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Flashback: Review of Fantastic Four 378 (July 1993) May 26, 2008

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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

As mentioned here, welcome to the first round of Flashback! Though this was my first time reading the issue, I am somewhat familiar with what was going at this point in history. Johnny had recently accidentally burned much of Empire State University in a fight with villains (if I recall, this is one of several instances in Marvel history where something similar to the SHRA was almost introduced) and is currently on trial for his actions. This issue also has guest stars galore, including Spider-Man (who was going through Maximum Carnage), Silver Sable (where has she been anyway, anyone know the last time she popped up?), Sandman (back when he was good and worked for Silver Sable), Daredevil, and the Avengers.

This issue opens in the middle of an intense fight between the FF (along with Lyja, who apparently is pregnant with Johnny’s baby. I knew that they were once married, but I never realized that she got pregnant. I’m assuming that she went the way of MJ and had a miscarriage?) and a group of villains (I’m assuming the current incarnation of the Frightful Four, as the only villain I recognized was Klaw) taking place in the middle of the court room. The issue evolves as the battle moves from the court to the city streets, and the majority of the story is devoted to it as the fight becomes more intense and life-threatening. Spider-Man and Daredevil (who were present in the court room as their alter egos) quickly join the fight, and finally when it looks like our heroes may be defeated, the Avengers arrive. The Avengers at this time consisted of Vision, Crystal (the only two I recognized), Thunderstrike (who looked a lot like Thor, not sure if Thor changed his name or if he was a copycat), Sersi, and Black Knight. Upon their arrival, the Frightful Four realize they are extremely out numbered and one of their members opens an extradimensional portal to ensure their escape. The last thing we see is that Ben’s former girlfriend Sharon Ventura, then going by the moniker Ms. Marvel (I’m assuming Carol was Warbird at this time), is captured by agents of Dr. Doom (who was supposedly dead at this time, so I’m assuming this was the shocking reveal of “he’s still alive”) and is transformed into a hideous monster, which is the cliffhanger of the issue. I’m also assuming that this was the beginning of her transformation into “She-Thing,” but I could be wrong. (Lots of assumptions on my part.)

Overall I get mixed feelings from the issue. The fight scene was a lot of fun, and the art was very well done. Luckily, it was early enough in the nineties that the art was not yet bleeding with color and over-the-top indistinct action. Likewise, I loved all the guest appearances, it almost felt more like “Marvel Team-Up” than Fantastic Four. However, most of the dialogue in the thought bubbles was cheesy and narrative and sometimes downright childish. Had I read this when it came out, I probably would have loved it (given, I was about a year away from learning how to read when this came out, so I couldn’t really have done this), but since I’m not five years old, the dialogue just didn’t entertain. So if want to read an issue that took place in a somewhat important time in Marvel history, that had several fun guest appearances, a good fight scene, and a rare example of enjoyable nineties art, take a look at this, just try your best to bear with the dialogue.

Next week: Amazing Spider-Man 340

-LOTRKing

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Concerning Invincible Iron Man and Daredevil….. May 14, 2008

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I, like everyone else who loved May 2nd’s Iron Man movie, have been swept up in Iron Man-ia. I’ve always been interested in his character, but now I want more. Because of this, I, once again like many others, am going to be picking up the new Invincible Iron Man series, written for this very purpose: to draw in the movie lovers. However, I really can’t afford a new ongoing right now, so picking it up will be at the expense of another series: namely Daredevil. Why? Well, while I may think Brubaker’s ending to the last arc may have been beautifully tragic and Daredevil is certainly an interesting character, I’m just not sure if I am interested enough in Daredevil to stick with him through the long run, especially since I’ve never been a huge fan of noir stories (a storyline here or there may be interesting, but I’m not sure I could read noir every month and maintain interest). On a business note, if anyone is interested in my small Daredevil collection (99-106 + 2007 Annual) it is on sale here on eBay. 😉

