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Review of Thor 10 (4 stars) August 5, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After four straight issues of a 4.5 rating, Thor 10 takes a quick break from “insane awesomeness.” While this issue may have been a tad bit slower than the last few, it still provided for a very entertaining read. Before I dive into the specifics of the story, I need to point out what may or may not be a significant clue. Throughout the entire first page, every panel features the same sparrow traveling along. The last time JMS did something similar to this was the bird that was seen throughout One More Day that turned out to be Mephisto. Now I’m not saying that this bird is Mephisto, especially because he wasn’t a sparrow in OMD (and I certainly hope JMS doesn’t use Mephisto any more, as far as I’m concerned, I’d be happy to never see that character again), but unless he randomly wanted Coipel to show a bird, this could be significant. It can’t be Loki either as she is later seen in Asgard in the same scene. So I really don’t know what to think. Anyone else out there have any ideas/theories?

Anyway, moving on, Balder at first is in disbelief at Loki’s statement of his true heritage, but as Loki relates the story we learn that Balder’s mother, Frigga, won the affections of Odin at a feast. When she bore him a son, this should have been a time of celebration, but because Odin had been fraught with ill-omened dreams, he decided to seek answers. On his quest, he learns (after accidentally causing the birth of vampires, of all things!) that Balder will assure the continuance of Asgard and Odin’s line as long as he always dies during Ragnarok, but if he is killed before Ragnarok, then Asgard will be lost and Odin’s line broken. Of course, Odin then decided to keep Balder’s true nature a secret to protect both Balder and Asgard.

As Loki surely hoped, this leads to a confrontation between Balder and Thor when Balder wishes to know why he was not told the truth when Ragnarok was no longer possible. Thor, failing to find a sufficient answer, asks forgiveness and assures Balder that everything was done with his best interest in mind. While Balder forgives him, this has likely driven a small wedge into their relationship, which I’m assuming was Loki’s original intent. Whatever her plan is, she also “tricks” Thor into telling everyone about Balder’s true nature by throwing a celebration to recognize his heritage. I’m guessing that Loki’s plan will likely involve usurping Thor’s throne. One, because she has presented a second heir, and two, she has been sowing seeds of doubt amongst the Asgardians of Thor’s leadership capabilities. How far away can a coup be, I wonder? Loki’s plan may be slowly building, but I am more than content to wait and see all the little facets develop.

-LOTRKing

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Review of The Twelve 6 (3.5 stars) June 26, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
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Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This series really seems to be slowing down, the last few issues have all been the same thing: we learn more about the characters, but nothing major happens. While these characters are extremely interesting, and Straczynski is to be praised for bringing life to one-dimensional sixty-year-old characters, I really wish he advance the story just a bit more. Consider for a moment that this series is half over. We still do not have a villain, no further information has been given on Blue Blade’s foreshadowed death, and Electro is still inactive. So far, this has been all foreshadowing and no “come to pass”ing. If this were LOST, it’d be like getting to the season finale of season three, but knowing nothing more than what had been learned in season one. (In other words, it would have taken three seasons just to open “the hatch.”)

Nonetheless, these characters still save the series from falling apart, because they are so darn fascinating. In this one issue, we see the strength and resilience of Laughing Mask as he fearlessly faces the horrors of prison. We learn the reason that Black Widow isn’t interested in Phantom Reporter may not have to do with her “line of work,” but rather she may not “like boys.” Conversely, Dynamic Man who dropped more than one hint that he may “like boys” stumbles into a gay bar and is extremely offended when its patrons get a bit too playful. We see more foreshadowing as Master Mind Excello calls Phantom Reporter and warns of something ominous on the horizon. Captain Wonder still has yet to cope with his situation, and is lost in his work. Blue Blade’s television acts are being panned. And perhaps the most interesting of all, we finally learn that Rockman’s origin is not how he told it, rather he lived in a mining town which saw a tragedy, killing all of its inhabitants, except him because he gained his powers in the process. The loss of his beloved wife and daughter drove him mad, and caused him to believe his earlier told tale of “Abyssia.” I also have to comment here, in addition to Weston’s continually astounding artwork, I loved how every frame in Rockman’s “true” origin story echoed the artwork from his “imaginary” origin story. Finally, at the very end, Phantom Reporter, experiencing writer’s block for the first time, and frustrated with the fact that he has no powers, decides to once again fight crime and prove himself.

