Archive for the ‘AIM’ Category

Avengers Assemble #25

February 28, 2016

Avengers Assemble 25Kelly Sue DeConnick with Warren Ellis // Matteo Buffagni with Neil Edwards & Raffaele Ienco
May 2014
**

Sometimes a character-focused arc doesn’t need a flashy climax, but this one’s too generic. The dialogue suddenly seems phoned in, & the art lacks a cogent sense of space or urgency. But the bigger problem is that Spider-Girl never snaps into focus as an individual, she’s just a girl sidekick with pluck.

last issue: Avengers Assemble #24

also indexed for May ’14
Captain Marvel #1
Hawkeye #17
Hawkeye #18
Moon Knight #1

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Avengers Assemble #24

February 27, 2016

Avengers Assemble 24Kelly Sue DeConnick with Warren Ellis // Matteo Buffagni
April 2014
***

Anya Corazon isn’t exactly a moribund character—she’s popped up in Spidey books & a Junior Avengers mag—but she’s esp. well-suited for an Avengers internship. Here she’s teamed w/ Iron Man & then Captain America, but neither writer quite gets the mens’ tones right, a small misstep in a fun arc.

last issue: Avengers Assemble #23
next issue: Avengers Assemble #25

also indexed for Apr. ’14
Hawkeye #15

Avengers Assemble #23

February 26, 2016

Avengers Assemble 23Kelly Sue DeConnick with Warren Ellis // Matteo Buffagni
March 2014
****

The Education of Anya Corazon continues with Wolverine’s classic girl-sidekick seminar. It helps immensely that Ellis & DeConnick have impressive chemistry as well. I also like KSDC’s depiction of the Avengers as a sort of super-NGO. And Buffagni’s showing issue-by-issue improvement!

last issue: Avengers Assemble #22
next issue: Avengers Assemble #24

Avengers Assemble #22

February 25, 2016

Avengers Assemble 22Kelly Sue DeConnick with Warren Ellis // Matteo Buffagni
February 2014
***

An unexpected visit from Uncle Warren! Evidently he’s scripting the villain’s dialogue, based on the genetic technobabble of the female Dr. Moreau. She’s a KSDC creation who had a regular gig in the Evil Avengers spin-off mag. FYI the artist has a good hand for facial expressions & not much else.

last issue: Avengers Assemble #21
next issue: Avengers Assemble #23

also indexed for Feb. ’14
Hawkeye #16

Avengers Assemble #21

February 24, 2016

Avengers Assemble 21Kelly Sue DeConnick // Matteo Buffagni
January 2014
***

Once again strip-mining Kirby for content, Marvel editorial replaces mutants with Inhumans. But DeConnick refreshes new properties, ones w/ double-X chromosomes, by pulling out a few ’00s supervillains. But her focus is Spider-Girl (AKA Araña) on a team-up with Black Widow & Spider-Woman.

last issue: Avengers Assemble #20
next issue: Avengers Assemble #22

also indexed for Jan. ’14
Captain Marvel #17
Hawkeye #14

Hawkeye #6

January 8, 2016

Hawkeye 06Matt Fraction // David Aja
late February 2013
*****

This take on the Avenger (“Hawkguy” as one neighbor has it) is startlingly innovative. A helical time structure has Barton spend the week pre X-mas in turf war w/ the Russian bros. Aja’s grid runs 6×6, even 7×6, with negative space opening & minimalizing the Mazzuchelli style of scratchy cape comics.

last issue: Hawkeye #5
next issue: Hawkeye #7

also indexed for Feb. ’13
Hawkeye #5
Winter Soldier #13

Hawkeye #5

January 7, 2016

Hawkeye 05Matt Fraction // Javier Pulido
early February 2012
*****

Kid Hawkeye impersonates an Iron Man villain—the criminal mastermind w/ a gold mask—& earns an archenemy. She also learns that the video of her mentor sanctioning a terrorist was a fake, to protect the IDs of Navy Seals: a clever comics application of the Bin Laden op a few years ago.

