Capsule Reviews, 3/26/09

Captain America #48

In this Issue: Namor and Winter Soldier escape and do what they do to the bad guys. Much badassery ensues.

What I thought: Bucky is just perfectly written with respect. Namor is just perfectly written with respect. The villains get good motivation. The story builds logically and concludes. Every mainstream comic should take a queue from this.

Rating: 8/10

Guardians of the Galaxy # 12

In this issue: Drax and Phylla-Vell take on the Dragon of the Moon with an assist from Quasar, but in order to win and get Moondragon back to life, they must create a new Avatar for death… as in a new version of Thanos to tip the scales. Sweet.

What I thought: Quasar shows up pretty randomly and Phyla is as annoying as ever, but Moondragon comes back, this plays into Nova really well (see below) and we get a new cosmic baddie out of the deal. Overall, the issue isn’t great, but we get enough interesting wider universe stuff to make up for it.

Rating: 6/10 – Solid

The Incredible Hercules #127

In this issue: Hercules, Cho and Athena prepare to take on the big guns left over of the Greek Pantheon headed up by Hera. Severely overpowered, they’d at least have the intelligence to make up for it, if not for Hera cutting a deal with Osborn (who thinks all the “gods” are just insane).

What I thought: Cho the wiseacre, Hercules the benevolent jock and Athena the classic intellect play off each other marvelously, making this whole issue work particularly well with the huge melodrama brought by Hera’s evil plans. This was pretty solidly the best of the week, particularly if you’ve been following it and Mighty Avengers, while this is consistently one of Marvel’s top 3-5 books.

Rating: 8/10 – Great

Justice League of America #31

In this issue: Dinah deals with the fact that no one wants to follow someone dressed like a hooker if Superman and Wonder Woman are around, so Hal and Ollie form their own league and Canary disbands hers.

What I thought: At least we address that this incarnation of the JLA has been useless, not saving the world and being terrible against what major threats did turn up. Still, it’s an issue of a character I find unlikable, Black Canary, wondering why no one likes her, then blaming sexism off and on. Awesomely obnoxious.

Rating: 3/10 – Bad

The Mighty Avengers #23

In this Issue: Iron Man shows up to take over, taking Hercules and US Agent with him to destroy Wundagore in order to win, despite that this would create a giant radioactive crater, killing a ton of people. Hank Pym thinks quickly, however, and stops the threat with Amadeus Cho and Vision, becoming a hero in the process. The late twist is that Loki is manipulating this team, deciding he wants Avengers to control.

What I thought: Slott has a really fun dynamic going here with the underrated Pym-Wasp taking over a scattershot team. He has quite a lot of character reclamation to do to make Pym as great as intended, but this is a solid start.

Rating: 6/10 – Solid

The New Avengers #51

In this issue: Doc Strange attempts to find the new Sorcerer Supreme before someone finds him to destroy him and take the mantle. Meanwhile the Avengers meet, Hawkeye says Osborn is nuts on TV and it is determined he’s the new New Avengers team leader, after which Spidey de-masks for the team.

What I thought: I bought this because I’m a big Strange fan and want to know about the new Sorcerer Supreme. This issue is clearly an initial situation from which future stories will be built, but with the good conversational dynamic (Bendis’s writing tics aside) and an intriguing mystery over the new Sorcerer, the issue is extremely strong. Given that Bendis is the author, there is no guarantee the strong ideas are built upon, but that doesn’t weaken this issue’s quality at this point.

Rating: 7/10 – Good

Nova #23

In this issue: Richard Ryder deals with dying, gets a new lease on life via the quantum bands and the Nova Corps prepare for war. Also, a love interest randomly supports AIM. That added nothing and had better be foreshadowing or it was utter filler.

What I thought: Ryder continues to be the single greatest hero in the Marvel Universe, but this issue is a step on his path to reclaiming being Nova Prime and discovering just how awesome he truly is. I can dig that; he reminds me of Steve Rogers in all the right ways.

Rating: 7/10 – Dood

Runaways #8

In this issue: The kids go camping to bond and return to find zombie LA.

What I thought: Just in time to be pulled from the book, Terry Moore has nailed the characterizations and dynamic of the book. Oh well, at least the last issue or two of this arc got the book’s fun right for the first time since BKV left.

Rating: 6/10 – Solid

Skaar Son of Hulk #9

In this issue: A huge battle takes place between Skaar’s side, with an enslaved Silver Surfer and Axeman Bone’s army. This breaks down to leave a new leader of the planet and Skaar being dragged away by Surfer to learn about true godhood (you can surely figure out who that means given which character is taking Skaar).

What I thought: Considering I haven’t been following this book, this was surprisingly easy to follow. Besides Skaar we don’t get a ton of depth, though I suppose horrible mass murdering dictators tend to lack that, but Skaar gets a good explanation for his actions and the repercussions really made sense. The jumbled storytelling of the earlier issues is cleared up as well. This was certainly enjoyable.

Rating: 7/10 – Good

Thunderbolts #130

In this Issue: Deadpool and the voices in his head take on the Thunderbolts on their turf and we find out Norman wants information before he’s killed. Deadpool handles his opponents fairly easily and outsmarts them by issues end, making the new class of the Marvel universe look like they won’t be lasting long.

What I thought: I don’t see how you restore the Thunderbolts to credibility after this, but I don’t care about the characters anyway so that’s not so bad. I’d totally take a Deadpool written by Diggle though as he’s aces at the character, seemingly liking them far more than those he’s been tasked to for his own book.

Rating: 5/10 – Average

War of Kings Darkhawk #2 of 2

In this issue: Darkhawk blames people for his problems, finds out his powers are driving him mad, and that he’s a Raptor, a sort of ancient Nova Corps that helped shape the galaxy but went inactive. He’ll be trained by the last of his order, but must leave Earth to go be a cosmic character.

What I thought: This feels too much like Nova at the start of Annihilation, but at least Nova was already a cosmic character, this feels like a street level guy getting a random makeover because it worked before.

Rating: 4/10 – Below Average

X-Force/Cable: Messiah War Chapter 1

In this issue: X-Force catch up with Cable and Hope in time to realize it’s all a big trap of Stryfe’s. Considering the kinds of plans Stryfe is responsible for are always silly and gaudy, this should be absolutely awesome, though we’re never explained how Bishop can offer Apocalypse to Stryfe for his help. I mean, it’s not like Bish has him on speed dial.

What I thought:

X-Men: Kingbreaker #4 of 4

In this issue: The Starjammers throw down with the Imperial Guard in a rushed climax that didn’t resolve anything or make much sense… first, with Jean reborn, suddenly Rachel loses her Phoenix powers, putting her team at a disadvantage- something that never happened the 50 other times Jean returned, while Havok absorbs a sun man to be uber-powered and able to destroy Vulcan, even though his powers absorb ambient cosmic energy, not sunlight… and then Lilandra teleports him away before he can kill Vulcan, even though that would make everything right, because for no reason really, that would be suicide.

What I thought: With time and arrangement, this could have been done far better. With four issues of set-up for this escape, perhaps more thought should have went to the actual escape portion of the plan.

Rating: 3/10 – Bad