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Comics => Comic Reviews and Spoilers => Topic started by: Sam Wilson on December 29, 2006, 08:11:14 am

Title: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/28/06.
Post by: Sam Wilson on December 29, 2006, 08:11:14 am
Sam Wilson’s Reviews

This week brings us a fantastic end to the year with a plethora of great titles to choose from, Astonishing X-men, Ultimate Power, Wolverine Origins, Detective, The Boys, so much goodness I don’t even know where to start.  If I’m forced to choose a pick of the week, I’m gonna be different and pick three books, Black Panther (I’m on this cat’s side in the Civil War, WORD), JLA (Ed Benes + Black Canary = WORD) and Wolverine Origins (Black Widow in the Frank Miller Costume, WORD).  As always, that being said, on to the reviews…

Justice League of America #5
DC Comics
Written by: Brain Meltzer
Drawn by: Ed Benes
Variant Cover by: Art “I can sell the original art to this for at least $5k” Adams

Yes, the new Justice League is awesome.  Think Dwayne McDuffie and Bruce Timm’s JLU cartoon more than any other incarnation of the JLA you have ever seen in comics.  From the ashes of “Infinite Crisis” (please, no one wants to read my “Infinite Crisis” recap anymore than I even want to write one) a new team has arisen that hopefully won’t brain wipe anymore heroes or villains.  Obviously we have the big three, joined by superfoxes Vixen, Hawkgirl and Black Canary with Red Arrow (aka Speedy, aka Aresenal, aka Roy Harper), Green Lantern, Black Lightning (word) and Red Tornado filling out the rest of the roster. 

The current story arc started with Hourman’s old android body destroyed and supervillianry abound. Our story opens with Black Lightning, taking on some clown named Signalman and getting in a bit of trouble, but since he is in St. Roch we know who is there to lend a foxy, helping hand (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not Carter Hall). Meanwhile Arsenal, Green Lantern and Black Canary take out an army of Red Tornado-bots, and by the time we get to issue four GL, Dinah and Roy have made short work of the Red Tornado-bots and have moved on to some bona-fide supervillians. At the same time Black Lightning and Hawkgirl take Signalman to Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to deal with the Starro they found on the back of his neck, GL and co. find the same thing on the back of their foes. Batman discovers that the Starro’s aren’t organic though, and then Amazo and Solomon Grundy show up, which brings us to the current issue.  Grudy is smart (?), having some degree of intelligence to him rather than the tired old “born on a Monday” speech we are all used to.  Anyway, Grudy convinces the league they need him to stop a greater threat, Amazo he is on his way to Red Tornado’s family (?).  Yeah, all this and the big three met up with the rest of the team in a really nifty splash page.  Issue six better be the ass kicking fest they are setting it up to be…

This book is the best thing to come out of “Infinite Crisis” hands down.  Ed Benes is finally breaking away from his generic Wildstorm U mode and showing us that he is a damn good penciller.  As usual, Brian Meltzer proves that he is way more talented than his old roommate Judd Winick (it’s true, google Meltzer and see for yourself) and once again Black Canary makes fishnets and hotpants FREAKIN’ AWESOME.  Which they should be.  So buy the book already.

The Astonishing X-men #19
Marvel Comics
Written by: Joss Whedon
Drawn by: John Cassaday

Growing up The X-Men was my favorite book. Claremont ran a tight ship, yeah, he was (and still is) the king of needless exposition, but back then it wasn’t so irritating. You also had great artists like John Byrne, Paul Smith, John Romita Jr., Arthur Adams, Jim Lee and Mark Silvesteri kicking out monthly issues of excitement and wonder. I (like a lot of other people) dug the X-Men ‘cause they were like me, different. Their roster wasn’t full of blonde hair and blue-eyed all American Ubermencher, they had diversity, emotions and made mistakes. They didn’t all get along and the world really didn’t like them, or even see them as heroes most of the time. Uncanny X-men became one of the hottest selling properties for Marvel Comics in the 1980’s, and ‘90’s, so Marvel decided to spin-off some titles to milk it. Only a couple at first, New Mutants, X-factor both of those were okay. Then you got Excalibur again, not bad. Then things went a little nutty. Wolverine got a solo series, huge crossover events became a bi-annual event, Jim Lee got his own X-men title, and so on and so on until you have the mess that is their today. Wolverine averages about 29 comic appearances a month. A$# clown and generally over hyped writer Grant Morrison gave us more mutants than we knew what to do with, gave Xavier a twin, brought back Magneto, killed him, brought him back, killed Jean Grey (again), GHAH… I don’t know, I just don’t know, I can’t keep up, and I don’t want to keep up. The X-Men needs a “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, and needs it now.

