Archive for the ‘Namor the Sub-Mariner’ Category

Fear Itself: Captain America #7.1

November 12, 2015

Fear Itself 7.1 Captain AmericaEd Brubaker // Jackson Guice
January 2012
****

EB got to conclude Civil War in his mag, & here’s the trade-off: another event mini, Fear Itself, hosts the fatal confrontation btw his creations Bucky & Sin. Fair? Maybe, but it’s bad storytelling. So Bru plays a trump: a dose of SHIELD’s secret serum revives Buck (again).

continued from Fear Itself #7 of 7
continued in Winter Soldier #1

also indexed for Jan. ’12
Annihilators: Earthfall #3 of 4
Captain America #4
Captain America & Bucky #624
Fantastic Four #600
FF #12

Captain America & Bucky #622

November 10, 2015

Captain America & Bucky 622Ed Brubaker with Marc Andreyko // Chris Samnee
November 2011
****

The monthly flashback to WW2 continues with an Invaders mission. But what’s clever is how it doubles as Brubaker’s Bucky: Year One. The parallel is esp acute due to Samnee’s aesthetic: a post-Mazzucchelli one, like M. Lark’s but with more elan, perfect for what’s effectively an all-ages comic (shh!).

last issue: Captain America & Bucky  #621
next issue: Captain America & Bucky #623

also indexed for Nov. ’11
Annihilators: Earthfall #1 of 4
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7 of 9
Captain America #3
FF #9

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

The Marvels Project #8 of 8

October 4, 2015

Marvels Project 8 of 8Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
July 2010
***

Like much of Brubaker’s Cap run, his WW2-era mini is haunted by the ’01 attacks. His cinematic finale has the H. Torch & sidekick dogfight at Pearl Harbor while the other Invaders prevent an Atlantean assassination of Churchill. A subsequent montage of super-GI mobilization is anti-climactic.

last issue: The Marvels Project #7 of 8

also indexed for Jul. ’10
Captain America #606
The Fantastic Four #579
Secret Avengers #1
The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 of 1

The Marvels Project #7 of 8

October 1, 2015

Marvels Project 7 of 8Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
May 2010
****

The Marvel U’s supersoldiers contribute intel for American readiness, helping Cap stop an Atlantean attack on DC—part of the Axis plans for Dec. 7, 1941! Tho’ it arcs over a year of action, TMP might work better collected. It’s paced like a Le Carré novel, all its threads knotted in conspiracy.

last issue: The Marvels Project #6 of 8
next issue: The Marvels Project #8 of 8

also indexed for May ’10
Captain America #604
Fantastic Four #577
Guardians of the Galaxy #24
Nova #35
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #5 of 5
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #5 of 5

The Marvels Project #6 of 8

September 29, 2015

Marvels Project 6 of 8Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
April 2010
***

Namor deluges NYC, in a catastrophe meant to echo 9/11 & organize the heroes. Epting’s in his element on a ready-for-CGI moment: a disaster-porn setpiece. But Brubaker’s heart & eye are on his new character, the WW1 supersoldier, who finds a diabolic Red Skull in league w/ a blue-skinned Atlantean!

last issue: The Marvels Project #5 of 8
next issue: The Marvels Project #7 of 8

also indexed for Apr. ’10
Captain America #603
Fantastic Four #576
Guardians of the Galaxy #23
Nova #34
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #4 of 5
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #4 of 5

The Marvels Project #4 of 8

September 23, 2015

Marvels Project 4 of 8Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
February 2010
***

An interesting subject: an espionage tale about the Nazi who infiltrated the Super-Soldier project back in CA Comics #1. Who was this guy? A 1950s comic would’ve gotten into his head, but in Bru & Ept’s hands he’s a cypher. At least the subplot (a mystery-man tracks the Nazis in NYC) picks up steam.

last issue: The Marvels Project #5 of 8
next issue: The Marvels Project #3 of 8

also indexed for Feb. ’10
Captain America: Reborn #5 of 6
Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? #1 of 1
Fantastic Four #574
Guardians of the Galaxy #21
Nova #32
Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #2 of 5
Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2 of 5

The Marvels Project #3 of 8

September 21, 2015

Marvels Project 3 of 8Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
December 2009
***

Compared to Brubaker’s other four (!) mags, this mini is kinda rote. The hard-boiled captions lack pulpy urgency, while the setting upstages the action. Epting’s realism just isn’t dynamic here, a shortcoming most obv in his storyboard staging of a Coney Island showdown btw Namor & the Human Torch.

