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Casual Saturdays: Where Things Stand… September 27, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff.
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Wow, three months goes by fast! Let’s once again take a look at where things stand in the Marvel Universe.

Secret Invasion – It’s rapidly approaching its end, and six issues, three big Skrull reveals, and countless tie-ins later, it is a great story, while at the same time being a little unsatisfying. For the most part, I have enjoyed the goings-on in the main series, but many of the tie-ins have been disappointing. While this has almost as many tie-ins as Civil War did, Civil War was much better at being able to carry the story of each particular character or group of characters coping with the SHRA. In this case, most tie-ins simply feature a character or group of characters participating in an issues-long brawl with the Skrulls. As epic as this story has been, I will be happy when it is over.

Fantastic Four – I’ve loved Millar’s take on the FF, even if it is a little slow at times, but it seems that many do not share my enthusiasm. Sure, his take on the individual members may not be completely orthodox, but this departure from the norm has been what has made most of it fun. So while I’ll enjoy his sixteen issue run, I wouldn’t want him to take the helm for the next several years. (And I do hope they find someone great to do so, FF really does need a shot in the arm that will carry it forward.) In the meantime, regardless whether or not you are a fan of Millar’s handling of the team, you should definitely check out the Fantastic Four: True Story mini-series that is going on. The story might be slightly absurd, but I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve reviewed the first two issues of it at WCBR here and here, and I’ll soon post the link here to my review of the third.

Silver Surfer – We haven’t seen hide nor hair (that is, if he had hair) of him since Nova 15, and as far as I know, it looks to stay that way. I really wish Marvel would do another mini. 😦 (Or, heck, even an ongoing!) But, with the “War of Kings” that’s supposed to tear through Marvel’s cosmic line next year, maybe they’ll find a place to tell a story about good old Norrin. Until then, I plan to write a review of one of my favorite Surfer tales, Silver Surfer: Requiem for WCBR sometime this week, and I’ll post a link here when it is available.

Amazing Spider-Man – It sure has come a long way from the atrocious One More Day fiasco. New Ways to Die has been every bit the fantastic story we were promised it would be and while I’m still upset with the dissolution of the marriage, I won’t lie that I’m looking forward to what the “Braintrust” will bring us next. Especially the courtroom story hinted at in the “Extra!” one shot a while back. Also, the first issue of ASM Family was decent, and I was disappointed at first when it sounded as though they wouldn’t be including further “Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man” stories, but the solicits for future issues makes it appear they will. Expect reactions to issue two in two weeks.

New Avengers – This title is severely lacking from its title characters, namely the Avengers. I’ve not hidden my dislike for the fact that Bendis is using these two books he’s in charge of to write Secret Invasion back-up tales (some of which haven’t even been that important) despite the fact that they rarely involve the Avengers. I really wish he’d done a Secret Invasion: Origins mini-series for these stories, or something of the like, and just given us more Avengers adventures. Though I won’t lie, rumors running around of the possible upcoming fourth Avengers ongoing (Dark Avengers) has me excited.

Mighty Avengers – See above.

Avengers: The Initiative – Where its two “Avengers brethren” have suffered from “Secret Invasion overdose,” Avengers: The Initiative has flourished. Dan Slott and Christos Gage continue to put out spectacular, character driven stories proving that you can pull characters from the “nobody’s ever heard of these random Marvel superheroes” list, and still have one of the best comic books on the market. Yes, I still miss Cloud 9, my favorite character to come out of this series, but team Slott and Gage haven’t steered us wrong yet, and I’m sure we’ll see her before too long.

Captain America – With Ed Brubaker’s long awaited conclusion to the “Death of the Dream” “mega-arc” that came out this week, Brubaker proves that he can leave you satisfied and begging for more at the same time. With almost complete resolution on the good guy side of the equation, and almost none on the bad guy side, Brubaker has made me a permanent fan of Captain America. Don’t expect to see this series leaving my must-read list anytime soon.

