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The Mighty Thor #700 [Review]

mighty_thor_0700_lenticularThe Blood of the Norns

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Walter Simonson, Matthew WIlson, Russell Dauterman, Daniel Acuna, James Harren, Dave Stewart, Becky Cloonan, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham, Ive Svorcina, Andrew MacLean, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo, Olivier Coipel
Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Lenticular Cover: Stephanie Hans (based on the original cover of The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin)
Associate Editor: Sarah Brunstad
Editor: Wil Moss
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 2017
Cover Price: $5.99

Along with Cable #150, I think this was the issue I was truly most curious about, content-wise…and sadly, number-wise. It’s a #700…I think Marvel‘s first. Much like Thor #500 was their first #500 issue back in the ’90s. Then there’s the lenticular cover, playing off of the classic The Death of Captain Marvel…one of my definite Starlin favorites with the whole Captain Marvel/Adam Warlock/Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet/cosmic stuff…a certain classic within my own life and time as a comics reader.

I certainly did not care for the higher price of this issue…but at least it’s a singular issue/narrative (albeit with a number of art teams on its many segments) and not a regular-sized main story with a ton of pointless-ish "extras" and add-ins and such just to inflate the thing artificially. And getting the lenticular cover edition makes it feel a bit more like a special issue and certainly physically/tangibly feel like it’s more worth its price. The quality of the lenticular effect is not good, though, with neither image particularly clear, though it seems the "classic" image is easier to see for backgrounds and title, while "Lady Thor" is fairly easy to see in the center.

Art-wise there’s a bunch of folks on this issue, names both familiar and not to me, perhaps most familiar being Walter Simonson, or Walt Simonson…a classic, notable, significant creator in the history of Marvel‘s Thor title. Given that there’s a lot of stuff happening all over the place–different settings, different times, different characters and types of characters–this issue actually benefits from a number of different art styles. While I don’t much care for some stuff, I can’t deny that overall, characters that I’d recognize look good in this issue, and even ones I don’t. Where the art takes a less-classic or less-realistic turn, it still works with the context of the story segment.

The story itself is lengthy enough and all over the place enough that I’m not gonna try to summarize it in detail here. Plus, not being "up" on the last few years of the characters’ stories outside of internet hearsay, I don’t know that I’d get specifics correct as is. Essentially, there’s a big attack happening that causes the knowledge of everyone’s fate to be removed…now that no one knows what WILL happen, the possibilities are endless. In the course of this, we check in on a bunch of different Thors and Thor artifacts. I still can’t get over this sense I get in reading this that "Thor" has become a "title" more than an actual NAME, and that’s probably where I most balk at the last few years of what I’ve heard of things. THOR might somehow become unworthy to carry Mjolnir, but that shouldn’t change that his NAME still IS Thor. Someone else might get the wield the hammer, but I don’t get how THEY suddenly become THOR. Especially while the genuine god is still around. I don’t know if it’s the same name historically, but at least for this issue, I loved the name given to Throg: Simon Walterson, a play on Walter Simonson.

As said, I’m not "up" on the last few years of stuff, so I’m sure there’s plenty throughout this issue to be appreciated that I don’t, and that I didn’t even notice, for that matter. That said, and all other complaints aside…I didn’t really WANT to like this issue.

But I did like it.

I tend to hate when something feels just like an opening chapter of a bigger story, arbitrarily chopped up into issue-sized chunks. This issue probably gets away with that, then, because it’s lengthier. And being a few days after I bought it, the price wasn’t so fresh in my mind and I was just reading the story FOR the story. The extra pages, the story touching on a number of different characters…this just felt like that much bigger a chunk of story overall. It’s by no means complete, but I didn’t feel lost the way I thought I would, and didn’t feel shortchanged when I got to the end of the issue. While this issue kicks off a presumably six-part The Death of The Mighty Thor, that and the lenticular cover are the only real references I picked up to a pending death, outside of the notion of Jane Foster’s cancer, period, being a built-in timer o sorts.

I also definitely enjoyed the fact that "Odinson" was in the book…he may be "unworthy" but is still present and part of the story, so it’s seeming (from this issue at least) like he’s not been absolutely shunted out of his own book.

I really don’t know if this is something ongoing readers would enjoy or not. I believe Aaron is the same writer that’s been on the various titles the last few years, chronicling the ongoing Jane Foster Thor stories, and much of the art team(s) I suspect are from those titles…so this is probably pretty consistent with the overall story that’s been unfolding. And I can’t speak for other fans who have felt put-off by the changes and such.

