Archive for Avengers

Jughead Rises


Jughead #1

Archie Comics sure have been interesting lately, haven’t they? The newest relaunch of one of the classic titles is written by Chip Zdarsky, artist on “Sex Criminals” and writer on “Howard the Duck,” and Erica Henderson, artist on “Squirrel Girl.” And that’s enough to get me interested in reading the book.

There’s been a shocking shakeup at Riverdale High — Mr. Weatherbee is no longer principal, and the scoundrel Mr. Stanger is his replacement. Stanger is a clean-cut control freak, but Jughead just doesn’t care — nothing can cut through his aura of apathy. But then Stanger replaces all the food in the cafeteria with nutritious purple glop — and Jughead completely loses it. After Jughead passes out from the strain of caring about something, there follows a fantasy dream sequence where Jughead must face off against a dragon for Infinite Hamburgers. And then he goes to a home economics class to learn how to make his own hamburgers. But how will all this return normal food to the cafeteria again?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and writing. Interesting twists on classic characters — while still letting them remain in their classic personalities. And boy, Mr. Stanger is entirely the most rotten villain the Archie comics have ever seen…


Avengers #0

This is essentially a preview for the Avengers comics that’ll be coming out soon, with a framing device of the new Squadron Supreme killing off a bunch of Skrulls and making plans for whenever they have to eventually take down all the Avengers. We get the Vision seeing ghosts from the past, a precognitive SHIELD agent being forced to see the future for a bunch of creepy aliens, Deadpool taking an unexpected assignment, and America Chavez taking an unusual tactic to close a dimensional breach.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A wide variety of writers and artists with a bunch of very short and kinda vague stories — but if they meant to try to get me interested in some of these new series — well, they did the job. Only downside is the high $6 price tag.


Sensation Comics #15

In this issue, we get one story about Cheetah escaping from imprisonment once again and Wonder Woman wondering why superheroes bother capturing the villains when they escape and kill over and over. In our second story, Wonder Woman meets up with a no-luck loser trying to sell a sick lion to a criminal syndicate — but can she get him to turn over a new leaf through kindness and empathy?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Really, the stories weren’t the greatest, but I gave them extra high marks because they featured art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Carla Speed McNeil.

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Closed for the Apocalypse


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #9

Well, foo. It looks like the final issue of this series.

The Mighty Avengers have lost the legal right to call themselves “Avengers” — that’s the problem with having a half-dozen superteams that all call themselves some variation of the Avengers, right? They’re still kicking around new names — Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter Danielle is partial to “Friend Force” — when they learn that the worst-case scenario has come to pass. Earth has one hour to live unless they can either find a way to work with the Ultimate Marvel universe to find a solution or destroy them — and it looks like destroying them may be the better option, since the Ultimate universe is attacking them with helicarriers.

Monica Rambeau makes a really good effort to blow the Ultimate Earth apart by hitting them as an energy particle traveling at the speed of light — but she loses her nerve because she can’t bring herself to destroy billions of lives. The rest of the issue focuses on superheroes trying to win the battle, trying to win their own personal battles, or just making peace with those around them — and we also meet plenty of normal people who are going through the same struggles. Is there anything that can save the Earth?

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s a little cosmic superheroism and a lot of street-level superheroism and a decent amount of normal people getting by, which always seemed like something this comic did pretty well. I’m disappointed the series is being cancelled — there are a lot of good characters in here who are a lot of fun to read, and I hope they all land in some new comics after Secret Wars wraps up.


Harrow County #2

Emmy has stolen away a haint’s skin — looks just like a skinned boy, and it can move around a little and talk a bit, and it’s thoroughly creepy. She hides him in her dresser drawer and discovers that all the scratches she’d gotten in the brambles have already healed up. But the townspeople are suspicious, and the haint’s skin is able to tell what the rest of it can hear. It eavesdrops on the people at the burned-out oak, and Emmy learns that they’re going to kill her because they think she’s the reincarnation of a murderous witch. Can Emmy escape, even with help from a friend?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Gloriously spooky and eerie. Wonderful characterization. Fantastic art, too. If you love horror comics — and classic rural horror stories — this comic is something you’ll want to read.


