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SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Winter Soldier #14 - It's over, baby! After initially resisting Brubaker's Cap run because he brought Bucky back from the dead, i can't deny that i mostly enjoyed it very much. I was a little less enthused with Captain America turning into a franchise, and this Winter Soldier book wasn't very good. Muddy, unclear artwork, really drawn out plots (or really only a single plot: do you realize that since issue #1 we've really only been focused on dealing with the other members of the Winter Soldier experiment? We never just got Bucky doing cool spy stuff!), and a complete failure to deliver on Dr. Doom vs. Super-Apes. I did want to note that Brubaker did partially put his toys away here by wiping the Black Widow's mind of any memories of Bucky. I guess the purpose is to allow the Widow to have other romantic interests again. Anyway, not sorry to see this book end but i will miss Brubaker being at Marvel.

Avengers #3 - Atrocious. Not only has this book been unengaging throughout with Hickman clearly having no knack for dialogue or pacing, but... really? That's the resolution to this conflict? Look, i totally get the idea that you've got these guys that claim to be on a mission for the universe and then the embodiment of the universe literally shows up as Captain Universe and says, "Hey guys, that's not what i wanted. Knock it off." On paper, that's kind of cool. But there's no build to it, no explanation, nothing. God help anyone who doesn't already know who Captain Universe is. If this is your plot idea, maybe do a story where the good guys do some research and go on a quest and find Captain Universe, explain who s/he/it is, and the recruit her to come help you. Don't just make it so you randomly introduce her with eight million other new members and then whoops, we accidentally won that battle. When i read issue #1 and said "If you've got Captain Universe and Hyperion on your team, you probably don't need Spider-Man and Wolverine", i didn't know how right i was going to be. What was the point of introducing Cannonball and Sunspot to the team in this arc? Anyway, the good news is this wrapped up after just three issues, so if min catches up in time and agrees, we can drop this.

Uncanny Avengers #3 - I thought this was pretty good. I really like those panels with the concentric circles where the Red Skull is using his mental powers. Very pseudo-Silver Agey. As you can see from my post below, i like Mzee, at least visually, and i like Honest John. The other minions seem a little lame, though. I did like how even after Cap resisted the anti-mutant effect he was still snippy and Havok, and i generally like the Cap/Havok dynamic.

Uncanny X-Force #1 - This was about when i realized that Marvel was just picking characters and title names out of hats. And i love how on the editorial page they're like "Hey if you don't like this X-Force, try the other one!". But i like Ron Garney's art, so let's see how a team that includes Puck, Bishop, and Spiral works out. And... meh so far. I'm not sure i love this depiction of Puck. Things seem a bit disparate, but i know i have to adjust my pacing expectations for "writing for the trade" (at least we made it back to the opening flash-forward scene in the same issue). I did think the dialogue was good, if you accept randy-Puck. We'll see how it goes. I was trade-waiting on Remender's X-Force and i may decide to do the same here if the plotting continues to seem slow. I do want to say that it's pretty annoying that even with this seemingly random bunch of characters, we've got two team members here that overlap with Brian Wood's X-Men title.

FF #3 - Let me show you something:

It's the Marvel Universe so there's no reason those performers have to be wearing costumes.

As long as i can have something like that in every issue, i don't really care about what is going on in the plot. Which is good because, um, i don't really care about what is going on in the plot.

Young Avengers #1 - So obviously this issue should have been Young Loki tricking Hulkling into going on a rampage and then Hulkling having to hide himself by dressing up as a circus clown that everyone assumes is a robot. But if you can get past that (glaring) mistake, this seemed fine. Not great; i'm a little weirded out by how easily everyone seemed to accept Hulkling's alternate-dimension mom or that Wiccan even thought it was a good idea, and i have a few other quibbles. But i trust Gillen and i think this'll turn out ok. Not the home dunk i was hoping for, but not bad.

By fnord12 | January 29, 2013, 4:30 PM | Comics | Comments (3)| Link

Snapper, the Turtle-Man Terror

When i was adding some Golden Age books to my project a little while back, i kept running into this guy when i was doing screenshots (i have reprints of other stories from these issues, but not this actual story, to my utmost disappointment). I half considered going out and seeing if i could get a copy of this but i have enough to review right now. But then when the turtle guy (the much less aptly named "Mzee") appeared recently among the Red Skull's new minions in Uncanny Avengers, i was really hoping he would turn out to be the same dude. Doesn't seem to be the case, but for the record...

