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The ’90s Revisited: Incredible Hulk #350

90s_revisited

incredible_hulk_0350Before the Fall

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Jeff Purves
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Petra Scotese
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1988
Cover Price: 75 Cents

I snagged this issue from a quarter bin because of the cover. Hulk, Thing, and Dr. Doom??? Yes, please! Of course, then I opened the issue, and first thing I really take in text-wise is a note to pick up Fantastic Four #320, first…apparently this issue picks up where that one left off.

How DIFFERENT this is from modern-day comics! Where if there’s any crossover like this at all, it’s some MAJOR EVENT, with SPECIAL BRANDING and COVER BLURBS and all that, Part #whatever of 6 or 9 or whatever chapters for some pre-figured collected edition!

Instead, no…it’s an issue I grabbed completely on its own, essentially my "first" in that I don’t know I’ve read anything from early in Peter David‘s run, know only tangentially/broad stuff from it, etc…and EVEN THOUGH the issue refers me to another first…I can STILL follow along in this issue, as it catches me up on or refers to essentials so that I can read this as it is, as a one-off issue, not part of some mega-event or gigantic crossover.

Much of this issue is a bit of a slugfest, with the Thing coming out the worse for the issue’s portrayal. We open on the Thing standing over the beaten-down form of the gray Hulk, while a green Hulk approaches, challenging him. Apparently the Thing has recently been greatly enhanced, with an odd extra-rocky physical shape and strength beyond what he’d had before, allowing him to come out on the winning side against the Hulk! While he tangles with the green Hulk, the gray Hulk wakes and is met by Dr. Doom, who reveals to him that the green Hulk is an advanced robot, and prods gray Hulk into challenging the Thing smartly. So he does–luring Thing into a hit-and-run match that with further strategy leaves Thing defeated, and gray Hulk finds himself ultimately chatting with Beast and being drawn into some other big thing going on.

That this is not some numbered chapter of some big event goes to the way Marvel comics used to be–simply a shared universe. Some villain might decide to tangle with a hero he doesn’t usually, but then that hero seeks out the usual hero for advice, thus drawing them into things, and eventually you have a "story" that effectively spans multiple titles…yet it’s not officially billed as such. Of course, this style was also when "collected volumes" and "graphic novels" as they’re known in 2018 were 20+ years in the future. Single issues were just that–single issues–and the Marvel Model was not All-Event, All-the-time.

Story-wise, I like what I got here, overall. It’s not my usual fare, and in some ways a bit "talky" and a bit "basic" or "convenient" (Dr. Doom palling around with Hulk and finding old Eternals tech, etc) and Thing vs. Hulk being something, and so on…but for an issue I picked up for 25 cents, it’s not bad, and was an entertaining sort of read, as well as a bit of a time capsule. 1988…30 years ago!

Visually, this definitely carried what I see (remember?) as a "house style" for characters, making them all definitely recognizable and such. While Thing is extra-rocky and I’m not fond of the look, I recall just enough Marvel history to know that he’s had several odd appearances, and that this was a temporary shift for him, obviously going on at the time this was published.

I’m sort of curious to read the Fantastic Four issue referenced, and even to follow this into Avengers Annual #17…but not really enough to make a big focus of tracking the issues down. If I think to, I may look for them in dollar bins at upcoming comic events I attend, but mostly I just enjoyed this as a 25-cent issue and something "different" to read. Though it’s only a "middle chapter" essentially, it has a definite sense of "authenticity" about it that I do not get from contemporary Marvel comics.

And look–it’s #350, a nice "anniversary-numbered" issue, and it’s only 75 cents, the standard/usual price. Not artificially inflated. And to my knowledge, no variant covers. It’s just a comic that’s glad to be a comic, that works as a comic, and doesn’t try to be anything else.