last issue: The Marvels Project #2 of 8
next issue: The Marvels Project #4 of 8

also indexed for Dec. ’09
Fantastic Four #572
Guardians of the Galaxy #19
Nova #30

Captain America: Reborn #3 of 6

September 20, 2015

Captain America Reborn 3 of 6Ed Brubaker // Bryan Hitch
November 2009
***

Although I’m enjoying this mini, I suspect it would fit better in the serial mag. BH’s pedigree (Authority, Ultimates) is stronger than his cinematic panels & dullish layouts. But it matches EB’s plot for #3, which is simply action-movie combat; he’s more interested in touring Cap continuity.

last issue: Captain America: Reborn #2 of 6
next issue: Captain America: Reborn #4 of 6

also indexed for Nov. ’09
Fantastic Four #571
Guardians of the Galaxy #18
The Marvels Project #3 of 8
Nova #29
War of Kings: Who Will Rule #1 of 1

The Marvels Project #1 of 8

September 17, 2015

Marvels Project 1 of 8Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
October 2009
****

Caught short by the buzz around Captain America’s death, Marvel gives Brubaker one mini to resurrect the hero & another for fun. He does a full period piece, drawing the company’s 1940s characters together into a plot-network around the super-serum & a secret experiment in Nazi eugenics labs.

next issue: The Marvels Project #2 of 6

also indexed for Oct. ’09
Captain America: Reborn #2 of 6
Daredevil #500
Fantastic Four #570
Guardians of the Galaxy #17
Nova #28
War of Kings #6 of 6
War of Kings: Warriors #2 of 2

Captain America #48

September 11, 2015

Captain America 48Ed Brubaker // Jackson Guice
May 2009
****

Brubaker’s past work w/ Greg Rucka shows itself in his Widow’s ultra-competence. Also, he—thru the agency of Namor—kills off both the villains introed in this act! The main baddie is a Yellow Peril riff (uh-oh) brought into the 21st century: a mad sci whose bioweapons will ‘solve’ overpopulation!

last issue: Captain America #47
next issue: Captain America #49

also indexed for May ’09
Daredevil #117
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1 of 5
Guardians of the Galaxy #11
Guardians of the Galaxy #12
Nova #23
War of Kings #1 of 6
War of Kings: Darkhawk #2 of 2

Captain America #47

September 10, 2015

Captain America 47Ed Brubaker // Jackson Guice
April 2009
****

Ultra-readable superspy comics. Brubaker gives his 21st century Cap a masochistic conscience over his Cold War crimes. He also creates a new character (!) in an old mold: a megalomaniacal supervillain! This Chinese Dr. Moreau splices the android DNA of Timely’s first mystery man into a viral weapon.

last issue: Captain America #46
next issue: Captain America #48

also indexed for Apr. ’09
Daredevil #116
Guardians of the Galaxy #10
Nova #22
War of Kings: Darkhawk #1 of 2

Captain America #46

September 9, 2015

Captain America 46Ed Brubaker // Steve Epting
March 2009
***

Bru braids Bucky’s Cold War espionage with an earlier addition to the character’s history: the Invaders, created by Roy “Master of the Retcon” Thomas. Amid much skulduggery, Bucky & Namor team up to recover the android corpse of their fellow WW2 vet, the Human Torch, from a Chinese mad scientist.

last issue: Captain America #45
next issue: Captain America #47

also indexed for Mar. ’09
Daredevil #115
Guardians of the Galaxy #9
Nova #21
Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1 of 1

Winter Soldier: Winter Kills #1 of 1

August 18, 2015

Winter Soldier 1 of 1Ed Brubaker // Stefano Gaudiano, Rick Hoberg & Lee Weeks
February 2007
****

W/ Civil War delaying Cap, Bru & a bullpen provide a quality stopgap. At X-mastime, Bucky Barnes tutors fan fave Gal Hawkeye & her croneys in youthful superheroics. He also visits the graves of past sidekicks &, best of all, reunites w/ fellow Invader Namor. Brubaker makes a great pitch for his resurrected hero as a lead character, w/ a solid plot engine (missions for Nick F) & dated idioms.

continued from Captain America #24
continued in Captain America #25

also indexed for Feb. ’07
Annihilation #5 of 6
Astonishing X-Men #20
Daredevil #92
Dr. Strange: The Oath #3 of 5
The Immortal Iron Fist #3
Nextwave, Agents of HATE #11
Runaways #23

Captain America #10

August 2, 2015

Captain America 10Ed Brubaker // Lee Weeks
October 2005
***

Week’s fill-in art adds little to the long-perspective reminisce that provides backstory for the alt-timeline that’s swept across Marvel’s comics. In one early fork, Cap & Bucky kill Baron Zemo then capture Hitler! But Cap makes enemies in the ’50s “Mutant Scare”—& walks on the moon in ’55!

