Wonderful Wednesdays!

Since the Green Lantern trailer was a big hit, of course the Cowboys & Aliens trailer becomes posted this week as well. Click HERE for the trailer.

I am also thankful for everyone who checked out my blog on Sunday about Body Image in Comics. If you haven’t read it yet, it wouldn’t hurt to click HERE to check it out.

And as for comics this week, I was pleasantly surprised by all my picks. X-Men #5, Avengers #7, Thunderbolts #150 and Osborn #1 all blew me away. Only one blew me away over how bad it was though.

Out of the four, X-Men trailed the weakest due to a lack of everything. Avengers #7 continues Bendis’ and JRJR’s run with a new storyline already seeming better than the prior six issues. I blindly picked up Thunderbolts #150 today as I haven’t followed them with Marvel’s “Heroic Age” franchise. I was awed by how wonderful the story was and where each character stood in the Thunderbolts team. It also featured a re-print of Thunderbolts #1 from 1997. Yes, this book was 96 pages and well-worth the read.

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Osborn #1

However, my favourite story this week comes from Kelly Sue DeConnick (wife of Matt Fraction), and artist Emma Rios. Osborn #1 is the continuation of Norman Osborn’s jail-time post his Dark Reign.
The story surprisingly features little of Osborn himself, but the events going around him. I will definitely keep this story spoiler-free so you all go out and BUY this book immediately.

Ben Urich uses his fellow Front Line writer Norah Winters to make a story about how Osborn is dealing with life in the Raft.
We are also introduced to a priest who speaks with other high-risk inmates and eerily has a Green Goblin tatoo on the back of his neck.
Also introduced are a senate sub-committee on Human Rights whom discuss what to do with Osborn – since he has not been charged with anything as of yet.
Needless to say, as the story progresses, Winter’s discovers that she cannot write a story about Osborn because he has been transferred. Where? No one knows. Only the committee and priest does.

Where the hell is this story going?!

So please, please, PLEASE pick up this book. It is such a sinister story. No doubt in my mind that it will be an amazing mini-series.

Major praise goes to Ben Oliver for that wonderful and eerie cover page with Osborn staring down at the reader. It creeps me right out.

Grade: Infinity/10

X-Men #5

This story for sure was a let-down. After months of building up a huge battle between both the vampires and the mutants, we literally get maybe four pages of actual fighting. The rest continues from X-Men #4, where speaking through video screens – bickering at each other – is the main source of action.

XMen5

The reader also learns how Wolverine turned into a vampire and how it is to be cured. All aside, this has been the weakest issue of the new X-Men series, despite it arguably being the most-anticipated one in terms of getting sh!t done. Also, you would figure Wolverine leading a vampires to kill the X-Men would be a lot more exciting. Alas. . .

Although I will give credit to humour – especially when Cyclops accidentally suggests that Emma Frost is “tough skin,” followed by her gloating personality, describing herself as “glamorous” rather than a “form of mine and lump.”

I also cannot knock Paco Medina’s art. Despite the lack of action, the scenery and spreads of the ocean, as well as the short battle were all penciled with great attention to detail. One specific panel where Archangel sheds to his Death appearance – just wow. I highly recommend that you pick up his run of Deadpool Vol 2 in 2008. He definitely is a great artist.

I really hope Gischler really gets this story together – either to make this vampire run conclude with a bang, or set up a new plot for the team.

Grade: 4/10

Also, I’ve updated my “Pull-List” page until the end of January, while also updating my “Who am I?” page too.

Expect a Classic Comic for Friday. Or else!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Classic Comic Fridays are Back!

Utter madness, I know!

What I’ve decided for my Classic Comic Friday from my collection is no-other-than Spider-Woman #1 from April of 1978!

Spider-Woman #1 was written/edited by Marv Wolfman who would have just stepped down as Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, allowing Jim Shooter to take over. Wolfman would only write up to issue #8, allowing other writers like Marc Gruenwald and Chris Claremont to take over the series. Spider-Woman was also penciled by a Marvel great, Carmine Infantino, who has drawn comics from Captain America, to Ghost Rider, to Star Wars, Nova, and Iron Man. He would draw up to Spider-Woman #19, setting up the next issues for later artists.

