Fear Itself #7.1 – Captain America; Author: Ed Brubaker; Artist: Butch Guice; Rating: T+;
Fear Itself #7.2 – Thor; Author: Matt Fraction; Artist: Adam Kubert; Rating: T+;
Fear Itself #7.3 – Iron Man; Author: Matt Fraction; Artist: Salvador Larocca; Rating: T+; Verdict: 8.5/10 for all three.
I enjoyed Fear Itself. Maybe not as much as I’ve enjoyed some of Marvel’s other company-wide events of the past few years (House of M, Civil War, Siege), but I enjoyed it none the less. My only major problem with the whole story was the deaths of two specific characters. Namely Thor and Bucky. Thor just came back from the dead about two years ago after a decent amount of time being ‘dead’, and Bucky’s only been back for about 5 years after being dead for about 60! This led me to believe that neither of these characters were truly done for. Queue Fear Itself #7.1, and my prayers…well at least one…were answered.
For those of you who haven’t read the end of Fear Itself, and especially issue #7.1, then turn back now. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Fear Itself #7.1, crafted by the team behind several adventures of Bucky’s while he was in the Captain America suit, Ed Brubaker & Butch Guice, starts with Steve Rogers remembering Bucky and trying to craft a eulogy for his fallen partner. Steve is interrupted from his reverie by the only other man who may know Bucky even better than Cap, former Colonel Nick Fury. And you know that when Fury shows up, that good news is the farthest thing from his mind. Fury shows up to tell Steve something, and he’s afraid Steve will be pissed off. He was right. You see…Bucky is alive! Steve shows his displeasure with being lied to by kicking the crap out of Fury. No one takes Cap’s shield to the face better than Nick Fury!
It turns out that Bucky still had a faint heartbeat when he was laying there on the ground. Fury took his body, used the last of his own Infinity Formula (the stuff that keeps Fury young), and then used a LMD decoy as the ‘dead body’. Why go through all this trouble? Fury says that he owed Bucky, and this was the only way to get Bucky permanently removed from that Russian prison that he would have had to go back to. So, now as far as anyone in the Marvel universe knows, other than Fury, Steve, and Black Widow, James Buchanan Barnes is dead.
Of course, this suits Bucky just fine. He still wants to track down all the people that screwed with him while he was the Winter Soldier, and he also wants to make sure that he takes care of the dangling elements left over. There are weapons left in the field, as well as several other dangers that he can help prevent. Bucky was always the guy in the shadows. It suits him. Having a secret weapon like him around is going to be fun. The best thing to come out of all of this is the new Winter Soldier monthly series that will debut in 2012. Brought to us by none other than the aforementioned Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice. It’s the best time to be a Bucky fan, I tells ya!
Fear Itself #7.2 deals with the immediate aftermath of Thor’s ‘death’. I put death in quotes as we aren’t sure how long it will last this time, but it does seem, especially after this issue, that it will last for awhile.
Odin is heartbroken. He is so distraught after he couldn’t prevent his son’s death any longer that he’s decided to do the unthinkable. He’s gone to Asgard, and he’s closed it down. Now only Odin is allowed in. he has decided to guard the remains of both his son and his brother, and has decided to shut himself off from the rest of the gods. He’s even gone so far as to summon Gaea, Freyja and Idunn. The triumvirate of godly women who will rule Asgard in his absence. They, together, are the All Mother. Times…they are a chagin’.
What I found crazy about this issue is the fact that everyone was mourning the loss of the thunder god, but then all of a sudden, things changed. The All-Mother summoned Tanarus. The former Thunder God…and now…the new Thunder God. This wasn’t the crazy thing. What was crazy was that when Tanarus showed up…everyone everywhere forgot that Thor existed. The way it’s told to us is that, “His story started today, and millennia ago…” . All the Avengers recognize him like he’s been a part of their history in Thor’s stead. Only Loki seems to remember Thor…and as far as he’s concerned…he’s going to bring Thor back.
All in all, a good issue that foreshadows some awesome stuff down the line. The art by Adam Kubert was pretty great, and I can’t wait for him to have a more regular gig in the Marvel universe again sometime soon.
Fear Itself #7.3, the one that follows up on Tony Stark/Iron Man was pretty cool too. I really loved that the regular creative team from the monthly book, Matt Fraction & Salvador Larocca, were able to tackle this issue and not delay Invincible Iron Man by even a week. Not many creators can do such a thing…but Salvador is one of the best.
