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Amazing Spider-Man #700 Predictions, Speculation, and Crackpot Theories

With the 700th issue of Amazing Spider-Man coming up this December, it’s only right that I, the Comic Vault’s resident diehard Spider-Man fan, weigh in on what may or may not happen in this momentous issue.  There are a lot of crazy theories floating around right now, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Current scribe (and the best writer on the book since Roger Stern or David Michelinie in my opinion) Dan Slott stated via cell phone at Comic Con a few weeks ago that this is going to be the biggest thing he’s ever done in comics, which is saying a lot coming from the guy who penned the phenomenal Amazing Spider-Man #600 just three years ago.  It’s even been said that what he’s doing in #700 will be so controversial among fans that he’ll have to go into hiding after the issue hits stands, or that this might possibly be his final arc on the book. (Damn you, “Marvel NOW!”)

With the ’90s Clone Saga and J. Michael Straczynski’s “Sins Past” and “One More Day” story arcs, Spider-Man fans have a high threshold for controversy.  At this point, what could possibly be more controversial at this point than Peter Parker’s clone Ben Reilly being revealed as the real Peter Parker and taking his place, Norman Osborn knocking up Gwen Stacy prior to her death, or Peter and Mary Jane trading their marriage to Mephisto (the “devil”) in exchange for Aunt May’s life?

Really, Marvel?  What were you thinking?  That “o” face in the bottom left corner is the stuff of nightmares. And Gwen… You desecrated poor, sweet Gwen!

Maybe resurrecting Gwen Stacy could top the scenarios above, but Slott has already said he (thankfully) has no interest in doing that, as Gwen is much more meaningful dead.

Over at the CBR boards, members have been posting a plethora of crackpot theories regarding what will happen in the issue.  Some have taken a statement that Slott made at Comic Con regarding the future not looking good for Madame Web as a hint that the new Madame Web, Julia Carpenter, will be kicking the bucket soon.  Personally, I think they’re reading a bit much into this and Slott was just being Slott.  Madame Web is a clairvoyant and only has visions when something terrible is about to happen–of course the future doesn’t look good for her.

“The future…always…looks…TERRIBLE…to MEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

Regardless, below is a list of my favorite theories from that thread:

  • Black Cat shows up with a baby.
  • Norman Osborn is Peter’s father.
  • Peter pulls the plug on Doctor Octopus and then goes crazy.
  • Peter gets flung back in time, is stuck, and in a nod to his clone brother, names himself Ben Parker.  He then meets a lovely girl named May Reilly.
  • Peter gives up being Spider-Man to be with Mary Jane or Peter ends up getting killed, with either scenario leading to new sidekick Alpha taking his place.
  • Peter moves to Japan and gets a giant robot.
  • Peter goes crazy and becomes the new Green Goblin.
  • Kaine is the real Peter Parker.
  • Batman subcontracts Peter to become his new gadget man in Batman, Inc. as part of a cross-promotional deal between Marvel and DC.
  • J. Jonah Jameson is actually a 1940s reporter covering the war in Europe.  He is wounded by a grenade blast, which kills his soldier body guard Steve Rogers.  For two months, Jameson has been in a coma, and it’s revealed that the whole Marvel Universe is taking place in his mind.
  • Black Widow becomes Spider-Man’s new crime-fighting partner and Spider-Man has a clone baby from an alternate reality with Mystique.

That’s a lot of outlandishness to digest, huh?  As promised in the first paragraph, though, I also have my own predictions as to what might happen in #700.

The cover for Amazing Spider-Man #700 is a preexisting collage by a French artist named Pascal Garcin.  You could say that this makes the presence of certain characters on the cover arbitrary, but I like to think that Marvel chose to use this cover for that issue for specific reasons.  If you look closely near the bottom, to the left of the center, there’s a Carnage hidden among all of the Spider-Mans.

Hey, look…It’s a schooner!

