Infamous Iron-Man #1 Review

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I am Iron Doom. Yes, it would seem that Marvel is not content with adding just one new Iron-Man to its repertoire and has opted instead to give fans a second in the unlikely form of Victor Von Doom. Could such a bold, left field move possibly be a success?

Doctor Doom first reappeared in the Invincible Iron-Man comics earlier this year and under somewhat ambiguous circumstances. He seemed to be set on a new path of heroism as he aided the then Iron-Man, Tony Stark, in his battles against Madame Masque along with a few others. The answer to the of question of why the former country leading terrorist had seemingly switched sides never became abundantly clear however and it appears that this new series will tackle that conundrum.

From Brian Michael Bendis’ opening to this new series it is clear that the psychology of Doom is set to be put front and centre as the story unfolds. That one simple fact immediately sets this apart as the most interesting Iron title on the market right now, though that is hardly a difficult achievement. In a scene that evokes both great comedy and a haunting sense of foreboding, you get to see The Hood and Doom (Prior to his transformation to good guy) engaging in a little verbal back and forth as Hood inundates Doom with personal questions in a decidedly fanboy-esque manner and the former leader of Latveria becomes increasingly irritated with his stooge. The moment asks two very important questions; what is Doom’s goal and why didn’t he kill The Hood?

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With regards to the first question, that will serve as the underpinning to this entire journey readers are now about to embark upon. It is something that Bendis should be careful not to reveal too quickly lest the series become tired without that sense of intrigue. The second rather informs the first as it shows that this switch in personality for Doom may have been a long time coming, rather than a spur of the moment thing. It is certainly out of character for him to banish someone from his villainous meetings rather than dispose of them more permanently.

With the set up for the series out of the way it is time to look at how this issue performes as a standalone entity. With the brilliantly designed plotline it would be natural to assume that you’d be treated to a strong opening issue but that simply isn’t the case here. Yes, certain aspects do garner some interest as they cause you to question everything you know about Doom and second guess his motives as he begins his transition into the role of the new Iron-Man but, for the most part, the writing feels flat and, at times, hopelessly dull.

The strongest indicator that this was not a rousing read is that the entire middle portion of the book is almost instantly forgettable. You get a fantastic opening segment as discussed above and the ending leaves you somewhat eager to see what is to come next but the bulk of the story follows Doom through a series of tedious encounters that do little to inform on his character beyond what you already knew. He saves Director Hill and visits Stark’s scientist ex-girlfriend, neither of which gives any useful information to readers save for giving them the heads up that The Thing is set to have showdown with Victor in the very near future (say, next issue maybe).

This is all indicative of a larger problem with Bendis’s writing and that is that it always feels as though he is writing with the Trade Paperback in mind so that his work can be read as a collection. True, when the TP is released it will likely read very well but that won’t help keep monthly sales at the level they need to be as reader interest is going to die off if they’re subjected to long periods where nothing of any note happens.

Moving on, you will find the art and colouring provided by Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth to be disappointingly subpar. Perhaps this is nothing more than a matter of personal taste but the majority of the panels look far too grim and muddy to spark any excitement in the audience. With the exception of the depiction of Doom’s magic, the colours are all subdued and difficult to distinguish. It makes for a boring read visually and does absolutely nothing to breathe life into the almost equally uninspiring script. The lone strength can be found in the imposing manner that The Thing is drawn in, he looks every bit the tower of stone that he is and it does give cause for at least some excitement to be felt in anticipation of his inevitable battle with Doom.

Working with such an interesting premise should have lit a fire under all those tied to this book but sadly it doesn’t seem to have done so. There are moments of promise to be found and the hook at the end is enough to bring most back for a second go around but overall this issue can be listed as a missed opportunity. The hope is that Bendis and co. can do some serious course correction as quickly as possible in order to salvage what could still be a classic saga.

Score: 3.0/10

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Infamous Iron-Man #1 Review

International Iron-Man #1 Review

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Marvel, in another bout of unending unoriginality, have added yet another Iron-Man title to their publication list. This one centres on Tony Stark trying to track down his real parents. A potentially interesting concept, no? No. It really isn’t very interesting at all.

Brian Michael Bendis, a name that should be familiar to all Marvel comic fans, is responsible for the script here. There is no nice way of putting it but this book was horribly written. It is hard to get at any underlying theme, or at least any of substance, and the characters come across as terribly one dimensional and thoroughly devoid of personality.

