Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Pull List

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #627: The Gauntlet Continues! Although this is kind of an interlude to the Gauntlet story it does carry the main concepts. Peter is still out of work and he's still trying to maintain his truce with his evil roomie and he's still trying to forge something of a relationship with Carlie Cooper, who I like MUCH more than Mary Jane, by the way.
But where it wanders is we don't have a fight with a traditional Spider-Man villain.
The issue opens with a meteor hitting Central Park. At least we THINK it's a meteor until Spidey arrives on scene and sees an badly beaten and unconscious Juggernaught!
The big question is: Who stopped him?
While Spidey ponders this he finds a car on top of something it shouldn't be on and after questioning the very drunk man inside he gets his first clue: a man in a blue and white outfit who can fly.
At first Spidey doesn't think much of it until, while questioning the Juggernaut, he is given the same description!
Unfortunately, Spidey doesn't have much time to think about this before a man in a blue and white outfit smashes through the wall...

The art in this issue is by Lee Weeks, I've always loved his Spider-Man so I'm very happy with the art and Roger Stern's writing has a very old school feel to it, complete with the references to older issues which I always loved. Another fine Brand New Day-era issue!

FANTASTIC FOUR #577: Somethings going on here. Over the last handful of issues we've had new cities and new races introduced to the Marvel Universe.
I have the feeling it's building to something big.
This issue focuses on the full origin of the Inhumans. We know what we know about the Kree experimenting on humans centuries ago and creating the Inhumans, we presumed, as living weapons for their empire.
This was partially true but not completely.

It's kind of difficult to explain what all happens here as this it just part of a bigger puzzle that is slowly coming together. Needless to say the new group of Inhumans, from different species that the Kree did their thing to, have decided it's time to create a new Hala, a new home. And they have a place in mind, there's just one problem: We already live her!
JACK OF FABLES #44: Jack is still involved with a rather twisted King who is determined to maintain his rule and for some reason wants to live under the shadow of a monster who kills virgins and takes gold.
But why?
Jack is on his way to finding out, though he doesn't realize it yet, as he decides to take the fight to the monster man himself.
On the way, he fights the kings men, gets blown up, gets saved from being blown up by his witch friend, finds a space bound elevator and fights robot birds.

A very fun issue though maybe a little slow compared to the adventures of Jack Horner.
I kid.

PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #5 of 5: The big finale! This was actually a really nice issue for me, I always love seeing the Elders of the Universe getting involved in something.
And when their plans include 5 different versions of Deadpool you know it's gotta be something big.
Okay, so, The Contemplator has decided to gather the Deadpools for a fight against an enemy who threatens the whole of the universe.
Sounds interesting.
It'll be even more interesting when we find out who or what this threat is.
This is just a lead in to the ongoing DEADPOOL CORPS which will cover the fight against the mystery villain. Though, personally, this could have been the first five issues of the series I still enjoyed it. I also don't think DEADPOOL CORPS will last very long. It's a bit much and Marvel will be in danger of running out of red ink.

The Long Box #7

Words: Simon Furman
Pictures: Bryan Hitch
December 1988

Death's Head has a rather interesting publishing history. To cover it we must first begin with the TransFormers. Back in the 1980's the Robots in Disguise were all the rage. In the U.S., Marvel Comics had been publishing them for years then when the movie was released in 1987 Marvel's UK publishing arm started to do a series based on the property.
The difference was in the US we had the pre-movie characters like Megatron, Starscream, Optimus Prime, Jazz and others. In the UK series Galvatron, Rodimus Prime, Kup, Ultra Magnus and other introduced in the movie were used.
At some point it was decided that Galvatron was going to hire a bounty hunter to kill the Autobot leader Rodimus Prime. That bounty hunter was going to be Death's Head.
The problem was Marvel liked the character to much for him to be a throwaway character and knew if Death's Head's first appearance was in TRANSFORMERS then Hasbro would own the rights to the character so the decision was made to put together a one page strip (High Noon Tex, shown right) where Death's Head would make his first official appearance before he appeared in TRANSFORMERS. So, with Death's Head now owned fully by Marvel things could move forward for him, yes?

The character would make a few more appearances in TRANSFORMERS then later he would pop up in DOCTOR WHO and finally in DRAGON'S CLAWS where he would be, presumably, destroyed. Up to this point we learned a few things about him...he wasn't human or a robot in the traditional sense, he referred to himself as a mechanoid, his left hand could be removed and replaced with any number of weapons he carried on his back, most of which were very lethal. He has a peculiar was of speaking as well. He would often end sentences with 'yes?', 'right?' or 'eh?' (see High Noon Tex for examples). Finally, and most entertaining, at some point he decided he didn't like being called a bounty hunter, he preferred the term "Freelance Peacekeeping Agent". If anyone called him a bounty hunter they most often only did it once...because it's hard to talk when you're dead.

So, DEATH'S HEAD #1 opens with DH (Death's Head, duh) stalking a target and going through his rules. For example, his programmer told him, "...always remember never to kill unless it's for a profit.' He follows it with: "I've almost always stuck to those words of wisdom. My programmer was one of the few exceptions. I killed him for fun, yes?"
We soon learn these are memories of past exploits and that he's in a lab somewhere and he's been rebuilt and fitted with new weapons and clothes and he's to be used to hunt down a group of villains called the Evil Dead.
DH goes through all his memories, basically rebooting himself then decides it's time to move after being dormant for so long.

