Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Comic A Day # 10 -- Avengers Infinity # 1 - 4

Avengers Infinity # 1-4

Quasar discovers that a Rigillian colony has been destroyed – its population mysteriously wiped out.  He finds Jack O’Hearts in a coma state and then proceeds to contact the Avengers for help.  Instead of the team currently lead by Wasp, Quasar brings together Photon, Moondragon, Thor, Starfox, and Tigra.  They regroup on the Rigel colony and Moondragon scans Jack’s mind to discover who was behind the attack – creatures called Servitors, minions of the mysterious Infinities.

The Avengers battle the Servitors, but are forced to retreat when Photon discovers that they are breaking the world down.   The Avengers shove off at just the right second.  A much larger being appears and begins to reshape the planet into a cylinder.   The Avengers attempt to enter the being to understand what it’s doing, but Photon gets trapped.  The Avengers mount a rescue – but as they do, other beings with other worlds-turned-cylinders show up and link them forming a giant.

Then the hand of the true Infinite appears to grab hold the ring, to pull all of the stars of the galaxy away to form a weird wall.   To combat the Infinites, the Avengers contact Eternity and enlist him in stopping the Infinites.   Eternity channels the Avengers, proving to the Infinities that the universe contains worlds that rife with diverse and prominent life-forms.  The Infinities realize the error of their ways and stop what they’re doing.   The colony world is reformed and an Infinite dies to restore the world ecology.

I absolutely loved this mini-series.  It was more fun than I’ve had in some time with Avengers, to be honest.   The dialogue is snappy.   The themes of humanity vs cosmic beings is laid out well.  I love the idea of size being such a big selling point for this series – the comparison of ants that Thor goes on about.   It might be about the cosmic aspects of the Marvel Universe, but it illustrates the relationship with the tiny beings (we humans) with the amazing massive (the Infinites).   It works really well.

I also enjoyed Photon being in command.   The way she talks to Thor is amazing.   Her closeness with Tigra, the uneasiness with Moondragon, and her familiarity with Quasar and Jack all help Monica steal the show.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Comic A Day # 9 -- Avengers/Thunderbolts

Avengers # 31
The Avengers are contacted by the Vision, who has learned that the crime organization the Maggia are meeting in Chicago.  Having completed some training and some inconclusive medical scans on Hank, the Avengers head out and meet with up with Vision.   They ambush the Maggia, whose ranks include Madame Masque, and find that the group is trying to be united by the Grim Reaper.   A battle ensues, with all but three of the crime bosses being captured.  Grim Reaper tries to use Madame Masque as a bargaining chip, but she explodes (!) and the Reaper escapes

I liked this issue a lot.  It was great to see Vision back in the saddle and I enjoyed his dialogue with Wanda.   The tension between Duane and Tony and the others is a little hard to deal with and I’m hoping to see a break-through soon.   While their first outing was unexciting, this new team really shined in this mission.  I’m actually excited to see what’s next!  But first, off to Thunderbolts # 42 to find out what happened to Simon . . .

Thunderbolts # 42
Atlas, wallowing in his misery, is suddenly attacked by Wonder Man.  The two of them duke it out.  Atlas tries to talk villain-in-hiding Man-killer into helping, but she laughs at him and runs away.  The other Thunderbolts get involved, but just as Wonder Man is taking Atlas away.  Hawkeye decides to contact the Avengers.

Also, a lot of other things are going that I don’t understand nor do I think matter.   These flashbacks hurt my head.

Um, well, this issue was fun.   Maybe it’s just my mood, but I enjoyed it.   Now, I did skip over all of the weird, confusing, inconclusive flashback stuff.   It just didn’t make any sense.  The Wonder Man vs Atlas fight, on the hand, was cool.  Bagley’s art is always a pleasure to look at it.

Avengers # 32
She-Hulk leaves the Avengers now that Vision is back.   On her way out, Black Widow shows up with a coin given to her a while ago by a robot kidnapping Masque, a Madame Masque clone-thing that joined the Avengers back in the crazy days of the mid-90s (but she doesn’t have a jacket, so she was spared that).   As Iron Man and Black Widow try and uncover Madame Masque’s location, Triathlon makes it clear to Jonathan Tremont that his Avengers responsibilities take precedence.  Eventually, the Avengers track down Grim Reaper, who is about to attack Madame Masque’s butte (not butt) and fisticuffs follow.   Madame Masque launches her own attack – but it’s all interrupted by the arrival of Count Nefaria, who has Wonder Man and Atlas in tow!