Thor – This, in my opinion, is still probably the best comic book series on the market. J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel continue to give us this slow-churning epic infused with humor and suspense. What is Loki’s true plan? What does it have to do with Dr. Doom? How does she intend to gain the allegiance of Balder, one of Thor’s longest friends? How will her actions affect Midgard? When JMS’ run on Thor is finally over (which I hope never happens), this will likely be one of my favorite graphic format stories told. (This honor currently belongs to Bone by Jeff Smith, and yes, I have read Watchmen, I still think Bone is better.)

Invincible Iron Man – One year ago, I never would have guessed that I’d be reading an Iron Man series. I loathed him for his actions during Civil War and, along with many fans and much of the actual Marvel Universe, blamed him for Captain America’s death. My appreciation for him, unknowingly, actually began when I started reading Avengers: The Initiative. As I began to see more and more the benefits of the SHRA, I began to understand Tony’s actions. I didn’t necessarily like him, but I no longer hated him. Then, of course, the Iron Man movie came out. I was completely blown away. I needed more Tony Stark, and I needed it IMMEDIATELY. Luckily, Marvel was wise enough to start a new Invincible Iron Man ongoing series just days after the release of the movie. And, luckier still, the series has maintained much of the flavor of the movie. IIM has become one of my favorite monthly reads, and one that I recommend to everyone I talk to who loved the movie (especially non-comic book readers, what better way to introduce them to the medium?)

Uncanny X-Men – With the authors of the already legendary Captain America series and the breakaway Invincible Iron Man ongoing at the helm of the world’s best selling super-team, this should have been an easy success. Unfortunately, something has gone wrong. Ever since Messiah Complex, Uncanny has taken a turn for the mediocre. Luckily, it had the beautiful artwork of Mike Choi to make us survive through the awful hippie story. Now we’re just getting an ever-increasing focus on the ever-increasingly annoying character Pixie, as rendered by the horrible artist Greg Land. I don’t know what needs to happen to fix this title, but Brubaker and Fraction but figure it out fast. (And firing Greg Land from the comic book medium would be a good start, especially when he pulls off crap like this.)

Astonishing X-Men – Who’d’ve guessed that this series would still be plagued with delays after the departure of Whedon and Cassaday? I dunno, but with the upcoming Ender’s Game comic book adaptation (discussed below), I’ve decided to drop this in favor of that. Don’t get me wrong, the story seems interesting enough, and the artwork is wonderful, but I feel this isn’t really an essential part of my reading list. I will, however, still review issues of this from time to time on WCBR.

Ender’s Game – Finally. One of my all-time-favorite novels is getting the comic book treatment. I’ve never looked forward to the release of a comic book as much as I am Ender’s Game #1 on October 8th. If you’ve never read the book, first off, shame on you! But secondly, you definitely better read the comic, because it’s gonna be epic! In fact, next week, Casual Saturdays will be all about why you should read it, so if you aren’t planning to, you better check back then!

So what do you guys think of the Marvel Universe as it is now? Share your thoughts if you feel like it.

-LOTRKing

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Review of Captain America 41 (4.5 stars) August 20, 2008

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Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Wow. Brubaker excels at keeping you guessing until the last minute. With only one issue left until the end of the epic Death of Captain America storyarc, there is still a lot left unrevealed. Next issue looks to be phenomenal. Of course, that is still up in the air, but this month we got plenty of teases for what lies ahead. As Red Skull and Co. recaptures “Bad Cap,” the Red Skull pushes his plans into the final stage. Zola is finishing his work on “Doom’s device” and we learn that he also has a device to separate Skull and Lukin. Of course, for these two to be separated, they will each need a body. With blatant hints that “Doom’s device” is likely a time platform, I’m assuming they’re going to pluck Red Skull’s body from some point in the past (or, if the plan is even more sinister, they may grab someone else from the past, though I’m not too sure that Skull is keen on sharing minds again).

