Archive for the Dark Reign Category

Iron Man: World’s Most Wanted/Tony Stark Disassembled

Posted in Comics, Dark Reign, Iron Man, Marvel with tags , , , on March 15, 2010 by pieman70

Wow, long title.  I’d love to say that I decided to review these stories as one since one blends into the other making them one epic story.  That is rubbish, it’s because I fell too far behind and decided that Stark disassembled would be finished before I got a chance to blog on worlds most wanted and so I may as well bundle the two together.

Anyway, this has been an epic Iron Man story, and almost certainly the rehabilitation of Tony Stark from what people thought was irreparable damage during the Civil War Event.  While they tail one into the other and are written and drawn by the same people (Matt Fraction on words and Salvador Larroca on pictures) the stories are really quite different.

A warning in advance, I’m not holding back on spoilers, so if you don’t want to know the scores, look away now.

Worlds Most Wanted

The Secret Invasion is over, Norman Osbourne is in charge, SHIELD is no more and Tony Stark has been booted out.  With his Extremis offline he can barely control his armour anyway.  As a parting shot to Osbourne and more importantly to preserve the trust of those who registered, Stark deletes the entire Superhuman Registration database, leaving only one copy, the one written in his head.  This leads to a relentless pursuit of Stark across the globe by Osbourne and his agents while Stark slowly erases his own mind to destroy the last copy of the database.  Meanwhile Pepper Potts gets a suit of armour and a new identity as Rescue and Maria Hill goes on a harrowing mission to recover a mysterious hard drive for Stark.

This story was actually quite episodic, at least for Tony Stark, each issue usually focused on an encounter with friends or foes from his past as Tony battles across the world, having to use ever more obsolete suits as his ability to run them degrades.  This includes Friends, like War Machine and Crimson Dynamo, and Enemies such as Namor and Madame Masque.  When I say episodic you would probably be bloody confused if you jumped right in, particularly with the ongoing subplots featuring Maria Hill and Pepper Potts, but most of the encounters are self-contained.  Fraction crafts a brilliant tale, capturing Stark’s slow disintegration, Pepper’s joy of being a super hero and Hill’s near breakdown after an ordeal at the hands of the Controller.  The final showdown with Stark in his Mk1 suit and Osbourne in the Iron Patriot has a brilliant twist, and indeed was the first time we saw someone hurt Osbourne through the media.  At the end we have Stark left in a vegetative state, but A recorded message, and a gathering of old friends means this may not be the end.

Tony Stark Disassembled

The conclusion to this epic is a mere 5 parts, perhaps a little slow, it details how stark backed up his mind on the Hard drive Hill retrieved in Most wanted and, with Pepper’s Repulsor generator, and a bolt of lightning courtesy of Thor, Stark may be restored.

This was slower, and perhaps a little long, it could have probably been done in 4 parts, but a very good ending for Worlds Most wanted.  Nice to see everyone try to save Stark, and very good use of Ghost (Also an example of good crossovers again with how it linked in with Thunderbolts) and the surreal trip through Tony’s subconscious was predictable but a nice touch.  It was similar to the “Soul on Ice” backup story during Jim Rhodes’ second Tenure as Iron Man (Run up to his first War Machine ongoing) which had a cryogenically frozen stark living his past and his influences.  Only that was more recap, this was a wierd nightmare.  Of course we get the twist at the end, turns out Stark isn’t particularly good at keeping regular backups of his mind, and this copy is Pre Civil War, which has come of something as a shock to him (Although probably not as much as him sleeping with Pepper Potts and Maria Hill in teh same week will later)

Fraction must go down as one of the best Iron man writers for a good while, crafting two very different stories with ease.  Larroca was faced with a fairly daunting challenge himself, to draw what amounted to an “Iron man through the ages” or basically a whole load of different armors.  If I’m looking forward to one thing Post Siege, and I’m looking forward to a lot.  But one over all others is Iron Man, which is testimony to this teams success.

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Dark Reign: Young Avengers

Posted in Comics, Dark Reign, Marvel, Young Avengers with tags , , , on December 13, 2009 by pieman70

This finished up a while ago and I thought a review was in order.

I’ve followed just about all of the Young Avengers stuff, but this one had me nervous. In true Dark Reign style, we were going to see an all new team of kids, who may not be as nice and wholesome as our first team. Indeed 4 of the 6 were named after villains (Melter, Enchantress, Egghead and executioner) while the other two Coat of Arms is a bit questionable and Big Zero is a neo Nazi.

It was quite a shift but be assured, the original Young Avengers turn up and a big fight, mentoring and rebellion ensue. It was a nice touch of Cornell to have the Young Avengers try and assess and recruit some of the new batch, and indeed the new set’s turn to Osborne was equally predictable when only one of them made the cut.