Definitely recommended if found in a bargain bin, but though more enjoyable in its way than many modern comics, not overly spectacular in and of itself–it’s not worth putting a big hunt in.

incredible_hulk_0350_blogtrailer

Secret Wars – Week of June 10, 2015

Several weeks in and finally getting to some of the #2s for the Secret Wars tie-ins. I enjoyed the week’s reading overall, though none of the #2s particularly stood out or overly impressed me. As always, I’m not thrilled with the $3.99 price point, but these could have been worse for the price. We also had the Marvel Zombies #1, which I covered by itself.

Inferno #2

secretwars_inferno002I definitely picked this up because of the first issue, and was curious at where things would go. This issue manages to lose the “shiny newness” factor of the first and settles (for me) into a middle ground of “good” but “not terribly memorable in itself.” Even though I did read the issue, its content and the specific details of the issue mostly faded from conscious memory…outside of what happens to Nightcrawler. I’m quite sure I’d have enjoyed it more if I was familiar with the original Inferno story; but here, I’m simply experiencing the details of this iteration with a general knowledge of continuity after the original. While I’m not overly engaged at this point, the only real negative for me (story or art or overall) is a passive lack of engaged interest. Nothing actively puts me off or kills my willingness to continue with the series.

Secret Wars 2099 #2

secretwars_2099002I’m still not entirely sure what to think of this book, but as a Peter David one I really find myself wanting to like it. This issue gives us more background (and questions) on the Avengers 2099…particularly Captain America and her alter ego. We also re-meet the Hulk of 2099 and see him face off with the Avengers. I only loosely remember the existence of the Hulk 2099 title and character, with a lot more “awareness OF” than actual reading experience on the character. While we have Miguel heading Alchemax, this is sort of the first (familiar) 2099 character for me, grounding the new characters (Hercules simply seems to be “my” Hercules but traumatized). Taken alone as itself I don’t think I’d care nearly as much for this title; but as a 2099 combined with David‘s writing, I want to see where this goes, and look forward to the next issue.

Ultimate End #2

secretwars_ultimateend002Things start to make a lot more sense to me here and explain stuff I was unclear on with the first issue. For one thing, I assumed the first issue had some bit of flashback going on, or something preceding the start of Secret Wars itself; I get clarification here that what I’m actually seeing is heroes from two different worlds put together and trying to figure their situation out, but AS a part of Battleworld. We get some nice character interactions between the two Tony Starks, and other Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Ultimate Gwen and Aunt May. We also get a Green Hulk vs. Gray Hulk fight to cap off the issue. I’m also seeing that unlike my initial assessment, this is much like any of the other tie-ins to Secret Wars in that we have characters from the given setting(s) and get a story involving them, in the context of Battleworld.

Overall Thoughts on the week

I’ve definitely found myself significantly more interested in the #1s to “try” them than with the continuations of the series. I’ve already passed on Secret Wars Journal #2, and suspect that in the coming weeks/months I’ll “drop” other titles and possibly pass on even more. No matter how interested I may be or how “fun” the thing might look…I have a limited budget, and $3.99 upon $3.99 stack up REALLY fast, and whatever of these tie-ins I buy are ON TOP OF stuff I’m already getting, and are not going to supplant any of those. The “sticker shock” of Marvel‘s $3.99 books continues to be THE #1 detriment for me. I look forward to the next couple weeks, with less tie-ins that I’m after, and hope that what I *am* getting with balance out more across the weeks as the event goes on.

Secret Wars – Week of June 3, 2015

I actually enjoyed reading the Secret Wars comics I bought this week…so much so that I spent more time reading and less time even considering reviewing. And given general “life gets in the way” time-constraints (and lack of patience, if I’m totally honest) I decided instead of writing up single-issue reviews, I’d just touch base on the issues I bought this week and thoughts I had. Not exactly reviews, not exactly something else. Just my rundown of my trip into Battleworld.

