The Amazing Spider-Man #673

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_673

All good things, scratch that. All mediocre things must come to an end and we finally reach our end destination in the Spider Island story. To date I have been pretty critical but what would be the point if I just gushed over how amazing everything I read was? If people were honest, they would find something to critique in anything. And let’s not forget that most critiques involve purely subjective opinions. When I’ve written work and given it to others for their opinion, I realized that their opinion was simply what I was going to get. Said opinion may show me an insight to the story that I did not consider which would cause me to make changes to better reflect the new idea. Said opinion may have no bearing on the story whatsoever so I promptly discard it. Unless we’re talking about break the rules of modern English, grammar or spelling mistakes, how people create a story will be unique to each person. Add on to that an artist and the other members of the creative team and you have a whole group of folks who have input on the story at hand, much more than a simple novelist who apart from friends will have to deal with an editor and maybe an agent depending on how far along they are in their career.

So the epilogue to Spider Island, what did I think of it? Rushed would be a term that comes to mind. There were a number of elements that were still unresolved up to this point like the location of Carlie, Mary Jane still having the sickness, Kaine still being around, and the aftermath of the plague which were briefly resolved but not to any real satisfaction. The aftermath alone takes up all of three pages and the writer is more eager to whip out double entendres than going into any detail as to what it was like for so many people to get sick like that. Of course they’re not going to be able to do personal stories on each and every person but I really think there was a chance here to explore some of the human tragedy that most likely happened. How do I know this you may ask? Look at how J. Jonah Jameson almost killed a guy when the sickness transformed him. You cannot tell me that this was the only isolated case where that happened. Maybe they’re didn’t need much explanation but I do think they could have had a little more emotion than glibness and embarrassment over being suddenly naked.

Peter Parker apparently cares so much about Carlie that he promptly forgot about her the moment she turned into a spider. Once everyone was well he had time to go see his Aunt off at the airport and swing through town before heading home. Once he gets home, Carlie splits with him. She ends up revealing that duh, she knew he was Spider-Man. Seems the fact that once he claimed he was sick with the disease he suddenly know some kick ass karate while everyone else had to struggle a bit kind of blew his cover, even though like the old Lois Lane not knowing Clark Kent is Superman deal, you have to wonder what the hell is wrong with anyone that is close to Peter who he saves on a consistent basis doesn’t know he is Spider-Man. You would think that he would try changing his voice like Christian Bale did for the Batman movies but he’s always presented as talking just like himself. I don’t blame the writer for this one. It is a logic flaw in the character that’s never really been explored. We do have a bit of a back story of Doctor Strange putting a one time hex on everyone so they would not know that Peter is Spider-Man unless he reveals himself. But Peter is so careless with letting others know who he is despite his protestations otherwise that it amazes me that some inquiring reporter would not have been able to track him down. In the real world, much like Phoenix Jones in Seattle, there would come a time where the hero would make a mistake and be caught, having his identity revealed. Or someone would spot him and just follow him. He swings through the air. He may go at a decent clip but with the right vehicle you should be able to get an idea where his base is. But I digress.

The artwork was much better in this issue. What really stands out is the scene where Carlie splits up with Peter. That last shot where she has left the room and he’s standing there alone, we have a glimpse from above which just magnifies the sadness which is great. Despite not being in the story much, she was in enough that I ended up liking her. Yeah, Peter and Mary Jane are meant to be together which is why Peter screws this up but you feel bad for Carlie here because I get the impression that she really would have dug it if Peter had revealed the truth to her.

Bottom Line:

Spider Island has its flaws but it is still one hell of a read. I wish more time was given to some of the main characters in the story instead of spreading the available story so thin with sub plot after subplot. If they really wanted to focus on certain side characters, they should have given those characters free reign in other supplemental issues and not included them at all in this story. For the Venom subplot, if you took it out of the Spider-Man issue and simply left it all in the Venom comics, nothing would change. We’d still get a pretty decent story of a guy dealing with his past while juggling the responsibilities of the present. But tossing him into the main story just took away from time that could have been spent expanding the main story.

The Amazing Spider-Man #672

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_672

We come to the ending, but not the ending if you can believe that, of Spider Island. The big bad of the story meets her apparent doom but thanks to some sloppy writing, I had no clue what the hell was going on with this particular issue. There was no logical reason why everything ended up resolving the way it did apart from the editors at Marvel telling the writer to wrap things up quick.