But me? I enjoyed this issue far more than I expected or intended to. I don’t know if this really falls into the Legacy headline or not, or if the inclusion of Odinson and other versions is simply TO fit into Legacy. But I’ll actually consider picking up the next issue if it’s not out on a huge week and there’s no confusion over which cover is the standard cover (this issue’s lenticular cover is marked as a variant, but due to marketing and hype, I consider the lenticular covers the main covers regardless of markings from the publisher).

thor_700_blogtrailer

Inferno (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars_inferno001Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Art: Javier Garron
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Javier Garro and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Editor: Katie Kubert
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I have yet to read the original Inferno saga. I remember and recognize its logo from comics I first saw in a friend’s collection, though now know it more personally through comics in my own collection, issues I’ve seen in passing in back issue and bargain bins, and know of it historically through prior revisitations and references as well as the “after-effects” it left on the X-Men-universe. But as a sucker for classic X-stories (with added appeal of late for lack of great X-stuff to get into), I was quite interested in this, if only to “check it out.” I wouldn’t necessarily choose Inferno–it’s hardly at the top of my list of favorite X-stories–but this issue was yet a mostly enjoyable read for me.

Several years after the demons took over the city, we find the Colossus willingly submits to doing Cyclops’ bidding in exchange for being allowed to–one day per year–take a squad of X-Men into the Inferno to attempt to free his sister from the demons’ grasp. After a particularly costly such encounter, the losses are driven home all the more, and Colossus finds himself nearly cut off, faced with one final rescue attempt that does not go nearly as he had hoped.

The story itself is good, taking the core concept of the classic story and giving it a different ending, pulling a “present” timeline out of that change. I’m not consciously familiar with the art team, but there’s a definite air of familiarity to me with the visuals, reminding me (I think) of Chris Bachalo‘s work…though that’s not entirely a positive. The art is not horrible or anything but it’s not exactly to my liking. Stylistically, it fits the story pretty well, and much of its simplicity works for getting across what’s going on. It could certainly be a lot worse, a lot more jarring, so I’m good with it as-is.

Where The Infinity Gauntlet had originally been its own title, and the 2099 line was basically a bunch of books with the 2099 tacked onto something (Spider-Man, Punisher, X-Men, etc) and so works with the current Secret Wars as Secret Wars 2099, Inferno works a little less so as a standalone to me. The logo is familiar and simple but on the cover seems to just be floating. Perhaps it’s the lack of a Secret Wars or Battleworld logo stretched across the top, but this mostly looks like a Bachalo-esque image with the logo elements pasted onto it.

In and of itself, this was a good issue and I’m definitely interested to see what happens in the next issue. I liked the stand-alone nature of this book: consciously I know it’s part of Secret Wars, one of the realms in that world, but on the whole this could just be an introductory issue of some parallel reality with the X-Men characters…and that works in a good way.

Perhaps not entirely worth $3.99, but getting an older, more classic-ish X-story back in the forefront is good enough for me. And given the seemingly arbitrary pricing model of Marvel‘s collected editions, I’m definitely ok with buying this as singles. Recommended particularly to fans of the original story, or early-’90s/pre-’90s X-stuff.

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Deadpool #31 [Review]

I Rule, You Suck (Conclusion)

Writer: Daniel Way
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Inks: Jose Pimentel
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Dave Johnson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

Story-wise, there’s not a whole lot to this issue. Deadpool’s trapped in a hospital, trying to keep a young doctor alive while killing vampires of the Claw Sect (who have infiltrated the hospital). Amidst the fighting, we get an extremely amusing moment in one of Deadpool’s hallucinations, riffing on Twilight. We also get to see Deadpool spring a couple of traps that are really quite smart–and the flashback to seeing him setting the first struck me as funny in its own way, even while thinking what an awesome moment of planning ahead it was…I’m surprised I’ve never seen that solution used in anything else with vampires before. The issue ends on a bit of a sad note…one can’t help but feel for Deadpool here.

The art by Dazo continues to impress me. There’s something to the visual style Dazo brings to the book that works really well for me, and there was nothing that jumped out at me as complaint-worthy. This looks and feels like the Deadpool I’ve come to enjoy the last couple years, and remains a great-looking comic.

I’d not been following Deadpool for a few months–waiting instead to pick up collected volumes–but the cover of the previous issue drew me in; and especially for discovering this would be only a 2-part story, there was no way I wasn’t going to get this issue. This series continues to surprise me at how much I enjoy it. The enjoyment this time is as much in the story as it is in that the cover price seems to be holding–for present–at “only” $2.99. as well as the fact that this was a highly-enjoyable Deadpool arc of only 2 issues rather than being drawn out across six issues.

The cover shows this as a tie-in to the recently-concluded Curse of the Mutants arc from X-Men…this is a thematic tie-in, but can be read and enjoyed entirely without that story, and vice-versa. This–along with the previous issue–make a great little set for Deadpool fans unwilling to commit to six issues but who want to read a well-done Deadpool story set inside current continuity, interacting with the goings-on of the Marvel Universe.