While the last issue was a breeze, this one stumbled.  She-Hulk, who had been such a fun character, leaves.  It’s disappointing.  I do like the arrival of Black Widow, though.  And there are some great scenes – like Vision’s awkwardly asking Carol out and Triathlon giving Tremont attitude.  But Madame Masque acts like a complete and total nutjob and the constant flashbacks are just out of control.  Sometimes, it’s okay to just tell a story without having to show us everything that’s come before.  On the other hand, maybe Madame Masque needed this issue to just help clarify her history.  I dunno.

Thunderbolts # 43
Black Widow goes to the Thunderbolts headquarters and recruits the Thunderbolts in sneaking into Baron Zemo Sr’s old base.  The Maggia are looking for information regarding Ionic Energy or some such.  They encounter Cyclone and fight it out.  They quickly learn that this is all moot; Count Nefaria has apparently used all of this information all ready and has used to take control of Wonder Man and Atlas.

Also, other things happen that don’t make sense.

Thunderbolts is a dense read.  Aside from the story that’s going on, there’s about five or six other subplots running around that just don’t have any interest or relevance for me.   It’s difficult to follow under the best of circumstances and I think read as part of an Avengers crossover, it becomes a chore.  So I skip that stuff.  Ultimately, though, this issue just feels pointless.  There was no real reason for it other than to crossover to Avengers.  The Thunderbolts did nothing important other than confirm that they were too late.  There’s very little to the Black Widow/Hawkeye meeting.   It’s a snooze-a-thon.

Avengers # 33
The Avengers, Count Nefaria, Grim Reaper, and Madame Masque’s forces all battle it out in front of Madame Masque’s butte.   Madame Masque believes it’s all a ruse to lure her out into the open, but as the battle because heated, she questions that scenario.  Egged on by Masque, she initiates an evacuation.  Count Nefaria has Atlas and Wonder Man destroy the butte and captures Madame Masque.  The Avengers interviene, and Count Nefaria eventually decides to book it with his ionically controlled minions in tow.  The Avengers regroup at the mansion with Grim Reaper in shackles and Madame Masque being interrogated.  She and Tony have a few moments where he tries to convince her to help them.  Soon after this, the Thunderbolts and Black Widow call in, claiming they’ve found evidence that Count Nefaria is out to build a huge Ionic Bomb!

I’ll say off the bat, I’m not a fan of Count Nefaria and Madame Masque.   I did like the appearance of Masque, as I never quite understood this character.  I did also like the moment between Tony and Madame Masque.  It wasn’t a terrible issue, but it wasn’t a homerun either.  

Busiek does a good job of making Count Nefaria into a dangerous threat.  Madame Masque, for all her paranoia and a little whacky for me, calms down as the issue goes on.  It was okay.

Thunderbolts # 44
The Avengers and the Thunderbolts meet up at the mansion and discuss their recent missions.  Captain America and She-Hulk rejoin them for this mission. Madame Masque, Doctor Malus (captured by the Thunderbolts), Goliath, and Iron Man proceed to build a weapon to stop the Ionic Bomb, called the Ionic Lock.  The two teams them locate Count Nefaria and engage Atlas and Wonder Man.   This eventually leads to Iron Man using the Ionic Lock on them and changing them back into their human forms.  Suddenly, though Count Nefaria shows up and activates his bomb.  The Ionic Lock, surprisingly, doesn’t work.
This felt like just another installment in this crossover.  I’m really clueless regarding the Thunderbolts, so that stuff is completely lost on me.   But I did enjoy the suggestion that Songbird and Mach-2 could be Avengers.  I also loved the scene where Cap tells Clint he’s proud of him for standing by the Thunderbolts and keeping with his convictions.  Beyond that, this was rather ho-hum.

