|By Zach Patterson||Tuesday, 27 Jul 2010|
In 2010, Mike, Andrew, Cameron-50, and Zach formed an alliance of elite comics readers that would unite and talk about comics on a website. TOGETHER, THEY FORM THE MIGHTY OPERATION CO-MACZ! These are their stories.
Impressions: While Civil War was raging on Earth, the ad-wizards at Marvel decided to dust off several cosmic characters and create a colossal event for fans who needed a break from Cap’n America vs. Iron Man. In doing so, they pulled out a bunch of heroes and villains I could not have cared less about and made me fall in love with them.
The story revolves around Annihilus invading with a slew of baddies from the Negative Zone in an attempt to take over our galaxy. This brings some of the cosmic heavy-hitters like Galactus, Thanos, and Silver Surfer into the fray, as well as many characters that had not been inked in decades. While the story may sound a bit simplistic,the writing and character development keep you interested and on the edge of your proverbial seat throughout the series. The success of Annihilation served as a total reboot for Marvel’s cosmic universe, which is still going strong today (nearly four years after the end of Annihilation). Whether your interest in Marvel’s cosmic roster is minimal or extreme, you should read through this series and beyond. - mig
Impressions: This issue is of course a big round number, so it’s sort of a big deal. It’s basically a time travel tale that accentuates the longevity of Batman and how no matter when. there will always be Batman to fight crime. It’s kind of cool. The caper the Batmans are trying to solve takes the reader through campy early Batman, modern non-Bruce Wayne Batman, future Damian Wayne Batman, Batman Beyond, and a bunch of other future versions I didn’t recognize. Along the way, each one is drawn by different and great artists, so this issue is quite the treat visually. Andy Kubert, Frank Quitely, and Tony Daniel are all among my favorite artists. I guess my issue with it is that it was a little hard to follow and they crammed a ton of shit into the issue. The Damian Wayne part was by far the most interesting though. Also great pin up art at the end, along with cool tech diagrams of the Batcave. - Zach
Verdict: Story was confusing and took a second read to kinda understand. Everything else was excellent.
Impressions: For as much acclaim as this got, I feel like I missed something. Maybe it’s just not a good trade to pick up as you are trying to get into Batman’s current stories, but this series is kinda hard to follow, goofy, and seems a bit implausible. This is another one of those “series of villains decides to tear Batman’s life apart” story, but the manner it is done is strange and seems way too easy. Batman seems too willing to show his identity to a new girlfriend who is obviously a plant, Batman apparently has been conditioned for trigger words which render him immobile, then villains just wander into his Batcave and fuck up the place. Then they load Bruce Wayne full of drugs and dump him on the street where he doesnt’t remember anything, but takes up a new Batman identity wearing purple, red, and yellow while consulting a Bat-mite that apparently exists only in his mind. It’s…odd. I’m also not a big fan of the main villain pretending to be Bruce Wayne’s dad and messing with the core of Batman’s origin. I guess that is the reason to do it, but I feel it isn’t approached well here. The ending isn’t really an ending and leaves you with a lame cliffhanger that wasn’t resolved until Final Crisis. Also, there’s a ton of characters and references here that would have been well served with like a one page recap. Going in cold kinda sucks on this.
On the plus side, The Joker is awesome in this and he was characterized perfectly. Tony Daniel did an awesome job with the art, and the covers by Alex Ross are perfect as usual. The front is one of my favorite pieces of Batman art ever. - Zach
Verdict: Has its moments, but ultimately disappointing. Doesn’t work well as a collected edition.
May 2010 marks a big day for Marvel, as Siege, in all its forms, has finally ended. Rising from the ashes of Asgard is the new “The Heroic Age,” an overall cast throughout marvel focusing more on teams and titles than crossover events and universe spanning changes. Of course, at the center of all this is the Avengers (now overseen, but not “lead” by the resurrected Steve Rogers) in their many forms. I’ve read all the intro issues and a few deeper into each, but this will just cover the first four issues, and if they’re worth running with.
