Archive for the ‘Hercules’ Category

Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2 of 5

May 14, 2014

Realm of Kings - Inhumans 2 of 5Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Pablo Raimondi
February 2010
**

The Mighty Avengers (that is, the team not written by BM Bendis) visit the Inhumans for some heroics & soap operatics. Raimondi’s lines produce clean faces & strong settings, matching the clear, engaging dialogue; but there’s a sense of keeping time rather than engaging momentum with this mini.

last issue: Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1 of 5
next issue: Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2 of 5

also indexed for Feb. ’10
The Fantastic Four #574
Guardians of the Galaxy #21
Nova #32
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #2 of 5

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Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1 of 5

May 13, 2014

Realm of Kings - Inhumans 1 of 5Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Pablo Raimondi
January 2010
**

DnA open this mini w/ a review of the status quo: the Inhumans, Kirby super-aristos, rule the Kree space empire fairly responsibly, tho’ palace intrigues brew & skirmishes flare up along the interstellar borders. Raimondi (& inker Hennessy) has a lovely clean style, like an update of ’80s X-Men.

continued from Realm of Kings #1 of 1
next issue: Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2 of 5

also indexed for Jan. ’10
The Fantastic Four #573
Guardians of the Galaxy #20
Nova #31
Realm of Kings #1 of 1
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1 of 5

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

JLA/Avengers #3 of 4

October 6, 2013

Avengers.JLA 3 of 4Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
November 2003
****

JLA/Av retcons annual super-teamups btw Marvel & DC, a late-era Crisis (in DC terminology) complete w/ overlapping Earths. The art of mature Pérez is even better than in his ’80s Crisis. Busiek writes a tighter plot, tho it suffers from self-reference & (surprisingly for KB) a lack of central protag. For superhero lovers rather than casual readers, but those fanboys will be truly satisfied.

last issue: Avengers/JLA #2 of 4
next issue: Avengers/JLA #4 of 4

also indexed for Nov. ’03
Alias #26
New X-Men #146
New X-Men #147

Avengers/JLA #2 of 4

October 5, 2013

Avengers.JLA 2 of 4Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
October 2003
*****

The two superteams race to acquire cosmic artifacts. If the Avengers win, the DC supervillain Krona will destroy their ‘verse in a mad quest for knowledge! The simple, Gardner Fox-type plot lets comics counterparts compete (eg Superman v. Thor), w/ the creative duo staging the super-fights superbly. In an A+ twist, Batman recognizes he & Captain A. are too evenly matched, & strike an alliance.

last issue: JLA/Avengers #1 of 4
next issue: JLA/Avengers #3 of 4

also indexed for Oct. ’03
Alias #25
New X-Men #145

Avengers #55

October 2, 2013

Avengers 55Kurt Busiek // Patrick Zircher
August 2002
****

No surprise, one of the strongest of Busiek’s 80+ Avengers issues offers a slant perspec on superheroics. #55 pays respect to the death toll—in the Kang arc, quite a high one—and holds its heroes to a code, even in wartime. In a quiet way, it functions as a monument to 2001’s terrorist victims.

last issue: Avengers #54
next issue: Avengers #56

also indexed for Aug. ’02
Alias #10
New X-Men #127
New X-Men #128

Avengers #54

October 1, 2013

Avengers 54Kurt Busiek // Kieren Dwyer
July 2002
***

Throughout his run, KB has written a great Kang: a conqueror full of bravado, a general w/ a plan. In the end, he misses his goal not cuz he lost Earth but cuz his son fails his warrior code. So Kang kills him! While Dwyer’s art gets a little fussy, he designs covers that are striking & original.

last issue: Avengers #53
next issue: Avengers #55

also indexed for Jul. 02
Alias #9
New X-Men #126

Avengers #46

September 23, 2013

Avengers 46Kurt Busiek // Manuel Garcia
November 2001
**

Earth becomes a battleground as Kang invades, a weirdo from Byrne’s Alpha Flight stages a global coup, & the kooky cult detects an “evil” entering the solar system. KB keeps adding plates to spin impressively, but he’s let down by Garcia’s weightless pencils. And an awful cover, meant to honor 9/11.

continued from Avengers: The Ultron Imperative
last issue: Avengers #45
next issue: Avengers #47

also indexed for Nov. ’01
Alias #1
Avengers: The Ultron Imperative
New X-Men #118