Enter Joss Whedon and his Astonishing X-Men. We get a small, manageable team of X-men (Kitty Pryde, Wolverine, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Hank McCoy, aka the Beast). Colossus is brought back to life (well, he never really died, just read the first story arc already…), biting dialogue between Emma and Kitty (ohhh, catfight!), crazed aliens and rogue SHIELD agents.  Recently, all the X-Men went crazy and it seemed like Emma was back with the Hellfire club in her foxy bustier thong thingy.  That wasn’t really the case, Emma was just being controlled by that Cassandra Nova chick (Damn you Grant Morrison) and did a real number on the X-Men, she messed with Kitty’s head, turned Wolverine into a little Schoolboy and took away Cyclop’s optic blasts (!).  For the most part everything worked itself about, but before the team could even catch a breath they were teleported along with Ord and Danger (sucky villains from the first 12 issues of “Astonishing”) by SWORD (a lame SHIELD rip off; a group of agents who defend the world from aliens more or less) aboard a starship, and thus starts issue #19. 

Our story with Agent Brand in control of our hero’s and Ord, the alien from Whedon’s first arc who wants to kill Colossus because he supposedly is responsible for the destruction of Ord’s entire race.  Lead by the ruthless dictator Kruun, Ord’s people have taken up arms and sent an armada towards Earth as a preemptive strike.  In order to head off the armada Agent Brand has kidnapped the X-Men and is headings towards Ord’s planet to settle things once and for all.  In the meantime the X-team is a mess and not up to full strength and it’s gonna be few (our heroes) against many (Kruun’s armada) like a motherfu$#er.  Whedon definitely knows how to set up a cliffhanger, and this issue leaves us with a doozy of one, and as usual Cassaday is at the top of his game drawing one of the better renditions of Colossus in recent memory.  Yes, the story line is multi-leveled and even a bit confusing at times, but ultimately worth while.  Astonishing X-Men is the X-title to read if you are a fan of the X-Men of good old days of John Byrne, Dave Cockrum and John Romita jr.

Wolverine: Origins #9
Marvel Comics
Written by: Daniel Way
Drawn by: Steve Dillon
Wicked cool covers by: Mark Texeira and Joe Quesada

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with “Wolverine: Origins” I’ll give a quick recap. At the end of the “House of M” fiasco Wolverine, who is the best at what he does and what he does ain’t pretty, was granted access to his memories. All of them. Yup. Most of them are nasty and are the types of things no one wants to come to light. SHIELD is alerted and so it begins. Wolverine decides he is going to use his newfound knowledge to exact bloody revenge on all those who have ever wronged him, so he whups Silver Samurai’s ass and takes his Muramasa Blade (a katanna that has a bloodlust and is said to be able to contain evil spirits) and embarks on a quest. First up, he has some words with the Secretary of State, then he visits a guy named Nuke (who we last saw in the now classic Daredevil storyline “Born Again”). It turns out Wolverine more or less helped create Nuke, and after setting that little flub straight he mixes it up with Captain America and a few of the X-men. Wolverine almost goes berserk on all of them, but Emma Frost stops him and drops a huge bombshell on ol’ Logan. He has a son. In a moment of clarity Logan hands over his Muramasa Blade to Cyclops, requesting that if he goes too far in his current revenge bender that Cyclops end it with the sword, the only thing that can permanently put Wolverine down. Anyway, things for Wolverine haven’t slowed down a bit since issue six, and issues seven and eight, well…

Wolverine has hopped a freighter in search of his son, but the cut he received from the Muramasa blade isn’t healing as it should. He remembers there is a mineral that has helped him before his healing factor was on the fritz, but it isn’t synthesized naturally. Wolverine needs to pay a visit to one of his old buddies from Team X (see Wolverine, the first ongoing series, issue #50), Maverick to get his hands on this mineral so he can resume his quest. He tracks Maverick to Queens, and runs into an old friend along the way, an old friend (Jubilee) and an old enemy (Omega Red).  Wolvie and Omega Red go at it, and a depowered Jubilee and Maverick end up sitting on the sidelines trying to stay alive. Issue eight has Wolvie tracking Omega Red to Berlin, with a hostage (Jubilee) in tow and then out of no where things get foxy when the Black Widow (Natasha Romanova) shows up to give our boy a helping hand, which brings us to issue #9.

