Tag Archives: Luke Cage

Review: The New Avengers Annual, 2008

Lead-up to the Story

            If you have not been reading The New Avengers recently, you probably should.  I feel like I end up saying that a lot.  But the coming Scrull secret invasion story starting in April started in New Avengers.  Basically, the Scrulls are invading, not just the United States, but the whole world.  Several characters have already been revealed as scrulls, for a full listing, visit my friends over at Panels of Awesome for a full list.  Make sure to check out the Awesome Arena while you’re there!


Plot Synopsis

            Having just returned victorious, the New Avengers are jumped by the Hood and his new gang, who manage to break though Dr. Strange’s protection on his house.  A fight ensues, and true to his usual caliber, Brian Michael Bendis delivers an amazing fight scene, complete with witty dialogue that is true to each individual character.  I have talked about this before, in one of my Rapid Fire Review sessions.  Most writers can do one style, for example they can write Spider-man’s witty one-liners, or Luke Cage’s angry dialogue, but very few writers have the ability to make these different characters individual styles play of each other well.  Bendis really is one of the best writers that Marvel has at its disposal, and this makes New Avengers a great read.  Back to the storyline however, Dr. Strange was injured after his last confrontation with the Hood, and this time, it gets no better, Dr. Strange is shot, and must use dark and dangerous powers to finish off the intruders.  But SHIELD is watching, but in a strange, but not overly unexpected twist, Ms. Marvel lets them escape, even though it looks like her team could mutiny at any minute.  The book ends on that cliffhanger, as well as Jessica looking for sanctuary in Stark tower, with her baby, who we know is a scrull.


Art Critique

            Carlo Pagulayan is the penciler and Jeff Huet is the inker.  The art is busy, very busy, but not to the point that it is detracting from the story too much.  There is a lot going on in almost every panel, and it never seems to be overpowering.  To be honest though, and that’s something I strive for in these reviews, the sheer number of characters that are involved in the story is daunting; I encourage everyone that owns this comic book to open the front cover, and look at the number of characters listed there, all 36 of them.  Each fight panel has so much going on, it actually reminds me of a Where’s Waldo picture, there’s a lot going on, and you could just look for the main point of the action, but if you actually take the time to really look at what’s going on, you can see so much more.  This leads, in my opinion, to a greater appreciation of not only the art, but amount of effort and thought that the artists put into every comic. 


Is it Worth Buying?

            Usually for annuals, I would say no, but I highly recommend it, because annuals are usually pretty sweet.  This one however, ties in closely with the story, and looks like it will be important to fully understanding the secret invasion summer crossover.  So I would say yes it is worth buying on both accounts; important for understanding the overall Marvel storyline, and also for its own sheer enjoyment.



Filed under Comics, Marvel, Reviews

Rapid Fire Reviews: Gamma Corps, New Avengers, Incredible Herc, and Avengers: The Initiative

World War Hulk – Gamma Corps #4 of 4

The gamma corps is a group of five individuals who believe their lives to have been decimated by the Hulk. They have had their bodies augmented by hulk DNA. The members are Grey, who is essentially a grey, smaller and less berserk version of the hulk, Mess, who has had parts of her skin grafted with skin samples grown from gamma DNA, Mister Gideon, a former pastor who has some titanium hands, Griffin, who’s just crazy, and he flies, and Prodigy, who was a child born autistic, but then was taken into the gamma corps program and is now a super genius with limited telepathic powers. The issues of this mini have been rather entertaining, without standing out as being amazing; this final one however, is pretty good. Nothing amazing in and of itself, however, it shows a character change in the Hulk that we’ve been seeing over the past few months in World War Hulk. While the Hulk always had depth in his character, much of this came from the dichotomy between Bruce Banner and the Hulk, not from the Hulk himself. Now we see the Hulk are more than just a smashing machine, but he’s calm, and calculating, this has been represented well from the artists as well, not only Carlos Ferreira who has done Gamma Corps, but from everyone else who has been drawing in the WWH series. There is a brain behind this new Hulk, and it shows in how he disarms the Gamma Corps with little more than words, even manipulating the leader, Grey, through a deeper understanding of his own psyche. Overall, the series has been worth it, and is worth buying, if you have been following World War Hulk at all.

