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Old 11-24-2012, 11:46 PM   #14
TMNT 1984-2009
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Brooklyn, NY, US of A
Posts: 21,789
Exclamation Re: Be Thankful for the Pre-Thanksgiving BOUGHT/THOUGHT! 11/21/12

Having stuffed myself with turkey and spoilers, now it is time to share in the leftovers!


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698: In a week with two excellent Marvel Comics written by Eisner award winner Mark Waid hitting comic shops, it takes quite a lot for a comic to surpass that. Yet this comic succeeds because it employs a few clever narrative tricks despite the fact that its cliffhanger has been ruined by Internet rumors for weeks. Having worked on the last few issues' scripts alongside Christos Gage to gear up for this final haul, Dan Slott is back to solo writing chores for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and set to wrap up this volume of the web-slinger's series in style. Utilizing a trick which WATCHMEN is lauded for, the cover is actually the first panel of the issue, which sees the dying Dr. Octopus apparently mumbling what may be his last words. Yet that is hardly where this story ends, but where it begins. On hand for the artwork is Richard Elson with Antonio Fabela on colors; these are new contributors to Slott's two year run on ASM, yet their work seems to clearly fill the void in style left by the departure of Stefano Caselli.

This issue kicks off "Dying Wish", which will be the three issue arc which wraps up ASM with a 700th issue next month before the central web-slinging series returns as SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN in January 2013. Having overcome two Hobgoblins last issue, Peter Parker seems to enjoy a peaceful day in which the worst villain he has to fight is a poseur and the biggest challenge is juggling a date with MJ with a hospital visit with his aunt (who was injured a few stories back). Things get complicated when Peter gets a call from his Avengers allies, and after that things are turned on their head. What makes this issue excel this week over a double dose of Waid is that while many comics benefit from a re-read, this one benefits from such a thing immediately once the climax happens. Scenes leading up to it which seemed odd or excessive then have more nuance and make more sense. Elson and Fabela, meanwhile, produce art which draws back enough from the past to make effective use of flashbacks and classic designs (such as Peter Parker's hairstyle) while still looking sharp at modern designs.

In fact the only demerit to this issue is the very fact that aforementioned cliffhanger had been rumored online for a month or so, and in essence is an old storytelling plot. It is the execution which makes it stand out, and for a tired trope as what this issue reveals, it is handled in an effective manner. Dan Slott has teased that he will have to go into hiding once this arc is finished, which means it will either be exceptional or infamous. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN has had far too many infamous stories in recent history, so one hopes it will be at the other end of the pendulum. Considering the success Slott has had overall on this solo run, including with "epic" stories like "Spider-Island" and "Ends Of The Earth", the odds of this arc ending at the positive end of the spectrum are high. Regardless, this is a vital time to read ASM, and this issue kicks that off with quite an exclamation point.

DAREDEVIL #20: This Eisner award winning series continues to push along with producing exceptional serialized superhero comics, avoiding the fluff and fanfare of crossover events or editorial reboots like "Marvel NOW!". Writer Mark Waid, artist Chris Samnee and colorist Javier Rodriguez continue on introducing readers to Daredevil's newest arch nemesis, Coyote. Delving more into the villain than in the previous issue, the origins of the Coyote remain more of a mystery than even Daredevil thought; while the D-list Spider-Man villain known as the Spot is involved, he isn't Coyote. While the issue deliberately runs with the "villain gives a monologue about his evil scheme" trope, at the very least Daredevil is aware of it and it works to show what a sadist that Coyote is. As always, issues of this series spotlight their artist and Samnee's art is beyond exceptional and makes the script read even better than it is - which is a feat since Waid seems at his prime with this run. Daredevil has long been a hero who has desperately needed an influx of new arch enemies - especially since his two most notable ones are either dead (Bullseye) or back in their parent title (Kingpin). Furthermore, Waid manages to turn capers such as mafia murders or human trafficking which have been overdone in many TV crime shows and put a disturbing new twist on it. Reviews for this series can seem as repetitive as for other noteworthy series such as Image Comics' SAGA; that is simply because this series really is that good, and fans of quality comics are either already on board or should be. Comics such as this run of DAREDEVIL make up for many of the shallow and vapid stunts Marvel editorial performs with other series through sheer excellence. Considering how desperately Daredevil needs fresh rogues, hopefully Coyote sticks around as much as Mister Negative has from ASM.

DARK AVENGERS #183: Jeff Parker and artist Neil "I'm Not Bryan Hitch" Edwards bid a farewell to the team formerly known as Thunderbolts while gearing up for the latest roster reshuffle of the cast, which by this stage is the 3rd or 4th within the past 2.5 years or so that Parker has been on this book. I was excited about seeing the Dark Avengers and the Ex T-Bolts clash, but I must say it has been a disappointment. Long running members such as Man-Thing, Santana, Centaurius, and Cain Marko of all people are bid farewell so Parker can focus on who is left. Luke Cage is also apparently leaving, despite barely appearing in most of this run. This thing still seems to be devolving into a mess and while I am always interested in what comes next and this still remains a cheap book (as in, not $3.99 an issue), it is no longer a book I look forward to but one I get due to inertia. Yes, I care about what happens with John Walker or Troll or maybe Moonstone, but I am wondering how long I will stick with this. I keep expecting it to get canceled for low sales and Marvel to take that decision from me, but it keeps hanging in there by its fingernails. Maybe this 5th reshuffle will be the charm?

INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #1: The relaunch engine that is the "Marvel NOW!" push continues with another reboot of the Hulk's regular ongoing series. The Hulk is a franchise which has entered some meteoric highs and some embarrassing lows in recent times. Hulk's main book was selling very well during the Greg Pak led PLANET HULK/WORLD WAR HULK era as well as the Jeph Loeb launched HULK/Red Hulk era, but have since fallen to rather mediocre sales levels considering that this is a character who has appeared in three feature films within nine years. To this end writer Mark Waid is now trying his hand at the "green Goliath", which is a rare Marvel comic series he has never been involved with long; he has enjoyed quality runs on CAPTAIN AMERICA, FANTASTIC FOUR and recently, DAREDEVIL. Along for the ride is artist Leinil Yu, who has been on many titles which include WOLVERINE and NEW AVENGERS, alongside Sunny Gho on colors. The gist of the premise is that Bruce Banner considers transforming into the Hulk as a life long condition akin to cancer or diabetes, and thus he wants to manage a way to utilize it and his "Banner time" effectively, while working with SHIELD. This premise is obvious because Waid has chosen to have Banner literally sit in a cafe explaining it to readers, which is the only downside of the issue. While Yu is not at his best with long dialogue scene, he's done a lot of such on NEW AVENGERS and thankfully the second half of the issue features an impressive battle against one of Marvel's old villains. Waid has chosen to make Banner less of a maniac than some previous writers have, but still eccentric and following some cues from the Marvel Studios films. Yu's action sequences are where things really shine, and he is effective at portraying Hulk as a monstrous force of nature, and not just a green wrestler. While this issue offers no additional pages for its $3.99 cover price, Waid and Yu do offer a debut issue for a new take on an old character which does tell a complete "episode" within one issue. This is a far better relaunch issue than IRON MAN #1 two weeks ago, and encourages sticking around for at least an arc.

IRON MAN #2: Kieron Gillen continues to pen his relaunch of Iron Man's main title, and Greg Land continues to shamelessly Photoshop trace from porn, "IRON MAN" screen shots and wrestling magazines. This clash between decent script and "trace by numbers art" continues to be an odd mix for me, but I do appreciate how Gillen has made each issue part of an overall arc yet tell a complete tale in each one. Iron Man is off to re-collect the Extremis techno-organic virus, after its creator was murdered and it was sold by A.I.M. to roughly five buyers. After shaking down A.I.M. last issue, Stark heads off to some Symkarian island to match wits with some blokes who fancy themselves the modern-day Knights of The Round Table - and to them, Extremis is the Grail. They offer to give it to Iron Man should be best their new armored "knights" in combat, and one of them is someone from the old Soviet empire who has a grudge against Stark. The twist is that Iron Man's newest nemesis is a determined woman behind the armor, which is the sort of plot twist which dazzled people in the 80's at the end of the METROID game from NES, but in 2012 reads a bit flat. Naturally, Iron Man wants little to do with an armored competition and is just out to win, by any means necessary. Not a bad story, but the art doesn't help and this is hardly as good as some issues of Gillen's AVX: CONSEQUENCES or even THOR were.

MINIMUM CARNAGE: OMEGA #1: This is the final chapter of "Minimum Carnage", which has run across both VENOM and SCARLET SPIDER as well as launching from MINIMUM CARNAGE: ALPHA. It naturally pays homage to two series from the 90's; MAXIMUM CARNAGE and naturally, PLANET OF THE SYMBIOTES. Things are kept quite simple for writers Cullen Bunn, Chris Yost as well as artist Lan Medina doing most of the tale with Declan Shalvey and Khoi Pham doing epilogue material; a whopping four inkers are in tow as well. Carnage has escaped the Microverse and wound up back in Houston, Texas after the entire intergalactic gambit to have him aid in the destruction of two universes has failed. His "rebirth" in this plane results in roughly two dozen people being murdered, which leads Kaine and Venom/Flash Thompson have to apprehend him as well as prevent reporter Katy Kiernan from being added to Carnage's already triple digit body count. While Carnage reforms himself out of the blood and flesh of his victims, the heroes re-materialize at several inches tall for half the issue, although regaining their true height doesn't make the battle any easier. It is simply a fight, and a pretty crazy one with Carnage gaining additional powers and being as crazy as ever. Thompson and Kaine have a clash of morals which does seem a bit odd since it leads one to believe that Thompson is above murdering a target, which he isn't. I can't say this is of the level of quality that many of the "space events" were or of the level of "ENDS OF THE EARTH" or "OMEGA EFFECT", but it still was a wonkier adventure with these characters than I expected. That said, I am glad it is over before it wore out its welcome and can get back to normal SCARLET SPIDER issues. As for Bunn on VENOM, he continues to "do no harm", but he lacks the oomph of Rick Remender so far.

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