Impressions: A good tone is set with none other than Kang on the first few pages. The main Avengers team consists of Thor, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, Iron Man, Wolverine and Captain America (Bucky). Everyone is well written here and it seems like a solid beginning for the core title of The Heroic Age, especially if any of these Avengers are characters you’re interested in, as they make a pretty diverse bunch. You’ve got the still-reluctant and morose Tony Stark, ever-clowning Peter Parker, slowly Westernized, righteous and clever Thor…etc. Kang is a classic villain and introduces a time tested (sorry for the pun) time travelling plot with a great reveal at the end. The art is rather solid, with the splash pages being put to good use for a nice “here’s your starting line-up” piece and an awesome out-of-nowhere action piece. One my one peeve is the way John Romita Jr. draws faces, but it is a minor quibble with otherwise bright, vibrant and well-detailed and interesting pages. A good start and a good foundation for The Heroic Age. - Mike
The New Avengers #1
Impressions: Here’s your more off-beat, lighter take on the Avengers. Tony Stark sells the Avengers’ Mansion to Luke Cage for $1 and Steve Rogers let’s him choose anyone he likes to be on his team, with some simple instructions – “Go save the world.” Before the team is chosen and moves into their new home, however, is another classic Marvel trope – mysticism – setting up the plot, with Doctor Strange, Jericho, Daimon Hellstrom and the new Sorcerer Supreme, Brother Voodoo, dealing with some Eye of Agamatto problems. Not so clever of a villainous motive, but a cool starting point that really gets wild in the next few issues. The New Avengers are Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Jessica Jones and The Thing. Victoria
Hand is their token sexy reformed acronym loving secretary. I’m not a fan of three of them being dual-teamers, but it does work as far as the team feel and writing goes. Wolverine makes a crack at the issue, so that’s fine. I can dig it. The art is probably my favorite of The Heroic Age Avengers, being punchy, flashy and with a great sense of depth that can feel a little like looking at the world in HDR, but for me it really works in its comicy-ness. If I could have this as my main team of Avengers, I probably would, with only a few exceptions. This is my favorite title of the new bunch. - Mike
Secret Avengers #1
Impressions: Here’s your dark, experimental title. Starring Steve Rogers, Valkyrie, War Machine, Beast, Ant-Man, Moon Knight, Sharon Carter and Good-Evil favorite, Nova. They’re your standard team that sneaks around eliminates the deadliest societal/world/galactic threats before anyone can find out about it. This harks back to 2000s Marvel’s darker times, with two team members getting rocked in the first issue and more following later on in the series. Everything is darker and tenser than in the other titles, including the art and writing. Most of the story seems to take place at night under overcast skies, which is a little cliche but not a huge bother, as it serves for a brief but awesome burst of wild space action with Nova. There’s no “battle a main Marvel villain who is a threat to our very existence” of Avengers or “let’s have an awesome battle full of explosions and one-liners in the middle of NYC” of New Avengers. Nevertheless, the steady, tense atmosphere of Secret Avengers should serve as a nice b-side to the overall feel of the rest of The Heroic Age. - Mike
Avengers Academy #1
Impressions: Lastly, our go-to “teen” comic with all new characters! GET PUMPED!! Sorry. So we’ve got this rag tag bunch of new super heroes being trained by some old super heroes. Usual story. The kids in the academy are Veil, Mettle, Hazmat, Reptil, Striker and Finesse. You can probably guess their powers. The staff consists of Quicksilver, Hank Pym, Tigra, Justice and Robbie Baldwin (formerly Penance formerly Speedball, now back to Speedball, probably because you can’t have a guy in a literal iron maiden torture device costume bleeding all over the place trying to teach kids not to blow up a town like he did). The students are all former torturees of Norman Osborn, and the Avengers are sticking their best misfits to train them – flip-flopper Quicksilver, spouse abuser and general psycho Mr. Pym, demon lover Tigra, Marvel’s director of patricide Justice and the aforementioned burner of children Speedball. The art is boring, and aside from a few nods to old Avengers story lines via artwork projected in the Infinite Avengers Mansion, is really uninspired. It feels like someone at Marvel said, “Just make this comic look like it was published in the year 2010. Don’t try anything stupid.” It isn’t awful, but it is a bit of a turn off. The writing is geared for teens, I