The Mighty Reviews 6/11/09
Amazing Spider-Man #597
Written by: Joe Kelly
Drawn by: Marco Checchetto
Now we are in the third issue of the “American Son” arc by Joe Kelly. The first issue blew me away with both the amount of complexity in the story as well as the art by Phil Jimenez. The second issue we had the also awesome art of Paulo Siqueira. This time Marco Checchetto takes up the artistic reigns. Again I was bummed to see another new artist on a new issue. Now it seems I’ve got the pattern, every issue will have a different artist. I have always hated that, and it is my only knock on this arc so far. IT takes you out of the story a bit stylistically and the Spider team has been doing a great job of keeping the story arcs consistent art-wise. Marco does a great hob here… don’t get me wrong, but to me it was distracting having 3 issues and three styles, even though it is intended.
So last issue we left off with Harry Osborn accepting his father’s offer to come on board and be a part of the “Avengers”. Harry has his reasons, as it seems that his ex-girlfriend/super-villain girlfriend Lily Hollister is pregnant with his child and Norman Osborn has her in his care.
Peter does not know this information, and he can’t help but question his best friend Harry’s motives. Harry hates his father and yet all Pete sees is Harry running off to be manipulated by his father.
Peter wants to figure out what is up with Harry so much that he has Reed Richards devise a means for him to infiltrate Osborn’s Avengers posed as Venom. Spider-Man is supposed to be a very smart lad… I can’t believe he thinks a costume… even a Reed Richards costume will make it past Wolverine’s son Daken. Brilliant move Pete.
It doesn’t take long for Peter’s disguise to be seen through, but by then he knows what Norman is up to. Norman plans on making his son Harry into the new heart of America as Americon Son. He will be the Avengers new version of Captain America through use of the super soldier serum and the goblin formula. To me that sounds like a recipe for disaster. Much to Peter’s dismay, Harry even helps give Pete up to Norman to keep his own ruse going, so that he can cure Lily.
Joe Kelly is writing Spidey better than anyone else has right now. I feel as if this title is starting to really garner some heat. It is Spider-Man at his best… his back is against the wall and Norman Osborn is bearing down on him.
Uncanny X-Men #511
Written by: Matt Fraction
Drawn by: Greg Land
In the first of two separate X-Men reviews this week, Uncanny X-Men, set in current continuity is a pretty awesome issue. The psychic ghost of Cyclops ex-wife Maddie Pryor has been wreaking havoc in our heroes universe. She has stolen the body of the deceased Kwannon as well as captured Psylocke and twisted them into a perverse version of both, as well as made her into a member of her evil sisterhood of mutants. All Psylocke is however is a test case for her real plan, which is to take over the dead body of my favorite female in the Marvel Universe… Jean Grey. In fact Marvel solicits this issue as “We’ll let the cover speak for itself”
Uh… to me that just means that Marvel loves to tease the fans that are hopeful for a Jean Grey return and they are usually full of sh*t. This issue really had zero to do with Jean Grey other than Maddie wanting to inhabit her body and the cover wasn’t fooling anyone… even though it’s a pretty HOT cover.
Where this issue shines is the dialogue of the characters. Once again Wolvie and Cyke aren’t seeing eye to eye over Jean, because venerable softy Wolverine kept a lock of Jean’s hair for remembrance.
Northstar gets a great one-liner as the team races to try and cut Maddie off at the pass.
Dazzler gets to shine better than she has since 1989 in an X-Men book as she and Psylocke go at it in combat. Long time Psylocke fans really get to be happy here by the end as well.
The action was great in this issue and it would have only been served better had there been a few longer camera shots to show scope and the true depth of the battle. In tight to the action I feel it was damn good, but the stakes could have seemed higher has we seen a touch more of the fights from afar, the way Silvestri, Romita, and Lee used to. That said, I think the current Uncanny book does evoke some of those classic days from the 80’s. Fraction has made me quite happy taking the reigns of this book.
The absolute best moment however comes at the end, and it belongs to Hank McCoy as he throws his old friend Cyclops an ultimatum, even as he mentions that he and the science team are leaving on a special mission.
I can’t wait and this issue is my pick of the week.
X-Men Forever #1
Written by: Chris Claremont
Drawn by: Tom Grummet
This brings me to my other X-Men related review of the week. Comics have grown up a lot since 1991 and we were all dashed to see Chris Claremont leave the house that he built.
I can remember the X-Men never being quite as good again either until just recently. Despite fantastic creators being on board over the years, it seems as though the Uncanny X-Men, never quite had the same voice as they did when Claremont was there, not even when he came back for a while in early 2000-something.
Well what would happen if he never left the X-Men in 1991? What if at the end of the incredibly well done first 3 issues of the new adjectiveless X-Men series, Claremont were to stay on board and continue to handle the franchise?