The majority of issue #9 is a flashback to Wolvie’s days spent with Natasha and her adopted father in Russia, learning the spy trade.  We also learn where Natasha learned how to fight dirty (heh, he is the best at what he does…).  Wolvie’s time in Russia wasn’t all it seemed to be, and when he finally leaves Natasha owes him a debt of gratitude, which she repays in issue #9 by sending SHIELD to Omega Red’s location, not Wolvie’s like they wanted.  The only problem is Natasha didn’t know Jubilee is with Omega Red, and so we are once again left with a dope a$# cliffhangeg.  Daniel and Steve kick all kinds of a$% in this book, and if you want to see the Wolverine you always have wanted to see but never got the chance, pick this book up.  Nuff said.

Title: Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/28/06.
Post by: Sam Wilson on December 29, 2006, 09:22:49 am
Wktf’s Reviews

As my partner said, great comics week to end the year.  For me, I picked up Detective, Daredevil, Black Panther, Winter Soldier: Winter Kills, JLA, Immortal Iron Fist (best new series after Blade), Batman, Astonishing X-Men and the trade to follow Captain America & The Falcon: The Secret Empire…Captain America & The Falcon: Nomad.

Winter Soldier: Winter Kills #1
Marvel Comics
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Drawn by: Lee Weeks & Stephano Guadiano
Cover by: Steve Epting

This book is flying under the masthead of “Casualties of War” and, so, it’s kind of billed as a Civil War tie-in.  And while, no doubt, the back drop to everything in this book centers on Civil War the banner feels kind of misleading.  In fact, this is a story all about Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier.  How he’s thinking, how he’s feeling, how he’s adjusting and, most especially, some of his most important regrets and remembrances.

Our story begins with a WWII flashback and the young Bucky and Toro, sidekick to the original Human Torch, are getting ready to attend a Christmas dance in war torn London and sweep some unsuspecting ladies off their feet.  The Invaders (Captain America, The Human Torch, and Namor) are otherwise occupied so the boys are left to themselves.  Of course, as I noted, this is a flashback.  The Bucky of today notes that Christmas simply doesn’t have the same meaning it had back in the ‘40s and his general melancholy is fueled not only by his recent horrible experiences (see the past several Captain America arcs, if you’ve been living in a cave that is) but by an appointment he’s scheduled for himself.  However, his reverie is interrupted by his only contact to the outside world, the underground Nick Fury who needs him to foil an attempt by the well meaning but misguided Young Avengers in the form of Patriot (I thought Cap’s original shield was destroyed by Mr. Hyde back in Avengers #275 but, then, I haven’t been following Young Avengers), the new female Hawkeye and the new Vision, to attack a Hydra hangout.  Fury wants this hangout left for him to manage and manipulate.  Of course, in stopping the Young Avengers, the ensuing scuffle alerts Hydra and a full scale battle breaks out.

But all the action, and there’s plenty of it, isn’t the point to this story.  The Young Avengers track Bucky to his destination, a very important grave site and, along the way, The Vision’s database enables him to determine who this strange soldier, incredibly, really is.  Hawkeye can’t seem to keep herself from asking personal after personal question and, while this raises the ire of her partners, only seems to drive Bucky deeper into reflection.  And as he reflects more, he thinks back again to that WWII Christmas party and the good times he shared with Toro which, sadly, leads him to yet another important grave site.  This tale invoking the past ends beautifully, coming full circle, to the present and a conversation brokered by Nick Fury with the one other WWII partner with whom Bucky can still talk today.

Seriously, I forgot all about Civil War as I read this wonderful tale.  It seems impossible for Bucky not only to be alive but also relevant today.  And, yet, Ed Brubaker has given a gift to Captain America and comic book fans everywhere in accomplishing the impossible.  Lee Weeks’ pencils cannot match more regular Cap artist Steve Epting’s but his work gives this tale the ethereal and melancholy tone and quality it needs.  Overall, this is the very best of the ancillary Civil War titles but, as I said, probably because it’s not hampered by Civil War and, instead, is an absolutely awesome Ed Brubaker Winter Soldier story.  This book absolutely would be my pick of the week were it not for another Brubaker title that hit the stands on the same day…

Daredevil #92
Marvel Comics
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Drawn by: Michael Lark

“The Devil Takes a Ride” arc reaches its penultimate chapter but I’ll bet you that this is the issue that packs the most punch in this arc.  I seriously did not see this coming.  For making my jaw hit my knees with a big reveal and then sending it further to the floor as we get into Daredevil’s mystery nemesis this comic most definitely is my pick of the week.