This leads me to believe that Carnage has some involvement in this issue, perhaps killing a beloved character like Mary Jane Watson.  Despite wreaking havoc in Spider-Man’s world in two mini-series over the last two years and continuing to do so in an upcoming Venom/Scarlet Spider crossover, it’s been years since Carnage has committed mass murder in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.  This site’s owner, Matt Sardo, even claimed to me in an e-mail that during Comic Con’s Spider-Man panel, “[The panelists] were asked what character they wanted to work with or draw. [Humberto Ramos] mentioned Carnage and then said, ‘Oh, wait.  I’ve drawn Carnage,’ and then he got dirty looks.”  What better time for Carnage to show up and do something chaotic than the book’s 700th issue, 24 years after the character’s “father,” Venom, debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #300?

Speaking of Venom, the border of the eyes on that collage is composed of the character.  I’m going to go ahead and also predict that if Peter doesn’t find out by then that Flash is the guy wearing the Venom symbiote by #700, he’ll probably find out there.

If I’m wrong about Carnage, then the next likely scenario is that the Roderick Kingsley Hobgoblin, rumored to return in the upcoming “Danger Zone” arc, shows up and kills someone.  Either way, I think someone is dying in #700.  Mary Jane is a likely choice, though I’d rather not see that happen.  Sardo wants Aunt May to die, and I have yet to figure out what he has against sweet, little old ladies.  Her husband, J. Jonah Jameson, Sr. may be a more likely candidate for the grave, or possibly other characters that have grown on fans in recent years–like NYPD forensic detective/most recent Peter Parker ex Carlie Cooper or Daily Bugle reporter Norah Winters.

Or maybe in their infinite wisdom, Marvel, seeing that it worked so well in Ultimate Spider-Man, actually do decide to kill off mainstream (Earth-616 for you nerds out there) Peter and replace him with his new sidekick Alpha, at which point they’ll lose me as a reader.  Just because something worked in one universe doesn’t mean it should be spread to the others.

But seriously… Keep any sweet, elderly women you hold dear away from this man.

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #687 – As the World Burns

Amazing Spider-Man #687
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Stefano Caselli, Frank Martin Jr. [Color Art] 

HEY!  WAIT A MINUTE!
If you haven’t read the rest of this story arc, this review will spoil a few plot developments, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?  The end of this issue isn’t spoiled, though, so you’re safe there.

Victory is once again within Doctor Octopus’ grasp and the only people who can stop him are Spider-Man, Black Widow, Silver Sable, and Mysterio–who switched sides last issue, natch!  Unfortunately, they’ll have to go through the (mind-controlled) Avengers first.

The ensuing battle is among the best-written team battles to take place in Spider-Man (or a lot of other books) in recent memory.  Dan Slott takes advantage of the various characters involved, as well as plot points from previous issues in the last few years, to showcase everyone (with the exception of Black Widow and Hawkeye, but they were knocked out early on).  The Spider-Man/Spider-Woman fight and the bit with Thor’s Mjolnir were nice touches, but the turncoat Mysterio was the true standout in these pages as he showcased his mastery of illusion and quipped about leaving the super villain business for television.

This being the final part of the story arc, Spider-Man does finally confront the still-dying Doc Ock in his underwater base (where do these guys get the funds for this stuff?).  Octavius’ intentions are, indeed, to purge the Earth using his Octavian Lens, and with the doctor so close to death and the Rhino still on Ock’s side, Spider-Man’s pact of “no one dies” may finally be forced to end.  The people who (seemingly) die here just aren’t the ones you’d expect.

Overall, Slott gives what is thus far his best Spider-Man “event” story a fitting end.  The action stays on point, the dialogue stays fresh while referencing previous issues, the (seeming) deaths don’t feel meaningless, and several threads are left open for later.  In particular, it will be interesting to see whether or not Horizon Labs was ever able to figure out that a lot of Ock’s tech was developed by them–and Peter Parker, in particular–and what repercussions that may have.  Stefano Caselli and Frank Martin, Jr. continue to deliver the goods as well, especially with what might be the most menacing-looking incarnation of Doc Ock.

As with every other issue of this arc, if you haven’t read it, GO BUY IT NOW!

RATING:  EXCELSIOR!

