6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Review

After reviewing the legendary Batman and Superman shows, it’s time to look at something that’s on a lower level. The Hulk show is essentially in the current Marvel show continuity, which means that you can expect a whole lot of comedy with a touch of action at some points. It doesn’t work as well as Ultimate Spiderman or Avengers Assemble, likely because the characters aren’t as interesting. It’s not a bad show and still looks good when placed next to Pac Man, but I can’t really say much for it. Ah well, it made for some good times.

The show ran for 2 seasons and actually had a bit of a long running plot. Rick Jones was turned into A-Bomb due to gamma exposure and one thing led to another so he became the Hulk’s teammate alongside Red Hulk and She Hulk. He decided to start a webshow which would prove that the Hulks are actually heroes. A mysterious being known as Skaar appears and is defeated by the heroes so he joins the team. The 4 of them stop many local threats, but there is typically a mastermind in the shadows. His name is the Leader and I hope you like him since the guy will be a major recurring villain throughout the entire series. The heroes humiliate him in every way possible, but he never stands down so you’ve gotta like his determination. Another plot that comes back a lot is the Kree as Ronan is always trying to get revenge against the Hulk and even the Avengers have to step in at one point.

Depending on how much you buy the whole quantity vs quality, you’ll like the fact that the Hulk show has a lot of guest stars. Some of them actually look good too so that’s definitely a nice plus. They certainly help to spice the show up and provide us with a little variety. Without the guest stars, the Hulk show would likely not be nearly as interesting. As with the Superman and Batman show reviews, let’s take a look at some of the good and bad episodes here.

I’d say that the opening two parter was good as we got to see Hulk fight Skaar and there was certainly a lot of action. Another good episode was when the Hulk’s personality switched so that he became an intellectual who didn’t fight except as a last resort. We got to see the Hulk think his way out of his problems, which was a nice twist and blew the Leader’s plan away. A few of the other nice episodes which didn’t involve guest stars included a challenge by the Titan Xemnu, as he fought all of the Hulks. His physical power was incredible and the fight was actually quite good. Likewise, I liked a roller skating episode that came shortly afterwards as the heroes got to test their skills.

Most of the episodes with guest stars were naturally a lot of fun. One of the highlights was when Ghost Rider appeared to drag Red Hulk to Hell. It was an intense episode and Ghost Rider was definitely given his due respect. He looked very powerful as he should and was no nonsense. The Avengers get to help out in the final two part episode against the Kree. The episodes were a little light on actual action scenes, but it’s always nice to see the Avengers show up and remind us that continuity can be real. It’s like jumping into the Avengers Assemble show.
The Guardians of the Galaxy also showed up a few times and it’s always nice to see them. They even got to be in a Christmas episode and there aren’t too many shows which let Christmas appear anymore so that was neat. I think all shows should have a Christmas episode at some point. Dr. Strange helped out against Dormammu and his Mindless ones. Those Mindless ones would eventually appear in Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spiderman so they definitely get around. Even the Silver Surfer showed up in one episode to fight off some nightmares. His voice was admittedly very anticlimactic and not one that I would have chosen for the character. Still, I always liked the Surfer so seeing him back in animation again was certainly cool. Spider Man was also around a few times and he even got to take on Venom in one of the episodes. It was definitely neat to see the Wall Crawler show up and he always makes for one of the best guest stars with his epic quips and constant readyness to show up the Hulks.

Deathlok and the Inhumans also appear in the series. Things get a little dicey for Black Bolt and his friends as they get trapped within a dome, but the Hulks are always ready to help out. The fight with Deathlok was also fun and his guns sure pack a punch. That fight should realistically be a cakewalk for the Hulk, but we’ll just say that he was holding back. The Thing helps out in one episode although his rivalry with the Hulk doesn’t quite work as well when the Hulk is in full control like he is here. It’s just there, but it doesn’t feel as natural. Aside from being on the Avengers, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man all get episodes in the series. Iron Man probably has the best role as he mostly sticks in character although his defenses shouldn’t be able to be hacked so easily. Captain America gives up on hope with his episode very quickly, which was more than a little iffy.

The worst would tragically have to be Thor. In one episode, the Leader becomes the All Father so Thor and Loki decide to serve him regardless of how evil he is. Apparently, they must follow whoever is on the throne as if they were from the Shiar. That’s completely out of character for Thor and it was just odd. The writers clearly didn’t know what to do there.

One of the episodes that definitely wasn’t very good was when the Hulk decided to live underground because the mole people were his true friends. It was pretty hilarious to see how easily Hulk was willing to ditch the surface dwellers, but it still didn’t make any sense and any episode with the Mole Man will typically get a thumbs down from me. Mission Impossible Man was another miss episode. I definitely don’t care for the Impossible Man as a character and this certainly did not increase his chances of being a likable character. We also can’t forget the Planet Hulk two part saga as Ego The Living Planet is involved in a huge twist, which was not a good one. There was also more crude humor than usual to be found there.

I’d say that most of the Hulk episodes were decent. The only bad ones were really the episodes that overdid it with the humor. That just happened to a lot of season 1 episodes as they would sound good on paper and then get a little gross while watching. Season 2 improved on this, they never became perfect, but you could actually go through some episodes without major crude humor attacks. That was a start, but the series never got to see if it could really go on a role.

Time to talk about the characters. Hulk is the lead and he’s definitely very heroic. You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but he really cares about everyone’s safety. Hulk’s a very selfless hero and also quite intelligent as this incarnation seems to have Bruce’s smarts along with his typical strength. He rarely ever enters into a rage and is always portrayed as the most capable hero while also being the strongest. Hulk’s essentially the perfect lead. He may make a mistake once in a while, but Hulk always gets the job done, even when the other heroes don’t believe in him.
She Hulk doesn’t like the cold, but aside from that she is always one of the more reasonable characters in the show. She has a very inconsistent rivalry with Red Hulk that shows up once in a while. She Hulk may not be as strong as the Hulk, but she helps to remind him not to lose control at certain points and she always has a witty remark at the ready. Red Hulk is essentially a one dimensional version of Vegeta who tries to act as tough as the Hulk even when he knows that the Hulk is actually the stronger, smarter fighter. He is always upstaged, but he continues to talk tough in every episode so I suppose that he deserves some props for that…I guess.

A Bomb is the comedy member of the group so he’s always thinking of some quick lines to remind everyone why he’s so tech savvy. He can turn invisible, which is a great trick, but this is Rick so he doesn’t use it as well as he should. He’s a fairly likable member of the group, although I prefer Red Hulk and She Hulk. The worst member of the team is easily Skaar. Skaar is basically here for the crude humor jokes and they can get quite disgusting at times. It’s best to just forget about him as he never contributes to the show and just brings it lower and lower.

As for the villains, the Leader is certainly the main one in the show. The Hulks won’t rest until they’ve thoroughly humiliated him in every sense of the word over and over again. They force him to plunge their toilets and work at a fast food joint among other things. The Leader puts up with it because he wants to be ruler of the world someday, but it is pretty embarrassing for his fans. His plan with Skaar was also poorly thought out to the point where you will wonder what the point of it is. His whole “Query..etc etc, Answer, etc etc” gimmick was pretty neat though. This is mainly just because the Leader’s voice was spot on. He sounds bored with every line that he utters and while the other villains also push him around, the Leader never loses his confidence.

As for the Abomination, he’s essentially a stronger version of the Leader. He doesn’t get quite as many good lines, but he almost takes down the team a few different times and he even took over the base at one point. Abomination can be a little generic, but he was certainly given more credit here than in Avengers EMH so that’s a good thing. He’s finally almost on Hulk’s level in strength like he’s supposed to be. He even took over a town, which was very…interesting to say the least.

Normally, I like to talk about how good the animation is, but I can’t really say that this time. Whoever draws the character does not know how to draw teeth, as they are simply too big and stand out way too much. Think of the classic shows like Justice League, Spectacular Spider Man, or the old Transformers show. Do you remember the teeth? Naturally, the characters had teeth and smiled sometimes, but you didn’t notice a giant pair of teeth every time they talked. That’s what happened in the Hulk show and it can be quite distracting. The fight scenes can be decent when they happen though and the character designs are good. It’s similar to how Accel World’s animation was terrific, except for the human characters. As with this show, it’s a big enough negative that you have to take a double take. I’m going to give the Hulk show a bit of a thumbs down here, but it has its moments.

As for the soundtrack, you’ll probably forget it right away. This isn’t the kind of show where you will typically remember the music. That being said, I do remember Red Hulk’s theme because it plays whenever he fights or has a meaningful scene. It’s essentially a generic “tough guy” theme, but that doesn’t stop it from being decently good. At least it was memorable and maybe that’s all I could have asked from it. The show did need a theme song though. I don’t see why everyone is ditching the theme songs nowadays. They were classic and theme songs help to take a show to the next level!