Once again, the word to describe the next scene is: wow. First Brubaker brought back Bucky, but then revealed he was a brain-washed Soviet Assassin. Then he killed Captain America. However, he kept the hope alive by having Bucky take the helm and revealing that Sharon was pregnant with the child of Steve Rogers. Now, Brubaker has killed the next, and only, member of the Rogers family: the unborn baby is dead. I had hopes last issue that perhaps the blade had missed the womb, and that somehow the fetus could be miraculously saved, but this was not to be. (Then again, Brubaker always complained that Bucky was killed “off screen” and since all we have is Faustus telling Sharon of its death, it’s possible that the fetus did survive – perhaps placed in a surrogate’s womb – and the Red Skull will keep it hidden, though this is doubtful.)

And speaking of Faustus, turns out he’s got some morals. Having finally come to the realization that he does not support the Skull, he convinces Sharon to forget her pregnancy ever happened, and returns her reactivated S.H.I.E.L.D. GPS unit. As James (oh yeah, he should probably feature in this comic, shouldn’t he?) and Sam get close to Sharon’s location, Natasha intervenes and convinces James that his work is needed elsewhere while she and Sam rescue Sharon. As these two invade Red Skull’s base (with plenty of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents for back-up), James goes to the presidential candidate debate. Red Skull plans to assassinate one candidate and have Senator Wright rescue another to further improve his chances at winning the election. But just as Sin pulls the trigger, the bullet is intercepted by Cap’s shield, as Cap jumps in to “save the day.”

As you can see, there’s plenty of awesomeness to go around. With only one issue left until the story that has been building since issue one is over (who’d ever guess that someone could pull off a 42 issue storyarc?), this probably isn’t the best time to jump on. But if you haven’t been reading this, you NEED to get all three trades for “The Death of Captain America” when it’s all over, cause this is the stuff that comic book legends of are made of.

-LOTRKing

Review of Captain America 40 (4.5 stars) July 22, 2008

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Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

My review can be found here.

Quick spoilers: New Cap (James) and Bad Cap (Grand Director) finally fight. James looks to be beaten but is able to escape. Skull, Faustus, and Zola observe this fight and are pleased with their Cap’s skill. Sharon attempts to escape with Sin hostage, but Sin frees herself and they fight. This ends with Sin stabbing Sharon in the belly…

-LOTRKing

Review of Captain America 39 (3.5 stars) July 4, 2008

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Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Happy Independence Day! What a coincidence (and it really is a coincidence) that I’m reviewing the newest issue of Captain America on July 4th. This issue sees things slow down a bit, as we see more build up of various plot points. First it shows “Bad Cap” as he stops a fake assassination attempt on Senator Wright and afterwards makes a speech endorsing the candidate. Of course, this sends the media into a frenzy, one because they think Cap is back, two because they think he is officially endorsing the senator. Once again, we see just how deep and well thought out Red Skull’s diabolical plan is. With only three issues left until the end of the epic “Death of Captain America” storyline, I can’t wait to see how James will stop these plans from coming to fruition, and what the aftershocks will be.

James kind of takes second stage this time around, as he mostly just observes these actions and discusses them with the Falcon. His main contribution to the story doesn’t come until the very end where he decides to sneak into Senator Wright’s hotel room in order to get more info, only to realize that he has been set up, and that the only person in the room is “Bad Cap.” This is where that storyline leaves off, and it looks like we will finally get the inevitable Cap vs. Cap fight next time around.

On Sharon’s side of things, we see the she has been bound to a hospital bed and is in the same room as a recovering Sin. Sin threatens her the whole time that she is recovering, and as Sin is finally released and looks as though she might carry out her threats, we see that Sharon has broken free. She quickly subdues Sin and, holding a scalpel to her jugular, commands Sin to take her to her clothes and then out of the complex. So while all of this was mostly set up for the next time, it is still an essential read if you have been following Captain America up ‘til now. That said, an entire issue of set up makes the resolution that much more satisfying, and it looks as if next issue will be worth the wait.

