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Cyclops #5 – Review


By: Greg Rucka (story), Carmen Carnero (pencils), Terry Pallot (inks), Chris Sotomayor (colors)

The Story: The Summers avoid another day of eating extraterrestrial chicken.

The Review: Being a straight action-adventure, Cyclops would be pretty difficult to review if it didn’t have the developing relationship between Scott and Chris to flesh it out. I don’t have much experience with Rucka’s work, but from these last few issues, I’m starting to think he either doesn’t fit well with the sci-fi genre or he’s run out of ideas. In the Pete Tomasi mold, Rucka thrives on meaningful character interaction and drama, but seems awkward in action scenarios.

This issue offers a good look at the type of material we’re likely to receive without the Summers bond to prop it up. There’s really very little to say about Chris and Scott’s escape plan, except that it works pretty much as expected: lure the bounty hunters, commandeer their ship, sigh with relief at avoiding another night on the planet of flesh-eating birds. Aside from Scott’s submarine approach to the ship, there’s not much cleverness (read: thought) put into the plan. Basically, Chris hides behind stuff and shoots stun-webs at each hunter. Rinse, repeat.
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Loki: Agent of Asgard #6 – Review

By: Al Ewing (story), Jorge Coelho (art), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: God versus man-who-thinks-he’s-a-god.

The Review: I’m not quite sure I understand the four-month break since #5. Loki‘s been a fun series so far, but it’s not such a masterpiece that it can withstand that kind of delay without losing readers along the way. I mean, this isn’t Saga or Hawkeye.* To bring back my favorite relationship metaphor, you’ve really got to be invested in the story, or else truly love the characters, to be away from them for that long and not develop a wandering eye. Or you’ve got to be a reviewer and this is your semi-job.

Frankly, you’re also not impressed that you have to read two separate series to understand the context of the returning issue. Most times, you don’t take those editor’s captions very seriously; they’re more like marketing-driven suggestions than required reading. But here, without reading Fantastic Four Annual #1 or Original Sin: The Tenth Realm, you’re left confused as to the current and future state of Latveria that drives our villain to target our hero.
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Magneto #10 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Javier Fernandez & Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artists), Dan Brown & Jordie Bellaire (colorists)

The Story: Two words: Nazi Dinosaurs…

The Review: Magneto’s entrance into “Axis” raised a lot of questions. The rivalry between Magneto and the Red Skull is a powerful thing and all the more so now that the Skull has defiled the memory of Charles Xavier. How could Magneto not play an important part in this event?

In some ways this issue begins to answer those questions, but, in many others, it makes a grand show of kicking that can down the road. Indeed, while Cullen Bunn continues to demonstrate a strong understanding of Magnus’ character, this is very much the sort of thing you think of when you hear ‘event tie-in’.

Trapped between a great cliffhanger and the next chapter in this story, Bunn takes a moment to take us on a trippy, gruesome, and – yes – nazi dinosaur filled adventure through the recesses of Magneto’s mind.

The tone is rather different from last issue, as Bunn is finally forced into a more show not tell form of storytelling. Whether that’s the kick this series has needed or a deviation from what’s made it great is more a matter of personal preference than an intro level writing class would lead you to believe. I miss the methodical plotting of earlier issues, but the rapid-fire dream-logic of this issue allows Bunn to ruminate on a number of issues and scenarios, indulging his passion and talent for playing with the core concepts of the character.

Taken with the numerous contradictions of Erik’s character, Bunn slips in and out of the different Magnetos that have appeared over the years, sometimes two or three at once. He lays these various characters and moments over each other, recalling crucial ideas and statements in varying contexts. It’s an interesting, if somewhat ‘surface’ story that represents a very different approach to Bunn’s strengths and weaknesses.
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Mighty Avengers #14 – Review

By: Al Ewing (Writer), Salvador Larocca (Artist), Matt Milla (Color Artist), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer), Greg Land & Frank D’Armata (Cover Artist)

The Story: The Mighty Avengers are ready for “prime” time.

The Review: Apparently, this is the final issue of this series, and, like usual, it comes as a bit of a shock to me as I don’t necessarily follow comics news sites or solicits. Thanks to the final blurb on the last page, I see it’s going to be relaunched/rebranded as Captain America & the Mighty Avengers, much to my relief. I have consistently enjoyed this series, and feel that, overall, it has been one of my favorite and most-anticipated reads each month. There are many “flavors” of Avengers out there, but this is the one that’s the most classic, the most “Avengery.”

