Saturday, December 30, 2006

Comic Book Review: Iron Fist #2

The Revolution really enjoyed Iron Fist #1. I dig the writing combination of Brubaker and Fraction. Their styles compliment each other and they mesh well together. Aja’s artwork fits this title like a glove. Brubaker and Fraction have wasted no time getting this story arc off to a fast start. I’m confident that Iron Fist #2 is going to be another good read. Let’s hit the review.

Creative Team
Writers
: Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a flashback scene to 1545 A.D. and see Wu Ao-Shi, the Iron Fist of this era, defending the port of Pinghai Bay from a fleet of pirates. We then shift to the present and see Iron Fist falling to the ground after being taken down by the Hydra robot. Iron Fist passes out and then wakes up a couple of hours later at Luke Cage’s apartment. The Night Nurse tells Luke that Danny is all right and should make a quick recovery. Suddenly, Danny passes back out again.

Danny wakes up again and says he blacked out for a second while his chi realigned itself. Luke tells Danny he was out for three hours. Danny says that is impossible. It never takes that long.

Danny and Luke then eat some cheap Chinese take out food. Danny says this reminds him of their old times together. Luke then asks Danny if he heard about Misty Knight. Danny says no. Luke gives Danny a flier advertising the services of the new Heroes for Hire. Luke tells Danny that Misty is working for the pro-registration side. We then get treated to your standard issue Civil War dialogue. Misty is working for “the man.” Misty is a Narc. Misty is a Nazi. Blah blah blah.

We then cut away from the dull Civil War dialogue and see Randall arriving at an airport in America. Randall uses his chi to pull of a Jedi mind trick on the customs officer and does the whole “These aren’t the droids you are looking for” shtick. The customs guard is “persuaded” that everything is in order and lets Randall into the country. Suddenly, Randall is approached by some cops who tell him that they saw what he just did. That he can come with them or go back to Thailand and whatever waits for him there.

Randall gets into a police car with the police officers who are nothing more than thugs working for Davos. One of the thugs contacts Davos to tell him that they have Randall. The thugs talk in Chinese. Randall then busts one of the thugs in the face and causes the police car to crash. Randall then breaks out of the police car and makes a run for it.

We cut to Danny practicing using his Iron Fist to destroy his two Wing Chun wooden dummies. Jeryn walks in the room and informs Danny that Wai-Go is attempting a hostile takeover by buying up tons of Rand Corp via various shell companies and subsidiaries. Danny realizes that the hostile takeover is really being done by Hydra who own Wai-Go. Suddenly Danny falls to the floor and grabs his right hand in pain.

We cut to Randall summoning his Iron Fist into his right hand. One of Davos’ thugs grabs an old lady and threatens to kill her if Randall doesn’t surrender himself. That her blood stain will be on his hands if he doesn’t surrender. Randall thinks how no matter ho far and fast you run, you can’t outrun the blood.

Randall then has a flashback to June 23, 1916 in Fort Souville, France. Randall is in his Iron Fist costume and is helping the French soldiers battle the German forces. We then shift back to the present time with Randall standing in the middle of the street with a vacant look on his face and the bloodied body of one of the thugs at his feet and several overturned cars around him.

Another one of the thugs does a flying kick at Randall and Randall uses his Iron Fist to tear the thug in half with one punch. Randall thinks how the sound of the thugs heart bursting hi his chest brings him back out of the tidal wave of blood that is his past and into the moment where there is nothing but the blood and him. The immortal Iron Fist.

We then cut to Danny lying on the floor of his gym holding his twitching right hand. Danny thinks that this doesn’t make sense. That someone else is using the Iron Fist.

Comments
The Good
: Iron Fist #2 was another fine read. I’m really impressed with Brubaker and Fraction’s strong start to this title. They have wasted no time kicking off this story arc and laying the foundation for several interesting plotlines.

I dig the Wai-Go hostile takeover of Rand Corp. Having Hydra being the true owner of Wai-Go only makes this plotline even juicier. It should be interesting to see how Daniel manages to fend off the hostile takeover at the same time with trying to foil whatever nefarious plan Hydra is plotting.

I also love the plotline involving the older Iron Fist in Randall. First off, Randall is just a cool character. Randall has that eerie haunting quality to him that many soldiers who face ferociously bloody combat have. I love the concept of a shell shocked, tormented and broken down Iron Fist who is running from some horrible act in his past. The life of continual violence has clearly made Randall a mere shell of a man. I can’t wait to learn more about Randall’s character.

Since there is only supposed to be one Iron Fist at a time, I think it is pretty clear that Randall is slated to be killed off during this story arc. That sucks, but I think it is inevitable. Having said that, it is going to be fun to watch Danny come face to face with another Iron Fist. This has the makings of a very exciting plotline.

I think that the fact that whenever Randall uses the Iron Fist that it has an adverse affect on Danny. The first time Danny passes out when Randall uses his chi to play mind tricks on the customs officer. The second time, Danny experiences pain in his hand when Randall uses the Iron Fist in his hand. This is a pretty cool twist on the Iron Fist powers. And it makes perfect sense. If there is only supposed to be one Iron Fist at a time then it is logical that when one Iron Fist uses the chi powers that the other Iron Fist would feel drained.

This leads me to my next point. I love how Brubaker and Fraction are amping up Iron Fist’s chi powers. I always thought it was weird that Danny could only use his chi to make his fist like iron. I figured that he should be able to us his chi in numerous ways just like a Jedi can use the force in numerous ways.

Well, Brubaker and Fraction evidently agree. I thought it was wicked cool seeing Randall use his chi to play a Jedi mind trick on the customs agent to get him to approve Randall’s entry into America with no questions asked. I also like that the Iron Fist power has been seriously increased in destructive ability. No longer is Iron Fist’s hand like iron. Randall is able to literally blow apart that one thug with his Iron Fist. That was just sick. Brubaker and Fraction are making Iron Fist’s powers not only more powerful but also more creative and interesting.

It was cool to see Danny and Luke together again. As a fan of the old Heroes for Hire, Danny and Luke go together like peanut butter and jelly. And Brubaker and Fraction quickly created some good chemistry between these two characters. Having said that, I think that sometimes you can’t go home again. I hope that Iron Fist stays just Danny’s title. Both Danny and Luke have grown up and formed their own independent identities from the old Heroes for Hire. Some occasional team-ups would be cool, but I would leave it at that.

I am enjoying all the completely unrelated flashback scenes of the various Iron Fists through out the ages. I think it is a cool way to give the reader a nice sense of the long and proud history of the Iron Fists. We also get a chance to check out some pretty cool Iron Fists who each have their own distinctive styles.

Brubaker and Fraction craft some fantastic dialogue. The dialogue has a pleasant natural flow to it. Brubaker and Fraction are doing a nice job developing Danny his own unique and multi-layered personality. I think that Iron Fist has always suffered from a lack of his own well developed personality while Luke Cage benefited from a lot more character development since their old Heroes for Hire title. Brubaker and Fraction are doing a good job of finally giving Danny some much needed character development so that he can grow into his own distinctive personality.

Brubaker and Fraction delivered a well plotted issue that was an enjoyable mix of action and dialogue. This should be of no surprise as Brubaker is a master of delivering very balanced issues. The inner dialogue, especially with Randall, is just beautifully written and is almost poetic in its rhythm.

The pacing is deliberate and it gives a nice feeling of tension to the story arc like something is just about to explode. It is also nice to see a story arc that is clearly focused and is progressing in a nice steady fashion.

Aja provides more solid artwork. His style is a great match for the mood of this title. I also like that they switch artists for the flashback scenes. It is a nice tool to help the reader shift from the current story arc that has a gritty realistic modern feel to it and the scenes set in the past.

The Bad: When the story stuck with non-Civil War dialogue it was great. However, the bit of Civil War related dialogue concerning Misty Knight and the new Heroes for Hire was boring. We got treated to the same standard issue generic crap that we get in every other Civil War tie-in issue. Pro-registration side is the “man.” They are narcs. Nazis. Yadda yadda yadda. It was uncreative, dull and uninteresting. This was the only part where the dialogue seemed tired and mind numbingly predictable.

Overall: Iron Fist #2 was a great read. Brubaker and Fraction have quickly hooked me on this title and made it one of my favorite Marvel titles to read. I definitely recommend giving Iron Fist a try. It doesn’t matter if you never liked this character before or not. If you dig what Brubaker has done over on Daredevil and Captain America, then you will certainly enjoy Iron Fist.

Comic Book Review: Daredevil #92

The Revolution has been enjoying this current story arc on Daredevil. Brubaker is finally going to expose the identity of the mystery mastermind behind all of Daredevil’s troubles in Daredevil #92. This penultimate chapter of this story arc should prove to be a great read. Let’s go on and review Daredevil #92.

Creative Team
Writer
: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Michael Lark
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Leland Drummond, the ex-Director of the FBI, packing up his Georgetown brownstone. Due to the Daredevil fiasco, Drummond had to step down as Director and has now been assigned to the Alaska office. The movers arrive at Drummond’s brownstone. However, the “movers” are really hitmen and they kill Drummond.

