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Oct 11, 2001
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NYC is suffering from a heat wave, but that didn't stop me from getting comics this week. Thankfully, its a week where my sum total is under $20 for a change, and I get a merciful break from CIVIL WAR overload, which sometimes nears critical mass with 4-plus installments shipping at once. Oh, and Marvel once again releases a mini-series about characters almost nobody knows about with a creative team that is hardly "famous" like a lot of big names, so regardless of quality, it'll sell terribly. Somebody should honestly tell Marvel's promotional staff that the "throw books against a wall and see what sticks" as a strategy for new or mini-series titles is at least 10 years out of date. It doesn't work anymore since the 90's crash. Insisting on it "because that's what we've always done" would be like a record label insisting on selling new music on audio cassettes when the entire industry is embracing CD's and iPod. Get with it, man.


52 WEEK #13:
The cover alone promises a climax (of sorts) to the Ralph Dibney "Cult of Conner" storyline, and we get one here. The art this week turns out to be from Todd Nauck, a veteran DC penciller that DC fans would recall from YOUNG JUSTICE and TEEN TITANS GO!, but whom I liked for his work on his small creative vehicle for Image, WILDGUARD (the amusing superhero/reality TV series, with a one-shot and a two issue series last summer, that Marvel shamelessly attempted to rip off for NEW WARRIORS, in which they failed, MISERABLY). Come to think of it, I miss Wildguard, if it became an ongoing, I'd SO buy it every month. It wasn't Eisner stuff, but it was good, clean, funny superhero stuff that wasn't afraid of being a little silly and could still deliever some nice twists. Anyway, I digress. Nauck's art is good here and most of the issue deals with Dibney attending the "Cult's" rebirth ceremony via Wonder-Girl's invitation. Because he's a well connected former JLA-er, he's managed to bring along Green Arrow, Hal Jordon, Zaurel and Metamorpho. They think its because Ralph wants to take down what they see is a "scam cult". And partly it is. But they're all characters who either deal with the afterlife or have risen from the dead themselves, so Ralph wants them as "expert witnesses" to see if this Cult is actually on the money. The fella misses his wife and is very conflicted, and this entire story was great to read, as well as emotionally rending. The gang insist that the Cult's a sham, and that Ralph needs to make his own mind and see it for himself. They shut it down, but when Dibney's straw-dummy form seemingly comes to life for a moment, it seems the Cult really had something with resurrection, and its the emotional straw that broke Ralph's back. The poor guy's been through nothing but heartache and pain for the past 2 years, being the perennial punching dummy in DC's insistance that its above "hammy characters". The B-Plot is more searching for Isis' brother with Black Adam, and more "you give them hope, you give me hope, I wuv you, blah blah" from Black Adam that's not quite as repetitive as Booster Gold's routine was in the beginning, but getting close. The Cult plot takes the cake and I enjoyed reading it, but not because I'm a sadist, but because it was potent stuff that felt like a natural reaction to their sordid lives. Waid also gives Elongated Man's origin in the back, and you can plainly see a lighthearted hero turning a 180 as he reached the age of what I call "Post Modern Grimness". As in, unlike the angst of the 90's, stuff post 2000 is usually written better. But its still darkness overkill, and its much more pretentious after a while than watching monkeys with guns (circa the Golden/Silver age). Speaking of which...

