Avengers

Avengers Prime 5 (March 2011)

790709.jpgI think this issue must be Bendis’s best-paced ever. Lots happens here…

Let’s see, very big battle scene, followed by a fight scene. Before the battle scene there was some stuff, including Steve and his elf girl. Really wish Brubaker would bring her into the regular title (or whoever’s writing it once Steve’s Cap again around movie time)—Bendis gave him a decent romance here. I guess Bendis is actually good at those things.

There’s also the constant banter between the Enchantress and Thor—she really hates him, just desperately, but gosh darn, don’t they have a lot of chemistry. Only Tony gets through the issue without flirtations, unless you count Fanfir.

But then Bendis still has time for the wrap up, where Steve and Tony resolve their problems or at least decide they’re going to. It’s a bit easy, but the last page from Davis makes it work.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Alan Davis; inker, Mark Farmer; colorist, Javier Rodriguez; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Avengers Prime 4 (January 2011)

790660.jpgDoes the Twilight Sword Hela kills Enchantress with—oops, did I spoil that? I’m sure she’ll be okay—have anything to do with the Twilight movies or is it established in Thor canon? Why does every Thor comic need footnotes and never have them?

This issue has a full-on Bendis conversation where we discover Thor bedded Hellcat. It’s a fun scene with Tony, Thor and Steve bonding (or rediscovering their bonds). Very nice moment, even if Bendis starts using his parenthetical dialogue asides on the previous page for Tony’s whining.

The problem with the series is Bendis’s inability to stay focused on the plot. This issue, the plot revolves around Hela and Enchantress… so why are those the lamest scenes?

Bendis has Davis—Davis can draw anything (he does talking heads, action and monsters here)—and the book’s beautiful. Bendis underutilizes him.

Bad final page, but a good issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Alan Davis; inker, Mark Farmer; colorist, Javier Rodriguez; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Avengers Prime 3 (November 2010)

770752.jpgThere’s the Bendis dialogue no one was missing… nothing like Steve and Tony bickering like it’s a Kevin Smith movie and they haven’t been superheroes for the last forty or sixty years. There’s even a gay joke. How Smith could let Bendis just continually plagiarize Mallrats dialogue is beyond me….

But I digress.

This issue features Steve Rogers kicking butt, Tony riding naked on horseback (a lot) and some battle scene with Thor. The Thor stuff is the most important story element here, but it’s the least interesting because there’s no characters in it. The stuff with Steve and Tony—sometimes with painfully bad, snarky Bendis dialogue (everyone isn’t Spider-Man, it’s amazing he hasn’t learned that one yet)—makes the issue fun.

When Thor does rejoin them at the end, it’s nice to see he’s retained some elitism and racism. Gives the story texture.

Prime’s a totally fine read.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Alan Davis; inker, Mark Farmer; colorist, Javier Rodriguez; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Avengers Prime 2 (October 2010)

760035.jpgSteve Rogers… man-slut.

I guess I haven’t been keeping up with Brubaker’s Captain America enough to know if Steve’s cheating on Sharon with an Asgardian villager. The whole thing feels like Secret Wars with the villagers and the Enchantress and the giants… only, you know, Secret Wars with just three heroes and some tie to Thor.

I guess the connection to Thor is the biggest surprise (I honestly expected the villain reveal to be the Scarlet Witch). Prime is really a Thor series in Avengers clothing.

Bendis splits the story between Steve, Thor and Tony. Steve’s romancing some chick, Thor’s actually finding out what’s going on (because it has mostly to do with him) and Tony’s the damsel in distress and comic relief.

Davis’s art could probably carry far lamer stories and Bendis is… earnest, at least. It’s all rote, by the numbers, but it’s decent Marvel superhero stuff.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Alan Davis; inker, Mark Farmer; colorist, Javier Rodriguez; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Avengers Prime 1 (August 2010)

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Do you think Bendis called in Avengers Prime because Nimoy’s Spock is now known as Spock Prime? For some reason, it seems like a Marvel (read: Bendis) move (integrate blockbuster pop culture nomenclature).

Anyway, this first issue is pretty funny, actually. On one hand, it’s post-Siege and it’s Alan Davis so it’s very modern. I mean, sure, Davis is better than most “modern” artists, so Prime looks great… but he’s modern. Bendis’s dialogue, being polite, is on par for eighties Marvel books. It’s to the point and tin-eared. I didn’t notice any Bendis dialogue quirks this issue, actually.

But the setup? It’s straight out of the sixties. Thor, Captain America and Iron Man basically trip and fall down the rabbit hole into the story. It’s leagues past contrived.

Still, there’s a lot of charm to it. It’s a very comfortable read, even if—ludicrously—Iron Man has teeth.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Alan Davis; inker, Mark Farmer; colorist, Javier Rodriguez; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Marvel Graphic Novel 17: Revenge of the Living Monolith (1985)

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I’m not even sure where to start.

About half the comic deals with the Living Pharaoh’s origin and his escape from prison. It’s a strange origin; he seems a lot like an Egyptian Peter Parker for a bunch of it (you know, if Peter weren’t a college dropout or whatever). Michelinie does everything he can, for a while, to making the character sympathetic and tragic. Then the Living Pharaoh kills his daughter and the sympathy is out the window.

He’s got a cult of followers and she’s, unbeknownst to him, now one of them. The whole Egyptian cult thing–there are terrorist comments a plenty–makes it seem like Marvel could publish the thing today (if only Frank Miller worked at Marvel these days). But what Michelinie fails to realize is how bad a plot choice making the character utterly unsympathetic halfway through does to the comic. It makes the second half barely tolerable.

