Archive for Marvel Super Hero Squad

Secrets and Dooms

Secret Six #30

This is a crossover issue with the Doom Patrol. We start out getting introduced to a junior crime lord whose resources have all come from his recently deceased evil grandfather, then we jump into the strip club where Scandal’s girlfriend works, where Bane is going on a date, despite his complete inability to engage in civil or appropriate interpersonal communications. And after that, we visit scenic Oolong Island, home to mad scientists galore and current headquarters of the Doom Patrol. Robotman is trying to get some fishing in — specifically for a monster fish that used to be a human.

Anyway, after a while, the Secret Six show up — they’ve been hired by the junior crime lord to take over the island so he can have his very own secret volcano base. King Shark makes the first attack when he chomps off Elasti-Girl’s leg. This doesn’t seem to bother anyone much — it looks like she can regrow her limbs, which I didn’t remember being part of her original powerset. Black Alice grows to Giganta-size to fight Rita, Ambush Bug makes with the funny, as do King Shark, Ragdoll, and Negative Man, and there’s a volcano that’s about to blow up the island. To be continued in “Doom Patrol,” if I ever feel like getting that one.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I didn’t know Ambush Bug was in the Doom Patrol. I didn’t know they were based on Oolong Island either. It all helps make a nice, fun story. I still don’t know if I’ll care enough to actually grab a copy of “Doom Patrol,” which I’ve heard mixed reviews of, but who knows?

Marvel Super Hero Squad Spectacular #1

Well, the Beyonder is in town, and he’s in his bizarre Elvis-inspired costume from “Secret Wars II.” This does not bode well at all. He decides to kidnap a bunch of superheroes and supervillains and make them fight each other for his own general amusement, so he grabs the Super Hero Squad, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and Speedball, as well as Dr. Doom’s crew. Then there is a lot of random hitting while the heroes try to figure out how to make it back home. Meanwhile, crime is out of control with the heroes gone from the city, but Power Man, Iron Fist, Cloak and Dagger, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver step up to help keep the city under control, so Ms. Marvel inducts all of them into a Substitute Super Hero Squad. All that, plus Reptil does some stuff.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Seriously, you bring in the Elvis-Beyonder, and you’ve pretty much lost me from that point on. The rest of it was too frantic, too jokey even for a joke-filled all-ages comic, and just generally irritating.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Not really a link, but definitely worth mentioning: There will be a meeting this Friday, February 11th at 7 p.m., for volunteers and organizers for the upcoming Lubbock Comic Book Expo. The meeting will take place at Awesome Books, 3009A 34th Street. Please show up and help make the Expo another great success!
  • Awesome animated short of classic-style Superman.
  • This video game, based on artwork by animator Michel Gagne, looks insanely cool.
  • I absolutely endorse this rendition of the National Anthem.
  • Have I mentioned lately how very, very much I dislike Rick Perry? Looking at a $15 billion budget hole, and he wants to show off by cutting peanuts. What a showboating failure we’ve got running the state. I wish someone would zero out the budgets for the most useless and destructive state organizations — namely, the Gov’s office and the Lege itself…

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Yuh-oh.

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #9

Man, I love the cover art for this one. Great work, cover artist Ronan Cliquet!

This issue’s story is fairly simple: Nova has learned that there is an impostor hiding out in the Avengers, so while the rest of the team fight giant monsters, he and the Vision (and the Vision’s girlfriend) investigate everyone by sneaking into their rooms and digging around in their sock drawers. Superheroes are kinky.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Seriously, it was a nicely tense story, even if I question some of the reasoning here — why would Nova pick the Vision as his investigating partner instead of Thor, who also knows about the impostor? Still, good fun, nice dialogue, another well-done issue.

