Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Curse of the Mutants

The X-Men are attacked by a united vampire army, and one of their own is permanently transformed. Guest-starring Blade!

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

X-Men Curse of the MutantsWriter: Victor Gischler

Artist: Paco Medina

Issues: X-Men (2010) #1-6*

*Also included the following tie-ins: Death of Dracula One-Shot, X-Men Curse of the Mutants: Storm & Gambit One-Shot, X-Men Curse of the Mutants: Smoke & Blood One-Shot, X-Men Vs. Vampires #1-2, Namor: The First Mutant #1-4, Wolverine & Jubilee #1-4

 

The Heroic Age of 2010 gave us lots of clearly defined good vs evil storylines. What could be more evil than a conquering army of vampires? In “Curse of the Mutants,” yet another new X-Men series brought us a vampire story straight out of Underworld or Blade. By embracing its campy tone the story remains fun and action-packed, though the finale feels a bit too rushed and easy.

The problem with X-Men is that there’s always way too many X-Men comics. And most of them star the same damn popular team members. At the time this new 2010 X-Men volume began, we already had Uncanny X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, X-Men Legacy, New Mutants, X-Factor, and shortly – Uncanny X-Force and Generation Hope.

Now granted some of those are great off-shoots with unique teams (I can’t say enough good things about X-Factor). But we definitely didn’t need yet another book starring Cyclops and gang dealing with problems at Utopia. And yet, having the son of Dracula rise up, unite the vampire clans and set his sights on mutants as kindred spirits in need of a good ol’ fashioned subjugating makes for a damn fun little event. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Curse of the Mutants”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Secret Avengers (2010), Vol. 1-2

Of the three new post-Dark Reign Avengers series I’ve read, Secret Avengers is far and away the strongest opener.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Secret Avengers 2010 vol 1Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Mike Deodato

Issues: Secret Avengers (2010) #1-12

 

In 2009 Steve Rogers returned from the minor setback of death. To be fair he was dead quite awhile in comic-time (several years). It caused quite an upheaval for the Avengers, and lead to some of Ed Brubaker’s best work on the continuing Captain America series at the time starring Bucky Barnes (ex-Winter Soldier) as the new Cap.

So when Steve Rogers returns, he actually doesn’t want the shield back. The world is a far darker place, and he doesn’t want the political climate of fear to lead to another Civil War between superheroes. And Bucky’s done a pretty decent job as a new gun-toting Cap.

Instead, Steve starts his own Secret Avengers team where he takes on more of a Nick Fury role. It’s similar to when Cyclops created X-Force, only way less bloody. This is a team that sneaks in and gets shit done before it hits the fan.

It’s also a pretty wacky group that works surprisingly well: Steve and Agent 13 (Sharon Carter), Black Widow, Moon Knight, Ant-Man (the sassy Eric O’Grady version), Valkyrie, Beast, War Machine, and sort-of Nova. I say sort-of because he needs rescuing in the very first story, and afterward goes off to do more Cosmic-level stuff. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Secret Avengers (2010), Vol. 1-2”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection, Vol. 3

The aftermath of Second Coming leads to several new mutant additions, while the X-Men suffer from a mutant-targeting virus outbreak in Utopia.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Uncanny X-Men complete collection vol 3Writer: Matt Fraction

Artist: Greg Land

Issues: Uncanny X-Men (1963) #520-522, 526-534

 

The third and final collected book of Matt Fraction’s three year run on Uncanny X-Men is awkwardly sandwiched before and after X-Men: Second Coming. Issues #520-522 even carry the “Nation X” subheading, referring to a series of events that happens to the X-Men while living in Utopia. The rest take place after Second Coming, with the first story arc dealing with the direct aftermath of Hope Summers and the rise of several new mutants.

Why Marvel broke it up like that I have no idea. The Volume itself isn’t bad but it lacks strong cohesion. At this point in the X-Men’s career they appear to be spinning their wheels in between the giant events. Messiah Complex and Second Coming were both incredibly awesome. But the in-between stories barely get a chance to gestate and mostly come off half-baked. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection, Vol. 3”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – New Avengers (2010), Vol. 1-2

A second Avenger series stars Luke Cage, Dr. Strange and others as they tackle invading demons and ex-HAMMER agents.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

New Avengers 2010 Vol 1Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artists: Stuart Immonen, Daniel Acuna, Mike Deodato, Howard Chaykin

Issues: New Avengers (2010) #1-13

 

During the Civil War era the Avengers teams were split up, leading to two ongoing Avengers series. The official team and the unofficial rebels. I guess fans liked having two Avengers series, and Marvel kept them going even when it made a lot less sense. Even when multiple popular characters are on both Avengers teams!

With the main Avengers series starring the heavy hitters of Iron Man, Bucky-Cap, and Thor, the rest of the “Occasional Avengers” decide to move into the old Avengers mansion as an official second team. For some reason.