Avengers #44

September 20, 2013

Avengers 44Kurt Busiek // Manuel Garcia
September 2001
***

Thor, enraged by Cap’s near-death, broods on immortality’s costs—a smart suggestion of the stakes in the Kang arc. Another strong KB character, Ms. Marvel (see his run in IM), wins an army via trial-by-combat, tho Vision questions her rashness. Sadly Alan Davis has been replaced by a shoddy no-name.

continued from Avengers Annual 2001
last issue: Avengers #43
next issue Avengers #45

also indexed for Sept. ’01
Avengers Annual 2001
New X-Men #116
New X-Men Annual 2001

Maximum Security #3 of 3

September 10, 2013

Maximum Security 3Kurt Busiek // Jerry Ordway
January 2001
**

Superheroes stop an alien intelligence from turning Earth into an interstellar bio-electrical WMD. A confusing climax to a conventional crossover, whose potential rarely came into focus. Ordway’s flat art lends the feeling that Max Sec is a ’80s DC tale bloated by minor plots & lapsed characters.

continued from Avengers #35
last issue: Maximum Security #2 of 3

also indexed for Jan. ’01
Avengers #36

Avengers #25

August 22, 2013

Avengers 25Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
February 2000
****

Busiek makes Avs into Marvel Central by picking up other mags’ plots, incl. the climax to a low-profile crossover. A pantheon of uglies, mystically empowered to fight armageddon, was rebuffed by member Juggernaut (in his very own one-off!). Cap bests them not thru combat but by appealing to their humanity. Then he quits the team, acting as scapegoat for their unpopularity w/ the public & press.

last issue: Avengers #24
next issue: Avengers #26

also indexed for Feb. ’00
Avengers Forever #12 of 12

Avengers Annual 1999

August 10, 2013

Avengers Annual 1999Kurt Busiek & John Francis Moore // Leonardo Manco
July 1999
**

This action-adventure pits the Avengers against a squad of Sentinels repurposed to replace the once-MIA superheroes. The concept has Busiek’s fingerprints: adoration for the title team & its inspiring effect on everyday citizens. For it’s Jarvis who shuts the robots down, & a support technician who’d programmed them. Standard annual fare, tho’ Manco does good cyber-horror a la Barry Windsor-Smith.

last issue: Avengers/Squadron Supreme Annual 1998
next issue: Avengers Annual 2000

also indexed for Jul. ’99
Avengers #18
Avengers #0
Avengers Forever #8 of 12

Avengers #4

July 17, 2013

Avengers 04Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
May 1998
****

The team’s charter members pick a line-up, a solipsistic scenario replayed often in the ’00s. Busiek, like Thomas & Stern before him, seems slightly awed by the title he’s writing. But his pleasure comes thru in his light touch, like Justice snagging a bank thief where the 40-member team failed.

last issue: Avengers #3
next issue: Avengers #5

also indexed for May ’98
Thunderbolts #14

Avengers #3

July 16, 2013

Avengers 03Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
April 1998
***

Cap & co play Robin Hood in a medieval alt reality; Scarlet Witch saves the day by resurrecting Wonder Man. It’s a simple story w/ a forthright tone, almost Silver Age except for Jorge’s complex depth-of-field & density of image. So, having relaunched the Avengers, B&G must cull the 39-man roster!

last issue: Avengers #2
next issue: Avengers #4

also indexed for Apr. ’98
Thunderbolts #13

Avengers #2

July 15, 2013

Avengers 02Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
March 1998
****

A sorceress has used the Scarlet Witch to refashion reality. The Ren Fair trappings may seem a bit much, but they suit Pérez to a T—esp. the chance to redesign costumes as armor. Busiek’s best idea, tho’, is that “true Avengers” can shake off the spell: a roster that incl. Justice but not Iron Man!

last issue: Avengers #1
next issue: Avengers #3

also indexed for Mar. ’98
Thunderbolts #12

Avengers #1

July 14, 2013

Avengers 01Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
February 1998
****

Pérez returns to Marvel’s supergroup superteam, tapping Busiek (hot off Marvels & Astro City in ’95 & last year’s T-bolts) to help w/ the relaunch. They’re well-matched: neither conservative nor radical, dense w/ info yet clear at storytelling. Echoing the Lee/Kirby original, a mage manipulates Earth’s superheroes into teaming up. This time, it’s an Arthurian, Morgan le Fey, using Asgardian magic.

