Archive for New Avengers

The Wrong Stuff

The New Avengers #6

Well, I didn’t like this one at all.

Wolverine has been mystically granted the full power of all the Avengers so he can fight Agamotto, which he does, for page after page after page. Agamotto is a shapshifter, so he never looks the same twice, which was probably the only way to make Glowing-Wolverine-fighting-magician-on-pages-with-no-backgrounds at all interesting. The rest of the Avengers mostly sit around in a magic circle and chit-chat about what’s going on. Dr. Voodoo’s long-deceased brother Daniel is in Agamotto’s realm and tries to help out, and Voodoo freaks out, goes charging into the fight, and sacrifices himself to destroy Agamotto.

Ladies and gentlemen, Brian Michael Bendis, writer of “The New Avengers” and way, way too many of Marvel’s books, just killed the black guy so he could move Dr. Strange back into the Sorcerer Supreme slot. And that’s about 18 months after Bendis himself moved Dr. Voodoo into that same position. What was the point? Bendis hadn’t gotten to kill a random character in too long? Bendis decided he’d be more edgy and exxxxtreme if he killed a black character for no reason?

(Pictured: Brian Michael Bendis, unretouched photo)

On top of that, on the last page, Daimon Hellstrom goes out and scolds a bunch of random New Yorkers because they weren’t genuflecting low enough to the Avengers.Who didn’t really do much beyond sitting on their butts while a non-member, Dr. Voodoo, saved everyone. Why? I dunno, maybe because Brian Michael Bendis is a colossal douchecanoe.

So to sum up: Wolverine does stuff. Dr. Voodoo does stuff. Dr. Strange cries. The rest of the Avengers sit on their butts. Bendis collects a fat paycheck for writing yet another rotten comic book.

Brian Michael Bendis is an extremely lazy and vastly over-rated writer.

Verdict: Thumbs down. And you can add Bendis to the list of writers whose comics I won’t read any more.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6

Finally, and only a few weeks late, Grant Morrison drops this bucket of insanity on us. Bruce Wayne appears at the very end of time, dying of an infection by Apokolyptian monster. The mostly-robotic keepers of the end of time can keep him from dying, at least temporarily, and they disguise him as one of their own number. He returns to the present and fights off the current version of the Justice League while Superman, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Rip Hunter try to figure out a way to follow him when they don’t even have a time machine anymore. Wonder Woman hits Batman with her Lasso of Truth and learns that his armor is now possessed by Darkseid’s last doomsday weapon while deadly Omega Radiation burns him from the inside out. Is there any way to save Batman and save the world?

Verdict: I think I’m gonna thumbs it down. There was a lot of good stuff here, but it was all just a bit too frantic. And coming after Bruce Wayne made his return last week in “Batman and Robin,” it takes a lot of the oomph and thrill out of this one. Maybe it’ll all look better in the trade paperback…

Batgirl #15

After a great opening where Stephanie tries to explain the ins-and-outs of the Bat Family to Wendy using funny cartoons, we jump to Batgirl beating on a bunch of robed bad guys when she’s interrupted by a guy calling himself the Grey Ghost — actually an obsessive train bomber who Steph corralled a few issues back. Unfortunately, the Grey Ghost’s inept intervention allows the robed guys to kill a university student — and who’s gonna get the blame for that one, huh?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The opening cartoon is just plain wonderful, and the rest of it ain’t bad either. Excellent dialogue, action, humor, you name it. Have I told y’all before how great this comic book is?