One unintentionally humorous thing from the show was that the very first episode had a plot hole. It ended with Rick being taken to the base to heal, but in the second episode, Hulk never actually made it to the base. Whoops…heh heh. It’s something that you would expect from the Hulk show, but at the same time, you didn’t expect it to happen so soon. It had a retro vibe to it I suppose, but it’s something that you’d think the writers would have noticed. Especially since it aired as a two part event.

While the Ultimate Spiderman show has the gimmick of Spiderman constantly breaking the third wall and stopping time, Hulk goes for a more practical option. At the end of every episode, he’ll sit down in front of the camera and explain that episode’s moral in case you missed it. The messages are more inspirational and heartwarming than My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Now, that’s a little bold to say as My Little Pony has some of the best messages out there, but Hulk teaches you about caring for your family and teammates, ignoring any bad qualities they may have and focusing on the good, how problems shouldn’t always be solved by violence, trusting in your teammates, and dozens of other great morals. It’s never handled very subtlety, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Being able to talk about these things with a straight face is a good thing and the Hulk show is great for impressionable kids you are watching the show.

One of the things that really bogged the Hulk show down was the unfortunate crude humor and the uninspired dialogue. While the crude jokes are not as frequent as Pac Man (That would almost literally be impossible) they can definitely get pretty dicey at times with a lot of sneezing and potty jokes. They force the Leader to live in the bathroom for a while and the toilet is clogged so he has to try and unclog it. It gets preeeetty dicey for him to say the least. If there is a crude humor joke to be thought of, it’ll be in the show and it certainly gets old. The obvious puns and gags from A Bomb and the others can be good as long as they stick away from that area. Ah well, I guess the show didn’t want its solid seven.

Without that, the show would have been decent. It would have been similar to shows like Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spiderman. I would never go as far as to call them great shows, but they were still fun and add to the mythos of the characters. I’m still really glad that those titles are around and I can’t say the same for the Hulk title quite as easily. Even this upcoming rating that it got is very close as you can make a decent argument for one star lower. I think it was just good enough, but it was definitely on the edge.
Overall, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. is a show that had potential. It’s essentially a Marvel version of Batman Brave and the Bold, but with less guest stars, sloppier animation, and inferior writing. Also less of a soundtrack, but that’s to be expected. It couldn’t quite keep up with the Avengers or Ultimate Spiderman. It should be really thankful that it got a season 2 as that saga certainly helped the show improve. Otherwise, I’m tempted to say that it could have gotten a 5. Still, there were enough positives for me to call it a decently good show and I’d recommend it to Hulk fans who wants to watch some fun action. That being said, you’d be better off watching the 90’s Hulk show or just going for Avengers EMH. I’m confident that Guardians of the Galaxy will beat the Hulk show so maybe everything will start to look up from here…maybe. Also, make sure that you stick around for the moral at the end of each episode!

Overall 6/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Fantastic Four Volume 4 The End Is Fourever Review

It’s time to look at the end of an era for the Fantastic Four. They’ve had some really great runs over the years like the Hickman epic and the classic run. A lot of things have happened over the years and now the plots can all wrap up. The collection ends on a high note and things wrap up nicely without feeling forced or rushed. We even get some fun guest stars!

The Fantastic Four has been split apart recently. The kids were kidnapped by the Wizard, Mr Fantastic was kidnapped by a guy who wants to be known as the Peace Man or something like that. The Human Torch doesn’t have his powers anymore and the Thing has just barely gotten away from prison. As you can see, they aren’t really ready to stop a worldwide invasion by aliens, but they decide to give it a whirl anyway. They’ve made plenty of friends over the years and they’ll need all of them if they want to win this battle.

This collection is essentially nonstop action, which is really rare for the Fantastic Four series. The alien insects are everywhere so we get cameos from several Avengers. The Avengers don’t look so good once again, but it’s mainly SHIELD that starts things off on a rocky note as they decide to attack the Hulk. Everyone eventually gets over the mix-up, but it did give us a nice excuse for a quick fight scene, which is always a solid way to kick things off. The Fantastic Four’s group definitely would have won had the battle kept going since they had the Hulk on their side and Invisible Woman could have handled the rest of the group.

The art is quite good as you would expect from the Fantastic Four series. The fight scenes are vibrant and colorful while the dialogue scenes flow naturally. This is certainly an easy comic to read as a result and I had a fun time blasting through it. The final issues also celebrate its 75th anniversary so we get a few short stories and one issue where we see what all of the other heroes were doing when the Fantastic Four first formed. That was fun and there were certainly a lot of guest stars so the comic really tried not to leave anyone out.

The comic also had some really good writing and it was an interesting read from start to finish. Mr Fantastic got his props as he was able to foil most of the villain’s plan on his own and also broke free from the trap. He is Mr Fantastic after all and while some of Marvel’s other geniuses like Tony Stark typically get more publicity, I’d consider Mr Fantastic to easily be the smartest man in the Marvel Universe. I wouldn’t take anyone against him in a battle of wits and he’s still my favorite member of the Fantastic Four. He was portrayed perfectly here!

The Thing looked good and he was certainly willing to jump into the fray right away. He’s a character who’s had his ups and downs, but I’m glad to say that this would be more of an up for him. The Human Torch looks nice and heroic. The comic still plays up his flirty side a bit, which is regrettable, but he doesn’t go totally overboard in the past so the writer did a decent job with him compared to past incarnations. Invisible Woman continues to show why she is a threat in any fight since her force abilities are really effective against all fighters. There’s a twist about why she has been using her powers more freely lately, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are still her powers. Once she gets used to them a little more, she’ll be back to being a big threat in the Marvel universe.

The villains aren’t very high profile, but they’re not bad either. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Psycho Man, but his abilities are decent I suppose. I much preferred the peace guy who did escape so that’ll be a plot to delve into in the future I suppose. He’s quite smart even though he was duped by one of the other villains. I actually liked him as a villain since he seems to be a good match for Mr. Fantastic.

The subplot with the kids wasn’t bad as the kid made the right call and showed everyone that he’s not a true villain deep down. I don’t think that he should have played along from the beginning to be honest, but it all worked out in the end. The plot was not quite as interesting as any of the others, but at least it gave the kids some closure so maybe they won’t be needed in future arcs. I still don’t really like how Valeria is portrayed to be as smart, if not smarter than Mr Fantastic. That’s still a little iffy if you ask me.

I do appreciate the fact that the comic mentions why most of the Avengers aren’t around to help. Since the invasion is taking place across the whole planet, they have to protect the other countries that have less superheroes. This is a great reason for them not being around and I wish that more comics would acknowledge this. New York has all of the big threats so I’m glad that some stuck around, but the other countries have far less superheroes so they could definitely use the help.

After the nonstop action for most of the collection, I didn’t mind the short stories at the end. The camping story with Mr Fantastic and Valeria was fun and we got to see that Mr Fantastic did have fun enjoying nature when he wasn’t busy inventing things. The Thing’s was a little sad for him with the ending, but it shows that he’s always ready to help. I’m not sure if short stories would have worked as well if they had been the whole collection, but they still would have been fun to read in a different way when compared to the action. Both techniques work when the writing is good enough. The fact that we had fake versions of the Avengers was also awesome since it gave us an excuse to see Thor and Iron Man take on the Fantastic Four. Scarlet Witch even fights her doppleganger. The villains aren’t really a threat here and it’s really just to show you all of the friends that the Fantastic Four have made over the years. Trust me, they’ve made quite a lot of them!

Overall, This was a really fun volume. Whether you’ve read the previous ones or not, it’s easy to jump right into the action. A lot of things happened to set up the situation, but it’s easy to understand what the situation is and what the heroes have to do to stop the invasion. It’s too bad that most of the Avengers are busy, but the Fantastic Four are always more than a match for any adversary. The team is essentially a blank slate now so they can really do whatever they feel like doing now. It’s a great way to hand over the comic to a new creative team since there are no big subplots unfolding at the moment. This was a good run and an epic end to it so I recommend this collection to all Marvel fans.

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

World War Hulk Review

I remember this arc when it first came out. There was a lot of hype around it and I still consider the plot to be one of the best concepts from all Marvel events. Only Civil War may be able to top it. Nothing beats a good Heroes vs Heroes story, but one that comes close is when the hero turns evil and decides to destroy the heroes. It’s sort of like the Doomsday story in the comics as Superman has a long monologue about what would happen if he finally met a villain that he couldn’t defeat. It’s a story that has a lot of potential. World War Hulk doesn’t live up to all of it sadly, but it’s still a fun comic.