So why don’t I drop something that I don’t really enjoy, say Amazing Spider-Man? Well, I think the reasons detailed here give a pretty good summing up why I picked ASM back up to begin with, but as I also mentioned there, I am a “completist”, and since I have GitCorps’ “Complete Collection DVD-Rom”s of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, and Uncanny X-Men, those are four titles that are never in danger of being dropped. Anything else I read, however, may be dropped at any time. Heck, I was originally going to drop Captain America after the “Death of Captain America” arc, which should be ending in the next few issues, but since I just ordered the Captain America by Brubaker Omnibus, I’m going to go ahead and stick around at least as long as Brubaker is in charge. On the other hand, I really don’t think I’m going to be picking anything else up in the coming months, and if I do it will be at the expense of something else. The only exception would be for a Silver Surfer ongoing, I’d make room for it somehow. This also goes for any new mini-series, I’m going to wait until TPB, with the exception of The Twelve and Secret Invasion, which I have already started. And speaking of TPBs, I’m going to pick up the World War Hulk TPB tomorrow, so you can expect a review at WCBR in a few days.

And speaking of WCBR ( 😉 ), I just thought I would explain something about my reviews there, as you may see reviews of issues in a mini, or occasionally reviews from a series I don’t read, that are written by me over there. This is because, through WCBR I am able to download advance digital copies of comics (this is legal, they have a deal with Marvel) in order to review them in advance. (Don’t worry, I delete them when I’m done. 😉 ) So through this, I’ll probably still read Daredevil and you may want to check over there for DD reviews. So why don’t I use this method to read Invincible Iron Man? Well, for reasons detailed above, IIM seems like a more interesting ongoing to invest money in than DD.

Now that I’ve ranted and babbled, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled program with a review of Secret Invasion #2 tomorrow…..

-LOTRKing

Review of Daredevil 106 (4 stars) April 1, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This was the perfect epilogue for the preceding arc, for anyone wanting to jump on the Daredevil bandwagon, this is also a good point to do so. This was also a fairly unique story, as it didn’t really star Matt/Daredevil. The issue begins with narration from Ben Urich, who is now dealing with the woes of being an editor himself. Ben has been receiving police reports of brutal beatings caused by Daredevil, and is worried about his friend.

The story then cuts to Foggy, who has come to Matt’s house. Foggy catches Matt just before he goes to take care of some “business,” and pleads with Matt, asking him to come back to the office. Matt shrugs this off, and goes out for another night of crime fighting “hiding from the world behind his mask,” as Foggy puts it. Foggy and Ben meet for dinner, and Ben notices that Foggy is starting to be physically effected by the stress as well.

We then learn that Dakota has been driving Matt to see Milla thrice weekly, only to learn that the current time will be the last time for a while, as Matt’s visits are hurting Milla, more than helping her. Dakota takes Matt to “drown his sorrows,” only for him to get into a bar fight because two customers were quietly planning a robbery. The story closes with Ben refusing to let one of his reporters do a story on Daredevil, and once again wishing that Matt will be able to work through his grief soon.

As I said earlier, this is a great epilogue because it not only shows how Mr. Fear’s scheme continues to affect Matt’s life, but also the lives of many of Matt’s friends. While some may have found this issue a little slow (understandable), I still enjoyed it, as it gave a great look into the tragedy that is Matt Murdock’s life. Given, this would become old if the next few issues were similar to this, but I don’t think they will be, as I’m sure Brubaker has another piece of genius up his sleeve. Just a brief comment on the art: while it did fit the tone and style of the story, I’m not really a huge fan of it, so I’m hoping Lark comes back next issue. So overall, this was a thoroughly enjoying issue; keep ‘em coming Brubaker!