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #686 – Something You Expected, and Something You Didn’t

Amazing Spider-Man #686
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Stefano Caselli, Frank Martin Jr. [Color Art]

[SIMPERIN’ SPOILER ALERT:  Reading this rollicking review might spoil certain exciting elements of this book’s pulse-pounding plot for you, oh consummate Comic Vault reader!  You’ve been warned!] 

An entire hemisphere of Earth, including Silver Sable’s native Symkaria, has been destroyed at the hands of Doctor Octopus!

Or has it?

Given the ending to Amazing Spider-Man #685, one might think that Spider-Man, Silver Sable, and the Black Widow had failed in their bid to prevent Octavius from destroying the world once and for all in his final dastardly deed before death.  However, one might think wrong–especially given that two of the other members of the Sinister Six still remaining at that point were well-versed in illusion.  Longtime Spidey fans could probably see where this was going, but it would be a crime not to use such a scenario with Mysterio and Chameleon both on the same team.

That said, as Spidey and Co. continue to disrupt Otto’s dying wish, both sides begin finding that they are victims of wavering allegiances.

Again, Dan Slott provides an issue that stands up not just to the rest of the arc, but to the classics, as well.  While one of the big allegiance shifts here was a no-brainer following the orbital octobot crisis from Amazing Spider-Man #680-681 (plus the cover to #687), the other was a total surprise.

It’s also been nice to see Spider-Man written in a team role as a leader as opposed to comic relief, and the way Pete asserts himself in this arc has been phenomenal.  That’s not to say the old Peter Parker neuroses aren’t there, though.  It will be interesting to see the aftermath of Spider-Man having realized that Doc Ock’s tech has been supplemented by technology he developed as Peter Parker for Horizon Labs–especially if that connection is made by Horizon, as well.

The rotating art on this story has also surprisingly not been as jarring as one would expect.  Stefano Caselli returns for the last two issues of the arc after getting a two-issue break from Humberto Ramos, but the switch barely registered to me either time.  Sure, Caselli’s art veers more toward the realistic than Ramos’ more animated style, but both artists have grown on me to the point that I’m glad to see either on a story.

If you’re a spider-fan and you haven’t been keeping up, you’re missing out.

RATING:  EXCELSIOR! 

Animated Storyboards from Marvel’s The Avengers by Jane Wu

Jane Wu published two sets of animated storyboards from Marvel’s “The Avengers.” The first set of storyboards show the Black Widow stealing a speeder-bike, then second set of storyboards show Hulk and Thor taking down the giant metal dragon with the infamous Hulk/Thor punch.

“The Avengers” continued the box office tear when it earned $55 million in its third weekend and now sits in fourth place for highest grossing film ever at $1.18 billion.

The Avengers: Whedon and Company Deliver One Hell of a Fun Ride

Mondo's Limited Edition Movie Poster

Review By Mike DeVivo

After more than 5 years of world Building Marvel’s The Avengers comes out today. Before watching the film I spent the last few days re watching Iron Man , Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 , Thor , and Captain America . Iron Man aside I felt at some point each of the other films had some glaring issues. My excitement for the film out weighed my concern however and I was looking forward to seeing what Joss Whedon had in store. After all the early screenings and overwhelming positive feedback I was sent into frenzy mode waiting to see this film. So is it any good?The answer is a resounding yes! More on that later , for now let me take you through the film without getting into major Spoilers.

Loki has returned by way of the Tesseract that was found while looking for Captain America. He obliterates S.H.I.E.L.D Headquarters and with the help of some unexpected allies gets away with the Tesseract in hand. His plan is to open up a portal using the Tesseract so that he can unleash an Army upon Earth leaving him to Rule.

Fury out of Desperation decides to move forward with The Avengers Initiative. That is the basic core of the Movie. Joss Whedon focuses more so on character moments over Story which works well for most of The Avengers. He does pay close attention to detail even using all the past films as building blocks to progress the story. Standouts include Black Widow played by Scarlet Johannsen and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. In fact movie goers have seen a group of Heroes who band together to save the world from certain disaster tons of times before . The plot isn’t what makes this movie so enjoyable its the characterization, writing , and acting that make this movie shine and turn it into Marvel’s crowning jewel along with their first film Iron Man. No one phones this movie in. You can tell of the actors enjoyed working on the project together and it shows in how much fun the movie is.