As mentioned, the plot is very simple. The Hulk was shot into space and deserted to die on a planet full of gladiators and aliens. He managed to survive and lived a happy life there, but then his rocket ship came back into orbit and crashed on the planet, destroying everyone on the planet. The Hulk blames the Illuminati for placing the bomb on the rocket and he has now returned to Earth to destroy them and make the Earth suffer for what has happened. All of Marvel’s heroes will have to set aside their differences if there is any hope of stopping the Hulk.

It should be noted that the Hulk picked a great time to launch this attack. For starters, Thor isn’t around at the moment, which takes away a really large threat right from the start. Also, the Civil War is still raging on at the moment or at least the post effects so the heroes have to reluctantly work together at the risk of being arrested. Yes, this is definitely the Hulk’s moment of glory and the heroes may not know what hit them! It should be noted that some heavy weights like Ghost Rider and the X-Men are noticeably absent, but they end up fighting the Hulk in tie-in issues. It’s too bad that they weren’t included, but I did review the X-Men one a while back.

If you wanted a comic with nonstop action, then this is definitely the one to check out. The 5 issues are basically showing the Hulk take down the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and all of the loners who tried to join the fray. Even the military stood no chance against the Hulk. Granted, The Hulk had about 5 teammates known as the Warbound who are apparently about as strong as the Hulk pre rage. That’s a lot of hype for those guys, but they did manage to defeat Spiderman (Off screen naturally……he never gets any respect in the modern comics!) so I suppose that they lived up to their reputation.

The Hulk has never been madder than he is now so his power is really skyrocketing. By the end of the comic, he starts to grow so powerful that he could have destroyed the Earth with a single stomp. That’s some insanely good strength. Naturally, Hulk is a total villain here who only cares for revenge. It’s a motive that works for most villains so why not for him right? He’s not mindless here by any means and he just believes that the Avengers need to pay for their crimes of genocide. An eye for an eye is his strategy. It’s been a while since we saw the Hulk portrayed as a villain so that was neat. He even uses his intelligence to trick Dr Strange at one point since he’s totally in control here. You have never seen a more deadly Hulk.

The Sentry’s role in this is also quite big as he gets hyped up right from the start. One problem that you may have with this is the fact that everyone acts like the Sentry and Hulk are best friends. Since when right? The Sentry is also a little insane and completely unlikable, but you still have to respect his incredible power. He’s said to be the strongest hero in Marvel and while I completely disagree with that, he’s certainly one of the stronger members and not someone to be taken lightly.

I do have to mention that the art isn’t very good here. It’ll look all right at times and then the character models will just start to shift and tumble. I dunno, there was just something a little off putting about it, but the art still wasn’t downright bad. We still got some fun action sequences out of it (Which is the whole point of World War Hulk right?) and the scene where the Sentry finally makes his move is pretty epic. The guy definitely seems to think of himself as a Superman level fighter and maybe he has some valid reasons for this. He does end up looking really good here after all.

As this is one of the more modern events, you can tell that you are missing some things by not reading the tie ins, but it’s not as big as in some other graphic novels where it’s in your face. The pacing is good. The Hulk gradually defeats everyone and by the end you will be wondering how the Hulk can possibly be defeated. You have to wonder if even the Sentry will be able to stand up to such a powerful threat. Most of the other heroes do feel like light weights here. Even fighters like Ms. Marvel and She Hulk are shown to not even be a threat to the Hulk. Seriously, they just watch Iron Man get taken out and only jump in to help at the very end. Not very heroic eh? I was personally disappointed that Spiderman was taken out off screen by one of the minions. I don’t buy that…at all.

In fact, as cool and tough as the Hulk is, I don’t buy any of it. The heroes badly outnumbered Hulk and his little group and I feel like they really should have won this round. I think that Ms. Marvel could give the Hulk a good fight. When she’s with She Hulk, Ares, Spiderman, and many more fighters…that should really be enough to end things. The Fantastic Four didn’t look too good, but I have to admit that those guys would be outmatched in an instant. Only Mr. Fantastic can hope to save them all and things didn’t go according to plan for him. It was fun to see Iron Fist and X-23 jump into the action and Iron Fist did all right against one of the Warbound, but he was soon put in his place.

Dr Strange entered a type of rage mode to stop the Hulk and nearly destroyed innocent civilians in the process. It was the only time where the heroes looked bad as the Hulk had to save them before stopping Dr. Strange. It was still a fun super form to look at though. Even the government gets some hype as General Ross explains that he always knew that the other superheroes could never stop the Hulk. Naturally, his weapons aren’t that effective and he doesn’t stand a chance, but you really have to admire his confidence. Ross has no doubt that he will stop the Hulk and he fights on right up til the very end. He was actually a very likable figure here and he has certainly known the Hulk much longer than anyone else.

The Warbound don’t really have much of a personality as they carry their baggage from Planet Hulk. I didn’t like any of the members and I doubt that the film would change my mind. One of them admits that what they are doing is wrong, but he doesn’t care since he just wants revenge. Better to be a villain than to knowingly act like a villain. Seriously, the guy is constantly talking about morals and justice while he’s attacking the heroes. Definitely not your typical superhero behavior eh? The justice concept would have been pretty interesting had the Illuminati actually placed a bomb inside of Hulk’s rocket, but a plot twist nullifies that. Most of what the Illuminati did was unintentional, but they still deserve a lot of blame for what happened to the Hulk. His time in space was certainly not a pleasant one.

You have to wonder what would have happened if Thor and the X-Men had been here from the start. Would the Hulk have been able to come out on top like he did here or would the heroes have stopped him? I feel like the heroes should definitely have won and with Thor and the others, that should be a guarantee. I would love to see another arc like this pop up soon where one powerhouse takes on the whole Marvel Universe. Not in a single blow or eventually, but a gauntlet run like what happened here. Those scenarios are always a lot of fun.

Overall, I was hyped to read World War Hulk from the start. I just love the concept of it and greatly enjoyed the X-Men vs Hulk tie-in. That being said, it was maybe a little less enjoyable than I had been expecting it to be. The gladiator ring part of the saga wasn’t great and the art was definitely a little sub par. The nonstop action was great though and the dialogue was engaging as well. This is definitely a solid read for all Hulk fans and especially if you just want to see some big hero against hero fights. There is a cliff hanger, but it’s not that great. Especially when you know who the mysterious figure turns out to be. Still, this was a fun event. Smaller in scope than most of Marvel’s big specials, but it was still impactful and showed us the Hulk’s true power! (Albeit, slightly over hyped…)

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Thor Sunlight and Shadows Review

It’s time to look at a Thor collection and this one actually brings the final issues of the 500 issue Thor series. The story moved onto another title and Thor fans may be a little disappointed in how the series ended as it doesn’t wrap a whole lot of things up. Still, 500 issues is quite the milestone and while I have not read all 500 of the individual issues at the moment, I’ve read a lot of them. This story is bogged down by several factors, which keep it from being a good collection.

Thor has mysteriously lost his powers so he must now learn to live and fight as a mortal. It’s pretty bad timing for him, but luckily he gets his powers back for an issue…only to lose them again. What is happening and why are his powers affected so heavily? He has the Enchantress to help him out, but more questions continue to arise and no answers can be found. Thor ends up bringing back and unlikely ally to tip the scales.

These issues came out during a time when Marvel’s comics were rather chaotic. The art would result in a whole lot of splash pages and everyone constantly looked off model. The fights were typically glorious, but that was about it although the art could be unintentionally humorous. This definitely happens to Thor, but the art just isn’t good. Thor doesn’t really look (or act) like Thor and a lot of the characters do look rather strange. The art is definitely under average although I wouldn’t call it terrible. It could just be more consistent and easier to follow.

Still, the main issue that I have with the comic is that all of the characters are just unlikable. I’m not sure about all of the circumstances surrounding the characters, but it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like them. Thor fans in particular will be dismayed at how the title character is portrayed. Gone are the days when he was a very smart combatant who knew when to fight and when to talk. Now, he just fights the villains for fun and he actually hangs out with the Enchantress. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if she was totally reformed, but she still has slaves who attend to her every needs and Thor doesn’t care at all. That’s the oddest part about the whole collection. It’s why the relationship between the Enchantress and Thor has never worked out and shouldn’t ever work out. Thor is a hero so he shouldn’t tolerate such things.

He still is the hero of the story, but this just seems like a huge oversight and it compromises his position of being someone who tries to stamp out all evil. I also didn’t care for the plot where he is losing his powers and the tie ins just make it feel even worse as Thor had to quickly regain his powers for an issue so that he would be ready for the event and then he lost them just as quickly for the sake of the main story’s plot. I definitely don’t think that the comic planned that part out too well.