The issue mainly focuses on the ramifications of what the Grey Gargoyle did to Paris. Because of him, and his gaze that turns people into stone, Paris is a mega-disaster area. Millions dead…the City of Light will never be the same. Stark is near inconsolable, and in his rage, he tries to teach a god a lesson. Odin comes to Stark on a roof top in Paris. At the time it seemed perfectly normal, but when it came down to it…Odin came to Stark! Odin comes for NO man…but he came for Stark. But Tony doesn’t get it. He actually attempts to fight Odin in hand to hand combat! This does not go well.
In the ensuing melee, where Tony get his ass handed to him…Odin gives him a glimpse of the infinite. He lets Tony see/perceive what Odin has to deal with on a day to day basis. It almost overwhelms him, but when it’s all done, Odin goes and does what no one would expect. Odin reverses the “spell” that the Grey Gargoyle set upon Paris. Everyone who was still intact, but made of stone, awakens. Millions are sill dead…but not as many millions as before. Odin shows that he is merciful and that he is powerful…but don’t expect anything like this to happen again. This is the God who was willing to let Earth be destroyed if need be. He is not to be triffiled with, but he should be respected.
So that was it. Fear Itself is over and the “Shattered Heroes” era is here…at least for 18 months or so when, inevitably, another massive event will come sweeping in. The final three issues (7.1, 7.2, 7.3) are worth the read, and I would say that they are a fantastic epilogue. I just wish that all three issues would have been under the same cover and was called “Fear Itself: Omega” or something. So, what did you all think? Did you like Fear Itself or did it fail to live up to the hype? Are you experiencing event fatigue? Let us know. Sound off in our handy comments section below. Until next time; MAKE MINE MARVEL, TRUE BELIEVERS!
This look at the end of Fear Itself will look at the following issues: Invincible Iron Man #509 (written by Matt Fraction with art by Salvador Larocca); Fear Itself #7 (written by Matt Fraction with art by Stuart Immonen) & Avengers #18 (written by Brian Bendis with art by Daniel Acuna).
With the end of the Secret War, Nick Fury had been ousted from the job of the world’s top cop. With the end of House of M, we went from over 10 million mutants to a little under 200. With the end of Civil War, Steve Rogers had been arrested and killed, while Tony Stark took over SHIELD. With the end of Secret Invasion, the sociopath Norman Osborn was able to ascend to power. With the end of Siege, Asgard had fallen and Steve Rogers had returned from the dead. Now, with Fear Itself, the next step in Marvel’s long line of major story events, we have one of the hugest endings of all. But the ending wasn’t confined to just the last issue of the series. The ending started this week with Invincible Iron Man #509.
For the last few issues of Iron Man, Tony Stark has been hanging his hat in Svartalfheim, one of the realms of the world tree where the most angry and vulgar dwarves of all time reside. What was he doing there? Doing what he does best. Making weapons so he can kill the big bad. Throughout his time in Svartalfheim, Tony was always under the impression that the work he was doing was imperative, but was still going to result in his death. The master weapons makers and himself fashioned some super deadly armaments, but he still assumed that he along with his Avengers buddies would still not survive. This, of course, made Tony somewhat upset.
Throughout his time, Tony has never dealt with the spectre of defeat very well. Case in point: Tony had a few drinks in Svartalfheim. This would not be a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that Tony has been sober for years. Tony was a vicious drunk for a long time, and falling off the wagon like this is probably one of the worst things that could have happened to him. Especially now. In his eyes it shows a major weakness. And to have that weakness become evident just as he needs to be at his absolute best because the world is counting on him…this is not good. Tony confidence is shot. He is truly at a personal low…and it seems fighting to death may be the only thing to make it better.
From here, we charge right into Fear Itself #7. Tony has returned to Midgard (Earth) with some formidable weapons; Thor has returned to face his destiny; the world is in shambles; everyone is afraid. So…it’s time to go balls to the wall and leave it all on the table. Fear Itslef opens right where Iron Man left off, with Stark coming through the portal from Svartalfheim. He distributes his weapons to the various assembled Avengers, and they fly off to face The Serpent looking only slightly less cool than they did while they were fighting the Secret War. This is it. The battle to deside the fate of the Earth and everyone on it. The only problem is that Tony didn’t bring a weapon for Cap. Tony thought he was set with his shield, but since it broke, Cap seems less effective. But then it happened.
This is the point where Cap really showed his strength. It’s happened once before and he’s the only one other than Thor who has ever done it. But when the time came and the oppourtunity presented itself, Cap was able to get an Asgardian weapon afterall. One that fell from the sky. One that requires the bearer be the best of men. Thor’s Hammer was now in Cap’s possesion. God have mercy on the enemy!