The majority of this issue is set in the past and tells of Stark’s first meeting with a fellow child of the elite, Cassandra. The pair strike up an immediate relationship but it only seems to work in Bendis’ mind and not on the page. Cassandra is thoroughly unlikeable, she is snooty and entitled with no redeeming qualities to speak of. So then it is hard to understand why Stark would be so helplessly drawn to her in the first place. Harder still is it to imagine why he would risk his life in shooting a Hydra member at the end for her. Remember, this is not the heroic Iron-Man version of Tony but rather the spoilt youth still oblivious to the ills of the word.

Throughout this book the story is best described as plodding. The pace is quick, hopping from one event to another, but the actual story does not advance in any meaningful way at all. At the start Stark is a University student and at the end he is a University student with a bullet wound. It has been said in another top notch review that Bendis has a habit of writing with the complete collection in mind rather than writing for the individual issue and that is very much on display here. It’s a foolish way to work too as all it does is put people off of sticking with the series for the long haul.

One quite jarring moment that seems worth a mention comes when Cassandra asks Tony whether he has Googled her or not. The problem here is that the story is set when Stark was around twenty years old. If you assume that the character these days is closing in on forty years of age, then that means this story took place in the region of twenty years ago. Google was founded in 1998 so it either wasn’t around when this is supposed to be happening or had been invented but hadn’t become popular enough to permeate pop culture. Bendis should have picked up on that in editing, as should the editors at Marvel HQ.

It’s not all a mess though as, thankfully, Alex Maleev is on art duty. There is something about Maleev’s work that is just so much more realistic that any of his contemporaries. He obviously takes a great deal of care in making sure that each little facial expression and movement is captured in stunning detail and in doing so his work tells more of a story that the script ever could. Here he has crafted a stunning comic where every panel is an eye catching delight.

As an opening to a series this book fails badly. It does not entice you to keep reading and it certainly wasn’t worth the cover price. Undoubtedly it will continue to its conclusion but Marvel big wigs shouldn’t be surprised to see fan support dwindle in a hurry.

Score: 4.0/10

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International Iron-Man #1 Review

Spider-Man #2 Review

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Brian Michael Bendis began his run on the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man last month and showed a tremendous amount of promise with his first issue. Now that issue two has hit the shelves it is time to see whether that promise has carried over or evaporated.

The action picked up right where it left off last time as Miles had just defeated Blackheart whilst the Avengers lay defeated around him. The opening of this issue saw Peter Parker having some concerns over Miles as Spider-Man due to some perceived immaturity in the role. It made some sense that this would be the case since Miles is just adjusting to this new power but it also seemed rather out of place as he had just saved the city from a monstrous enemy. Still, it did lead to a charming flashback sequence in which Miles remembered the meeting with Parker where the latter gave him permission to be Spider-Man. This was portrayed in a decidedly Disney XD style and it worked wonderfully as a look through the eyes of an optimistic teenager.

The Spider talk didn’t last an enormous amount of time though as Blackheart returned and Miles was forced to battle him once more. The fight itself wasn’t anything too special, though it did establish Miles as a force to be reckoned with, perhaps even more so than the original Spider-Man. What was special was the art provided by Sara Pichelli and Gaetano Carlucci which depicted the sequence in glorious detail. Their character models were spot on for everyone in the book and the fluidity of movement they achieved in each panel was second to none.

The upshot of this second encounter with the demonic foe was that Miles gained the approval of the Avengers, including Parker. This will undoubtedly factor into the story going forwards as he is called upon to fight even more intimidating challengers.

The key element to this issue though is not depicted through Miles’ fighting or his interaction with other heroes. It is encapsulated in the world’s response to his heroics. In a simple yet effective scene, Ganke shows Miles a Youtube video of a typically 2016 teen girl doing a Vlog on the subject. She heaps the praise upon him in as over the top manner as you may expect but that isn’t important, what’s important is why she is so pleased with this new Spidey. It is because he is black. Miles does not like that fact.

Herein lies the brilliance of this title so far. It is highlighting important social issues that others books just do not touch on. In this case it deals with the overwhelming need people seem to have to label everything, Miles can’t just be Spider-Man he has to be the Black Spider-Man instead. All he wants is to be recognized as a hero because of his dedication to helping people and fighting injustice but all this girl wants to do is rave over the fact that Thor is now a woman and Spidey is now of colour. That irks Miles as it is forcing an identity upon them that he did not choose for himself, an issue that is all to prevalent in the real world thanks to misguided social justice warriors.

On the other side of this, Bendis pens a news report that has someone balking at the idea of yet another hero as he is certain it will bring more costumed villains out of the woodwork. The interviewer points out his hypocrisy as this man supposedly criticised the real Spidey for going global but is now against someone else protecting his old turf. Again, this is something you will see in a vast number of comic book fans as they claim to want to see fresh faces and advancement in storylines but then take to social media in anger when they get what they’ve asked for.

