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Review of Amazing Spider-Man 558 (3 stars) May 8, 2008

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Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

As mentioned here, this begins the return of the reviews of Amazing Spider-Man. This issue itself was actually a little odd. The first half I didn’t really enjoy, while the second half was quite entertaining. We start with Peter having nightmare about Freak, before later telling Aunt May his plans to get an apartment. He feels guilty about leaving her alone, and almost seems to regret his decision. Just another example of the wonderful world of Brand New Day, an at-the-very-least-twenty-five-year-old Peter Parker doesn’t want to move away from the home he grew up in. Remind me again how his character has improved? To add insult to injury, Aunt May is secretly happy about him moving out. Too bad we couldn’t hear the rest of her thoughts: “Finally, he’s going to grow up and move out again. If only he would’ve married that wonderful Mary Jane girl, his life would be so much better. Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be…”

Later, we get another Spider-Blooper as Spidey gives his cell phone number to Doc Connors, and we are reassured that he has a prepaid plan, and therefore his name is not registered with that number. What about January, when Betty called him and reassured him that his shortness of minutes wasn’t a problem because she “was in his five”? No prepaid plan that I know of offers perks like that. Moving on, we get the first enjoyable scene as JJJ seemingly comes to realize what Marla did was truly for the best. Things turn south again as Peter tries to save Hollister from Goblin Rip-off 2.0. This is the blessing and curse of Spider-Man quips: when done well, they can be witty and remarkably memorable lines. When not done well, they can be cheesy, groan worthy, and annoying. Unfortunately in this scene, they were the latter.

Finally, Spider-Man decides to leave Menace in attempts to meet Dr. Connors at Freak’s location before he emerges from the cocoon. Like any good superhero tale, Spidey arrives just a fraction too late, and must confront this new, seemingly invincible, Freak. Here we finally get the smart Spidey witticisms, and a fun fight between the two. Of course, it helps that Freak is the only character I like in this Brand New World, his addictions to drugs is played so well that what should be a sad story is actually quite funny. Said drug addiction is what finally defeats him in the end, and Pete and Curt are able to put him in stasis. The final page shows multiple reactions to the Menace attack, and we finally see that Freak was not taken away by a Hazmat unit, but by a truck belonging to Oscorp, hinting that Freak will likely play a role in the upcoming Norman Osborn/Venom/Anti-Venom story. I think this issue further reinforced my feelings towards BND: I have no problem with several parts of the reboot, such as a the return of Harry and the de-unmasking, the parts that are just plain annoying are the loss of the marriage and the de-maturing and de-evolving of Peter’s character.

-LOTRKing

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Review of All Star Superman: Free Comic Book Day 2008 (2.75 stars) May 7, 2008

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Overall rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars

Yes, that’s right, I’m reviewing a DC comic. No, you’re not dreaming. I actually picked this up for two reasons: one, it was free, two, despite the fact that I don’t read DC doesn’t mean that I am not interested in DC characters. I’ve read random DC issues from time to time (though never bought one) and they were mostly pretty good (though a little confusing of course, since I’m not big on current DC happenings). In fact, the main reason I don’t read DC is because I know that if I picked up just one series, I’d end up picking up several other series to help fill in the DC Universe “world picture” (just like I ended up doing for Marvel) and I don’t have the money to essentially double the amount of comics I am currently getting. (In fact, I’m going to be dropping a series that I read now to pick up another series, but I’ll give details next week).

So, let me reiterate: as much a “true Marvelite” as I claim to be, I still have respect for DC and the influence it has on modern comics, and if I had more money, I’d probably read DC (picking up a few more Marvels before starting DC of course. 😉 ) That said, in terms of a “Free Comic Book Day” comic, I think this issue did worse than X-Men: FCBD. As a stand-alone issue, it was pretty good, but I’ll touch on that in later. First let’s examine exactly what this is. It’s a reprint. Not something new or original created just for Free Comic Book Day, it’s a “free second printing.” I feel sorry for the majority of DC fans who probably already have this issue; they didn’t have anything to look forward to last Saturday. Second, its not really a “stand-alone issue,” it’s part one in a storyarc, and the only way to read the rest is to buy a trade paperback. I realize the purpose of FCBD is to draw in readers, but leaving us cheapskates with a cliff hanger? If they really wanted to draw in more readers, they should have put out a “Final Crisis” prologue that got people pumped up for the story, but still remained an individual issue.