Cornell’s writing is good and I thing he made the most of having a big set of original characters to play with, although he wasn’t too shabby with the existing avengers or the dark avengers for that matter.

For me the stand out character was the new bacth’s leader, Melter. Cornell builds a great take on the old Marvel trope of powers being more of a curse, and Melter, we discover has killed many people, often by accident, in fact often by comedy accident, with his powers. This makes him not just reluctant but utterly terrified.

My main criticism would be the hint that Big Zero and Egghead are an alternate universe version of Stature and Vision which wasn’t followed up, but with rumours referring to this new team as the Young Masters, we may well see them appear in some shape or form in the future, and I’m interested enough t hope so.

Savage She-Hulk

Posted in Comics, Dark Reign, Marvel, She-Hulk with tags , , , on September 26, 2009 by pieman70

lyraSavage She-Hulk was always going to be a tough sell on me.  See, I got into the character reading Dan Slott and then Peter David’s runs on the character, and was one of those who thought that David’s run was cut short.  Then again I was also holding out for a Lady Liberators title.  So when the announcement came of a new She-Hulk I was more than a little sceptical.

Savage She-Hulk concerns Lyra, daughter of the Hulk and Thundra, who has come from a possible alternate future to find Earth 616’s most powerful man.

So, first the good things, the art is good and it was nice to see the real She-Hulk turn up.  Story wise, it was ok.  We see some good Dark Reign style manoeuvring, Osborne wants to take in Lyra to show that he should be running ARMOUR (the group in charge of alternate universe incursions) the twist on Hulks powers is a neat touch, Lyra gets weaker the more angry she gets, and her tamagochi companion talking watch thing is quite funny in the first few panels but isn’t a laboured joke.

Downsides, well, she isn’t Jen.  And that is more than a fanboy whine criticism, Jen was fun, Lyra is pretty serious, art wise they weren’t afraid to make Jen pretty muscular and near Amazonian, while Lyra is definitely aimed more towards the cheesecake market, a shame as Peter David really was aiming to make She-Hulk Marvel’s wonder woman (In fact what they were also trying to do with Ms Marvel).  Mainly, I’m just not as interested in Lyra, even in the final panel setup where she is She-Hulk, agent of ARMOUR.

In isolation, the story is patchy, basically act 1, Lyra Vs generic agents, act 2, Lyra vs. She-Hulk, Acts 3&4 Lyra vs. Dark Avengers (Who get about a lot) and so it really is pretty much fights interspersed with flashbacks.  There is some interest in the alternate, female led future however, where Osborne has become head of everything and started marketing super powered enhancements, earth females are all that’s left of civilisation while males are factioned into representatives of the male dark avengers.

In fact I think I’d have preferred a story with Lyra set in her alternate future, that way it would form more of a She-Hulk legacy as opposed to looking like trying to replace the existing character.

It doesn’t help that for the moment She-Hulk appears to be MIA, with rumours of a red She-hulk appearing means the future is uncertain for Jen, for once, let’s hope the reset button comes in and Lyra is consigned to a historical curiosity.  Sorry Savage She-Hulk team, but you didn’t manage to turn me around.

Avengers: The Initiative #27

Posted in Avengers, Comics, Dark Reign, Marvel, The Initiative with tags , , , , on September 13, 2009 by pieman70

9_avengers__the_initiative_27The Initiative was almost on my drop list, Until the Disassembled storyline finished and suddenly its proper Dark Reign story kicked in.  However that’s not what I want to talk about.

Issue #27 mainly features the new Shadow Initiative, now not the black ops squad but more of a suicide squad made up of expendables.  The issue is split into two parts, part two concerns the Shadow Initiatives mission to take back the negative zone prison recently conquered byBlastaarr in Guardians of the Galaxy and their slow realisation that they are now cannon fodder.  However the first part is a story that is up there with one of the Initiatives finest stories.  Yes, Christos Gage has written his very own washout.

The story is written from diary entries by Johnny Guitar, chronicling his and his friend Doctor Sax’s progress through the villainous underground to eventually join the Shadow Initiative.  Who, well in their own words, they fought Dazzler once.

Yes, Johnny Guitar and Dr Sax are every bit as Z-List as their names suggest.  Gague however makes us feel for them, two small town losers, wanting to play music for a living but who fall into a life of crime and eventual super-villainy to support their families.   It actually gives you a look about how so many of these small time criminals might decide to make up a themed costume and get a kicking from Daredevil once a month.  In fact, the “Big Time” villain who tells them both to try super villainy and indeed later join Osbourne’s initiative is none other that PetePetruski, aka the trpaster, or as most know him, Paste Pot Pete, arguably the biggest looser on Spider-Man’s list of foes.