This is probably one of the best introduction issues I've read. Even after having not read it in years and even though it was published over 20 years ago, it still stands up pretty well. The script gives you all you need to know about who and what this guy is even if you had never read anything he was in before.Simon Furman is top shelf when it comes to writing stuff about robots, he is the premier writer of the Transformers comics.
On the art side, I was surprised to see the name Bryan Hitch. recently he drew FANTASTIC FOUR during Mark Millar's run and it was a run I wasn't happy with. His biggest success was with Marvel's CIVIL WAR book. His style here, though, is very simple as it should be. Death's Head is a pretty basic character and could be seen as the template for the 1990's 'dark heroes' like Punisher, Ghost Rider and Deadpool.
I have to admit, I miss this character a lot. In the 90's Marvel brought him back only to kill him and give him a new body in DEATH'S HEAD II which was fun for what it was but it didn't have the charm that the Original Death's Head had. His design is one of my all time favorite character designs. Just look at the cover of his first issue, how is that not an interesting look?

Overall, this book still does it's job at entertaining and is still one of my all time favorite single issues. I do recommend this one.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Long Box #6

Words: Howard Mackie
Pictures: John Romita Jr.
December 1991

Back in the 1990's it was all about the bad ass characters. Heroes who would do what needed to be done to save lives and kick as much ass as possible.

The story of this one shot special is simple enough: Blackheart, the son of Mephisto, wants to kill his dad and take over his realm. He feels his father is outdated and he claims he doesn't want to be the devil dad is.
The quickest way out of this situation is to kill his father. Yeah, I know, how can you kill a being that represents evil and technically isn't a real being? It doesn't matter, really, one can figure only Blackheart can kill Mephisto because Blackheart is already wanting to take over.

To achieve his goals, Blackheart sends letters to three of Marvel's biggest bad asses: the Spirit of Vengreance: Ghost Rider, the X-Men's resident ass kicker: Wolverine and everyone's favorite gun man: The Punisher. He promises to give to thm ethe one thing they each want: An origin, memories returned and a family saved. He lures them to a small town called Christ's Crown and makes the offers which are promptly refused.
Blackheart doesn't take rejection well and takes over the town leading the trio to a final fight in hell itself.

The story focuses more on Ghost Rider than the others. This came out towards the end of Ghost Rider's second year in comics and not much had been revealed about his origins yet. In his monthly title we had John Blaze, the Ghost Rider in the 1970's thru 1980's, show up thinking this Ghost Rider was the same demon that made him Ghost Rider. That is one thing that carries over in this one shot as Blackheart promises to return Ghost Rider to his former glory and the devourer of souls who was Mephisto's greatest rival: Zarathos. This was one of the first times we started to get the idea that this was a different demon, if, in fact, this was a demon.
So, Dan Ketch, this Ghost Rider's human host, learns he doesn't really need the bike to transform, which wasn't something that really impacted the book for a while after this came out... and we also see Ghost Rider to head to head with Blackheart. He takes his gloves off and punches Blackheart's 'face' off literally.

Overall, it was a nice story although in retrospect I don't understand why this couldn't have been a done in one story in the monthly or maybe part of an Annual but it's a fun read. The main draw back I found was the story was pretty short. From the three main characters showing up to the resolution of the conflict, it just seemed to neat.
But that's what sequels are for I guess...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Favorite Covers #6

LOBO #3 (ongoing)
Cover Date: March 1994

I love Lobo. He's really the only character in the DC Universe that I can follow and, depending on how he's written, enjoy fully. He was the first DC character that I was able to get into because I didn't need to know a lot of continuity to really enjoy him.
Normally, I don't mind learning continuity, I'm not a lazy comics fan like a lot seem to be these days, but I was and still am a Marvel Guy.

Lobo is fun. He tends to break a lot of comic book rules and, at time, has broken the fourth wall and to an extent has acknowledged he exists in a comic book universe.

I love this cover as it's the first time, that I'm away of, that a main character has actually used his books logo as a lethal weapon. Only Lobo could do this. I know, "Deadpool can do it!" but Deadpool's logo doesn't have sharp edges like Lobo's does!
The sad thing is this series, unlike the previous one shots and miniseries', was a PG book. They watered the Main Man down a LOT and it did take away from some of the fun. It's wasn't the worst thing though. I enjoyed it.

The Long Box

Words: Batton Lash
Pictures: John Buscema (Punisher) and Stan Goldberg (Archie)
August 1994

The Punisher is after a very bad man. This is normal. What ISN'T normal is hes working for the government, 'lowering' his standards as his sidekick Microchip says, and he leaves New York while tracking the bad guy, "Red" Fever down.

The trail leads to a small town called Riverdale where then people seem a little different.

One thing I did like about this was while the Punisher was in Riverdale he notices the things that make it a 'nice' town. People can walk the streets without fear of crime, the schools don't have metal detectors and aren't vandalized. It seems as though part of Frank wants to stay here but after completing his job he seems to go back to the way he normally is.

The art is really interesting in this one, because the two characters are drawn in a very different style, Marvel and Archie Comics both had artists that drew their respective characters, this way Punisher looked right as did the Archie gang. Also, MANY cameos from the Archie Universe: Josie and the Pussycats, Millie The Model, Patsy Walker and even though she isn't really seen, Sabrina the Teenage Witch makes a comment: " I asked the Doctor if the Hosts of Hoggoth were really Hoary..." implying she met Dr. Strange at one time. Personally, I would LOVE to see this one!

