Archive for Marvel

Fear Itself

Posted in Avengers, Avengers Academy, Comics, Fear Itself, Fearsome Four, Heroic Age, Iron Man, Marvel, Secret Avengers, She-Hulk, The Initiative, Thunderbolts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by pieman70

ok, so this was an event I was going to miss.  Serious event fatigue has been going on in my comic buying for some time.  How I long for a wee contained event restricted to a certain family of titles, preferable the X-men while say the Avengers are allowed to carry on regardless.  Seriously, another world-changing event just over a year after the New Heroic age started?  Can’t these titles be given a chance at more than a couple of arcs before “Everything Changes?” So it’s rather annoying that Fear Itself has turned out quite so well.

Just to clarify, I’ve not been picking up the Fear Itself book, but many of the books I do collect are now Fear Itself tie Ins, see unless you’re willing to just drop a title for a couple of months there’s no escaping the huge event.

The plot, from what I can ascertain, Sin, Daughter of the red Skull has found an old Asgaurdian fear god who was so bad he was banished and removed from all of history.  This god has given her a hammer like Thor’s and sent 7 others to earth where they have been picked up by several Heroes and Villains, turning them into evil gods.  Sin has also led an attack on Washington using Giant Nazi robots.  Odin is in fact so scared he has withdrawn Asgard from earth taking all his norse gods with him.  Confused, well for someone not reading the main book it can be.  This is wat I would classify as a “Bad” crossover.  Namely you do feel you’ve missed something if you just stick to your main titles.  So much so that it took several books for me to realise I hadn’t missed an issue in between.

This criticism aside, the event itself is great.  Obviously, some heavy hitters get their own big bad to fight, such as Iron Man fighting the Grey Gargoyle or the Avengers fighting a hammer possessed Thing.  Others are involved in general fighting, such as the Secret Avengers being on the vanguard defending Washington DC from Sin’s forces, The Thunderbolts trying to secure the raft after a hammer landed and was picked up by Juggernaut or the Avengers Academy pupils involved protecting civilians.  Either way, there is a real apocalyptic feel to this event.  Society is breaking down and the problems are as much rioting, looting and people being scared as they are nazi battlemechs or godlike super-villains.

Fear itself has even got me picking up some extra Limited series.  First, Youth in Revolt.

Youth in Revolt Features Prodigy, plus many of the heroes that appeared in the Initiative, who are re-activated as a volunteer force to try to help.  Sadly a situation in Atlanta develops when Thor Girl accidentally deflects some shots from a policeman with disastrous results.  I liked this on two fronts.  First, its more about stopping looters than fighting big bads, although there is a good moment with Crossbones nearly wiping out Gravity’s team.  It’s also great if you were, like me, keen on teh whole Initiative idea.  As well as featuring Prodigy, Thor Girl, Cloud 9 and Firestar, it is jam packed with guest appearances from Butterball, to some of The Order, and ist a good read.

Second is a bit odd but worth a look, Fearsome Four.  because of the high levels of fear, man thing has been drawn to New York.  Howard the Duck recruits She-Hulk, Nighthawk and Frankensteins monster to try to prevent his friend from killing too many people.  Its quirky, Nighthawk appears to have gone a bit ga-ga since I last saw him, think more along the lines of the “God Damned Batman” but its worth it if nothing else for some serious Quack-Fu from Howard.

So, I’m still not picking up the main book, but the story is worth the disruption its caused to my regular reads.  In fact, at this rate I’ll probably pick up the trade.


The New Heroic Age – As it stands Part 2

Posted in Atlas, Black Widow, Comics, Iron Man, Marvel, Thunderbolts, War Machine with tags , , , , , , on September 26, 2010 by pieman70

In part 1 I dealt with the Avengers titles.  Here’s a look at some non-avengers titles which have me interested.


