Wolverine #8

Comic books are riddled with deaths. From Uncle Ben, Bucky, Superman, and others, important characters have ended up on the wrong side of something and have bit the dust. Apart from Uncle Ben, the part about death when it comes to comic books is that you shouldn’t expect a character to necessarily remain dead. That’s the beauty of the genre. What once was lost can be brought back again.

That leads us to Wolverine. Marvel wrapped in 2014 the Death of Wolverine storyline. I questioned why they would want to take out a character that is as popular with comic fans as he is with casual fans. Yeah, I fully expect him to be back at some point snick snicking his way through bad guys with his adamantium claws but what brought Marvel to this point? While I understand that Marvel and 20th Century Fox have had their issues since Fox has the movie rights to the X-Men (and subsequently Wolverine) characters and universe, when you have a character like Wolverine who probably rivals Spider-Man for name recognition among the general public, why kill him off? This must be one heck of a story for them to be running with it. I had to check it out myself.

The first thing I really appreciated was the fact that despite this starting pretty much in the middle of an existing story, the writers made every effort to make this feel like the beginning of something big. We are clued in as first time readers (which I am for this particular story) as to what brought us to this point and some of the characters that are involved but we don’t have to have in depth knowledge of any back story to get a full understanding of what is happening in this issue. In fact, they did a pretty damn good job of making sure that the issue of mortality was front and center. The story from the previous issues really brings the reason why we’re here, seeing the beginning of the end of a character we all love, to the forefront.

I get the feeling that we are probably going to have a chance to see Logan reflect on his life throughout this story. He meets up with Death in the story (in the Marvel universe, Death is very much a real person. I don’t know this as of yet but I suspect that Death will be the same women who Thanos lusted after in The Infinity Gauntlet) and is started on a journey that will most likely bring him back to some past adventures. He’s on an island where he meets up with Death who happens to have a statue of Wolverine with the real skulls of his victims, friends, and families.

I do have to say that I just didn’t care for the side story too much in this story. Not that I wanted it to focus solely upon Wolverine but most of the story focused on a character named Pinch. Seems that in previous issues, Pinch had been a love interest of Wolverine all while they both were in a group headed by a guy named Offer. (Wolverine was undercover in the group for SHIELD.) Again, my problem wasn’t with the inclusion of this story in the issue but there should have been more focus on the character whose name is on the cover of the comic.

I really enjoyed the art in this issue. Reminiscent of classic superhero stories, it was simply well drawn, showcasing the emotions in the characters while showcasing the action in a story in a logical way that only comics can do. The training scene with Wolverine, Iron Fist, and Shang Chi had some great action lines when Iron Fist and Shang Chi were whipping on Wolverine.

Bottom Line:

While not a perfect issue, it was one of the best openings of a major event story that Marvel has put out that I have read. I get a real sense of a beginning in this issue which in other stories I have read like Secret Invasion or Spider Island I did not quite get. We get a real sense that we are on the start of a fateful journey that will see a character we all know and love battle through hell itself just to get to a long awaited end.

I want to see how Marvel pulls this off. I am under no expectations that this death will be permanent. If it isn’t, what device will they use that will allow future writers to get Wolverine back into the world of the living? If they happen to decide to do something foolish and keep this character dead, what finality will they bring upon him that will keep him dead forever.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man #667

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_667

First off, FUCK YEAH! In two minutes, they’ve done more to make me excited for this film than all the efforts of DC to get me happy for Batman vs. Superman. Well done. And perfectly made. It has enough to give you an idea of what is generally going on but doesn’t give so much away like the Titanic trailer did back in the day that it ended up telling the whole story. Off to the review.

The Spider Island story continues where the last issue leaves off where Peter’s girlfriend lets him know her secret, that she has spider powers. The story to this point has been pretty slow but in a good way. Not slow to the point where you’re wondering why the hell you’re reading the comic, slow in the sense that the story is building up, giving the characters enough chance to breath, grow, react to events around them. Too often in stories today, whether they be in comics, movies, books, etc., you see little to no characterization. No chance for characters to establish themselves for the reader in this case. You have no reason to care for them as they’re suddenly thrown into a torrent of action that has no tension because you could care less about what it happening to the people on the page.

I really like the relationship between Carlie and Peter. While there admittedly isn’t much time spent on their relationship this issue, their time together seems natural. It’s like being on the bus and seeing an old married couple board, sit next to each other, and start talking. There’s a familiarity between people that have been together for a while that you can’t just replicate unless you’ve been in a relationship yourself.

Madam Web annoys me. So far I hate her. She’s a telepath and knows everything that happens in the future and does everything she can to make sure people know this. More time is spent on her telling everyone that she knows what is going to happen than actually showing us what her purpose in the story is. The idea of the character is certainly intriguing and I reserve the right to change my opinion of her later in the story but now, she’s more annoying than anything as well as a hindrance to people that want to actually do something. Either have her contribute or stay the hell out of the story until you have something to do.