The ad in Captain America Comics #22:

The terror is mostly about not wanting to get drooled on.

And some choice scenes from the actual story in issue #23:

That dog isn't scared.

Captain America and Bucky weren't very smart.

Seriously.  Pretty dumb, guys.

Now, it turns out that he's just a guy in a turtle suit, but you've got some balls going up against Captain America with just that, and to be fair, he does have trained attack turtles.

*Giant* attack turtles.  I guess the dog *should have been* scared.

By fnord12 | January 29, 2013, 3:48 PM | Comics | Link

Alternate universe desensitization

Here's another thing about All-New X-Men that's been bugging me. I think it's my own problem and not the book's, but i wanted to put it out there.

The degree to which Cyclops is rattled by the idea that he grows up to be a radical mutant that killed Xavier feels overdone. Similarly, the way the other young X-Men have reacted to the same information seems wrong.

The problem i have with this gets into basic time travel paradox. I know Marvel doesn't go by the rules established in the 1980s anymore, but even if we throw that out, unless you believe in predetermination, it would seem that this future could only be a possible future for the young X-Men. And we're years away from the point where young Scott would be showing any signs that he'd become like old Scott. It's not like he's been a radical character all along. He's the most straight-laced of the team, and extremely loyal to Xavier. So being faced with a future where Scott goes out of control, joins Magneto, and kills Professor X would be hard to comprehend, scary, and certainly something that might cause some inner reflection, but i don't see it causing such alienation between Scott and his friends, and i don't see it depressing Scott so much.

Put it this way: if Future Rod were to show up and tell me that he wasted his life devoting himself to his job, putting in extra hours at the office, and never got to finish his Marvel Timeline project, i'd be unable to comprehend it, but i wouldn't think i was destined to turn into him. Even if Future Rod showed up and said he wasted his life working on the Marvel Timeline project and therefore never got to travel the world or write the grand symphony that he's now realized would have been a better legacy, it would give me food for thought, possibly cause me to change my behavior, but it wouldn't depress me.

Now, i know that this is the Young X-Men's first alternate universe. And maybe even with the sliding timescale they never got to see Back to the Future. So like i said, this could be because i'm too jaded by the millions of alternate future stories i've read and watched to understand why they are so affected. But it really does feel like an overreaction to me. Can anyone think of another parallel universe or alternate future story where the main characters were so devastated by what they see themselves turning into?

By fnord12 | January 22, 2013, 10:14 AM | Comics | Comments (3)| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

All-Talk X-Men Weekly #6 - Well, the title isn't too disrupted by the lack of Immonen, although that's partially thanks to the lack of anything really happening. Actually there were a few really wonky pages with panel layouts. Guys, unless it's really obvious, we read down the page and then go up to the top of the next page. You need to make it really clear if we are supposed to read across the page. And there needs to be a really good reason to break that flow. Look at this:

These weren't the only pages with this problem in this issue, by the way.

No one will instinctively know to read across that top section. Those panel shapes don't even line up. Looking at this more closely i see a lot of arbitrary panel decisions that seem to be more about the artist being bored than trying to communicate anything (the last four panels on the second page: why do the first three have borders but the fourth doesn't?). Anyway, the art (pictures) looks fine, and there's no action in this issue so no concern about following the flow of an action sequence yet, anyway. I do have some other complaints. On the same spread above, Kitty says that Jean Grey "was in the class in front of me" and also implies that she was a teacher, "a little tough on me. Sometimes." In fact Jean was dead when Kitty joined the school, and by the time Jean came back to life and Kitty was done being in Excalibur and everything else, they wouldn't have had that kind of relationship, if they ever were on the X-Men team at the same time. I don't think Kitty ever had any meaningful interactions with Jean (there's plenty of X-books i'm not at all familiar with but it seems very unlikely). This is really important. The premise of this book is interesting, but it only works if the history Bendis is using is the real one and not stuff that he arbitrarily makes up.

New Avengers #2 - Wow, on the basis of almost nothing, Captain America is suggesting putting together the Infinity Gauntlet? Admittedly i kind of fell asleep during that whole alternate universe lecture so maybe there's something more obviously bad here than every other threat the Avengers have ever faced, but all i saw was a fake Earth get blown up and then the Black Panther captured the lady who did it all by himself. Meanwhile, dreary unengaging dialogue, a glacial pace, wonky metaphysics (i used to think Hickman was kind of like a Mark Gruenwald - continuity minded and good ideas but bad at executing them - but now i'm thinking he's more like J.M. DeMatteis. I was having eye-clawing flashbacks to the time he tried to consolidate the various Satan incarnations during his Defenders run while Reed Richards was drawing all those circles) and a Black Panther i don't recognize. Min said she liked the second issue of Hickman's regular Avengers, so i'm holding off on pulling the plug on this until she catches up, but Outlook Not So Good.