Secret Wars #3

secretwars(2015)003I continue to be surprised (pleasantly) at this series. I’m less and less appreciative of the full-page text/chapter breaks (seems like a waste of pagespace to me), but I’m finding the core story here to be a lot more accessible than I expected, given the writer. Given we basically already know the outcome, and have for months before this even started, it’s still a good ride going through. As this third issue in the series, there is a shift and I sort of feel like we’ve had 3 distinct “situations” presented with the first issue giving us the end of the 616 and 1610 Earths, the second immersing us in this current Battleworld Earth, and now we begin to see some cracks and the drawn-back curtain on how this world was came to be and its background. I definitely look forward to the next issue, and whatever tie-ins I do or don’t get, I’m pretty sure I’m “all in” for this core book.

X-Tinction Agenda #1

secretwars_xtinctionagenda001The cover alone for this issue would have sold it for me. Having a classic cover-dress absolutely punched my nostalgia button–corner box with the character headshots; the bold, blocky title logo, the overly dramatic image, and even the “ACTION-PACKED FIRST ISSUE” blurb…totally something out of the early 1990s. Topping that off, the simple fact that this is an X-book. I’ve yet to read the original X-Tinction Agenda story, but I know OF it. And this issue provides some interesting (to me) character sets as well as the situation casting certain characters into a “villains” type of role…while keeping them sympathetic to me as a reader. Despite that, I’m not overly invested in these versions of the characters, and the cliffhanger doesn’t mean much to me except as “generic” potential foreshadowing. Given my enjoyment of classic ’90s X-Men stuff, chances are good that I’ll stick with this series for its duration.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1

secretwars_amazingspiderman001Given the better part of the last decade has had me with near-zero interest in the One More Day/postOne More Day take on Spider-Man, getting a fresh take on a MARRIED Peter Parker (who HAS A KID, to boot!) is something I really could not NOT support. And thankfully, despite some wariness on my part at Slott writing the book (what I’ve read of his work on Spider-Man over the past view years has had mixed reactions on my part)…I quite enjoyed the issue. Some page layouts were a bit weird and distracting as I tried to determine the exact flow of panels, but the art itself was great. The story gives a nice mix of Peter in action and interacting with his family, as well as setting up the world he and MJ live in, and providing an interesting spin on the character as things are set up for the rest of this series. I definitely look forward to the next issue (for better or worse, this is a double-ship month so I only have a couple weeks) and will see how things are shaping up from there as to whether I keep up with the series to its conclusion.

Future Imperfect #1

secretwars_futureimperfect001This is another Secret Wars tie-in based on a story I’m quite AWARE OF but have yet to actually read. I didn’t REALLY have any particular interest in it…but then I saw that it IS a Peter David book, so on his name alone, I decided to check this out. And overall, I’m glad that I did. I had no particular pre-conceived notions getting into this, so it just unfolded, and even gave an interesting twist where I thought I saw something developing but then got something else that felt like it should have been equally obvious. I also enjoyed the art overall in itself, if not all the character designs. Despite that, this is one that as a story doesn’t hit any real nostalgia buttons for me, and given the large quantity of books each week may fall off for me as I simply don’t have the “budget” to get every last tie-in title that’s on my radar. Still…having the original creator (David) getting to revisit something like this with a fresh series is something I welcome, and am glad to see out there. It also leaves me much more interested in actually reading the original, just to “experience” that for myself after all these years.

Years of Future Past #1

secretwars_yearsoffuturepast001The original Days of Future Past story in X-Men was probably the first major story that I spent awhile trying to track down just to read. I was aware of its existence, knew what issues it had been in…but did not have actual, physical access to it to read the thing. I was introduced via the ’90s cartoon, then eventually found a paperback children’s novelization, and finally at some point found the two-issue “mini tpb” to read it (years ahead of collected volumes and digital or even eBay negating such troubles). This is an oversized issue at $4.99 instead of $3.99, and that almost put me off from getting it, but since it even FELT oversized, I decided to suck it up and buy the thing…I’m giving as many of the #1s a shot as I can, figuring shops will have a better handle on ordering for the second issues, and at least I won’t miss out on a surprise #1 taking off in popularity. This had some interesting enough bits, but overall this didn’t exactly grab me…I appreciate it being drawn from the Days of Future Past-era stuff but doesn’t actually hold the tight significance of that original story for me.

