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SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Fantastic Four #16 - Well, that's certainly over with. I do feel like a big chump for jumping onto this series when Karl Kesel came on board since this series pretty clearly continued with Matt Fraction's plots (as evidenced by him still getting top billing in the credits even for this last issue), and when i jumped on we were in the middle of some hard core alternate reality stuff. I did enjoy the FF half, though.

Secret Avengers #14 - If the Mockingbird retcon, saying that she was actually a sleeper agent from Victorious' Entropy Cult since prior to her first appearance, turns out to stick, that will be really bold. But considering all the mind-wiping going on in this series, i'm not ready to worry about it yet. I have been wondering how this series could be so "Meh" while Spencer is doing amazingly fun stuff on Superior Foes (and i felt that way even before Ales Kot was brought on as a co-writer here), but this issue actually seemed to be going more in that direction, with Mentallo remembering the good times he used to have with Taskmaster and "MODOK enjoys ice cream". But i'm still not even close to loving this the way i'm loving Foes, and honestly i'm a little lost on the plot at this point it's been so long since this story started.

Revolutionary War: Alpha - It was the 90s and i was at EZ Video (which proves it was the 90s) and for some reason there was a comics rack with titles like Hell's Angel and Warheads and some others, and i swear to god Wolverine was on the cover of every one of them. Then later Motormouth and Killpower showed up in Hulk. And even during the wonderful industry crash i bought some Knights of Pendragon at a convention to round out a "10 for a dollar" deal, and from what i remember they seemed pretty ok, and i also picked up some Death's Head II comics because they reprinted some of the original Simon Furman Death's Head comics. So the Marvel UK line had always been on the periphery of my vision but not something i ever really delved into. But when i saw this weird event, with Lanning writing the bookend and Gillen writing at least one of the other issues, i thought i'd take a look. So far, interesting enough that i'm looking forward to getting to 1992 to read and cover the original issues. And it's a good enough intro to these characters and tying it in nicely enough with the more recognizable Pete Wisdom and Captain Britain and a little bit of a conspiracy plot, and it should be a fun weird little detour (oddly at a time when a lot of books i've been getting are being canceled and i'm not making any effort to replace them, so without this my Current piles would actually be really small).

Revolutionary War: Dark Angel - I really love Gillen's ability to work with existing characters to find amazingly relevant literary themes. So like Lanning (re-)introduced the basic Mys-Tech concept, and i see that the idea that Dark Angel was a daughter of one of the Mys-Techians comes from the original series. But creating the scenario where she is now working to pay off the debts that her father owed to Mephisto, with references to the boom 90s and the bust world of today and how children are paying for the excesses of their parents... it's pretty damn brilliant, frankly. I won't know how closely any of this stuff aligns with the original books, but if it's all going to be this good i won't care.

Daredevil #35 - Waid puts Daredevil in a difficult situation and comes up with an interesting way for Daredevil to struggle out of it. Samnee draws a great Electra guest appearance. All great stuff. The only thing i don't like is the Cobra-La designs of the Serpent Society characters (and is that the original Constrictor?) but i don't think that's this team's fault.

By fnord12 | January 29, 2014, 1:59 PM | Comics | Comments (3)| Link

Marvel Sales


In related news, Paul O'Brien will no longer be doing these soon.

By fnord12 | January 27, 2014, 1:51 PM | Comics | Link

Better than a mace

I just went to take a look at Uncanny X-Men #1, and realized that Angel has a bazooka on the cover!

Man, that would have been awesome if he always had a bazooka. As more and more characters with better and better powers were added to the Marvel universe, Angel started looking wimpier and wimpier. But a Kirby-bazooka is one heck of an equalizer. He would have never had to be be made into Archangel if he had that.

By fnord12 | January 22, 2014, 7:40 PM | Comics | Comments (4)| Link

Better get on board with #1 because retailers aren't stocking back issues

Mike Sterling has an interesting point from a retailer's perspective regarding the trend of constant re-numbering:

I've said before we do good business in back issue sales. Even early issues of most of DC's New 52 titles still move, so long as those titles are still producing new installments. So long as any of the titles on the stands are producing new installments, I can usually move the back issues for that series. But the likelihood of any title maintaining a continuity of issue-numbering, thus also maintaining that stretch of increased back issue demand, is rapidly decreasing, and I am ordering accordingly.

