CAPSULE REVIEWS Marvel Week 28 2008

Captain Britain returns, Starhawk joins the guardians of the Galaxy reunion, Cyclops is revealed for the hack he is, Captain America reveals his origin (twice in the same week), Kraven gets a boob (and bleach) -job, Claremont hits tilt, Stark goes Skrully — and yet it all pales before the awesomeness of… MARVEL MUMMIES!!

Note: Leave Your spandex @t the Door will be delayed by a day this week.


(Mark Guggenheim / Phil Jimenez / Andy Lanning)

‘Kraven’s First Hunt’ part 1. There’s a new young, sexy, dimunitive, girly Kraven in town – yes, she looks like Eva Longoria in a bad bleach job and she’s decided to go ‘Born Again’ (Frank Miller reference, not religious proselytizing) on Spidey’s derriere. Guggenheim surprised me pleasantly with this showing: the rant-tastic Spidey/DD team-up versus lame-villain Fracture (why not Breaker, really?), Pete’s hyper-referential short stint as comics store staff, and the wacky offbeat close-calls of his identity compromise, all leading to that whopper of a twist ending! Bravo!

Jimenez does feel over-qualified for his gig, but Wacker is intent on wowing us with his talent-grabbing skills each week, a very showy contrast to DC’s usual band of D-listers usually employed on their weekly books (not counting Mark Bagley of course) to make deadlines.



(Jeph Loeb / Tim Sale / Dave Stewart)

A special preview chapter before the launch of Loeb & Sale’s latest entry of their ‘colour’ series (following Daredevil: Yellow, Spider-man: Blue and Hulk: Gray), taking a stylish look into Captain America’s WWII adventures and Bucky’s origins. It’s a treat to see these two working together, as they complement each other perfectly; Loeb’s slow, paced plotting, being the ideal vessel for Sale’s knack for making every moment and page important and impressive even if it’s just (usually) a lone imposing character figure.

The issue includes a main story, an in-depth interview and concept sketches.



(Paul Cornell / Leonard Kirk / Jesse Delperdang & Scott Hanna)

‘The Guns of Avalon’ part 3. The Skrulls have invaded Avalon and seized control of all magic, but Merlin has an ace up his puffy wizard sleeve. To noone’s surprise, Captain Britain returns; I have to say Cornell handled the fact with such awe-inducing pomp and grandeur that even I bought it that this was a significant event.

I’m initially not too crazy about the new threads – a drastic step away from the classic famous Alan Davis design and too reminiscent of the ‘Britannic’ mess from the Lobdell/Ellis era on the title.

Still, I’ll admire the irony that the first time the actual sword Excalibur is a big part of the title, the book’s name is changed to something else entirely!



(Charles & Daniel Knauf / Daniel Acuna )

The Eternals have been divided into two camps after their ‘rebirth’/reactivation, both sides competing to recruit the remaining amnesiac Eternals hiding across the globe. Meanwhile Makkari gets the crash-course on the real reasons behind the Big Bang from the Dreaming celestial, Ajak throws a jealous fit, and Sersi meets with Iron Man to discuss superhero registration.

Things are moving along slowly, the characters are mildly interesting, but the series’ hook isn’t really doing anything for me – just a lot of standing around, talking and rehashing the same info over and over again. I remain unsure about the writers’ real intentions in regards to the title. The forced tie-in to current continuity aren’t helping the book establish an independent identity, though the cameo of the Order brought a smile to my face!



(Chris Claremont / Patrick Scherberger / Norman Lee)

Is this making sense to anyone?

No-Name disappears (well, good riddance), Val Cooper comes in to investigate, the kids decide to go find their friend, they sorta take a break from that to have another Danger Room training session (cos everyone loooooves reading those), they eventually make it out, while Emma Frost goes bonkers, dresses up like Lady Mastermind and calls herself Janine Grey, ‘the Evil-X from another dimension who calls herself the Black Marvel‘.

I’m shitting-you-not.

