Archive for May, 2011

Secret War #5 of 5

May 22, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Gabriele Dell’Otto
December 2005
***

It went semi-annual, but at least this mini got finished. And there’s a compelling tale that doesn’t quite get told: a comment on 9/11 (made clumsily explicit in one ugly, painted splash) & American foreign policy, embodied by Nick Fury. Problem is, Bendis can’t quite handle the ambiguity required to turn Fury from a heroic superspy into a spook whose activites are a form of moral blindness.

last issue: Secret War #4 of 5

also indexed for Dec. ’05
Daredevil #78
Drax the Destroyer #2 of 4
Young Avengers #9

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Secret War #4 of 5

May 21, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Gabriele Dell’Otto
May 2005
***

Whoops, that was a long delay! The payoff isn’t quite worth the wait either, esp. since #3 was low on plot. A scarred woman (the deposed PM of Latveria) activates a bomb made of supervillain tech. Bendis aims to comment on 9/11—eg suicide bomber in NYC—but the chaotic, murky art obscures his point.

last issue: Secret War #3 of 5
next issue: Secret War #5 of 5

also indexed for May ’05
Astonishing X-Men #10
Daredevil #71
The Pulse #8
Young Avengers #2

Secret War #3 of 5

May 20, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Gabriele Dell’Otto
October 2004
**

If you’re writing a 5-part quarterly, you really need shouldn’t indulge in so much action & so little plot—you kill the momentum. Peter Parker’s unconscious mind begins to recall the cover op that last issue set up. But mostly, it’s Dell’Otto drawing glowy red-eyed tech in an homage to The Matrix.

last issue: Secret War #2 of 5
next issue: Secret War #4 of 5

also indexed for Oct. ’04
Astonishing X-Men #4
Daredevil #63
Fantastic Four #517

Secret War #2 of 5

May 19, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Gabriele Dell’Otto
July 2004
***

Marvel’s spymaster recruits a dream-team of supers (& a wild card, played by Angie Jolie) to overthrow the Latvarian govt. The mag aims at fun cloak-&-dagger realism. But the glossy, dead art, facile dialogue, & a cast that’s way too A-list for the plot all imply a slick Hollywood emptiness.

last issue: Secret War #1 of 5
next issue: Secret War #3 of 5

also indexed for Jul. ’04
Astonishing X-Men #1
The Pulse #3
Thanos #10

Secret War #1 of 5

May 18, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Gabriele Dell’Otto
April 2004
***

Nick Fury has evidence that supercriminals are funded by a post-Doom Latverian proxy—but he’s muzzled by the State Dept because Latv’s our ally! Bendis brings his hard-boiled espionage to the greater Marvel U but he may not be able to pull off the moral ambiguity. Jury’s out on D’O’s painted art.

next issue: Secret War #2 of 5

also indexed for Apr. ’04
Daredevil #57
Fantastic Four #510
New X-Men #153
The Pulse #1

The Pulse #14

May 17, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
May 2006
*****

Bendis returns to Alias-style storytelling to conclude this too-brief bi-monthly mag, cancelled just as it found its rhythm. Jess Jones talks to her newborn daughter about her one week as a grim-n-gritty vigilante (“The Knightress”), when she met the Heroes for Hire. A smart, sweet bit of closure.

last issue: The Pulse #13

also indexed for May ’06
Annihilation: Prologue #1 of 1
Iron Man #6
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #3
Young Avengers #11

The Pulse #13

May 16, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
March 2006
*****
Jess delivers her daughter surrounded by baby-daddy Luke Cage & his colleagues, the Avengers. D-Man, a onetime Avenger & now a vagrant, gets help from his hero, Daredevil. The thematic parallel is elegant, liberal, & hopeful, implying an inclusive community that looks after even its lowest members.

last issue: The Pulse #12
next issue: The Pulse #14

also indexed for Mar. ’06
Iron Man #5
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #1
Young Avengers #10

The Pulse #12

May 15, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
January 2006
****

Jess deals w/ an early labor (three months in fiction—in real life, the fetus was conceived in Nov. ’01!) & w/ a bigoted reaction to a “mutant” delivery, till the Avengers shuttle her to Dr. Strange. Tight pacing smoothes over the lack of segues btw the plot & a subplot about  a homeless superhero.

last issue: The Pulse #11
next issue: The Pulse #13

also indexed for Jan. ’06
Drax the Destroyer #3 of 4

The Pulse #11

May 14, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
November 2005
****

Gaydos returns w/ his rough-hewn, indie style that Jess, frankly, is growing out of. She chats w/ Sue Richards about super-motherhood over brunch, a scene of adult normalcy & even realism. To parallel her rise in the world, a subplot shows how onetime Avenger D-Man has fallen into obscurity.

last issue: The Pulse #10
next issue: The Pulse #12

also indexed for Nov. ’05
Drax the Destroyer #1 of 4
Young Avengers #8

The Pulse #10

May 13, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Lark
September 2005
***

Lark’s etched style is perfect for a journalist’s perspective on the alt-verse of House of M, in which Magneto has instituted apartheid against humanity. Or it would be, except that the late Hawkeye detours thru this ish on his way from #5 of the HoM mini to #7, angsting about his resurrection.

last issue: The Pulse #9
next issue: The Pulse #11

also indexed for Sept. ’05
Young Avengers #6

The Pulse #9

May 12, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Lark
July 2005
****

Lark nails the seedy, cynical tone that Bendis aims for—no surprise, considering how akin this mag is to Lark’s previous gig, Gotham Central. Jess & her Bugle colleagues are pawns in a superspy intelligence leak. But she only cares about Luke Cage, whom she finds w/ his kung fu pals in a safehouse.

