is fast-moving and action-packed. There's nothing not to recommend about this one.

The latest iteration of the time-honored Bruce Banner is the focus of Indestructible Hulk. Dr. Banner has discovered that his condition, being the Hulk that is, is incurable, and much more like a chronic physical condition like diabetes. He's also become worried about how history will remember him - since other super-intelligent men like Tony Stark and Reed Richards get all the acclaim for using their minds and not their brawn. So he puts forth a proposal to SHIELD Director Maria Hill:  They give Banner the facilities to make scientific miracles come true, and they can use the Hulk as a WMD when needed. A little blackmail helps things along and a trial run against the Mad Thinker in issue #1 gets Banner "hired". Mark Waid is always a great writer, as anyone reading Daredevil nowadays already knows. Leinil Yu, an artist I never heard of before, is very capable and captures the raw power of the Hulk with aplomb. A great book for the Hulk fans, and definitely a more interesting take on the character.

Well, that's all this time around. Next time, some a few more books I think are worth reading, like Masks, and probably a couple that aren't worth buying for your birdcage. We'll see.


By Rich Meyer

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