The New Avengers #37

New Avengers is a series that has been causing quite a stir recently. As the issue that looks to be leading up to the coming Skrull War, it’s polarizing much of the comic book community. I have heard many people say on various forums, that they intend on dropping this series, especially after #37. However, I’ve been enjoying it, it has been going at a good pace, it has some of my favourite characters, and the interaction between Spider-man and Iron Fist during the fights is downright hilarious. The unmasking of the Hood in this issue was interesting, to say the least, but regardless we need to see how it’ll play itself out, perhaps it could even branch into Dr. Strange getting his own title again, I know many people who would be happy about that. As many of you know, I love reading and watching the fights in comic books, and this issue is almost entirely one giant fight, using Dr. Strange’s powers to make it seem as if the new crime syndicate lead by the Hood was entirely surrounded. Speaking of the Hood, he is turning into a fantastic villain; he’s cunning, ruthless, determined, and charismatic. Frankly, I thought this issue was pretty outstanding, and Brian Michael Bendis is doing an exceptional job, one thing I would really like to see though, would be a crossover between Daredevil and New Avengers, because both of their stories are currently revolving around the Hood, yeah, I know I said I was dropping DD, but I’m a sucker for Murdock, and DD is one of my favourite characters, so we’ll see if I actually stick to my guns on this one. The host of characters that Bendis is employing on the villains side is very interesting, and the cast of New Avengers is just astounding, Cage, Strange, Wolverine, Spider-man, Iron Fist, Ronin, all in the same issue, it’s like a Marvel close combat dream team.

The Incredible Hulk #112 – The Incredible Herc

In the aftermath (read aftersmash) of World War Hulk, we find boy genius Amadeus Cho teaming up with Greek demi-god Heracles. Such a combination of brains and brawn is pretty formidable. The issue opens shortly after where #111 left off, with SHIELD attempting to arrest the renegades. The plot and story is pretty good, and bringing in Ares is neat, up until the last page which is kinda cliché. But all in all it goes over well, even if you are of the opinion that no Hulk in a Hulk issue is a waste of time, and I can understand that opinion, but look at how Captain America has been going, we haven’t had a Cap in that issue in almost 10 months, and it is one of the ones I look forward to over any other. There are quite a few reasons I enjoy this beyond the story and art, both of which are very good, it references Greek mythology pretty accurately, and it has Amadeus Cho in it, and that means there’s lots of math going on. Personally, I think math looks pretty when it’s drawn out like this, and the way Amadeus uses it to do all kinds of crazy stuff is just fascinating. I also spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out how the equations have been derived, as they are generally derivations of basic formulae. The cover art, while not usually something I mention, is pretty interesting, in that the artists pay homage to other artists and comic covers by basing their art on theirs. You could call this lazy, but I think it’s interesting. Greg Pak and Fred van Lente have done an outstanding job writing this issue, and it looks set to do nothing but improve. I would highly recommend this issue, and indeed the series to anyone with even a passing interest.

Avengers: The Initiative #7

This issue is a pretty big one as well, we find out loads of things, such as who’s in the scarlet spiders, what happened to MVP, and what the hell is Dr. Baron von Blitzschlag up to? This issue even brings up more questions about One More Day, because Peter Parker essentially has his name cleared as Spider-man in this issue, however, it should be conceded that OMD was more about Aunt May than anything else. In this issue, the Scarlet Spiders are sent after a stolen briefcase that contains plans for a weapon of mass destruction, and during the chase, Peter Parker gets wicked ticked that people are masquerading around as him, in the costume Tony Stark promised was “unique.” Fairly early on in the issue, we do see that Scarlet Spiders do not seem to be mechanical, as I had previously thought them to be, but are indeed manned by people, and you discover who at the end of the issue, but it’s a huge revelation for anyone reading the series, and you should be. There’s some humor, such as when J.J. Jameson says “God, I hate clones,” I think we all hated the clone saga. And Warmachine is about to flip out with people trying to run his initiative base. All in all, this issue of Avengers: The Initiative is packed with stuff, but somehow, the author Dan Slott keeps everything going at a good pace, and at no point does it seem scatterbrained, and it’s a credit to his skill. The art, as written by Stefano Caseli is exactly what I would call ‘comic book art’ and feels exactly how it should. If you have been reading this series, there is no reason to stop now, and if you haven’t, I’d say it’s probably a good idea to start.


Filed under Comics, Marvel, Reviews

What If…? Civil War Review




A big issue released this week was “What If? Civil War,” if you are not familiar with the What If? series, then let me explain. Uatu is a watcher, he watches all timelines, but can not interfere. What If? comics give Uatu an outlet to explain how things may have turned out differently given different circumstances. This time, he tells us what would have happened if either Tony Stark had died prior to Civil War, or if Iron Man and Captain America had settled their differences.


What was Civil War

In case you’ve been hiding under a DC rock on the moon (of Endor), Marvel Civil War revolved around the Super Human Registration Act, something that has been frequented by Marvel before, even in X-Men: The Animated Series. This time though, the government won; because of the mass murder of civilians by a super villain Nitro, heroes nation wide are required to reveal their secret identities to the government and operate under their jurisdiction. Many superheroes, who had fought their whole lives to protect their secret identities, were less than thrilled by this idea. Two groups of super heroes formed, pro-registration, lead by Iron Man, and anti-registration resistance, lead by, of all people Captain America. It’s a fairly good story, that has annoyed a LOT of people, but to understand just about anything Marvel these days, you’re going to have to read it, and I suggest you do. If you do not want to know the ending, you probably shouldn’t read this or the comic. In the end however, Captain America admits defeat when he realizes how much damage the super hero civil war is causing, this leads to Cap’s assassination.