I did want to comment on the rather pointless appearance by She-Hulk and, to a certain extent, Cap.  She-Hulk’s absence from the team lasted one full issue and now she’s back.  Cap, on the other hand, was back just a little bit ago and seems to really just pop in whenever he felt like it.  With the rigidity of the Avengers membership early in the series, things have certainly become more relaxed.

Avengers # 34
The Avengers and the Thunderbolts duke it out with Count Nefaria, trying to wear him out.   Masque then emerges, but is quickly killed by Count Nefaria.   Madame Masque, in shock over her father’s ruthless killing of a woman that she could have been, fires the Ionic Lock at the Count Nefaria.  It hurts him enough for him to leak Ionic energy and the Avengers and Thunderbolts pile it out.   Meanwhile, Wonder Man and Atlas wake up and have to race the bomb into space.  The bomb explodes and the pair have to absorb its energy.  Count Nefaria goes after them, but explodes with power and is defeated.  Madame Masque escapes, Count Nefaria has been defeated, the Ionic guys are safe, and the Avengers and the Thunderbolts leave on good terms.

Except Yellowjacket just spotted his wife on TV . . .

An excellent conclusion to an otherwise uneven story.  Busiek does an amazing job making Count Nefaria into a real, impossible to beat bad guy.  I loved seeing the good guys just pour it on him – and not take him down!  I also enjoyed the scenes with Madame Masque and it saved the character for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Suck at Up-Dates

Sorry guys.  I'm having trouble getting this thing up-dated.  Friday night, we had no internet.  Saturday and today has been occupied by family things.  I will have a big up-date for you tomorrow, because even though I've been sucking at up-dates, I've been reading everyday.  Trust me.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Comic A Day # 8 -- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe # 1

Meanwhile, in another He-Man canon . . .

Adam, a simple woodsman, has dreams of being a hero of good and fighting evil enemies.  Every morning, he wakes up to the same reality - his father is a dying, confused old man and Adam himself is a woodsman.   But after a few visits from a falcon who Adam realizes is named Zoar, he comes to terms with the fact that he must act on these dreams.  Leaving his father in the care of a neighbor, Adam leaves the woods.  He encounters Beast-Man, who tells him to return, but Adam scrapes with him and wins!  Beast-Man whimpers back to Skeletor, who wants everyone to know -- Adam must be stopped!


This issue is mainly just set-up for the first of the series.  It took me a few reads to enjoy it.  After the greatness of MVC comics in the early 2000s, I had some high expectations for this one.   I think once I got over the drastic changes, it made for a better read.

I'm curious to see how this saga unfolds.  I like that Adam is the central figure, not He-Man.   That this is a heroic quest to become He-Man again, not just an origin.  I like that Skeletor is clearly in charge.  There's a lot to like.

I'm not the biggest Phillip Tan fan, but the art isn't that bad.  Beast-Man looks different, but a far less departure than the '87 movie.   Skeletor is imposing.  Adam is scrawny, which I really like.   He looks like just a woodsman.  Nice and simple.

Eternia doesn't exactly pop for me.  The backgrounds lack the exotic texture of Eternia from all of its previous incarnations and I hope that changes.

Overall, not a bad start at all.

A Comic A -- WHOOPS!

Sorry everyone.   Didn't get a chance to write up my review blurp yesterday.   Mrs. W is preggers and some times, that takes precedence.    That being said, I'll hopefully have TWO reviews for y'all tonight!  Thanks!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A Comic A Day # 7 -- Avengers Annual 2000

Patsy Walker (aka Hellcat) goes on TV and talks about her experiences, including her recent return to life.  Her ol' pal Heddy then shows up and drags her back to Centerville, which we reveal has been turned into an amusement park -- being run by the Sons of the Serpent and the Salem Seven.   Hellcat reaches out to Moondragon, who assemebles the only available Avengers (Cap, Iron Man, and Scarlet Witch) along with Hawkeye and Songbird.   The team goes to Centerville, fight the bad guys, and then get captured.  Heddy saves the day and the Avengers depart, leaving Hellcat happily in Centerville.


This felt really pointless, other than to establish the Hellcat is back.  The bad guys were dull, the Avengers felt disposable (though I liked the nod to Avengers Forever) and the art was bad.

That's all I really have to say about that, I guess.