The action set pieces and Special effects are damn near perfect in execution. There were more than a few moments where the crowd in unison were clapping and cheering together which brought a smile to my face. The Chitauri in the film look great and I love the look of the Hulk in this Film. The last 30 min of this film had me grinning from ear to ear. Each Avenger has more than their share of awesome moments in the film.

There are a few minor complaints I’m going to point out. First I feel like Steve Rogers’ story never really progresses at all. It would have been nice to see possibly Sharon Carter inserted as Steve’s love interest to try to show another side of Steve Rogers. There are some small moments with Tony that could have been fleshed out and I know that Joss had mentioned that he cut at least 30-40 min off the film. Also a minor complaint but they never explain how Thor makes it back to Earth. After watching the films that’s a glaring issue that should be addressed considering how great Joss was with all the other plot lines from the past films and his attention to detail. Again these are minor nit picks about a movie that was nothing short of amazing

I’m honestly quite amazed at how well marvel was able to pull this off. There’s an intent and confidence in the writing that really shows off Whedon’s strengths as a director. Some people may feel like he hijack’s the movie a bit but I couldn’t imagine anyone else capable of delivering such a high quality product. Whedon and company remember that movies like this should have strong characterization first and most importantly showed that a Superhero Movie doesn’t have to just be “Dark” or “Hard Edged” to be good. I honestly cant wait to see this again myself. Oh and the mid credits scene sent me into sensory overload! This is a blue print for how to pull off a Summer Blockbuster in an intelligent and successful way. Run out and see this it will put a smile on your face regardless of what mood you’re in.

Review Score: 9.5/10

Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots

Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 – Cyclops has lost his mind

Avengers Vs. X-Men #2
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Art:  John Romita Jr. [Pencils], Scott Hanna [Inks], Laura Martin [Colors]

[We’ve tried our best to be as spoiler-free as possible here, but nobody’s perfect.  Read at your own risk.]

Defying Captain America’s request to take Hope Summers into custody last issue, Cyclops fired the first shot in the X-Men’s war on the Avengers against the Star-Spangled Hero himself.

As the Avengers take Utopia’s beach, Emma Frost moves Hope inside–assuming the girl, with more questions than answers regarding the Phoenix and what its return means regarding her, will stay put.  In short order, the most epic battle in comics since the end of 2008’s Secret Invasion or 2006’s Civil War commences.

Jason Aaron sets up several of the fights to take place in the accompanying Avengers Vs. X-Men: Versus mini-series beginning next week, with several moments in this issue hinting at the outcomes of those fights.  He brings Quicksilver into the fray, revealing where the son of Magneto stands in the fight (HINT:  There isn’t going to be a reunion of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants anytime soon), and teases the entrance of Magneto’s daughter, the Scarlet Witch, with no hint of who she’ll side with.

The highlight of this issue is arguably Aaron’s insights into the match-ups, like calling Emma Frost’s organic diamond form punching Tony Stark’s multi-billion dollar armor the “most expensive punch in history,” playing up the marital dramatics in a fight between Storm and the Black Panther, or pointing out that Wolverine is fighting against an island of characters he once called family.

This initial battle is all for naught, but it does skirt on the idea that Cyclops might potentially become a villain.  Much of what he says in this issue sounds like things reformed X-Men über-villain Magneto would say, and he does have his own Juggernaut now in Colossus.  With 10 issues to go, the only things that are certain are that several characters are bound to switch sides, Civil War-style, (Hell, it’s even teased in the Cap vs. Wolverine cover for AVX #3) and that things will spiral further out of control.

At this point, my biggest hope (aside from wanting a Cyclops villain turn) is that we at least get a Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 video game out of this in a year or two.

– Roger Riddell

Follow me on Twitter @RRiddell3 

Mike DeVivo’s take forthcoming

Alright Roger Ive Assembled here!

