The Amazing Spider-Man #2

The second issue of The Amazing Spider-Man gives us two stories for the price of one. We meet up with one member of Spider-Man’s famous rogues gallery when we meet The Vulture. We also meet up with a lesser known villain in The Tinkerer.

Stories from this era and earlier tended to be more on the simpler side. Where as stories today tend to take place over multiple issues and sometimes multiple titles, we see stories begin and end in singular issues. The benefit of course is that you money for the issue is well spent. You don’t have to spend a fortune to or invest in titles you may not like just to finish a story you may be interested in. The drawback of course is that there isn’t much room for the story to grow. You have simplistic stories with simplistic characters who we don’t know much about doing things just cause.

The Vulture is an interesting case. While he may not have the name recognition of The Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus, he’s someone I would put in the top ten of Spider-Man’s most formidable opponents. Yet his introduction is pretty basic. The only thing separating him from the average villain is the getup he uses to fly. We don’t know his name, he’s just a guy who wants to make a dishonest living.

The Tinkerer is a shorter story without too much of a purpose. We get Peter discovering a radio repair man is working with some supposed aliens to install monitoring devices in the radios of very important people. We are told it’s because they’re looking to take over the world yet according to Marvel’s own wiki we find that those supposed space aliens were a ruse and the Tinkerer is just a guy who knows his way around electronics. Readers of this era would not know that and would probably have assumed that the supposed aliens were the same Skrulls that were introduced in the second issue of The Fantastic Four.

Stan Lee recounts in numerous issues that he hasn’t always been proud of his work in comics. When asked by others he would say he was a writer. A writer of what? they would ask. Children’s work. What children’s work? Work for comics he would reply. Then people would walk away. So it is safe to say that, while I think he may be over doing his embarrassment of his work because otherwise why would he be doing it if he didn’t have some pride in his work, I do feel that it is safe to say that he wasn’t exactly thinking long term about the characters he created. Hindsight being twenty twenty, how could he not see the importance of his work? I mean, the best thing about superhero comics are the fact that no matter what evil happens in the real world, we have a chance to escape into a fantasy world where heroes just like you or I are able to defeat the villains that are intent on wrecking havoc on our world. Yet he had no way of knowing the impact he was making on our society. His work at this point, while I’m sure he loved what he was doing, was just a job. He, like any other writer, and Steve Ditko, like any other artists, were essentially throwing what they could at the wall in regards to content hoping something would stick. Their batting average during this time was amazing of course, that goes without saying. The drawback comes with the fact that the stories during this time were single issue stories.

While I have lamented on here multi-issue stories that span through multiple titles, the benefit of these types of stories is that they can shine more light on the villains of the work. The best work, whether it’s books, comics, movies, whatever, are able to flesh out all the characters in the story. While we will, as readers, react viscerally to the actions of villains in a story, we’re going to be more involved in the story if we know why the character is doing what they are doing. Take The Vulture. In this issue we see he’s intent on stealing. He’s created an amazing device that allows him to harness magnetism in order to fly so it goes without saying he is a smart guy. Yet like a common hoodlum he resorts to stealing. I personally want to know why. (I’m only talking in regards to this particular issue. The Vulture is a long time villain in the Spider-Verse and his story has been fleshed out a long time ago.)

Bottom Line:

While this issue won’t go down as the all time greatest Spider-Man story, it is a fine example of Lee and Ditko’s work during this era. As I have mentioned in my reviews of some of Brian Bendis’ work, with the sheer amount of content Stan Lee and Steve Ditko put out over their careers, not everything will be a winner. I could have done without the story of The Tinkerer myself but an issue that details the debut of a major villain like The Vulture will sure go down as a must read for me. Similar to listening to the first major songs of your favorite musicians, it’s interesting seeing where folks start out because you can see the glimpses of what made them great. While they were not firing on all cylinders at this point, more so for Lee than Ditko but I contend that is simply due to how comics were written at the time, the foundation of an amazing universe was being created and more often than not, they were doing more right than wrong. Probably my only real complaint would be the fact that the comic is so verbose. Like I said in my review of The Avengers #1, the writing comes across like it was being written for a radio play. Everything was described, almost like Stan was creating closed captioning for a comic book. The drawback of this approach is that it crowds out some amazing artwork from Steve Ditko. It seems superfluous to have a character state what they are doing when the artwork is showing the reader the same thing. As the old saying for writers goes, show your audience what you want to show them, don’t tell them about it. Less is more, especially in comics when the art can do so much of the storytelling for you.

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.

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.

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.