Monday, August 06, 2012

A Comic A Day # 6 -- Masters of the Univeser Minicomic # 2 of 3

Does a mini-comic count as a comic?  It does today!

In the previous issue, Adam/He-Man was taken back into the past by the Sorceress (whose role has been taken up by Teela).  His mission was to uncover the secret to defeating the Snake-Men.   Upon arriving (and being followed by Skeletor), He-Man took on a disguise and battled some Snake-Men.

In this issue, He-Man is recruited by He-Ro to join in the war with the Snake-Men.  Join by King Grayskull and a host of other Preternian heroes, He-Man and the gang engaged the Snake-Men at the Great Towers.  During this battle, Hordak arrives and threatens King Hsss with the Spell of Spereation.  The Snake-Men retreat and He-Man realizes that this is the key to defeating the Snake-Men.   Hordak proceeds to fight King Grayskull and He-Ro.  He-Ro dies and passes the uber powerful Sword of He to King Grayskull.  King Grayskull fights Hordak and lops off his hand.  Meanwhile, with He-Man fighting Skeletor, Eldor sinks the Great Towers, effectively ending the battle.  He-Ro is laid to rest and a castle is built in his honor.  He-Man then departs of the present with Skeletor in tow, saying "Good journey" to King Grayskull.

These mini-comics have been fun and nostalgic, but seriously lack the depth I would rather see.  It's need to see He-Ro, He-Man and King Grayskull in action.   Hordak and King Hsss add some fun to the mix.  Skeletor, as always, brings his own agenda and we see that get spoiled.   The art is excellent and the script conveys a lot.

But we get moments.  We don't get an all out, in-depth story.  It's just a quick flash of art and story points, with very few moments of characterization.   I understand the constraints, however, and for what it is, I can live with it.   I'll certainly looking forward to the next one, that's for sure!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

A Comic A Day # 5 -- Legends of the Dark Knight # 1

Woo!  Batman!   Also, joining us today, is a guest reviewer, the lovely Mrs. W!  Her review will be after mine.   I thought it would be interesting to get an "outsiders" point of view every now and then.  So, without further ado . . .

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight # 1

We open up with a young Bruce Wayne teaming up with a bounty hunter to catch a criminal in the northern Alaska mountains.   However, the criminal gets the better of them, kills the bounty hunter, and attacks Bruce.  Bruce outsmarts him and fights back, but the criminal falls to his death and takes Bruce's coat and supplies with him.  Delusion, freezing, and exhausted, Bruce nearly dies, but is rescued by some Indians.  They tell him the story of healing and he eventually recovers.   He leaves Alaska and returns to Gotham to start his war on crime.  His first night goes wrong (as detailed "Batman: Year One"), but his second one goes well.  He attacks some thugs breaking into Leslie Thompkins clinic and proceed to try and kidnap a pregnant woman.  Batman stops them, but the women calls Batman "Chubala!" and kills herself.  But why?


My Review:

I really enjoyed the issue.   It serves as an excellent bridge between Wayne's pre-Batman days and his career as a crimefighter.  The story takes a moment to touch on the origins of Batman, and does the right thing by not pounding away at all the overly familar imagery (thanks in part to Frank Miller, whose "Year One" takes place within the general timeframe of this one).

This issue mainly serves as set-up.  We see Bruce's beginnings, his endeavors to be the Dark Knight.  We see him become the Batman, almost literally.  We, as the reader, are drawn the line between Bruce's time with the Indians, his transformation into Batman, and the possibility of a connection between the suicide and imagery of the bat.

The art fit well and provided plenty of detail and made it all look very grounded.  Looking forward to issue two!


Mrs W's Review:

 As far as Batman origins/early year stories go, this one is more of the same. All of the basics are covered; you’ve got Bruce somewhere exotic and dangerous, being mentored by some coot with wilderness or survival skills as they face up against an off brand of homicidal maniac.  The only real unique take I can see in this comic was the origin of the “bat” persona that Bruce adopts, giving it some ancient tribal flair rather than relating it to the bats beneath Wayne Manor. The mention of Selena Kyle as a hooker was amusing, but other than that you have the same old story that even casual Batman fans know so well. The ending of this comic, however, took a somewhat disturbing twist that perhaps can at least pique your interest long enough to see what the writers have in store for issue two.

