Scarlet Witch by Dan Abnett

The Avengers: Scarlet WitchThe Avengers: Scarlet Witch by Dan Abnett
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book is so bad, it’s hilarious.
I understand the material is old (it’s stuff from the 70’s), it was a different time back then and comics are still not that kind towards women.
But.
I recommend this only if you:

(a) Want to have every feminist bone in your body broken horribly
(b) Want to read a series of useless stories that defy common sense
(c) Want to see Wanda in a swimsuit
Continue reading

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Review: Secret Avengers Vol. 2: The Labyrinth

Secret Avengers, Vol. 2: The LabyrinthSecret Avengers, Vol. 2: The Labyrinth by Ales Kot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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GIRL FIGHT!!! This book opens with a shirt tearin’, bra strippin’, throw down for the ages…Ok, so maybe there are no bras getting pulled off, but boy do Black Widow and Lady Bullseye have at it. There’s enough fish-hooks, eye-gouges, and hair pullin’ to put a smile on this old man’s face anyway. MODOK likey.

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Hawkeye goes lookin’ for an M.I.A. Agent Coulson and runs into a super-fan by the name of Wade Wilson. Some of my favorite moments in this one are Kot’s take on Deadpool. Ales doesn’t just do a good job with the Merc with a mouth, he crushes it. Over the top redonkulous 4th wall smashin’ fun and absolutely perfect.

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That’s not all….MORE MODOK!! He’s almost as funny as Wade and his evil plan is finally starting to take shape. Love him.

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Spider-woman goes on special assignment, Maria Hill does her best Nick Fury impression, and the real villain finally steps out of the shadows and into the light.

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Kot’s weirdo writing sensibilities and oddness really come through in this book. But not in the overly obscure manner that it does in some of his lesser known work. Definitely much easier to digest than his image title Zero.

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Michael Walsh’s art remains as amazing as it was in Volume 1. Scratch that, it’s even better. Mike manages to communicate so much emotion with his simple style. NO ONE has ever drawn the Ultimate Warrior so good. Mix in Matthew Wilson’s colors and BLAM!, great stuff. Tradd Moore’s covers rock too.

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Kot’s unusual storytelling won’t work for everyone, but for me, it’s spot on. Plenty of action as well. Throw in Walsh’s artwork and this book’s a lock for one of my all-time favorite Avenger titles. Read it!

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Review: Avengers: Millennium by Mike Costa

Avengers: MillenniumAvengers: Millennium by Mike Costa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

 

Time Traaaaaavel!
It was a cockamamie plot with no real point, but I’m sort of used to that by now, so it didn’t really faze me.

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But the characters were cool, the dialogue was funny, and the story didn’t seem to take itself very seriously. So. Yeah, I liked it well enough.

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Alrighty! Wanda and Pietro are on vacation together.
Because that’s what most normal grown brothers and sisters do.
They vacation together. Alone. Without anyone else.
Not creepy or weird…at all. *cough*

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Um…

But whatever. The point is, Wanda senses a disturbance in The Force, and sends Pietro scurrying back to the Avengers mansion to collect reinforcements.

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The Avengers wisely decide to step through a Hydra time portal, end up getting separated across the time stream, and hilarity ensues.
What follows is a nonsensical story about Hydra burying a dragon egg in the past, a burned out dystopian future, and Peter dressing up as a Geisha during of of the World Wars.
I forget which one. And, face it, it doesn’t really matter anyway.

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I still don’t know how they managed to fix it all, but that’s ok, because I don’t think they did either. Basically Cap, who is hanging out with Hawkeye and Quicksilver in the Days of Cavemen, (somehow) manages to freeze himself again…

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Tony, Peter, and Natasha find Capsicle in Japan…but leave him frozen so that Bruce and Wanda can find him someday in the farfarfar future.
And…*cough*…for some reason, this ends up helping them all get back to the past/future/present. Anyway, they all meet up again, and open up a can of whoop-ass on a poor man’s Godzilla monster called Kakaranatharaian.
I swear to God!