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

Review of Daredevil 105 (4.5 stars) March 12, 2008

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Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Brubaker finally delivered with this issue, while the last few issues were good, they seemed to be more “puzzle piece” issues than revealing major plot point issues. But in this issue all the pieces click into place, and Brubaker gives us a wonderful story. We start out by learning that Darth Fear (hey, it’s likely to be the last time I get to use this nickname, so I’m taking advantage of that) has been making war with the Hood simply to make Daredevil suffer (which we probably could have guessed anyway). The Hood, while angry, still admires Fear’s extreme hatred for Daredevil. Finally Daredevil shows up on the scene, and the much anticipated climactic fight begins. Gotta praise Lark’s art here, the fight scene was very dynamic, and, with the exception of an unintentionally humorous pose of Fear right after he kicks Daredevil, it was well drawn. Kudos to Eliopoulos as well for sound effects that were well placed, and not intrusive. These sound effects did not stand out and scream “look at me, I’m a sound effect!” (as they often do in Mighty Avengers), rather they seemed to not only fit with art, but also went brought the scene to life.

As the fight scene concludes, just as Daredevil thinks he has won, Darth Fear gives us the big reveal of the story: there is no cure for Milla, Matt already lost a long time ago. Dude. I didn’t see that coming, I was just as shocked as Matt. But I’ll touch on my actual feelings of this move, just as soon as I finish going through the story. Fear confesses to what he done, which clears Milla, who has to go to a psychiatric hospital indefinitely, this causes much mourning for Matt, and Fear goes to prison, but he has somehow altered himself to be like Lily and now the girls there love him, and the cops and prisoners give him whatever he wants, so he is essentially king of the prison, and he knows he can break out unimpeded whenever he wants to, and we finally see that the Hood admires Fear’s work, and will leave the Kitchen alone for now, because he doesn’t care about hurting Daredevil. Okay, now that I just wrote the world’s longest sentence, Brubaker’s final twist of the knife into Matt’s back was brilliant and tragic. This is certainly going to affect him for a long time to come, and is very likely the most tragic experience of Matt’s life. But what about the deaths of Karen and Elektra, you ask. As villains often like to note, there are some fates worse than death. Matt has to live with the knowledge that his actions as Daredevil ruined the life of his wife (and as far as I know, the only woman he has ever married, someone please correct me if I’m wrong), and that she will continue to live a horrible mentally unstable existence. As far as Daredevil’s villains go, I think Mr. Fear may now deserve the top spot as arch nemesis. And so yes, while it certainly does suck that the villain may have triumphed for a change, it makes a beautifully written tragedy. Besides, we know this story isn’t done yet, eventually Darth Fear will break out of prison, and this story will continue. Whether this happens next year, or twenty years from now, you can bet I’ll be there to read it. Yet another great job Mr. Brubaker!

Please leave comments!

-LOTRKing

Review of Daredevil 104 (3.5 stars) February 18, 2008

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Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Our story starts pretty ominously with a frightened Lily running out of the Murdock residence (and getting into a Bonus LOST Easter Egg: cab advertising Oceanic Airlines) before a flashback scene. You’ve got to hand it to Brubaker, he is much better at using his flashback scenes than some of his other contemporaries (*cough*Bendis*cough*). Instead of finding out what exactly caused Lily to run from the house, we get another scene leading up to it, one that explains much more than actually showing us the events in the house. I also really enjoyed this scene because it probably gave us a better look into Darth Fear’s (nope, still haven’t given up on that nickname) character and exact plans than any other scene in this arc; we finally get to see his plan in action, and how everything really does fit into his plan, rather than him explaining to us that it somehow does.

We then get a short but awesome scene on Daredevil’s part. I really thought that DD was gonna torture the Ox, but his plan was so much better. This scene brought back memories of some of the best parts of Back in Black (which now never happened *sigh*) and showed that even when Daredevil is at his most desperate, he can still take the (somewhat) humane approach. Immediately after this, the Hood comes on the scene to question the Ox. Once again, kudos to Brubaker for doing his job, and paying attention to the continuity of comics besides his own; he could have easily ignored the Hood all together, or simply made him a small part of the story, but I think we will see a lot more of him before this storyline is over (I really don’t think this storyline will be wrapped up in this arc, there is only one issue left, and too much to resolve).