So as you can see, we get more extremely good characterization. I just wish Straczynski would hurry up and move the story forward, and the upcoming publishing delays don’t improve my mood. I’m fairly certain that I’ll just wait to get the last six issues as a TPB. So if you don’t see a review of issue seven here in August, you’ll know why. However, I will continue to review this series at WCBR, regardless of whether or not I continue to buy the individual issues. My recommendation: to anyone who absolutely loves this series, keep picking it up. To anyone who feels it is slowing down, like myself, pick up this issue and wait for 7-12 in TPB. To anyone who is interested in this series, but is not yet reading it, buy 1-6 in TPB when it comes out in September, and 7-12 in TPB when the series is over.

-LOTRKing

Review of Thor 9 (4.5 stars) June 3, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, L O S T.
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Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Despite this being a mainly supporting cast issue, this might be the best one so far. This isn’t to say that Thor’s friends are more interesting than him, quite the contrary, rather that JMS’ writing is so strong that he can produce a spectacular issue even without his title character. In fact, the opening panel shows Thor just as he is leaving (perhaps to make his appearance in Invincible Iron Man 2 😉 ) and Loki approaches Balder. Balder, like most of Asgard, still does not trust Loki and he does his best to ignore her, but like any good fantasy villain, her treachery comes not from her powers or strength, but her venomous words that poison our heroes be degrees. Of course, there are some that see right through her trickery, as Fandral rejects her words with a witty remark.

Eventually, Balder sees some wisdom (though false) in her words, and goes to engage some loose Frost Giants that Loki has notified him about. (Of course, said Frost Giants are actually working for Loki.) Next, we get a lot of humor as “Little Bill” finally decides to take Kelda up on her offer to visit Asgard. I’m not sure what cracked me up more, Bill’s attempt at his “floral delivery,” or the Asgardians’ attempts to understand basketball. Nonetheless, JMS provides us with more of the society-clashing hilarity that I have come to love from this book.

Finally, we see the ramifications of Balder’s and Loki’s Frost Giant battle, as the authorities intervene and laws of the gods clash with the laws of men. Eventually it takes Thor to clear everything up with the “mortals,” as he states his displeasure with Balder’s hastiness and reminds him that the laws of mortals must be better understood before there are major interactions with their world. Of course, Balder hears more excuse to take away his supposed freedom, and therefore is more inclined to believe Loki. At the end, we get a big reveal as Loki informs Balder that he is really the son of Odin and half-brother of Thor, and has just as much right to the throne. All I can say is that Loki is one talented schemer. JMS excels at giving this series a classical mythological feel while maintaining the elements of a modern day superhero comic, and most importantly, being downright entertaining. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: anyone who is not already reading this series needs to at least look into it, as this is quite possibly Marvel’s best ongoing. (Also, apologies if this post sounds somewhat less coherent than normal, I am very tired as I write this.)

-LOTRKing

Sequel to My Cancellation Letter to Marvel January 24, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Stuff.
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Here is another letter that I have written to Marvel, please feel free to use any portions of it that you wish in your own letters to Marvel. I realize a few things I said in this letter were also said in my previous letter, but I highly doubt someone at Marvel is going to read this and think “Oh I remember this guy! Didn’t he mention that last time? He’s being a bit superfluous, I think…” Let’s all do what we can to abolish the horrific One More Day/Brand New Day!

January 24, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

This is the second in a series of letters informing various members of Marvel Entertainment why I have cancelled my Spider-Man subscription and what it will take for me to resubscribe. With Amazing Spider-Man 545, Joe Quesada and J. Michael Straczynski not only erased my favorite fictional marriage and my favorite part of the Spider-Man comics, but they also made an immense change to the last twenty years of Spider-Man comics. I realize that in interviews, Joe Quesada has said that very little changes were made, the only major change being that the marriage never happened and that the unmasking was forgotten, supposedly, everything else is pretty much the same. This is completely false, and was simply Joe Quesada trying to assuage angered fans by telling them what they wanted to hear. If everything is for the most part the same, then Harry Osborn would be dead. Even if he had somehow still lived, why would he not still be married to his wife, Liz, whom he loved dearly? Would he have abandoned her and his son? Why would Peter still be supportive of Harry if he had abandoned his own son? If the answer is that Harry never had a son, then this is the major retcon that Joe Quesada purported to have never happened. Likewise, why are the webshooters back? Why is Aunt May’s house still in tact? What happened to all the money Peter had in his bank account before the Civil War? How is it that people like Daredevil and Wolverine have never figured out his identity? Are you retconning their powers away too? If the answer to all this is “it’s magic, we don’t have to explain it,” then you are insulting the intelligence of every Spider-Man reader out there. If you want your readers to have the intelligence of a second grader, I sincerely hope that every reader with an intelligence level above that stops reading and readership goes down by the tens of thousands, and I will be extremely vocal about this, and encourage all readers who feel the same to do the same.

