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Review of New Avengers 40 (4 stars) April 30, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

To anyone waiting for the Skrull’s side of the story: this is it. In this issue, we find out why the Skrull’s are invading, and how they are doing it. There is also a massive Skrull reveal on the last page, which I will discuss at the end. If you do not want to know who it is, DO NOT READ THE LAST PARAGRAPH.

The story starts with an argument between King Dorrek, arrogant ruler of the Skrull empire, and the religious Princess Veranke, who is trying to convince the king to listen to the words of the “prophet.” He ignores her and banishes her for her “dangerous ways.” The king then orders his “priests of science” to begin processing the data gathered from the Illuminati to design the perfect human infiltration. The first progress shown is a successful clone of Reed Richards, which is soon killed by the king.

The story then jumps to several years later, when Galactus has destroyed the throne world of the empire, and the empire itself lies in ruins. Now, many of the Skrulls turn their allegiance to the long exiled Princess Veranke, claiming the prophecies were true. She reunites the empire with a common goal: to take Earth as their own. The scientists reinvigorate their infiltration efforts, and we finally see that they have developed undetectable technology: as long as the Skrull stays completely human, they can remain hidden; Elektra was the prototype for this test. The queen puts together an infiltration force, and insists on being a part of it. She decides she wants to become the individual who can do the most damage.

MASSIVE SPOILERS: She is Spider-Woman. I won’t lie, Spider-Woman has been acting suspiciously lately (see here and here), but this seems to imply that Veranke has been Spider-Woman since before New Avengers 1, if this is true, then it does surprise me, because so many of her actions in the early issues seemed genuine. Did Hydra ever really return Spider-Woman’s powers? Because they seem to think they did. Wherever the real Jessica is, does she have her powers back? And, perhaps most importantly, why would Veranke reveal the knowledge of the invasion to Tony? I must say, now I am utterly confused, and I can’t wait for the rest of Secret Invasion to flesh out the whole story.

Please leave comments!

-LOTRKing

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Review of Mighty Avengers 12 (4.5 stars) April 29, 2008

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Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

While this issue may not have any huge Skrull reveals, it still is a hugely enjoyable read. People who read my blog regularly know that I am somewhat of a noob when it comes to comics, so while I know who Nick Fury is, and a bit of his history, I’m not too familiar with his character. If this issue was any indication of a “normal” story involving his character is, then I definitely want to see more.

The story starts out at the end of Secret War (which I haven’t read, but I ‘spose I should) before progressing to a month later where he is meeting a lover at a hotel. He quickly finds out (after using an awesome personal cloaking device) that she is actually a Skrull. He, like the Secret Avengers after discovering Skrullectra, goes into full panic mode (in a very calm Nick Fury fashion 😉 ), and later breaks into Maria Hill’s helicarrier to give her some security advice. While he does not reveal the Skrull Invasion, he lets her know that something big is going on, and pretty much gives her pointers on how to stay alive, before escaping the helicarrier in a stunt that would have fit perfectly in a summer action movie (hint: it involves the aforementioned awesome cloaking device).

He lastly meets with Spider-Woman, telling her of the impending Skrull Invasion, before disappearing underground to figure this out for himself. This poses one small problem, Spider-Woman knew about the invasion BEFORE Skrullectra. That’s two issues of Mighty in a row to bring up doubts about Spider-Woman, I smell a Skrull…..

The last page shows Fury facing a wall full of photographs and a few of the pictures have circles around them, some red, some blue. I’m going to guess that the red circles are definitely Skrulls, and the blue circles are definitely not, while everyone else is still in the air. If I’m right, this means that Dr. Strange, Wolverine, and the Sentry are all Skrulls. (Well, and Hulkling, but we already knew that.) As always, time will tell…..