All in all…this is my favorite issue of the week for sheer enjoyment. Definitely recommended.

Story: 8/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8.5/10

X-Men: Second Coming #2 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Deadpool #22 [Review]

Writer: Daniel Way
Art: Tan Eng Huat
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Jason Pearson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

Having parted ways with Spider-Man, Deadpool finds himself on his own, trying to play the part of the “hero” rather than merely gun-totin’ merc-with-a-mouth. After a nice bit of Pool-o-vision, we find Wade on a bus, which, of course, conveniently is in the right place/time to be robbed. After the robbers leave, ‘Pool realizes they were dirty cops, and heads into a nearby town seeking justice. Of course, in typical Deadpool fashion, what he finds isn’t what one would exactly expect, and leads to a true test of Deadpool’s will to be more heroic than mercenary.

The art by Huat and Gracia is not bad, though somehow it doesn’t strike me as the best Deadpool’s looked. Of course, I’m finding myself inundated lately with Deadpool all over the place by so many artists that it doesn’t seem the character has any overly consistent appearance these days. This issue tips a bit more toward the realistic side away from some of the more exaggerated, cartooney takes on the character and his stories. The visuals don’t particularly stand out all that much, but they’re not anything that’ll turn me off to the book, either.

The story itself–while fitting into the general theme of Deadpool trying to “go hero” left me feeling rather put off. This issue is a one ‘n done tale–and as such, in a title that has operated on the modern formula of multi-issue arcs that have some forward movement but lead directly from one issue to another, it’s rather disappointing. I do imagine this will sit better in the longer view–whether it’s the first of several such stories, or if it’s setting up something to come or perhaps serving as a bit of an epilogue: “here, after encounterying Spider-Man, see what Deadpool tries to do after being so inspired.”

Whatever intellectual rationalization is given, for me, with what I’ve come to expect from a Deadpool comic, this one was a distinct let-down, and possibly my least favorite issue of the series to date.

If you’re all about ANYthing and everything Deadpool, chances are you’ll have already decided to pick this up. The single-issue story format makes it a sorta neutral point for someone considering checking the character out–you see some key aspects of the character, from “Pool-o-vision” to the multiple voices in his head, to how he deals with certain situations. But without a through-narrative from a previous issue or lead-in to the next issue, this one’s ultimately forgettable and seems non-essential.

Not recommended.

Story: 4/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 5.5/10

Deadpool #19 [Review]

Writer: Daniel Way
Penciler: Carlo Barberi
Inkers: Juan Vlasco, Sandu Florea
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Jason Pearson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

For the most part, I’ve been looking forward to this issue since the Deadpool issue of Amazing Spider-Man several months back. This issue picks up on Peter Parker being the typical version of the character. After a near run-in with Deadpool, he hopes trouble’s not following…but soon finds trouble when a murder is discovered that seems to have Deadpool’s “fingerprints” all over it. Parker tracks Deadpool and beats the guy mercilessly before finally realizing perhaps he’s not the culprit…and Deadpool provides some new information as to who the culprit most likely is–as well as some background on this “Hitman Monkey” character.

This is the best Spider-Man I’ve read in a long time. In fact, it’s the only Spider-Man I’ve read in a long time…and so this story is all the more enjoyable for getting to read a character I like again–the Deadpool issue being the sole issue of Amazing Spider-Man I’ve been able to bring myself to buy since One More Day (and it read like an issue of Deadpool more than it did Spider-Man). Way captures a good part of the character–keeping him recognizable and believable, while leaving out details that date the character. Deadpool seems to be his usual self, which considering Way‘s still the writer, is a good thing. What I don’t care for is this Hit-man Monkey…from what I understand, this is a character created for some sort of webcomic on Marvel’s site, and he’s now being pulled into this title. Were he simply a random character being introduced here for the first time, it would seem far more fitting, and I wouldn’t feel like I’m missing out on some in-joke.

The art is quite good, and I really like the way the characters are depicted throughout the issue. Though I’d enjoyed the Deadpool story in Amazing Spider-Man, I recall the art being a complete turn-off…here, Spidey looks normal, if not very good as a whole…certainly significantly better than the last time I’d seen him. Additionally, this version of Deadpool has a certain visual “feel” that adds to me liking this book.

Story, art…this is a very good issue of Deadpool, and as the start of a new story–one involving Spider-Man–seems a decent point for new readers to jump in and check things out. Of the various Deadpool books, this (for the moment at least) is my favorite…perhaps for being rooted in actual ongoing main Marvel continuity rather than playing in its own sandbox off to the side or with what are–while good stories–still fairly inconsequential done-in-ones.

Highly recommended!

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

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