Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Monthly Stash - Summer 2014, Part 2

          Okay then, in case you missed it, I’m playing “catch up” with My Monthly Stash.  I didn’t get a chance to do any blogging during the summer, so, lucky you! I’ve combined my summer reading into an all-encompassing two part party.  If you missed Part 1 it’s here.  Let’s continue, shall we? 

Note: I’ll be discussing titles with Original Sin inspired tie-ins in two separate sections: pre-OS issues nearer the top, tie-in issues nearer the bottom.  So there.

My Monthly Stash - Summer 2014, Part 2
All-New X-Factor #8-11
Uncanny X-Men #20-22
Black Widow #1
Hulk #1-4
Iron Man #24-25
Loki: Agent of Asgard #4-5
Daredevil #0.1, 1.50, 1-5
Moon Knight #4-6
Superior Spider-Man #29-31, 32
Amazing Spider-Man #1-3
Spider-Man 2099 #1
Original Sin #2-6 OS
Original Sin #5.1-5.3 (Thor & Loki: The Tenth realm #1-3) OS
Avengers #29-33 OS
All-New Invaders # 6-7 OS
Nova #18-19 OS
Daredevil #6 OS
Amazing Spider-Man #4 OS
Uncanny X-Men #23-24 OS

All-New X-Factor” keeps moving right along, straining the team dynamic, spinning intrigues, and, in this arc, delving deeper into the back story of new member/mutant ward of Serval Industries, Georgia Dakei.  Turns out, she’s adopted and her biological parents are still alive- though her father is a for-real super-villain hotel & mall mogul who now wants to make up for lost daddy/daughter crime time.  Memento Mori is interesting, and might have the potential to be this title’s primary, long term antagonist- even if his name and M.O. might be a little more oblique than some readers are used to- and if he survived this arc’s climactic battle with Georgia’s mystic mom.  Who knows?  And it just wouldn’t be X-Factor without relationship drama, so of course Gambit gets seduced by his (unbeknownst to him) boss’s wife, and we learn that he is a hoarder of Disney-character-named cats.  His quarters must reek.  I really like this title, though I can see how it’s pacing and art style could be off-putting to some new-to-PAD-readers.  Its monthly numbers hover around 20K-22K, as is historically consistent for “X-Factor,” yet we’re now hearing the rumblings of cancellation.  Grrrr…

In this first batch of “Uncanny X-Men” books we finally learn who’s been screwing with Scott and his revolutionary team: Age of Apocalypse Dark Beast.  Not the most original reveal, but in line with his character.  Also, a very pissed and twitchy Dazzler escapes Mystique’s clutches and helps thwart her careful infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. in an X-Mansion front lawn battle royale. About the only part of this drawn out tale worth getting excited about is the “manning up” of Hijack as he lends a hand to save the day.  This book isn’t Bendis’s worst monthly title, but there’s not a whole lot going for it either.

Issue #1 of Black Widow’s new ongoing was reprinted in the back of “Superior Spider-Man” #30, so I gave it a read.  Good, but not my particular pill of poison.  It sets up the premise adequately, the tone of which is somber and businesslike.  If I were a bigger Natasha fan I’m sure I’d appreciate the deep, contemplative character study and seeing what makes a super-spy tick.   The art is stylishly reminiscent of  1970s espionage films, and that’s a good thing.

I only stuck around for the first 4 issues of the newly re-launched “Hulk”- just until Mark Waid left.  I seriously hate all the recent creative team bait-and-switch shenanigans over at Marvel.  I’m realizing I don’t care much for Gerry Duggan’s writing (dropping “Nova”) and so I saw this as a jumping off point- which I find myself doing more and more of these days.  As for the “Who Shot Banner” story, well…we still aren’t sure who orchestrated it.  But we do know that big changes are in store for Hulk as Tony Stark heals Banner’s wound and mind using Extremis, leading to the evolution of Omega Hulk in Duggan’s run.  Sheesh!  In the last few years, comic book Hulk has gone through almost as many iterations as cinematic Bruce Banner.

I tried so hard to finish up this “Rings of the Mandarin” story in “Iron Man,” but I just can’t get into it.  Maybe I’m having trouble grasping (or caring about) the personification of each of the ten rings, or trying to keep all of the new hosts/bearers straight.  Whatever the case, I think I’m just about ready to be done with Tony and Kieren Gillen for a while.

It felt like “Loki: Agent of Asgard” was finally starting to hit its twisty, turn-y stride as Loki pulls one over on Sigurd and Mephisto in issue #4, but then #5 arrests the momentum (and fun?) as old, evil future Loki more or less reveals that the present-day god of mischief’s attempts at rehabilitation are pointless.  It was kind of a bummer for those of us who liked the idea of this character breaking free of his vicious, self defeating cycle.  This one’s creeping closer and closer to being dropped.

Caught up on the newly relaunched and relocated “Daredevil,” and I have to say, it’s chock full of the same action and fun intrigue as the previous volume.  Mad Thinker, Shroud, the Owl- good stuff!  Thank goodness Mark Waid is still on this book!  I can almost forgive him for bailing on “Hulk.”  Okay, and I’m really looking forward to the new “S.H.I.E.L.D.” ongoing.

