Host Derek Coward talks about the upcoming change on the art duties on Marvel’s Star Wars title, as well as more snark and outrage from comic book fandom.
Host Derek Coward returns to talk about the 2011 Marvel event Fear Itself, and gives an update on Marvel’s Avengers Alliance.
NOTE: You should have the issue in front of you or you should have already have read it. There will be some spoilers, but not a lot of detail about the story or the artwork. This post is a collection of my thoughts as I read the issue for the first time. There may be some tangents, but if you are a listener of the Comic Book Noise podcast, then you already know what to expect.
Cover: I had to get the only copy they had, which was the blank variant cover. I have always thought these things were a scam of some sort, but if I ever go to a convention (or hang around someone like Ryan Stegman, who is from this area) then I might get a sketch. Might.
Page One: I usually don’t like pages that don’t move the story along in some way and this isn’t an exception. I get that they want to establish that the story takes place in New York City, but this is Marvel, 99% of their stories take place in New York City. I was a bit surprised to see Matt Fraction writing this. I haven’t been following a lot of Marvel’s behind the scenes stuff, but this is the first major event that didn’t involve Bendis, Millar, Romita Jr, or Yu in quite a while. However, Laura Martin and Chris Eliopoulos are involved and one or the other always seems to be in the credits of the major events.
Pages Two and Three: Already with the double page spreads? This is a trend from the 00s that I wish both major companies would get away from. Yeah it looks nice, but they also make the reading experience a little shorter. That said, the art team establishes from the beginning that they all brought their A+ game.
I’m not sure what’s going on in the story yet, but it looks like the “WTC Mosque” protests. However, since this is the Marvel U, it could have something to do with a bunch of other things. My first thought was it was where World War Hulk started, but then I remember that WWH started in that intersection with all the billboards (Times Square?) and ads for the US Army.
One thing’s for certain, Steve Rogers starts out like an insufferable prick already.
Page Four: Pay close attention to the coloring on this page. There’s a reason why Laura Martin usually gets called for the big events and this is a good example why.
Page Five: OK, let me gets this straight. Sharon (I’m assuming this is Sharon Carter) says the whole situation feels like a riot. Rogers says “No”, then waits until a riot starts before he says “There’s your riot.” Like he was right all along. Damn, he still bugs me after all these years.
I also want to point out how good the horse images look on these two pages.
Page Six: Probably my favorite page of a Marvel book since early 2006. Rogers is being an asshole, as usual, and ends up getting clocked with a brick. I laughed out loud. And his line about being “Anti-Riot” is a bit hypocritical when you actually pay attention to what happened. A dude threw a water bottle, which missed a mounted policeman, and the police responded by firing tear gas into the crowd. The officer barely missed a guy. So what does Rogers do? He starts grabbing civilians by the collar and hoisting them into the air. IF he was truly Anti-Riot, wouldn’t he have done something besides make the matter worse?
Page Seven: How does the leader of all the super-heroes respond to getting hit in the head with a brick during a riot in of the largest cities in the world? He stands there, saying nothing. Nice leadership, jackass. He is standing right near an unarmed woman who is punching a police officer who is helmeted and in riot gear. She knocks the police officer backwards with one punch. Why the hell isn’t he trying to put her in tights and signing her up to Avengers Academy? Nice talent evaluation, jackass.
Page Eight: I don’t know how the bad guys of the Marvel Universe ever lose. They always seem to be able to do things like build large secret fortresses in places like Antarctica or the Amazon Rainforest. I mean, wouldn’t somebody have been able to figure out that the Nazis (in this case) were moving a lot of materials and personnel to the middle of nowhere? I understand why comic book writers do stuff like this, because large secret fortresses in the middle of nowhere are actually pretty cool, but c’mon…
Page Nine: Really cool invasion page. Funny line about librarians. Made even funnier by the fact that I originally read it as libertarians.
Page Ten: Oh damn, all this time I thought that was the Son of The Red Skull, but it was actually his daughter. I’m beginning to think they should have used caption boxes to tell us who the important characters are in this story.
Page Eleven: Another magic hammer? Like Thor’s and Beta Ray Bill’s? Since no one could lift it, did they build the fortress around the hammer? If so, how did they put the floor down?
Page Twelve: Skadi? Is this a new character or is this someone who has been connected to Thor in the past? Also, I like the vanishing dialog.
Page Thirteen: Cool image, but the way she’s holding the hammer looks a little awkward. Maybe it’s because she’s left handed.
Page Fourteen and Fifteen: Another double page spread. More douchebaggery from Rogers, who just wants to punch something. When it turns out that people are mad, he’s disappointed that they were taken over by some external force. At least Tony Stark comes up with a plan. Although I have to wonder how building a new Asgardian city is going to help the economy. Construction jobs in the Marvel Universe should be pretty stable.
