Bought/Thought March 24, 2010 Edition SPOILERS


Aug 4, 2003
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Big comic week and I actually enjoyed the majority of them... so cool beans. As always, reviews are spoiler-full and honest. You don't like that, go watch videos with kittens and butterflies instead.

Starting at the top of my stack...

Green Lantern 52 - While the issue was cool, and didn't really repeat the same old "I'm your dead sister, die!" motiff, it still felt a bit like filler... nowhere near as good as the previous two issues with the Spectre in them.

The part I did really like though was seeing the White Light coming into existence and then the birth of Parallax, Ion, Predator, and the other creatures of the rings. And I love that they were all done with a mix of scientific history and Biblical history.

Sinestro as the White Light Ranger is appealing but I figured we wouldn't learn much with him until BN 8, but it's still interesting. After the last two issues and most of the other Green Lantern tie-ins, I knew this issue had to basically end where it started so that you could fit it in between BN 7 and 8, but leave it so that if someone is only reading BN, 7 to 8 still flows. I actually like that, but still, it does stunt the story just a bit.

Nonetheless, it was a good issue, and overall I'm very pleased with Blackest Night in general. I can't wait for next week's conclusion and eager anticipating everything that comes next!

Black Terror 9 - I really enjoyed this issue. While I'm a big supporter of the Project Superpowers line, I keep finding myself thinking while beween issues "Was it really that great?" But everytime I read a new issue I remember why I like it.

This issue reminded me a lot of what I liked about comics when I started reading. The first arc was 4 issues only, and it was good. This issue is stand alone and the next issue starts a new arc that doesn't seem to reach overly far. When I started reading comics they were a few stand alone issues, a small arc, and then a stand alone issue or two follows it. This lay out made the multiparter stories feel more special while making the solo issue stories feel like they are moving the tales of the character along at a quicker pace. It feels like you're really getting to know the character, even if you aren't really getting much information out of it.

So this issue has the Black Terror feeling guilt over the death of a hostage in a Bank Holdup. It was inadvertantly his fault, in that she was struck by a bullet that ricocheted off of his chest, and so he has now arrived at her grave to pay his respects. However, her ghost begins haunting him to further plague him. We eventually learn that it isn't her ghost at all but a former colleague of the Black Terror's called Mystico. After thousands of years of living, his heart is taken by one of the members of the Supremcy name the Mad Magi, and so in order for him to get it back so he can finally die, he was supposed to claim the soul of the Black Terror. Mystico was once a hero, however, and he once again comes to this mentality and helps the Black Terror foil the plot. Mystico finally lies to rest but gives BT a ring in exchange for his help, this ring gives him one thing he greatly desires... and in this he receives a freakin' awesome ghost ship!

Good issue written by Phil Hester and drawn by Jonathon Lau. I like Project Superpowers but I think this ongoing is far superior in quality. It's more focused and better written in my opinion. Good stuff.

X-Factor 203 - Eh... pretty bleh issue. I used to love X-Factor until somewhere around the 20's. Then it got kinda boring. I dropped it until the issue where Siryn has Madrox's baby and thought I'd try it again. I was hooked all the way to the conclusion of the Summers Rebellion storyline, but suddenly 200 comes around and I am so bored of this title that I'm debating making it one of my drops. I actually enjoy almost all the Avenger titles better than this one and I'm likely dropping all of those, so why not this one?

My problem is that I love the characters themselves, even if the stories are hit and miss subpar. I'm a huge Generation X fan so Monet getting time is a good thing (though she was always my least favorite of the kids). I've always loved Guido and Madrox, and Layla's really grown on me. I don't care as much for Richter, Longshot, or Shatterstar, but they're likable enough to keep me reading... and the Jury's out on Darwin still.

Now this issue, I liked parts, but all in all I was pretty bleh. I liked seeing the reference to the Generation X storyline of how Monet was trapped in Penance's shell for years while Emplate drew the energy out of her. I also, at first, liked learning that Guido has a thing for Monet... that is... until I thought about their ages. Guido was introduced as a guy who wasn't exactly young. Maybe somehwere in his 30's. He looks younger now and may have de-aged behind the scenes, but he's never come off as young. If I had to guess, I'd say he's mid-30's at best, mid 40's at worst. Monet, however, was introduced at the age of... what... 15 or 16 if I'm remembering my Gen X correctly. I think Skin was the oldest at 17 so she's at least younger than that. So nowadays I'd put her still no more than 18 or 19. So that's likely a 15 age differance and serious robbing of the craddle on Guido's part.

I mean, I don't really care enough to be against it, as they'd both be consenting adults, but it's just kinda wierd. I'm actually more in favor of the Darwin attraction than the Guido attraction.

Oh, and the reveal that the main villain is Baron Mordo... does nothing for me. Heard of the guy, don't think I've ever read anything with him in it. Don't even remember who's villain he's supposed to be.

Uncanny X-Men 522 - Okay issue, about typical of Fraction's run this far. The big thing is that Kitty's back, but she's stuck in Ghost form (like she was after the Mutant Massacre years ago). We get a little insight of what Emma thinks of Scott's leadership, that he's got to work harder at it than some other leaders in the Marvel Universe.

And the final bonus story felt very pointless, but to be fair, I was bored before I even finished the first page and ended up just skimming it. I'm not sure what the point of it was, but if it seems like it becomes relevant down the road I'll come back and give it a better readthrough.

Secret Warriors 14 - Good issue, though I will say that I am shocked at Viper's death. I'm wondering if there's more to that but I can usually spot those coming a mile away and this feels fairly final. I'm sure someone can bring her back later, but this was still a bit of a shock for me.