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-LOTRKing

Well, apparently my reviews don’t suck… April 28, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Stuff, Other Random Stuff.
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…because I am now also going to be writing reviews for Weekly Comic Book Review! That’s right, your favorite rambling King of the LOTR will be writing reviews that will actually be read by hundreds, instead of dozens! (Not that I don’t appreciate the 2-3 dozen that read this site daily, I am humbled that the amount of people who actually want to read what I have to say is more than four people. 😉 ) So what does this mean for this site? Well, I still plan to write reviews here. There will be some comics that I review only on WCBR, there will be some that I review only here, and there will some that I review both places. For the ones that occur twice, be assured they will be completely rewritten reviews, not just a copy and paste job. What will the difference be? My WCBR reviews will be more “professional,” so there will be no spoilers, and they will be shorter. Here, I’ll keep doing things the way they’ve been done: long, drawn out, spoiler-ful, and conversational. So which version do I want you to read? Both of course! One more news bit to reveal: since I cannot sign things “-LOTRKing” at WCBR, I might as well reveal my name: *drumroll* M. Staples. I know, boring huh? LOTRKing sounds cooler. 😛 So what does the “M” stand for? Well, that is the Mystery. 😉 (Sorry, bad pun.) But I’m sure I’d be insanely amused at your guesses, so start firing them. Lastly, to read my first ever review at WCBR go here. More are sure to follow.

Have fun! Happy reading! Try to guess my name! and Please leave comments!

😉

-LOTRKing

My Reactions to LOST Season Four, Episode Nine: The Shape of Things to Come April 25, 2008

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That was without a doubt the best LOST episode to date. Just a few quick comments for today: one, I was utterly shocked at the death of Alex. I knew as soon as Ben started speaking that it was a ruse and that he was expected the soldier to release her when he revealed his “lack of feelings” for her. For the first time ever, Ben’s plan failed, and as creepy as he may be, I feel sorry for the guy. Two, the smoke monster attack was probably the single coolest part of any LOST episode, as soon as I saw it coming through the trees, I couldn’t stop grinning. On another note, I loved Bernard’s “pwnage” of Daniel with the Morse Code. The only real problem I had with this episode was when Sawyer decided to leave and take Claire (I was uber shocked when I thought she had died! Sorry, I digress.) and Aaron with him. It seemed a little forced. I realize that Sawyer was getting fed up the shroud of mystery surrounding Ben and Locke, but his sudden statement of “I’m leaving” seemed to come out of no where. You’d think the fact that Miles’ people had just tried to kill them would be a reason to trust Locke, since he and Ben were trying to avoid them in the first place. Likewise, why would Claire give up on “Charlie’s final message” so easily? Oh well, can’t have everything be perfect. Lastly, the concluding scene was the icing on the cake. Ben and Charles are going to have their little game of chess, and we are going to see who wins. Much as I’d hate to see Penelope die, I can’t help but think that Charles finding the Island would be the worst case scenario. He may be creepy and ruthless, but for some reason I trust Ben, almost as much as I trust Locke. This is without a doubt the best show on television, if not the best show ever. (Yes, even better than Firefly *gasp!* Star Trek. *double gasp!* *Can feel himself being excommunicated from the brotherhood of nerddom.*)

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-LOTRKing

Review of Captain America 37 (4 stars) April 24, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This was another one of Brubaker’s “puzzle piece” issues, setting up the story and providing clues for the issues to come, but for once, we also got to see a large chunk of the Red Skull’s plan. It was like one of those satisfying episodes of LOST where you finally get some answers. The issue begins with a flashback to WWII and we see Red Skull take his vow to one day cause the collapse of the U.S.A., the story then jumps to the present where he is fulfilling his vow. Here we see, once again through a news report (have to say again, I love how Brubaker uses these to help tell the story as it also shows how what is happening in the story is affecting the mass public, and not just the superhuman community), a major part of Skull’s plan: the corrupt Senator Wright has announced his candidacy for president. So it appears that Skull will attack America from three fronts: the economic side through Kronas corporation, the political side through Sen. Wright, and from the morale side by bringing back the “real” Captain America only to have him commit terrorist acts.