A new Status quo and a new line-up for Thunderbolts, it’s practically tradition that the T-bolts get re-organised after every big event.  This one is pretty interesting, gone is the covert wetworks squad of Dark Reign and back is the idea of Villains possibly seeking redemption.  The Thunderbolts programme is now run as an official scheme from the Raft.  Luke Cage is leader with ex-thunderbolts Fixer, Mach V and Songbird all acting as handlers to what amounts to a super powered chain gang.  The nanite restrained convicts looking for time off their sentence or merely a chance to see the outside of a prison for 5 minutes are Ex-thunderbolts Moonstone and Ghost plus Juggernaut and Crossbones with Man Thing used as a form of transport.  While issue #1 was mostly set up we get an idea of how things will work by #2 and it is interesting to see who genuinely wants rehabilitation and release and who, like Crossbones still has no chance of release.  As a sub-plot we also have the Rafts director, John Walker aka US Agent, who we last saw loosing a couple of limbs in Siege.  The limbs are still gone which is good continuity if nothing else.  What I like is Walker’s reasoning in not accepting advanced prosthetics from Pym or fixer.  He saw a potential side of himself in Nuke/Scourge, The thunderbolt who removed said limbs, and Walker still fears becoming something like Nuke.  It was unexpected and some good progression on a character who hasn’t seen growth since Force Works.  Thunderbolts has also weathered its first crossover, well I say crossover, events in 2 comics happened in the same place at the same time.  Scared Straight featured the events of an Avengers Academy story from the Thunderbolts PoV.  It is what I would class as a good crossover, in that you didn’t have to be reading both books in order to understand the plot, but hopefully it will encourage some crossover reading.  Overall while I’m not hugely enamoured with the art Thunderbolts has had a strong first arc.


Marvel and I have something in common, we both really like the Agents of Atlas, or at least Marvel’s commitment in the face of poor sales seems to show a certain amount of love from the team formed from the 1950s avengers concept.  Atlas sees 3D man join the agents to uncover a mysterious group who appear to be pursuing him.  Its interesting stuff and good work to cover some of the discrepancies between the 1950s Avengers and the Agents of Atlas.  Marvel seems very keen for Atlas to have its own title regardless.  The backup stories featuring origins of the 1950s Avengers are a nice touch as well and I like the retro art style in these flashbacks.  In the end, its Atlas, it’s worked for me since the Agents of Atlas mini and continues to work.  I am enjoying the progression of 3D man, formerly Triathlon.  I missed the Skrull Kill crew mini, but it’s a nice touch that after killing Crusader, a Skrull who changed sides during Secret invasion, everyone hates 3D man and his life is basically in the toilet.  They’re building up further mythology of his powers making this a very interesting title.  The enemy is also interesting, creatures from the space between dimensions with the power to temporarily take control of hosts, it’s had some interesting side effects meaning Atlas has had to battle its own.

Black Widow

Another title finished its first arc sees Natasha pursued by friend and foe alike after it is revealed she had a recording chip implanted in her body to record secrets of the Avengers.  This took a good few of the elements of Widows retconned WWII past and her general extreme age and ran with it.  The real power to this and most of the good Black Widow stories in my opinion focus on her abilities as a Spy and indeed the chequered history of that career.  For all her foe eventually revealed himself as old Avengers punch bag Imus Champion so essentially it was still her vs. supervillain the use of her past and the feel and pace of the story really made this more of an action/espionage read than standard super hero fare.  Two things stood out as things I particularly liked.  The first was how dangerous Black Widow is.  She bests various spies but also stands toe to toe with Elektra and her defeat of Lady bullseye is classic.  Second is how they focus on how many good friends she has in the MU.  We see Stark, Logan and Bucky all worried for her health at one point and she receives assistance from Wolverine and Cap on several occasions.  My only real problem is that it felt a lot like a mini, but for trade purposes thats no bad thing.  Overall a strong start for the Black Widow Solo.

Iron Man

Reilly 2040 has written a pretty good piece on the new Iron Man title and I don’t feel too much need to expand on it.  I agree, its overall good, but the two main niggles for me are the ignoring of Stark’s past (Never having to rebuild his company from scratch, unless you count the two other times he rebuilt his company from scratch) and the fact that until the end of the most recent issue all we see Iron Man do is open a box.  Still there is a lot to like.  My personal favourite is the feeling of an extended family, with Iron Man, War Machine and Rescue making up the armoured contingent and people like Maria Hill and Bambina Abrograst along with the new staff of Stark Badly Named making pretty good supporting characters.  If we can get a little more Iron man action this will be a very good title indeed.

