Archive for the ‘Crystal’ Category

X-Statix #26

April 17, 2015

X-Statix 26Peter Milligan // Mike Allred
October 2004
***

A fairly blatant ripoff of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, as the team gets KIA with Mr. S & Tike A. gunned down in a suicide charge. It would’ve worked better if they hadn’t held each other at arm’s length since the retitling. Or if the run’s last two years had been compressed into one. Ah well.

last issue: X-Statix #25
continued in X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #1 of 5

also indexed for Oct. ’04
Astonishing X-Men #4
Daredevil #63
Fantastic Four #517
Secret War #3 of 5

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Fantastic Four #505

December 14, 2014

Fantastic Four 505Mark Waid // Howard Porter
late December 2003
****

The Richards use parental fear-mongering to justify their unilateral adventurism to a dubious Grimm. The latter is H. Porter’s strongest art element, having internalized the lessons of his scratchy school of ’90s superhero comics, w/ bad expressions, static panels, & problematic layouts.

last issue: Fantastic Four #504
next issue: Fantastic Four #506

also indexed for Dec. ’03
Alias #27
Avengers/JLA #4 of 4
Daredevil #53
Fantastic Four #504
New X-Men #148

Fantastic Four #68

December 6, 2014

Fantastic Four 2.68Mark Waid // Mike Wieringo
June 2003
****

Valeria says her first word: “Doom”! The Doc attacks the family thru the baby, having bound her to himself w/ arcane spells at her birth. I’m not sold yet on Waid’s focus on magic for the arch-villain, although the trait is well-established. Or maybe I preferred the earlier issues’ lighter tone.

last issue: Fantastic Four #67
next issue: Fantastic Four #69

also indexed for Jun. ’03
Alias #21
Daredevil #46
New X-Men #139
New X-Men #140

The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1 of 1

June 6, 2014

Thanos Imperative - Devastation 1 of 1Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
March 2011
**

An epilogue to Marvel’s most recent space opera and a prologue for their next mini. It’s a conventional exercise in superhero team-gathering. While Ab & Lan write good dialogue, they fail to tell who these heroes are (personality, superpower, or history). Plus, the line-up’s testosterone-heavy.

continued from The Thanos Imperative #6 of 6
continued in Annihilators #1 of 4

also indexed for Mar. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4 of 9
The Fantastic Four #587

The Thanos Imperative #6 of 6

June 5, 2014

Thanos Imperative 6 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
January 2011
***

Thanos resurrects Death in a universe where Undying Gods have reigned. To stop his return to our ‘verse, Nova & Star-Lord (the leads in this era’s SF revival) halt the Mad Titan like Butch & Sundance. Tho’ this finale satisfies, it replaces the characters & twists of the lead-in mags w/ super-movie bombast.

last issue: The Thanos Imperative #5 of 6
continued in The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1 of 1

also indexed for Jan. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #3 of 9
The Fantastic Four #585

The Thanos Imperative #5 of 6

June 4, 2014

Thanos Imperative 5 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
December 2010
***

A busy issue, as Nova preps for a noble sacrifice. Meanwhile, surprise conversations juice the plot. First, the evil Scarlet Witch is really a mole, motivated by love for the Vision (nice to see someone gets her character this decade!). Then Thanos pulls a heel turn, literally begging for a final death.

last issue: The Thanos Imperative #4 of 6
next issue: The Thanos Imperative #6 of 6

also indexed for Dec. ’10
The Fantastic Four #584

The Thanos Imperative #1 of 6

May 31, 2014

Thanos Imperative 1 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
August 2010
***

Actually #2 of 8, if you incl. pro- & epilogues. DnA stage another extra-universal invasion—this time, the cancerverse (where Life “won”) metastasizes into the mainstream ‘verse. This means more tentacle monsters as well as evil reflections of the Avengers & Defenders. Solid, guilt-free space opera.