I'm officially at the point where I don't know where Contessa's loyalty lies. At first, I thought she was infiltrating Hydra for Nick, but now I'm not so sure. And the scene with J.T. and Quake was good. I had a feeling it was going that way, but I don't know what I think of it.

I remember the first few issues were all build up and felt a bit 'bleh' before the payoff being well worth it. It kinda feels like that now, so I'm hoping the payoff of Wake the Beast will be just as good or better, or at least lead to other amazing things in the title.
I was going to do my Siege titles now but I'm pretty tired, so I'm off to bed. I'll do those in the morning.
I went to the store to buy sonic, only to find it doesn't come out this week. So, instead I bought Nemesis, and some comic sets that the store had for half off.

Nemesis #1- I have no idea what to think of this book. It wasn't epic, or exciting, it was just kind of average. From the first page you can already tell this isn't a book to read from isssue to issuse, but one to read in one sitting in trade format. Nothing really happens, save for a cool moment introducing our cop main character. Later in the book "Nemesis" hops onto the wing of air force one. How he does he do this, I don't know. I'd also don't think he has superpowers, so how the hell did he stick on the plane? I think I'll keep buying the issues, but so far it isn't a big an event as his other books, like the Ultimates, or UFF.
Now on to the Siege tie-ins. And I'll go ahead and say this here, while Siege 3's destruction of Asgard left me thinking "just necessary collateral", these tie-ins are really making it feel like a bigger deal and a greater tragedy. Between Constictor and Diamondback, Hawkeye and Mockingbird, Ragnarok and Volstagg, and the Mighty Avengers and the Thunderbolts I actually care about the place crashing now.

Avengers: The Initiative 34 - I like the issue but for some reason it still bugs me that we're getting very little new in the actual Siege scenes with Taskmaster. I was expecting big things with him in these tie-ins but we're not getting much, though the little bit with Constrictor and Diamondback are interesting. I would have loved to have seen a bigger Taskmaster/Cap (either one) fight, but it was minimal here just as it was in Siege 3.

Now, the scenes at Camp Hammer were good, as that's a continuation of pre-established plot from within this book itself. I loved that Penance finally revealed himself to Justice and has officially turned on Camp Hammond, and has brought Bangel, Butterball, and Batwing with him (I think that's his name). I was surprised to not see Trauma with them to be honest. He and Penance made a pretty cool stance at the end of the previous story.

Personally, I wish this wouldn't have been a Siege tie-in as much as maybe one of those lead-in tie-ins like New and Dark, where it's the Avengers Resistance vs Camp Hammond 100%, and maybe that grooming Taskmaster for his role in Siege. But nonetheless, it was an interesting read.

Thor 608 - 105 times better than the previous issue. The last one just bored me to tears and I considered not picking up anymore tie-ins until the end when Ragnarok shows up, but this issue was a good pay off for giving it one more chance. The battle between Ragnarok and Volstagg was really good and I'm glad to see the tragedy he was set up for coming back on him and him learning from it.

I WAS a little disappointed in the Sentry/Thor fight here. It was very minimal in Siege 3 and I was hoping that it'd be in greater detail here but it was probably even less. I do like that Hood's having the Norn stones are mentioned here as to why Osborn's forces are so much more powerful and doing so well. This was something that was Bendis's own storyline but one he has failed to mention as being a help in the main Siege proper. Gillen seems to be one of those writers like Slott and Gage who utilizes the continuity around him, and that's definately a good thing.

All in all a decent issue, better than the last, but not good enough to keep me on the title post-Siege.

Thunderbolts 142 - This was probably my favorite of the Siege tie-ins this week, and furthers my likelihood of continuing this book post Siege for Parker's talents. The first thing here is that no one has ever made me like U.S.Agent. I've read some of his older stuff, and I've read Slott's Mighty Avengers from beginning on and I've never liked the character, not for one panel. Yet, Parker made me like him with this one issue. So kudos to Parker on that one.

Cho vs Mr. X was good, and Paladin/Ant-Man's playing middle ground is handled well... though why Paladin would take out Vision is beyond me. And the ending has me curious as to whether or not it would stick... that is, when Scourge/Nuke uses the spear to lob off U.S.Agent's arm and maybe his leg. I'm curious where that goes.

And I was thinking about something after reading this... I'd like to see U.S.Agent become the next Ronin. I know people don't like that costume but I'm kinda liking the idea of costume being warn by people who are lost. With Steve and Bucky arond, that leaves John as yet another Cap, and he's been decomissioned by Osborn. So if he were to done the Ronin costume for a while it would actually make sense. I think that'd be cool anyway.

New Avengers 63 - And this would be my least favorite of this week's tie-ins. Well, for the first time since the tie-ins began, New Avengers actually becomes a real tie-in... and it was a pretty bleh one. Nothing really happens. The Avengers are fighting in the Siege and we see some flashbacks from Luke and Clint of just prior to the assault. Cap's asked them to join and they're discussing whether or not they should with Mockingbird and Jessica. It was okay but nothing to get excited over. The only things I really liked was Spider-Man's ill-timed cameo in Clint's flashback and the fight with Lady Doc Ock. As a Clone Saga fan, that made me happy.

The dramatic ending isn't dramatic at all thanks to solicitations. We know that there's a Hawkeye Mockingbird series coming out after the Siege so Mockingbird obviously wasn't killed in Asgard's fall as we're led to believe here. Why Marvel chooses to ruin their stories every single week is beyond me. Bad marketing or something, I dunno.

