Archive for the ‘Beetle’ Category

Thunderbolts #33

July 22, 2014

Thunderbolts 033Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
December 1999

Busiek’s swansong recounts Jolt’s trauma during the Onslaught attack—no surprises yet. His real interest is in a techno-oddball right out of Astro City: a pudgy, scruffy recluse who’s lurked in a mountain base since X-Men #28, thru several changes of ownership, & now accepts T-bolts membership.

last issue: Thunderbolts #32
next issue: Thunderbolts #34

also indexed for Dec. ’99
Avengers #23

Thunderbolts #29

July 18, 2014

Thunderbolts 029Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
August 1999

One flaw of T-bolts is its chirpy fan-girl sidekick, now joined by a 2nd superteen. W/ their teammates captured, it’s up to them to save the day. But one strength of T-bolts is its team dynamic, such that other scenes showcase more vivid characters—like Moonstone, sniggering at Graviton’s clichéd goals.

last issue: Thunderbolts #28
next issue: Thunderbolts #30

also indexed for Aug. ’99
Avengers #19
Avengers Forever #9 of 12

Thunderbolts #26

July 15, 2014

Thunderbolts 026Kurt Busiek & Joe Casey // Mark Bagley & Leonardo Manco
May 1999

Having earned a rest, Busiek & Bagley hand the reins over to Casey & Manco for a doozy of a fill-in. #26 goes into a super-prison, where Mach-1 quells a riot. Its approach is an homage to Astro City, w/ a realistic, hard-boiled perspective & gloomy style augmented nicely by echoes of Windsor-Smith.

last issue: Thunderbolts #25
next issue: Thunderbolts #27

also indexed for May ’99
Avengers #16
Avengers Forever #6 of 12

Thunderbolts #23

July 12, 2014

Thunderbolts 023Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
February 1999

As Mach-1 turns himself in, an industrialist funds an armored team (& Bagley co-creation) to capture the T-bolts, led by a wannabe Cap. Since Hawkeye joined, this mag has found its swing! KB & MB juggle a huge cast using trad methods like 2×3 grids, bright 2D chars, & a constant shift in status quo.

last issue: Thunderbolts #22
next issue: Thunderbolts #24
see also Avengers #12

also indexed for Feb. ’99
Avengers #13
Avengers Forever #3 of 12

Thunderbolts #22

July 9, 2014

Thunderbolts 022Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
January 1999

Finally addressing the cast’s criminal acts, #22 turns the cape-comics trick of making fisticuffs an allegory for internal conflicts. Mach-1, who once killed a man, considers jail as a gesture of good faith; meanwhile, Atlas trades blows w/ Hercules, who he’d incapacitated in a classic Avengers arc.

continued in Captain America/Citizen V Annual ’98
last issue: Thunderbolts #21
next issue: Thunderbolts #23
see also Thunderbolts #0

also indexed for Jan. ’99
Avengers #12
Avengers Forever #2 of 12
Captain America/Citizen V Annual ’98
Thunderbolts #0


Thunderbolts #21

July 8, 2014

Thunderbolts 021Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
December 1998

Hawkeye’s new role as the T-bolts’ captain lends legitimacy to the team, & also makes formal this mag’s position as the beta Avengers. It even reinvigorates the mag’s heel-face dynamic after a slow six months. And #21 spends time on Songbird’s motivations, filling her personality out nicely.

last issue: Thunderbolts #20
next issue: Thunderbolts #22

also indexed for Dec. ’98
Avengers #11
Avengers Forever #1 of 12

Thunderbolts #20

July 7, 2014

Thunderbolts 020Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
November 1998

A confrontation w/ the new, for-profit Masters of Evil ends in stalemate as Moonstone’s egotism interferes with victory. Mostly the ish is a knockabout melee btw two superteams—Busiek’s in his element, & Bagley does fine too—but the issue’s heart is a post-mortem debate about needing new leadership…

last issue: Thunderbolts #19
next issue: Thunderbolts #21

also indexed for nov. ’98
Avengers #10

Thunderbolts #19

July 6, 2014

Thunderbolts 019Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
October 1998