Life for Daredevil is never easy.  Between Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and every creator in between, this guy has seriously been put through the wringer.  Brubaker’s first arc following Bendis did not give Matt Murdock or his readers time to breathe as Matt was sent to prison for being DD, Foggy seemingly was murdered, Matt was thrown in with The Kingpin, Hammerhead, Bullseye and The Punisher all leading up to a prison riot and Matt’s Punisher-assisted escape.  This arc finds Matt on a heated search for the man who ordered Foggy’s death and it’s brought him to Europe and into pitched battles with the Matador and no less than Tombstone.  But now he’s closed in on his quarry and is seen leaping headfirst over a roof top (beautiful scene, Mr. Lark, by the way!) and straight through a window and fist first through several henchmen.  Matt can’t help himself for loving the sounds of bones breaking beneath the beatings he’s giving as he throws a body guard through the door to a room revealing….no, I can’t.  My problem is, I don’t know how to talk about this comic anymore without talking about who the person is that’s been so expertly pulling Matt’s chain for so long.

I will say this individual has reason both for self-loathing, over a Bendis storyline that kicked off Daredevil’s outing, and for loathing Daredevil going all the way back to the Frank Miller Daredevil stories from issues #171 and #180.  And, while the latter was a case when DD actually saved this mastermind it’s still a cause for anger and hatred.  It’s not rational, it’s beyond simply emotional.  This motivation is purely visceral and primal in its nature.  And, as Matt seems to have surmised even while stifling his own disgust and rage, has begotten a madness in addition to a slow spiral toward death.

I can’t even begin to tell you how this comic manages to wrap up so many plot lines, again going straight back to the very earliest Bendis stories.  What’s not clear to me is whether or not Matt now is complicit in someone else’s murder.  I guess we’ll see.  But, damn, Brubaker’s story and Lark’s art delivers on every level as a desperate and livid Daredevil is stopped squarely in his tracks and now has to figure out how to get back to the States.  With an issue like this I’m really curious what the wrap up final issue in this arc actually is going to deliver.  Oh, killer cover by Lee Bermejo, too!

Black Panther #23
Marvel Comics
Written by: Reggie Hudlin
Drawn by: Koi Turnbill

Leave it to Reggie Hudlin to take the straight and narrow road in his story telling.  Not.  I have no idea whether or not readers appreciate the political and cultural overtones Mr. Hudlin continues to infuse into his stories but, for me, I feel like I have to stay on my toes whenever I read his Black Panther, and I’ve been reading it since the beginning.  Mr. Hudlin doesn’t seem to spare anyone as he lambastes our nation’s government officials for their ignorance over the murder that helped spark the American Civil Rights Movement as well as black leaders like Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan who seem to be distancing themselves from T’Challa due to his recent meetings with Dr. Doom and Prince Namor.

One thing that Hudlin has done over the last couple of years is make The Black Panther seemingly untouchable.  He’s defeated every foe and garnered mad respect and even awe struck fear from everyone around him.  No matter how tough the situation, like his teaming up with Brother Voodoo, Blade and Cage to fight a whole clan of vampires in New Orleans, he never loses his cool resolve and aura of leadership (I’m sorry, but how do you maintain your cool through something like that New Orleans battle?).  He is unflappable and undaunted by any situation.  Until now, that is.  His marriage to Storm, an American, and his time spent in the U.S. due to Civil War, has caused his subjects to question his priorities and, for the first time, T’Challa seems unsure of himself, a risky situation if you are king.

