Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of Ultron

marvelWriter: Brian Michael Bendis

Artists: Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco

Issues: Age of Ultron #1-10, Avengers #12.1

Age of Ultron has a fun premise (that’s absolutely nothing to do with the 2015 film): let’s do Age of Apocalypse, but with Ultron! Instead of X-Men we’ll focus on Avengers in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by a supervillain.

Unfortunately Age of Ultron loses its footing almost immediately, with a main plot that focuses more on time-travel bullshit and alternate realities. Ultron himself doesn’t even show up until the last issue, and it’s practically an afterthought. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of Ultron”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Wolverine and The X-Men (2011), 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!

marvelWriter: Jason Aaron

Artist: Chris Bachalo, Nick Bradshaw

Issues: Wolverine and the X-Men (2011), #1-8

Hey, it’s been awhile! Rest assured that despite my recent gap in Marvel Comics Final Thoughts, I’m still reading them. Much of my comic reading time is taken up by my massive read-through of all The Walking Dead comics. But I do sneak some Marvel in.

Currently I’ve been blazing through the timeline circa 2011-12, catching everything up to the big 2012 event, Avengers Vs. X-Men. Most of the stuff hasn’t really been worth writing about. But then we’ve got Wolverine and the X-Men.

Following the divisive events laid out in X-Men: Schism, Wolverine left Utopia to return to the East Coast and re-open Professor X’s School for Gifted Mutants. He takes a number of mutants with him, including Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Rachel Grey, and Beast (who’d basically quit the X-Men after he found out about X-Force). Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Wolverine and The X-Men (2011), Vol. 1-2”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Schism

Enter X-Men: Schism, the much touted Cyclops vs Wolverine fight that splits up the extended X-Men family.

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!

marvelWriters: Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen

Artists: Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuña, Alan Davis, Adam Kubert, Billy Tan

Issues: X-Men: Prelude to Schism #1-4, X-Men: Schism #1-5, X-Men: Regenesis

 

The X-Men have been united for quite awhile following the big events of X-Men: Messiah Complex and Second Coming. Cyclops had successfully united the 200 or so remaining mutants, providing a (relatively) safe mutant haven in an island off the coast of San Francisco. An island that used to be Magneto’s Asteroid M, who now serves as an old war general and confidant. The times they are a-changin’.

So in 2011 Marvel decided they needed to break up the X-Men.

I can definitely see the reasoning. There’s always been a ton of mutants, and teams are usually split up based on where they are and what they’re doing. But with everyone in Utopia it gets super weird having multiple X-Men comics with different teams, for no real reason other than sales.

Enter X-Men: Schism, the much touted Cyclops vs Wolverine fight that splits up the extended X-Men family. The idea is neat, the dialogue suitable, and the actual fight between our veterans pretty darn violent and satisfying. But the overarching plot and kid-villains are incredibly dumb and frustrating, draining much of Schism’s power. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Men: Schism”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 1

Uncanny X-Force proves every bit the powerhouse comic with a small cast of well-written characters, a stable of solid artists, and an awesome villain that comes from within.

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-ForceWriter: Rick Remender

Artists: Leonardo Manco, Jerome Opeña, Rafael Albuquerque, Esad Ribic, Billy Tan, Mark Brooks, Robbi Rodriguez

Issues: Uncanny X-Force (1-19), Excerpt from Wolverine: Road to Hell

 

I’d heard really great things about Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force (2010-2012). I’d also really enjoyed Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s previous incarnation of X-Force as an incredibly violent mutant black ops team. Even with my lofty expectations Uncanny X-Force proved every bit the powerhouse comic with a small cast of well-written characters, a stable of solid artists, and an awesome villain that comes from within.

The new X-Force team came together as the old one disbanded following its reveal to the rest of the X-Men during the “Second Coming” event. Unlike the previous iteration, this team is much less linked with ongoing mutant drama, making it much easier to pick up and read.

Wolverine returns as team leader, wanting to continue X-Force’s mission: take out bad guys before they become a problem for the X-Men. Their existence is a secret that’s not at all sanctioned by Cyclops. And like the old team, they have no compunction about killing their targets – but what if that target is a child, or one of their own? Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 1”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Wolverine Goes to Hell

Logan’s soul is tortured in Hell while his Earthly body rampages with a host-demon in this killer start to his 2010 solo series.

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: Jason Aaron

Artists: Renato Guedes

Issues: Wolverine (2010) #1-5, Wolverine: Road to Hell*

*Also included sort-of tie-ins Daken: Dark Wolverine #1-3 and X-23 #1-3

As a kid of the 80s/90s I love Wolverine. But at this point in 2010, Wolverine had reached peak saturation. He was in multiple X-Men series, multiple Avengers teams, a part of X-Force, then Uncanny X-Force, and still had his own solo book. He also cropped up in other series like Deadpool.

As I said, I like Wolverine, but it was all a bit much. I didn’t have much motivation to read his new solo series when I was getting plenty of him elsewhere. But I kept hearing good things about the story, so I gave it a shot. And holy crap, it’s pretty damn good.

“Wolverine Goes to Hell” is a pretty simple premise. A bunch of normal people who had been wronged by Wolverine’s many, many terrible deeds in the past get together. They get their hands on some occult stuff, trick him into a van (uh, yeah) and then rip his soul from his body. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Wolverine Goes to Hell”

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 – X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 2 (X-Necrosha)

The dead return in the somewhat disappointing X-Necrosha event, though the rest of the Volume is solid.

