Monsters Unleashed #1 Review

Monsters Unleashed #1 Review

Where’s Shuma-Gorath?

Cullen Bunn (W), Steve McNiven (P), Jay Leisten (I), David Curiel (CA)

Cover by Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten, and David Curiel

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $4.99

          For those who don’t know, before the Marvel Age of comics began, and even a little into its existence, Marvel put out many “creature feature” comics. These were comics, often written and drawn by the great Jack Kirby himself, that focused on some form of monster showing up and the quest to halt its path of destruction. Groot was actually originally one of these creatures, and he looked far different back then. It is this that Marvel is channeling with its new big event crossover, Monsters Unleashed.

One of my biggest issues with Marvel’s business model is its love of crossovers. From about 2007-onwards, Marvel has put out at least one big crossover every year. These result waylaying other titles that are mandated to tie-in to said crossover, and the crossovers have, in themselves, often had diminishing returns, see Fear Itself, Avengers vs X-Men, and, most recently, Civil War II. Many take issue with Age of Ultron and Original Sin. I actually thought both were enjoyable, if flawed, stories.

With Monsters Unleashed, Inhumans vs X-Men, and Civil War II, we now have three crossovers running within a month of one another. That is to say nothing of smaller crossovers that took place around the time of the beginning of Civil War II, namely Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill and Apocalypse Wars. These are becoming quite overwhelming. Marvel has kicked up the regularity of these crossovers to the point where we are having multiple running at the same time, and it’s becoming really hard to just enjoy a title that you don’t need to check out eight others to understand. We already have Secret Empire on the horizon as well, and I’m sure that’s going to crossover into twenty different books too.

Marvel is risking true impenetrability here. Many potentially new comic book readers are intimidated by the seventy-years of history that Marvel has behind it. With these ridiculous crossovers engulfing all of their books, it will become even harder to pick up a single comic and understand what is going on within its pages.

So, this is the context into which Monsters Unleashed comes out. That is quite a difficult crowd to face for any story. How does Monsters Unleashed due in the face of these insurmountable odds?

It begins with a pencil drawing on paper as a red light streaks across the sky and lands in Boston, Massachusetts. The light reveals itself to be a large, quadrupedal and squid-like monster, which promptly begins to tear up the city. The Avengers quickly take the scene and begin trying to coral the creature while saving as many lives as they can. The combined powers of Thor and Hercules manage to fell the beast, but the relief is short-lived. Two more creatures quickly land to face the heroes, and the Vision informs the team that this is a global crisis.

We next see the X-Men facing a creature in London, Black Panther and Shuri fighting another in the Golden City in Wakanda, the Guardians of the Galaxy struggling one in Seattle, and the Inhumans grappling with a monster in Venice.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are seen studying the “falling stars” in her lab, and she is determined to discover the origin. In Boston, a silhouetted figure is seen studying ancient parchments to discover why this invasion of monsters is happening.

We next cut to Springfield, where a teenager is revealed to be the one making the drawings at the beginning, and he is revealed to have drawn many a monster.

Next, the Champions fight yet another creature in Los Angeles. We then cut to Peru, where the silhouette is revealed to be Elsa Bloodstone, and she enters a trap-ridden crypt and finds cave drawings at its center (as I type that out, I now realize how none of that makes sense). These drawings reveal to her something about the origins of this crisis, the predictions made about it, and something indicating a potential ruler of the monsters.

We return to that teenaged artist, named Kei Kawade, who sees the monsters invading on the television, and he leaves his house to see another light streaking into the woods near his home. He runs towards it and is swept up. The individuals who caught him are revealed to be Fin Fang Foom and a number of other monsters. Foom warns him that he is playing a “dangerous game”. The comic ends here.

I love giant monster movies. I have seen just about every Godzilla movie. My personal favorite Godzilla film has to be a tie between Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. I’ve seen many Gamera films, and I absolutely adored Pacific Rim. I’m saying all this to explain why it hurts me that this comic misses the mark.

It seemed like, despite it being a part of the flood of crossovers from Marvel, that this should be an easy sell to me. My favorite super heroes fighting off a plague of giant kaiju-like monsters, this should be awesome. And it’s being written by one of my favorite writers, Cullen Bunn? And it’s being drawn by Steve McNiven (at least the first issue)? This should be such an easy success.

But it’s not. It’s not terrible either though. It’s just…there. I frankly struggled trying to search out the reasons why this comic just didn’t quite do it.

