Review: Captain Britain and MI13 #1-4

Veteran Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell is dealing with the ramifications of the Secret Invasion in his homeland, Britain.  This is the final issue of the tie-in with Marvel’s current mega-event, and the book continues to astonish as how vastly superior it is to the event proper.  In four issues, Cornell dealt with the invasion of Britain AND Avalon, the release of Satannish, a magical devil, and Merlin, the death and rebirth of Britain’s greatest hero, and the forging of a brand new one.  By the end of this issue, heroes will have died, while new ones were born, and Great Britain has expelled the Skrulls in a brilliant little moment mocking? Marvel’s House of M from a few years back.

#4 isn’t the strongest issue in the series.  The dialogue is okay, the action is okay, the art is okay, but nothing about the issue truly stands-out.  In a hurry to complete the arc, the final issue definitely feels rushed, but while nothing stands out as great, there’s not a bad part to the book.  Cornell does a good job with his characters, he wraps this arc up, sets up future arcs, and establishes the super-heroic branch of MI13, which is a lot to ask of a single, normal sized issue.

Overall, the book accomplishes in 4 issues what Secret Invasion is using eight-plus-tie-ins to do, and does it better.  While the fairy-tale solution that concludes this book would never work in a mega-event crossover (oh, wait…), it’s more acceptable in this book given the context of the series.  It’s a fun action comic with potential for a lot of good arcs in the future.

Grade for #4: B

Grade for arc: B+

Laziness Breeds a LIGHTNING ROUND!

But first…

Sky Doll #3 (****)

It’s not a full review, but I am not resizing a cover that is that gorgeous.

So we’ve reached the end of the first Marvel/Soleil reprint mini series. You know, I’m still not sure why I ordered the series in the first place. Maybe it was a light month, maybe it was the cover, but I’m glad I did (and my worries were allayed when I finally got the Soleil sampler and really dug the style and what they were showing in the preview). I think I do need to go back and reread this thing at some point. CB Cebulski adapted this from the original script written by Barbucci and Canepa, and as with all translations, it’s not perfect and can get a little clunky at times. It doesn’t help Mr. Cebulski’s task that this is a seriously complex story about religion, sexual politics, regular politics class stratification and censorship. It’s pretty heady stuff. I think Cebulski does more than an adequate job of translating despite a couple of moments here or there where the dialogue or word choice might read a little off or hollow. It certainly doesn’t ruin the story, but I think this issue is a bit harder to read than the first two, which makes sense considering how everything comes to a head. The art is still undeniably fantastic and expressive and imaginative in every way possible. This thing is worth a read simply for the art’s sake, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the story behind it. Not going into plot details because it’s going to be completely indecipherable for anyone that didn’t read the first two issues, but it all comes together in a very interesting and unexpected way. Some questions are raised and answered in cryptic ways, and the tension and mystery surrounding some of the set pieces is very engaging. I highly recommend that folks pick this up in the trade format.

AND NOW…THE LIGHTNING ROUND!!!!!

Incredible Hercules #119 (****1/2) – Still great. So many enjoyable moments in this series. I seem to say this every time a new issue comes out, but I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW GOOD THIS SERIES IS. Hercules is a hilarious and fantastically written character. His interactions with the rest of the God Squad are AWESOME. The art is AWESOME (especially the facial expressions). Hell, even the recap page is AWESOME. Woo hoo!

Captain Britain and MI:13 (*****) – This is now the best Secret Invasion book. Soooooooooo good. I love the way Captain Britain came back with a sort of Bucky Cap version of his costume. Awesome awesome awesome.

X-Factor #33 (*1/2) – This is certainly not the right issue to use as a starting point for X-Factor . The only X-Factor characters I’m truly familiar with (Quicksilver and Layla Miller) aren’t in the book right now, and Larry Stroman’s art does not help me from the perspective of a new book with characters I don’t know. Bad fit for me. Hoping the She Hulk issue will be an improvement.

Secret Invasion: Front Line #1 (***1/2) – Good start. I like the idea behind the Front Line books. Still haven’t read Civil War Front Line, but I enjoyed World War Hulk Front Line well enough, and this is pretty good time. No Sally Floyd though, which isn’t exactly a bad thing. Cover’s pretty neat too.