As the cover announces, #19 intros the winner of Wizard Mag’s “create-a-villain” contest. Maybe that’s why the ish feels like padding, as the T-bolts emancipate a mountain town from generic super-troopers. Of course, KB & MB provide solid craftsmanship, but they don’t move the plot forward from #18.

last issue: Thunderbolts #18
next issue: Thunderbolts #20

also indexed for Oct. ’98
Avengers #9

Thunderbolts #18

July 5, 2014

Thunderbolts 018Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
September 1998

With morale low, the T-bolts are bested by the poseur Masters of Evil, who then offer them a job (incl a pension!). The twists and moral jeopardies keep surprising me—it’s a clever iteration of Stan Lee’s trope of heroes accused. Also nice: Bagley has shed some of his more outmoded ’90s tics.

last issue: Thunderbolts #17
next issue: Thunderbolts #19

also indexed for Sept. ’98
Avengers #8

Thunderbolts #17

July 4, 2014

Thunderbolts 017Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
August 1998

A powerful Avengers foe is defeated when Moonstone convinces him to think through his vague plans for world domination. Meanwhile, Baron Z is bested by the “true” Citizen V! Busiek toys w/ & undercuts classic supervillainy, but he obv loves them, both in convention & (as w/ Moonstone) in the breach.

last issue: Thunderbolts #16
next issue: Thunderbolts #18

also indexed for Aug. ’98
Avengers #7
Quicksilver #10

Thunderbolts #16

July 3, 2014

Thunderbolts 016Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
July 1998

The T-bolts easily defeat a team of D-listers, the Great Lakes Avengers—a lost opportunity to balance the book’s soapy adventure with real comedy. For the first time, the mag actually feels rote, even as it gets usurped by Busiek’s Avengers as the core of the Marvel Rebirth, post-Image & -bankruptcy.

last issue: Thunderbolts #15
next issue: Thunderbolts #17

also indexed for Jul. ’98
Avengers #6
Avengers/Squadron Supreme Annual 1998

Thunderbolts #15

July 2, 2014

Thunderbolts 015Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
June 1998

After a top-notch pair of arcs, a new status quo for this morally ambiguous superteam. The T-bolts hide out west, on the run from SHIELD while they try to clear their reps. Busiek focuses again on Moonstone (AKA Meteorite), whose ego-driven schemes provide the strongest engine for conflict & fun.

last issue: Thunderbolts #14
next issue: Thunderbolts #16

also indexed for Jun. ’98
Avengers #5

Thunderbolts #14

July 1, 2014

Thunderbolts 014Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
May 1998

Some time-kinked plotting links an alien planet (of barbarian bug-men!) to a future invasion by Kang the Conqueror & to the proportionate powers of Hank Pym & other growing men. The upshot is, to return her team to Earth, Moonstone commits regicide! Slippery moral qualms point the mag forward.

last issue: Thunderbolts #13
next issue: Thunderbolts #15

also indexed for May ’98
Avengers #4

Thunderbolts #13

June 30, 2014

Thunderbolts 013Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
April 1998

Bagley finally wins me over (for the moment, at least) w/ his strong environments—from NYC to a space station to, here, an alien world out of a pulp novel. The T-bolts get zapped to a planet ruled by barbarian bug-people! The alt dimension’s linked to Atlas’ growth powers via long-term continuity.

last issue: Thunderbolts #12
next issue: Thunderbolts #14

also indexed for Apr. ’98
Avengers #3

Thunderbolts #12

June 29, 2014

Thunderbolts 012Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
March 1998

This mag executes its climax perfectly, albeit predictably. Via mind-ray & modem, Zemo rules the world from his sentient orbital satellite (AKA T-bolt Techno). But his onetime team helps Iron Man stage a coup (the old Marvel heroes v. heroes), then surrenders to face trial! MB’s late-’90s art still isn’t my taste, but it complements KB’s massive cast & retro superheroism perfectly.

last issue: Thunderbolts #11
next issue: Thunderbolts #13

also indexed for Mar. ’98
Avengers #2

Thunderbolts #11

June 28, 2014

Thunderbolts 011Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
February 1998