In conclusion, a quick comment on the art: I realize that Steve Epting can’t do every issue, but where are his normal replacements, Mike Perkins or Butch Guice? Rob de la Torre doesn’t suck, but his art certainly does not come from the same mold as the other three and when people read this as a trade, I think they will find the lack of consistency in art a bit jarring. Well, hopefully Epting (or at least Perkins or Guice) will be back next time.

-LOTRKing

Casual Saturdays: Where Things Stand June 28, 2008

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Well, the year’s (almost) half over, and seeing as how it’s been a few months since I did one of these posts, I thought I’d take the time to assess my current views on the Marvel Universe. Sometime this week (assuming I have time) I’m going to send an email to Marvel letting them know what I think, it will essentially say the same, or similar things in this post. (I will also ask for subscriptions to be available for Avengers: The Initiative!)

Secret Invasion: Three issues in, and we’ve had three big reveals: Spider-Woman, Yellowjacket, and Jarvis are all Skrulls! Bendis has been handling the story extremely well, and I can’t wait to see where he goes with it. Surprising to myself, I’ve also actually enjoyed Yu’s art in SI (though it still needs improvement). Who else might be a Skrull? Luke Cage, but I’m guessing he doesn’t know it, and will be heart broken when he finds out.

Fantastic Four: Millar/Hitch’s first arc was more than satisfying, and judging by the first issue of their second arc, it looks to be ten times more awesome! I love that Millar makes this series about the characters, not their adventures. And I love the way the Hitch draws Sue! What is there not to be happy about? 😉 Fantastic Four is one of favorite monthlies, and one of my three “must reads.” (In other words, if you’re not reading it, pick it up immediately!)

Silver Surfer/Nova: I’m reading the current arc of Nova, simply because is features ol’ Norrin Radd, and boy is it spectacular. (Reviews can be found here and here, the second review isn’t mine though.) I’m hoping what with the success of SS: Requiem and SS: In Thy Name, that if these three issues of Nova see a spike in readers, Marvel may consider giving Norrin his own ongoing again (finally!), or at least another mini-series (which could then lead to an ongoing). What with both Annihilation events, Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy reinvigorating Marvel’s cosmic line, what better way to add to this corner of the MU by launching an ongoing for Marvel’s most famous Sentinel of the Spaceways?

Amazing Spider-Man: This is the most disappointing series that I am currently reading. Occasionally we get a glimpse of an issue that is wonderful, but it seems that the next is always a let down. Also, any regular readers know that I am very opposed to the dissolution of the marriage, and I still think that it can be reinstated, and we could still have spectacular Spidey stories. If Marvel has a greatest flaw right now, this is it. (Though I won’t lie, the upcoming “New Ways to Die” arc looks awesome.)

Mighty Avengers and New Avengers: This should be two groups, but seeing as how these two are simply telling back stories of Secret Invasion right now, these series serve the same purpose. While I enjoy the stories that have been presented thus far, I really wish Bendis would have made them a separate mini-series, like Secret Invasion: Origins, or something. One, that would let casual readers know that these stories are essential to Secret Invasion, and not “just another tie-in.” I mean, the Skrull queen posing as Spider-Woman was revealed in an issue of New Avengers, for goodness sake! These things are really too important to leave out of Secret Invasion. Likewise, I really want a good Avengers story fix. Mighty Avengers only gave us two quick arcs to meet the team, before diving straight into SI, and as enjoyable as SI is, I really want these series to get back to more adventures of their perspective teams ASAP.

Avengers: The Initiative: I think yesterday’s review of issue 14 sums up my feelings on this series. This is another one of my three must reads. Pick it up as soon as you get the chance (and ask Marvel to offer subscriptions to it!)

Captain America: Brubaker continues to weave a web of genius plot lines. With last month’s reveal of who the “Bad Cap” is and next month looking to have the “New Cap” vs. “Bad Cap” fight, along with the promise of a conclusion in September, this series continues to be an extremely entertaining read, and I can’t wait to see what Brubaker does with James after the conclusion of this monumental story line.