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #3

Raven and Sabrina hang out at Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe, Veronica drags Robin along to meet her dad, Archie gets to spend the day playing in the Batcave, and Jughead and Cyborg compete in a hamburger-eating contest.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun. Fave moments: Archie running wild in the Batcave, with all the bats and penguins and rabbits; Mr. Lodge’s utter contempt for anyone his daughter brings home; and Batman calling the Joker to ask if he knows of any supervillains who have kids with orange hair.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #12

Yay, Christmas issue! Santa’s sleigh crashes into the heli-carrier, forcing the Super Hero Squad to dress up in Santa costumes and run around the city delivering presents. Possibly even better is the backup story, where the X-Men reveal that Rudolf is the most famous mutant of all, before they embark on an insane toboggan race.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of funny stuff here, cute dialogue, and a nicely seasonal dose of mayhem. The bit with Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a mutant is really pretty epic.

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Pussycat Dolls

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2

It’s time for another meeting of the Tiny Titans’ Pet Club, and Josie and the Pussycats have been invited to bring her pets — but of course, the Pussycats aren’t cats, they’re a rock band! Soon, they’ve got the rest of the Riverdale kids thinking the Pet Club is a big costume party — all while an old Archie bad guy called the Mad Doctor Doom (Ring, ring! Marvel’s lawyers calling!) and his pompadoured sidekick Chester plot against our pint-sized heroes. Once everyone gets to the Titans’ treehouse, Moose shows up with his pet moose, Moose, followed by Archie dressed as Pureheart the Powerful, Jughead as Captain Hero, Betty as Super Betty, Veronica as Superonica, and Reggie as Evil Heart. All that, plus we finally get to meet Jughead’s dog Hot Dog, and we get detailed instructions on how to dance the Batusi.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I believe we’ve established by now that I love everything about this comic book, yes? Well, I loved the stuffing out of this one, too. Excellent humor and art, and just all-around fun.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #11

Tigra, She-Hulk, and the Wasp decide it’s time they finally started getting some credit for their superheroic deeds, so they set out to get themselves inducted into the Super Hero Squad. They soon find themselves up against a bunch of toad aliens who’ve kidnapped the entire Super Hero Squad. Wasp works to shut down the ship while Shulkie beats up the toad champion — but can the heroines rescue the Squad, keep the ship from crashing in the city, and get their big promotion? Meanwhile, in the followup story, the Squad members re-enact “The Magnificent Seven,” with Thor delivering all his lines in a combination of Wild West drawl and Asgardian thee’s and thou’s (“Huzzah! Pointeth me towards them varmints!”), the Falcon delighted that he’s going to get to be James Coburn, and the Silver Surfer doing a great impersonation of Robert Vaughn.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Both stories were a lot of fun. I loved Falcon’s genre awareness in the Western story, and almost everything Thor said was good for a laugh.

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #8

Nova has traveled to Asgard with Thor, where they discover that Odin is an impostor! They team up with Valkyrie and travel to visit the Norns, a trio of fortune-telling witches, who reveal that Odin is held captive by the trolls. Will Nova be able to hold his own in the land of the gods? And what kind of trouble is brewing back home in New York?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nova is so completely and amusingly over his head in Asgard, completely awed by everything, and it’s fun to see him win the respect of Valkyrie. The day-in-the-life antics back in NYC are fun, too, and the cliffhanger is first-rate. Definitely looking forward to the next issue…

Today’s Cool Links:

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Pre-Halloween Spooks and Scares

I know it’s still pretty early, but we’ve already got a few special Halloween comics to review for ya — let’s see what’s on the list…

House of Mystery Halloween Annual #2

It’s the second installment of the special Halloween issues of Vertigo’s “House of Mystery.” Like last year, we get a grab-bag of stories about various Vertigo stars — this year, the element that binds all the stories together is a bunch of cursed trick-or-treaters. Doomed to wander endlessly from one Halloween to another, begging for candy and making mischief, all while wearing bodies both elderly and kid-sized, they turn up at the House of Mystery, get invited in, and offered a way out from under their curse, which they choose not to accept. In other eras and other worlds, they run across Madame Xanadu, who offers them visions of happier childhoods; they prompt John Constantine to reminisce about childhood holidays and first loves; they play pranks on Gwen Dylan from “iZombie” back in the days when she was still alive; and they end up running around Lucifer’s Hell.

