jump to navigation

Review of Avengers: The Initiative 17 (4 stars) September 26, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First off, sorry for not having a review yesterday. First I had computer troubles, then I had troubles here at home, then I had distractions (accursed Facebook!), and then I had to go to work. Anyway, I STILL haven’t gotten any comics in the mail, so there wouldn’t have been a review today anyway. With that out of the way, let’s get on to the review.

Starting off at Camp Hammond, the Shadow Initiative (of which Trauma is now a member) is finally summoned to take down the on-base threat. They discover that Ant-Man is also remaining on base, and begin to plan how to take care of the Skrull threat. Like every team, they go through some paranoia about Skrull infiltrators, but they eventually figure out that everyone is (probably) who they say they are. However, along the way, we get some hints about Mutant Zero’s identity, and it’s looking more and more likely that she is Jean Grey. I won’t say I’m surprised, but it will be interesting to see what affect this has on the “X-books,” if any.

Meanwhile, the Kill Krew saves Hardball, and he and Komodo are reunited (if I actually cared about those two characters, I might have been happy; when are we gonna see Cloud 9 again?) as they then move on to Utah. After taking out the Skrull on that team, they are given a great asset to their mission: Devil Slayer has joined them. I’ve seen him in a grand total of one issue before this, but I’m eager to see him in action again. And hopefully, with the help of his teleporting cloak, the Krew will make it to Montana (the home of Cloud 9, for the forgetful ones out there) much sooner.

Lastly, the big battle between the Shadow Initiative and the Skrulls has its fair share of surprises (and some great art by Tolibao, I’m very happy that he has taken over art chores when Caselli can’t do it, instead of Uy), but, of course, ends with the Skrulls pwning and capturing our heroes (at least they aren’t dead)! This issue took a slight change in direction in that it was more about the story than the characters, but still managed to be thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m sure we’ll get more focus on the characters once Secret Invasion is over.

-LOTRKing

Advertisements

Review of Amazing Spider-Man 571 (4.5 stars) September 9, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
3 comments

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Marvel has done it again! No, I’m not referring to delivering another spectacular chapter of New Ways to Die (which they have done), I’m referring to them using yet another false hope cover. To anyone who was hoping that Norman Osborn would return to his Green Goblin persona is these pages, you’re going to be severely disappointed. To top it all off, Peter and Norman don’t even fight in this issue. I realize that covers are supposed to attract readers, but don’t they realize that new readers will feel just as cheated as everyone else when they realize that the cover is just a gimmick?

Well, initial disappointment aside, this was yet another enthralling issue of New Ways to Die. Spider-Man is, ironically, saved from Anti-Venom as the Thunderbolts attack, while Norman proves to Menace that despite not wearing a suit nor flying a glider, he can still make a stand for himself. Returning to Anti-Venom, we learn that he does not have the weaknesses to high sonic frequencies or heat. As for Menace, we still do not learn who he is, but we finally see some motivation behind his attacks. And just to throw in some further character development, Harry finally shows that he has a backbone, and stops being the whiny snob that he’s been for most of Brand New Day.

Of course, the big shock comes at the end. Spider-Man, in his haste to escape Anti-Venom and the Thunderbolts, leaves his camera webbed on a ledge where it is discovered by Norman Osborn. Examining the photos, Norman is able to ascertain that Spidey’s spider chest symbol is always in the center, and must therefore contain a tracer for the camera. With the camera examined, he discovers this frequency and plans to use it to find Spider-Man. And who does he intend to capture him? Bullseye. As you can see, we get plenty of more action and story build up in the chapter. Where will it all end? We have two issues to find out…

-LOTRKing

Review of Amazing Spider-Man 570 (4.5 stars) September 5, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

New Ways to Die, Chapter Three does nothing but build up an increasingly epic story. As Venom and Anti-Venom begin their brawl, Spider-Man enters the fray, and Anti-Venom discovers he has “cleansing powers” which he wants to use to kill the Venom symbiote. Much of the issue is a beautifully rendered fight scene (kudos to JR Jr!) with Norman Osborn observing and assessing.

There is however a quick break as Menace attacks the home of Bill Hollister. Call me crazy, but did anyone else see Menace’s Bennett-like qualities in this scene? For example, when Menace says: “And Bill? My Li’l Billy Boy? My Billy, that guy ain’t gonna be you!” was anyone else reminded of instances when Bennett said (about Peter): “My scoop-getter guy! My scoops! My scoopy!” or similar phrasing about Norman in part one of NWtD? (Though I don’t remember exactly what he said, and I’m too lazy to dig that issue out.) Note also that both Menace and Bennett are extremely anti-Hollister.

