Eye on Comics

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Archive for the 'Reviews – Marvel' Category

Weird Webs

Posted by Don MacPherson on 8th October 2013

Variant coverMarvel Knights: Spider-Man #1
“99 Problems… One of Five”
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Marco Rudy
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Rudy (regular)/Carlo Barberi (variant)
Editor: Tom Brennan
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

Marvel decision to revive its Marvel Knights brand is well timed, as it’s given the publisher an opportunity to publish a Spider-Man comic for Peter Parker purists who might prefer their Spideys amazing rather than superior. I’m also pleased to see the Marvel Knights label is being reserved for somewhat unconventional material and to emphasize the talent crafting the comics rather than the icons in the stories. Matt Kindt’s star is definitely on the rise, as is Marco Rudy’s — oddly enough, mainly for work they’ve done on DC titles. I found their take on Spider-Man to be unexpected, unusual and experimental, and I’m always pleased when I find something new in the world of a decades-old character and a genre that many could easily argue has seen it all. That being said, there are more than “99 Problems” in this story, as a couple in the plot and art kept me from connecting to the material as much as I wanted. Still, that Marvel and these creators took the chances they did with these characters is a welcome development that merits a look. Read the rest of this entry »

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… And Beyond

Posted by Don MacPherson on 14th August 2013


I can relate to the sentiment Iron Man expresses in the above image. It’s summer (well, summer’s almost over, actually), so it must be time for another Marvel crossover event. I haven’t had much interest in the publisher’s tentpole crossover titles in recent years and I’ve avoided plunking down my hard-earned cash for them as of late. But I shelled out five bucks (well, less, after discount and after I sold the included digital download code in this book) because I’m genuinely interested in writer Jonathan Hickman’s work. The good news: this is a crossover event for Hickman fans. The bad news: this is a crossover event for Hickman fans.

Variant coverInfinity #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Jim Cheung
Inks: Mark Morales, John Livesay, David Meikis & Jim Cheung
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos & Joe Caramagna
Cover artists: Adam Kubert (regular)/Arthur Adams, In-Hyuk Lee, Marko Djurdjevic, Skottie Young, Mark Brooks & Jerome Opena (variants)
Editors: Tom Brevoort & Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US

After reading this first issue, I was struck by a number of elements, both positive and negative. First of all, this is a pretty good value for $4.99; it’s an oversized comic that’s dense in its construction, both plot-wise and visually. That being said, some of the opening material reprints pages from Marvel’s Infinity offering from this year’s Free Comic Book Day. I also noted Marvel is finally capitalizing on the profile bump and interest in Thanos from the after-credits scene from the Marvel’s The Avengers movie from last year. That conscious decision to craft Thanos in the image of his big-screen counterpart includes the incorporation of the grotesque emissary/agent with whom Loki communicated in the flick. Infinity promises to be everything a big crossover event should be: universe-spanning, colorful and replete with a diverse array of super-hero characters. There’s just one element missing: accessibility. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ultron Legacy

Posted by Don MacPherson on 22nd June 2013

Age of Ultron #6Age of Ultron #1Age of Ultron #s 1-10
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, Alex Maleev, Butch Guice, David Marquez & Joe Quesada
Inks: Paul Neary, Brandon Peterson, Roger Martinez, Roger Bonet, Alex Maleev, Butch Guice, Tom Palmer, David Marquez & Joe Quesada
Colors: Paul Mounts, Jose Villarrubia & Richard Isanove
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US per issue

I’ve made a point of avoiding big super-hero event books in recent years, and given that DC hasn’t really done one since launching its New 52 line two years ago, that means I’ve steered clear of Marvel’s big event books. I ended up reading the first two issues of Age of Ultron, though, because my local retailer offered them for a buck apiece a few months after their release, and I borrowed the remainder of the series, mainly because I was interested in writing about the book rather than seeing how things turned out. One of the biggest complaints about these event books is how they ultimately don’t matter in the long run, how they promise big, sweeping, universe-altering changes, but those are undone or reversed in short order. Well, Age of Ultron takes that approach to the extreme, hitting a cosmic reset button in the final issue. The events of this apocalyptic and time-travel story really don’t matter. They serve to set up other stories and characters in Marvel’s line of titles that didn’t need this particular catalyst. Ultimately, it’s a waste of time and money. And it suffers from the same flaw so many people are complaining about in regards to the recently released Man of Steel movie: there’s nothing fun about it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Women’s Issue