SpiderWoman1

From what I know, Spider-Woman was not really a popular character as of yet either. She made a few appearances in other comics, but never held her own until she was given her own monthly title. I am not entirely sure about where her popularity grew from, but it definitely was an interesting time for female heroes, as Ms. Marvel #1 appeared a little more than a year before Spider-Woman. The Dark Phoenix Saga was about to begin in the Uncanny X-Men storyline, while Kitty Pryde was also about making her debut in the series. Also, one of Spider-Man’s most interesting female “heroines,” the Black Cat would also appear a year later. Clearly this was a big push for women in Marvel.

So where does Spider-Woman stand?

If anything, from knowing what I do now about Jessica Drew, reading back on the origin of Spider-Woman and seeing Drew with her original blonde hair, it is a bit of a refresher to dabble back in the past. Nowadays, she’s just known for being ex-Hydra, ex-SHIELD, now Avengers, etc. Little is brought up – if ever – about her solo work.

Admittedly, there isn’t much to pull from. The story itself opens up with Spider-Woman with a full mask covering her hair. She is robbing a grocery store when a man, Jerry Hunt prevents her from stealing. As she tries to escape, he pulls of her mask (amateur mistake on her behalf) and sees her face. He recognizes her from somewhere, but leaves it at that. Jessica escapes home and stays in for the night, reflecting on almost getting caught.

Going to sleep, she has a nightmare, so-to-speak, about gaining her powers on Wundagore Mountain – sparing the mumbo-jumbo – she goes into suspended animation and comes out as Spider-Woman. Why did I do that? You didn’t miss much.

She awakes from sleep the next day and decides to go out job hunting. There, Jerry Hunt sees her again and tries to stop her. Quickly, she changes into Spider-Woman and escapes.

At the end of the book (we’re there already?!), Drew decides to make a new mask and dye her hair black to give her a bit more of a disguise. While out, she would encounter Mr. Hunt yet again (must be a small city) who is under attack by some crooks with lasers. She knocks them all out, but Jerry is wounded. She takes Jerry to the hospital and puts some of her blood in him to promote faster healing. Spider-Woman then leaves Jerry in the hospital to wonder who she was.

End story.

Marv Wolfman is credited for creating up some of Marvel’s finest characters such as Blade, Terrax, and the Black Cat. However, the dud with the introduction to Spider-Woman really left me at a loss for words.

Great dialogue was the only forward momentum this story carried with it. Realistic dialogue between Spider-Woman and Hunt, and even in the dream world with Jessica’s father, Johnathan Drew and the High Evolutionary (named Herbert Wyndam in the comic) felt real. But the execution for how dialogue in the story progressed was not as exciting. There was too little interest in Jessica’s development as a character because it was shrouded by her origin story.

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What I will recognize is the nice art from Carmine Infantino and inks by Tony DeZuniga. True body movements mixed in with delicate shading flooded the pages with depth and realism. A particular page after the failed grocery store robbery, Drew walks home through a park and into her apartment. Great care was taken with the various characters she walks past in the story with brilliant shading placed where it needed to be in a daylight scene. Art held what the plot could not – a story.

I mentioned earlier that this was a time where women in Marvel really made a push for popularity. Although I am familiar with everyone else I mentioned but Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman, I feel as if Spider-Woman was thrown under a bus for the women of Marvel. Although she may be a bigger character now, her storyline fell flat in this first issue. Had it been 1978, I would not have picked up the second issue. Also, I wouldn’t have because it somehow involved Merlin the Wizard. Yup.

But great art by Infantino and a gorgeous cover page done by Joe Sinnott definitely makes the comic score higher than it should have.

Grade: 6/10

I’m also sure some of you are asking yourself, “What about Spider-Woman Origin from 2006?”

