Review: New Avengers #52

New Avengers #52

(***)

The Good: The 12 pages of Chris Bachalo art. This is a magical tour of the Marvel U. I like Dr. Strange. I like The Hood.

The Bad: The 11 pages of Billy Tan art. This magical tour is done in the endless-talking, Bendis way. Dr. Strange continues to get his ass kicked. The Hood has been a bit overused in New Avengers, hasn’t he?

Final Word: For every positive, there is a negative. I actually feel bad for Billy Tan. I don’t like his art, but just about any artist would look mediocre or worse next to Chris Bachalo. I am fond of the characters, and I guess I’m fond of this book, as well. I must be reading it for some reason.

Review: New Avengers #50

(***)

I don’t want to spoil anything because I want to warn you. The New Avengers do not fight the Dark Avengers in this issue. So if that was the reason why you were going to buy this issue, you can save your fin. If you’re still willing to throw down your cash, at least you won’t be as disappointed when the big promised fight doesn’t come.

I’d like to say that something even better than the predictable Avengers vs. Avengers battle occurs in this issue, but that would be lying, and lies make baby Jesus cry. The fact is, you still get something you’ve seen before and it’s still very much in the spirit of Dark Reign, so you shouldn’t be too disappointed. What makes the “big fight” unique, is the guest artists, Bryan Hitch, Steve McNiven, David Aja, and more. These artists pencil a page featuring a character that they’ve drawn before or will draw soon. It’s a nice technique that makes a forgettable fight memorable.

This of course brings me to the main artist, Billy Tan. I’ve never thought that Tan, despite his recent improvement, was good enough to handle such an important Marvel title, and his art looks even uglier here. It’s possible that he was rushed, but whatever the reason, the art looks bad, especially when it’s next to the renderings of some of the most talented artists working today. What’s worse than its actual appearance, are the several repeated panels throughout the book. Not only does Billy Tan’s art look poor, but this book makes Tan seem lazy as well.

Overall, for the five dollars you spend to purchase this book, you’ll get a mixed bag. The art ranges from bad to great and so does the writing. A lot of Bendis’ jokes fall flat. And even though Bendis tried to throw us a curve ball, the end result proved much more annoying than what was actually promised. However, even though the comic has its flaws, I couldn’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy at the end. I’m not the biggest Hawkeye fan, but I couldn’t help but jump with glee when it came to this book’s last couple of pages. It’s a pleasing finale that promises good things to come.

Review: New Avengers #49

New Avengers #49

(***1/2)

Did you all notice that dollar missing in your wallet this week? That’s because of this book. The prices finally rose. It’s our fault. All ten of the top ten best sellers last year were four dollars. Sure, nine of them were big events and all of them had more than 32 pages, but you still showed Marvel you were willing to pay the extra dollar. Right now, Marvel only has their best sellers, mini-series’s, and a few others at four bucks, but I believe most if not all will cost four dollars (Or more) come 2010. I know some of you are boycotting these comics, but I still think the high prices will come.

If you follow my reviews regularly, you’re going to have a good time in the coming months. What you’ll see is a man desperately torn between logic and his inner thirteen year old. I should drop this book. I really should, especially with the price increase. I could even switch to trade, but I just can’t do it. I’ve had almost fifty issues with this book. The kid in me is still buzzing about the possibilities, but I really should quit. Anyway, you readers can view my abusive relationship on here.

At least Bendis is trying to give us our money’s worth. I would have almost bet money that after only two issues, Luke Cage’s daughter would still be missing. I would have lost some money. Bendis seems to finally be moving things along quickly. Luke Cage gets his daughter back (Or maybe she’s dead), the Osborn/Cage deal has already been settled, and things are all set for the predictable New/Dark Avengers showdown. On the bright side, if the solicitations are correct, it appears that battle will resolve quickly as well. Good for you, Bendis!

Billy Tan’s art continues to improve. I still don’t feel he’s worthy of such an important title, but at least things are looking better. He just needs to work on his facial expressions a bit. And as for the writing, it was pretty good except for the last two pages. The personal story between Cage and Osborn was handled very well. Once you get back to the team, the jokes fall flat and Hawkeye gives an uninspiring “Let’s go get em’!” speech. But I think I’ll be back next issue, maybe.

Bruce Castle Presents: Bendis vs. Loeb – Spoilers!

Large Cover of New Avengers #48

New Avengers #48 (***1/2)

Ok, so if you’ve read my other reviews you’ll know that I didn’t like Secret Invasion. I disliked the New Avengers issues during that time and I liked that recent Dark Reign one-shot even less. But this issue was good. First off, Billy Tan has drastically improved, He’s soared above mediocrity and he assures you that he’s worthy of being featured in Marvel’s flagship title. The objective of this issue should have been to establish the new team, wrap up all the SI nonsense, present an intriguing future for our heroes and possibly a twist or two. Bendis accomplishes all of that, mostly. Yes there’s another damn Skrull (Can that be the last time I type that word please?) and I’m still not sure about my enthusiasm towards this book, but this issue was satisfying enough. Bendis uses “Talky Room” again (Description of that here) and he introduces his new team in a fun way. The new lineup is the five dudes on the cover (Big surprise) plus her, her, her and her. Jaw-dropping? No, it’s pretty much who’d you expect. And the big twist in this issue? Luke Cage sells out to you-know-who. So, it was a good issue, but will I stick around post-4 bucks? I don’t know.

Ultimate Spider-Man #129

Ultimate Spider-Man #129 (****)

This issue was great. It was an Ultimatum tie-in that was better than the main mini this week. But what did this have to do with Ultimatum? Business seems normal. There’s a bit of a big event in here though. It concludes with the cops with May wanting to talk about her relation to Spider-Man. That’s cool, but Ultimatum related? I don’t think so. Then again, Bendis did say that Spider-Man may not be Peter Parker after Ultimatum. Jessica Drew returns! The clone one not the Skrull (Damn it! Again!) one. Bendis loves him some Jessica Drew. Human Torch makes an appearance as well. The highlight of this issue of course is Bendis’ marvelous teenage dialogue. Well done again sir!

