jump to navigation

Casual Saturdays: Where Things Stand… September 27, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
5 comments

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

Advertisements

Review of Invincible Iron Man 5 (4.5 stars) September 3, 2008

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

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Well, we finally got it, the epic battle between Iron Man and Iron Man 2.0 occurs within these pages, and to those who complained about the Iron Man/Iron Monger fight in the movie, this is definitely more satisfying. But I’m jumping ahead of myself, the beginning gives us a nice refresher on Iron Man history, by telling us the history of Stark Industries via a tour that Zeke is taking (along with other civilians). This serves as just another example of Fraction’s ability to integrate movie fans smoothly by telling them how Stark Industries has evolved from the weapons manufacturer displayed in the film, while remaining relevant to the story and not seeming like a rehash.

In the midst of this tour, the focus jumps to Tony who begins an evacuation of the four Stark facilities where Zeke’s tech was detected last issue. Tony, who has gone to the Long Island location, hopes he has picked the right one and goes on the hunt for Zeke. Meanwhile in Valencia, Spain, the evacuation is not quick enough, and the bombers there detonate themselves, taking some fifty remaining civilians and workers with them.

MAJOR SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH: As the tables turn and Zeke finds Tony, the earlier mentioned brawl begins. Larroca and D’Armata deliver some of their best artwork yet as the two high tech enemies display the full extent of their power. This isn’t the “Tony still getting used to the armor and Obadiah’s trial run” battle of the movie. This is two experienced fighters with some of the highest evolved tech fighting to the death. And death seemingly comes for Tony. Given, this is obviously a trick, because I don’t think Marvel is going to kill off one of their major superheroes so soon after a) they’re still working on Captain America’s Death storyline and b) Iron Man just became one of America’s favorite superheroes after his highly successful movie. But exactly how Iron Man has eluded death is something I can’t wait to discover next issue.

THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH IS SPOILER-FREE: There is still time to jump on this series! If you loved the movie, and are looking to start reading comics: this series is the perfect place to start (hey, it’s working for my nephew!) Despite being in the middle of an arc, this issue still serves fairly well for jumping on, though picking up the first four issues is recommended, if possible. I’ve said it at least a dozen times, and I’ll say it again: if you enjoyed the movie or comics in general: you need to be reading this. If you enjoy both, there is something seriously wrong with you if you aren’t reading this already! If IIM can keep this up, it might just take Avengers: The Initiative’s spot in my monthly top three!

-LOTRKing

Review of Invincible Iron Man 4 (4.5 stars) August 7, 2008

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

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

My review can be found here.

Quick spoilers: Tony puts a tracking virus in components of his armor and then sells them to the black market, hoping Zeke will find them, and provide his location when he activates them. Pepper continues to recover, but wants the EM device out of her chest ASAP because she doesn’t want to be a “walking bomb.” Tony informs her that her device never contained weapon potential. Zeke plans to destroy Stark Industries’ four most crucial buildings.

-LOTRKing

Review of Invincible Iron Man 3 (4.5 stars) July 16, 2008

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

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

My review can be found here.

Quick spoilers: Following last issue’s explosion, Pepper is severely injured, taking a lot of shrapnel to the chest. She is implanted with a device, similar to what Tony used to wear, in order to save her life, thus implying she will “suit up” eventually (heck yeah!) Ezekiel, who survived the attack, designs his own armor suit to better help channel his overabundant power.

-LOTRKing

Casual Saturdays: Where Things Stand June 28, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

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 Invincible Iron Man 2 (4 stars) June 10, 2008

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

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First off, this is definitely one of the coolest covers I’ve seen. Most definitely a candidate for 2008’s cover of the year! (And don’t forget to vote for 2007’s!)

So far, the second issue in this series continues to impress. Will Matt Fraction’s take on Iron Man be as already legendary as Brubaker’s on Captain America or JMS’ on Thor? It’s hard to say, so far his writing is impressive, but I’d say it still has a way to go before it reaches the earlier mentioned levels. Having said that, this series so far still seems to excel at its primary mission: introducing new movie fans into Iron Man’s current world while staying entertaining enough to impress seasoned readers.