The team is lead by Luke Cage, whom writer Brian Michael Bendis has done a fantastic job with. The series is grounded by Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ relationship as a superhero couple and new parents. Cage has grown into a wonderfully complex character and a great leader; he’s easily Bendis’ best legacy from his Avengers work (I would say the other is Spider-Woman, but she turned out to be the Skrull Queen sooo….). Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – New Avengers (2010), Vol. 1-2”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Avengers (2010), Vol. 1-2

Bendis continues his run of Avengers with the post-Dark Reign Heroic Age, including time-travelling villains and the Infinity Gems.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Avengers 2010 vol 1Writers: Brian Michael Bendis

Artists: John Romita Jr.

Issues: Avengers (2010) #1-12, 12.1

 

Siege finally brought an end to Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign over the Marvelverse. Between the Civil War, the Secret Invasion and the Dark Reign, Marvel wanted to return to a simpler time of heroes versus villains, and so The Heroic Age was born.

The Heroic Age brought a reunion of many of our original Avengers like Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, a team that hadn’t been together in over five years. Annoyingly, Wolverine also joined the team, despite also joining the concurrent New Avengers series and still being a member of the Uncanny X-Men and the new Uncanny X-Force. Spider-Man is also on both Avengers teams, what the crap.

The newly restarted Avengers series also gave us the old-school stylings of John Romita Jr, which I will readily admit to not liking. The heavy lines and flat faces just look odd, and the action never feels particularly dynamic. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Avengers (2010), Vol. 1-2”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Second Coming

Cable and Hope return to the present in this explosive, awesome climax to the past 2+ years of X-Men titles and stories.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

X-Men Second ComingWriters: Mike Carey, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Matt Fraction, Zeb Wells

Artists: David Finch, Terry Dodson, Ibraim Robertson, Greg land, Mike Choi

Issues: Second Coming: Prepare, X-Men: Second Coming #1-2, Uncanny X-Men #523-525, New Mutants #12-14, X-Men: Legacy #235-237, X-Force #26-28*

*Also read the Second Coming Revelations trade, which includes X-Factor #204-206, X-Men Second Coming Revelations: Blind Science, X-Men: Hellbound #1-3

 

“You’ll feel it, Hope. Like nothing you’ve ever felt before. It’l be like a switched turned on inside you. Like a fire. And once that fire’s lit…everything will change.”

Remember how much I gushed about how awesome the mega crossover X-Men event Messiah Complex was? Well the two-years in the making sequel, Second Coming, makes that look like crap. Which is to say it’s bloody amazing.

X-Men: Second Coming finally brings Hope, the young mutant messiah, back into our timeline. At the end of Messiah Complex Cable took the first mutant baby born since M-Day forward into the future to escape danger (even though just about every future scenario is super dangerous). Bishop, on a quest to prevent his own apocalyptic future, hunts them down through time. What followed was a pretty nice two year arc of Cable as a tough-love dad with Hope growing up knowing only war, danger, and survival.

Meanwhile with Xavier’s school destroyed, the X-Men relocated to San Francisco. Then when shit hit the fan, Cyclops moved everyone to the island of Utopia – arisen from Magneto’s old Asteroid M that had crashed into the ocean (Namor is a useful ally to have around).

Cyclops, who’s grown into a real wartime general that makes even Magneto bend the knee, also restarts X-Force as a mutant black ops group, tasked with trying to kill the bad guys before they can do more harm. It was a very bloody, very violent series with some spiffy art.

And at some point Marvel started up a mostly unnecessary but surprisingly decent New Mutants series. All of this means that X-Men: Second Coming, like all X-Men stuff is densely mired in continuity and current events. This makes it both off-putting for anyone trying to jump in, but rewarding for fans following the X-Men’s dire saga in the last few years. I’m in the latter camp, so I absolutely loved it. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Second Coming”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Fall of the Hulks, World War Hulks

A surprisingly fun, explosive event that brings together old and new gamma-powered heroes in a giant showdown.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

World war HulksWriters: Jeph Loeb (Hulk), Greg Pak (Incredible Hulks)

Artists: Ed McGuiness (Hulk), Paul Pelletier (Incredible Hulks)

Issues: Hulk #19-24, Incredible Hulks #606-611, Fall of the Hulks: Alpha, Full of the Hulks: Gamma, Fall of the Hulks: Red Hulk #1-4, Fall of the Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks #1-3, World War Hulks One-Shot

 

“There’s Too Many Hulks” sounds like a silly parody, but that’s pretty much the exact story concept Marvel ran with in 2010.

Planet Hulk and World War Hulk set the stage for some of the best Hulk-related stories ever. Marvel let Hulk rest on his haunches for a bit, introducing a mysterious new Red Hulk that was seemingly stronger and smarter, and had his own agenda. He would star in his own solo Hulk series beginning in 2008, and started out mostly sub-par.