During the story, a major part of the plot is the fact that everyone from Asgard seems to have vanished and the next Ragnarok appears to be happening. Loki’s behind the scheme, but it’s rather vague and constantly gets thrown aside for the tie ins. The actual graphic novel ends with a tie in about to begin as Onslaught has gotten ready to destroy everything so Thor must join the fray. That fight sounds like it would be fun, but that is sadly not included in this collection. Back to the Asgard plot, Odin makes an appearance and things aren’t looking well for him.

He seems to have lost a match while trying to stop Asgard from being destroyed so he was stripped of his powers and sent back to the 1970’s or something like that. Tired of everyone ignoring him, Odin succumbed to beer and whiskey. He is now a drunk old man who is a shell of his former self. It’s a very sad drop for him and he definitely looks pretty bad. As I mentioned, the Enchantress has not reformed her ways so I would hardly call her a good character either. She also doesn’t have much of a role here although she helps out while in the background.

The only decent character that I can think of here would be the policewoman who helps Thor out. I don’t believe that I’ve seen her before and I guess she was just added to give Thor a contact who was on the force. She doesn’t do a whole lot, but at least she can fight and takes the whole trip to the savage land in stride. The comic had a guest star in the form of Red Norvell and I read the classic comics that introduced him. Unfortunately, he is definitely not likable here. He fell into hard times and went into some shady businesses to keep himself afloat. Thor gives him another chance to have super powers and Norvell takes it, but then the comic is essentially at its end so he doesn’t get to do anything with his new found power. Either way, he just doesn’t seem like hero material.

The comic is actually interesting while you’re reading it, but not a whole lot happens when you look at it in retrospect. Thor fights a lot of average humans, but we don’t get to see any real super threats. It makes sense since Thor is depowered, but the issues needed someone who could fight. As such, we only got a few brief fight scenes, which is too bad since you would expect more than that from the Thor comics. With better characters, the story could have gone places. Instead, it feels a bit like it’s in an alternate universe, which is how I feel about a lot of the 90’s stories in Marvel. Superman had a similar identity crisis over in DC at the time.

The rest of the Avengers make a cameo at one point when they recruit Thor and you can tell that the teamis at a rough spot. When Black Widow is essentially the leader of the group and there’s only one other member, you realize that the villains have likely already won. I believe that Dr. Strange made a cameo here although if he did, I’m pretty sure that he didn’t look so great. I suppose that you can’t win every battle right? As a send off to the Thor series, this definitely wasn’t a great way to do it, but the actual comic series was a lot of fun. It just jumped the shark towards the end of its run.

Overall, This is a very odd Thor comic. It simply doesn’t feel like it could take place in the Marvel universe and Thor is seriously out of character. There isn’t a lot of action to be found here either although the fight scenes are okay. I wouldn’t call this a good comic, but I don’t think that I would consider it to be a bad one either. It’s just around and it made some mistakes. It’s an interesting read, but you should keep in mind that it feels like an alternate universe title the whole time and the actual plot doesn’t get to advance that much throughout the whole graphic novel thanks to the tie ins and a long visit to the Savage Land. If you want to read a good Thor comic, I suggest heading back and reading the classics from the 1960’s. The Marvel Masterwork collections is a good way to find them.

Overall 5/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Essential Hulk Volume 7 Review

I’ve certainly read a lot of Hulk comics. More of them than I had originally thought as I have already read the first four Essential Hulk volumes. This one takes us deeper into the Hulk mythos and we really see why he had such a tough life back then. Nothing ever seemed to go the Hulk’s way and you end up feeling bad for the poor guy. He didn’t ask for this and the Hulk just wants to be left alone. His comics can be good or bad depending on the writer since the Hulk is a character that can be difficult to truly understand. I think that the writers did a decent job here.

Naturally, there are a lot of adventures in this collection. The Essential series typically includes over 500 pages worth of adventures so there are well over a dozen comics here. This is actually the final Hulk Essential so far, but it seems like they are released once every three years so perhaps it is still going on. It’s amazing that the Hulk got around 300 issues for his series. Nowadays, it’s hard to see a title reaching that long. After the Amazing Spiderman finished with 700, I doubt that we’ll ever even see a title crack 200 anymore. 100 would still be tough, but I’d say that it is still doable.

As there are only three annuals, I’ll quickly mention those first. The first annual is one that I’ve already read twice as Hulk teams up with Angel and Iceman to take on the new Master Mold. It’s a solid comic to read and the Hulk gets his respect. Master Mold was never really in a position to defeat the powerhouse. Another Annual had the Sasquatch attack the Hulk to find out how tough the Green Goliath was. It’s one of those times where you have to ask Canada what they are thinking. Bruce Banner had just been trying to relax and he didn’t want to fight, but he was forced into a confrontation. That kind of thing seems to happen to him constantly and you can see why Banner is always on edge. This issue was probably the best annual and the fight between the Hulk and Sasquatch was a lot of fun. The issue made it clear that the Hulk is much stronger though. Unfortunately, the ending is pretty tragic as the person that the Hulk was defending ultimately becomes afraid of him and the Hulk leaves without a friend once again. It’s an ending that will make you dislike the Alpha Flight team even more than usual and I do wish that the Avengers would come in to teach them a lesson.

Finally, the third annual is the most dull of the three. A guy attacks the Hulk with some robots that are essentially large chess pieces. You may have to stifle a yawn as Hulk beating up on robots is nothing new and I’m not sure how this became an annual. Using it as a normal sized issue would have certainly been good enough for me. All right, with the annuals out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the individual issues and arcs that were present in this collection!

One of the first arcs had Hulk go to Sampson’s base for treatment. They were making a lot of progress and the Hulk was starting to become a very nice character, but Moonstone decided to sabotage this effort on behalf of The Organization. It wasn’t hard for her to pretend to be an innocent civilian who was being attacked by The Hulk, which started some trouble. The Organization then grew bolder and got Captain America, Quasar, and Falcon into the mix along with Hulk. The four heroes proved to be too much for the villains and that was a nice team up. Captain America certainly looked reasonable. I’m sure that the Falcon would have been likable as well if he hadn’t been knocked out for the duration of the comic.

Quasar is interesting as he is built up to be sort of like Superman when he appears. He follows The Hulk and they have a rematch in the following issue. He is soundly beaten, but Quasar is still a powerful fighter. He has dealt with cosmic beings in the past after all and he even plays a role in The Infinity Gauntlet. I definitely don’t mind the character. It’s unfortunate that he is also against The Hulk, but the gamma being is used to it at this point. At least the Hulk was able to best him in 1 on 1 combat.

Another team up had the Hulk face off against the Machine Man. An organization…perhaps The Organization!, decided to have someone pose as the Machine Man and steal one of Hulk’s new friends. Hulk followed and really did a number on the real Machine Man as the Hulk ripped him to pieces. They ultimately come to terms and defeat the true enemy, but not before having a big fight that lasted through 2-3 issues. It was impressive to see the Machine Man give such a fight and they essentially leveled an entire city. Never let it be said that the Machine Man is a light weight! Naturally, the Hulk has been tricked once again and even more people turned against him, but at least the Hulk finally had an ally on his side as well. His name actually isn’t Manny, but Fred. (Courtesy of Comicvine) Fred helped the Hulk out by pointing a (unloaded) gun at the “villains” before the misunderstanding was wrapped up.

Do you remember the famous city of gold? Well, the Hulk got to go there after some men appear and say that the Hulk is the chosen person of prophecy who will save them all. For once, the Hulk believes that they are attempting to trick him from the start and goes along with them to destroy the city from the inside. It’s not a bad strategy and I was glad that the Hulk was ready because the people were actually trying to trick him. The Hulk ends up fighting these mages along with a villain named Goldbug. The sorcerers are stronger than they appear and Goldbug actually ends up helping the Hulk. While the Goldbug did betray the Hulk early on, he wasn’t a bad villain. I grew to like him and he did save the Hulk from certain death towards the end of the arc. They made for a good team as they squashed the plans of the villains.

Time for the final two arcs! Talbot has decided to end the Hulk once and for all as he builds a powerful suit of armor. The Hulk figures out that the army has decided to keep the body of Jarella for experimentation and decides to rescue her. The lady deserves a proper burial and the Hulk isn’t going to let anybody stand in his way. Talbot is certainly in over his head, but Captain Marvell has arrived to help. I was glad that Marvell helped Hulk ultimately get to Jarella’s world, but he should have been up front with Talbot. He knows that Talbot is effectively going crazy with bitterness and resentment so he should just level with the guy. “Talbot, I’m here to help the Hulk. Don’t try to stop me!” Things ultimately didn’t work out so well because Talbot got the last laugh. Marvell still looks decent, but it’s safe to say that the Hulk had the edge here.