We cut to Daredevil in Zurich, Switzerland. Daredevil breaks through a window to a large mansion. Daredevil brutally takes out the armed thugs in the mansion. Daredevil thinks to himself how nice it is to hear their bones crunch. Daredevil makes his way to the master bed room and comes face to face with the mysterious mastermind that has been causing Daredevil so much trouble: Vanessa Fisk! (Wow. I didn’t see that one coming.)

Daredevil cannot believe that Vanessa has been behind everything that has gone on with him. Daredevil asks Vanessa how she could do this to him. Vanessa responds that she killed her own son. That she is capable of anything. Daredevil yells that he saved Vanessa’s life. Vanessa responds that maybe she would have been better off dying in the sewers.

Daredevil is stunned that Vanessa is the mastermind of everything. That even though she was married to the Kingpin, Vanessa was always a moral person. Vanessa tells Daredevil that she is dying. Matt can’t believe that Vanessa would do all this just because she is sick and dying. Matt yells that she killed Foggy. That Foggy was his best friend. Vanessa responds that that was kind of the point.

Daredevil asks Vanessa why she has done all of this to him. Vanessa responds that there is nothing to tie Vanessa to any of the crimes that have taken place. That the only one who is a fugitive from the law is Matt. Vanessa says she has gone through great lengths to get Matt here so he might as well listen to her story. Vanessa says she is going to make a deal with Matt. She is going to save his life.

We cut to the offices of the Daily Bugle. Ben tells Robbie that he thinks there is something more to the death of the ex-FBI Director than what appears on the surface. Ben then calls Dakota North and asks her if she has any contacts with the Feds in D.C.

We shift back to Vanessa’s mansion. Vanessa asks Matt if he remembers how gracious she was to Matt the night she left New York. That she wasn’t weighed down by the guilt of having her own son killed. That her son, Richard, had betrayed the family and nearly gotten his father killed. That Vanessa thought she had done the right thing.

However, you can’t give birth to a child and then walk away from his murder. The blood may wash off her hands but it has stained her soul. Vanessa says that she is now dying because of what she did. That her doctors can’t explain why she is in organ failure and why her T-cell count dwindles daily. Vanessa says the reason is because she killed Richard.

Vanessa said she blamed herself for a long time. Until she realized that it was Matt’s fault that Richard died. Matt’s fault and Wilson Fisk’s fault. That Matt and Wilson were locked in a pointless cycle of violence. Vanessa thinks that both men liked it that way.

Vanessa said that she had Foggy killed while Matt was in jail to see what Matt would do. Would Matt and Wilson kill each other in prison? But, there was also a man she paid to dress up as Daredevil and run around Hell’s Kitchen. Would Matt follow that trail instead of his path to self-destruction?

Either way, Vanessa would get what she wanted. Revenge. There were times that Vanessa wished Matt and Wilson would kill each other in prison. However, the path Matt chose is the one that she hoped he would take.

Matt asked Vanessa how she made Lilly smell like Karen Page. Vanessa responded that the perfume she gave Lilly was created to invoke scent memories in men. That Matt thought of Karen Page because he is still in love with her. Vanessa asked Matt what he did with Lilly. Matt responds that he let Lilly go.

Vanessa then tells Matt the deal she has for him. That thanks to Wilson’s connections and the blackmail ledgers; she has the ability to set Matt free of his problems with the Federal indictment and his outing in the press. She can make them all go away. In return, Matt will get Wilson out of prison. That Matt will exploit the legal problems surrounding Wilson’s case and get him out of jail.

Then the two of them will resume their cycle of violence and the next time Wilson kills someone then it will all be Matt’s fault. And that will eat away at Matt until the self-hatred and guilt that he feels now are nothing.

Vanessa says that she can also make things worse. Vanessa shows Matt photos of Daredevil all over Europe while the man she hired continues to masquerade as Daredevil over in Hell’s Kitchen. Vanessa tells Matt that he can either be Matt Murdock again or stay on the run for the rest of his life.

Matt says he came here for vengeance, but there is no point in that. That Vanessa is sick and her soul has turned black. That she isn’t herself anymore. Matt tells her to take her deal and shove it. That he is not playing her game. For him, this was never a game. Matt leaves the mansion.

Vanessa then takes the photos of Daredevil in Europe and throws them in the fire. Vanessa tells her assistant that once Matt realizes what has happened that he will do as she asked. That one thing about Matt Murdock is that he is selfish above all else. He just doesn’t realize it most of the time.

We cut to Matt arriving back in his hotel room. On the way to his hotel, Matt figured out how Vanessa was going to velar Matt’s name. That she was going to have ex-FBI Director Drummond killed. Matt calls Dakota North and tells her that Drummond must be placed in protective custody immediately. Dakota tells Matt to turn on to a U.S. new channel.

Matt flicks on the TV and sees the breaking news report that ex-FBI Director Drummond apparently committed suicide. Drummond left behind a suicide note that reveals an elaborate setup to frame lawyer matt Murdock whom the FBI and the media have accused of being the super hero Daredevil. But, now Matt Murdock appears to be innocent of those charges.

Matt is stunned that Vanessa went ahead and did it anyway even though Matt didn’t accept her deal. Matt then tells Dakota to tell Danny Rand that he needs a way home. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Daredevil #92 was an excellent read! Brubaker definitely didn’t disappoint with this issue. We got treated to an incredibly well written issue. Brubaker is such a talented writer and he continually amazes me with his skills. Daredevil #92 has absolutely no action at all. There were no large panels or huge splash shots in this issue. And practically the entire issue revolved around two people in one room talking. This was certainly a very dialogue heavy issue.

Normally, a person would think that I have just described what would be a rather boring issue. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Daredevil #92 was an incredibly gripping read. It takes a talented writer to pull this type of issue of successfully and Brubaker definitely did it.

Brubaker crafted one highly emotional and powerful story that completely engrosses the reader. The amount of psychology in this issue was amazing. Brubaker managed to crawl inside the psyches of both Vanessa and Matt and further develop both characters.

I thought using Vanessa Fisk as the mystery mastermind behind all of Matt’s troubles was a stroke of genius. Vanessa has been missing for quite some time so she certainly was not an immediate choice for your average reader. Also, Vanessa is the only character that had close ties with both Wilson and Matt. Vanessa was always a moral character who loved Wilson, but disagreed with his life of crime. Vanessa and Daredevil always had mutual respect for each other.

Brubaker really made this story much more intense and complex by choosing Vanessa to be the mastermind. Vanessa is an excellent literary tool to flesh out the bizarre relationship between Matt and Wilson. Brubaker did a great job developing the circle of violence that Matt and Wilson were locked in. That there is no doubt that Matt probably did like this eternal conflict even if he would never openly admit it to himself or anyone else. Both men secretly enjoyed the conflict. It gave them meaning and purpose.

I also loved how Brubaker took an existing storyline and developed it further to its natural conclusion. This issue is an excellent example of how to build off an older plotline written by another writer. Brubaker took the old plotline of Vanessa killing her son Richard and asked what would the natural conclusion of this plotline be? Would Vanessa simply leave New York and life a nice enjoyable life free from the trauma and conflict of her life with the Kingpin? Or would something else happen to her?

Brubaker takes the natural course that a mother could never be all right with killing her child no matter what the child did wrong. Yes, Richard tried to kill Wilson and he embarrassed the Fisk family. However, this is the child that Vanessa birthed. It is only natural and logical that killing him would eventually leave a black stain on her soul that would end up consuming her entirely. Having Vanessa develop a physical manifestation of her sin in the form of her unexplainable illness was a good touch.

Brubaker then took Vanessa’s progression to its natural conclusion that eventually her overwhelming guilt would lead her to try and lessen its burden on her soul by finding someone else to blame. Enter Wilson and Matt. They are natural choices to blame for the death of her son.

This lead nicely into Vanessa’s plan which made perfect sense. She gains revenge on both men and leaves Matt a choice to get himself out of the situation. Either fall into a put of self-destruction while in jail and kill Wilson or try to escape and solve the mystery of the man masquerading at Daredevil. Deep inside, Vanessa still does care for both men despite her anger and guilt. So, it makes sense that she would also admit that inside she wished that Matt would choose the path that led him to her instead of his self-destruction in prison.

And Vanessa’s deal was wickedly evil yet made perfect sense. Matt gets his life back but in return he must get Wilson out of prison. Then their cycle of violence can continue and when Wilson kills the blood will be on Matt’s hands. Then Vanessa’s revenge will be complete as Matt can know what it feels like to have blood on his hands and on his soul. Then Matt will feel Vanessa’s guilt and sorrow that has literally consumed her life.

Brubaker successfully delivered a wonderfully complex and well plotted and thought out story that came to its climax with this issue. I am impressed with the depth of the psychology and motivation within Vanessa and how Matt fit into her scheme. Brubaker’s dialogue was realistic and emotional. The excellent dialogue was key to making this issue such a good read. Daredevil #92 was a very satisfying payoff for the mystery that Brubaker has been crafting ever since he took over the writing duties for this title.

Lark and Gaudiano’s artwork was an excellent match to the haunting tone of this issue.

The Bad: No complaints with this issue.