So, while the book isn't very deep and doesn't really effect the continuity of either character (does Archie have any continuity?) it does fit in with the Crossover Craze of the early/mid 1990's because at the end of it, Microchip remarks their next stop is Gotham City, referring to the two Marvel/DC crossovers with The Punisher and Batman.

Fun read, not a major thing but just fun.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Pull List

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #626: The Gauntlet Continues! After last week's phenomenal issue featuring the Rhino I was wondering how much of a let down this issue would be.
I wasn't let down, much to my surprise. This issue was actually a really good follow-up. This one features more of the fall out of Parker getting fired for faking a photo to save JJJ's reputation and political career.
It begins at the apartment Parker is still sharing with the Roommate From Hell. She is talking to a rather mean looking dude and after he leaves Parker decides to follow the guy because he's setting of the ol' Spider Sense.
What Spider-Man finds is a gathering of thugs that was pulled together by Bushwacker and Tombstone who called the gathering on behalf of the new Kingpin of Crime: The Hood!
Beyond the surprise of seeing these three goons, I had to wonder what was going on as well as what the panels showing a woman with a tail attacking guys meant... What we find is Hood purchased the original Scorpion battlesuit from Norman Osborn and means to find a new Scorpion.
While Spider-Man is learning all this he has a rather interesting confrontation with a woman dressed as 'Scorpion'? Yeah, if memory serves this was a female Scorpion first introduced in the AMAZING FANTASY revival series a few years back (if anyone can fill in the blanks on this lady, I'd appreciate it!). So, they fight and we learn Scorpion isn't there to fight but she wants the battlesuit.
We also learn that Scorpion's sting can inhibit anyone's superpowers for a short time. Spidey learns this just in time to get beat up a little before the thugs begin to think he's a fake.
The long and the short of the rest of the issue shows Peter's roommate, Michele, showing up to learn the big guy she thought was an innocent man (she's a lawyer, by the way) is actually the criminal he always was, Peter has to save her, himself AND the Scorpion. Spider-Man and Scorpion part ways seemingly on good terms and Peter and Michele finally have a talk and move past some of the stupidity they've been dealing with for a while.
But why did Scorpion want the battlesuit? Seems the wife and daughter of Kraven the Hunter wanted it. That was a bit of a surprise.
Overall, this was a great issue. I love the art for this series now, it's got a dark, noir style to it that really fits the tone of the story. This series continues to entertain me!

DEADPOOL #21: Alright, I'm not really get into this issue very much. I'll say I do like the art, it's very Deadpool, and I do like the teaming with Spider-Man (Sheesh, how many books does Spider-Man need to be in anyway?)
So why am I not getting into this one? Hit-Monkey. This character is such a stupid concept I had to choke my way through his portions of this issue.
Apparently, Hit-Monkey is the most feared assassin of all time. He's a MONKEY.
I don't know why this character is being treated like this, Marvel seems to think people like it. I don't...does anyone? I'm interesting in finding this our.
So, last issue Deadpool barely survived a run in with Hit-Monkey. This issue he decides to take Spidey's costume and, dressed as Spidey, gets 'killed'
This was all a set up to draw Hit-Monkey into the open. Deadpool's plan was to have the monkey arrested but was himself arrested for...
Well, it's really not that important. The issue was kind of funny but this Hit-Monkey thing just really kind of kills it. PLEASE: NO MORE HIT-MONKEY!!!

DEADPOOL CORPS: RANK AND FOUL: This is another of the Handbook style issues that gives the low down on the friends, enemies and lovers of Deadpool. From Doctor Bong to Widdle Wade you can learn what you feel you need to know from this issue.
Personally, I love the Handbooks. What they are is a way to learn some about characters, places, events, concepts in the Marvel Universe without having to chase everything down. It's like Wikipedia without all the glaring mistakes.
As I was looking through this I began to wonder if these characters in this one shot were going to be coming back in issues of DEADPOOL, makes sense...

NEW AVENGERS #63: Siege Continues! It's picking up and getting better. The better part means that this issue is actually going alongside what we see in SIEGE #3.
All hell is breaking out in Asgard. The New Avengers lead by the recently returned Captain America have arrived to help their friends, the Asgardian Gods and Goddesses.
Interjected into this main story are flashbacks to just before the fight. We get a rather interesting conversation between Luke Cage and his wife Jessica about the end of Osborn's Dark Reign and how things will be better with Captain America back. I've always thought Cage was just an interesting character but since his run in NEW AVENGERS I've learned Cage is a VERY interesting and really cool character! He's a hero. A good guy. I like that. He's tired of the Dark Reign and wants things to be the way they were. He wants to be able to help people without having to worry about being arrested and he's right. Keep an eye on Cage, I have a feeling big things are coming for him.
The other flashback concerns Ronin (the former Hawkeye) and the also recently returned Mockingbird. This is an interesting back and forth between the two and does set up the upcoming series featuring these two.
This one ends with Asgard falling and the possible second death of Mockingbird?

PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #4 of 5: You just gotta love how continuity works in the Deadpool line of books.
Somehow, Deadpool and Headpool were seperated. I say somehow because we won't learn what happened until DEADPOOL: MERC WITH A MOUTH #13 (issue 9 just came out), which I believe is also going to be the final issue of that series. So they were seperated and we will find out in a few months how it happened.
What we DO know is Headpool was found on a boat by some familiar classic TV looking fellows and taken to a scientist who apparently likes to hunt humans and perform odd experiments on animals.
A few major things happen in this issue.
First: Headpool FINALLY become mobile. The scientist guy invented a 'personal flight beenie' which is controlled by brainwaves. So with this on, Headpool can now move around without having to be carried all the time. One has to wonder if he's going to try to bite anyone now.
Second: Deadpool gets some (again) from a woman who thinks he's her long lost husband. Far be it for Deadpool to disappoint the lady. So he gets a bit of action.
Third: The last page we finally see the complete Deadpool Corps together for the first time. Next month we find out who hired Deadpool for this and why!

THOR #608: Siege Coninues! Volstagg fights the Thor Clone now called Ragnarok! Volstagg realizes he's not the real God of Thunder and also knows he cannot fight the fraud in a town, flashing back to his last fight when a stadium was destroyed killing numerous people.
He takes the fight to just below Asgard...
The Asgardians know they are losing and yet they fight on. An attempt is made to take the Norn Stones from the Hood, stones of such power that allows him to kill Asgardians.
Asgardian Tyr knows things are bleak and looks to see if any injured Asgardians are fit enough to fight only to learn the gruesome fate of Ares, God of War.
Things are very bleak in this issue and we learn how the Asgardians, even in the face of total defeat, refuse to give up.
Volstagg continues to fight Ragnarok even though he cannot hope to win. The only good that comes from the fall of Asgard is that Ragnarok was unable to get out from underneath it in time.
Siege, when done, is looking like it's going to be my second favorite event books of all time, second only to the Infinity Gauntlet crossover event!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Long Box

Words: Jim Starlin
Pictures: Ron Lim
April 1993
Collects SILVER SURFER, Volume 2 #'s 24-38

With all the excitement around the Mad Titian's return in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #24 and the upcoming Thanos-centric event I have gotten more than a little interested in reading older Thanos material.

This volume collects the return of Thanos after having been dead sine 1977's MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #2. It starts with the Surfer falling into a dream state and ending up in what he thinks is a dream in the realm of Mistress Death.
Here we learn that Death is still unhappy with a recent run in with the being known as the In-Betweener and now feels there are more living beings in the universe than have ever died. She seeks to correct this and, we hope, get out of her bad mood, but she realizes that there are rules even she must follow. She simply cannot kill for the sake of killing so she picks an avatar of sorts.

This is where Thanos comes in. In life the Titan was obsessed with Death both as a concept and as a partner. The only way he was stopped was by killing him, an event which cost the life of Adam Warlock but didn't prevent Warlock's spirit from turning Thanos into a stone statue.
So Thanos returns to comics for the first time in over a decade.
The beginning of this story serves as a great tease for what's to come. Starlin does a great job of re-introducing the character to a new generation of readers who may have never heard of him. The Surfer serves as the vehicle for this as he's never heard of Thanos (which some may find odd but you have to remember until the Surfer and Galactus came to Earth for the first time (FANTASTIC FOUR #'s 48-50), he was completely under the control of Galactus. Then, after being freed he was trapped on Earth for a very long time and I'm sure Thanos wasn't a very popular topic of discussion) and is, at first, confused by him. Thanos tries, in his way, to explain his purpose: killing half the sentient beings in the universe, as something not entirely bad.
Naturally the Surfer takes issue with it but allows Thanos to explain himself. At first, the Surfer isn't sure what to think but obviously doesn't trust Thanos, and he travels to Earth to get more information from the only group he knows who has had dealings with Thanos in the past: The Avengers.

Sidenote: It was really neat to re-read this and get to the pages where the Silver Surfer and Captain America were talking. There is just something about it, I don't know...

While all this is going on, Chronos, the Titan God, finds Thanos is returned and resurrects his creation: Drax The Destroyer. Drax is another character from the 1970's who was tasked with the killing of Thanos. The Original Drax was an interesting character but not fully fleshed out, this one was worse. His last life ended in brain death which caused this incarnation to be...well..stupid. Though this re-introduction doesn't give much indications of it other than Mentor referring to brain death.
After learning about Thanos' past exploits involving the Cosmic Cube, the Soul Gems and his demise, the Surfer then travels to Titan, the artificial moon of Jupiter which serves as home to the Titans, and the father of Thanos: Mentor. But before he can get very far he has a run in with the Impossible Man who tries to get the Surfer to 'lighten up' in order to better fight Thanos. Impossible Man was a bit of a curve here and didn't seem to really fit in until he explains he's actually scared that he may end up dead when Thanos kills half of the sentient beings in the universe. This was a fun chapter in a story that was very light on humor.
On Titian, the Surfer learns that Thanos has a long history of loving Death. Including the murder of his own mother.
While gathering information Drax shows up and gives the Surfer a hard time. Drax wants Thanos. Thanos was near the Surfer and Drax wants the Surfer to lead him to Thanos. Sounds simple but the Surfer wants nothing to do with Drax and takes him to Earth in hopes of 'ditching' him at the Four Freedoms Plaza, home of the Fantastic Four. It's kind of rude, especially for the Surfer, but entertaining in how he does it.

Now, the Silver Surfer knows fully what he faces and knows Thanos must be stopped. He begins the search.