AGENTS OF ATLAS #1: The aforementioned mini-series by Marvel that yet again sees them combine little-known characters, a creative team with zero recognizability, and absolutely zero promotion or advertisements to somehow distinguish it from the other 200 books that ship this month, through which Marvel thinks they will produce a hit. It has failed every time since 1996, but hey, what's another go, eh? Its like the promotional/editorial dept. at Marvel is headed by a parrot who can only repeat the same ideas over and over, and never learns any new, updated words. Its the age of the Internet and Marvel's employing a strategy that last worked when the "walkman" was new. So if you are interested in this kind of thing, snatch up the book while it lasts. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed by it, but its still a fun, stress-free read that sees a team of forgotten 50's Marvel characters (who formed an unofficial Avengers team in WHAT IF? #9) being drug back up for a new go. This naturally includes your token "talking ape", Gorilla-Man, last seen in HOWLING COMMANDOES, along with Venus, Marvel Boy (who supposedly croaked in the 70's), Human Robot, and SHIELD agent Jimmy Woo. Apparently their mission to "rescue" President Ike from Yellow Claw back in the 50's actually happened, and ever since the squad was decommissioned and Woo taken off the field and used for interrogations (like in SECRET WAR). Tired of desk-work and wanting to investigate this company named Atlas, Woo's illegal squad is killed and he's barely alive. SHIELD asks Gorilla-Man if he knows anything, and he friegns ignorance long enough to snatch Woo from intensive care with Human Robot, and escape to Marvel Boy's Uranian ship (yes, he's powered by Eternals from Uranus, insert crude, tired, cliche jokes now) where they use alien tech to revive Woo and make him youthful again. The major drawback of the first issue is that its not terribly friendly to new fans who've never heard of these characters before. Sure, it recaps WHAT IF #9, but gives you little clue as to the origins of Gorilla-Man, Human Robot, Venus, or Marvel Boy. These are OLD characters, after all. The GOLDEN AGE 2004 handbook has bio's on Marvel Boy and Venus, the ALL NEW OHBOTMU has one for Gorilla-Man, but for the rest, you're on your own (The Appendix site has bios for some of 'em: ). But for a #1 issue, especially for a mini series, you shouldn't assume your readers have handbooks or read the god-aweful HOWLING COMMANDOES. I'm sure later issues may refresh us about this stuff, but that was the major drawback. Aside for that, its fun stuff, seeing Gorilla-Man handle four guns at once as the simplistic (by today's standards) Human Robot carries him (and can apparently only do something if you directly order him to). Half the reason I'm on this series is for Leonard Kirk's art, whose work I enjoyed in BLOODHOUND from DC and FRESHMEN from Top Cow. Justice's inks aren't the best for Kirk, as his art doesn't look as crisp here, but still serviceable.

