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!

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Monthly Stash - Summer 2014, Part 1

          Summer…turns me upside down.  Summer, summer, SUMMER!  It’s like a merry-go-round of busy days, late nights, long weekends, vacation travel- both planned and un-, and just like a pale, messianic Ric Ocasek at a freak show pool party, I’ve gotta be quick on my feet to keep from sinking.  Unfortunately, all that soggy soft-shoeing didn’t allow much time for keeping up with My Monthly Stash.  I did a lot of reading, just no blogging.  Fear thee not, verily, fall is here, school is in, and lo, I’m getting back on track:

Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird #1-5
Origin II #1-5
FCBD 2013 : Star Wars and Captain Midnight #1
The Star Wars: Lucas Draft #1-4, 0, 5-8
FCBD 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Guardians of the Galaxy #14-17
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude #2
100th Anniversary Special: Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Nova #16-17
Thanos Annual #1
FCBD 2014 Rocket Raccoon #1
Rocket Raccoon #1-2
Legendary Star-lord #1-2
Cyclops #2-3
Silver Surfer #2-4
All-New Invaders #4-5, 8
Avengers #28
New Avengers #17-22
New Avengers Annual #1
Avengers World #5-8
Avengers A. I. #11-12
Avengers Undercover #2-6
Uncanny Avengers #19-22
Uncanny Avengers Annual #1
Inhumans #1

          OK, so in addition to catching up on most of the regular ongoing titles I follow, I finally got around to reading some mini-series that I’ve let pile up.

          First up: “Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird.  I should admit publicly that when it was first announced that Disney would be acquiring Marvel, I didn’t take it very well.  I went into a state of shock, denial and queasy ambivalence.  I think my exact words were, “Wha-huh?!?!?!”- followed by a Luke-y, “Nooo!  That’s not true!  It’s impossible!”  I’m glad there weren’t cameras around; I’m pretty sure I shook my fist in the air and gnashed my teeth.  Personally, I love Disney.  Always have.  Characters, cartoons, films, music and theme park visits- so many fond memories.  Hell, I even worked at Disneyland for several years while in college, and my family and I are frequent guests to this day.  Still, I found the acquisition news distressing.  Eventually, after reading many repetitious news articles filled with Quesada-quotes no doubt expressly designed to allay fanboy fears, my concerns mutated into a wary excitement.  My reaction wasn’t unique either; many fellow Marvelites experienced similar trepidation.  But why?  Disney is a known and (mostly) respected- if not outright beloved, entity.  They’ve been entertaining the world through colorful characters for decades.  They have business interests in nearly every consumer market imaginable and enjoy global brand recognition that other companies can only dream of.  They know how to market and promote a product.  Add to that, a long history of Disney licensed characters in print comics, and the company’s experience with myriad forms of rabid fan base culture, and you’d surmise that acquiring an already-existing stable of comic book superheroes would be a savvy business move worthy of  Carl Barks’s Scrooge McDuck.

For me, all those reasons were potentially problematic.  Having been a “Mostly Marvel” guy for the last 30+ years, and despite having witnessed many creative and organizational changes- both slight and tumultuous, during that time, I was fearful that at this level, and on this public a stage, my beloved House of Ideas would be dismantled and rebuilt into something unrecognizable.  That hasn’t happened.  If anything, it appears that Disney has largely left the publishing side of things alone- more support than shepherd.  Still, it’s a little surreal to see Avengers banners hanging throughout Tomorrowland and to stand in line to “meet ‘n’ greet” Thor in Innoventions.

 Sadly, “Seekers of the Weird,” the first title published under Marvel and Disney’s new joint Disney Kingdoms imprint, was pretty disappointing.  Lame, actually.  The title, inspired by Disney’s legendary, but never actually realized, Museum of the Weird addition to the Haunted Mansion attraction, relied too heavily on the eye candy of Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump’s designs in place of actual story content.  It felt as if all involved took for granted the audience’s familiarity with the abandoned project, and that we would be content seeing these oddities and artifacts in cameo strung throughout a barely coherent, banal narrative.  This book effectively killed my interest in the imprint’s next offering “Figment.”

