Archive for November, 2010

The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall & the Green Mist of Death #1 of 1

November 29, 2010

Matt Fraction // Nick Dragotta, Russ Heath, Lewis LaRosa, & Mitch Breitweiser
April 2008
***

With the monthly IF delayed, Fraction fills in with this Orson Randall backstory one-shot. He & a round-robin of artists pay homage to various styles of pop narrative (incl. mid-century horror & cowgirl sexploitation), making for an awfully episodic tale. While Green Mist clarifies the motivations of Prince of Orphans (currently a mystical enigma in the parent mag), it’s finally superfluous.

continued from The Immortal Iron Fist #12
continued in The Immortal Iron Fist #13

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The Immortal Iron Fist #12

November 28, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja, Kano, & Javier Pulido
February 2008
*****

Bru & Frac transform pulp fiction into meaningful drama. The kung fu contest is a screen for a feminist, anti-royalist celestial revolution! Rand’s father, like his adopted father Randall, wins by refusing to fight. Even a substitute artist can’t detract from this brilliant issue.

continued in The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall & the Green Mist of Death #1 of 1
last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #11
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #13

The Immortal Iron Fist #11

November 27, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja & Kano
January 2008
****

Immortal‘s long, strong second arc just keeps building! Its fifth issue sees the villains triumphant. Davos, arch-foe to both Danny Rand & his father, wins a round in the kung fu tourney & earns a flashback. And the Heroes for Hire can’t stop HYDRA & their supersonic transdimensional train!

last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #10
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #12

also indexed for Jan. ’08
Astonishing X-Men #23

The Immortal Iron Fist #10

November 26, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja & Kano
December 2007
****

The title character is MIA this ish: a ballsy move. Check Annual #1 for his whereabouts & enjoy another round of the mag’s supernatural kung fu tournament! A pair of century-old plans build steam, one by HYDRA & one by a cabal of Fists. Aja’s partnered w/ Kano, whose flashback provides the action.

continued from The Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1
last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #9
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #11

The Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1

November 24, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // Howard Chaykin, Dan Brereton, & Jelena Djurdjevic
November 2007
***

Fist is hot enough & good enough to merit its first annual in its 3+ decades. The tale feels more Brubaker than Fraction, & a little self-indulgent: a set of two-fisted flashbacks to the pulpy career of the Jazz Age Iron Fist. These include a fight set on a dirigible above Harlem, malefic Asians & a team of sidekicks (a la Doc Savage). The square-jawed heroism gets a boost from Chaykin’s brawny style.

continued from The Immortal Iron Fist #9
continued in The Immortal Iron Fist #10

also indexed for Nov. ’07
The Immortal Iron Fist #9

The Immortal Iron Fist #9

November 23, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja & Scott Koblish
November 2007
****

In a twist, the whole kung fu tourney is a red herring! Danny Rand’s a pawn in a conspiracy set up by his mentor, the late Orson Randall, & Danny’s father. Thus, a tertiary plot flashes back to Rand Sr.’s training while the present sees Dan exit thru a steampunk portal, bound for Paris.

continued in The Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1
last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #8
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #10

also indexed for Nov. ’07
The Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1

The Immortal Iron Fist #8

November 21, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja & Roy Allan Martinez
October 2007
*****

In just 1 year, Bru & Frac have enough new ideas for a long run. The Shangri La home of the Iron Fist is merely 1 of 7 interlocking cities, & the stars have aligned for a kung fu tournament btw. immortal weapons! But Rand’s old foe Davos schemes on Earth as well as heaven.

last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #7
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #9

also indexed for Oct. ’07
Astonishing X-Men #22

The Immortal Iron Fist #7

November 20, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // Khari Evans, Leandro Fernandez, & Travel Foreman
August 2007
****

Interlude: an encore for the 16th c. IF, AKA the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay! The tale strikes an awed yet irreverent tone as it relates a lovely romance btw. the only female Iron Fist & a humble fisherman. As good as a comic can conceivably be when drawn by 3 artists w/ wildly differing styles.

last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #6
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #8

The Immortal Iron Fist #6

November 19, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja & Russ Heath
July 2007
****
Tho’ the gunplay drowns out the kung fu, this battle in a skyscraper is a kick. And in all the ways that count, the Heroes for Hire lose: Orson Randall, the last Iron Fist, sacrifices himself (a la Ben Kenobi) & Danny’s lawyer is kidnapped! Next up: an old-fashioned martial arts tournament.