Today’s Cool Links:

Oh, and while I got y’all here — don’t forget the meeting that’s being held TONIGHT about possible future comic conventions in Lubbock. Remember, it’ll happen at 8 p.m. this evening in the Metro Tower/NTS Building downtown, up on the 19th floor. If you’ve got any interest in comic-cons in Lubbock, don’t miss it…

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Hard-Boiled Bat

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5

An amnesiac Bruce Wayne is traveling forward through time, unaware that his body is acquiring Omega Energy which, when he returns to the present, will blow a hole in time? Why is this happening? Darkseid did it. Darkseid does everything. Right now, he’s stuck in — well, it looks like the pulp-fiction 1940s, but I rather suspect it’s much more recent, since a leggy redhead comes to him and asks him to investigate the murder of his own mother, Martha Wayne. The woman who’s “hired” him claims that she was Martha Wayne’s best friend and takes him to meet Martha’s parents — mom is an elderly society matron, and dad is stuck in an iron lung after a mysterious stroke, and the entire home is beset by ominous wasps. What’s waiting for Bruce Wayne in the catacombs beneath Wayne Manor? And who is getting set to betray him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Ryan Sook. And it’s a lot of fun to read this and catch the callbacks Morrison leaves to stories he previously told months or years ago.

Knight and Squire #1

The Knight and Squire are the Batman and Robin of London, and they hold court in a pub called the Time in the Bottle which has a magical spell that prevents fighting or any use of superpowers. So of course, the whole place is filled up with British superheroes and villains — people like Salt of the Earth, the Milkman, the Professional Scotsman, Captain Cornwall, Jarvis Poker the British Joker (a guy who never actually manages to do any serious villainy and really just prefers to hang out and chat with Knight and Squire), the Pirate Astronomers, Death Dinosaur, Dark Druid, and many, many more. But can anyone survive when the magic spell quits working?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m glad Paul Cornell is writing this, ’cause it’s all a ton of fun. All the British-themed characters are really cool. I’m not sure if every issue is going to take place in the Time in the Bottle — if so, that may wear thin pretty quickly.

The New Avengers #5

We start off with a scene from years ago when Dr. Strange and Wong unleashed some whupass on Baron Mordo and the ninjas of the Hand. In the present, Iron Fist thinks the Ancient One is the guy who wants the Eye of Agamotto, but Strange knows that makes no sense — the Ancient One gave Strange the Eye in the first place, and would’ve told him if someone else had a prior claim to it. Soon enough, everyone realizes that Agamotto himself wants the Eye back — he possesses the Avengers to get them to attack Strange, but Dr. Voodoo shows up, releases them, and issues a sorcerer’s challenge to Agamotto. It’s going to be one vessel from the Avengers — it doesn’t have to be Dr. Voodoo — vs. Agamotto, a vastly powerful interdimensional spellcaster. Who gets picked to go up against Agamotto, and how do the rest of the Avengers help power him up?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Bendis is writing this one, just like he’s writing the main “Avengers” title, but I’ve had a lot more patience with this storyarc. I’ve got to assume that means I’m enjoying the story and the writing a whole lot more than I have the other one. And the Wong and Strange vs. Mordo and ninjas beginning is definitely a winner.

The Unwritten #18

In the aftermath of Wilson Taylor’s death and the release of the new Tommy Taylor novel, the literary cabal attempts to regroup. The new novel is flat-out messianic, with Tommy Taylor raised from the dead and promising to bring mankind to a new golden age. The leader of the conspiracy decides to lay the blame on the assassin Pullman, subjecting him to a ritual where a member of the inner circle pulls a trinket out of the mouth of a stone statue to determine if Pullman lives or dies. Meanwhile, Tom Taylor, attempting to learn how he can do real magic without having to stick himself in a life-or-death situation, ingests a number of drugs to bring on a dream vision. Can his visions of his father and Tommy Taylor show him the path to real magical power? And who will come out on top in the conspiracy’s power struggle?

Verdict: Very weird and much more fun to read than I was expecting. After last issue, I was a bit worried that this series was beginning its downslide, but this story is just fine — hopefully, it’ll stay fun for a good while longer.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Kate Beaton brings back the Fat Pony.
  • Comics Alliance has a whole bunch of mini-episodes from the upcoming “Avengers” cartoon.
  • A cookbook from 1922 that features recipes from Warren G. Harding, Harry Houdini, Rube Goldberg, Charlie Chaplin, John Phillip Sousa, and many others.
  • Sometimes, we all just need to take a jump to the left.