FANTASTIC FOUR #539: The lone CW tie in book this week (that I got at least) that promised to fill in the Thing appearence on JMS's over title, ASM (from last week). These tie-ins have the awkward task of taking place after (or during) the events of CW #4, which hasn't come out yet. So they're basically acting as the middle of Chapt 3 before Chapt. 2 has ended yet. They have to advance the story but not give away any of Millar's tidbits, and this is why long crossovers can get dodgy if the timing isn't perfect or they're too damned long. 70 issues may be overkill, especially since we're seeing the same arguements for pro/anti SHRA so often, you could almost do a SNL routine spoofing it. And we're not even halfway finished. Aside for that, this is one of the better F4 issues since CW started, IMO, and once again it centers on The Thing. In fact, since none of the other Four appear, you could almost call this an unofficial issue of THE THING. The issue also gives a different perspective on the ASM issue, which is also kind of cool. The Yancy Streeters hand Cap's underground forces intel on where their captured members (presumably captured in CW #4 in the wake of "Project Lightening") are being moved, so Cap arranges a rescue. Iron Man's squad, including his personal boytoy, Spider-Man, naturally are guarding the envoy. What they don't know is that Puppet Master and The Thinker (he's no longer "mad", at least not repressing it) are manipulating the crowd around them in an attempt to blow up the heroes in the tankers and "kill some ducks in a row". Frankly, its about time we saw some villian capitlizing on the hero infightings to eliminate some rivals, and the fact that the first shot seems to come from two C-List Fan 4 villians is also good; like Nitro, it helps them rediscover the limelight. The best thing about CW is that while it seeks to completely butcher a lot of A-Listers, the B and lower listers that survive it may come out of this with added fame. Nitro went from hack to powerhouse, for instance, much like DC did with many of their villians (like Dr. Light, who admittedly they all but went overkill with). JMS writes some good witty inter-villian banter between Puppet Master and Thinker. The Thing, meanwhile, is worried that the Yancy Streeter's protest of the SHRA will get the kids hurt, and that's precisely what happens. Thing saves them from the villians' bomb, but one of the kids ends up dying in the process. Naturally this leads to a "lookit what your fighting is doing to the children, OH PLEASE FOR THE CHILDREN", which is a cliche, but its one that works and is efficient, and argueably is worth reminding people of (especially with another Mideast Crisis happening). In war, regardless of who wins or who is right or wrong, the civilians in the middle always pay the worst price. That's not politics, that's just the facts of war, true since war began. The Thing also reaffirms his "neutral" stance; he doesn't support the SHRA nor does he want to fight against the legal authorities like Cap is doing, so he's basically retiring and leaving the country (y'know, like everyone who hated Bush claimed they'd do if he got re-elected in 2004, and absolutely none of the whiney babies ever did) so he doesn't have to fight. Its a respectable decision, but is underscores the shame of all the infighting and in a way, like the entire CW, a victory for villians. Who benefits from the Thing leaving the U.S.? Supervillians. One less 85 ton tanker to get in their way. McKone's art also is great.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #23: A dead book walking, which I've honestly seen coming since about issue #17 when their sales dived below the top 100. Its past its prime and Kuhn's art is pretty shabby, but it still is enjoyable, stress-free superhero action that Marvel is steering clear from as a company, so I'll enjoy it while it lasts. Kirkman breaks the story up into two chapters, the first depicting Spider-Man & Wolverine teaming up (again) to contain Iron Maniac while the rest of the New Avengers can, uh, "assemble". The art is from Cruz and the decency of it was refreshing. But then Kuhn comes back for the second half, which sees Curtis Doyle's medical aftermath of his attempt at heroism. Devistated to know that Abomination's punch crippled him from the waist-down, he uses the ring to fix his legs, and runs afoul of a either a "twist in the making" or a bit of a Maguffin; a Skrull spy who conviently also wants to be a superhero and wants to train Freedom Ring to be better at it. Marvel's sure seemed to be on a Skrull kick the past few years. Hulkling? Xavin? Virtue? Now this? Either he's setting Curtis up or its rather generic, if not fun to read. Again, MTU's much like a worn in sneaker. Nothing that's new or groundbreaking, but damned comfortable and refreshing. And Iron Maniac showing Spidey the "error" of those dumb little legs on his armor was priceless. The issue is simplistic, but it does it right, so it works. Also amusing (in the wake of CW, which this book has nothing to do with) was Spider-Man claiming he got his armor from 616's Stark, "who's not an evil jerk". I guess he hasn't been reading the message boards. :p Sure, Iron Maniac's hammy, but he exists to give and take beatings for the MTU's swansong, and that can put a smile on my face.