Overall: Daredevil #92 was an outstanding read. Brubaker continues to amaze me with his writing on this title. Just when I think he can’t get any better, he goes out and tops himself. I completely recommend Daredevil without any reservation. This title is definitely one of Marvel’s strongest titles and is certainly worth your money. If nothing else, get the trade paperback for this story arc whenever Marvel releases it.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Comic Book Review: Astonishing X-Men #19

Astonishing X-Men is always an entertaining read. Whedon has done a great job making this title a must read each and every issue. This current story arc is an absolute blast and I always have fun reading this title. I’m sure that Astonishing X-Men #19 is going to be another enjoyable read. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer
: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a scene of the Breakworld. We learn that this planet has been ravaged by a massive war between the ruling clan called the Open Hand and the oppressed masses. There is no end to this brutal war and the people on the Breakworld have no hope that anyone will ever be able to save them.

We shift back to the S.W.O.R.D. space ship where Agent Brand activates a localized gravity surge that pins the X-Men, Ord and Danger to the ground. Kitty Pryde then appears behind Agent Brand and phases a gun through Brand’s head and threatens to put a bullet in Brand’s head if she doesn’t let the X-Men free. Brand orders her soldiers to turn off the gravity device.

Brand informs Danger that she has already been infected with seven hundred thousand viruses by the S.W.O.R.D. ship computer. That this should keep Danger in check until they return to Earth. Cyclops then asks Brand if she has a psychic aboard the ship who can conduct a search of Emma’s mind to see if Cassandra Nova is still in there.

We cut to Powerlord Kruun back on the Breakworld. An assistant delivers a message from Ord. Krunn plays the message and Ord tells Kruun that he is a board a S.W.O.R.D. warship on direct sluing to the Breakworld. Ord then gives Kruun the ship’s coordinates. Ord then says that Colossus is on board the ship. Kruun then orders his Bruteships to intercept and destroy the S.W.O.R.D. vessel.

We cut to S.W.O.R.D.’s psychic searching Emma’s mind. The psychic says that Cassandra Nova is no longer in Emma’s mind.

We shift to Kitty and Colossus sitting in an awkward silence. Kitty tells Peter that Emma’s nightmare that was placed into Kitty’s mind is finally starting to fade. Kitty tells Peter that he betrayed her in the nightmare. Kitty then says that Peter dumped her the first time they were close with each other. And then the second time he killed himself. Kitty says how does she not know that Colossus is going to disappear again? Kitty tells Peter that she is going to need some time before they can be together.

We zip forward to Agent Brand briefing the X-Men on the situation on the Breakworld. Brand tells them that the Breakworld’s psychics, called Augurs, have hunted for the X-Man destined to destroy their world. Brand says she doesn’t know why Colossus is the one believed to be the X-Man prophesized to destroy the Breakworld. Peter jokes that he has been planning to do it since he was a kid. He plays it so straight that nobody laughs. Peter then mutter that this is why he never makes jokes.

Agent Brand says that Kruun’s armada that was originally sent for Earth where Colossus was pinpointed. Now, thanks to Brand’s plan to let Ord tell Kruun their coordinates, the armada is now headed for the S.W.O.R.D. ship. Brand says that they needed to draw the armada away from Earth. Brand sys that the best way to keep the armada from blowing their ship to pieces is to get to the Breakworld before they can intercept them. At their current speed, they should just make it.

Agent Brand tells the X-Men that the Breakworld is governed by one principle: domination whether by war, violence or extermination. Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand is global rule of the Breakworld.

That somewhere, possibly on their smallest moon, the Breakworlders have built a failsafe. A missile. This missile could crack the Earth in half. The Earth cannot mount a force enough to attack the Breakworld and the Earth can’t defend against their attack. Right now, Agent Brand needs the help of some super heroes. And that is where the X-Men enter the equation.

Agent Brand says the plan is the locate the missile and disable it. Suddenly, before Agent Brand can continue to explain her plan, she is interrupted by one of her officers. The Open Hand armada has already arrived. The armada launches a bunch of missiles and the S.W.O.R.D. ship is rocked by a huge explosion.

Cyclops asks Agent Brand what is Plan B. She responds that they all die. Cyclops retorts what is Plan C? End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Astonishing X-Men #19 was another solid read. Whedon definitely took this issue to catch his breath and lay the foundation for the final push to the conclusion of this story arc. Whedon continues to show off his sound plotting skills as all of the pieces to this story arc are beginning to slide together.

The dialogue, as always, was well done. Whedon has a great feel for each character and simply knows how to write the various X-Men. Whedon also displays his trademark humorous dialogue. There are several scenes that get the reader chuckling. My favorite was when Colossus attempted to make his joke during the briefing.

It is obvious that Kitty Pryde is Whedon’s favorite X-Man. Personally, I have never been impressed with her character. I don’t dislike her. She is just like vanilla ice cream. It tastes fine, but I’m probably never going to order it. However, I must say that Whedon has done a great job making Kitty the most interesting that she has ever been before.

Whedon has given Kitty more depth and range to her personality. I like that Kitty is more assertive and takes less shit from other characters. You know that Kitty is no Wolverine and certainly won’t kill Agent Brand in the beginning of this issue, but her new inner toughness at least makes you think twice about crossing her path.

I also thought Whedon did a great job conveying Kitty’s confusion and hurt that is inside of her during her scene with Colossus. Even though Emma’s nightmare wasn’t real, it doesn’t mean that Kitty’s emotions weren’t real. That was an incredibly traumatic even to go through and it is understandable that it is going to take Kitty time to get over it.

Everything has been moving so quickly since Colossus return from the dead that Kitty really hasn’t had much time to let thinks soak in and to really contemplate what has happened. It is pretty realistic that Kitty would need some time to sort things out before jumping right back into a committed relationship with Colossus. I had thought that Whedon had rushed things a bit with these two characters ever since Colossus’ return. I’m glad to see him ease off the accelerator with this relationship.

Whedon leaves the Cassandra Nova plotline dangling with this issue. Nova is no longer in Emma’s mind, but that certainly doesn’t answer just where that menace is currently located. I’m sure Cassandra Nova’s plotline will be addressed once again at some point in the future.

Whedon definitely delivers one wild ending to Astonishing X-Men #19! An entire armada arriving earlier than anticipated and blasting away the S.W.O.R.D. ship. Our heroes are left in a deadly predicament where there appears to be no way for them to escape this attack. This ending certainly left me at the edge of my seat and hooked me into wanting to read the next issue immediately.

Cassaday’s artwork was as pleasing as always. I enjoy Cassaday’s style and think he delivers one fine looking comic book. Cassaday does an excellent job packing plenty of emotion into his facial expressions. This really helps to boost Whedon’s humorous dialogue.

The Bad: Astonishing X-Men #19 was certainly slow and rather uneventful up until the final two pages. And I certainly found this issue to be one of the weakest issues so far on Whedon’s run on this title. However, it is a necessary evil as Whedon has to give the reader some background information on the situation and then lay a solid foundation for the final part of this story arc.

The Breakworld seems like nothing more than your standard issue alien threat. Just add water and mix. There is nothing unique or particularly compelling about the Breakworld or its people. And Powerlord Kruun is nothing more than your typical cookie cutter violent alien despot all the way down to his generic “training” with his soldiers where he kills them all.

Haven’t we seen that scene about a million different times through out comic book history? Absolutely nothing about Kruun engaged my interest. I found the scenes on the Breakworld to be rather bland and uninteresting. Hopefully, Whedon can make this into something more distinctive and interesting.

Overall: Astonishing X-Men #19 was a good read. Whedon continues to deliver a nicely plotted story arc. I definitely think that we are in store for a wild ride with the next issue. Astonishing X-Men is still one of Marvel’s more entertaining titles and is certainly worth your hard earned money.

Comic Book Review: Ultimate Power #3

The Revolution is really digging Ultimate Power. This mini-series has an exciting summer blockbuster movie feel to it. Bendis is delivering an action filled story and Land and Ryan are cranking out some incredible artwork. There is no doubt in my mind that I am going to totally Ultimate Power #3. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer
: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Greg Land
Inker: Matt Ryan

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the President being awoken out of bed and rushed to his “safehouse.” We then see odd alien fleshy/plant-like blobby creatures overtaking all of downtown Washington D.C. Hyperion and Power Princess are on the scene trying to save people from these strange blobs.

Meanwhile the President is being briefed by Mr. Steadman. Steadman informs the President that these blobs are all across the planet; however the greatest concentration of them is the east coast of America. The organisms are changing the oxygen content and barometric pressure. That this is a high level threat to the entire Earth.

Steadman then informs the President that just before the organisms appeared, that there was a surge that appeared in New York City. Steadman then radios Hyperion and tells him to get to New York immediately. Hyperion arrives in New York and locates the source of the surge. Hyperion dives into the center of one of the organisms and pulls out Reed’s small orb probe.

We cut to a government lab where Nighthawk is examining the probe. Suddenly, the probe turns on and a holographic image of Reed Richards appears. Reed introduces himself and says that he is from another dimension. The Squadron Supreme are stunned that a child tried an inter-dimensional scientific experiment and by doing so nearly destroyed their world. Hyperion says that if the probe is broadcasting then they can follow the broadcast trail right back to the dimension where it’s broadcasting from.

We cut to the present with Squadron Supreme at an uneasy ceasefire with the Ultimates, X-Men and Fantastic Four. Hyperion tells Reed that he has to come with them to fix the mess he has caused and then stand trial for his crimes against humanity. Reed agrees and says he will go with the Squadron Supreme.

