Title: Avengers #13 (Fear Itself tie-in)
Author: Brian Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: May 18, 2011
I like Brian Michael Bendis. I’ve liked his writing since before he was the most prolific writer in Marvel’s whole organization. And I’ve really enjoyed it the most over the last seven years or so as he has lead the Avengers on their adventures. Over the years he’s made them an A-List team again, and has made them the most important people in the whole Marvel Universe. So it shouldn’t surprise me when he does something out of the ordinary and gives us an issue that is written/laid out like a reality tv series is shot.
Avengers #13 was the first issue of this volume not drawn by John Romita Jr. , and it also serves as a set up issue for the upcoming Avengers: Fear Itself tie-in storyarc. The whole issue is told in tiny little squares with each of the Avengers seemingly sitting in front of a camera and giving “confessionals” like they do on Survivor, Jersey Shore, and every other reality tv series out there. These confessionals aren’t limited to the present as we see some from over the years, even involving heroes who are either dead, or are at least no longer active Avengers. We get to see the Avengers as people. Vulnerable people with feeling and desires like the rest of us. People who are scared and lost and who are just doing the best they can every day. I’d say the highlight of these was the extended piece with Jarvis. No one knows the Avengers like Jarvis does, and his insights and the way they are conveyed actually scream Bendis. This is the style he used in Fortune & Glory. This is Bendis to a tee.
This issue doesn’t forward the theoverall story too much, as it is told concurrently with the press conference that Tony Stark called in Fear Itself #1, but that’s fine. This story showed us the heart of the Avengers. It showed us that they are a family. It showed us that they are human and go through the same things we do…just in a different way. They sacrifice everything about their personal lives to do what they do. This issue really just reiterated for the 1,000th time that the Avengers are heroes…but not only heroes. They are human being (or at least an equivalent), just like us.
Chris Bachalo was this issue’s artist. He’s one of the first artists that I was super excited about when I first got into comics in the mid-1990’s. His style has morphed over the last few years into somethng that isn’t always easy to follow, but this kind of issue was right up his alley. Bendis really does know how to write for the guy. Just look at his recent Amazing Spider-Man issues compared to this. They were almost unreadable, while this issue seemed perfect. It should also be noted that Mr. Bachalo provided his own color work on this issue. The art, as a whole, was gorgeous. Hopefully he comes back to Avengers as the regular fill-in guy whenever JR Jr. needs a month off. This issue got me even more excited for the next arc and for Fear Itself in general. How about you? Sound off in our awesome comments section below J .
Title: Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513
Author: David Liss
Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: December 15, 2010
Two weeks ago Andy Diggle’s big Daredevil crossover story, Shadowland, came to an end. Hell had been wrought across Hell’s Kitchen and a great man had fallen from grace. This has left a hole. Actually…it has left a rather large hole in terms of Hell’s Kitchen’s protector role. Someone needs to fill the void, and who better to fill the role of the fallen “King” of Hell’ Kitchen than another fallen King. Enter T’Challa; former King of Wakanda and the hero known as The Black Panther.
Now I apologize for my ignorance to the subject, but I have not been a big follower of T’Challa’s exploits over the last several years. I tried to pick up Reginald Hudlin’s early run on the Black Panther monthly (gotta love the John Romita artwork!), and I also paid some cursory attention when T’Challa married the X-Men’s resident African goddess Storm, but other than that, I’m kind of lost when it comes to T’Challa/Black Panther. From what I learned on the hyper-mega-global-information-network (ie. The Internet), it seems T’Challa’s sister has taken on the role as the official Black Panther over in Wakanda, so T’Challa playing hero to Hell’s Kitchen seems to work out. Now…onto the issue itself.
The book catches your eye right off the bat with its gorgeous cover artwork by Simone Bianchi. The cover tells us so much with the simple image of T’Challa in his Black Panther garb in the foreground, but then in the background we have the ghostly image of Matt Murdock in his Daredevil uniform signifying that he is ‘missing’ from the scene. The book opens with Black Panther looking for Vlad Dinu, a man with an awesome secret for you to find out, and the newest crime boss in Hell’s Kitchen. It then cuts to Black Panther having a discussion with Matt Murdock about taking over the reigns of protecting the Kitchen while he is gone from the scene ‘finding himself’. It’s an interesting parallel with Black Panther also running from his home in order to test himself and in order to discover who he truly is. It shows us that this will be a story about redemption, which is exactly what this book needs after all the crap that went down during Shadowland.
This was a fantastic first issue. I have never read anything else by writer David Liss, who is best known for his novels, but so far it seems like he has a handle on the Kitchen, the Panther, and crime fiction in general. His pacing and his characters (Vlad in particular) really made me want to read more and more right away. And what can I say about the art?! It was perfect! Francesco Francavilla is another guy who I haven’t been exposed to very much (I think he’s been hanging out @ Dynamite), but he really kicked ass with this issue. It seems like I have two new creators to add to my “Must Follow” list. After reading this, I really can’t wait for the next issue.