MOON KNIGHT #4: Huston and Finch's horribly late but still competant relaunch of a gritty urban hero continues. Unlike AGENTS OF ATLAS (which stars characters who've had far less exposure than Moon Knight), Huston understands that an intro arc needs to introduce fans who may not be vets about who the cast is and who Moon Knight is, while still moving foward with his story. In a way you could argue that he almost goes into overkill to tell you Moon Knight's past; this is the second issue in a row that goes over his origin. The story reads better all together, instead of in 2 month installments, also. The cover at first threw me because the fight with Bushmaster happened in #2, but it actually made sense inside, and I appreciated that. The action is moving foward now, with Profile going over Spectre's profile as the Committee's attempt to manipulate and control Moon Knight has backfired, so now they sent Taskmaster to kill him. The "talk" between Spectre, his own shattered mind and finally what appears to be the God Khonshu (who, in almost Bendis fashion, is now talking with more "street" intones to make a point, although unlike Bendis, Huston knows how to shut it off). Avenging the brutal beating of Jean-Paul seems to please the god and have him call forth Spectre to be his champion again, and allow him to stand. Marlene, who chews him out about abandoning his friends, taking "the easy way out" and being a general psychopath. And then Taskmaster interupts their "heart to fight" with some witty banter that got me to chuckle. Now, some purists would say, "Taskmaster took down the Avengers, there's no bloody way Moon Knight can possibly beat him". And that's true. But step down for a minute. Firstly, its that very sort of "impossibility" factor that makes Spectre the underdog that you want to root for (much like, say, Spider-Man fighting the Juggernaut). And secondly, while Taskmaster also really needs the explosure, the best way to have people give a damn about Moon Knight is if he fights a "good" opponent, and who better than Taskmaster? Fans should be grateful that Huston didn't just truck out Sabretooth or something. I actually liked Taskie's UDON outfit, it was less silly looking and more professional (and Finch seems a little akward with the gaudy thing in some panels, while in others Taskmaster looks scary), but I can allow characters to change duds. And c'mon, you can't tell me the climax isn't effective. Its simply a shame that we probably won't see #5 until September, maybe. Besides, the last issue of DARK KNIGHT RETURNS had a mismatched and technically ridiculous battle between two folks, and fandom loved it. Give it a chance. The best thing about the book is Huston knows how to pour on the grit and makes Spectre look different than "Daredevil in a cape" as some folks may've seen him, and doesn't shy away from the brutal stuff. Moon Knight is basically a guy in an outfit whose god literally tells him to "pummel evildoers viciously" for chrissakes.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #98: After a fast and furious first issue, the second part of CLONE SAGA, an ambitious arc for USM that Bendis claims will "change it forever" stumbles a little bit into Bendis-cliches on the title, but it is still enjoyable. What Bendis cliches? Firstly, Spider-Man is unmasked, again. Secondly, any costumed character with boobs can totally "own" him. Any one. So when you see SPIDER-WOMAN on the cover, you instantly go, "Peter Parker's getting a beating", and you're 100% correct, and that's boring. You also are correct if you saw Silver Sable on the cover, or Elektra, or Black Cat, or an Old Lady with a Walker. What also took the punch out of the issue was that its one surprise (at least for those who don't recall the Clone Saga story from the 70's) was utterly ruined days in advance. Joe Q HIMSELF spilled the beans at SDCC, and WIZARD and any other worthy Internet comic site repeated it. Gwen Stacy returns. It seems to say something troubling that not even Bendis, the head ****e in the Bordello of Ideas, the writer who's given Marvel high sales and for whom they would probably destroy, kill, maim, or obliterate any character or franchise if it meant another Bendis comic book...not even HE is safe from having his stories utterly spoiled by Marvel. By the EIC HIMSELF. And that is really a shame, because this arc is looking to be the most promising in a while and USM's sales have suffered since CW pushed a crapload of titles that it used to outsell in front of it. It's still in the Top 25-30 or so, but this used to be a Top 15 book, sometimes better. If you asked the editorial dept. what to do, they'd probably have nothing to offer except "relaunch it with a #1 and call it NEW ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN", and that is also troubling. But onto the issue itself. Spider-Man is understandably freaked out to have Scorpion basically be an insane clone of him, so he shows up at the Baxtor Building to ask the Fan Four for help. Older fans who recall how Spider-Man used to safely guard his identity even amung friends will be miffed that he unmasks and hands them his ID promptly. May is seriously the only character in the book who doesn't know. If Spidey pulled a CW #2 here, it would not only make more sense, but would also cut all of his arcs to half length because they wouldn't have to do the "villian unmasks Spider-Man" issue. :rolleyes: Late for curfew, he finds out MJ is missing and tracks their old haunts, only to find Spider-Woman, who like Scorpion, talks vaguely about crap that isn't explained yet, so its simply confusing. And she kicks his ass, because she's a girl in a costume (and, to be fair, sigh, because she has spider-powers, and Peter was an emotional wreck). And while MJ is trapped in a big class cage by what appears to be another clone of Peter (at the ol' Oscorp building), Gwen Stacy turns up alive in the old Parker house. This looks to be a winding, conveluted storyline and I hope Bendis starts explaining this crap better, because some of the dialogue of the new characters is getting to be a chore to read. Bendis looks like he may really be pulling out all the stops with a lot of past plotlines being dragged in, which could make CS one of the best USM arcs in years when its finished. It could also flop, or leave Bendis with utterly nothing else to work with except for more team-up issues (or arcs that shamelessly do nothing but hype a movie, like HOLLYWOOD did). At 7 issues, though, it may be another 2 before it starts kicking into gear...conviently issue #100, which is double-sized. Oh, and Ultimate Spider-Woman looks fine, black with crimson highlights, so Bendis has another version of the heroine to masterbate too. Right now she's just a plot device, same as Scorpion. Hopefully that changes. My fingers are crossed for this one, I hope it doesn't disappoint in the home stretch, and rekindles the hits of the first arcs.
The Thing is a loser turning his back on his peeps. What did Cap and Iron Man do after the thing left? Say hey its getting late lets do this tommorrow? plus who was in the Tank? Who got captured? and did they free anyone?
never admit a mistake, Dread-Dew