So, overall impressions on the new Heroic Age.  What I really like is the amount of crossing over characters are doing, not as official crossovers, just as an idea of an extended community of super-heroes who help each other out.  It’s actually how I thought the MU should have been post Civil War.  We see Valkerie turn up in both Thunderbolts and Avengers academy which is the first to come to mind.  There have been references to asking Steve for clarification, so we also know that everyone accepts Steve Rogers as head arbiter.  It gives a feeling that if Iron Man has a problem you get the feeling he could call up 3 squads of avengers plus extra heroes if needed and it really lends itself to a greater “Community” feeling.  Thankfully the MU is still an interesting place.

The New Heroic Age – So Far – Part 1

Posted in Avengers, Avengers Academy, Comics, Heroic Age, Iron Man, Marvel, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, War Machine with tags , , , , , , , on September 20, 2010 by pieman70

Quite a few of these titles have now completed their initial arc, and others are over 4 issues in, so time for a look at how we’re getting on.

First I’ll look at the four Avengers Titles, so much for saving myself money.


Well, good news is we have a title that is just Avengers, not new, mighty secret, dark or minty.  However, so far at any rate, this is my least favourite of the Avengers titles.  To be fair, it has a few handicaps.  First is the art.  People seem to get excited when John Romita Jnr is drawing a book, and I feel like some sort of nutter because I really fail to see why.  I have joked in the past that Romita Jnr and myself have something in common; neither of us can draw Iron Man.  This is unfair of course; at least if we were both to draw shellhead you’d be able to work out who Romita Jnr was drawing.  In general though I wouldn’t count him as one of my favourite artists.  Add to that Bendis writing, which I don’t mind, but its never worked in an all out superhero book and for my money is better used in titles like Alias, or indeed New Avengers.  The plot has some interest to it, the Avengers must travel into the future at the behest of Kang the Conqueror because, something has to be done about their kids.  It also has its faults, yes it’s nice to see Noh-Varr used again after he was re-vamped in Dark Avengers, but overall so far this really isn’t doing it for me.  Hope the plot picks p pace soon.  Also hope we’ll see why Wonder Man is acting up, he’s really out of character at the moment and I think that jars too.  As for the line-up, well at the end of Dark Reign, Steve Rogers basically said anyone who wanted to be and avenger was, but there was going to be a core team, and it’s a slightly odd hybrid between classic and Bendis, so we have Iron Man, Thor, Captain America (Bucky Barnes) and Hawkeye, with Spider-Man, Spider-Woman and Wolverine coming from the Bendis era.  It actually works quite well although I still don’t think Spider-Man and Wolverine work in Avengers.  A nice addition is Maria Hill, former Director of SHIELD as their liaison; in fact the three teams all have a liaison which is a nice touch.

New Avengers

The plot here is a little different.  Luke cage was a little put off that cap was returning things to business as usual, so cap gave him his own Avengers team.  Aside from the main squad he has his pick of members and he gets Avengers mansion to live in.  Funny thing about New Avengers, most of the members have another super-team.  Cage leads the Thunderbolts, Hawkeye, Spider-Man and Wolverine are all Avengers (actually lets not go into how many teams Wolverine is on, he does at least joke about it being his mutant power) and Thing is still on the Fantastic Four.  In fact only Iron Fist, Ms Marvel, Mockingbird and Jewel have no other affiliation.  They also have a Liaison in the form of Victoria Hand, Osborne’s second in command when HAMMER were running things, and probably one of the most interesting characters invented for Dark Reign.  Despite my mockery, it is actually pretty enjoyable; the plot is leading on from Dr Strange loosing his role as Sorcerer supreme and has mystic foes possessing various team members and in the last issue all appears to be linked to the Ancient One.  While Bendis’ writing seems out of place on Avengers it fits well with the team dynamic in New Avengers, hell half his team are usually in as wisecracking jokers in some form.  Immomen’s art is bright  Overall this is really promising which is a great turnaround as New Avengers titles have previously been the most forgettable for me.