Mighty Avengers #16 (***1/2) – I dug it. Weakest of the Mighty Avengers issues, but I still like the slowly unfolding Skrull mythos that we’re seeing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #16 (****) – This is a solid Buffy issue. I should probably read Fray.

Terry Moore’s Echo #4 (*****) – Awesome. I love the little world that Moore’s putting together around this story. This thing is big, and it’s just going to get bigger.

Invincible Iron Man #3 (****) – Another solid issue. I REALLY like Ezekiel Stane as a character. I love the way that he’s pissed off he has to make a suit for himself because he had to lower himself to Tony’s level.

Angel After the Fall #10 (**1/2) – If I weren’t getting this for a discount, there’s no way in hell I’d still be reading it. I think it’s going places, and I generally like it okay, and having Franco Urru off the book helps, but it’s still not worth four bucks.

Spike After the Fall #1 (**) – See my review for Angel. Except Urru’s on this one now. Lop off a half star for that.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #38 – Somebody Call the WAH-ambulance!

100 Bullets #93 (****)

Finally! Something awesome happened that doesn’t require tons of back-story for the uninitiated to understand!!! Or, does it…

This is the minuteman.

This is the girl he wants to kill.

Here is the man who wishes to protect her.

This is his breathing machine.

This is the entrance to the panic room where girl and protector are hiding. That is the assassin approaching.

Now, this is what happens when you back old security protector guy in a corner.

…and, also this. OUCH, and yet very, very awesome!

What a fricking cliffhanger, right?? This was just a great little action issue and it was more than welcome. I’m hoping the final seven issues are this good or better.

Captain Britain and MI13 #3 (*****)

Three issues, Bendis! Three mother-effing issues!! Look at all the shit that Cornell has accomplished in three issues!!! Bendis, you hack.

That’s it. No need to beat a dead horse. Go away. Now.

The Incredible Hercules #119 (****1/2)

I love this book. LOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT. Besides all the awesome god action and the interesting way this book ties into the Secret Invasion event, this page  perfectly sums up why I love Hercules and also why I couldn’t give two shits about the Hulk anymore.

Quick Hits:
Amazing Spider-Man #565-566 (**1/2): Kraven’s daughter? Sister? Cousin? Who gives a shit? I like the switcheroo device, or mistaken identity as “they” say, between Vin and Peter. The art by Phil P. is excellent of course, but beyond that, I’m kind of bored with this idea. Part 3 needs to wow my socks off to salvage this arc in my eyes.
Brit #7 (**): Didn’t I cancel this book? This issue was fun, but it was basically your garden variety hero vs. hero misunderstanding plot. WHOA, how original. If not for the fairly well-done scene between Brit and his ex-wife, this issue has absolutely no value in any quantifiable form. Stop sending these to me, DCBS!!!
Cable #5 (*): Gets one star for the good art. Loses four for everything else.
Dreamwar #4 (**1/2): So, I was right. The DC characters were pulled from some kid’s dreams. They are not real people. Wow. Great reveal. At least the dialogue is good. Keith Giffen, what a master. Oh wait, the plot still blows.
Powers #29 (**): Um, what’s going? Honestly, I don’t know why I still read this book. It’s actually terrible. It’s tired and it’s terrible and it’s boring. Bendis is taking his sweet ass time with this “powers virus” bullshit. Hasn’t it been like 12 issues so far? Is anyone still reading this book? Why am I here!?!?! Maybe I’ll switch to trade. Maybe it reads better that way.
Wolfskin Annual #1 (*): Once again, completely forgettable. What is Ellis doing with this idea? Is he just writing a cheap Conan knock-off? Does he even have plans for this character? It must be nice to be able to scratch an artistic itch in public and have people pay you massive amounts of money for it. You know, like what Frank Miller did with The Dark Knight Strikes Again. But Ellis is a better writer so why is this shit so bad? This has got to be the most half-assed idea he’s written since, since… Strange Kiss (but I do like the Gravel character). I should stop buying these. They’re not even remotely good or entertaining. Why am I such an Ellis-whore?