Overall Thoughts on the week

Considering I’ve been largely away from Marvel for most of the past couple years, with most weeks not even buying anything they put out, it’s been quite an anomaly the last several weeks actually having Marvel in my purchase stack. This week brought out the sticker shock…with a cluster of THREE Star Wars books, and buying FIVE Secret Wars tie-ins, as well as a couple random issues AND my usual pull-list issues. Even so, while I may be “iffy” on tie-ins on a case-by-case basis, five or so weeks in and I’m still enjoying Secret Wars and still looking forward to more!

Secret Wars 2099 #1 [Review]

secretwars_2099001Writer: Peter David
Artist: Will Sliney
Colorists: Antonio Fabela & Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Dave Rapoza
Editor: Devin Lewis
Senior Editor: Nick Lowe
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I haven’t read a 2099 book in years. Sadly, it may have been well over a decade, and closer to two. But I’ve been on a major Spider-Man 2099 kick lately with toys and really loving the classic Spidey 2099 costume, having avoided the recent series primarily for the $3.99 cover price (though there were other ‘standard’ Marvel factors for me). But throwing in with a bunch of the Secret Wars stuff, this seemed well worth checking out, so I grabbed it.

The story of the issue gets around a bit, as we begin with getting to see the 2099 Black Widow in civilian guise get called away from flirtation to action, then we meet the other current ‘Avengers’ (a female Captain America, a new Hawkeye, a new Iron Man, and Hercules, as well as Black Widow). They face off against some teched-up thugs, while interpersonal stuff comes out about the characters, and after the fight with the villais we’re given more insight into who the new characters are as well as what’s exacerbated stuff with Hercules. We meet the team’s advocate in Alchemax, as well as the current Vision, and learn of a pending threat to the team.

Even as this story is relatively simple and generic, if not a bit blatant in showing us various personality bits with the various characters and how this tea has come to be, it still works well. There’s a definite feeling for me of an "older" comic with these elements, and knowing this is Peter David back on 2099 stuff is a definite treat, perhaps contributing to my enjoying this…to my wanting to enjoy this.

I’m less familiar with the art team, but I do like the visuals on the whole. I don’t care for the cover art overall…except for Iron Man, whose armor looks fantastic to me on the cover. I actually like it throughout the issue, but particularly on the cover.

As this is new stuff, pushing the 2099 universe forward a bit or in a different direction (but no mention or reference to Doom having taken over, etc), it’s not exactly a beginning…yet it doesn’t entirely feel like just some continuation, either.

I was curious about this…curious enough to check it out. This was not a bad issue, and I’m interested on the whole in learning more of these characters…but with all the many Secret Wars tie-ins, some of these will ultimately competed with each other. I’m more willing to check out *A* first issue than to stick with an entire (mini) series. I’m not choosing from this issue to not continue, but this isn’t quite enough for me to say I absolutely will get the next issue.

If you’re a 2099 fan, you’ll definitely want to get this; ditto (I imagine) if you’d followed the recent Spidey 2099 series…or if you’re just a fan of Peter David‘s work. And of course, if you’re an Avengers fan this could almost be titled Avengers 2099, except its timing is such that it gets the Secret Wars branding foremost, and may prove to take on the entirety of the 2099 stuff, with just this first issue so focused on the Avengers team.

Recommended, definitely one of the more interesting of the tie-ins so far.

The ’90s Revisited: The Incredible Hulk #444

incrediblehulk444Cable Vision

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Angel Medina
Inker: Robin Riggs
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Enhancement: Malibu
Assistant Editor: Polly Watson
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.50
Cover Date: August, 1996

It’s amazing how much “context” can play a role in a random issue working or not. This issue is labeled as Onslaught: Impact 1, meaning it was an “impact” issue of the first month of Onslaught. From what I recall, there were two types of issues associated with Onslaught: the Phase 1/2/3 issues, and the Impact 1/2/3 issues. Phase were main parts of the “core” story, while the Impact issues were much looser tie-ins…literally “impacted” by Onslaught, but not having much to do with the main story.

