Review – Archer & Armstrong: The Michelangelo Code

Fred Van Lente’s Archer & Armstrong, part of the inordinately strong Valiant relaunch, might just be the best of a very good bunch.

A and A

As someone who has been reviewing comics for five years now, I’ve always hated one response that I seem to get regularly when I criticize certain fan-favorite writers for slack storytelling skills. Essentially, “You’re just overthinking it. Can’t you just turn your brain off and have fun?” It’s just never seemed like a good reason to excuse bad work – I love turning my brain off and enjoying something like Crank 2: High Voltage or Zoolander, movies that are exceptionally well-made bits of fluff, that know exactly what they want to do or say and dedicate every resource they have to achieving precisely that effect.  It’s what separates, say, Blazing Saddles from Epic Movie – both may be in the same genre, neither requires too much thought to enjoy, but one (Blazing Saddles) clearly loves and understands the genre and tropes it’s parodying, while the other coasts off of recognizing obvious references. There’s no joke, just the thrill of being ‘in’ on it, whatever it is. Just because your job is to get me to relax and have a good time doesn’t mean I should forgive you for being bad at it.

All of which is to say that Archer & Armstrong: The Michelangelo Code is simple, turn-off-your-brain escapist entertainment – and it is very, very good at doing what it sets out to do. Like with many of the classic Mel Brooks or Zucker-Abrams-Zucker spoofs, it absolutely errs on the side of broadness at times, of throwing too many gags at the wall and hoping some will stick, but as you read, you can also feel just how much fun writer Fred Van Lente and his crew are having. In his excellent run on The Incredible Hercules, Van Lente showed that he knew how to make a mismatched pair of friends bounce off one another in entertaining, endlessly readable ways, but he really seems to kick things up a notch here. Divorced from Marvel continuity, Archer & Armstrong gets weird – and fun! – in ways The Incredible Hercules never could.

Click through to read more…

Review: Incredible Hercules #129

Herc

There was a time when I was a Marvel Zombie.  Looking back at my review list now, many of you may find that hard to believe, but it’s the truth: up until the ceaseless push of hack events began to swallow every decent idea the company produced in an effort to become increasingly grim to push a faux-realism, I really did not see the appeal of DC Comics.  Every so often, Marvel will do something great – Patsy Walker: Hellcat, for example, or The Immortal Iron Fist.  Brief genre projects less concerned with fitting in with the overarching company-wide directive of misery than with telling fun, fast-paced stories.

Incredible Hercules, while far more wildly uneven than either of the previously mentioned books, fits the same mold.  Despite bearing the “Dark Reign” banner and being hip-deep in the whole Osborn schtick, remains a quick, clever book.  Ryan Stegman’s art is competent and dynamic, capturing the fun and the action in equal measures – and if Incredible Hercules has anything, its action and comedy.

Though the book in general is wildly uneven, #129 is an great entry for the middle of the arc, as Herc, Amadeus and Athena travel together into the Underworld in an effort to free Zeus and overthrow the scheming of Hera and Hades.  Despite the “Dark Reign” banner, the issue doesn’t touch on the metaplot of the MU in any significant way.  The series is never quite as funny as it wants to be and has some underlying issues, but strong characterization and a breezy plot help keep the book fun and relevant.

Grade: B

Read/RANT

Review: Free Comic Book Day 2009

I was a terrible fan on FCBD. I didn’t even go to a comic shop. You know what I did? I spent the day hanging out with friends. New friends, old friends, beer, sports, and girls culminating with the Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton fight. Yeah, remember how that went?

Sorry, that’s actually when Hatton got knocked out by Mayweather, but you get the idea. We got what? Five minutes of boxing? I would’ve asked for my nickel back, but I watched it at a friend’s house. For those who did throw down the money, blame Hatton. Anyway, my FCBD was spent doing the most non-comic book things ever, but I still got my books. Be friends with your comic book guy, kids.

(***1/2)

Atomic Robo: I’ve heard that this was good, and it is. The nice, clean art and sharp writing is impressive. It left me wanting more. Sadly, even though it’s huge on the cover, this story wasn’t the longest in the issue.

Drone: This was the longest story. I’m a bit underwhelmed. Average art and writing, with a ton of words isn’t the best sales pitch. It’s a bit of an interesting concept, though.