continued from The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 of 1
next issue: The Thanos Imperative #2 of 6

also indexed for Aug. ’10
The Fantastic Four #580

The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 of 1

May 30, 2014

Thanos Imperative - Ignition 1 of 1Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Brad Walker
July 2010
***

Having lost their two series in June, Ab & Lan segue into their space opera’s final act. This prolog is epic stuff, tho’ not newbee-friendly! Worlds explode (!) to shunt a Lovecraft-universe’s Cptn Marvel into the main ‘verse, setting up a confrontation w/ Death’s avatar, Thanos resurrected.

continued from Guardians of the Galaxy #25
continued in The Thanos Imperative #1 of 6

also indexed for Jul. ’10
The Fantastic Four #579

Guardians of the Galaxy #24

May 28, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy 24Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Wes Craig
May 2010
***

An electrifying issue of space opera! While the captured Guardians fight thru an army of zealots, across the galaxy their allies restore a galactic senate. But the focus of #24 is Phyla-Vell, who failed to kill Adam Magus; now she either balances or compounds that error by resurrecting Thanos!

last issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #23
next issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #25

also indexed for May ’10
The Fantastic Four #577
Nova #35
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #5 of 5
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #5 of 5

Guardians of the Galaxy #23

May 27, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy 23Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Wes Craig
April 2010
****

Adam Magus has tossed half the team in a dungeon & hopes to side w/ the Old Ones from the spacetime rift at the crux of Realm of Kings. Craig returns w/ his angular, colorful style—a bit like Immonen on Nextwave, tho’ he lays out a page w/ more complexity. A happy contrast to most Marvel art!

last issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #22
next issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #24

also indexed for Apr. ’10
The Fantastic Four #576
Nova #34
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #4 of 5
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #4 of 5

Realm of Kings: Inhumans #5 of 5

May 17, 2014

Realm of Kings - Inhumans 5 of 5Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Pablo Raimondi & Tim Seeley
May 2010
**

The Inhuman queen w/ the prehensile hair has been manufacturing threats to consolidate her rule. It’s a cynical point about modern politics, not provocative so much as dismissable: the difference btw the Iraqi intelligence gambit &, say, 9/11-as-govt.-conspiracy. Raimondi = only 3 issues out of 5?

last issue: Realm of Kings: Inhumans #4 of 5
continued in The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 of 1

also indexed for May ’10
The Fantastic Four #577
Guardians of the Galaxy #24
Nova #35
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #5 of 5

Realm of Kings: Inhumans #4 of 5

May 16, 2014

Realm of Kings - Inhumans 4 of 5Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Pablo Raimondi
April 2010
***

I want to enjoy this Inhumans mini more, since it’s got fine art over a just-right story. But something about DnA’s work here feels mechanical by their standards of craft. There’s no danger when Crystal and co. defend themselves from a robot attack, & the final-page twist feels predictable.

last issue: Realm of Kings: Inhumans #3 of 5
next issue: Realm of Kings: Inhumans #5 of 5

also indexed for Apr. ’10
The Fantastic Four #576
Guardians of the Galaxy #23
Nova #34
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #4 of 5

Realm of Kings: Inhumans #3 of 5

May 15, 2014

Realm of Kings - Inhumans 3 of 5Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Wellinton Alves
March 2010
***

The mano a mano fight to War of Kings forms solid echoes in space, almost (but not quite) a symbol of how the Inhumans can’t escape their past. To wit: the heroine Crystal learns that a revanchist insurgency is backed by her slightly mad in-law, Maximus. Lovely if flat art adds to the space romance.

last issue: Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2 of 5
next issue: Realm of Kings: Inhumans #4 of 5

also indexed for Mar. ’10
The Fantastic Four #575
Guardians of the Galaxy #22
Nova #33
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #3 of 5

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

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

Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #5 of 5

May 12, 2014

Realm of Kings - Imperial Guard 5 of 5Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Kev Walker
May 2010
***