With everyone dressed like Spider-Man wreaking havoc in New York it is understandable that The Avengers would mistake Peter for one of the bad guys. This goes towards one point I have had a contention with in the Marvel Universe and that is the fact that some of the heroes will not reveal their identity for the life of them. You would think that for a situation just like this they’d have some sort of safe word or something that would let the other heroes know who they are. The chance of mistaken identity would be too great and the chance of a good guy doing something bad would be something I would think they would want to prevent. Why would they not want to tell each other their identities if they work with each other so closely?

The art in the story just threw me off. As I have said before I am not a fan of anime. It’s just not my tastes. I’m not someone who thinks that just because I don’t like something that it must be universally bad. I get that a lot of folks worldwide love and appreciate anime and everything it offers. I prefer art that’s more realistic. Sometimes I can take silly like Daniel Aruda’s work on Holy F*ck and Holy F*cked. That art is simplistic but it helps elevate the silliness of the story involved. In this issue, the art just takes away any emotion you could have felt and just makes the characters look grotesque. Mayor Jameson looks like a Play-Do figure that’s been put in the microware and cooked on high for twenty minutes. Just bad.

Bottom Line:

This is a nice piece of the Spider-Island puzzle. Unlike The Korvac Saga and Secret Invasion, the story is coming along slow but nice. It is coming along at a realistic pace. Along with the realistic relationships and characterization we’ve seen to date I am really enjoying what is happening so far. We’ve dived into the deep end here and the writer has made sure we’re swimming along quite nice. I am not a fan of the art so far but objectively speaking, I have seen much worse so there is not much to really complain about. You would do well to check out this comic.

Thor Annual #6

Thor_Annual_Vol_1_6

Of all the major Marvel characters out there Thor would have to be my least favorite. Now I’ve loved what they’ve done with him in a supporting role in The Avengers movies, not his stand alone films. They’ve found a way to temper the thees and thous the comics seem to sprinkle on like a fat person slathers on salad dressing onto a salad when they’re trying to diet. But don’t get me wrong. Saying Thor is my least favorite Marvel character would be like saying McDonald’s makes my least favorite hamburger. It’s still a damn good burger when push comes to shove.

This issue is the start of the Korvac Saga. Korvac is a former human who, thanks to evil alien masters, is grafted into a computer making him a cyborg intent on universal domination. (When you type that out it does sound a little silly but trust me, it’s presented better.) Thor starts the issue off preventing some terrorists on Earth from igniting a nuclear reactor. He succeeds only to be sucked into a vortex that brings him to the 31st Century where he faces off against Korvac who shuttles him off into space presumably to die. There he is discovered by the ORIGINAL Guardians of the Galaxy. From there they discover Korvac’s location and proceed to stop his evil plan of sending our sun into a super nova in order to siphon off the energy.

Thor’s dialogue in this really comes off like someone attempting to sound like a bad Shakespearean actor. It was sometimes difficult to read without having to go over what was said more than once. I get why they chose to have him speak the way he did but it was quite distracting to say the least. However, I do like the fact that Thor has a bit of an innocent naive streak to him. He’s a hero who sees the world in black and white. You’re either good or bad. Sure he’ll give you a chance but once you screw that chance up, guess who gets swatted in the ass with mjonlir?

Korvac was all right as a villain but he suffers from something comic book creators are a little too guilty of. He’s from the 31st Century. He’s part computer and has the brain capacity of infinity. He has tools at his disposal that make our most extreme weapons look like pea shooters. Yet the heroes from modern times always find a way of foiling their evil plans. Not just partly stopping it mind you, completely putting an end to whatever evil machinations the bad guy had planned. I get that this was the late 70’s when this came out (damn I feel old) but even then comics were breaking away from stories that started and resolved in one single issue. You would think that every now and then you would have a time where a bad guy was able to even partially succeed. That would be more realistic and add a little bit more drama to the story and give them further reasons to fight. Sure, this particular story is part one of a twelve part story. But they have Korvac’s plan snuffed out at the last minute and have him escape before anything happens to him. Where is the tension? Where is the consequence of fighting someone you’ve built up as much as you have?

The artwork was good for its time but I did have one issue. Korvac looks like he’s melded with a Xerox machine. Predicting the future of technology is impossible of course. We recently had the anniversary of the day that Marty McFly traveled into the future for to see what happened to his kids. Back to the Future 2 was a brilliant film for so many reasons but tops on that list was that they made no effort to try and make a realistic future. They went all spacey with everything. While yeah, they got a few things right, and gave that little bitch Elijah Wood his first screen role, everything else about the future was a big eff you to what people may have guessed. Because you never know what the future would hold. Hell, ten years ago, who would have thought that tablet computers or smart phones would be around in the ways they are? That was technology strictly for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Dr. Crusher wrote her reports on an iPad. I was never meant to read comic books from one! The fact that the artist tried to draw the future in a way that used images we as the reader could relate to was a failure simply due to the fact that even five years after this issue debuted the art looked dated.