Anyway, moving back to the battle, as Anti-Venom and Spider-Man unite to take out Venom and Dan Slott pulls a fast one by inserting a dirty joke. (No Spider-Man, I don’t want to know what you’re doing to Venom. What happened to don’t ask, don’t tell?) As awesome as it was to see these two once arch-rivals team up against one of their greatest enemies, am I the only one hoping that they didn’t really kill the Venom symbiote, like it appears they did? I mean, killing Carnage was one thing (besides, it looked extremely cool to see the Sentry tear him in half) but killing the original symbiote? Please tell me that didn’t just happen!

And as if that’s not enough, Anti-Venom throws a new conundrum at us. As he attempts to purge Peter of the remaining bits of the symbiote that he apparently still carries, he also discovers that Peter has irradiated blood, and decides to cleanse that as well, despite Peter’s begging cry not to. Yes, we’ve had “Spider-Man’s lost his powers in the middle of a big fight, now what’s he gonna do” storylines before, but I for one am dubious as to how Peter’s gonna get himself out of this mess. Oh and the final panel of Norman meeting Menace? Priceless. I echo my words of last week: do NOT wait for the TPB, get this NOW.

-LOTRKing

Review of Avengers: The Initiative 16 (4.5 stars) August 29, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I don’t know how Slott and Gage do it, but they’ve once again not only packed in a massive amount of story into a single issue, they’ve also continued to maintain their excellent story-telling standards. Somehow, they manage to touch base with everyone remaining at Camp Hammond (including providing a very interesting set up for the upcoming issue of Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., I may have to look into that one) and also with Crusader at the battle in NYC, and still provide what feels like a full length story with 3D-Man joining the Skrull Kill Krew. We even meet back up with Komodo by the end.

At Camp Hammond Trauma and Physique find War Machine and the Baron, who in turn all go look for Pym. Luckily, remnants of Stanetech have kept War Machine’s suit from complete failure, and eventually let him reboot. As this happens, he receives an embedded programmed message from Tony instructing him to stop whatever he is doing, and go to a certain location for instructions, and most importantly, to keep it secret. As Trauma, Physique, and the Baron go to the infirmary to help the injured, Pym has a meeting with other Skrulls on base, Ant-Man, who has remained hidden, sees this, and wishes he was elsewhere.

As 3D-Man meets the Kill Krew, they decide to take out the infiltrated Skrull from each Initiative team, with the first stop being Arizona. There, after defeating an undercover Skrull, Komodo plans to join with the next stop being Vegas to save Hardball! (And they better stop by Montana pretty soon, or there’s gonna be an angry fan if Cloud 9 turns up dead!)

So Slott and Gage prove once again that A:TI is one of the best books on the market. Add in the fact that Caselli has returned for art, and you have just another typical(ly great) issue from this series. If you aren’t reading this yet, take a moment now to ask yourself why.

-LOTRKing

Review of Amazing Spider-Man 569 (4.5 stars) August 26, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

May as well start with the big stuff: Anti-Venom is Eddie Brock! While I let you chew on that bit of information, let’s go back to the beginning and discuss what is probably the best comic to hit the stands this week. For those who thought Norman Osborn did indeed remember Spider-Man’s true identity: think again. But this may not have been the retcon we all thought it was. Peter knows that no one remembers who Spider-Man is, and he even mentions that is was something “we did.” I highly doubt he remembers any of his deal with Mephisto, so is it possible that the big mind wipe was the result of something else? Quesada has blatantly said that the Civil War unmasking did happen, but no one remembers who it was behind the mask. At first I was annoyed and thought this was a part of the Mephisto “we don’t have to explain it” Magic, but now I am intrigued, and want to know the true source. Perhaps a favor from Dr. Strange?

To touch on some more mysteries, it looks that Martin Li/Mr. Negative story may be more of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde relationship than a controlled transformation. Indeed, Li appears to have no knowledge of his other self. Up until now, I thought that Crowne was a simple politician, who, like everyone, may have a skeleton or two in his closet. But if Peter Parker’s musings are correct, then Crowne and Osborn may have a direct relation to the “Spider-Tracer Killer.” And speaking of Osborns, was it just me, or was that a hint that Harry may be Menace? (Or were they just showing that he may be reverting back to the Green Goblin?) Either way, something’s up, and with the upcoming “Goblin Fight,” I think this particular mystery may be solved sooner, rather than later.

And to think, I haven’t even touched on the goings-on in this book, nor even how Eddie Brock became Anti-Venom. Well, seeing as how this is one of the best Spidey-Stories of the decade, I’m probably doing you a favor by encouraging you to buy it. Why are you still reading this? Go to your local comic shop now! (And as a reminder, don’t forget to pick up the absolutely FREE Marvel: Your Universe One-Shot while you’re at it!)

