Dark Avengers 12

Uh-oh! The Dark Avengers have been trapped in nothingness by Molecule Man! What ever will they do?!

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Mike Deodato
Colors: Rain Beredo
Painted Pages: Greg Horn

Wins:

  • I really dig how this issue begins. Greg Horn’s painted pages are (sadly) limited to 2 1/2 in this issue, and the first page is the best page in the book. Norman is webbed up by an evil Spidey as he pleads for his life. Horn’s painted pages in this issue and issue 11 were definitely eye candy, and worked well in the story.
  • We actually learn something new about Sentry, and apparently it’s an epiphany for him as well. After being killed by Molecule Man in the previous issue, he’s (shocking, I know) back in this issue, and is in control of himself and has a solid grasp on his powers. A little understanding can go a long way. What does this mean for Osborn?
  • There’s a moment of comedy between Victoria and Norman as he’s down for the count. I rather enjoyed it. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it.
  • Mike Deodato’s art is once again easy on the eyes. His layout helps the story flow and makes for nice looking pages that read fluently.
  • Moonstone references Scarlet Witch. Is Bendis dropping hints of her return or just nonchalantly mentioning her. She could be Norman’s secret weapon in Siege. Who knows?!
  • After last issue, we learned that Victoria likes to stir things up a bit, and she continues to do so in this issue when she confronts Normie about his mental health, or lack thereof.
  • The final page reveals something that most people should have seen coming, but somehow I was dumb enough to have not guessed it exactly. Remember, these are villains that we’re dealing with. I need to wise up a bit.
  • This book is finally coming out of the lull that it was treading water in for a number of months.
  • Next month: Siege! Maybe we’ll begin to unravel the mystery of how long Loki has been controlling major players in the Marvel Universe. If this is an event 7 years in the making, is he the culprit of House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion, et cetera?

Fails:

  • Some people may think that having two artists’ work in one book would detract from it, but I think it works in this instance. That said, I thought it worked much better in the last issue.
  • The dialogue near the end of the issue was a bit wasteful with all of the “ums” and “uhs” I know that the rest of the Dark Avengers are dumbfounded, I can see the looks on their faces. I guess I just wanted more of a conclusive ending to the scene. I suppose they were all too shocked to speak.
  • In this issue, we see Venom (posing as Spider-Man) looking “normal” in public. In previous issues he’s been drawn in full Venom symbiote freak out mode when in public, even if not in battle. The lack of consistency is a bit jarring.
  • A few of the panels were re-used a bit cheaply for effect.
  • When I saw Horn’s name on the cover, I was looking forward to a chunk of painted pages from him, but his art was used sparingly. At least the first page was delicious.
  • Deodato must be married to a female contortionist. His women, especially Victoria Hand, twist their bodies into pretzels and have the consistency of a Stretch Armstrong doll.
  • This story arc just ended, as far as I can tell, and I feel like we spent 2 issues meandering when we could have been having more fun with Molecule Man and his imaginary/molecular “friends”.

Verdict: B

New Avengers Annual 3

The chicks suit up to save Clint Barton in an estrogen-laden annual.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mike Mayhew
Inks: Mike Mayhew
Colors: Andy Troy

Wins:  

  • For me, there are two reasons to pick up this issue, the first is Mike Mayhew’s art. It’s everything I’d like to see when it comes to character portrayal, fluidity, and aesthetics. It’s very crisp, easy to follow, and looks gorgeous and life-like.
  • The second reason is for the reveal on the final page. Steve Rogers appears in the stars and bars and asks his cronies if they’re ready for battle.
  • Barton finally apologizes to Spider-Man for losing his cool in The List one-shot.
  • Mentallo is revealed as an Osborn conspirator who tortures Clint by forcing him to relive his deaths in Avengers: Disassembled and House of M.
  • Sentry doesn’t die! He’s 2 for 2 in annuals this year. Has Bendis turned over a new leaf?
  • Osborn and Co. are foiled again in their attempts to capture the elusive New Avengers when they arrive moments after they’ve abandoned their hideout. Who doesn’t love to see Osborn go ape over yet another failure as the man in charge.
  • This does set the stage for Siege much better than Siege: The Cabal does. Buy this and Dark Avengers Annual 1 instead.