Tom Brevoort said recently (on tumblr, which doesn't have good search capabilities, so no link) that he's a new car salesman, not a used car salesman, and so he doesn't really care about the ability for retailers to sell back issues (it was on a more direct question of renumbering, e.g. "How am i supposed to find Hulk #3 in the back issue bins when there are 19 different Hulk #3s?"). And while that's a really cavalier attitude and representative of a paradigm shift that's probably not good for the industry even regardless of this issue that i'm discussing, i understand where he's coming from. He has an immediate need to hit numbers to keep Marvel/Disney execs happy and the comics division profitable short term. But as Sterling's quote reveals, the re-numbering is affecting the sales of currents as well.

I think this is part of the transition away from retailers to digital sales, but it's definitely a disruptive shift.

By fnord12 | January 22, 2014, 10:49 AM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link

Well, you've screwed things up again, Megatron

Jim Smith at MightyGodKing:

I read this in IDW's April solicitation for its Transformers comic: "MEGATRON joins the AUTOBOTS! The perfect jumping-on point for new readers!" This may in fact be the least true statement in comics.

I don't know, it seems like the whole point of Megatron is that he is irredeemably evil. I guess it's the cannon. When I was a kid I couldn't help but notice all the good guy robots had little pistols, and the head bad guy robot had this giant arm-mounted nuclear bazooka and I was like "That's not faiiiirr!!!" To me that's the basic appeal of Megatron-he is a machine hardwired to be a dick.

Putting it this way may help explain one of the greatest mysteries in life, which is why Megatron always put up with Starscream and his endless whinging and second guessing and betrayals. I guess all Decepticons are just programed to be dicks, so it probably didn't even seem unusual to Megatron that Starscream was one.

That said, i agree with Jim Smith that all i ever need to know about the Transformers is the cartoons. I did investigate the British comics for a while when they were released in trade, trying to see the origins on Death's Head, but they didn't really stick with me and i can't really even say i remember what i read.

By fnord12 | January 20, 2014, 3:46 PM | Comics & TeeVee | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

All New X-Factor #1 - Wanyas said we could drop this, and i'm gonna take him up on that. It's not bad. I'm just not interested. I'll pre-empt Min and agree that their costumes are terrible.

Avengers Empire #1 is Avengers A.I. #8.NOW - After the awesome "kill this kitten" #6 and a nice sideline for Inhumanity last issue, my hopes for this series were increasing. This issue has killed that, though. First of all, the art sucks. Sorry, but it does. Having to draw Captain America's special ed helmet is unfair for any artist, but it really comes off terrible here. And this issue is full of opportunities for imaginative images, like Doombot counter-hacking the viruses and all the scenes in the virtual reality, but it's such flat, anti-dynamic art and the whole issue just makes me yawn. Compare to Valerio Schiti's really fun scenes from issue #6. Beyond that, this story is once again just dragging on. And i don't know WTF is up with all the special numbering; as far as i can tell this is just the eighth issue of the story we've been reading since the first issue. I can't imagine anyone jumping on here, if that was the point. Although if you jumped on here, at least you'd have the advantage of it being over quicker. Honestly, i'm ready to drop this.

Young Avengers #15 - Someone complained that this issue was too sentimental and also Phonogram-y in its music culture references, and i agree with all of that, but i thought it was a nice final issue. I'm not sure i understand the Tick-Tock Man, though.

Wolverine #13 - I'm pretty sure i said that i was looking forward to seeing Alan Davis draw Sabretooth fighting Wolverine, not Sabretooth talking at Wolverine for an entire issue. This series is weirdly ending with Wolverine beaten and depowered, and the only reason for the reboot (besides, you know, the state of the industry), is Alan Davis leaving. But you know what?, that's good enough for me. We can stop here.

Iron Man #20 - So if you look above you have a bunch of books that i'm either dropping or are cancelled. So i get to this book and once again i look at that Iron Metropolitan header and i'm like, ah hell, let's just drop this too and stop buying currents. But then, once again, i read it and enjoyed it. Now granted, the set-up here seems to be exactly the same as Gillen's first arc on Iron Man: he goes around and fights villains who have picked up the Extremis/Mandarin Rings. But i did enjoy it. I like the angle of an anti-corporate activist journalist being an Iron Man villain (she should really have become the new Firebrand instead of taking the name Red Peril). I liked the situational dialogue between Stark and Rhodey in the Vault (although Rhodey has seen the Mandarin rings up close before). And the idea of the rings being sentient is interest. Plus, any story about the Mandarin's rings ought to end with Fin Fang Foom, right? So i guess we can keep getting currents. At least as long as Superior Foes of Spider-Man is running.