Ultimatum #2 (of 5)

Ultimatum #2 (***1/2)

Say what you want about this book, but at least it delivers the goods. Well, it does in the death and WTF departments. The biggest problem here is the lack of emotional attachment. If you aren’t invested in these characters, you probably won’t care much. And if you do care, you may feel Loeb shows disrespect towards the beloved characters. The deaths in this issue? The Blob eats the wasp! Again, WTF! The last time I saw Blob (Other than possibly Ultimates 3. That series is a blur) was in Ultimate Spider-Man when it was revealed that he was Liz’s father. He was a sympathetic character, and now he’s chowing down on the Wasp and says “tastes like chicken”. Ok, that one I can’t explain, but I think I can with the next one. Magneto snaps Professor X’s neck! So that’s a WTF, but that makes sense in the Ultimate U. Magneto is much more evil there. He’s furious about the death of his children, but he’s also a vicious bastard. And remember, Prof did screw with Magneto’s mind earlier. So I kind of like this outcome. Both of them are willing to go to extreme lengths to fight each other. Oh there was one more death in this issue, but even I didn’t care much because it was Valkyrie. But we did get to see Ultimate Hela who’s an S&M nightmare (Must all the Ultimate Loeb characters be so “modern”). Thor went to Valhalla and Cap was there too?! Oh noes! Is Cap dead?! Oh and it was a bit annoying to see events I already know the outcome to because of those recent Fantastic Four issues. Why must Finch be so slow? Oh well, he did another great job here. But have the boobs on his women always been this BIG?

Ultimatum #2 of 5 Preview Preview Page 7

See? Was Finch always that…Cho? Anyway, Ultimatum continues to be a violent shocking cleansing of the Ultimate U. I just wish there was more substance to accompany all that flash.

Large Cover of Hulk #9

Hulk #9 (****)

And speaking of Frank Cho, it’s his last issue of Hulk, for now. Reviewing this book is silly. Almost as silly as the book itself. You either love it or you hate it. And if you haven’t read it or even to those who hate it, this is basically a modern Stan Lee book. The comedy, the zany ideas, even the great art. It’s satirical people! Multiple Wendigos! Wendihulk! Sentry and Moon Knight talk about going to the same shrink! It’s a lot of big pretty dumb fun. Next issue? It’s Defenders vs. Offenders! Nuff said!

Large Cover of Hulk #10 (50/50 Variant)

Bruce Castle Presents: The Astounding New JSA!

Astounding Wolf-man #10

Astounding Wolf-Man #10 (****)

This book works. If it was written a different way or the art was worse, it probably wouldn’t. But this book is assembled well. It’s actually monthly now, sweet. There are a lot less words than a normal Kirkman comic, but that’s ok. The art team, Jason Howard and the Plascenia’s, really make things beautiful. Beautiful in that violent monster world kind of way. We’re also treated to some Zachariah backstory. Oh and that last page is kind of sad. I’m finally starting to care about these characters. Please keep the book on time, Kirkman!

New Avengers #47

New Avengers #47 (***1/2)

This has nothing to do with Secret Invasion. There are only two pages that reference the invasion and it’s basically a reprint of those Secret Invasion #8 pages. Why did Billy Tan even draw those new pages? Why didn’t they just insert the images from the main event? It would have looked better at least. Ok, my negativity is out of the way. This was a good issue. It’s about Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. We get the story of how they fell in love. Their interactions are written well and their affection is genuine. Having said that, I’m sure I won’t remember this issue in six months and I doubt I’ll ever read it again. If you’re looking for a Secret Invasion tie-in, look elsewhere. If you want a heartfelt tale about a married couple with a baby, pick this up.

Justice Society Of America #21

Justice Society of America #21 (****)

The penultimate chapter at long last. This is our big action payoff. If you felt JSA has been too talky lately, you should enjoy this. I wish there was a little more to Gog’s confrontation than the standard hero-villain-smackdown, but oh well. We know who all the characters are now, right? We care about them now, right? They were all challenged emotionally, right? This is classic storytelling at its finest. The only problem is that we’ve all kind of seen it before. Alex Ross is a co-writer. But hey, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. That could even mean it’s great, I have to wait until the end of course. This is really only the second JSA story of this series. I guess we need to give Johns some time to set everything up. The Black Adam story is next and how can that not be fantastic? Last thing, did everyone enjoy getting JSA books five weeks in a row? That was kind of nice after some of the lateness this year.

Review: Secret Invasion #8 – Spoilers!

It’s finally over. Ok, so I could just bash the hell out of this, but I don’t want to. I’ve been doing that since about issue two when everyone loved this book. Now it seems most people are on the same page as I am. Dclebeau just wrote a pretty good lengthy review that points out a lot of the faults that I would have. So if you want his negativity, go here. If you want my negativity on previous issues, go here, here, or here. But as for this issue, I’m going to keep it positive.

I know what you’re thinking. What nice thing can I say other than I like the art? Well, I do like the art, but everyone has said that already, including me. Um, Tony went old school. That was cool. That can’t be all I liked, right? Let me flip through my book here. Wasp dies? Don’t care. Norman kills the Skrull Queen? Um, yeah that’s kind of…uh, I liked Ellis’ Thunderbolts? Iron Man finds all the people who were captured (And doesn’t get credit for it). Well, I guess I’m glad they’re alive. So, yay? Luke Cage’s baby is missing and that isn’t resolved? That’s kind of…lame? Don’t care. Don’t care. Thor gives Tony more shit and Bucky gives him the dreaded silent treatment. Why Marvel why? Can’t they all just get along? I have to live with their ten panel team-up in a book I didn’t like? Damn you! Shit this is getting negative, isn’t it? Ok here we go. They kick Tony, a hero, out and bring Osborn, a pumpkin bomb throwing monster, in? You suck, faceless Marvel president! I like that though. It shows the crazy things people do when they’re scared. Well, I already knew that, I’ve lived in America for the last eight years, but kids may not know that. But I do like the idea of villains in control. So maybe Marvel comics will be cool if you can get past their new 3.99 price tag? Maybe, I guess I’m done talking about this issue, but while you’re here, I’ll talk about those new Dark Reign books I’m interested in.