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Right. They beat both Hydra and Godzilla by…
You know what, they don’t even pretend to know, so I’m not going to even pretend to explain it.
Hawkeye just dribbled some Magic Dirt over what was left of the egg, and they electrocuted it with Time Syrup or something, and everything goes back to normal.

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The end!
And I know that sounds horrible, but this wasn’t all that bad. It was kinda of fun in a WhoTheFuckCares sort of way. Just silly comic book antics, you know?

Alright, because this was only 4 issues long, Marvel kindly thought to pad this one with some ancient issues from the days of yore. And in keeping with the theme, we get the best time travel stories from 1963!
Avengers # 56 & #71
I know, right?! Now settle down so I can tell you all about it.
The first one is about the gang going back in time because Cap wants to confirm that Bucky really died. He’s holding out hope that his little pal made it off that rocket before it exploded.

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Poor Steve…so delusional. Let it go, buddy. Bucky is gone, and he’s never coming back.

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Of course, this volume wouldn’t be complete without a story about Kang, now would it?
Lucky us, it’s complete!

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On the back TheLatestPull.com says, My god is it good.
Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I would say, My god it could’ve been a whole helluva lot worse.

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Review: Secret Avengers, Vol. 1: Let’s Have a Problem by Ales Kot

Secret Avengers, Vol. 1: Let's Have a Problem (Secret Avengers #1)Secret Avengers, Vol. 1: Let’s Have a Problem by Ales Kot

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

Yep, yep, yep! This was very cool!
Not sure why I haven’t heard much about this one, but it’s really good. It’s got the same vibe as Hawkeye, but the premise is like a toned down version of the X-force for Avengers…if that even makes sense.

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Maria Hill has decided to put together a Top Secret group of heroes to take on Top Secret threats. Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, and (unbeknownst to everyone on the team) M.O.D.O.K. make up the team.

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Oh, and Hawkeye ends up accidentally making the roster.
He’s the Problem that the title refers to.

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Let’s Have a Problem was just fun to read.
There’s a rampaging Death-machine (ironically called Fury), satellites falling from the sky (???), a self-aware an bomb (who wants to try gelato), an assassination attempt on Hill (she probably deserved it), and a murder in M.O.D.O.K.’s mad science lab (because…shit happens).

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I didn’t realize it until I decided to look this guy up, but Ales Kot was the guy who wrote the only volume of Suicide Squad that I thought was worth a shit. And after reading this, I can say without a doubt I’ll be stalking whatever he decides to do next.
Highly Recommended!

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Review: Ultimate FF Vol. 5 – Crossover; by Mark Millar

Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: CrossoverUltimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: Crossover by Mark Millar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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This is a solid 3.5 Star book that introduced a bunch of new possibilities, but docked back to 3 because it just abandoned a lot of what I loved about the series under Ellis’ watch.

Mark Millar is back in control here, and that’s a good thing, because Mike Carey was by far the weakest link in the chain (well, when you have Bendis, Millar, Ellis, Carey; one of these things is NOT like the other…).

I found the last volume quite a disappointment, but this one is an improvement, though I still find that Warren Ellis’ run was the peak of things for me so far.
Art Duties fall to Greg Land, and while he does some good work, I believe I enjoyed the Kubert brothers stuff the best so far…for this series at least.

So the FF is back in time chasing Chrono-Bandits…yup, looks like they did have a precedent before Mark Waid threw them into Indestructible HULK’s way during his run. (I KNEW I’d seen them before today!) Not the same people but the same idea. They threatened to kill the first creature that crawled out of the oceans as a precursor to Humanity….Millar wisely had Reed explain that would probably mean none of them ever exist, so we didn’t completely need to savage it.

We see here that the FF now has a name, they’re out and about, and working alongside the Ultimates (who don’t seem to give a shit about them, ahh I miss grumpy dick Cap!)
We pick up the story after that with Reed talking to the hologram Reed that contacted him at the end of last Volume’s Think Tank storyline…well Reed has a portal he’s constructed here, with the help of Holo-Reed, who even lets him meet Franklin (as a hologram).