Fails:  

  • On the cover in the solicits, Jewel (Jessica Jones)’s face is different than it is on the actual cover. Why the change, Marvel? The first cover was much prettier. Maybe that was why they opted to change it.
  • In some of Mayhew’s frames he drew Spider-Woman with the webbing under her arms and in other frames he drew her sans webbing. Some consistency would have been nice.
  • The fact that Avengers: Dark Reign – The List came out when it did really screwed up the story flow in New Avengers. This annual resolves what happened in The List one-shot which came out September 9. Poor planning on Marvel’s part. Especially since Clint Barton was in the three issues in between The List and the annual and was not in custody.
  • The New Avengers are homeless once again after Sentry destroyed Bucky’s abode.
  • As in Dark Avengers Annual 1, Venom (posing as Spider-Man) is in full slaughter mode. Not very believable if he’s trying to be the real Spider-Man.
  • You could argue that the consumer paid $5 for the one page reveal at the end. I don’t exactly feel that way because I enjoyed this issue, but the argument could be made.

Verdict: B

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

The Secret Warriors throw down with the Dark Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R.

Punisher 10

Punisher10

Frank is out to beat down The Hood like he does all thugs.

Story: Rick Remender
Pencils: Tan Eng Huat
Inks: Tan Eng Huat
Colors: Lee Loughridge

Wins:

  • The Hood’s resurrected rats are sytematically slaughtered straightaway by the brutal Castle.
  • Huat’s art is quite crisp and does well with the story.
  • Remender writes some great dialogue for The Hood. His work on this title is quality.
  • Frank ruthlessly refuses to kill G.W. Bridge to resurrect his and Microchips family, but Microchip does the deed and Frank kills their newly revived family members as quickly as they’re brought back by using a Hood minion to torch them.
  • Frank then proves to Parker Robbins that he cannot be manipulated by him, and makes him pay for his arrogance.

Fails:

  • Frank looks older when drawn by Huat. I prefer the way that Opena drew Castle.
  • Huat doesn’t capture the nuances of Henry as well as Opena. I loved the random stickers of Fugazi and posters of Black Flag, among other punk rock references that added nuance to the Opena run.
  • Punisher’s current outfit is a bit corny looking. I’d like it to have a more traditional skull on the front.
  • Frank’s arsenal of stolen weaponry seems to have gone missing. Maybe it’s all been blown to smitherines after his truck exploded. I’m sad to see the Ant-Man helmet go. I thought that was quite fun.

Verdict: B-

Some salacious and stupendous scenes from Dark Avengers 10.

Here are my picks for this month’s most appealing covers.

Highlights from Dark Reign: The List – Punisher, and Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine.

New Avengers 58
 
NewAvengers58

Disregard the cover. The Hood did NOT pwn any Avengers in this issue.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Dave McCaig
 
Wins:
  • Ms. Marvel reminds Norman Osborn that he’s no match for her after a chase that ends abruptly. Great scene.
  • Osborn gets a lesson in teamwork.
  • The scene where Night Nurse puts Karla Sofen in her place is excellent. When Moonstone is frustrated, it always tickles my insides.
  • We see how adament Jessica Jones is about doing the right thing, rather than the easy thing.
  • Bucky Cap throws down with Daken and Ares and puts up a fight, considering.
  • This is what Dark Reign should have featured more of…Dark Avengers vs. New Avengers battles.

Fails:

  • The cover has (almost) nothing to do with the issue.
  • McCaig colored Moonstone’s entire legs red, which was really awkward looking.
  • Spider-Woman has no dialogue, and may as well have been on a walkabout with Wolverine.
  • The Hood hasn’t been put out of the reader’s misery yet.
  • If you assume we’ve read Dark Avengers 10, Venom should be back at Avengers Tower to re-evaluate his meds and psychological state.

Verdict: B+