Comic Book Reviews: MARVEL ROUND-UP WEEK

– by Jeremy Scully
Civil War II

 

This week the ridiculous Civil War rages on! But only kind of, and really just against Tony Stark. Black Widow goes back to basics, The Squadron Supreme continue to be not so supreme, and I have officially dropped Patsy Walker! Read on to get some reviews for the books my high and mighty self has decided to explore, oh and VOTE LOKI!

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BLACK WIDOW #4

STORY: Chris Samnee, Mark Waid ART: Chris Samnee COLORS: Matthew Wilson

Review: When Waid and Samnee last left us, Natasha was bleeding out after getting gutted by a little girl (tsk tsk, Nattie!).  Now the Black Widow is recovering after being saved by a former Red Room mentor. While Natasha recovers, she learns that a former friend who is also the daughter of the head mistress of the Red Room has created a new version, named The Dark Room (very original!) We get treated to some more fun flashbacks of Natasha’s dealing with Anya (the daughter of the Red Room Mistress/head trainer), which sets up the current day struggle between the two. 

It’s a very “Lost” style of storytelling but Waid and Samnee pull it off perfect here, giving us just what we need and not delving too deep into the backstory. Samnee’s art continues to shine, as he crafts a masterfully cold world in the present day setting that reflects the cold emotionless characters partaking in it. Emotionless except for Natasha, who is struggling to see the bigger picture while fighting against her urge for revenge. What’s next for our hero on the run seems uncertain, but the last few panels suggest it will be something ominous.

Score: B

 

ASTONISHING ANT-MAN #9

STORY: Nick Spencer ART: Ramon Rosanas COLORS: Jordan Boyd

Review: If you’re ever gonna pull off a heist against an evil corporation, while doubling up as a rescue of your rebellious daughter given super powers by an evil master mind…well don’t follow the plan laid here. Spencer crafts a wonderful heist/rescue story involving the less than perfect Ant-Man and his motley crew of D Level thugs, all plotted out by Machine Smith. Things (as they often do in writer Nick Spencer’s stories) seemingly go well, until the end when everything falls apart. It isn’t quite clear how Scott winds up in prison but with how everything is going, it isn’t a surprise he ends up there. Still, the dialogue here is what truly shines, and where Spencer is at his best. 

The plots may all be similar (Superior Foes, The Fix, this book) but his dialogue is always sharp and funny. For nothing else, Ant-Man is a fun read that thankfully so far is completely devoid of any Civil War II attachments. Ramon Rosanas handles the art duties well in the series, giving us excellent facial expressions to go along with all of Spencer’s awkward moments and pauses, more often than not you will probably find yourself either smirking or outright laughing at the gestures and ridiculous moments depicted. Jordan Boyd just puts the icing on the cake with excellent color work, making this a true sleeper hit over at Marvel!

Score: B+

 

Civil War II #2

STORY: Brian Michael Bendis ART: David Marquez COLORS: Justin Ponsor

Review: This story just keeps getting dumber and dumber! It makes me feel stupid after reading it. This time around, Tony has gone out in anger and infiltrated the Inhuman Kingdom of Attilan (creating a blatant international incident). He kidnaps Ulysses after battling and taking out Medusa, then proceeds to take him to “secure” location where he essentially tortures him through various tests (and what I suppose is to meant to be funny quips from Stark to make it seem less horrible) to understand just how Ulysses’ powers work. Of course the Inhumans aren’t happy, and they want to take back their brethren, along with getting payback on Stark. The Avengers try to intervene, with Carol attempting to calm everyone involved. The Inhumans and Avengers track down Stark, and attempt to get back Ulysses. 