Mighty Avengers 35 - This was a good issue. It all takes place between Siege 1 and 2, as we see Cap's calling the Mighty Avengers to gather them with the rest he goes into Siege with. Stature and Vision are with Cap but leave to help take on the Thunderbolts.

The main story, however, is with Hank Pym, Jacosta, and the agents of G.R.A.M.P.A. (officially the stupidest name of any agency I've ever read) dealing with the Infinite Mansion being overrun by Ultron. It's a good leadin to an interesting story, and I wish it could have been more than a 2 issue storyline. Next issue should be really good though.

Oh, and it very well may be possible that the ending of this issue is hinting at the return of the original Wasp... Janet Van Dyne. That means nothing to me as I don't like her characer, but I understand the signifigance.

The only thing I didn't like in the issue, and it's often times a good thing, but the mentions of Hercules's death. It's great for continuity but a nightmare for my binding purposes. Now, since I'm a completionist, I'll have to go and pick up those comics so that that mention makes sense in my Avengers binding... grrr.

I'm assuming Herc died in that Olympus storyline that's been going on? And if so, do I need any prereading for the comic or is just that arc okay?

Well, that's it for me this week. No really bad comics.

Best of the Week - Thunderbolts 142

Worst of the Week - X-Factor 203

And that's not so bad being that X-Factor was a decent read itself.
hobbit, i very much agree with you on Thunderbolts. Great issue.

Gotta disagree with you on Thor though. I thought the ish was meh, but I was frankly ticked that at the end of it when they
kill off Ragnarok, and STILL haven't had him face Thor yet. And when I expected Thor vs Clor, getting Volstagg instead is a pretty huge frickin disappointment. One of the issues had a cover with two Thors fighting, I thought comics had long passed that bullcrap era when the covers were blatantly deceiving about the issue's content.
hobbit, i very much agree with you on Thunderbolts. Great issue.

Gotta disagree with you on Thor though. I thought the ish was meh, but I was frankly ticked that at the end of it when they
kill off Ragnarok, and STILL haven't had him face Thor yet. And when I expected Thor vs Clor, getting Volstagg instead is a pretty huge frickin disappointment. One of the issues had a cover with two Thors fighting, I thought comics had long passed that bullcrap era when the covers were blatantly deceiving about the issue's content.

I doubt that he's dead to be honest. It should take a lot more than that to kill him off, and the solicits for either the next issue or the one after say that he and Thor will fight each other still. So I think you'll be pleased when all is said and done.
Dude, Ragnarok's not dead.


I doubt that he's dead to be honest. It should take a lot more than that to kill him off, and the solicits for either the next issue or the one after say that he and Thor will fight each other still. So I think you'll be pleased when all is said and done.

But ASGARD FELL ON HIM! Ugh. I dunno, I mean, even if he survives, at this point what kind of fight should he be able to put up against Thor?
Wouldn't surviving Asgard falling on him be a sign that he's pretty tough? (and it's not like Thor is having it easy now either)

Avengers: The Initiative #34
Mighty Avengers #35
Thor #608
Thunderbolts #124

All the Siege books, together in one review; seemed fitting, particularly since three of them have basically the same ending. It's a good way to tie things together actually; reminds me of watching Titanic or whatever where you watch the characters go about their business knowing that that sucker is about to come crashing down.

The coordination between Thunderbolts and Mighty Avengers is pretty neat here; Slott takes time to show how the particular force of Mighty Avengers was assembled, and Parker completes USAgent's character arc (he realizes that maybe Osborn is a *****e after all). The fights between the two teams were pretty good, with USAgent vs. Nuke the highlight. I was hoping for a bigger fight between Cassie and Eric, though; of course, there's an issue left.

The other thread in Mighty Avengers was also good; Hank Pym's characterization has taken a turn for the weird over the last two issues, but he's more understandable here, and the last-page reveal is one of the best in recent memory. I didn't expect it. Was nice to see it thrown in as well because another straight Ultron story would probably have been pretty dull; he's a pretty limited villain, when you get down to it.

Thor wasn't as good this issue as the last few. The artist filling in for Tan does good characters, generally, but his fight scenes aren't as good; Tyr trying to take down the Hood was kind of confusing. Ragnarok vs. Volstagg was better, though (if nothing else, Siege has at last given Volstagg a bit of character space besides fat jokes).

Avengers: The Initiative weaves in and out of Siege #3 to generally good success, though Tigra's frustration at the Hood bailing to go fight in Asgard borders on meta-commentary on how she's not going to get real payback. Taskmaster spending most of his time fighting Bucky was unexpected, but well-done; Gage did a good New Cap (a lot of writers have a hard time differentiating him from Steve beyond that he has a gun; he also seems to have lost the big laser gun in favour his traditional luger). The Constrictor/Diamondback stuff was really well-done, particularly the ending. Rooting for those two (plus, Steve's taken anyway, so Rachel would have been doomed to disappointment).
The ending of Mighty Avengers filled me with warm fuzzies and creeped me out all at once. I'm ambivalent about this new undercurrent of weirdness that is apparently a staple of Pym's current characterization. On the one hand, it's great to see him leading his own Avengers team, being a badass super-scientist, and generally moving up in the world; on the other hand, he's never really had this much of an uneasy, secretive, creepy side before. Except maybe when he was going crazy as Yellowjacket. I like him overall, but it's like Slott's got the dials for both those sides of Pym turned up to 11. Maybe Gage will balance it out a bit better in Avengers Academy.
But ASGARD FELL ON HIM! Ugh. I dunno, I mean, even if he survives, at this point what kind of fight should he be able to put up against Thor?
Thor's flown into the heart of the sun and survived nuclear explosions. A bunch of rubble falling on Clor, who is supposedly right at Thor's pre-Odinforce power level, should barely even faze him. I'd be more worried about Volstagg if I weren't absolutely sure that no one would have the heart to ever kill him off, ever. :oldrazz:
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I read Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal and then Thunderbolts. Seriously....what the hell is it with the losing of the limbs :argh:
A big week for comics, so let's just plow on ahead. As always, reviews are always posted at my Examiner link first (because they pay me), and spoilers/rants ahoy.