X-Factor #250 - This is what it is, basically. An engaging read about characters i mostly don't care that much about.

Avenging Spider-Man #16 - Now this... this was tons of fun. Really awesome seeing Doc Ock Spidey's reactions to and thoughts about the X-Men. Great! I'm really glad this book exists because i have no interest in reading anything by Dan Slott but i like the premise of Doc Ock in Spidey's body, and this book is not only doing it very well but giving us great team-ups at the same time. Plus a Jackal/Mr. Sinister connection, which is very cool.

Daredevil #22 - See above; Waid does as well as Yost here. Another really fun book. Of course Waid is now injecting a cancer subplot into the fun...

Indestructible Hulk #3 - I haven't read the original Quintronic Man story yet (it's in the pile) but i hope Waid continues to pull these kind of things out, although i hope they're not all quite so throwaway. I'm enjoying this too. Looking forward to seeing the new supporting cast. Yu's art still doesn't really appeal to me but it's gotten better. I was alarmed when i saw one of the new scientists said she could go work for Egghead; i was afraid that either he was back from the dead after all these years or someone stole my idea to make Trish Starr a new Egghead, but i see there's actually a new robot Egghead that appeared in a Dark Reign tie-in (I might even have read it, who knows?).

By fnord12 | January 21, 2013, 4:36 PM | Comics | Comments (2)| Link

How is Marvel NOW! doing?

Vocal comic store owner Brian Hibbs compares Marvel NOW! to DC's New 52 reboot, and the results are mixed. Even though NOW! was pretty clearly a reaction to DC's relaunch, i still think it's a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. NOW! was basically just a banner that Marvel stuck on the covers to represent a creative team reshuffling and yet another renumbering. DC rebooted their entire continuity and started from scratch.

Still it's worth a read regarding the relative success of each company's efforts, at least at Hibbs' store.

As a tangent, Hibbs suggests that the constant renumbering has hurt collectibility.

I think that the constant restarts of numbering actually end up hurting the true "collectibility" of long-running series, because they're constantly resetting the continuity of a title. And I don't mean the "Steve Rogers loves Sharon Carter" sense of "continuity," but rather the understanding that Marvel is actually comprised of titles that have (by and large) run unceasingly for 50-ish years. Back when I first opened, you'd simply bring new creative teams wherever they fell, and that constant, regular infusion into ongoing books created points every so often where a book became highly collectible -- "Thor" #337, "Amazing Spider-Man" #298, "X-Men" #108, and so on -- by having those points appear in the middle of long runs, it drives up collectibility for the series as a whole. By relaunching the series instead, you're able to leverage that collectibility thinking ("It is a #1, therefore it will be worth more") and get a sales increase, but, ironically, it's that very sales increase that mitigates against the comic being collectible in the mid-to-long-run.

I hate the renumbering due to the basic organizational/communication challenges it presents, so i'd love for Hibbs' theory to be true here, although i have no way of knowing if there's really anything behind it, and the ship has probably sailed in terms of Marvel changing their strategy at this point.

In fact, Caleb at Every Day Is Like Wednesday makes the counter-argument. After noting that Journey Into Mystery and Red She-Hulk did not get new numberings and therefore didn't get the resultant sales bumps that other titles did, he writes:

On a purely practical level, I don't really understand how these handful of not re-started comics (all of which have as much or more reason to justify a restart as any of the other comics named in this post) work as part of the "Marvel Now."

What happens to the reader who hears Jeff Parker's Red She-Hulk is really good, and wants to start with the first issue, but can't find anything with a lower number than 50-something on the cover (and can't find the trades collecting the first 50 imaginary, non-existent issues)? Or the person who was told Journey Into Mystery had a nice blend of fantasy and superheroics, and was written by a female writer and featured a female protagonist, but sees that "#646" on the cover and thinks "Jesus, this book looks six-and-a-half times harder to catch up on then Walking Dead...!"...?