Nameless #4

The man called only Nameless is undergoing a host of nightmares — falling down an endless chasm, being chased my living, madness-inducing froth in an immense meteor, being dismembered by space monsters, living through an alien invasion that drives everyone murderously insane. But they’re just nightmares, right? Is one of them real? Are all of them real?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mind-cracking horror with mercilessly detailed artwork. Man, I love Grant Morrison writing superhero stories, but this reads like he’s enjoying it more than he’s enjoyed anything in a long time.

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Gorilla My Dreams


Astro City #23

Meet Sticks. He’s from a secret civilization of intelligent gorillas hidden in Antarctica. This is his first time in the big city, and he’s got his heart set on being a drummer in a rock band. Gorilla Mountain isn’t a very cool place — they’re obsessed with the purity of their culture, and the only job is serving in the military. Some of the younger gorillas have managed to pick up radio signals and discovered music. After getting busted several times for playing his own homemade drum kit, Sticks managed to fake a jet-pack malfunction and made his way to Astro City. But there’s this funny thing about being a talking, military-trained gorilla in Astro City — everyone either wants to kidnap you to turn you into a drone in their criminal organization, or they want to induct you into their superteam. Can’t a gorilla rock out with his pals without everyone wanting him to be a super-soldier?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Absolutely colossal fun. Sticks is a fantastic character — the type of guy who could easily carry his own graphic novel, not just a two-issue storyarc. But if there’s one thing “Astro City” does exceptionally well, it’s giving us amazing characters we wish we could see way more often.


Ms. Marvel #15

Well, the charade is over — Kamran may be cute and lovable and an Inhuman like Kamala, but he’s also allied himself with a bunch of supervillain Inhumans instead of the good guys. She manages to signal Bruno with her cell phone, and he tears off to try to get to New Attilan. Meanwhile, Kamala is doing everything she can to escape from the bad guys and periodically drop a little smackdown on them. Can she escape from Kamran and the other villains?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A wonderful issue — a little fighting, a little running, a little betrayal, a lot of standing-up-for-yourself, and a nice dose of minor cliffhanger toward the end. Does Kamala know another Inhuman?


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #8

So apparently, the multiverse is being destroyed. I know, that’s usually DC’s deal, but this time, Marvel is doing it. Essentially, everytime two alternate earth’s collide, both of those universes wink out of existence. (This is all leading into the new “Secret Wars” crossovers.)

At the beginning of the issue, Steve Rogers reveals to the Mighty Avengers that Earth-616 has just 178 days left before it’s destroyed. And beyond a little exposition about the Illuminati, the rest of the issue is a slow countdown as the world comes to terms with the looming end of everything, and the Mighty Avengers help Rogers work to defeat the Illuminati’s plans and figure out a better solution.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice demonstration of the tension of knowing that the end of the world is months or weeks away. We already know this is the next-to-the-last issue of this series — I hope they get a good send-off. And I hope we get to see all of these characters a bit more often and a bit more prominently.

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Beyond Belief


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #7

Monica Rambeau is heading after Jason Quantrell, CEO of Cortex and agent of the Beyond Corporation. Spider-Man, the Blue Marvel, and Dr. Positron are trying to work out a way to beat Quantrell on their own. And Captain America is on his own against a half-dozen monsterized superheroes and villains, including several of his teammates — and if he gets so much as a scratch from them, he’ll turn into a monster, too. Can Cap escape being shredded? Can Monica handle the hallucinations Quantrell throws at her? Can anything throw the Beyond Corporation back out beyond the beyond?

Verdict: Thumbs up — most especially for the “Kick ‘Splode” title of this issue. But I really, really do wish they’d figured out a way to get the rest of Nextwave into this issue.