Dread's Bought/Thought for 3/24/10:

By now, this title has fallen to second best seller for Image, as it wasn't able to outsell WALKING DEAD for more than 4-5 issues. Still, it has been the best new series launch for Image in some time; combining Robert Kirkman with Todd McFarlane seems to have been a success commercially. This issue was branded as a stand alone, jumping on issue. It basically summarizes the events of the past 5 issues, only from the perspective of Mirage, an independent mercenary agent who was involved with Kurt Kilgore before he died and was somehow magically merged with his brother into Haunt. Greg Capullo now does full art, since Ryan Ottley has left to concentrate fully on INVINCIBLE (which has fallen off schedule again). Given that he always worked on lay outs for the series, the transition is not as jarring as it could have been. His style is a bit scratchier than Ottley's (even with McFarlane remaining as inker), but everyone looks as they should.

I am unsure how good of a jumping on issue this would be for anyone who wasn't reading the series, since you actually see very little of Haunt and it may seem confusing to someone who doesn't know the story. If you have been reading the story, though, it is interesting to see things from Mirage's perspective. It almost seems like "deleted scenes" from the DVD of the first arc. Bendis did things like this a few times in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, where he would basically repeat an issue, only from another character's P.O.V. (such as Norman Osborn's). It is a gimmick that can ware out a welcome if done more than twice (as Bendis has done), but here it is alright. Little more to say on the issue, though. It does make Mirage not seem like a villain, though, and instead as a merc who happened to let things get too personal and have an entire situation backfire.

The letters page is an interesting read, and it always funny to contrast how writers at Image speak in comparison to those at Marvel or DC. At Image, Kirkman seems to appreciate how important trade paperbacks are to their biz and that people who buy them are fans of the stories. At Marvel, they often let trades fall out of print, make them more expensive than regular issues (it could be 5 cents or 5 bucks), and occasionally an editor will bemoan "trade waiters" as if they were a domestic terror group. It also is worth mentioning that Image books sell way less than Marvel do, and if any company was justified in having 65% of their books priced at $3.99, it is them, and they don't (although some are priced at $3.50). It was hard to be an Image fan in the 90's, but it is far easier now.

AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #34: When I read SIEGE #2 and got to the very brief moment where Taskmaster runs into Steve Rogers, I recall typing that I couldn't wait to see how Christos Gage handled the scene here. Well, this issue didn't disappoint, and as usual he came through. Here, Taskmaster briefly takes on Rogers before getting into a longer fight with Barnes. While Rogers had the bright idea to think that Taskmaster wouldn't have studied Barnes' moves since he was basically a frozen KGB hitman for decades, but lo and behold, Taskmaster even studied newsreels of Bucky, so he's up to speed quickly. Even if, obviously, he had no clue about the cybernetic arm (which can block a sword attack). Still, since Taskmaster is looking for rep, he can technically say that Capt. America fled from him (even though after kneeing him).

The Constrictor/Diamondback soap opera plot plays out right as Asgard is being destroyed by Sentry, and it is pretty good. There are moments when it is predictable and over the top, but overall it plays out fine.

In fact my biggest displeasure with the issue isn't even Gage's fault, but the fault of Marvel clearly favoring some books as "more important" than others, especially in crossovers. The Hood cannot be defeated in as "low" a title as A:TI; he can only lose in SIEGE or NEW AVENGERS or something Bendis written. Heaven forbid Marvel actually practicing what they preach that "all our books matter" by having big things happen in "small" books where you may not expect it from reading solicits on Newsarama. I know, that would mean Marvel practices what they preach, impossible, but it was an idea. So at any rate, Donyell sides with Tigra and the Resistance despite being offered his brother's resurrection, and Tigra gets to lay in some smack down on Hood, but sadly it is cut short for crossover reasons, and that is a shame. Tigra is really the only hero who deserves to take Hood down (and for it to count), but simply because this book and Gage are not big enough, that can't happen despite that is where the story was naturally leading to, and that is a damn shame. Still, Hood leaves Camp HAMMOND after enhancing the few stooges he has left with the Norn stones, and Robbie Baldwin finally admits to his pals that he is alive, as Penance. His rehabilitation from Jenkins continues. Even if he doesn't become Speedball again, he really has to ditch his "Emo Voldo" outfit for something new soon.

Jorge Molina continues on art, with colors by Ed Delgado and inks by Andy Hennessy, and as usual it is up to par. Gage covers a lot with narration boxes; Justice's pressure of leading the team into a death trap, Diamondback's feelings about Frank Payne, and Taskmaster's shifting gears from being loyal to surviving. It really does make me wonder if Taskmaster will be part of Brubaker's SECRET AVENGERS, as some have guessed. He does talk a bit with James Barnes here, after all. This title if anything has almost become a Taskmaster title for the last few issues. Molina's art was paced well, showing Taskmaster being able to fight Rogers and Barnes at once, even briefly, and hold his own. And remember, he didn't need a super soldier serum OR cybernetics, folks!

