Thor: Defining Moments Giant-Size

It's your time to shine, Bill. Be brave, my son!

Story: J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils: Marko Djurdjevic
Inks: Danny Miki

Wins:

  • A lot of events are set into motion in this the finale of JMS’ run on Thor.
  • The issue starts off with a bang as Bill and Balder battle Loki’s loyalists in the frozen tundra of Latveria.
  • The Warriors Three and Sif are attacked by Doombots that are out to kill Donald Blake.
  • There is a hilarious moment between Sif and Volstagg that I won’t ruin, but I will say that the rotund one is quite a fan of his fizeek.
  • Djurdjevic’s art is absolutely perfect for this title, and he delivers in this issue. Lovely stuff. I’ll gladly shell out $3.99 when I’m paying for this kind of art.
  • The final scene of Blake layed-up and staring at his trusty cane was a nice way to finish off JMS’ run.
  • JMS sets the dominos up in proper fashion for Kieron Gillen to knock down in his upcoming run on Thor. The build-up to the showdown between Thor’s men and Loki is reaching its apex. Also, Doom has blood on his hands and will have to deal with Thor and Co. in the coming months as Siege draws near.
  • Finally, a re-printed story that is relevant, interesting, and well worth reading! Oh, and we didn’t have to pay an extra dollar for it.

Fails:

  • This is the last issue of JMS’ epic run on Thor. Kieron Gillen has some rather large, Asgardian boots to fill as he takes over on next week’s issue of Thor.
  • Not only do we lose JMS, but we lose one of the best artists in the business in Marko Djurdjevic. Billy Tan, it’s your turn to take the Pepsi Challenge. Good luck!
  • I’m sure JMS had a lot more to write about, but his run came to an abrupt end, and it’s evident that he didn’t get to finish his tenure how he wanted to. This issue feels a little bit rushed and leaves something to be desired.
  • Marvel has to take the brunt of the blame for JMS’ exit, as they basically said “we’re using Thor in Siege, and it’s just tough luck for you if you don’t agree”.
  • I’m sure there will be a big dip in sales of Thor, especially after Siege. Some will drop it because JMS is no longer writing it, and some will drop it in protest of Marvel’s decision.

Verdict: B-

Punisher 11

Frank is back...or is he? Well, sort of.

Story: Rick Remender
Pencils: Tony Moore
Inks: Tony Moore
Colors: Dan Brown

Wins:

  • If you like a good bizarro story about monsters featuring a version of Frank Castle that is bound to be a hero to a group of rejected creatures, this is the story arc you’ve been lusting for.
  • Tony Moore’s art is quite brilliant and really lends itself to the direction this title abruptly veered toward. He almost makes you feel empathy toward the monsters that are being sytematically hunted and killed.
  • The fact that Moore’s art is so fantastic and the fun factor that comes into play with this arc makes it hard to drop the title.
  • Moore’s version of Man-Thing is amazing. He took great time to make him as detailed as possible, and it really shows.
  • There are some brilliant splash pages in this issue. One of Man-Thing, and two of FrankenCastle. Thank you, Tony Moore!
  • Remender does a solid job with the dialogue, especially when Frank awakens after Morbius pieces him back together. Frank stutters and mumbles a bit, and it just makes the reader laugh.
  • I’ll have to keep the faith in Remender that he’ll somehow restore Frank Castle to his subversive, vindictive, baddie-killing bastard of a self.
  • The cover is superb. It’s one of the best I’ve seen in quite a while.

Fails:

  • This title just jumped the shark, though I can’t say I didn’t see it coming after Frank’s encounter with Daken.
  • I hope Daken fans enjoyed the slice and dice of Punisher in Dark Reign: The List – Punisher, because your pleasure is Punisher fans’ pain.
  • I started picking up Punisher because I was excited to have a book about Frank Castle in the 616. Now I’m not so sure I care to read it if this is the direction it’s going in. Is it a coincidence that Marvel re-launched Punishermax in the same week that this book does a u-turn?
  • This shift in story/character is surely going to alienate some Punisher readers.
  • Monster Island is a great place to take a break for an issue to mindlessly slaugher anything that moves, but to make a story arc out of it seems a bit wasteful.

Verdict: C+

Dark Reign: The List – Amazing Spider-Man

Does Osborn successfully complete task #8 on his list?