I was able to come up with a few. The first is that this is another in a long line of Marvel crossovers, as I’ve stated many times. As a result, the cities I’m watching be destroyed I’ve watched crumble multiple times in the past two months. That kills the stakes and tension a good bit, because I know they’ll be back up next week.

The other problem is that there is no story in this first issue. There really isn’t a plot. There is a premise, i.e. the monsters invading the world. There are sub-plots that barely get touched on, namely Elsa Bloodstone’s search for the origins, Moon Girl’s research, and Kei Kawade probably causing everything. However, there’s no main plot. This is a result of every major hero needing to be in this one issue apparently, and that means we don’t get to focus on any one or handful of characters.

The dialogue is oddly…retro in this comic too. There is a lot of exposition-heavy dialogue where characters say exactly what they’re doing in detail as they do it. Black Panther in particular shouts out his entire plan of attack as he executes said plan. It’s quite odd and seems out of place next to Nova, Spider-Man and Hulk arguing over whether or not what they are fighting qualifies as a kaiju since they aren’t in Japan.

McNiven’s art is great in this comic, and Curiel’s colors are deep and contrasting. The monster designs are awesome and creative. But even that is undercut by the fact that we don’t focus on any one of them for more than a few panels. This keeps them from being too memorable because there are just so many.

Also, there are some weird perspective moments where some characters look too big, some monsters and building look too small, and the scale of everything gets thrown off. This is particularly apparent in the Seattle scene with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Drax looks about 20 feet tall because he’s being shown next the Space Needle at an angle that makes him look like a significant fraction of its size.

There are a lot of really cool action scenes at least. They look great, and any one of them would make a good wallpaper on a phone or a desktop. Even that doesn’t have much impact because, again, they are all happening concurrently, and no one conflict seems that important. The stakes, drama, and tension just aren’t there.

Mediocre and meandering seem to be the best words to describe this comic. It doesn’t really have a plot, but the art is good and the fighting is cool. I can’t say avoid this comic. It’s a fun action romp, but it probably won’t stick with you for long. Hopefully, the next issue will improve things.

Final Score: 5/10

Daredevil #14 Review

Daredevil #14 Review

Art Within Art

Charles Soule (W), Ron Garney (A), Matt Milla (CA)

Cover by Ron Garney and Matt Milla

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

          Let’s revisit the grim and frightening world of the Man Without Fear, shall we?

This current story, Dark Arts, has been my favorite since Charles Soule took over Daredevil as a part of All-New, All-Different Marvel. His comic had something of a slow start, with the Tenfingers arc being good but not great. It picked up a bit from there with good issues guest-starring Steve Rogers, Elektra, and the Amazing Spider-Man (the last of which we reviewed here).

The current story presents a villain called Muse or Vincent Van Gore (the latter name I prefer, though the comic uses Muse). He is an Inhuman artist who prefers using body parts, fluids, organs, etc. to make his pieces. Daredevil has struggled to track him down and has had to seek the aid of the Inhumans of New Attilan. They have assigned Frank McGee aka Nur to aid him in the task. In the most recent issue, Daredevil’s new protégé, Blindspot, tracked Muse into the sewers and saved a number of hostages from the rogue. However, he was captured by Muse at the end of the last issue.

Daredevil and Nur are searching for clues with which to find Muse at the beginning of #14. He pushes his senses to their limits looking for the sensory “void” that is Muse. He manages to find him and leaves Nur behind. The story turns to Muse’s hideout, which is decorated with the remains of many of his victims. Among them is a photograph of Tenfingers, showing that it was Muse, not the Hand, that killed him. Soon after this is revealed, Daredevil crashes through the window.

Before the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen can get close to Muse, the demented artist decides to make Blindspot into “art.” To this end, he removes Blindspot’s eyes to match his name. He returns Blindspot to Daredevil, and the blinded man tells Daredevil to not let Muse kill anyone else.

Daredevil continues the pursuit, and he brawls the deranged murderer. The fight leads to the room in which Muse bleeds out his live victims for his paint. Dozens of individuals hang from the ceiling with paint buckets beneath them. Muse lets them drop to distract Daredevil, and the Man Without Fear has to hold back to save them. Once they are safe, he continues running after Muse.