Not only have you retconned away many of the important events mentioned above, but you also retconned away Peter’s sense of responsibility (which I still feel is the main theme of the series, despite tireless propaganda that the theme is youth; I have read every issue of Amazing Spider-Man, and I’ve always felt it was about responsibility, not youth). How? You claim that while Peter and MJ never got married, the stories mostly remained the same by saying they still deeply loved each other, just never married. First, aside from responsibility, Joe Quesada is contradicting himself here. In One More Day, Mephisto says that it is not the “wide brush strokes” that make major changes in one’s life, but rather the “tiniest of lines.” By this definition, something as “tiny” as not getting married should have had huge ramifications on the timeline, thus making major changes to the story. Joe Quesada has claimed that these major changes did not happen. So which is true, and at which point did Joe Quesada lie? Second, by saying that the story mostly remained the same, you are saying that Peter and MJ deeply loved each other, went through many trials together, almost had a child together before it died, and professed on many occasions that they loved each other “more than life itself” without ever getting married? I emphasize the part where they almost had a child together, are you telling me and thousands of readers that if Peter had gotten Mary Jane pregnant he would not have done the responsible thing and married her? This does not only make him completely lacking in responsibility, but it also makes him a jerk, one that I have no interest in reading about. This also changes Aunt May’s character; you don’t think she would have pushed Peter to marry MJ if MJ was pregnant? She would have just let her “innocent nephew” continue support MJ and their love child without encouraging them to get married? This is folly! This is major recharacterization we’re talking about here! Of course, maybe the pregnancy was retconned, but what happened to the part where only minor changes were made? No matter what angle it is taken from, Joe Quesada has lied to and insulted the readers, and yet you continue to encourage us to read the series from which the lies and insults spring forth? Nay, you encourage us to read them three times a month!

Not only are One More Day and Brand New Day sources of lies and insults, but they are complete failures. These steps were taken to attract younger, new readers, and set Spider-Man up for the next generation, no? I am nineteen years old, and I have been reading comics for less than a year, and in the space of one single issue, I have no desire to read Spider-Man, and I will not do so until the marriage is replaced AND the retcon is undone. I may return if one of the two happen, but it would depend on how it happened. I will certainly go online to find out what is happening in the comics, but this will only be so I can stay up to date in future letters to you and to know when and if the retcon is undone. So here is one young, new reader that is absolutely disgusted that you have removed my absolute favorite element of Spider-Man stories: the beautifully written marriage.

As I mentioned before, I have read every issue of Amazing Spider-Man, but this is through the DVD-ROM from GitCorp containing all the issues. (Unfortunately future DVD-ROMs similar to this one will never be made, because you have cancelled your contract with GitCorp, yet another insult to customers. Don’t try to sell your Online Unlimited comics crap to me, I hate the format of them, and they don’t have any of the original ads, letters pages, bullpen bulletins etc. Where do you think I learned so much Marvel history? From reading these letters pages and bullpen bulletins. Here is yet another way Marvel won’t be getting money from me: the only digital comics I’m investing in will come from GitCorp.) So perhaps because I have read them all, you may not consider me new to comics, but wasn’t that the whole purpose of those DVD-ROMs? To let reader new and old to get acquainted with the history of their favorite heroes? So if you don’t consider me new to comics, that is yet another form of lying.

Bring back the Peter/MJ marriage!

A disgusted reader,

[signed my real name]
aka “LOTRKing” on the Marvel.com forums

I sent it to the following:

Marvel Subscriptions
PO Box 110
Newburgh, NY 12550

Marvel Entertainment, Inc.
417 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Spideyoffice@marvel.com

Dan Buckley
c/o Marvel Comics
417 5th Avenue
New York City, New York 10016

Joe Quesada
c/o Marvel Comics
417 5th Avenue
New York City, New York 10016

Steve Wacker
c/o Marvel Comics
417 5th Avenue
New York City, New York 10016

subscriptions@marvelsubs.com

Check back next week for reviews of Captain America 34, Fantastic Four 553, Mighty Avengers 8, New Avengers Annual 2008, Daredevil 102, and Thor 4!

-LOTRKing

Thinking of picking up Thor… January 5, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Stuff.
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All right comics fans! I need your help! I’ve been thinking for quite awhile about picking up the current Thor series by JMS. Any yeas or nays? Please say why or why not! (Perhaps another way to look at this is, do you want to read my reviews of Thor or not?) 😉

Leave your opinions below please.

Thanks!

-LOTRKing