We Kill Monsters: I don’t know what to think of this. It just didn’t really hook me at all. It’s not bad.

(***1/2)

Because I like complaining about Bendis:

For a book with both New and Dark Avengers, this isn’t in continuity, is it?

This book has way too many words for kids and new readers.

Why is this book rated teen? Why not write for kids, Bendis? Why the swears?

Why does Spider-Man mention global warming? It’s not even a joke. It’ll just offend adults and confuse the kids.

This book was so damn wordy, and yet it still didn’t introduce all the characters.

Other than all that:It’s pretty good. I mean, it’s Jim Cheung drawing 24 pages of Avengers action. Throw in Thor, and you actually have a memorable FCBD comic. Oh, and we get more pages in this issue than we do in a four-dollar Avengers comic. And why is this book at reduced-size? Every publisher, large and small, is printing normal size, but Marvel? Tiny comics! Boo!

(****)

Some publishers, even the tiny ones, will put out an issue #0 for three bucks, but DC? They put out the #0 of their big, new event for free. Way to go DC! Wednesday Comics, three-dollar comics, and now this? Is anyone still reading Marvel? As for the actual issue, I would have liked to get a good look at all of the corps. We do get that, in a way, but those pages have been online for weeks. I even posted them. What we do get, is a nice conversation between Hal and Barry, an exploration of some of DC’s dead characters, and the Black Lantern Oath. Throw in some sweet Ivan Reis art, and you’ve got an awesome package. Oh, and for those who have been noticing my bitching about Aquaman being brought back in Final Crisis, that’s actually addressed in this issue. Apparently, those were just rumors. BUT I SAW HIM WITH MY OWN EYES! Oh well, way to screw with Morrison’s vision, DiDio.

(**)

“The Simpsons” is my favorite show. Having said that, I don’t think I really laughed once while reading this. That’s bad. The comic is free, features nice art, and may entertain children. That’s good.

(***1/2)

Shazam: This was three pages! I heard this was good, but three pages! Boo!

Brave and the Bold: Entertaining, adequate art, and the kids are the hero of the story, that’s awesome. Also, just like the cartoon, it features a relatively unknown villain, the Thinker. Although, I think Batman and Blue Beetle kill him in this story. What’s up with that?

Tiny Titans: I’ve read this comic before and it’s very fun. I dig the art, too. This one? Not so much. It’s still awesome, and if any of you have kids, this is a good comic.

(**)

I have a friend who absolutely adores this book. Well, he used to. Now, even he isn’t reading it anymore. I’ve tried to get into it. I like the art and some of the pop culture references are funny, but it’s kind of boring. It’s lost its spark.

(***)

If you like Wolverine: First Class, this is right up your alley. It’s Fred Van Lente being Fred Van Lente. It also has some pretty art. I find Wolverine: First Class to be forgettable and unnecessary, so this isn’t my thing, but I think a lot of kids and adults will have a blast.

For more comic goodness, go here.

SeventhSoldier Presents: The ‘Real’ Dark Reign

Marvel: Noir is where it’s at. No doubt about it. While the rest of Marvel is trudging through yet another massive event or four, there’s a nice little set of minis off to the side, set in funland, with, well, not new toys, because that’d be scary, but at least new takes on old toys.  So, here we go, diving into the blackest abyss of Marvel morality since the last book Marvel published!

X-Men Noir #2

xmen

I was a little leery about the announcement that writer Fred Van Lente would be in charge of this title, and David Hine in charge of Spider-Man Noir, but after each produced a solid opening offering, I was relieved.  X-Men Noir #2 hit the streets this week, and it continued to be of extremely high quality, though artist Dennis Calero, in his attempts to keep things dark-but-realistic slips up more than once throughout the issue.

Packed with so many references to X-Men continuity it should be exploding in my very hands, the book nonetheless gracefully handles almost all of them, creating analogue after analogue and making them work FOR the story!  As baffling as that may sound, it works, from the pulp back-ups of Bolivar Trask’s old-school sci-fi hero Nimrod on through the ‘mutation’ that made the X-Men famous being emotional rather than physical, each analogue, each reference, each new revelation works within the story.  