Dark Reign

How can I not buy this? So what do you guys think of this Evil Illuminati or Evilnati as I’m sure it will soon be called? Or if you take the Illumin as illuminate, would you then use the antonym? Would that be darken? Darkenati? Whatever floats your boat I guess. So what do you think of the members? Loki? I liked him before Stracynski gave him an operation. The Hood? Yeah, I do like him and hey I like Dormammu as well. Emma Frost? Love her, but I guess I am one of the many who hopes she isn’t evil. She’s had to fight that lack of trust for eight years! Give the lady a break Bendis! Namor? So he continues to go both ways? Way to be a turncoat fish boy. And what evil alliance would be complete without Doom and Stormin’ Norman? I approve of these baddies.

Large Cover of New Avengers #48

I wish I could quit this book, but I’m too far down the rabbit hole. So Spider-Man is back in the old blue and red. That’s fine. Wolverine is back. I see they still have to make this team as popular as possible. Captain America? More popularity? That’s ok. Bucky on a team will be interesting. Will he have to lead? Luke Cage? Cage on a Bendis team? No way! And Ronin? Will this still be Clint or will he be too busy lovin’ his girl now that she’s back? I still think Daredevil will be on a Bendis team at some point. So what do you think of this new team? It’s even more street than before! At least the last team had magic. Can these guys handle a cosmic baddie? Or even a flying one?

I heard Fraction talk about this a long time ago. Iron Man’s “Born Again” arc. It’s eight issues I believe. The first seven issues of this series have been pretty fantastic. I hope that will continue. Maybe after this, Tony will at long last cease to be Marvel’s whipping boy. It could happen. Please?

Large Cover of Punisher #1 (50/50 Variant)

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull be back in”. I love Frank, but I was just about to break up with him. Ennis and Fraction left the building. Punisher MAX not only decreased in quality but will also cost 3.99 soon. So I was just about to leave until I saw this cover. The villains control everything? Bring in the Punisher! And hey, this book isn’t 3.99! Yet.

Large Cover of Dark Avengers #2

Damn it! I can’t find a good picture of New Avengers #50, but you all saw it, right? Plus it would be weird to put a New Avengers cover for Dark Avengers. I only bring it up because you can really get a good idea of what the line-ups will be. Oh, first I should add that it looks like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman will be on the New Avengers. So they do have some women and one member that can deal with flying or cosmic threats. That’s a little better. For the Dark Avengers you have Iron Patriot (Osborn?), Marvel Boy (Yay!), Ares (Yay!), Sentry (So once again, the New Avengers should totally get their asses kicked when they face this team), Black Suit (Venom, but no teeth and less bulky. New host?), Hawkeye (Should be Bullseye which would be cool), Daken (If you’ve seen the cover of NA #50 and you know what Daken’s claws look like, you could confirm this too. That middle claw is clearly below his knuckles), Ms. Marvel classic suit (Moonstone probably). So what do you think of this team? I’m a big fan. Again, I love villain books, so this should be a blast. Oh and I also loved Ellis’ Thunderbolts run and we have Deodato back. Can Bendis fill Ellis’ shoes? Probably not, but it’s still worth a look.

So please let me know what you guys think! And again, doesn’t that new four buck price suck?!

Bruce Castle Presents: New Avengers or New Krypton? Or New Coke?!

New Avengers #46 (***1/2)

I love villain books. Secret Invasion from the bad guy POV? Bring it on! This issue was a lot of fun. Particularly if you like The Hood and the cronies he hangs around. Bendis doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but I still had a good time. Even though I’ve heard a lot of praise for Tan’s art, I feel that his work is just above average, but he makes the baddies look cool here. The most interesting thing in the book is of course non-Skrull related. It kind of sets things up for the future of the NA, or at least gives them a new foe to face.

Superman: New Krypton Special #1 (****)

The first five pages are completely wordless. Why? Because we’re dealing with the Action Comics #870 events. These pages are drawn by Frank and of course he knocks the artistic ball out of the park. Actually, the book’s look in general was very impressive. That’s near impossible when you have several artists working on one comic, but somehow they pulled it off. This seems like an interesting event, but I kind of already know where it’s headed. The foreshadowing is too heavy. Another thing that bugged me is that Robinson’s writing was weak. Yes I realize this is written by Johns and Gates too and how can I tell who wrote what, but I can use common sense. It’s like in 52, do we know who wrote what? No, but we have a really good idea. I think I’ll be skipping the Robinson issues unless of course I hear they’re great. Anyway, this seems like it’ll be a pretty good story and I think you should at least give it a try. Oh, and I skipped that five buck Olsen crap and I don’t think I missed anything important.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #55 – A Secret Invasion in September

The New Avengers # 45 (****): The art plus explanations (can’t really say answers as I do not believe anyone was even asking these questions) makes this a solid read. Yes, “wasting” a page on the Queen vomiting in the toilet may have turned off some people, but I loved it. Vulnerability is always cool. I mean, this panel did wonders for Tony Stark.

The Mighty Avengers #18 (***): More Secret Warriors!!! I feel like I’ve read this story already, yeah? And the whole V for Vendetta/Alias/Every spy fiction fake torture sequence EV-VAR! thing was more than a lot a bit unnecessary in my not so humble opinion. Unlike the clone Reed Richards torture scene, I don’t think the scene in this book fooled anybody. Truth.

Avengers: The Initiative #17 (**): WOO! Wait, what am I so excited about? This was awful. The Queen doing her best “twirling moustache” routine at the end had me gagging on my own tongue, and then there’s that tossed in Star Wars reference… to one of the BAD ones? BLAH.

Black Panther #41 (*****): EPIC. And final. I’m glad we ended our relationship on a high note, T’challa. I would’ve been truly sad if your last arc had been balls. Although, I do wish the payoff for this arc had been that Storm was a Skrull the whole time. That may have saved the book for me.

Deadpool #2 (****1/2): Even better than the first issue, even with the predictable ending. BOOYA! Good Deadpool writing is back, baby!

Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (****1/2): GARSH! When did this comic get so good? Out of all the anti-Skrull plans, I think I like Drax’s the best: ‘Kill ‘em all.’ Perfection. OH, NOES! Cosmo… a Skrull agent? Say it ain’t so, dawg!

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #33 (***): ‘War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D.’? ALL IN, DUDERS! I even like the Transformers ending. DING. This first story was mediocre, but I’m looking forward to this new direction.

