Review: Marvel 1985

(****)

I missed this series on the monthly circuit and perhaps you did too. Four dollars for 32 pages is bad enough, but when you’re dealing with a series that’ll be a hardcover in a few months, it’s very deterring. Though I’m a fan of Millar, I was even going to pass once this was collected. I was uninterested due to the likelihood of sappy nonsense and Edwards’ seemingly esoteric art didn’t help. Over NYCC, I read an interview where Millar mentioned that Marvel 1985, Old Man Logan, and his Fantastic Four are all connected. Well, I read and adore Old Man Logan and FF, so I thought I’d go ahead and give this book a shot.

Do you like Steven Spielberg movies? If Spielberg wrote comics, they’d be a lot like this. Is it a bit corny and predictable? Yeah, but we need to embrace conventionalism every now and then. “It brings out the kid in you”, is uttered a little too often. It also happens to be appropriate in this case. Who didn’t fantasize about superheroes when they were a kid? I still fantasize about superheroes; although I will admit, my fantasies have gotten a bit more erotic. Anyway, I too dreamt of not only superheroes coming to our world, but also going to theirs. Wouldn’t it be cool to go to the Daily Bugle and say “Hey Pete, I know your secret.” That, and more, is explored in Marvel 1985.

Something we didn’t really consider when we were children, were the repercussions of our fantasy. If there are heroes, there must be villains. That’s actually was dominates Marvel 1985. The heroes don’t really show up (Except Hulk. And what happened to him is something that’s left unanswered) until the ultimate chapter. One of this book’s most appealing qualities is the fact that it shows C-list villains in a badass light. When was the last time you saw Vulture, Electro, or Fin Fang Foom get a full page splash? Has MODOK ever terrified you? Several other baddies you’ve probably never even heard of are mentioned in passing. Marvel 1985 feels like an event. Sure, not every character gets a shining moment, but they’re all there in appearance and spirit.

At the event’s epicenter lies Toby, a young boy who’s recovering from his parent’s divorce. We see all the wonders and horrors through his eyes. This makes Marvel 1985 a spiritual sequel to Marvels. One of the defining things about that series was the look given by a newcomer, Alex Ross. Though Tommy Lee Edwards, the artist on Marvel 1985, has a similar feel, his work will undoubtedly be less praised. The only extra in the hardcover edition I purchased, is a detailed look at Edwards’ artistic process. The man spent a year rendering this book. Everything visual about Marvel 1985, except the lettering, is all Edwards’ doing. He offers unique artwork to say the least, but I for one found it fascinating. It may not be very pretty at first glance, but Edwards is a born storyteller. Sampled in the art above my words, you can see scratchy realism. This is absolutely appropriate and vital to the story. When Toby enters the Marvel universe, Edwards’ work reflects that and morphs into a cleaner, Lichtenstein-esque form. Though it may take some getting used to, I’m a fan of the art.

Marvel 1985 has its problems. It’s not breaking any rules and there are a few artistic and literary missteps. Nevertheless, Millar’s verisimilarly brilliant tale will move you.

Bruce Castle Presents: Censorship Sucks!

All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder #10 (Variant Cover Edition)

All Star Batman and Robin #10 (**1/2)

I have a lot to say about this, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Remember when I talked about the altered cover in my Action Comics #869 review? Probably the reason for the change was because it came out in the same week as this fiasco. This is a Batman comic that contains numerous F bombs and C words. Here are some of the actual words and enjoy this original page as well. Did I mention that these words and actions come from a 15 year old girl? Miley Cyrus eat your heart out! I think this is more proof that Frank Miller is not writing a Batman comic. This should be an Avatar book. I think people would accept it more. I feel bad for Jim Lee. He has to draw kids groping testicles now?  Jim Lee should be on a different Batman book and Frank Miller should write some indie books. Despite all of this nonsense, I’ve actually enjoyed most of this series. The stories are absurdly fun and Lee’s art looks gorgeous! Speaking of pretty art, isn’t that Frank Quietly cover cool? This issue still looks marvelous, but I can’t say I enjoyed Miller’s writing. This is packed with horrible noir monologues. Analogies, similes, and metaphors used to sound hardcore. Ugh! This issue took so long to read and yet the plot barely moved forward. Lee produces pure beauty and Miller’s writing isn’t completely horrible, but this was disappointing and some shame should go to DC for the editorial misstep as well.