Posted by Don MacPherson on 29th May 2013

Variant coverVariant coverX-Men #1
“Primer, Part 1 of 3″
Writer: Brian Wood
Pencils: Olivier Coipel
Inks: Mark Morales & Olivier Coipel
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Coipel (regular)/Arthur Suydam, Joe Madureira, Milo Manara, Skottie Young and Terry Dodson (variants)
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

Brian Wood’s return to the world of Marvel’s mutants was a surprising but intriguing development, especially given the all-female lineup for this new title. And since I’m a fan of his writing and Olivier Coipel’s distinct style and figures, I looked forward to delving into this latest iteration of X-Men. I found something in these pages I didn’t expect at all: disappointment. Though the narration boasts a lofty, intelligent tone, the story is rather impenetrable, and Coipel’s artwork, though attractive, is confusing, failing to convey vital information. What defines this series more than anything else is the fact all of the characters are women, but characterization, how these women interact with each other and the weird world in which they find themselves… Wood barely touches upon these elements. This feels like a failed opportunity, but maybe the creators can capitalize on it in future issues (but I doubt I’ll stick around to see them). Read the rest of this entry »

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Rocket Man

Posted by Don MacPherson on 23rd February 2013

Variant coverNova #1
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ed McGuinness
Inks: Dexter Vines
Colors: Marte Garcia
Letters: Comicraft
Cover artists: McGuinness & Vines (regular)/Adi Granov, Marcos Martin, Joe Quesada/Danny Miki & Scottie Young
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

I don’t have any particular affection for the Nova concept, nor has my previous exposure to this new incarnation of the character (on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon) fostered a particular interest in him. But I have to admit to having a soft spot for the bombastic, basic super-hero storytelling of the creative team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. The maturity and nuance Loeb brought to his writing more than a decade ago isn’t to be found anymore, but his latest approach has been to bring a more traditional, fun tone to the genre, which is reflected by the over-the-top, cartoony qualities of McGuinness’s style. Their performance on this latest project is certainly straightforward and capable, but it was a little underwhelming as well. This is the beginning of an origin story, and so far, I’m not invested in these characters. After reading the first issue, I found I wasn’t all that interested in seeing what comes next, nor was there much of a hook to lure me back to find out. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mission to Mars

Posted by Don MacPherson on 6th December 2012

Variant coverAvengers #1
“Avengers World”
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Jerome Opeña
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Dustin Weaver (regular)/Steve McNiven, Esad Ribic, Skottie Young & Mark Brooks (variants)
Editors: Tom Brevoort & Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

Writer Jonathan (The Manhattan Projects) Hickman brings his sensibilities and talents — both in terms of content and design — to the mainstream Marvel Universe. Sure, he had a much-lauded stint on Fantastic Four, but now he’s working on the publisher’s flagship property. His style isn’t a perfect fit for the Avengers, but it’s interesting nonetheless. And what’s more, it’s definitely a radical deviation from how the title team has been portrayed in recent years. Hickman starts things off with an event-sized plot that seems to unfold apart from the rest of the shared continuity. It’s refreshing to see not all cosmic-level storylines being spread out over the entire line of Marvel super-hero comics. The end result is a story that’s big in scope, but since it’s not crossing over everywhere, the focus seems to be on storytelling over marketing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Four Times Two

Posted by Don MacPherson on 30th November 2012

Variant coverFF #1
“Parts of a Hole”
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Mike Allred
Colors: Laura Allred
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Mike Allred (regular)/Mark Bagley & Mark Farmer, Arthur Adams and Skottie Young (variants)
Editor: Tom Brevoort & Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $2.99 US

I had a rather lukewarm reaction to the first issue of the relaunched Fantastic Four title earlier this month. While I’m a fan of both writer Matt Fraction and artist Mark Bagley, I thought it was a serviceable but rather ordinary issue installment in the ongoing adventures of Marvel’s First Family. Nevertheless, I was eagerly anticipating the debut of this sister title thanks to artist Mike Allred’s participation. Furthermore, I figured the more unusual, oddball leanings in Allred’s style and sense of design would spark Fraction to include some more surreal and off-the-wall elements in his plots. It remains to be seen if that’ll be the case, but what I found here was a somewhat inaccessible and humdrum gathering-of-the-team story… albeit one that looks fantastic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Smash Mouth