I Refuse to Come Up with a Quirky Title for These Mini Reviews

Eternals #1 (***1/2)

It should probably be noted that this is a two star book for anyone that either didn’t read or didn’t like Neil Gaiman and JRJR’s Eternals mini from two years back. For all intents and purposes, this is Eternals #8. It starts off right where Gaiman ended, and the exposition to bring you back up to speed is a little clunky. That didn’t so much bother me, because I had read the Eternals hardcover about five minutes prior to picking this issue up to read. We follow the same story set up before, with the two factions of Eternals racing to wake up as many of the sleeping eternals as possible to prepare for the coming battle with “the horde.” As someone who really enjoyed the Gaiman series, I was glad to see that this picked it right up. Not exactly sure on the timeline, considering the way some of the eternals are tied up with Incredible Hercules from issues 116 on, but it’s not so hazy as to be bothersome. The issue that comes up is the fact that it’s written in a somewhat pedestrian way. It’s not bad, but there’s nothing about it that sticks out. The Knaufs know where they need to go and they hit all the story beats necessary, but there’s nothing there that transcends the way Gaiman’s book did. It’s good for what it is, but it could (and should) be greater. Oh, and the art’s pretty cool (If you folks didn’t notice, I’m a bit of a writer guy)

Green Lantern Corps #25 (*****)

Awesome. I like that no matter what I feel about DC, I’ve got Green Lantern Corps (and once the Secret Origins arc ends, Green Lantern). I enjoy the internal logic of this book. It makes sense that Mongul would be a yellow lantern. And furthermore, it also makes sense that Mongul would realize that he could hijack the Black Mercy to further his own nefarious deeds. But what I didn’t expect was getting a larger background on the Black Mercy itself, given through telepathy by “Mother Mercy.” And it’s cool. It’s a different way to think of the Black Mercy as a plant that is determined to bring peace to the weak and diseased. It’s an interesting angle to take. I know a lot of people rightfully think of the main Green Lantern book as the, well, main Green Lantern book, but I think I prefer the cast of GLC. Sodam Yat has a lot of potential, and you’ve got the added flavor of the old stand bys that get more exposure than Hal’s book. This is great. Ringquest has been an awesome arc, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? (****)

I am amazed by the quality of these Secret Invasion tie-ins. We’ve got five mini stories, only one of which seems pretty underwhelming, which may or may not be because I have not read the Agents of Atlas mini series. The Captain Marvel story forges a bridge between the Captain Marvel miniseries and Secret Invasion/Thunderbolts. Agent Brand lets us in on what’s been going on with SWORD since their ship blew up. Wonder Man and Beast continue to delve into the story potential of the Savage Land. Marvel Boy tries to form an alliance with the rest of the inhabitants of The Cube. And the Agents of Atlas…um…do stuff. So obviously, the Agents of Atlas story is completely out of left field. They haven’t been connected to anything involving the Skrulls thus far, and it all seems tacked on. The other stories are quite enjoyable, giving us a little taste of some of the other things that aren’t going on in the main Secret Invasion book. It’s good background, and while I know there are a lot of complaints about important story points taking place outside of the main 8 issue mini, but this is a crossover, and this is the nature of crossovers. I think if they had cut the Agents of Atlas story and maybe knocked this down to a $3 book, it may have been a four and a half star book, but it was worth my money either way.

Captain Britain and MI:13 #2 (****1/2)

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS FOR ISSUE ONE

And the awesomeness of Secret Invasion titles continues. I dig the hell out of the themes we get to see played out in this book. The inclusion of Avalon as a focal point through this fight to protect the power of the world’s magic from the invading Skrull armies opens up the door to allow Paul Cornell to flex some fascinating story muscles. This is not simply the story of some aliens invading a planet. Sure, that’s what they’re doing at the basest level, but it morphs into a story about the fight between technology and mysticism. Which can bring in all sorts of other questions of religion and spirituality and all kinds of other things. We get a taste of that here, and I love the sense of wonder that Leonard Kirk puts into the scenes that take place in Avalon. In other locations, the Black Knight consistently entertains, and I have NO CLUE what is going on with the woman from the first issue and her somewhat gruesome power. But by far the best part of this book is the moment at the beginning when going over the death of Captain Britain. That is a fantastic moment right there, and Kirk absolutely nails the facial expressions. This is wonderful comic work.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #20

Rating System: In Honor of Harrison Ford and His Most Famous Role

5 Stars: WARNING: Raiders of the Lost Ark
4 Stars: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
3 Stars: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
2 Stars: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
1 Star: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The Mighty Avengers (*****)

SECRET INVASION TIE-IN! Better than Secret Invasion… but we all knew that, right?