Next issue is the big finale of the series before it relaunches into AVENGERS ACADEMY. While I am sure some of the newer characters like Butterball will be covered in some HEROIC AGE one shots and anthologies afterward, it does give this story a sense of finality. I expect Gage to continue handling characters like Justice and Tigra as well when the book returns with a new title and format (and artist). While I will miss Dan Slott's AVENGERS, he handled bigger characters than here. Not every book and writer is place where C and D listers can be handled with any continuity and justice, and I am glad it will continue. Still, next issue will be a finale, and I am very interested in what happens there.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #604: Don't let the title fool you; the cover is more accurate than it lets on. The Falcon takes over for Cap in this issue, as most of it features him escaping from the Watchdogs. Even without his wings, he manages to communicate with his falcon Redwing and fight off quite a lot of armored right wing terrorists. Unfortunately, he finds himself on a train full of explosives that can't stop, and it headed for a big terror target. In the meantime, Grand Director (or "Bad Cap" as Barnes calls him) forces him to don his old Bucky costume as he leads his whack jobs off to the Hoover Dam, intent on blowing it up. While I don't think Marvel intentionally meant to "insult" the "tea party movement", it still is very obvious that this is another story where you can easily find evil, or those manipulated to do evil easily, in right wingers, and all left wingers are the good guys. The Watchdogs were knee-jerk overreactions to the "horror" of the Reagan administration, and Brubaker is utilizing them to a logical conclusion with modern times. I'm not offended or anything; anyone who is shocked and awed at mainstream comics having a liberal bias really needs to stop reading comics, because Marvel at least has been very consistent about it since the 1970's, when they literally made an alternate version of Gerald Ford into a super villain (the Black Lama). I think the story is well executed and while I see many political biases as hypocritical (because every political stripe has a section of extremist whack jobs), there are still plenty of rabid right wingers out there, and the Watchdogs were just waiting to be used in a story again. Why not now, when political bickering is back at a fever pitch?

In fact, the only flaw in the story is that REBORN ended with a big fight with Barnes fighting Rogers when Red Skull possessed him, and right away in the next CA arc, Barnes is once again fighting an evil version of the "old Cap", only the Grand Director is nuts without the Red Skull. It is like two stories in a row where Spider-Man in his black costume fought Venom; it seems more "samey" than it should. If in the next arc, Brubaker brings back Protocide and decides to dress HIM in an old Cap suit, I may scream regardless of how well it is executed. I know, Zemo is next, but you never know. The "good Cap fights an evil version of Cap, warped by extremists" is a story that I think at this point has officially, finally run it's course. If I never see it again after this, I won't miss it. I won't whine and go, "Y'know what Cap needs? A fight with an evil twin". Does any Captain America ever fight anyone who isn't a new Nazi, an old Nazi, a new Commie, an old Commie, or an evil twin? If he does, it is too few for my tastes, and I would hate to see Brubaker hit a rut. Despite that, he still writes his rut with excellent execution and skill, so one hardly notices it.

Luke Ross and Butch Guice handle the art, with Dean White on colors, and as always, Brubaker and his artists, whoever they are, always manage to make action seen exciting. Even bits where Falcon is outfighting random grunts always at least look visually interesting. There are some odd bits of mid-acrobatic action where Falcon looks like he is standing on his head while hitting someone with his boot heel, but it isn't like Bryan Hitch was never guilty of stuff like that during his ULTIMATES work. It makes me jazzed to think about what Brubaker will bring to an Avengers title (after years of Bendis Royal Rumble brawls that usually make no coherent sense).

In the NOMAD back up strip, Nomad, against her better judgment, teams up with Arana to try to get a lead on the Secret Empire. Unfortunately, Prof. Power has led both into a trap, while unwittingly playing on Nomad's own paranoia of potential allies. Arana actually hogs a lot of this week's strip, and McKeever handles her well. She is an appealing character, often limited by some of the hokey conventions that were involved in her own origins and title. Still, I did wonder why she didn't just don her armor while fighting Mad-Dog; did she forget it boosts her strength and makes her bullet-proof? The artwork by Baldeon and Company is still as solid as it was in the NOMAD series, and knowing this all leads up to a YOUNG ALLIES launch gives the strip more appeal.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #35: As this series winds to a close, quite a lot goes on even without it being a crossover tie in. Half the issue has Dan Slott and Khoi Pham (returning for his last 2 issue run on the title) cover the continuity between members of the cast and SIEGE, INCREDIBLE HERCULES, and THUNDERBOLTS with a skill that never seems thankless or obligatory, but of a fan at heart who genuinely enjoys writing stories where characters make sense between stories. The other half of the issue features the first major return of Ultron since ANNIHILATION CONQUEST ended in 2008.

Apparently, Hank Pym's actions weren't intentional. His own quirky nature and impulsive planning have caused his team to disband (or, technically, avoid him, as Cho gets them to reassemble so long as Pym is not involved). Even G.R.A.M.P.A., which had given Pym's team global authority to battle menaces worldwide, have come to revoke that lisence since Pym took on Osborn on American soil, which was against their rules (and lost, to boot). Even Jarvis has left to help Iron Man prepare for the final battle in SIEGE. Pym blows off a call to arms from Steve Rogers (who, Slott wisely recalls from REBORN, Pym helped revive so he would know Rogers was back before a great many heroes) to work on Jocasta. In actuality, it is a decision that bares fruit, because he, Jocasta, and the agents Ace and Jacquie are all that stands between Ultron and dominating the entire universe via "Pymspace" and the Infinite Mansion. This story has bubbled up in a subplot for the past two issues, so having it come to a head for the final two make perfect sense. With only two Avengers barring his way, Ultron is perhaps the closest he is to defeating them yet.