With a scene like that, you had to know that the end was right there. But the end was really just ONE ending. The battle with the Serpent may be over, but the longterm effects of this battle are very evident. Paris, and almost every single person who was left in the city, is dead. Wiped out. Manhattan is mainly a smouldering ash pile. Thor seems to be dead (again? So soon?). Odin has banished everyone from Asgard and has sealed it behind them. He is is his brother’s keeper now; and he plans on doing just that for eternity. We still have Sin, daughter of the Red Skull, kicking around. And there are a lot of dead to be buried. So… is it truly the end? It’s really just a new beginning. With Fear Itself #7.1, #7.2, & #7.3 just around the corner, and with the beginning of the new 12-part Fear Itself: The Fearless series, already on the shelves, it looks like the after effects of this awesome mini-series/Event will be continued to be felt for the forseeable future. The end of Fear Itself also contianed four different epilogues showing us a preview of what’s to come in the next few months. Characters like Hulk/Bruce Banner, Sin, The Defenders and the characters in Battle Scars are featured. Don’t miss it when you finish the book.
With the Fear Itslef series now in the recent past, the Avengers have to do as they always do. Regroup and soldier on. Of course, in order to do this, a roster shakeup, even a few minor ones, are going to be in the cards. Brian Bendis and Daniel Acuna start out the process right away in Avengers #18.
Right off the bat, this issue’s cover grabbed me. It’s gorgeous! Daniel Acuna is doing the best work of his career. Saying all that, I will also state that this cover was totally false advertising. Not one of the characters who appeared on it, appears in the book. There is a reflection of Captain America, and he does appear, but none of the characters in the photos are anywhere to be seen. In truth…the issue didn’t even feature any roster changes. Just the realization of this happening in the issues to come. We get to see the Avengers regroup at Avengers Mansion and we get to see a few funny moments between Jarvis and Wong, and another between Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel; but there wasn’t much else with the Avengers. We see the defection of a SHIELD agent to HAMMER, which looks like it’s going to be a big thing eventually, and we see people trying to come to terms with what happened during the whole Fear Itslef event. Overall, a good issue, but really just a minor precursor for what’s coming around the pike in the near future.
So, all in all, I really enjoyed this whole Fear Itself event. I don’t think it was the best of the big crossover events that have been a Marvel staple for the last 8 years or so, but I do think it was a good story and I liked where it brought our characters. My only gripe…and it’s a big one…is that they killed Bucky. This really upsets me. I’ve been following him since he came back in the pages of Captain America, and I really took to the character. He was truly my favorite Marvel hero, and his passing saddens me. I just hope that he doesn’t stay dead for too long. So Marvel…what’s next?
Title: Fear Itself #6 (of 7)
Author: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: September 14, 2011
Despite DC’s big new 52 #1’s thing going on, and after reading a fair amount of said #1’s, I’m still in the boat with the people who think Marvel is the tops right now. Fear Itself and the various tie-in books aren’t getting the same kind press, but Fear Itself is still kicking ass in the story department. This latest issue, issue #6, is the penultimate part of this seven part tale. When last we left our heroes, Tony Stark was building weapons for Odin’s army in Svartalheim, Thor was close to death, and Captain America was closer to defeat than he is comfortable handling. With his unbreakable shield being shattered and his team-mates getting their asses handed to them by the hammer wielders, Steve’s confidence level has plummeted, and he’s faced with a no-win scenario. How on Earth can they possibly get out of this one?
Of course, we know that Steve along with a majority of the heavy hitters, are going to make it through this whole thing. I’m sure there will be a last minute reprieve. But that’s not really the story. The story will be in the aftermath and how the Marvel heroes handle it. Who will survive this massive threat? Who will be fundamentally altered when the smoke clears? Is Thor going to die yet again and be resurrected? And how dare they kill Bucky!
I know some of you believe that these big Marvel events can run a bit long. Siege was only a 4-issue mini-series, and it worked well. But with these 7-issue series, it’s a whole other thing. Issues seem to drag and can feel padded, but I have found with this series, that this is not so. In fact, it seems like the story has been kind of rushed in the 6 issues that have been released. This may have been the time to rock a 12-issue mega-story. Either way, I’m on the side that is digging Fear Itself and can’t wait to see what the Marvel Universe will look like after this latest Ragnarok. How about you? Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in our handy comments section below J
Title: Fear Itself #5 (of 7)
Author: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: August 10, 2011
Fear Itself continues to makes its presence known on the comic book shelves this week with several tie-in issues to accompany the main mini-series release. To celebrate this, on top of Fear Itself #5, we’ll also be taking a look at one of these tie-ins, the wonderful New Avengers #15.