last issue: Hawkeye #4
next issue: Hawkeye #6

also indexed for Feb. ’12
Hawkeye #6
Winter Soldier #13

Hawkeye #4

January 6, 2016

Hawkeye 04Matt Fraction // Javier Pulido
January 2013
*****

SHIELD’s lost a VCR tape of Barton assassinating a global terrorist for them—so it dispatches him to buy it at auction in an ersatz Asian megacity! As an international man of mystery, he’s a flop. Pulido, however, proves Aja’s near-equal, using minimalism & softer curves to strike a lighter comic tone.

last issue: Hawkeye #3
next issue: Hawkeye #5

also indexed for Jan. ’13
Winter Soldier #12

Winter Soldier #12

December 15, 2015

Winter Soldier 12Ed Brubaker // Jackson Guice
January 2013
***

Bucky agrees to revert to his Soviet self and execute a mission for the superspy who’s kidnapped his GF. Our hero’s taken impulsive actions before, so at least it’s in character—but it’s astonishingly stupid. Brubaker has one foot out the door, and Guice, no longer inking himself, is looking ragged.

last issue: Winter Soldier #11
next issue: Winter Soldier #13

also indexed for Jan. ’13

Winter Soldier #11

December 13, 2015

Winter Soldier 11Ed Brubaker // Jackson Guice
December 2012
***

One drawback to Guice’s robust approach to superspy adventure is that it compunds one of Bru’s flaws. Their men have only a small range of emotion, mostly centered on machismo. It means that character dynamics are undercooked, even tho’ the point of #11 is to team Bucky up with fan fave Hawkeye.

last issue: Winter Soldier #11
next issue: Winter Soldier #13

also indexed for Dec. ’12
Captain America #18
Captain America #19
The Fantastic Four #611
FF #23

Winter Soldier #6

December 2, 2015

Winter Soldier 06Ed Brubaker // Michael Lark
early August 2012
****

My favorite of Brubaker’s artists takes a curtain call with this late-run arc about a KGB cryo-tube agent, an obvious foil for the title hero (he even kills an ex-Bucky!). Bru’s brought back to his hard-boiled, realistic side; take a sec to note how smoothy he shifts from last arc’s Doom & Apes!

last issue: Winter Soldier #5
next issue: Winter Soldier #7

also indexed for Aug. ’12
Captain America #13
The Fantastic Four #607
FF #19
Winter Soldier #7

Captain America #11

November 29, 2015

Captain America 5.11Ed Brubaker // Patrick Zircher
early July 2012
***

Someone’s hunting informants and exposing terrorist agents. It’s an ’80s vigilante, nicknamed Scourge, getting a ’10s update from Ed B! The violent spyfi art marks a return to form after slicksters McNiven & Davis. The bullpen’s sent out Zircher, a journeyman drawing in the Bat-mode of Michael Lark.

last issue: Captain America #11
next issue: Captain America #13

also indexed for Jul. ’12
Captain America #12
The Fantastic Four #605.1
The Fantastic Four #606
FF #18
Winter Soldier #5

Winter Soldier #2

November 22, 2015

Winter Soldier 02Ed Brubaker // Jackson Guice
late April 2012
****

Not content to continue the run’s Bourne-like action, this first arc pits our hero against a Commie gorilla with a jetpack & AK-47! It’s a ’60s Soviet hench-ape! But #2’s real story is Guice, adding maturity of layout to the Maleev photoref style. It’s gorgeous (except for his rubber-limbed Widow).

last issue: Winter Soldier #1
next issue: Winter Soldier #3

also indexed for Apr. ’12
Captain America #8
Captain America & Bucky #627
The Fantastic Four #603
FF #15
Winter Soldier #1

Winter Soldier #1

November 20, 2015

Winter Soldier 01Ed Brubaker // Jackson Guice
early April 2012
****

Bucky finally gets his solo mag, hunting Soviet cryotube killers w/ GF Black Widow. I wouldn’t want to delete Buck’s tenure as Cap but this is what the character’s meant for: a throwback to Cold War superspy stuff rather than the watered-down War on Terror espionage of the concurrent Cap run.

continued from Fear Itself: Captain America #7.1
next issue: Winter Soldier #2

also indexed for Apr. ’12
Captain America #8
Captain America & Bucky #627
The Fantastic Four #604
FF #15
Winter Soldier #2