Superhero civil wars, alien invasions and regular old superhero/supervillain battles should keep the construction industry pretty flush. Lots of collateral damage to cars should keep the auto repair business going. A lot of people would rather have new cars when their old ones get trashed, so the auto industry would be good. The only ones who MIGHT have a problem would be the insurance industry, but I wouldn’t worry about them, it has been my experience that insurance companies always make their money.
By the way, who is the dude in the black and white original Captain Mar-Vell looking suit? And why is The Hulk hanging out with Wolverine? Don’t they hate each other?
Page Sixteen: Hey, does that dude have a THOOM hat? I want one.
Page Seventeen: OK I see how being a part of the Marvel Universe hasn’t worked out for this one dude, but are we supposed to believe that the events of Siege have affected the entire nation? Also, for an issue with a riot, an invasion and the introduction of a new villain, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of action in it. Maybe that’s what I get for stopping at the end of each page to type out my thoughts.
Page Eighteen and Nineteen: Another double page spread. Look, they either need to give Jessica Jones a recognizable costume or have her wear a nametag, it makes no sense for her to ALWAYS be dragging her baby with her everywhere she goes. And why is J Jonah Jameson on the stage with the superheroes?
Page Twenty: Just great, The Watcher has shown up. That either means there will be a cosmos shattering event that will shake the very foundations of reality. OR, Uatu has nothing better to do than hang out on Earth. He showed up during Civil War and that wasn’t really a major event-universe wise. Sure it was major in the Marvel line up comic books, but inside of the Marvel Universe itself, there have been bigger cosmic events and Uatu wasn’t around.
Page Twenty One: If Odin really wanted to get a rise out of Uatu, he shouldn’t have called him a coward, he should have asked how his jaw felt after Red Hulk made him his bitch. That’s what I would have done.
Page Twenty Two: I love how Odin has called The Avengers ‘The Dead’ (I am assuming due to their short life span) and ‘ridiculously attired apes’. Odin has died more times than all of the Avengers combined. Hell, I’m actually surprised he isn’t dead now. AND he should look in the mirror some times, he’s wearing shiny pants, a torn loincloth., a huge belt buckle with his initial on it, and a fur collared cape that drags on the ground. Thor was right to call him a jealous hater.
Page Twenty Three: As ridiculous as he dresses, Odin is still pretty bad ass. He broke Thor’s grip on his wrist and gave him a one handed choke slam, in one fluid motion. However when he walked away, Odin should have called Thor a little bitch.
Page Twenty Four and Twenty Five: Another double page spread. I read this sequence twice before it occurred to me that Skadi looks like a female Monitor (from DC). Pretty cool dragons in the last panel. I assume that Immonen made this a double pager so that he could draw the dragons as this huge deal. I’m no artist, but I think it would have worked better if the the approach to the area was one regular page and the dragons were on a full page panel. I couldn’t do anything close to what he did, but I think the full page panel would have given the dragons a much more majestic feel.
Page Twenty Five: Cool sequence. It gives a sense of how powerful Skadi is. This is a lot more effective than her saying how powerful she is, or showing how scared of her Odin seems to be. Even without knowing how tough the dragons really are, you know she has to be powerful because they are dragons and dragons are very infrequently shown to be pushovers.
Page Twenty Six: The thing with the hammer is bugging me. She’s left handed, but she keeps wielding it like a righty. I find it hard to believe that Immonen didn’t catch that, but then again he keeps doing this weird thing with Iron Man’s faceplate.
Page Twenty Seven: I don’t really have any comments about this page. I feel bad about that. I’m sure it took the art team a while to do and I just look over it in a matter of seconds and don’t say anything about it.
Page Twenty Eight: Which All-Father is this? He dresses like Taskmaster without the mask. Is this the real Odin?
Page Twenty Nine: This page has a lot less going on than Page 27, but for some reason I like it a little better. The ruins of Asgard look pretty cool and that green thing doesn’t look like billows of smoke, like it did earlier in the book. So Taskmaster All-Father is The Serpent?
Page Thirty and Thirty One: Another double page spread. The rest of the Asgardian characters we know and love make cameos, with the exception of Volstagg and Heimdall, who get speaking roles. And I don’t think that was JJJ I had seen earlier, I’m pretty sure it was Doctor Strange, former (?) Sorcerer Supreme.
Page Thirty Two: Now THAT’S how you pimp smack an Asgardian.
Page Thirty Three: Two page spread. Again. Loved how Odin handled his son. However, when they had their run-in earlier, I got a Cosby Show vibe: I brought you into this world, and I’ll take you out. However, I’m not really surprised at this development, because if you think back to why Thor was on Earth in the first place, it was because he kept butting heads with the old man. I get the feeling that Matt Fraction’s son might be getting to the age where he isn’t listening as much as he used to. Been there.
Page Thirty Four and Thirty Five: Yet another two page spread. Have you ever been to another family’s place for a gathering and a bunch of family shit pops up, making everybody who doesn’t live there feel awkward? That’s what this was like. I have a question though: What the hell did Rogers think he was going to do, besides sit his ass back down and have a tall glass of Shut Up Juice?