One part that annoyed me with this issue was Mary Jane’s involvement. She shows up out of nowhere at a facility a person in her position should not even have known about. Then they have her ask why she’s been so slow in developing the symptoms that everyone else had and the results are almost comic. Reed Richards pretty much comes out and tells her that with Peter Parker porking her for as long as he did, she was able to develop an immunity that others did not have. But this statement from Mr. Fantastic kind of goes against the earlier bit of business at the start of the story where Peter does his absolute best to keep his identity private from anyone, including people who would actually benefit from knowing like fellow super heroes. At this point, I get that Peter was a part of the Fantastic Four and his identity would be something that Mr. Fantastic would probably want to know before he joined. Long time readers also know that Peter and Johnny Storm have a long standing friendship so at some point you could see Peter letting slip his identity. Frankly, it makes no sense for him to trust Reed and not many other people. Can you really argue that he mistrusted Iron Man? He couldn’t trust Captain America with his identity? Nick Fury would go blabbing to everyone about that punk kid from Queens who dresses like a spider?

The sheer amount of heroes in the story was too much of an overkill. Every character in the Marvel Universe shares the same world (for the most part) so I get that it would be unrealistic if an event of this magnitude occurred without a response from anyone other than Spider-Man. The problem I see lies in the fact that they have so many people in the story that they haven’t found a way to give each character a reason to be there. Take The Thing. He has some really funny moments in the story. I enjoyed his part in the comic but honestly, if he were removed from the story nothing would be lost. The same could be said for The Avengers. You know they would be fighting a threat like this but did we need to see pages devoted to them when they’re not really a part of the story at all? There are some supplemental stories that go along with Spider Island. If they wanted to include The Avengers, they really should have given them more than a silly cameo.

The Mary Jane arc actually ends with something interesting. Long time readers know that Peter and MJ had to divorce thanks to a deal Peter made with Mephisto in order to save Aunt May’s life. They’d been teasing that Mary Jane was a lot more comfortable with Peter than he was with her at this point. Peter had another girlfriend and everything, who is still missing at this point. What a great guy for trying to look for her. At the end of the issue, while Peter is concentrating on defeating The Queen, she tells him she loves him. Knowing how they were forced to split, it was great that they were still able to show the reading world that Peter and Mary Jane still had feelings for each other. Granted, they have their arms around each other like old friends so maybe this isn’t a love that will rekindle back into marriage. But it is a scenario that makes you feel like all is right with the world.

Bottom Line:

There are still two issues left in the suggested reading order for Spider Island but this really ends the threat. I have to imagine that at this point, the other two issues will involve more cleaning up of loose ends than anything else. I have real issues with this story but I don’t think it’s a bad story. It is something I would slightly recommend with the understanding that this will frustrate you to no end. There are so many places that this story could have went but it seems like the writer, Dan Slott, was forced to include story elements for the sake of including them. They didn’t have any real impact on the story at all. Even the Mary Jane subplot, if you take it out of the story, bears no impact whatsoever on what is going on. Also, while I have no problem with Peter getting back together with Mary Jane, showing him having no concern for his current girlfriend who mutated into a spider and followed The Queen’s bidding is just so damn callous. They should have had him more concerned than not at all.

The artwork I am still not a fan of. The last panel, where Peter and Mary Jane sit on top of the Empire State Building looking at New York was a great end to the story but again, the rest is just too sloppy and distracting for me to have any interest.

The Amazing Spider-Man #670

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_670

The spider plague is getting worse. People are going from infection to spider powers to turning into actual spiders. Things are getting to the point where there may be no turning back for our heroes. What happens from here?

The story so far has done a good job of showing the feeling of hopelessness you have to imagine goes through the heads of actual heroes in everyday life when they’re presented with a scenario that seems like is insurmountable. The story opens with Spider-Man witnessing his girlfriend Carlie, The Shocker, and the Mayor’s Spider Task Force all turning into actual spiders. Think about it for a moment. How would you react if you were in a situation where a loved one went through a physical change and you had no way of stopping it? The helplessness you would feel could be overwhelming. How in the hell do you help? But I think that is the key to this story and to super hero comics as a whole. When you’re presented with a bad scenario, no matter how bad it may seem or how bad things get, you just keep fighting.