Take the Superman film. Richard Donner and crew made no effort to make Kryptonian technology look like anything we could relate to. Everything was based on crystals. While hippies may think that crystals contain the keys to the universe, they also took a lot more acid than humans should be allowed to take so their opinions don’t count. The Superman film had it right by going wild with what alien technology could be. The 31st Century technology as drawn in this issue was a big failure because while it was trying to emulate what the future could look like, it looked like cheap 70’s office furniture. Besides that, the art was fine. Yes, I spent two paragraphs bitching about one thing but that is one complaint. The rest was fine.

Bottom Line:

The Korvac Saga is the start of a twelve issue story. This is going to be much more reasonable to attempt to tackle than the 98 issue story that was the Secret Invasion. For that, I will be reviewing this story in the suggested reading order that the Marvel Unlimited app recommends. And this was a pretty good way to kick off the story. Think of it like the little action sequence that always starts off a Bond film. While it may not have much to do with the main story, it’s still an exciting piece that cannot be missed. While I wish the artist was a little more inventive when it came to drawing objects from the future as well as wishing the writer made Thor’s dialogue a little easier to read, it’s not bad and tackles the subject of freedom quite well. Freedom is great to have but if you have to sacrifice your freedom or the freedom of others to achieve your goal, are you or anyone else involved in your plan truly free?

 

Incredible Hercules #117

hercules

Summary:

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/21175/incredible_hercules_2008_117

The Good:

The art in this comic evoked a modern version of a Ray Harryhausen movie which is not a bad thing. While I had no interest in movies like Clash of the Titans growing up, I would be lying if I said movies like that weren’t imaginative in their visuals. While it may look like shit based on today’s standards for movie special effects, the movies still reminded you of the ancient Roman and Greek stories they would teach you in school, yet still be cool somehow. This art in this issue evoked that and it was nice to see.

The Bad:

My god, where to start? It’s no wonder you don’t see Hercules joining with The Avengers on the big screen because this character sucks balls. Sucks horrible balls. He’s a third rate hillbilly cousin of Thor. I hated this comic so much. I wanted to go back into time in order to get the computer the writer of this piece wrote the story on in order to destroy it with the hopes that he wouldn’t want to try writing it again.

The main thrust of this story was that the ancient gods bring together a group to fight the Skrull invasion off. Yet the writer spent so much time trying to write in the “style” of ancient deity writing that you had no clue what the hell was going on. And you had Amadeus Cho along for the ride as apparently the Beavis to Hercules Butt-Head. God I hated this comic. I hated everything about it. Fuck you Greg Pak for writing such garbage.

Bottom Line:

I am so pissed off right now. I want the time back I spent reading this horrible stain of an excuse for a comic. This is the type of comic that gives comics as a whole a bad name. Just mindless nonsense vomited out of the brain of some douche bag who wants to impress an English professor he let down years ago with stories that no one wants to read. Stay away from this comic. This comic will give her cancer and herpes if you read it. I just can’t say enough as to how bad this nonsense it. I give it a fucking 0. Fuck you Greg Pak for writing this garbage. Fuck you right in the ear.

The only redeeming value this comic has is the art. The artist does a good job of evoking the images of classic stories in the past. Hercules looks like what you would imagine Hercules looking like. It is just a crime that good art is being used to elevate pure shit like the words in this horrible comic. Fuck you again Greg Pak. I give the art a 7.

The Mighty Avengers #14

mighty-avengers-14-cover

The Good:

We dive further into the Secret Invasion by exploring more in depth a scene that had occurred in a previous comic involving The Sentry. When the Skrull spacecraft landed in the Waste Lands and the Skrull impostors came out of the ship, one of the impostors appeared to look like The Vision. During an interaction while fighting with The Sentry, he told The Sentry that what was happening was his fault causing The Sentry to leave.

It’s been established by this point that The Sentry is not the most stable hero in the Marvel Universe. He’s schizophrenic and agoraphobic. While he comes across as a guy wanting to do the right thing, the fact that he has the power of multiple suns mixed with his mental issues keeps him one breakdown away from being a danger to everyone.

I liked how they established that The Sentry had a doppelganger that was his exact opposite called The Void. The Void IS The Sentry yet they manifest themselves as two separate beings. When a person has tremendous power what type of strain to their psyche do they go through in terms of deciding when to use that power or when not to? It is interesting to think about and for the most part a nice little tease for the character. I don’t really know much about The Sentry and the comic did a good job of piquing my interest.

I also dug how they established that the Skrull invasion had been going on for a while. The scenes showing Jarvis talking with Tony Stark about the recent breakdown of The Scarlet Witch and how, being that he saw he more than anyone and should have seen the signs of her mental breakdown, were well played especially with the reveal that Jarvis was in fact a Skrull invader. With Jarvis having the access to the personnel files of The Avengers, it would make sense for the invasion to occur as it has without anyone noticing. Jarvis can send the appropriate files to his Skrull masters in order to get his fellow invaders to act just like the people they are being sent to impersonate.

The art work was pretty solid. Drawn in the classic comic style, the characters were emotive. Their reactions based on the what was happening with them appeared real and made you care more for them. The locations had depth too which I liked. They felt like the action was taking place outside in a real location and not some small sound stage.

