Friday, June 7, 2013


Private Exhibition
Written by Pierce Askegren

Summary:  After being released on parole, the Painter lives a seemingly quiet life in his art studio.  He’s ambushed one day by his former partner, “Scar” Tobin, and Tobin’s new henchman, Eric.  Tobin demands the Painter’s magic paints.  After futilely claiming that they no longer exist, the Painter finally reveals himself as a “self-portrait” created by the real Painter.  After tormenting the intruders with his magic paintings, the Painter eventually forces Tobin and Eric to disappear.

Continuity Notes:  The Painter, or more specifically “the Painter of a Thousand Perils,” was a Human Torch villain during the Strange Tales days.  He was also used in the “Art Attack” storyline in Web of Spider-Man, which ended with the revelation that the Painter is some form of sentient alien cockroach creature. 

Review:  It’s not terrible, but I would have to label this one the weakest story in the anthology so far.  The novelty of pulling the Painter out of obscurity has already been eaten up by that Web of Spider-Man arc, and the nature of his powers doesn’t exactly lend itself to prose anyway.  Askegren has clearly given the character some thought, coming up with the rationalization that he hasn’t ruled the world yet because he’s adamant that his paintings be perfect first, but there’s really nothing here to make me care that much about the Painter.  I liked him better as the exploding cockroach colony, to be honest.

All Creatures Great and Skrull
Written by Greg Cox

SummaryThe Super-Skrull arrives on Earth to apprehend Kree rebel Persa.  After stalking her throughout New York City, he eventually chases her to the Avengers Mansion.  Persa reveals Super-Skrull’s true identity to Vision, then runs inside during their fight.  Eventually, Super-Skrull and Vision learn that Persa’s mission was to kill the new Shi’ar Avenger Deathcry, who was able to easily defeat Persa on her own.  Vision refuses to turn Persa over to the Shi’ar, forcing Super-Skrull to retreat in shame.

Continuity Notes:  This story occurs following the Shi’ar’s victory over the Kree in “Operation: Galactic Storm.”  Deathcry was a short-lived Avenger during the final days before “Heroes Reborn.” 

Not Approved By The Comics Code Authority:  One of the street thugs that accosts Super-Skrull in his human form shouts out “you sonofabitch!” during their fight.

Review:  When Avengers Mansion entered the story, my first thought was:  “Are they going to use the actual Avengers from 1996?  Even Deathcry?”  The answer is yes, surprisingly.  And the basic idea of a Shi’ar member of the Avengers attracting Kree rebels, and by extension, Skrulls, actually isn’t a bad one.  Unfortunately, this Shi’ar member is the infamous Deathcry.  The only thing I really know about Deathcry is that you’re supposed to hate her, and her brief appearance in the story doesn’t dissuade that notion.  Aside from that, using her as the crux of the plot after several pages building up the mystery of Persa’s mission on Earth, is just a letdown. 

As a story of the Super-Skrull making his way through New York as discreetly as possible, the opening is pretty enjoyable (and Cox deserves some credit for coming up with numerous reasons why he isn’t just staying invisible the entire time.)  But once the Avengers enter, the reader has to wade through a lengthy, dull fight scene with Vision, and then we’re supposed to believe that Deathcry is somehow important to anybody.  Nope.  On to the next one…

The Deviant Ones
Written by Glenn Greenberg

Summary:  Inside the Vault, Venom and the Absorbing Man are fitted with experimental manacles that suppress their powers.  Venom’s alien symbiote reacts violently to the handcuffs and sends out a psychic shriek that disrupts the prison’s electricity.  In the confusion, Venom and the Absorbing Man escape, still chained together.  They hide out in the home of an elderly widower named Wally, and soon discover a shocking secret in Wally’s basement.  Venom is eventually able to free himself from the manacles, leaving Absorbing Man unconscious for the authorities to find. 

Continuity Notes:  This story has a character named Marvin Walsh, a balding heavy-set man in this mid-40s, as the warden of the Vault.  Looking online, I see another character named Truman Marsh was once warden in the comics, someone named Howard G. Hardman was apparently the original warden, and even Henry Gyrich was warden of the Vault at one point.

Review:  The title of this story is a direct nod to The Defiant Ones, a 1958 black and white film about two bickering convicts that are shackled together while on the run.  I’m not sure why Greenberg selected Venom and the Absorbing Man to star in an homage to the film, but they’re a fairly entertaining pairing.  In the early pages of the story, I wondered for a while if the Vault officials were going to use Absorbing Man’s powers to somehow remove the symbiote from Eddie Brock, but Greenberg doesn’t get to that bit until the very end.  In the meantime, we have deluded do-gooder Venom paired with relentless thug Absorbing Man, and eventually they run into sad old widower Wally.  That’s when the story almost veers into Pulp Fiction territory, but I won’t spoil the surprise.  There are no great revelations about the main characters, outside of establishing Eddie Brock as a twenty-four hour news junkie, but Greenberg gets a decent amount of material out of the pairing, and the twist at the end is fun.

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