Jeff’s Comic Reviews, 6/24/09 releases, Conclusion

Thunderbolts 133: This is a big improvement over the Deadpool issues, devoted to showing the cracks and manipulations both from inside and from outside the team. One outside force is not a surprise (she’s on the cover), but the other one (on the last page) is.

Avengers: The Initiative 25: Starts an interesting new phase, by wrapping up a plotline from the early issues, then cementing Osborn’s plans for the future of the Initiative program. Rather than being another Dark Avengers, there’s an opposing force – I won’t spoil their name – created here to drive the action in future issues.

Dark Avengers 6: Hard to talk about without giving too much away, which I don’t want to do because this issue will be the end of the first trade. There’s a great Cabal scene, the Sentry may have done something truly disturbing (I think Bendis is intentionally leaving it vague for now), and we get a glimpse inside Norman Osborn’s head. Plus, I think Mike Deodato is doing the best artwork of his career. Bendis (and maybe Deodato, I’m not sure) is off for the next couple of issues so that Matt Fraction can do the Dark Avengers/X-Men crossover.

New Avengers 54: The new Sorcerer Supreme is a fun and potentially interesting choice, and I also like the mentor role it puts Stephen Strange in. There’s also a huge gamechanging event for The Hood, and a surprising character declares his decidedly un-Avengery intentions toward Norman Osborn.

X-Factor 45: Apparently there was some controversy over at CBR about a bad review of #44 and the alleged sexism therein. I don’t agree – I think it’s odd to criticize the behavior of a character that’s possessed – and I bet the boards over there will explode when they see how, um, happy to see each other Rictor and the surprise character from the end of #43 are. Also, the future part of the story seems to be more linked to the present day than I thought. I like this book a lot, but be aware that apparently that’s not a universal opinion.

Uncanny X-Men 512: A vast improvement from Matt Fraction. This is an oversized standalone issue where Beast and his team of scientists go back in time to the turn of the century (not that century, the one before it) to sample the DNA of the earliest known modern mutant to help figure out how to save the species. It’s fun and exciting and tragic; all the things an X-Men story shout be. I also loved the 80’s variant.

Avengers/Invaders 12: This didn’t end exactly the way I predicted, but I was very close. (It still almost certainly ties into the forthcoming Human Torch revival.)

Immortal Iron Fist 27: Wraps up the current story, with some great flashbacks to Danny’s childhood by artist Timothy Green II, to clear the decks for the Immortal Weapons specials. (The “Fat Cobra” special is previewed here, and it looks great.) Whoever it was at Gary’s that was telling me they thought it was time for Danny and Misty to break up will be disappointed by the developments in this issue.

Runaways 11: Great work from incoming writer Kathryn Immonen. I’m a fan of hers – we’ll talk about the Patsy Walker: Hellcat trade soon – and she’s got a great grasp of the characters and some great dialogue () without being as whacked out as the Hellcat mini. (Nico: “Why don’t you go talk to [Klara]? Maybe explain the dangers of vitamin D deficiency.” Molly: “Hey, Klara! Nico says you’re deficient!”) My only complaint is that, because I’ve been pushing Immonen’s work, I was hoping that this issue would be a good new reader jumping-on point and it really isn’t – you kind of have to know the characters to get the most out of it. (But the Vaughn and Whedon runs are great and you should read them anyway.)

Ms. Marvel 40: Good as usual, with the whole Dark Avengers team getting involved with the mystery of the Modok babies and the energy beings that seem to have a connection to Carol Danvers. Also involves another Avengers team, as well as a great Deadpool cameo. (I love that he knows he’s in a comic book.)

Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man 1: Now here’s a new “Dark Reign” mini that’s worth your time. Great, dark stuff from Brian Reed. (Wait until you see what Venom does to mayor Jameson.) I sometimes find Chris Bachalo’s art hard to follow (see many issues of X-Men), but not here – I though it fit this material to a T.

Incredible Hercules 130: The trial of Zeus in Hades, featuring a potentially heartbreaking reunion for Amadeus Cho and some debates about the nature of God (even though it’s disguised as talk about little-g gods) that I never expected to see in a mainstream Marvel comic. (“Am I terrible? Am I callous? Am I unjust? Of course! But I am also utterly necessary.”)

Comments

  1. Uncanny X-Men 512: A vast improvement from Matt Fraction.

    A quick note--Matt Fraction did this issue, too. Except now that I'm typing this, I realize that you probably meant "Matt Fraction really improved here" instead of "Matt Fraction wasn't so well, but the writer of this issue was much better", and I just read it wrong.

    Thunderbolts really improved this issue, and it's great to see Songbird again. I'm actually all caught up on Dark Reign now, true fact.

    Sinister Spider-Man is one of the best Dark Reign books around, and Brian Reed is really turning in some great work here. Bachalo is a perfect choice for the book, and while he does sometimes require more concentration to understand, it's almost always worth it--he's extremely talented, and puts a lot into his illustrations. I had a hard time enjoying his X-Men runs (first with Morrison, then with Carey) when I first read them, but going back to re-read, he's one of my favorite artists.

    Ms. Marvel is also a great book, and although I was slightly skeptical about removing Carol Danvers from the lead role, I'm really growing to like Karla as a character, and I'll be genuinely disappointed when she's inevitably removed from the role.

    Perhaps ironically, I think that the Avengers books* are the weakest of the Dark Reign line--they push forward the event more than almost any other title, but like I mentioned before, they feel (at least to me) very skippable, in terms of quality. Still, though, plenty of other books are tied to them, and it's not like I'm paying for any of this anyway, right?

    *This mostly refers to Dark and New Avengers. The Initiative is of debateable quality but isn't driving the event like it was right after Civil War, but Mighty Avengers is one of my favorite books (while being only tangentially connected to Dark Reign).

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