Upon making it to the roof, Daredevil finds that Nur and the Inhuman police force have arrived to arrest Muse. Wanting to punish Muse himself, Daredevil is reluctant to just let them take the villain. Muse, to sate Daredevil’s rage, breaks his own fingers to allow for an ironic punishment. The Inhumans bring out the surviving victims of Muse as well as the injured Blindspot, the latter of whom says that it was all worth it since Daredevil was able to save the bleeding victims. The comic ends on this scene.

This issue was shocking, macabre, and damn fantastic. Muse has turned into a great villain, and I hope later writers of the series bring him back in the future. The pitch-black depths this man is willing to dive into for his “art” make him fascinating, compelling, and unnerving. He could easily stand alongside the likes of Bullseye, Kingpin, and the Owl in the pantheon of great Daredevil villains.

The pacing is great, and the comic never stops moving. The urgency of Daredevil’s mission is easily felt by the reader, and it’s very easy to believe that this could be Blindspot’s last day on Earth. The removal of his eyes allows for a real cost to be felt, and this doesn’t just feel like another great danger narrowly avoided. There were consequences. They are impactful consequences, as Blindspot is actually a really likable apprentice. I didn’t want to see him die or become blind.

The art does a lot of the legwork in this comic. Garney and Milla put together a true house of horrors to surround Muse. The Romita Junior-esque art of Garney mixed with the color pallet of a Frank Miller tale used my Milla combine to make a dreary world that is perfect for a story like this. The petrified expressions on the faces of Muse’s victims are skin-crawling. When he finally takes off his mask and exposes his own twisted visage, I flinched. His face is truly horrifying, and I love it.

This is the best issue of Daredevil since Mark Waid’s run last year. Charles Soule, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla have shown that they can put together a truly memorable Daredevil story. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it, provided you have the stomach for some truly macabre imagery.

Final Score: 9/10

Civil War II #3

Civil War II #3

I really wish this series worked for me.

Brian Michael Bendis (W), David Marquez (A), Olivier Coipel (A), Justin Ponsor (C)

Cover by: Marko Djurdjevic

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $4.99

And we’re back. I know I said that I wasn’t going to keep going with this series, but impulse buys and curiosity are two very strong forces. So, here we are.

You know, I was all on board with All-New, All-Different Marvel when it was first announced. I know many people weren’t, and Marvel was catching a lot of flak when they were showing the new titles and teams. I loved it. A new Avengers team being launched under Mark Waid, Ultimates and New Avengers by Al Ewing, Nick Spencer on Captain America: Sam Wilson, and new Thunderbolts, Black Panther, and Power Man and Iron Fist series, the last of which being penned by the great David Walker? Sign me up. Plus, Astonishing Ant-Man and Spider Woman are keeping their creative teams? I couldn’t have been happier.

Then this new Civil War story was announced, nakedly cashing in on the movie and trying to make lightning strike twice with the modern classic that was Mark Millar’s Civil War. Yeah, I was suspicious. Plus, it had me uneasy because I like it when comics get into a rhythm and get a status quo going. It’s one of the reasons I like shared universe comics. They have an interesting and continuous flow to them.

Now we have this “Divided We Stand,” Marvel Now and Again or whatever they’re calling it. This gave me a “glass pane shattering” moment. It hit me that Marvel really doesn’t like having a status quo. They feel like if they don’t stay in constant motion, continue swapping around creative teams, and consistently shake up the shared universe that their entire Rube Goldberg machine is going to spontaneously combust. I don’t know what the big meetings between Quesada, Alonso, Buckley, Fine, and the rest of the higher ups are like, but I picture a lot of espresso and Red Bull.

People (myself included) have been critical of the full-scale reboots that DC has every decade or so. The irony of that is, DC is good at getting a status quo going. They like to let things run their course (New 52 B-List titles not withstanding) and don’t force every book to tie-in with every big crossover that comes up. They don’t even have that many crossover events. The only reason Rebirth has happened so soon (relatively speaking) after the launch of the New 52 is because the ship was sinking, and they desperately needed to do something to patch the hull.

In contrast, Marvel has only had one full blown reboot in its 75 years of existence, but they can’t seem to allow a status quo since the early 2000s. Every year or so there is a major crossover event that “changes everything” or another iteration of “Marvel Now.”

I know this is starting to sound like an editorial, and it really is in a lot of ways. I may extend these thoughts to their own article. I may not. This little diatribe currently contains all the thoughts I have on the subject. We’ll see.

