Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
The Man of Steal
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Secrets and Lies
Monday, November 21, 2011
Countdown to Destruction
Friday, November 18, 2011
Sign of the End Times Part 2: Gods’ Footsteps
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Foxes & Scorpions
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Review copies provided by the studio.
It’s hard to imagine an Avengers fan not getting a kick out of most of these episodes. The storylines draw inspiration from everything from Walt Simonson’s “Casket of Ancient Winters” Thor arc, to Kurt Busiek’s global Kang vs. the World storyline from his final Avengers days. Characters you never really expected to see, such as Mockingbird and Ms. Marvel, even make appearances. Actually, Mockingbird does more than make an appearance; she’s a lead character for a few episodes. This must be what DC fans felt like when characters like Vixen and Captain Atom showed up on Justice League Unlimited. Not that Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is quite on Justice League Unlimited’s level, but it’s the closest any Marvel series has come so far.
Whether or not you wish to own these episodes on DVD likely depends on your level of fandom, but the sets are absolutely worth a rental. The entire first season has also been available via Netflix’s instant streaming service for a while now. I’m not sure when season two is set to begin, but hopefully the wait won’t be too long. This is a show that could easily match the episode runs of the ‘90s Spider-Man and X-Men series, assuming Marvel plays its cards right.
Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Angel Unzueta (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Comicraft’s Emerson Miranda (letters)
Summary: In Latveria, Skids and Locus are possessed by the witch Pandemonia, who forces them to take her to X-Force’s headquarters. When Cannonball, Moonstar, and Jesse Aaronson return home, they discover Pandemonia has possessed their teammates. They travel to the city and find a young sorceress named Jennifer Kale who’s willing to help. They return to battle Pandemonia and the possessed X-Force. With the help of Jennifer, and Moonstar’s strange new powers, Pandemonia is sent back to the Chaos Plane. Meanwhile, while investigating the Aguilar Institute, Domino discovers a shapeshifting child from Almost Reno, New Mexico.
Continuity Notes: Moonstar has been exhibiting odd, almost cosmic-level powers since her encounter with Arcadia in the previous issue.
Review: The Skids/Locus subplot is resolved, in a manner that a) leads into a new story, b) doesn’t take forever to answer the dangling questions, and c) actually makes sense. After the days of the Graydon Creed assassination, mysteriously molting Archangel, and wacky powers Jean Grey, this is a welcome relief. Moore’s quite gifted at spinning plates, bringing forgotten characters back into the mix, and tying everything together into a coherent story. I think he’s a little too obsessed with having the team only hang out with twenty-somethings, to the point that an MTV-friendly sorceress is recruited into the action (because the team doesn’t have Dr. Strange’s phone number), but that’s a minor complaint. The fill-in art is provided by Angel Unzueta, whose style resembles Carlos Pacheco’s early work. Not every page is great, but overall he does a nice job.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
She Got Game
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Aaron Lopresti (penciler), Walden Wong (inker), Felix Serrano (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Forge arrives at the academy to install a new Danger Room in the school’s gym. The new technology is made out of a mysterious metamorphic matter that Forge’s recently discovered and rendered inert. As he lectures the students on ethics, Gaia accidentally revives the Danger Room’s originally programming. It emerges as “Paradox” and attacks Forge. With Emma Frost’s help, a shutdown code is implanted in Paradox’s memory, ending the fight.
Continuity Notes: Forge says he discovered Paradox’s technology during a “recent…adventure.” I have no clue if this is a reference to a published story or merely an idea Hama was percolating. Forge also casually reveals that the school’s Biosphere (or “Bio-Sphere” as it’s often spelled) is made up of a portion of Karkoa’s body. I know that Scott Lobdell teased a Karkoa story towards the end of his run, but I have no memory of this ever being established. At any rate, Karkoa’s desire to be “whole again” is Forge’s explanation for the Biosphere’s recent disappearance. In other news, Artie and Leech have moved into the attic, and Emma discusses Special Education classes for the boys.
Review: Not only does this story involve a sentient Danger Room run amok, but it opens with a surprise Sentinel attack on mutant students gathered in an assembly. Two ideas from Astonishing X-Men in one issue? If I thought for a second that Joss Whedon ever read more than three issues of Generation X, I might be suspicious. Anyway, while Aaron Lopresti can’t capture John Cassaday’s incredible Sentinel attack from Astonishing X-Men #1, Larry Hama has at least written a more plausible “living Danger Room” story. Paradox mentions the irony of Forge teaching an ethics class after essentially enslaving a sentient being, but in Forge’s defense, he honestly thought Paradox’s original programming had been erased. In Astonishing X-Men, Professor Xavier is just a deranged zealot who forced an alien consciousness into slavery because his students “must be trained.” (Perfectly in character, you guys.)
