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Old 01-27-2011, 10:17 AM   #1
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The Mighty Reviews 1/27/11

Wktf’s Reviews

Fantastic Four #587
Marvel Comics
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Drawn by: Steve Epting
Cover by: Alan Davis
Variant Cover by: John Cassaday

Marvel’s big news breaking and newsworthy (apparently from the media hubbub, or to credit Marvel’s marketing engine) event has hit the stands. People have decried comic book deaths since The Death of Superman seemed to make them the “thing” to sell comics. If you read Hickman’s various interviews, he states that this death in particular is part of a longer, more extended plot strategy, making it just a story element as opposed to an end-event in itself. Still, the black polybagging (not done since the before-mentioned Death of Superman) makes it hard to buy this argument.

Signature death aside, Hickman and Epting have combined to deliver a solid story arc, one that actually separates the key members of the FF which, frankly, is a bit of a rare tactic considering what a strong family-centric book this has been over the last 50 years. Reed is off with Galactus and The Silver Surfer on Nu-Earth in an attempt to rescue its inhabitants before Galactus destroys the planet. The Invisible Woman is undersea with Namor helping facilitate what she thought was an introduction and potential negotiation between Atlantis’ prior, more ancient rulers and its current liege. And Ben and Johnny, ever the comic relief pair that they’ve always been, find themselves unexpectedly at the front line of preventing the next Annihilation wave from the Negative Zone. And Ben now is human, without his great strength and invulnerability. Separated, none of them are as strong as the group is together, and this has created a tense build up over the last several issues for which this issue is supposed to be the payoff.

So, does it pay off? As a story it’s not-so-surprisingly very good. Hickman’s proven to be an outstanding comic book writer during his short tenure in the category. He really captures the dynamic between Sue and Namor and, quite honestly, creates a whole new dimension in their relationship that will bear further exploring. Namor’s quick about-face at this status change rings as true as it does funny. Reed’s adventure in the wake of a dying planet is a bit truncated and unsatisfying as a result. And Johnny and Ben’s situation is suitably harrowing as literally billions of Annihilus’ insectoid soldiers descend on them and the Richards’ children. I enjoyed the story and art very much and recommend this arc to anyone, FF fan or not. As far as the death, poignant as it is (and it is poignant) it’s too hard to believe it will be permanent and, so, also too hard to get worked up about.

Chaos War #5 (of 5)
Marvel Comics
Written by: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Drawn by: Khoi Pham
Cover by: Brandon Peterson

With this issue Chaos War concludes. Hercules, Amadeus Cho, The Mighty Thor, The Incredible Hulks and a smattering of dead heroes unite against, as Amadeus’ calculations prove out, an absolutely unbeatable foe. Many have compared this to DC’s Blackest Night, and there’s something to be said for that. Not only does Chaos represent a singularly dark villain representing the void of reality and life, but he goes so far as to raise the dead to do his bidding. So, yeah, hard not to feel this is a bit of a rip off. Kind of like Hickman’s explanation for this week’s high profile death in Fantastic Four, Pak and Van Lente have said this is a finale toward which they’ve been building since they started on this book post-World War Hulk. Even so…

The one comparison that won’t hold, though, between this event and Blackest Night is in tone. Sure, the end of the universe is deadly serious and harrowing. And, sure, now that the buffoonish Hercules has acquired the power of an All-Father he’s a little more serious and self-directed. And, sure, Chaos is a strikingly evil and villainous looking nemesis, just as Nekron was. And, yes, we learn at the end that there are certain dead who actually live again. But there’s a fluidity and fun element to this event whose tone is lighter and less weighty than Blackest Night. And that has to be by design. I mean, the authors’ continued use of clever and humorous sound effects alone will bring a smile to your face even as Hercules is being skewered through his mid-section. As a great complement to the writing, Pham’s art is as strong and stellar as ever. I don’t know where or when we’ll see his pencils again, but I loved his work on Incredible Hercules, Mighty Avengers and this title and we can only hope we’ll see his line work in the near-future.

Since our villain couldn’t be defeated through traditional means, leave it Cho to develop a non-traditional albeit seemingly temporary way to defeat The Chaos King. But defeat him, or at least stop him, they do. I don’t that’s a spoiler because, come one, what else did you expect? What’s a bit of an eye opener is what happens in the wake of this victory. All in all, for a series that promised changes you have to give this one for delivering on its promise. The world is a different place now and the title character is dramatically changed as well. This issue, and the entire series, was a fun and captivating read.

Avengers #9
Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by: John Romita, Jr
Cover by: John Romita, Jr

I seriously thought of dropping this book after the first arc, convoluted mess that it was. But this arc is something different, and with the level of menace that’s now facing the universe, plus the decades-long secret revelation that’s been forced to the light as a result, have made not only this story but this title one of the most compelling reads of any superhero comic book published today. As we’ve learned over the last couple of issues, The Hood has been seeking out and testing the Infinity Gems in an effort to recreate the Infinity Gauntlet. The depowered Hood has been a villain with huge aspirations and, remarkably, the will to actually pull them off. And he’s always had the help of a mystical guardian, be it Dormammu or Loki, to give him the power he’s needed. The difference now is that while his strings were being unknowingly pulled by those other monsters, this time he’s his own master and in complete control. And, based on the pounding he’d given The Rulk, he’s not afraid of a little publicity as he tests out his new-found power.