CBK said:
The Thing is a loser turning his back on his peeps. What did Cap and Iron Man do after the thing left? Say hey its getting late lets do this tommorrow? plus who was in the Tank? Who got captured? and did they free anyone?
Good questions. The reason its awkward was this issue of F4 and ASM last week were meant to come out after CW #4 (presumably), which won't ship for about 2 more weeks. So they have to continue a story when the main title of the crossover hasn't reached it yet. "Events" run rampant with things like this sometimes. Not even DC managed to escape it when INFINITE CRISIS started running late.

I can respect the Thing's decision, but it does look a little silly with both sides just standing there. ;)
Good to see Moon Knight was alright, easily one of my favorite titles, hopefull it gets back on a more regular schedule, it always comes out the month is suppose to, but like 3 weeks late.
Darthphere said:
Good to see Moon Knight was alright, easily one of my favorite titles, hopefull it gets back on a more regular schedule, it always comes out the month is suppose to, but like 3 weeks late.
Yeah, that's almost a month.

Its a good read, its just slow and often late, which makes some of the decompression look worse. But I'm enjoying it. At least Finch's style is more appropriate here than in NEW AVENGERS.
The Cleric said:
finchs art was great in the N Av

He didn't say it wasnt. He said the style is more suited in Moon Knight.
Kool-Aid said:
Was Spider-Women unmasked?

Nope, she beat the crud out of him, made sure he was alive afterword, then ran off.:O
How are things running late? dont they plan months in advance? what are they lazy or something?
CBK said:
How are things running late? dont they plan months in advance? what are they lazy or something?

Ill assume this is in reference to Moon Knight? And ill answer by saying that the current writer is also a novelist. So writing comic books is pretty much his second job or hobby. So he tends to put that on the backburner while he finishes that final chapter and then ends up falling behind a little writing out the issue. Then when he does write the issue the artist needs to get started penciling. When he's done the inker takes over, then the colorist, then the letterer, and finally its ready to print (after some editing, re-writes, re-drawing certain scenes) so this process can be delayed at any one of those points. It happens, but it has nothing to do with laziness, most of the time.*

*Kevin Smith
anyone buy the new Friendly neighborhood Spider-man? It's the start of the new mysterio arc
I think its just a marketing thing they do. It just happens to much for it not to be.
Seems like a pretty low key week in comics.
Darthphere said:
Seems like a pretty low key week in comics.

It isn't now! For at last! My reviews....

Yeah so like this week's Detective Comics owned Morrison's Batman of last week(yes I finally got it) IMO.

And Ultimate Spidey was *shock* good.

MK owned as usual. The naked Profile.:)

Uncanny was pure filler.

FF was solid, and I feel for Ben.

Agents of Atlas: A monkey with four guns was on one page, and that was worth 3 bucks right there for me, I loved this.

Invincible was great as always. I'm so glad I started reading this.

Same with 52. 13 solid weeks in a row.