The Bad:

They skimmed over years of story to meet the 22 page goal here which was distracting. The core of the story is pretty interesting and something that could have been explored with a little more in depth storytelling but they chose to skim over a lot. It would have been great to explore a little more how the Skrull’s slowly invaded the planet, taking over the identity of Earth’s heroes as well as the blatant question that has not been asked yet. Where the hell are the actual heroes who’s identity has been stolen by the Skrulls? We’re going to get to that point I’m sure but a little heads up by now would have been nice. For all we know they’re dead. Being a comic that is not going to be the case because good will prevail over evil in the end but now we’re close to two hundred pages of story with no clue as to the whereabouts of the heroes of the story that have been kidnapped. It would be nice to know where they are.

The only real complaint I would have with the art is in regards to the fonts. Maybe it’s because I have a headache now but the overuse of large fonts to describe explosions or people yelling was just excessive and unneeded. It’s like when someone adds a ton of exclamation points in a text message to imply how serious what they are writing is. We get it. You want me to pick up milk from the grocery store. You don’t have to write the message like you’re telling me the President has been shot.

Bottom Line:

This was not a bad issue. I think Brian Bendis did a great job of making you interested in The Sentry. I certainly want to find out more about him after this issue. But I find myself disappointed that a story that could have been explored with a lot more detail was sped through like a kid in the 80’s speeding to his favorite scene on a VHS tape. The speed at which they flew through this story really killed my interest near the end and made my enjoyment suffer. For that, I have to give the story a 4.

The art work was pretty consistent. I don’t ask too much from my art in a comic book apart from the fact that the art should not distract me from the story. The artwork in a story should compliment the words. You could have the greatest artwork but if the story doesn’t rise to the level of the art, the entire piece suffers and vice versa. While not everything has to look like it’s ripped off from the pages of the golden age of comics, I do think that should be the default stance an artist should take unless they have the talent to do something else with that work. I think of the new Ms. Marvel comics with Kamala Khan. While that art is a bit sloppy it actually leads to what makes that comic great. You get the real sense that the comics are being drawn by the young lady the story is about. While this comic didn’t commit any real sins apart from too many large fonts in regards to the art, it also wasn’t memorable. That’s not a bad thing at all because not every comic can go down as the greatest ever. Some comics need to be the next step in the road to get you to the main focus of the story. This happens to be one of those issues. I give the art a 7.

Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1

FF

Call your Aunt Petunia and let her know it’s clobberin’ time because the Fantastic Four are about to join the Secret Invasion.

Summary:

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/21269/secret_invasion_fantastic_four_2008_1

The Good:

A few issues back we saw a quick scene at the Baxter Building where Sue Storm, or a Skrull appearing to be Sue Storm, goes into Reed Richard’s lab, destroys the control that keep a gate on the Negative Zone, and sits back as the Baxter Building is sucked into the Negative Zone. This issue goes into a little more detail as to what was going on. Think of it like what Robert Rodriguez did with Machete. They had the initial small trailer to that movie filmed and ended up making the movie around the trailer. Same concept here. The same scene from the earlier comic is still there but we get a little more understand of what brought them to that point and what happens afterwards.

We get a good sense of the family dynamic in this issue. We get The Thing and Johnny Storm doing the nagging friends bit toward each other which is great to see, which was sort of replicated in the Fantastic Four movie with Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis. (That movie was far from a cinema classic but I think it hit the points it needed to make and was a pretty decent film.) The characters seemed familiar with each other and their interactions with each other were natural. I appreciated how Johnny suspected Sue was not who she was from pretty much the start.

I really dug The Thing. While he didn’t say my favorite catch phrase this issue (I’m sure it’s coming!) the love he felt for Reed and Sue’s kids was felt by his actions. He did everything he could to keep the kids from having to face the fact that they were in real mortal danger. For a character that looks like The Thing to show the kind of tenderness is actually nice to see.

I liked the character designs in this issue. Very clean, you could get a real sense of their emotions as they dealt with some really messed up scenarios. The look on The Thing’s face alone when he discovers they’re in the Negative Zone is worth the comic alone.

The Bad:

They did a really bad job in trying to fool people into thinking that Sue had somehow escaped from the Skrull that had impersonated Reed Richards. To go from being held captive, to suddenly appearing on the other side of the country at the Baxter Building where she proceeds to bring them into the Negative Zone to giving that ridiculous like that Reed Richards, who had put numerous super villains into the Negative Zone as a prison of sorts would want his wife and children to be housed with them for their safety was ridiculous. Why it ended up taking Johnny Storm as long as it did for him to guess that the woman impersonating his sister was in fact not his sister made you simply want to toss a bucket of water on him and kick him in the nuts for his abject stupidity.

They were trying to go for something big with that reveal but it fell flatter than my pickup lines with women when I was single. Nowhere was there any sort of hint to the reader that Sue had somehow escaped her captivity. Nowhere. And if she were looking to protect her family, why would she walk by them without even acknowledging them? A mother that is certain of imminent danger to her kids will not casually stroll by them without even looking in their faces.