Aside from the novelty that the more mature, serious Marvel that hires “real” writers ended up using the same idea, there’s nothing particularly memorable here. Larry Hama exits with a straightforward action story and a brief dissertation on the nature of superpowers and ethics, which is preferable to overly complicated origin stories and interdimensional hijinks, but it isn’t nearly as interesting as his earlier issues. Before he got into Pookas and Tokens, Hama opened his run with some intriguing character subplots and introduced a few civilian cast members that had potential. He seemed to have the right idea -- focus on the characters and give them a few “normal” people to interact with -- but the M/Penance origin storyline derailed the book spectacularly. After that, he focused on smaller, slightly silly story arcs, but the momentum was lost. Marvel wanted a new direction, so beginning next issue, a young writer named Jay Faerber is given the reigns.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
From Bad to Worse
Credits: Erik Larsen (writer), Jeff Matsuda (penciler), Jonathan Sibal (inker), Jason Wright (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Wolverine and Aria arrive at Prison World, and are promptly attacked by the Collector’s guards. Their ship is destroyed, forcing Wolverine to escape through an air duct. He’s soon spotted by three patrolmen, but he easily defeats them. Suddenly, an alien places a gun to his head. Wolverine’ relieved to learn that the alien is possessed by Aria. Unfortunately, their reunion is interrupted by Torgo and a Sadri Hunter.
Review: Even though this arc was originally released on a bi-weekly schedule, I felt at the time that the story was taking forever to go anywhere. This issue is a good example of how irritating the pace could be -- Wolverine and Aria land on Prison World, and are confronted by Torgo and the Sadri. To be continued! How does that consume an entire issue? I could live with a few pages of Wolverine ripping through the Collector’s henchmen, but not an entire issue, especially when Jeff Matsuda barely seems interested in drawing them. Heck, on some pages, even the colorist looks like he’d rather be painting his house or something. (Maybe there was a technical problem, but a few of the pages have extremely flat colors that look inappropriately bright, which doesn’t help Matsuda’s occasionally sketchy artwork at all.) There’s nothing particularly engaging about the dialogue, either, unless you really want to hear Erik Larsen mocking Wolverine’s old “Canuckle-Head” nickname for the second or third time since his run began.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Live and Let Die Part Four - Crescendo
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk (breakdowns), Don Hudson (finishes), Steve Dutro (letterer), Kevin Tinsley (colorist)
The Plot: Betty distracts Façade, giving Spider-Man time to recover and fight back. Façade escapes, but shortly after Lance Bannon’s funeral, he returns to the Daily Bugle. Spider-Man resumes the fight and rips open Façade’s armor. The electric shock temporarily knocks him unconscious, giving the man in the FACADE armor time to escape.
The Subplots: Betty vows to continue investigating Archer Bryce, who unexpectedly appears at Lance’s funeral. Jonah Jameson admits to Detective Chase that his son lied about leaving the Bugle with him the night Lance Bannon was killed, leaving John without an alibi. Later, Peter Parker arrives at the hospital to visit Aunt May. May’s mysterious friend arrives at the same time, and runs away when he spots Peter.
Web of Continuity: Spider-Man’s more consistent about calling himself “The Spider” this issue, although the speech pattern still doesn’t match “Shrieking” since he’s still telling jokes and doesn’t seem particularly angry about anything.
Façade visits Lance Bannon’s grave, and while his identity isn’t revealed, we do learn that he’s an adult male who refers to Bannon by his first name.
I Love the ‘90s: Façade calls Betty’s leather vigilante look “a true fashion statement for the nineties.”
Review: “Live and Let Die” concludes, awarding us with no resolution to the storyline’s central mystery, although we are treated to the return of Butch Betty. Not only does she keep a literal armory in her apartment, but she’s also concerned enough about her vigilante image to change into a different outfit before coming to Spider-Man’s rescue. That’s commitment, sister. Just think…about three months ago Marvel Time you were an emotionally broken cult member who couldn’t face the outside world, and now you’re in firefights with hi-tech armored killers. Who says ‘90s comics were dumb?
So, again, the “mystery” turns out to be a waste of trees and the continuity tie-ins with the “Important” Spidey story of the moment don’t work. Façade’s destined to be a joke amongst the few fans who remember him for years, but at least next issue we’re getting the Spider-clone, and that’s not going to make anyone mad at all. What is significant about this issue is that it’s Alex Saviuk’s last one, which is a shame. His work didn’t mesh with Stephen Baskerville’s finishes at all, but thankfully he’s been paired with the more simpatico Don Hudson for the past few issues. Saviuk certainly isn’t going out on the best story in Web’s history, but that’s not his fault. The art is clear, the characters look like themselves, the fight scenes are energetic, and Spider-Man himself has a nice Romita look, even if his eyes are huge now. Saviuk’s art was often the highlight of this title, and his loyalty to the book is certainly admirable. Actually, his loyalty to Spider-Man himself is remarkable, given that he left Web to pencil and ink Spider-Man Adventures, and then moved on to the syndicated newspaper strip. As far as I know, he’s still drawing the Sunday strips.