I'd say this is only a problem because we've trained people to look for new number ones; that wasn't the case in the examples that Hibbs mentioned above (e.g. Thor #337) and it also doesn't seem to be a blocker when people come in looking for, say, the death of Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #700.

By fnord12 | January 21, 2013, 11:12 AM | Comics | Link

Asgardian hat envy problem solved

I need Kirby-er glasses.

By fnord12 | January 18, 2013, 5:37 PM | Comics | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Let's do this the way Tom Brevoort requests. Nay, the way these works of art deserve.

I thought some of the metaphysical imagery was really particularly effective. Interesting rhythmic devices too, which seemed to counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the humanity of the writer's compassionate soul, which contrives through the medium of the art structure to sublimate this, transcend that, and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other, and one is left with a profound and vivid insight into... er... a bunch of people standing around not doing much as depicted in panels that don't flow together very well, moving forward some ponderous stories by a snippet or two.

Ok, that covers most of what i had to say, but just a few footnotes:

Iron Man #5 - I'm ready to drop this. Kieron Gillen is doing the best he can but i can't take Land any more. I'm also intrigued by the Iron Man In Space plans and the tie-in with Guardians of the Galaxy but i can't take Land any more.

New Avengers #1 - The sad thing is, i thought the throwaway intro story would have been interesting. "Wakanda kicks off a new space race". But then those characters got killed off. The rest of this story was intently boring (and the similarities to the plot in the other Hickman Avnegers book don't help) and i'd say drop it right here but i'm fairly certain that issue #2 will be out before we can act on that. WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME MARVEL WHY YOU PUT HICKMAN WITH EPTING BUT GILLEN WITH LAND? P.S. what's with the BP's attitude towards the "illuminati" characters? What's his problem with Black Bolt?

All-New X-Men #5 - All-Talk X-Men is more like it but i have to admit i'm still more or less enjoying this. That Bendis is hammering home the fact that Xavier will just mind-wipe the young X-Men when this is all over comforting; it lets me just go with it. I am kind of dreading what happens next issue without Immonen, though. I do wish Marvel would LEAVE THE BEAST ALOOOOOONE at this point.

Punisher War Zone # - Was Carmine di Giandomenico always on art? I didn't exactly love his Thor here. I don't know what i really wanted out of this book; i was kind of expecting the Punisher to fight the Avengers. I didn't know how that was going to work but Thor and the Punisher having a beer together was an unexpected twist, in any event. At this point, with the Punisher already in the Thunderbolts i'm really just ready for this to end so i can move on, and i'll pay someone a dollar if they'll make it so this series ends with Captain America making a recruitment recommendation to Red Hulk.

Avengers Arena #3 - Does it feel like there's not a lot going on at Arcade Island? Like, most people are just kinda sitting around? Rationally, you'd think everyone would get together and talk about what they're going to do about the mess they're in. I get that that would ruin the premise of the series though. So in lieu of that, how about a lot more fighting? One of these issues could probably handle about two additional threads of character interactions without feeling cluttered; right now it's the opposite of cluttered. I'm also... not... sure... what happened to Justin. The art looked like... i don't know what. But the dialogue said it was "folding in on itself and around that kid". So i guess it was it was meant to be Justin dying. I dunno, this has been... ok, i guess, so far, but mainly i hope it doesn't continue at this pace.

Red She-Hulk #61 - I think i go into every issue of this just looking for an excuse to drop it, but i come out thinking it's not bad. I like the art, i obviously love Parker's writing generally, and i like his Machine Man here. I'm still not sold on this unrecognizable version of Betty, let alone Red She-Hulk. It's not that Betty ever really was much of a character (maybe during the PAD run?) but that's kind of the point; i haven't yet seen how we get here from there. I'm probably just being impatient; Parker got me to believe Red Hulk as a credible character through a series of good scenes and flashbacks, but they didn't all come right away. So i just need to hang in there. Right?

Thunderbolts #3 - This i am enjoying with no waffling. Sure, i don't approve of orangutang killing. But it's a fun, funny book with distinct characters that are being handled well, and i like the use of the Leader and the reveal for the reason why. And Steve Dillon on art.

By fnord12 | January 16, 2013, 9:08 PM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link

All-Female X-Team

I saw this today

Out in April, the first issue in the new X-Men series from writer Brian Wood steers clear of any male team members, instead focusing on female characters including Storm, Psylocke, Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey and Rogue.

and despite my better judgment, i'm excited by this concept. I have a love of seeing chicks kick ass. I'm quite fond of movies with female leads doing alot of ass kicking (Heroic Trio, SuckerPunch, and Haywire come to mind) - the caveat is that it has to be filmed right so i can see all them moves, ofc (thank you Hong Kong).