Captain America #616

October 31, 2015

Captain America 616A-story: Ed Brubaker // Ed McGuinness
B-story: Ed Brubaker // Mike Deodato
C-story: Howard Chaykin
D-story: Cullen Bunn // Jason Latour
E-story: Mike Benson // Paul Grist
F-story: Frank Tieri // Paul Azaceta
G-Story: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel // Pepe Larraz
May 2011
A-story: ***
B-story: ***
C-story: ****
D-story: ****
E-story: **
F-story: ***
G-Story: ***

Double-sized to celebrate Cap’s debut in May ’41. True Cap gets the A-plot, New Cap gets the B. Narrative gravity starts to pull Rogers back into action, Bru’s chance to indulge a Batman brood. The tone clashes w/ McGuinness’ helium style. Deodato’s noirish shadows fit Bucky’s tale better, tho’ his he-man physiques grate. The non-Brubaker back-ups are good too, esp. a Chaykin period piece!

last issue: Captain America #615.1
next issue: Captain America #617

also indexed for May ’11
Annihilators #1 of 4
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade: Young Avengers #1 of 1
Captain America #615.1
FF #1
Secret Avengers #10

Captain America #615.1

October 30, 2015

Captain America 615.1Ed Brubaker // Mitch Breitweiser
May 2011
****

The strongest single issue of Steve Rogers, Director of SHIELD, delivering superspy adventure w/ high SF concepts. A rookie nearly dies trying to be Captain America; the twist is, he & the real Cap have been set up by Nick Fury. The plot echoes Englehart’s classic run, but its soul is ’60s cool.

last issue: Captain America #615
next issue: Captain America #616

also indexed for May ’11
Annihilators #1 of 4
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade: Young Avengers #1 of 1
Captain America #616
FF #1
Secret Avengers #10

Captain America: Reborn #6 of 6

September 27, 2015

Captain America Reborn 6 of 6Ed Brubaker // Bryan Hitch
March 2010
****

Sharon Carter & Steve Rogers (recovered from his “death”) defeat the Red Skull—even tho’ he’s a giant-size robot! That awesome climax, totally in bounds given the set-up, almost makes me forgive the (editorially dictated?) delay of the resurrection & Bucky’s now-superfluous promotion to captaincy.

continued in Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield #1 of 1
last issue: Captain America: Reborn #5 of 6

also indexed for Mar. ’10
Captain America #602
The Marvels Project #5 of 8
Fantastic Four #575
Guardians of the Galaxy #22
Nova #33
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #3 of 5
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #3 of 5

Captain America: Reborn #5 of 6

September 24, 2015

Captain America Reborn 5 of 6Ed Brubaker // Bryan Hitch
February 2010
**

Padding: a slugfest on the Washington Mall, as the Red Skull fights Bucky in Cap’s body, & Steve Rogers in Cap’s mindscape. This should’ve been #49, instead of #5 of 6 in another cash-grab event mini. Hitch draws okay panels (w/ figures very like Neal Adams), but he can’t lay a page out well.

last issue: Captain America: Reborn #4 of 6
next issue: Captain America: Reborn #6 of 6

also indexed for Feb. ’10
Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? #1 of 1
Fantastic Four #574
Guardians of the Galaxy #21
The Marvels Project #4 of 8
Nova #32
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #2 of 5
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2 of 5

Captain America #42

September 5, 2015

Captain America 42Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting & Luke Ross
November 2008
****

Agent 13 impedes but doesn’t foil the Kirby robo-scientist’s plan to restore the Red Skull—in Cap’s resurrected body? The drama means more of Bucky Barnes in the role. Brubaker has pulled off an Alan Moore-style storytelling coup by re-inventing a classic character.

last issue: Captain America #41
next issue: Captain America #43

also indexed for Nov. ’08
Daredevil #111
Guardians of the Galaxy #5
Nova #17

Captain America #41

September 4, 2015

Captain America 41Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
October 2008
****

Doc Faustus shaves his singular beard & betrays his allies to SHIELD; he also wipes the pregnancy from Carter’s memory. Erasing that event so thoroughly feels dishonest—& odd, since every other subplot fits so well into Brubaker’s epic storyline. He’s set Barnes up perfectly to replace Rogers as Cap!