last issue: Captain America #9
next issue: Captain America #11

also indexed for Oct. ’05
Daredevil #76
Iron Man #4
Runaways #7
Young Avengers #7

Captain America #5

July 28, 2015

Captain America 05Ed Brubaker // Michael Lark with Steve Epting
May 2005
*****

Lark takes the main art duty for this extended flashback of Cap’s rare visit to WW2’s eastern front. The US has the Invaders, & the Nazis their Axis counterparts, but Russia has only brutality & cunning. That’s echoed in a radical retcon that recasts Bucky as a black-ops commando w/ a Bowie knife!

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

also indexed for May ’05
Astonishing X-Men #10
Daredevil #71
Fantastic Four #524
The Pulse #8
Runaways #2
Secret War
#4 of 5
Young Avengers #2

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

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

The Sentry/The Void #1 of 1

March 6, 2015

Sentry-Void 1 of 1Paul Jenkins // Jae Lee
February 2001
****

No surprise that the Void is the Sentry’s negative aspect, since it’s been a metaphor for depression all along. But his hook—erasure from continuity—is a fruitful & unique experiment for Marvel, albeit one better off left to stand alone (one more fault in Bendis’ awful, epic Avengers run).

continued from The Sentry #5 of 5
continued from The Sentry/Fantastic Four #1 of 1
continued from The Sentry/Hulk #1 of 1
continued from The Sentry/Spider-Man #1 of 1
continued from The Sentry/X-Men #1 of 1

also indexed for Feb. ’01
Avengers #37
The Sentry/Fantastic Four #1 of 1
The Sentry/Hulk #1 of 1
The Sentry/Spider-Man #1 of 1
The Sentry/X-Men #1 of 1

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

The Thanos Imperative #2 of 6

June 1, 2014

Thanos Imperative 2 of 6Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning // Miguel Sepulveda
September 2010
**

The writers wage Marvel’s latest space opera on several fronts & still keep the subplots clear. To imply an epic scope, they even usher Kirby Gods in to defend the universe from an Eldritch incursion! But Sepulveda draws & inks cinema-aping art that some lovely digital coloring can’t save.

last issue: The Thanos Imperative #1 of 6
next issue: The Thanos Imperative #3 of 6

also indexed for Sept. ’10
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1 of 9
The Fantastic Four #581

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 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 #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

The Fantastic Four #588

November 29, 2013

Fantastic Four 588A-story: Jonathan Hickman // Nick Dragotta
B-story: Jonathan Hickman // Mark Brooks
April 2011
A-story: ***** // B-story: ****

Hick finally gets a partner who matches his calibre: Dragotta, who apes Kirby’s dynamic grunts but draws a Sturm-like indie line. Silence signifies mourning as Johnny Storm’s family & friends grieve. It sells the moment w/o sentiment—unlike the B-plot, where Spidey helps Franklin mourn his uncle.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #587
continued in FF #1

The Fantastic Four #587

November 28, 2013

Fantastic Four 587Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
March 2011
****

A fantastic climax caps Hickman’s first “season”! Sue stares Namor down as she’s crowned regent of Atlantis. Even better, Val leads a junior team into the Neg Zone to commit science heroics. And Johnny sacrifices himself to stop an insectoid invasion. Would be ***** but for Ept’s photorealism.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #586
next issue: The Fantastic Four #588

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

The Fantastic Four #586

November 27, 2013

Fantastic Four 586Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
February 2011
****

Hickman seems most compelled by Reed’s plot: rescue the Nu-Earth from a vengeful Galactus. Epting seems most into Sue’s arc: stop an Atlantean peace conference from becoming a civil war. But the real actions’ w/ Johnny, who must protect home & family (incl. de-powered Ben) from an alien invasion!

last issue: The Fantastic Four #585
next issue: The Fantastic Four #587

The Fantastic Four #585

November 26, 2013

Fantastic Four 585Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
January 2011
****

Hickman has divided the Four while accelerating his story’s pace. He’s got plenty of plots in play, from the Negative Zone death-cult to an Atlantean war of succession to a deep-space excursion w/ Galactus. That last plot brushes w/ Kirby-like grandeur, tho Epting’s prosaic style doesn’t match.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #584
next issue: The Fantastic Four #586

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

The Fantastic Four #584

November 25, 2013

Fantastic Four 584Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
December 2010
****