Sue puts up an invisible barrier between the Squadron Supreme and Reed. Sue tells Reed to get behind her. Reed tells Sue to drop the shield. That the Squadron Supreme are right and that he has to go. Sue yells for Reed to get behind her. Hyperion starting pounding away at Sue’s invisible barrier causing her to collapse to the ground.

Our heroes get ready to brawl with the Squadron Supreme, but Nick Fury orders them to stand down. Reed yells for everyone to stop. Reed says that he did this in order to find a way to cure the Thing. That he didn’t mean for any of this to happen. That he wasn’t trying to hurt anybody. He was just trying to uphold his promise to the Thing. Reed tells Fury that he was right and apologizes for not listening to him. Reed and the Squadron Supreme then teleport back to their dimension.

Sue totally snaps. Sue gets in Nick Fury’s face and yells at him for doing nothing. Nick responds that he wasn’t going to have a massive super power battle in the middle of New York City. However, he is ready to put together a rescue team and go to their dimension, help fix their world and then bring Reed back. Captain America asks Nick what his plan is. Nick responds that he is working on it. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Ultimate Power #3 was another good read. Bendis did a nice job giving us much more detail on what happened to the Squadron Supreme’s world. I thought the beginning was dramatic and was very large in scope. Bendis really got the reader to feel the chaos and destruction on a global scale. Bendis’ explanation for how Reed’s probe caused such damage was well thought out and presented to the reader.

The best part about the Squadron Supreme’s reaction to Reed’s message was his age. They all are stunned that this boy who looks to be no more than 14 managed to create and send an inter-dimensional probe that caused such global destruction. The sheer randomness and innocent nature of the probe and Reed is the exact opposite of what your typical hero encounters. Usually, the cause behind such destruction is an alien invasion or the work of some evil genius. The fact that it is an innocent boy with the best of intentions was an excellent twist.

Reed’s reaction to the Squadron Supreme demanding him to come with them and fix the problem and then stand trial for his actions was perfect. Reed is such the hard luck genius. Everything he does just seems to have some nightmarish result. Reed has nothing but the best intentions in everything he does. It is by some bizarre twist of fate that Reed seems doomed to only hurt rather than help despite his genuine desire to do good.

I loved Sue’s reaction to Reed agreeing to go with the Squadron Supreme. Sue putting up a shield around Reed and demanding that he get behind her was awesome. Bendis delivered one of the coolest versions of Sue that I have ever read. I liked her fire and willingness to do whatever she has to in order to protect her man. I love Sue and Reed as a couple and Bendis does a great job capturing the love that Sue has for Reed.

And Nick Fury is as cool as the other side of the pillow. Nick’s response to Sue getting in his face was sweet. Even when Nick truly isn’t in control and he flying by the seat of his pants, he always exudes complete confidence. This is why Nick Fury is a total stud.

Ryan and Land’s artwork was just as beautiful as ever. The opening scenes were jaw dropping nice. Ryan and Land truly captured the massive scope of the chaos and destruction and presented it with some powerful splash shots of the damage. Their art in this scene really helped to give Ultimate Power #3 that big blockbuster movie feel to it.

Ryan and Land also packed plenty of emotion into their art that really helped bolster Bendis’ solid story. Ryan and Land made the reader truly feel Reed’s sorrow and how defeated he felt. His facial expressions and body language were spot on.

The Bad: Even though I certainly enjoyed Ultimate Power #3, I thought that the pacing was a bit too slow. It felt like Bendis lost a little of his focus on this storyline. Yeah, we got what happened in the Squadron Supreme’s dimension fleshed out a bit, but we already knew that Reed’s probe destroyed their world. Other than getting some more detail on how exactly the probe destroyed their world; nothing else happened. It was largely an uneventful issue with very little happening to progress the story.

Overall: Ultimate Power #3 was an enjoyable read. It did feel like Bendis paused and caught his breath with this issue. Hopefully, Bendis will get the story back in gear and get things rolling again with the next issue. All in all, this is still a good mini-series.

Comic Book Review: 52 #34

The Revolution wasn't all that crazy about the past issue. It was okay, but nothing great. I'm hoping that the writers get this title rolling with a bit faster pace than the past several issues. Judging by the cover, it appears that the Question dies in this issue. Let's go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writers
: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Ruy Jose

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Week 34, Day 1: We begin with the Suicide Squad ambushing Black Adam, Isis, Osiris and Sobek in the Redwood National Forest. Atom Smasher grabs Black Adam and tells Black Adam that he must turn himself in. That Black Adam has to pay for his crimes. Black Adam refuses to be judged by the hypocritical American government. Black Adam then takes down Atom Smasher.

We cut to Persuader fighting Isis. Persuader gets the upper hand and chops his axe into Isis’s arm and her face! (Nasty!) Persuader is about to kill Isis, when Osiris snaps and blasts off at top speed and tears the Persuader in half. (Double nasty!)

Osiris is horrified at what he has done and repeats over and over that he wants to do good. Black Adam tells Osiris that they have to go home.

We cut to Amanda Waller watching the entire event on her monitor. She tells Vertigo that she didn’t expect the Suicide Squad to succeed. However, they did provide her with what she really needed. That video feeds were live and recorded. Amanda says that all these super-powered teenagers are the same.

Week 34, Day 4: We cut to Natasha and some of the other female members of Infinity Inc. out among their adoring public. Lex Luthor arranges for a department store to be closed for three hours so that the ladies of Infinity Inc. could shop in peace. When Lex’s assistant goes to pay for the ladies’ clothing, the cashier informs her that Lex’s car has been declined. Lex’s assistant correctly realizes that this must all be a set up. We cut to Barbara Gordon coordinating with Black Canary. Barbara tells Black Canary that their plan is in place.

Lex’s assistant orders the ladies of Infinity Inc to immediately go back to the limo. Barbara Gordon broadcasts to one of the police officers that the crows of onlookers has gotten huge outside the store and recommends that the ladies be taken by individual guards in three different directions.

A police officer grabs Natasha and quickly guides her to the stairs. Once they enter the stairway the police officer reveals herself to be Black Canary. In the stairway is Steel. Steel tells Natasha that he arranged this so he could talk to her. Steel tells Natasha to look at him and see that the powers that Lex gave him are gone. Steel says that the powers are simply temporary. Steel then asks Natasha how in the world could a slug like Blockbuster grab Natasha’s friend, Trajectory, and break her neck? That Trajectory was way too fast for that too happen unless Lex took away her powers. Steel tells Natasha to look at the facts and draw her own conclusions.
Week 34, Day 5: We see Clark Kent tied up and being questioned by some thugs. The thugs inject Clark with a truth serum. They then ask Clark why Superman is masquerading as Supernova. Clark responds that Supernova is not Superman.

Week 34, Day 7: We see The Question being wheeled into the hospital. They admit him into his own hospital room. The Question can barely talk and is clearly about to die at any moment. Renee Montoya sits in The Question’s room and watches the New Year’s Eve presentation taking place in downtown Metropolis on TV.

We cut to the thug who was questioning Clark telling Lex Luthor that Clark doesn’t know Supernova’s secret identity. Lex tells the thug that Clark is of no use to him. Lex tells the thug to take Clark back to his home and let him believe he was interrogated by the Yakuza.

Lex then reads the results from the latest effort to give him super powers. Once again, the effort failed and Lex’s body continues to reject the Everyman treatment. Lex is exceedingly angry. Lex says that Supernova has been wining too many hearts. That Metropolis is Lex Luthor’s city. It is definitely not Supernova’s city. Lex says that it is time that Supernova failed in the face of a real challenge.

We cut to the New Years Eve presentation in downtown Metropolis where tons of new super heroes from the Everyman project are flying through the air. The countdown from 10 to 1 to the beginning of 2007 begins. As the crowd at the New Years presentation counts to one, we see Renee Montoya holding The Question’s hand. We then see Lex with a malevolent look on his face as he pushes a red button. End of story.

We then get a two page back up story about the origin of Zatanna. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: 52 #34 was another good read. It really is amazing how consistent the boys at DC have been with 52. To make a weekly comic book a quality read each and every week is extremely hard to do. And to do it without any marquee names is even more difficult.

I absolutely loved the beginning to this issue. The sick fight scene between the Black Marvel family and the Suicide Squad was definitely my favorite part of 52 #34. This brawl was wicked violent. Watching the Persuader proceed to chop up Isis was definitely unexpected. Also unexpected was the restraint shown by Black Adam in not killing anyone in this battle. I can’t blame Black Adam for not surrendering himself to the American government. There is definitely no reason why he should stand judgment by the American government for his past actions.

But, the best part of this fight scene was the fall of Osiris. His violent reaction to the Persuader chopping up Isis was raw and vicious. Such an extreme reaction was totally understandable given the situation. However, it was terribly tragic. Osiris truly is a good person who does so desperately want to be accepted as a true hero. Unfortunately, Osiris bears the sins of his “father” Black Adam. Just like his “father,” Osiris has now been caught on video ruthlessly killing a villain. Osiris cannot escape the shadow of the Black Adam legacy. This is going to have such a traumatic impact on Osiris. I am interested to see what happens next. This plotline is definitely one of the more compelling plotlines in 52.