Moon Knight” is about as good as an ethereal, dark, moody, brutal, street-level vigilante, done-in-one book can be, but to be honest, I’m kind of looking forward to Brian Wood taking this over from Warren Ellis.  I’d like to see more connectivity between issues and- dare I say it, a bit more substance over style.  Regardless, I’ll take whatever MK I can get.

Oh, Spidey…they sure keep you hopping!  I’ll admit to holding off on finishing out “Superior Spider-Man” because, frankly, I just didn’t want it to end.  Doc Ock taking over Pete’s body and running amok with his life was the most interesting and entertaining thing to happen to him in years!  I was happy to pick up the new “Amazing,” but it wasn’t until “Superior” resumed along side (in anticipation of the upcoming “Spider-Verse” event) that I could finally bring myself to catch up.  What a ride!  “Goblin Nation” left plenty of destruction in its wake, Otto showed his growth as a hero, and now Peter is left trying to piece together everything that’s happened in his “absence.”  Curse that Parker luck!  Slott really seems to have his finger firmly on the pulse of what these titles should be.  I’m really looking forward to “Spider-Verse!”

Original Sin.”  Okay, I’ve been enjoying this story, even though I fear it’s spiraling ever closer to the ultimate demise of one of my favorite characters: the REAL Nick Fury.  Not “which-came-first” chicken or egg Samuel L “Ultimates” Jackson Nick Fury.  And not that pathetic attempt at pandering to fans of the MCU through woefully weak retcon Marcus” Nick Fury Jr. ridiculousness.  No, I’m talking about WWII Sgt. Nick Fury.  Super-spy, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury.  Eye patch wearin’, gray templed, white guy Nicholas Joseph ‘Nick’ @#$%ing Fury!  I’m reserving judgment, though if things pan out the way I think they will, I’m likely going to be pretty mad.

As for the various tie-in inspired issues I’m getting, I like the premise of the Orb releasing the Watcher’s secrets, and the diversity of tales that these secrets trigger.  However, these stories are only as good as the creative team telling them, and sadly, many have missed the mark.  I fear that the “Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm” mini-within-the-mini will ultimately be nothing but long-winded bluster.  Three issues (so far) of posturing?  Really?  All to set up Angela’s new status quo as, SPOILER! Thor’s long lost sister?! 

At least “Avengers” addressed the growing rift between Stark and Rogers as Cap learns the truth about what secrets the Illuminati has been keeping from him.  It‘s always cool to see story seeds planted early on by capable writers come to fruition.  The “All-New Invaders” issues were decent enough, though not particularly compelling.  We got to see some familiar Golden Age-associated faces, most notably Golden Girl and the Kid Commandos.  Some might assume these two issues were just trying to capitalize on the event, but I bet Robinson will eventually circle back at some point.

 Nova” #18-19 were ridiculous.  Sam blunders in (like usual) to the main battle between the heroes and Exterminatrix and the Orb.  After getting underfoot (like usual), he learns some vague half-truths about his father’s time as a Nova and sets off on an ill-conceived journey (like usual) of discovery with a moronically written Rocket Raccoon.  Just awful.  Thankfully “Daredevil” kept things real by delving into the mystery of  Matt’s family, thereby infusing the tie-ins with some much needed emotional weight. I’m excited to learn more about the relationship between Battlin’ Jack and Sister Maggie.

Amazing Spider-Man” #4 spun yet another web of retcons, but because it’s Dan Slott’s Spider-Man I didn’t mind so much.  We are introduced to Cindy Moon, AKA Silk, who was supposedly bitten by the same radioactive spider that bit Peter moments later, but before it went off to die.  Sure!  Why not?  Fearful that Morlun would track her down to no good end, Ezekiel stashed Cindy away in a Morlun-proof bunker only to be “rescued” years later by Peter when the knowledge of her existence was revealed to him through the Orb’s exploding eye-bomb.  I-Bomb?  Sold!  Bring it!  I believe!  I have no doubt that Silk will be a big part of the Spider-man mythos for the foreseeable future, and honestly, even though we’ve just met her, I find her waaaayyy more interesting than the last few spider-women.  And so does Peter, apparently.  Bom Chicka  Wow Waw!

And finally, “Uncanny X-Men” #23-24…  Just in case you were wondering whether Cyclops and Beast had finally buried the hatchet over the death of Charles Xavier, the answer is “No. They and the rest of mutant kind are still pledged to both hate and fear each other.”  What a legacy Charles has left.  With all the wacked-out $#!& the X-Men have endured and perpetuated over the years, you’d think they’d have a blanket amnesty clause in place for any of their number who pulled a bonehead move.  I’m not saying they all have to get along all the time, but seriously, not a single one of them is entitled to cast the first stone.  Or second or third, for that matter.  So now all aggrieved parties have assembled for the reading of Professor X’s will, and all come across as childish a-holes.  The flashback story of Charles’s meeting of dangerous new mutant Matt Malloy was intriguing, but all the present tense posturing left a sour taste in my mouth.

          And that concludes my summer reading.  My eyes hurt!