I pulled this issue from the quarter bin for that Onslaught tag. Reading it reminded me just how “loose” the tie-in could be. The basic premise of this issue is that Onslaught has basically wiped the Hulk’s mind, setting him on killing Cable. Banner’s been blocked out, so there’s just the mindless, mission-centered beast. The issue opens with Cable already beaten and barely conscious…the only other ally trying to save him is X-man Storm. The issue is basically one long fight-scene, as Storm turns the elements on the Hulk, and a death-ready Cable rallies and does what he can in his state. Eventually the two manage to develop a risky plan to break Onslaught’s control, and restore the Hulk.

Story-wise, there’s not exactly a lot to this issue. And yet, it shows that David “gets” the X-characters, writing a decent Cable and an impressive (at least power-wise) Storm. But, being a big fight sequence, there’s not exactly much character development…moreso we seem to have had a plot point (Onslaught possesses Hulk) that had to be dealt with to get the Hulk from there to the next plot point (back to being himself again, but Really Very Ticked-Off At Onslaught).

Visually, the art’s not bad, though nothing wonderful. The coloring seemed somehow kinda dull, and the Hulk’s shade of green especially a bit different, more subdued, than what I’m used to for the character. I’m also not all that familiar with this particular interpretation of the Hulk…but knowing this was the “Banner’s consciousness/Hulk’s body” era…and the mid-’90s (and this being a single, isolated issue I’m reading) that mostly gets a pass.

Overall, not a bad issue, but nothing spectacular. I don’t believe I’d ever read this back in the ’90s when originally published, so it was interesting to read a loose tie-in to Onslaught, and getting a single-issue “feel” for the “impact” of that story on this title prior to the bigger shakeup of losing Banner but keeping the Hulk that was the status quo once Onslaught ended.

As a 25-cent issue in an age of $3.99 comics, this was a decently enjoyable issue…but I’m not sure I would care for it without already having a working knowledge of the “main” Onslaught story. Taken by itself as a random issue and being a big fight scene, it’s not really something to specifically seek out unless you’re looking for all the Onslaught issues, or a complete PAD run on this title.

The ’00s Revisited: Captain Marvel #17

captainmarvel017Cheating Death

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Jim Starlin
Inks: Al Milgrom
Colors: Steve Oliff
Letters: RS/Comicraft’s Wes Abbot
Assistant Editor: Marc Sumerak
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 2.50
Cover Date: May, 2001

This issue grabbed my attention because of Thanos on the cover. Besides Thanos himself, there’s just something to the cover’s colors that I really dig…it’s so colorful without being gaudy or even all that bright…it’s just really nicely drawn and colored; the generic background sets Thanos, Thor, and Genis off quite well; and the coloring of the logo and such even fit nicely…though I might’ve gone with more of a gold for Captain Marvel to better match Thanos’s gold coloring.

This was another quarter-bin discovery, at least this copy of the actual issue–I’d bought and read it as a new issue back in 2001, and still have that copy…somewhere. So I do vaguely recall some context, both prior and subsequent to this issue, once I got to reading. But even sticking solely to this one issue by itself, I rather enjoyed the Thor/Thanos bickering, and even the dynamic with Rick and Genis and having to be aware of the environments they’re in when the swap places. And of course, the now-iconic “Klang” that I’ve come to appreciate in context of Quantum & Woody from Valiant.

We find Thanos recruiting Thor for some part of a larger plan…of course, Thor is not at all a happy camper, given his recent tussles with Thanos. But he’s convinced of his necessity in things, and goes along grudgingly. Meanwhile, Marlo (Rick’s wife) is being haunted by the ghost of…a friend, or coworker, I don’t recall exactly, she’s just here (the details were in earlier issues of this run). Rick finds himself in a bit of trouble, as the entity that has Thanos recruiting Thor to begin with makes his appearance, and the “big guns” duke it out.

Visually, I very much enjoyed the interior art. Starlin has–for me–defined these characters to the extent that just seeing his name on the cover would have drawn me in. As far as I’m concerned, “Marvel cosmic” doesn’t get much better than sharing involvement from Starlin.