Fear Itself #5 opens to the Hammer Fight to end all Hammer Fights as Thor, Thunder God and Asgard’s blondest son, participates in a most destuctive battle with an artificially enhanced green Hulk (Bruce Banner) as well as Benjamin Grimm (The Thing), right there in the streets of Manhattan. The fight is so desturtive, that it seems that Yancy street will never again live up to its former glory. Is glory the right word here? Maybe just former “condition”. That’s more apt. ANYWAYS…from there the battle is brought to the instigator of this whole thing, the daughter of the Red Skull, Sin. And who better to bring the battle but Steve Rogers, the original Captain America? That was actually a trick question. Of course Steve is the best one to bring it. Too bad for Steve, but these Hammer-wielders seem to be unstoppable.
After Sin knocks Steve off his feet, Sin’s new Master, The Serpent, shows up to really spill his bad news all over the good guys faces. You see…he seems to be omnipotent. His power rivals that of Odin, and as Odin is “the All-Father”, this means that the Serpent basically has the power of God. Odin is a God amounst gods, and now it seems like he’s not the only one.
The story cuts back to Thor, still battling both the Hulk and Ben Grimm, and things are getting bad. At this point Thor does what he must and all but kills Ben. Thor’s hammer Mjolnir smashes through Ben’s chest, and from here it’s just Thor and Banner. They smash each other, thus causing what looks like an electro magnetic pulse (EMP). Thor is exhausted and almost passes out, while Banner was sent into orbit, albeit for a few minutes before he started to fall back to Earth, hopefully to continue the fight next issue.
Does Ben survive? More importantly, if he does survive this “hammer through the chest”-situation, who’s doing the saving? The answer to this is one of the craziest things about this issue, but in my mind, this can be the solution to everything. The only one who could save Ben was his nephew, Franklin Richards.
For those who are unaware, when it comes to the Marvel Universe, Franklin Richards is the most powerful human in existance. His powers rival that of an Eternal, and are so dangerous, that Franklin has promised to not use them until he’s an adult. To do so before then could be disasterous for everyone on Earth. But I see it a different way. These hammer wielders are unstoppable and it seems like every hero who lines up against them will get his or her ass handed to them. But if Franklin truly enters this fight, then he could be the one to turn the tide. Maybe not save everyone of them, but perhaps he could be the wildcard in the hero’s hands?
To do this would be dangerous as it would be the biggest deus ex machina since Franklin was outed as the catalyst for the whole “Heroes Reborn” thing from the late 1990’s, but on the other hand, Franklin has become a way more interesting character over the last 5 years or so, and having him be an active and powerful member of the Marvel Universe would be a very welcome situation to me. Either way…it’s going to get really interesting from here on out.
So what did you guys think of this latest issue? Was Franklin saving Ben too much of a Deus Ex Machina for you to handle? Are you with me in believing that Franklin being out and powerful is a good thing? Is Franklin the solution to the whole “Fear Itself” problem? Let us know J
Title: Fear Itself #4 (of 7)
Author: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: July 6, 2011
Wow! This series has been one gigantic hard-core fight right from the beginning, but this issue takes it up a notch to say the least. Issue #4 opens up with Thor landing in Broxton after being thrown/cast down to Earth by Odin via the Bifrost. The scene was actually very reminiscent of the exact same scene in the Thor movie that was released this May; it’s just the circumstances that are technically different. From here we get to see what kind of Hell that the people of Earth have been facing ever since the Serpent’s hammers have been landing here, and we also get to see Thor come to his friends and give them what little information he has on this whole situation. It seems like Odin is keeping some major secrets, and not just from Thor. These are the kinds of secrets that he’s been keeping from the rest of creation for as long as he has ruled over Asgard and its denizens. It seems that the Serpent may be his brother…
The obvious parallel to the relationship between Thor and Loki is a given in this case. It’s just that in this particular case, it’s actually possible that Odin is the “Loki”, while the Serpent is the “Thor”. The Serpent claims that he is the true heir to the thrown of Asgard and that Odin is the usurper. He tries to get Thor on his side, but due to some prophesy, that seems like a long shot; but this is only issue #4! There is still half the story to tell, and when you are dealing with a writer as whimsical and clever as Matt Fraction, you never know what will happen.
The really big thing to happen this issue was seeing Steve Rogers in his Captain America uniform once again. He briefly re-donned it when he came back from the dead in Siege, but quickly gave it back up as Bucky was now Captain America. I don’t know what is going to happen this time, but I suspect that the costume is here to stay for the remainder of this series at least. Bucky was shown lying dead on a slab in Fury’s Quinjet, a result of issue #3’s fighting, but I’m still hoping against hope that Buck isn’t really truly dead. He’s only been back for the last few years and has quickly become my favourite person in the whole Marvel Universe. Killing him off here for good would be a huge shame, but you never know. Maybe lightning can bring him back?