Ms. Marvel #31 (****1/2): Technically no longer tying in with Secret Invasion, instead dealing with the post-SI aftermath, the “Dark Reign”, whatever that is. Man, where has Reed been hiding this story? It was so good! Character building moments! Good times! No fight scenes! So, questions: Why does Carol want to kill Norman Osborn? Could he be responsible for this “Dark Reign”? Is it related to what’s happening over in Thunderbolts right now?

Nova # 17 (*): UGH, this was the opposite of awesome. DnA are really letting me down on this title. To be frank, it sucks. It’s boring. I’m bored. Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. is boring. Quasar is boring. Dick Ryder’s family life is boring. Darkhawk is boring. BORED FOREVER!!! The most interesting stuff in this issue deals with the Super Skrull fake betrayal, but that’s over by the first couple of pages and then the book quickly reverts back to its natural state: boringtowne.

She-Hulk #33 (****): What a difference the art makes. Same writer. Same shitty story. But somehow the fabulous art makes everything more interesting.

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #2 (****1/2): finally got my hands on this and I was not disappointed. Tom Raney rules.

Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (***): Better than the first issue? I don’t know. It was still UGH-inducing.

Secret Invasion: Thor #2 (**): UGH. This book is FAIL. Why even make this a mini? There were absolutely ZERO interesting plot turns before Thor shows up at the end. Just skip the two filler issues and make this a one-shot where Thor beats the shit out of a legion of Skrulls. DING.

Skrulls vs. Power Pack #3 (-): This books makes me cry.

Thunderbolts #124 (*****): …and THIS book makes me giggle like your little sister on weed. WHEEE!!!!

Bruce Castle Presents: Green People + Red People=Christmas Time!

 

Hulk #6 (*****)

Isn’t it funny that all of the “late books with great art that are hated by everyone” comics came out in the same week? Yes, I’m reading all of them. Again, this book is sooo fun and it’s sad that only me, Billy and like 10 other people know it. Last issue wasn’t quite as cool as usual but this one more than makes up for it. Like every issue of Hulk there’s humor, action, and gorgeous art! Oh, and all you fanboys who cried “Whaahhh! Rulk can’t beat Thor (even though I don’t know Rulk’s power level)”, you should be happy now. The art is beautiful. There are a lot of awesome guest appearances and sea monsters and they’re all drawn wonderfully. We even get the classic “duh duh duuuuuuuh (music)” ending. Did I mention Ed McGuinness rules? Hulk is entertainment, laugh-out-loud moments, and McGuinness drawing the hell out of this book. This is the series Ed was meant to draw and I hope he’ll come back on issue #10. Until then we can enjoy Art Adams and Frank Cho and they’re fantastic artists too. If you haven’t tried this series yet, pick this issue up. If you dislike it, don’t read it anymore. If you like it, join in on the marvelously drawn fun!

Hellboy: The Crooked Man #3 (*****)

Why is Mike Mignola so awesome? Hellboy has been around for over 15 years and he still manages to surprise me. Do you think of Hellboy adventures as European fetishistic tales about ancient legends or mysterious artifacts? How about a Hillbilly Gothic story that takes place in the Appalachian Mountains? Not only is this new territory for Hellboy, but the lovable demon is almost a supporting character. This is about willpower. It’s about corruption and the relationship between man, God, and Satan. Richard Corben has been around for a long time but he’s still producing marvelous work. If you think Hellboy can only be properly drawn by Mignola, this may change your mind. Corben manages to stay true to his own style as well as Mignola’s which creates a fantastic mixture. Have I mentioned this is the scariest Hellboy series yet? I have in my other reviews and I will now. It’s Deliverance with creepy religious undertones that will make your skin crawl. I love Hellboy and this is another example that explains why.

  

New Avengers #45 (***)

I read House of M, but it’s been a long time. It’d be hard to remember anyway, but it doesn’t help that I didn’t like House of M very much. Does this issue add to the SI story? Yes, but I wish it would’ve been more than it is. Bendis uses Cheung well and poorly at the same time. There are several wordless panels which look beautiful, but I wish there was more meat when it comes to a story this dense. There are questions that remain unanswered and the Skrulls are again portrayed as incredibly powerful. The green meanies winning seems to be almost a foregone conclusion at this point. If that is the case, am I the only one who wishes Marvel would have made it less predictable? All of these Embrace Change advertisements shoved brutally down our throats is not appreciated. I guess Bendis is trying to show why they can conquer us which is cool. But now, whether the Skrulls win or lose I won’t be surprised. How crazy would it have been if out of the blue the Skrulls won? It’d be like Cap dying at the end of Civil War. I don’t know if this an editorial decision or Bendis’, but considering how much power Bendis seems to have at Marvel, I’d guess the latter. Anyway, this issue isn’t bad. In fact, it’s more than passable. Cheung’s art is impressive and I’m sure if you’ve enjoyed the previous SI Avengers tie-ins, you’ll like this. I just can’t help letting my overall disappointment of this event seep into my opinions of these issues. Plus, there are a few things in this issue that I didn’t like.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #50 – My Late Secret Invasion Reviews

The New Avengers #44 (****1/2): This was the much needed issue to explain how the Skrulls did what they did. But here’s the thing, I think it makes the Skrulls look too smart. Like, these guys got cloning down to a perfected science? Shapeshifters, genetic manipulators, interstellar space travel? Dude, how the hell can Earth win? They can’t. They really can’t. So now, after reading this issue, if Secret Invasion ends in any way that isn’t total victory for the Skrulls then it’ll just ring false to me.

The Mighty Avengers #17 (***1/2): This was an okay issue, but in no way a must-read. Hank Pym is hard to mimic… who cares? Unless… unless this means that the Skrull Pym over in the main title plans to betray his people. Interesting…

Avengers: The Initiative #16 (*****): OMG! This book was sweet! The Skrull Kill Krew was never this awesome! The art! The dialogue! This book was just too much fun! Can you guys imagine an event book written by Dan Slott? Poor Robert Kirkman, now I understand his bitterness. Marvel replaced him with Slott!