From here I’m going to throw down two things. First, I’m going to go ahead and say that I actually liked this issue. It was interesting, and it had a nice flow to it. Secondly, a major spoiler warning is needed here. This comic cannot be properly discussed without speaking on the major events that occurred within its pages.

Last chance to jump off. No? Okay, here we go.

So Clint Barton aka Hawkeye has killed Bruce Banner aka the Hulk. He killed him dead, putting an arrow through his eye. Carol Danvers and Tony Stark are drawing lines in the sand. Barton is getting put away for murder (probably). He claims that Banner’s eyes were going green, and he reveals that he was instructed by Bruce to kill him if he ever looks to be Hulking out again. Plus, he and everyone else were on edge because of the vision that Ulysses showed them last issue, where Hulk is shown killing the Avengers. The issue ends with the verdict on Barton’s trial being read and Stark finally finding out how Ulysses’ powers work.

I’ve decided something. This series should really be a self-contained graphic novel that isn’t necessarily in-continuity with the regular Marvel slate of comics. It would solve a lot of the problems I have with this series. The pacing issues wouldn’t be as big a deal because I would be reading all of the story at once anyway. All the “out of character” moments that keep bugging me wouldn’t be because I could take it as read that these aren’t exactly the same characters to which I’m accustomed.

Explaining why this comic works is pretty simple. It’s a good story on its own. This could have been a one-shot called “Death of the Hulk” and it would have worked just as well, if not better. The tension is heavy. You know something is going to go terribly wrong. It’s only a matter of when and how. You can understand where most of the characters are coming from, even if they all still seem a little…off.

The pacing is still a little weird. Banner dies pretty early on in the comic. The book seems more interested in telling the story of Barton’s trial than the death of Bruce Banner. That’s unfortunate, because the trial seems a little cliché and forced. It’s a lot less interesting than the scene outside Banner’s laboratory.

I don’t understand why this story wants to keep Steve Rogers relegated to the background. He’s not one to stay as silent as he’s been in this series. It seems so odd for his personality. The only time he speaks seems to be for the exclusive purpose of reminding the audience that he’s present.

Forced really is the best word to describe this series. The characters seem forced to be in their positions and commit their actions. It seems like Bendis had this idea planned out with different characters, and someone forced him to use these heroes instead. There’s a scene where Kamala Khan, Miles Morales, and Sam Alexander start choosing sides that’s forcing you to remember that this is a civil war and the heroes are choosing sides. The ending is a massive cliffhanger designed to force you to buy the next issue.

That being said, I can actually buy Banner trusting Hawkeye to kill him, and I can buy Barton being so unnerved by these events that he would actually do it. That bit actually really works for me, and it’s the glue that holds this book together.

I can’t say I’m really ingrained in rooting for either side yet. Both Captain Marvel and Iron Man seem to be thinking in extremes. Ulysses is a potential boon that can be used without prematurely executing or incarcerating both friends and enemies. Danvers and Stark are so far on either side of the fence that it’s hard to empathize with either one.

I’m going to do the expected thing compare it to the original Civil War. That conflict centered around a government mandated, yes or no choice. Choosing either side had believable rewards and consequences for this fictional society as a whole. I easily bought that Captain America and Iron Man made the choices that they made. I could intuit their reasons for each action. Maybe super powered humans should be held more in check, but should they be forced to give up their privacy and become soldiers for an unstable government? That’s an intriguing decision, and it’s completely binary. There is no middle ground, so Rogers and Stark never really seemed irrational by picking their sides. It was a genius yet obvious storytelling decision that prevented much of the audience from choosing neither. Neither is the worst response a series like this could get from the general audience. Most readers, myself included, could firmly plant themselves behind a faction in the first Civil War (Captain America for me, in case anyone was wondering).

In Civil War II, the story wants you to choose a side, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. They both seem extremist, so I’m inclined to choose neither.

Again, this issue does work. It’s well-written, and, once again, Marquez and Ponsor have put together a comic that is gorgeous to look at.

However, as I wrote this review, I did find myself finding more negatives than positives. Those negatives were more attributed to the series as a whole than this specific issue, but this issue is a part of the machine that is Civil War II. It seems foolish to look at it as anything else.

If you’ve liked the series so far, I can see why. There are some interesting parts to it, and it’s far from the worst crossover I’ve ever read. Keep reading it if you’ve liked it. If you haven’t, this issue is interesting, but I can’t say with full confidence that it’s worth your money.

