You go Marvel!
This week: Snowed-in Spidey, identity crises x3, slapstick murders x4, funny clone business x7, phew! Seeing a trend? Read on!
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #557
(Zeb Wells / Chris Bachalo)
The Snow storyline concludes with a fulfilling slugfest: Spidey & His Amazing Homeless Friends versus the Raving Dr Rabin and his Amazing Mayan Deity. Now, the Deity may be able to see between the Gutters and attack from different panels and pages (way cool Morrison-esque idea and brilliant execution from Bachalo), but Spidey has his homies and lots of alcohol to back him up! Spidey is more enjoyable than he’s ever been in over a decade! It has nothing to do with the lack of a wife, and more to do with getting the right troupe of creators on the case, the best editor possible for the task and managing the title and creators as a TV show would. Now was that MJ in the upcoming cover teases? 😉
AVENGERS THE INITIATIVE #11
(Dan Slott & Christos Gage / Stefano Casseli)
‘K.I.A.’ conclusion. It’s the great season-ending battle as the zombified clone of Michal Van Patrick (MVP) (killed in action in the first issues of the series) continues his murder spree, going after the original MVP who’s unaware of the whole ordeal. It’s not confusing yet. The Initiative trainees show up to protect the yong boy, along with the Scarlet Spiders who are really -wait for it- more clones of MVP, named Michael, Van and Patrick! Classy. It’s an entertaining slugfest, with memorable moments, odd sacrifices, cheesy showboats (‘I’M THE (goddamn) WAR MACHINE’ -sheesh-) , the still amazing inclusion of Slapstick and a heart-warming finale with a double twist. It’s a great pay-off for long-time readers of the title. The rest will be left scratching their heads at the titanic roster though, I suggest waiting two more months till the jumping-onpoint of #13 to sample this title.
CAPTAIN MARVEL #5
(Brian Reed / Lee Weeks / Jesse Delperdang)
The pay-off begins here! I’m not entirely convinced this was the plan from the beginning, but this excelent mini-series and the revelations of this issue even make up for the crappy Return of Captain Marvel story from Paul Jenkins. You’ve read the spoilers already: Captain Marvel didn’t really time-travel to our time, he’s a Skrull impostor imprinted with the original’s DNA, thoughts, personality and powers, set up as a sleeper agent for the upcoming Invasion. Too bad for the Skrulls he failed to live up to his programming and, having learned of his origins, has decided to take up the full mantle of Captain Marvel and become Earth’s protector. It’s all corny in its core, but well written and beautifully rendered by Lee Weeks who is producing the best work of his career here. How about a ‘Marvels’ ongoing combining the Captain and the Ms once the crossover is done, with Reed and Weeks on the helm? Please?
INCREDIBLE HERCULES #116
(Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente / Rafa Sandoval / Roger Bonet)
It’s Olympians vs Eternals as Pak and Van Lente have some fun at the Gods’ expense and Marvel’s convoluted divine continuity. See, Hercules, Athena, Ares and the rest came from the Greek Myths of the Greek Gods. But then, so did Kirby’s Eternals for the most part, including Thena (Athena), Sersi (Circe), Ikaris (Icarus), Gilgamesh (Hercules). Now the newly-revamped Eternals have sought out Hercules to reveal to him he’s really the amnesiac Gilgamesh! The Eternals make a good case for it, but in the end it’s all decided with blows (and a Athena vs Thena fight! w00t) and ends in the usual manner of these team-ups. Diggable!
Worth noting is, I didn’t check the credits until the last page of the issue; during the first reading of the story, I was more and more impressed with Khoi Pham amazing improvement from past issues… only to discover it wasn’t Pham at all who was doing this issue. Embarrassing. Let’s give this Sandoval guy a boost, eh?
WOLVERINE ORIGINS #24
(Daniel Way / Steve Dillon)
‘The Deep End’ part 4. It’s the backdoor pilot for Way and Dillon’s upcoming Deadpool series, still dragging on and gasping for steam. Now I’ve enjoyed this manic fun chase, but what would be a fun harmless 2-3 issue interlude to the regular title is actually revealed to be a 5-issue (trade friendly -wink-) storyline? Get this over with already! The entire issue is actually conversation (and delusions) between Deadpool and Wolverine -tied up in chains and held over a swimming pool. They reminisce, they analyze each other, probe their childhoods and get all touchy-feely before a surprise visitor tries to make sense of this interlude in the broader sense of this title’s raison-d’etre.
(Peter David / Valentino De Landro / Andrew Hennesy)
‘The Only Game In Town’ part 2. It’s X-Factor versus Arcade, one of the funnest and most often mis-used X-villains. PAD’s going all out with the slapstick deathtraps here, thankfully: rolling boulders, giant swinging axes and explosive baby carts! It’s a harmless fun (well, only fun until someone loses a leg) way to spend the gestation period (‘Divided We Stand’) between the end of the grand crossover and the upcoming new direction of X-Factor in the grand Alonso X-scheme.
And check out the Arcade’s Space Invaders socks. The devil’s in the details.
X-MEN DIVIDED WE STAND #1
(Carey, Yost, Kyle, Young, Fraction, McKelvie, Peterson et al)
Hey, it’s X-Men Unlimited! Only bigger, better and cashing in on the success o the recent x-over. It’s a collection of ‘what happened to them’s, starring mostly the New X-Men characters and other secondary x-dudes and dudettes.
Cannonball blows some steam on the redneck Capulets from Austen’s forgettable Romeo+Juliet Uncanny X-Men storyline. Carey digs obscure continuity, but some things should remain forgotten. If not for Mark Stoddard’s review, I wouldn’t have even made the connection.
Nezhno goes back home to Wakanda. Did Kyle and Yost really have to wait until New X-Men was canceled to give him the spotlight and an origin?
Northstar drops in to visit Anole for a gay mutie heart-to-heart. Skottie Young writes and draws this story. It looks gorgeous, but the story tries to hard to not be a stereotypical gay bonding thing, that it trips up in its own twist, losing the characters’ voices. Enjoyable but not quite right.
Hellion goes looking for trouble and has a brilliant telling off from Magneto himself.
–and finally… the masterpiece in their midst: an 8-page story featuring Nightcrawler and the Marauder Scalphunter, by Matt Fraction and indie sensation Jamie McKelvie. Fraction uses the two characters to muse about religion and philosophy in the context of a world populated with mutants and clones where death has lost its meaning. If you copy a murderer, do you copy his soul as well as his memories? Is he responsible for the crimes he committed before his death & rebirth? Can he be exonerated? I’d definitely like to see this little gem featured in some short story award nominations next year.
Tags: Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men