There is plenty of trademark weirdness between Jocasta and Pym, from "flesh limbs" to her heart being the literal "heart" of the Infinite Mansion, but I have gotten used to that. The finale will be interesting because despite all of Pym's "improvements" in confidence and action during this 14 issue run, he still hasn't saved the day like he has planned. He DIDN'T save the day alone against Chthon, or the Unspoken. This time, he has no one else to rise up and save the ordeal if a plan of his goes wrong (aside for Jocasta, but she acts more like a damsel than an Avenger sometimes).

Ultron has returned from space and hacked into the ten billion (!) spare Jocasta bodies to rebuild himself from Phalanx matter. Technically Jocasta was his creation and is always programmed to rebuild Ultron eventually anyway no matter what, so this was really inevitable. Ultron starts to take over the base and Pham has a tough job having to draw all the techno-craziness. If there is one part where I think Slott took things too far here, it wasn't with the Jocasta weirdness, but Ultron screaming about how "in his lab, Pym is a god". It seemed a bit much even from Ultron, who usually considers himself superior to all organic beings. There are a few trademark humor moments, such as the banter between Pym and the agents, or Cho talking to Walker, and even Ultron's "always with the ants" sigh (although, c'mon, growing, shrinking, and ant shenanigans is about 75% of what Pym has done for 40 years. It is like Dr. Octopus sighing, "Always with the webbing". What would you expect, a shotgun?). Still, Slott finds new ways to make ant shenanigans cool, like with illusions here.

Quicksilver only gets two panels, but they are a sad two panels. He doesn't know why he left the Avengers, but admits this tenure has brought him nothing but misery. Poor fella. Once you go nuts, it can be very hard to reform and be accepted. But, it is hard to argue. His friends DID lie to him. He DID lose the love of his daughter (albeit with his own arse covering lies). He is no closer to finding Wanda now than before.

The ending is interesting, with it being revealed that Pymspace is housed in a dimension below the Microverse, where Janet was sent by Thor when she was about to blow up in SECRET INVASION. Could Slott be teasing her revival? A month or two ago I wouldn't have guessed it, but Namorita may be back for a while in NOVA, so why not? It isn't like any writer but Bendis still takes INVASION seriously anymore, anyway. Is it wrong to undo a death that was totally worthless and obligatory? I don't think so. Still, we'll see what comes of it. I am looking forward to quite a climax from Slott; a run AND series finale, and he's lined it up against the worst enemy the Avengers have. Plus, it has Ace, who combines the designs of a secret agent with a Mexican wrestler so well. Ultron is more a Pym enemy than an Avengers enemy, so this looks to be boiling to something exciting.

Just imagine reading Prometheus slicing off Roy's arm. And then a couple of comics later....Nuke slices off U.S.Agent's arm. [Cartman]The ****![/Cartman]
Dread's Bought/Thought for 3/24/10 Part II:

Almost forgot I got this. This Golden Age mini series by Brubaker, Epting & Stewart has reached a penultimate chapter. It's the summer of 1940, the "Marvels" are increasing in number and World War II is raging in Europe; America has not entered the war officially, but it seems inevitable. This issue tries to condense the origin of the Destroyer (a creation of a super soldier serum variant), claiming that it was always Brian Falsworth all along, and that Keen Marlow was an alias. If so, I guess Robert Kirkman's DESTROYER mini series for MARVEL MAX last year was really some sort of "alternate reality" tale. John Steele is still fighting the good fight in Europe, and discovers a Nazi plot to destroy Washington, D.C. Human Torch has recruited his sidekick, Toro. Captain America and Bucky, completely with some of Brubaker's embellishments to Barnes' history, are included into the tale. And Thomas Halloway, the Angel, has continued to investigate the Nazi spy ring that led to the murders of Phantom Bullet and the Ferret, and stumbles into a meeting with U-Man and his Atlantian Nazi sympathsizers. Fortunately, Cap & Bucky enter the fray and help Angel smash the ring (although U-Man escapes). With Namor having been captured after last issue and refusing to speak in this one, Cap believes that news of "his people" joining the Nazi's will change that. Naturally, we fans know this will lead to Namor joining the Invaders alongside Cap, Bucky, Torch, and other heroes of the era.

It is a perfectly serviceable issue, with some good wartime superhero action at the end. It also felt like a bit of an in-between issue before the climax emerges in issue eight. At this point I am not sure the thread stringing things together is that strong. This is an exercise to embellish and update the Golden Age era a bit more, with modern story-telling and incorporating some of the retcons to some of these characters as well as tying threads together, but right now this has really been an ensemble story with very little tying things together. Characters meet and whatnot, but that is it. In some ways that makes it akin to DC: THE NEW FRONTIER, but it doesn't quite have that sense of cinema or scope. It also is part of continuity, not (essentially) a creator vehicle. Still, in a way the problem is we know this can't have any sort of major conclusion. There is no central villain, either, and those that are can't lose in 1940. The actual "Marvels Project" so far seems to be another name for the super-soldier project that both the Axis and Allied powers were pursuing at the time; based on Atlantian cadavers and data learned from WWI refugee John Steele, it was a process often imitated, but only duplicated once perfectly. Still, for those looking for stronger ties and a central antagonist, this story doesn't seem to have it.

Still, it is quite a good work. Brubaker feels at home in this era, telling adventure tales that mix super heroics, espionage, military action and occasional mystery stuff. In a way the journey is better than the destination here.