Last issue, T’Challa faced off against Iron Man and Stark was lucky to keep his family jewels in tact as T’Challa cleaved his armor down the middle with The Black Knight’s sword.  Tony’s friend, Jim Rhodes, asked Tony to back down and, so, he did.  But T’Challa has made no secret of his disagreement with the Registration Act and has gone so far as to agree to Namor’s request to lead an army against the Act.  This issue begins at Bill Foster’s grave site, undignified as it is, and with Goliath’s mourning family, and the dialogue among Goliath's family is tense and powerful.  His sister suggests a racial conspiracy with an Aryan thunder god's murdering Black Goliath and her father retorts with an admonishment about making premature pronouncements.  Here Hudlin gives us two sides of an emotionally charged claim but from the same family, keeping an even keel as he does in showing short sightedness and ignorance from both white and black leaders.  What then follows brings The Black Panther into contact both with The Black Widow, who must face his body guards, and Captain America.  T’Challa want to help Cap, even supply him with tech, but Cap naturally trusts no one.  There altercation is brief, but T’Challa’s involvement may prove to escalate Iron Man’s offensive efforts as we’re left with the image of a recently introduced controversial character.  We’ve seen how badly this kind of escalation has gone already and it’s no coincidence the issue began at Foster’s grave.  Events seem to be getting worse before they get better or at least, finally, resolve.  New penciler Koi Turnbull turns in some work that’s a bit inconsistent and appears rushed at times, but conveys the drama of the story well enough.  It’s Hudlin’s story, though, that really carries this book.
Title: Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/28/06.
Post by: Sam Wilson on December 29, 2006, 09:23:45 am
Trade Reviews

The Mighty Dawg is off sunning himself this week but, while unable to give us his weekly dose of comic book reviews, was able to squeeze off a trade review for us.  Thanks, Keith!  You da man!

In last week’s newsarama.com Joe Q. was talking about big events coming in 2007 (see http://www.newsarama.com/NewJoeFridays/NewJoeFridays27.html).  On his list were a new and improved post-Civil War Marvel U landscape, a huge year for Captain America, some Axel Alonso-driven X-Men changes, the second act of the Hulk trilogy in World War Hulk, more “new stuff” than in prior years, and some “fantastic” Spider-Man announcements (in fact he declared 2007 to be Spider-Man’s year).  All that said, there was not one @#%&ing mention of the return of one of these reviewers’ very favorite characters to his own book, whose creative helm is being steered by JMS and Olivier Coipel.  Yo, Joey da Q!!  What’s up?!  Where’s the mention that Thor’s getting his own title again in 2007?  Grrrrr…well, we end our one-hero-per-week December trade review theme with a look at trades that loom large for The Mighty Thor, God of Thunder!

Kdawg’s Review

Thor: The Dark Gods
Marvel Comics
Written by: Dan Jurgens
Illustrated by: John Buscema & John Romita Jr.

It's no secret that me and my brothers Joe and Sam have a special place in our library for the Mighty Thor. We knew the time would come where our favorite hero trades ended up centering on this character. I went looking for trades, knowing full well it might be hard to find one that Joe hasn't already magnificently covered. And in truth, he has covered the one I am reviewing this week, but it was many moons ago and we felt that it was time to bust this one back out.

Thor has always been a tough character for Marvel to keep in his own monthly book. We are not sure why as the character itself is a fan favorite and people always are in a rush to see the Thunder God bringing down... well.. the thunder on some evil doer.

There have been a couple of stellar runs and acclaimed runs in this characters history and in truth most recent history on in particular that has been hard to follow. That of Walter Simonson back in the 80's and early 90's. While not getting the acclaim of Simonson on his run, still, many believe that Dan Jurgens run is up there amongst some of the better scribed Thor tales there are in recent years.

Shortly after the Heroes were reborn folloing the Onslaught mess, Thor got a new lease on life courtesy of Dan Jurgens and another favorite of us reviewers around here... John Romita Jr.

Originally presnted in Thor issues 9-13, we have a tale in which a dark event from Asgardian history has come back for revenge against Asgard, Odin, and more importantly Thor for being the warrior of valor even as a child to help Odin and bring about the original defeat of the Dark Gods.

Odin has erased the memories of the war fought between Asgard and the Dark Gods, but now they have been freed and united and have come to finish what they started in Asgard.

With Odin and the rest of the supporting cast cpatured, the Dark Gods plan to lure Thor home for his demise. Thor learns of this and doesn't even care that it is a trap and leaves his responsibilities on earth and to the mortal whom he is bound to (Jake Olson) and traverses the planes of existence to his ancestral home. He battles the Dark Gods and specifically the one he helped imprison: Perrikus. The battle doesn't go well as Thor is separated from his enchated mallot Mjolnir and must use the better part of valor or all of Asgard will be doomed.