last issue: Captain America #40
next issue: Captain America #42

also indexed for Oct. ’08
Daredevil #110
Guardians of the Galaxy #4
Nova #16

Captain America #38

September 1, 2015

Captain America 38Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
July 2008
****

Brubaker has found that sublime rhythm where each ish has an individual beat that moves an epic plot forward. Here it’s the re-intro of the McCarthy-era Cap, a naïve pawn in the villains’ complex plan to undermine America. It augers the Tea Party’s rise & ties artfully to the out-of-time theme.

last issue: Captain America #37
next issue: Captain America #39

also indexed in Jul. ’08
Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 of 1
Daredevil #107
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
The Immortal Iron Fist #15
Nova #13
Thunderbolts #120

Captain America #34

August 28, 2015

Captain America 34Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
March 2008
*****

This 21C Cap is the type of hero who kneecaps foes w/ a gun: an update for our era of mass shootings? But what’s unequivocally brilliant is the Red Skull’s latest plan. Dressed in Brooks Brothers, he profits by collapsing the US economy & directs his suborned SHIELD riot-cops to open fire on a protest!

last issue: Captain America #33
next issue: Captain America #35

also indexed for Mar. ’08
Annihilation: Conquest #3 of 6
Astonishing X-Men #24
Daredevil #104
Nova #10

Captain America #32

August 26, 2015

Captain America 32Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
January 2008
****

A rare chase-in-a-base sequence that’s gripping, due less to Bucky Barnes’ badass escape than to Sharon Carter’s opaque motives. Via captions, her psyche struggles to free itself from mind control. Even her heroic actions have a sinister gloss: to save Buck, she shoves him out a cargo plane!

last issue: Captain America #31
next issue: Captain America #33

also indexed for Jan. ’08
Annihilation: Conquest #1 of 6
Astonishing X-Men #23
The Immortal Iron Fist #11
Nova #8

Captain America #29

August 23, 2015

Captain America 29Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting & Mike Perkins
October 2007
****

Bru’s Cap has a lurid sense of psychology: the Soviet’s mindscape is a battlefield, & the psycho lovers share a clinch as they escape prison, & Agent 13 has morning sickness! But the art begins to flag. Epting stages phony movie ultraviolence; Perkins renders the astral plane in dull hyper-realism.

last issue: Captain America #28
next issue: Captain America #30

also indexed for Oct. ’07
Annihilation: Conquest: Quasar #2 of 4
Annihilation: Conquest: Starlord #2 of 4
Annihilation: Conquest: Wraith #2 of 4
Astonishing X-Men #22
Daredevil #100
The Immortal Iron Fist #8
Nova #5
Thunderbolts #116

Captain America #28

August 22, 2015

Captain America 28Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
September 2007
****

The Skull’s kid & a squad of snake goons wreck the Asian stock market—a timely nod to the slow, fraud-based financial collapse of ’07-’08. But generally the elaborate plotting, ever-expanding cast, & intrusion of the Marvel-wide status quo conspire to sap momentum from this excellent mag.

last issue: Captain America #27
next issue: Captain America #29

also indexed for Sept. ’07
Annihilation: Conquest: Starlord #1 of 4
Annihilation: Conquest: Quasar #1 of 4
Annihilation: Conquest: Wraith #1 of 4
Daredevil #99
Nova #4

Captain America #17

August 10, 2015

Captain America 17Ed Brubaker // Mike Perkins
June 2006
***

Back to Cap’s visit to the heartland, where folksy Iowa hides a beekeeper terrorist cell! Terribly violent, lots of gunplay. With Epting on vacation & Lark on Brubaker’s Daredevil, the bullpen calls Perkins, who practices the hyperrealistic widescreen that’s Marvel’s in-house style at the moment.

continued from Captain America 65th Anniversary Special #1 of 1
last issue: Captain America #16
next issue: Captain America #18

also indexed for Jun. ’06
Annihilation: Nova #1 of 4
Annihilation: Ronan #1 of 4
Annihilation: Silver Surfer #1 of 4
Annihilation: Super-Skrull #1 of 4
Astonishing X-Men #14
Daredevil #84
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #4
Runaways #15
X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #4 of 5