As always, the scenes with Renee Montoya and The Question were powerfully written. These two characters definitely have had the best chemistry and have clicked together like no two other characters in 52. The scene with Renee sitting by The Question’s hospital bed holding his hand while he dies was quite emotional and touching. I know that horrible helpless feeling of having to sit there and watch someone slip away from you. And for a character of action like Renee it must be even more difficult to watch something that she has no ability to stop from happening.

The Steel/Natasha scene was well done. The main reason that I liked it so much is that we finally got an appearance from the Birds of Prey in 52. It is always great to see Babs doing her thing as Oracle. Steel finally got his face to face conversation with Natasha and you can definitely tell that Steel managed to plant some seeds of doubt in Natasha’s mind.

It is only a matter of time before Natasha realizes that Lex has been playing all of Infinity Inc for fools. I know in the end that Natasha will come around and help the good guys take down Lex’s Everyman Project. Honestly, this plotline with Steel and Natasha has really lagged for a large portion of 52 and I’m glad to see it finally building some momentum.

I liked the Clark Kent interrogation scene. Poor Lex. He will never know how agonizingly close he was to finding out Superman’s secret identity. Stripped of his powers, Clark is actually susceptible to the truth serum. This was Lex’s once in a lifetime chance to finally discover the secret that he has so desperately wanted. To see it slip through his fingers without him ever knowing it was great.

Lex’s mysterious evil plan certainly has my attention. Whatever Lex is up to you know it is going to be huge. I also dig how Lex is completely obsessed with Supernova. Lex’s obsession with Supernova is just an extension of obsession with Superman. It seems that Lex cannot live without obsessing over some imaginary adversary. That Lex just can’t deal with sharing Metropolis.

I also find it fascinating that Lex’s body continues to reject the Everyman treatment. I find it highly interesting that Lex despises super powered people so much and prides himself on being so successful in spite of having no super powers; and yet he so desperately wants super powers. Lex always seems so fiercely proud of being human that it is clear that his hate for super powered people is truly just petty jealousy.

The ending was well structured. I liked how we cut back and forth between the crowd at the New Years celebration in downtown Metropolis, Lex in his office engaging his dastardly plan and Renee sitting with The Questions all while the crowd counted from 10 to 1 to greet the New Year. It was a cool way to end the story that helped to increase the feeling of anxiousness in the reader as we wait to find out just what Lex has planned. Ending the issue with such a cliffhanger ending was a great way to hook the reader into coming back for the next issue.

I am really warming up to Bennett’s artwork. I believe that this is the highest score that I have given the artwork on 52 up to this point. Bennett is a good artist who delivers a quality looking comic book. Yes, he is still a bit inconsistent with some panels looking rather ordinary while others look excellent. However, Bennett still has provided the best artwork on 52 out of all of the various artists that DC has rotated in on this title.

The Bad: No complaints with this issue.

Overall: 52 #34 was another good read. You can really feel the intensity of the various plotlines beginning to heat up in 52 has we begin to race to the conclusion. We only have eighteen issues left and the writers still have plenty to address before the end arrives. This ride is really about to pick up pace and I expect 52 to be one wild ride from this point on.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Comic Book Review: Daredevil #91

There are very few titles as consistently enjoyable as Ed Brubaker’s Daredevil. Luckily, for me, Daredevil has been free of craptacular Civil War tie-in issues. Just another reason why I always look forward to reading Daredevil. I’m sure that Daredevil #91 is going to be another excellent read. Let’s crank out this review.

Creative Team
Writer
: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Michael Lark
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with recalling how he gained his incredibly heightened senses and his radar power. Daredevil explains how he had to learn to control his heightened senses in order to keep him from going crazy. Daredevil recounts his father and his father’s death. Daredevil mentions how scents can trigger thoughts things in the brain that you can’t control like certain feelings and memories.

Daredevil thinks how Lilly Lucca is somehow using the scent of Karen Page to drive Daredevil crazy. Daredevil thinks how Lilly has played Daredevil for a fool this entire time. Daredevil also wonders how Lilly is using Karen’s scent against him to cloud his judgment.

However, Daredevil thinks that Lilly couldn’t know enough about him to know about Karen or to know about his heightened sense of smell. Daredevil figures that Lilly must be working for someone else. The same person that Alton Lennox was working for. The same person who had Foggy Nelson killed.

Daredevil follows Tombstone taking a “kidnapped” Lilly to a midnight meeting with the Matador. Tombstone drags Lilly out of the car and makes it look like he is going to hand her over to the Matador and his thugs. Lilly continues to pretend that she is kidnapped in order to draw out Daredevil.

Daredevil then makes his appearance known. Daredevil takes out the Matador’s thugs and attacks Tombstone. Lilly thanks Daredevil for rescuing her and Daredevil responds by telling Lilly to shut up.

Daredevil then squares off against the Matador and Tombstone at the same time. Daredevil takes down the Matador and then proceeds to have a serious brawl with Tombstone. Daredevil ends up using a sledgehammer to take down Tombstone.

The Matador gets back up and grabs Lilly and threatens to kill her. Daredevil doesn’t believe the Matador. Lilly screams to Daredevil that this isn’t part of the plan. The Matador begins to cut Lilly’s throat and then stops. The Matador tells Lilly that he was supposed to kill her, but he can’t do it. The Matador tells Lilly that he loves her. Lilly tells the Matador to get away from her. Daredevil then steps in and takes down the Matador with one punch.

Lilly then confesses to Daredevil that they would have killed her if she hadn’t played Daredevil for the fool. Daredevil tells Lilly that she killed her father in order to inherit his empire. That she then killed Alton Lennox in his bed. Daredevil tells Lilly that her scent was in Lennox’s room. And now the person who Lilly was working for has turned on her.

Daredevil says that the person Lilly is working for wanted her killed in front of Daredevil because she reminds him of someone (Karen Page). Lilly tells Daredevil that they gave her some type of perfume that has no scent but that is supposed to have some influence over men. That it has something to do with pheromones. (Ha! I guessed the source of her power correctly after all.) That she was told it would work more powerfully and effectively on Daredevil than your normal male.

Daredevil tells Lilly that she has no friends or allies. That Lilly should go ahead and tell him who she is working for. Lilly tells Daredevil who she is working for, but we don’t hear the name. Daredevil says how once he hears the name he can almost feel a knife twisting in his back. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Daredevil #91 was another solid read. It is very impressive how steady Brubaker is on this title. Brubaker continues to employ a moderate and deliberate pace in unfolding this highly interesting mystery. Very few writers can pull off this style of pacing and plotting and still make each issue an interesting read rather than a boring one.

Brubaker serves up his usual excellent dialogue. The dialogue is natural and has a good flow to it. Brubaker also delivers a nicely crafted inner monologue by Daredevil that runs through out this entire issue. Not many writers can pull off an inner monologue that runs the entire issue and have it a compelling read. Brubaker can do this thanks to his crime noir background that lends nicely to this style of writing.

I loved the outstanding character development on Daredevil that Brubaker conducts in the beginning of this issue. We get to hear from Daredevil’s own perspective how overwhelming his heightened sense can be and how he trained diligently to control them in order to keep himself sane.

I liked how Brubaker explained how Daredevil’s heightened sense of smell evokes strong memories in his mind. That after Daredevil’s father died, that his scent was all over their apartment. I thought it was very touching seeing Daredevil sleeping in his father’s closet just so he could that his father was still close to him.

Brubaker also delivered an enjoyable fight scene. Brubaker does a nice job mixing in a little action into his monologue heavy story. It is nice to see Daredevil taking on two bad guys at the same time and showing off that he is one serious bad-ass.

I thought the source of Lilly’s powers was pretty interesting. Clearly, whoever Lilly is working for they definitely know all about Matt’s personal life and his powers. Couple that with the fact that Daredevil could feel the knife turning in his back once Lilly told him who she was working for and you know that this mysterious adversary is going to be someone very close to Daredevil.

And how cruel is this mysterious adversary? They kill Foggy Nelson causing unbearable torment to Matt. Now, they planned to have Daredevil overwhelmed with the scent of Karen Page and associate Lilly with Karen and then kill Lilly in front of Daredevil causing even more damage to Daredevil’s fragile psyche. Vicious and heartless. I love it.

I thought this was a great way to end the issue and hook the reader into wanting to get the next issue. I am absolutely on the edge of my seat and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next issue and discover the identity of this mysterious adversary.

We also get supplied with plenty of solid artwork by Lark and Gaudiano. Lark’s style is a perfect match for Brubaker’s tone and mood on this title.

The Bad: No complaints with this issue.

Overall: Daredevil #91 was another solid effort by Brubaker and Lark. They consistently deliver a good read each and every month. Things are starting to come to a boil with this story arc and we are in treat for an exciting finish. Daredevil is definitely one comic book well worth your money.