So, two issues into Avengers Vs. X-Men and I can say I’m underwhelmed. What I thought was largely going to be a collaborative effort in bringing two different teams and their vantage points to light has thus far turned into “Cyclops is crazy and the Avengers aren’t.” I don’t buy the angle that Cyclops is losing his mind, or that he’s taking things too far. It paints every X-Man and woman as blind sheep fighting for the cause of a crazy man. Maybe I’m rooting for the little guys, in which case i feel the X-Men are warranted to protect one of their own. The characterization feels off, especially with Cyclops and Wolverine. Again, maybe it’s because I’m in Cyclops’ camp here, but I can’t help but feel like this story feels off.

I do love John Romita Jr.’s work in this series so far. His facial work with females has improved very much. His pencils give all of the energy and intensity you’d expect between a battle of the two most recognizable factions in Marvel.  Aaron’s script does provide great narration as Avengers and X-Men beat the hell out of each other. Also, kudos for him creating the Magnetic Fastball Special. Those moments are what I’ve enjoyed about this series so far. He also gave Emma the best line in this issue reflecting the tone I think most X-Men have towards their Avenger counterparts. After Iron Man refers to Hope as “the girl,” Emma responds by telling him that the girl’s name is Hope and that they never requested help in the first place.

We get quick glimpses of Quicksilver and Wanda ,with Quicksilver rushing to join his Avengers team and Wanda walking away from her journal not joining the fight just yet. The journal by the way is called “Wanda’s Dream Journal” (slap forehead with hand) there are more than a few of these moments in this issue that make you cringe. As I said in my opinion this book hasn’t delivered the goods just yet with the story. It’s a pain to see characters like Quicksilver, who was actually  insane (anyone remember House of M?), fighting along side Avenger’s while Cyclops is characterized as a mad man losing touch with his reality.

I’m hoping next issue improves a bit and makes the reason for this fight a bit less one-sided. With the cover to issue #3 showing Cap fighting Wolverine, it will be interesting to see why he defends the X-Men after dropping down and beating up the same students he defended during Schism.  As I said, as a fight book this is fun. As an event that is supposed to change Marvel’s landscape for the next year…not so much.

– Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots


 

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #684 – Saharan Sandman!

Amazing Spider-Man #684
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba [Inks], Edgar Delgado [Colors]

Certain that he had thought of everything possible while preparing to fight the latest incarnation of the Sinister Six (Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Electro, Mysterio, Rhino, and Chameleon), there was one thing Spider-Man didn’t account for–Doc Ock doing the same thing and making short work of the Avengers.

Despite taking out one of the Sinister Six when Thor shot Electro into orbit, the Avengers–Captain America, Iron Man, Red Hulk, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, and the aforementioned God of Thunder–are taken down quite easily and their Quinjet, with Black Widow inside, is crashed.  Spider-Man, with his new spider armor crippled, is left at Octavius’ mercy.

Fortunately for him, Symkarian mercenary Silver Sable has been following him and the Avengers since the G8 Summit and is able to rescue Spidey and the Black Widow.

The Sinister Six escape with the rest of the downed Avengers in tow and Ock begins negotiating with the world’s leaders.  In exchange for clean records and $2 billion for each of the other five members of the Sinister Six, Octavius will stop global warming with the “Octavian Lense” his octobots can create in Earth’s atmosphere.  Spider-Man, Silver Sable, and Black Widow are able to patch into these transmissions via help from Horizon Labs and the Symkarian prime minister, and head off to an abandoned AIM facility in the Sahara Desert that they figure out is in use by Doc Ock.

The AIM facility ends up being a trap, however, and the three are left to face Sandman, who has the entire Sahara Desert at his disposal.

Dan Slott continues to weave his epic event, keeping Ock’s true intentions in the dark, as well as what he has promised various members of the Sinister Six in exchange for their help.  Additionally, the Sandman battle in this issue is by far the most interesting in years.  Typically, Spider-Man stops Sandman by using a nearby water source to wash him away or turn him into mud, or bakes him into glass.  It’s one thing for Spider-Man to fight the Sandman on a beach or in a quarry or construction site, but another beast entirely in the middle of the world’s largest desert.  The means by which Slott has Spider-Man, Silver Sable, and the Black Widow defeat the Sandman (with help from Horizon Labs) here is fairly brilliant.

