Review: Mighty Avengers #4

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Mighty Avengers proves that it can be fun even when it’s boring.

TO BE SPOILED BELOW

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Review: Uncanny X-Men #511

I’ve read the entirety of Fraction’s X-Men run. We’re what, twelve issues in, right? And time after time, I have to talk about the same problems. Too many characters. Fraction has to service too many stories. And, when it’s his turn, Greg Land’s art. These problems probably won’t go away soon. They are a hindrance, but, damn it, Fraction still writes a good comic!

Sure, he stumbles here and there. The pacing is a bit uneven. Some people are frustrated with the Sisterhood’s plot, although, with that complaint, I disagree. Fraction, being a post-Grant Morrison X-Writer, has the benefit of seeing how to best handle X-Men continuity. Acknowledge it, but don’t let it damage your story. The Sisterhood’s plot is entertaining, relatively original, and ends with yet another addition to the X-Roster. Which is kind of a good thing, right? People do love the X-Men.

As for Land’s art, it’s a bit funny. Land is finally straying away from tracing. Oh, sure, a lot of the faces, particularly the women, look startlingly similar, and there are a few awkward poses here and there, but, for the most part, Land is getting more original. The problem? His original art doesn’t look very good. Now, it could be his inker, I suppose, but it’s still troubling. I hate to kick Land because everyone does, but I have to inform you of the book’s art quality, unfortunately for Land.

Despite the book’s problems, Fraction still keeps things creative and fun. I still love his character introductions. They’re entertaining and necessary. My favorite part of the issue is two pages of fighting that provides some rapid-fire comedy that parodies the idiotic comic-fight-banter. Even if the Sisterhood arc didn’t do anything for you , next issue will feature beautiful Yanick Paquette art and the awesome X-Club! And after that? The Uncanny X-Men/ Dark Avengers crossover completely handled by Fraction! That should be good.

Grade: B+

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Uncanny X-Men #510

How do I know that Fraction is a good writer? Because even with all of Uncanny X-Men’s baggage, servicing every other X-Plot, the numerous characters, the Greg Land art, and the fact that Uncanny X-Men hasn’t been good in a decade, Fraction still manages to make Uncanny X-Men original, character-driven, and entertaining. This issue is non-stop action, which, believe me, can be very boring, but Fraction injects some wit, continuity references, and plot into the mix. Fraction’s writing is top-notch.

What about Greg Land? Well, this is one of his better issues. There weren’t any obvious swipes, except maybe this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that from a movie or something? Anyway, Land didn’t really bother me that much. Sure, with all the tracing going on, some of the action panels looked weird, but those generic faces looked pretty.

If you haven’t heard of the Sisterhood’s plot, it’s pretty fun. It’s an example of the twisted continuity references that Morrison mastered. It’s original, while paying homage to decades of X-Men comics. This was probably the most enjoyable installment of the current arc so far. I eagerly await the conclusion.

Grade: B+

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Uncanny X-Men #509

Uncanny X-Men #509

(***)

This book continues to suffer from the same problems. The most recognizable, is its inability to move the plot forward. This is a prime example of why Indie comics can be so much better then mainstream ones. When you have to service so much continuity, and more team members than the JSA, you have problems telling a story.

I hate to bring it up because so many people kick him, but Land’s art really bothered me, here. Photo references aside, the comic looks so damn mechanical. Fraction writes characters well, and really, at the heart of it all, the X-Men are about characters. So, when you have everything looking so cold and stationary, it really hinders the comic’s quality. Why can’t Daniel Acuna replace Land? He’s worked with Fraction before, on the X-Men, and he draws beautiful women. Please, Marvel?

What does occur in this issue has me excited. I’m interested in the Sisterhood. What they’ve done so far intrigues me. They’ve already switched Psylocke’s body. Who else are they going to try that on?