DnA accomplish two clever goals in unshowy fashion. They make Realm of Kings‘ Lovecraft beasts into a fearful threat, & they establish the rich potential of the Imperial Guard as a team. Sadly, as Marvel scales back their Cosmic branch, the small satisfaction of a good mini must be its own reward.

last issue: Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #4 of 5
continued in The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 of 1

also indexed for May ’10
The Fantastic Four #577
Guardians of the Galaxy #24
Nova #35
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #5 of 5

Guardians of the Galaxy #17

May 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy 17Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Brad Walker
October 2009
****

A wonderful, imaginative climax to the WoK maxiseries. The Inhumans tore a hole in spacetime that the Guardians must patch. While the giant tree builds a pseudo-tech weapon to annihilate a Lovecraft beastie (!), Warlock stitches the ‘verse to an alternate future—the one where he’s the evil Magus!

last issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #16
next issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #18

also indexed for Oct. ’09
The Fantastic Four #570
Nova #28
War of Kings #6 of 6
War of Kings: Warriors #2 of 2

Guardians of the Galaxy #15

May 2, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy 15Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Brad Walker
August 2009
***

You know who deserves plenty of credit for this mag & the entire Cosmic Marvel line? Editor Bill Roseman. He’s running a tight crossover! This issue, in which two alien superteams storm the Guardians’ space station while a prisoner escapes, could be confusing, but it’s completely clear & lotsa fun!

last issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #14
next issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #16

also indexed for Aug. ’09
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #4 of 5
Nova #26
War of Kings #4 of 6
War of Kings: Ascension #3 of 4
War of Kings: Savage World of Skaar #1 of 1

Guardians of the Galaxy #14

May 1, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy 14Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Brad Walker
July 2009
***

Walker lays out his pages clearly enough to overcome his overwrought ’90s line & rectilinear ’00s paneling. Good thing, cuz this is a busy arc. In a nice balance of comedy & action, Star-Lord, Warlock & their motley gang of SF heroes completely fail to broker peace in the second Kree-Shi’ar War.

last issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #13
next issue: Guardians of the Galaxy #15

also indexed for Jul. ’09
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #3 of 5
Nova #25
War of Kings #3 of 6
War of Kings: Ascension #2 of 4

War of Kings: Warriors #2 of 2

April 21, 2014

War of Kings - Warriors 2 of 2A-story: Jay Faerber // Adriana Melo
B-story: Jay Faerber // Ramon Perez
October 2009
A-story: * // B-story: *

Another anthology of tossed-out filler to supplement the latest Marvel space opera. Plot A, starring a former Avenger, offers an insultingly pat solution to topical US quandaries like terrorist attacks by civilians & occupation by “good guys”. Plot B is generic backstory of an already-dead empress.

last issue: War of Kings: Warriors #1 of 2

also indexed for Oct. ’09
Fantastic Four #570
Guardians of the Galaxy #17
Nova #28
War of Kings #6 of 6

War of Kings: Who Will Rule #1 of 1

April 12, 2014

War of Kings - Who Will Rule 1 of 1Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Paul Pelletier
November 2009
****

The Kree-Shi’ar War has left a glowing tear in spacetime & a crisis of leadership in both empires. The former suggests a new plot direction for Marvel’s line of space epics; the latter adds much-needed dramatic thickener. But what leaps out from this epilogue is the chaos of an occupied territory.

continued from War of Kings #6 of 6

also indexed for Nov. ’09
Dark Reign: The List – The Avengers #1 of 1
The Fantastic Four #571
Guardians of the Galaxy #18
Nova #29

War of Kings #6 of 6

April 11, 2014

War of Kings 6 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Paul Pelletier
October 2009
***

The mini, mostly a by-the-numbers space opera, ends in a disappointing bout of super-fisticuffs that tears a rift in spacetime. But Pelletier has done yeoman’s work: he tells a story okay, & the rubbery quality of his late ’90s superhero style undercuts the preposterous hypertrophied bodies.