Aside from being a great premise for a fight in this story, the Sahara Desert fight also offers a huge opportunity for impressive visuals and Humberto Ramos doesn’t disappoint.  I know I’ve said this before in other reviews, but Ramos’ work grows on me every time I see it.  It’s honestly gotten even better in the last year and a half, becoming a combination of his older style (which, to me, has more of an anime feel) and traditional comic art.  Some of his faces even bring Todd McFarlane to mind.  Like Stefano Caselli on the first two issues of this arc, Ramos brings his A-game here.

In a year that has Amazing Spider-Man #700 on the way, as well as at least two more big story arcs, I’m wondering how Dan Slott and Co. can top what they’re doing right now.

STORY AND ART:  Excelsior!

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #683 – Spider-Man punches Al Gore!

Amazing Spider-Man #683
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Stefano Caselli, Frank Martin Jr. [Colors]

[SPOILER ALERT: Reading this review might spoil certain plot points for you, oh noble Chicago Comic Vault reader.]


Close to death, Doctor Octopus has–with the help of the latest incarnation of the Sinister Six–set his final master plan in motion, developing technology that can destroy the ozone layer.  Ock, however, has convinced the world’s leaders and greatest scientific minds that his intentions are altruistic and that he simply wishes to preserve the Earth with an artificial ozone layer.

Spider-Man, who has spent the last several months developing all-new spider armor specifically for taking on the Sinister Six, rallies the Avengers and they travel to an emergency G8 summit in Rome to try to talk some sense into the world at large.  Among those shown debating Octavius’ intentions are Stephen Hawking, Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Al Gore–who Spider-Man punches squarely in the jaw for voicing his support of Doc Ock.

That’s right.  Spider-Man gets a Cap-punching-Hitler moment.

Take that, Global Warming!

Or does he?

As it turns out, “Al Gore” is really just the Chameleon in disguise.  His hand played, Doc Ock is forced to reveal the full potential of his “Octavian Lens”…to stop global warming.

Convinced even more of Doc Ock’s Grinch-like altruistic turn, the world leaders let the Chameleon go–but the Avengers aren’t fooled so easily.  With the aid of a spider tracer, they follow him to a remote beach where he is met by the Sinister Six.

Spider-Man hasn’t been the only one preparing for this battle, though.  Doc Ock has had Electro, Rhino, Sandman, and Chameleon steal StarkTech, the fang of Jörmungandr, and Hulk-busting technology developed by the Leader.  Making quick work of the Avengers (but not without losing Mysterio and Electro), Doc Ock now has Spider-Man right where he wants him.

Overall, this issue continues what is sure to become (until he outdoes himself again) Dan Slott’s magnum opus on Amazing Spider-Man.  Not only is this fun, but the story feels like it has weight to it.  At the heart of this story is a battle of figurative chess between two of the Marvel Universe’s greatest minds.  That it takes place on the world stage instead of just New York adds that much more to this.

Stefano Caselli produces more of the best work of his career here, as well.  When you see Doc Ock in these pages, it’s believable that he’s really dying.  Characters pop off of the pages.  The facial expressions are spot on.  And the detail!

It’s another perfect issue, and a damn good time to be a Spider-Fan.

STORY:  10/10
ART:  10/10 

Review: Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 – ‘Nuff Said

Avengers Vs. X-Men #1
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Art:  John Romita Jr. [Pencils], Scott Hanna [Inks], Laura Martin [Colors]

After what has felt like an eternity of build-up (but was really more like just over six months), the event to end all Marvel events has finally arrived on shelves–but was all of the hype worth it?

So far, it’s a toss-up.

The premise, in case you’ve been living under a rock or reading some other company’s books, is that the Phoenix is coming to Earth and has chosen the would-be-mutant-messiah Hope Summers as its host.  Hey, she looks like Jean Grey, so who else is it gonna pick, right?  Anyhow, the Phoenix is a cosmic firebird that leaves devastation in its wake on a planetary scale wherever it goes in the Universe.  It chose Jean Grey as its host once and she almost destroyed Earth, but that’s “The Dark Phoenix” saga and you can read about that elsewhere.

Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 opens with the Avengers hanging around Avengers Tower doing the sorts of things you’d expect powerful people in tights to do (but not those things, sicko!) when all of a sudden, the intergalactic superhero Nova conveniently crashlands in New York City after falling from space.  He warns the Avengers that “it’s coming,” and Iron Man deduces that he’s referring to the Phoenix.  He and Captain America then brief the President on the danger.

Meanwhile, Cyclops–who has known all along that the Phoenix was on its way back–is training Hope and trying to prepare her in the hope that she’ll be able to control its power when it does return.  This entire conflict centers around the Avengers’ belief that the Phoenix will use Hope Summers as its vessel to try to destroy the world again versus Scott’s belief that if Hope can somehow control the Phoenix’s power, then she can undo the “no more mutants” spell that Scarlet Witch decimated the mutant population with.

Scott believes that Hope is the savior of the mutant race, and he’ll stop at nothing to see her fulfill that destiny–perhaps to the point of taking things too far during his particularly ruthless training sessions.  During the time that has passed since he joined the X-Men, Magneto has pointed out that Scott is growing more and more like him than his mentor, Charles Xavier.  This trend continues here, as Magneto–watching the training from a distance–comments to Emma Frost regarding the difference between “taking it seriously” and “compulsion,” perhaps foreshadowing things to come.

Anyhow, Hope is finally pushed far enough and releases a flare of Phoenix-like energy strong enough that the Avengers notice it.  Traveling to Utopia to see about taking Hope into Avengers custody until the Phoenix situation is figured out, Captain America is greeted by a particularly hostile Cyclops.

Thus, the first shots in the battle are fired, so to speak.

Over all, this is a solid start to the event, but it is by no means perfect.  Despite being packed with action, the dialogue pulled me out of the story on a few occasions, most notably during the conversation Captain America has with Wolverine regarding the Phoenix.  Given Wolverine’s history with Jean Grey and how he felt about her, I have a hard time believing that he wouldn’t just refer to her by her first name.  Using her entire name felt a little unnatural, especially after the previous scene already established her history.

Aside from that, though, anything else I noticed here would just be nitpicking.  Bendis’ first chapter draws you in and gives new readers a primer on what’s going on, and the art here is phenomenal.  The facial expressions of everyone standing in the vicinity when the first blow of this battle is landed were perhaps the highlight of the entire issue.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially when your bluff is being called, and that panel alone sells that idea absolutely.

After event fatigue had fully set in following last year’s Fear Itself (which, no offense to Matt Fraction, fell short of expectations), I swore I’d never drop $3.99 an issue on another “event” book again.  Despite being highly skeptical of the idea of Avengers Vs. X-Men, I have to say I’m impressed so far and actually looking forward to where this goes from here.

STORY:  8/10
ART:  9.5/10 

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #682 – ‘Ends of the Earth’ Begins!

Amazing Spider-Man #682
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Stefano Caselli, Frank Martin Jr. [Colors]

On the verge of death, Dr. Otto Octavius has initiated his final diabolical plan. Using a towering structure that rises from his base beneath the sea (Where do these guys get the funding and materials for these things?), he has positioned an array of satellites in Earth’s orbit to create an “Octavian lens” that will…stop global warming?

After threatening to burn the half of the world currently facing the sun (and giving Chicago a sweet cameo), Octavius pulls a 180 and tells everyone via satellite feed that he is merely showing them the Earth they are leaving to their great-grandchildren and actually intends to preserve the planet as his final act. It would seem noble enough, if the other five villains rounding out the latest incarnation of the Sinister Six (Sandman, Mysterio, Electro, Rhino, and the Chameleon) weren’t smirking behind him.

Though many of New York’s citizens (and even a few Avengers) are buying the idea that perhaps Doc Ock might have good intentions for a change, Peter Parker–who has spent the last several months preparing new gadgets for just such an occasion in his lab at Horizon–isn’t convinced.