A Comic A Day # 4 -- Avengers # 30 (Volume Two)

I did read the comic yesterday, but I wasn't able to write a review until now.  Sorry.  Extra blog post for this evening!

Avengers # 30

Kulan Gath prepares to sacrifice Pelali, the Avengers, and the whole damn village so that he can become a god.   Luckily, Iron Man figures out a way for the army to enter and remain normal.   Also, Giant-Man is able to break out and a battle ensues.  People are transformed into monsters and demons and other insanity ensues.   Ultimately, Silverclaw reaches out to her villagers and their faith weakens Kulan Gath.   Gath prepares to kill her, but our mystery man from last issue blasts him from the shadows.   Kulan Gath prepares the scarfice Pelali anyways and when he does, a portal opens.  The "dark ones" that granted him his power are pissed and drag him into it.  Pelali dies, regretting shunning her daughter, but knowing time is up.  Silverclaw goes back home with the Avengers, and is even granted a spot as a reservist.   Meanwhile, hiding out in the back of the Quinjet is none other than YELLOWJACKET?!  Say whaaaaa?!


The less said about Kulan Gath, the better.   I found this story to be way too long.  This could have been covered in two issues.   He's clearly a danger, but I just don't feel intimidated by him. 

We did some get some good characterization, though.   Silverclaw's come full circle with her origin and I'm glad to see her among the Avengers.  She should add some new drama to the gang.   Triathlon seems to have lost that chip on his shoulder and is showing signs of melding in with the rest of the team.  She-Hulk is as fun as ever.

The big twist with Yellowjacket suprised me when I read this years ago.  I remember wondering this had some sort of connection with Avengers Forever (like he had gotten time lost at some point).   I don't quite remember the hows and whys of this subplot, but it's a neat little wrinkle.

Friday, August 03, 2012

A Comic A Day # 3 - Avengers # 29 (Volume 3)

Avengers # 29 (Volume Three)

The Avengers are woken by a battle nearby.  They soon discover that the volcano goddess Peliali is being attacked by strange priests.  The Avengers intercede and become involved in a fight with Hawk-Riders, loyal to Kulan Gath.   As they wrap up their own battle, Pelali and the priests vanish.  Meanwhile, the military begins to move in!

The Avengers split off.   Wasp and Iron Man meet up with the military and agree to follow them back to the capital to figure the situation out.  The other Avengers (protected by Wanda's magic) enter the transformed city, followed by both a child (who turns out to by Kulan Gath) and a mysterious man.

The Avengers find themselves in a tavern after encountering parts of the real world entering the village.  Eventually, a bar fight breaks out.  Kulan Gath transforms the patrons into monster that manage to bring the Avengers down.   Kulan Gath also (in classic Busiek style) relates his brief history to a captured Pelali, and declares to change the world's reality into his own.


Out of all of Busiek's story arcs, this one might be the most lackluster.  While I certainly don't mind Silverclaw, her story here just doesn't work for me.  I have no feelings towards Kulan Gath, and my only memories are from the time he attacked the X-Men and Spider-Man defeated him or something.  Wasn't he in Conan the Barbarian?

After suffering world-bending realities in the very beginning of Busiek's run, revisiting it here just doesn't seem to click.

On the other hand, we get some good moments.  I did like Silverclaw's anger towards Pelali for making her father seem like a crackpot and herself like a freak.   Carol has a great moment in the tavern, having to resist booze -- and she really shines when she goes off on Triathilon for being a loud-mouthed punk.  I also really enjoyed Wasp's leadership ability and her dynamic with the rest of the team.

She-Hulk is just so much fun, from her flirtations with Triathilon to her leaping up and starting the bar fight.

Unfortunately, nothing else in this story arc really grabs me.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Comic A Day # 2 -- Avengers # 28 (Volume Three)

I've actually been doing a full on review of Avengers Volume Three over at Avengers Assembled! boards, so if you're interested in my thoughts on those issues leading up to this one, you may want to give it a look.  The thread is here.