Bucky coming back from the dead or not, either way I’m digging this series. I know that people have been buying up more of DC’s big summer crossover, Flashpoint, this year than Marvel’s Fear Itself, but that’s to be expected. Fear Itself has been great, but it can been seen as the next step after several universe-wide series that have been launching pads for the universe-wide themes that Marvel has been giving us since House of M. Flashpoint is yet another universe reset thing. Either way…you all are the ones who get to decide.
So what did you guys think? Who is winning this summer’s company-wide crossover extravaganza…at least on a creative level if not sales? Sound off in our handy comments section below J .
Title: The Mighty Thor #1
Author: Matt Fraction
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: April 27, 2011
I know right? Another Thor #1. You’re probably saying, “…didn’t they just launch Thor with a new #1?…and didn’t they then go back to the original numbering with issue #600 a year or so later?…and now another #1?!” That’s right folks! Another #1.
One thing I will say though, is much like Captain America (who also got another #1 followed by a #600 soon afterwards) the original numbering lives on in the original series which has been re-titled, back to the original I may add, to Journey Into Mystery. But we want to look at this new Mighty Thor #1. Was is any good? Has writer Matt Fraction lived up to his hype and given us another starting point for one of Marvel’s biggest characters, much like he did with Tony Stark/Iron Man back when he got his first movie in 2008? In a word: Yes. Yes he did.
Matt Fraction is fastly becoming known for his grand ideas and sci-fi influenced stories that are starting to span the entire Marvel Universe. From his creator owned work like Casanova (from Marvel’s ICON imprint) to his Iron Man work, Mr. Fraction’s brain seems to be living in the future. But when you delve into a character like Thor; a character so steeped in mythology and legend, you might think that sci-fi should ghive way to fantasy. What Matt Fraction seems to be doing with his grand Thor storyarc, is finding a way to turn that fantasy into sci-fi. A great man once said, and I paraphrase, that the greatest technology can be indistinguishable from Magic. The greatest magic in the Marvel Universe resides in Asgard…but what if it’s not truly magic? What if it’s just technology that we are yet to understand? This is what Matt is doing, and he’s making Thor and all the Asgardians so much more interesting than they were a few years ago.
The Mighty Thor #1 was a gorgeous book and an interesting read. The elements of religion and safety and discovery are all making this book something that I’m, sure will be winning awards come award season this summer. Olivier Coipel’s art, as always, is unmatched for quality. Really…it’s exciting stuff. This is a new #1 you won’t be disappointed with. You simply must check it out J …
Title: Fear Itself #1 (of 7)
Author: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: April 6, 2011
We can’t seem to escape them, but really…deep down…do we even want to? Every year to eighteen months, Marvel produces a big company-wide crossover featuring all of their big guns facing down some massive threat that is…threatening…to change the Marvel Universe in some fundamental way. I would consider the “modern era” of these crossovers to have started with Secret War, followed by House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion, and finally, last year’s Siege. As you can tell from that list, it’s usually Brian Bendis who gets to write these things. Civil War was written by Mark Millar, but the other four were all Bendis. When you look at the Bendis 4, one thing they all have in common is that the main book was where a lot of the big action took place, but all the real nuts and bolts of the stories were all gleaned from other sources.
Don’t get me wrong. I really liked House of M, Secret Invasion and Siege, but the first two were plagued with 8 issues when 4 was all that was truly needed. Reading Secret Invasion one issue at a time was painful as each issue was just a continuation of the fight from the previous issues. At least with Siege Marvel seemed to learn their lesson from Secret Invasion, as it only lasted 4 issues. As I stated before, the big strokes came to us through different sources such as the “Front Line-style” books that would accompany each monthly issue.
This new crossover, Fear Itself, is different mainly because Matt Fraction, the big brain behind the Invincible Iron Man, The Immortal Thor, and high-minded sci-fi like Casanova, is the man writing the series. Where someone like Brian Bendis really excels at the big fight books and the witty banter during said big fights, Matt Fraction is one of the Marvel architects who is really doing something different at Marvel. He’s made Tony Stark/Iron Man and Thor two characters that you absolutely must read in order to get a good handle on the workings of the current Marvel Universe. He’s taking these kinds of stories in new directions, and is really breathing some new life into the house of Ideas.
The first issue, like all first issues of big crossovers, didn’t give us much, but it did set up the next six issues quite nicely. I really dig how the first few pages showed us the population of New York City getting up in arms about a project to build something. It never spells out exactly what it is the protesters were protesting or what was getting built, but it didn’t need to. It was used to show us that people in the United States in the Marvel Universe are very similar to the people of the real United States of today. They are out of work, scared, and want things to go back to “normal” when everything was still “good”. The “good old days” if you will. They don’t need a spell or a super-villain to make them act this way. It’s just the reality of the world that they now live in.