Posted by Don MacPherson on 21st November 2012

Variant coverIndestructible Hulk #1
“Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Colors: Sunny Gho
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover artists: Yu (regular)/Joe Quesada, Yu, Scottie Young & Walt Simonson (variants)
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

One of the reasons Mark Waid’s Daredevil has proven to be such a critical hit was his tempering of the dark edge that had defined the character for the past few decades with a lighter, more playful tone reminiscent of his Silver Age origins. DD is a must-read for many, and I’m sure there were plenty of people who were eagerly anticipating Waid’s foray into the world of Marvel’s iconic rage monster/hero. The overall tone of Waid’s script and plot here, though, is far more modern. The script dwells on solving ills that plague the planet in the 21st century, while the plot presents a mad scientist has a terrorist threat. Nevertheless, despite the title character’s bestial nature, what makes this an engaging read is the intellectual quality of Waid’s dialogue. He’s crafted a smart script about a ridiculously smart man, and while it didn’t quite click for me on the level of Daredevil, I remain interested and plan on following Waid’s run on this relaunched book. Read the rest of this entry »

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Anything You Can Do, I Can Do, Banner

Posted by Don MacPherson on 19th November 2012

Variant coverAvengers Assemble #9
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Steve McNiven (regular)/Bobby Rubio, Joe Quesada & Avengers movie still (variants)
Editors: Tom Brevoort & Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

While I think Marvel and DC’s constant relaunching and renumbering of its ongoing super-hero titles is irksome and offers only short-term gains, I feel it’s a shame the debut of this new creative team for Avengers Assemble won’t benefit from the spotlight of a new start like so many titles that make up the publisher’s Marvel Now! campaign, because it’s one that not only Marvel fans should check out, but anyone who enjoys super-hero genre comics. Kelly Sue DeConnick’s sharp sense of humor and her exploration of parallels and polar differences between two founding members of the team make for a thoroughly entertaining and intelligent read. This is the sort of accessible and fun Avengers comic that should’ve been ready for viewers of the Avengers movie when they emerged from theatres this summer, and it reminded me a great deal of the classic Justice League run by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. Don’t miss this Avengers comic. I almost did. Read the rest of this entry »

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Blast From the Past

Posted by Don MacPherson on 14th November 2012

Variant coverAll-New X-Men #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Garcia
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Immonen & Von Grawbadger (regular edition)/Joe Quesada, Paolo Rivera, Skottie Young & Immonen (variants)
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

While I lost interest in his Avengers comics in recent years, I remain a fan of writer Brian Michael Bendis, and Stuart Immonen’s always been one of the better and more adaptable artists in comics. But it wasn’t the creators that drew me to this new X title, but rather the weirdness of the premise. Marvel aims to shake up the world of mutants by bringing together the distorted, darker, modern versions of its mutant heroes face to face with their original counterparts from the Silver Age. It’s an odd story concept… odd enough to pique my curiosity. It’s also a potentially risky venture, as the juxtaposition of the old and the new could make and support the argument Marvel might have lost its way with the characters that served as its foundation for success in the 1960s. Maybe revisiting the original X-Men as teens might suggest to some readers the Marvel magic has been lost. There’s no concern about that happening in this issue, though, as the premise that drew me really isn’t to be found here, at least not until the last couple of pages. Read the rest of this entry »

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The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Stay the Same

Posted by Don MacPherson on 7th November 2012

Variant coverIron Man #1
“Believe, 1 of 5: Demons and Genies”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Pencils: Greg Land
Inks: Jay Leisten
Colors: Guru eFX
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Greg Land (regular)/Adi Granov, Carlo Pagulayan, Joe Quesada & Skottie Young (variants)
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

While the piecemeal approach to the repackaging of the publisher’s line of super-hero comics with its Marvel Now! branding seems rather inconsistent and awkwardly staggered, I have to admit many of the creative teams announced for the retooled line piqued my interest. Invincible Iron Man was one of the few regular Marvel titles I was buying month after month as of late, and with the relaunched, I honestly expected to stray away from the property. But when Kieron Gillen was announced as the new Iron Man writer, it was easy to decide to stick with the ongoing adventures of Marvel’s Armored Avenger. I expected something intelligent and different from him here, and while he fulfills the former promise, I was surprised at how the latter aspect was lacking. I still see a lot of potential here, but the plot and tone here seem rather recycled. The result is a first issue that doesn’t seem like a new starting point for the title character at all. Read the rest of this entry »