Avengers # 28 (Volume Three)

The Avengers do some PR work by smashing down some crappy old buildings in favor of a new, beautiful civic center.   They return to the Mansion to find that Silverclaw has received warning of an ancient prophecy in her homeland is about to come true.   The Avengers decide to accompany her to Costa Verde, but find that her small village has been replaced by a beautiful, ancient city.  The Avengers investigate and realize that reality has changed within the city walls.  Kulan Gath then manifests and warns them to go away.


Despite some strong moments, this issue really disappointed.   Silverclaw gets a full origin, which I liked.  I also enjoyed the PR work the Avengers did in the opening pages.

But just about everything else bothered me.  Kulan Gath's little world just reminds me too much of Morgan LeFaye's from issues 1-3.   The comments by Triathilon, who I liked a lot, seem very forced and out of place.   They just don't fit.

Here's hoping the next two parts of this story are better . . .

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A Comic A Day # 1 -- AvsX # 9

Over the past seven months, I have taken it upon myself to have a monthly goal.  January was easy - no doughnuts.  February was no fast food.  March was writing everyday.  April was private.  May was walk everyday (at least a mile five days a week).  June was private.  July . . . well, July failed.

After much deliberation, I decided that in August, I would read a comic everyday and write a short blurb about it here.   So, without further ado, August 1st brings us . . .

AvsX # 9

You can assume, safely, that when I finally get the Uncanny X-Periment caught up, I will have a nice, big, fat review of all AvsX for you.  Until then, this small morsel will have to satisfy you.   On a larger scale this crossover has felt awkward.  Hope's ascension to the Phoenix has been building for a very long time.   This subplot, however, has been yanked into the story of Wanda's redemption and tied together with an excuse for super-hero fisticuffs.

This crossover seemed to want to mimic the events of Civil War.   Two allies, torn asunder by a big, life-changing issue, must now fight.  Characters must then chose sides and battles are fought.   The problem is, Civil War took the time to examine why each character has joined their respective side.   Cap believed that the Registration Act was a violation of civil liberties.  Iron Man believed it was the best way to keep super-heroes in business.   Everyone else fell in line - but we had reasons for those lines.   A timely, relevant, and moral question was put forward and we watched as Firestar, Luke Cage, the Thing, and everyone else stated a reason to side against each other.

AvsX, there's no real reasoning.   The Jean Grey School X-Men aside, all the X-Men follow Cyclops blindly.  The Avengers have no doubt that Cap is right and follow him just as blindly.  At times, it just doesn't feel right to not have them question this conflict.

However, with AvsX # 9, we see things begin change.   Suddenly, after the major disaster of last issue, loyalties begin to wane - at least in the case of Storm and Professor X turn on their teammates.  This isn't exactly a surprise, as Storm had been an Avenger recently and the Prof made his feelings known last issue.  For Storm, I want to believe that this will have a profound effect on her with Scott and the X-Men -- and will hopefully elevate her to higher level of super-hero.

The other big star of this issue is Spider-Man.   While I enjoyed Storm's role in this issue, Spider-Man proves himself through and through.   I've come to believe that Spider-Man is the quintessential Marvel super-hero.   He's down to Earth.  He's filled with guilt, but not enough to make him Batman.   He's governed by a passionate moral center.  And most of all, he never gives up.  I mean, who many times do we have to see him under that big machine and push it off of himself.

This issues features a pounding on Spider-Man by Colossus and Magik.  Spider-Man takes it.  He just takes it.   He keeps getting up, he keeps pressing their buttons, and cracking wise.  He just doesn't stop.

And in the end, despite being a bloody pulp on the ground, Spider-Man wins the day.  Against all odds, Spider-Man come through as a true Avenger - as a true hero - and wins.   Colossus and Magik are defeated and he gets carried back to Kun'Lun.

Of course, once there, the danger presents itself again.

The issue has some nice details, but lacks in areas.   Jason Aaron does an excellent job giving the issue a "Dark Phoenix Saga"-type vibe with Emma Frost and Illyana.   It's interesting to note that these two have become ruthless while Scott and Peter have become kinda crazy (whales with crab legs).  Kubert's pencils are excellent and he does a good job illustrating this story.

Overall, one of the best out of this rather, er, uncertain crossover.