And so it is time for another smackering of comic reviews from yours truly. Not change in the title line-up from last month, which is mostly ok since almost all of them kick loads of ass. The sole exception just strengthens my opinion that Brian Bendis is a largely overrated comic book writer. So let's start with that one.
By Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Olivier Copiel (Penciler), Mark Morales (Inker), Laura Martin (Colorist) and Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer)
Review: Last issue of this event was a step up in its direction. I overall enjoyed it. This issue is the opposite and the thing that metaphorically kills it for me are the little things. Things that pretty much display all the problems I have with Bendis as a writer, mainly his seeming inability to do some proper research about the characters he's not used to writing.
It opens strong with a splash page of the Avengers showing up to kick ass and take names while being lead by Steve Rogers. Of course this is mainly attributed to Copiel's beautiful and dynamic art. However, the first nit-pick appears here already. The leader of the Young Avengers, Patriot, expresses disbelif that he is included in the battle-cry "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!".
That's one line shows that Bendis doesn't understand the character. It's true that Patriot is very proud to be an Avenger and works hard to live up to that name. Because of that he wouldn't doubt even for a second that he is an Avenger. So that line is an out of character moment that just bugs me. For this issue it's just one of many.
The next comes from when Steve Rogers claims to not remember the villain Taskmaster. It's a fairly innocent joke from Bendis about Taskmaster not being worth Steve's time to remember. But considering the fights that they've had in the past and the fact that this is Steve Rogers, one of the most dedicated heroes in Marvel, he wouldn't just forget Taskmaster.
Next moment comes three pages later when the Young Avenger called Speed encounters Maria Hill. Speed is a sort of arrogant, like most speedsters, and has a pretty sharp wit to him. He's not easily impressed, even when faced with two large alien armies. Yet here he acts as a nervous kid when faced with Maria Hill, whom I'm not sure he should recognise. Hill is in character but Speed isn't. If he was written correctly then the scene would've been much more entertaining. And that does it for the character moments.
Next up is the battle that should've been given the main focus, Thor vs. Sentry. Now Thor is the asgardian god of thunder, one of the most powerful Marvel heroes ever, capable of fighting Hulk at his angriest or even heralds of Galactus. Sentry is a man who supposedly boast powers equal to a thousand exploding suns and he's troubled by severe mental problems which makes him a insanely lose cannon at best. A brawl between these two should in short be the stuff of legends and at least deserve three pages of nothing but them beating up each other. What we get is one page and then tiny glimpses of the battle spread out throughout the issue. Disappointing to say the least. But maybe it's for the better since Bendis isn't very good at writing fight scenes at all.
Then there the reveal that Norman Osborn is now sporting a green face to mask his previous persona as the Green Goblin. We never get an explanation to why his face is green other than that it's implied that he's now overcome with insanity. But the serum that turned Norman insane has never turned him green in the past. So it makes no sense.
Then the big problem with the issue is that it seems pretty damn rushed. Norman's supervillain army appears with no forewarning and makes basically no impact to the battle at large, at least with what's shown. The president gives the order to send in the air-force to blow up Norman's HAMMER ships and just like that they show up in the battle. The big event of Sentry running through asgard, sending it plummeting to the ground is handled with an annoying level of brevity, despite the dramatic splash-page.
There is good stuff here though, but they are few. Iron man's appearance on the battlefield was handled nicely. And both Sentry's and Norman's descent into madness is well-paced and gives a good impact to the story. The final page is a good omnious twist. But none of it outweights the negatives.
Overall Score: 3/10
By Jeff Parker (Writer), Wellington Alves (Penciler), Nelson Pereira (Inker), Frank Martin (Colorist) and Comicraft's Albert Deschesne (Letterer)
Review: Ahh, this is much more to my liking. Basically this issue is just an extended fight sequence between the Thunderbolts and the diminished Mighty Avengers in asgard with the war in Siege as a background story.
For those that don't remember. The Thunderbolts have been tasked to steal the spear of Odin and bring it to Norman Osborn and the Avengers have showed up to stop them from doing so.