Black Panther #40 (*****): You know what this arc reminds me of? It reminds me of the very first arc of the series; the arc that made me love the Black Panther. It’s as if Aaron went back and read those first six issues, and nothing else, and then sat down and wrote this wonderful tie-in. It’s sad that it’s taken 30 odd issues to get the Panther title back to this level of good.

Captain Britain and MI13 #4 (*****): Finally got a copy… wow, this was good. Should I be watching Dr. Who? Also, I’m glad I read the Wisdom trade before picking up this series. Continuity is great when it works!

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 (*****): It took four issues, but they got me. I’m hooked. Something about the character dynamics this issue makes me feel like this is a book worth reading.

The Incredible Hercules #120 (*****): Herc rises to the occasion and beats up a god. Not much more to say than that. Also, it was brilliant!

Nova #16 (****): Indeed, this was one of the better issues of Nova, and I like how it tie-ins with Secret Invasion, but what bugs me is how horribly it seems to sync up with…

She-Hulk #32 (****): … so I guess Nova gets away then? As for She-Hulk, I’m still enjoying the new artist but as for the story, I’m kind of wishing this Skrull Pope guy would just go away. He’s annoying. And unnecessary.

Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (***): Meh, why did this even need to get published? And the title is total lies. It’s a story about Jackpot (jack-who?), not a story about Spider-Man. Waste.

Thunderbolts #123 (*****): Christos Gage, you are a master.

X-Factor #34 (*): Larry Stroman, you are not.

Bruce Castle Presents: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (w/SPOILERS)

Justice Society of America#18 (****1/2)

After taking a quick break in Earth 2 for the annual, we’re back to Gog. The JSA and Gog run into some dudes with guns attacking a village. The JSA quickly handles them out of fear of what Gog would do to hurt people. We get a nice 6 page or so fight complete with Hawkman being badass. After the fight, Gog says “I will end war”. The recently healed Damage hits on Judomaster with humorous results. We get some nice character moments and the JSA decid to continue following Gog. They run into more war and this time Gog works his magic. Does he kill them? No, he turns them into fruit trees. It’s eternal community service basically. Oh, next came the spoiler that DC already freaking spoiled! That Lance dude with the gun hand dies. So Gog regenerates him turning him into Magog! Now we clearly see the problem. Does Gog answer prayers? Yes, but when he does he screws stuff up. He’s kind of like Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled. Anyone remember that movie? So Power Girl gets sent to Earth 2, but it turns out it’s a different one and the heroes end up hunting her. Sandy gets to sleep and dream well, but he is in eternal sleep. Damage’s face is healed, but now he’s a vain pretty boy jerk. Dr. Mid-Nite can see again, but as he says in the issue, “I’m more blind than I am before”. Starman’s schizophrenia is gone, but he’s less happy now. And Lance is dead, but he’s now Gog’s servant, Magog. So, be careful what you wish for. Oh and if that Magog reveal wasn’t cool enough, Power Girl tracks down Earth 2 Mr. Terrific with an alternate universes book in her hand. So there you go. I’m really digging this arc and a lot happened in this issue. The people who have criticized this book recently for being too slow should be pleased. This is more solid storytelling from Geoff Johns and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

New Avengers #44

New Avengers #44 (**)

“The dark secret of the Illuminati. Marvel’s most covert gathering of heroes has a secret so dark that they never speak of it, even to each other. And it could be what has brought about the Secret Invasion.” That’s what is supposed to happen in this issue. It turns out the Illuminati never actually appear in this issue. Is that lame? Yes sir. Basically, the Skrulls keep experimenting with those Illuminati copies they can conjure. The issue does begin with a cool scene, but that’s ultimately what this issue boils down to, a lot of flash with little substance. Can that still be cool at times? Yes, and there was almost enough for me to call this one good. However, due to the poor advertising, the poor story (People respond better to love than force. Did you know that?), and the fact that this has practically no significance whatsoever, you can certainly skip this “most important tie-in”.

Mighty Avengers #17

Mighty Avengers #17 (-)

A Hank Pym Skrull goes rogue so he gets replaced. I just saved you three bucks. This issue’s pure awfulness really caught me off guard. I haven’t been a big fan of MA or NA lately (or of SI in general), but this issue was truly terrible. I really wasn’t kidding about that first sentence. That is all that happens. On top of that, the art is poor and so is the writing. This issue is literally three pages of Skrull Pym enjoying coffee, three pages of plot, two pages of meaningless action aftermath and 14 pages of shoddy action. What’s interesting is that if you look at the solicit for this issue, it’s a different cover and it’s supposed to be about Captain Marvel. What happened? Please, even people who love SI, do yourself a favor and DON’T BUY THIS BOOK!!!

Desiato’s Top Ten Monthlies!

From the perspective of purely focusing on ongoing titles, this list was surprisingly more difficult than I thought it would be. I read a lot of minis. So books like Atomic Robo or Comic Book Comics or the Inhumans stuff are not going to be on this list. I’ve done my best, and here’s what I came up with.

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8

It’s enjoyable. It’s not necessarily deep in the way I think of other comics I enjoy, but a lot of that comes from it being adaptation material, and for whatever reason I have a lot of trouble thinking of these books as comics as such so much as they are simply vehicles to continue a story from a different medium. It doesn’t really affect my enjoyment of the series (to my knowledge), but it basically creates a bit of a mental block that stops it from transcending a certain sense of mediocrity of vision.

9. Captain Britain and MI:13

It’s at number nine because we’ve only got four issues and it’s been a Secret Invasion book first and foremost, so we’re going to have to see what this series is capable of when it’s put out on its own and not piggybacking off a big event. I love it so far, and I haven’t had a single complaint, and I’m hoping the quality continues when the book strikes out on its own.

8. Avengers: The Initiative

This would be The Order. Hell, this should be The Order. They should have let Fraction keep going and then he would have been forced to drop Punisher to make room for Invincible Iron Man and everything would have been groovy. Avengers: Initiative isn’t as good or interesting or risky as The Order was, but it’s still an excellent book, and it’s the only place you can really get that sense of the post Civil War status quo (and I LOVE the post Civil War status quo). It’s still good stuff and it’s still got some interesting new characters, and it’s an important piece of the Marvel Universe.