Hulk ends up making it to Jarella’s planet, which was on the verge of being destroyed. As his final mission, the Hulk needed to save her land from the invaders. This wasn’t very difficult for the Hulk and it was a relatively peaceful way to end the saga. It’s still sad that Jarella had to die in the first place, but at least Hulk saw to it that she could be back home. As for how the Hulk will get back to Earth, it’s hard to say. There are definitely many ways to go about it though so that shouldn’t end up being a real problem.

As you can see, this collection was definitely sadder than most of the Marvel comics. I can see why sales fluctuated so much with the Hulk title because it really isn’t for everyone. You feel bad for the Hulk because it almost seems like he is destined to have no friends. He is constantly betrayed by the people that he trusts and the ones who are loyal have a tendency to die or disappear. The Hulk even cries at several points because it all starts to be too much for him. The Hulk is powerful, but he still has emotions and these events can really make him feel bad. If he were smarter and able to talk more like in the current Marvel shows, it would be different. As it is, The Hulk is smart enough to know what is going on, but not smart enough to stop these tragedies from happening to him.

I do like the Hulk a lot here. He may not be the smartest weapon in the tool shed, but he means well and always tries to help people out. Things just don’t always go his way and there are many villains who are constantly trying to frame him. The Hulk’s strength is usually enough for him to take the win and he has always been quite the fighter. Bruce Banner looks less impressive as he is always out of the loop and rarely appears. You could say that the series is really all Hulk, all the time. There are a few supporting characters, but I can’t say that many of them are very interesting.

Rick Jones shows up for a guest star appearance and tries to help the Hulk on TV. I also liked the guy that Hulk met in a bar. I forgot his name, but the kid loved defying the current status quo of the US and he had a lot of ideas. (I think his name was Manny) He was a loyal friend of the Hulk’s. Jim Wilson was another guy who tried to help the Hulk out, but all three of them were ultimately not enough when the going got tough. General Talbot finally cracks in this collection as he blames all of his failures on the Hulk. Naturally, he is just kidding himself as per usual and he ends up just being another enemy to add onto the long list of foes that the Hulk has to deal with. Betty’s role is also very small, but it seems like it was about to get bigger before the comic ended. She is back in town and now that she has divorced Talbot, she is ready to start her life over again. Unfortunately for her, General Ross had a heart attack and isn’t doing well.

Doctor Sampson is looking after him. Sampson is pretty likable here and he does a good job when he was in control of the Gamma Base. As with just about everyone, Sampson is suckered by the villains into thinking that the Hulk is a bad person at one point, which can be annoying. It’s like the whole world is against the Hulk isn’t it? Ah well, at least Sampson did try to help the Hulk for quite a while.

The art’s in black and white, which can make it a little tough to tell just how good it is at times, but I’d say that it works out fairly well. You can always tell what is happening and the action scenes are fun to follow. I believe that the artist may have changed once or twice since we switched comic series once to Captain America and the volume also included 3 annuals. Either way, they were all pretty good and I would give the comic a thumbs up here.

It’s very impressive that the Hulk got a series with around 400 issues. You can tell that he’s been through a lot and I hope that he found a happy ending somewhere during his journey. Right now, he could certainly use a happy event. I have less sympathy for Bruce Banner since he is able to talk to people when he wants too and is more intelligent so his situation isn’t quite as bad. I could see Banner being decently content and at least his mind gets to take a break when the Hulk is in control. With Ross and Talbot temporarily out of the way, the Hulk can finally get some peace and quiet.

Overall, This Hulk collection was a good one. The Hulk is still not quite as exciting as some of Marvel’s other big heroes, but you really do start to feel sympathetic to the big guy. The art is good and we do get some nice guest stars to keep things fresh. There weren’t many big villains to be found here, but they can’t always be around. Plus, Hulk’s villain gallery is a little smaller than the average hero’s. It’s an easy collection to jump into so I certainly recommend this if you’re a big Hulk fan or just want to read some quick Marvel comics. The size of the volume certainly makes it worth the purchase as long as you don’t mind the art being in black and white. This is the final Essential so far so I’m essentially caught up with the Hulk. Hopefully, I am able to read volumes 5 and 6 so that I can say that I have read the whole saga so far. With the Hulk TV show still going on, I won’t have to say good bye to the character for long!

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Marvel Masterworks Doctor Strange Volume 6 Review

I don’t think that I have read a Doctor Strange comic before now so it was great to get this collection from the library. He’s a character who used to be among the strongest in Marvel history as he has gone toe to toe with foes like the Living Tribunal in the past. This collection certainly sees him go up against some cosmic threats, but we also get to see him get used to being a weaker fighter. This comic is sound in all areas and makes for a fun read.

There are quite a few adventures to be found here. One of the mini arcs involves a test that Eternity decides to give Doctor Strange. Strange must defeat himself as he meta physically fights against all of his personalities to show that his strength of will has not deteriorated. If he fails, Eternity shall end the planet! Later on, Strange decides to take a field trip to the past to meet with Ben Franklin and other retro figures. Unfortunately, someone has been following him around and Strange must learn not to believe his eyes, but to feel the truth. Finally, Strange is stripped of his Socerer Supreme title and goes back to just being a good magician. This comes at a bad time as Xander has come to attack Strange on behalf of his masters. Clea has also been tainted with evil and she is on a rampage in the city. Life never gets dull for Doctor Strange!

Doctor Strange is a very fun main character. He was certainly someone that you could root for here and he was also interesting. Strange was certainly a deep character who had been through many experiences and didn’t feel like your average hero. As with many heroes, this was likely the best portrayal of him as it would be very hard to top. His abilities are so numerous that even he has trouble remembering exactly what he can do at times, which makes sense. Magic is essentially unlimited so once you know it, you can really do just about anything. It’s easy to picture Doctor Strange actually tangling with cosmic beings. He met the creator in an older comic and here he gets to meet Satan and Eternity. He really hangs out with the best of the best and it would be fun to see Dr Strange at his height go up against Thanos with the Gauntlet. There’s actually a good chance that Strange could do more than simply put up a fight.

Eternity is certainly a fun character to watch since he’s one of Marvel’s heavy hitters. He is literally the universe so he is everywhere and always knows what’s going on. How can he be defeated? Well, you’d be surprised at just how many other heavy hitters Marvel has stashed away! Eternity is bested in both of the fights that he engages in here. One of them was a little surprising while I suppose that I can buy the other one. Still, in a battle of hype, one character must always lose right? I definitely consider Eternity to be below the Beyonder and Living Tribunal in power after this, but he’s probably still ahead of Death even though they are essentially half and half. At the very least, you’ve got to love Eternity’s personality. He reminds Doctor Strange that he is not above anger and he certainly proves it. You simply don’t want to mess with him!

Those were the two characters who really stuck out for me. Clea is a supporting character who gets a bigger role in the second half of the collection, but it’s still relatively small when you really think about it. I think the writers sometimes forget that she is still a sorceress though. Sometimes, she’ll simply go down without a fight. It’s a little odd and even the foreward by the writer for the first half mentioned that she probably should have left already. Things just didn’t work out very well for her, but at least the ending shows that things are starting to look better. Dr Strange’s assustant’s role is even smaller than Clea’s though so things certainly could have been worse.

As for the villains, most of them are simply sorcerers or tricks by Eternity or Strange’s mentor. Nightmare appears and he gets a pretty incredible feat, but Dr Strange disposes of him rather quickly. This shows how strong Strange was at one point. We’ve also got Xander, but he looks surprisingly weak. I’m assuming that the writer wasn’t sure exactly what to do with him and just threw the villain in for the lulz. We also have the the two queens who fought in the annual, but there’s not much to say about them. The dynamic was similar to the two Queens in Friendship is Magic, but with less development of course.

The art is a little inconsistent. It’s not a problem of the artist I believe as they switch during the comics. For most of the graphic novel, the art is very good and it does a good job of capturing the cosmic scope of Strange’s adventures. Towards the end with the annual and the final issues, the art just takes a big dip. The faces tend to vary a lot and Strange appears to have a head of gray hair on more than one occasion. I probably wouldn’t think that the art was so bad if it had been like that the whole time, but there’s no comparison when you look at the first half and then the second. Still, the first half definitely keeps it in the clear and the art certainly won’t take you out of the adventure.

The writing is engaging and you’re constantly reminded of how they simply don’t make comics like this one anymore. The adventures were great fun and Dr Strange made for a good lead. His strange adventures into other realms and planets are what made his comics so unique back in the day. The current Doctor Strange is hard to pinpoint as I haven’t read many comics with him, but he’s certainly less impressive nowadays and he doesn’t feel quite as determined as this Doctor Strange. It’s something about retro comics that allows each character to dip deep and really give the battle their all. That kind of determination doesn’t show up quite as often anymore.