There’s some problems for me by this point though…they’ve oversexed Sue at this point (no doubt a Mark Millar action) and Reed is slowly reverting to his driven scientist who ignores everyone persona from the regular Marvel U…
So Reed uses his machine to go thru dimensions to the other world…and finds out that he was duped…by ZOMBIE REED! and the ZOMBIE FF! On this world, the Heroes are all zombies who feast on human flesh…luckily, one “hero” still lives, who saves Reed, and then manages to explain what happened…Reed is more like our Ultimate version we love, and the rest of the story proceeds in a way that makes a lot more sense to me, just as a parallel universe activity, with a cool ending.

(Here’s a hint; Jeff will NOT like what goes down between Ben and a certain someone Green).

By this time we’ve done nearly half the book…and jump right into the next story…the return of Mary Storm! Mother of Sue and Johnny! (who was long thought dead but was only just working on a very important research project.)

We get some stuff about her being a bit of a bitch, careerist (she’s kind of a female Reed Richards from Marvel 616 but sexy, in a hot librarian way) terrible mother. I don’t love the art here, as they’ve totally changed everyone’s appearance, and not for the better.

So turns out, that Momma Storm was busy discovering Atlantis! (Ultimate U doesn’t have it) and she needs the FF help to go deep in the ocean and check shit out…Sue sees right through her and I loved that Sue’s not a moron, and calls her on her using them, and agrees only to be done with the woman ASAP.

Well it’s Atlantis, and we can’t have that without everyone’s favourite Mer-Mutant-Mariner! In this version, he’s still a gigantic dickhead, and still has a boner for Sue (good taste for sure, Ultimate Sue is hot hot hot!). Fighting ensues…not a surprise…But we see that Reed has built another machine (shocking how just a few issues ago he was all about the rules and teamwork, and now he’s built a dimensional portal, communicated with parallel Reed, and made a gigantic robot combining all the FF powers! (called Fantastic-05 of course, because apparently Millar didn’t get the memo that Ultimate FF mock the shit out of stupid names for things, and we the readers LOVE them for it!).

So Namor is subdued, but turns out, not for long, and long story short, he agrees to leave things in one piece if he gets a piece…of Sue! Dude, I kinda like your borderline rape-y creep blackmail style (this is Mark Millar, so don’t be at all surprised kiddies, at least this isn’t as sick as that) This just happens to be for a kiss, not a Lono special with Cheese.

So all’s well again…except we’ve totally abandoned most of the characteristics of the personalities, they don’t look the same, they are becoming more Ultimates(y) ie. dickish…reverting to stupid things, and we don’t get the same science or explanations, and the relationships are put to the backburner by Millar, who is more in his Michael Bay form here than I’d like…however, he does do that stuff well, and the Zombies & Namor stuff is fun, so it’s not a total mess.

All in all, I’m worried that the series peaked with Ellis’ ending, I just hope they can level things off and not regress much more…if they turn to in-fighting and acting like assholes, I’ll just stop reading…plus, we need more DOOM!


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Review: Thor Epic Collection: The Mighty Thor – by Tom DeFalco

Thor Epic Collection: War of the PantheonsThor Epic Collection: War of the Pantheons by Tom DeFalco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a classic collection of Thor stories, coming just after the Epic Simonson run. (1987 era) Thor has his beard, new Armour Suit, and many things ahead of him. Finding that he’s recovered after the warriors three make him get a shave, he returns to his original appearance.
We get a lot of interesting stuff here:

The disbanded Avengers, upon Thor’s return.

The introduction of Eric Masterson.

The return of Odin after his battle with the Fire Demon Surtur.

Hardly any Loki, but near the end.

The Celtic Gods.