Friends I give you X-Men forever… and the mixed emotions you may feel I will leave entirely up to you.
I found myself asking if you can really go home again basically as the mind has to wipe an incredible amount of continuity as well as years away.
The team is chasing down Fabian Cortez right after Magneto plunged his new Asteroid M into space.
So right out of the gate we have drama between Scott and Logan over a still very much alive and unf***ed by Morrison Jean Grey. Wolverine’s healing factor is still shorting out. Rogue can still fly and Gambit has never technically joined the team.
It is a ton to try and reset in your mind given that I haven’t missed an issue since 1991…
This is an incredibly large hurdle to leap, but despite all that, how can you at least not give it a try knowing what Claremont has done for the X-Men and the more classic line up?
So what did I think? Despite all of the caveats that you have to make with a title like this, I really and possibly very shamefully liked it a lot. Grummet has always been an excellent artist and his style fits the era very well. Claremont still has these characters voices down and I found myself almost able to put myself back there in 1991. If it weren’t for the fact that every time something happened, I had to remind myself… “Wait… that never happened”, I would have loved it.
The short of it is this… don’t read this expecting something to move heaven and earth like Brubaker has done with Captain America. Don’t read this book if you know up front you can’t accept the premise of the book. Read this book to see that incredible X-Men line up (plus Nightcrawler and Shadowcat) and what might have happened next…
Sam Wilson’s Review
Written by: Brian Wood
Drawn by: Ryan Kelly
Cover by: John Paul Leon
To catch up those who haven’t checked out this book yet: our story opens five years into the second American Civil War. The conflict is between the United States of America and the “Free States”. According to the White House, these “Free States” Soldiers are “thugs and murderers”, and they are indiscriminate and uncivilized when it comes to warfare in civilian areas. New York City is divided, with the “Free States” controlling New Jersey and the inland, and they are amassing at the banks of the Hudson River. The United States of America has Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island and is well dug in on the coastline, with Manhattan Island caught in-between in the “DMZ”. The thing is, there are still people living on Manhattan Island, and even though there has been a formal ceasefire in effect, the reality of life there consists of looters, gangs, local militias, insurgents and contract killers. All a day in the life in the DMZ.
Enter rich white-kid Matthew Rose, he entered the DMZ as an intern to a world famous journalist and ended up becoming the voice of the people. Since Matthew has set foot in the DMZ, he has been used by both sides, made some friends (Zee, the former Med Student among them), and has established himself as a “name” person in the DMZ. He reports the truth, no matter how ugly, so most of the time he gets free reign, and has even become a celebrity of sorts. Latest up for Matty, he finds himself working for Parco Delgado, the newly elected President of the DMZ (and he has an uncanny resemblance to Sen Dawg from Cypress Hill). Recently events in DMZ had Matty looking for Chinatown gold so he could help Parco raise some cash for his administration, unbeknownst to Matty said cash was used to buy a nuclear weapon thus making Parco a force to be reckoned with and making Matty a chump (sort of). Matty used this to springboard himself as a major player in Parco’s administration, which brings us to our current issue. Issue 42 starts off a three-part story entitled “No Future”. “No Future” introduces us to a group in the DMZ we have yet to see, a death cult of sorts comprised of ex-police officers and firemen who had all lost their families during the evacuation of the DMZ when the war first started. All of these men have nothing to live for, so they spread their misery around by murdering any living soul they can find. Conditioned with a singular purpose in mind, this cult seems to be good at what it does (killing), until the day it all changes. One of the death teams takes out a helicopter that has a news reporter in it (someone with a connection to Matty), and instead of killing him they take him prisoner, and thus a new story begins…
If you are looking for something different and politically relevant, this book is for you. This issue is a pretty good jumping on point, but check out a few of the trades already out to get the back story and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Written by: Judd Winick
Drawn by: Ed Benes
Cover by: Tony Daniel
I very nearly didn’t buy this comic. Batman’s “death” (quotes applied due to having seen him alive at the end of Final Crisis) didn’t bother me as much as Final Crisis of the Batman RIP storylines, themselves. But those two stories put such a bad taste in my mouth for DC overall and their Batman titles in particular, no small feat considering what a decades long fan I am of The Bat, that I nearly walked right past this one. That striking Tony Daniel cover brought me back, though, and when I saw Ed Benes’ name on the art chores I had to at least pick it up and flip through it. Uh, oh. Winick, one of my least favorite writers was now on Batman. Put it back. Ed Benes art. Decisions. Pick it back up. And it was the first in my stack that I read when I moved on to my lunch break.