Meanwhile... Thanos seeks out and finds his former army of killers and thugs. They are now under the command of Nebula who claims to be the granddaughter of Thanos. When Thanos shows up on his flagship he quickly takes command, kills Nebula's lover and bodyguard Geatar and puts Nebula in her place...and in a fireball. He gives his crew specific orders to fulfill while he takes in a meeting with Mistress Death who wonders why he hasn't carried out his task yet. He explains to her he needs certain tools to complete the task and that things must be done carefully else the defenders of the universe unite to stop him.
The first obstacle to go is the Silver Surfer. Thanos calls him out and in a short but telling confrontation, telling in that obviously the Surfer doesn't have enough power to stop Thanos, the Surfer destroys Thanos' chair craft and thinks he kills the Titan.
After the Surfer takes the body away to Titan for burial, Thanos reappears to explain that he had his medics alter Geatar's appearance to match his own and that the Surfer killed the wrong being, but it get the Surfer out of his way for a while.

After re-reading this I was surprised as to how well it stands up. Also, it serves as the prelude to the THANOS QUEST which I've already reviewed. It does a great job of reintroducing a character that had been dead for over a decade and sets him up to be a major baddie for a long time to come. For fans of Thanos, this is a book that comes very recommended. The version I have is the long out of print original but Marvel is reissuing the volume and I believe the reprint will also contain the legendary THANOS QUEST as well. With Thanos coming back and taking the spotlight again, fans old and new would do well to learn more about him and why he is one of Marvel's finest characters. Also, one of Marvel's more complex characters.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pull List

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #625: The Gauntlet Continues! Arguably one of the best written comics I've read in a long time.

The Original Rhino wants to live a normal life, he no longer wears the skin and he even found love and want to be a better man. He is close to it when a New Rhino comes along and for some reason thinks the only way he can be the Rhino is if he fights and kills the Original.
Spider-Man is able to convince him to not give in but in this issue he loses his wife, his love and life. It pushes him to far and he decides to give the New Rhino what he wants. And then some.

What I loved about this was that this issue is pure characterization. It's a great example of how a comic book can transcend the format and become something more.

The cover and the interior art are perfect and help the story move very fluidly. This is an issue everyone should read!

DEADPOOL: MERC WITH A MOUTH #9: Deadpool's adventures in the Zombieverse continues!

He has been able to veg out in the Zombieverse for weeks, living off snacks and playing X-Box. Headpool is getting itchy and wants to make a move.

the first thing that needs to be done is convincing Deadpool to get off his ass and do something. That's easy enough when one of the hot scientist-type women offers to give Deadpool a romp in the hay in exchange for capturing a Zombie in our to test a vaccine on it. Easy enough...easier still when the available Marvel Zombies are z-listers!

Then, after a job well done, he simply wants to stay but is convinced it's time to go home by the Voices.

This series is still fun and has seemingly found it's stride in the grand scheme of things. Art and story both work together very well.

DOOMWAR #2 of 6: The first issue was a bit of a bust, especially when you read this issue! Doom has gotten so very close and the Panther, the X-Men and their allies are storming their own land!

Doom is in his element here, absolute control over the whole situation all the way down to explaining that all the confrontations he's had with the Panther over the years have shown him what to expect from T'Challa. The dialogue in this part is great. Doom is truely one of the best baddies in the Marvel Universe!

Art-wise the book looks great, the darker style of the art gives the books a sense of urgency and dread. It's really picking up and we have 4 issues to go. Coming up still are the Fantastic Four and Deadpool!

FABLES #93: Flycatcher has a big job on his hands. When he created his kingdom of Haven he wanted it to be a place where Fables from all  walks could live together in peace. But what happens when one of Haven's populace, a Goblin, eats another Fable? It falls to Flycatcher to decide if a capitol crime which should be punishable by death should be carried out as such.

The Goblins have their own agenda: if their fellow Goblin is put to death they will revolt and destroy the kingdom.

Flycatcher holds the trial, but in the hopes of being able to free the poor goblin and in the end things turn out...very interesting.

On a personal note: This issue of Fables ties the longest running series I started from Issue #1, Ghost Rider! Starting with #94 I'm on new grounds and I'm personally very happy about this!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #24: Realm Of Kings Continues! The Magus is back and is well on his way of bringing the Deathless realm at the other end of the Fault and the gods who rule there to our universe. Phyla-Vell, Mantis and a small group of the Guardians know the truth of the Magus and move to warm Starlord and the rest but the Universal Church of Truth seeks to prevent them from doing it.

Here's the best part...this issue, while part of the Realm Of Kings, kicks off the next chapter in the Cosmic part of the Marvel Universe. Phyla tries to make up for her failure of preventing the Magus from taking over Adam Warlock by killing him. She is instructed to a room where a Cocoon is placed. It's a familiar thing to see for fans of Adam Warlock as the way he recovers from the hell he gets up through.

She is lead to believe that within the Cocoon is the key to stopping the Magus from bringing the Life Gods from destroying our universe. Turns out this is partially right. Within it WAS a being who can actually stop the Life Gods because very few know more about death and dealing it out than the being that was within the Cocoon: The Mad Titan, Thanos!
A certain HOLY CRAP moment I wasn't expecting!

NOVA #35: Realm Of Kings Continues! It's Nova, Darkhawk, Mr. Fantastic and Namorita Vs. the Sphinx! This was just an action issue which was very fun. Also, besides dealing with The Fault this series has had very little to do with the rather boring Realm Of Kings storyline.