But The Infinity Gems had become the property of The Illuminati. The secretive and semi-clandestine teaming of Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Namor, Professor Xavier and Dr. Strange. This group had secreted each gem away from the other and swore an oath never to reveal their locations. So, how did the Hood find the gem of power and of reality? We’re not exactly sure, but this issue begins to trace back The Hood’s path to power even as Commander Rogers confronts Tony Stark and the rest of the Illuminati for who they are and what they’ve wrought. The brotherhood established between Rogers, Stark and Thor in Avengers: Prime is quickly tested and with an uncertain resolution all in the shadow of this much larger, reality-altering threat.

The biggest thrill for me in this issue is with the improvement in Romita, Jr’s art. With Klaus Janson still on inks there’s no reason to expect the art to appear tighter, and yet it does. And with nary a blow being struck this issue, Romita’s art delivers the energy and tension to give the feel of action even in a page of talking heads. Bendis’ plotting and dialogue both are crisp and impactful. It doesn’t feel like a word’s being wasted here, even with the multiple side conversations as Steve is dressing Tony down. Great issue. My pick of the week.
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:17 AM   #2
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Dawg’s Review

Uncanny X-Force #4
Marvel Comics
Written by: Rick Remender
Drawn by: Jerome Opena

Even the heroes of the Marvel Universe have their secrets. The X-Men have enough skeletons in their collective closet to build an addition. None of these secrets can compare though to having a small squad involved as a kill squad for black ops missions. Even after Cyclops decided that the original mission of X-Force was over, Wolverine and Angel decided that there was still much work to be done in the shadows, and for the continued survival of mutantkind.

So what is Angel and Wolverine’s first move as the New X-Force? Recruit Psylocke, Deadpool, Fantomex to join them, and assassinate one of the X-Men’s oldest and most deadly foes: Apocalypse. There is nothing like shooting for the stars on your first mission eh?

One knew that this mission would not be an easy one and even as much as the new team trained and prepared for it, they still have their ass handed to them by the new Horseman of Apocalypse. I have to say that out of all of the Horsemen Apocalypse has had, with the exception of a few other bright spots along the way, are by far the most original new characters in the X-line of books.

So last issue we left off with the team pretty much having their asses handed to them with the exception of Psylocke who had somehow wormed her way past War into the inner sanctum of Apocalypse who unbeknownst to the team is currently incarnated as a child.

Wolverine and Fantomex had been laid out by Pestilence and Death, and Deadpool was left to tend to an emaciated, Archangel courtesy of Famine.

In one of the more creative and yet disturbing scenes I have read in a mainstream hero comic, Deadpool uses his own unique abilities to help Angel fend off the effects of Famine’s attack. You have to see it to believe it.

Of course as the issue goes on, the team regroups and is able to launch a united salvo on the ship that house the child-form of Apocalypse. When they all finally fight their way to join Pyslocke, they see that he is a child and it raises the age-old argument, even if it isn’t mentioned, about going back in time to slay Hitler as a child. Would you do it knowing that he would grow up to be a plague upon all mutantkind, or would you try to nurture him to become different? The team wavers in their conviction, which I felt was a bit uncharacteristic of them… This was out of character especially with Wolverine and Angel being former incarnations of Death themselves, and under the control of Apocalypse. Fantomex takes matters into his own hands and off the table while the others try to sort it out. What isn’t clear is whether or not they were being influenced by outside force or it is their own legit second thoughts.

Either way the first story arc ends with a bang and four issues in I am left wanting more. My only nit was that in the modern era of comics when every story is drug out over too many issues, I felt that this story could have gone a couple more. I felt like it was wrapped up too neatly given the dire straights the team was in last issue. It seemed too easy for them to recover, defeat the horsemen, get to Apocalypse.

Either way the story and the art are so well crafted that this book is on the must have pile now. Remender and Opena are the perfect fit for mature, and dark mutant stories that have a dark mutant cast. My pick of the week.
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:40 AM   #3
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Haven't read any of these books. I don't mind a comic death if it's moving the story forward. All I ask is that once the writer leaves, the core of the book back in place. I'm not saying changes shouldn't take place, but the F4 should be Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben, live in NY and have adventures when a writer leaves or starts the book.
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Old 01-27-2011, 02:02 PM   #4
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Uncanny X-Force Rocks!!!
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:55 AM   #5
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Dawg, thanks for posting our reviews while I'm traveling on business and working my way back home!

I'd also like to give a special shout-out to this month's adjectiveless X-Men book. After the vampire debacle of the last arc I almost didn't pick up this issue, but I'm really glad I did. The dialogue, team dynamics, new approach Cyclops is taking to cement the team's hero status, the overall tension in the primary story, and just the fusion of story, dialogue and art made this book a winner.

If I'd read this in time for writing reviews I might well have made this my pick of the week over Avengers.
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