Secret Avengers

This one had me a little excited, but then it had the advantage over every other comic bar Iron Man, War Machine was in it.  While the world is more Heroic, Steve Rogers leads a more covert squad to deal with serious problems hopefully before they become serious.  The Team isn’t exactly A-list, featuring Steve Rogers, War Machine, Black Widow, Valerie, Beast, Moon Knight, Nova and Ant Man (Eric O’Grady), plus Steve’s Girlfriend Sharon Carter as Liaison.  Not A-List but then they are meant to be a more covert squad.  So far it’s had a nice mix of espionage, mystery, in the secret society stalking the team apparently lead by nick Fury, and action, then I shouldn’t have doubted this from Ed Brubraker, who is definitely one of Marvel’s top writers.  Mike Deodato does a star turn on art as well giving us both luxury penthouses and Martian dig sites with ease.  I have a possible theory for this team, with Steve’s “Everyone Is an avenger now” idea I wonder if the roster for Secret Avengers might fluctuate a bit, with Steve doing Mission: Impossible style selections for each specific case.  I’d quite like that although the end of the first arc doesn’t really support this.  It did remove my misgivings regarding Nova being on the team as at the end he flies off and cap notes that he won’t be a reliable team member with his cosmic responsibilities.  Still, I know the story needed Nova but does Cap carry so much weight that Nova would say “Sorry trainee corps, but your most powerful member has to go off and do something for cap, good luck with the evil universe breaking into ours and all.”  Still, interesting stuff, and if it is Nick Fury in this secret society, does that link to the “Zodiac” society we’ve had glimpses of in Secret Warriors?  Or is Nick Fury the Wolverine of secret societies.  The story itself was a good setup involving the Serpent crown, secret societies and a huge throwdown on Mars.  A very solid title indeed.

Avengers Academy

I got over my initial disappointment that this wasn’t a knockabout comedy where mismatched wise-cracking recruits try to defeat the evil machinations of an overbearing guy called Harris.  Instead this replaces The Initiative and so for me has some big shoes to fill.  Fortunately it doesn’t disappoint.  We see a new batch of recruits, all near screw ups, most suffered some sort of abuse under HAMMER rule, all have one thing in common, as they find out they were the kids thought most likely to turn to villainy so the Avengers Academy faculty, as well as teaching them mastery of their powers also have to prevent them from turning.  Christos Gauge has a very nice setup, with the character Veil being the voice for #1 and Finesse for #2, and so far seems to continue through the following isses.  Once the twist is revealed near the end of #1, you can see quite clearly how close our young students are to villains.  Nice to see familiar faces in the faculty as well, although it seems to have its share of screw ups.  Wasp (Hank Pym) leads with Justice, Tigra, Quicksilver and Speedball as trainers.  I’m sure many fans are glad to see the back of Speedball’s Penance phase, me included but it is nice to see Speedball isn’t entirely recovered and back to normal yet, so it doesn’t have the stink of a retcon, just progress.  Mike McKone had not been on my radar before, but I do like his work in this.  More importantly, I liked The Initiative because it seemed like Marvel were trying to introduce some new characters and be a little creative, after all in Marvel and DC New Heroes are pretty rare.  What I like about this is that I could believe we may loose a few recruits to villainy, and that would make things very interesting.  This title is half way through its crossover with Thunderbolts called “Scared Straight” while it involves some of the T-Bolts it can be read in isolation (In fact the prison shutdown is handled in less than an issue over in Thunderbolts) but it is interesting to see the members who were directly harmed by osbourne teaming up to go after him.

Iron Man 2

Posted in Iron Man, Marvel, Movies, War Machine with tags , , , on June 16, 2010 by pieman70

Well, I posted a bit showing my excitement for this film, and I have actually seen it, should I perhaps post a review.  I will warn at the moment, I won’t shy away from spoilers.

First, a plot summary, picking up where Iron man left off, Tony Stark has gone public about being Iron Man, and has been using the armour for some time, both in a “Fighting Evil” role and for publicity stunts like we see in the opening.  Only problem is that the Arc Reactor in his chest is slowly killing him and as he sees death coming Stark begins to act more and more recklessly.  A situation not helped by senate hearings demanding Stark hand over Iron man to the military and a new threat in the form of Disgruntled Russian Vanko.