guess, and I don’t mind current event jokes (Twilight and Oprah are referenced, LOLOLOL is used as a text message) or “real life” problems (everyone feels weird about their bodies, both the students and the teachers are feeling quite emotional, etc.), but every new character is flat. The kids find out why they’re actually being trained at the acadmeny at the end, which is a waste, and could have been held for a few more issues. The dialog is overwrought and banal. I felt like this could have had potential about a third of the way through, but by the end I was pissed off. It feels like another wasted opportunity to inject some new blood into Marvel. A different writer and artist could make it happen, but not the current duo. - Mike
Impressions: I’ve been rewatching the Firefly/Serenity stuff lately, and after 2 good mini-series in Better Days and Those Left Behind, I thought the idea of a Wash solo tale would be pretty great, especially since this if the first post-Serenity movie tale. They even got Patton Oswalt to write it, so I figured it would be funny. Instead, it’s just kind of okay. They made the choice to focus on three of Wash’s previously unseen friends and I don’t really care about them, and each one tells a story about Wash, which turn out to be not terribly interesting. And while the art is decent, it fails to capture the essence of the actors from the series like the previous two series. The best part of the issue, and the best reason to read it, is the cameo by Zoe at the end as she shows off her surprise. - Zach
Impressions: I read this mini series as a precursor to reading the Annihilation storyline. As someone who has never really paid attention to the Marvel cosmic characters and in general does not regularly pay attention to big crossover events, I was intrigued to get to know some of the players before digging right into Annihilation. The series can be divided in half between two story lines.
Issues #1-6 deal with Thanos’ attempt at redemption by helping out the Rigellians whom he once caused untold trauma to. The tale brings Thanos against Galactus and gives a brief history of each character. The attitude of Thanos is not presented in a whimsical paradigm shift of ethics, rather Jim Starlin uses Thanos’ natural curiosity and contemplativeness to show how Thanos came to desire redemption. His attempts to do good are cold and calculating, requiring the reader to go beyond base emotions to relate. Adam Warlock and Pip from Infinity Watch are along for the ride, giving support when needed. The role of Galactus is questioned when he potentially finds an alternate source of energy to quell his never-ending hunger. The final showdown between Thanos and Galactus is mighty, but presented with a twist that puts each of their motives into question.
Issues #7-12 have Thanos travelling to the Kyln, a prison power plant located at The Crunch on the edge of the universe. His purpose is a pilgrimage but he finds himself wrapped up in the affairs of Mistress Death, the prison population, and some hidden powerful entities. This story admittedly kept me a little confused as to the point but as a tie-in to Annihilation, it makes sense.
The art throughout is colorful and detailed, but leaves room for lots of shadows and grim panels when necessary. There are plenty of characters here that make cameo appearances and many tie in to the Annihilation storyline. As someone who knew very little about the cosmic characters, I felt this series was a good launching point. - Andrew
Impressions: This is the latest (and just completed) X-Title crossover that is the culmination of the few that came before it (Messiah Complex, Necrosha, etc). The gist of the story is that the first mutant born since M Day was taken into the future by Cable to become battle-hardened and is now back to bring salvation to the mutants now that they are in a monster struggle with basically every suit-and-tie wearing X-baddie from the past 30 years. Sound convoluted? Its an X-crossover; of course it is.
The overall tone of the crossover is pretty dark and fairly bleak, giving a perfect setting for the storyline. The action is non-stop and really great…for a while. Much like the other X-crossovers I’ve read over the past few years, there is a terrible problem with pacing. Tension builds and builds during the first half to three-fourths of the story, calms down slightly before the final fight, then the big finale ultra-battle comes down to one anti-climactic panel. On the plus side, I really did like the post-coital pages of the last book – they did a great job of dividing up the X’ers and setting up storylines for all the upcoming X-books. If you’ve even halfway kept up with the X-Men over the past few years, this is certainly a worthwhile read. - mig
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