Captain America #16

August 8, 2015

Captain America 16Ed Brubaker // Mike Perkins
May 2006
***

Cap & Agent 13 follow a lead to Iowa, where a drifter saw Bucky destroy a giant robot! Turns out he’s exposed a company town for those beekeeper science terrorists. Last issue’s outlaw couple are in town too! The seamy underside of Middle America reflects the run’s weary take on the American Dream

continued in Captain America 65th Anniversary Special #1 of 1
last issue: Captain America #15
next issue: Captain America #17

also indexed for May ’06
Annihilation: Prologue #1 of 1
Captain America 65th Anniversary Special #1 of 1
Daredevil #83
Iron Man #6
The Pulse #14
Runaways #14
X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #3 of 5
Young Avengers #11

Captain America #13

August 5, 2015

Captain America 13Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
January 2006
****

Iron Man helps Cap track the ‘energy signature’ of the plot’s maguffin. SHIELD was supposed to do that back in #2! At any rate, it provides a combat scene w/ a big robot & goons. The core of #13, however, is a heart-to-heart w/ sidekick Falcon, who simply asks Cap what he wants to do. Save Bucky!

last issue: Captain America #12
next issue: Captain America #14

also indexed for Jan. ’06
Daredevil #79
Drax the Destroyer #3 of 4
The Pulse #12
Runaways #10

Captain America #8

July 31, 2015

Captain America 08Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
August 2005
*****

Bucky Barnes, back from the dead! A Soviet sub recovered the sidekick’s comatose body in WW2, & brainwashed him to be a literal sleeper agent, years in cold storage adding to his life! As Brubaker reminded us last ish, Englehart used a similar Rip van Winkle device to revive the 1950s Cap & Buck.

last issue: Captain America #7
next issue: Captain America #9

also indexed for Aug. ’05
Astonishing X-Men #12
Daredevil #74
Runaways #5
Young Avengers #5

Captain America #3

July 26, 2015

Captain America 03Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting with Michael Lark
March 2005
*****

After mopping up an abortive terror attack, Cap & Agent 13 earn some R&R in Paris. The city elicits nostalgia from the WW2 vet, whose collab w/ the Fr. Resistance (Lark’s pencils) lets the reader into the title char’s psyche & lets Ed B snub the idiotic “A for France” line in The Ultimates.

also indexed for Mar. ’05
Astonishing X-Men #9
Daredevil #69
Fantastic Four #522
Iron Man #3
The Pulse #7

Captain America #2

July 25, 2015

Captain America 02Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting with Michael Lark
February 2005
****

Cap & the SHIELD team investigate the death of the Red Skull by first ending his WMD attack on NYC’s sewers. Tight & dramatic stuff, v. contempo as it modernizes superspy for post-9/11 readers. Brubaker seems esp to enjoy PTSD flashbacks to 1940s battles, w/ Gotham C collab Lark on nightmare duty.

last issue: Captain America #2
next issue: Captain America #4

also indexed for Feb. ’05
Astonishing X-Men #8
Daredevil #68
Fantastic Four #521
Iron Man #2

Captain America #1

July 24, 2015

Captain America 01Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
January 2005
*****

Cap’s new volume inaugurates Ed Brubaker’s monumental run. He’s all cloak-&-dagger, as an ex-Soviet general “sanctions” the Red Skull (mid-monologue!) for his Kirby widget! Epting does career-high work in a tense, silent-action setpiece btw Cap & AIM agents atop a BK-bound B-train refitted as a WMD!

continued from Captain America #32
next issue: Captain America #2

also indexed for Jan. ’05
Astonishing X-Men #7
Daredevil #67
Fantastic Four #520
Iron Man #1
The Pulse #6

Nova #36

May 23, 2014

Nova 36Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Andrea DiVito
June 2010
***

Nova exits on a cliffhanger, a victim of the downsizing of Marvel’s cosmic line. #36 connects Realm of Kings to a Thanos mini, as the Human Rocket faces an evil extra-dimensional Quasar who serves Lovecraftian Old Gods. Plenty of little plot threads dangle; hopefully, DnA will get to pick them up.

last issue: Nova #35
continued in The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 of 1

also indexed for Jun. ’10
The Fantastic Four #578
Guardians of the Galaxy #25

Nova #23

April 22, 2014

Nova 23Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Andrea DiVito
May 2009
****