Overall, I definitely recommend checking this collection out! It’s a blast and a half. Moreover, it’s a good way to get you prepped for the Doctor Strange film that will be coming out at some point in the future. You may not want to expect the film’s version to be quite as awesome as the lead in this collection, but it’s very likely going to be a good film so it should not disappoint. Watching Eternity actually get into a physical brawl is very exciting and the stakes are much higher here than you would expect from the average comic. This version of Dr Strange could likely defeat the Avengers and the other teams of the day as long as he had enough time to think of his spells. He could really do anything back in the day. Hopefully I’ll get to read another one of these collections for Doctor Strange someday. That being said, there’s another graphic novel that I’ll be reading soon, which has Strange in it so that’s the next best thing.

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Fantastic Four Volume 2 Original Sin Review

It’s time to look at one of the more modern Fantastic Four series. Yup, not the Future Foundation, and not the fake Fantastic Four, but the real deals. Nowadays, they simply aren’t as big as the X Men or Avengers so they barely have any titles. Hopefully the new film will fix that…maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. Also, as one of the only Original Sin tie ins that I’ve read, it’s nice to get into the event.

The Fantastic Four are in a real pickle. The Human Torch has lost his powers and a court has decreed that the Fantastic Four must surrender custody of their kids over to Shield. Moreover, the heroes must leave their home and leave all of their belongings there. Anything that is deemed to not be a threat will be given back to them at some point. Then, the whole “Original Sin” debacle happens and the Thing finds out that Reed Richards and Johnny Storm have kept a secret from him for quite a while so he gets framed for murder and sent to prison….it’s been a tough week.

As you can see, things are at an all time low for the heroes. What can they really do at this point? Reed takes this opportunity to take a job over at this futuristic island. He can now work in peace and try to make the world a better place. Admittedly, this plot seems a little boring at the moment, but I’m assuming that it will go somewhere. I’m also assuming that the other workers are all evil, but maybe I’m just a little paranoid. Invisible Woman is heading off to Latveria to visit Valorie, the only kid who wasn’t taken my Shield. After all, they wouldn’t dare attack Doom’s country right? Human Torch is coping by listening to music and partying..basically ruining his reputation even more.

As for the Thing, he’s stuck in Jail so it’s not like he can really do anything about this whole affair. Unfortunately, it’s one of those corrupt jails with a villain in charge. She Thing decided to turn into a villain and she runs the joint now. Power inhibitors have taken away everyone’s powers aside from hers. Since she’s motivated to hurt Thing by an unknown assailant, she is in charge of making things painful for him during his stay. Hopefully the other heroes bust him out soon since this is probably the most annoying subplot. Why do the heroes never try to find out what is going on in these jails? Thing better get out of their soon before the plot starts to drag on in a bad way.

Speaking of which, these events are all part of a villain’s plan. That seems to be the case anyway as the court proceedings were all rather fishy. The orders apparently came from somewhere above the Avenger’s clearance as well as Shield’s. And….the heroes don’t really have a problem with this. It’s rather sad. Then, a super villain group is tasked with attacking Reed Richards and they are getting paid for this. Luckily, Reed is saved by the Scarlet Witch in the big cliff hanger, but you have to hope that the Avengers are looking into this matter. Finally, Thing’s subplot is being totally orchestrated by the villain. I’m expecting it to be someone like the Thinker, but we shall see. Either way, he certainly has the upper hand at this point.

Back to the Avengers, this makes them look really bad as per usual. Once again, they’re shown to be lackeys to the government. Reed was actually glad to see them at first because he thought they were there to help the Fantastic Four with the current situation. Nope, they were there to make sure that the FF didn’t try to enter their home. This wasn’t a peaceful mission either, as the Avengers made sure to bring in all of their heavy hitters. They weren’t nice about it either as they immediately pointed their blasters at the FF. Sue Richards wouldn’t have any of that and she managed to put up a pretty good fight. She blew the Avengers away with a force blast and proved that she could control Thor’s hammer. She may have even been able to defeat them if the original Human Torch hadn’t intervened. Sue decided to call off the attack, but the comic does show why she is certainly one of the stronger fighters around. The Avengers should watch their backs and try to be likable heroes again. I really hope the films never go this route in terms of character development.

As for the original Human Torch, he seems like a decent character. I definitely find him a little suspicious as he seems too good to be true, but maybe he really does want to help. Maybe. Either way, he’s kept his end of the bargain so far as he saved the life of one of the Future Foundation members. Shield was planning to destroy him of course, but they are Shield. Maria Hill made the hero call this time, hopefully she can continue to take the high road and ignore the orders coming in from a shady source. Since when does Shield actually take orders from the government anyway? They’ve always got their own agenda and seem to just do what they want whenever they want.

One aspect of the comic that can be a little humorous is how the heroes love to state the official names for all of the characters. An example of this is when Scarlet Witch appears. In similar words, Reed says “My Gosh, it’s Wanda Maximoff……THE SCARLET WITCH!” and it’s a rather grand introduction, but it will make you wonder why Reed had to recite the whole thing. This happens with the Sandman as well and other villains/heroes throughout the comic. I guess it’s a good way for the readers to keep track of who’s who, but the human identities don’t matter all that much so we may as well just mention the super names right? Although I’ve gotten in the habit of calling Mr Fantastic, Reed Richards instead of his super hero name.

The art for the comic is certainly good. I’d say that it’s a step up from All New X Men. I definitely can’t wait until the Fantastic Four are back in their classic blue uniforms, but the red ones aren’t bad. The action scenes certainly stand out and all of the characters models appear to be accurate. This is certainly another good example of what good artwork looks like and I have no qualms with it.

As for the Original Sin that the Thing found out about, I seriously think that he is overreacting. He wishes that Reed and Johnny had gone to him and admitted that it was Johnny’s fault for him not being cured. First of all, I don’t see why that would make a difference. The Thing would have pouted for a while, but then gotten over it. It would be like bringing up a past mistake. The Thing knows that it didn’t work, he just doesn’t know why it didn’t work. If Reed later on made up some phony reason for why it didn’t work, then that would be another story. As it is, they probably just didn’t bring it up again. A lot of Reed’s attempts failed back in the day so why should this one be any different? The Thing takes the whole thing way too hard and I thought that he had mostly accepted his powers by now. Maybe someday he will, but it seems like an issue that he will never get over at this point.

Overall, This was a good volume of Fantastic Four. It’s rather light on the action as it is just focusing on how bad the circumstances are for the Fantastic Four. Hopefully it picks up for them soon since the villain really has the upper hand here. It’s a clever scheme, but my imagination can only hold out for so long before I start to wonder why nobody has figured out that they are being framed. I also hope that the Thing gets out of prison soon since that plot can certainly drag on. The art is solid and you’ll get to see how the FF vs Avengers fight could play out in a movie. I recommend this comic to anyone who wants to see an example of how unified the Marvel universe is now. It is always fun to see how many fighters are in NYC. There isn’t as much popcorn fun as the average comic, but I’m sure that the fights will be intensifying in future volumes. Hopefully the Human Torch gets his powers back soon as well!

Overall 6/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Guardians of The Galaxy/All New X Men The Trial of Jean Grey Review

It’s time to look at the recent crossover between these two series. It has always been a smart decision to have two series collaborate on their own mini arc. Marvel and DC have been doing this for decades at this point and the formula continues to work. You also don’t have to wait quite as long to finish an event since it is essentially getting double speed until it finishes. I recently finished a volume in the All New X Men series so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this galactic mission!

The title is actually pretty self explanatory to the plot though. The Shiar has found out about the original X Men arriving on the present. Gladiator realizes that this is his chance to make his people look good so he decides to attack Earth and kidnap Jean Grey. Realizing that a frontal assault against the strongest planet in the multiverse would be a bad idea, he attacks during the night and kidnaps her. The X Men are dazed and confused, but luckily the Guardians of The Galaxy show up. The X Men decide to hitch a ride with them and head off to stop Gladiator before they can execute the telepath. Will they make it in time!

The X Men felt out of their depth in their own series and that is also the case here. Gone are the days where the X Men were a force to be reckoned with. Skism and AVX really changed things for them. If Wolverine and Storm were around that would help, but Shadowcat is really the only adult member at the moment. This means that the classic members have to do a lot of the heavy lifting as well and they simply aren’t cut out for this. It’s safe to say that they would have been doomed if the Guardians hadn’t shown up and I don’t even think that the Guardians are that tough. They are certainly not as imposing as they think they are.

Cyclops tries to act as the commanding leader for the team, but only once in a while. He does make threats to the villains on how he will destroy them, but considering his current level of power…I don’t really see him going very far. Still, he is still a good ally to have and he sticks by his friends. Jean Grey certainly hasn’t made it easy for him. That being said, Cyclop’s final decision isn’t the best one, how can he protect his team if he’s on another planet? At least he won’t have to worry about the Avengers messing with him anymore.