Thor: First, I have to admit to slight disappointment, as this series seems to have slipped onto a bimonthly schedule. Still, it is worth the wait. Thor is mythic stories infused with humor, and packed with a surprising amount of characterizations as only J. Michael Straczynski can do. Thor might just be Marvel’s best ongoing, and therefore is the final one of my three must reads. If you aren’t reading this, you are missing out, big time.

Invincible Iron Man: Two issues in, and I’m loving it! Matt Fraction is doing a brilliant job introducing new Iron Man fans to his current status quo, and keeping it plenty entertaining for regular comic book readers. My hope is that Fraction can reinvigorate this character like Brubaker with Cap or JMS with Thor, and if the first two issues are any indication, he just may succeed. If you loved the movie, you should probably be reading this.

Uncanny X-Men: Messiah Complex: Awesome. Divided We Stand: Mehh. Manifest Destiny: ??? While this last storyarc has been a bit underwhelming (note to future comic book writers: don’t use hippies), the dream team of Brubaker, Fraction, and Cary, along with the monumental issue 500 leaves me with high hopes for what is coming next.

Well, those are my current opinions, we’ll check back with another “Where Things Stand” in a few months! See you on Monday with a Flashback!

-LOTRKing

Review of Captain America 38 (4 stars) May 22, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Well, it appears that the newly awakened mystery man is indeed Captain America. Just not the one you think, he is the Captain America from the 50s, the Grand Director, altered to look like Steve Rogers and kept in stasis for the last several years. I have to say, this is a brilliant move of Brubaker’s part, one that is unexpected, but at the same time makes sense and doesn’t seem to be pulled out of nowhere. It was even slightly hinted at early in his run when we saw the return of the 50s Bucky, Jack Monroe. After we learn the secrets of “Cap’s” return, we see that Sharon is recaptured.

We then see that Senator Woodman, who secretly works for the Red Skull, is doing fairly well for a third party candidate with twenty percent of voters considering voting for him. Faustus complains to the Skull that these numbers are not high enough, but the Skull assures him it will be taken care of. I know that the Red Skull always has a master devious plan, but I wonder, how does he plan to ensure that Woodman wins the election? Fixing the numbers? That would be a tough task, even for him. Personally, I think he plans to take the other candidates out of the race, perhaps assassinating one and shaming the other? No matter what his plan, as always in will be entertaining to see it unfold and see how Captain America stops it.

Next, we get the first team up of James as Cap and the Falcon as they attempt to take down one of Zola’s complexes. This is where all the action of the issue is, and it is great to see that James has indeed gotten the hang of using the shield. Zola, wanting to ensure that he is not captured, transfers himself to another computer, and self destructs the entire complex, with James and Sam just barely getting away in time.

The last thing we see is that Faustus is manipulating the Grand Director to kill James, because he is “an impostor” Captain America (G.D. believes he is the true Cap) and even worse, because he killed his partner Jack Monroe aka Bucky (which is true, though it was done while James was the Winter Soldier, so it’s not really his fault.) All in all, this was a satisfying issue, and I can’t wait until the two Caps come face to face (as is likely to happen next time.)

-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

Where things stand….. March 22, 2008

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Well, last week when I said I’d have comments for two weeks straight, I figured in the review for New Avengers 39, which I still haven’t gotten. (Durn Marvel subs!) So, I figured that this would be a good time to have a “wrap up” post for the past two weeks by just taking a quick look at where I think things stand in the Marvel Universe.

Fantastic Four: The Millar/Hitch team isn’t quite as insanely awesome as I thought it would be, but it is still good so far, and early in the run, so I still have very high hopes for this team. I also think that despite their legit appearance, the Earth Trust is a sinister group.

