Archive for the ‘Living Lightning’ Category

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

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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 #53

September 30, 2013

Avengers 53Kurt Busiek // Kieren Dwyer
June 2002
***

The year-long arc reaches its epic climax: titan-sized holograms of Kang & Cap duke it out in orbit while their starships batter each other! It’s exactly the sort of fun super-SF that suits this mag. Dwyer’s pencilling is clear, dynamic, & accessible; it resembles animated TV superheroics nicely.

last issue: Avengers #52
next issue: Avengers #54

also indexed for Jun’ 02
Alias #8
New X-Men #125

Avengers #52

September 29, 2013

Avengers 52Kurt Busiek // Ivan Reis
May 2002
***

The Avengers rally against the chrono-despot Kang, forcing his armies off the planet. An expected, disappointing return to superhero formula after last issue’s pointillist intimacy & (relative) realism. Reis joins the mag for an issue, his stolid work neither adding nor detracting from the action.

last issue: Avengers #51
next issue: Avengers #53

also indexed for May ’02
Alias #7
New X-Men #124

Avengers #50

September 27, 2013

Avengers 50Kurt Busiek // Kieren Dwyer
March 2002
**

Digressing from Kang’s Invasion Saga, Busiek ends his long-simmering Triune arc, which frankly never quite clicked. The cult was founded to fight a gnostic demiurge (a Big Dumb Object, pyramid-shaped in a nod to Authority). But cult-leader Tremont is a standard megalomaniac; a link btw 3-D Man & Triathlon is murky; & a Gaiman-like mythos lacks gravity. But Dwyer delivers electrifying psychedelics.

last issue: Avengers #49
next issue: Avengers #51

also indexed for Mar. ’02
Alias #5
New X-Men #122

Avengers #48

September 25, 2013

Avengers 48Kurt Busiek // Kieren Dwyer
January 2002
***

Ms. Marvel dispatches her subplot w/ a blade, upping the stakes to wartime levels. But the main plot sees an orbital strikeforce defeated by Kang. Dwyer, onetime collaborator on Cap, draws w/ a cartoon dynamism, cool on its own but counter to the epic tone of this arc (10 issues & counting!).

last issue: Avengers #47
next issue: Avengers #49

also indexed for Jan. ’02
Alias #3
New X-Men #120

Avengers #47

September 24, 2013

Avengers 47Kurt Busiek // Manuel Garcia
December 2001
***

Busiek aims to revive Ms. Marvel, a char defined by Claremont & marred by Shooter. In the issue, Kang’s son (an alt version of her cosmic rapist!) courts her w/ a warrior’s chivalry by helping storm an Arctic citadel. The A+ cover, an homage to Gone with the Wind, almost makes up for last month’s.

last issue: Avengers #46
next issue: Avengers #48

also indexed for Dec. ’01
Alias #2
New X-Men #119

Avengers #38

September 13, 2013

Avengers 38Kurt Busiek // Alan Davis
March 2001
****

Alan Davis replaces Pérez; both have a buoyant tone that updates the superspirit of the ’60s. In turn, Busiek gives the team a Clintonian foreign policy, an Avenger response to the global action of The Authority. His heart, however, is on the Vision’s search for himself & on Pym’s double-self.

last issue: Avengers #37
next issue: Avengers #39

Avengers #27

August 25, 2013

Avengers 27Kurt Busiek // George Pérez
April 2000
****

Just two years in, KB shuffles his roster. He’s deliberately made the Avs less A-list & more motley, indirectly addressing issues of race & gender w/o taking sides politically. He also implies that the Triune cult is conspiring to weaken the Avengers, having planted their own superhero on the team.

last issue: Avengers #26
next issue: Avengers #28

Avengers Forever #6 of 12

August 6, 2013

Avengers Forever 06Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern // Carlos Pacheco
May 1999
***

In one future, T’Challa sacrifices his vibranium to save a pregnant android & a golden insectoid swarm. The choice has been engineered by Immortus, whose power over spacetime is bent on keeping humanity on Earth. But that plot requires some deduction, since Kurt & Roger refuse to spell it out.

