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Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Meeting of the Minds

The Leader and his group of intellectual villains work behind the scenes through Marvel’s history to assemble the lost knowledge of the Library of Alexandria.

fallofthehulksalphaWriter: Jeff Parker
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorists: Guru eFX
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Dave Stewart
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Associate Editor: Nathan Cosby
Senior Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this issue, except perhaps a jumping-on point in preparation for the coming Fall of the Hulks "event." What I did not expect was what seems to essentially be an "Illuminati" of intellectual Marvel villains and their "backstory" throughout Marvel’s past.

This issue basically follows The Leader, M.O.D.O.K., Egghead, The Wizard, The Mad Thinker, The Red Ghost, and Dr. Doom as they assemble the contents of the formerly-believed-lost contents of the Library of Alexandria through the years. Their first mission is an incursion into the home of the Eternals. Here the protagonists discover there are other locations around the planet with further Alexandrian contents, including Wakanda and Atlantis. Bucking the silver Age trend of simplicity, here we see that it takes months and years for the protagonists to prepare to actually launch a mission to gain the knowledge they’re after, as well as the explanation that allows for what we’ve already seen in the last half-decade of continuity regarding these characters. As the issue closes out, we get some info regarding the Red Hulk, which actually intrigues me after never before this having any interest in even the concept of that character.

The story is pretty good in and of itself. It’s not spectacular, and I’m not a huge fan of retcons…but for my understanding of things, the backstory that is here inserted into existing continuity seems to work. Additionally, I feel like I have a better understanding of who The Leader and The Red Ghost are now than I ever did before.
The art is also quite solid…while keeping its own feel, it also evokes some of the feeling of the different eras the story touches upon.

Though I came to the issue familiar with little more than the characters’ names and visual representations (excepting Dr. Doom), everyone was quite recognizable, and I really enjoyed the visuals.
Even though I’ve not followed the Hulk side of the Marvel Universe since World War Hulk ended, I still really enjoyed this issue and found that I didn’t need to know recent events. I’ve often enjoyed stories that flesh out villain characters and give them depth and motivation, and true explanation for why they would door act as they do, and this is one such issue.

I expect this is little more than set-up in the grand scheme of things, but if you want a Leader story involving a teaming-up of supervillains (including death and betrayal) reminiscent of 1980s stories but with a modern feel, this is a great issue for that.

Ratings:

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

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What If..? Age of Apocalypse #1 [Review]

classicreviewlogowhite

Quick Rating: Above Average
Story Title: What If…Legion had Killed Xavier and Magneto?

Summary: Here we’re shown what might have happened had neither Xavier nor Magneto lived to oppose the rise of an age in which the evil mutant Apocalypse rose to rule the world…

whatifageofapocalypse001 Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Dave Wilkins
Colorist: Anthony Washington
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Production: Brad Johansen
Asst. Editor: Nathan Cosby
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor-In-Chief: Joe Quesada
Cover Art: Marko Djurdievic
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This holds a lot of potential–the original Age of Apocalypse remains one of my absolute favorite X-sagas, period. And seeing that world played with could be quite cool, taking the concept and pushing in another direction while remaining in the spirit of the original.

Unfortunately, while ripe with potential, this issue lacks the space to truly execute a high-level story re-doing that saga in the space of a single regular-sized comic.

We open with the Watcher informing us that in this reality that we are shown, both Xavier AND Magneto were killed by Legion (the original story saw only Xavier killed, with Magneto’s X-men opposing Apocalypse). The absence of both characters ushers in a different age of Apocalypse; we get a re-imagining of re-imagined characters. When the story kicks off, we see a band of mutants AND other heroes (Captain America, Thing, the "current" Dr. Strange, and so on) mount a final attack to preserve their haven–though one of them has ambition to go beyond merely surviving and seeks to change the whole of reality, despite warnings against messing with such business.

The story’s heart is in the right place, showing this alternate version of an alternate universe. It’s jam-packed with a lot of characters that, for lack of space to truly flesh them out, seem rather contrived and present for the "coolness factor" of showing them; there’s no room to really flesh them out and show where they came from, what brought them to this point.

The art seems rather sketchy, and at points characters seem to be out-of-proportion…This is no standard, clean-lined interpretation of the characters. While this would normally be a complaint with me, something about the context makes it work. The story takes place in a mucked-up world with little to BE bright, sun-shiny/happy about, and the characters can’t afford to be clean-cut "super-heroes" or such, and the visual style lends a certain edge that just works for the tone, allowing a bit of abstractness to get things across.

As with the Onslaught Reborn issue, the quantity of ads managed to annoy me and take me out of the story, and makes me wish all the more that I’d simply waited for the inevitable TPB of all this year’s What If..? issues to read without ads.

Given that this particular story delves back to the core of the Age of Apocalypse, it seems almost out-of-place amidst the others in this batch, taking on stories from the last 3 or so years. In and of itself, it’s an enjoyable enough read, though it feels like a pilot missing a series: I think something like this would have made for an interesting mini-series, giving more detail to the changes brought into the concept and setting things up; all the moreso for the "twist" ending.

You could certainly do better than this issue…but there’s a lot you could find that’s worse. If you’ve followed most of the stories this batch of What Ifs spring from, you might enjoy a collected version more than the singles.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

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