Prob’ly one of the top ten works in the main Marvel U! DiVito returns to the SF line; his style’s still stiff but better inking retains his use of negative space. Plotwise, DnA twist & turn: the Nova Corps mobilizes for the War of Kings, while protag Rider gets Cptn. Marvel’s old 1970s power bracers!

last issue: Nova #22
next issue: Nova #24

also indexed for May ’09
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1 of 5
Guardians of the Galaxy #11
Guardians of the Galaxy #12
War of Kings #1 of 6
War of Kings: Darkhawk #2 of 2

FF #22

January 2, 2014

FF 22Jonathan Hickman // André Araújo
November 2012
****

#22 varies Hickman’s wonky non-linear plotting by recounting the events of #610 from Bentley 23’s standpoint. Bentley, the Wizard’s clone-kid, confronts his “father” (tapping into the run’s father/son themes). Araújo’s superfine line is a different look for this mag, a prettier Dalrymple type of pencil.

see also The Fantastic Four #610
last issue: FF #21
next issue: FF #23

also indexed for Nov. ’12
The Fantastic Four #610

The Fantastic Four #610

January 1, 2014

Fantastic Four 610Jonathan Hickman // Ryan Stegman
November 2012
****

Hickman supplies the Marvel Universe with yet another immensely clever concept. This ish, the Kirby science-terrorists at AIM buy a Caribbean isle for a research base. Rather than fight, they extradite the Wizard & negotiate with Mr F, appointed as the US envoy. For another perspec, read FF #22.

see also FF #22
last issue: The Fantastic Four #609
next issue: The Fantastic Four #611

also indexed for Nov. ’12
FF #22

FF #9

December 8, 2013

FF 09Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
November 2011
****

Epting’s in his element as he draws a massive, chaotic battle btw Inhumans & Moloids. On the field of combat, Hickman’s characters act like chesspieces, as Black Bolt captures a pair of Mr F’s duplicates (& Reed himself) while the fourth Richards takes Dr. Doom hostage & flees to Latveria! Awesome.

last issue: FF #8
next issue: FF #10

also indexed for Nov. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7 of 9

FF #8

December 7, 2013

FF 08Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
October 2011
***

Back down to Earth, literally & figuratively, after the cool flashback of #6-7. Epting’s Hollywood realism can’t encompass Hickman’s imagination; it’s just bland, confusing—maybe rushed? Less plot than usual too, as the Future Foundation’s villain-allies fight the Reed-doubles & Inhumans in a melée.

last issue: FF #7
next issue: FF #9

FF #5

December 4, 2013

FF 05Jonathan Hickman // Barry Kitson
August 2011
****

The prophesied war ignites! First the doppel-Reeds & Mole Man destroy Old Atlantis, then they face the Inhuman space-city at the strange Forever City. And kudos to Kitson: tho’ his Reed is bland, his Thing is expressive &, even rarer, his Sue is a strong presence, matching Hick’s portrayal.

last issue: FF #4
next issue: FF #6

also indexed for Aug. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #6 of 9

FF #4

December 3, 2013

FF 04Jonathan Hickman // Barry Kitson
late July 2011
****

Can Sue stop alt-Reed from building a planet-wrecker?! Kitson relieves Epting, an incremental step up in quality since his bright, flat style (akin to C. Swan) mirrors this mag’s optimism. He’s also better at monsters, which means (a) a better Thing, & (b) a great face-off btw Atlanteans & Moloids.

last issue: FF #3
next issue: FF #5

also indexed for Jul. ’11
FF #3

FF #3

December 2, 2013

Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
FF 03July 2011
****

The first symposium of the Future Foundation, hosted by Dr. Doom, asks “How to defeat Mr. Fantastic?” The enemy: the Council of Reeds, trapped on Earth. Various foes pick one side or the other, as the Reeds devise an Earth-shattering gateway home using the fantastical cities of last year’s issues.

last issue: FF #2
next issue: FF #4

also indexed for Jul. ’11
FF #4

FF #1

November 30, 2013

FF 01Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
May 2011
****

Effectively #589, but the new title marks a shift to the team post-Johnny. His slot is given to Spider-Man, who fits in better here than on the Avengers—after all, he attempted to join back in ASM #1! The bigger surprise is Doc Doom, who’s been invited to the Future Foundation by goddaughter Val.