War Heroes #2, Tommy Lee Edwards Variant

War Heroes #2 (***1/2)

How many of you were pissed when you heard that a Kick-Ass movie will be released only a few months after the comic series ends? Well, Mark “Sellout” Millar does it again! It seems War Heroes will be a movie too. At least they waited until issue #2 came out right? Ok, let’s talk about this issue. What does this have to do with censorship? It contains full-frontal male nudity of course. I know Mark Millar likes to shock people, but this is too much. I remember reading that Millar was going to put anal sex and cumshots in Wanted, but J.G. Jones talked him out of it. I guess Tony Harris couldn’t do the same. A friend of mine who has a nine year old daughter flipped out when he saw this issue on the shelves for kids to see. I’ve also heard on the “Internets” about some trouble that shop owners are having. Do comic distributors deserve blame? I don’t think so, but that’s me. Anyway, Tony Harris is the star of this series. I think Millar knows that too. This is your basic boot camp issue only with superpowers. Instead of putting weapons together they construct planes, instead of lifting weights they lift tanks and so on. This issue is fun and there are some shocks, like the aforementioned penis, but the story isn’t anything spectacular yet. If you’re a fan of Millar’s writing and especially if you like Harris’ art, you should give this book a try.

This inspired my title. Isn’t it awesome? Joe Linsner rocks!

Spoiler Review: 1985 #4

The people over at Millarworld were kind enough to once again send over a PDF copy of Millar’s latest release, 1985. The book came out yesterday, but since most of us have yet to read it, I left the spoiler warning in the title of this post. So, yes, there will be spoilers and pictures links and whatnot. Enjoy.

When we last left out heroes, the Lizard was on the roof and ready to tear open that van like a sardine can—I’m really enjoying the realistic portrayal of not just the villains, but of this entire world that Tommy Lee Edwards and Mark Millar have created—Next, Toby’s dad smashes into a roadside billboard in an attempt to clear the bug off his windshield, but instead, it leads to a hostage situation—The speech by the Lizard, in fact the point that Millar is illustrating through the Lizard is my favorite part of this book. In this simple moment, Millar shows us that in this world, heroism is not the naturally occurring phenomenon that it is in the Marvel Universe—After getting his son back, Toby’s dad asks the army what’s up and they explain some shizzy about “sleeper agents”—until this moment, I’d forgotten that this story takes place during The Cold War. Obviously, they’re Russian sleepers and not Super Villains! Very cool—After Toby’s father runs off to save his mother, Toby tries to recruit his very own “Monster Squad”—I see that Millar has fond memories of that film as well—Naturally, Toby’s buds tell him to ###-off, so Toby decides to save the world on his own. In the next few pages, Millar and Edwards show us what the villains have been up to—this Bullseye full pager being my favorite—We’re back with Toby just as he finds a doorway to adventurea doorway to super heroes—SQUEEE—Toby leaps through, transporting himself across “The Bleed” and into the 616it’s fun how not only does the art style change once we arrive in the Marvel Universe, becoming more realistic, but also the font of the “To Be Continued” appears in that trademark superhero style. Avengers Assemble!

I still love this book, despite all my Millar hate, because it’s a damn well put together read. Also, HO-HO-HO! I was right, as were many of you I’d guess; the kid from the Wyncham House had powers… or is it Toby’s dad with the powers? Not much more to say besides… looking forward to #5 and the promised crossover with Fantastic Four.

Oh, question for the readers… that scene in the middle of the book that takes place in 1964, are those zombies surrounding the house? Night of the Living Dead zombies? Hmm?

Foilball’s Review Roundup #41 – MARVEL! MARVEL! MARVEL!

1985 #3 (****1/2)

So far, of all the Millar projects, this one has me the most excited. It’s just really ####ing good. The real live people actually sound like real live people, unlike in say, War Heroes. I love the sinister way the villains of the 616 Marvel Universe are just killing people. M.O.D.O.K. fulfills his function as “killing machine” better than he ever has in regular continuity by forcing a whole mess of townsfolk to drown themselves. And the plot just keeps turning and turning, revealing new layers every issue. Like, obviously this has happened before right? Based on the dad character’s reaction to it. Perhaps his old comic buddy had (or has?) something to do with it? And this issue’s double page spread made me laugh out loud, but in that good comic book way. Dudes, forget Kick-Ass and War Zeroes and Old Man Eastwood and all that other shit, 1985 is DA STONES!

Foolkiller: White Angels #1 (****)

Two questions: Who is this Greg Hurwitz guy and why is he so awesome? I’ve really been enjoying his fresh take on the Foolkiller concept, and now that we got the origin story out of the way, Hurwitz opens up the world a bit more. Punisher next issue… continuity between the MAX books? Seems like a neat idea seeing as how Hurwitz is writing the first Punisher arc after Ennis leaves the book next month. The thing I most like about this new mini is how much it reminds me of what Brubaker is doing with Criminal. You know, jumping on the other side of things and giving us a peek at how the dysfunctional elements of society live. I’m going to switch to trade for the next mini, these seem to read best that way, but I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this violence-fest till then.