Ghosted #19

Markus Schrecken is dragging Jackson Winters and Nina Bloodcrow into the Land of the Dead so he can take control of death itself. He’s left Oliver King and Edzia Rusnak as captives of the Maestro. Sschrecken’s plan is to lure Death in by murdering Winters and then have Bloodcrow read a spell to bind and control Death. Can Jackson survive long enough to stop Markus’s plans?

Verdict: Thumbs down. Even with the big shocker ending, I just didn’t think it was all that exciting or scary.

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Beyond the Pale


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #6

So a few months ago, Jason Quantrell, CEO of Cortex, went and got his mind obliterated and his body possessed by the Beyond Corporation, last seen in the glorious pages of Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. He turned his pet supervillainess, Quickfire, into a monster who spreads corruption to turn other people into monsters. She’s already corrupted Power Man and White Tiger, and she has no trouble at all transforming She-Hulk and Kaluu, too, leaving Captain America to fight alone. Meanwhile, Quantrell talks a bunch of nuttiness to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones before dumping them into outer space. The Blue Marvel rescues them in the nick of time, but when they mention the Beyond Corporation, Monica Rambeau loses it — she’s been told for years that the Beyond Corporation never existed and all the events of Nextwave were in her head.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Though I have my doubts that Warren Ellis is real happy with this. And Monica is getting progressively lighter-skinned — although it is good to see her back in her dreads again. But in all, it’s a good story with some nice Nextwave touches — and if we don’t see the rest of the Nextwave team, I’ll be deeply disappointed.


Sensation Comics #8

We start out with a fantastic story written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson, who we’ve seen most recently as the artist on Lumberjanes. Fifteen-year-old Princess Diana has sneaked away from Themyscira to see what the rest of the world is like. She meets up with a girl named Riley, who is upset because a bunch of boys are keeping her from playing Dance Dance Revolution. Diana’s sense of justice is awakened, and she decides to help Riley out. She also meets her friends and discovers ice cream and roller skating and laser tag and so much more. In the second story, Heather Nuhfer and Ryan Benjamin bring us a tale of Wonder Woman helping protect the fledgling Indian space program from the plots of Lex Luthor.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The second story is pretty nice, but holy frijoles, the first one, starring Wonder Teen, is absolutely outstanding. It might be the best — or at least the most pure fun — of any of the stories in this series, which was already filled with a lot of very enjoyable tales.

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Going Beyond


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #5

First things first: Ladies and gentlemen, that is just about the worst comic book cover I’ve seen this year. Maybe all of last year, too. It’s a terrible, muddy, over-chaotic muddle with a style entirely different from the art between the covers.

Now that that’s out of the way — forget the cover. What we’ve got inside is a just plain wonderful comic book. Or rather, what we’ve got inside is a pretty typical comic — until the last page happens.

While Monica Rambeau experiments with her light powers by adopting the form of the Blue Marvel — in the altogether, as they say in the hipster circles — Dr. Positron, the Marvel’s mad scientist son, shows up for a short brawl with the Marvel, Monica, and Spider-Man before revealing that he’s found his brother in the Neutral Zone, but he’ll need help to get him out. Elsewhere, Power Man and White Tiger go hunting for whoever killed Gideon Mace and run into way more trouble than they can handle. And Luke Cage and Jessica Jones have a meeting with Jason Quantrell, sinister CEO of Cortex Incorporated — and we learn who’s really behind Quantrell’s diabolic grin.

Verdict: Thumbs up. No spoilers, folks, but no kidding, when I read the last page of this one, I sat there in Flabbergasted Jawdrop Mode for at least 30 seconds. I don’t know if they can follow up with the promise of that last page, but I’m really looking forward to the next issue now.