Story-wise, David always did have a great feel for the characters he involved in this series, making them his own, and giving them quite a memorable voice. There are elements from this series that settled into the core of my thinking about comics, and this take on Captain Marvel remains my absolute favorite.

This issue reminds me of how much I’d enjoyed this run on the series, and has me remembering rather fondly other issues, and a bit of a rekindled interest in re-reading the entire run…and certainly wishing Marvel would put out an omnibus collecting this entire first run of PAD‘s Captain Marvel.

Avengers: Season One [Review]

Writer: Peter David
Artists: Andrea DiVito, Jon Buran, Nigel Raynor, Mike Bowden, Walden Wong
Color Artist: Wil Quintana
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Art: Adi Granov
Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas
Associate Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics

When I heard that Avengers Season One was going to be included with the Walmart edition of the DVD/Bluray, I was pretty much “sold” on the spot. By the time this came out, though, I’d resigned myself to some sort of DVD-case-digest-size book, probably on crummy paperstock and not at all reasonably worth the added cost (though if it was one of these sets priced the same as the non-set package, it’d totally be worth it!)

The package felt suitably heavy, though, when I finally bought it the morning the thing was available. When I opened the package, seeing the pages-out, I was ready to be incensed at the actual packaging…until I slid out a full-size TPB volume that would easily command a $14.99+ cover price if it were being sold by itself. Even at some “bargain” $9.99 price, in and of itself the book makes the added cost worthwhile if you’re interested in the book itself.

The physical package is your average Marvel paperback. The cover stock and pages, and dimensions are as any other Marvel volume that this would be indistinguishable as an ‘exclusive’ if it wasn’t for the notice on the cover where the pricing would be “Custom Edition Not For Resale.” (That, and that this is a paperback where I believe thus far the other Season One books have been only in hardback).

The writing is solid–and I’d expect no less of David‘s work. He knows these characters and it shows–though in a way it reminds me that I myself do not know these characters particularly well in their pre-1990s iterations. While the writing is solid–it manages to capture these characters in a suitably generic sort of way–they’re recognizable without being placed entirely in the silver age nor the modern age. The relationships seem familiar to what I know of them in the comics, while bordering on adapting the movie versions.

Visually, much of the book is the same way. There are multiple artists (depicting different scenes/settings) which works fairly well as it differentiates what each character is seeing/doing through the story. Though it works, I got a distinct sense that I’m supposed to associate these comics with the characters from the movies, that this story is supposed to fit either the comics or the movie universe according to primary experience.

Sure, that works well enough–it is a tie-in product, after all. But the fact it evoked the movie characters as much as it did took me out of the story and left me unsure where the story’s supposed to be set, and I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have if it felt like it was more based in the traditional comics story. I suspect I was also soured a bit by a one-shot I read earlier this year that was set in the movie universe that itself felt like a waste of time.

If this was a $15 paperback or $20+ hardcover being sold by itself, I’d be pretty disappointed despite the creative talent involved and wondering if there’d be some way to get a refund. Standing solely on its own this–to me–is not something worth seeking out specifically.

But as a bonus included with a blu-ray I was already planning to buy, this gets points as a decent read, with art that never felt bad or out of place. And though it’s the size of 4-5ish single issues, I don’t think I paid more for this package than the cost of two standard Marvel comics in addition to the actual blu-ray pack.

All that said–you get a complete story in this volume. There’s no cliffhanger directing you into some other volume or series of volumes; this is not a prologue to a crossover/event nor some epilogue/continuation of a crossover/event. You have the characters, you see their adventure, the threat(s) they face, and you have resolution.

If you’ve seen the movie, the characters don’t particularly contradict the film. Or if you read this and then watch the film, stuff works overall.

And really, on the whole, I’m glad I went with the Walmart purchase for this book. If you can still find the blu-ray/DVD package with this graphic novel at your local Walmart, and want the Avengers film anyway, this is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

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