next issue: Avengers #2

also indexed for Feb. ’98
Thunderbolts #11

Captain America #444

September 9, 2012

Mark Waid // Ron Garney
October 1995
****
Waid, already mid-run on a superb Flash for DC, briefly adds this mag to his resumé. His debut ish eulogizes Cap, killed by his own super-serum—or was he? The Avengers honor his courage by announcing his death & fighting terrorists in standard ’90s robo-suits at the Jefferson Memorial.
[last issue: Captain America #443]
[next issue: Captain America #445]

Secret Wars II #9 of 9

February 22, 2012

Jim Shooter // Al Milgrom
March 1986
*
The series takes a truly weird twist as its protag invents a Kirbytech “birthing module” that allows him to be reborn as an omnipotent mortal (the turn echoes Shooter’s similar, infamous “Rape of Ms. Marvel” plotline). Every superhero in Marvel Comics wants to stop the cosmic being, leading some to propose infanticide! Instead, the nebbishy Molecule Man & his homely g’friend save the universe.
[continued from The Fantastic Four #288]
[continued in The Avengers #266]
[last issue: Secret Wars II #8 of 9]

Secret Wars II #8 of 9

February 21, 2012

Jim Shooter // Al Milgrom
February 1986
*
The Beyonder, annoyed w/ the enigma of existence, contemplates destroying it. #8 epitomizes what’s wrong w/ SW2. Shooter, having imagined godlike beings such as Korvac, wants to draw an omnipotent Hamlet—all introspection & inaction—but he’s no Shakespeare. The ersatz philosophy is fun to read.
[continued from The Defenders #152]
[see also The New Mutants #37]
[see also The Amazing Spider-Man #274]
[continued in The Avengers #265]
[last issue: Secret Wars II #7 of 9]
[next issue: Secret Wars II #9 of 9]

Secret Wars II #5 of 9

February 18, 2012

Jim Shooter // Al Milgrom
November 1985
**
The Beyonder picks a fight w/ Kirby space-gods, a good concept wasted by dull fight choreography. The protag does have an emotional arc—unable to return to his home dimension, he’s now sulking w/ a mutant teen runaway—but his moods are impossible to follow if you don’t get every crossover issue.
[continued from The Avengers #261]
[continued in The Thing #30]
[last issue: Secret Wars II #4 of 9]
[next issue: Secret Wars II #6 of 9]

Journey into Mystery Annual #1: Thor

November 21, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
October 1965
A-story: ****
When Thor stumbles into Olympus, he starts a brawl w/ his counterpart, Hercules, Son of Zeus! Their fight’s pretext is contrived yet classic: who will yield to whom on a bridge? Low on plot & character, just a bout of heavyweight wrestling that ends in a draw—this is Jack’s show, Stan’s superfluous.
[continued in Journey into Mystery #121]

Civil War #7 of 7

June 12, 2011

Mark Millar // Steve McNiven
January 2007
*
Ugh. An ADD switcheroo moves the fight to midtown. All these superpowers are used to bludgeon (‘cept teleporting). With anticlimactic irony, Cap realizes that there’s no point to the entire conflict! The only sensible outcome is Tony Stark, Director of SHIELD. Thus ends the ’00s Secret Wars.
[last issue: Civil War #6 of 7]

Civil War #6 of 7

June 11, 2011

Mark Millar // Steve McNiven
December 2006
*
Millar & McNiven move their action figures into place for the next issue’s battle royale. It’ll be set at a secret super-prison, which means to comment on Guantanamo but doesn’t. These pre-finale plot twists only highlight how stiff the characterization, dialogue, & art are. Is this what fans want?
[last issue: Civil War #5 of 7]
[next issue: Civil War #7 of 7]

Civil War #5 of 7

June 10, 2011

Mark Millar // Steve McNiven
November 2006
*
Plot holes are starting to gape as Stark supplements SHIELD agents w/ super-convicts. Even worse are the book’s politics. Truth is, Millar comes at the Bush Admin from the Right, composing a libertarian nightmare where criminals are paroled to round up true Americans like Cap & a reformed Spidey.
[last issue: Civil War #4 of 7]
[next issue: Civil War #6 of 7]

Civil War #4 of 7

June 8, 2011

Mark Millar // Steve McNiven
October 2006
**
The commentary on PATRIOT Act America has become paper-thin & confused, esp. since Millar doesn’t care about civil rights & govt. regulations. He just wants to blow shit up & he has his ideas about how to do that—like a rogue cyber-clone of Thor! But would Mr F create such a Frankenstein’s monster?
[last issue: Civil War #3 of 7]
[next issue: Civil War #5 of 7]