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Avengers Nurses X-Men

Posted by Don MacPherson on 10th October 2012

Uncanny Avengers #1
“New Union”
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: John Cassaday
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover artists: Cassaday/Adi Granov/Daniel Acuna/Skottie Young/Sara Pichelli/Olivier Coipel/Neal Adams/Mark Brooks/J. Scott Campbell/Ryan Stegman/Mark Texeria
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

One could really see this as Avengers Vs. X-Men #13, only retitled to remove the “versus” part. I wasn’t interested in the AvX event, but the promise of a new start for both the Avengers and X-Men franchises, along with art by John Cassaday, was enough to draw me in. It’s also nice to see the new flagship Avengers book in the hands of someone other than Brian Michael Bendis, who had a solid run but has probably been attached to it for too long. Remender’s story boasts some of the more over-the-top, intense elements for which he’s known, but I don’t know they really fit into what is, at its heart, a traditional super-hero team book. Cassaday’s art really only seemed to pop in the nastier, harsher moments of the story, and since I didn’t care for those moments, the art never really grabbed me. Uncanny Avengers seems to fit in nicely with Marvel’s publishing approach in the 21st century, but it remains a short-sighted one that focuses on immediate payoffs rather than long-term sustainability and growth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wooing the Reaper

Posted by Don MacPherson on 21st September 2012

Thanos: The Final Threat #1
“The Final Threat” and “Death Watch”
Writer/Pencils/Cover artist: Jim Starlin
Inks: Joe Rubenstein
Colors: Petra Goldberg
Letters: Tom Orzechowski & Annette Kawecki
Editor: Archie Goodwin
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US

Earlier this month, Marvel released a one-shot collecting the 1990 two-part limited series Thanos Quest. I didn’t pick it up, because I bought and read the original issues back … Jesus, 22 years ago. I enjoyed them, just as I enjoyed quite a bit of Jim Starlin’s cosmic super-hero comics of the time. But I’ve always wanted to read his classic Thanos story from the late 1970s from Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2. I was thrilled to learn those two comics were being collected in this one-shot, separate from other Thanos stories I’ve read and already own. These 1977 scripts certainly show their age, but they’re also well-crafted in other ways. Starlin’s accessible stories are full of action and energy, but maybe what makes this reprint one-shot really stand out is the title character. Though almost cartoonish in his villainy, Thanos’ motive is oddly compelling. It’s not often a nihilist is driven to commit crimes on an unspeakable scale simply because he’s lovelorn for an abstract concept. Despite their overwrought qualities, these are great comics that every fan of the super-hero genre should experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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On Target

Posted by Don MacPherson on 2nd August 2012

Granov variantHawkeye #1
“Lucky”
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover artists: Aja (regular)/Adi Granov and Pasqual Ferry (variant covers)
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $2.99 US

It’s been two months since Marvel Studios released its box-office behemoth Avengers flick, so I’m surprised the publisher waited this long to get a new series featuring Hawkeye, a key character in the movie, on the stands. Marvel has never really known what to do with the character. Past attempts to launch ongoing titles quickly fizzled. After reading Marvel’s latest version of Hawkeye #1, I have high hopes for this kick at the can… at least as long as this creative team is attached to it. Writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, reuniting a few years after their successful and acclaimed work on The Immortal Iron Fist, don’t disappoint. They take some real risks here. The title character only appears in costume and only wields his bow on the first two pages. There are no super-villains to be found here. What’s more, there’s really no crime committed that spurs the hero into action. Instead, Fraction’s script presents the Avenger as being a down-to-earth, well-meaning screw-up who’s pretty much always in over his head. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Thing One

Posted by Don MacPherson on 15th July 2012

Variant coverInfernal Man-Thing #1
“The Screenplay of the Living Dead Man”
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artist: Kevin Nowlan
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Ralph Macchio & Mark Paniccia
“Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man!”
Writer: Steve Gerber
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letters: John Costanza
Editor: Roy Thomas
Cover artist: Arthur Adams (regular)/Nowlan & Gil Kane (variants)
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

I haven’t read a lot of the late Steve Gerber’s Man-Thing comics, but I have enjoyed and been challenged by some of his work in the past. Furthermore, his work from the 1970s and ‘80s has certainly been heralded as some of the most avant-garde and finely crafted comics of the era by stalwarts of the industry and the medium. Ultimately, what drew me to this comic book wasn’t Gerber’s reputation, but rather the incredibly skill and artistry of Kevin Nowlan. Read the rest of this entry »

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