Easily accessible for both non-X-fans and the most hardcore fans around, X-Men Noir #2 slips up very rarely.  Calero’s art is iffy at best, and the fundamental ‘good guy’ nature of the X-Men was a disappointing reveal, but it was nonetheless an extremely solid issue of comics, far better than most in-continuity stories you’ll be able to find about today.

Grade: B

Bruce Castle Presents: Skrulls! Zombies! Giant Lizards! Marvel Is A Scary Place!

Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (of 4)

Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (***)

Is anybody excited about this? Good old Marvel, they take a fun idea and beat us to death with it. Zombie covers! Skrull covers! Ape covers! Aren’t these awesome?! Arrggh! Anyway, Marvel Zombies 3 is the fourth mini-series (When will Marvel Zombies 8 come out?) about these super flesh-eaters. Kirkman and Phillips have left the building to make way for Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker. The new creators have an unenviable task. They have to not only deal with the aforementioned complaints of boredom, but this story also takes place in Earth-616 (the regular Marvel U for those who don’t know). Are you a fan of Jennifer Kale? Siege? The Conquistador? What about the Aquarian? Though I admire the respect for Steve Gerber, I doubt many kids (or anyone) will care about these characters. Part of, if not all, the fun of Marvel Zombies was seeing your favorite characters zombified, Captain America missing the top of his head for example. But because we’re in 616, you pretty much know nothing radical will occur. However, Lente and Walker make the best of what they have to work with. This issue is still filled with comedy, gore, and interesting twists and turns. The only problem is that you can get those same elements in other better comics. The series has lost its uniqueness. So, unless you’re a big fan of Machine Man, Jocasta, Morbius, or the creative team, you can probably skip this.

Punisher War Journal #24

Punisher War Journal #24 (***1/2)

What an odd cover. “Secret Invasion” is absent yet this issue is littered with Skrulls. All we see is this dark haunting Alex Maleev cover featuring Frank Castle in a cell. That is not what this issue is about at all. Entertainment is the name of the game here. After a bit of plot dealing with something that occurred earlier in this series, everything cuts loose. I’m talking Frank riding around in a vehicle decorated with Skrull skulls blowing everything green to kingdom come. This is old school sci-fi fun. Want more proof? How about a Super-Skrull that is part Kingpin part Hammerhead? Yep, that’s in here, the jerk even takes a chunk out of G. W. Bridge. Can’t I have one comic where someone doesn’t get bitten? If you’ve followed Punisher War Journal since the beginning, you’ll know that the series is strongest when it’s a tie-in. That’s true again here, but sadly it’s weaker than its predecessors. That’s because these issues contain so much action and with stuff blowing up, you want it to look pretty. Though Chaykin does a passable job, his art is still not my style at all. Still, if you’re in the mood for some fun that involves aliens and vigilantes instead of booze and broads pick this up!

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #44

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #44 (****1/2)

Does anyone over 8 read this comic? Well, I do have an excuse. This issue features the art of the talented Jonboy Meyers. I doubt the name sounds familiar, but here is some of his work. He recently did some back-ups in JLA as well. He rarely does interiors so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on this. I don’t care if this book is meant for kids. It’s nice to have a wholesome break between my gore. This issue was refreshing and fun. The art is amazing! We get to see multiple lizards, the Serpent Society, and Curt Connors Godzilla-style! There’s some humor in here too and what kid comic is complete without some good lessons? This book has it all!

Reviews: Secret Invasion Part 10A: The Secondary Characters

WAY too many books to review from this last shipment, so I’m going to split this up into three installments. After this one will come the Avengers books, followed by whatever’s left over.

Incredible Hercules #120 (*****)

I love the way that everything going on with the Eternals matters. The Dreaming Celestial is standing in the outskirts of San Francisco, and every book I’ve read that has involved San Francisco in some way have either explicitly mentioned his presence or at least shown him in the background of a panel (we’ve seen this in both Uncanny X-Men and this very book). Hell, the Eternals are all up in Hercules’ bidness, and I’m not just talking about Ajak being a member of the God Squad. Let’s put it this way: HE is not the Beyonder. HE is not anyone we’ve ever seen before. But the concept behind HE and who HE is caught me completely by surprise, but makes a whole lot of sense in a super awesome way. It’s not hard to make the claim that the Eternals are the true movers and shakers of the Marvel Universe right now. Not the Illuminati. Not Tony Stark. Not SHIELD or the Red Skull or any of these people. It’s groovy. And as a whole five issue arc that starts with the Eternals thinking Hercules is Gilgamesh and ends the way it does, this will stand as masterful comic work regardless of its affiliation with a major event going on at the same time.