-LOTRKing

Review of Amazing Spider-Man 568 (4.5 stars) August 19, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

While Marvel will never be fully forgiven for the atrocity that was One More Day (unless they bring back the marriage) New Ways to Die was a giant leap in the right direction. So far, every issue since OMD has seemed hit and miss. Even the best ones had noticeable flaws. Here that is not the case. This is the best issue of Amazing Spider-Man I have read in a long time.

There is a ton of stuff going on in this issue, so let’s dive right in. Spider-Man and Menace have a brawl that ends with Menace getting away and Peter discovering an illegal sweatshop in the heart of the city. Not knowing who to sell photos to, Harry suggests Ben Urich’s Frontline paper. With Peter selling these groundbreaking pics to his longtime friend, he finally secures a new job (good! I was getting tired of his “poor me, I don’t have a job mentality,” hopefully he keeps this one!) Next we learn that mayoral candidate Randall Crowne seeks the sponsorship of Norman Osborn! We quickly touch base with Eddie Brock who, in light of his terminal cancer, has reformed and turned to religion and is currently serving in Aunt May’s F.E.A.S.T. center. As Martin Li (aka Mr. Negative unbeknownst to our heroes) gives Eddie a pat on the back, we sees some odd internal processes going on, which could likely lead to two things (discussed later). Finally, an unsuspecting Pete comes home to find his apartment full of the Thunderbolts!

The back up story tells us a little more about Eddie before revealing that he has been miraculously cured of cancer. No doubt, this comes from Mr. Li’s “friendly pat.” However, if the art was any indication, Martin’s action may have some unintended consequences as remnants of the Venom symbiote looked to have bonded with Eddie’s white blood cells. If I take this to mean what I think it does, the long awaited “Anti-Venom” may be Eddie himself! If so, all I gotta say is: heck yeah! I can’t think of a better character! To anyone looking for a bit of Invasion relief from a great story that doesn’t feature Skrulls: this looks to be one of the best offerings!

-LOTRKing

Review of Avengers: The Initiative 15 (4 stars) July 31, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My review can be found here.

Quick spoilers: The Initiative is called into action to help fight the Skrulls in NYC. Crusader relates the story of how he came to Earth and chose humans over his own people. While in battle, Crusader instinctively kills one of his oldest Skrull friends. While he regrets his rash action, he now fully considers himself human.

-LOTRKing

Review of Amazing Spider-Man 564 (2.5 stars) July 9, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

My review can be found here (the second review down). This is in accordance with this announcement.

-LOTRKing

Review of Avengers: The Initiative 14 (4.5 stars) June 27, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

With issue 13 being mediocre at best, and the original cast graduating in issue 12 (c’mon, you know you miss Cloud 9 already), I was really worried about where this series was going to go. Such worries look to be in vain. This issue takes the awesomeness from the earlier WWH tie-ins, and then steps it up a notch. Much like recent issues of Mighty and New Avengers, the story opens by giving us full light on many of “Hank Pym’s” actions. We learn that he used Super-Skrull abilities to survive his two recent near death experiences, not his lame “I shrunk real small” excuse. It also seems that he was indeed opposed to the creation of the “MVPeople.”

From here, the story shifts to Camp Hammond’s other resident Skrull (at least, the only other one we know of), as Crusader makes a rather odd lunch choice. For those who haven’t been following this series, Crusader is a Skrull who has defected from his people and wants to live on Earth as a superhero. He does not know anything about the current Skrull invasion, he has not told anyone about his true nature, and uses his ultra-powerful “Freedom Ring” to keep from being detected. When he sees that “Hank” has made the same peculiar cuisine choice (pickles mixed with strawberries, apparently it is reminiscent of a favorite Skrull dish), he knows that Hank must also be a Skrull. But before we can see how he acts on this newfound knowledge, the story moves onward once again.

The new 3-D Man, introduced as a graduate in issue 12, arrives in Hawaii to lead that state’s chapter of the Initiative: the Point Men. But before he left, he was bequeathed a gift from the original 3-D Man: the original 3-D Man suit, which includes goggles that can see Skrulls in their true form. Swapping these goggles for his own, he meets the rest of the Point Men, only to discover that member “Magnitude” is nothing but a Skrull spy. Upon revealing this, a battle results which injures two members of the Point Men, before Devil-Slayer enters and together, he and 3-D Man are able to “slay” the Skrull. (Okay, bad pun, sorry.) (By the way, anyone else become an instant fan of Devil-Slayer in this scene?) Devil-Slayer elects to remain behind and look after the injured teammates, but 3-D Man insists on travelling to Camp Hammond to sound the alarm on the invasion. Devil-Slayer uses his cloak to open an interdimensional portal to send him there.