last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #5]
[next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #7]

also indexed for Jul. ’07

The Immortal Iron Fist #5

November 18, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja & Travel Foreman
June 2007
*****

WW1 vet Randall refused to fight in a tourney of 7 Immortal Weapons, earning the emnity of a crane goddess. Now he gives Danny the kung fu diary, a legacy of the Fist. This expansion of the IF mythos into pulp history is better than Brubaker’s revival of Bucky! Is Fraction’s contribution the humor?

last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #4
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #6

The Immortal Iron Fist #4

November 17, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja, Sal Buscema, & Travel Foreman
April 2007
*****

This mag links ’00s Marvel to its ’10s future. As Danny Rand grew out of ’70s kung fu, so Orson Randall is a riff on ’20s pulp: born, like Tarzan, in a faraway land. His plutocrat father built a secret ‘hydraulic subway’ beneath NYC! He mentors Rand in new techniques like channelling chi thru his pistols.

last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #3
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #5

also indexed for Apr. ’07

The Immortal Iron Fist #3

November 16, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja, Travel Foreman & Russ Heath
February 2007
****

For stretches, Aja’s art is a variation on Maleev’s Daredevil, esp. the backgrounds. Then BAM! he’ll lay out a beautiful page. I dig the toon-eyes on IM’s mask! Great momentum too, as HYDRA undermines Rand Corp & hunts a 1920s Fist, led by IF nemesis Davos (AKA Steel Serpent) & mystical crane women.

last issue:  The Immortal Iron Fist #2
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #4

also indexed for Feb. ’07
Astonishing X-Men #20
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #11

The Immortal Iron Fist #2

November 15, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja, Travel Foreman, & John Severin
December 2006
****

Secondary artists help Frac & Bru elaborate on a history of the Iron Fist—c.f. a girl in 16C China who keeps pirates at bay! And the US doughboy (rough pencils of trenches by ’60s bullpen vet Severin) is still alive—immortal! His presence in NYC blocks the flow of IF chi, to Danny’s consternation.

last issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #1
next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #3

also indexed for Dec. ’06
Astonishing X-Men #18
Civil War #6 of 7
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #9

The Immortal Iron Fist #1

November 14, 2010

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction // David Aja & Travel Foreman
November 2008
*****

Kung fu hero gets an ’00s revival after his recent Daredevil cameos. Fist always had pulpy roots—his origin is a riff on ’70s Batman—but this debut ish elaborates on the concept by chronicling the legacy of Iron Fists. Also, a 21st century Chinese corp is a front for HYDRA, a modern Yellow Peril.

next issue: The Immortal Iron Fist #2

also indexed for Nov. ’08
Astonishing X-Men #17
Civil War #5 of 7
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #8

Quasar #36

November 11, 2010

Mark Gruenwald // Greg Capullo
July 1992
***
It’s nice to have someone pause & mourn the massacre that climaxed Galactic Storm. A soul-eater from space has gorged on the civilian dead; Quasar, as Protector of the Universe, convinces the spirits of the Kree Empire to take their power back. Includes a few epic splashes by Capullo.
[last issue: Quasar #35]
[next issue: Quasar #37]

Quasar #35

November 10, 2010

Mark Gruenwald // Greg Capullo
June 1992
****
The galactic hero resigns from the Avengers to spend more time in space (ostensibly, he wants to pitch in on relief efforts after the Kree-Shi’ar War).  The move lets Gruenwald’s creativity loose in a dense issue, full of weird alien cultures & a demonic cosmic being. Plots even simmer back on Earth!
[continued from Captain America #401]
[last issue: Quasar #34]
[next issue: Quasar #36]

Captain America #401

November 9, 2010

Mark Gruenwald // Rik Levins
June 1992
***
After the grim conclusion to the Avengers x-over, Cap wonders whether his moral rectitude is outmoded in ’90s comics. It’s a fine bit of self-reflection as Cap, Hawkeye & Iron Man go out for a beer. The subplot, in ironic counterpoint, slowly builds tension: Diamondback seems destined for torture.
[continued from The Avengers #347]
[last issue: Captain America #400]

