Marvel News & Views: Reviews Edition

Running behind this week so only reviews for you!

Opinions on the Work of People Far More Talented Than I

Avengers Initiative #1

The first of Marvel’s #1 issues that I read this week (look lower for the second, Omega Flight) has be getting some pretty rough reviews from the online community at large. To be honest, I don’t really see what everyone is so agitated about.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not a huge Slott fan and have no particular concern with whether or not he brings the funny. I had no expectations that this book had to be fun or funny. Thus, I was fine with this “new” (has no one else read his fairly bleak Arkham Asylum: Living Hell) Slott. Actually, to be honest, a combination Slott is on display. Most of the setup was light and fun, full of sarcasm and accidental wanderings into the wrong locker room. Then, the one switches quick as tragedy strikes.

He does a fine job of laying out the premise of the Initiative and the inherent capacity for disaster it represents. The characters are mostly broad strokes right now, but there is room for growth inherent in most of these wide strokes (except, perhaps, Gauntlet who is a wildly stereotypical drill sergeant type). The sudden switch in tone is appropriately setup and packs a decent gut punch despite how little we know of the character involved.

On the art side, Casselli, late of Young Avengers/Runaways, is miles better than he was in that effort. He’s still no Cheung (who handles cover duties), but the transition between the cover and the interior is not all that jarring.

Grade: B

Immortal Iron Fist #4

Good stuff! Speaking as a non-Iron First aficionado, I have no idea how much of this is accurate or if you I.F. continuity nuts are losing your damn fool mind about it, but I’m digging it.

My only complaint is that the corporate takeover element of the book has been so backseated that when it shows up here it took me a bit to figure out what the heck it had to do with anything.

Grade: B+

Omega Flight #1

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not Canadian and have only traveled to the fabled Great White North twice (including one trip that put me up there for two hours for Chinese food). I cannot, therefore, comment on this book from the perspective of its disrespect for the Maple Leaf Nation. For me, it read sort of accurately. Big bully United States lets Canada know that they’ll be taking over the country’s superhero protection and Canada reacts by trying to put together their own team that, at least, is headed by one of their own. Granted, the superhero thing probably removes it from the realm of “realism” anyway, but it does not seem too farfetched to me that Marvel’s United States would attempt to “solve” the problems of its neighbors by attempting to install their own team and ignoring any sort of cultural issues that might arise from such a move.

More to the point though, I’m not reading comics for a realistic take on international relations. (By the by, interesting side question: why is it that the reviewers who are typically most concerned with comics skewing too “real” were the ones complaining loudest about how unrealistic a portrayal of international relations this was?) I’m reading this for things like a Wrecking Crew that’s actually intimidating (check!), gorgeous art by Scot Kolins (check!) and appearances by folks like Arachne and Beta Ray Bill (sadly, no check on that, yet).

So, in the end, I’m fine with this debut issue. The one felt right to me and the pacing, while perhaps a touch slow, worked. It’ll need to pick up in future issues because, as a mini (for now at least), it cannot afford to take three issues to draw the full team together, but as an opening salvo there was nothing wrong with it.

B

Runaways #25

Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan are in the driver seat and the best compliment I can give is that I didn’t really notice the transition. Yes, Ryan’s art is different, but still strong enough to render the characters as recognizable. And yes, Whedon does have certain recognizable language ticks that mark the scripting as his own. However, I maintain that if no one gave you the heads up, this installment works similarly enough that you might think of it as a fill-in (like Mike Norton’s two issue stint earlier in this run).

The lightning in the bottle feel isn’t there, but that might have as much to do with me actually looking for it and thus jinxing it than anything else. The other limiting factor would probably be the team’s move to New York. Part of the Runaways charm is their disconnect from Marvel U. central and going back for the second time in less than a year really undercuts that charm.

For now, it seems, the Runaways are in good hands.

B