Red Sonja #100

Well, it’s not really the 100th issue of this series, but they figure they’ve got the 100th issue to feature Sonja. Sounds iffy to me, but it makes a decent anthology comic. We’ve got creators ranging from Gail Simone to Roy Thomas to Michael Avon Oeming and many more. We get Sonja facing off against spider demons and mutated Rapunzels, we get Sonja taking on an unexpected assistant in a battle against a monster, and we get Sonja meeting one of her own heroes and earning a few wishes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. An incredible variety of stories offered here — some classic hack-and-slash battles, some more introspective stories, and all of them excellent reads. It’s especially wonderful to see a story by Roy Thomas, Sonja’s creator.


Batgirl #39

All of a sudden, everyone in Burnside is after Batgirl — whoever’s running the Hooq app is offering $20 million for her capture, dead or alive. And Barbara is being plagued by weird memory troubles, too. She enlists the aid of Black Canary, then realizes that her brain scan is part of Hooq’s programming — is Batgirl trying to kill herself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice art and a much more relateable story. This comic’s emphasis on social media and smartphone apps is making more sense now, and it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.


Silver Surfer #9

Galactus has come to the planet Newhaven, home to the last survivors of millions of worlds destroyed by the Eater of Worlds. Rejected by Dawn, the Surfer heads out to stop Galactus — by surfing the planet’s moon into his face! That gets Galactus’ attention, but he reacts by stripping the Surfer of his cosmic powers, leaving him powerless and adrift in space. Can anyone stop Galactus now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art, as always, from Mike and Laura Allred. Big ups for Dan Slott’s story, too — surfing a whole moon is pretty inspired, even if it’d pretty obviously be something Galactus would shrug off. I’m assuming Norrin will get re-powered next issue — but with this comic, who knows?


Loki: Agent of Asgard #11

Everyone in Asgard is mad at Loki. Loki is very depressed. Old King Future Loki is very mean.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Just a bit too overdone on the woe-is-me stuff.

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Random Access Memories


The Wicked + the Divine #7

Laura and Inanna believe that the people who tried to assassinate Lucifer (waaaay back in Issue #1) weren’t actually opposed to the gods — they were really fans. So Laura has traveled to Fantheon, a huge London convention for god fans. She’s a minor celebrity here, as one of the few confidants of Lucifer, so she has to sign a lot of autographs and attend a few panel discussions. She finally gets to meet up with Woden — he wears a Daft Punk/Tron costume, his only power lets him empower his specially designated Valkyries, and he’s considered a creepy racist, at best. When he humiliates a former Valkyrie at the convention, she tries to take the fabled Prometheus gambit — murder a god, and you gain his powers. It doesn’t work out for her at all. After that, she meets up with Baphomet and the Morrigan, who invite her to party, and reveal there’s a new god being introduced: Dionysus.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art and story, but I say that every time. Gotta give extra credit to the great pun-filled map of the London Fantheon. And do we talk enough about the outstanding work Matthew Wilson is doing on the coloring? ‘Cause a lot of the reason this book looks so gorgeous is because of all the amazing work he does with the colors.


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #4

Cap has recently been de-inverted and is back to his old self, but he’s still dealing with all the bad publicity he created for himself by going hardcore fascist. Luke is also back to normal, but he’s pretending to be evil so he can find out what’s up with Jason Quantrell, the thoroughly evil CEO of Cortex, Inc. But he’s not quite as undercover as he thought he was. And Power Man and White Tiger are investigating the death of racist supervillain Gideon Mace. What monster is waiting for them? What’s the connection to Cortex? And will Sam Wilson get his spirit back?

Verdict: Ehh, not at all bad. But it’s nothing earthshatteringly fantastic either.


Lumberjanes #10

While April, Ripley, and Jo decide they’re going to finally get some merit badges — starting with the badge for cake decorating — Molly and Mal go off in the woods for their picnic, but before anything romantic can go on, they end up chasing the mysterious Bear Woman, who then accidentally leads them through an otherworldly outhouse into a world full of dinosaurs! Will they be able to make it back home?