last issue: War of Kings #5 of 6
continued in War of Kings: Who Will Rule #1 of 1

also indexed for Oct. ’09
The Fantastic Four #570
Guardians of the Galaxy #17
Nova #28
War of Kings: Warriors #2 of 2

War of Kings #5 of 6

April 10, 2014

War of Kings 5 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Paul Pelletier
September 2009
****

The Shi’ar despot confronts the Kree monarch aboard a superweapon that will turn the galaxy Inhuman. This wooly space opera reaches its climax, but its best moments are in the hurly burly: a princess’s horror at the doomsday device, a super-alien’s war-fury, an X-Man’s hollow vengeance.

last issue: War of Kings #4 of 6
next issue: War of Kings #6 of 6

also indexed for Sept. ’09
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #5 of 5
Guardians of the Galaxy #16
Nova #27
War of Kings: Ascension #4 of 4
War of Kings: Warriors #1 of 2

War of Kings #4 of 6

April 9, 2014

War of Kings 4 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Paul Pelletier
August 2009
**

Civil unrest and factionalism tears apart the Shi’ar Empire, culminating in the assassination of its Empress, an old Claremont creation. As w/ many Marvel “events”, WoK is less coherent w/o its supplemental minis. The lack of time for character beats reinforces the bombast of space opera too.

last issue: War of Kings #3 of 6
next issue: War of Kings #5 of 6
see also War of Kings: Ascension #3 of 4

also indexed for Aug. ’09
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #4 of 5
Guardians of the Galaxy #15
Nova #26
War of Kings: Ascension #3 of 4
War of Kings: The Savage World of Skaar #1 of 1

War of Kings #3 of 6

April 8, 2014

War of Kings 3 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Paul Pelletier
July 2009
***

Good storytellers like Abnett & Lanning know to plot for the endgame, not the opening. In #3, they start to twist this mini in interesting ways. Romance buds in an arranged marriage; the Inhuman aristocracy hatches sinister plans for their subjects; & that mohawked Shi’ar superman turns renegade.

last issue: War of Kings #2 of 6
next issue: War of Kings #4 of 6

also indexed for Jul. ’09
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #3 of 5
Guardians of the Galaxy #14
Nova #25
War of Kings: Ascension #2 of 4

War of Kings #2 of 6

April 7, 2014

War of Kings 2 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Paul Pelletier
June 2009
**

As the title indicates, royal houses go to war: two galactic empires who fight with starships, zero-g shock-troops & planet-annihilating bombs. Yet, unlike this crew’s other current SF comics, WoK feels padded out. Only a show of compassion by a princess demos their typical richness of character.

last issue: War of Kings #1 of 6
next issue: War of Kings #3 of 6

also indexed for Jun. ’09
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2 of 5
Guardians of the Galaxy #13
Nova #24
War of Kings: Ascension #1 of 4

War of Kings #1 of 6

April 6, 2014

War of Kings 1 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Paul Pelletier
May 2009
***

Context is all. Taken alone, WoK works through the hoary plot of a thousand space operas: a clash of galactic empires. And this issue simply shows an alien army attack a wedding arranged to consolidate two races. But w/ Marvel’s cosmic line behind it, this colorful super-battle feels momentous.

continued from Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1 of 1
next issue: War of Kings #2 of 6

also indexed for May ’09
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1 of 5
Guardians of the Galaxy #11
Guardians of the Galaxy #12
Nova #23
War of Kings: Darkhawk #1 of 2

Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1 of 1

April 5, 2014

Secret Invasion War of Kings 1 of 1Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Paul Pelletier & Bong Dazo
March 2009
***

Like DnA’s previous Marvel SF prologues, this one-shot is effectively #1 of an upcoming mini; the expectation is all. It serves as a bridge btw their own space operas, last year’s Skrull Invasion of Earth, & a coup in the alien empire from X-Men. After generations of seclusion, the Inhumans (a once-pacific Kirby clan) launch their futuristic lunar techno-city into space & conquer the Kree Empire.