Next: “Origin II,” the sequel to 2001’s mega hit mini-series “Wolverine: The Origin.”  I was “helping out” at my LCS back when the first mini came out, and let me tell you, it was a BIG deal.  I am a big Wolverine fan (he and I both came out at the same time, after all) and back then I was collecting pretty much every title he appeared in.  I recall being really excited that Paul Jenkins was the one writing it, having immensely enjoyed “Inhumans” and “Sentry.”  I remember Marvel promoting the hell out of it and claiming that “This would answer everything!”  Most of all, I remember that fateful Wednesday morning when issue #1 dropped, and it flew off the shelves in record numbers.  Long-time, lapsed and newbie readers alike came in droves! After filling the subscriber pre-orders, purchase limits had to be set on the remaining copies, prompting nonplussed speculators to subtly stash extra copies around the shop in inconspicuous locations for later retrieval.  Other local shops fared little better and soon we were all calling around to each other trying to track down issues for customers late to the party.  Everyone was out.  Prices on eBay soared.  It was nerdy chaos of the first order.  The story itself was quite good, delivered on some promised revelations, and definitely set the tone for the next decade’s worth+ of Logan stories in both comics and film.

 Origin II,” on the other hand, seemed to generate nary a whisper of buzz by comparison.  Sure, it was announced at comic-con.  Yes, they tasked fan-favorite creators Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert with writing and art duties.  Even so, aside from several variant covers for issue #1 (and #1 only), this book hit with all the impact and fanfare of a dry, powdery snowball.  It began solidly enough, pitting Logan against the combined machinations of Mr. Sinister, Sabretooth and an exploitative circus owner, but the tale petered out and ended with a whimper, almost as if they (creative team? editorial?) decided to pull the plug halfway through.  Sad.  Perhaps this yarn would have been better suited to run in the pages of “Savage Wolverine.”  Weak.

As with many people my age, the Star Wars franchise was a sacred and pivotal presence in my early development.  From my first time seeing A New Hope in the theater at age 4 and receiving my first action figure (R5-D4), to feeling personally betrayed by the prequels but buying up all the merch anyway, Star Wars has remained a touchstone to my childhood and a time when the world seemed rife with hopeful possibility.  Over the years, my fanaticism has waned somewhat, but I’ve managed to keep abreast of what’s going on- especially in the expanded universe realm of the novels and comics.  When Dark Horse’s “The Star Wars: Lucas Draft” project was announced, I was, of course, drawn to it like a scavenging Jawa to scrap tech.  I mean, what a cool idea!  A comic mini-series based on Lucas’s original 1974 rough draft script!  Having graduated from film school in screenwriting and production, I know what it’s like to repeatedly revise and rewrite a story until the finished draft only slightly resembles the original concept.  What I enjoyed about this “with hindsight” adaptation was peeking behind the scenes at the roots of this well-known epic, and seeing what bits made it through and where changes were made along the way.  Even though many of the characters and circumstances differ significantly from what eventually appeared on screen (a talking R2?!), there is enough here that’s familiar to satisfy even the most skeptical fan.  A fulfilling read- pick it up in trade if you missed the issues!

          And speaking of galaxies far, far away… It’s time to check in on the world of Marvel Cosmic:

