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The ’90s Revisited: Spider-Man Team-Up #7 (featuring the Thunderbolts)

Old Scores

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Sal Buscema, Dick Giordano
Lettering: Comicraft’s Team Dave
Colors: Tom Smith
Cover: Steve Lightle, Mark McNabb
Assistant Editor: Glenn Greenberg
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Cover Date: June 1997

I remember the hype around the whole Heroes Reborn thing. After the Onslaught event (which began as an X-Men “event” and spread to the wider Marvel Universe), the Fantastic Four and the more prominent Avengers (specifically Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man) were shunted to another universe and “our” Marvel Universe was left without its heroes–just mutants more hated and feared than ever before.

And I remember learning of some new super-hero group, the Thunderbolts. Without researching and lacking 100% memory, I want to say they first appeared in an issue of The Incredible Hulk, and were going to be seen around the Marvel Universe, filling in a bit of the void left by the other heroes’ disappearance. Then I learned they were getting their own series. Cool…an actual brand-new super-hero group. And of course, thanks to (most probably Wizard) I was “spoiled” as to their Great, Dark Secret–though it would be a few months after Heroes Return when Hawkeye left the Avengers to go insert himself as leader of the Thunderbolts that I started buying their title–I actually, truly followed Hawkeye FROM the pages of Busiek‘s Avengers to Busiek‘s Thunderbolts.

So though I was aware of them, it was a good way into the run that I started with Thunderbolts–it’s only been in the years since that I’ve gradually been acquiring their earlier appearances–the Hulk issue(s?), and even the early issues of their own series. And when I saw this issue in a bargain-bin recently, it hit on some interesting buttons for me, just from the cover and concept.

For one thing…it’s a ’90s bargain-bin issue…to me, you can hardly go wrong getting a ’90s comic for only 25-cents (or less, even, with the right bargains or bulk-purchases!). For another, this is an early appearance of the Thunderbolts (I believe their own #1 is cover-dated May 1997, this is cover-dated June ’97). So this would be within the earliest concept of the Thunderbolts characters–before they were “outed” to the world for actually being the Masters of Evil (not really a spoiler, it’s been 15+ years AND it’s detailed within this very issue). And as a bonus, ’90s Spider-Man long before any talk of One More Day or a Brand New Day (and as I found out reading this, no talk of clones, either!)

I often lament contemporary comics’ high prices–hating the $3.99 price point and wishing for the previously-lamented $2.99-from-$2.50-or-less as $2.99 by comparison is much preferable. And here, this comic from 15 years ago is carrying a $2.99 cover price…but it’s a 38-paged issue (easily $4.99 or $5.99 and an “Annual” at that, these days!). Reasonably-priced at $2.99 with the extra pages, putting it well enough in line with $2 cover prices for 20-22 pages at the time.

The story itself is at once simple and cliched as well as nicely layered. When a guard at a warehouse is killed, a survivor sees a figure making a getaway that can only be Spider-Man! The mayor’s office reaches out to the Thunderbolts, to track Spidey down and bring him in for questioning…a task some on the team are all-too-thrilled to take on. The ‘bolts split into three groups to take on different aspects of their task–looking into the crime site, specifically searching for Spidey, and keeping an eye on a potential target-site. Continue reading

Infestation 2: Team-Up #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4 [Review]

Quick Rating: Fantastic
Story Title: Book Four

Members of the Legions of Super-Heroes battle Superboy Prime and the Legion of Supervillains, while Brainiac 5’s plans bear further fruit, and the Time Trapper stands revealed.

finalcrisislegionof3worlds004Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: George Perez
Inker: Scott Koblish
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letters: Nick Napolitano
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Art: (Reg) George Perez & Tom Smith, (Sliver) George Perez & Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m no fan of variant covers, and any kind of marketing ploy to con people into buying the same content multiple times. Thankfully (despite dual covers), this issue is not that. But this issue cements this Legion story for me as one that I absolutely want to get in hardcover. And given the trend with DC’s books…I will be shocked if this series does NOT get the hard-cover treatment out of the gate.

The battle between the Legions rages on, as they combat their enemies in the Legion of Villains. As the brawls unfold, we see the Time Trapper step into things in-person, no longer simply manipulating…and while he has planned things, we see Brainiac 5 pull stuff together as seeds he’s planted through time come to fruition at long last–including a major element that has taken 1,000 years to come to this very moment…though things look like they might not quite work out as he planned. Superboy Prime faces off with the just-returned/resurrected Kid Flash (Bart Allen), and sees that his ‘nightmare’ is just beginning. Issue’s end sets up stuff for next issue’s conclusion, and goes a long way toward making me interested in Superboy Prime and the Time Trapper.

The story in this issue feels like it flies along. Where earlier issues in the series felt really long, this one actually felt short…and yet, there’s still quite a lot unfolding, as we se so many characters doing so much in these pages. The foundation Johns put down in the earlier issues and pulling from prior continuity bear major fruit here, and the payoff more than offsets the long wait between issues (and at this point, I think of this story simply as Legion of 3 Worlds, and forget the Final Crisis tag as best I’m able). Johns certainly has a grasp on these characters–or at least, for a reader such as myself, he sure seems to have that grasp on ’em…without someone more steeped in Legion history pointing out individual flaws to me, I have no problem with the way characters are depicted here.

The art for the issue is fantastic as well…aside from the overt visual style, there’s something to the overall imagery (the art, the inking, the colors) that subtley remind me of past comics. The depiction of the Time Trapper really puts me in mind of his depiction in Zero Hour (the last I recall seeing much of the character), which to me marks an incredible consistency that just adds to the appeal of this issue. Yeah, it’s been forever between issues–and I normally would have let a series go by now in protest of the delay–but this is one series that really is too good to give up on.

I don’t know how things will play out for the final issue–nor how characters pulled into this story will work afterwards in terms of interaction throughout the DCU…but just the fact of their presence here makes me one happy camper, and gives me new appreciation for and interest in the Legion as a whole.

Obviously, the 4th issue of 5 isn’t a great jump-on point…but if you’ve considered skipping this and the final issue for delays, I’d encourage you to forego that and just pick it up if you enjoyed the earlier issues. And if you’ve not picked any of these up and have the chance to snag the whole story so far, it’s well worth it.

Highly recommended!

Ratings:

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
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