There...all done. I put Dread to shame huh guys?:) :up:
Fantastic Four #539

Also good, although surprisingly devoid of the title characters, apart from the Thing. It's apparently closely intermarried with the most recent issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, which I haven't read. This is the first time we've seen the baddies exploiting this situation, although I'm more interested in what Red Skull and Doctor Doom are making of the situation. It's kind of hard to square the Thing's position in these last two issues with his appearance in Civil War #3, but since that issue apparently predates these last two FF issues temporarily, perhaps Civil War #4 will offer more in way of explanation.

Uncanny X-Men #477

There's a very Klingon flavour to this issue's handling of the Shi'ar (I'm not especially well-versed in their background, so I don't know how much of this is longstanding): the interiors of their "Warbirds" (more of a Romulan thing; and commanded by "Vulcan"!) look remarkably like a Klingon Bird-of-Prey; the curved, ceremonial sword; the whole concept of honour and honourable submission (that last bit isn't really Klingon; they're more "fight til you die, or else"); and the "Empire."
Given that Tan did two issues in one month, I think they decided to give him a bit of a break and start on #4; it makes good sense to have him do the issue that doesn't really feature the main cast of characters (see also: Captain America (vol. 5) #7). Very good art.
Vulcan is still a bit bland, but I think that a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that the people he's interacting with in this installment are people he has no real relationship to. When Professor X, Havok, Marvel Girl, and Darwin arrive on the scene, he'll hopefully have more to work with.
Structurally, each issue of this arc seems to have its own story to tell (#1: Assemble the Team, #2: Get the Ship, #3: Catch Up With/Reintroduce Vulcan, etc.), rather then there being a bunch of subplots per issue, each advancing a small amount. I think that works, since it helps individual issues stand more on their own (while at the same time, no doubt, be more rewardingly read as one narrative).
I like the promise of a smackdown between Vulcan and the Imperial Guard (my brother loves Gladiator, although how much of that is from his role as "Goliath" in The Juggernaut *****!! is unclear), although this probably won't be picked up on for an issue or two.
Good stuff, overall.
Darthphere said:
Ill assume this is in reference to Moon Knight? And ill answer by saying that the current writer is also a novelist. So writing comic books is pretty much his second job or hobby. So he tends to put that on the backburner while he finishes that final chapter and then ends up falling behind a little writing out the issue. Then when he does write the issue the artist needs to get started penciling. When he's done the inker takes over, then the colorist, then the letterer, and finally its ready to print (after some editing, re-writes, re-drawing certain scenes) so this process can be delayed at any one of those points. It happens, but it has nothing to do with laziness, most of the time.*

*Kevin Smith
HEY HEY HEY!! what'd i ever do to you? i'm not lazy...
Another DETECTIVE came out this week? Damn.

Thanks for fixing the title, Dew K Mosi.
Detective was awesome. Batman and The Riddler worked together to solve a murder. There was a sex club, and midgets!

Crazy stuff. Pick of the Week IMO...
Fantastic 4- PICK OF THE WEEK! I agree with Dread that this and Amazing had a very difficult task cut out for them, but both issues were wonderful reads, and I love how they tie together. I'm really excited to see where this book goes Post Civil War. 9/10

FNSM- I liked it. This arc is very promising, and I like the continuity bits. It was nice seeing Flash get schooled, too. 9/10

Ultimate Spiderman- I'm really enjoying this arc. Two issues in, and I'm really curious to see where it goes. The opening with the Ultimate FF was very funny, as well. 8/10

Uncanny X-Men- I've seen some hate for this issue, and while it did feel like filler, it was still an interesting read. It would've been nice to see the team, though. 8/10

Excaliber- Not bad. Cool seeing Dane again, and it looks like we're gonna have some interesting time travel action coming very shortly. 8/10

Moon Knight- I found myself a little confused here. Was Khonshu speaking to Moon Knight, or was someone manipulating him? 7/10
Detective Comics #822: I miss JHW3 on art.:( Still, it's Dini on Bats. It's good:up:
I'm dropping a ****load of books as of this week.I'm buying a crapload of DC trades right now.Are the Dini Detectives worth getting in floppies?

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