Oh, and one tiny little thing that doesn’t really matter too much…

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Only Steve Rogers lifting Mjolnir! Woot. (FYI That’s Steve as ‘The Captain’ while John Walker was Captain America, which is interesting, because his suit here looks a lot like the USAgent costume that Walker would take on permanently after Rogers returned to being Cap.)

We also have a future version of Thor lifting Mjolnir, but that’s not as awesome.

4 stars for the classic moment alone, and some cool stuff. De Falco is a bit too wordy, and Walt did a better job, but it’s not terrible.


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Review: Age of Ulton Companion, by Various Artists (including Rick Remender and Mark Waid)

Age of Ultron CompanionAge of Ultron Companion by Marvel Comics
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another book where I have like no context, except that I know who Ultron is, and what he likes to do.

This book is like one of those packs of 10 mini boxes of cereal you used to eat on vacation as a kid; there’s a lot of Corn Flakes and Bran Flakes and Rice Krispies, but not enough Fruit Loops or Corn Pops, and Frosted Flakes taste shitty after the first few bites.

That’s what this is, a grab bag, some good, some not, and some meh-ish.

The Uncanny Avengers one (Remender of course) is interesting, the FF is a rehash for me (Matt Fraction, but still powerful in its own way) and then theres some Superior Spider Man, Wolvie and the X, and Mark Waid closes the volume with a story about Ultron’s daddy; Hank Pym.

The Waid story might have the most lasting value; pretty much it explains how his parents weren’t all that supportive, wanting practicality, and it was his grandma Pym who encouraged him to think outside the norms…so far in fact, that it was a Catch-22, because Ultron happens, and he reveals how he solved that, but also the last panel is a truly terrifying vision of what Pym’s renewed confidence will lead to.

Waid uses the book to paint the layers of Pym’s psyche, and reveal why he might be the most dangerous man in the Marvel U.

Other high points: Ultron outthinking Otto-Spidey; Captain Marvel going out in a blaze of glory, and alternative reality Havok being martyred.

It was interesting, and for each bite that tasted like filler and horse-meat byproduct, there was just enough tasty gluctose-fructose corn syrup-y Red #6 goodness.


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Review: Avengers: Prelude to Infinity – by that Stoner, Jonathan Hickman

Avengers, Vol. 3: Prelude to InfinityAvengers, Vol. 3: Prelude to Infinity by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yet another case of the library only having Vol. 3 and not even having ordered 1 or 2! Yet, I read Thor Vol 2 the other day w/o 1 and it was great! So I took the chance here…

BIG Mistake.

This is so head scratching and confusing, I have no idea who the non Avenger Avengers are, who are all these cosmic types?

Hyperion? Huh? Captain Universe??? REALLY?

Gobbledygook about new evolution, dying world, eternal versus man, blah blah blah.

Kinda like coming in after the halfway point in a Terry Gilliam movie with absolutely NO CONTEXT.

Prelude to Infinity…OK I’m guessing INFINITY is THE CROSSOVER EVENT OF 201…insert number here.

No thanks.
Based on this I also don’t plan to check out the previous vols.

To put in context, I only gave this 2 because I don’t believe it’s fair to criticize a book too much when you are missing the first 10 chapters.

However…Hickman’s East of West is positively genius compared to this, and that left my mind just scratchy and dented.

This is a big fat “NO” for me.

I’ll stick to the Illuminati Avengers book instead.


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Review: A vs. X by Brian Michael Bendis and Friends.

Avengers vs. X-MenAvengers vs. X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Underwhelming.

I am glad I didn’t hold off reading all the stuff that comes after this (pretty much all of AvsX leads into the Marvel NOW! Relaunch-y-ish-type thing. Makes a bit more sense now, but I had already pieced it together based on HOW GODDAMN OFTEN THEY TELL US THAT THE PHOENIX FORCE WENT INTO THE X-MEN IT DID!

UGH.