This film has taken a fair amount of criticism, mainly for being more of the same.  For my money I think more of Iron Man is no bad thing, there were some nice echoes to Tony’s remarkably flaky character, and particularly the Demon in a bottle Story as Stark goes off the rails in quite a bad way.  While Vanko is more grunts and gestures as a villain perhaps the real for is Justin Hammer, a rival arms manufacturer who works really well as a potential rival to carry through future films.  It also sets up a bigger supporting cast, we saw Nick Fury at the end of Iron man and we’re also introduced to The Black Widow as well as more screen time for Faverau himself as Happy Hogan and Don Cheadle taking the role of Jim Rhodes/War Machine and making it his own.

On the Cheadle/Howard front.  I had no objections to Cheadle, and actually think he captured the comic’s version of Jim Rhodes and particularly War Machine that may not have suited Howard’s depiction in the first film.

Criticisms, well, introducing such a big cast means some people get less screen time, Vanko isn’t particularly fleshed out as the main Villain, and we don’t see that much of Black Widow.  If you’re wanting a non-stop action fest then you’ll probably be disappointed too as there is still more Tony than Iron Man.

Thing is, to me Iron Man has always been more about Tony than Iron Man.  He’s often compared to Batman (Both rich orphans who dress up and fight crime) however, while with Batman there is a real ambiguity over whether Bruce Wayne dresses up as batman, or batman dresses up as Bruce Wayne, there was never such ambiguity with Iron Man.  People criticise Tony’s wisecracking and the films humour, but this is part of his character.  Indeed while I’m never sure about Tony/pepper pairings the chemistry between the characters and the witty rapport would be sorely missed if it was excised from the film, more so if it was excised for brooding.

I suppose you’ll like or dislike this film based on how much you like the central premise of Iron Man.  I’ve heard people complain that it lacked Darkness or grit, yes it does, and to add that to Iron man would make it more generic and less unique.  If you accept that this is a film about a guy who, to an extent masks his insecurities with a bombastic public persona, and a big metal suit you’ll definitely have more fun.

For Fans, the film has some really good references.  Obviously we all love the Avengers stuff and the Thor cameo post credits, but there were other gems.  During the race scene one car is sponsored by Roxxon, a fictional Marvel company, Cap’s Shield makes an appearance again and my personal favourite is the War Machine suit being called the Variable Threat Response suit, a nod to the comic’s designation.  In fact, a nice touch is the lack of people calling themselves names.  Rhodes never calls himself War Machine (Although Tony calls him this once) and similarly Vanko doesn’t turn up saying “Cower Iron Man, now you face the might of Whiplash” its good, fans and toy manufacturers know who these people are, but to add their names to dialogue would seem clunky.  Not that it may not happen in the future, particularly if Titanium Man or Crimson Dynamo makes an appearance. (You could argue that Crimson Dynamo already has although he wasn’t crimson)

So, I really enjoyed this, and it has 100% more War Machine tan any other film released in 2010, in fact than any film released to date, so that must count in its favour.

Ms. Marvel

Posted in Comics, Marvel, Ms. Marvel with tags , , on March 26, 2010 by pieman70

Well, the last issue shipped a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d go in for a bit of an overview of the noble project that was Ms Marvel.

While Ms Marvel has been a fairly long established character, even through her identities as Binary and Warbird, this has been her first solo series in quite some time.  It span out of the “House of M” event where, in the universe created by the insane Scarlet witch, Carol Danvers had been Captain Marvel and considered one of the best Super Heroes.  Remembering this other life she strives to be the best, this was pretty much a metaphor for the whole series, where the writers wanted to try and set Ms Marvel up as Marvel’s Wonder Woman.  Just as getting up from the B&C lists was difficult for Ms marvel so did selling a female fronted book prove difficult to Marvel.