I really liked this first issue, especially the premise of this whole story. Sin, the new Red Skull, killing a bunch of Nazi’s and freeing the one true All-Father; Bringing Skadi back into the fold; The Gods returning Asgard to their own realm; Fear running rampant. This series has all the elements of a kick-ass epic, and I’m going to be here for ther long haul. Will you be? Next, I’ll take a look at the first issue of Fear Itself: The Home Front. The book that will act as a companion piece to Fear Itself, and will give us the perspective of the man on the street as well as some of the lower-tier Marvel characters…
Title: Fear Itself – The Home Front #1 (of 7)
Author: Christos Gage, Peter Milligan, Howard Chaykin & Jim McCann
Artist: Mike Mayhew, Elia Bonetti, Howard Chaykin & Pepe Larraz
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: April 6, 2011
The Home Front, like it’s counter-part series from the other yearly crossovers, is showing us the same events from the main Fear Itself series, just from a different angle. This is the “street view” as it were. The series, from what the first issue shows us, will be almost anthology-like in its presentation. This first issue featured the first of a seven part story starring Speedball, the man responsible for the explosion in Stamford, Connecticut which kicked off the whole Civil War event a few years ago. Speedball has been returning to Stamford to volunteer and try and do his best to make up for what he caused, at least as much as he able to do so. The only real problem is that everyone just discovered him in disguise, and the locals in Stamford are now out for blood. This story is drawn by Mike Mayhew, who is known for his photo-realism, and is beautifully rendered. This story is going to be the heaviest part of this mini-series, and one issue in and it’s already very interesting. Can’t wait for more…
The second part of this first issue is the first part of a four part story starring Jimmy Woo and the Agents of ATLAS. I’m guessing we will get another 3 part story after this is completed for the rest of the run of the mini-series. I not a regular reader of the Agents of Atlas, I can’t read everything afterall, but from what I read here, they seem pretty interesting. It seems like Jimmy and the other Agents will be tackling with the Thule Society, a group of Nazi’s that we met in the first issue of Fear Itself. Overall, this book is doing a great job of picking up on the crumbs left behind by the main book and filling out the larger story for us. So far, this book is a top-notch companion piece. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next month.
So what did you guys think of the debut of the big Fear Itself crossover? At our shoppe it seems we still haven’t received the Fear Itself prologue by Ed Brubaker and Scot Eaton, but hopefully that will arrive on Wednesday and the first month of this crossover can be complete. Sound off in our handy comments section below folks. We love to hear from you guys J
Title: Avengers: Prime #5 (of 5)
Author: Brian Bendis
Artist: Alan Davis
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: January 5, 2011
Finally, we get the final issue of the Brian Bendis penned (and Alan Davis drawn) mini-series starring Steve Rogers, Thor and Iron Man as they traverse the worlds between here and Asgard. This mini-series was intended to make it seem like they went on this mission (or were forced on it, if you want to look at it that way) right after the end of the big Siege event and right when the rest of the Avengers books were launched about 9 months ago. Originally I believe the plan was to release this mini on a monthly basis, but that’s not what happened. Instead, it came out at a bi-monthly rate. As none of the characters were ever really in any danger of dying anyways, the rate at which it came out was not the biggest concern. The series was really just a tool to reunite the “Big Three” as they come together again for the first time in over 5 years. So…did it do what it was supposed to do?
Technically, yes it did. By the end of this tale Steve Rogers and Iron Man have patched up their friendship, at least as much as they could in a two day span of constant fighting, and along with Thor, everyone’s friends again. The series had some witty one-liners between characters, and had gorgeous artwork, but once again Brian Bendis shows us why he shouldn’t be trying to write fantasy. Bendis excels at interpersonal relationships and down to earth circumstances, but when he adds in the mystical stuff, something seems off. Matt Fraction can handle that stuff, but Bendis is better in the streets.
This 5 issue series really felt like it could have been told in an oversized annual-type issue. As I said above, the whole point of the series was to patch things up between Tony and Steve (and Thor to a lesser extent), and I can see how Marvel wouldn’t want to just tie it up in one issue, but that’s really all that was needed. In reality, their relationships will be strained for the foreseeable future, as it makes for good story-telling, but this was a good first step. I would have loved to have seen Bendis and Davis try their hand at a spy-type story more along the lines of the Steve Rogers: Super Soldier mini-series that wrapped up a few months ago, but when it comes to this creative team, I’ll take whatever I can get.