It’s the little things that kill me in comics sometimes. I get that twenty pages can be filled quite fast. They don’t have the luxury to tell a story in a traditional way like I did with my novel (Time to Play the Game, available here. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/48189) in the sense that each issue has to have it’s own story. It has to feel like a stand alone story that entices people to want to know more about the world they dived into. Yet you still have to follow some of the basic tenants of storytelling. You can’t speed through an idea simply because you don’t have the space for it. If they wanted to create doubt in the reader’s mind that Sue Storm was in fact NOT kidnapped by the Skrulls they should have done more to hint that she may have escaped her ordeal. They did not do that so when the eventual reveal came that she was in fact a Skrull, you wanted to slap the writer in the face for taking as long as he did for stating the obvious.

While the character art was well done, once again I find myself looking at drawings of locations I don’t believe are real. “Hey dumbass,” you might be saying. “It’s a comic. Of course it’s not real!”

I’m not implying that I feel the locations need to feel like I can actually step onto the scene. In Star Wars, Mos Eisley is not real but the way it’s presented on the screen it felt real. You felt life in each nook and cranny of Mos Eisley. I should feel that in this issue as well especially when it comes to such a fantastical place like the Negative Zone. If the artist cannot make the locations appear real, it takes you out of the suspension of disbelief. You think “It’s a shitty set!” and zone out. Any threat or menace that they’re trying to create for these characters is immediately tossed out the window.

Bottom Line:

While I did not appreciate being treated like a moron when it came to the reveal that Sue Storm was a Skrull, this was not a horrible issue. The Thing really saved it with how he dealt with being Uncle Ben. It was a work of pure genius to take a tough guy who looks like a monster and make him into a lovable but gruff family man (Thanks Stan and Jack!) but the Fantastic Four are a great group of characters. I would love to see these characters given the love they deserve on television. I think a two hour film doesn’t give their dynamic justice. Some characters like Iron Man or Spider-Man you can breeze through the set up and get straight to the ass kicking. The Fantastic Four to me have always been about the dynamic between the characters and that is something I think the movies missed. (I refuse to watch the Josh Trank version. I’d rather watch the Roger Corman version.) Television would give writers more time to explore the dynamic between the characters and allow us to become more emotionally invested in them when they actually do face off against the bad guys. This story, despite its flaws, does a pretty good job in showing off what makes the Fantastic Four such an historic comic. I give the story a 5.

The art was not as horrible as I may have made it out to be. While the locations killed me for appearing to be so fake, I loved how real and emotional the characters were drawn, especially The Thing. I give the art a 6.

And now our Feature Presentation:

Captain Britain and MI13 Issue 1

captain britain

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Captain_Britain_and_MI-13_Vol_1_1

The Good:

With this issue we see that the Skrull invasion has graced the shores of Britain which makes sense if you think about it. It is silly that comic books through the years have shown numerous people trying to take over the world yet they only seem to invade America like this country is the center of the Universe or something.

We get a neat character in this story in John the Skrull Beatle. Seems a group of Skrulls came to Earth in the 1960’s and impersonated The Beatles. Paul, George, and Ringo Skrull are all dead by this point. John appears at the beginning of the comic to be in custody and close to being executed which turns out to be a ruse. He’s being used to expose members of the British cabinet that are Skrull infiltrators themselves. This Skrull is an ally of the British. The British sure like their aliens.

John the Skrull Beatle is a nice addition to this story. It adds a little depth to the Skrulls and makes them more than simply mustache twirling bad guys. What really makes me angry not only in fiction but what I see in real life is when an enemy is being made to be all bad. It’s Orwellian nonsense. I get that there are times where groups of people will band together against an enemy. I get that in America we have our fair share of enemies, most of which if anyone knew their history which is very much out there in regards to how this country has handled its foreign affairs will know is the end result of actions initially committed by us. Take America and the Middle East. Politicians from both the left and right are more than happy to demonize an entire region of people for their own gain. We have tons of people in this country who are so damn ignorant that for every legitimate bad person that is out there who SHOULD be feared, they imagine hundreds more enemies that aren’t there. They treat good people like dirt and guess what happens? Good people get angry and decide that hey, if these people don’t like me and wish me harm than I will harm them first. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. If we took the time to understand the whys of what makes legitimate evil people perform evil acts than maybe we can stop ourselves from creating more enemies from people who would prefer to just live their lives.

John the Skrull Beatle is a great addition to this story because it shows that not all Skrulls are evil. It shows that despite the actions of the invading force, there are good Skrulls out there that someday will help humans and Skrulls live in peace. If only they could get past this Invasion…

The artwork is pretty solid. There’s nothing sloppy about it. The characters come off the page as if they’re real. The external locations appear to be a real place and not a set from a movie. I especially liked how Faiza the doctor was drawn and the emotions she showed when she was featured in the story.