Well, that story is pretty inconsistent with the one I just reviewed. To make Bendis’ Secret Invasion work, he had to create a new Spider-Woman origin. I am not 100% sold on the story, but apparently Marvel is just forgetting Spider-Woman #1 from 1978 even existed. Then again, if you just read my review, we all probably should.

Keep on Space Truckin’!

A Weak Week

My pull-list this week was pretty Mutant-heavy, featuring Namor #2, X-Men Legacy #240, and X-Men vs. Vampires #1 of 2. Also, was Avengers: Prime #3 of 5.

I’d have to say, I was unexpectedly disappointed with X-Men: Legacy, while Namor and XvsV was a pleasant surprise. Of course, reviewing it all would take decades of work (maybe an hour), so I’ll mainly focus today on the bigger titles, Legacy and Avengers.

Legacy240

I’ll tackle this bad-boy first. X-Men: Legacy #240 is part three of a story-arc, entitled Collision and revolves around Rogue, Magneto, Indra, Anole and Loa. But I’ll need to give you some back story first. There have been some weather disturbances in Mumbai, and coincidently, Indras brother has fallen ill. The five go there to check it out, and for Indra to see his brother. Once there, things get a bit nutty. We find out that the weather is caused by the Children of the Vault sapping energy from Earth, while we discover that Indra is now forced to take his brothers place in an arranged marriage, as per their arrogant father. So that’s pretty much where we’ve been at.

Then comes #240, and its continued plot by Mike Carey, with art by Clay Mann. Last issue left us off with a mutant from the Vault named Luz coming to Earth to escape said Vault. Unfortunately for her, she was pursued, and 240 kicks us off with a pitiful battle between Vault members and Rouge and Magneto. Losing, they are taken back with Luz, to the Vault as captives.

Meanwhile, Anole, Loa, and Indra find out the two were kidnapped. They want to go and save them – as any friends would. However, Indra’s arrogant father demands that Indra does not break his promise to get married tomorrow. So Indra one-ups him and says that he will just get married now and be done and over it.

Yeah. . .

So the issue revolves around panels with Magneto and Rogue getting beaten, while Indra gets married while Anole and Loa watch in disgust. Because of the marriage, the book is terribly paced with Rogue being in the process of execution and Indra’s wedding ceremony which his father wants as a full-ceremony. So this issue brings us family, rice, and Rogue being bashed by gravitational forces.

Needless to say, the issue does try and end on a high-note. Indra’s wife-to-be, in the middle of the ceremony, transforms into Luz, who teleported herself into his fiancées body, followed by a “wtf” moment on the final page.

Unfortunately, because of the ridiculous pacing of the comic between battles and a wedding, I felt no sense of dread, nor did I care about the wedding either. This has been one of Legacy’s weakest stories, I believe, since after the Messiah Complex arc (which goes back a long time), and the art from Mann unfortunately does not bring the comic up from its poor writing.

Grade: 5/10

Despite Legacy, this week was definitely a win Avengers: Prime #3.

Avengers: Prime is unfortunately a bi-monthly titled done by Brian Michael Bendis and godly artist Alan Davis. It takes during the end of Siege and follows Thor, Steve Rodgers, and Tony Stark being “accidentally” zipped away to an unknown realm, and separated from each other.

AvengersPrime3

Rodgers ends up meeting some Elven people, Stark gets caught up with Orges and the dragon Fafnir, while Thor discovers that the Enchantress is the reasoning behind the whole thing! Then at the end of issue #2, we discover Hela has been watching the whole thing unfold! It’s a lot to take in, eh?

Luckily for us, this is Bendis’ best work with an Avengers title since the beginning of The Heroic Age. While the parent title and New Avengers are seemingly lacking in proper pacing and characterization, we get it perfectly in Avengers: Prime. Stark – without power to his armor – makes hilarious quips throughout the story which he lacks in the parent title, while Rodgers is the well-rounded hero (as always), making his way through the unknown realm without much trouble. Thor on the other hand gets into a fight with Hela as the Enchantress watches on – surprised that Hela was in the realm.