7. Terry Moore’s Echo

I’ve never read Strangers in Paradise, so I started reading Echo more off the name recognition of Terry Moore than actually knowing or liking his work. Good decision for me. It’s a very good book, and we’ve got a ton of different angles from which to approach it. It’s a government conspiracy book. It’s a science fiction book. It’s a relationship book. It’s a fugitive chase scene book. It’s all of these things rolled into one. And it’s very good.

6. Green Lantern Corps

Since I started reading the GL books, I’ve enjoyed Green Lantern Corps demonstrably more than its single minded ongoing brother. I love the Green Lantern Corps as a concept, which is part of the reason why the solo title can wear a little thin on me from time to time. I’m not really interested in the one man so much as the sea of thousands.

5. The Immortal Iron Fist

I’ve only gotten one issue of the post Brubaker Fraction run, and it’s still good, so the title is still up here on the list of things I look forward to every month. It’s got a solid cast of characters and a good foundation of the Iron Fist mythology to use, and the writers have done an excellent job of making Danny Rand someone to care about. It’s good chop socky fun, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

4. New Avengers

Marvel’s flagship. With Bendis all in the mix of the big events since Secret War, everything of importance has a tendency to be seen through the lens of the New Avengers. That’s obviously quite the case now with Secret Invasion, but this has been an excellent book for pretty much the entirety of its run.

3. Thor

Straczynski’s book is huge and sprawling and yet focused and insular at the same time. I just reviewed issue ten, and I put most of my thoughts for the series as a whole into that review, so you can just go read that to see just why I love this book as much as I do.

2. The Incredible Hercules

So this is certainly the little book that could. Remember the cynicism and incredulity that came with the announcement that Hercules was replacing Hulk in this title? The assumptions that Hercules can’t sustain an ongoing and it would be cancelled in three months or revert back to a Hulk book faster than the blink of an eye. But it persists. And the reason it persists (other than getting the sales bump from tying into Secret Invasion and launching in the aftermath of World War Hulk) is that it’s REALLY DAMNED GOOD. This is the type of book that could legitimately hold on to the readers it gains from the event bumps because it’s so charming and well written and FUNNY and light and breezy goodness. Hercules and Amadeus Cho working your standard odd couple angle may not sound like the stuff of kings, but it is.

1. Nova/Guardians of the Galaxy

Is it a cheat? Probably. Don’t care. You know the implicit trust everyone has in Geoff Johns and all of his books? That’s how I feel about Abnett and Lanning. These guys have been working with Marvel cosmic since its grand rebirth during Annihilation (they wrote the Nova lead in mini) and through the Nova ongoing, Conquest and Guardians of the Galaxy, they have steered the ship of the new look Marvel cosmic. And it’s awesome. And they’re obviously doing well enough that they’ve been rewarded with exclusive contracts and the next World War Hulk sized event with War of Kings. My favorite writers taking on Black Bolt and the Inhumans? And possibly finding a way to make Vulcan interesting? Awesome. But let’s leave that on the side for now. Since I started collecting monthlies, I have not gotten more enjoyment out of any single series than Nova. And Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly no slouch either. So I’m combining number one to basically cover the DnAverse.

Bruce Castle Presents: Event Books?

New Avengers #43 (***): I know this event! Everybody seems to love these. If you’ve followed my reviews at all you’ll know I’m not too hip to them. This one was pretty good though. It’s still all a bit too simple and predictable for an event that should be startling and intricate, oh well. The art is fairly average with a few moments of excellence. There are some well staged action sequences in the beginning half of the book. We get some Skrully information in the second half. It isn’t anything mind blowing or even incredible, but it certainly isn’t bad. It’s entertaining.

Large Cover of Uncanny X-Men #500 (DODSON VARIANT)

Uncanny X-Men #500 (*****): What the heck is Manifest Destiny? I’m not usually big on covers but man these are pretty! I apologize for posting all of these but I love them! Terry Dodson, Michael Turner, and a wraparound by Alex Ross and another one by Greg Land? WOW! My favorite (and Matt Fraction’s) is the Terry Dodson one. The art is astounding inside the book as well. Land and Dodson are both doing the art inside. I was a bit intrigued as to how that was going to work out, and the way it does is some pages are done by Land and some are done by Dodson. Hopefully this will keep the book monthly by having two artists on it. Both of these artists, as many great artists are, usually aren’t monthly (especially Dodson). Enough gushing about the art! How is the writing? The writing on Uncanny has been a bit lackluster on Brubaker’s run, but thanks to Fraction this is a well-written book now. It’s exactly what an issue 500 and a great comic in general should be. It’s an amalgam of old and new comics that takes ideas we’ve seen before and gives them a new fresh twist. There are a few things in here that really got me excited and did I mention the art rules?

Ultimate X-Men #96 (****): This is a long March On Ultimatum! I’m still really liking Aron Coleite on this book. He’s really giving me my money’s worth. He packs so much into each issue. He doesn’t excel at it like Morrison, but then who is on Morrison’s level? Mark Brooks isn’t on this issue which is sad, but the art is still decent enough. I’m thoroughly enjoying this rollercoaster of an arc and I encourage all of you to give Ultimate X-Men another chance if you bailed on it during a few of those shaky arcs.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #31 – More Secret Invasion Tie-Ins!

 

So far, to pretty much everyone’s surprise, the tie-ins to the main Secret Invasion mini-series have been made of pretty high caliber stuffs. Especially, in my opinion, MI-13 and the Fantastic Four spin-off mini. This last month’s crop of books, of which I will review quickly here today (and which Desiato already did over here), have been no different.

First, I fricking love these covers, especially the Mighty and New Avengers “homages.” They really help give them that “everything ties into everything else” feeling. Second… let’s skip ahead to the individual reviews:

• Avengers: The Initiative #14 (****): This was a great issue of The Initiative, and I guess that’s mostly due to the fact that Dan Slott came on to co-plot this baby. He handled the Pym flashbacks/reveals expertly and his use of the 3-D Man was retro but at the same time very, very cool. I hungrily await the next installment.