The Bad:

Maybe it’s an American bias here but I just didn’t care for this story. I didn’t hate it but I found myself bored. I just wanted it to end. Apart from the Skrull Beatle, there was no character save Faiza the doctor who I had any interest for. We’re supposed to care for Captain Britain in this issue and he was barely featured.

They should have given us a reason to care. Why is this character important? What makes him special? I get that most likely the character has been featured in other comics from Marvel. I’m certainly familiar with the name but other than that I know nothing about him or the world he lives in. I would think that someone writing a comic would do well to keep something like that in mind. Yes, you have to please the people who’ve read every single issue of comics made by Marvel ever but that group is not as big as movies make them out to be. There are people in my position who have a deep understanding of the basics of the major characters out there but the more obscure characters they need a little primer on before we’re expected to care about them. The main fault I’ve had with comics in general is when the writer assumes the reader knows a lot more than they actually do in regards to back story. I’ve made it clear that I don’t think every comic needs to be written as if that issue is the first comic ever read by a human being ever but you can have a happy balance where back story is written into the story in such a way that one is not going to punish the reader for not knowing something and two is written in a way that entices readers to want to know more about these characters. That did not happen in this issue and it suffered greatly for it.

Bottom Line:

This comic was a chore to get through. It wasn’t a bad read or anything like that. I just found myself apathetic to what was going on. If the writer cannot make you care about the people the action in the story is happening to, anything else they do will be for naught. Maybe if the characters were referenced in other issues in the Secret Invasion story I’d have a little more interest but as it stands I have to give the story a 3.

The art work this issue was pretty good. It will not go down as the greatest artwork in comic history or anything but I don’t think that Jack Kirby was thinking about his work being the greatest thing since Mona Lisa when he was creating Captain America, The Hulk, and others. The work in this issue is drawn clean and especially for the doctor shows real emotion. I give the art a 6.

Mighty Avengers #13

Mighty_Avengers_Vol_1_13

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Mighty_Avengers_Vol_1_13

The Good:

In this issue we take a bit of an interlude to see how the Secret Warriors, a team who’s first issue I had reviewed previously (https://jousmafiles.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/secret-warriors-1/) but who I didn’t know too much about. Seems that the team was brought together by Nick Fury initially to fight against the Skrull invasion because he needed a team of people he knew he could trust, a team that was not on anyone’s books. A team led by everyone’s favorite Inhuman, Daisy Johnson. (She’s known as Skye on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD television show.)

I have a soft spot for any comic that begins just a few blocks from where I am reading it. It opens in Mount Tabor Park in Portland, Oregon where Daisy meets up with Nick Fury who is in disguise. The disguise is actually pretty funny. In the main Marvel story line, Nick Fury is white. He was only established as black in the Ultimate universe created by Brian Bendis. In this issue, he meets up with Daisy in disguise as the black version of himself in the Ultimate universe.

I liked the interaction Daisy had with each new team member that Nick Fury suggested she speak with. Even a jarring intro she had with a young lady who could read the future seemed natural. While I don’t have a clue where Daisy fits into the grand scheme of things in the Secret Invasion, the team that’s been put together is an interesting group.

The artwork did a good job in showing the individuality of the characters. The scene I enjoyed most was the intro to Doctor Druid’s son. He’d arrived at Doctor Strange’s old home for help where Daisy meets up him. He knows something is up due to having some powers but he doesn’t know where they come from or how to handle them. When Daisy tells him she can help him get a grasp on everything, the smile he gives when hugging her is priceless.

The Bad:

Based on the cover of the issue you’d think that you’d have an issue dealing with the Skrull versions of the heroes we all know and love. You’d be wrong. While the story told in these pages wasn’t bad by any means, it is a kind of bait and switch. Nick Fury has already been introduced into the story so having him on the cover would not have been too far fetched to have. Yet we think we’re going to see Captain America and encounter nothing of the sort.

The story itself, if you can even call it that, felt too short. While it could be said that this could be due to enjoyment of the story, that the story was so good that it felt like it was over before it had a chance to start, I counter that it felt fast because not much of anything really happened. We meet a group of people who on the last frame are lectured by Nick Fury about the pending invasion as they glance of pictures of people Fury believes to be potential Skrulls.

While you don’t doubt that Nick Fury has his heart in the right place, similar to The Punisher you have to ask why he takes some of the actions that he does. He seems to feel that the ends justify the means and that in the name of world peace it is ok to deceive, lie to , hurt, and even have killed people you may love and respect. We get that the Skrull invasion is a pretty serious threat and that big decisions will have to be made but at this point, Nick Fury is in charge of jack shit. His getting involved without SHIELD being involved just makes no sense and makes me not really care for the character that much.

They’re touching on this albeit briefly in the Marvel Movie universe as well. While Nick Fury is supposed to be in charge of the Earth defense force, he keeps a lot to himself and doesn’t trust too many people. There’s a plan B for everything. Again, you sense that he has the right intentions for his actions but in the movies you can’t tell me he didn’t know Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD. There is no way he is that dumb. And if he knew Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD, why didn’t he do anything about it? What is his end game?