THOR #608: The dilemma of this issue, and perhaps the SIEGE tie in's of this series, is that Thor himself is occupied. Thor's main action happens in SIEGE itself during this time, and no writer can contradict "the Bendis". Which means a writer has to either just repeat the same stuff Thor does in SIEGE panel for panel, or avoid using him. This means that this title basically becomes "THE ASGARDIANS" more than it is a THOR title. Granted, a crossover didn't stop CAPTAIN AMERICA this week from basically becoming FALCON ESCAPES FROM A TRAIN, so maybe it all comes down to technique. JMS did many issues of THOR where Thor himself was almost an obligatory hanger on, the only different is Gillen actually accomplishes a lot per issue. In his six, I swear he may doe what it used to take JMS at least 10 to get through. Once again, the artwork is by a small army of talent, as apparently Billy Tan & Batt cannot always crank out 22 pages on time, and these issues of THOR must come out on schedule. So half the issue is drawn by Rich Elson, and we have two colorists (including Christina Strain). It all flows fine, and the artwork on the whole is grand.

The SIEGE of Asgard is upon the Asgardians, all brought on by Loki. Tyr had his death foretold to him, and for a brief period when watching Hood unleash his villain hordes (with the Wrecking Crew, Thor's old adversaries shown prominently, which is a nice touch) with the Norn Stones, but by the end of the issue, Tyr is inspired by Ares' sacrifice to enter the battle, regardless of cost. Kelda finishes telling Bill's family how he died, and seems to freely surrender when HAMMER authorities order her to leave their house. Thor himself is busy fighting Sentry (this must be the 3rd or 4th time I have seen that repeated in a tie in). Heimdall manages to free himself from where Loki left him (he basically locked him in the basement to prevent him from warning Asgard until it was too late) and he has this conversation with Balder which seems to signify why Balder is a tool. Heimdall states that, technically, since Thor has returned to Asgard during this crisis against the exile order, Balder should execute him by law. And Balder sighs and goes, in so many words, "Thor doesn't let things like rules get in the way of doing what's right. If only all of Odin's sons could do so," meaning himself. Hey, Balder, I have a simply suggestion, and I think I am not alone in making it. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE A TOOL, THEN STOP BEING A TOOL. Really. Easy. You want to do right and damn red tape? Then do right and damn red tape. I mean, every SINGLE monarchy, presidency, government, congress, pantheon, ruling structure or ruler that has existed in all of history has bent rules to favor friends and/or family in a crisis. In myth and in "Midguard". Every. Single. One. You don't have to be the lone dipstick hold out. God, why is Balder such an idiot? It's like when the Inhumans act like jackasses and then they moan, "why doesn't anyone like us?" Um, because you act like jackasses? So stop? There, easy.

(Another bit of free advice; anyone who doesn't want to be a hapless pawn of Loki needs to stop listening to him, ever. Seriously. If Loki said water was wet, assume differently.)

But really, what makes this issue awesome is Volstagg vs. Ragnarok. The cyborg clone of Thor decides to start his whole smite fetish with Volstagg, and while the pulp warrior wants to defend himself, he is guilt-ridden over his part at Soldier Field, and flees. But once they are far enough from civilians, the lard-ass shows why he's still a member of the Warrior's Three despite being past his prime. Perhaps the highlight for me was a panel of Volstagg hitting Clor with a jump kick. Think about it; the guy is fatter than Santa Claus. He weighs over 1400 lbs. And he can DO A JUMP KICK. Yeah, Chris Farley can eat his heart out (if he was still alive). Ragnarok proceeds to eventually hammer the crap out of Volstagg until Sentry demolishes Asgard and the whole floating island crashes on his metal helmet. At first I was somewhat miffed that Thor himself wouldn't get a chance to take on his double, but future issue covers seem to imply they do, so I don't mind. Even if he hadn't, I wouldn't have minded if he went down in battle against Volstagg.

If the Hood really did kill Tyr, though, that might be annoying. He's a mook with a demonic bedsheet and some Norse marbles; he really shouldn't be capable of killing a god. He's gone from limbo to OMIGOD HE IS WORSE THAN JUGGERNAUT waaaaay too quickly for my liking. The guy has to retreat from Tigra & Night Thrasher but he can take out Tyr? Meh. That's like if the Joker had to flee from Batman and Robin, but could drop Orion. Then again, I recall episodes of JUSTICE LEAGUE when Joker could spank Flash and Wonder Woman while Batman could always drop him, so let's carry on.

Despite some minor quibbles, I like this issue. Tyr is growing on me, and Volstagg easily stole the show. If this arc gets Balder to finally stop acting like a dipstick, mopey tool, then it'll have been worth it. News flash; even Odin bent the rules now and then, dude.

THUNDERBOLTS #142: Jeff Parker can really write team books, can't he? That is why I don't mind all his AGENTS OF ATLAS material; even in a mundane adventure, he writes all of them well. This issue reads almost more like a bonus issue of MIGHTY AVENGERS, guest starring the T-Bolts, and it actually works on that level. This issue sees fill in art by Wellington Alves, formerly the regular artist on NOVA (he was on that book over a year after Sean Chen left), with equally exceptional colors by Frank Martin and inks by Nelson Pereira. What made this issue my Examiner BOOK OF THE WEEK wasn't just the artwork, or Parker's solid dialog, or even his ability to write both teams properly while remembering continuity between them. The highlight of the issue is the scene depicted on the cover; John Walker vs. Nuke/Scourge.