From here we jump to Sam confronting Tony about the new Captain America, an inevitable conversation that was well written. Sam is, of course, angry from being left out of the loop, but tells Tony that he will keep and eye out for James. The scene then cuts again to James training with the shield, only to have Clint Barton enter and confront him about his new role. Like Sam, Clint is doubtful in whether James can carry Cap’s mantle, but James assures him that he is doing everything possible to live up to the title. I really enjoyed this scene, as it was yet another reinforcement that James will make a great Cap. Clint here could easily represent all the fans who are angered with the choice of James, and this scene could be another reassurance to them. Later, James has a strange dream, before awakening to find Sam in his apartment. James, expecting another confrontation, is surprised when Sam offers a partnership to go and rescue Sharon.

Lastly, we see Sharon attempting to free “Steve” before awakening him and realizing he is not Steve. Personally, I can’t tell what made her realize this, because apart from a somewhat mutilated looking left shoulder, he’s the spitting image of old Cap. Her realization further confuses me about who/what he really is. But then, confusion is half the fun of the mystery. While I may not know what this new Steve is, I do have a guess as to what will happen with him. Red Skull will use him to confront and attempt to take down James, and as a terrorist in order to further smudge the name of Captain America. Eventually James, likely with the help of others, will turn him good, only to later have him sacrifice himself to save someone else (likely Sharon, maybe James). Just my theory anyway. Summing up, Brubaker is still a genius, and I eagerly await the next issue!

Please leave comments!

-LOTRKing

Reivew of Uncanny X-Men 497 (3.5 stars) April 23, 2008

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Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

While this issue was certainly better than last issue, there is something about it, which I can’t quite put my finger on, that is keeping me from fully enjoying it. Perhaps the “hippy-ness” of it is just annoying? I don’t know, but it still isn’t too bad, and enjoyable for the most part. The story starts with Logan, Kurt, and Piotr on the train, being abducted by what I’m assuming are the Russian equivalent of Sentinels. The three put up a good fight (good in three ways – the actual fighting skills, the way it was written, and perhaps the most important, the way it was drawn; as always, Choi’s artwork excels in this issue), but are eventually rendered unconscious and taken captive.

The story then cuts to San Fran where Scott and Emma are still trying to deduce the cause of the “hippification.” We finally see the “Goddess,” who I don’t recognize, but I’m sure we’ll learn who she is before the end, as she and Eli talk to each other obscurely (which I’m hoping was intentional, cause if not, that scene was just confusing; I’m also hoping what they talked about will be explained before the end). Here, she also detects Emma’s presence, and sends the cops over to arrest her and Scott, and they, of course, escape using their powers, but not before the “Goddess” realizes that they are X-Men and comes up with a plan to stop them from stopping her. (However, if Scott and Emma can stop her, than they stopped her from stopping them from stopping her, but if she counters with yet another plan than she stopped them from stopping ….. okay, I’ll shut up now. 😉 )

The issue ends with the Russian official from last issue threatening to kill Logan and Kurt if Piotr does not tell him the secret of M Day. Well, looks like Russia may soon learn the story of the House of M. Think Russia would go on a full scale search for Wanda? And what would they do if they find her? Kill her, or attempt to use her as a weapon? Imagine if they could change reality so that they won the Cold War. This certainly does not look well for the three in Russia, so that’s what really has me looking forward to next issue. As for the hippies: dude! I don’t care, man. Let’s just be mellow about the whole thing. 😐

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-LOTRKing

Ender’s Game – The Comic Book April 21, 2008

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The coolest news of the decade just came from Marvel.com – Ender’s Game, one of the best novels of modern science fiction, is getting its own comic book adaptation. I think I might die from excitement, if I don’t post anything in the next week or so, you all have permission to assume that I did. I don’t really know what to say, I’m just so insanely excited that I had to post this.

I’ll stop babbling now. 😉

-LOTRKing

Concerning Amazing Spider-Man….. April 21, 2008

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So I have a confession to make. I, like many others, have fallen into the trap that is Brand New Day. Yes, despite my best efforts to stay away and maintain righteous anger, Amazing Spider-Man has drawn me back in, but probably not in the way you think. It was early March when I had a bit of an epiphany: five years (or so) from now, ASM will either be in one of two places: either OMD will have been reversed, or it won’t, and if it is reversed, I will have started to read it again, and if it isn’t reversed, by that time I will likely have gotten curious enough to take a look into the new world that Spidey had established. Being the “completist” that I am, and since I own the Amazing Spider-Man Complete Collection DVD-ROM, either road would require to go back and buy all the issues that I missed while I had dropped the book. So in essence, I knew I was eventually going to buy the books that were coming out now, and decided to save myself the trouble of having to find the issues in back issue bins and on eBay by simply catching up on the few that I had already missed, and continuing on from there.