Meanwhile the mantle of Incredible Hulk passed to Hulk’s son, whom we thought died on Sakaar because he wasn’t even born yet when his mother melted into lava at the end of Planet Hulk. Instead, Skaar inherits the powers of both Hulk and Caiera, allowing him to survive and grow up on the war-torn planet before making his way to Earth.

Neither of these storylines are totally necessary to understanding Fall of the Hulks, which in turn introduces a new Red She-Hulk and Savage She-Hulk, bringing our total number of Gamma-powered heroes to….well too damn many.

And yet, it’s super fun. The story is silly but also classic comic book fare, with an evil cabal, a master plan, and lots of fun twists. But it’s filled with awesome action sequences and some really incredible art, especially the Incredible Hulks series, drawn by Paul Pelletier of Marvel Cosmic fame (Annihilation: Conquest and War of Kings). Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Fall of the Hulks, World War Hulks”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Siege

Our heroes return in an explosive battle for Asgard, which also brings an end to Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

SiegeWriter: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Olivier Coipel

Issues: Siege #1-4, Siege: The Cabal, Siege: Prologue*

*I also read the following tie-ins: Dark Avengers #13-16, New Avengers #61-64 + Finale, Thor #607-609, Siege: Loki One-Shot, Siege: Secret Warriors One-Shot

 

Finally we come to the end of what I’ll call the Bendis Era of Big Marvel Events. It began with 2006’s Civil War (and really you could go back further to House of M or Avengers: Disassembled), continued into 2008’s Secret Invasion, which gave way to 2009’s Dark Reign, and finally ends with 2010’s Siege.

This age of near constant mega-events would continue to define Marvel comics throughout the next decade, and with the recent success of Secret Wars, I don’t see it slowing down any time soon.

As an event, Siege is heavily embedded in Marvel continuity, specifically the cool but not exactly new-reader friendly Dark Reign. Dark Reign put Norman Osborn as leader of the initiative that was initially created by Tony Stark in the post-Civil War world. He built his own Dark Avengers team, a surprisingly awesome comic that further explored the bad guys-as-heroes dynamic that made Thunderbolts so great.

The political events have largely been a heavy-handed reflection of our culture of fear, and the dichotomy between freedom and security. Drawing parallels between 9/11 and America’s War on Terror is pretty low-hanging fruit to grasp, and nowhere is that more painfully obvious than Siege. Norman invades Asgard under manufactured pretenses, and starts an unpopular war that ultimately brings his reign to an end. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Siege”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – War of Kings

The Marvel Cosmic event of 2009, War of Kings, is a grand payoff for several years worth of intergalactic warfare and crossovers.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

war of kingsWriters: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning

Artist: Paul Pelletier

Issues: War of Kings #1-6, Secret Invasion: War of Kings, War of Kings: Who Will Rule?*

*I also read the following tie-ins: X-Men: Kingbreaker, Nova Vol. 5: War of Kings, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: War of Kings Book 2

 

The cosmic side of the Marvel Universe – which is to say, everything other than Earth, had been carefully designed by the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning for several years before War of Kings hit in the Summer of 2009.

Beginning with the catastrophic Annihilation event in 2006, the wider universe had been in a state of flux and terror. Combined with intriguing story seeds spinning out of X-Men: Deadly Genesis and Secret Invasion: Inhumans, War of Kings represents the sweeping payoff for several different factions, series, and events. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, with the same great artwork by Paul Pelletier from previous cosmic events. But fully understanding War of Kings requires several years worth of Marvel comics stories. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – War of Kings”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Thor (2007), Vol. 3 + Latverian Prometheus

Loki teams up with Dr. Doom when the Asgardians move to Latveria, requiring Thor to save the day.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Thor Volume 3Writers: J. Michael Straczynski (Vol. 3), Kieron Gillen (Latverian Prometheus)

Artists: Marko Djurdjevic (Vol. 3), Billy Tan (Latverian Prometheus)

Issues: Thor (2007) #601-606, Giant-Size Finale

 

I’ve realized a common theme in my enjoyment of Marvel comics – if Dr. Doom shows up, everything gets better. Every Marvel writer has a great concept of Dr. Doom as a megalomaniac narcissist, and he makes every damn series or story he’s involved in that much more enjoyable and fun.

Thor is no different. We left off last volume with Balder becoming king of Asgard while Thor has been banished for having to put down his grandfather Bor (whom was monstrously resurrected by Loki, naturally).

Loki brokers a deal with Dr. Doom to allow sanctuary for the restless Asgardians, currently still housed in a floating, remade Asgard in Oklahoma. Things go predictably bad and Thor has to return to save the day, but the action at the end is a lot of fun, and Doom’s unyielding confidence is just the best. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Thor (2007), Vol. 3 + Latverian Prometheus”