Meanwhile, back in Stamford, Crusader continues to struggle with what to do about Hank. He is unaware of how to expose Hank’s true nature without revealing his own. As 3-D Man appears, his first warning is “We’ve been invaded!” With the knowledge that the original 3-D Man had Skrull detecting goggles, Crusader is terrified of being discovered, and in a hasty decision, decides he must use the Freedom Ring to interfere with the goggles. In a flash of light, 3-D Man is knocked down, and as he looks up, he sees that he is surrounded by Initiative cadets and staff … all Skrulls. This moment made me jump back in my seat. It’s like when you’re watching a movie, and the hero makes a really stupid choice, and you wanna yell at the screen even though he can’t hear you. I realize that Crusader wanted to protect himself, but if he’s just interfered with the only way of detecting the invading Skrulls, he may have just unintentionally doomed Earth.

This issue has been my favorite Secret Invasion tie-in so far, and has once again proved that A:TI is one of the three best books that Marvel puts out monthly (the other two being Fantastic Four and Thor, of course!) It could be real easy for a book so full of obscure and new characters to be confusing, but Slott and Gage juggle them around and make them likable as easily as if they were tying their shoes. Not mention that Caselli gives each one of them a very distinct look. I could go on for an entire post about how awesome this series is. If there is anyone not reading this, this is the perfect jumping on point, take it! And I’d highly advise getting 1-12 in TPB, ‘cause those stories were also purely awesome. Seriously, get in on this series (and write a letter to Marvel, asking them to allow subscriptions to this already!)

-LOTRKing

Review of Amazing Spider-Man 561 (3.5 stars) June 4, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Before I can even comment about this issue, I have to ask, was anyone completely freaked out by the definite return to 90s style ad on the inside of the front cover? Now, I love the 90s, that’s when my childhood took place, but that was definitely the decade of insanely annoying and way too busy magazine ads. (I should know, I read Disney Adventures as a kid, and looking the comics of the decade, I can’t believe I forgot how annoying the ads were!) I’m seriously hoping that we don’t see a return to the style of ad where you cram as many things onto one page as possible. I’ll take the incredibly cheesy ads of the 60s and 70s any day! At least they only advertised toys and kits that were guaranteed not to work.

Now that that rant is over, I have to admit to rather enjoying this issue. It opens as we finally learn the story of Paper Doll, and while I still find her annoying teen girl crush on Bobby Carr to be, well, annoying (Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Dept.!), it is certainly more forgivable and she has earned a place in my rankings of cool supervillains. As Peter keeps an eye on Bobby and tries to get a shot of his “mystery girl,” Paper Doll shows up, and Pete leaves his camera behind to step into action. The fight that ensues is both well written and (surprisingly, given my dislike of Marcos Martin’s art) well depicted. I can also honestly say that I was in suspense for the first time since the beginning of Brand New Day. (I’m just as surprised at that fact as you, given my constant BND beat downs!) I even cringed when Spidey got his arm flattened. (I never fully understood how it “got better.” Maybe it was the same method of healing as when one turns into a newt.)

Of course, the battle is only half the fun. Throughout the issue are many instances when Peter comes close to finding out exactly who Bobby’s girl is, only to be distracted. Likewise, it appears that rumors that MJ still remembers “life before Mephisto” are true (or at least, that is certainly what is hinted.) While I am slightly annoyed that month old rumors are indeed true (can’t we get some writers who surprise us with something unexpected?), I am glad that this connection to the world as it was exists. If MJ does remember things as they should be (emphasis on should), we maintain the window of hope that things may be restored.

While the fight may have been the climax, the highlight is when Peter finally tells Bennett to more or less shove paparazzi work up his, well, you know where. It looks as though Peter finally remembered his sense of responsibility. We get two concluding scenes as Peter is moving into his new apartment. Though nothing of interesting happens here, we do get some fun Easter Eggs on his moving boxes. One of them is marked “flux capacitor” (looks like Bob Gale still snuck in, even if he isn’t writing this issue!) and another is “Copies of Webs.” Nice to know that someone still knows something about Spidey continuity (they even got Secret Hospital right later on!) Which leads to the second ending, when Sara Ehret (aka the person who Jackpot told Spidey was her secret identity) sees MJ at the airport and asks for her autograph, and seems to have never met her before. Yet another mystery surrounding Jackpot that I am eager to see solved!

-LOTRKing