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Puzzle Quest

Booster Gold #36

The Darkstars are all set to arrest Booster, Big Barda, and Mister Miracle because they think they stole the Planet Pounder super-weapon, but the New Gods get all of them back to Earth with a Boom Tube. Unfortunately, they leave Blue Beetle behind — who’s just bedded the alien sorceress who rules the planet below, and who’s just discovered what a lying dork Ted really is. By the time Booster and Skeets are able to use Rip Hunter’s time technology to get back to Ted, he discovers that the sorceress has turned Ted into a chipmunk. And she says the spell is permanent. And then the Darkstars show up and arrest Booster and Ted, shipping them off to a high-tech space prison. They meet up with Vril Dox, who has a long-range plan to escape, but Booster wants to get out much faster than that.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Even with a chipmunk Blue Beetle, it just isn’t a lot of fun.

The New Avengers #4

There’s an invasion of interdimensional demons, and the Avengers aren’t making any progress against them. While Dr. Strange, Dr. Voodoo, and Daimon Hellstrom try to figure out what magician has the power to start a war like this, the other heroes are just entirely overwhelmed. Suddenly, the otherworldly portal vanishes, and Iron Fist, wearing a shiny new costume, is returned to Earth with the Eye of Agamotto. He’s not happy to see Dr. Strange, claiming that the Ancient One told him that Strange stole the Eye from someone.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Okay, here’s the thing. Last issue, the big cliffhanger was that the Big Bad here was the Ancient One, Dr. Strange’s old mentor, who has been dead and supposedly at-one with the universe for years. And after that big cliffhanger, we get nearly zero followup on that. That’s not the way you do this stuff. You don’t drop something that big at the end of one issue, then spend most of the next issue with a bunch of pointless slugfests. Amateur-league mistakes like this are why I really can’t believe so many people think writer Brian Michael Bendis is such a supa-genius.

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Avengers Assembling!

The New Avengers #3

Some new magical interdimensional villain has kidnapped Iron Fist, because he had the bad fortune to be holding the Eye of Agamotto. But they can’t actually take the Eye from him, which gives him a lot more leeway than he might’ve expected. Meanwhile, on Earth, the absence of the Eye has lead to an invasion of interdimensional demons, who immediately get busy tearing New York City apart. While the Avengers fight the demons, Dr. Strange, Dr. Voodoo, and Daimon Hellstrom leave for Voodoo’s Sactum so they can figure out how to get rid of the demons. And the bad news is — they’ve got no idea. Where does that leave the heroes trying to keep the Big Apple safe? Nowhere good, that’s for sure.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent patter in this one, especially between Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and the Thing, and during Victoria Hand‘s very entertaining rant in her car about being forced to work with the Avengers. Aside from that, the action is good, the art is great, and the revelation of the Big Bad is a pretty unexpected surprise.

Avengers Academy #3

I missed an issue of this one — either not enough got delivered to my local store here in Denton, or there was a lot of unexpected demand for it. But this one looked interesting to me from the beginning, and I didn’t want to give up on it just because I missed the second issue.

So in this issue, besides getting some insight into Hazmat’s terrifically toxic powers and her extremely depressing life, and sitting in on an example of why no one should let Valkyrie teach students anything (it involves beer and sex toy demonstrations), everyone takes a field trip to the Raft, a high-tech prison for supervillains run by Luke Cage and the Thunderbolts. The idea is to let the Thunderbolts give the kids the “Scared Straight” treatment, but Hazmat, Mettle, and Veil have other ideas — they’ve found out Norman Osborn is being held at the Raft, and they want revenge for the way he tortured them. But if they sabotage the prison’s security measures to get at Osborn, they may end up causing a gigantic breakout…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good dialogue, wonderful art, and lots of fun characters. Pretty much everything with Juggernaut on the page is a solid winner. I do have some quibbles — I’m not sure I like the idea of Speedball being a cutter — I think I’ve had more than enough of emo Speedball. And I’m not sure I believe that a super-prison like the Raft wouldn’t have some defenses against an electromagnetic pulse.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Magic Times