So, what did you all think? Did you think the series was drawn out a little much? How about that Alan Davis on the Avengers again, even if it was only for a little bit? Sound off in our handy comments section below J
Title: Shadowland #5 & Daredevil #512
Author: Andy Diggle (Shadowland) / Andy Diggle & Antony Johnston (Daredevil)
Artist: Billy Tan (Shadowland) & Marco Checchetto (Daredevil)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: December 1, 2010
Verdict: 8/10 & 8/10
When it comes to Daredevil and the writers who choose to take on his book, for some reason they’re always trying to destroy him. I’m not sure what it is about Matt Murdock that people find so fun to destroy. Perhaps it’s his Catholicism and the fact that his faith will always cause him to try his best to bounce back? Perhaps it’s because he’s a lawyer with a heart of gold who is always doing what he can to help his neighbours? Maybe his inner strength, which has allowed him to weather tragedy after tragedy? Either way, ever since Frank Miller almost destroyed Matt Murdock/Daredevil in the 1980’s with “Born Again”, every seminal run on DD has usually found him in a heap of trouble with his life in shambles.
Kevin Smith gave Daredevil’s girlfriend, Karen Page, AIDS and then had Bullseye kill her in front of him and his estranged mother (now a nun) in a church. Brian Bendis had Daredevil outed to the public as Matt Murdock, crucified in the press, tortured his new wife, and eventually sent him to prison. Ed Brubaker had Matt deal with the whole prison thing only to loose his wife to insanity, which he most likely caused, and then fought a war against most of his catalogue of rogues. Andy Diggle followed up Mr. Brubaker’s run with Daredevil taking the law into his own hands upon seeing the damage that Norman Osborn was causing in New York during the ‘Dark Reign’ and eventually taking over the criminal assassination society known as The Hand, a group that has sought Murdock’s destruction for some time, in order to take back Hell’s Kitchen and the safety of the everyday New Yorker. Mr. Diggle’s first big arc wraps up with this newest issue of Daredevil and with this final issue of Shadowland.
Shadowland has shown us that Matt Murdock has actually been taken over by a Japanese demon known as “The Beast”, which also acts as the ‘patron demon’ of The Hand. Murdock isn’t solely to blame for everything that this demon has done in his name, but he isn’t without blame either. It’s his fault that the demon was able to ‘get in’, due to his state of mind and willingness to kill Bullseye after Bullseye killed over 100 civilians on Norman Osborne’s orders. Shadowland has seen all the ‘street level’ heroes from New York join in the battle with the heavy hitters like Thor and Iron Man hanging out in their own books and the Avengers books. Guys like Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Punisher, Shang-Chi, Misty Knight, Ghost Rider and Elektra have been the stars of this crossover.
Shadowland #5 gives the big final battle that we have been waiting for. The demon within Murdock has been excised thanks to the kick-ass powers of the Iron Fist (Danny Rand), the rioting has ceased in the Kitchen, and the hand was all but destroyed. Oh…and just as Matt was supposedly going to die, he slipped out under everyone’s noses. Now Matt is without a costume, but full of guilt over his role in this whole fiasco. The demon was excised and Matt ‘rose’ from the preverbal dead, but he still has to answer for what happened. This ending couldn’t have been more Catholic if it had tried. Even the final scene is Matt going into a church in the middle of the night in order to be absolved of his sins by a priest.
Overall, I thought it was kind of a telegraphed ending, but still quite true to his character. It was a decent mini-series. Meanwhile over in Daredevil #512, the post-event clean-up is under way. DD #512 opens with Detective Kurtz, the man who would have been Daredevil’s Jim Gordon, being tasked with bringing Matt Murdock to justice. The only problem is that Matt seems to be missing. There have been some reports since the Hand fell that Daredevil has been seen in Hell’s Kitchen, but no one has been able to confirm this. Even heroes like Luke Cage and Danny Rand have been unsuccessful in locating him. Foggy Nelson hasn’t heard from him. Not even the Night Nurse has seen Matt. He’s just disappeared.
Now the mystery, other than “Where is Matt?”, has gone to, “If Matt isn’t in Hell’s Kitchen, then who is kicking the crap out of all the criminals? With the Kingpin once again being in control of the Hand, Hell’s Kitchen still needs a protector, and someone has taken on that role. Within a few pages we find out that T’Challa, The Black Panther, has answered the call. Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to the upcoming Marvel Comics solicitations, then you already knew that the main Daredevil series would feature Black Panther as HK’s protector for the next few months. But where does Matt Murdock’s story go from here?
Writer Andy Diggle will continue his tenure on Daredevil with Daredevil: Reborn, but at this point, we don’t know much about the series. The final pages of Daredevil #512 answer one big mystery as they show Matt getting off a bus in what looks like Oklahoma (going to Asgard, maybe?), having grown a fully formed beard in no time (at first I thought I was looking at Conan O’Brien J ). What I expect to follow is a story where Matt ‘finds’ himself and then begins anew. If this is the case, then we will be the victims of a story that has been told time and time again. Hopefully Mr. Diggle is a bit more creative than this.