I forgot to mention something that happened last issue. The last few pages were illustrations made by Marvel artists which honored the tenth anniversary of 9/11. (They’re hauntingly beautiful pictures. Well worth the read of that issue alone.) What I remember most vividly from that day were all the cops and firefighters who, despite being frightened out of their fucking minds, ran into hell to save people. Cops and firefighters that survived told you that they knew pretty quickly that they were looking at a situation that was pretty hopeless. Instead of turning tail and running, they saved who they could. I think that is the key when it comes to why people come back to comic books. What is it about these heroes that we like? I would have to say that it’s the escapist thrill. When you watch the news and see war and strife everywhere, you see political candidates saying more and more the most bat shit crazy things you never imagined hearing a candidate say (Fuck the Republican Presidential Candidates. End rant!), knowing that in some world, even if that is the world of imagination, there is a hero that will defeat the bad guy and make the world a better place makes going through your day much easier. I think this can also explain why we’ve seen superhero films capture our imaginations like never before. Machinations in the world are in place that are making our lives less safe everyday. What better way to get a break from that by spending two hours in a movie theater seeing Superman defeating Doomsday.

(I had to include that trailer. I didn’t care for the start of it but once Doomsday hits and Wonder Woman saves Batman and Superman, I geeked out. The gauntlet has been thrown.)

Back to the story. The issue starts off great but goes off the rails in the middle just like pretty much every other issues in this story. Too much is happening that can be addressed effectively with the real estate the comic book is offered. You’re switching from scene to scene without any real idea of what is happening. It’s like a story being told in Morse code and you’re only getting the gist of what is happening. You have a scene where Flash discovers that Eddie Brock is saving people. He’s undercover with The Queen as the Spider King and is dispatched to kill Eddie. Flash wants to save people but the Venom suit wants to kill it’s former host. This is a good story element but it’s not really addressed. You may argue that we have a few more issues left in the story including two specifically dealing with Venom and while that is true, I think it was poor form to have a story include something big like the conflict Flash Thompson is having with the Venom suit when he’s supposed to be capturing Anti-Venom in order to save New York. We also get Mayor Jameson getting the Spider Slayer out of Rykers to help with the problem. According to exposition, the Spider Slayer was responsible for the death of Jameson’s wife. Fine. Great story element to explore. But they waste that opportunity by having Jameson quickly enter stage three of the virus by turning into a spider. He even ends up killing the Spider Slayer by the end of the issue when he is completely transformed.

That’s another thing I hope is addressed. The human body, if it were to make a sudden physical change as described in the story would not suddenly just go back to normal once you found a cure. You grow extra eyes. Once you’re given a cure those eyes don’t pop out of your head and dissolve into dust. You would still have extra fucking eyes. I want to see how it’s addressed but I have the sneaking submission that they’re not going to have a decent explanation as to why and how people are brought back to their normal selves.

Bottom Line:

This issue has its weak points but when it’s working, it works well. As I mentioned, it did a great job detailing the determination you expect heroes to go through when encountered with a scenario that may seem hopeless. I really wish more time was given to let the story breath. The writer is going way too fast for my liking which is giving me a case of whiplash when you’re going from scene to scene to scene. This is definitely an example of the dangers of stories that have too many characters. Trust me. With my novel Time to Play the Game one critique I would offer myself was that when I faced a scenario where I had major characters tied up in another bit of action I would throw new characters at the scene I was writing. While I don’t think the results are bad by any means if I do say so myself (I don’t want to toot my own horn but…toot toot), I have to be honest that my work had major problems. But any writer is going to have them. Whether they be a no name author like me or a major writer like Anne Rice, you will find any writer that will find problems with their work each time they pick it up. With that in mind, it’s wise for any writer worth their weight in salt to remember that when working on their current pieces. When it comes to the number of characters in your story you should never feel inhibited to including a cast of millions if you want to but the more people you add the more business you have to give them in order to justify their place in the story. That is what the big weakness is here. We’re having scenes introduced with some characters that could be great but aren’t totally fleshed out.

The art work is just not to my liking. My apologies to the artists involved on this piece Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado. It’s too anime for my tastes and is frankly sloppy. The opening scene for example was rough to get an idea to start in regards to placement of the dialogue. If it wasn’t for guided view on the Marvel Unlimited App, I never would have guessed the path I was supposed to take to read the dialogue in order. The characters are drawn just slightly off which is just taking me out of the story when it shouldn’t be. Not a fan.

