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Review of Uncanny X-Men 502 (2.5 stars) October 2, 2008

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Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

More near-mediocrity from Fraction and Brubaker, and more crap from Land is the best way to describe this issue. Let’s start with the true crap first, namely, Land’s art. Now, I know I’ve linked to this before, but Land’s tracing and recycling isn’t the only thing that makes him a bad artist. There’re also occurrences such as these:

Big, beefy, muscular men are part of the genre, and I’ve come to accept that. But what the crap is up with Logan’s arm? It’s already muscular-looking enough, why did Land have to include what looks like a tumor growing out of where his elbow bends? Seriously, that doesn’t make any sense anatomically at all. That big bulge spreads over where his elbow bends? How does he even bend it? Here is another “weird body incidence:”

Likewise, I’ve also come to accept that well-endowed, impossibly skinny women are part of the genre, but her torso being thicker than her hips? That’s not even the “perfect hourglass figure,” that’s an upside-down pear figure! (I’m not even going to comment on her annoying info box and dialogue in this panel.) Add to these the crazy looking smiles that almost everyone wears and the fact that the “Red Queen” is probably the most ridiculous looking villainess I’ve seen, and you’ve got some grade-A Land-crap.

Luckily the story isn’t horrible. We make some more discoveries about the Hellfire cult, we get a decent fight, and the majority of the character interactions are amusing. (I’m glad that Fraction and Brubaker have decided to include the camaraderie and humor that they have, it’s truly what is keeping this title afloat at the moment.) The only part that I dislike is pretty much any scene featuring Pixie. She’s annoyed me ever since the Free Comic Book Day issue starring her, and now, she seems to star in Uncanny as well. This book would be so much better if she just left the team. (Well, maybe.)

Mehh, I realize this may sound a bit harsh as a review. This issue really wasn’t that bad. But everyone once in a while, you’ve gotta vent, and this was the opportunity I chose. If you aren’t already reading Uncanny, I can’t honestly recommend picking it up, but for those of us who are, at least there’s worse things we could be reading, and besides, we only have to endure Land for another issue or two.

-LOTRKing

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Review of Secret Invasion: Thor 2 (3.5 stars) September 23, 2008

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Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Yup, you guessed it! Marvel Subscriptions is still in the middle of an EPIC FAIL. So until said failure ends, here is yet another link to WCBR review of mine. (Trust me, I’m just as tired of this as you are!)

-LOTRKing

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

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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 Secret Invasion: Thor 1 (4 stars) August 22, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tired of posting “sorry guys and gals, nothing to new review, so no post today” when I run out of my main material, I’ve decided to provide a link to something I reviewed of Weekly Comic Book Review, but did not review here or link earlier. This will only be done when I run out of stuff to review, and because I link to a specific issue does not mean I will link to the next issue. Likewise, regular linkage when I am too busy to write a review will continue (though I’ll continue to do this as little as I possibly can, my goal being once a week or less.) That said, here is the link to this review.

-LOTRKing

Review of Uncanny X-Men 501 (3 stars) August 21, 2008

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Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Ed Brubaker’s Captain America is genius. Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man is the must read new series of the year. When the two collaborated together on Immortal Iron Fist, they took a character with only a small cult following and made one of the most fan-loved books on the market. So when the two of them united on Uncanny X-Men, the flagship title of the most famous super-team in the world, their success should have guaranteed, right? So far, the last two issues have surprisingly showed the contrary.

My first problem is simple: between Greg Land’s art and the condescending narration boxes, I feel this book is marketed to the young teen crowd. Don’t get me wrong, the world could always use another comic book reader, and if something is thrown in to appeal to a certain group, I’m usually fine with it. But this entire issue sounded like a young teen novel. Likewise, I can’t fully put my finger on it, but all the art seemed kind of, I dunno, pose-ish? Way too many convenient poses in too many panels. (A cool “pose-panel” or two included in an issue can provide for some memorable art, but when everyone always seems to strike a pose, things get a little silly.) Of course, all of this may have something to do with Land’s “unique” way of doing his pencils, as displayed here.

Second, I dunno, the story doesn’t really feel all too compelling. First, Pixie gets beaten up by an anti-mutant group. Then most of the rest of the issue is more of the X-Men saying how great things are now, then we see a brief meeting of the group that beat up Pixie (the Hellfire Club), before the X-Men finally (within the last three pages) go out and do something (in this case, attempt to catch the Hellfire Club). Oh and, I have no idea who the Red Queen is, but why was her one line of dialogue one of the worst I’ve ever read, and why the heck was she dressed like that? (Not to mention while striking another annoying pose.)

Don’t get me wrong, despite these complaints, there were a few redeeming parts to this issue (some fun humor in the X-Men commons room, the majority of the dialogue was well written, Land managed a few cool art panels), and most of it wasn’t pure suckage. Its main problem is that it is no where near as good as it should be coming from Brubaker and Fraction. Hopefully they’ll be able to turn the story around soon, and with any luck Land will leave the book ASAP.

-LOTRKing

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

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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 Uncanny X-Men 500 (3 stars) July 25, 2008

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Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My review can be found here (first one posted).

Quick spoilers: The X-Men have relocated to San Francisco. A collector there has purchased decommissioned Sentinels and is displaying them as “art.” The X-Men investigate and Magneto, seemingly re-powered, attacks and reactivates the Sentinels. The X-Men defeat him and realize he was only wearing a high-tech suit to give him power. Magneto escapes and discusses these events with a secret, sinister cabal. Scott and Emma send a telepathic message that San Francisco is now a safe-haven for mutants and their allies and that all are welcome at the new X-base.

-LOTRKing

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

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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

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

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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