Verdict: Thumbs up. First, I love any comic that literally begins their story on the front cover. Aside from that, the stories are first-rate, fun, and spooky — and they serve as excellent advertisements for several Vertigo comics. So it’s a winner — go pick it up.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #10

It’s Halloween, and the Super Hero Squad is dressing up for the holiday — Iron Man is Dracula, the Silver Surver is Frankenstein’s Monster, Reptil is Werewolf by Night, Falcon is Brother Voodoo, Thor and Hulk both want to be the Living Mummy, and Wolverine doesn’t dress in costumes. Dr. Doom’s lackeys, meanwhile, don’t get to dress up — they’ve just been ordered to go find a new fractal. Once the Super Hero Squad gets in on the chase, they quickly find the fractal being guarded by the Man-Thing! All who know fear burn at the touch of the Man-Thing — and the Man-Thing is plenty darn scary! Can the heroes get the fractal away from the muck-monster? In the followup stories, all the superheroes show up for a costume party at the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building — but there’s an imposter hiding among the disguised heroes! And finally, Dr. Doom amuses himself by terrifying trick-or-treaters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good, funny stuff, and it’s a lot of fun to see all the Halloween costumes devised for the characters.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – New World #3

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is distracted by the bizarre destruction of Houston, Texas — by a full-sized volcano! Is this going to give Panya the opportunity to take over the whole agency? Meanwhile, Abe Sapien and Ben Daimio are in British Columbia trying to solve the mystery of what caused everyone in a small town to disappear. They meet a woman with an unusually ominous baby — and are quickly attacked by a monster! Can they stop the monster’s rampage and make their escape?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding action in this one. And it’s great to see Ben Daimio pulling off the giant-monster whupass again.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I would like to write about this a heck of a lot more, but I’m not sure I can be really coherent or non-sweary about it right now. Suffice it to say, I think “The 99,” the incredibly cool series by Naif Al-Mutawa, is a wonderful thing, and it frustrates the heck out of me that the usual gang of small-minded bigots are latching onto this as the latest ZOMG FEAR item.
  • Venom + props = awesome sketchbooks.
  • Any of you serious bibliophiles are gonna love this article.
  • Privilege is inescapable, but things would be a lot better if we had more people willing to embrace a little empathy.

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Classroom Chaos

Tiny Titans #32

The evil Lunch Lady Darkseid brings his son Kalibak for his first day of school, and he quickly ends up being the center of attention. He and Match disrupt everything by sitting around and joyfully bellowing nonsense at each other and then manage to turn Psimon into a gibbering moron when he tries to brainscan them. Darkseid knocks Dr. Light out when he shows him a photo of Kalibak’s mom. And Li’l Barda takes everyone out to get gigantic Barda helmets of their own.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Kalibak ends up being a lot more fun than I expected, and any issue that has the impossibly cute Li’l Barda is a solid winner for me.

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #6

While Thor entertains some female admirers with tales of his exploits in the distant past against pirates led by the Executioner, Nova jealously doubts the stories. So Thor takes him to the village he defended in the past, which has now erected statues of the Thunder God. But when the Executioner returns for a rematch, how will Thor manage this time?

Verdict: I’m going to thumbs it down. I thought this one was uncharacteristically boring.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #9

She-Hulk, Tigra, and the Wasp are a bit insulted that they do lots of great work, but the Super Hero Squad gets all the attention. So they set up a competition to see who the better superheroes are — a contest to see who can find the most fractals. Unfortunately, the villains are following them all around, looking for their opportunity to steal fractals away. Unless some unseen player comes to the rescue, the bad guys are going to get one heck of a victory. And in the backup story, Hulk and the Thing engage in their own little contest.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing real fancy, but it’s an okay story, with some cool guest-stars and some nice moments of humor.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Lubbock artist Dustin Wallace, an official Friend of the Blog, has a Kickstarter page running to help fund some equipment so he can keep making awesome robots. Go help him raise money for the sake of awesome robots!
  • Evil mastermind Grant Morrison makes a guest appearance in a new video by “Umbrella Academy” writer Gerard Way’s band, My Chemical Romance.
  • Polemical Sparkle Ponies!