Thor reverts to his mortal form Jake Olsen and succeeds in hiding for a bit, but is eventually found and the battle begins anew. The second round of this fight doesn not last long either though as Thor reunited with his hammer uses it to spirit him away to gather re-enforcements to give Asgard a fighting chance.

Thor gathers an old ally and friend in Hercules as well as his fathers machine of destruction and magic, the Destroyer. He's not done there as he invades Asgard and also recruits the Warriors Three to his aid.

It isn't long before the imprisoned Asgardians are free and the battle rages on.

Needless to say with Thor and Odin together, the enemy cannot last long and the heroes win the day and again put the whoopin' on the Dark Gods that would make mamma WKTF quite proud.

There's not much in the way of deep meaningful Thor stories in this series of issues that are collected. There is some minor Jake Olson/ Thor developing plotlines but for the most part it is Thor swinging his hammer with thuderous vengeance, loyalty and valor at his back. We all know that Thor will win the day... no hero is more mighty than Thor, but the real fun of these issues is the action sequences, the battle cries of Thor and our hero overcoming obstacles that no one else ever could. The dialogue is a bit forced at times as it tries to make Thor sound elisabethan... but not so much that it hurts to read.

Thor is coming back to the comic format at one point sooner or later, and this trade only makes me hope that this happens sooner. Thor rocks and if you want a great weekend read, I highky recommend this trade. You can't go wrong with Thor.

Wktf’s Review

Thor: The Death of Odin
Marvel Comics
Written by: Dan Jurgens
Drawn by: Stuart Immonen, with Joe Bennett, Walter Taborda & Jim Starlin

Many have been the storied tales of Marvel’s Thor, god of thunder.  Since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first brought the Odinson to readers he was unique among the pantheon of comic book superheroes.  While nearly all of the Lee/Kirby/Ditko creations of the early 60s could make that claim, Thor seemed to represent it best.  Unlike others whose powers came from radioactive exposure, personal trauma, mutations or originated from another planet, Thor was truly a god among men.  His universe included the Marvel Universe but, even more than Dr. Strange, extended beyond the MU to the strange and wondrous trans-dimensional and mystical regions.  Regions of mythology.  The world of Asgard with its stunning spires and colorful characters truly was a wholly separate world.  And, whether in that world or on Midgard, Thor, albeit begrudgingly at times, answered to a higher authority.  The will of the All-Father Odin.  Many were the times these two great characters clashed.  At times, as in Thor #291, they actually warred against each other.  But the love shared between these two was strong and ever did guide them in their evolving relationship with each other.  And so, despite the mind boggling and amazing Thor stories created over a forty year period by the likes of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Walt Simonson, and some clunkers created by others, it was the team of Dan Jurgens and Stuart Immonen who rocked Thor and his legion of reader by doing what even Walt Simonson led readers to believe but did not truly do and the creators of Spider-Man stories chickened out of when they brought about the death of Aunt May.  They gave us the true, irrefutable death of Odin.

Marvel’s editorial staff, of course, teased this many months in advance.  They promised the death of a major Marvel character and, soon thereafter, online polls sprung up asking who this might be.  Spider-Man?  Captain America?  No one guessed Odin.  Maybe it’s because Thor didn’t hold the attention of other Marvel characters and, hence, his title’s sad cancellation a few years back.  Maybe it’s because Odin was a being of mythology and such an integral part of Thor’s supporting cast that it seemed unimaginable.  Either way, no one saw this one coming.  With this act Marvel truly shook up and began to unravel Thor and take him down innovative paths no other creative team had gone.

Stricken with a broken arm and jaw from a battle with The Detroyer, Thor seeks treatment from Dr. Jane Foster who suggests that Thor may need the power of the Asgardian healers.  Thor whisks himself and Jane to Asgard, to be greeted by the All-Father.  Odin’s physicians place Thor in a healing vat which his father imbues with the Odinpower to ensure its healing properties.  Unfortunately, while Thor sleeps in this vat, the fire demon Surtur, eternal enemy of Odin, surfaces in Oslo and begins converting mortals to fire demons to bring about Midgard’s destruction.  Alerted to this disaster, Odin dispatches The Warriors Three and the rest of Asgard’s army to battle this titanic enemy.  Yet, even with the help of Hercules, Beta Ray Bill and Kurse, the odds simply are too great.  In the ensuing battle, which finally is joined by Thor in a hopeful burst of thunder and lightning, Odin himself joins the fray.  And it is his direct assault upon the fire demon that ends the threat, but at a most terrible cost.

