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Comics

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Black Widow #4 - Meh. I'd leave it at that, but i see this is getting some positive reviews, so i will defend my ambivalance. Personaly, i don't love Noto's art. It's pretty at times, but not great with storytelling or action scenes, and it really ruined the impact of the Black Widow's first super-fight in this series for me. I also had a visceral anti-movieverse creep reaction when Black Widow included Banner amongst the Avengers at this point (i have no idea what's going on in the Avengers books right now but i don't see her listing him regardless). Storywise, it's fine; i could do less with of the Widow telling us she's bored with her regular work but also doesn't like super-fights, but it's all fine. Just a bit uninteresting.

Captain Marvel #1 - Another "meh" for me. I actually thought we dropped this title; i forgot that it went into a pre-reboot hiberation. At least this issue doesn't have Captain Marvel de-powered, sick, or time-traveling. I guess a space adventure could be cool if she actually gets to do stuff. Did anyone else think a green woman named Tic might be the same species as Bug from the Micronauts?

Ms. Marvel #2 - Maybe i'm just cranky, but this one also didn't seem that great. I thought last issue was a nice set-up. But this issue also felt like more set-up and not enough forward movement. I hope the series isn't all about us learning what her powers are; if she's a shape-shifter, fine, let it be that and let's have a story now. If that's not the really what her powers are, get it out quickly. I assume next issue will be her back in school and interacting with her friends, and that may get a little more interesting.

X-Men #12 - Oh god, what a mess. First of all, that Meanwhile stuff at the end has to be the worst storytelling decision i've seen in a while. Then there's the absolutely anti-climactic defeat of whatsername, the bacteria lady. And then the other members of the Sisterhood. Enchantress is taken down so easily by Monet. Lady Deathstrike, i'm not even sure what happened with her and Cortez and bacteria lady and who's in what body. And then Selene and Madelyne Pryor just walk away after all that build up! What the hell? I guess if i had faith in Wood's long term planning skills, it might be a cool weird twist that these guys just choose not to participate, but as it stands it all just feels like a house of cards falling down.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #10 - This is a fill-in but it's decent. It actually would have made a decent Point One issue in the way it introduces (what's left of) the Foes.

Iron Man #23.NOW - #1 of an eight part story, of which this is part 5. Wait, what? Anyway, i like Luke Ross' competent art and Gillen's writing and Malekith, so whatever you need to do to keep the series from getting canceled or whatever is fine.

Daredevil #1 - Guys, i put on a warmer shirt and i moved my laptop from the table to the couch while i was writing this Speed Review. Does that mean i have to start over with a new #1? I may need to charge you an extra dollar, too. But this was fine. Great even. Like with Iron Man, whatever you need to do to keep it going.

Revolutionary War: Motormouth and Revolutionary War: Warheads - To the 9,000 or so and dropping other people that are reading this... it's pretty good right? Fun. I don't know why no one else is getting it. I mean, i know why, it's about characters that most people haven't even heard about, let alone care about. But it's good. I could see it being the lead-in to an ongoing series about some of these guys. But not with these numbers. Oh well. I did think the Warheads issue was the first where i was a little confused and felt disconnected from the characters. The Motormouth story, like the previous issues, was quite good at giving us the info we needed. But while the Warheads clearly tried to do the same, it didn't work as well. Oh well, at least i understood the implications of Killpower showing up at the end, thanks to the Motormouth book. Looking forward to the conclusion.


By fnord12 | March 26, 2014, 5:50 PM | Comics | Comments (2)| Link



Marvel Sales

February.


By fnord12 | March 25, 2014, 12:36 PM | Comics | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

New Warriors #2 - Some art problems: i guess it's supposed to be a big reveal that the Evolutionaries are big ugly cavemen people, but i didn't get that at all from the art...

...and had no idea what the "ugly stick" comment was about until we got to Justice and Speedball reviewing the X-Men files later on. And that scene with Jarvis... why does he look like Henry Pym in the close-up shot?

I had to look at that a bunch of times to make sure i wasn't missing something (the fact that they are faceless in the bottom panel didn't help, but at least that's a distance shot).

Now to go off on a tangent: i really appreciated that Avengers/X-Men file device to give us some exposition on the Evolutionaries' past appearances. It's the sort of thing you take for granted reading older comics but it's sadly not all that common today, so it was nice to have. Including a footnote would have been even better. But it probably wouldn't have helped that much. Because i wanted to see who wrote the original Evolutionaries story, so i looked it up online, and i saw that they were in "X-Men vol. 3". Then i went to my trusty UHBMCC to look up the creator credits and holy hell are there are lot of X-Men titles! The good news is that UHBMCC does have a listing for plain "X-Men (III)" and i was able to discover that the original Evolutionaries stories was indeed written by Yost.