The Invincible Iron Man #3 (****1/2)

Iron Man, Thor and Casanova; these are the books that remind me how awesome Matt Fraction can be. Iron Man? New favorite, baby! Why? It’s simple. Matt Fraction is writing Iron Man to be Marvel’s Superman. SUPERMAN. Don’t believe me? Check out this sequence…

 

 

Take away the armor and replace it with invulnerability and super strength. Swap the boot jets for super speed. Lose the tracking gadgets and throw in some super hearing. Oh, and, Pepper Potts morphs into Lois Lane and what have you got… DING! Superman. And another thing, Fraction has so seamlessly blended movie and comic continuity, that it doesn’t even bother me that much (anymore) that the “Invincible” Stark is so different from the “Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Stark. Anyway, it’s awesome. ‘Nuff said.

Quick Hits:
Eternals #2 (*****): The Knaufs!!! Doing it again! These guys are sooooo good I want to sploodge all over myself after finishing one of their books. Ahh…
Guardians of the Galaxy #3 (***1/2): D&A have yet to WOW me with the book, but that’s not to say it’s poorly written. I can feel them building to something epic, but I’m just not sure what it is yet. Hmm, maybe that shocking final page is a clue? Magus, anyone? Oh, and enough with that damn debriefs. They’re funny, and I’m sure I’d be okay with them if they hadn’t been used so poorly in The Order. Bitter much? Just a little.
Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #31 (***1/2): This fill-in continues to do an adequate job, but this is definitely not the quality we’ve come to expect from this title. From the hokey to the clumsy, the dialogue is easily the most obvious weakness. After this arc we get an SI tie-in starring War Machine and then hopefully, the Knaufs come back?
The Last Defenders #5 (***): I’ve been enjoying this book, till this issue that is. Color me ten shades of confused? I think Casey bites off more than he can chew with all these pseudo-science explanations.
Punisher War Journal #21 (*): Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin? PLEASE LEAVE! When does Remender’s solo run start?
X-Factor #33 (-): Everyone else has bashed this enough. It’s bad.
Young X-Men #4 (*): Wow, great reveal, Guggenheim. Too bad I stopped caring two issues ago. Heh, bet you wish you’d actually written Cyclops as a Skrull imposter, aye?

Birthday Mini Reviews

Today marks the 24th trip the Earth has made ’round the sun since my birth. It’s been pretty quiet on the blog the last few days, so I’m celebrating the day of my birth by taking some time out of my busy schedule of doing absolutely nothing to write up some mini reviews.

Captain America #40 (****)

It’s weird. I never seem to review Captain America. Maybe it’s because Billy feels the need to spoil it the day it comes out (cue Shatner voice …… ”ZOOOOOONOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”). Maybe it’s because I always like the issues when I read them, but at the same time it never seems to stick with me. I don’t know if I’ve read a Cap issue that has made me think about it more than a few hours after I read it. Maybe it’s because Cap’s over in his own universe and what he does doesn’t seem to impact anyone else (that is until the ending of Secret Invasion 4, or so it seems). Doesn’t make the book bad, but it also doesn’t make it particularly memorable. I liked the issue quite a lot. Good Bucky narrative from Brubaker (I’m not even going to mention the whole “I love compelling narrative” thing. …Wait…shit) during the fight. Good Epting art. Lots of fun from the triumvirate of evil egotists. The Sharon parts? Don’t really care. This is an odd book for me. It’s always right in the middle of my stack, and the quality of the book never moves it up or down. It doesn’t read like it’s disposable, but then it kinda, well, is. Strange stuff.

Eternals #2 (***1/2)

Better. I’m digging the Makkari scenes when he’s communing with the Celestials. The Choose Your Own Adventure style of the dialogue is still a bit odd, but it works. It’s really the saving grace for me, because the rest of it is still very by the books storytelling and just muddled storytelling. You don’t get the epic feel that you should get from a group of people like the Eternals. That only comes through during those Makkari scenes. And sure, the book can’t all be those scenes, but they’re SO GOOD and so interesting and big and wide ranging that they save what is otherwise a pedestrian book for me. And hey look! It’s The Order in a comic book! That’s worth an extra half star right there (Order haters can eat it. HARD)

Marvel 1985 #3 (*****) (SPOILERS)

Ok. You put MODOK in a book, that’s an automatic three stars. You put Fin Fang Foom in a book and it’s an automatic three stars. You put them both in the same book, and we’re talking at least four stars (Unless it’s Hulk. Fuck that book). But this book is more than that. I like the characters, and I like the setup, but it’s really the scenes where the villains unleash on the people that this book turns into something special. There was an old (well, not old, but it was from 1999. Which is almost ten years ago. God help us all) Stephen King TV miniseries called Storm of the Century. It wasn’t great, but Superman was in it (or his voice at least), and there were some really creepy scenes, one of which documented what the evil force was going to do to the people on the little island, and it’s very similar to what MODOK decides to do to the people in this issue. And it’s really damned creepy and evil and affecting. These villains ARE NOT FUCKING AROUND. MODOK drowns people with reckless abandon. Ultron slaughters an entire neighborhood. Fin Fang Foom…stands around. But he’s a huge dragon, so give him a break. The difference here from the first two issues is the way that Millar finally takes things seriously. The beginning of this story was good but still had that cheesy camp to it. But now we see what happens when some pretty despicable super powered individuals find themselves in a situation where no one can stop them. So they kill people. Indiscriminately. It’s powerful stuff, and a REALLY good issue.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #34 – THE GOODERS!