I really wish I could like this series more. I feel like there was a draft of this that was brilliant, but, somewhere down the line, it was bungled.

Final Score: 6/10

Civil War II #0

Civil War II #1

Civil War II #2

Civil War II: Kingpin #1

Civil War II: Kingpin #1

 

“Shouldn’t Have Come Back”:

Matthew Rosenberg (W), Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (A). Mat Lopes (CA)

“The Death and Birth of Janus Jardeesh”:

Matthew Rosenberg (W), Dalibor Talajic (P), Jose Marzan Jr. (I), Miroslav Mrva (C)

Cover by: Aaron Kuder and Israel Silva

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $4.99

I love villain books. When written well, the bad guys are just as interesting as the good guys. I love seeing what makes these kinds of characters tick and what exactly their motivations are. Often times, you can find that they’re actually sympathetic and even relatable. Magneto does what he does for his people. Baron Zemo is constantly grappling with his ambition and his father’s legacy. Black Adam wants to defend his country. Deathstroke just wants to leave a legacy and provide for his family.

Lately, villain comics have been a bit tenuous, but that’s really the case with any form of entertainment. The current Thunderbolts title is one of my favorite pulls. Cullen Bunn’s recently ended Magneto and Sinestro were both really good. His ongoing Uncanny X-Men (which has leads like Magneto and Sabretooth) is a really solid read. Carnage is pretty good. The current run of Deathstroke has its ups and downs. However, then you have the New Suicide Squad and the Illuminati which are nigh-unreadable. Don’t get me started on Harley Quinn, Deadpool, and their myriad of titles.

That discussion is coming soon, but it’ll have to wait for another day.

So where does Kingpin stack up in this mixed landscape? Ehhh, really not good.

Before I get to the plot, I want to get back to talking about what makes a good villain book, so I can show you one of the major places where this book fails.

A good villain book makes you want to root for the bad guy. For my example, I’m going to use my go-to for great comic reading: Cullen Bunn’s fantastic run on Magneto. This is a book that puts you right in Eric Lensherr’s headspace. You feel his pain. You see what he’s gone through and how it still haunts him every day. You see how it feeds his ongoing brutality. That book actually made me tear up at one point. Seriously, check it out. It was Magneto #17, it’s a masterpiece. I very much intend to write a Barely Retro Review of that issue at some point.

To get back to the point, a good villain book tries to raise the protagonist up to be on par with the heroes, even if their actions can be grievous. It makes you root for them.

A copout to this is to make the heroes look scummy without making the villains look any better. This book does it a lot. The Illuminati and often times Deadpool do it as well.

To move onto the plot: it’s confusing. Yet, at the same time, it doesn’t really do much. Wilson Fisk is trying to organize the criminal underworld to take advantage of the current Civil War between the heroes. He has a NuHuman by the name of Janus whose only apparent power is being a blind spot to Ulysses’ premonitions. It also shows (in a very confusing manner) how Fisk came to find Janus. The backup story is how Janus got his powers and how he has been shuffled around between crime lords for some time.

Guys and gals, this book is really not good. It makes so many missteps. It honestly reads kind of sloppy.

The plot is a meandering mess. That telling of how Fisk and Janus met is told in a flashback that occurs completely without warning or signal. The book just jumps back in time and hopes you catch up. I had to go back and reread a couple of times to figure out what exactly was going on. A book should not force you to disengage from it just to understand the order of events.

The Kingpin doesn’t have much room to be himself. There’s one spot where he intimidates Jigsaw which was kind of tense, but beyond that, he’s just sort of the tent pole that this comic surrounds. The mere existence of Janus’ character in this book defangs Wilson Fisk a bit. Fisk is an intelligent and dangerous crime lord that has used his mind to get through some difficult situations in the past. It would have been interesting seeing how he could work his way through the Ulysses situation where criminals are being captured before they commit the crimes. Heck, he could have used the judicial route to protest these very unlawful incarcerations. However, this book takes the easy way out and hands Kingpin a magic solution to this potentially interesting setup for a story.

The unlawful incarcerations aren’t the main thing that make the heroes that show up in this comic unlikeable. It’s the personality they are given. Sam Wilson, Spectrum, and Night Thrasher (I guess he’s active again now, that’s cool, I’m a New Warriors fan) to essentially intimidate Kingpin for little to no reason. They look like a bunch of thugs, and Wilson and Wilson have a pissing contest in which neither of them look clever or intimidating. Hawkeye shows up later to essentially look like a pompous moron.