The Beast, Angel, and Iceman are really just around for levity. They certainly don’t do well during the fights and they don’t have much of a role in this arc. Angel already got his development though so we’re just waiting on the other two. Jean Grey naturally gets a large focus here and I’m glad that she made the right call in not surrendering. Just saying that she was guilty and waiting to be executed would have been a pretty lousy decision. Instead, she harnessed her powers and managed to take on Gladiator. Her new abilities will certainly come in handy for the upcoming battles and maybe she’ll get even stronger. She really needs to put a handle on her telepathy though. Constantly reading everyone’s minds is a sure way to destroy the trust between teammates.

X 23 is a part of the X Men roster this time, but her role is very small. The characters even joke about it as one of them forgot that she was on the journey. I consider her to be one of the stronger members of this X Men roster so hopefully she will get more action next time. From the Guardians Roster, Angela, Gamora, and Drax would be considered as the heavy hitters. The thing is..they simply aren’t very strong.

For Drax, he has been unimpressive ever since his latest retcon/design. Gone are the days where he could go toe to toe against powerhouses like the Hulk and Thor. I really miss those days as I also preferred his design back then. He’s all talk in the current comics. It’s hard to gauge Angela and Gamora’s strength as they mostly just fight minions. I’m inclined to say that they could probably take out most of the current X Men members,m but they’re still not ready to go up against Gladiator. Still, they’re good characters. As per usual, I’m not a fan of Groot. His gimmick gets old very quickly and he is rarely helpful in a fight. Rocket’s always cool though as he constantly insults allies and enemies alike.

As for Jean Grey’s execution, it may be obvious by now, but I would naturally say that she is innocent.
You certainly can’t be found guilty of something that your future self did. Especially considering that you now know about it and can likely avoid it happening. (Moot point here thanks to the time travel element of course) It’s always an interesting debate of whether you should arrest or destroy someone if you know that they will eventually commit a large crime. I’m not entirely opposed to the idea of an arrest, but that’s a deeper talk than this review requires. Needless to say, the Shiar would essentially be murdering an innocent person in their mistaken quest for justice and that’s why they have never been considered as heroes.

There are certainly a lot of sub plots here that hint at things to come. Thanos is missing so naturally his next plan will be coming soon. Star Lord’s dad seems to want to stir up as much trouble as possible and the Badoon are also getting ready. Meanwhile, I wonder how the Supreme Intelligence will handle the situation. He was against the trial as he seems to be the most intelligent member of the group. Since the Shiar broke the truce not to go to Earth, I expect him to hopefully retaliate in some way. The Kree don’t simply back away when there is a fight!

The art is good for the comic. It’s at about the same level as the other All New X Men graphic novel. This means that the art typically looks good and it’s certainly very clear, but there will be moments when the characters just look off model. It’s not too distracting, but it still keeps me from calling the art very good. The important thing is that it will keep you engaged in the comic though.

As this is Bendis, the writing isn’t exactly spectacular. That being said, we’re certainly not at Dan Slott level and the comic maintains a fun atmosphere throughout. The slang and comic relief can get to be a bit much at times, but we do have to accept the fact that Bendis is working with two teams who are comprised of comedy characters. Iceman, Angel, Beast, Star Lord, Rocket, etc. Put them all in the same room and things are bound to get dicey!

The collection is slightly longer than the average one, but still makes for a short and sweet read. If I had to name a negative, it would be that the All New X Men are too easily impressed. I already went into it in my earlier All New X Men review, but they seem a little too naive, young, and easily impressed. They are still X Men so I expect them to cope with these kinds of situations a little easier. Is it really strange to see a talking tree and raccoon? I don’t think that they should really be shocked about this. When the Shiar attacked with their foot soldiers, I also think that the X Men should have won. How can you lose to foot soldiers?

Also, is it just me or did the comic have a lot of fun bashing Earth? Apparently, we have geniuses like Bruce Banner, The Wizard, Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Peter Parker, but we can’t make spaceships that can move nearly as fast as just about any other race. If not for the Guardians arriving, we apparently don’t have the tech necessary to reach their solar system in time. I find that a little hard to buy as our tech should certainly be able to stand up to theirs. Considering how many alien ships we’ve claimed after failed inventions, we could have reverse engineered all of the necessary parts to make an even better ship. Hopefully we’re just holding back!

Overall, This was a fun team up between the two teams. The heroes are lucky that Jean Grey is a powerhouse now because they definitely are lacking in strength. Ordinarily, I’d assume that Gladiator could essentially take on both teams by himself. We’ll see how long the cosmic interlopers can keep their hands off of Earth. Hopefully the Guardians can protect it, but I really don’t see how. They have sensors that warn them whenever someone attacks Earth, but it’s not like they can just outrace every space vehicle. They need better defenses or this is going to happen again. I recommend checking out this collection as it is a fun action story. There are quite a few references to Jean Grey’s original days as the Phoenix for old fans and you will get to decide if you think Jean Grey is innocent or guilty. Hint, she is innocent!

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

All New X Men Volume 3 Out of Their Depth Review

The All New X Men series definitely got a lot of praise when it came out. People just seemed to really like the concept of having the classic X Men interact with the modern world and it made headlines for quite a while. It certainly seems like a fun series and I can see why it was liked. It sure does make you take a step back and remember how different everything used to be back then.

The comic starts off rapidly as the original X Men are face to face with Cyclop’s new group. The classic Angel wants to head off with this extreme mutant group and Wolverine’s team is trying to stop him. Tensions fly and we get a brief scuffle, but Angel is eventually allowed to leave. Unfortunately, the heroes don’t get much of a breather because Mystique, Sabertooth, and Lady Mastermind are framing them around the world. The Uncanny Avengers quickly show up to demand that the X Men hide out at their school, but Wolverine decides that they have to clear their names the old fashioned way. The rookies are going to get some real battle experience now!

One of the perks of the series is probably the casual pacing. It’s certainly not slow paced as many things happen, but it’s also not just running full speed to the goal. The issues simply transition well into the next one so the plot is constantly changing and adapting as the heroes learn more about what’s going on. All of the issues are fun except for the last one, which was essentially filler and had some pretty bad art as well.

In terms of the art, I do have to deduct a few points. It is rather inconsistent through the issues. Typically, the faces are the most noticeable as someone may squint their eyes so much that they become black slits or the character models will just be off. It’s too bad because the art is really good for the action scenes. The energy lines look very streamlined and make the battles feel more intense. There is certainly not a ton of action to be found here, but enough action scenes to certainly satisfy you.

As for the original X Men, they seem to essentially be in character for the most part aside from one member. Iceman still cracks a lot of jokes while Cyclops is still a commanding leader, even if he seems to be a little too naive. In the original comics, he certainly wouldn’t back off as much as he does now. He was sure of himself from the start, here the writers seem to want to portray the X Men as being incredibly young and inexperienced so that none of them have a lot of confidence. The Beast is still fairly unlikable and the final comic didn’t help matters. Angel seemed like himself although his role was small. Jean Grey is the main character who’s changed a lot.

It also makes a lot of sense that she would change the most since she is constantly figuring out dark secrets from the other characters thanks to her telepathy. Still, her corruption happened very quickly as she is already trying to force people to do things against their will through her mind. Luckily, there were enough heroes present to stop this, but it still does not help her case. While you can’t root for her, you will still be disappointed that none of her teammates try to assist her. Emma Frost had the three sisters attack Jean’s mind and none of the heroes helped out while she was getting pulverized. Wolverine talked tough, but he did nothing to back it up. Jean Grey shouldn’t have started the fight, but the X Men should have ended it. Storm was talking about how mutant should not fight mutant right now, but the important thing is always to win. If a mild skirmish happened here, so be it right? The Avengers could just arrest everyone later.

Speaking of the Avengers, they really do not look very good. This is still during that point in time where the heroes seem to really dislike mutants. The Avengers grabbed Havok so that he could badmouth the term mutant and Rogue so that they could seem to be unified, but it hasn’t really worked at all. The Avengers brought down the X Men’s plane just so they could threaten the team and send them back home. That was really out of character, but not if you’ve been reading AVX. It just makes the Avengers look rather petty and scared.

Then, we have the Scarlet Witch part of course. Jean found out that she basically destroyed over 95% of the mutant race and became an Avenger after that. It certainly makes you wonder how she got off so easy while fighters like the Hulk and Cyclops were dismissed as evil so quickly. It’s certainly late to attack Scarlet Witch now as the deed has been done, but it makes the Avengers look even more dicey than usual. They don’t even try to defend their action as Cap basically says that it doesn’t matter what she did since the X Men are fugitives. The line may make you chuckle or quickly look away. Either way, this was not Cap’s best appearance.