This story very clearly covers off the period of time just before the final moments of the Battle for the Cowl, before the new Batman picked up the cowl and the truly agonizing process he went through that led him to his fateful decision. Maybe more than anything else, this issue does a great job exploring the depths of Dick’s and Alfred’s feelings for Bruce. Winick, in particular, does a truly great job with pacing in a story that doesn’t feel rushed, that seems to take the right amount of time for Bruce’s family, even his extended family including Commissioner Gordon, Superman and Wonder Woman, to explore and reconcile their feelings and desires in the wake of what they believe is his death, and then to make the right decision on how they all must move forward. Alfred’s very brief conversation’s with Dick, sitting by himself with his head in his hands, and separately with Superman, both for Winick’s handling of the dialog and Benes’ poignant images, were worth the price of this book.
This is a transitional issue that really makes the passing of the cowl feel right. I’m frankly surprised Winick actually wrote this issue given his track record but, if this is symptomatic of what we’ve all got in store for us on this new Batman title then I’m at least on for the next issue, or until Dini and Nguyen convince me they’ll be putting out a superior Bat title with the upcoming “Streets of Gotham.” Benes’ art is a little more subdued than usual but still stunning. Even when he has the briefest opportunity to draw Wonder Woman, he tones down the usual cheesecake, a good move considering the mood Winick’s set with this one story. This issue, in fact, is a great example of how talented an artist Benes has become, not just at home with action and hot women but able to tell a deep and poignant story about deeply serious stories as well. His ending shot is a standout image, for sure. Color me surprised, all the way around. This book is my pick of the week.
Flash: Rebirth #3 (of 6)
Written by: Geoff Johns
Drawn by: Ethan Van Sciver
Cover by: Ethan Van Sciver
I’ve really been liking this series but, to be honest, I can’t really put my finger on why. Sure, the art’s been great, almost literally crackling off the page. Johns is teasing his readers with a major mystery he’s working on unraveling for us in his typical superior writing and storytelling style. And, of course, one of my most favorite Silver Age heroes is back. But I’ll be damned if I can figure out just what the hell is going on in this book. And, while I’ve become seriously frustrated and not really feeling this book as much as I did this team’s Green Lantern: Rebirth, we’re now at the half way point and it looks like some answers are forthcoming.
Poor Barry appears to have become the Angel of Death for those tapped into the Speed Force, the Black Flash. In his torment over this, various members of the Flash family, as well as the JL/SA have come to contain him and offer him comfort. But Barry’s feeling the Black Flash inside and, in his desire to outrun his predicament and leave his friends and family behind, we are treated to one of the most famous rivalry matches in all of comics. As Superman, feeling the League’s pain over J’onn, Arthur and Bruce’s loss, seeks to overtake and stop The Flash, we finally learn once and for all, and most decisively for that matter, who between these two really is the fastest. And, at last, as Barry breaks the time barrier as he rushes head long into the Speed Force, we are treated to a fantastic Silver Age Flash villain who may well be the cause of Barry’s rebirth and current problem.
Van Sciver’s art almost gives me a headache as I read it, but in a good way. There’s so much lightning and energy crackling in every panel it feels like I have to get myself physically grounded before I read it. There’s so much bursting energy the book’s almost too loud. And, while Johns and Van Sciver do have me coming back to see where this goes, I’m still holding the feeling that Final Crisis was nothing more than a gimmick to kill Batman and revive The Flash. And it still feels like a gimmick, half way into the explanation of Flash’s rebirth which keeps the sour taste in my mouth despite the quality of this series thus far. But I have faith in Geoff Johns, one of the best writers in all of comics, and I’m going to keep reading in hopes of a true pay off.
Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #1 (of 3)
Written by: Kieron Gillan
Drawn by: Kano
Cover by: Patrick Zircher
What is it about poor Beta Ray Bill that no one this side of Walt Simonson can write this wonderful and noble character correctly? I don’t think I’ve read a single Bill story, outside of Simonson’s Thor run, where the writer got Bill right. Matt Fraction maybe came the closest in the Secret Invasion: Thor story, but Bill hardly had a much of a role there beyond use as a plot device. And it looks like Gillan, who’s turned our hero into a bitter and angry agent of vengeance, seems to fall into this camp as well.
Galactus previously devoured the Korbinites' home and, for Beta Ray Bill, this represented a complete failure of his life's duty as his race’s sworn protector. And now, despite his oathbrother Thor’s protestations, actually backhanding Thor in the process, Bill is setting forth to do the unthinkable. Exact revenge against Galactus, himself. Sure, I understand Bill’s overwrought over his failure to protect his people, but this behavior seems completely out of character for him. Kano’s art is as good as it’s always been but when set in a story like this, not even solid art can help it.
Galactus is plenty annoyed at Bill’s tact and has dispatched all of our favorite herald, The Silver Surfer himself, to teach Bill a lesson. So, even though next month promises a cosmic slugfest between two of Marvel’s most powerful characters I don’t think I’ll be checking this one out. A fight simply for the fight’s sake isn’t interesting enough to shell out $3.99. This review feels a little thin, my apologies, but the comic’s pretty thin, too.