And now, The Gooders. These books were the cream of the crop, or as close to it as this bunch got.

1985 #2 (****): I’m really liking where this is headed. See, you can’t call me a Millar hater! Some of his stuff is utter garbage, and some of it, when he puts the research and thought in, turns out quite fantastic. Here’s hoping I’m right about this one.

Conan the Cimmerian #0 (****): Bruce Castle’s review of this was spot on. It was a very, very, VERY good sword and sandal read. Unfortunately, I think I’m done with Conan for now… or, I may pick up the first issue when it ships! I just don’t know!

Daredevil #108 (****): It just keeps getting better! Dear Greg Rucka, please never leave. No more brooding! No more Mila! No more Emo!

Fantastic Four #558 (****1/2): This was really good. Really, really good. I can see clearly now what Millar is doing and I love it. The interweaving of the subplots over multiple 4-part story arcs is finally starting to pay off. I haven’t been this excited about reading Fantastic Four since JMS first took over the book. I know I was harsh on the first couple of these, but now that the engine is revving up toward max RPMs, I couldn’t be happier. I just hope he doesn’t blow his load too soon. But, I still think the Galactus suit was a lame idea. OH! Almost forgot, little Val is a genius!

Ghost Rider # 24 (****): Love the new artist. Love the new direction. If this is what we can expect from the rest of Aaron’s Ghost Rider run, I think I can finally put myself safely in the “on board” column. It was touch and go there for a while with a couple of stinkers mixed in with the gooders, but this issue has restored my faith… for now! Ha-Hah, you just never know! Next month I could be bashing it again! Help, I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out!*

Iron Fist #16 (*****): Terrific series finale, bravo to all involved, especially Matt Fraction. I can’t wait for the “Heroes For Hire” relaunch this fall… wait, what? Not cancelled? New creative team? Get OUT of here!

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #30 (****): Still not the Knaufs, but adequate. Actually, more than adequate. This Moore guys is doing a bang-up fill-in! Overkill Mind! Star Squad! Paladin messing up Iron Man’s fascist face! YES! YES! YES!

The Punisher #58 (*****): Every month I get a little sad. New Punisher issue only serves to remind me of its imminent cancellation. Well, pretty much, right? I like the new guy, his Foolkiller was good, but no one’s ever going to top Garth Ennis. Oh, I should say something about this issue. It was really good, as usual. They always are. Sad face.

Thunderbolts #121 (*****): OH GOOD GOD! This was epic. And now it’s over. Forever. I don’t care that this book shipped once a quarter, it was totally worth it. But, I don’t think Ellis is leaving because of lateness, I think he’s just done. Is that true? Does anybody know? I’m seriously asking a serious question here…

X-Factor #32 (****1/2): In this issue, Madrox tells Cooper to get stuffed and finally takes responsibility as the father of Theressa’s baby… and just like that, *POOF*, X-Factor is a 4-5 Star book again. Why? Because we’re back to focusing on the drama, baby, and not the action. Yay! Thank you, Peter David. I don’t know what happened to you or why you had to phone the past 6 months in, but I’m glad you’re back. Now, if only I could say the same thing about She-Hulk. UGH!

Young Avengers Presents: Hawkeye #6 (****): This was easily the best of the series. Fraction is just on fire this month (although his Punisher still sucks ass). I loved how much of a dick Clint is when he makes Kate cry. Ha-Ha! But then, it was just Clint teaching her a lesson all along! Oh snap! Shit, I wish Clint had his own team book or something. He works well as mentor/father figure… FUCK, why isn’t he leading the New Avengers? He’s got the attitude, the skill and the experience. Maybe that’s one of the changes Bendis has lined up for after Secret Invasion? I hope so. I’ve always loved me some Hawkeye. Oh, and when the hell is Young Avengers Volume 2 coming out? These characters are way cooler than the Titans and those shitters have two books, both equally shitty!

Hmm, got surly there at the end. Ah, well. Tomorrow, Planetary Series Review (honest) and on Wednesday, maybe a Spoiler Re view… if something cool comes out.

 

*That one was for VsRealms.