The Avengers #347

November 8, 2010

Bob Harras // Steve Epting
May 1992
***
Part 19 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
A morally confused denouement to a well-done crossover. Initially, this ish is a sentimental paean to the brutality of war & civilian casualties. But the emotional affect unravels as the plot bends to convention. The heroes survive a galactic bomb blast w/o a scratch, then half the team slaughters the alien AI who plotted the genocide. Harras & DeFalco are simply naive w/r/t violence & war.
[continued from Wonder Man #9]
[continued in Captain America #401]
[last issue: The Avengers #346]
[next issue: The Avengers #348]

Wonder Man #9

November 7, 2010

Gerard Jones // Jeff Johnson
May 1992
***
Part 18 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
The crossover plot roars into a surprise turn (albeit foreshadowed): the Avengers arrive too late to defuse antimatter bomb! Jones continues to aim for substance, even if he stacks his deck in considering the ethics of genocide. And tho’ JJ gives good pacing, his art is a bit too ’90s for me.
[continued from Quasar #34]
[continued in The Avengers #347]
[last issue: Wonder Man #8]
[next issue: Wonder Man #10]

Quasar #34

November 6, 2010

Mark Gruenwald // Rurik Tyler
May 1992
***
Part 17 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
Skrulls have hijacked a space-bomb & hyperspace traffic has destabilized our sun. But the cavalry arrives as Binary (AKA Carol Danvers) siphons off the antimatter causing the solar eruptions. As always, the mag’s strength is in its naive superhero tone, which makes the space operatics a delight.
[continued from Avengers West Coast #82]
[continued in Wonder Man #9]
[last issue: Quasar #33]
[next issue: Quasar #35]

Avengers West Coast #82

November 5, 2010

Roy & Dann Thomas // Dave Ross
May 1992
**
Part 16 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
The Shi’ar half of this crossover has been weaker than the Kree half. It’s partly the writing but it’s also the lack of strong plot turns. Chapter 16 is just another battle royale btw. superteams till a stray shot unmasks a Skrull imposter among the aliens. It finally alters the epic’s momentum.
[continued from Captain America #400]
[continued in Quasar #34]
[last issue: Avengers West Coast #81]
[next issue: Avengers West Coast #83]

Captain America #400

November 4, 2010

A-plot: Mark Gruenwald // Rik Levins
May 1992
A-story: ***
Part 15 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
Momentum is starting to flag on the third time thru the line-up for this crossover. Take this chapter: it’s fun but it feels padded out. For the mag’s 400th issue (!), Cap wrestles half a dozen foes till he realizes it’s a psychodrama—a giant green Kirby AI hive-mind’s attempt to assimilate him.
[continued from The Mighty Thor #446]
[continued in Avengers West Coast #82]
[last issue: Captain America #399]
[next issue: Captain America #401]

The Mighty Thor #446

November 3, 2010

Tom DeFalco // Pat Olliffe
April 1992
*
Part 14 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
Thru & thru, “Galactic Storm” is a solid crossover—except for Thor. Where DeFalco the Editor requests byzantine intrigues that undermine the Avengers’ diplomacy, DeFalco the Writer offers a melee btw. superteams & gassy sentiments on honor. Olliffe undercuts the action w/ his loose curvy pencils.
[continued from Iron Man #279]
[continued in Captain America #400]
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #445]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #446]

Iron Man #279

November 2, 2010

Lee Kaminski // Paul Ryan
April 1992
**
Part 13 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
Iron Man & Hawkeye skulk thru a space empire’s capital, hoping to free their comrades—which is to say, it’s standard Flash Gordon space-action in superhero drag. But as a chapter in a crossover, it’s ***: designed & executed ably, a showcase of momentum & suspense, w/ twists in several plot strands.
[continued from The Avengers #346]
[continued in The Mighty Thor #446]
[last issue: Iron Man #278]
[next issue: Iron Man #280]

The Avengers #346

November 1, 2010

Bob Harras // Steve Epting
April 1992
***
Part 12 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
The ugly head of the Supreme Intelligence usurps the Kree Imperium, but has he got a deeper goal than mere power? Mostly tho’, this ish is a thumping match btw. the Avengers & an alien superteam. But Epting’s improving: his sleek style, pacing & settings happily obscure the cliches in Harras’ script.
[continued from Wonder Man #8]
[continued in Iron Man #279]
[last issue: The Avengers #345]
[next issue: The Avengers #347]