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

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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 Avengers Annual 1

Holy balls! It's Marvel Boy aka Noh-Varr!

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey
Colors:
Antonio Fabela & Chris Bachalo

Wins:

  • We finally learn where Marvel Boy has been since he went AWOL.
  • If you’re a fan of Noh-Varr, the fact that Bendis souped him up in this annual means he has the potential to be a key player in the near future.
  • Bachalo’s art is quite nice. I know there are plenty of Bachalo fans out there, so you’ll be pleased with the art he turned in for this one (with a few exceptions).
  • The character interactions between Annie and Noh-Varr are excellent. This is where Bendis’ strengths lie as a writer. Let’s hope he keeps her as a constant character.
  • The battle between Noh-Varr and Sentry was pretty sweet, and shockingly, Sentry DOESN’T DIE!
  • This does set the stage for Siege much better than Siege: The Cabal does. Buy this and New Avengers Annual 3 instead.

Fails:

  • Marvel Boy’s new costume is absolutely ridiculous. He looks like Space Ghost. What was wrong with his old outfit? At least his appearance wasn’t ambiguous. His identifiable white hair should have been left exposed.
  • The fact that Bendis is making Noh-Varr a more powerful character means that there should be more Marvel Boy appearances. For readers who didn’t know who he was before are going to have no idea who he is when they see him in his new outfit. They’ll be asking themselves: “who is this character and why should we care?!”.
  • Some of Bachalo’s sans background frames leave something to be desired.
  • Why is Venom, who’s supposed to be gallivanting as Spider-Man, in full freak mode in the streets? Clearly the real Spider-Man can’t manipulate his shape as the Venom symbiote can.
  • The reveal at the very end really underlines the debacle that Marvel has created with a certain mini-series that is near its conclusion. It has to do with a certain Avenger *cough, Cap, cough.

Verdict: B-

My favorite group of anti-heroes are back at it again. Mister X is thirsty for some blood. Ant-Man provides us with some comic relief. And of course, there’s plenty of backstabbing and treachery.

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-

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

Avengers: The Initiative 29

ATI29

I dig the cover, but maybe that's because I have a soft spot for Penance.

Story: Christos N. Gage
Pencils: Jorge Molina
Inks: Victor Olazaba
Colors: Edgar Delgado

Wins:

  • Gage’s story paired with Molina’s art makes this one of the best issues of the Initiative since its inception.
  • Molina’s art is of the highest quality. You almost don’t need dialogue to figure out the story. All of his characters are so emotive and expressive.
  • Gage wrote the best lines that Night Thrasher has ever uttered, and he uttered them to the half-wit know as The Hood.
  • This issue pieces together a number of storylines that have been percolating for many issues, and even spanning different books (Thunderbolts, New Warriors, etc.).
  • The scene between Penance and Trauma was tense great.
  • The Constrictor/Diamondback duo worked well on multiple levels. I’m looking forward to that continuing.
  • The final page makes you yearn for the next issue. The balance between art and dialogue is perfect.

Fails:

  • Donyell (Night Thrasher: take two) is just as obnoxiously hell-bent on resurrecting his dead brother Dwayne (Night Thrasher: numero uno) as he always has been. He’s as mentally unstable of a character as Osborn or Sentry. That said, it’s no fault of Gage, he wrote him perfectly.
  • I would have liked for Von Blitzschlag to have had more lines. He’s much like Taskmaster…the more lines, the better.
  • Jorge Molina isn’t the penciler for every issue. His are is really fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I like Sandoval’s work, but Molina is something special.

Verdict: A

Some salacious and stupendous scenes from Dark Avengers 10.