So overall, I’d say that this whole Shadowland storyarc was fun to read, but it didn’t seem very fresh. Daredevil has been a character that over the last decade plus has had some of the best writers in the game give us some of the best work of their career as they tried to one-up the writer that came before them. With Mr. Diggle, whom I don’t mean to offend, we’ve got someone who kept the quality high, but not higher that what came before. Of course, when you follow someone like Ed Brubaker, how is this even possible, right?
What did you all think of the grand Shadowland storyarc? How about the last 12 months of DD and Andy Diggle’s run? Are you excited for the upcoming Daredevil: Reborn story? Let’s hash it out in our handy comments section below J .
Title: Ultimate Thor #1
Author: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Publisher: Marvel Comics (Ultimate line)
Release date: October 6, 2010
Ever since Marvel launched the Ultimate line nearly a decade ago, the people who have worked on the books have been somewhat of an exclusive group. Writers Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Greg Rucka, Brian K. Vaughan, Robert Kirkman, Damon Lindelof and Jeph Loeb have been the only people to even write for the imprint. That is a very impressive group. These guys are literally the cream of the crop when it comes to today’s comic book writers. And yes…even, technically, Jeph Loeb. With Ultimate Thor #1 another writer, also someone I consider one of the industry’s best talents, Jonathan Hickman, joins this exclusive group. So what is Mr. Hickman bringing to Thor that we have yet to see? Thor has had an incredible amount of “screen time” these last few months over at the house of ideas with a major new creative team taking over his regular monthly series, as well as a best selling all-ages book and a smattering of mini-series from both the regular Marvel imprint and from the Marvel Knights line. Let’s take a look…
Like all the best Thor stories tend to do, this one started in Asgard during Ragnarok. We see the glorious buildings of Asgard burn. We see betrayal. We see death; and then we see what all cool comics have in common…we see Nazis. I’ve read several Thor comics and I’ve read several World War II comics, but I don’t think I’ve ever read an issue of Thor where the Nazi scourge was attacking Asgard. How did this occur you ask? Mr. Hickman tells this particular story in fragments and jumps from one time period to the next, something that is somewhat of a common thread throughout his various funny book series.
It’s not quite clear exactly when this story takes place within the overall Ultimate Marvel continuity, but when we first see Thor in a modern setting, he is being held in The Dome, a facility in Brussels designed to hold someone with the power of a god. He is being looked after by Brian Braddock, aka Captain Britain, and Professor James Braddock, Brian’s father and one of the heads of the EUSS High Command. At this point the Braddock’s believe that Thor is actually a man named Thorlief Golmen, which was a major story point in Ultimates 2. So, I think it’s safe to assume that this story takes place before the end of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s run on The Ultimates.
While stuck in this facility, Thor begins to write stuff on the floor of his holding cell in a giant circular pattern. The odd thing is that all the words are in a form of ancient Norse writing that only Thor can understand. The only one, that is, until someone new shows up to help Thor. Doctor Donald Blake, a psychiatrist by trade, has been asked to speak to Thor to see if he can be “pulled” from this delusion of godhood. The big surprise is that Donald Blake understands exactly what Thor is writing. What does this mean? Is Donald Blake somehow attached to Thor? In the regular Marvel Universe the two men share a body, kind of, but in this other world there are no hard and fast rules. Hmmm?…anyways, now back to the Nazis.
As I stated above, this story also takes place during WWII, in 1939 to be precise, with Baron Zemo discovering a way into Asgard where he plans to bring 100,000 men in order to conquer the gods. Zemo has allied himself with the Ice Giants of Jotunheim, who really hate the Asgardians, and the conquest is all set to go. The stage is set as they say, and this series looks as though it will kick some serious ass.
What took so long for Marvel to get someone of Mr. Hickman’s calibre into the Ultimate universe? This guy is currently writing some of my favourite books from Marvel like Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Secret Warriors. Adding an Ultimate title is great news. Guys like Jeph Loeb should take some notes. Hickman is in a whole other universe in terms of good writing. With writers like Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman on their side, it seems like Marvel is the place to be right now.
So, will I be picking up Ultimate Thor #2? 100% YES!!! This is the kind of series I see myself buying all the issues and then buying the hard cover collection when it’s available. Do yourself a favour and go to the Shoppe (either one) immediately and buy this issue. Even the price of $3.99 is worth it for this thing. So what did you guys all think? Are there any other Hickman fans out there? Sound off in our awesome comments section below J .