The team finally fractures as their leader takes over the world via mind-rays from an orbital satellite—classic comic-book stuff, but none of it hinges on their false IDs. Still, Busiek shows a clear aptitude for the megalomaniac character, & Bagley is fashionable yet bright & energetic in tone.

last issue: Thunderbolts #10
next issue: Thunderbolts #12

also indexed for Feb. ’98
Avengers #1

Thunderbolts #10

June 27, 2014

Thunderbolts 010Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
January 1998

The team’s true IDs are exposed, earlier than readers or characters expected—’cept for Baron Z, who outs them as an abusive ploy. How evil! The plot devo coincides w/ the true Avs’ return (from a mid-’90s Image-y continuity reboot). It signals a true climax to a long plot, rare in comics.

last issue: Thunderbolts #9
next issue: Thunderbolts #11

Thunderbolts #9

June 26, 2014

Thunderbolts 009Roger Stern with Kurt Busiek // Ron Frenz with Mark Bagley
December 1997

On fill-in duty, Stern & Frenz execute a pitch-perfect pastiche of the Lee/Heck Avengers—down to 2×3 grid—showing how that team’s second wave were heroic despite public mistrust. It’s framed (by Black Widow) as a tale of redemption, & draws a canny comparison btw the T-bolts & the underdog Avs.

last issue: Thunderbolts #8
next issue: Thunderbolts #10

Thunderbolts #8

June 25, 2014

Thunderbolts 008Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern // Mark Bagley
November 1997

The first T-bolts story to last more than one ish ends w/ the mag’s best since #1. The team fends off a set of monsters menacing NYC, winning adulation & SHIELD access. But what’s esp great is how it delves into the psyche of Songbird, codependent & unconfident till now, when she must act alone.

last issue: Thunderbolts #7
next issue: Thunderbolts #9

Thunderbolts #7

June 24, 2014

Thunderbolts 007Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern // Jeff Johnson
October 1997

Who misses Bagley? His sub does fine w/ a more realistic, equally fashionable style. Also a help on plotting is R. Stern, who wrote maybe the best Masters of Evil tale. Then, Zemo nearly killed the Avengers; now, he lets his team get captured & possibly killed by a periodic table of monster-men.

last issue: Thunderbolts #6
next issue: Thunderbolts #8

Thunderbolts #6

June 23, 2014

Thunderbolts 006Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
September 1997

Embracing their role as Avengers surrogates, the T-bolts perform the archetypal super-feat of rescuing a crashing plane (Bag’s best sequence so far). Readers wondering how long the mag’s conceit can sustain itself will enjoy Baron Z’s petulant refusal to protect NYC until he gets SHIELD clearance.

last issue: Thunderbolts #5
next issue: Thunderbolts #7

Thunderbolts #5

June 22, 2014

Thunderbolts 005Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
August 1997

An iteration of the trope—more FF than Avengers—where the team, minding their own business in NYC, gets attacked by supervillains. As conventional as this mag is, its style’s of a piece: a sunny throwback, w/ just enough reminders of the heroes’ latent villainy to point superteam mags forward.

continued from Thunderbolts Annual ’97
last issue: Thunderbolts #4
next issue: Thunderbolts #6

Thunderbolts Annual ’97

June 21, 2014

Thunderbolts Annual 1Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley, Gene Colan, Tom Grummett, Chris Marrinan, Bob McLeod, George Pérez, Ron Randall, & Darick Robertson
July 1997

Cashing in on a hit, Marvel requests an annual after 5 issues! Busiek recounts the Baron’s recruitment drive, a backstage approach (a la Astro City) to the usual teambuilding formula. Not as strong as the similar #-1 issue—the circumstances add little texture. The exception’s Songbird, whose super-Bonnie & Clyde scenario has a small-time scope & genuine emo. DD fans will enjoy Colan’s pages.

continued from Thunderbolts #4
continued in Thunderbolts #5
next issue: Captain America/Citizen V Annual ’98

also indexed for Jul. ’97
Thunderbolts #-1
Thunderbolts #4

Thunderbolts #4

June 20, 2014

Thunderbolts 004Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
July 1997

Moonstone, a shrink & the most duplicitous of the rogues, schemes by encouraging her captain to adopt a team mascot (an orphan mutated by a Kirby mad scientist). The superteam dynamic recalls Squadron Supreme, channeling a fondness for genre tropes into a playful but earnest deconstruction.