All that aside, the actual issue itself wasn’t too bad. From what I understand, DC’s “All Star” imprint is akin to Marvel’s “Ultimate” imprint. Though this issue seemed to set up a series more like “Superman: The End” rather than “Ultimate Superman.” Especially since they did not push the reset button on Superman’s origin, they took the same route, and at some point in time, “All Star” history must have deviated from “DC Universe” history. Indeed, it seems that we have jumped right into the middle of a storyarc instead of the beginning, as the story seems to be already going. (Though by the end, we get a fairly good explanation of what was happening.) The issue opens with Superman rescuing scientists from the first manned spacecraft to the Sun, which was sabotaged by an agent of Lex Luthor. In doing so, he absorbs too much solar radiation and his cells, too energized, begin to break down which will lead to his eventual death. Back on Earth, Luthor revels at his final triumph over Superman, even as he is rearrested. And Clark finally (can I really say finally as this is the first issue?) decides to reveal his identity to Lois.

So as I said, a fairly interesting issue, the writing was clear, and the art was extremely well done. Still, it is hard to keep it out of context as being a simple reprint given away for free. So, in terms of actual scores, as an individual issue, it gets 3.5 stars, but as a FCBD comic it gets 2 stars, therefore, an average of 2.75.

-LOTRKing

Review of Marvel Adventures: Free Comic Book Day 2008 (3 stars) May 6, 2008

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MAFCBD2008

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I won’t lie; I was entertained by this book. When I picked it up on Saturday, I knew full well that it was a “kids comic,” but I figured “eh, it’s Marvel, why not?” Having only read one issue of a “Marvel Adventures” comic before (the MA:FF that premiered MA Silver Surfer), I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Yes, it was a little cheesy at parts, but it never took itself too seriously, so all cheesiness was purposeful, and usually somewhat funny.

So what happened to make it so entertaining? Well, the story starts in Peru with a team up of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hulk, and Ant-Man (an interesting team up in and of itself, just swap Spidey for Thor and you almost have the original Avengers) who are facing the Mandarin who has ten magic rings. (I’m not a huge Iron Man/Mandarin history buff, so I’m assuming these rings are the “Ten Rings” referred to recently in the Iron Man movie?) Anyway, these four fight against Mandarin, and Ant-Man is eventually able to get his ants to steal three rings before Mandarin teleports away and accidentally takes the ants with him. Ant-Man’s equipment is damaged, so Spidey, Hulk, and Iron Man are left to track down the Mandarin and eventually come to an ancient Incan temple with giant ants (It’s them! IT’S THEM! Sorry, really old school horror movie moment.) who confuse these Avengers for friends of Mandarin. Iron Man, using Ant-Man’s technology and looking purposefully utterly ridiculous, is able to convince these ants that they are enemies of Mandarin (and Hulk starts playing with one like a giant puppy, ROFL!) before Mandarin invades trying to steal the immortality-granting statue that the ants were guarding. Eventually the three heroes are able to defeat him, and recover all ten rings.

So, the story itself wasn’t too spectacular, but it seemed exactly like the plot of a Silver Age Marvel comic, right down to the jesting amongst the characters (not to mention the adjective-filled title page, we Marvelites love us some adjectives!) So, while neither mature nor exactly gripping and suspenseful storytelling, this issue was just a piece of (somewhat childish) fun. Would I have paid for this issue had it not been free? Probably not. But am I glad I picked it up? Of course, free entertainment is the best kind. 😉

-LOTRKing

Review of X-Men: Free Comic Book Day 2008 (2.5 stars) May 5, 2008

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XMFCBD2008

Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

This was my first “Free Comic Book Day” comic, and overall it wasn’t too bad, though it could have been better. One complaint that I want to start out with though is the fact that this was an X-Men comic. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against the X-Men, but you would think that the day after a huge Marvel movie premiered, Marvel would try to rope in more customers by offering a free Iron Man comic, instead of a comic about an X-Man that non-comic readers have probably never heard of. I realize that Invincible Iron Man 1, premiering on Wednesday, is their try to draw in more customers. But say that they offered a free Iron Man one shot the day after the premier, and then included an ad for IIM 1, wouldn’t you think that it would be better marketing? Even deciding to do an X-Men comic, of all the famous characters to choose from, why the relatively unknown Pixie? I guess what I’m trying to say is I would have expected a FCBD comic to be something that non-comic readers would be really interested in, in attempts to draw them into the world of comics. (That’s okay, DC didn’t do a good job on that front either, I’ll touch on that on Wednesday.)