One more bit of business. As I mentioned I have a book. I want you to read it. If you want a free copy of it in e-book format, you can email me at gameauthor@gmail.com and I will send you a free copy. The offer lasts till the end of the month, 12/31/2015.

Daredevil #168

Daredevil_Vol_1_168

When 20th Century Fox lost the rights to Daredevil not many people cared. While the Daredevil movie wasn’t the worst comic book movie ever made, it was also one that didn’t have much in the way of passion. It was a by the colors movie that just had no soul. While the studio was able to push out a spin off based on Elektra, no one really cared. (Even though they wasted the talents of both Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in doing so.) While there were attempts by others to get another Daredevil film off the ground, including a sizzle reel by Joe Carnahan to attempt to generate interest from the studio…

…Fox chose to let the rights go back to Marvel.

Marvel announced that Daredevil, alone with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist would not only have their own individual shows on Netflix, they would also come together similar to The Avengers in a show called The Defenders. Again, not many people really cared. Sure, Marvel Studios had earned a lot of good will and people were definitely interested in seeing what the studio would be but speaking for myself, I didn’t expect much.

Then the show debuted and blew everyone’s expectations as to what made a comic book show great out of the water. Similar to Batman, it was a superhero story about a guy with no superpowers. His powers simply occurred due to exposure to radioactive material. It was a show that even my wife would end up enjoying. It had a love of the source material without solely relying upon that to give us a good story. Soon after the first season hit they announced there would be a second season. In that season we would be introduced to Frank Castle, The Punisher, and one Elektra Natchios.

As readers of the comics will know, much of the Daredevil show has been taken from Frank Miller’s run on the comic. One such issue involves the debut of one Elektra. She met Matt Murdock in college. She was the daughter of a Greek ambassador, he a bumbling law student. They start to date and fall in love. About a year into their romance, Elektra and her father are held hostage. During the crisis, Matt ends up saving her but in the melee, cops murder her father. She is understandably upset and chooses to break up with Matt. Years later, well after Matt has become Daredevil, he is tracking someone down only to be knocked unconscious by a woman. That woman? Elektra.

When he wakes, he gets info on where Elektra may be headed. He discovers that she was in over her head and about to be executed. He drives an airplane at the bad guys and ends up whipping ass, saving her in the process where she, after realizing he is Matt Murdock, breaks down in tears.

The story was understandably amazing. This is comic book storytelling 101. The character of Elektra, while we don’t get too much of a grasp of her history, is fully fleshed out in the pages that Mr. Miller puts together. We not only see why Matt would have such strong feelings for her, we see that even as an international bounty hunter and killer, she still has heart and loves Matt Murdock. Frank Miller, from every story I’ve ever read from him, has always beautifully written characters in wonderful shades of grey. Take Batman: Year One. Jim Gordon, the future Commissioner of Police that for years we as readers have held in high esteem, has an affair with his wife and ends up getting caught. While that is a disgusting act, we still see him as very much a hero in the story.

If you think about it, what hero doesn’t have moments where they could be considered scum by others? No one is perfect. Everyone I have ever held in high esteem has ended up doing something stupid that made me doubt everything they’ve done. But after reflection, I’ve been able to sort the bad from the good. Because in the end, good people by their actions will always end up redeeming themselves. Some make take longer than others but they will. Hell, if Anakin Skywalker could do it, anyone can.

With Elektra, we see in this story why she chose to end up in a life of crime. With her father being accidentally murdered by the police, who child wouldn’t have issues with authority after that? It’s understandable that she would take the actions that she does. It doesn’t make it right of course but you understand it which makes her arc in this issue a thing of beauty. Too often in comics even today, women don’t have much depth. They’re either really good people or evil bitches. There’s no grey to their characters. Frank Miller though finds a way to find the proverbial diamond in the rough. Like Nancy Callahan from Sin City. A stripper by trade, she’s still someone you would have no issue taking home to mother. (Maybe after a few drinks first but still.)