As for the villains, Mystique’s goals seem to be rather small at the moment. Owning a villainous island wouldn’t be so bad I suppose, but I just wonder what it has to do with anything. This is Mystique though so I’m expecting quite a few more twists with her plan. That being said, she’ll need better teammates if she wants to take down the X Men. Mastermind and Silver Samurai simply aren’t going to cut it when the X Men have a Jean Grey who is not afraid to use her telepathy at their disposal. I’m a little surprised that the illusions worked so well at tricking most of the superheroes, but I suppose that Iron Man and Mr Fantastic were too busy to look into this at the time. Without them, the X Men and Avengers are lacking in genius members.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to the team once this is all over though. They’ve already had many new experiences so how can they go back in time and keep reality from being altered? Unfortunately, it’s likely going to need their minds to be rebooted to that point. Jean Grey is the likely candidate for that at the moment. There is no way that they can keep their memories unless they are sent to an alternate timeline or something. Perhaps they won’t have to worry about that with the Secret Wars coming up anyway. Still, the ending to this series will be intriguing as it will test the morals of the heroes. If they really do decide to wipe the minds of the young heroes, that will be pretty disappointing and I’ll need to lecture them again through my reviews!

Overall, This was a fun collection of comics. All New X Men certainly is a lot of fun and has a great amount of potential. I do think that the X Men should be portrayed as being a little more confident and powerful though. Their abilities are shown to be very weak, which is odd since they were weaker, but still very potent back in the day. The team certainly needs to find a way to put a handle on Jean Grey since she is quickly succumbing to the dark side. Towards the end, Wolverine was allowing her to mess with the villain’s minds, but that’s just as unethical as using it against fellow heroes. He should have told her to stop from the beginning instead of encouraging it with Sabretooth. Putting the villains to sleep is all right, but not humiliating them through their mind. While the Avengers did not look great, it was still fun to see them jump in and remind us of the expanded universe. Nowadays, guest stars are common place and I think that’s a good thing. Solo adventures are still a lot of fun, but with hundreds or even thousands of heroes running around on Earth, it really doesn’t make sense to not see another hero very often. There’s only so much space on Earth right now after all. I recommend checking this volume out. All New X Men is a title that’s easy to jump into and makes for a fun read. You can expect another review for this series in the near future.

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Essential Iron Man Volume 5 Review

It’s time for the next Essential review! I’ve read the first Iron Man essential a long time ago so now we will be jumping to the distant future here in volume 5. It’s a fun collection as expected and nothing beats checking out some of the older comics once in a while. You can always count on a fun experience.

The comic picks up with Happy Hogan and Pepper having a disagreement. Happy wants her to retire from being Stark’s second in command and being separated has really taken its toll on both of them. Tony Stark tries to help them resolve their differences, but it’s tough. Meanwhile, a mysterious villain named the Black Lama has started a villain war for power among the local adversaries. While big players like Magneto, Dr Doom, and Red Skull decided not to join, that didn’t stop Black Lama’s plans. Modok, Yellow Claw, The Mad Thinker, and other villains decide to join anyway. This puts Iron Man in a lot of dangerous situations and he decides to stop Black Lama at any cost!

Another plot occurring in the background is a lady named Roxie who is slowly beginning to see that Tony Stark is not the gun making capitalist that he once was. She gives him a hard time about this, but it slowly coming around. Although, she seems to prefer Iron Man to Tony Stark at this point. There aren’t any real 1 shot stories aside from an origin flashback and a one shot adventure involving a run down hotel. So, each of the villains typically gets 2-4 stories for themselves. We had The Freak, (It’s his actual villain name) a Prism villain, and the Melter’s team up with some of the other fighters. The collection does a good job of showing us a great number of Iron Man villains during this journey.

As expected, the art is very good for the collection. The character models are always consistent and the action scenes are fun to watch. It helps the pages really breeze by although I was still impressed with the amount of pages per issue. They certainly didn’t feel as short as the ones that we get nowadays. Even more important than the art is the good dialogue that we have here. The Stan Lee era of comics never did disappoint in this area.

The scene at the beginning where Stark quickly asks Pepper about one of his employees was great since now we know why he always seems to know about all of his employees. Well, the twist is that he doesn’t, he just has Pepper debrief him right before talking to his men. It’s an intense twist that we’ve always suspected, but never proven so it’s nice to see that there. Tony Stark definitely makes for a good lead. He’s still a bit of a flirt, but at least he’s really only focusing on one person for a change. That certainly helps his character. He has one sad scene involving Pepper that definitely hurt him, but hopefully he won’t make that mistake again.

As Iron Man, he is constantly said to be very cold and aloof, but you wouldn’t typically be able to tell if you were watching his battles. He makes jokes and quips just like the rest of the heroes. Granted, I’m sure that the civilians in the street aren’t usually in a position to actually hear what he’s saying so he probably still seems cold and aloof to them.

The stakes are somewhat higher in this comic than you would expect from the age. Modok and the Mandarin are actually destroyed. I was somewhat surprised with the Mandarin at least since I had been expecting him to have beaten the Yellow Claw. It’s too bad that he was defeated. Of course, Iron Man did weaken him a lot so the villain does have a valid excuse for losing this round. The fatalities were certainly more than you would expect, but it goes to show why a hero is always needed in the world.

Mostly, this collection just brings in issues from the Iron Man series, but we also get a special annual to finish things off. In that story, the Molecule Man returns once more and Iron Man finds himself on the losing side of this tough battle. Luckily, Swamp Thing is here to help out and he looks as impressive as you would expect. There just seems to be no stopping this guy at times. He’s not quite as meta as Swamp Thing, which is lucky for his opponents, but he can still pack a punch when he really wants too.

One constant theme in the comics is how Iron Man doesn’t want to make weapons anymore. As such, he is always distressed when he has to go to Vietnam and look at all of the suffering that his weapons have caused. The comic definitely has a firm stance on how we shouldn’t have gone to Vietnam. I’m not extremely familiar with the situation so it’s hard for me to say. I saw a documentary on it, but it was heavily slanted towards not being in the war, likewise with a film that I saw on it so I haven’t really heard both sides yet. Those parts are certainly not as good as the rest of the comic, but at least it gives Iron Man a chance for some development.

There is really only one guest star who gets to really help out and that would be Thor. Thor arrives once Iron Man has seemingly been taken over by the prism’s consciousness. Thor is holding back, but still manages to claim victory very easily. His fans will be pleased with his portrayal as Thor is shown to clearly be more powerful than anything Iron Man can throw at him. It is a good example of how likable Thor can be when he is written well. These were the golden years so it is to be expected that the writers could handle the task. Actually, we also have Sunfire, but it’s easy to forget him. Sunfire is a villain here as he agrees to destroy Iron Man for economic reasons. Suffice it to say, Iron Man quickly outmaneuvers him and Sunfire leaves rather quickly. He’s loyal to Japan, but he’s certainly no hero as he does it for all of the wrong reasons.

The collection does leave some doors open for future plots. One that did not get resolved here involves a crazed investigator who is positive that Iron Man murdered his brother. Iron Man denies it, but the guy won’t take no for an answer and he constantly appears to give Tony Stark some grief about it. I have a feeling that this guy is going to start taking more drastic measures to finish the hero off. Hopefully Iron Man is prepared for this and can take him out in time.

Iron Man briefly toys with the idea of adding a nose to his costume, but I’m glad that he got rid of it so quickly. Trust me, it wasn’t a look that really suited the armored hero. From his villains, none of them looked particularly likable. I typically like the Melter and Crimson Dynamo, but in a parodyish way as I just like them for humor. They live up to that here as they are quickly dismissed. Iron Man’s gallery of rogues may not be as powerful as the average hero’s, but they did have some really good designs back in these days.

Overall, This volume of Essential Iron Man was very good. We got to see him fight against many opponents and I haven’t read many of the old Iron Man comics so it’s fun to see how he operates. Being rich certainly has its perks and he must be one of the only heroes who is liked in both of his identities. Spider Man would love to have the same respect that Iron Man gets in these issues. It certainly makes things a lot easier when the civilians in the street are willing to help out instead of making things more difficult for the heroes. I highly recommend this collection if you’re looking for a fun group of comics with good art and writing. The sheer size will last you a while and it is in black and white, which may deter some comic readers, but just think of it like you’re looking at the original copies before they went to color. It makes them look very sophisticated to be sure. I still have one more Essential review coming up in the near future, but you can expect some smaller comic reviews in the mean time. Hopefully I can find another good Iron Man comic soon as well.

Overall 7/10