Janus is your usual weasely, third-rate crook. He actually kind of reminds me of the character Weasel, but he’s even less likeable or appealing. He really adds nothing to this comic as a character. I’m certainly not made to care about him.

The art doesn’t do this comic any favors either. It’s very stylistic, and the characters look more like amorphous blobs than people. The details aren’t shown very well. The gratuitous gore, which I’m usually all in for, looks really unappealing. Sam Wilson ends up looking like an alien. Plus, it tries to do cute little things for humor’s sake that really just do not work. When Wilson Fisk and Captain America have their little stare down, actual red lightning is drawn between their eyes. When Hawkeye is making his coffee while trying to intimidate Fisk, he pours a lot of sugar, and the word “sugar” is written multiple times next to the stream of sugar to express just how weak Barton likes his coffee.

The colors are really washed-out looking too. I suppose this is meant to give the book an aged feel or maybe a noire aesthetic. I didn’t really get either. It just made this comic look a little worse.

The backup story about Janus’ history looks a little better in terms of art, but it’s also just giving me information and history I really don’t care about. Janus isn’t an interesting character, and I already picked up on the fact that he’s meant to seem like a loser. I didn’t need the further reinforcement that he is a loser. This space could have been used to make the main story go a little farther. As is, the main story really doesn’t do anything in this issue. It’s just a shaky setup with very odd pacing.

I don’t like rending a comic limb from limb like this. I want every comic I read to be good, especially the rare villain titles. However, this one was not enjoyable in the slightest. It’s not interesting. The characters aren’t engaging. The art doesn’t look appealing. It’s just a total train wreck. Give it a pass.

Final Score: 2/10

Civil War II #2

Civil War II #2

 

Brian Michael Bendis (W), David Marquez (A), Justin Ponsor (CA)

Cover by: Marco Djurdjevic

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $4.99

You ever just wish you could completely love or hate something? It would just be easier if your feelings would just sort themselves out, or the thing in question would just pick a consistent level of quality and stay there? Especially when you’re consistently having to purchase increments of that thing at five dollars a pop?

That’s where I’m at with this story right now. It has pieces that are kind of brilliant. A lot of the premise is actually really clever, but it keeps building itself upon characters acting completely out of their character or just doing things that most rational human beings would not do.

To better express this point, let’s go ahead and move onto the plot of this second installment (technically third, even more technically the fourth).

It opens up with Tony Stark breaking into New Attilan to kidnap Ulysses. He is intercepted by some of the Inhumans. He manages to keep them busy long enough to escape. The Inhumans then go to Stark Tower with the intent of tracking down Iron Man. Captain Marvel and a contingent of Avengers go there to meet them, promising to bring in Stark. Meanwhile, Tony is performing experiments on Ulysses to figure out how exactly his powers work. He begins to make some progress when the Avengers and Inhumans come through a wall. Ulysses then has another vision in which the Hulk kills all of the Avengers, which is also shown to everyone in the vicinity. The issue concludes with Captain Marvel paying a visit to Bruce Banner.

The death of James Rhodes is the glue that holds this whole story together, and even that is starting to lose its adhesiveness, or, to be more accurate, its cohesiveness.

I can see Tony Stark and Carol Danvers both acting very rashly in the face of his death, him being Tony’s best friend and Carol’s boyfriend. That being said, breaking into New Attilan and potentially causing a war between the Avengers and the Inhumans is pushing my suspension of disbelief a bit.

That’s still moving past how quickly Iron Man became avidly against taking advantage of Ulysses’ powers in the previous issue. His anger over trying to intercept Thanos is a baffling as well. What were they to do, just let Thanos kill a facility full of scientists and steal pieces of a Cosmic Cube?

His aggression towards Ulysses in this issue pushes him towards irredeemable in the context of this story. Ulysses is just a scared, confused twenty-something with frightening powers he does not understand, and Tony Stark just snatches him, straps him to a chair in a dirty basement, and plugs electrodes to his head.

The rising tension between Medusa and the Avengers was a pretty cool moment. I’d like to see where that aspect of the story yet goes.

On the subject of the Inhumans, why was Karnak the gung-ho, “bring down Stark Tower” one?” I thought he was the intelligent, Zen Inhuman.