Zatanna #3

The evil and ghoulishly smiling Brother Night still has it in for Zatanna, attacking her with a bunch of mannequins backstage at her theater. She traces him and his allies back to Mt. Diablo, where Night sacrificed a bunch of children decades ago in exchange for hellish powers. Zatanna deals with Night’s minions easily, but he has a trick up his sleeve — he’s enslaved the soul of Zatanna’s father, Zatara! Can Zatanna save her father and defeat Brother Night? Or will their combined powers be too much for her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice close to Zatanna’s first short storyarc. Brother Night really does make an excellent villain — the rictus grin is so wonderfully creepy. If I’ve got anything to complain about, it’s that there’s not been a lot of development of Zatanna’s supporting cast — but just three issues in, I’m not sure we’d be able to see much beyond cursory characterization.

The New Avengers #2

The New Avengers have been attacked by Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom, both possessed by demonic forces. While Dr. Voodoo sent the mystic Eye of Agamotto to Luke Cage for safekeeping, Luke has now been possessed by some other entity that’s caused him to grow into a giant and join the attack. What follows is a lot of fighting, yelling, running around, and flinging the Eye of Agamotto back and forth. Wolverine stabs Dr. Strange and Hellstrom right before they get unpossessed. Spidey gets put in charge of Cage’s baby. Will the Avengers be able to keep the Eye out of the bad guys’ hands?

Verdict: I think I’m gonna give it a thumbs down. A lot of the character interaction is pretty nice, but it just doesn’t fit in well with the furious confusion of the action. Like I said yesterday, this is an ongoing problem with Brian Michael Bendis‘ writing, and to me, it indicates that Marvel should do what they can to stop treating him like the be-all-and-end-all of comics writers. Find what he does well and let him work on that, but don’t stick him on so many books, ’cause it makes the comics suffer.

Today’s Cool Links:

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The New New Avengers of Avenging Avengers

The New Avengers #1

It’s yet another “Avengers” title from Marvel. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark want Luke Cage to lead a new Avengers team, but Luke is hesitant. To sweeten the deal, Tony sells him Avengers Mansion for a dollar. Man, real estate values are just crashing like crazy. So while Luke picks out his team, Dr. Strange is in some trouble. He was called out to help Daimon Hellstrom with some problem, but it turned out that the Son of Satan was possessed by… something. And whatever it was possessed Strange, too, then they both went after Dr. Voodoo, the new Sorcerer Supreme, so they can steal the Eye of Agamotto. Back at Avengers Mansion, Luke has selected his team — Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Jewel, Ms. Marvel, and Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing. But when the Eye of Agamotto magically appears in Luke’s hands, and the possessed Strange and Hellstrom teleport in, is the new team going to be finished before it even begins?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So far, it’s just an introductory issue, making sure we know who the players are, but it’s got some good moments, particularly the purchase of Avengers Mansion and Ben Grimm’s induction onto the team.

Birds of Prey #2

Black Canary and the Huntress are facing off against an extremely skilled martial artist called the White Canary. Lady Shiva formerly used that name, but this doesn’t seem to be her — it’s someone else entirely. And White Canary is very, very good. She pwns Dinah and Helena without very much effort, and even the intervention of Hawk, Dove, and Lady Blackhawk doesn’t do much to even the odds. And it gets worse when the White Canary — or someone associated with her — releases information to the press making Black Canary look like a murderer. A bunch of crooked Gotham cops appear on the scene. The Penguin, injured previously by the White Canary, tells them to take him to his club, where they’ll all be safe, so the team fights its way through the cops — and then finds out that Black Canary’s real name has been released to the media, along with embarrassing information about her past — and two old associates of the Birds of Prey have been killed. How much worse are things going to get?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very intense storyline, so far, with a villain — or maybe a group of villains — whose physical attacks are devastating — and whose non-physical attacks are even worse. Excellent writing by Gail Simone — and while I can’t normally stand the art of Ed Benes, I’ve gotta say, the art here seems to be pretty good. So hey, go pick it up.

Today’s Cool Links:

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