I know i'll prolly end up angry and bitter in the end, but for now i'm trying to not be a crank and remain hopeful.

Obliviously, we all know that if i do like this book, it'll just get cancelled...

By min | January 15, 2013, 11:46 AM | Comics | Link

Captain America Meets the Asthma Monster

And now, your weekend non-political post. Sadly, this is not canon.

'Aller-gun doesn't really sound like 'allergens'.

Talk, or i will continue to make it impossible for you to talk due to asthma.

You'll also need super-steroids.

Wait, Sally.  I'm starting to think this Asthma Monster guy might be somehow triggering my asthma attacks.

Why is Captain America pointing to the Asthma Monster's world balloons?  Or is he trying to say, 'Um, can I get a word in here edgewise, please?'.  Captain America is polite.

By fnord12 | January 11, 2013, 5:10 PM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link

When 98% of reviewers suck, maybe you're thinking about it wrong

Some recent answers from Tom Brevoort's formspring page:

>> Read a nexus review for New Avengers. How do you guys put up with some of this stuff? Its like there is no longer an art of criticism, its just nit picking and finding ways for things to be wrong. No research, no nouse, just myopia. NA was awesome cool

I haven't read the review you're talking about, but I feel that way about 98% of the reviews out there. The Internet has allowed everybody to become a faux-reviewer, without any particular qualifications or ability. Ain't no sin having an opinion, or expressing that opinion, of course. I just don't take most of them any more seriously than I would a guy chatting to me at a comic shop or a convention. I would like to see the emergence of more better, more substantive reviewers, especially at the big comics news sites--but that's easier said than done.

>> Tom, have you ever considered that you lend credence to their reviews? If you guys didn't give them all your announcements as exclusives people would spend less attention to whats posted there.

That doesn't fix my problem, though. I don't want fewer people visiting sites, I want better and more cogent reviews.

>> With out your exclusives and such, they would have to improve the actual content of the site to secure page views, instead of just counting on your stuff to drive us to them

Doesn't work that way. If it did, there'd be all kinds of excellent reviews on sites to which we're not providing content--and there are more of those kinds of sites than ones we're working with, and still a dearth of good reviews.

>> It's funny you don't agree with a lot of reviewers. The ones I've read enjoy Daredevil, Hulk and several other books and are annoyed by a lot of the gaping plotholes in books from bendis and Fraction or the art by Greg Land. Seems spot on to me.

I'm not talking about agreeing with the reviews, I'm talking about the reviews being well-written and insightful, of them having something legitimate to offer in terms of analysis of the craft involved. I'm not looking for all positive reviews or anything--that doesn't help anybody. But I would like to see more reviews with more thought behind them than, "I just finished reading this comic two seconds ago, let me tell you about what I thought message board style." That's not a review, it's a blog.

I know, i know: stop reading Tom Brevoort's formspring page. But i did, and this line of answers really kinda stunned me. Now to be clear, we're not talking about my SpeedReviews here. Which clearly are of the "I just finished reading this comic two seconds ago" variety, by design. So i'm not taking this personally! We're talking about the "big comic news sites" here. But i keep getting this impression that Marvel thinks it's producing high art, and this reinforces it. Now it's high art that no one even appreciates! The problem with that way of thinking is that it's used to justify continuity mistakes and bad characterization and bad research. "We're not letting that stuff get in the way of a good story" is the explanation when this stuff gets messed up.

I do want to go back to "That's not a review, it's a blog", for a moment, though. Guess what? Reviews go on blogs nowadays. My deliberately quickie SpeedReviews aside, what you're going to get in a review by, say, Paul O'Brien or Caleb Mozzocco is really more than these comics deserve. A comic that takes literally ten minutes to read is not worth more than a paragraph to review.

And back to the main point, we're talking about super-hero stories here. I guess this might be strange coming from me but i've actually been consistent on this point. As i've said before, no one is reading Avengers expecting Sandman. But now i realize that Brevoort and company believe that they are producing Sandman, since they think they deserve this kind of detailed substantive review. You're not, guys. And i think if you stopped pretending you were, you might make a better match with your audience.

By fnord12 | January 9, 2013, 4:14 PM | Comics | Link

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