So what did you all think? Have you been Black Panther fans for long, or like me, are you really just getting into him with this issue? Sound off in our handy comments section below J .
Title: Secret Avengers #1
Author: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: May 26, 2010
This sure is an exciting time to be a fan of Marvel Comics. With the end of the ‘Dark Reign’ on the horizon, Marvel canceled all of their monthly Avengers titles and decided to relaunch them for their newly minted ‘Heroic Age’ following the SIEGE mega-event. We already had Brian Bendis and John Romita Jr.’s Avengers #1 last week, which was a decent read, if albeit a little recycled. But this week was the week I was most excited about.
With the end of the SIEGE event, the Dark Avengers book was ending. It was a huge seller for Marvel, so you just had to know that they would replace it with something cool. That cool book is the Steve Roger’s starring Secret Avengers, and it was very good indeed. The other two monthly Avengers titles (Avengers and New Avengers) are both written by Brian Bendis, who is still a great writer even if he is stretched a little thin at the moment, but this book is written by Ed Brubaker, arguably the best writer currently in Marvel’s stable. Fresh off of the universe changing Marvel’s Project and still the current scribe in charge of Captain America, Ed was the perfect choice to chronicle the adventures of America’s Black Ops Avengers team. Joining Mr. Brubaker on this title is former Dark Avengers penciler, Mike Deodato Jr.
The first issue opens like a spy flick with an international bad guy and two secret agents (or in this case, Secret Avengers) disguised as Russian whores. This leads to the debut of Steve Rogers in his new uniform (very sleek), and the ass kicking of those who require their ass be kicked. Steve and his team recover a secret artifact, and our big time adventure begins. From here we are introduced to the rest of Steve’s team by way of minor flashbacks, and we plow head on into the team’s first major mission. Did someone say MARS?!?
This book receives top marks (well…almost) and a definite pick-up by me for the foreseeable future. Ed Brubaker is seriously one of the best writers in all of comicdom right now, and seeing him get to play with Steve Rogers again (remember…Ed killed him and brought him back) and this funky little secret team of his is like a dream. And considering the massively cool reveal on the final page, it really seems like Ed is going to make this book really fun J . What did you all think? Am I crazy for liking this issue? Sound off in our comments section below…
Title: Avengers #1
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Storyline: Next Avengers
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: May 19, 2010
With the release of this very good issue, Marvel Comics have officially ended the DARK REIGN that has dominated the storylines for the last 18 months (but started seven years ago), and begun its new and improved HEROIC AGE. Does this mean that all the “grim and gritty-ness” of the last 7 plus years is totally gone? My bet would be a big ‘NO’. I’d say that this is just the next point from which Marvel’s continuing narrative will unfold itself, but I guess that can go without saying…
This issue opens up roughly at the same point that we got left last week when the massive SIEGE event came to an end with the dissolution of H.A.M.M.E.R. and arrest and incarceration of Norman Osborn. The first two pages of this issue, which depict Immortus the Master of Time being ultimately defeated, really set up the storyarc that starts with this issue. It seems as though a band of five teenagers from the future are going to be responsible for some really heinous stuff happening. The kicker is that those five kids are obviously tied to the Avengers in a very fundamental way.
From there, we cut to Captain Steve Rogers giving a speech (as he is want to do) directly at the fourth wall, and when we turn the page, we discover that he is in fact talking to a plethora of former and soon-to-be Avengers. The scene reminded me of a scene that is almost exactly the same from another Avengers #1, specifically the #1 by Kurt Busiek and George Perez from the whole “Heroes Return” thing from a decade or so ago. Back then Steve Rogers was doing this as Captain America, not as the “new Nick Fury”, but it’s basically the same thing. Each and every one of these characters was chosen for a reason, and Steve spells it out for them/us. You have a few people who think they don’t belong, some who think they are undeserving, you have a few people that are getting “promotions”, and you get a few people who outright refuse to join up. Overall, it was cool, but really felt rehashed from all the other times things like this have happened. From here we are introduced to the team’s newest leader, Maria Hill, whom we all know from the last few years as an amazing former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a friend of most of the Avengers. As Tony Stark then points out, she is the perfect fit for this team.
When all of the meet and greet crap is finally over with, this issue really starts to get good. We already saw Immortus and some ass kicking teenagers from the future in the first two pages, and since time travel is an obvious part of this new storyarc, who should show up? None other than Kang the Conqueror. He is one of the greatest enemies ever faced by the Avengers, but this time he shows up not to fight, but to recruit allies for the battle of his life. Kang and the Avengers allies? What craziness can bring these two disparate sides together? Well, it turns out those kids are no regular teenagers. Those kids are the offspring of the Avengers, and Kang needs the help of the current Avengers to prevent them from not only taking over the world, but also conquering time. But can Kang be trusted? Part two is out in June…