The Hulk vision probably should have come sooner in the story. This is a better foundation for the imminent civil war than simply the existence of Ulysses, which has felt like half the driving force of the story thus far (the other half being Rhodey’s death). Banner being an old friend and colleague of theirs, this I could see fracturing the community.

Again that’s not to say that War Machine’s death was a bad catalyst, but the order of events might have needed a change. Maybe Hulk should have been the one to kill him. I can’t say for sure.

The pacing feels all wrong too. I feel like we should still be in issue one, or something. It’s still building itself up when it feels like it should be moving forward. It seems unfair to continue to compare it to the original Civil War, because this series has made it clear that it is a completely different kind of story. That being said, the first Civil War was really ramping up by issue two and not just continuing setup.

I still feel like maybe the actions Iron Man is taking in this story would make more sense if it were being done by a character like Steve Rogers or Sam Wilson going through similar events.

This is story feels like a bizarre game of chess. The pieces are being moved to good places, but the rules of the game are being neglected and movements are being made out of order.

Bendis has a really cool idea here that I desperately want to see come to fruition, but it’s being plagued with logical missteps and character dissonance.

Marquez’s artwork along with Ponsor’s color work is gorgeous. This comic is great to just look at. Marquez is good with faces, and Ponsor gives everything a very realistic texture.

This book is kind of frustrating, really. It brushes up against greatness many times, but the missteps still keep it at arms-length for the most part. Now that the “Hulk kills everyone” gauntlet has been thrown down, maybe the story will pick up from here. I sure hope so. I want this story to work.

Final Score: 6/10

Civil War II #0

Civil War II #1

Civil War II #3

Civil War II: X-Men #1

Civil War II: X-Men #1

 

Cullen Bunn (W), Andrea Broccardo (A), Jesus Aburtov (C),

Cover by: David Yardin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

Cullen Bunn’s Magneto is one of my all-time favorite comic book series and you should all totally read it. I know I’ve said that a few times, but I thought you guys should know it again. Buy the TPB’s. It’s fantastic. The fact that he wrote this book and Magneto is a main character in it is just another reason for me to recommend it.

Anyway, so Civil War II has come to the X-Men. I’m glad there is a tie-in for them. With Marvel trying to supplant them with the Inhumans and the plot of Civil War II being Inhuman-centric, I’m glad that there is something for the X-Men to do during the new big crossover.

I rather like the premise of this one too. That being said, does anyone else remember the mutant who could see the future called Destiny? She was friends with Mystique. I’m just curious if anyone remembers this character. I thought about it while reading Civil War II #1 and reading this X-Men tie-in to the story, the thought of Destiny keeps returning.

Oh well, anyway, onto the review proper.

The story opens up with Magneto’s cadre of X-Men, consisting of himself, Sabretooth, Psylocke, and M busting open a bunker built by the rich mutants living in Dubai. The bunker was intended to withstand the oncoming Terrigen Cloud. Magneto’s team bring in some of the poorer mutants that live in the city to weather the storm. They begin to feel safe, then servants are revealed to be Sentinel-human hybrids known as Prime Sentinels. The ensuing fight breaks open the sealing of the bunker and all hope seems loss for all mutants involved. Storm’s X-Men reach the scene in time to hold the Terrigen Cloud at bay and help Magneto’s team finish off the Prime Sentinels. After the battle, Psylocke and M catch wind that Storm’s team were warned of this conflict beforehand, and Psylocke pries into their thoughts, discovering the existence of Ulysses. Magneto is already wary of the Inhumans, due to the cloud killing and sterilizing mutants without any visible aid from the Inhumans. This pushes him over the edge, and he begins to speak of war with the Inhumans.

This book was a pretty solid start, and it has a good premise. Magneto has, needless to say, never been one to take anything lying down. It’s only surprising that he hasn’t tried to go after the Inhumans already.

The prelude to this issue is interesting in itslef. Magneto has never been one to have patience for elitism and the privileged class and lifestyle. I could honestly read a story about Magneto busting up and punishing mutants who use their wealth to separate themselves from their kind for comfort. I do suppose that’s what the Hellfire Club was meant to represent, but I digress.

Cullen Bunn is a writer that really gets the character of Eric Lensherr, and this book only further solidifies that fact. All characters feel properly represented in this comic for that matter. Everyone has a little moment to show who they are.