For over a year, Hickman has been writing one- & two-issue arcs, which makes this multi-plot storyline all the more portentous. Reed parleys w/ Galactus while Sue escorts Namor to Old Atlantis. But the soul is Ben, who swigs his cure & clobbers the gentrified Yancy Gang, now hedge-fund financiers!

last issue: The Fantastic Four #583
next issue: The Fantastic Four #585

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

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 #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 Avengers #26

June 27, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
March 1966
**
The Avs lose the first bout against an undersea warlord (an enemy of Namor’s, natch) w/ a supervillainous plan to flood the world. Heck, as usual, seems more jazzed by the internal squabbling than the adventures, since it allows for more emotion. But nice to see the Wasp perform a bit of solo heroism!
[last issue: The Avengers #25]
[next issue: The Avengers #27]

The Avengers #16

June 17, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Don Heck
May 1965
****
Recognizing the need to shake up this formulaic mag, editor Lee revises its mission by changing its cast. Cap excepted, the square-jawed heroes step aside for reformed criminals from other mags, antiheroes w/o titles of their own. The combat’s perfunctory; this ish aims for drama, not action.
[last issue: The Avengers #15]
[next issue: The Avengers #17]

The Avengers #4

June 5, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
March 1964
*****
Kirby & Lee resurrect Captain America, carefully retailoring him to superb effect. A disastrous WW2 mission cost Cap his sidekick Bucky & put him on ice. Reawakened, he broods mightily but fits perfectly w/ the superteam, who help an oddball (but not evil) alien while facing a resurgent Namor.
[continued in The Fantastic Four #25]
[last issue: The Avengers #3]
[next issue: The Avengers #5]

The Avengers #3

June 4, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
January 1964
*****
In a Marvel irony, the teams’ foe in #3 used to be a teammate. The Hulk’s antisocial demeanor earns him attn from the original antihero, Namor—who defeats the surly monster in an underwater wrestling match! But the duo can’t cooperate when they challenge the Avengers to a battle royale under Gibraltar.
[see also Journey into Mystery #112]
[last issue: The Avengers #2]
[next issue: The Avengers #4]

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]

Daredevil #7

December 18, 2011

Stan Lee // Wally Wood
April 1965
****

Wood proves his worth to doubters like me in this rousing title-bout. Namor wants to enter his legal claim to the surface world, w/ Nelson & Murdock as advocates. Way out of his weightclass, DD (one year in, w/ a new crimson costume) can’t stop the Atlantean juggernaut, but he can lose with honor.

last issue: Daredevil #6
next issue: Daredevil #8

also indexed for Apr. ’65
The Amazing Spider-Man #23
The Avengers #15
Journey into Mystery #115  (Thor)
Strange Tales #131  (Dr. Strange)
Tales of Suspense #64  (Captain America)

Journey into Mystery #112: Thor

October 25, 2011

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
January 1965
A-story: *****
B-story: ****
A title bout: Thor v. Hulk! With no clear victor, I give Thor the match on points. Stan’n’Jack slip this spectacular slobberknocker btw. the gutters of Avengers #3. Colletta’s inks skew another great Tale of Asgard. Odin, ridding the ‘verse of monsters, adopts a giant-king’s bantam son: Loki!
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #111]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #113]

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]

The Fantastic Four #261

January 16, 2011

John Byrne
December 1983
*****
The trail of missing Mr F leads thru a Ditko Dimension in the Watcher’s lunar home & out into deep space, where a fleet of alien refugees means to execute Reed for showing Galactus mercy. The brilliant conceit of trying Reed for his mercy ranks w/ Lee/Kirby in its staging of liberalism.
[continued from Alpha Flight #4]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #260]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #262]

Alias #25

August 3, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos & Mark Bagley
October 2003
*****

Covered by the MAX imprint, Alias pushes the comics taboo of heroine humiliation. Jones reveals her secret wound: she was once enslaved by a mind-control sicko. A metaphor for abusive love? Impossible to read it objectively or critically. For an extra jolt, flashbacks are in Bagley’s trad style.

last issue: Alias #24
next issue: Alias #26

also indexed in Oct. ’03
Avengers/JLA #2 of 4
New X-Men #145

Alias #21

July 30, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos & Mark Bagley
June 2003
****
Bendis’ trafficking arc (kinda partners to his Owl arc in DD) wraps up w/ a burst of action—Speedball bubbles!—& Kid Spider-Woman’s rescue. It also teases at Jones’ traumatic history by alluding to a similar victimization & a dream-fight w/ the Defenders. Gaydos gets trad w/ a 3×3 grid on 1 page!
[last issue: Alias #20]
[next issue: Alias #22]