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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Incredible Hulk 605

The return of Tyrannus! Moloids attack! Manhattan crumbles! Can Banner and son save the day?

Story: Greg Pak
Art: Ariel Olivetti
Pencils: Paul Pelletier
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Chris Sotomayor

Wins:

  • This is an excellent way to end the first big storyline of this run of Incredible Hulk.
  • Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’ve really enjoyed this arc. Bruce Banner can’t Hulk-out and is training his son, Skaar, to kill Hulk the next time he gets angry. I love all of the gadgets that Banner has in his infinite knapsack. His smack-talking demeanor is a clever change of pace.
  • This issue is a well constructed story that segues into Fall of the Hulks quite nicely.
  • Pak’s pacing and dialogue is pitch perfect and portrays each character with ease. I really love Greg Pak, and am very satisfied with his work on this book.
  • Pak goes back to his days writing Planet Hulk to tie together how Mole Man came to be the leader of Moloids from the planet Sakaar.
  • Olivetti’s art is lovely, as always. His version of Human Torch is unique, and I like how he draws Mr. Fantastic. I just wish that he’d do every page of every issue. I’m sure it comes down to time constraints that he can’t meet, so maybe having another guest artist helps to keep the book on time. Paul Pelletier does half a dozen pages in this one.
  • I dug the Fantastic Four team-up, if you can call it that. They would have been there to battle Mole Man anyway. Bruce Banner has lost Reed Richards’ trust when Bruce nearly admits that he staged the fight to train Skaar and knew that Tyrannus had stolen the dome technology.
  • I love how it’s nearly a free-for-all between all parties. If they aren’t physically battling, they’re verbally battling. Pak wrote a nifty little four-way chess match to end this story arc.

Fails:

  • This is bound to be the last Incredible Hulk issue where Bruce Banner can’t Hulk-out. I was hoping it would last for a few story arcs. We now return you to “HULK SMASH!!!”. Bah!
  • Some of Olivetti’s backgrounds are a bit cumbersome and lack ambiance.
  • This book would be in my top 3 favorites if Olivetti did the artwork on every page.
  • I prefer Giuseppe Camuncoli as the secondary artist. If Olivetti moves on, I’d love for Camuncoli to take his place. Camuncoli has some pages in Incredible Hulk 604 if you’re curious to see some of his work.
  • The Savage She-Hulk sub-story is something that I could go without. The art is decent, the writing isn’t bad, but I just don’t see the relevance quite yet. Maybe Lyra’s role in Fall of the Hulks will change my mind.

Verdict: A-

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-

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-

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-

Daredevil 501

Daredevil501

A fantastic cover that is actually indicative of what happens in the issue. New Avengers 58, take notice.

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

Wins:

  • As sad as it was to see the Diggle/De La Torre duo leave Thunderbolts, I’m pleased to have their blatant talent on display in DD.
  • De La Torre’s new look Hand Ninjas give the reader a nice feel now that Murdock is in charge.
  • Diggle doesn’t waste any time getting the ball rolling on his run as Matt confronts Izo.
  • Diggle nails the character voices and has great command of the dialogue.
  • The pages that De La Torre turned in for this issue are beautiful and really work to give the book a dark feel, while nicely highlighting and putting accents in the right places.

Fails:

  • I find myself shooting blanks when it comes to criticizing anything in this issue.

Verdict: A

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+