The problem is just as things are starting to heat up and tensions rise, Ulysses’ powers kick in and everyone experiences a vision where The Hulk (appears it is the Bruce Banner Hulk, not Amadeus Cho) has killed everyone in the near future. This leads all the heroes to searching and finding Bruce Banner (who seems to be in hiding and out of the spotlight according to the Totally Awesome Hulk series, so yeah go F* those writer’s plot points). I can’t say it enough, this series is just bad! The artwork is better this time around, but Bendis is writing a story that essentially is saying “whatever you’re reading, whatever those writers have going, nothing is more important than a story I want to tell! So screw their continuity and plots, either they conform or F* it because I’m just gonna write this story anyway!” and for some reason there are fans out there eating it up and praising this garbage Minority Report nonsense rip off! 

I like Bendis.  I enjoy Invincible Iron Man and don’t think Bendis is a horrible writer, I just think this storyline is a BAD BAD BAD idea! Maybe if it was a “What If” Book. The plot makes no sense in the grander Marvel Universe story telling (who cares he can predict the future and people try to do stuff to stop it, it happens ALL THE TIME in Marvel) and even worse it just doesn’t fit in with where most of the books are currently. I hope this all just ends quietly and is disregarded when it’s done. 

Score: C (only because the art is better, otherwise F!)

 

Civil War: X-Men #1

STORY: Cullen Bunn ART: Andrea Broccardo COLORS: Jesus Aburtov

Review: The Civil War cash-ins continues. This time, the X-men are roped into the nonsense. Bunn is doing a great job on his X-men book, I feel bad he had to try and find a way to somehow make it a story fit within the Civil War garbage. So here it is, a bunch of rich mutants are protected in a high rise secure location while a Terrigen Mist cloud passes over them. Magneto shows up with his extreme X-men team of poor unfortunate mutants because everyone deserves a chance to live! This all goes to hell when sleeper sentinels disguised as the help at the mutant party expose themselves and essentially create a blast that allows the mist to enter the room. Storm’s X-men team shows up just in time to help save as many mutants as they possibly can (including Mangeto’s team) thanks to apparently the future seeing ways of Ulysses. 

Magneto, instead of being thankful is all pissed off because Storm and her team are working with Inhumans who want to destroy the mutant race (well not really, but since they need Terrigen Mist to continue their kind, and Terrigen Mist kills mutants, ipso facto-Inhumans are the enemy). So there is your X-men division (which pretty much already existed between the two teams, but ya know screw that story line, the REAL reason is obviously the Civil War) as Magneto is going to plot to kill Ulysses as he sees him more as a weapon for the Inhumans, while Storm wants to keep working with the Inhumans and Ulysses to prevent disasters. A potential betrayal is the ending of the book, as I also feel betrayed by Marvel’s editing staff.

Score: C

 

International Iron Man #4

STORY: Brian Michael Bendis ART: Alex Maleev COLORS: Paul Mounts

Review: So we get an obligatory mini Civil War II tie in in the beginning of the issue (which is fine since Bendis is writing all this garbage anyway), and then jump back to our story of Tony Stark’s quest to find his real parents. There’s a bunch of time jumps happening here as we see young Tony in the past confronting Cassandra over her family and using him to get to his father. This gets interrupted as it appears right when Howard Stark arrives with SHIELD to take in Cassandra, Hydra attacks as well and kidnaps her! Then we jump to somewhat present time as Tony is still on the toilet seat with Cassandra pointing a gun to his head. 

He flat out asks if she knows anything about his adopted parents, and after a bunch of needless conversation it’s revealed she doesn’t-this ends up somehow putting Tony on the trail of where he was actually adopted from in the first place as he hopes to find some answers in their old files.  Over all it’s a lot going on with very little accomplished, but hey Alex Maleev knows how to freaking draw a comic book! He is wasted on Bendis in this series. I hope there is a real pay off somewhere for this series, because right now I’m getting bored.

Score: B-

 

Squadron Supreme #8

STORY: James Robinson ART: Leonard Kirk, Paolo Villanelli, Paul Neary COLORS: Chris Sotomayor

Review: Ok, I think I’m done with this series. There is just nothing here worth talking about. There are tons of opportunities to really showcase these “heroes” are not what you expect, but much more deadly and destructive! Nope- instead we get a whole bunch of pages about Black Bolt kind of but not really apologizing for destroying Dr. Spectrum’s entire universe, and ya know saving her because well maaaaaybe she might be an Inhuman (was she the only one on that entire planet which also had Kree?) Dr. Spectrum is all “K, THNX BAI!” and leaves. Nighthawk has a half ass fight with this earth’s Nighthawk, but not really, surprise surprise it’s a SKRULL!! No one cares. 