So there, I said it: despite my rantings and ravings from previous months, I eventually (and in a very short amount of time) returned back to ASM. So, what do I actually think of the issues that I so reluctantly am buying? Well, they haven’t been that bad. Some were more interesting than others; the “Freak” storyline was certainly the most interesting. At the same time, they haven’t been as insanely spectacular as Marvel has said they’d be, but I can see now why Marvel thought elements like Peter’s secret identity, webshooters, and the return of Harry would help the story, because this “Brand New World” certainly is interesting. However, the one thing I have yet to see as necessary is the erasure of the marriage. In fact, the stories occurring now would be almost the exact same if Pete and MJ were separated (as they were a few years back), as if the were never married. I guess what I’m trying to say is, that while a somewhat massive reboot may have been necessary, said reboot did not have to get rid of the marriage. Indeed, the marriage remains my favorite part of past Spidey stories, and you can bet that my future letters to Marvel will include a request for a return of the marriage. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind if they “re-married” and acted like it was the first time. Anyway, I’m rambling on, so I’ll just get to (and/or reiterate) the main points of this post: I have restarted on Amazing Spider-Man, and reviews will return with the next new issue, though I’m still angry about the loss of the marriage, and I continue to address it in future letters to Marvel, one of which I plan to write next week (no promises though!) and will post up here.

That’s enough rambling from me today.

-LOTRKing

Review of Avengers: The Initiative 11 (4.5 stars) April 17, 2008

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Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Just when I think this series can’t get any better, I’m proven wrong. This, along with Thor, has become my favorite ongoing. The issue starts with a brief flashback to shortly before last issue ended, with Cloud 9, Hardball, and Komodo using the 42 jump point. Here they run into War Machine, who elects to stay behind and hold off KIA. (But not before showing us the insanely awesome gadgets that give the suit its name.) Unfortunately, even his best is no match for the Tactigon, as KIA disables him quickly.

Back in Tennessee, KIA makes a dramatic entrance before we cut back to Camp Hammond. Here, we get some more cryptic information about Mutant Zero involving a “Zero Room,” and the two remaining Scarlet Spiders leave to enter the fray. Whilst en route, they run into a tattered War Machine, who has to take off his mask to breathe. Here, we see that he is actually some sort of cyborg. I’ll admit, I’m fairly new to the finer points of Marvel continuity, and if this is a new revelation, I’m just as eager to find out more as the rest of you. What could have happened to require this major change? Does Tony know about this? Just another mystery that’ll keep bringing me back…..

The story cuts back to the massive fight, and we get to see an act of bravery from almost all of the major characters. Perhaps even better, each “act” really fits each character, further proving that despite the large cast, Slott and Gage know how to create characters that aren’t 2D. At this point, the cavalry arrives in the form of the Avengers (half of them anyway). While this really added to the coolness level of the issue, I do have two gripes about this part. Apparently none of the creators of A:TI read Mighty Avengers, as Simon is still in his old costume (which seems to happen everywhere but MA; this is getting as annoying as the Black Widow long hair/short hair conundrum), and Iron Man is giving the orders instead of Ms. Marvel. But this isn’t the first the time Marvel has thrown continuity out the window, and it unfortunately won’t be last, so that doesn’t affect my feelings toward this issue too much.

Of course, sealing the utter awesomeness of this issue, is that Cloud 9 is the one to save the day (okay, with some help from MVP clone 1.0), further proving that she is the coolest character in this series, and I hope that she stays around for a long time. (Seriously, causing someone to choke on a cloud while kissing them? How cool is that? Cloud 9 mini-series please!)