You know what? The story served it’s purpose. I can see how some think it’s a bit lazy to bring Scarlet Witch out of nowhere to be part of this, but I enjoyed it. Even the characters are like WTF is SHE doing here? I’m willing to see this as a cyclical karmic balancing of House of M. However, I like that the answer has to do with Hope AND Scarlet Witch, not just one of them. It’s the cooperation fostered that I think should be the telling moment of the series.

Instead, it’s how quickly can shit escalate to 11.

Cap and Cyclops are pretty much the same character. “I will take the burden of leadership. I am a great leader of people, everyone counts on me”
Except then they both shit the bed in terms of actually sitting down and TALKING about this.

Of course the fighting is very cool.
The FIRST time…
The other problem is that NONE of the characters outside of about a dozen actually factor in at all.
(Cap, Tony, Logan, Cyke, Emma, Namor, the Rasputins, and a few others).
I was pleased to see Iron Fist get an actual speaking role! With some importance! It’s a first for Danny Rand in a real event book.

However, other than the 5 X-Men who get the Phoenix force, the rest of them are just shunned to the fringes of irrelevancy.
Maybe they’re more present in other AVX books? But, other than a little bit of Storm, and a touch of Rogue, all we get is the 5 of them going all supernova.

This is a spot where I feel like they lost the chance to give Magneto a much more crucial part (even though they did in a way).

There should have been a LOT more focus on Logan and his pull between the 2, especially since both Scott AND Steve treat him like a loose cannon asshole, when in fact, he’s probably the most realistic about the whole issue.

The thing is, this book misses a LOT of opportunities to actually go into character relationships. Other than Black Panther/Storm and a little bit of Scarlet Witch/Vision, we don’t get much on the relationships here, much is just thrown out the window so the artists can do punchy mcpunchersons again.

I think with the writers here (Bendis, Aaron, Brubaker, Hickman and Fraction), they have the Top of Marvel’s heap, yet it seems like they were forced to do this one, and the different voices actually take away from the cohesion of the whole story. I would like to blame some of this on editorial staff, because otherwise it means some of my favourites actually wrote some horridly turgid shit here.

There’s just such a rich history to delve into here, and it just turns into: how many ways can Cap throw Avengers at Cyke and the Phoenix 5 until Tony Stark figures some shit out?

Oh ya, and where the F was the FF? (Other than Benny) You think Reed is going to let this all happen without involving himself or his brain? The FF is the perfect go between here, because they’ve served as Avengers, but they’re separate and they understand what changes like mutations do (ESPECIALLY BENNY!).

Oh and, I’m hoping someone will explain why Hulk doesn’t show up until the end? They make a huge deal of Cap asking him for help, and then he’s barely used at all…was this a point at which Banner was unavailable? Because otherwise, he, Pym, McCoy and Stark should have been working on some answer.

In the end, what might have been will never be known, because this milquetoast shit happened instead. Other than making Scotty into the biggest badguy since Magneto (irony of ironies, Erik was the one trying to talk him down). I am glad to see that they took the events here and used them to the best they could (Scott/Logans X-Men, Uncanny Avengers, etc.)

I just really wish they’d DONE something instead of throw every character at the books and hope things would stick. We really didn’t need Luke Cage, Daredevil, Red Hulk, and a lot of others if they weren’t doing anything. It should really have been called “The entire roster of Avengers and reserves from the last decade+ versus the Mutant Power Couple, Namor and the Ruskie Sibs.
(speaking of that, who decided that Peter would have ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONALITY WHATSOEVER???? Based on who he is/was, he should have been the first one to reject the Phoenix power. There’s some few lines about not liking Ilyana’s angry rage, but that’s about it).

OK I’m going to stop, because I realize I could go on and on raging about what went wrong here forever. That’s not the best result for a major event book like this.

Do yourself a favour and focus on the aftermath instead:

Prof X is dead at Cyclops’ hand, which opens the door to him being the badguy mutant outlaw, which actually suits him better and makes him more interesting. So in that regard, SUCCESS! Now to wait for the return.

Miss this and save the headaches.

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