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Get Curly

Tiny Titans #30

The plot on this one seems pretty straightforward — Kid Flash is racing all over town, and everyone he zips past ends up getting crazy curly hair from his backdraft. Cassie and Starfire look fine with curly hair, Rose looks a little weird, and Robin and Superboy look really, really goofy. All that, plus Peek-a-Boo makes her first appearance in the TinyTitansverse and steals Kid Flash’s heart. Anything else? Oh, yeah, Ambush Bug shows up, too. He doesn’t do much, but just the idea that we’ll see more of him here in the future makes me entirely happy.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, it’s cute, funny, and awesome. My local comic shop mentioned to me today that this series is collected by a lot more adults than kids — do they just groove on the fun stories? Or are they enjoying a Titans series that’s not dominated by angst and gloom?

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #4

The Avengers end up getting recruited to help bounty hunter Kraven the Hunter capture Deadpool. That leads to two problems: Deadpool is very, very good at getting away from people trying to catch him, and Kraven is very, very good at endangering civilians and making Captain America angry. All that, plus Sue Storm and the Blonde Phantom trail an incognito Sub-Mariner.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but just barely. The whole thing is a little bit too busy, and the ending is a bit weak. I’m also not thrilled about yet another Deadpool appearance in the way-too-Deadpool-centric Marvel Universe. Nevertheless, the art’s nice, the writing is pretty good, and the characterizations are fun.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #7

The Ringmaster hypnotizes the Super Hero Squad and makes them perform in — what else? — a circus, while Dr. Doom sends the Toad, Screaming Mimi, Paste-Pot Pete, and the Melter to infiltrate the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and steal all their fractals. Can Captain America save the Squad and the fractals?

Verdict: I’m going to thumbs this one down. Ya promise me a circus issue, ya better deliver more than a couple of pages of circus stuff. The dialogue from the bad guys on the Helicarrier was nice, but it really should’ve been a separate story from the one with the Ringmaster.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Meanwhile, Back in the Jungle

Marvel Super Hero Squad #6

We start out with Reptil and Speedball in their biology class, where their professor accidentally picks up a reality-bending fractal crystal and is turned into the dinosauroid supervillain Stegron. Able to control all reptiles, he quickly hypnotizes Reptil and has him fly him to the Savage Land, a tropical lost world in the middle of Antarctica. Speedball manages to hitch a ride and has the Thing notify the Super Hero Squad to meet him in the Savage Land. Once they’re all there, Ka-Zar, Shanna, and Zabu also show up, and we learn what Stegron’s plot is — he wants to hypnotize the dinosaurs of the Savage Land and lead them in a war against humanity. Can all the heroes manage to defeat all those dinosaurs plus Stegron?

Our second story focuses on Klaw, master of sound and harmonics. He makes big promises to Dr. Doom that he can take out the Super Hero Squad and find lots of fractals, and that he’s so awesome he can even project the legendary Perdue Frequency, which can make anyone who hears it act like a chicken. (Unfortunately, he can’t direct it, so everyone around, including Klaw, ends up acting like a chicken. Obviously, this is hilarious.) Anyway, Klaw hits Super Hero City at the same time as the Squaddies are having epic arguments about what music to listen to during workout sessions. Klaw whups the Squad members easily, leading the heroes to combine their musical tastes to fight sonics with sonics.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Most of it is very pleasantly goofy. If I’ve got anything I really disliked, it’s the Squad members’ band at the end. Let us never again speak of those awful, awful lyrics, okay?