The art for this issue was good but I think it did suffer from one thing. The color. Maybe it’s because I’m used to his work on Sin City but to me Frank Miller’s best stories, including this one, work best in black and white. If Humphry Bogart were alive in the 1980’s, Frank Miller would have written a movie just for him. Each panel is like a caterpillar compared to the butterfly his later work visually becomes. You can see how the visuals in Sin City came about from issues like this but the color in the story ultimately is just not needed.

There’s a panel near the end that explains what I mean. It’s just one panel where Matt discovers the main bad guy has a gun to Elektra’s head. With color you see the emotion in his face but it almost takes you out of the mood. When I turned gray scale on my iPad, the emotions went from blunt by muted to almost exploding off the page. Again, maybe I’ve been exposed to too much late era Frank Miller but I really think this would have worked so much better in black and white, not that it is bad now.

Bottom Line:

Yet another Mighty Marvel story from the early 80’s golden age. It’s also a great read to get under your belt before the new season of Daredevil appears in February. The show has used so much from Frank Miller’s run with the character so far, it only goes to suspect they may use this story pretty much verbatim. Even if they pick and choose what they use, it will be great to see what they ultimately use and what they don’t. You will be doing yourself a favor to read this issue.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones #1

Jessica Jones

Steven Spielberg recently talked about superhero movies and said that they will go the way of the western eventually. If you read his comment in full, and respect his status in Hollywood, you’d know that he is absolutely right. Something new will eventually come along that will entrance the public and superhero movies will take a much needed break. Everything has a saturation point. Too much of it and you will get tired of it. Like when I had my free trial to Apple Music and used Siri to make a playlist based on the top twenty hits from the year I was born. I had to explain to my kids what disco when they were taking a breath from laughing. Disco music in and of itself is not bad. There are some real gems that are still great to listen to, plus it helped influence The Rolling Stones with one of their biggest hits off their Some Girls album, Miss You. But much like Disco had its day where people finally had enough (and then the songwriters of disco went to work with country pop singers like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton but that’s another story.), superhero movies will slow to a crawl in terms of being made.

Until then, we’re still in a golden age of story telling if you like comic book stories. Once technology caught up with the imagination of comic book creators, it really opened the flood gate as to what could be done with movies. DC had massive hits in the 70’s and 80’s with Superman and Batman. Those two stories though could reasonably be told without too much in the way of special effects. Marvel for the longest time couldn’t catch a break. Apart from The Incredible Hulk and their cartoon line ups, they couldn’t get Hollywood to really use their stories in the right way. If you ever caught the 70’s Spider-Man television show you’d see how right I was. Or the Captain America movie starring JD Salinger’s son.

That movie alone was probably the death knell of a company that had no business making comic book movies. 21st Century Film Corporation made the film, that company being run by the former owner of Cannon Films, the makers of cinematic classics like Masters of the Universe, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (You know a movie is bad when on the director’s commentary for the movie, the first thing the writer of the film does is apologize to the audience for making a bad movie.) I remember watching a movie at the local theater when I was a kid and saw this teaser.

By today’s standards, yeah it’s cheesy. But in late 1989 this was a pretty bad ass way to get a young kid excited for a movie. Then…the movie never came to theaters in my town. I should thank them for that.

It wasn’t until Blade and X-Men that Marvel stories were finally translated to the screen in all their glory. Some movies may not stand the test of time (I’m looking at you all iterations of Fantastic Four) but they’re better than Captain America from 1990 or other earlier attempts at making cinematic Marvel movies.

Once Marvel got their act together they decided it would be wise to be the controlling destiny behind the movies based on their intellectual properties. And why not. For every Spider-Man that was made, there was an Ang Lee Hulk movie that didn’t quite get it right. So they made their own production company and movie history was born. They have been able to seamlessly blend their characters into one shared universe. While you don’t have to watch every single movie to get what is going on, you can get more from your experience if you do so. Now they’ve branched into television. That started with Agents of SHIELD. Then they made the bold move to make Netflix shows.

Daredevil is the first of a planned group of shows that will culminated in an Avengers like television show called The Defenders. We’re going to get Daredevil (and The Punisher which I am squealing like a little girl about!), Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. There’s already talk of more shows on the way as well. Maybe a Fantastic Four television show anyone?

Jessica Jones in the second show from them which will debut in November. The trailers have been great, especially this one.

Everything you need to know about the character is in that teaser. And you don’t even see her face.