last issue: The Pulse #8
next issue: The Pulse #10

also indexed for Jul. ’05
Astonishing X-Men #11
Young Avengers #4

The Pulse #8

May 11, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Lark
May 2005
****

Jess Jones turns down an offer from HYDRA, an evil superspy outfit, while an anonymous SHIELD agent blows the whistle on Nick Fury. This arc finally starts perking, helped by strong pacing & Lark’s scratchy line. More than Secret War itself, #8 gets the petty betrayals & vendettas of espionage.

last issue: The Pulse #7
next issue: The Pulse #9

also indexed for May ’05
Astonishing X-Men #10
Secret War #4 of 5
Young Avengers #2

The Pulse #7

May 10, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Brent Anderson
March 2005
***

A crossover w/ Secret War is undercut by that quarterly mini’s delays. So we’re just as confused as Jess Jones about who bombed her apt with Luke Cage & what went down at a wrecked NY pier. In a bright spot, the Bugle drops the story cuz Nick Fury’s involved: a cynical take on Bush-era journo-politics.

last issue: The Pulse #6
next issue: The Pulse #8

also indexed for Mar. ’05
Astonishing X-Men #9
Iron Man #3

The Pulse #6

May 9, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Brent Anderson
January 2005
***

As if to underscore the Astro City inspiration, editors have assigned Anderson to an arc of Pulse. His grit fits the reporters-in-Marvel-NYC concept better than Bagley’s light. But this arc crosses over (via Luke Cage, injured by a suicide bomber) into the chaos of Secret War, a delayed & murky mini.

last issue: The Pulse #5
next issue: The Pulse #7

also indexed for Jan. ’05
Astonishing X-Men #7
Iron Man #1

The Pulse #5

May 8, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Mark Bagley
November 2004
***

Osborne gets arrested, yet the big moment feels anticlimactic. Maybe it’s the obvious violation of due process when Luke Cage attacks him in broad daylight? Maybe it’s how a super-tussle violates the book’s fragile realism? Maybe it’s that Jess’ scene, a pregnancy anxiety, rings a rare hollow note?

last issue: The Pulse #4
next issue: The Pulse #6

also indexed for Nov. ’04
Astonishing X-Men #5

The Pulse #4

May 7, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Mark Bagley
September 2004
****

Ben Urich, the shabby newsman from Miller’s Daredevil (& this writer’s too), pins a murder on the Green Goblin & confirms the villain’s secret ID—& incidentally, Spider-Man’s too. It’s incredibly solid work, although Bagley’s wide-eyed ‘toonish style doesn’t match the gritty, realistic tone.

last issue: The Pulse #3
next issue: The Pulse #5

also indexed for Sept. ’04
Astonishing X-Men #3
Thanos #12

The Pulse #3

May 6, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Mark Bagley
July 2004
***

Despite an intimate scene w/ a hormonal Jess Jones, this mag is less Alias redux than a Daily Bugle bi-monthly. Like Astro City, it’s a look at civilian life in a superhero city. Basing it around a newspaper gives Bendis access to every level of urban life, w/ arc #1 focused on a reporter’s murder.

last issue: The Pulse #2
next issue: The Pulse #4

also indexed for Jul. ’04
Astonishing X-Men #1
Daredevil #60

Fantastic Four #513
Fantastic Four #514

Secret War #2 of 5
Thanos #10

The Pulse #2

May 5, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Mark Bagley
May 2004
**

Last issue’s corpse gets a backstory—and it’s humdrum. A Bugle reporter, nosing into a missing-persons case, gets killed by the Green Goblin. The complete lack of a hook to the character is atypical for Bendis. The only clever note is that she’s a Lois Lane manque: Terri Kidder (= Hatcher & Margot).

last issue: The Pulse #1
next issue: The Pulse #3

also indexed for May ’04
New X-Men #154
Thanos #7
Thanos #8

The Pulse #1

May 4, 2011

Brian Michael Bendis // Mark Bagley
April 2004
****
A reboot of the superlative ’00s comic Alias, w/ Bagley’s pencils signaling a lighter tone. It’s low on action (same as Alias) but the char work & real-world touches (like the death of print) make it up. Jonah Jameson offers protag Jessica Jones, pregnant ex-superheroine, a gig at the Daily Bugle.

continued from Alias #28
next issue: The Pulse #2

also indexed for Apr. ’04
New X-Men #153
Secret War #1 of 5

The Mighty Thor #382

May 3, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
August 1987
****
Coincidentally, Simonson ends his run at Thor’s 300th issue (subtract Journey into Mystery‘s first 82 Thor-less issues). It’s that rarity, a satisfying climax. Tho’ Simonson’s pace feels rushed, Sal B keeps up w/ his ’60s style. Temporarily residing in enchanted Kirby armor, Thor storms the underworld to lift Hel’s curse upon his brittle bones & then rushes home to save Asgard from frost giants.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #381]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #383]

The Mighty Thor #381

May 2, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
July 1987
****
Having faced the World Serpent & a Satan analog, but cursed w/ immortality, Thor’s a pulverized mess. Simonson finds a brilliant solution: syphon Thor’s soul into the enchanted armor that he’s fought so often! It plays to Buscema’s Kirby-esque strengths as Thor battles the armor on the astral plane.
[continued from Mephisto vs. #4 of 4]
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #380]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #382]