Its actually been said that any female fronted book is a hard sell, I kind of hoped we’d be past that now but apparently not.  Even Stalwart titles from DC such as Wonder Woman and Birds of Prey struggle at times despite what is often critical acclaim and Ms Marvel too was loved by critics but seemingly not loved by the comic buying public.
Still, over the years we got some very good stuff, yes the hero with low self esteem is now an old concept but the real power in Ms Marvel was that actually, as a hero Ms Marvel was really good at her job, but still pretty unsure of herself regardless.  There were many nice touches, her Mentor relationship with Arana, for example really worked for me, and indeed her Civil War issues were some of the few that presented the pro-reg side in a positive light (Which writers on the main mostly failed to do).

One of the standout stories for me was the Secret Invasion tie-in, which largely involved Ms Marvel fighting Skrulls, a lot.  It was mainly about her grit and determination to survive (Again, analogous with the comic) but also full of action and some pathos.

Finally we have Dark Reign where for a few issues we have Moonstone in as Ms Marvel, closely followed by war of the marvels, both top reads.

End of the day sadly the will to continue failed and so Ms Marvel joins She-Hulk on the pile of good comics, no support.  However for people who like Female fronted comics Marvel appear to be doing more anthologies, one shots and Limited series.  I’ll be interested to see how that develops

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.

Black Widow: Deadly Origin/And the Marvel Girls

Posted in Black Widow, Comics, Marvel with tags , , on March 9, 2010 by pieman70

Marvel recently hit us with not one but two Black widow minis, initially I thought this foolhardy, surely they should save this stuff for the release of Iron man 2 which will feature Black Widow, however I now think I know the reasoning.  There will probably be more black widow minis in the pipeline (or in fact a ongoing i believe) so it will be handy to have a couple of 4 part stories in Trade form for IM2’s release.

Anyway, the two stories were pretty different, and arguably varied in quality.  I’ll start with the better one first.

Black Widow: Deadly Origin

Paul Cornell writes this adventure where Natalia investigates the death of her old mentor and combats the mysterious Icepick protocols which seem to be killing off all the men in her life.

This met with mixed reviews but i really  liked it.  For the most part its primary job was to clean up Black Widow’s sometimes contradictory continuity.  They do this with a rather nice retcon, first Natalia has taken a similar serum to the Infinity formulae that has allowed SHIELD agents Nick Fury and Dum-Dum Duggan to live on long past their WWII origins without looking like men in their 80s.  This has also set her past right back into WWII and expands upon her initial meetings with the Winter Soldier.  Due to her long life, plus many deep cover missions and brainwashing she is now as confused about her pasta s the average reader of her entry in the official handbook of the marvel universe.  The comic itself tells of Black Widow’s past using flashbacks and the neat technique of using different artists for the flashbacks to differentiate them form the main story.  Overall I thought it was pretty good, entertaining and useful for setting up her character for a more involved future in the MU.  Cornell writes her as a super-agent, using stealth and skill to best opponents in a far superior power class.  A nice touch was also building on her reputation, when facing an Imperial Dynamo (Probably a match for Iron Man) the dynamo already knows he is beaten before the fight starts and tells widow how honoured he is to be beaten by the legendary black widow.  Similarly Cornell writes her with a sense of humour, always good as other authors occasionally play up the “Hard Bitten agent” grimness too much.

Yes it was a cleaning up excercise, but a very readable one.

Second we have Black Widow and the Marvel girls, this was a series of standalone stories where Black Widow teams up with another woman of the Marvel Universe.  I could see the idea, accessible adventures which allow you to see widow’s place within the MU.  My problem was that the accessibility made it pretty insubstantial stuff, not always a bad thing but it just lead to forgettable stories in my opinion.  Its lack of continuity focus was also a niggling point to me, but presumably not so much an issue to the new readers it seems to be aimed at.  That may be its point, basically a sales pitch to new readers, Hey you liked black widow in Iron Man 2?  How about these other females, any of them interest you?  In the end that didn’t do to much for me.

Overall I think Deadly Origin is the better of the two, and what I’d recommend to anyone who had been interested from teh movie, as it gives background on her comic counterpart, effectively its a pilot for the ongoing, and in teh end getting someone on an ongoing is a worthy goal.