All complaints aside, this issue itself was fairly well put together. As mentioned earlier, the story focuses mainly on Pixie who has moved back to Wales after the dissolution of the X-Men. She is having troubles adapting back to “normal” school and we learn that several people from her hometown have gone missing. Because of this, she attempts to reach the X-Men in New York, but there is no answer. Shortly after this, she saves two children on a playground from monsters (called the N’Gari) that only she can see. The monsters escape, and she chases them through town before tracking them down and killing them with her soul dagger. Later, she surveys the city and sees that the monsters are everywhere before being attacked by them. The X-Men, who received her message, show up in the nick of time to help her take them on.

Apparently, the X-Men have faced the N’Gari before, because they recognize them and Pixie tells the rest of the X-Men that they are trying to free their lord and are sustaining him by feeding him people from the city. (Which oddly enough, Pixie doesn’t seem to distraught about, her only remark is that it is “gross.”) The X-Men enter the abandoned mines where the N’Gari have been hiding, and engage the colony before Pixie is able to trick the N’Gari lord into collapsing the already weakened supports and teleporting the X-Men out before the cave in occurs. Once out of harm’s way, Cyclops informs Pixie that Xavier’s school has reopened and that she is invited to return, and she accepts.

A few more complaints, I realize that Pixie’s character is young, bubbly, and very “teen-girl-ish,” but there were a few moments (especially on the last page) where this was just plain annoying, it could have been written better and/or toned down. Also, as I mentioned earlier, unless I misunderstood, the missing people from the town were being eaten by a demon lord. It feels like there should have been a much more emotional reaction to this. Complaints aside, the art was spectacular and the scenes of Pixie kicking butt were awesome and the story wasn’t continuity heavy and therefore exists well as a stand-alone issue. So, while this may not have been the issue for new comics readers to pick up, at least it wasn’t the worst.

-LOTRKing

Review of Avengers: The Initiative 12 (4.5 stars) May 3, 2008

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ATI12

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This issue brings a fulfilling end to the first act of Avengers: The Initiative and ties up most of the loose ends. The story opens with the cadets preparing for Trauma’s funeral and the staff preparing for the court hearing to explain the recent tragedies. Gyrich does most of the talking during the hearing, and deflects or denies most of Iron Man’s accusations. Meanwhile, some of the Initiative members present Dragon Lord’s ashes to his family, while Ant-Man and Taskmaster make some funny, albeit insensitive, remarks on the side.

Back at Trauma’s funeral, we learn that Thor Girl has healed from her wounds before we get the major surprise of the issue as Trauma “wakes up.” This isn’t just a case of mistaken death either, as Komodo points out, as he has even been through autopsy and embalming. While some miraculous “rebirths” can be annoying, this one was pleasing in two ways. One, I just really liked the character, so I’m glad we’ll get to see more development. Two, this presents yet another mystery that will (hopefully) be solved in the coming issues.

Later, as Nightwing presents Purple Hearts to those severely injured during the KIA incident, we meet a new doctor with transparent skin. As far as I know, this is a new character, and I am certainly interested in learning his story. (I suppose he could always be a mutant, but after M-Day this is unlikely.) Returning to the hearing, we learn that Ultragirl has abandoned the New Warriors to return to the Initiative, and that the New Warriors will remain as a team to keep tabs on the Initiative, though they will do this legally, as they are all licensed.

Finally, everyone’s fate is revealed as Gyrich is forced to retire from the Initiative, and the cadets all graduate from the Initiative, except for Trauma who decides to remain and figure out exactly what has happened with his “resurrection.” We learn see that Cloud 9 gets stationed in Montana, and the final shot is that of her doing her “job” and saving civilians, along with the rest of Montana’s Initiative team, from a burning building. All in all, this issue was a great conclusion and if the series were cancelled right now, while I’d be saddened, I’d at least be happy with the degree of closure. That said, this series will continue, and I’m looking forward to what the new batch of recruits will bring and learning the secrets of Trauma, Mutant Zero, and the new doctor. Really, the only thing I will miss is Cloud 9, as she was my favorite character, but I’m sure she, along with Hardball, Komodo, Ultragirl, and the other graduating recruits will appear again.

Please leave comments!

-LOTRKing

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

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

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. 😐

Please leave comments!

-LOTRKing