This comic is a brief teaser for the new show. It’s really just a scene, a study of her character. She meets up with Turk, who was a minor bad guy in Season 1 of Daredevil who is recuperating from a beating he took at the hands of Daredevil. Jessica sneaks her way past the police and confronts him about back child support and tells him he should be more of an influence in his children’s lives. Yeah, she’s not delusional and doesn’t think for a minute he will listen. Which is why she steals the money he had left in his wallet and takes off. Simple scene really. But it goes a long way to show what motivates her.

I am really excited for the show and can’t wait for November to get here. Marvel has done some amazing work in getting lesser known characters into the public eye. While big names will always rule the roost, for Marvel to continue to be successful they have to make their entire catalog palatable for the public. Before Guardians of the Galaxy came out internet message boards were claiming that would be the first Marvel failure because who would want to see a movie involving characters you know nothing about? Marvel’s secret? Make a damn good story with characters people can relate. Easier said than done to be sure but Marvel has done a fantastic job in using their lesser known characters than DC which still wants to rely upon the big two, Batman and Superman, to get people into the movie theater.

This issue is a must read. It’s another great tease on what I am sure will be a great show. And hey, we’ll finally have an American made show that will allow folks to see David Tennant show his acting chops on that people will actually watch.

 

New Avengers #34

New Avengers 34

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/New_Avengers_Vol_1_34

The Good:

The Secret Invasion continues. This issue is concerned with the group dynamic of the renegade Avengers that we met when they faced off against The Hand. Trust is nowhere to be found what with the possibility one of them could be a Skrull infiltrator. I really dug how Bendis went about sowing the mistrust among the team while still keeping them clinging to the hope that the people they’d treated like family were just that, family.

The best part of this issue was Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. It reminded me of my wife and I when she blurts out something that I may be thinking but am not talking openly about. Luke Cage suspects his wife and daughter are Skrulls. He has nothing to base this on but pure paranoia. She calls him out on his shit in front of everyone and with the assistance of Doctor Strange, proves that she and their daughter are who they say they are.

Bendis did a wonderful job with the ending, kind of tying it up with the previous issue in the Secret Invasion that I reviewed where Tony Stark’s version of The Avengers went off to fight a city full of Venom clones. In what could be the unifying factor of the two teams since the superhero Civil War, they both arrive to begin battle. Just as they arrive, a cliff hanger occurs when Echo is attacked with some of the Venom formula.

The art was reminiscent at least to me of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. On face value it appears to be hastily put together but in doing so at times it brings out characterization that may not have happened with a more cleaner approach.

I also liked that there felt like there was more scope to the drawing in this issue. Things felt bigger even when we were in an interior location. My previous complaints of scope we more than resolved in this issue.

The Bad:

The opening scenes did not make much sense in regards to the story line at hand. Yes, if I had looked back an issue I could have found out what The Hood was doing fighting Wolverine but being that this particular issue was third in line in the suggested reading order for the Secret Invasion story line, I expected a little more follow up but that particular part of the story was not followed up on. Maybe it’s because I am coming to this with a more traditional sense of story in terms of stories having a definitive beginning, middle, and end. Comics are traditionally more snapshots into the life of particular characters and like life, you don’t always have the definitive starting point to follow. Being that this is the suggested reading order however, I do wish more consideration was taken into account for readers like myself who don’t subscribe to every single issue of every comic they put out. If you are going to have a story that is told over multiple issues and multiple titles of comics, it has to be a little more cohesive than this story is. And we’re only on issue three.

While the art was good in a lot of respects, it was a little too sloppy for my tastes. This is just personal preference here but the art was a bit of an annoyance more than it helped the story. As I stated, I liked that it added more scope as well as adding more to certain moments when it came to characterization but I found myself more than anything just wanting to get through the issue. It just looked ugly.

Bottom Line:

As an individual issue, this really didn’t do much for me. It had some really good moments no doubt, especially between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones but that was the wheat among a LOT of chaff. In a long form story, not every chapter will be a winner. You can’t have moments that contain tons of action of tons of reveals, just meat to the story that people crave. Sometimes you need exposition to set you up for greater things down the road. I do believe this issue did that in terms of hinting at a possible reconciliation among the two Avengers teams but as a stand alone work, I have to give this a 4.