Plot Synopsis and Evaluation

We open with Tony Stark (Iron Man), mourning the death of his good friend, Steve Rogers (Captain America). Mourning and second guessing; he’s not sure if he did the right thing, because what he believed to be right at the time lead to death of his best friend. He is approached by a strange man with red eyes, offering him a glimpse at the other possibilities, the other potential time lines. This comic essentially comprises two separate stories, and I’m ok with that, because What If? comics are possibly my favorite. In the first story, Tony Stark dies from the extremis injection, and because of this, Captain America manages to convince all the superhumans to fight against the registration act. However, being super heroes, they fought with great restraint, and many of them ended up dying. The man called to lead the anti-registration movement clones Thor, and makes an army of Thor clones, using these, he murders Captain America and leads the country to believe that the ‘criminal’ Captain America is still on the loose and only he can save them. He runs for, and he becomes President of the United States. A rather sour tale for Tony to hear while he was already grieving the loss of his friend.

The second possible timeline, involves a much smaller change. Tony, while at the ambush of the resistance, asks for Rogers’s help. This simple action leads to a discussion, but also an amazing fight scene. Thor’s clone is released, and is about to kill Goliath, as had happened in the main timeline, but Tony Stark gets in the way, and takes the full force of mecha-Thor’s attack. While preparing to deliver the final blow, Captain America steps in and defends, and even fights off this abomination of Thor (to find out how the REAL Thor took it, read the newest series of Thor, especially issue #3). This timeline leads to peace for all humanity, both super and otherwise. Tony Stark realizes that while the Civil War could have gone better, and his friend could still be alive, it can always go much much worse.

Art Critique

The art is broken down into two sections, the same as the writing. This is essentially two different stories, with the current timeline story as well. The ‘present’ Marvel timeline story between Tony Stark and “The Stranger” (I think we know who this stranger is however), is written by Ed Brubaker, and illustrated by Marko Djurdjevic, and acknowledgement to the works of Frank Miller. This is drawn in a very artistic style, reminiscent of Marvels or Silver Surfer: Requiem. It is near colourless, which makes the stranger’s red eyes stand out even more, the washed out look fits the mood that is set by Brubaker. Marko is exceptionally proficient at this kind of art, and it shows.

The story entitled “What if Captain America led all Heroes against Registration” was written by Kevin Grevioux, and penciled by Gustavo. On the first page of Gustavo’s art, I noticed his rendition of Steve Rogers immediately, and I didn’t like it. I can’t point out exactly what it is about these faces that isn’t right, it must be the proportions. Regardless everyone seems to have a very sunken face which is too long for their body. They also look to be perpetually on the verge of tears. All of that wouldn’t be so bad if roughly 60% of the panels weren’t close up views of someone’s face. The patriotic Captain America Iron Man armor also looks cheesy when drawn by Gustavo. I did not enjoy the artwork at all.

“What if Iron Man Lost the Civil War?” is written by Christos Gage, and illustrated by Harvey Tolibao, and wow, it’s something. This is by far my favourite section of the issue, even though the title is a bit misleading. The only complaint I have, and I will get that out of the way first, is that at one or two points, Captain America has an effeminate face. Moving past that however, each character’s emotions is graphically depicted with great skill, including characters in the background. The fight between Cap + Iron Man with mecha-Thor is stunning. Stunning may be something of an understatement, although it is short, it’s exceptionally engaging and even thrilling. The page where the Cap gives the heroic (and very cliché) line “You’ll have to go through me” really hits home, and it probably wouldn’t have done so without the artwork provided. Lastly, in the last few pages of the issue, there is a two page spread of characters including Dr. Strange, Spiderman, Goliath (who’s alive in this timeline thanks to Iron Man), Spiderwoman, the Patriot, Hulkling, The Sentry, and even one or two I can’t name, although I imagine they might be young avengers, I never really took my time to make note of who they were. Tangents aside, this spread is amazing, and while not necessary for the comic, really ties together the storyline as it comes to a close.

Is it Worth Buying?

I would say an unequivocal “absolutely.” It’s well worth your hard earned money to go out and get this issue, even with the somewhat lackluster first story, the second more than makes up for it. Another aspect I like is that the cover, shown above, is the same as the civil war cover types, which I personally enjoyed. Your Comic Relief definitely recommends “What if? Civil War”.


Filed under Comics, Marvel, Reviews