This issue is no exception. Earth’s mightiest heroes united? Here we have the literal embodiment of that, saving the day. It’s the “Care Bear Stare,” a pretty Avengery concept, used very memorably way back in Busiek and Pérez’ relaunch after Heroes Reborn. In fact, wasn’t some form of this used at the beginning of this very series against the monster Shuma Gorath? In that light, it’s a bit unsatisfying and drifts a bit to the Cliché Line, but a couple of things save it from crossing entirely. One, that it takes its time to highlight each member and their connections, their strengths. Two, that it actually flirts with the idea of staying in this gestalt form, breaking it, however slightly, out of the plot-device mode.

Also, it at least address one problem that has been plaguing this series– the fact that the cast invariably fails to truly be an ensemble. For a series that has both started and stopped with themes of “we’re all in it together,” it hasn’t really followed that through with the individual story arcs and character subplots to a great extent. Even here, though, the “assemblage” of heroes is used more as a metaphor.

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Edge of Spider-Verse #3 – Review

By: Dustin Weaver (Writer & Artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (Letterer & Production)

The Story: People experiment on themselves? Good. People experiment on loved ones? Bad.

The Review: It’s only natural that, at this point, any new Spider-Verse characters will be compared to the previous ones, which is unfortunate, since Dr. Aaron Aikman’s version very much pales in comparison to Spider-Noir and Spider-Gwen. This comic fails in many other criteria, actually, but it’s particularly unfortunate that, like a weak, untested rock band following a slick opening cover band, he’s forced to follow after what have been so far excellent comics.

First of all, the setting of the book is a bit too vague. Is it a kind of Japan or the U.S.? A neo-futuristic world or world-next-door? The character motivations are also taken for granted. Why, exactly, would Aikman want to become a hero? Why would he want to resequence his own DNA in the first place? Why did Aikman and Kaori love each other?   

This is particularly important, since time after time comic books will introduce characters that go through the motions of being a comic book while failing each and every time. The whole point of the original Spider-Man was the poignancy of his motivation and the emotional resonance of a struggling youth. There is nothing of that in Aikman’s story, meaning he fails to be a compelling story figure, let alone a true Spider-Man analogue.

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Avengers #35 – Review

By: Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Nick Bradshaw, Dustin Weaver (Pencillers), Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Juan Vlasco, Nick Bradshaw, Dustin Weaver (Inkers), Frank Martin, David Curiel (Color Artists), VC’s Cory Petit (Letterer), Jim Cheung and Justin Ponsor (Cover Artists)

The Story: Avengers: Future End, a.k.a. Civil War II

The Review: Eight months from now, the world is still spinning, although it seems all the heroes are still preoccupied with whatever threat still exists. My first impression is that we should be thankful that there is a “time jump” here, since this could have meant that, as a publishing company, Marvel could conceivably be stretching out an already-decompressed comic story for any number of more issues. My second impression is that after eight months, you’d hope that heroes would have found some more villains to battle, but instead they just keep fighting other heroes.

Last issue, Captain America was convinced that he was the hero and the Illuminati weren’t really heroic anymore, vowing to lead the Avengers and take them down. This issue, the Avengers must not be the heroes anymore, as they’ve created a police state and dress in all-black versions of their costumes. The Illuminati, by contrast, have recruited several heroes to be their underdog/ freedom fighters, including a more grown up Amadeus Cho.

This is the brightest spot for me, since I count Amadeus Cho as a favorite and of whom I had given up hope of seeing again. Here, he’s given a simple indistinct costume but a nice visual interpretation of his powers. Go, Cho!

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Elektra #6 – Review

By: W. Haden Blackman (story), Alex Sanchez (art), Esther Sanz (colors)

The Story: Now’s the time when an assassin really wishes for comprehensive insurance coverage.

The Review: Killing a person is a fictional act equivalent to hearing someone drop the f-bomb. The jolt it delivers depends on the person who’s doing it, and it quickly wears out its excitement the more times it’s done. And here’s the thing about assassins: they do a lot of killing. After a while, that parade of death no longer serves a vital role in making a story compelling; the writer will have to find interest from some other quarter.

I mean, there’s not much we can take from Elektra’s recent string of victims (for the record: Blizzard, Crossbones, Whiplash, Shocker, Boomerang, Tiger Shark, Jack O’Lantern, Blackout, Death Adder, Anaconda, Sidewinder, and Black Mamba) other than she’s really good at what she does, and they’re not so much. The motivations of all these characters also vary little between mercenary (for the massive price on Crow’s head) and petty (for Crow’s past poaches of other assassins’ contracts), so you won’t be interested on that point either. Certainly Elektra treats these folks as little more than the hazards (and irritations) of her job.
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