Story: Dan Slott
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Dean White

Wins:

  • Dan Slott wrote a gem of a story here. This is easily the best of The List one-shots, not to mention one of Slott’s finest issues of Spider-Man.
  • Adam Kubert’s art is stunning. His backgrounds are detailed and add a lot to the feel of the scenes. The splash pages were gorgeous. I really dug the splash of Spidey and Iron Patriot that you have to rotate 90° like you’d see in a DC book.
  • Norah is such a great character, and I love that she played an important role in the plan to put Osborn in his place.
  • Whenever you get hilarity such as “Look, naked Belgians!”, you just can’t complain. That one had me in stitches. The best part was that Norman and Victoria actually fell for it.
  • The fight scene was very easy to follow. Kubert did a magnificent job on the art he turned in. I didn’t have to study any frames to figure out what was going on.
  • Kubert’s art and Slott’s writing work melliflously in tandem, which really moves the story along at a frenetic pace. The entire issue reads very smoothly and isn’t short of moments of brilliance.
  • Parker standing up to Iron Patriot in the internet cafe was great. I love how Peter reminds Norman that he works for him, and the rest of the residents of the United States. Great moment.

Fails:

  • The re-print of Pulse seemed out of place and was a waste of resources.
  • By the time you got to the staples, the issue was a page-turn from being over.
  • It’s tough to criticize one of the best comics that I’ve read this year.

Verdict: A

Really?! Another deceiving cover? Curses!

New Avengers 59

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Dave McCaig
 
Wins:
  • There’s a lot of action in this issue, which is always welcomed by myself and many Avengers fans. Some story arcs just wander around aimlessly, but this isn’t that type of story arc.
  • Finally we’re beginning to see the New Avengers come up with a decent plan. I like the fact that teamwork is being stressed more than just going Leeroy Jenkins into battle.
  • Spider-Man takes a page out of The Kingpin’s playbook. Well played, Parker! Sorry you didn’t get to say “Avengers Assemble!”. Oh well…maybe next time. At least you don’t die in every issue like The Sentry.
  • The Avengers are aided by Doctor Voodoo, Daredevil, The Thing, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Misty Knight, Hellcat, and Valkyrie. Nice to see additional help shows up to a team that is often criticized for being on the low end of the power scale.
  • Stuart Immonen does a fine job conveying emotion and urgency, and an even better job when it comes to accompanying Bendis’ writing. His splash pages are nice, and even when there are busy panels, he does a good job with individual characters. This book is getting better, now that it’s picked up the pace a bit.
  • McCaig colored Moonstone/Ms. Marvel correctly in this issue.
Fails:
  • Bendis couldn’t have written worse dialogue for Mockingbird and Doctor Voodoo. Maybe that was the point (?).
  • Again, some of the dialogue was painful to read. The scenes with group dialogue felt like a Scooby Doo epiphany scene where they unmask the baddie. Zoinks!
  • I wonder how many times they’re going to use the astral plane trick to gain access to a heavily guarded area, as Doctor Voodoo and Strange do to enter the helicarrier in this issue. The Avengers did the same thing to Stark when he was holding Cap prisoner during Civil War.
  • This Avengers team really doesn’t have a leader. Luke Cage is too emotionally charged and lacks strategic knowledge. Clint Barton is too reactionary, shoot first ask questions later. Bucky Cap isn’t a leader, he’s an eternal sidekick. Ms. Marvel didn’t really step up and embrace the leadership role with the Mighty Avengers.
  • Iron Fist is involved in the attack on Camp Hammond and the attack on the H.A.M.M.E.R. helicarrier, which are happening simultaneously.
  • I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the Camp Hammond battle, but they jumped straight from the splash page to the next scene.
  • The Thing appears in a battle scene, but doesn’t even say “It’s clobberin’ time!”. Maybe it’s because he didn’t do any “clobberin'” Bah!
  • With the likes of Voodoo and Strange, you would think that they’d cast some sort of spell to determine the integrity of Luke’s body.
  • Yet another New Avengers issue where the cover has little if anything to do with the story told inside. Next month’s cover would have been more appropriate.

Verdict: B-

Deadpool lends a helping hand to Spidey, but what are his motives? Cash, of course! But who’s cutting him a cheque and why? Pick up the latest Amazing Spider-Man to find out.

Daredevil 502

Story: Andy Diggle
Pencils: Roberto De La Torre
Inks: Roberto De La Torre
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth

Daredevil502

With a personal squad of assassins at his command, Matt Murdock holds all the cards. Or does he?