Comic Book Review: Ultimate Power #2

The Revolution enjoyed Ultimate Power #1. I am a huge fan of Land and Ryan’s gorgeous artwork so I knew that I’d like this mini-series even if Bendis only delivered an average storyline. I think Bendis has created an interesting little premise for this mini-series. I’m fairly confident that Ultimate Power #2 is going to be a pretty solid read. All right, let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer
: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Greg Land
Inker: Matt Ryan

Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde web-slinging across Manhattan. They see the Baxter Building suddenly erupt in an explosion. We cut to the Fantastic Four brawling with the Squadron Supreme. The members of the Squadron Supreme are all talking complete gibberish. Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde drop in to help out the Fantastic Four with their fight against the Squadron Supreme. Kitty Pryde calls Storm on her cell phone and tells Storm to get the rest of the X-Men and quickly come to the Baxter Building to help them.

This fight is a real monster fight that goes on for twelve pages. Finally, the members of Squadron Supreme regain their ability to speak normally. We learn that traveling through dimensions messed with the Squadron Supreme’s ability to talk.

Suddenly, a lightning bolt blasts Hyperion and we see that Nick Fury and the Ultimates are on the scene. Nick Fury tells the Squadron Supreme that they are under arrest. The brawl continues with the Squadron Supreme holding their own against the combined forces of the Fantastic Four, the Ultimates and Spider-Man.

Then the X-Men appear on the scene to give more firepower to our heroes in their fight against the Squadron Supreme. Reed Richards tells the Squadron Supreme that they are no outnumbers and outgunned. Reed asks the Squadron Supreme to please stop fighting and tell them why they are here.

Hyperion then tells Reed Richards that he is under arrest for crimes against humanity. Evidently, Reed destroyed their entire world. Reed says that is impossible. That he doesn’t even know them. Power Princess then shows Reed one of his inter-dimensional probes that he launched in issue #1.

Nick tells Reed that he hopes Reed hasn’t done what Nick specifically asked him not to do. Hyperion then yells that Reed destroyed their world and will now answer for what he has done. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Ultimate Power #2 was a blast to read. Bendis turned in one incredibly action packed issue. Seriously, the entire issue except for the final two pages was one insane fight. This is actually quite unusual for Bendis. I have found that Bendis prefers to deliver extremely wordy and talky issues that are dialogue heavy and focus more on character interaction than massive flashy brawls.

Ultimate Power #2 was a pure popcorn issue. Nothing more than one incredibly entertaining fight. This issue read like a summer blockbuster movie. What made this fight so much fun was that Bendis acted like a mad scientist who kept throwing more and more ingredients into a boiling mixture. First, Bendis adds Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde to the fight. Then after a few more pages, Bendis introduced Nick Fury and the Ultimates into the fight. And just when you thought the fight couldn’t get any crazier, Bendis brings the X-Men into the brawl.

The fight was excellently paced and plotted. Bendis constructed a multi-layered fight that had a nice rhythm and gradually increased in intensity and scope as the issue progressed. I was rather impressed. I never thought that Bendis could pull off an exciting fight of this scale. For a minute there I thought I was reading a Mark Millar book rather than a Bendis book. Bendis certainly showed his range with this issue.

Of course, we got supplied with the always dependable Bendis dialogue full of fast paced witty quips being fired back and forth between the various characters during this wild fight. Bendis is a master of the humorous one-liners and this issue is certainly no exception.

And Bendis definitely dropped a big bomb on the reader with this ending. We learn that one of Reed Richards’ seemingly innocent probes that he launched in issue #1 led to the entire destruction to the Squadron Supreme’s world. What a cool twist. It certainly hooked me into wanting to read the next issue.

Plus, Bendis astutely picks up on the main theme that makes Reed Richards such an intriguing character. Reed is an unparalleled genius who truly only has the best intentions for the world around him. Unfortunately for Reed, his best intentions only lead to horrible results for those around him. Reed has turned his closest friend into a monster and has now destroyed an entire world in trying to cure his close friend. It should be interesting how Bendis handles how Reed deals with all of this.

As always, Land and Ryan crank out some absolutely stunning artwork. I love their style. I know some people don’t dig it and I just don’t know why. People may complain that it is too static for their tastes. Not for me. Land and Ryan’s art is flat out beautiful. It is wonderfully detailed and textured. I could stare at their panels for hours on end.

The Bad: I don’t give a damn how many super speed punches Stanley lands on the Thing. The fact is that a hundred punches a second would never make the Thing say “Ow.” Stanley doesn’t have super strength or invulnerability. Hitting the Thing, who is highly indestructible, would be like punching an unbreakable brick wall a hundred times at super speed. All that would happen is that Stanley’s hands would be broken and bloody messes.

Overall: Ultimate Power #2 was an absolute blast to read. Bendis is delivering an enjoyable storyline. Combine that with Land and Ryan’s wonderful artwork and you have the ingredients for a fun little mini-series. I would definitely recommend giving Ultimate Power a chance.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New Comic Books for December 28, 2006

DC COMICS

52 #34
Batman #661
Detective Comics #827
Justice #9
Justice League of America #5
Supergirl and The Legion of Super Heroes #25
Superman Batman #31
Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters #6

MARVEL COMICS

Astonishing X-Men #19
Daredevil #92
Immortal Iron Fist #2
Onslaught Reborn #2
Ultimate Fantastic Four #37
Ultimate Power #3
Wolverine: Origins #9
X-Men #194

What the hell? This is a monster week! And it has only been two weeks since we got the last issue of some titles like Justice League of America and Batman. With whopping 16 titles headed to the Bunker this week, there is absolutely no way I can review all of them unless I post reviews much more condensed than my standard review.

Also, since Monday was Christmas, my local comic book store will not be getting this week’s new comic books until Thursday, December 28. I hate waiting that extra day for my new comic book fix.

All right, which DC comic book am I most looking forward to reading? Justice League of America #5. This title is white hot and certainly one of DC’s strongest titles currently on the market. Meltzer has been weaving an intriguing story and I can’t wait to learn more about the stunning revelation that the evil mastermind behind all these events is none other than Solomon Grundy.

Which DC comic book am I least looking forward to reading? That would be Batman #661. This Grotesk story arc is nothing more than your standard filler.

Which Marvel comic book am I most looking forward to reading? This is a tough one and it comes down to Astonishing X-Men #19, Daredevil #92, and Iron Fist #3. All three are great reads, but I’m going to have to go with Astonishing X-Men #19. Whedon has this title in a frenzy as we are reaching the conclusion of his stellar run on this title.

Which Marvel comic book am I least looking forward to reading? That is just too easy. Wolverine: Origins #9. Way has managed to work his magic like only he can and deliver us eight issues on this title and still not have actually advanced a single plotline. Incredible.

Comic Book Review: New Avengers: Illuminati #1

New Avengers: Illuminati #1 kicks off a mini-series that does some serious retconning of the Avengers’ history. Normally, I despise retconning of this fashion. If writers want to make their impact on a title then stick with the present and the future and craft something new like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did. Don’t stomp all over what other creators did before you came to the scene. Having said that, the Illuminati was a mildly interesting concept and I figured, if nothing else, it should provide me with some quality action. Let’s hit the review for New Avengers: Illuminati #1 which covers the Kree/Skrull war.

Creative Team
Writer
: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inker: Mark Morales

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the Skrull King on his throne ship chastising his officers for losing the war. The King finds it unacceptable that a single earthman could destroy their forces. The King’s assistant informs him that Earth boasts an unusual amount of super powered humans and mutants.

Suddenly, the Illuminati (Reed Richards, Iron Man, Professor X, Namor, Black Bolt, and Dr. Strange) teleporting aboard a Skrull throne ship. They tell the Skrull King to leave Earth and never come back. The Skrull King says Earth will be his. The Illuminati say they are sorry to hear that. Iron Man then asks Black Bolt if he has anything to say. Black Bolt opens his mouth and the entire throne ship explodes.

We see Dr. Strange teleport the Illuminati back to their ship. Namor takes great glee in watching the Skulls burn in the explosion. The rest of the Illuminati do not take joy in the carnage so Namor says that he will enjoy it enough for all of them.

Suddenly, the Illuminati’s ship is attacked by a ton of Skrull warships. The Illuminati’s ship gets blown up and all of the Illuminati are captured by the Skrulls.

We cut to the two Skrull scientists observing the horrific testing on Reed Richards to try and fully learn the origins of his powers. We then see the two Skrull scientists checking in on Namor in a heated room. They mention that Namor isn’t really a part of an underwater species so much as he is actually a mutant. The two Skrull scientists check in on the testing to the Black Bolt to figure out his powers.

They then check in on the testing on Professor X to break down his mutant genome. They then check in on Dr. Strange. They are having problems figuring out his mystical powers. Lastly, they check in on Tony Stark who is nothing more than a pathetic regular human. Even his armor is nothing compared to their advanced Skrull technology.

We shift to Tony sitting naked in a cell. Tony is trying to focus on his breathing. His armor is the only thing that keeps his heart valves working. Without it, Tony is already having heart problems. Suddenly, there is a loud explosion and the Avengers are on the scene and free Tony. Tony looks at the Avengers and asks them just how dumb do they think he is? The Avengers are just Skrulls in disguise. The Skrulls then realize that Tony didn’t tell anyone else about their little mission. That nobody will be coming to rescue them.

Tony then suddenly attacks the Skrulls and we gets treated to some serious panel time of ass-kicking Tony Stark action. Tony takes down all of the Skrulls thanks to his training with Captain America. Tony grabs a gun and goes and kills Skrulls guarding Professor X and then frees Professor X. Professor X tells Tony that his heart isn’t going to last much longer. No big deal. Stark ain’t scared.

