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”

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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”

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”