After this, we see that Darth Fear is once again, one step ahead of Matt, as he is not home when DD barges in, and he knows that Lily will have visited Milla by now. Matt gets home too late again, and we know that somewhere Darth Fear must be loving this as this must be sheer torture for Matt: Milla comes home, and there is some hope again, and boom, this happens, and all hope is lost. Fear certainly knows how to play games with his prey. Yet more praise for Brubaker: he certainly knows how to cook up great evil schemes for his villains (see Captain America for further proof), and how to show only small bits of these schemes to the readers to build speculation and suspense.

The story ends with Matt confronting Lily and the Hood confronting Fear. Summing up: this was a good issue, much better than the last, and Brubaker is a genius (who didn’t know that?).

-LOTRKing

Review of Daredevil 103 (2.5 stars) February 8, 2008

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Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Not really much to comment on in this issue, it was a pretty good story, but seemed more of just a fill-in in this storyline, and continued more of what has already happened. So, perhaps I’ll just summarize it and see if any comments come to mind. Our story begins in the middle of a bad guy brawl, with Daredevil looking on in the shadows, hoping to gather info on Darth Fear’s whereabouts (still not giving up on that nickname!) Cut to Lily in the office with Algren and Foggy trying to cover for Milla by using her magic perfume (or something like that). Cut back to the Murdock residence where Milla is still going back and forth between being crazy and normal. Daredevil then visits Chico and Merv to find out the whereabouts of the villain equivalent of the Night Nurse in order to find Fancy Dan in order to find the Ox in order to find Darth Fear. (Lots of finding going on). In between this finding, fighting of all sorts ensues and we see that Lily is going to visit Milla (NOT a good idea). Finally, we end with the threat that DD will torture the Ox if necessary to find Darth Fear.

Well, looks like I didn’t really have much to say. 😐 Like I said, this issue wasn’t really spectacular, so much as just a rehashing of stuff that’s been done before, so read it only as part of this arc (which I’m still enjoying by the way, it was just this particular issue that was a little lackluster). Hopefully next issue will be better, and pick up the pace a bit.

Please leave comments!

-LOTRKing

Review of Daredevil 102 (3.5 stars) January 29, 2008

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Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Not going to say too much about the art this time, as Lark continues to deliver his same amount of goodness. One comment though, he drew the Enforcers better than anyone I have ever seen. I love how his art can be so reminiscent of the 60s/70s, but at the same time, look just as modern as most comics.

Our story opens with Cranston telling us how much he likes his lifestyle, and how much Daredevil’s life sucks. Pretty good dichotomy, but unfortunately for Cranston, we know that won’t last. We then move on the Enforcers/Hood’s gang fight scene, well written, and as I mentioned before, well drawn. It is great to see the Enforcers back in comics. I don’t know how long it has been since I have seen them, but despite being somewhat cheesy, they have always been an interesting group. Then we have Daredevil enter the scene, and of course Daredevil accomplishes the opposite of what he set out to do.

After Daredevil finally digs himself out of the rubble, he returns home to a surprise, not just for himself, but the reader. Foggy (along with some help from Lily) is actually able to get Milla out on bail. This was a bit unexpected for me, but when Foggy explains how it happened, it made sense. And then we get introduced to the new character Elsa. She is certainly going to make things interesting. A state appointed nurse living in Daredevil’s house? This could make things really hard for Matt, especially in maintaining his already shaky secret identity, so I’m interested to see where this will go.

And finally, we cut back to Cranston, and we learn that Matt’s temporary happiness from the return of his wife is all part of the master plan. I have to admit, Brubaker can spin a pretty darn good mystery (*holds up current “Death of Captain America” storyline as proof*), I’m curious as to what this “master plan” is, and I am eager to see it come to fruition, though with only three issues left in this arc, I’m wondering if it will expand into the next arc as well. Time will only tell I suppose.