Civil War #3 of 7

June 7, 2011

Mark Millar // Steve McNiven
**
September 2006
Finally, CW reaches its reason for being: heroes v. heroes, a classic Marvel trope since Amazing S-M #1. Iron Man turns a sneak-attack into a parlay, which Cptn. America violates w/ his own sucker punch. The problem is, each twist violates its actor’s character. It’s action stripped of motivation.
[last issue: Civil War #2 of 7]
[next issue: Civil War #4 of 7]

Civil War #1 of 7

June 5, 2011

Mark Millar // Steve McNiven
July 2006
***
Two sides face off in Civil War: 1) a comix riff on Bush’s America, from the PATRIOT Act to grassroots rage to reality TV; 2) an inane plot w/ cliche dialogue, in which every person & group is devoid of common sense. A villain blows a suburb up, see, so superheroes must register w/ the US govt.
[next issue: Civil War #2 of 7]

The Mighty Thor #353

March 21, 2011

Walt Simonson
March 1985
****
Loki takes the role of rescuing cavalry, a fun heel/face turn. Then Odin plummets with the Fire Demon off into the void, but it feels like a sensational twist rather than an earned sacrifice. W/ Asgard in flames, the Saga of Surtur closes. The art & plot conjoin in a Thor story for the ages.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #352]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #354]

The Fantastic Four #286

February 16, 2011

John Byrne
January 1986
*****
The most audacious & tendentious retcon in comics: Reed & co. open a cocoon holding the live body of Jean Grey! Byrne (or Shooter?) (or Stern? Kurt Busiek?) plays fair by serial rules, inserting a scene in the gutters btw. X-Men #100 & #101. Byrne’s art is more classical in layout than usual. But he also validates a massive revision of his & Claremont’s Dark Phoenix Saga that undercuts its tragedy.
[continued from The Avengers #263]
[continued in X-Factor #1]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #285]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #287]

The Fantastic Four Annual #19

February 13, 2011

John Byrne
December 1985
****
A two-chapter annual with an ebullient late Silver Age tone. It may be a little more like Thomas-era Avengers than Kirby-era FF, but that style is underscored by Joe Sinnott providing retro inking to Byrne’s art. Pt. 1 sees our heroes pop into space to foil a faction of Skrulls—after the Galactus Event, they’ve collapsed into civil war. Pt. 2 crosses into The Av‘s annual (rather confusingly).
[continued from The Fantastic Four #284]
[continued in The Avengers Annual #14]
[continued in The Fantastic Four #285]
[last issue:  The Fantastic Four Annual #18]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four Annual #20]

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]

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]

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]

Captain America #399

October 25, 2010

A-plot: Mark Gruenwald // Rik Levins
April 1992
A-story: ***
Part 8 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
Gruenwald pads out the Avengers crossover space opera, sending Cap & co. scrambling around the Kree homeworld. The plot treads water & there’s no arc to speak of. But MG’s capable writing stages a clash of personalities btw. Cap & Iron Man and smart aerial hand-to-hand combat btw. Cap & a superalien.
[continued from The Mighty Thor #445]
[continued in Avengers West Coast #81]
[last issue: Captain America #398]
[next issue: Captain America #400]

Iron Man #278

October 23, 2010

Lee Kaminsky // Paul Ryan
March 1992
**
Part 6 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
On an Avengers peacekeeping mission to the Kree Empire, Iron Man proves his worth. He hacks an alien computer, wrestles a robot sentinel in zero-g, & usurps Captain America’s rank by favoring discretion over valor. The dialogue is wretched (esp. for the guest Avengers), the art’s serviceable.
[continued from The Avengers #345]
[continued in  The Mighty Thor #445]
[last issue: Iron Man #277]
[next issue: Iron Man #279]

The Avengers #345

October 22, 2010

Bob Harras // Steve Epting
March 1992
**
Part 5 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
The Kree-Shi’ar War is destabilizing our sun by using our system as a hyperspace bypass. So every Avenger is mobilized for one front or another. Harras delivers the ham that good space opera needs, but as always, he fails to harmonize an ensemble of voices or bring authenticity to the action.
[continued from Wonder Man #7]
[continued in Iron Man #278]
[last issue: The Avengers #344]
[next issue: The Avengers #346]