Tony then frees Namor and Dr. Strange while blasting Skrulls left and right. Tony then collapses in pain due to his heart. Dr. Strange then casts a spell that temporarily keeps Tony’s heart pumping until they can get back to Earth. The gang then free Black Bolt and Reed Richards. They then steal a ship and blast off. The Illuminati are chased by thousands of Skrull war ships.

The Illuminati realize they have no chance of outracing all the warships. So, Professor X and Dr. Strange combine their powers to create a giant vision of Galactus in front of the Skrull warships. This causes the Skrulls to turn yellow and retreat.

The Illuminati fly on home. During the flight Namor says that the Skrulls will come for them. Tony responds that at least they made it clear that if the Skrulls do come then the fight will be a real fight and maybe the Skrulls will look for someone else to pick on. The rest of the Illuminati stare at Tony in disbelief. Tony responds, that at least the Skrulls now know that it will be a good fight.

We cut to the King Skrull being informed that the Skrull scientists got all the information they needed concerning the super powers of each earthman. The Skrull King orders his scientists to begin work immediately. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: New Avengers: Illuminati #1 was a fun read! Bendis treated the reader to a nice “popcorn” issue. By “popcorn”, I mean any issue that doesn’t require any real thought or mental effort at all in order to enjoy the issue. New Avengers: Illuminati delivered exciting action scenes along with some humorous dialogue to create an enjoyable issue. And many times, it is nice to turn off your brain and just enjoy a little bit of mindless entertainment. Not everything has to be like X-Factor.

Bendis wasted no time getting this story underway literally with a bang. Since Bendis only gets one issue per big event in Marvel history, it is nice to see him waste no panel space in moving the story along at a brisk pace.

Bendis also serves up plenty of his trademark entertaining dialogue. There was plenty of funny lines zinging around between the various characters. The best is certainly Namor’s joyous reaction at watching the Skrull’s burn. And when his teammates failed to join in on the revelry, Namor decides to enjoy it for all of them. Classic! Of course, Tony getting blank disbelieving stares from his teammates when he says that maybe the Skrulls will pick on someone else was great. Bendis has a great sense of humor and it definitely shows through in this issue.

Bendis also delivered spot on external voices for each of the Illuminati. Each man acted like they are supposed to. Bendis also generates some nice chemistry between these characters. Each one is a pivotal player in the Marvel Universe and even though they may not always agree, there is little doubt that each one clearly respects the others.

The action kicked ass. I loved the scene where Black Bolt destroys the entire throne ship. The look in Black Bolt’s eyes is wicked just before he opens his mouth. Black Bolt is definitely a monster powerhouse in the Marvel Universe who has never gotten enough attention. I have always like Black Bolt and it is great to see him in action. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of his character in the next four issues.

Of course, the star of this issue is none other than the man, the myth, the legend: Tony Stark. And I’m actually shocked by that considering how Bendis has been brutally bashing Tony’s character over in the Civil War tie-in issues. In New Avengers: Illuminati #1, we get to see the Tony Stark that I know and love.

Tony is a true hero and an absolute warrior. No armor? Bad heart about to stop ticking? Alone on a ship full of Skrulls? No problem. Having Tony deal with his bad heart while trying to battle to escape and free his comrades was a cool touch. It accentuated what a valiant hero Tony is and how he will freely risk his own life to save his teammates and will never stop fighting no matter how injured he may be. Plus, Tony is the one member of the Illuminati that the Skrulls completely discounted since he was just a human. Too bad the Skrulls didn’t realize that super powers don’t make a hero.

Jim Cheung’s artwork is above average, but nothing I find to be particularly interesting or eye-catching.

The Bad: No complaints with this issue.

Overall: New Avengers: Illuminati was an entertaining read. Bendis gives us a fast paced and exciting action filled story. I don’t find the retconning that Bendis is engaging in to be too terribly invasive so I’m pretty much okay with it. This mini-series is doing a nice job retro-actively establishing the Illuminati in the Marvel Universe’s history. I’d say that this is definitely a mini-series worth checking out.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Comic Book Review: Ultimate Spider-Man #103

It is Christmas Eve here at the Bunker. I think I’ll have enough time to squeeze out one review before the festivities start today. It is hard to find a story arc currently on the market more entertaining than the Clone Saga story arc on Ultimate Spider-Man. Bendis is just killing it on this title. Bendis is a ball of fire and he just keeps cranking out one wildly exciting read after another. There is no doubt in my mind that Ultimate Spider-Man #103 is going to a fantastic read. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer
: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Drew Hennessy

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Kitty Pryde at the X-Mansion hearing about the events of the past several issues on the nightly news. Kitty runs off to Professor X and demands that the X-Men immediately go help out her boyfriend Peter. Professor X initially declines stating that Nick Fury is a law enforcement officer and they shouldn’t get involved in this situation. Kitty yells that if this was one of Professor X’s girlfriends then the X-Men would have already been assembled and ready to go. Professor X and Cyclops then agree that the X-Men should go help Peter.

We cut to Aunt May begin admitted into the hospital. Invisible Woman then decides to take a blood sample from Richard Parker. Invisible Woman uses a hospital computer to interface with the Baxter Building computer in order to run tests on Richard Parker’s blood.

We shift to Peter Parker staring at Doctor Octopus and thinking that he should just kill Doctor Octopus. That he is so fast, nobody could stop him from killing Doctor Octopus. Nick Fury proceeds to try and defuse this very tense and hostile standoff between the clones and Doctor Octopus.

The Fantastic Four arrive on the scene and Peter asks Reed to please help Mary Jane. Nick Fury tells Reed not to get involved. Peter gives Mary Jane’s unconscious body to the Thing. The decomposing clone that infected MJ with the Oz serum yells “NO!” and jumps at the Thing. A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent blasts the clone and kills him. Nick Fury yells at his men to stop firing.

Nick Fury tells Doctor Octopus that he has a lot to answer for. Doctor Octopus tells Nick that he doesn’t answer to him. Nick Fury responds that Doctor Octopus is under arrest. Doctor Octopus then reveals that after Spider-Man defeated him, the federal government approached him with a deal. He would get out of jail in turn for working for the federal government to design a super-soldier. That many people in the federal government distrust and hate Nick Fury and his little band of self-loathing super heroes (The Ultimates). That these people in the federal government don’t want Nick Fury being the only person with his finger on what they call the “Captain America” button.

Therefore, the FBI hired Doctor Octopus to engage in research to develop more super soldiers. Doctor Octopus tells Nick Fury that Nick can’t arrest him because he is not in Nick’s jurisdiction. Doctor Octopus then tells Peter that he used Peter’s blood sample from Doctor Connors way back during the Venom story arc. Doctor Octopus tells Peter that his research completely perverts and destroys ever single part of Peter and his life.

We cut back to the hospital where Invisible Woman gets the results back from the blood tests on Richard Parker. The results show that Richard Parker’s blood sample is a 99.342% match for Peter Parker. Richard sees the results and is shocked. Invisible Woman takes Richard by the hand and asks him to take a walk with her.

We cut back to Doctor Octopus telling Peter that the man that Peter thought was his father is just another clone that they rapidly aged and programmed into believing that he was Richard Parker. Doctor Octopus says that his ability to clone Peter is the greatest discovery since Bruce Banner discovered gamma radiation mutation. That Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Norman Osborn nor Richard Parker did it. Doctor Octopus did it. That Doctor Octopus is the smartest of all of them.

Peter then asks Nick to make a deal with him. Peter asks Nick to take his men and leave for ten minutes and leave Doctor Octopus alone with Peter and the clones. Doctor Octopus tells Nick to do his job and round up the spider-clones. That an FBI team is on its way for cleanup. Nick then tells his men to vacate the building. Nick then tells Doctor Octopus that he is right. Nick isn’t in charge of this situation. That Doctor Octopus is. So Doctor Octopus can deal with Peter and the spider-clones.

Suddenly Peter and the clones attack Doctor Octopus. Doctor Octopus is angry that Peter has brought this situation to this level. That Doctor Octopus was trying to keep this part of his life a secret. Suddenly, metal pieces start flying all around the room. One of the metal poles impales and kills the four armed spider-clone.

Doctor Octopus says that it was never his mechanical arms. It was the metal. That Doctor Octopus can control metal. We see Doctor Octopus with newly formed metal arms made from the metal in the lab. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Damn! Bendis does it again! Ultimate Spider-Man #103 is another smoking hot issue. It is incredible how insanely entertaining Bendis’ Clone Saga story arc has been. And this is coming from a person who absolutely despised the 616 Clone Saga story arc. Bendis just keeps topping himself issue after issue to turn in one of the best story arcs that I have read in a long time. I know I may bash on Bendis over on the New Avengers, but I have nothing but the highest praise for his work on Ultimate Spider-Man.

Just when you thought this story arc couldn’t get any crazier, Bendis somehow finds a way to do just that. Ultimate Spider-Man #103 drops two more big bombs on top of the reader. The first is that Richard Parker isn’t who he claims to be. In fact, he is just another Peter Parker clone who has been rapidly aged and programmed to believe that he is Richard Parker. The second bomb is that Doctor Octopus’ true power is the ability to control metal.