continued in Thunderbolts Annual ’97
last issue: Thunderbolts #-1
next issue: Thunderbolts #5

also indexed for Jul. ’97
Thunderbolts #5
Thunderbolts Annual ’97

Thunderbolts #-1

June 19, 2014

Thunderbolts -001Kurt Busiek // Steve Epting
July 1997

I’m not an Epting fan, but inked by Wiacek here, he’s A1. Ish #-1 is one of those ’90s gimmicks, showing the criminal genesis of its protags. It’s formulaic, except for (a) Songbird, fleeing an abusive dad, & (b) Zemo, whose father relates how he strangled the WW2 Cit V w/ bare hands!

last issue: Thunderbolts #3
next issue: Thunderbolts #4

also indexed for Jul. ’97
Thunderbolts #4
Thunderbolts Annual ’97

Thunderbolts #3

June 18, 2014

Thunderbolts 003Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
June 1997

KB pits the title team—the true Masters of Evil—against a pretender to the name. Fortunately, one of KB’s strengths is his skill w/ team dynamics. MB’s springy dynamism & doll-like bodies synthesizes manga’s mannered physiques w/ Image’s baroque brawn, a mid-’90s style done better by Joes Q & M.

continued from Spider-Man Team-Up #7
last issue: Thunderbolts #2
next issue: Thunderbolts #-1

also indexed for Jun. ’97
Spider-Man Team-Up #7

Spider-Man Team-Up #7

June 17, 2014

Spider-Man Team-Up 1Kurt Busiek // Sal Buscema
June 1997

Team-Up ties in tightly to T’bolts, & adds a clever flip to the old Marvel Misunderstanding. Here the “good” guys sock Spidey partly at the city’s behest but also cuz T’bolt Mach-1 is really the Beetle, out for payback! Sal B’s solid as ever, perfect for Busiek’s subversion of superheroism.

last issue: Spider-Man Team-Up #6
continued fromThunderbolts #2
continued in Thunderbolts #3

also indexed for Jun. ’97
Thunderbolts #3

Thunderbolts #2

June 16, 2014

Thunderbolts 002Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
May 1997

Baron Zemo’s clever plan to insinuate his two-faced team into the Avengers’ vacant slot is already working; his deputy wonders if they’ll prefer honest celebrity to criminal success. Busiek fills out the personalities a bit (& starts adding soap), which’ll help sustain this premise in the medium term.

last issue: Thunderbolts #1
next issue: Thunderbolts #3

Thunderbolts #1

June 15, 2014

Thunderbolts 001Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
April 1997

Lives up to its rep as a key issue of ’90s superheroics. W/ the “daylight” heroes dead & NYC in ruins after an inane X-Men/Avengers crossover, a new team of unknown superheroes become media darlings for their earnest, old-school approach to do-goodery. But their secret is, they’re really neferious villains! The brill twist on the superteam trope clarifies yet ironizes the era’s antihero morality.

next issue: Thunderbolts #2

Avengers #34

September 6, 2013

Avengers 34Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
November 2000

Pérez & Busiek put their all into GP’s swansong for an issue of old-school superheroics. An aristo aims to inundate the globe w/ “ionic energy”, killing millions & putting millions more under his control. Avengers & T-bolts can’t stop him, but his cracked daughter can. High stakes; deft dialogue; exuberant artwork; inspiring heroism; a huge cast: this arc exemplifies the duo’s superb Avengers run.

continued from Thunderbolts #44
continued in Maximum Security #1 of 3
last issue: Avengers #33
next issue: Avengers #35

also indexed for Nov. ’00
Thunderbolts #44
Maximum Security #1 of 3

Thunderbolts #44

September 5, 2013

Thunderbolts 44Fabian Nicieza // Mark Bagley
November 2000

Most of #44 exposits on the Avengers crossover (Count Nefaria has a classically baroque supervillain plan), while moving its various hammy subplots forward incrimentally. Fortunately, Bagley’s art looks better than ever due to new inker Adams, who emphasizes the ’90s manga-like physiques.