Wins:

  • Obvious roles aside, the antagonist and protagonist roles have rotated as have the characters’ loyalties, which makes for an interesting plot and sub-plots.
  • Along the same lines, Matt is constantly fighting an inner struggle between good and evil from within. Which is eluded to in the dream sequence in this issue. Diggle does a fine job when it comes to introspectively examining Murdock’s pysche. He’s a guilty Catholic super-hero.
  • This issue flows very well and tells a number of different stories concurrently. Diggle is weaving everything together in his opening act as DD’s new writer quite nicely.
  • De La Torre’s art is impressive again. He does well to convey his characters’ emotions with great facial expressions and body language. I also love what he’s done with The Hand ninjas’ attire.
  • There are overtones of Dark Reign that Diggle has written into the story that really gives the reader the sense that Daredevil is part of the big picture of the Marvel Universe.

Fails:

  • Maybe I mistook the first frame for something other than what it was intended to portray, but it says “underground clinic”, yet the building is clearly above ground. I’ll assume Diggle means underground, as in not a typical hospital, rather one that is “off the books”.
  • On the third page of Matt’s dream sequence, the close-up of him with the horns protruding from his unmasked head left something to be desired. The horns look pretty cheesy, as if added by the colorist as an afterthought.
  • The scene at the docks where the cop loses his hand could have been drawn better. More detail of the severed limb would have been nice. It just looks generic. His reaction is a bit strange as well.

Verdict: B

The art and writing in the first story arc from Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham is simply amazing. They’ve managed to breathe new life into a title/team that has been on life support for quite some time. Here are some excerpts from issues 570, 571, and 572. Enjoy!

Spider-Woman 2

spiderwoman2

I thought she was an agent of S.W.O.R.D. What's up with the Hydra logo on the cover?

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Alex Maleev

Wins:

  • After issue one being laden with background and recap of the happenings of the so-called “Spider-Woman” who turned out to be the Skrull Queen Veranke, this issue gets down to business, for the most part.
  • Once again, as per usual, Alex Maleev’s art is wonderful to look at. It radiates emotion and is vibrant in all the right places to give you the feel of the setting in a gripping fashion.
  • Maleev’s art is very life-like in many of the frames. The noir-esque feel to his art lends itself to the settings and character seemlessly.
  • Bendis’ writing in this book is a bit different from that of New, Mighty, and Dark Avengers. I’m sure the parallel has been made elsewhere, but it’s similar to his work on Daredevil and Alias. Solo books are where Bendis has the freedom to write in his most fluid style and build the introspective and micro-aspects of his characters.
  • I really like the layout of this issue, it’s simplicity allows the art to speak (or scream, if you please) for itself. Particularly, the page in the parking garage where the panels form a “T” to expose Jessica’s face. I thought it was a nice touch and worked nicely with the pacing as well.
  • The ending to this issue is just the kind of ending that we should come to expect from this type of book. I’m looking forward to issue three.

Fails:

  • Jessica’s self-loathing is a bit nauseating, however, I feel that Bendis is doing it so the reader roots for her to claw her way out of the emotional hole she’s stuck in.
  • Some of the backgrounds in this issue were not as detailed as the ones in the previous issue. Not all of them, but some felt one-dimensional and left something to be desired.
  • One of the pages of the parking garage chase scene seemed to be a bit off. The panel showing Drew leaping the circular gap seemed much smaller than the same gap in the next panel.

Verdict: B

Scanned excerpts from the latest exploits of Deadpool’s whacked out life.

Amazing Spider-Man 606

asm606

Black Cat is back! Spidey's already got some ladyfriend issues, does he dig a deeper hole for himself?

Story: Joe Kelly
Pencils: Mike McKone
Inks: Andy Lanning
Colors: Chris Chuckry

Wins:

  • Let’s face it Joe Kelly is great at writing Spider-Man. I always enjoy his issues immensely. With lines such as “This is why God invented coffee”, “…it’s the verbal diarrhea that keeps me from throwing up at times like this”, and when in grave danger “Holy Schnikes!”, he nails the dialogue every time while providing an ample amount of laughs.
  • The artwork that McKone turned in for this issue is really nice. It’s clean and tells the visual side of the story with ease.
  • I really like how the panels are layed out in this issue with some panels being in the shape of Spidey’s logo. Nice touch.
  • The pacing in this issue is fluent and works hand in hand with the panels, art, and amount of dialogue.
  • Who doesn’t love the Smitten Kitten, c’mon?!

Fails:

  • I’m never a fan of seeing a two-tone Spider-Man. I like for his attire to be red, blue, and black, rather than red and black. It looks lazy, which is a shame because the rest of the artwork is neat and nice to look at.
  • The nature of the Amazing Spider-Man these days doesn’t allow you to enjoy a certain look to the art since they rotate artists, and that will always be something of a downside to this title.

Verdict: B