By fnord12 | January 14, 2014, 9:19 PM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link

A very specialized form of Tourette's

By fnord12 | January 12, 2014, 1:56 PM | Comics | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Uncanny X-Force #15 - And so, after dragging that out for 15 issues, the team has been on exactly one adventure together and their problems with Bishop will have to be resolved in another title that i'm not going to be getting. I've been trying to mentally train myself for the past several years to think of a story arc, say four or six issues, being the equivalent of a single issue from 1980. It helps with my perception when, say, Colossus becomes Juggernaut or Spider-Man is replaced by Doctor Octopus. These stories feel like a new status quo because they go on for so long, but it's really just a couple of story arcs. If Colossus was the Juggernaut for like two issues of Claremont's X-Men in the 80s, we'd all just think it was awesome. But when it goes on for so long and it gets presented as a real change, some of us get agitated. So accounting for decompression is important. But it's getting to the point where you have to think of an entire series as being a story arc. There was no team called Uncanny X-Force. There was just a group of people that happened to be in the same place when a situation presented itself. It's a bit hard to accept in realtime but maybe when i read these 15 issues all at once one day for my timeline project, it'll feel like the equivalent of a random Danny Fingeroth fill-in issue of Iron Man or something and i'll be like "Sure, this was fine.".

X-Men #8 - There was no Sisterhood of Evil Mutants composed of Lady Deathstrike, Typhoid Mary, and the Enchantress. There was no all female team of X-Men called X-Men. See? I can do this. I actually have no problem with the Enchantress being on a team of mortals; she was in the Masters of Evil, after all, and the reasoning used her for including her makes sense. This book is really fine, even if they tricked us with the art teams again.

Daredevil #34 - This was great, as usual. But i want to briefly gripe that Waid included people complaining about "the one percent" in the category of people that are like the Sons of the Serpent. I think it dilutes a stronger point that people exploit racial anxiety to get people to vote against their own interests (e.g.), but i understand Waid's desire for a broader message of tolerance. So i'm not griping about him including people who complain about "wingnuts", be they right-wingnuts or left-wingnuts. We should accept that people will have different political views. But people talking about income equality are not being intolerant or trying to manipulate people for some ulterior reason; income inequality literally is the issue that all the other issues are obscuring.

Indestructible Hulk #17 - Mark Waid likes the phrase "poke the bear" this month, considering he uses it both here (in reference to Tony Stark stepping on Bruce Banner's ego and turning him into the Hulk) and in Daredevil (in reference to Kristen McDuffie's speech about the Sons of the Serpent). I'm debating whether or not i liked the depiction of Stark in this issue. What's happening here is Tony Stark's personality is morphing into something like the movie version, and it's a good strong characterization which has roots in the comic version but it's more extreme than the comic version. And i like it a lot. But at the same time, with all the history Stark has in the comics dealing with Bruce and the Hulk, his actions in this issue are immensely dumb.

Fantastic Four #15 - Seriously, you guys, i picked the wrong time to start reading this book. Karl Kesel! Of course i would pick it up (i see Fraction is still getting top billing; i guess that's because he came up with the uber-plot (again, this would have been two issues in 1986)). But i didn't need all this alternate reality stuff. Especially since i'm getting the same thing but funny in FF. I could have managed with just a footnote that said "And also, all this same stuff happened but different to the Fantastic Four".

FF #15 - See, this version has a Darla bobblehead, Thing virtual fighters, Sun Tzu arguing with Julius Ceasar, and Leech, Arti, and company buzzed on Mountain Doop.

Secret Avengers #13 - Who is this Andrew Forson upstart that is outsmarting MODOK? Blasphemy. I'm also not sure who Anton Trask is. I thought maybe he was related to Larry and Bolivar. And maybe he is. But the way he revealed himself i thought he was already established as someone that i was supposed to know, and that appears to not be the case. You know what sucks? Reading a comic and not knowing if you're not understanding stuff because the comic's unclear or because there's history that you're not aware of. Better storytelling would help, so that Trask telling us his name wasn't presented like it was a revelation. Consistent use of footnotes would help so that i'd know that the absence of one here meant that i be sure he wasn't an existing character. Anyway, we plod on with this thanks to MODOK and Taskmaster, but this is another one that when it's cancelled i'm going to look back on and say "oh, so that was basically a two-issue story".