last issue: Avengers Forever #5 of 12
next issue: Avengers Forever #7 of 12

also indexed for May ’99
Avengers #16

Avengers Forever #5 of 12

August 4, 2013

Avengers Forever 05Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern // Carlos Pacheco
April 1999
***

Immortus begins erasing various ‘verses to stop humanity from conquering the future. Busiek echoes the classic Crisis, of course, also in that both minis seem to stall at times. To provide a dialogue assist, he’s enlisted Stern, from The Avengers‘ last glory era (& one that Busiek passes by).

last issue: Avengers Forever #4 of 12
next issue: Avengers Forever #6 of 12

also indexed for Apr. ’99
Avengers #15

Avengers Forever #4 of 12

August 2, 2013

Avengers Forever 04Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern // Carlos Pacheco
March 1999
****

Busiek pays homage to Thomas & Englehart, building his mini partly around their runs. His Avengers board a time machine to stop Immortus from erasing their sidekick, Rick Jones. They’re off to the Wild West (backstage in Av #142-3!), Killraven’s future, & ’50s America—where VP Nixon is a Skrull!

last issue: Avengers Forever #3 of 12
next issue: Avengers Forever #5 of 12

also indexed for Mar. ’99
Avengers #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

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]

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]

Avengers West Coast #82

November 5, 2010

Roy & Dann Thomas // Dave Ross
May 1992
**
Part 16 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
The Shi’ar half of this crossover has been weaker than the Kree half. It’s partly the writing but it’s also the lack of strong plot turns. Chapter 16 is just another battle royale btw. superteams till a stray shot unmasks a Skrull imposter among the aliens. It finally alters the epic’s momentum.
[continued from Captain America #400]
[continued in Quasar #34]
[last issue: Avengers West Coast #81]
[next issue: Avengers West Coast #83]

The Mighty Thor #446

November 3, 2010

Tom DeFalco // Pat Olliffe
April 1992
*
Part 14 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
Thru & thru, “Galactic Storm” is a solid crossover—except for Thor. Where DeFalco the Editor requests byzantine intrigues that undermine the Avengers’ diplomacy, DeFalco the Writer offers a melee btw. superteams & gassy sentiments on honor. Olliffe undercuts the action w/ his loose curvy pencils.
[continued from Iron Man #279]
[continued in Captain America #400]
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #445]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #446]

Quasar #33

October 27, 2010

Mark Gruenwald // Rurik Tylor
April 1992
***
Part 10 of “Operation:  Galactic Storm”
Guest artist Tyler’s JR Jr. style fits w/ G-wald’s gee-whiz tone. While the Avengers establish diplo relations w/ the Shi’ar, Quasar probes the theft of the late Capt. Marvel’s power bands. Q has a superhero’s clumsiness, crashing thru deep space & butting heads w/ three interchangeable superteams.
[continued from Avengers West Coast #81]
[continued in Wonder Man #8]
[last issue: Quasar #32]
[next issue: Quasar #34]

The Mighty Thor #445

October 24, 2010

Tom DeFalco // Pat Olliffe
March 1992
*
Part 7 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
Clumsy quips, hammy dialogue, & a focus on fisticuffs make this issue a low point in an otherwise solid space-opera crossover. Thor’s fight w/ a Shi’ar Superman lacks imagination. And the creators muffle key plot points—like the reveal that shape-shifting Skrulls are behind the Kree-Shi’ar War.
[continued from Iron Man #278]
[continued in Captain America #399]
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #444]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #446]

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]

Avengers West Coast #80

October 19, 2010

Roy & Dann Thomas // Dave Ross
March 1992
**
Part 2 of “Operation: Galactic Storm”
Thomas helps to launch a sequel to his classic “Kree-Skrull War” epic (& other details of Marvel history—Roy’s happiest when he’s patching old plotlines into new stories). Captain America leads the WCAs into a skirmish w/ a giant robot while alien (Shi’ar) operatives swipe a Kirbytech maguffin.
[continued from Captain America #398]
[continued in Quasar #32]
[last issue: Avengers West Coast #79]
[next issue: Avengers West Coast #81]