Second tangent: "Evolutionaries" isn't the greatest name in the world for soldiers that work for the High Evolutionary. Granted we have Doombots and Horsemen of Apocalypse. And "Purifiers" is already taken. But now i want to rename the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to the "Magnetos" and Bill Haley and the Comets to "Bill Haley and the Haleys".

/End tangents. Storywise i'm still liking this. A long term plot involving the High Evolutionary trying to prepare humanity for a Celestial judgement sounds awesome. And as cosmic and out there as that sounds, Yost is great with keeping this story very grounded and the character interactions a lot of fun. My concern about the pace of the "building of the team" arc is still there, but we are obviously seeing some progress on that. And in the meantime, fun stuff.

Iron Man #22 - She was the Red Peril, right? Not the Red Threat? If she was going to change her name, you know what i would have picked... I guess it doesn't matter anymore. Doesn't look like Min's going to have her around to pick on her choice of poses while flying anymore, either (although we do get it one last time). The other big news in this issue is Malekith. I guess now that he's Mr. Movie Star (although he was very different in the movie) we're going to be seeing more of him, and i'm fine with that. Artwise, especially with Tony's faces, i feel like Bennett is trying to look like Eaglesham trying to look like Land, and let me just say that it's not necessary, guys. But this continues to be good, even if we didn't have any talking ring conversations this time.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #9 - Continues to be great. I nearly got my Bullseye/Boomerang dart match, Boomerang is hilariously the hero of his own story and yet a horrible person, the scenes with Silvermane's head are great, etc., etc.. Not sure about this characterization of Hydro-Man but i'll go with it. Someone might want to note that no one freaked out when Bullseye appeared at the end of last issue even though he's supposed to be crippled (or even dead?), compared to the Bendis stuff we've been talking about here, and it's because we haven't lost trust in Spencer yet (and Bullseye turned out to be an LMD here, in a funny scene). One little aside: every time i see Fancy Dan he's even smaller than last time.


By fnord12 | March 20, 2014, 11:21 AM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link



Book Review: Rogue Touch

This is the second of the 2013 Marvel-licensed novels released by Hyperion, and thankfully, the last (the first being The She-Hulk Diaries).

Firstly, the back cover plot summary:

Twenty-year-old Anna Marie was just fired for the third time--this time from a bakery. Why can't she hold a job? Well, for starters, she dresses . . . differently. She looks like a Goth girl to the extreme, her shock of white hair contrasting with her head-to-toe black garb, her face the only skin she chooses to reveal. But Anna Marie doesn't have a choice. Her skin, her touch, is a deadly weapon that must be concealed. She accidentally put her first boyfriend, Cody, in a coma when they kissed. Horrified, she ran away to Jackson, Mississippi.

But when she meets otherworldly James, everything changes. He's just like her--completely alone and also on the run. To elude James's mysterious and dangerous family, the pair takes to the highway. As they cross the country, their simmering attraction intensifies and they both open up about their secretive pasts. James reveals that his true name is "Touch" and he christens Anna Marie "Rogue". But with danger at their heels, they know they can't run forever. Rogue must decide if she'll unleash her devastating powers once again, which she swore never to do, in order to save the only person who seems truly to understand and accept her.

Yes. Your eyes do not deceive you. That actually says "Goth girl to the extreme". Because she wears all black. Black clothes = Goth. That's math. Look it up.

Several times i wondered "why is she only wearing black?". Yes, she has to cover her skin to prevent accidental touching, but, you know, long sleeves come in all sorts of colors nowadays at no extra cost. It's one of those mysteries we will never know the answer to.

Anyway, Rogue Touch by Christine Woodward (who's actually Nina de Gramont) is a YA romance starring a young Rogue who left home and the aunt who raised her a few years before the start of the book. Sadly, Mystique and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are not in any way part of this story.

My understanding of Rogue's powers has been that she only absorbs a person's memories and abilities temporarily. The person touched will fall unconscious, the length of which is determined by how long the contact lasts. In the novel, however, a brief touch is able to put Rogue's former employer in a coma that lasts weeks. Memories and abilities absorbed seem to be permanent. And her absorption powers work on animals.

By making the absorption permanent and nearly lethal no matter what, the author pretty much neutered Rogue. She took an essential characteristic of Rogue and made it impossible to use. Naturally, you can't have your heroine going around putting people into comas willy nilly.