Batman: Detective Comics #844 (***)

The origin story for the new Scarface was sort of interesting, but I don’t see us going anywhere exciting from here. Now, the resolution to the steamy Bruce/Zatanna subplot… LAME! Bruce Wayne is the dumbest man alive. How do you turn this down? And yet he does. Alas, there is hope… Zatanna leaves the door open!

Captain Britain and MI13 #1 (****1/2)

SECRET INVASION TIE-IN! Again, better than Secret Invasion. Oh my gosh, actual Skrulls fighting actual super heroes in the actual opens? Fortunately, the tone of this book feels nothing like the first two issues of SI, it feels like something way more awesome! John Lennon Skrull? Heh. Black Knight returns! Captain Britain written not to suck! My only complaint is the way in which Wisdom was handled. Wooden would be the way to describe it. But, if the teaser for next issue is any indication, that shouldn’t be a problem for much longer.

Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1 (****1/2)

SECRET INVASION TIE-IN! And again better than Secret Invasion. Could it be? For the first time the tie-ins surpass the main event in overall quality? This is crazy! I mean, you guys all remember those crappy House of M minis, yes? I expected the same level of mediocrity from MI13 and FF (and yet I still ordered them), but the first issues have been shockingly fun and good. Oh hey, we’re in the Negative Zone. I don’t understand how anyone can be happy with the second issue of SI after reading MI13 and FF. It’s not even close. Anyway, I loved this exchange between Sue and Johnny. Oh, no, I mean Johnny and… Lyja!!! Oh, and Barry Kitson was pretty good too.

Hulk #3 (*****)

WOW. How I’ve missed you Ed McGuiness!!! Jeph Loeb is still horrible, but there’s barely any dialogue in this one so there’s thankfully little to complain about. BUT THE ART! Yeah, it’s basically one long fight scene, and you can call me a hypocrite for liking it, but it’s been so long since we’ve gotten some good old McGuiness, I can’t help myself. Shit, that was a lot of commas. Hey Steve, I’m curious now, what did you hate so much about this book? Sure, Rick calling himself “A-Bomb” is pretty terrible, but the Harpies were awesome! Heh. And Hulk busting out by the end of the 3rd issue made me a very happy man. The worst thing about the end of WWH was the fact that Hulk’s epic character arc was put on indefinite hiatus. Sure we got all those Aftersmash books from Marvel, but none of them dealt with the Hulk’s POV. Anyway, I’m really interested to hear your extended review.

Quick Hits:
Action Comics Annual #11 (****): Although it was a great read, I can’t in good conscience give this book the full five stars.
Angel: After the Fall #7 (***): Um, I liked this issue. The art was tons better and the Wesley and Connor stories were more interesting than anything that’s been in the book up to this point. Second thoughts about canceling?
Avengers/Invaders #1 (**): This was kind of a letdown. For a Marvel book, the art was just off. The Bucky journal stuff in the beginning just didn’t sound like Bucky, or to be fair, Ed Brubaker’s version of Bucky. I’ll keep getting it, mostly because I want to see how all the modern heroes react to a resurrected Captain America, but I’ve adjusted my expectations for this series accordingly.
Batman #676 (**): More letdowns. I’ve read some comments online that have said that this is the scariest interpretation of the Joker ever. I disagree. Also, am I the only one that hates Tony Daniel?
The Walking Dead #49 (*): UGH. Bored now?
Wolverine #65 (*): The conclusion of “Get Mystique”. Aaron treated us to a nifty naked fight between Mystique and Wolverine… meh. And then, as expected, Logan doesn’t kill Raven. So, what was the point of this much hyped story?
Young X-Men #2 (-): Cancelled.