Silver Surfer: The last we saw of him was in the Silver Surfer: In Thy Name mini, and he is apparently going to play a big role in an upcoming arc of Nova, so I will likely pick that up (just for that arc). However, I still really think he deserves his own ongoing! So, next time you write another One More Day protest letter to Marvel, be sure to include as a side note that you want an ongoing Silver Surfer! (I know I will! 😉 )

Amazing Spider-Man: …..still hasn’t gone back. 😦 (It is going to take awhile of course for them to undo their mistake, and I realize this, I’ve just never been patient. 😉 ) I won’t lie though, I’ve read through a few of the recent issues, and some of them aren’t bad, but even if they were insanely awesome, the marriage was one of my favorite parts of the series, and it will never feel the same without it. They can keep this retconned “Brand New World” if they want, just bring back the marriage. They don’t even have to restore the previous marriage, just have them get married again! (Okay, getting off my soapbox now.)

Mighty Avengers: Looking at some other people’s reactions, it seemed that most people enjoyed the last issue more than I (though I still thought it was a good issue, just not the best), and more people it seems are going to give this series a second chance and/or jump on the boat. Good! I’m loving this series right now, and I think it has enormous potential. So until the Sentry goes crazy and causes Mighty Avengers Disassembled, Make Mine Mighty! 😉

Captain America: Brubaker is a genius. ‘Nuff said.

New Avengers: As mentioned earlier, I still don’t have the new issue. The last few issues have been good as single issues, but overall the story is a little slow, obviously once we hit Secret Invasion the story will pick up, but if I didn’t know that, this title might have been in danger of being dropped. I’ll wait and see. (Besides, as mentioned above, Mighty is better.) Edit: I just found out that right before NA39 was supposed to be released, its publication date was pushed back two weeks, so it will now come out this Wednesday. I should have a review for it sometime this week.

Avengers: The Initiative: I’m still catching up, and am currently on issue 9, and so far this series is awesome! It could easily be the best ongoing that Marvel is putting out! (That’s right: Thor and Captain America have a rival!) As soon as I finished 9, I was sad that I didn’t pick up 10 while at my LCS last time, now I have to wait another week and a half! Garg! I’m glad that I didn’t pick up this series sooner, because I couldn’t imagine having to wait a month for issue 10! (And now I feel like an old school Marvel mag for ending every sentence with an exclamation point! Next thing you know, I’ll be advertising for the M.M.M.S.!)

Uncanny X-Men: Brubaker’s genius isn’t quite apparent here, but the storyline is still interesting, and I’m going to continue it. Besides, issue 500 is surely going to do something insanely awesome, so I can’t wait to see what happens!

Daredevil: See description for Captain America.

Thor: I still haven’t got issue 7, but so far this series has been great, and is definitely one of Marvel’s top titles. J. Michael Straczynski is a godsend for Thor (pun totally intended), and I hope he continues to write this for a very long time, as Thor has become one of my favorite characters.

The Twelve: While not as good as Thor, this series is certainly intriguing; JMS really knows how to spin a good yarn. I still think Electro is going to play a huge part in the future, and he may in fact be the Blue Blade’s killer. As always we’ll wait and see…..

Well, as soon as I get and read New Avengers 39 and Thor 7, I’ll be sure to post a review, so check back here often! And please leave comments!

-LOTRKing

Reivew of Captain America 36 (4.5 stars) March 19, 2008

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Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Once again Brubaker has shown his genius. This issue starts out with a great fight between Cap and the Serpent Squad. Not too much to comment on in way of the fight, except to say that it was very well drawn by Guice and also well written. I also liked James’ first use of his knife (in fact, earlier in the issue when I saw it on his belt, I wondered if he would use it anytime soon. I wonder if Guice may have made it obvious in that particular panel to bring attention to it. Whether accidental or purposeful, it was a great job on his part.) Some die hard Cap fans may not have liked the use of his gun in this issue, but I thought it was appropriately used; James didn’t kill anyone, and he used it as a defense after much hand to hand fighting. It seemed to me something that a cop would do in a similar situation.