I really dig how Bendis is handling Doctor Octopus’ character. In Ultimate Spider-Man 103, Bendis elevated Doctor Octopus from a goofy Spider-Man villain to one of the most evil, sinister, dangerous and hated Spider-Man villains. This is an excellent example of how a writer can take a villain previously viewed as somewhat of a joke and mold and transform him into a big time Class A villain.

Bendis managed to place Doctor Octopus on the same level or possibly even higher than the other great minds in the Ultimate Universe including Reed Richards, Tony Stark and Norman Osborn. And with the revelation that Doctor Octopus can control metal, this villain gets a serious power upgrade as well. Both of these moves convert Doctor Octopus into a Spider-Man villain that I find to be much more detestable and threatening and, therefore, more enjoyable to read about.

Doctor Octopus has been elevated to the status of one of Spider-Man greatest nemesis. Doctor Octopus has completely destroyed every aspect of Peter’s life. It is going to be gratifying to watch Peter deliver some much desired revenge on Doctor Octopus.

I dig that Richard Parker is actually a Peter Parker clone. To me, the fact that Peter is an orphan is crucial to his character. To have one of his parents still alive would change too much of Peter’s basic character that should be present in the Ultimate version just like it is in the 616 version. Certain very basic core elements of a character shouldn’t be messed with when making an ultimate version of a 616 character. For me, Peter Parker just has to be an orphan.

Now, what makes this startling discovery even more intriguing is that Aunt May showed her true face when she thought that Richard Parker was still alive. Aunt May basically admitted to not wanting to raise Peter and that she wanted Peter out of her house and out of her life. Now that Richard Parker is nothing more than a clone of Peter, which would mean that Aunt May would be Peter’s sole guardian once more. After that nasty blowup, I think it would make Peter living with May a bit uncomfortable. It should be fun to see where Bendis goes with this plotline.

Bendis also did a nice job handling Nick Fury in this issue. I love how Nick decides to leave Doctor Octopus to clean up his own mess. I’ll be interested to see what Nick Fury does now that he knows there are forces within the federal government conspiring against him.

The scene with Kitty at the X-Men’s mansion was classic. Bendis shows off his great sense of humor by poking fun at the X-Men’s history of engaging in galaxy spanning adventures just because one of Xavier’s girlfriends might be in trouble. Classic.

I am also incredibly impressed with Bendis’ plotting talents. Bendis has been laying the seeds for the Clone Saga story arc all the way back to the Venom and Carnage story arcs and Gwen Stacy’s death. It is cool to see how Bendis carefully plotted everything out and we are now seeing how the previous pieces to this puzzle all fell in place to lead us to where we are now. This is one excellent job by Bendis to show the ability to deliver strong plotting abilities with such long range plans in mind. Bendis really shows off his incredible vision and planning.

As always, Bendis delivers excellent dialogue. Dialogue is almost always going to be great when Bendis is writing a comic book. It is without a doubt his greatest strength. Bendis also does a great job invoking plenty of emotion and passion from the reader. We can truly feel Peter’s pain as he see how his life has been completely destroyed by Doctor Octopus. We can feel Peter’s hopelessness and rage at the end of this issue. All we want to see is Peter pound that nasty smile off of Doctor Octopus’ face.

Bagley provides some solid artwork. I have never been that wild about his style, but it has slowly grown on me. I never thought it was bad; I just never was particularly impressed with it. Of course, go figure that once I start warming up to Bagley’s style he goes and announces that he will be leaving the title soon. Sheesh.

The Bad: No complaints at all.

Overall: Ultimate Spider-Man #103 was another kick-ass read! Bendis is a ball of fire on this title right now cranking out one exciting issue after another. Right now, Ultimate Spider-Man just might be the most entertaining comic book on the market. If you haven’t given this title a try then do yourself a favor and at least get the trade of the Clone Saga story arc whenever they put one out. I can’t imagine too many people being disappointed with Ultimate Spider-Man.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four #541: Civil War

The Revolution absolutely hated Fantastic Four #540. It was a truly hideous issue. I don’t have any hopes at all for Fantastic Four #541. This issue is J. Michael Straczynski’s second to last issue on Fantastic Four. Will JMS go out with a couple of strong issues? Let’s find out.

Creative Team
Writer
: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Mike McKone
Inker: Andy Lanning & Cam Smith

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with the Thing in a cab on his way to the airport. The Thing gets annoyed by his cabby’s constant yapping on his cell phone. The Thing flicks a coat button at the cabby’s cell phone and blows it up. Unfortunately for the Thing, this cabbie always carries a spare cell phone and in no time the cabbie is yapping away again.

The Thing arrives at the airport and is greeted by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, an officer from Immigration and an I.R.S. agent. They tell the Thing that he cashed out his account with all his money that he recently inherited. That the Thing hasn’t paid any income tax on that money. And the Thing could end up in a country with sticky extradition laws. Therefore, the I.R.S. is freezing all of the Thing’s assets. All the money the Thing will have is the three thousand dollars of traveler’s checks that he has on him.

We see the Thing going through the hassle of going through the security that you have to go through nowadays before you get on your plane.

We cut to the Thing having arrived at his destination: Paris, France. A street vendor calls out to the Thing and gives him a card of an excellent restaurant close by to go ear. The Thing goes to the suggested restaurant and is quietly enjoying his meal while sitting at an outside table. The Thing thinks how nice it is to be in a town where it is peaceful and no one is looking over their shoulders for super heroes fighting and buildings falling down and bombs going off. (Huh, what? This is the same place that was full of riots by Muslim immigrants over a period of a couple of weeks, right? Dude, if the Thing wanted quiet he should have gone to Nova Scotia.)

Suddenly, the Thing’s table sinks underground into a hidden underground base. There the Thing is greeted by France’s super team called Les Heroes De Paris. They consist of a bunch of rip-offs of DC characters. The leader of the team is a Superman style character called Adamantine. You have the Batman style character in The Night Count. The Catwoman style character in Anais. The Spectre style character in The Phantom Detective. The Flash style character in The Wind. The Green Lantern style character in the Blue Light. And then two random characters The Cowboy and Doctor Q.

The Heroes of Paris ask Ben for his help. But, first they must have lunch, after all it is Paris. The French heroes tell Ben that they need help defeating the Emperor of the underground world who has assembled an army of rock creatures beneath Paris. The Thing gets all chocked up and happy to actually have a standard super hero mission rather than the Civil War style type of fighting going on in America.

We cut to the Thing and his fellow heroes kicking butt on the army of rock creatures. During the battle the Phantom Detective calls the Thing a bourgeois capitalist. The Thing calls the Phantom Detective a socialist layabout.

The Thing then comes face to face with the Emperor of the underground world. The Emperor tells the Thing that he can’t hurt him. The Emperor said that the city of Paris and her citizens have already hurt him so much that he can never be hurt again. The Emperor says that Paris deserves to fall and be destroyed. The Thing says that a girl turned him down for a date, right? The Emperor answers “Maybe.”

The Heroes of Paris totally understand that in the name of love that the Emperor would attack Paris. They heroes think it is very noble and touching. The Thing destroys the Emperor’s machine that he was going to use to destroy Paris. The Thing and the heroes return to the surface along with the Emperor. There, the Emperor is greeted by his ex-girlfriend who broke his heart. His girlfriend is impressed that the Emperor would try and destroy Paris all in the name of his love for her. His girlfriend tells the Emperor that she wants to marry him.

The Heroes of Paris rejoice in the happy ending and declare that it is time for dinner. The Thing goes off to eat with the Heroes of Paris. The Thing says that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. End of issue.

Comments
The Good
: Fantastic Four #541 was average at best. I really don’t have much to say about this issue. It was a total fluff piece. Pure filler. JMS did provide some witty banter between the Thing and the Heroes of Paris.

McKone supplied some nice artwork for this issue. I liked his character designs for the DC rip off characters.

The Bad: Fantastic Four #541 was a pretty issue. This issue was pretty much a totally wasted issue. I also thought that JMS had the Thing state that he was going to Canada. Wouldn’t that make a bit more sense? It is closer and easier to get to. It has some very quiet and calm places to go where nobody would bother the Thing. Instead, JMS changes things in midstream and has the Thing go to Paris, France. I have been to Paris three times. It is a nice city. JMS certainly managed to nail every stereotype associated with Paris.

Fantastic Four #541 reads more like a tourist brochure for Paris, France to entice Americans to come and vacation there. I get the feeling that JMS just spent some time in Paris and wanted to do an issue praising all of the great aspects of Paris life. That is great if you are working for a travel agency, but not so interesting if you are writing a super hero comic book.

The story just came across as way too goofy. JMS played up every stereotype of Paris way too much and made this issue just too cheesy. Some of the dialogue was downright corny.

Maybe it is just me. I used to love JMS’ writing. However, over the course of the past year I think that he has totally tanked it on Squadron Supreme, Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four making all three titles practically unreadable. Honestly, I’m stunned that a writer of his caliber and talent would just crash and burn on three titles in this fashion. Hopefully, JMS will return to form soon on another title.

Overall: Fantastic Four #541 is definitely an issue you don’t need to waste your money on. You won’t be missing anything. Next up is JMS’ last issue. I’ll be interested to see if he can deliver a quality read in his final issue on this title.