Nova and company try their best to stay alive and stop the insane Sphinx from recreating the universe in his image. Black Bolt pays the ultimate price but the thing is since the timeline hadn't been changed yet this demise didn't count. Sounds like a cop out I know but it does make sense.

What DOES mess with things is Namorita getting rescued from The Fault with Nova. She was killed when Nitro blew up a school and began CIVIL WAR.  Nova loves her and is willing to take whatever the universe tosses at him just to keep his love alive. I'm very interested in seeing where this leads and even more excited to see this series leave Realm Of Kings and enters The Thanos Imperative!

PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #3 of 5: After last issue's introduction of  Kidpool, I wasn't sure how Deadpool Dog would be. Well, I'm still not sure after reading this. My understanding is Deadpool feels his little group needs sort of an animal mascot and that's where Deadpool Dog comes in.

The story is kind of simple and almost pointless. A dog named Wilson is tested on then tossed in the trash for dead. The dog comes back and finds it cannot die so hooks up with a circus as an act. I'm still trying to figure out the point of this character although he's not as annoying and useless as Hit-Monkey is. I REALLY don't like that character.

Not much more to say about this issue, almost a filler which, in a miniseries, isn't a good thing to have.

SIEGE #3 of 4: In a word: DAMN!

A great middle issue, this one has nearly everything a comic book needs but mostly it has something we haven't seen in a Marvel Comic in a few years: Heroes beating the tar out of villains.

Captain America and his Avengers, along side Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors, arrive on Asgard to take out Norman Osborn and his Dark Avenger and Initiative.

Some big points here: Sentry Vs. Thor. This was coming and we all knew it, what I didn't figure on is Sentry has the power to withstand all the power of Thor! Another point is Osborn. He loses it in more than one way. He loses the battle, then his armor and we see his mind is pretty much gone too.
Then there is something Osborn does. First he faces not only Captain America but the returning IRON MAN(!) Now, Tony Stark isn't happy with Osborn wearing stolen armor so he fixes that situation as the U.S. Military takes out H.A.M.M.E.R. then he tells the Sentry to not let them win, he orders Sentry to "Bring it all down!" And that's what Sentry does: he brings Asgard crashing to the ground. After Osborn loses his armor we see he was painting his face green like the Green Goblin and rants about how he was protecting everyone from HIM. Him refers to the Sentry, Osborn claims only he knew how power the man is and what the man is and without Osborn in control there is nothing to stop the Sentry.
Now, the question is, what's next? One more issue to go to find out then we enter: The Heroic Age!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Favorite Covers #5

SILVER SURFER Volume 2, Number 34
Cover Date: Feb 1990

Seeing as how Thanos is coming back (again) in a few months and I had such a good time re-reading and reviewing THE THANOS QUEST, I figured I would keep the Thanos love coming.
This issue officially began the Infinity Saga with the rebirth of Thanos at the hands of Mistress Death.

Not only did this issue feature the return of Thanos and the beginning of the Infinity Sage, it also featured a new cover logo for the Silver Surfer's comic.

You shouldn't be surprised if there is more Thanos related stuff posted soon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Pull List

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #624: The Gauntlet Continues! More of the mystery of the new Vulture is revealed and JJJ is proven innocent of having a hand in his creation. Thing order to help JJJ, Peter Parker created a picture which would have done it. Then, to make things worse, JJJ knew it was a fake and even though it was published he called a press conference and announced the photo was a fake and hung Peter out to dry.
So, peter is out of a job and is blacklisted. Things are bad and they are about to get worse.
The Vulture now knows his secret and is on a tear to get revenge for his creation.
Overall, this issue is a great follow-up to last week's issue. After stumbling with the Morbius issue the series is back on track and the Gauntlet story is speeding towards it end. Many Spider-Man villains are back and under the command of the Kraven family and Spider-Man seems to be losing control of his life.
A very exciting story and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out!

THE MYSTIC HANDS OF DOCTOR STRANGE #1: Back in the 1970's, Marvel would do these magazines that were black & white, not always set in continuity, and exempt from the restrictive Comics Code Authority. Generally cult characters like Man-Thing would get them along with TOMB OF DRACULA and RAMPAGING HULK.
That is why I picked this up. I loved reading some of those older books and this one didn't disappoint me.
This one features three traditional stories and one text story. All of them are very interesting and certainly go a long way to recapture the feeling of the Marvel Magazines.
The problem with this is these stories are hard to describe because there seems to be little continuity references here. I can say it's great seeing older characters from the Doctor Strange series like Wong and Clea!
Also, this is something I'd like to see more of. It's great having that old school comics feel, simple yet complex stories designed to do nothing more than simply entertain you.
If you're a fan of 1970's cult comics or a fan of Doctor Strange I cannot recommend this book enough. And who knows, if this sells well enough, maybe we'll get more. Afterall, it just seem right having Doctor Strange as Sorcerer Supreme instead of the current Doctor Voodoo.

PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #2 of 5: Kidpool makes his debut in this one and boy, what a debut it is! In this reality Kidpool is an orphan in The Xavier Orphanage For Troubled Boys. It's Kid X-Men basically. We meet Kidpool who doesn't really like Scott Summers (who does?) and gives him a massive wedgie.
This ends up being, so far, the most entertaining part of this dimension hopping quest Deadpool is one as Kidpool is just...well, he's just funny. It's sort of like Charlie Brown with homicidal tendencies. The jokes are well placed and the art is spot on.
Even the ending of the issue where Kidpool meets Deadpool is a great moment.
I know I'm being very vague here, but if I say to much I might spoil some of the better jokes...sorry...

ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS ADVENTURE #1 & 2: Even though the cover read AVENTURE the interior credits call it ADVENTURE, both are right.
Zombies Vs Robots stared a few years ago as a miniseries followed up by ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS VS AMAZONS with the promise of more that, until now, never came.
The premise is a good one and is further explained in this series. What we knew before was the robots were created by man to help fight the zombie menace then later their function was to protect the last remaining human child from the zombies.
This series takes place before the zombies took over. It's broken up into three stories featuring different people and places.
Before the stories begin we are given a quick explanation as to the origin of the Zombie Plague: Someone created a trans-dimensional gateway and while exploring another reality this explorer brought back an infected spoor which started the end of this world.
The first is "Kampf" which tells the story of Sgt. Davis Wade, a married man who lost his children to the zombies and who's wife would rather he stay with her than fight the zombies. He feels it's better to keep fighting in hopes of beating the menace. He uses robots to fight along with a group of people with very special talents. It's very close to a superheros vs zombies story but keep well cemented in a more realistic world and goes over very well.
Up next is "Masques" which tells the tale of a lab janitor who comes across the remains of a scientist while cleaning up the lab. This one goes back to the explanation of how this got started as we see the gateway and the lab where, we assume, the plague began. The janitor becomes the new "master" of the labs robots who help him build a suit of armor, which looks a lot like Iron Man's first armor, and he decides to try and stop the robot who he thinks killed the scientist in the first place. He quickly learns it wasn't a robot...
Finally "Zuvembies Vs Robots" is an interesting one taking place in Haiti. We find a group of men trying to survive. One of them has a plan which requires them to dig up a corpse. What's interesting is this one actually crosses flesh eating zombies with voodoo zombies. The man in charge brings back a dead man, as a zombie, who quickly kills his compatriots. When they return as zombies themselves we learn they are controlled by the man who started it all and they are, seemingly, stronger than normal zombies. An army of zombies to fight zombies.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Long Box

I know I haven't done one of these in a while, this is actually only the second one I've done but I'm trying to make it a regular thing. Here goes:

Words by Jim Starlin
Pictures by Ron Lim
Book One: September 1990
Book Two: October 1990
Collection Edition: March 2000

Thanos. One of Marvel's most iconic characters. He worships death and deals it out very well. His story is unique in that he is generally a villain, in the 1970's he tried to destroy the universe many times until he was finally killed in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #2 (1977) and was gone until his rebirth in the pages of the SILVER SURFER in the 1990's which introduced a whole new generation of comics fans to the madness of the Titian.

It goes like this: Mistress Death has decided that there are more living beings in the universe than there are dead and she seeks to correct that mistake. Her tool is the one being that spent the better part of his life dealing out the gift of death: the Mad Titan, Thanos. She charges him with a monumental task: Kill of one half of all the sentient beings in the universe.
Even though his powers were augmented by Death he knows he needs more. Within in Death's domain is the Infinity Well. "Within its cosmic vortex lies universal knowledge unimaginable" is how Thanos describes it. While gazing into its depths he discovers the tools he needs to commit cosmic mass murder, six objects at the time known as the Soul Gems.

After he convinces Mistress Death these gems are necessary in order to carry out her task, he begins his Quest.
But instead of going after any random gem, Thanos realizes how each gem, once obtained, can aid him in gaining the next gem. After all, the gems aren't just laying about, no, most of the gems have found their way into the possession of beings known as The Elders Of The Universe, a crafty and dishonest bunch who are more obsessed with their given life goals than anything else. The exception is the green gem which controls the soul. Formerly the property of Adam Warlock and also the very gem that was used to kill Thanos in 1977, this gem is now in the hands of a being known as The in-Betweener.
After Thanos liberates the green Soul Gem from The In-Betweener and the red gem which grants infinite power from the warrior Elder called The Champion, Thanos then decides since only one gem has anything to do with the soul, perhaps a better name for them would be Infinity Gems since each gems infinitely controls one aspect of reality.

I won't give away much more of the story to those poor souls who haven't given themselves the honor of reading such a classic story but I will say this: The Thanos Quest is a perfectly written story. While the main character is a villain, the main reason he's on this Quest is to gain the power to slaughter have the sentient beings in the universe, this story shows different layers to Thanos' character. We see that, while he's a cold blooded mass murdering monster, he also has a certain level of respect for certain beings and, in the case of The Gardener, would rather pick a different, less fatal way of gaining certain Gems.
We also learn Thanos isn't a creature of mindless violence, no, this story builds on certain concepts began in the 1970's that show Thanos a calculating being. Nearly everything he does has at least one purpose behind it. For example: He quests to gain the gems to grant his beloved Mistress Death's wish but another reason he does it is so he would be more powerful and perhaps an equal to his love.
Many facets to one of Marvels most interesting and complex characters.

On the art side, Ron Lim shows how cosmic stories should look and pretty much set the standard. At the time this story was published he was also doing the art chores on the SILVER SURFER ongoing series. He would go on to draw the INFINITY GAUNTLET event miniseries which the events of this miniseries lead into.