• Fantastic Four: Secret Invasion #2 (****): The Fantastic Four mini has to be the most surprising of all the tie-ins. Although Aguirre-Sacasa is uber-talented and has done a fantastic job with the FF in the past, I don’t think anyone was expecting this one to be the great read that it certainly is. I think the quality has to be chalked up to AS’s obvious affection for these characters. The way he writes “The Brief Loves of Johnny Storm” is evidence enough of this, not to mention the touching make-out scene in the Negative Zone. I don’t know about you guys, but I really felt for these two characters caught on opposite sides of this holy war. I’m hoping maybe Lyja and Johnny get their happy ending… although, with Millar on the main title, I won’t hold my breath.

• Ms. Marvel #28 (*****): I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but… Ms. Marvel is my favorite of the bunch. WOW. Finally! We get some action! Some suspense! This one was epically written! There are not enough exclamation points in the memory of mankind to express how much I loved this issue!!! Her attitudes on war, murder and purpose? Loving this shit!

• Runaways/Young Avengers: Secret Invasion #1 (****): I love how, in the absence of the series’ creator, Marvel is keeping the Young Avengers franchise alive. Just like the Young Avengers: Presents, this crossover fills that YA fix nicely. Also, thank God that awful Whedon arc is over so we can get back to enjoying good Runaways comics. As far as the issue’s plot, I’m glad we finally find out what it is those freaking Skrulls were saying to each other over in Secret Invasion #3, and… what Teddy and Xavin’s respective roles will be in SI.

• The Incredible Hercules #118 (****): Not much to say here, besides pointing out how impossibly well written this book continues to be. Oh, and how about that Snowbird/Hercules hook-up? JEEZ! Herc sure does get around! AND, OH… Skrully coyote!

• The Mighty Avengers #15 (*****): The sordid life of Henry Pym… you know what? EFF that! Janet is such a ####! She totally left his ass, so like, he’s totally in the right to sleep with the first student/Skrull infiltrator that happens by… like, good for him, except, you know, when he gets beat up and replaced by an alien invader. That was kind of bad. And probably his fault. But, whatever. Screw, Janet!

• The New Avengers #42 (****): Jim Cheung is godly on the art. GODHEAD. Also, special thanks to one Mr. Bendis. The pieces finally fit. Everything fits! She’s been a Skrull since before the breakout? WHA!?!? …awesome. Now, all he has to do is explain that Skrull that showed up in one panel of Disassembled. Then, I shall be satisfied. Maybe.

So, yeah. High quality shit right here. This shipment of books has totally restored my faith in this event. I think the main action of Secret Invasion won’t really happen in the main book till we pass the midway point. Bendis is slow-rolling the hell out of this one. Which, I’m okay with, as long as the payoff is huge. Not talking “No More Mutants” huge. I’m talking “Death of Captain America” huge. Know what I’m saying?

 

Review: Secret Invasion Tie-Ins!

That’s right. For the past two weeks, I received seven Secret Invasion books in my DCBS box. Let’s take a look (In the order that I read them).

The Incredible Hercules #118 (*****)

This book is still completely awesome. In this installment, we’ve got the God Squad (complete with collectible trading cards on the recap page with special Amadeus Cho rookie card) trying to find the lair of the Skrull Gods. In order to do so, they have to try and barter with Nightmare in order to receive a map that will lead them to their destination. Of course, Nightmare won’t just give it up, so we get to see montages of the various fears of the God Squad (including Amadeus Cho) until they are able to deceive Nightmare, steal the map and get the hell out of there before he uses the energy he received from absorbing their fears to take over the world. The banter is still awesome. The writing just sparkles at every turn. It’s genuinely funny, and I don’t see any way that people can’t be charmed by the Herc/Cho team up. They play so well off each other. This is a quality book month in and month out, and they’ve kicked it into high gear for Secret Invasion. Plus, considering the final splash page, the rest of this is probably going to be a hoot.

New Avengers #42 (****1/2)

The continuing saga of Jessica Drew brought to you from the perspective of nearly every major event since Bendis started generally steering the Marvel U. We get implications that the events of the Savage Land arc of New Avengers, House of M and Civil War were not only advantageous to the Skrulls, but possibly planned by the Skrulls. We also get a further continuation of the mythology behind this Skrull religion, as the act of fully immersing someone in a new identity takes the position of basically being a ritual, and a very cool one at that. Jimmy Chung also does a hell of a job on art chores (I LOVE that double page splash covering the background of Jessica Drew with her posing in the middle). This book is certainly covering the “secret” part of the Secret Invasion equation (while the main mini is much more of the “invasion” section), and I love the hell out of it. Secret societies, secret meetings, tons of conspiracy, tons of paranoia. And it all weaves its way beautifully through everything Bendis has been writing in the main Marvel U since Avengers Disassembled. Fantastic work.

Mighty Avengers #15 (****)

And the train keeps rolling. And Hank Pym’s skrully origin is revealed. And we get another bad ass ritual sequence. And we get some very cool art with Klaus Jansen and Tom Palmer working off John Romita Jr. breakdowns. It’s very reminiscent of JRJR and yet not at the same time. Groovy. I love the way the skrull constantly pumps Hank Pym for information (as well as other things…OH!) and makes it come off as the genuine gushing of a super hero groupie. And yet everything is for a specific purpose. These are all wonderful little puzzle pieces that are non essential to the main plot of Secret Invasion, but fill in that extra little bit of credibility that makes us really understand how the hell the Skrulls managed to pull this off so effortlessly. Plus, we’ve got a mention of the Beyonder, which is going to drive the people who think the Beyonder is behind all this up the wall. The only problem we have here is a bit of a timeline issue with New Avengers 42, which seems to feature Jessica Drew skrull talking to Hank Pym skrull, and that seems to take place before the events of Mighty 15 where he gets replaced. But it’s a minor continuity quibble, because I’m just enjoying the ride at this point.

Avengers: The Initiative #14 (****1/2)

Now THIS is fun. Slott’s back on co-writing duties for this issue (and I would assume the rest of the Secret Invasion arc, but I haven’t really been paying attention to the creator credits on solicits), and we’re dealing with the Skrull threat at Camp Hammond. Mostly from the perspective of 3-D Man, who is himself one of those altruistic Skrulls (similar to the Skrulls that pal around with She-Hulk, MI:13 and the Runaways…oh, and Hulkling), who is understandably trying to hide his identity in these trying times. Long story short, he finds out a way to see through the Skrull’s masking effects using a special pair of goggles, and proceeds to discover that EVERYONE at Camp Hammond is a Skrull. Of course, one assumes that this is not actually the case, and few if any of the people in the final double page spread are actually Skrulls, but it’s going to make for a fun little side story of one man against a world of people he thinks are guilty but are most likely innocent, and the hijinks that ensue. And nothing is more enjoyable than hijinks ensuing. The extra half star comes from that final splash, and the way 3-D Man’s yellow tinted goggles give off a sepia tone vibe and makes those last two pages look like some demented old-timey photo. Great stuff.