The art for this issue, while much better than the last issue of Mighty Avengers, still has that sloppy feel that I didn’t really care for. I like my art a lot cleaner than what is presented in this issue. Locations don’t really appear real. Characters have this non-realistic look that is quite jarring. The disguise I had mentioned Nick Fury was wearing earlier looked nothing like his Ultimate universe self looks like which pretty much ruins the point of having that joke. If you didn’t know about the Ultimate Nick Fury, you have to ask yourself why Nick Fury is walking around in public in black face and how anybody could fall for it?

Bottom Line:

I was harsh on this comic. In some ways it deserves it because there is not much going on. What it does though is introduce you to a new set of characters that I am intrigued to know a little more about. Who are these people and what are their links to characters we may already know? How will they work as a team? Will Daisy Johnson be a good leader? All questions I want to know the answer to. For that, I have to give the story a 7.

The art I am conflicted on. I think it looks horrible. It does however have a couple of good touches such as how Doctor Druid’s son was depicted which was nice to see. I really wish it was much cleaner because the mess really detracts from what was done well. For sloppy drawing, I have to give the art a 4.

This is not a bad issue. I am not looking to see people purposely skip this issue because there is a lot to enjoy. Just know that you are not getting a comic classic. This will just get you to the next issue of the Secret Invasion.

Secret Invasion #2

Secret_Invasion_Vol_1_2

The Secret Invasion continues as we dive into another issue of the Secret Invasion story via the Marvel Comics suggested reading order.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Secret_Invasion_Vol_1_2

The Good:

We pick up where the last issue of Secret Invasion left off where the Avengers team encounters the Skrull invasion force that came off the ship looking like the heroes from our world. The tension is high as the creatures that come off the ship act as if they are the actual people they appear to be which makes for some uncomfortable encounters when Spider-Man encounters Spider-Man and Luke Cage encounters the 70’s version of Luke Cage.

Bendis did a great job sowing doubt as to whether everyone that came off that ship was a Skrull. Could it possibly be that some of the people are who they say they are? Things quickly devolve and the heroes start fighting. From there some characters are revealed to be Skrulls after they are killed. The impostor Spider-Man is killed as well as the impostor Hawkeye. We get a scene though where the real Hawkeye, now known as Ronin, encounters who they believe to be the Skrull version of Mockingbird, asks her a question that he feels only she would know the answer to, and when she answers the way he thinks she would, he decides that she is the real article. We as the reader though have to question whether that is the case. How much are the Skrull’s able to get from the minds of humans before they impersonate them? They have to be pretty convincing otherwise the invasion would fail rather quickly no matter how much they look like the people they hope to impersonate.

We quickly switch back to New York where the effects of the fake Sue Storm destroying the gate to the Negative Zone is quickly breaking apart the Baxter Building and more. A group called the Young Avengers witness everything and just as they decide that maybe they should do something, guess what appears in the sky? Skrull invasion ships! In a scene that I’m sure was on Joss Whedon’s mind when he was writing the script to the first Avengers film, the last image we see is an army of Skrulls as they descend upon New York. (In the movies and the Ultimate comic book line created my Brian Bendis, the aliens are referred to as the Chitauri. They are established as being a separate from the Skrulls simply because the Skrulls movie rights do not lie with Marvel but with 20th Century Fox I believe. Marvel has been making it a point of lessening the focus of characters they no longer have the movie rights to so they don’t give money away to other companies.)

Now this issue will not win comic of the century awards. It is a groundwork laying issue more than anything. The story really doesn’t advance any more than it did with the last issue I reviewed. However I think this issue did pretty good in establishing the levels of distrust the heroes are going to go through. The Skrulls have been quite thorough in their invasion plans. The impersonations of the humans is so complete that Wolverine for example cannot smell them where it had been established that he had been previously been able to do so. Just how deep the impersonation has gone is as yet unknown. The Mockingbird story that I mentioned above shows that right now we really cannot trust who may or may not be a Skrull. If Spider-Woman has been revealed to be the Skrull queen and yet still is able to get the confidence of everyone, who’s to say that Mockingbird is not a Skrull?

The artwork was pretty good this issue. The scope of the locations was well done. I really got the feeling that the action was taking please in a real location and not some Hollywood set. The characters were well done too. You really got the sense of the struggle they were going through in the issue. For example, the look on the faces of the Young Avengers of shock made you really get into what was going on. That is the sign of a good artist, someone who believes in the work he is creating and someone who is able to make simple drawings become actors of a sort in the story that is being created.