The second half, according to Michelinie’s introduction, is where the actual story idea comes to fruition. A giant monster attacking New York, only it’s the Living Pharaoh jumbo-sized off the Fantastic Four’s powers.

Michelinie writes a good Captain America and Fantastic Four. Everyone else–particularly Spider-Man and She-Hulk (though she’s technically an FF member at this time)–is spotty.

The art is sometimes good, sometimes bad, it depends one of the seven inkers. It opens well though. The colors are very nice at times.

It’s pointless, but I guess it could be worse.

CREDITS

Writers, Christopher Priest and David Michelinie; penciller, Marc Silvestri; inkers, Geof Isherwood, Mike Witherby, Brad Joyce, Phil Lord, Keith Williams, Tom Morgan and Jerry Acerno; colorists, Bob Sharen, Christie Scheele, Steve Oliff, Mark Bright, Michael Davis, Charles Vess, Paul Becton, Janet Jackson, Petra Scotese and Paty Cockrum; letterers, Joe Rosen, Rick Parker, Janice Chiang, John Morelli and Phil Felix; editors, Keith Williams and Christopher Priest; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Avengers vs. Atlas 4 (June 2010)

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Each issue of Avengers vs. Atlas ends with an Atlas backup, which is appropriate… since it turns out, the series isn’t actually an Atlas book. I mean, it’s fantastic and I recommend it highly, but it’s an Avengers book.

Boiled down, it’s a love story, full of enthusiasm and absent any of the baggage forty-seven years of stories have saddled on the Pyms.

It’s touching, really, and rather sentimental (in a good way). Parker’s able to present the Avengers, in a pseudo-retcon, full of heroic vigor, but never condescendingly. The series plays to all his strengths as a writer (at least of Marvel superhero books and the strengths he’s exhibited so far in his career).

Parker treats Atlas–though they have some great moments here–as observers. They get to witness some special things, as does the reader.

Excellent Aaron back up too. Concurrently funny, sad and nostalgic.

CREDITS

Earth’s Mightiest Super Heroes, Part 4; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Tom Orzechowski. My Dinner with Gorilla Man; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Giancarlo Caracuzzo; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Joe Sabino. Editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Avengers vs. Atlas 3 (May 2010)

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Once again, I’m opening with a comment about Hardman, because the comic really leaves no other choice. While Parker constructs this elaborate and complicated story (I don’t even know how complicated yet, but it’s the kind of story–a sequel to a forty-year old story–Brubaker does pretty well and Bendis fails on but does try and Millar creates a monstrosity with–Parker does it beautifully, however, simply beautifully), he also gives Hardman this amazing script to visualize.

The action, the talking, it’s just so perfect. Parker’s got all these character interactions going on between the Atlas team–the Avengers are, regardless of Gorilla Man, a lot flashier–amid action scenes. He gives Namora a fantastic little plot point with Thor, but also just an aside to Steve Rogers Captain America about throwing the shield. There’s so much character, it’s a shock.

Parker’s easily Marvel’s greatest treasure right now.

CREDITS

Earth’s Mightiest Super Heroes, Part 3; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Tom Orzechowski. Hey, Venus!; writer, Paul Cornell; artist, Leonard Kirk; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Joe Sabino. Editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Avengers vs. Atlas 2 (April 2010)

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I clearly don’t appreciate Gabriel Hardman enough. Hardman reminds me of Michael Lark’s superhero work, only without the… moodiness. Hardman’s like a non-moody Michael Lark, at least here he is–I honestly don’t remember finding him so stunning. Maybe I’m just forgetting.

Or maybe it’s because he’s got such a great fight to visualize.

The idea of Parker bringing in a different group of Avengers each issue sounds kind of silly, but it’s a great idea (so far). Like I said after the first one, he hasn’t got any big Atlas story going here, instead he’s just got those great characters of his interacting with other characters.

It’s a joy to read. I can’t believe this series–of all the Atlas titles–didn’t cause a big stir.

Then there’s the backup. It’s the first Atlas story I’ve read not written by Parker. Scott Kurtz does fine enough–it’s hilarious.

CREDITS

Earth’s Mightiest Super Heroes, Part 2; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Tom Orzechowski. S(take)out!; writer, Scott Kurtz; penciller, Zach Howard; inkers, Mark Irwin and Zach Howard; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Joe Sabino. Editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Avengers vs. Atlas 1 (March 2010)

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Why isn’t Jeff Parker writing the Avengers? I’d read an Avengers book by Parker in a heartbeat, even with the strange team line-up they’ve got going. His characterizations here–especially of Wolverine, Spider-Man and Luke Cage (the Captain America is a little nondescript)–are fantastic. It fully accounts for the absurdity of the line-up, but doesn’t let it show stop.

As for the Atlas scenes–it’s mostly Atlas, mostly Atlas in fight scenes–Parker does his standard great job. He’s changed things up a bit, since Atlas stories usually have some underlying arc, but here it’s just the regular one–they’re on a mission of break up the evil Atlas remnants.

The issue’s mostly action, but Parker and Hardman get in four or five set pieces, so it doesn’t just fly by during the fighting. It also doesn’t hurt Parker comes up with some great visual concepts.

CREDITS

Earth’s Mightiest Super Heroes; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Tom Orzechowski. Defender of the Deep; artist, Takeshi Miyazawa; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterer, Joe Sabino. Writer, Jeff Parker; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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