Ms. Marvel #28 (****)

Yes! I hoped this book would pick up once it got to the thick of things, and it surely did just that. First of all, Greg Horn is one of the best cover artists working today, and this issue is no exception. We join Secret Invasion already in progress with Ms. Marvel trying to deal with the armada attacking New York City. I mean, the book begins with a little twist on a very famous T.S. Eliot line (“This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper…No…We should have known better than to think it would end with a whimper”) and I’m a big T.S. Eliot fan, so good on you Mr. Reed. And even better, we’re no longer bogged down with all the messiness from the last couple issues with the multiple Skrull Carol Danvers’ running around and too much of an emphasis on her interpersonal relationships. We’re full up on action now. And while not much actually happens in this book, it sure is staged well. We’ve got some nice story beats (the Skrulls react to Ms. Marvel’s power levels by shape shifting into defenseless innocents and blending in with the crowd) and good art. I don’t know if this book is as good as I rated it, but I think it’s such a step up from the last few issues that that probably had some influence on my score.

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

I love the way they take the time at the beginning of the book to point out how many times Johnny Storm has been screwed over by members of the opposite sex. It’s one of those character moments that lets you understand the complete exasperation that Johnny deals with when he discovers that Lyja is the Skrull that infiltrated the Baxter Building. And I also like the way that Lyja realizes very quickly that she bit off far more than she can chew once the Baxter Building is attacked by all kinds of nasty inhabitants of the Negative Zone. Plus, we’ve got Annihilation Wave bugs! And a giant robot piloted by Franklin and Valeria! And the added bonus of the gang needing to rely on breaking some folks out of the Negative Zone prison for the next issue! This book is just pure fun, which is exactly what we should expect from a Fantastic Four book (Mark Millar, I’m looking in your direction). And Barry Kitson is still bringing the kind of awesomeness that makes me miss The Order. Nothing wrong with this book at all. It’s a bit on the flighty side, but still a solid read.

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #1 (****1/2)

Exactly what I wanted. More issues of dealing with the trust factors of someone on a team being a Skrull (this time we’re dealing with Zavin of the Runaways), but at its core, this book is all about Hulkling. Because all things told, he’s an extremely important character for this entire overall event. This guy is the true heir to the Skrull throne. And we get to see the continuation of what happens after he took both barrels to the face during Secret Invasion #3. Zavin, after pulling a card from the deck of Captain Skrull-Vell and pretending to play along with the Invasion in order to further his own agenda, realizes who Hulkling is, and the chase to rescue him ensues, played out in front of the backdrop of a lot of his friends getting hurt and possibly killed. It’s human drama (though none of those involved are actually, you know, human). And it’s pulse pounding. And put simply, it’s great. As someone who doesn’t know who any of the Runaways actually are, I was able to get character traits down right off the bat (thanks, Chris Yost!), which allowed me to follow the excellent story unimpeded.

I am SHOCKED at how good all of these tie ins have been so far. This is an incredibly rich tapestry that is billowing in the wind behind the somewhat straightforward and austere book that is the main title. Yes, the tie ins are generally of a higher quality than the actual Secret Invasion mini. But that doesn’t bother me one bit. Everything informs everything else, and we’re left with this living, breathing organism of an event that is very costly if you want to experience the whole thing, but completely well worth it. Phew! That was a lot of words.

Bruce Castle Likes It Quick

4 stars = Stop reading review and go buy now!!!!
3 and a half stars = Great issue and make room on your trade shelf someday soon
3 stars = Recommended and maybe even trade worthy
2 and a half stars = Recommended
2 stars= Not the best, not the worst, not recommended
1 and a half star = Terrible issue and vocalize your disgust at your next social event
1 star = Awful awful awful and you may want to consider dropping this title
0 stars = Next con you attend where the writer and/or artist are present you should throw this issue in their face

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Mighty Avengers #15

Mighty Avengers #15– Sigh. Another Secret Invasion filler issue. I’m getting tired of these. They’re not bad, but I’m just kind of getting sick of Secret Invasion. I’m not even reading that many of the tie-ins. I guess because there are so many events going on right now and this is the one getting my anger. Also, is Bendis getting sloppy or do I just know him too well now. This issue was very predictable. Also, this issue supports the theory that the skrull queen was just screwing with Tony’s head in Secret Invasion #3. Who knows, but it looks like Tony isn’t a skrull, big surprise. Anyway, the issue was decent and I dug the art, I’m just bitter about a few things. 2 and a half stars

New Avengers #42– Why are these being released in the same week each month? That’s probably another thing that’s making this stuff taste sour. More filler in this issue. It answered questions I was more interested in though. Also, there is a great moment where a skrull says “and that #$%^ Tony Stark”. That tells me two things. One is that it supports again that Tony isn’t a skrull. Two, the skrulls have such disdain for Tony, so you heard it from Bendis folks, if you hate Iron Man, you must be a skrull. 3 stars

Captain America #39– This is more of the same thing. Not much is revealed here, but Brubaker is still handling the characters incredibly. The political parallels are slammed in your face though. I liked them better when they were more subtle. Still, pretty good issue. 3 and a half stars

Daredevil #108– Sigh. Non-Captain America Brubaker stuff. I haven’t read Criminal, but it seems like every title Brubaker writes other than Captain America is just slightly above mediocre if that. This is supposed to be an A-list writer and that is not what I’m getting. The writing is ok in this issue and Rucka does seem to be helping, but I still don’t really care about it that much. 2 and a half stars

Green Lantern #32– This is my favorite issue out of these five. Geoff Johns is still writing the hell out of this book and Reis’ art is top notch. There is action, humor, and romance. Plus, there are several awesome moments in here that make up for the feeling of misplacement that some people have. This is a great comic! 4 stars

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.)