The Bad:

While I enjoyed the story, as noted not much really happens this issue and that is frustrating. I get that each issue I read is a chapter in a story and not every chapter can be as thrilling as the final chapter of a book because the job of any writer is to build to the climax of the story. But I wanted to feel like something was moving forward. It’s already been established that Skrulls are on Earth. We know that mistrust will happen among people that are friends. We don’t need to spend so long on establishing said mistrust. Bendis is almost beating the reader over the head with the fact that you can’t trust anything you see when all you really want him to do is get to the next part of the story. Maybe I’m approaching this too much like a traditional book. Maybe I need to be the one to adjust how I view the story. But I can’t see the logic in creating a long form story with no real coherence. Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. For a story to succeed, you have to follow the formula of establishing what is going on, showing how the protagonist reacts, and how they resolve the issue at hand. While comics do have tons of backstory that can be referred to, treating a comic as if it were a day in the life of someone is just distracting. I want my stories to have a beginning, middle, and end. This so far has come across like I got a glimpse of a camera that was recording these people’s lives right in the middle of something that was happening to them. I know a little of what is going on but too much is assumed that the beginning so far of this particular story, the Secret Invasion of the Skrulls, has been kind of lost in the background.

Bottom Line:

This is not a bad issue. While not much really happens to advance the story apart from the last page, I think what it does well is lay more foundation for the fact that no one can be trusted. We as the reader should not assume anyone is who they say they are. Bendis has done a wonderful job in laying the groundwork for what we will encounter later in the story. In doing so, he is making the start of the story a little tedious. I give the story a 5.

The art work has been some of the best in this story so far. It really screams as an homage of the old Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby drawings in classic Marvel stories while still feeling very much based in modern times. This is well done and honestly it makes me want to look for more work from this artist Leinil Yu. I give the art an 8.

New Avengers #40

New-Avengers-40-pg-000

What a difference a day makes. I go from the beginning stages of loathing for the next issue in the Secret Invasion to becoming excited to what happens next. I still stand by my review of the previous issue because it was not only a horrible read, it’s placement makes no sense in this story since it does nothing to advance it. This story did a much better job in terms of advancing things.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/New_Avengers_Vol_1_40

The Good:

With just the slightest bit of backstory we now have motivation for the Skrull Invasion of Earth which has been missing these past few issues. We only get the Skrull side of things this issue. We don’t see yet the actions of Reed Richards and others when they were on the Skrull home planet that could cause the Skrulls to want to invade Earth. Mr. Bendis did a wonderful job showing both the religious and scientific factions of Skrull culture as they ended up relying on each other for the invasion to be successful.

My biggest issue with the series so far has been the complete lack of motivation for this invasion. Why? Why would an alien culture go to such efforts in order to cloak themselves among the people they are looking to invade? Now we have those answers, at least enough of an answer to be satisfied of the why the Skrulls are looking to invade. Do I want to know more? Yes. Do I want to get to know some of the invading force? Yes. But at this point in the story, it has kept me from abandoning this series and has me quite interested in what the next issue brings. So, mission complete.

I also appreciated how the main Queen of the Skrulls ended up wanting to involve herself in the invasion. It would make sense that someone as religious as her would want to be on the front lines. If you think your actions could bring you to the promised land quicker, uniting you with your deity, who wouldn’t do whatever they could to help bring those actions about and not look to sit on the sidelines? The fact too that it is established that for the human impersonations to work, they cannot stray one bit either through mind or matter or else they will be detected. These people end up becoming clones for the most part which explains why they could blend into society and with their friends and family so easily.

The reveal at the end that the main queen was Spider-Woman was the perfect way to make the reveal. Unlike the Avengers Illuminati issue where Black Bolt revealed himself as a Skrull, this revelation that the woman who has been established to be a trusted member of both the renegade and official Avengers on top of being a trusted confidant of Nick Fury is in fact a Skrull in hiding, the Queen of the damned Skrulls, was a nice shock. Well done.

The art was solid in this issue, reminding me of some of the classic issues of The Avengers. The cover alone is reminiscent of the first Avengers cover so it is nice that they made a nice little modern homage.

The Bad:

The biggest issue I had was the fact that this issue deserves more than one issue in order to fully explain the motivation as to why they have chosen to invade Earth. This comic does feel like the highlights from a much larger story. Granted, the highlights are one hell of a read but I find myself wanting the information now, not twenty issues down the line. At least a little nod like Stan Lee used to do back in the day with a asterisk along with a brief description as to a previous issue the backstory could be found in would have been nice to have.

The art again evokes classic comics but it fails in terms of scope. We see a couple of external shots on an alien planet that look no more expansive than the set of Star Trek in the 1960’s. While the characters are well drawn, the locations where the action takes place are dull, not interesting in the least, and give the feel of smallness when it should be having an expansive feel.

Bottom Line:

This is a welcome issue. I have really been debating whether I wanted to continue this story (after only a week doing it) and this issue makes me want to know more of what is going on. Is it perfect? No. It has its flaws but what it does well, it does so at such a level that makes you forget some of the horrible stories you’ve encountered to get to this point. Not every chapter in a book will be great. But the sign of a good story is that at the end of a particular chapter, you’re impelled to immediately get to the next chapter. This does that in spades. I give the story an 8.

The art I was harsh with but this again is another issue of what they do well, they do it so well that makes you ignore the flaws. I really got a sense of character and where they stood in Skrull society. While I wish the locations were more realistic and didn’t feel small, I have to give the art this issue a 7.