First off, holy crap, Bendis’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” continues to suck!  Seriously, somebody please take this title away from him. It’s tedious.  It’s contrived.  It’s derivative, superfluous dreck just spinning its hover-wheels.  And the art is ugly.  The Free Comic Book Day issue pawns Venom (who can’t hold down his own title in this overcrowded market) off on the team so Bendis can glory-hog the symbiote’s long-awaited origin story.  Heaven forbid this actually occur in a Spider-Man book, but whatever.  Captain Marvel also gets foisted upon them, as if there weren’t already enough “mega-power princesses” on the team able to pull out a convenient, duea ex machina win no matter the situation.  The group gets ambushed and dismantled, with each member getting hauled away by one of J-Son’s Intergalactic Council compatriots for several issues of gratuitous, drawn out torture- and very little else.  These mind-numbingly unoriginal scenes just drag on and on.  Worst of all, Gladiator of the Shi’ar (who was a de facto member of the team via the Annihilators when Quill was lost in the Cancerverse), reprises his role as Bendis’s intergalactic prosecutor for the second time in a year, with about as much success as was experienced during the “Trial of Jean Grey.”  So lame.  About the only bright spot over the last several issues was Dan Abnett’s “Guardians 3000 “ story featured in the not really 100th issue #14.   That new ongoing cannot come soon enough, in my opinion.  I hope it sells well- I may have to preorder all the variant covers and go door to door proselyting in an attempt to keep it going as long as possible!  I know Marvel thinks they will shrivel up and die if Bendis doesn’t write at least half of their monthly titles, but give the man a break.  Let him go on vacation and recharge his creative batteries, because he’s about tapped.

 Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude” #2 featured Rocket and Groot but wasn’t really very compelling as far as MCU tie-ins go.  You really do get the sense that DnA are on the outs with each other.  Sad.  The “100th Anniversary Special: Guardians of the Galaxy” fared little better.  Andy Lanning, this time paired with Ron Marz, tell a mostly pointless “what if of the future” tale with flat characterization, been there, done that stakes and a ludicrous interpretation of Rocket that only barely manages to justify itself when a friendly face appears on the last page.  I should know better than to order these half-assed “fifth-week event” type books.

Nova” is all right, though there is still something missing thematically.  It’s just not very deep.  Sam just rockets from one tussle to the next and I’m having a hard time accepting this dumb kid as an intergalactic space cop.  I still feel like he needs to stay away from earth in order to experience real growth, but that’s just not the way it’s set up.  At this point, I think I’ll stick around through “Original Sin” and if it doesn’t develop any more substance I’m dropping it.

The “Thanos” Annual was quite good; it was nice to see so many classic cosmic characters and revisit critical junctures in the life of the Mad Titan from this different perspective- and doubly nice to be guided through by Jim Starlin.  I’m looking forward to “The Infinity Revelation” HC.  Cyclops” is still fun, but will it still be any good when the creative team shifts on issue #7?  Sure has been a lot of “creative team bait-n-switch” from Marvel lately…

 Slott and Allred’s “Silver Surfer” is just AWESOME!  Slott is presenting readers with a more “wondrous” depiction of the Marvel cosmos than is currently found anywhere else.  Norrin’s voice rings more unique and “fleshed out” from what we’ve heard in a while, and Dawn comes across as a very compelling and capable companion.  I don’t always go for Allred’s art, but it is perfect for this title.  This has quickly become one of my five most looked forward to books each month.

I thought the first issue of Skottie Young’s “Rocket Raccoon” ongoing was pretty great.  Fun, colorful and interesting.  However, the second issue devolved into a mean, silly, awkwardly-paced Looney Tunesque venture.  I hope there is more to this book going forward than explosions, snark ‘n’ snarl.  My experience with “Legendary Star-Lord” was just the opposite.  I felt that #1 was pretty lackluster as far as series launchers go, but things picked up in #2.  I’m still coming to terms with this overly slick, witty, movie-ish Han Solo version of Quill, but this might blossom into something worth keeping around beyond the film’s fervor.  I like that Kitty Pride will apparently have a recurring presence.

All-New Invaders” #4 had a sweet Human Torch cover.  It’s good to see Jim Hammond back in action.  The end of the “Gods and Soldiers” arc was satisfying.  We got to see lots of Golden Age characters, both in the present and in flashback, and it was nice to see some of the never-quite-know-what-to-do-with Eternals, who helped save the day.  It was fun, and had a chilling epilogue with a peek at dark things to come.  As for #8 (will discuss #6-7 in conjunction with “Original Sin”), I’m burned out on Deathlok.  How many of them are running around now anyway?  A dozen or so? 