This was just a freaking fun comic to read with lots of fun interaction between the two teams. The highlight of it all being the fist fight between USAgent and Scrouge/Nuke, both of which consider themselves american patriots but have very different ideals. The dialogue between them is pitch perfect for their established characters and is just as vicious as the actual fight.
Besides them we get a fun confrontation between the young genius Amadeus Cho and the psychotic hitman Mr.X. I'm not all that fond of Cho but it was delightful to see him take out Mr. X the way he did. There's also a confrontation between Stature and Ant-man that does good job of continuing bad blood that exists between these two.
Overall, the fight scenes are excellent, not only in how they're written. Alves does a great job of making the battle feel truly dramatic. It all reaches a great climax as asgard suddenly start falling under their feet and Scrouge finally gets his hands on Odin's spear, turning the tide of the battle drastically.
So yeah, this was a fun issue.
Overall Score: 8/10
AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #34
By Christos Gage (Writer), Jorge Molina (Penciler), Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Edgar Delgado (Colorist) and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)
Review: Largely an improvement over the previous issue which jumped back and forth too frequently. The dual storyline structure continues in this issue but this time we stay with one story at the time before jumping to the next. This helps the pacing greatly and makes the overall issue more entertaining.
First up is the assault on Camp Hammond by Justice's Secret Avengers which feels more engaging than last time. The opening to this part of the story is a good "Hell YEAH"-moment for the conflicted Night Trasher. As the good guys are winning the Hood uses the norn stones to increase the villains' powers and turning the tide. During this we get the internal monologue from Justice as he anguishes how they're fighting a losing battle and he's lead his remaining friends to their death. The way it's written really sells his despair as he prepares for the end.
This of course makes the following big damn hero moment all the more awesome.
A lot of people hate how Speedball was turned into Penance and they're completely right in doing so. It was just a poorly handled mess. But I've really enjoyed the character progression that has Penance has gone through. He's gone through hell but now he's come through it and is all the stronger for it. It's great writing from Christos Gage. So while it's debateable if it was all worth it at least we can say that this journey will end on a positive note.
There's a pretty clever shift midway into the battle at asgard where we get to see things from Taskmaster's point of view, and a line shows that Steve actually does remember who he is futher proving that Bendis doesn't get the character. While previous issues gave us a good deal of introspective insight for Taskmaster. In this issue however that takes a back step to him taking on the new Captain America in a one on one fight. It's good stuff, both fightwise and dialogue wise between the two.
Lastly we see the continued romance between Diamondback and Constrictor. A sad misunderstanding seperates the two as Sentry hits asgard and everything falls a part around them ending the issue. This is a great cliffhanger. I really want to see how they're gonna get out of this one what drama comes out of it. Gage is great with the drama.
The art is good stuff. Both for the action scenes and the more subtle moments of the issue. Jorge Molina is proving himself to be a versatile artist.
Overall Score: 7/10
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #24
By Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (Writers), Wes Craig (Penciler), Serge Lapointe (Inker), Nathan Fairban (Colorist) and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)
Review: Another fight issue but this time with no ties to Siege, and it freaking kicks ASS!
Phylla, Gamora, Mantis, Major Victory and Cosmo take center stage again as they fight their way through the forces of the universal church of truth to get away from the clutches of Adam Magus.
DnA makes this an intense read with insight into each member presenting how different they all are. At the same time Phylla is contacted by the messanger of the abstract cosmic being that turned her into an avatar of death. It's rather nice to see how the other guardians figure out why Phylla is talking to herself simply because they're exprienced with this all.
As for Phylla. Much of this issue focuses on her and how she's failed as an avatar of death, another failure added to her fairly long list of living up to other people's legacies. I hope that she survies this story arc and comes out of it all as a stronger person with a clear purpose for herself. But that's in the future.
In the sub-plot with the other guardians shielding a political conference the two fan-favorite members, Rocket Raccon and Groot, get their own crowning moments of awesome that I really don't want to spoil here. Also, thanks to Moondragon they now know that Adam Magus is still alive.
In short, this issue is full of heroes kicking ass stuff just being awesome. As par the course for this title.
Oh and the last page. I can just say on thing to that last page without hopefully spoiling it.
He's back and that alone gets another extra point to the overall score.
Overall Score: 9/10.