Overall, The Thanos Quest has always been one of my most favorite books and is the best example of how to showcase a villain without having to water him or her down to make them more human. It's difficult to feel sorry for Thanos when he fails in a task or shows regret for having to murder a character like The Gardener, even knowing The Elders cannot be killed, but his overall goal is the murder of many many more beings.
After recently re-reading this book I have rediscovered the excitement of this era of Marvel Comics. This story lead into the legendary INFINITY GAUNTLET event in which Thanos, know in possession of all six Infinity Gems, sets out to complete his task and it's up to a collection of Marvel's mightiest to try and stop him.
Thanos Quest itself is a follow up to a story which was also collected and called SILVER SURFER: REBIRTH OF THANOS which is also well worth reading. Fans of Marvel's current run of cosmic comics like NOVA and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY as well as fans of the events called ANNIHILATION and ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST would enjoy these stories just as much because of their scope and their depth. Truly, Marvel Classics in every sense.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Pull List

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #623: The Gauntlet continues! After stumbling, in my opinion, last issue, this one puts us right back on track and Electro frees the new Vulture from prison. We begin to learn a little about this new Vulture's history and his possible connection to J. Jonah Jameson (who has a history of creating villains to fight Spider-Man, his most famous being the Scorpion). The problem is...did JJJ have a hand in Vulture's creation or not? Spider-Man doesn't think so and tries to get some answers only to arrive just in time to try and save JJJ from the Vulture. Naturally JJJ thinks Spidey is in league with the villain (which I admit is getting very old) but Spidey, again, puts his neck on the line to try to save JJJ.

The story is getting good again. We know Electro freed Vulture as ordered by his boss, the new Kraven The Hunter who seems to want all of Spidey's old villains in play for some reason. This story is nearing it's end and it's starting to pick up speed again which I like.
Art is nice except for one panel in the beginning when Spider-Man defeats Simple Simon (what?), Spidey is drawn a little chubbier than he should have been. Other than that...very well done!

CINDERELLA: FROM FABLETOWN WITH LOVER #5 of 6: It's a Fables book so the art is great and the story is fun. That's a given and always expected.
What ISN'T expected is the reveal on the last page.
Cindy and Aladdin end up in a town looking for the source of the magic items that are finding themselves in the mundy world. They locate a small unknown village that was overtaken by someone shortly after the Empire fell. The new ruler force everyone to smile all the time. In fact, to NOT smile is a dangerous offense and you are carted away never to be heard from again if you are caught on the street not smiling.
The new ruler also doesn't like anyone having any magic at all. Period. This proves to be a problem when Aladdin is captured for having some magic on him forcing Cindy to break into the Glass Castle sooner than she expected to have to.
The shocker here is when Cindy frees Aladdin only to be confronted by the one person she never though she'd have to face off against: Her Fairy Godmother!
I have to say...I was Shocked!

DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #895: Guest-starring It! The Living Colossus. Old school Marvel comes crashing into the modern era as Wade teams with the daughter of the man who controls It! but finds it a rather daunting task when nothing happens.
The humor in this issue is fleeting as there really isn't much talking. Which is kind of strange when Deadpool is concerned.

This series is fast becoming Marvel's Tour of Yesteryear as Deadpool seems to be getting teamed with long forgotten characters. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it isn't. I find the humor works much better when you are actually familiar with the characters he's teaming with. Issue 896 lacked some because US Ace isn't a very familiar character. This one kind of works but there really isn't much you can do with a giant walking statue that doesn't talk.
Art is good although Deadpool in a singlet is a bit disturbing.
Overall, not the best example of a Deadpool comic book but it was still a good read even though it wasn't a full issue and there was no 'Next Issue' blurb at the end.

JACK OF FABLES #43: Jack Frost continues his quest to be the hero his father, Jack Horner, said he needs to complete in order to be an actual hero. this time we learn his new sword is probably the safest weapon around: it will not harm it's owner!
Also, Jack helps begin a revolution against a giant who's terrorized a land for a long time and has taken all the pretty young virgins for himself.
Jack has his first fight with those he felt he could trust and also gets to know a woman in a very special way for the first time!

I'm still adjusting to this series going from standard Fables action with Jack Horner to a normal actioner with Jack Frost. It's a fun series still, not as humorous as it once was but it feels like the old school sci-fi/action comics from the 1950's.
The art switches half way through and did throw me for a second but it doesn't lose any of it's energy which is always a good thing.
It's still odd reading a book where the main character is no longer the main character, rather his son is and it doesn't change the title of the series.

PRELUDE TO DEAPOOL CORPS #1 of 5: Beginning the 5th week event for March this shows Deadpool from the main Marvel Universe, the 616, going through the realities he visited recently in MERC WITH A MOUTH and gathering the different versions of himself that he met while trying to return Headpool to the Marvel Zombies Universe.
First up: Lady Deadpool!
Not a bad series, it is and feels like a set up for something bigger and here's hoping the pay off is worth a 4th book for Deadpool!

Story is set up, you can't really say to much about it, but the fact this is a weekly event will show us how well the story develops and is it's even worth it.
Art is consistent and helps the flow of the book very well.

The bigger part though will be the covers. Each issue focuses on a new member of the Corps and will be done in an 'animation' style. I've seen the full product and it's very cool, I can't wait to see it all out in comic book form.