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Uncanny X-Men #508

Uncanny X-Men #508 (Variant Cover Edition)

(***1/2)

A Jerky Rant: The main problem with Uncanny X-Men, and this is common in mainstream titles, is its lack of freedom. Matt Fraction has ambitiously made Uncanny X-Men the flagship X-Book (That Astonishing thing never ships, anyway). Every mutant problem in the Marvel U is here. Every problem in the X-Books is here. I wouldn’t be surprised if all 198 mutants make an appearance by issue #515. Just about thirty mutants are in this issue alone. Thankfully, Fraction provides humorous introduction captions to help our brain. My favorite caption: “Karma. Psychic Possession. Wasn’t crazy for the wrap-up of Battlestar.” Anyway, with so much material to cover, the plot barely moves forward. If comics weren’t episodic in nature, I probably wouldn’t complain. But they are, so I do.

The Fun Stuff: While some of Fractions ambitions misfire, others shoot me in the chest, but in a good way. Though the team’s newfound, San Franciscan liberal agenda is forced at times, there are moments when it’s quite charming. Seeing a panel of a nude woman in Karma’s bed or Northstar’s cracks about “being your mutant queer mascot” are brief, but appreciated details. In fact, as I mentioned above, Fraction gets a little too detailed. At least it’s all handled well.

The Plot and the Hook: This mysterious Red Queen and her Sisterhood have been plotting for over ten issues. Sadly, there’s still a lot we don’t know even after this issue. I can say though, it’s mighty intriguing. A certain character goes back to the way they used to be, and I’ll leave it at that. Overall, this is a captivating and enjoyable opening chapter, and Greg Land, even in all his porn-swiping glory, provides some pretty pictures.

Bruce Castle Presents: Matt Fraction Books Unite!

Large Cover of Uncanny X-Men #505 (Villain Variant)

Uncanny X-Men #505 (***)

Do we really want this man writing the X-Men?

I think it’s official, Brubaker has left the building. Did Fracker break up? I don’t know, but that picture is awesome. And Tony was right. Anyway, I feel sorry for this book. It’s become Marvel’s answer to JLA. One of the terrible things about the current JLA is that the book has to keep servicing other books. It spends too much time talking about events that it can’t tell its own stories. That’s exactly what Uncanny X-Men is. This issue spends so much time talking about X-Force, and M-Day, and Astonishing X-Men and now Dark Reign. Fraction only gets a few pages to tell the stories he wants to tell, but it has little impact. It barely makes sense! The Dodson’s continue to impress and the fact that this book isn’t terrible demonstrates Fraction’s ability as a writer. Please Marvel, give the man some freedom!

Large Cover of The Invincible Iron Man #8 (Villain Variant)

Invincible Iron Man #8 (****1/2)

Everything about this book is perfect. Except the art of course, Larroca can’t draw people. I know I know it’s Iron Man, but this book is about the characters. It’s not about the iron. Although the few panels involving technology do look sweet. It’s still amazing how Fraction manages to write this cast so well. Tony, Maria and Pepper are so lovable even though they’re definitely human and flawed. You know what else is in this issue? Comedy! I’ve said a thousand times but I’ll say it again, if you liked the movie you’ll enjoy this. Last thing, Osborn is the new Skrull. It’s only been two weeks and already I realize how much I’ll type the name Osborn in the coming months.

God-Sized

Thor: God-Sized #1 (****)

The writing is great. The art is great. There are four art teams working on this thing and yet they’re all pretty cool. I enjoyed the part three artist the most. It was very old-school, cartoony, and fun. So this is a quality issue, but I’m sure a lot of you will ask, “What’s the point?” It’s a tribute. Along with the 38 new pages, you’ll also receive a reprint of the classic Thor #362. Walt Simonson had one of the best runs on Thor ever. It easily rivals the Lee/Kirby era. But you know what? You can’t even get a trade that contains Thor #362. They were reprinted in trades but they’re sold out now. That’s why this issue is important. If you haven’t read Walt’s run, it’ll let you know what you’re missing. If you have read his run, you’ll quickly be reminded how great it was. The reason why I loved part three so much was because you got to see all the classic Simonson costumes, Balder in his armor, Thor with his beard, and so on. Of course this issue isn’t all about Simonson, it’s also about Skurge. He was a tragic and important part of the Thor mythos. I highly recommend this issue.

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!