But this trade is not truly about the death of Odin as much as it is about the impact of his death on all of Asgard and, of course, most especially on Thor who seems to follow the tradition patterns of grieving.  First is complete shock, a shock shared by all in attendance, quickly followed by anger.  Thor moves toward anger and rages against Odin’s physicians and even his closest friends, and the beating he gives his enemy Ulik who dared to utter Odin’s name is swift and severe.  Thor stays with denial for a period as he seeks out Geirrodur of the trolls and then even Hela for proof that his father yet lives.  Next comes guilt and depression, where he flatly refuses to assume the role of Lord of Asgard, believing himself unworthy and feeling he had been a continuous disappointment to his father, and spends his days in drunken seclusion.  But finally he does move toward that final phase of acceptance and even hope.  And it is here that Thor takes action in a direction that was new and fresh, no small feat for a 40 year old character.

This story is painful to read, and not because we know the path Thor follows as a result of his tragic lack of judgment created from Odin’s separating his human from his godly essence, thus fracturing his psyche.  It is painful because Jurgens and Immonen give us a powerful tale told with respect and deep emotion.  And the art.  Well, Immonen really goes all out here.  Odin is regal and powerful.  The full page spread of him riding into battle, golden armor gleaming and red cape flowing, on his chariot pulled by his rams, is just stunning.  The look of shock and pain on Baldar’s face as he accepts that which Thor will not is truly moving.  Thor is massively drawn with an enormous chest and arms hoisting a Mjolnir that looks too heavy for anyone to lift, and Surtur and his flaming persona never looked more menacing.  Finally the last chapter, told without any words, where Asgard prepares for Odin’s funeral pyre is particularly moving.  In it Thor, Sif, Baldar and Loki all remember their pasts with Odin who freed Baldar to fight against his captors, protected Sif from some drunken louts, comforted the young, distraught Thor and tried to reason with Loki as a mischievous and petulant child.  One might almost believe Loki came to regret the path his life had taken.

This trade collects Thor, vol. 2, #39-44.  It was published in 2002 and should be readily available.  It contains a couple of subplots involving Tarene the designate as well as Desak the god slayer and the Dark Gods.  But these do not distract too badly from the primary story.  Are there other stories of our thunder god more important than this one?  I’m a big fan of the Lee/Kirby and Simonson Thor runs.  They are among my favorite comics ever from anyone.  Still, when thinking of truly riveting, impactful and monumentally important Thor stories, this one, thanks to Jurgens and Immonen, is in the cream that rises to the surface.  It just doesn’t get much bigger than this one.