So, other than accidental touches (5, including Cody) mostly involving animals attacking her, Rogue uses her powers a whopping two times in this book.


  1. Just after she puts Cody in a coma, she touches a kitten to see if she was really the cause of Cody's collapse. The kitten ends up dead after the brief touch and Rogue permanently gains green eyes and night vision.
  2. She uses it near the very end to get away from a bad guy.

What you're left with is simply a story about a young girl on the run. Girl meets boy. Boy is totes hawt. Boy is also on the run. They both fall in insta-love. They run away together. They almost get caught. They run away some more. They get caught. They defeat the bad guys. The end.

Anyone could have fulfilled the female protagonist role in this story. If you were drawn to this book because you loved mutant-power-wielding Rogue from the comics, you might be disappointed. If you always secretly wondered if Rogue ever got hot wearing all those clothes to prevent accidental skin-to-skin contact, rejoice, my friends. This is the book for you.

For those of you who aren't concerned about spoilers, read on.


 


 
**SPOILERS AHOY**

Just a couple of wackadoo things that happened in the story that made me go "Hurnh??":

  1. The boy in the story introduces himself as "James". A little further into the book, he says he's an alien (he's actually from the future) and his actual name translates to "Touch" (get it? Rogue Touch!). Rogue decides she's going to call him Touch from now on. Cause it just feels right. I mean, it's not really a big deal. It just struck me as really odd. I have a name that translates into something but i don't want you calling me by the translation. You should either call me by my actual name or the name i chose for myself that you can actually pronounce. And at the very least, you should prolly ask me before you start changing what you call me. That's just manners.
  2. Let's say a couple of nights earlier you stole a brand new, red Prius by crashing it through the showroom window in a bid to escape from the bad people chasing you. You successfully escape and buy a shit-ton of camping supplies before stopping at a campground.

    What do you do when you wake up the next morning? Do you:

    1. wipe out all traces of your stay and get back on the road ASAP,
    2. discuss a strategy for avoiding detection and capture since you almost got nabbed last time, or
    3. take a leisurely hike through the woods because it's such a lovely day, leaving behind your supplies and cash in the stolen car?

    Yeah. That happened. Needless to say, they had to abandon the car and all their stuff because the cops were on the scene by the time they returned from their hike.

  3. Turns out, Touch has a young son (he decided to break up with his wife after he traveled back to the present and fell in insta-lurv with Rogue. The wife is one of the bad guys, so that makes it ok.). In order to protect his son from becoming like his wife and father, he sends the kid to the present, entrusting him to Rogue's care.

    She, in turn, drops him off at the curb of Coma Cody's parents' house. The Robbins had done such a bang up job raising Cody, she was sure they'd do great with Touch's kid. Who knows if they can afford to raise him what with Coma Cody's hospital bills. Or if they even want to do it at this stage of their lives. Pshaw. She knows they'll be great! And anyway, she's got places to be. Touch left her a screwdriver that can hack ATMs so she doesn't have to worry about money (unlike the Robbins...har!) so she gets herself a bitchin' Camaro and heads to Maine where she dreams of Touch one day coming back for her. And the kid. I guess. If he's still alive or whatever.



By min | March 18, 2014, 1:04 PM | Boooooks & Comics | Comments (2)| Link



Brevoort link blogging

Just more for posterity.

Why Marvel no longer tries to coordinate character appearances in other books and Why guest appearances by Spider-Man and Wolverine don't help sales anymore.


By fnord12 | March 18, 2014, 12:41 PM | Comics | Comments (3)| Link



Shame

Have some:

1987 Oxyclean Zittles Ad

By fnord12 | March 17, 2014, 3:02 PM | Comics | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Secret Avengers #16 - Oh, that's over? But what about... wasn't there a thing with Daisy Johnson, and is that really how we're gonna leave it with this mind wipe stuff and... well, ok. Bye!

Hulk #19.INH - Waid's Hulk run hasn't been quite as great as Daredevil, and lately we've had a time travel story (technically an Age of Ultron tie-in) and now this overlong Inhumanity tie-in and these things just seem to be weighing the book down.

Iron Man annual #1 - We're rebooting annual numberings too? Really weird. I think it was best when they just put a year instead of a number for annuals. Anyway, the stories. This has three separate stories all tangentially related to the moon. The first one plays with a character and scenario i know nothing about and the story was kind of lost on me. Based on an ad at the end, it looks like maybe it was based on some digital-only comics? Thanks for that! The second one, with the Warren Ellis ("Eli Warren") character, i vaguely recall him from the early Greg Land issues in Gillen's run, although searching online suggests he was in the digital-only stuff too. Honestly, what's wrong with some footnotes? The third story nicely fills in some blanks on the Pepper/"Marc the PR guy" romance but wasn't worth the price of the annual alone. Really, i think even if i knew the characters from the first two stories better, this still would have read more like a preview than an actual book; something you'd find for free in the back of a regular issue. Here's a scan for a good friend of mine, though:

Revolutionary War: Super Soldiers - Continues to be a fun event. I enjoy the barely-meta commentary on the 90s.