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-Force complete collectiong vol 2Writers: Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost

Artists: Clayton Crain, Mike Choi, Sonia Oback, Gabriele Dell’Otto

Issues: X-Force (2008) #17-25, X-Necrosha, X-Necrosha: The Gathering, X-Force: Sex & Violence #1-3*

*I also included X-Necrosha tie-ins New Mutants #6-8 and X-Men: Legacy #231-234

 

Remember when I was just discussing Uncanny X-Men and bemoaning the emphasis on big crossover events? Well pretty much right after the events of Utopia we swing right into X-Necrosha, an X-Force event involving the vampire Selene and an army of resurrected mutants.

Thankfully the story-telling is much more structured, taking place entirely within X-Force while X-Men: Legacy and New Mutants take over some tangentially related story arcs with different teams. X-Necrosha is an interesting idea but ultimately the weakest arc out of an otherwise continued great run of X-Force. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 2 (X-Necrosha)”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Force/Cable: Messiah War

The time traveling crossover between Cable, Bishop, and X-Force leads to an ultimately pointless battle against a lame villain.

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!

marvelWriters: Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Duane Swierczynski

Artists: Ariel Olivetti, Clayton Crain, Mike Choi, Larry Stroman

Issues: Cable (2008) #13-15, X-Force (2008) #14-16, X-Force/Cable: Messiah War One-Shot, X-Men: The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop #1-3

 

“My Name is Lucas Bishop. I am a child of the atom, raised in a future that no longer exists. I was born for this…”

I was a big fan of Messsiah Complex – the big X-Men event title of 2008 that involved no less than four X-Men series. Centered around the first mutant birth since House of M, Messiah Complex launched several new series, including a new, hyper-violent X-Force and the time-traveling, on-the-run survival story in Cable.

It’s fitting that these two series come together in their own crossover. Messiah War acts as a smaller, more focused sequel, but it ultimately comes across as a pointless Saturday Morning Cartoon in which nothing really changes at the end. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – X-Force/Cable: Messiah War”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – New Avengers (2005), Vol. 10-12

Brian Michael Bendis is in top form with the flagship Avengers series as they battle the Dark Avengers.

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 vol 10Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artists: Billy Tan, Chris Bachalo, Stuart Immonen

Issues: New Avengers (2005) #48-60

 

The New Avengers (2005-2010) was really Brian Michael Bendis’ baby. Bendis has been the primary architect of Marvel’s overarching universe and event-ridden stories throughout the era I’m reading and well beyond. For that reason New Avengers could be considered the flagship Marvel series, involving one of the better team matchups and solid writing. These final three volumes before the big Siege event of 2010 represent one of the better Dark Reign stories – as it should since Bendis also penned Dark Avengers.

Volume 10, “Power” (#48-50) represents the short epilogue and transition out of Secret Invasion. It picks up immediately after the final battle and focuses on the dangling plot thread of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ baby daughter being taken by the skrull-Jarvis. There’s a brief man hunt that’s displayed as a fun montage. Finally Luke Cage goes to the one man with all the power to find someone – Norman Osborn, currently reigning top cop of HAMMER.

Osborn quickly tracks down the skrull hideout, Luke gets the baby, and Bullseye murders the skrull with a sniper rifle. Instead of agreeing to join up with Osborn’s Dark Avengers team, Luke Cage beats the shit out of Venom and Bullseye, then escapes. It’s a surprising and badass moment, and Bendis would continue to do a lot of cool things that really shows off Luke Cage’s character and personality.

Billy Tan does the art throughout Volumes 10-11, but Marvel uses a few other artists to fill out special scenes like backstories. I love Tan’s use of bold colors and giant, page-filling characters. The action looks great and the comic probably has more giant double-page spreads than anything else I’ve read. And they’re not all action! Bendis loves to use extended dialogue scenes with lots of panels on a full two-page spread, and it works really well thanks to the snappy, witty dialogue. Bendis excels at these team-up books with multiple characters playing off each other, and I found myself laughing out loud almost as much as a Deadpool comic. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – New Avengers (2005), Vol. 10-12”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Wolverine: Old Man Logan

Fifty Years into the future a grizzled Wolverine is one of the last surviving heroes in a dystopian world ruled by villains.

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!

marvelWriter: Mark Millar

Artist: Steve McNiven

Issues: Wolverine (2003) #66-72, Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size

 

“What If” stories have been a mainstay in Marvel comics for decades. Sometimes they’re as simple as a single panel stories or one-shot issues. Occasionally they may be used for entire mini-series – with the best example being the first big event that kicked off the modern Marvel age of events, House of M.

Toward the end of its six year run, Wolverine‘s 2003-09 solo series was randomly converted into a grand post-apocalyptic road trip adventure starring an older, grizzled Logan. Most of the world’s super heroes have been killed and villains have carved up the USA. Amazing art from Civil War‘s Steve McNiven remains the gorgeous (and extremely bloody and violent) focus, though the story loses itself somewhat in trying to create this fascinatingly bleak future world.

A big problem with consuming media years after the fact lies in hype, popularity, and expectations. I’d heard really great things about “Old Man Logan,” and the post-apocalyptic concept is way up my alley. I love me some Wolverine and putting him in a Mad Max style world of anarchy seems like a perfect fit. There was never a question of if I would read Wolverine: Old Man Logan, only when. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Wolverine: Old Man Logan”