Looks like Power Woman has taken over the Myriad (a collection of various alien races that want to destroy earth cause, ya know-reasons). So it’s Squadron Supreme going to take on The Myriad! What? You aren’t clamoring for that? Or the fact this series does little to find a way to tie into the solo series of the Hyperion and Nighthawk? Or Civil War II (which is actually kind of a good thing). Yeah, it’s just not a good book; none of the Squadron titles are good. I give them until the year at best before they are cancelled. The only saving grace here is the art is pretty solid throughout, nothing ground breaking but very clean and well structured. Aside from all that, I’ll read what happens in the series through a Wiki.

 Score: C

 

Uncanny X-Men #8

STORY: Cullen Bunn ART: Ken Lashley COLORS: Nolan Woodard

Review: So the Apocalypse War continues, and this book is kind of connected. I mean it has some of the Dark Riders seemingly manipulating the “pure” form of Angel, while Archangel remains a mindless WMD for Betsy to control, and I’m guessing somewhere somehow this and the X-men series involved will all connect eventually. We got the side story of Emplate manipulating the Morlocks to feed himself (he’s M’s brother and a psychic vampire that can only feed on mutants) but food is scarce as more Mutants are dying off from the Terrigen cloud. 

Bunn really wants us to like the idea of an M and Sabretooth relationship, but I just don’t care. Regardless of the weaker story telling from Bunn, Uncanny still remains to me the best X-men book out right now (not counting any solo series), and blows away Extraordinary and All New. This feels like an X-Men book (good or bad) and Ken Lashley is providing some truly epic visuals, supported by the great color work of Nolan Woodard! If you will only be reading one X-men series, make it this one!

Score: B

 

Vote Loki #1

STORY: Christopher Hastings ART: Langdon Foss

Review: Marvel has taken notice of the current political state here in the U.S.A. and have decided to create a little mischief. We open up to an aftermath of a clash between Loki and the Avengers. To make up for the damage done, Iron Man (on behalf of Tony Stark) has donated a ton of money to rebuild the houses. Of course, politics come into play and manipulation of money happens and a young girl with her family (and probably tons of others) are left out on the street. Years later, this little girl has grown up to be a pretty good reporter for the Daily Bugle and busted the corruption involving the construction plan. Now as a respected reporter she’s covering the politics section for the newspaper and happens to be at a political rally that gets attacked by Hydra agents! Loki, who “coincidently” happen to be there disguised as a human (learning about the US government process apparently) saves the day. 

The story jumps around a little from there as it becomes a hot press issue that Loki just might be looking to run for president! We get tons of various fun “news clips” regarding it, and our reporter isn’t buying it (and thankfully most of the country is skeptical too). What’s Loki’s real plan? Can he actually run for office and win? All the steps are handled pretty well from Hastings who has to take some liberties with the political system and logic, but on a wacky book like this-why not? Just go along for the ride and enjoy what is obviously Marvel’s way of poking fun at the current presidential race. Essentially you have Loki as your spectacle, much like how Trump has become a media spectacle in the current race. I don’t believe this is remotely tied into anything continuity wise, so just enjoy the story for what it is. Langdon Foss’s artwork however is not exactly my cup of tea. He gets the job done, and the book is clear with well laid out pages and enough facial expression to get the fun “winks at the audience” across, but I honestly would have enjoyed cover artist Tradd Moore on the book. Oh well, either way I’m voting Loki!

Score: B

Comics Marvel Comics, Top Comic Buys, News, Reviews, Vote Loki, Uncanny X-Men, Squadron Supreme #8, International Iron Man #4, Civil War: X-Men, Civl War II, Astonishing Ant-Man #9, Black Widow