Batgirl #11

Barbara Gordon is hallucinating a life of domestic bliss with Dick Grayson, though she quickly realizes that this is all the fault of the Calculator and starts working out a strategy to strike back at him. Meanwhile, Batgirl is on the run from a few thousand Gotham citizens, including Catwoman, Huntress, and Man-Bat, who have all been taken over by the Calculator’s zombifying techno-virus. She gets some help from Wendy Harris, the Calculator’s daughter, but she still has to figure out how to get to Calculator’s hideout so she can rescue Babs and find a cure for the virus.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s mostly one long chase scene, but it’s pretty well-done, with enough of the trademark Batgirl humor to keep things rolling.

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What a Thor Head!

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #2

Before we get started, could I just say that I hate Marvel’s trade dress for this comic? When you’re hiding the actual title of the comic way down at the bottom of the cover, while putting the very large logo for a completely different comic up at the top, it makes it very hard to identify the comic in the stores, and it makes it harder to build new fans for the series — if they liked last issue, they’ll be looking for an Iron Man comic, ’cause he was on the cover of last issue. Will they look for this issue, when it seems to be a Thor comic? It’s just a poor design/marketing decision.

Now on to the story — it seems that Galactus, Eater of Worlds, needs a new herald — he says he wants to give some human immense cosmic powers so they can fly all over the universe and guide him to new planets to devour. And the funny thing is — he took out a classified to find someone. Wha? Yeah, that’s what the Avengers think, too. So they show up in Austin, of all places, with a few thousand people desperate to get superpowers. When Firelord, one of Galactus’ last heralds, shows up, he announces that the price to get all that cosmic power is… any priceless item.

Well, that kicks off a global crime wave, as people start burglarizing art museums for priceless items. With most of the team protecting the world’s art treasures, can the Invisible Woman, Iron Man, and Black Widow find out what this Galactus plot is really all about?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent hook for this story — Galactus placing a classified ad for a new herald? Firelord handing out paper applications for the position? That really draws you into the story fast, and it definitely keeps you reading. Great story, excellent characterization and development, and good dialogue, too. Spend a little extra time hunting this one down in the store, ’cause it’s worth picking up.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #5

And speaking of problems with the trade dress — this one keeps changing the logo on the cover! It keeps switching from “Marvel Super Hero Squad” to “Super Hero Squad Show.” It’s not too confusing, since the logos look very similar, but I do wish they’d be a bit more consistent.

When one of MODOK’s already outlandish schemes goes even more outlandishly awry, we get stuck with a Hulk made out of high-energy fractal shards, and a bunch of superheroes (but not nearly all of them depicted on the cover) with the Hulk’s strength, rage, and IQ running wild. We also get some connected stories starring Loki and Ant-Man.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This takeoff of Marvel’s recent mini-event on “Hulked-Out Heroes” has all the fun and charm that the original lacked, with 100% less Deadpool. The stories are pretty humorous, but I enjoyed the Ant-Man story at the end the most — great mix of humor and action.

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One Froggy Evening

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #2

We backtrack a bit from last issue to show where Frog Thor had vanished to — Asgard, to seek the counsel of Thor himself. The Thunder God welcomes Frog Thor — by his real name of Puddlegulp, no less — and acknowledges him as a brother, just as he considers the alien Beta Ray Bill as his brother because they both wield the same weapons. He encourages Frog Thor to seek out other mythological beings to find more of a sense of belonging, and Puddlegulp starts out in the Himalayas, running into a belligerent yeti. After a short battle, the yeti admits that he was playing at being an abominable snowman to scare off tourists and invites the amphibian into his cave. But they’re both soon unwillingly dragged into some sort of mythological afterlife, ruled by someone who’s decided to get rid of all mythological beings with a giant lizardy monster. They’re all being cast back into the earthly realm — and the giant monster is coming, too.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Frog Thor is turning out to be a really fun character, and the scenes of him walking the streets of Asgard are just great, as are the battle scenes with the yeti.