Overall its a touching character based story, and you know what, I think this type of thing, a story focused on one character and their time in the initiative, could be this titles real power.  I’m not against its arc plots etc, but more stories like “Washout” and “Even the Losers” would be great.

Deadpool/Thunderbolts – Magnum Opus

Posted in Comics, Dark Reign, Marvel with tags , , , , on June 23, 2009 by pieman70

Thought I’d post a few opinions regarding the recent Deadpool Thunderolts crossover. Now, I dislike this sort of crossover, as I pointed out in the post regarding the upcoming Dark Avengers/X-men crossover, I don’t like having to pick up titles that I don’t normally pick up to get a whole story. Put it in one title or the other. That said at least I currently pick up Deadpool and Thunderbolts.

The story is based around Deadpool trying to blackmail Norman Osbourne over the information Deadpool provided that was instrumental in allowing Osbourne to get the kill shot during Secret Invasion and hence how he cemented his position of power. Osbourne sends in his new Thunderbolts team to silence the Merc with a mouth.

This was actually a very good fun story, definitely helping me to warm to the new deadpool creative team who have been a little lukewarm of late. It has good art, everyone is recognisable and at no point do layouts become confused.

My main gripe, and its quite a big one, is that this is a Deadpool story, as in, Deadpool front and centre for 90% of the time. This isn’t a bad thing, but Thunderbolts has literally finished its first arc, in fact one of the team is still to be introduced and we still know very little about Headsman beyond he has a big axe. What gets to me as a Thunderbolts reader is that for two issues I learn nothing more than Black Widow II has a fairly odd taste in men (Although the romance between her and wade was brilliant) but really, if I didn’t read Deadpool I’d really be wondering why the team I’m paying good money to follow are sidelined so soon into their run for two issues. This is the main problem, it shows Magnum Opus for what it really is, a marketing ploy. It is being used to promote both titles when really what we should have had was 4 issues of deadpool guest starring the Thunderbolts, you could even put a little boxout in Thunderbolts to alert readers that the new team would feature in Deadpool. Instead T-Bolts is stalled before it gets started by an unnecessary crossover which I think is unfair to a title that when not involved in pointless marketing gimmicks is looking to be very interesting indeed.

So, to round up, if you buy this story in a trade, I reckon there is a lot to like and not much to dislike. Similarly if you’re a deadpool fan then you’re only real qualm will be forking over for 2 more issues than normal, however for Thunderbolts fans you will be left wondering hwy you had to read a Deadpool story rather than get on with the unfolding events in the title you’d paid for.

New Avengers: The Reunion

Posted in Comics, Dark Reign, Marvel with tags , , , on June 9, 2009 by pieman70

This was a title I really swithered on Picking up. See, I’m a big hawkeye fan, but not so much a fan of Clint Barton: Ronin. That and I’m really trying to cut down my buying. Still I eventually cracked and decided to take a look at this mini focusing on Ronin and his previously thought dead wife Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird.

The plot focuses mainly on Mockingbird, suffering Post traumatic stress from her long capture by the skrulls and now running a covert group of ex-SHIELD agents hunting down AIM. Clint Barton decides to tag along.

Overall it was a good series, well written and with some nice action/character pieces. Centre was Mockingbirds uneasiness of restarting a relationship with Barton, mainly because just before she was snatched she was going to divorce hawkeye, but her Skrull replacement continued the marriage.

Overall there is some sharp dialogue and the art is nice, if nothing else the artist has a ball drawing Bobbi Morse in a variety of different Mockingbird costumes, from a full bodysuit update to an evening dress version. Similarly Barton tends to use a bow and arrow and wear blue and purple more than use nunchucks and wear black and yellow.

Overall a good wee read, and sets up how Clint and Bobbi are now in New avengers.

Ms. Marvel

Posted in Comics, Dark Reign, Marvel, Ms. Marvel with tags , , , on March 31, 2009 by pieman70

My good mate Reilly 2040 has already posted a little on this, I’d check it out at http://reilly2040.co.uk/blog/2009/03/27/comics-26032009/

Well, the final issue of “The Death of Carol Danvers” arc hit, and its been a good arc, with her powers going wonky and her military past catching up with her ultimately leading to her exploding. Good arc, still not Happy with the end, I would have preferred her to take the villain with her or do some big sacrifice rather than just realise that she was going to explode and get as far away as possible. Similarly I’m dubious about now having the series fronted by moonstone.

However, I am a reasonable man and I am willing to give the moonstone fronted series a chance. Of course I harbour hopes that the Death of carol Danvers is a fake out and that she’s going to turn up as part of the seemingly bigger squad who will be ending the dark reign.

Not looking forward to the new arc, but It’s getting a chance to be good.