Near the end, we see Stark saved from Fafnir by Rodgers, and they discover a defeated Thor, unsure where Mjolnir is, but certain that the three are indeed in Hel itself.

Due to wonderful spreads by Davis, including some wonderful spreads of Fafnir and a full-page spread of Hela striking Thor, this comic is consistently strong in both art and direction. It’s truly a shame that the limited-series-bi-monthly title is arguably the best Avengers storyline.

Grade: 9/10

As for Namor and XvsV, Namor’s storyline has thickened with a battle beginning. There is a sense of dread surrounding the Atlantian people, while it is ever-so clear that the enemy has them outnumbers. With XvsV, we get a slew of minor stories from various writers and artists, plus a first-half re-print of Uncanny X-Men #159. The most notable story is done by James Asmus with art by Tom Raney (who seems to be involved in almost everything now), and aptly titled “From Husk til Dawn,” involving Husk versus Vampires as she turns herself into wood.

Any how, check back soon for another fantastic blog from your fantastic blogger. I’m assuming that’s me.

Keep on Space Truckin’.

The Black Widow Wins!

Black Widow #6
I believe it definitely has been an awesome week for comics. One thing is that Black Widow #6 stole the spotlight with a new run by Duane Swierczynski and Manuel Garcia. It’s rare for a mystery story to stand out like how this one did.

For far-too long, Marvel has thrown Black Widow as a partial character. Sure, she’s had her few individual stories, such as Homecoming, or more recently, Deadly Origin – but now with her own monthly series, she’s finally getting the credit she deserves.

This, of course, goes along side of Marvel’s Women of Marvel push for the past year.

Regardless, this new arc is fantastic, and a must-read. Fortunately, you do not need to read the prior five issues to play catch up so new readers are welcome to join right in.

In a nutshell, Black Widow faces two foes – one foe trying to kill the other, and one of which Black Widow must save! To top it all off, Black Widow is being framed and the issue ends with a nail-biting conclusion! It’s just a great introduction to an arc.

Grade: 8/10

Along with this week, I was given a great surprise. Avengers #5 by Brian M. Bendis and John Romita Jr. picked up from – what I have thought to be – a lack-luster start for a major-title.

Avengers #5
However, it was not until this issue did things start coming together. There was an actual story to this book. No more quick cuts and fast-paced panels with mindless action. In Avengers #5, we actually get a story with character development which has been lacking from previous issues. We get a story which incorporates a large part of the Marvel U (a nice bonus). And most importantly: we get our characters back. Iron Man is no longer a rushed, fast-talking, over-zealous person. He’s (relatively) back to normal. Spider-Man and Hawkeye are now separated as two individuals – as Hawkeye steps aside and shows emotion for Mockingbird’s well-being. Thor gets a wonderful scene battling Galactus in probably Romita’s best-drawn-moment since the comic’s inception.

Needless to say, I’m glad the comic was picking up finally. I was going to stick around until the Red Hulk and Illuminati issues were released to pray it got back on course. It seems with Avengers #5, we may actually get a great series of comics ahead of us.

Grade: 7/10

My other two comics from my pull-list this week were Uncanny X-Men #528 by Matt Fraction and Whilce Portacio, and Ed Brubaker’s take on Secret Avengers #5, with new-to-series artists David Aja and Michael Lark.

Both comics were transitional stories with not much action, but developments in characters and their history – mainly Emma Frost and Nick Fury, respectively. I, unfortunately, can’t review every comic in great detail – unless you want me to! Sound off below?

But first, check out some other blogs I’ve stumbled upon – comic related, of course.

Joe Shuster Awards – Comic Awards – involving one-Leonard Kirk.
ComicBookGrrl – A well thought-out blog about the nature of comics.
TechLand – News and goodies about comics.
Weekly Comic Book Review – Weekly. . . comic. . . book. . . reviews.

Oh! And I just scanned this!

Stan Lee and Me!

Until then, keep on Space Truckin’.