Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Fear Itself

What if other Thor-like hammers fell into the wrong hands? Fear Itself provides over-the-top action amidst some impressive tie-ins.

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!

marvel comicsWriters: Matt Fraction (Tie-ins: Kieron Gillen, Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Spencer, Christos Gage)

Artists: Stuart Immone (Tie-ins: Greg Land, Chris Bachalo, Cullen Bunn, Sean Chen, Tom Raney, Andrea DiVito)

Issues: Fear Itself #1-7.3, Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull, Journey Into Mystery #622-630, Avengers (2010) #13-17, New Avengers (2010) #14-16, Secret Avengers (2010) #13-15, Avengers Academy #15-20, New Mutants (2009) #29-32, Uncanny X-Men #540-543

 

Another year, another massive Marvel event. It’s around this time through my grand catch-up of the last decade of Marvel comics that I begin to feel the fatigue of large-scale back-to-back…to-back events.

I largely enjoyed the Bendis-led run that evolved from “House of M” into “Civil War,” through the “Secret Invasion” and subsequent “Dark Reign,” and culminating in “Siege.” In total that era encompasses a solid five years of comics.

But large events had become the new big business. We had barely a year go by before the literal hammer dropped, or in this case, multiple hammers in “Fear Itself.”

If the new post-Siege Heroic Age of 2010-11 was meant to be a throwback to the Silver Age of Good vs Evil comics, then “Fear Itself” was the appropriate event. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Fear Itself”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of Apocalypse

With its sheer volume of content and fantastic world-building Age of Apocalypse remains one of the best X-Men stories ever told.

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!

age of apocalypseWriters: Scott Lobdell, John Francis Moore, Fabian Nicieza, Jeph Loeb, Warren Ellis

Artists: Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert, Ian Churchill, Steve Epting, Terry Dodson, Carlos Pacheco

Issues: X-Men: Alpha, Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen, Generation Next #1-4, Astonishing X-Men (Vol. 1) #1-4, X-Calibre #1-4, Gambit and the X-Ternals #1–4, Weapon X (Vol. 1) #1–4, Amazing X-Men #1–4, Factor X #1–4, X-Man #1-4, X-Universe #1-2, X-Men: Omega

 

Let me begin by apologizing for the recent dearth of my Comics Final Thoughts series. It’s one of the most popular things I do on this blog, but between moving to a new house and churning out news stories for E3, I’ve been incredibly busy.

But the other reason is because I was tackling a gigantic project – rereading the massive 1995 X-Men event, “Age of Apocalypse!” I was hoping to get it done in time for the X-Men: Apocalypse film, but hey – better late than never.

“Age of Apocalypse” was the insane X-Men event take-over that occurred in the mid 90s. It was also pretty much the only good Marvel comic to come out of the 90s.

“Age of Apocalypse” was incredibly extensive, with dozens of comics, limited series, and an awesome alternate universe playground. We got to see familiar heroes and villains in all-new roles, and a few new characters rose to the occasion to eventually escape the dark reality and enter the regular rotation. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of Apocalypse”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of X

Starts out as yet another dystopian mutant world, but quickly evolves into an excellent mystery thriller about the truth of this world.

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!

marvel comicWriters: Mike Carey

Artists: Clay Mann, Mirco Pierfederici, Steve Kurth

Issues: Age of X Alpha, X-Men Legacy #245-247, New Mutants (2009) #22-24, Age of X Universe #1-2

 

The mini X-Men event called “Age of X” has all the markings of yet another dystopian future-verse or alternate reality. This is a well-traveled road by our favorite mutants, whether in the massive 90s event “Age of Apocalypse” (which I’m currently re-rereading – final thoughts coming soon!) or “House of M.”

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s actually much more than that. “Age of X” focuses on a world that’s just not quite right as Magneto leads the last stronghold of mutant-kind against an overwhelming human coalition out to destroy them. I wish this weird world’s mystery had been a bit more expanded, but given the relatively quick pace the action and story lead to a satisfying and unique conclusion. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of X”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – The Thanos Imperative

The Thanos Imperative is a culmination of events spinning out of War of Kings and Guardians of the Galaxy.

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!

The Thanos ImperativeWriters: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning

Artists: Miguel Sepulveda, Brad Walker

Issues: The Thanos Imperative (#1-6), The Thanos Imperative: Devastation, The Thanos Imperative: Ignition

 

The creative writing team of Abnett and Lanning enjoyed a string of major successes in the 2000s. They reshaped the entire Marvel Cosmic setting through awesome events like Annihilation, Annihilation Conquest, and War of Kings. They created the dysfunctional and fun Guardians of the Galaxy. They made Nova a central hero in all things cosmic.

And they made it all come together in The Thanos Imperative.

Like previous cosmic events and series, to understand The Thanos Imperative requires a lot of set up. The plot spins right out of War of Kings, which heavily involved every major cosmic faction: the Kree lead by the Inhumans, the Shi’ar, Nova, Blastaar, the Guardians of the Galaxy – hell even Silver Surfer and Galactus have to show up. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – The Thanos Imperative”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Avengers Academy, Vol. 1-2

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 Academy Vol 1Writer: Christos Gage

Artists: Mike McKone, Sean Chen, Tom Raney

Issues: Avengers Academy (2010) #1-13

 

A Young Adult series starring the next generation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has been done before, as recently as Avengers: The Initiative. While the Initiative series was mired in large events like World War Hulk and Secret Invasion, Avengers Academy is given ample time to breathe and grow during Marvel’s post-Siege Heroic Age. The result is one of the best YA, coming of age stories in Marvel comics.

Avengers Academy stars half a dozen wide-eyed, super-powered teenagers, all of whom naturally developed gifts and were starting to get molded by Norman Osborn during his Dark Reign. When Osborn went down, these kids were identified as high risk, and the most likely to someday become super villains – a fun plot twist the kids themselves find out in the first issue.

Thus Hank Pym starts the Avengers Academy. It’s obviously analogous to the X-Men’s own School for Gifted Youngsters – particularly the excellent New X-Men comic that ran from 2004 to 2008. The X-Men’s school has been shut down since the 2008 event Messiah Complex, however. I’m glad to see Avengers Academy pick up the “young kids with powers” story, and do so incredibly well with it. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Avengers Academy, Vol. 1-2”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Secret Warriors: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2

The titular team takes a back seat as we dive deeper into Nick Fury’s complicated past and convoluted present.

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 Warriors vol 2Writers: Jonathan Hickman

Artists: Alessandro Vitti, Mirko Colak

Issues: Secret Warriors (2008) #17-28, Siege: Secret Warriors

 

Secret Warriors had a really fun start as one of the best new comics to come out of Marvel’s Dark Reign period. Nick Fury’s clandestine team of second generation sleeper agent superheroes battling Hydra forces felt very GI Joe-ish in all the right ways.

The second half of the series is nicely compiled into another collected volume. Unfortunately it almost completely drops the titular team in favor of focusing on Nick Fury.

Jonathan Hickman dives head first into Fury’s convoluted past and present. It’s filled with silly twists, gotchas, and “oh he was a just a Life Model Decoy” – all gimmicks that I’ve grown to resent. I much prefer reading about the team’s inner-drama and action set-pieces rather than the Nick Fury Files, but apparently Hickman and Marvel saw otherwise. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Secret Warriors: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2”

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”