This is a book that shows the true potential of a shared universe, because it brings in ideas completely alien to its original concept borrowed from other books that allow new avenues of storytelling to unite and divide. Stories like this are why we NEED these big earth shattering crossover events, whether we like them or not. Because it’s all about potential. And I’m not the type of person that’s just going to assume that it’s going to fail or not sync up because there’s no specific reason for it to do that. I don’t need these books to be validated by having their story threads show up in the main Secret Invasion title. Because I know there’s no room for it, and I’d rather Bendis focus on the story he wants to tell and pace it the way he wants to without having to worry about the added pressure of filling in the gaps or making sure everything gets mentioned. After reading this issue, I’m going to know exactly whom the Skrulls are referring to when they say “He loves you.” Do I care whether it’s mentioned there or not? Hell no! Because I have the information. I’ve been saying this from the beginning, but Secret Invasion as an event is too big not to have this many crossovers. Does it suck for those who don’t have the time or resources to read it all? Maybe. But I’ve read 67 Secret Invasion books (counting the Infiltration prologues), and all of them but one have been solid to great reads (sorry, X-Factor #33. Even though the rest of the arc was good, you still sucked). So what’s to complain about? Not a thing.

X-Factor #34 (***)

Does the art still suck? Pretty much. I know some people enjoy this Larry Stroman art because he’s basically the diametric opposite of the Greg Lands and Salvador Laroccas of the world, but I think there’s a breaking point when you can’t actually recognize characters easily. And when it gets in the way of actually being able to easily follow and enjoy the story, you’ve got a problem. But as for the book itself, we have the continuation of the X-Factor/She-Hulk/Secret Invasion Detroit series (which Nova actually gets sucked into a bit, but more on that later) with Jazinda and Nogor’s dealings with Darwin (the Talisman of the Skrull gods introduced in She-Hulk 31) at its center. We also get a little more of the new “Embrace Change” aspect of the series, as Nogor is convinced that Darwin is the evolutionary missing link between humans and Skrulls (the idea being that Darwin’s ability to adapt to any situation on the fly is not far removed from the Skrulls’ ability to shape shift to fit any situation), and he could be the one to unite them all. Of course, it doesn’t take, and Nogor is tied up and taken away (where is he taken? Why, She-Hulk #32, of course). I think Nogor is a wonderful premise and a fantastic character, and for that reason and that reason alone, I think these issues are well worth reading (though you can probably just skip X-Factor 33. You might be a little lost, but that issue is pretty painful).

Nova #16 (****)

Not as good as our Galactus storyline, but that’s a pretty high water mark to deal with, and a bit of a recession should be expected. Kl’rt enters the Secret Invasion scene here (took him long enough, eh?) and the results are not exactly what Nova would expect. There are some great moments afoot, however. I particularly enjoyed a little interaction where Nova is shocked and dismayed that the Skrulls disguise themselves as children in order to set a trap, and Kl’rt points out that when you’re a shapeshifter, subterfuge is really your only option. We also deal with the continuation of Nova coping without the Worldmind and how difficult it has become for him to do even the most mundane things due to his internal suit mechanics being the equivalent of a prerecorded customer service phone chain. There’s a lot of good here, and most of it comes from Kl’rt’s characterization as the grizzled veteran that’s been forgotten by the Skrull invasion forces, partly because he’s been busy with all these Annihilations that keep popping up and partly because he can’t win a fight to save his life. He’s the outmoded old tech that sits in a corner and rots. He’s the old Pentium 1 PC that’s been in your garage for fifteen years. But he still wants to be part of the action, and he needs to find his daughter. And that leads us to…

She-Hulk #32 (****)

Woo! Shared universes! Kl’rt shows up fresh from Nova to confront Jazinda in this issue, as we have more interactions with Nogor the Talisman, who is still written very well by Peter David. I just really like this character and the tension between his fate and the fate of the Skrull invaders. You threaten him and the Skrulls just might relent, thinking their plans are not ordained by the gods, but if you kill him, they’ll launch into such a religious fervor that they’d probably completely exterminate the human race. So She Hulk and Jazinda are stuck with this guy, and they can’t trust Tony Stark enough to let him deal with the problem. Kl’rt’s arrival really mucks up the works as well. These She Hulk issues have really shown the strength of a lot of these crossovers, in that we’re getting all kinds of ancillary benefits that there would never be room for in the main mini.