Verdict: Thumbs up. What we expected to be a low-key day of loafing around ends up with dinosaur chases. Holy cheese. And that’s not even counting the oh-so-awkward-and-sweet picnic or Ripley dancing with a raccoon.

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Dare for Danger


Daredevil #11

Matt Murdock talks to a former villain, George Smith, who used to call himself the Stunt-Master. He gave up crime years ago, but is frustrated that there’s a new stuntman running around and calling himself the Stunt-Master. He specializes in impossible stunts — and in fact, he seems to die every time he tries a stunt, before revealing his survival. Anyway, Smith is unhappy that he’s getting no money for the new Stunt-Master’s routine, and he wants Matt to do something about it. Matt isn’t too encouraging — Smith sold the name years ago — but he gets more interested when the new Stunt-Master starts calling himself a daredevil, a man without fear, and just outright calling out Daredevil to face him. And when Smith commits suicide, he decides to take direct action. How does the new Stunt-Master defy death? And why is Daredevil willing to risk his own life for a cheap stunt?

Verdict: Thumbs up. We get the standard outstanding writing and art we’ve come to expect — ain’t nothing wrong with awesomeness month after month after month, is there? I love the way this series puts mysteries together, letting Matt’s superhuman senses show us how the scheme is put together and then letting us watch him figure out the motive and work out a way to put the bad guys away…


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #3

Y’all hold on, ’cause this is gonna get a little confusing. The regular Avengers — Iron Man, Thor, Captain America (formerly the Falcon), the Scarlet Witch, the Wasp, Medusa, and Luke Cage — have all turned evil. And the Mighty Avengers — Spectrum, She-Hulk, the Blue Marvel, Power Man, White Tiger, and Kaluu — are not evil, but don’t know what the heck is going on. So now there’s gonna be a big ol’ fight. It’s gonna be pretty short, right? The evil Avengers don’t have anyone who can handle the Blue Marvel. But Tony Stark arranges for a global crisis on the opposite end of the planet, knowing the Marvel will fly off to take care of it. So the sides are much more evenly matched now — and the evil Avengers are guaranteed to cheat. Can the Mighty Avengers emerge from this with their skins intact?

Verdict: Thumbs up. These crossovers are often pretty silly, but this is a nice way to get the parts of it that work without having to spend too much money picking up every other issue. And beyond that, the writing’s great, and the art is nice, too.

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Friday Night Fights: There Are No Strings (of Lights) on Him

We’re less than a week away from Christmas, and that means we need to give our usual Friday Night Fights a bit more of a holiday flavor. Tonight’s battle comes to us from 2005’s Marvel Holiday Special, in a story by Jeff Parker, Reilly Brown, and Pat Davidson, as the Avengers tangle with a less-than-jolly old elf…




I hope you’ve finished all your holiday shopping — but just in case, I’ll have a bit more Holiday Gift Bag recommendations next week, so be sure and check back in.

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Closed for Business


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #2

While the Mighty Avengers stomp on a gang of high-tech roller-bladers called the Fast Five, the newly villainous Captain America is plotting with the equally villainous Tony Stark to wipe out all the heroes. And the newly villainous businessman Luke Cage announces he’s just sold the Mighty Avengers, which gets him in trouble with the rest of the team and his wife. Luckily, the ever-savvy She-Hulk, the team’s lawyer, has a surprise for Luke — but he and Captain America have an even bigger surprise waiting in the wings…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m not entirely sold on the Axis morality-switching, but the story seems just fine. I’ve got some doubts about the art, particularly in the way that the Blue Marvel is looking whiter and whiter in almost every panel.


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #7


Trees #7


Colder: The Bad Seed #2

Okay, it looks like I just don’t have the patience to dig through the convolutions of the plots in these three comics. It’s not that I disliked them at all — they were all pretty good — but there’s lots of twisty-plot things and side-stories and such-and-all going on, and I’m too lazy to mess with ’em right now.

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