And simply because I love this so much, take a look at this gem of a panel:

um, Cyclops, you do realise half the people on the board are not X-Men (some are not even mutants) and very few of them actually have parents for you to call? I can just imagine the scene of Cyclops calling Magneto on Asteroid-M or whereever to tell him the Scarlet Witch died… Weren’t there other more relevant pics of mutants to ape from google?

And of course, some standard, beloved Claremontisms are never absent:

The issue is accompanied with a reprint (from what looks to be bad-quality scans of tattered aged copies) from What The featuring an X-Men parody by Kurt Busiek and art from Kyle Byker. I’d just skip the main story and just enjoy this little diamond.



(Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning / Paul Pelletier / Rick Magyar)

Space Cardinals, fueled by the extracted faith energy of their followers, using the energies to make their beliefs universal truth? Round 3 goes to Marvel yet again, in this unofficial match of space-team titles.

This issue: a gruesome battle against organised religion (who seem to be the odder of the day in both here, the X-Universe and even DC’s space titles), Groot speaks (but what is he saying?), the return of Starhawk (and GOTG fans rejoiced – though why doesn’t Mantis recognise him from their Avengers days?) and another shocker of a last page.

Great writing, solid-stylish superhero art, an amazing cast with amusing dynamics that make every page and dialogue exchange a treat, mysteries that keep expanding… Marvel’s Cosmic titles have never been this fun – about time!



(Matt Fraction / Salvador Larroca)

‘The Five Nightmares of Tony Stark’ part 3. I guess not even Matt Fraction can escape mid-arc story slump.

Both adversaries get back to their bases to regroup and lick their wounds/shine their circuits, and get back to round 2. Pepper’s severe injuries forcing her to undergo the same surgery of Iron Man’s origin was a big (pleasant) surprise; I can’t wait to see where Fraction intends to run with this plot. We know Fraction likes to see her in a more active action role since her casting as ‘Hera’ in the Order… ‘Iron Woman‘ anyone? Despite this snippet, I could have done without the utter filler of a battle against generic Chinese law enforcement robots.

The news from the convention circuit this weekend were that soon this will be the only continuity Iron Man book, with ‘Director of SHIELD being turned into a War Machine vehicle (similarly to the recent success of the Hulk/Incredible Hercules swap), surprising noone as Invincible proved right out of the gates which of the two titles had the real bite.



(Peter David / Juan Santacruz / Raul Fernandez)

PAD tries his hand at starting a new fad, after the success of Marvel Zombies and the buzz around the upcoming Marvel Apes…

Marvel Mummies!

Hulk, Rick Jones and Monkey (the monkey) return to NY to find it deserted and the heroes transformed into (you guessed it…) the great dead and sloppily bandaged! PAD gets to showcase a great array of transformed heroes, from mummy Cap and mummy Thor, to the Silver Surfer and the entire ensemble casts of the various Marvel Adventures titles.

The concept still has too much meat left in it, and I feel he may have just scratched the surface, even if it’s just using it to poke fun at the other trends with the ‘mummy edition’ special variant covers. It’s fun, but not as entertaining as I would have wished with the writer attached – he’s written the Hulk better than anyone, but I got the vibe he was maybe treating this as more of a ‘hit-and-grab’ than his other titles.

Still, the story IS called ‘Are You My Mummy?‘!



(Chris Claremont / Tom Grummett / Vicente Cifuentes)

‘Soul Awakening’ part 2. I’ll limit myself to three rants this issue:

Rant #1: Why take an already convoluted character like Psylocke, who has finally found some modicum of simplicity post-resurrection, and after Crimson Dawn, body-swaps, asian-isations, clones, dupes, Legacy Virus, etc etc etc – and decide to dump her into the same lot of mess again, only this time combining elements from every past mess (Ogun, Slaymaster, Crimson Dawn, Lady Mandarin and soul transferrance, all rolled into one confusing mystery!

Rant #2: What’s the point of this new Gambit character? He is the son of Namor and the Invisible Woman, but for some reason he’s named Remy, nicknamed Gambit, he speaks French and Atlantean, and has a thing for Rogue. WHAT?