‘Nuff said.
Title: Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/28/06.
Post by: masigl4179 on January 02, 2007, 08:15:49 pm
22 picks for me at the last week of the year.
22) Guy Gardner Collateral Damage#2- Over the years I've really grown into quite a fan of Guy Gardner, which is weird because I remember hating his character as a kid during the Crisis of the Infinite Earths. In any event, I thought the first issue was decent, but this issue sucked to me. *Sigh* maybe it will get better with time.
21) Ultimate Power#3- In all miniseries or long story arcs there is a filler issue, and this was it(or maybe the first). I like the art, but the story this issue doesn't really do anything  for me.
20) X-men#194- I like Mike Carey on X-men and I want to like it but this Humberto Ramos art is killing me here.Still X-men with Rogue as team leader is a lot better than it has been in some years.
19) Heroes for Hire#5-I really dig this title which is Marvel's answer to DC's Birds of Prey but I have to admit it really is a cheesecake title. I dig the cheesecake though.
18. Hunter Killer#10- I'm still fascinated with the concept behind this title and I think we're really close to getting some definitive info about what the heck is going on, so I'm hanging in for the long haul so far.
17) Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes#25- This title has become hit or miss for me now, because I think Mark Waid is drawing all the storyarcs out for a year, but this issue was good because it had some wise ass dialogue from Brainiac and we got to see Supergirl and Valor go at it. Also, there was the Wanderers, who I vaguely remember from the late 80s thanks to my homeboy jogging my memory.
16) Winter Soldier: Winter Kills#1- Brubaker turns in another solid story about Bucky Barnes being the bad ass Winter Soldier but even now I'm still surprised this idea worked.
15) Conner Hawke: Dragon's Blood#2- I like Martial Arts stories, but I'm digging this Martial Art story with Archery has Conner Hawke is trying to find his way in the world now that Oliver Queen is back as Green Arrow. I'm really looking forward to the actual archery competition.
14) Superman/Batman#31- I see that DC has replaced Ethan Van Sciver as the interior artist for this title probably in an attempt  to keep it on time, but I'm really digging Mark Verheiden's(of BattleStar Galactica/Smallville fame) story about all the aliens on planet earth going crazy and turning against the humans.
13) 30 Days of Night: Spreading the Disease#1- I'm really dig horror comics and 30 days of Night never fails to disappoint. I really enjoyed the last story about vampires in space, but this story about the vampire that bit the pilot may turn out to be pretty interesting especially since she has been turning all the patients in the hospital she's been working at.
12) Nextwave: Agents of Hate#11- The thing about Nextwave is that you just have to love it or hate it. I love this issue, because Stuart Immonen really got show his ass off with his art.
11) Jack of Fables#6- I still like Fables better but I have to admit that with this issue Jack of Fables really began to grow on me, because it shows how much of a scoundrel he really is. I mean come on, he boned the Snow Queen and more than likely he's the reason she's evil today.
10) The Sadhu#4-What can I say about this comic other than how much I dig independent comics with spiritual themes. Yeah, the story is slow and the issues are running late, but I still think the story is fascinating.
9) The Immortal Iron Fist#2-Wow, this is one of the dopest martial arts comics on the stands today. I really digging the atmosphere this book has, and I think the concept of the Immortal Iron Fist, i.e. a series of Iron Fist throughout history is off the chain.
8. Daredevil#92-Bendis, I mean Brubaker I stand impressed by the reveal of the culprit behind all Matt Murduck's recent troubles and how she went about solving the problems as well. I have to admit this was probably one of the finest issues of Daredevil all year.
7) The Boys#7-Yes, the Boys is hyper violent, sick, and degenerate, but honestly, I can't get enough of it right now. Also, I felt sorry for Wee Hughie after he murdered one of Teenage Kix, and I thought Butcher's story about why he hunts down superheroes was poignant.
6) Justice League of America#5- So, Solomon Grundy is behind everything that's been going on or is he? Still we finally get to see the majority of the new Justice League of America together .I just figured out that Meltzer is writing this story like a novel, and that once it's all completed I'm going have to sit down for what I'm sure will be one hell of a read.
5) Justice#9- The good news is that I finally figured out what was going on, namely that Brainiac is using the parasitic worms to control the minds of various super-powered beings. The great news was that this art featured one of the best Captain Marvel battles I've ever seen.
4) Snake Woman#6- I never believed Zeb Wells was a good writer until now. Yes, the story in this issue was that good. Seriously, if you have never read an issue of Snake Woman pick up this one, because I guarantee you'll want to go back for what you missed and keep getting new issues.
3) Astonishing X-men#19- Just like I said Brad Meltzer is writing Justice League like a novel,well Whedon is writing Astonishing X-men for television. Sure, it was all set-up but it was a damn good set-up where the X-men are stuck on a rocket hurtling through space towards the Breakworld. Yeah, nuff said.
2) 52 Week 34- I don't if I already said this last week, but I may have to reconsider Ralph Dibney being my favorite character in 52, because Black Adam and the Question are off the chain. Although, when it comes to the Question, I'm not sure whether or not the writers are just going to kill off Vic Sage and replace him with the Renee Montoya. Also, this whole situation with Black Adam and his family...it's going to get a lot, lot worse before it gets better. If that ever happens.
1) Black Panther#23- From the moment I read the first 3 pages I knew this issue was powerful. Word, powerful, that's the only way to describe. I'm so happy that Reginald Hudlin dealt with the death of Bill Foster over in Civil War. Still, Hudlin packed so much content into this issue, man my head is spinning. If I had to fault it for one thing that would be the art because although I liked the action sequences some of the facial expressions were kind of messed up.
Title: Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 12/28/06.
Post by: Battle on January 04, 2007, 10:27:25 am
Pretty thorough review

...particularly:

Thor: Dark Gods  and of course, Black Panther!