continued in War of Kings #1 of 6

also indexed for Mar. ’09
Guardians of the Galaxy #9
Nova #21

FF #21

December 31, 2013

FF 21Jonathan Hickman // Nick Dragotta
October 2012
*****

The epitome of a Hickman FF issue, w/ smart nonlinear storytelling & epic SF political melodrama. The Kree & Inhumans broker a peace, built upon undoing a space-opera Romeo/Juliet romance! Check how Dragotta not only nails the Kirby costumes, he makes the title team’s b/w costumes look cool!

last issue: FF #20
next issue: FF #22

also indexed for Oct. ’12
The Fantastic Four #609

FF #20

December 29, 2013

FF 20Jonathan Hickman // Nick Dragotta
September 2012
****

Dragotta shines in the SF opener, where a cityship blasts at a starcruiser. His parallel talent for aliens helps set high expectations for the next phase of Hickman’s FF run: the Inhuman invasion of Earth. In a cute touch, Val & Bentley the Wizard Clone draw a plan up to subjugate the Kree Empire.

last issue: FF #19
next issue: FF #21

also indexed for Sept. ’12
The Fantastic Four #608

The Fantastic Four #604

December 19, 2013

Fantastic Four 604Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
May 2012
*****

Hickman closes out his theme of fathers & sons, as Nat & Frank Richards save Reed from mad space-gods. Franklin, in the future, will turn cosmic & take Galactus as his sidekick! Sadly, he’s only given ’90s-style hand-zaps. Maybe #604 itself is only ****, but it’s a perfect climax to an ambitious run.

continued in FF #16
last issue: The Fantastic Four #603
next issue: The Fantastic Four #605

also indexed for May ’12
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #9 of 9
FF #16

The Fantastic Four #601

December 13, 2013

Fantastic Four 601Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
February 2012
****

To counter an alien armada, Johnny S. leads his space-insect cavalry into the skies, reinforced by the Inhuman cityship! But can Earth survive a battle low in its orbit? Epting’s in his element, penciling okay widescreen action (if you want Hickman’s heftier, smarter work, read the partner mag).

see also FF #13
last issue: The Fantastic Four #600
next issue: The Fantastic Four #602

also indexed for Feb. ’12
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #8 of 9
FF #13

The Fantastic Four #600

December 11, 2013

Fantastic Four 600A-story: Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
B-story: Jonathan Hickman // Carmine Di Giandomenico
C-story: Jonathan Hickman // Ming Doyle
D-story: Jonathan Hickman // Leinil Yu
E-story: Jonathan Hickman // Farel Dalrymple
January 2012
A-story: **** // B-story: ***** // C-story: *****
D-story: **** // E-story: *****

A king-size #600. The A-story picks up the threads of FF, pitting every NYC superhero against a pair of alien invasions; a surprise twist has the late Johnny Storm break the Annihilation Wave! Then Hickman shows that Torch did die in #587, only to be resurrected in a gladiator scenario. That piece has a Euro look that meshes w/ the bug-‘verse setting; like all the back-up pencilers, it puts Epting to shame. Much of the art is “ugly” yet lovely, accentuating how creative JH’s whole run is.

continued from FF #11
continued in FF #12
next issue: The Fantastic Four #601

also indexed for Jan’ 12
FF #12

FF #11

December 10, 2013

FF 11Jonathan Hickman // Barry Kitson
late December 2011
****

Two alt-Reeds serve as biomass for a rebooted Kree Intelligence, who mounts an invasion of Earth—concurrent w/ an incursion from the Negative Zone! Luckily, the real Mr F calls his pals, incl. the Avengers, to prep for battle. Kitson only pencils breakdowns; the loose art keeps #11 from *****.