Rant #3: Could we do with a little less exposition, less narrative and please God less thought bubbles? Weren’t they outlawed anyhow? Why does Claremont get to overuse/abuse them in such sadistic fashion in every issue? Is he so ashamed of Tom Grummett’s (really gorgeous actually) art?



NOVA #15

(Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning /

Wellinton Alves & Geraldo Burges / Scott Hanna)

Nova fails to save a planet from Galactus’ cosmic spork, who even ends up saving his metal-plated space bacon in the current storyline’s disappointing conclusion.

Why bring out the ultimate Big Gun himself, if you’re not going to do anything new or even exciting with him…



(Brian Bendis / Leinil Francis Yu)

For all of Marvel’s loud protests that Secret Invasion is slef-contained, I can’t imagine any readers not scratching their heads wondering what is going on with all these new ‘Commandos’/Secret Warriors swooping in, kicking ass, taking names and departing in a flash.

Introduced in Mighty Avengers #13 as Nick Fury’s new recruits, they get the briefest intros here; instead they hit the invading Skrulls in a typical Bendis mess of an action sequence (a bunch of random splash-y panels of everyone running around punching crazy, without choreography or purpose) and are gone with no explanation of who they are, and what they’re doing here.

In the rest of the issue, we catch up with Agent Brand (from #0, and the Who Do You Trust oneshot?) who’s witnessing the torture of the abducted Reed Richards (from Secret Invasion: FF), we see Black Widow rescue Tony Stark from Spider-Skrull-Woman’s lame attempt at ambivalence, we learn that 70s Beast and Phoenix are Skrulls (what, really? wow) and finish with a teaser at next issue’s Avengers proper reunion with the new Cap and Thor.

Secret Invasion’s losing steam fast (they’re STILL fighting in NY? they’re STILL stuck in the Savage Land?), and my Hype-o-meter’s already running empty.



(Joe Casey / Jim Muniz / Cam Smith)

It does make some kinda sense. In the sadly inevitable exposition issue, major Defenders baddie Yandroth abducts former Nighthawk Kyle Richmond in his lowest hour (what with the Defenders disbanding and getting sacked from the Initiative) and proceeds to torture him with endless monologuing and some nifty continuity lessons.

As for the last page. At long last, indeed, the Last Defenders are revealed – and I can’t wait to see what happens last!



(Brian Bendis / Butch Guice / Justin Ponsor)

Yet another re-telling of Cap’s origins (after Mythos last week, and Cap: White this one, I never imagined WWII comics would be some in demand), this time in the Ultimate Universe. It’s only that…

…well, they’re suspiciously (and disappointingly) exactly the same as the actual origins we already knew. Weakling Steve Rogers, Project Rebirth (supposedly linked to Wolverine’s genes and Weapon-X as last issue hinted, though there’s no allusions to that in this issue), Erskine, the traitor and the shooting and blah blah blah. Why go to the trouble of retelling this particular piece of tired origin if you have nothing new and interesting to add to it?

Mark Millar’s addition to the mythos, Cap’s girlfriend Gail (who later went on to marry Bucky and show up in Ultimates) makes an appearance, only now Bendis reveals that she really wasn’t the girlfriend at all; instead she’s this amazing dim young lady (who doesn’t even question how the weakling Steve suddenly grew to Rambo-size overnight when she meets him) whom rogers had a crush on and revealed his feelings moments before shipping off to war. Huzzuh?



(Mark Guggenheim / Yannick Paquette / Ray Snyder)

Well, we saw that coming miles away. The confirmation that the ‘Cyclops’ who put together this throw-away excuse of a Young X-Men team isn’t the real deal hardly caught anyone by surprise, but at least it came as a relief – knowing that Guggenheim hadn’t gone completely off his rocker. The misleading ‘revelations’ about ‘Cyclops’s new teaching methods, the New Mutants’ turn to evil and the rest were an unfortunate diversion which only helped to infuriate fans instead of pique anyone’s interest.

Reading the convention reports, I’m happy to see more and more fans in Marvel panels voicing their distaste for this title and how everyone misses the New X-Men kids; hopefully Marvel will take note and make things right after this storyline wraps.


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