Mini Reviews: Make Mine…not…Marvel…?

Yes, I actually got some books that aren’t from the House of Ideas. And here they are.

Comic Book Comics #2 (*****)

Fred Van Lente is a guy you’ve probably heard of by now. Cowriter of The Incredible Hercules, upcoming writer of Marvel Zombies 3, Mr. Marvel Adventures. He’s all over the place. But Evil Twin Comics is where he puts out his best work. Comic Book Comics is another book that is chock full of edutainment in the same way the first issue and Action Philosophers were. This issue covers the war years of comics, hashing out the way superheroes died out to be replaced by Romance and Western comics, as well as the rise of EC’s slate of horror and science fiction books. Van Lente’s writing remains informative without becoming stale, which is always a tough thing to do when there is this much text that I guess could technically be considered “exposition.” And considering that there is no “host” character to lead us through, it’s all on Van Lente’s ability to walk the tightrope of being informative, funny, and generally not boring. Ryan Dunlavey’s art helps make the job easier with his breezy and cartoony style that effectively enhances the text without becoming intrusive or overtly flashy. I mean this is, for all intents and purposes, a kind of mini textbook. The stylization really helps note the differing ways folks were making comics back then while still allowing for the visual jokes to come through, like the Human Torch vs. Namor comics of the 1940’s being depicted as a jug of water and a lit match squaring off in a boxing ring, or the recurring theme of two unsupervised kids having a conversation while it is plain to see their parents having sex through a window right above them (“There are strange moans and creaking noises coming from mom and dad’s room!” “Must be S.S. code! We better warn Cap!”). The book takes us right up to the beginnings of The Seduction of the Innocent and Frederick Wertham’s attack on the comics industry, which is something I’m very much looking forward to reading from the point of view of these two crazy cats. This is a great read, and October couldn’t come sooner.

Ambush Bug: Year None #1(***1/2)

It’s not necessarily what I expected from this series going in. The only Ambush Bug I’ve actually read is his brief appearance in 52, so I think I was expecting a much more over the top and slapsticky sort of fourth wall breaking lunacy. Which is not to say that what I got was bad, but it was certainly different. The conceit is basically to parody the plot and tone of Identity Crisis, and I did love the way that Giffen poked fun at Meltzer’s repetition style in the caption boxes. I don’t know how much there is to say, really. I enjoyed it, got some laughs out of it, dug the art, looking forward to seeing it continue. It was a solid first issue. Nothing was blow away brilliant, nothing sucked. A bit middle of the road, but nothing that I regretted buying or reading.

Green Lantern Corps #26 (****)

I really enjoyed the Black Mercy/Ring Quest storyline. I like Mongul about as much as one can like a copy of a copy (by way of Thanos by way of Darkseid), and the Mother Mercy concept and how she viewed the purpose of the Black Mercy was certainly not the angle I expected them to take, and I think it worked in the favor of Peter Tomasi. And while it could be seen as cheesy to some, I did get a kick out of both rings picking the same successor (makes you wonder how fast both of those things would search out Batman if someone from Earth’s sector bit it), and while I think the decision was handled a bit too neatly, it still worked. Bzzt dies a hero, things are set to continue moving forward, and I still have my tiny thread of Green Lanterny goodness to hold onto until Geoff Johns returns to the here and now.

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?

Foilball’s Review Roundup #27: More Secret Invasions!!!

Mighty Avengers #14 (***)

So, these next two Secret Invasion tie-ins have been reviewed to death, but they still leave me with a few questions I’d like to address here. First, for Mighty it’s really only one question with a bunch of sub-questions: Was this issue written as fan wank or does it actually figure prominently into the overall SI plot? Like, is Bendis only answering “The Sentry Question” because he thinks the fans will call him on it, as they did with Greg Pak and World War Hulk? That question being, “If The Sentry is so EFFing powerful, couldn’t he single-handedly repel the entire Skrull invasion force?” Judging by the way he’s been built up in the last few years, then the answer has to be a resounding “yes, he could.” If Bendis is indeed answering this fanboy-ish question, then it’s my opinion that he is handling it… awkwardly? Seriously, the whole “just shapeshift into the Void” is equal parts logical and cheesy. I guess I’ll reserve final judgment on the matter until Bendis reveals whether of not Robert’s reversion to the Void will have any true impact on the plot of Secret Invasion. Heh, such a cop-out.