The pacing is really good overall. The opening is exciting. The two X-Men teams work together very well, but, when there isn’t a common and immediate threat, the tension between them is palpable. This conflict is honestly established a little better than the main story of Civil War II. In that, it seems like the mere existence of Ulysses suddenly causes people to start drawing lines in the sand. Here, it’s already established that Magneto has a grudge with the Inhumans over the cloud.

The penciling is pretty good for the most part. There are some scenes where the detail isn’t particularly well-shown. The color art is fantastic. The colors pop really well, and it makes each scene very eye-catching. I’ve always loved how colorful super hero costumes are, so seeing someone who goes for the brightest colors on the pallet was a treat for me.

I’m going to talk about the ending twist a bit now, so here’s the spoiler warning. I’m not sure why Nightcrawler is the one siding with Magneto over Storm, even on this matter. Kurt Wagner is the optimist, and I could see him assuaging for diplomacy no matter the circumstances. His hope has almost never run out in the past. With Old Man Logan being conflict-averse (along with the presence of Sabretooth), I could see Magik being the more likely traitor. She has always been angrier than her brother and definitely more so than Kurt. Even in this issue, she expresses some frustrations with their current situation. That’s just me though, and I am not ready to write it off as character dissonance yet. I’m curious to see where Bunn goes with this.

Overall, it’s a solid start to the story. It’s got a good cast, a good premise, and a very talented writer at the helm. I’m very optimistic about how this story is going to turn out. Give it a try.

Final Score: 8/10

Thunderbolts #2

Thunderbolts #2

Jim Zub (W), Jon Malin (A), Matt Yackey (CA)

Cover by: Jon Malin and Matt Yackey

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

So, my first ever review on this site was Thunderbolts #1! It was great, check it out (the comic, not the review, but if you wanna read the review you should, please, it’s good too, I promise). Since comics come out monthly, and I lost track of time, we’re going to call this my one-month anniversary review. Yay, one month!

It sure has been a month, with reviews, and more reviews, and even MORE reviews! All kidding aside, I have enjoyed it. I really like this, and I do hope I get to make it my job. That’s of course up to you kiddos checking out my Patreon, my GoFundMe, and sharing my stuff as much as you can. I really and truly appreciate it!

Anyway, to get to the comic, it continues from where #1 left off, with Moonstone on the floor with a hole in her chest from where Kobik stole her moonstone. The team is in shock, and they still have to decide what to do about the alien pods that are in then warehouse with them. Bucky must carefully handle the dangerous situation with the all-powerful child. Then, when Fixer starts checking out the alien pods, creatures break out and begin attacking the team. A fight ensues, and surprise guest stars show up at the end.

This issue was great, possible even better than the first. The team is very engaging, and the art shows them off well. Kobik is a good mixture of endearing and terrifying, Atlas plays a great well-meaning funny guy, and it’s awesome watching the Winter Soldier learn to be a leader with some of the most rebellious people on the planet.

The interactions between Bucky and Kobik are really endearing. I like the relationship between these two. Fixer and Moonstone are the arrogant ones. Fixer is still pretty charming in his way, but Moonstone has yet to prove to be redeemable. Mach X, while being a character I’ve really liked in past iterations of the Thunderbolts hasn’t really come into his own yet in this book. I get the feeling Zub is writing him intentionally shy, but that hasn’t really been solidified yet.

The comic is paced very well, and it doesn’t linger on a single problem or scene for too long. It likes its cliffhangers at the end (with the ending to this one and the hole-in-the-chest ending to the first issue), but they do work well to make me excited for the next issue. It flows very naturally. When you’re just getting ready for a fight to break out, it does. The fights are really cool and kinetic. The Zub, Malin, and Yackey are really in sync in this comic.

The art keeps its 90’s throwback style. I really enjoy it, and I feel that it matches this team very well since they were created in 1996. I could understand if some people didn’t enjoy it, but it works for me. The design on the aliens that they fight is really creative. I got a real kick out of the appearance of these things. They’re weird and creepy looking; it’s really great. There is something odd about the color of Moonstone’s blood at the beginning of the book. It honestly resembled barbeque sauce. It looks more red later on, but it distracting in the beginning.

What else is there to say? It’s a fun, well-paced comic with an enjoyable and unique cast of characters led by the one-and-only Winter Soldier. It lives up to the Thunderbolts legacy, and it’s working its way to be one of my favorite comics on the shelves right now. Give it a read.

Final Score: 9/10

Review for Issue #1

Review for Issue #3

A History of the Winter Soldier