The actual story begins right where last time left off: in the middle of Iron Man’s raid of an A.G.M. base. Tony takes out the remaining goons before stumbling on a new variation of an old villain: M.O.D.O.G. When I first heard that he would be appearing in this month’s issue I feared his goofiness (c’mon, you don’t get more goofy than a giant talking head with itty bitty limbs for an evil villain) would drive new readers away. Luckily, his presence is extremely short and consists of him ranting before Tony completely pwns him and literally throws him into the atmosphere. (I’m glad to see that Fraction wasn’t sensitive about showing Tony kill terrorists, especially annoying ones.) I also have to award coolness points to Fraction here because so much story was packed into this first part that I originally thought the issue was almost over already (sadly) before realizing I was only on page eight! Once again we have a writer who can keep a large amount of satisfying action and plot into a compressed space, unlike certain other writers who will have a fight scene fill half the issue; those types of issues can still be very enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but I always feel a little cheated when I can read a comic in five minutes.

From here the scene moves to the Philippines as a ceremony honoring the brave deeds of several Philippine super heroes is attacked by more of the “Suicide Iron Men.” After this, we see that Ezekiel has currently sold his services to a crazed zealot who seems to be on a crusade of his own. Unfortunately, we don’t see his motive for wanting to kill several Philippine citizens. I realize Fraction may be trying to “save some for later” in terms of story, but not knowing a motive seemed a little out of place. I really think learning his reasoning would have helped the story make more sense. But then, you can’t have everything, so hopefully we’ll learn more next time. The story progresses as Tony, Rhodes (as War Machine), and Pepper investigate the scene of the attack and realize it was the same technology from the earlier Tanzania attack.

Later, Tony goes to the funeral of one of the fallen Philippine heroes as we get our first guest star of the issue (and my first complaint about the art!) Thor arrives at the services and we get to observe a rather awkward “non-interaction” between the two, this being (presumably) their first meeting since Thor #3. My art complaint comes from the first shot of Thor’s face. Not only does it look extremely two-dimensional, but the coloring makes it look like a bad computer animation (you know that moment in the movies when a character is replaced by a virtual stunt double and you can tell because he looks “fake,” that’s what Thor looked like here). Eventually the two share a few brief words, and we are left knowing there is still a great deal of animosity between the two (in a rather humorous way, no less!)

Lastly, Tony travels to a gala he his hosting in Taiwan and we get a bit more of the great character dynamic that exists between him and Pepper before the whole situation explodes (literally and figuratively). Another art complaint has to be thrown in here. I’m not sure whose idea it was to use a photographic background in a couple panels, but it looked tacky and clashed horribly with the rest of the “cartoon” art. Nonetheless, the “explosive” ending has me excited for next month’s installment, so I’m willing to overlook a little bit of bad art. I can’t stress enough how much fans of the movie need to pick up on this series! (That means you!)

-LOTRKing

Review of Invincible Iron Man 1 (4 stars) May 17, 2008

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

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

As I mentioned here (second one down), this series serves one purpose, to bring in all the new Iron Man fans from the movie and to keep them reading. And as I far as I am concerned, it worked perfectly. The story opens in Africa, maintaining the international feel of the movie, with a suicide bombing by three boys who appear to have biologically integrated Iron Man technology. Iron Man soon finds out about the attack (at a very “inopportune” time for himself and a lady) and puts S.H.I.E.L.D. into full investigation mode. He learns that A.G.M. (an A.I.M. splinter group) may have information and assembles a strike team.

Meanwhile, we see that Ezekiel Stane, son of Obadiah (another great nod to the movie), has “upgraded” his own body with cybernetic implants and that he has found a way decrease the amount of caloric energy that his body expends on basic functions. He uses this newfound power to slaughter a board of executives from a tobacco company and escapes by jumping out the window. Later, he meets up with his girlfriend and accomplice, named Sasha, and it is revealed that he was behind the attack in Africa. So far, he looks to be a very interesting villain: younger, more advanced, and possibly even smarter than Stark. This allows the issue to play perfectly as a companion to the movie and almost feels as though it could be the sequel (if not for the continuity differences between the two).

Finally, we see Stark contact Rhodes, who thinks the attack may have been armor-related. Tony, fearing the worst, is in denial and he examines his list of other “armored” people in the Marvel U and knows that none could have done this. We then get a quick and humorous scene between Pepper and Tony before Tony attacks the A.G.M. group and finally learns that the attack was indeed from an armor more powerful than his own. As I said, there are so many instances where Fraction remains conscious of the new readers from the movie while maintaining an extremely entertaining story, that it is impossible not to like this issue. Likewise, Larroca’s art is perfect for the story and maintains a very cinematic feel throughout. This was all around a spectacular issue, if you loved the movie, you should pick this up, no knowledge of Iron Man’s previous history required.

-LOTRKing

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

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

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