continued in The Fantastic Four #600
last issue: FF #10
next issue: FF #12

also indexed for Dec. ’11
FF #10

FF #10

December 9, 2013

FF 10Jonathan Hickman // Barry Kitson
early December 2011
****

Hick & Kit charge a scene btw Mr & Mrs Richards with a lovely sense of marital intimacy. But their best moment involves the father/son theme of JH’s run, as Nat Richards reaches out to a doppel-Reed whose father he & Doom killed in #582. But JH still misuses Spidey, who just quips in the background.

last issue: FF #9
next issue: FF #11

also indexed for Dec. ’11
FF #11

FF #7

December 6, 2013

FF 07Jonathan Hickman // Greg Tocchini
late September 2011
*****

Half a million years ago, the Kree AI-superbrain massacred its weaponized mutates, Herod-like, to prevent its own prophesied downfall. But he missed a few, which makes Black Bolt, Inhuman king, a cosmic messiah! So resurrection’ll be no problem. Tocchini’s lovely art is light-years from convention.

last issue: FF #6
next issue: FF #8

also indexed for Sept. ’11
FF #6

FF #6

December 5, 2013

FF 06Jonathan Hickman // Greg Tocchini
early September 2011
*****

Tocchini’s liquid style adds just the unconventional beauty that Hickman’s needed all along. Sadly, he’s only drawing this 2-issue arc, which showcases the grand scope of Hick’s run. He entwines the fate of the mag’s Kirby clan of superhumans w/ the Kree AI—by flashing back half a million years!

last issue: FF #5
next issue: FF #7

also indexed for Sept. ’11
FF #7

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 #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

The Fantastic Four #342

July 2, 2013

Fantastic Four 342Danny Fingeroth // Rex Valve
July 1990
*
Editor Macchio pulls a fill-in from his files, flashing back to ’88 (Engleheart’s era—a spikey Thing!). The wet tale revises a skippable issue from Byrne’s run: a teen kills himself by emulating the Torch. Overwrought emo, a tin ear for slang, and a finale that has Johnny rap with kids about suicide.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #341]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #343]

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]

The Fantastic Four Annual #18

January 24, 2011

John Byrne & Mark Gruenwald // Mark Bright & John Byrne
July 1984
***
Weddings in the Marvel U never go without a hitch. This annual sees the long-awaited marriage in the Inhuman royal family interrupted by a mano a mano combat meant to decide the eternally simmering Kree-Skrull War. Both Gruenwald & Bright are uncharacteristically wooden, but that’s par for an annual. And who knows why Byrne sets the prologue at the outskirts of his epic Dark Phoenix finale?
[continued from The Fantastic Four #268]
[continued in The Fantastic Four #269]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four Annual #17]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four Annual #19]

The Fantastic Four #248

December 28, 2010

John Byrne
November 1982
***
Another of Byrne’s one-off, more insubstantial than most. Tho’ framed as a nightmare & capturing the logic of dreams, the ish doesn’t actually illuminate the mind of dreamer Reed. It simply underlines the irreality of a fantastic trope in sci-fi: aliens so advanced & so titanic, they are as gods.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #247]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #249]

The Fantastic Four #240

December 17, 2010

John Byrne
March 1982
****
Byrne’s FF deliberates shuns comics’ impulse to depict violence: a war btw. humans & Inhumans begins & ends off-page. Instead, Reed & co. help the super-race resettle on the Moon (the magisterial flight of their celestial city takes up several pages). In a coda, Quicksilver & wife have a child.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #239]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #241]

The Fantastic Four #239

December 16, 2010

John Byrne
February 1982
***
We meet Ben’s Aunt Petunia! She’s a nice surprise in a mostly damp issue that has the Four fail to save a small western town from fear demons. Okay, good to see that superpowers don’t solve every problem. And I like that Byrne’s reaching beyond Stan’n’Jack’s superhero team to echo ’50s weird tales.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #238]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #240]

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]