This, sometimes biting, social commentary is a refreshing addition to this title and it is something that a few more comics should be partaking in. There is a danger of laying it on too thick but that hasn’t happened just yet, rather it has all been to inform and build upon the character of Miles Morales and it has done a fine job of that thus far. As Bendis continues to explore race and media issues you should get an even more zeitgeisty book with a lot to say.

As was briefly mentioned earlier, Pichelli and Carlucci, have outdone themselves with their sublime work on this comic. Everybody has an identity in the way they are drawn and each face emotes, even the masked ones. No one feels particularly extraneous when they are in view and this makes for a more complete world for Miles to occupy. It really feels like every line matters.

Just as it did last month, this comic has once again impressed with an incisive subplot dealing with real issues as well as an exciting main story featuring more typical superhero hijinks. Despite a slightly weak moment of doubt from Peter this was still an enjoyable read and that is sure to continue in the months to come.

Score: 4.5 out of 5.

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Spider-Man #2 Review

All-New All-Different Avengers #4 Review

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Up until this point All-New All-Different Avengers has been nothing short of terrible, could this be the moment where the series turns the corner? Of course not. Why on Earth would it be?

The biggest problem with this series has been the atrocious choice in villains leading to underwhelming storylines. The success of both Justice League comics has come through the use of inspired antagonists, namely Rao and Darkseid. Both of these characters are fascinating God types who are steeped in mythos and intrigue. Their power is the stuff of many a nerdy argument and that is what makes them so great as comic characters. The best Mark Waid could manage was Warbringer. He brought some war. Not even a good war. More like the Anglo-Zanzibar one which was over in 38 minutes. Noteworthy only for how hilariously ill-conceived it was.

This issue takes place after the brief interlude with Warbringer and introduces another pointless rogue in the form of Cyclone. He is present for around half of the book and makes it a little bit windy. He also just spills the beans on who hired him whilst doing one of those moronic villain monologues that lazy writers tend to employ. He is taken down when his wind is no match for an ultra-dense Vision. Vision may not be the only name on this book that’s dense.

The rest of the book focuses on these new Avengers setting up shop in an abandoned hangar. That had the potential to be interesting as the group hasn’t been in such dire financial straits before. The door was open for all sorts of fun little additions to make a fuller narrative but all of those opportunities were missed in favour of giving them basically everything they need. They honestly don’t seem to be lacking any of the must have items from when they were rich aside from big Heli-carriers and Stark Tower. It would have made more sense for them to have absolutely nothing but they have all they need and the only ‘poor’ aspect that Waid has introduced is the dilapidated building that they keep it all in.

There is no greater attention paid to the building of relationships between characters either. Every interaction feels forced and devoid of personality just as the individuals do too. There is no spark between anyone and no real time afforded to create one. It seems that Waid is expecting his audience to just create their own pairings and, despite Tumblr being particularly efficient at that tedious practice, that just isn’t going to happen.

One absolutely ridiculous thing that happened in this comic came after the team had saved numerous people’s lives. Some of the survivors were shown to be disappointed that it wasn’t the real Avengers saving them and even angry that the team now had a black Cap and a female Thor. Yes, there are some ‘fans’ who have been vocal about these developments online but to insinuate that anyone would still be so unwarrantedly negative after having their life saved is asinine and undoes any helpful social commentary they were going for with this script. They could easily have added in some moments like these through news broadcasts and non-action sequences and it would have been much more believable and powerful.

There is, you’ll be relieved to hear, one good thing about this book. At the end there is a big question mark thrown up regarding the new Thor and whether she is quite as immortal as the last. It stems for something she says to Cap and has the potential to be an interesting avenue to go down although hopefully it will be in her own title and not this one.

Mahmud Asrar and Dave McCaig do a serviceable job on art although nothing really pops out as being above average. Each character looks as they should but none of them have any flair or defining feature that can make a book much better. If you want an example of character depiction helping a book to be all it can be you need look no further than the sublime ‘Lucifer’ which is on issue two of its run at the moment. One place where things go right is the lettering work whenever Thor speaks. It is suitably old timey and regal which conveys her manner of speech quite effectively. Cory Petit definitely deserves some props for that little slice of brilliance.

If this review feels at all like a summation of the entire series rather than just this one title, it is. The reason being that it is now off of the haul list and no further reviews will be done for this book. It has not been a fun ride and luckily it is now over. You may want to follow suit and spend that money on a better comic. Perhaps Old Man Logan?

Score: 1 out of 5.

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All-New All-Different Avengers #4 Review