-LOTRKing

Review of Daredevil Annual 2007 (4 stars) January 19, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The art was pretty good, it looked a lot like Lark’s art, which as I’ve mentioned before, really fits the tone of the story. Actually, the only art that I didn’t like was the cover art. Don’t get me wrong, Djurdevic looks as great as his work always does, I didn’t like the cover because for two reasons. One, it gives away that DD and Black Tarantula were going to fight, something that was not obvious in the story until it actually happened. Two, said foreshadowed fight consisted of BT knocking DD out with one punch, it took up a grand total of one frame. So not only did we know a fight was coming, but the “fight” was extremely lame. Still, this is a fairly minor point, as the art and story were overall very good.

Our story starts with something that I have not seen in comics in quite awhile: our hero is sick, yet still performing his job. While this has been done before, it is always interesting to see how it will be used each time. It of course, leads to him getting some very accidental, yet very important information while resting in a confessional booth (is that what they are called? I’m not Catholic, so I wouldn’t know). Seriously, how many heroes can say the got a tip while in confessional? That’s pretty cool. Cut to the Black Tarantula’s prison release. I didn’t really know what his current status was at this point, but I’m glad to see he’s back in comics, he always was kind of interesting. Also, he seems to want to try going straight, yet another thing that is always fun to watch villains try to do.

The many crime elements in this issue were a bit of a breath of fresh air in a comics world that sometimes seems to be too much of “Stop the super villain from executing his evil plan! And/or we have to save the world from impending doom!” While these elements usually make for a great story, some just plain street crime can be a great bit of variety. And of course, a huge part of this element was the mystery of the confessor, and the murder he was involved in. This issue was a great blend of BT readapting to the world, while having clues be presented to solve the mystery. This really seemed to be more of a detective story than a superhero story, and I liked it! As a noob to Daredevil, I hope this title has many more issues like this.

As for the ending, we now have another anti-hero like the Punisher to add to the roster of crime-fighters, I hope we see more of Black Tarantula in the future.

Check back next week for another angry letter to Marvel about One More Day/Brand New Day, a review of Thor 3, and (hopefully) a review of Mighty Avengers 7!

-LOTRKing

Review of Daredevil 101 (4 stars) January 10, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out 5 stars

I’m starting to really warm up to Lark’s art, as I said last time, in works great in Daredevil, though I may not like it if it was outside of Daredevil. The Daredevil in the hospital scene was definitely the best sequence, it was one of the best conveyances of the story that I have seen art do in a long time. It seemed to be portrayed more by real actors than by drawings. Kudos to you Lark for showing some great emotion in the characters! I’ll get to why that was an awesome part in the story in a bit though…

In terms of story, this arc is truly awesome; it feels like “Back In Black – the way it should have been done!” Daredevil is fighting for sake of someone he deeply loves, and he is going through just about anyone to save her. It’s great to see that Marvel hasn’t gotten rid of every marriage that shows two people deeply in love, cause we “know how horrible those are in terms of story.” *sigh* The flashbacks were also very well used, it kind of lets you know where the issue was going before it really began, which of course sets us up for the final page surprise (I’ll touch on that later).

But as I said earlier, the best scene is easily the hospital at night. Instead of spending the night patrolling the streets, Matt decides to do what is truly best for his wife: being with her. This is one of the best written scenes I have read in a long time, even if it is only three pages, the tenderness that Matt shows to his mentally suffering wife is waaaay more “heartwarming” than any of the One More Day crap (more like “heartsickening” that stuff is). If this marriage continues (and I really hope it does, hopefully Joephisto won’t pay a visit over here) it just may fill my huge gaping hole where the Peter/MJ marriage used to be.

One complaint about this issue: we found out who the “exploding man” was too soon. I would have loved it see to become a major mystery, as last issue hinted it might be. But the revelation moved the story forward, so I suppose it wasn’t too bad.

Of course the most unexpected part: the end! The Hood? Seriously? I never saw that coming. It’s great to see some writers actually care about continuity. It never even occurred to me that the Hood would care that Darth Fear didn’t join his gang, but looks like Brubaker was paying attention to New Avengers, and he is actually trying to establish continuity. (Now if only we could get other writers to follow his example…) I’d really like to see this lead to seeing the New Avengers in DD’s book, or vice versa, so I suppose I’ll just have to hold my breath and wait…

-LOTRKing