Avengers/New Avengers”:  I very much enjoyed the sit-down confrontation between Tony and Bruce as Banner was brought up to speed on what the re-formed Illuminati has been up to.  The tension was palpable, and though there was little actual resolution between these two jealous geniuses, there was, at least, some honesty. It will be nice to see them put there rivalry aside in order to address the incursion problem- especially now since Cap knows!  Oops!  I thought the “New Avengers” Annual was interesting: it’s always good when Dr. Strange gets some attention.

In “Avengers World” the, um…team was, uh…oh! Black Knight showed up and…uh, hmmm…  You know, I honestly can’t even remember- which is this title’s unfortunate problem: it is completely forgettable fluff.  It’s telling three tenuously connected stories at the same time- none of which are particularly interesting or original.  It feels like peripheral side-questing that doesn’t really fall in with the two main Avengers books.  I keep telling myself I need to drop it, but with each new issue solicitation I think, “Hey, sounds like it might actually be going somewhere!” And I keep on buying it.

I liked “Avengers A.I.” and am sad the plug was pulled. It needed more time to fully develop, and sadly, the audience just wasn’t there.

I’m not sure if Hopeless and Walker, et al. intended for “Avengers Undercover” to be a short run, but it seems like this book was kinda hobbled from the start.  It’s readable, though I am getting tired of the “exploited teen heroes being battered and abused by adult villains” trend.  Also, I really like Hellstrom and Zemo from the Defenders and Thunderbolts days (respectively) so I don’t particularly care to see these more recent villainous sides of them.

I’ve enjoyed this long form Kang story arc in “Uncanny Avengers,” but I’m glad that it’s wrapped up and we can move on to “AXIS.”  What I liked most about “Avenge the Earth” was seeing Havok take charge in a way that we really haven’t seen him do since the (started off) brilliant “Mutant X” series from 15 years ago.  I was surprised by, and really enjoyed the romantic relationship between Alex and Janet, and I am hoping that their daughter Katie returns somehow.  Poor Havok, all of his alternate timeline children keep blinking out of existence (remember Scotty from “Mutant X?”).  It was also very cool to see the Chronos Corps team that Kang assembled from so many different Marvel Earths/timelines.   I thought the annual was entertainingly tongue-in-cheek, if nothing else.  Always nice to see some of the Legion of Monsters gang in action.

Inhuman” #1 was included/reprinted in the back of the newly re-launched “Amazing Spider-Man” #1.  Despite really liking past Inhuman titles and stories, its connection to, first Fraction, and then Soule, left me less than thrilled.  I was happy to discover that, in this case, I chose wisely in not ordering it; this issue was crap.  The tone was too “loud” for my taste, and Joe Mad’s art was more “cartoony” than usual.  It felt like I was watching a poorly edited film with choppy transitions, minimal character development and bad pacing.  Notwithstanding Marvel’s hyping the book, I haven’t talked to anyone who actually thought very highly of it.  I wonder how long it will be allowed to last? 

Summer 2014, Part 2 (of 2) coming soon…

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Monthly Stash - May 2014

As you can see from the unusually short list that follows, I didn’t do a whole lot of comic reading in May.  I was…distracted.  You see, after a lengthy hiatus, I resumed playing my game of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii.  I love the Zelda games- this one in particular, but I got hung up on the Cave of Ordeals a couple of years ago and took a longer than expected break.  Suffice it to say, after much cursing and loss of pixelated life, the Cave has been bested, the Palace of Twilight explored and Zant defeated.  I might have even beat Gannon by now if it weren’t for the added distraction of binge-viewing House M.D. on Netflix.  Too much media for this glutton to consume! 