John Walker is a character who, for many writers, is usually treated as a one note character with little personality (besides being a right-wing crank with a chip on his shoulder), and is even often used as the butt of jokes. Even Dan Slott, whose work is usually exceptional, couldn't avoid the temptation to use Walker as the ore for a lot of jokes (not to say they didn't work, but it still was what it was). Yet Jeff Parker doesn't ignore that. His Walker still gets irked when someone talks about "other gods", and he enters the issue still being "pro-Osborn". That doesn't stop Parker from having Walker get more character growth in about 5 pages than he has had in a YEAR on MIGHTY AVENGERS. It all results from coming face to face, and ultimately to blows, against Nuke. Created around the same time as Walker (during the Reagan era, the last time before the Bush Jr. years when many Marvel stories went to extremes to show us how nasty Right Wing Extremists were), only taken to psychotic extremes. Military experiments boosted his strength about on par with John Walker (who was empowered originally by the criminal Power Broker to fight in politically charged wrestling matches), but while Walker may be a bit of a wonk and a jerk, Nuke is a pill popping fanatic who is manipulated by one general or another to kill for "country", regardless of how or why or for who. It's seeing Nuke given authority that makes Walker see Osborn for what he is, and at one point he calls Nuke "the American nightmare". It was exciting, powerful, pulse pounding stuff you rarely see of Walker. He certainly wasn't in the shadow of Cap this time. In fact, the moment was made more dramatic BECAUSE he isn't like Cap, or even like Barnes.

There is still plenty going on in this issue, too. Eric O'Grady has a brief reunion with Stature, after their harsh first meeting in AVENGERS: THE INITAITIVE #7 or #8 (I forget exactly). Amadeus Cho gets to prove that his "hyper-mind" really is a deadly weapon all it's own when he manages to take out Mr. X with a quiver full of Asgardian arrows and an arch. Grizzly, as usual, gets flattened. Vision even brings up Paladin's past ties to the Avengers (if I recall, the Wasp actually had a crush on him way back). Unfortunately, the Spear of Odin knocks Vision Jr. for a loop and winds up in the cybernetic hands of Nuke, who uses it to slice through Walker. Literally; lops off his right arm & leg. Most uncool. After a defining moment like that, it would be a shame to lose Walker now.

The only quibble is the recap page still shows Headsman as a member, and he's been dead for about two issues, and doesn't show Grizzly, who has been a member for at least three. I am also wondering if the reason the Ghost will be allowed on the next incarnation of the T-Bolts during the "Heroic Age" is because he actively called the Mighty Avengers to try to undermind Osborn. He can file it under the "hey, I'm not so bad" line. Granted, after CIVIL WAR, I doubt every hero will fault him for wanting to kill Iron Man - I could imagine Luke Cage not being the quickest to forgive & forget just because Stark lobotomized himself.

Not everyone has been keen on the Parker run on T-Bolts, but it is what got me on the book, and I've been loving every page of it. I certainly haven't regretted jumping aboard it and I intend to remain on it so long as Parker does. I just hope we won't see Walker parading around covers with his stumps like Red Arrow is at DC going, "I can't feel my fingers and toes" over and over.

DEADPOOL CORPS: RANK AND FOUL: This is literally a Deadpool handbook, featuring a Bio on the titular character and virtually every character who was involved with his various series since 1997 (and some before). Deadpool himself last got a full Bio in WOLVERINE: WEAPON X FILES last year, but one supposes with all his comics that an extra few paragraphs of text could be added by now. Naturally, much as the WOLVERINE handbook did, it provides an excuse to see updated Bio's on many characters so long as they once interacted with Deadpool, such as most of the GLA, Dr. Bong, or ULTIMATUM. I haven't read it yet, but for $4 the entertainment value is always worth it.
Tyr had his death foretold to him, and for a brief period when watching Hood unleash his villain hordes (with the Wrecking Crew, Thor's old adversaries shown prominently, which is a nice touch) with the Norn Stones, but by the end of the issue, Tyr is inspired by Ares' sacrifice to enter the battle, regardless of cost.
I thought his realization was that the prophecy wasn't about him; the "God of War" who was to be carrion was Ares.
2 thoughts:

1) I've always liked USAgent, so him losing limbs actually really bugs me, cuz that means they'll probably give him cybernetic limbs, and we need more characters with cybernetic arms like I need a hole in the head.

2) The hinting at Wasp coming back to life frankly sickens me. There are way too many freakin resurrections in comics. It's gotten to the point when they write a death scene now the only emotion it gives me is disgust because I know they'll be back in less than 2 years anyways (which is how i reacted when Wasp died actually) , or I laugh. There is zero dramatic value left.

I can name more x-men and avengers now that have died and come back then have not died at all, and that's just pathetic. The more they do it, the less it matters every time.
Hank looks like he's building her like a Terminator. Robot underneath with a living, feeling shell on top of it. would that count as a resurrection? Not really. Did she really die in the first place? Thor just kinda zapped her away somewhere.
Nuke sliced off USAgent's left arm and leg with Gungnir.
What? Where the f*** did Nuke get Gungnir from? Did they somehow stumble into Asgard's armory and find the absolute most sacred weapon in all of Asgardian culture just laying around? :huh:

This is a Bendis event. Shhhhhh.
What? Where the f*** did Nuke get Gungnir from? Did they somehow stumble into Asgard's armory and find the absolute most sacred weapon in all of Asgardian culture just laying around? :huh:

Osborn sent the Thunderbolts on a mission to infiltrate the armory and steal Gungnir while the Asgardians were distracted by fighting H.A.M.M.E.R. throughout Asgard.
Geez, the Asgardians just suck at everything. I almost wish they'd stayed dead rather than become the Marvel universe's collective whipping boy. But at least readers know they exist now. Better than being relegated solely to Thor's comic.

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