continued from The Fantastic Four #588
next issue: FF #2

also indexed for May ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade: Young Avengers #1 of 1

The Fantastic Four #576

November 17, 2013

Fantastic Four 576Jonathan Hickman // Dale Eaglesham
April 2010
****

As head of the FF’s foundation, Sue leads the team into a pocket sea btw magma boil & polar freeze. So she’s appointed diplomat to a new Atlantean court, ending its 500K-year isolation! A perfect role for her. Half of #576 is silent, giving Eaglesham a solo: an undersea battle w/ science-terrorists.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #575
next issue: The Fantastic Four #577

also indexed for Apr. ’10

Avengers/JLA #4 of 4

October 7, 2013

Avengers.JLA 4 of 4Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
December 2003
***

The crossover ends as it must: in an enormous brawl of punching & zapping. Still, the mag’s creative duo amazingly avoid even a whiff of the corporate avarice that must underpin this mini. The grand scope & casual confidence prove a good capstone to the super-teamwork dynamic that defines the Avengers run of Busiek & Pérez et al. Think of it as a victory lap AWA an impressive work of fan-service.

last issue: JLA/Avengers #3 of 4

also indexed for Dec. ’03
Alias #27
New X-Men #148

Avengers #56

October 3, 2013

Avengers 56Kurt Busiek // Yanick Paquette
September 2002
****

The squad gets audited by accountants from Tony Stark’s foundation. It’s exactly what you’d figure a Busiek issue would be: an oblique approach to superheroes. But tho’ it reads like a fill-in issue (esp. that generic cover), #56 ends his run on a high note, with Paquette ably helping him close.

last issue: Avengers #55
next issue: Avengers #57

also indexed for Sept. ’02
Alias #11
Alias #12
New X-Men
#129

Avengers #43

September 18, 2013

Avengers 43Kurt Busiek // Alan Davis
August 2001
****

Around the globe, Avengers ally w/ local military to stop super-insurgencies sponsored by the Conqueror. Marvel soap opera fills out the spaces of this epic story, making for esp. strong superteam comics. In one poten. risky plot devo, Ms. Marvel recognizes Kang’s son as her infamous star-rapist!

continued in Avengers Annual 2001
last issue: Avengers #42
next issue: Avengers #44

also indexed for Aug. ’01
New X-Men #115

Avengers #13

July 30, 2013

Avengers 13Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
February 1999
****

A simple *** except that Pérez is on fire! He’s never been better, smoothly guiding eyes across a dozen panels per page. Busiek focuses on rookies Justice & Firestar, who have swapped roles: one enthusiastic & the other unsure. Here, Justice realizes he’s comfier in the minors w/ his New Warriors.

last issue: Avengers #12
next issue: Avengers #14

also indexed for Feb. ’99
Avengers Forever #3 of 12

New X-Men #144

November 29, 2012

Grant Morrison // Chris Bachalo
September 2003
****

Much of #144 has Fantomex exposit on Weapon Plus, the anti-mutant corp that bred him. The ultra-cool antihero, like his creator, delights in misdirection as a mode of self-definition. Under all that, however, lies an autopilot conceit: Weapon XV, spliced w/ a super-Sentinel, awakens to megalomania.

last issue: New X-Men #143
next issue: New X-Men #145

also indexed for Sept. ’03
Alias #24
JLA/Avengers #1 of 4

New X-Men #143

November 28, 2012

Grant Morrison // Chris Bachalo
late August 2003
*****
Synthetic time speed-breeds generations of supersoldiers in an artificial city surveilled by corporate scientists—until one test subject escapes! But Fantomex drags Logan & Summers to the scene. Bachalo’s design sense complements the arc’s theme of 21C superscience well—just look at his AIM outfits!
[last issue: New X-Men #142]
[next issue: New X-Men #144]

Tales of Suspense #80: Captain America

January 25, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1966
B-story: ***
ToS #80 ties a few plot threads together in a loose knot, but the rocketing momentum compensates for that. Meanwhile, Heck’s thin-lined inking isn’t ideal for Kirby’s chunky style. The Red Skull betrays his terrorist allies & steals their invention: a “cosmic cube” that turns will into reality!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #79]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #81]