At the end of the issue, Cloud 9 and MVP clone 1.0 resolve the romance between them that never happened, and they pretty much decide to go their separate ways (at least that’s how I took it). But that is pretty much the only resolution that this arc gets, as I am left with three burning questions. First, most obviously, when and where will the “KIA memory helmet” resurface again? Will Slapstick really use it? (I’m not sure whether to be amused by his character, or creeped-out by him.) Second, what will happen to the Tactigon now? Surely Gyrich will remove it from KIA, but is it going back into storage? Are they going to be stupid and try to use it again? Or (preferably) will Armory return? (Seriously, she could probably help to turn the tide in Secret Invasion if they just let her fight.) Lastly, the one question that is bugging me is, what happened to Hank Pym? Surely one of Marvel’s oldest characters hasn’t been killed off without Marvel making a big deal about it. So was the Pym that was “killed” the Skrull? If so, how did he survive? Or was Hank quickly replaced after his “death”? If so, did he really survive somehow (like shrinking extra small like he did in that one explosion?) This is the question that is bugging me the most, and I’m hoping that we’ll find out soon.

Please leave comments!

-LOTRKing

Reivew of Fantastic Four 556 (4 stars) April 9, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Dang. When Millar and Hitch want to bring out mass destruction, they pull out all the stops. This keeps feeling more and more like a big budget summer disaster movie (not that I’m complaining). This issue picks up at the end of last issue, with the soldiers in Alaska confronting “CAP.” Oops, did I say confronting? I meant, saying two lines of dialogue before getting disintegrated. Within minutes, CAP disintegrates an entire army base. Earth Trust then alerts S.H.I.E.L.D. to send all the superheroes they can to take this down. (I wonder if they also told them who was responsible for this robotic monstrosity.)

The story takes a brief cut to Johnny’s new apartment, currently being wired for his new reality show, who checks to make sure there won’t be any cameras in the bedrooms. (Typical Johnny!) We then learn the name of his new villain girlfriend, Psionics, who has to leave to go to “work.” And speaking of “Fantastic Females,” 😉 the story then cuts to Sue with the kids in the Baxter Building looking for Reed. Just a quick comment here, but anyone else jealous that Frank and Val get to grow up in a building where things like the massive electrical experiment going on in the background are common place? We also get a funny line from Sue here who is looking for a new nanny and considers Wolverine. (Anyone else instantly reminded of The Pacifier?) It is here that Alyssa interrupts and recruits the FF (or the F3 I suppose, without Reed) to assist in taking down CAP.

The three arrive in Alaska only to stumble upon a battleground full of unconscious heroes. The instant I saw the splash page, I had three questions, but I think I have figured out some fairly logical answers. One, why are the Secret Avengers there? Well, once the Mighty Avengers found out what a massively huge threat they were facing, Spider-Woman probably gave a secret call over to Luke Cage similar to what happened in Secret Invasion. Two, what is Dr. Strange doing there? Well, if this is before Secret Invasion, his presence probably fits continuity wise, if it is after, it either means that he returns sometime during Secret Invasion (which I suspect will happen), or the “fun” continuity fix answer is simply: refer to She-Hulk 21. Three, and perhaps most important, why are they not dead? Seeing as they don’t have any weapons (except Ares, who is immortal anyway), CAP didn’t see a logical reason to kill them, they were only impeding its progress, and not its prime targets.

Sue, Johnny, and Ben engage CAP, and are soon joined by some of the heroes who regain consciousness. CAP fights them for a while, before discovering its teleportation feature and teleports away to its next target. During this, Ben is knocked off a cliff, into a deep body of water (I’m assuming this is a bad thing, given his dense structure). The Earth Trust is scrambling over what to do now that CAP knows it can teleport, before Reed interrupts with a “Sit tight gentlemen, I’m on my way,” and an awesome picture of Reed riding in on his “wormhole motorcycle.” I’m sure Reed has an insanely awesome science-y solution to this problem that we will see next issue. So once again, we get a great FF issue from team Millar/Hitch, and the promise of what looks like another one to come.

Please leave comments!

-LOTRKing