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #8 - Fun. Love the idea of Ock-Spidey getting a pep talk in arrogance from Namor to restore his faith in himself (it might have been funnier to set it up like the scene from Amazing Spider-Man #3 where Johnny Storm gives a pep talk to Peter Parker's school after Peter is defeated by Ock). And i love that it ended with Ock-Spidey punching out Namor for endangering "his" city.

Young Avengers #14 - Downtime epilogue and an origin for Miss America Chavez. Nice. Of course, there was no team called Young Avengers, etc.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #7 - This was awesome. The new Beetle is now my favorite villain, and this is definitely my favorite current title. Too bad the book is shedding readers by double digit percentages with every issue.

By fnord12 | January 5, 2014, 4:06 PM | Comics | Comments (1)| Link

Captain America killed people and wore dresses

The question of whether or not Captain America ever killed anyone during World War II is relevant to the current entry i'm working (Captain America #321-322) on for my Marvel timeline project, and i already have a couple of examples where he does, but i wanted to take a peek at some Golden Age issues i don't "own". And before i get to some more examples, i first wanted to call out this great image, which was an opening splash from a story in Captain America Comics #2.

We've all seen Cap punching out Hitler on the cover of issue #1, but i had never seen this one before. It doesn't actually happen in the story. I wonder if it's all part of the same story, told only on covers and in splash panels. Did Cap punch Hitler and then, with Bucky's help, knock him into a trash can? Or were these two separate occasions? Did Cap give Hitler a wedgie some other time, and maybe another time a book check? OMG, is there an alternate universe where Cap and Hitler went to school together, and Cap and Bucky were the class jocks picking on poor Nerd Hitler?

Also from issue #2, something completely different:

How often did Cap and Bucky "Go to Europe"?

Ok, now for what i was actually looking for. Here's some scenes from issue #2:

And some from issue #5:

I stopped looking after #5, but the other thing on my mind regarding Cap never killing is the retcon about Bucky actually being a trained assassin. Obviously it was something Cap was aware of and condoned. Which would make a refusal by Cap to kill anyone himself a pretty dumb and irrelevant decision. Now of course a retcon from the Ed Brubaker era doesn't retroactively make Mark Gruenwald wrong (but the examples from the Golden and Silver Age do), but it does indicate that Marvel's position on the subject today is not what was established by Gruenwald.

Here's a quote from an interview with Brubaker regarding the decision to turn Bucky into an assassin:

I had always liked his character because I had read those "Tales of Suspense" issues -- the ones that were Iron Man story and half Captain America wartime story -- and Bucky was always running around with a machine gun. He didn't look like a little kid like he did in the comics in the 1940s. The funny things is in the [pre-code era] comics of the 1940s he was actually more [of a bad guy] running around with a flamethrower and dropping atom bombs on people. [Marvel executive editor] Tom Brevoort told me that every third cover in the '40s it was Cap and Bucky parachuting into enemy territory and Cap is holding his shield while Bucky is the one unloading with multiple machine guns on anybody below. Bucky was more of the [bad guy] of the two. I started looking at it that way as I built his character.

Here are links to some of those covers: issue #22, issue #25, issue #31, and issue #33.

The above isn't comprehensive; just a random sampling.

On a whim, i decided to look through one of those issues and picked #33. And it raised another point for me. Captain America was also deployed as Private Steve Rogers during World War II, and his unit definitely saw action (and yes, i picked these panels in part to show Captain America using the word "Nips"):

So did Rogers never fire his gun at the enemy? What did his squad mates think of that?

Also in this issue was a scene that really nicely supports the Brubaker retcon:

These issues are a real gold mine. One day i'd like to get all the Golden Age Cap Masterworks, but i see that they only go up to issue #24.

By fnord12 | January 5, 2014, 9:39 AM | Comics | Link

Not that i personally give a nerf dropping about the expanded universe

Tim O'Neil has some lots of thoughts about the Star Wars license reverting (so to speak) to Marvel, why Marvel continuity is different than Star Wars continuity (to Disney execs), and why you can say goodbye to the expanded universe. And if none of that interests you, it is also the only time anyone has referred to Laurell K. Hamilton as "literary".

By fnord12 | January 5, 2014, 9:23 AM | Comics & Star Wars | Link

Talking dog also not included

By fnord12 | January 3, 2014, 2:32 PM | Comics | Link

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