Page Thirty Six: I like the way Fandral summed it all up for Rogers. And I thought it was appropriate that Volstagg and Hogun were the ones to drag Thor off.
Page Thirty Seven: Why did it take Odin so long to fix Asgard? Appreciation for the hospitality for Earth who took them in is one thing, but he didn’t want to be there and obviously didn’t have to be there. So why did he hang out until the Serpent All-Father showed up? It actually makes him look like a little bitch for running away when he did. But, beautiful page.
Page Thirty Eight: This page is really understated and subtle. You get the walking on water images, but in addition to that, you get a father and daughter (and dragon) taking a leisurely walk. I can’t really explain it, but what the art team did here is really cool.
Page Thirty Nine: This is one of those pages that I read and think “Things are about to pick up.”
Page Forty: I was pretty happy when I saw that Fraction was going to use locations outside of the US, but I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I saw that one of the bogeys was headed towards Manhattan.
Page Forty One: A much different father-son scene. I was a bit surprised to see that out of the two seemingly throwaway characters from earlier, they chose to bring back the fat guy. That’s almost a refreshing change of pace. There was a line back on page 18 about making sure doors were locked that seemed a bit tacked on, but there is a callback to it on this page.
Page Forty Two: Why is Spider-Man portrayed like a complete and utter idiot some times? I know it was a set up line so that Rogers could look pensive, but really now. I expect more from you, Mr. Fraction.
Overall thoughts: I don’t know what it has to do with fear, but it was a pretty good issue. It was good enough so that I didn’t feel like I wasted my money, but it wasn’t close to good enough for me to go out and buy any more single issues or look for any crossover pieces. It was jus good enough for me to want to get the trade when it eventually comes out. Since this is a major event, I know it will be collected and I don’t have the urge to do anything but wait.
I was a bit wary about the beginning of this series because Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen took a team made up of primarily “street level” superheroes and put them in a story that was heavily influenced tied into magic. I thought it might have turned into a big misstep, but the creators have really surprised me with the way they are having the characters react to something they really aren’t known for.
I’m not sure that I like the way that Spider-Man and Ben Grimm get treated like a couple of chumps, but oh well, at least they look good. Stuart Immonen has become one of my favorite Ben Grimm artists after only two issues.
Recommendation: If you liked the first issue, then you will like the second one. If you like some of the other Avengers books more, then this will probably not change your mind, but you are wrong about it. The others are OK, but The New Avengers has the potential to be great.
Two of the recent comic books that I bought were Mark Hazzard: Merc #1 and PowerLine #7. They both had artwork by Gray Morrow. I always liked his artwork because I tend to gravitate towards more realistic art styles. I am also a big fan of people like Alex Raymond, Alex Toth, Gil Kane, Steve Rude, Adam Hughes, Mike Deodato and Stuart Immonen’s early work. They all have a sense of the fantastic to them, but the basic figures are more realistic than someone like Kelley Jones, Keith Giffen’s later work or Humberto Ramos. (This is not an indictment of their work because I know for a fact that I could NEVER do what they do. I just however happen to prefer a different style.)
After I realized that I knew next to nothing about Gray Morrow, I decided to find out what he had been up to recently. Trying to find out whatever happened to creators who are no longer working on mainstream books on a regular basis is a crapshoot. For every Mindy Newell (who left comics to become a full time nurse) or Steve Bissette (who teaches at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont), there is a sadder story like John Totleben (who is legally blind due to a condition called retinitis pigmentosa) or Gray Morrow.
Gray Morrow was despondent over a long running illness and took his own life on November 6, 2001. According to Wikipedia, the illness was some form of palsy but it is the only place with that detail, so I am taking it with a grain of salt. To make matters worse, his website became defunct and is now one of those link/placeholder sites that scumbags put up when they want to be scumbags.
TOP – World War Hulk 4
BOP – Marvel Comics Presents 1
ROW – Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special
I’m too sick to record, so I just thought that I would throw this up there.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on WWH4 and I wasn’t disappointed like a lot of other people seemed to be. The story progressed at a nice pace and I don’t see how it could be considered a filler issue.
Marvel Comics Presents #1 on the other hand was a bit of a disappointment. I realize that with anthology titles you are going to come across a clunker in every batch, but with the exception of the cute little Spider-Man story and the cover, there was little that I enjoyed in the book. I don’t know why Stuart Immonen’s style has changed so drastically since his Legion of Super-Heroes run; there used to be a dark moodiness to his artwork and now it’s all “Shiny Happy People” and I don’t like it.
The ROW was easily the Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special. It was a fun special with a surprising (at least to me) twist at the end that sets up the upcoming GA/BC ongoing title. I was vacillating between whether to choose WWH 4 or this one, but I went with the single issue story.
Tell me what you thought of these or any of the other titles that came out in September 19.