New Warriors #1 - This was great. Fun little bits like Speedball and Brutacus playing video games right after fighting each other. Happy to see Speedball done with his emo phase (even if he also looks like he's de-aged 10 years). Great introductions to these characters. A diverse group of team members including some pre-existing characters that will make a nice fit for the team. And on top of that, we have the Salem Seven and the High Evolutionary. So this is a book making full use of the Marvel universe. And i am always a sucker for a building of the team story. If i have a concern it's that the pacing could be a problem; the first issue is over and these characters aren't even in the same location yet, let alone a team. It's totally fine so far, i just hope we don't have six issues of the team getting together just in time for cancellation.


By fnord12 | March 10, 2014, 6:26 PM | Comics | Comments (2)| Link



Mark Gruenwald on "continuity"

Here is Mark Gruenwald writing in a Mark's Remarks column in Iron Man #217 (Apr 87):

I don't let people use the word "continuity" around me. There is too great a difference between what most folks think it means and what it really means. In the strictest sense, continuity means a) the storyline of a comic strip or comic book, b) the transitional relationship between one panel's picture and the one that comes next, and c) the sense of cohesiveness and connection between one story, episode, or issue, and the ones that precede and follow it. So what do most people mean when they use the word "continuity"? They mean "a slavish single-minded devotion to trivial details found in ancient storylines and a strange compulsion to resurrect and glorify said details at the expense of other story values." That, my friends is indeed a problem that certain comics writers have been afflicted with, but that isn't "continuity". That's an obsessive love for trivia.

As I write this, Marvel Comics is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. That means that certain titles like FANTASTIC FOUR, THOR, and IRON MAN have been continuously publishing the exploits of its title characters for a long stretch now, generating untold millions of bits of trivia in the course of the ongoing storylines. Many but not all of those millions of trivial bits have been self-consistent. What is to be done about those few bits that are not? Ignore them, explain them, or devote a three-part epic that explores in vast detail why the discrepancy was actually a major subliminal scheme concocted by a deadly criminal mastermind? If you answered the latter, you probably suffer from the popular misconception of what "continuity" is as defined above. As the co-writer of the MARVEL UNIVERSE HANDBOOK, I see minor discrepancies all the time. Some of them have to be dealt with in order to compose a coherent history article fora character. The most recent example that comes to mind occurred when reaching the Zodiac entry. One account claimed that Nick Fury's brother Jake was the original Scorpio. A later account claimed he was the second Scorpio. So which do we go with? The evidence was equal for both hypothesis. We had to choose one over the other. We did. While I suppose a story could be constructed about who the original Scorpio was, it is not exactly one of the pressing concerns of our readers today (not like the identity of the Hobgoblin is). So if a writer came to me with a story about it, the idea alone would not be enough to convince me to go for it - it would have to be a mighty good story for me to want to devote 22 pages to it.

I was once asked if it were possible to write a great story about a character that violates the character's "continuity". I assumed that what was meant was a great story that contradicts some bit of trivia about the character - for example, what the name of his high school English teacher was. The answer is of course that it is possible. But a conscientious writer (like all of them who work for me) will not go out of his or her way to do so - that's childish. What is most important is that a writer stay true to the spirit and basic legend of the character. As editor, it's my job to see that he or she stays true to the wealth of sometimes trivial background details.

Some strawmen in there. But it's interesting that a lot of what's written here i could easily attribute to Tom Brevoort in 2014 if i didn't know better. And i think it's funny to see Mark Gruenwald complain about a slavish devotion to trivial details. I can't think of any writer who more exemplifies that phrase. I actually think it's his best attribute as a writer! But at the same time, despite everything he says, that last sentence is i think the key difference between then and now. Sure, don't worry about the name of a character's high school english teacher. But the editor is supposed to make sure the writer gets most of the details right. For better or worse, the editorial philosophy today is that the story comes first, regardless of what background details it ignores.


By fnord12 | March 9, 2014, 6:41 PM | Comics | Comments (3)| Link



The Marvelous Awards

Chrissy at the Marvelous Zone pauses after finishing 1963 to hand out some high honors.


By fnord12 | March 6, 2014, 9:56 PM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link



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