New Avengers #41 (***)

You know, it’s nice that after almost five years of waiting Bendis finally explains what the hell was going on in the Savage Land way back in New Avengers #6. But for me, it’s kind of too late. I don’t actually care anymore. I want to move forward, damn it! Now putting that aside, what I do still want to know is: Why the hell did Maria Hill blow up those Skrulls? Did she know they were Skrulls? If not, then who did she think they were? Was she trying to nuke the Avengers as well? Does this in fact make her a Skrull? Was she ordered by a third Skrull party to cover the incident up? WTF?!?! I hope these lingering questions are addressed eventually… until then, it’s kind of a huge gaping plot hole, dudes.

The Incredible Hercules #117 (*****)

Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente = Masterful Storytellers.

Things I liked about this issue of Herc:
Skrull Gods look sweet!!!
Hercules gets angry and kicks a tree.
Hercules gets angrier and kicks a bunch of trees.
Hercules knows his limitations.
The Ego of the Gods on full display.
Oh, snap! She fooled us all!

I’m convinced it’s not possible to keep this level of quality up. Someday the bottom will fall out… it has to! But, every day, I pray to Zeus it doesn’t.

Ms. Marvel #27 (**)

This issue blows and really the only reason I put it in the feature area of this Roundup is that I wanted to show you this:

Yes, that is another ####ING Helicarrier getting blown the #### up. GAH! Oh, and this really pissed me off. Carol, you suck. All things considered, we readers have to think that Simon might actually be in love with you. How dare you use him like that? UGH. I want to be done with this book, but I love Carol and every month I give it another chance to impress me. Sigh.

Quick Hits:
Black Panther #36 (*): What happened Hudlin? Why have you led us astray?
Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #29 (**): Knaufs!!! Why have you forsaken us!? Heh, getting biblical with this shit. Moore is competent enough, but it’s just not as good. And why the heck does this plot feel so much like what’s going on over in Invincible Iron Man? LAME.
Number of the Beast #4 (****): Alright, shit is heating up. I’m really like this series. THE HIGH!
She-Hulk #29 (*): David finally pulls back the curtain and explains about the missing time between his and Slott’s run. And you know what? Don’t care. DON’T CARE! Why? Your explanation sucked, Peter. Like your (current) writing.
Teen Titans #59 (**): Hey, it’s the Dark Side Club! Other than that, I’m so lost.
Thor #9 (*****): Still. So. Good. Loki? You rock.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #54 (*): Still. So. Bad. Why are we sexualizing Old Lady Harkness? Cancel please!!!
Uncanny X-Men #498 (****): Yeah, I happen to like the SF thread, and yeah, the Russian part of the story is better. But who cares, when’s the last time Brubaker wrote the X-Men so well? (This takes for granted that the “Rise & Fall” arc was not very good.)

Review: The Incredible Hercules #114

herccover 

 

First, a recap page. All caught up? Basically, Ares and Hercules are having a fight. A feud. A skirmish. A misunderstanding. Oh yeah, were talking about the gods from the Greek myths here (right in my wheelhouse), not just superheroes… although they are heroes. This chapter begins with… crap; let me back up some more. I think I need to explain how this title used to be called “The Incredible Hulk” about three issues ago. And now it’s not. Now, it’s the Incredible Hercules. There, all explained. It’s now a story about Hercules and his giant-brained sidekick, Amadeus Cho (Mastermind Excello to the initiated). Cho wants revenge on the government, namely S.H.I.E.L.D. (represented by Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man), for what they did to the Hulk, namely shooting him off into space to die and then imprisoning him upon his return and cataclysmic defeat in last summer’s World War Hulk event. Jeez, so much exposition… anyways, the point is, Hercules is Cho’s friend, best friend, perhaps only friend, and he doesn’t want to see the little guy get hurt. Soooooo, the pair of them head off on a series of misadventures and predictably, hijinks ensue and comedy is born.

 

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