I started another blog about a month ago, mostly because of my new found interest in comics. On it, I review comics from the perspective of a new fan for other new fans or people who are interested but have never tried them out. In every review, I try to explain the basic facts you'll need to know before jumping into the series. Every week I also check out a new title I've never read before without any previous research and judge it on both quality and how easy it is for a new reader to jump on. If you have any interest in comics, check it out. I will still update this blog whenever I have the time, and I have stuff in the works, but for now I'll be working on that one more. Also whenever I review a comic related movie, I'll be posting it on both blogs. Below are two sample reviews from my new blog.
Wolverine and the X-Men 1:
I was worried the second they announced this new X-Men flagship series. Wolverine is one of Marvel’s most overexposed characters; he’s currently appearing in dozens of comics every month and has two solo titles. One of them, “Wolverine: The Best There Is”, is utter trash and I couldn’t make it past issue 2. Then I read Schism, and despite its minor problems it was very good. Jason Aaron, current writer of Wolverine’s solo series and writer of the Schism event, is writing Wolverine and the X-Men. He’s quite possibly the best writer Wolverine has had in a very long time. So how is Wolverine and the X-Men 1?
This is the funniest comic I’ve read in a long time. This issue takes place on opening day for the mutant school Wolverine just built, called the Jean Grey Institute. First days always go well for a fictional school filled with superpowered teenagers, especially when educational inspectors are touring the building. Why wouldn’t these inspectors enjoy having coffee pots thrown through their faces or see classrooms of people just standing there seemingly doing nothing. I’ve read this comic three times and I’m still catching more cameos and jokes. Picking Kitty Pryde as the headmistress is brilliant as she spent more time as a student at the Xavior Institute than anyone else in the X-Men’s history. There’s so much brilliance packed in here that anyone remotely interested in the X-Men should check this issue out.
My only complaint is the art. Sometimes it’s a little hard to tell what’s going on, and it just feels weird. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out which characters you’re seeing in the background, and more often than not eyes are depicted as single lines or is coloured too close to the character’s skin. The style isn’t bad and it works for the comic’s comedic mood; it just feels lazy in certain panels.
While this isn’t a complaint, I still have concern over this series. I’m hoping that it won’t be too focused on Wolverine and that we’ll have plenty of quality time with the younger X-Men as they haven’t appeared regularly in any series since 2008. We already have Wolverine’s solo series, his X-Force team, two Avengers teams that he’s on, and his regular cameos throughout other books. I know he’s in the title, but I hope that he won’t be the star of every issue and that we’ll see plenty of Pryde, Beast, the rest of the staff and all the students.
If you haven’t read this issue yet, what are you waiting for?
Fear Itself 7:
I would call this one a disappointment, except that I had low expectations to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to like this, but it’s just so hard to. Too much happens in this issue, even for a double-sized book, and yet I didn’t care about anything. No panel time was given to have any sort of emotional moment anywhere in this issue. Instead it’s just a bunch of fighting crammed into the first half followed by a bunch of half-hearted fallout scenes. The fighting moves too fast to even make any sense, and the big hyped up battle between Thor and Serpent barely gets any panel time at all. Fear Itself 7 is a disappointing end to an event that should have been much better than it was.
Fear Itself was plagued with problems from the start. The first two issues were both an introduction to the event, something that could have easily been narrowed down into one issue, and the next two (3 and 4) were nothing but build up. Four issues into this seven issue series, it felt as if the main event book was only there to tease us for the excessive tie-ins. Issue five was actually pretty good, finally giving us some pay off as Thor fought two of the worthy and almost died in the fight. Issue six sunk right back down into boredom as nothing actually happened. Yeah, six issues in and the story was still just build-up. Half of issue seven could have easily been put into issue six, allowing more space for issue seven to have more cohesive fighting scenes and to actually take the time to make us care the fallen heroes.
Fear Itself was the major Marvel event for the summer. It’s about some ancient enemy of Asgard dropping eight hammers to earth to be used by “the worthy.” When the worthy picked up their hammers, they became far more powerful than they were before, but their minds are taken over and they start attacking earth. The worthy are: The Hulk, The Thing (from Fantastic Four,) Titania (the second strongest female in the Marvel Universe – and a villain,) Sin (red skull’s daughter,) The Juggernaut (x-men villain,) Attuma (an Atlantean villain,) Grey Gargoyle (a somewhat obscure villain) and the Absorbing Man (a villain who mimics the properties of anything he touches.) The leader of the worthy is Serpent, the god of fear and Odin’s brother. In concept, this sounds awesome. The entire Marvel Earth is in danger, and Asgard is ready to destroy the planet to prevent Serpent from attacking them next. The heroes of earth cannot even slow down the worthy, not to mention the vast armies supporting them. Issue seven introduces the mighty, a bunch of heroes given weapons blessed by Odin to give them similar powers to the worthy. The members of the Mighty are as predictable as possible: Wolverine, Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Red She-Hulk, Miss Marvel, Hawkeye and Iron Fist. Not only should there have been more surprises in The Mighty, but they should have been introduced sooner than the final issue.
The problem is that the main event spent so much time building itself up and referencing some of the tie-ins that it’s not self-contained, not interesting and it’s almost impossible to care. In the event *spoilers* Bucky dies, Thor supposedly dies and that’s all that really changed in the Marvel Universe so far. Is it really necessary to kill Thor seven years after his previous death? He only recently returned to the comics and he just had a very successful movie this past summer. Both Bucky and Thor had funerals in Fear Itself 7, but nothing was said about either characters or how anyone felt about their passing. It’s a complete waste of a character and panel time. *End spoilers.
Another major problem I have with this event is the excessive tie-ins. There are 16 limited tie-in series for this event. That’s simply way too much to keep track of. Another 17 ongoing titles tied into the event, which means to read the entire event you’d have to read over 120 issues total. Is that really what’s become of Marvel lately? Has it really just turned into a series of event after event? I only read four of the tie-ins, and two of them were terrible. That’s why I like titles like X-23 and Uncanny X-Force, they’re self-contained and they ignore all the major events. Marvel needs more of that if they want to gain more readers; because 33 tie-ins is way too intimidating to new comic fans, not to mention the 12-part aftermath series called Fear Itself: The Fearless. Marvel also has eight X-Men team books to intimidate new readers and as good as they may be – THEY NEED TO CUT DOWN!
It’s not all bad though. The artwork in this issue is brilliant, and the Incredible Hulk preview in the epilogue actually makes me interested in the upcoming series by Jason Aaron. It’s just that $4.99 is simply not worth paying for a confusing fight scene with very little payoff. Skip this pointless event, there is nothing special here.
Matt Fraction wrote the event shortly after he left his lackluster run on Uncanny X-Men. He creates good plots and is perfectly competent on major solo titles, but he really shouldn’t be writing team books and events – he simply cannot handle a large cast.