A Paltry Pile
May 2014
Iron Man #23
Thor: God of Thunder #20
Loki: Agent of Asgard #3
All-New X-Factor #6-7
Moon Knight #3
Cyclops #1
Original Sin #0-1


Iron Man” #23 officially kicks off the “Rings of the Mandarin” storyline which has been brewing steadily throughout the preceding “Iron Metropolis” arc and “The Accursed” over in “Thor: God of Thunder.” With Malekith in possession of one, and seeking after the remainder of the Mandarin’s rings, the stage is set for one of those ‘Acts of vengeance” type tales wherein the hero is up against a foe from outside of his usual rogues’ gallery- which I normally love.  This issue was a solid enough start, full of decent art, appropriate secondary character plotline development and guest appearances, though it was hampered by an overabundance of  new-reader-friendly expositional caption boxes.  Also, I don’t completely buy Tony’s reasons for not getting Thor involved.  Let’s see how this plays out.

In “Thor: God of Thunder,” future King Thor dukes it out with Gramps-lactus, while present day Thor tries to impress his new girlfriend by demolishing the Minotaur’s pollution centers.  Fun!

Loki: Agent of Asgard” takes a darker turn as old, evil Loki recounts (and dabbles directly in) the origin of the sword Gram and Sigurd, first hero of Asgard.  I like the “Tales of Asgard” approach, but issue to issue, this book is tonally confused.  Might be dropping this after first arc ends.

 All-New X-Factor” #6-7 basically deals with some of Cypher’s emotional baggage from the “Fight the Future” arc that concluded the most recent volume of “New Mutants.”  Doug is suicidal, Warlock is working for his father, the villainous Magus, and X-Factor is confused as to what they should do about it.  In the end, Doug and Warlock join the team and Magus is left alone since technically he’s done nothing wrong.  The team is now essentially assembled, so of course they head off half-cocked on a rescue mission that isn’t quite what it seems.  At its heart, David’s X-Factor has always been more about the personal, character connections and that’s what makes it great.

Moon Knight” #3 continues the weird with MK having to bust out a special suit of armor/raiment (that he doesn’t even remember acquiring) in order to whup a gang of punk ghosts who are beating up the living.  As odd as that sounds, it was a much better issue than #2, and it was fun to catch a glimpse of some of the ancient Egyptian artifacts that Marc has been collecting.  Also, it’s interesting to see how he’s been manipulated by Khonshu and it makes you wonder, ‘What else has he done that he doesn’t recall?”

Rucka and Dauterman’s “Cyclops” #1 was really good.  I’ve never been that big of a Scott Summers fan, but I’m enjoying the adventures of his younger, time-displaced self, and am particularly interested in seeing how his relationship with his dad progresses.  I’ve missed seeing Corsair and the Starjamers around, but I’ve gotta ask, “What’s the deal with Hepzibah’s weird spacesuit tail compartment?

I thought that Marvel’s big summer event “Original Sin” got off to a good start with issue #0.  Waid writes the inexperienced Nova in such a way that he comes across as young, but not juvenile (as too often occurs in his ongoing series).  The relationship this Nova has developed with the Watcher has been interesting, and I found it touching that this omnipresent being would share his story with Sam.  Too bad he had to go and die in issue #1.  I like the pace, the art and the crime-solving flavor of this event.  I like seeing characters that wouldn’t typically hang out together (Doctor Strange and the Punisher?) go on missions- but how did they so easily track down Emma Frost when she’s supposedly a terrorist in hiding?  I’m happy to see the REAL Nick Fury back in action- I seriously cannot stand that they’ve created an Ultimates/Cinematic U “Fury Jr.” in the 616.  I’m digging this so far, but am not getting any of the tie-ins outside of the ongoing titles I normally get.  I might pick up “Original Sins” in trade, though.

BEST of the month
All-New X-Factor #6-7
Cyclops #1
Original Sin #0-1

WORST of the month
Nothing sucked!

What I’m looking forward to next month
All-New X-Factor
Silver Surfer
Original Sin

          Next month I will be burning through some mini-series that I’ve been holding off on until they ended: “Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird,” “Origin II” and “Star Wars: Lucas Draft.”  Until then!