The art I’m conflicted on. What was done well was done really well. But the overall darkness and sloppiness is just something that I couldn’t overcome the further I got into the story. I’m not saying that Leinil Yu is a bad artist. I just didn’t care for the material as presented in this work. It felt like an amateur trying their best to copy Frank Miller. There can only be one Frank Miller and it’s not this person. I give the art a 5.

New Avengers #31

New-Avengers-31-pg-000

One great feature about the Marvel Unlimited app is the Discover section which brings together notable events and one shots for famous characters in their arsenal. For major event stories that take place over multiple issues and multiple lines of comics they give you a suggested reading order to keep you organized. While the story itself may not be 100% written to be a chronological story (They can be side stories that don’t affect the main plot of the event story but still affect a major character) knowing where the creators of the story want you to start if you want to tackle a particular story is a nice touch. One story line I came across was for Secret Invasion. To kind of mix things up here, I think I will be reviewing the Secret Invasion story from start to finish. The reason I say I think is that for all I know I may end up hating this story so to commit to reading a story that takes place over 98 issues would be silly on my part if by issue 12 I’m hating what I’m reading. Without further ado, let’s begin the Secret Invasion.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/New_Avengers_Vol_1_31

I’d really like to send my love and appreciation to the good folks at the Marvel Wiki site. It’s been a great starting off point for me when it comes to wanting to know more about characters, stories, and the people who make them. Hats off to the work they and their contributors do.

The Good:

To start off, this comic, apart from the very last page, have nothing to do with the story we are about to dive into. From the intro on the first page of the comic it’s explained that what we are seeing is the finishing touches of the Civil War story line (which I definitely want to re-read before the movie comes out. I can’t wait to see Spider-Man in a real Marvel movie!) Taking that into account, what we’re seeing here is mostly cleanup. There’s not too much story going on but on the flipside you’re also not bored out of your mind. You care about the characters and want to see them overcome their fight against Elektra and the evil organization known as The Hand.

And hell, let’s talk about that ending.

Elektra Skrull

I would expect nothing less from a Brian Bendis comic. The closing image is jarring. It evokes a feeling of paranoia. Someone who they thought was their enemy turned out to be someone completely different. An alien in their midst looking to cause trouble among Earthlings. If it could happen to their enemy, could people they consider their friends not be who they say they are as well?

Being that this came out in 2007 when America was well in the midst of their Islamic xenophobia this feeling of paranoia was most likely intentional. When you’ve been attacked you’re in protection mode. You don’t want to be attacked again. Anything and everything that gives you the remotest sense of danger you’re paranoid about. It’s a natural reflex which in and of itself is not bad but taken to extremes can lead to horrible actions on the paranoid person’s part as well as leading to the paranoid person being exploited by people looking to harm them. This was a great start and definitely makes this decision to read this story a good one (so far).

The artwork was great. The cover alone is quite jarring with the character Echo shoving a sword into the gut of who they think is Elektra. The character portrayals were great. You could get a sense of the emotions the characters were looking to convey in the story. I especially liked the concern from Jessica Jones (I can’t wait for the Jessica Jones show on Netflix!) when she inquired about Luke Cage, the father of her baby. Quite realistic.

The Bad:

I do wish there was some more substance to the story. This is nitpicking because the intro is pretty clear that what I am reading is the very end of another story line but this still felt quite rushed with no real substance. It was essentially a 20 page fight scene with a shock ending. There are no character arcs, nobody learns anything, you’re just coasting by until you can get to that last image.

If I had to nitpick about the artwork it would be that the artist was more concerned about the characters and not about where the characters were at. I never got a true feel as to where the action was happen. Apparently it was at some sort of ninja temple or something but the location was drawn in such an abstract manner that I never really felt a sense of scope or anything. If the action at hand has no real danger of harming the environment about them, it may as well be happening on a soundstage.

Bottom Line:

This is a good start for this story. While I would have liked them to have planted the seeds more in the previous story apart from one image on the last page of this issue, it is what it is. The last page alone is worth the read because it gets you interested in what happens next. It’s not perfect but that alone gives it good marks in my book. I rate the story a 7.

The artwork I’m conflicted on. While the character drawings were great, I wish more attention was given to the location where the action was taking place. This is nitpicking to be sure. Please don’t take this as an I hate the artwork rant. But what the artist did good could have been better if more attention was paid to the entire piece and not just the characters. I rate the artwork a 6.