Thor and the Warriors Four #1

For those of you who aren’t up on your Marvel characters, this story focuses on the Power Pack, a group of four preteen siblings with superpowers. There’s Alex Power, levelheaded gravity controller, Julie, the brainy speedster, Jack, the hotheaded brawler, and Katie, the energy-blasting baby of the family. Their grandmother is dying, and the kids are at various degrees of upset about that. Julie has been reading a book on Norse mythology and decides that the way to save her is to travel to Asgard and get some of the magic golden apples that keep the Norse gods healthy and immortal. The kids see a nearby lightning strike and figure that must mean Thor is nearby — but what they find is Frog Thor and the Pet Avengers fighting a bunch of wolves in Central Park. Power Pack lends a hand, but the wolves are a lot tougher than expected. Turns out they’re really wargs — steeds of the Asgardians — and the best way to calm them down is for everyone to pick a warg and jump onto the saddles on their backs. Frog Thor agrees to help the kids, and the Power Pack rides the wargs back to Asgard.

And there’s a backup story, too, with story and art by Colleen Coover, about Hercules babysitting the Power family.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very fun story, with funny dialogue, characterization, and action. Katie Power certainly gets the best lines, and her background interactions with the Pet Avengers are really cute. The backup story is short, but very, very enjoyable.

The Super Hero Squad Show #4

Three separate stories in this one. First, Man-Wolf and Drax the Destroyer have been hired by the Collector to kidnap all the superheroes and supervillains to be part of his interstellar zoo. Can the remaining heroes turn the tables on the Collector by bringing an even bigger collector into the picture? Second, the Hulk is having nightmares and is trying to figure out a way to get rid of the things that go bump in the night. And finally, Reptil plans out this year’s April Fools jokes on his fellow superheroes, but will the joke be on him when he has to face the menace of… Chtylok, the Chicken-Cow?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very lightweight stories, but they’re still pretty fun. The Chicken-Cow is probably the standout of the whole issue. Come on, it’s a freakin’ chicken-cow!

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Maximum Rock and Roll

The Super Hero Squad Show #3

And here’s the latest issue of the comic based on the “Marvel Super Hero Squad” TV show. And you’ve got all these “fractals” — fragments of the shattered Infinity Sword — and anything that comes into possession of one of them gets massively hyper-powered. Well, one of the fractal shards accidentally gets stuck into a jellyfish in the ocean, leading to it turning into a giant blob monster and attacking the city. Unfortunately, it’s much too tough for the Super Hero Squad to hurt, and it just ate the Hulk. Reptil and the Falcon, assuming the attack of a giant monster must mean the Mole Man is behind the plot, put on a lot of silly disguises to try to capture him. Meanwhile, Iron Man realizes there’s a fractal inside the monster and has Hulk swim through the jellyfish to grab it. And what’s the result of the awesomely powerful fractal on the already awesomely powerful Hulk?

PIRATE HULK.

Soooo awesome.

And on top of all that, we also get Thor reliving his glory days in high school, which were completely goofy.

Verdict: Thumbs up, both for Pirate Hulk and Thor playing in a garage rock band with the Warriors Three.

Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #21

After Nova pops off with a line about how easy it’d be to divide the Avengers into various strike teams, Captain America and Invisible Woman call his bluff and ask how he’d really do it. This eventually ends with Nova in the role of reluctant kinda-sorta-pseudo team leader when a couple of mythological figures go to war with each other in Hawaii. Soon after the strike team leaves, Nova, Black Widow, and Invisible Woman run into a 1940s-era superheroine named Sun Girl, who tells them that a fellow Golden Age hero named Gary Gaunt is in trouble. Gary periodically turns into a Hulk-like wild man, but he’s had his problem beat for decades, thanks to a special serum that keeps his monster-side under control. But some burglars have stolen his serum from the rest home, and Gary is afraid he’ll turn into a monster again. Sue Storm and Black Widow go to track the thieves, leaving Nova babysitting a senior citizen, listening to old war stories, and worrying that Gary may turn into a monster again.

Verdict: Nominally, a thumbs up. The entire story is lightweight — I mean, more than is usual, even for an all-ages book. And it’s got an irritating punch-line moral, too. But I love the characters of Gary Gaunt and Sun Girl. That alone made me enjoy reading the story.

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