continued from Avengers #33
continued in Avengers #34
last issue: Thunderbolts #43
next issue: Thunderbolts #45

also indexed for Nov. ’00
Avengers #34
Maximum Security #1 of 3

Avengers #33

September 4, 2013

Avengers 33Kurt Busiek // George Pérez & Paul Ryan
October 2000

KB has rarely written 1st-person narration in his Av run, so it’s a surprise that he anchors this issue w/ a villainess’ internal monologue. But it effectively shows Mme. Masque’s struggle to overcome paranoia & trust the team. Atop GP’s layouts, Ryan’s touch of realism adds to her inner conflict.

continued from Thunderbolts #43
continued in Thunderbolts #44
last issue: Avengers #32
next issue: Avengers #34

also indexed for Oct. ’00
Maximum Security: Dangerous Planet #1 of 1
Thunderbolts #43

Thunderbolts #43

September 3, 2013

Thunderbolts 43Fabian Nicieza // Mark Bagley
October 2000

The Black Widow drags the T-bolts into a crossover involving organized crime, Atlas, & the Avengers. It’s rather confusing, while the mag’s secrets—Fixer-as-Ogre, Scourge a’lurking, & general self-doubt—muddle the issue even more. But new inker Greg Adams augments Bagley’s cartoon impulses nicely.

continued from Avengers #32
continued in Avengers #33
last issue: Thunderbolts #42
next issue: Thunderbolts #44

also indexed for Oct. ’00
Maximum Security: Dangerous Planet #1 of 1
Avengers #33

Thunderbolts #42

August 31, 2013

Thunderbolts 42Fabian Nicieza // Mark Bagley
September 2000

Nicieza inches each plot forward a notch while pitching Atlas into an Avengers crossover. But his focus remains the soaping up of his cast: a rejected second chance for a butch-dyke supervillain; an internal monologue, midbrawl, for Dallas; & teasing secret IDs for Crimson Cowl & the Scourge.

continued in Avengers #32
last issue: Thunderbolts #41
next issue: Thunderbolts #43

also indexed for Sept. ’00
Avengers #32

Avengers #12

July 28, 2013

Avengers 12Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
January 1999

Editorial jumps the gun on an anniversary issue (it’s #13 next month) so think of #12 (& contempo Av Forever) as Busiek’s victory lap post-Heroes Return. He once again pits his beloved A-listers against the Thunderbolts, his clever variation on the superteam recipe. The reformed villains help the A’s defeat a robot behemoth; it lets him contrast Cap’s alpha leadership w/ Hawkeye’s underdog approach.

last issue: Avengers #11
next issue: Avengers #13

also indexed for Jan. ’99
Avengers Forever #2 of 12

The Fantastic Four #334

June 24, 2013

Fantastic Four 334Walt Simonson // Rich Buckler
early December 1989
Simonson debuts & instantly shifts the mag’s tone from lugubrious to lighthearted. As part of the Acts of Vengeance crossover, he pits the FF against D-list supervillains (who can’t even get in the building!). Buckler’s three-tier grid has a cheery flatness, but he does realistic, expressive faces.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #333]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #335]

The Avengers #28

June 29, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
May 1966
The insectoid Avengers, now B-listers w/o their own series, return to this mag. Lee has revised Doc Pym in the Marvel style, w/ a period-perfect costume from Heck. Giant-Man, AKA Goliath, is anxious cuz his growing power taxes his body, maybe fatally! Van Dyne, OTOH, is cast as a damsel-in-distress.
[last issue: The Avengers #27]
[next issue: The Avengers #29]

The Avengers #27

June 28, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
April 1966
The mag’s on an upswing. As Lee supplies dialogue w/ his usual brio, Heck finally delivers a plot to match. It’s an undersea adventure, complete w/ giant octopus, crashing subs, & plenty of swashbuckling. #27 isn’t revolutionary, but its scope & stakes feel worthy of Avengers, even this b-grade cast.
[last issue: The Avengers #26]
[next issue: The Avengers #28]