Black Widow attempts to come and save James, but she comes just as the fight ends (but just in time to save him from falling out a window!) I also have to give kudos to Guice and Perkins for this part; I literally had to count pages to see where one artist stopped and the other took over, the transition was just that smooth (once I figured it out, I could see some minor differences in style, but I would have never guessed the exact page just by eyeing the art).

In the “villain-centric” section of this issue, we learn that Red Skull and Co have indeed found out that Sharon is pregnant with Steve’s child (and it hints that they may also learn something we don’t know) and they discover the existence of the New Cap, and it is very likely that they have figured out who it is. (At least, the Red Skull claims to have figured out who it is.)

Next, James does what Steve would do, and tries to motivate the protesting crowd to abandon their violence and go home (he may not have succeeded, but this scene of James actually trying to do the moral thing may have sealed for me the assurance that James is perfect for Cap’s mantle). The crowd’s reaction to this new Captain America is not what I expected. Instead of shock and disbelief, they are indifferent and are mad at “some random guy” for putting on a Cap costume. I do like the news clip though; it really seemed to make this story seem real world, as that is how it would probably happen.

For some reason I really enjoyed the final scene between Natalia and James, especially the look on James’ face in the last panel. Perkins did a great job as James’ facial expression tells the whole story in one panel, no dialogue or thought bubbles needed. As for the final page reveal? One word: clone. That’s right, I think part of the Skull’s plan to “kill America” includes cloning the original Captain America and turning him evil. Seriously, how much would it cut into the heart of this country to see its most beloved hero committing acts of terrorism? Really the perfect plan if you ask me.

So overall an action packed issue with a great story. The little seeds of the Red Skull’s plan (or rather, Brubaker’s plan) are beginning to blossom, and I can’t wait to see where Brubaker takes this next. I have yet to be bored when reading an issue of Captain America, and all of the subtle hints littered throughout the pages have my mind theorizing and analyzing almost as much as LOST. In fact, maybe they should hire him as a writer….. 😉

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-LOTRKing

Review of Captain America 35 (4 stars) February 28, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
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cap35.jpg

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The issue starts not where one would expect, given last issue’s ending, with a somewhat peaceful shot of the Falcon flying around a closed down factory. He gathers some information for Tony, who is about to go to a press conference, and that is where the ramifications from last issue cut in. We see some of Brubaker’s much used news scenes (which are a great idea on his part, it lets us know what is going on without unnecessary narrating, it’d be nice if more writers used the news to tell the story), which tell us not only how last issues “massacre” turned out, but also introduces us to a certain crooked senator, who is later revealed to be a pawn in the Red Skull’s master plan.

This then cuts to a mob scene in DC (more compliments to Brubaker for taking us out of New York for a change) where we see a suspicious lady handing out water (must say, I suspected her from the beginning). As the true nature of the “water” is revealed, we move on to yet another piece of the puzzle as we discover that Morovin, the new “leader” of Kronas is just a hologram.

After having all of these puzzle pieces handed to us, another part of the Skull’s plan goes into motion and the action finally starts. Bucky, who thankfully decided to station himself nearby, does his first “alley change” into Captain America (anyone else get chills reading that part?) and we finally get to see him saving some public butt (and kicking terrorist butt of course). Between last issue’s fight scene and this one, I don’t see how anyone can have doubts that Bucky is indeed the perfect choice to take up Steve’s mantle. (Perhaps we should start calling him James now? It sounds much more heroic than “Bucky.”)

Our two last shots are new Cap coming face to face with the Serpent Squad, and Zola preparing to do some mysterious procedure on the pregnant Sharon. So once again we see that Brubaker has a flair for good cliffhangers, and for making his plots like a too enjoyable jigsaw puzzle. Compliments also have to be given to Guice, who certainly isn’t Epting, for maintaining a very similar look in the art, I almost couldn’t tell that there was a change in artists (likely because Epting and Guice had worked together on Cap before). All in all, another great issue for Captain America, here’s looking forward to what Brubaker will give us next…..

Please leave comments!

-LOTKing