Meanwhile, New York’s Mayor, J. Jonah Jameson, has vowed to shut down Horizon Labs at any and all cost following the peril his astronaut son was in onboard the company’s space station in Amazing Spider-Man #680 and 681, setting up a subplot that could potentially complicate Peter Parker’s life again and expanding Jameson’s personal crusade against Spider-Man to include Horizon founder Max Modell.

Overall, this is a great first issue to Dan Slott’s much-hyped “Ends of the Earth” saga. Not only do we see yet another cool new suit that Peter has designed to help him as Spider-Man, but Slott establishes a sense that the technology Pete developed has been put to practical, “real-world” use in the Marvel Universe. This, of course, keeps in tradition with the idea that the book is just as much about Peter Parker as it is about his alter ego.

Furthermore, Stefano Caselli’s art feels as briskly paced as the story without sacrificing detail. The opening pages, with Spider-Man stealing a few tricks out of an old enemy’s bag, are especially fun.

If the rest of this arc is this good, “Spider-Island” will have tough competition for “Best Spider-Man Event of the Last Decade.”

STORY: 10/10
ART: 10/10 

Second Trailer for Marvel’s “The Avengers” Hits the Web

Marvel unveiled the second trailer for The Avengers Wednesday, derailing all activity in the Comic Vault offices with a single, collective nerdgasm.

The trailer still doesn’t reveal the identity of Loki’s mystery army, but we (and by “we,” I mean “I”) are still holding out hope that it’s the Skrulls.  Regardless, the trailer does tease some sort of fight between Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man, which undoubtedly ends with them being superhero bros.

Needless to say, this movie looks more and more amazing with each new trailer.  The Avengers opens May 4, 2012 and you can check out the second trailer below:





Review: Winter Soldier #1 “Bucky Confronts his Past as the Winter Soldier”

Winter Soldier #1
Writer: Ed Brudbaker
Artist: Butch Guice and Bettie Breitweiser

James “Bucky” Barnes has lived one tragically long life. Recently, within the pages of Fear Itself, we believed Bucky (aka Captain America) to have found peace at the mercy of Sins Asgardian hammer. But thanks to Nick Fury and his stash of a version of the Infinity Formula, Bucky was revived by a heartbroken (Black) widows request. The Marvel universe now believes Bucky to be dead and only Nick Fury, Black Widow and Steve Rogers know the truth: Bucky Barnes has revived the legendary Russian agent, Winter Soldier! Bucky is back within his element, cast in the shadows. His plan? To tie up loose ends from his days as the puppeted Winter Solider agent during the Cold War. He won’t be alone, it seems that the Black Widow is a permament partner.

This issue kicks off with the Winter Soldier and the Black Widow entering a retired soviet base, presently disguised with a casino sitting atop it. Both Barnes and Romanov being natural spies, they quickly make way to a secret door leading to the underground base. The couple make a cute game of “First to be seen buys the mornings breakfast” as they incapcitate gaurds along the various complex corridors. They come along a familiar stasus pod, much like the pod the Winter Soldier was kept “preserved” inbetween missions. But this pod is clearly marked with the name: Zephyr. Could there still be undercover agents exectuing covert assassinations within the Marvel universe? If so, who controls them? And what does it all have to do with Dr. Doom!?

Winter Soldier creator, Ed Brubaker, launches the series as writer. Brubaker was a big pull for me, as he truly understands these characters and their personal voices. This is officially a continuation of his Winter Soldier mythology, first started within the pages of Captain America. And spy espionage dramas are both, Brubaker and Barnes expertee!

Penciler Butch Guice draws one fluid comic wide ation sequence. His detail on charcter expressions and faces has greatly improved from his last arc “Gulag” within the last Captain America volume. A handful of panels almost seem like he penciled over actual photographs, much like Alex Maleev’s art style. These panels crafted strong story beats that made the moment personable… if not a bit distracting. Guice’s panel placement need be commended, though he stuck to the basic rectangular box- it’s the way they were compressed and stacked that lead the eye and made the action and dialogue flow perfectly.

This is a solid beginning for a promising series. I forsee a long life with Brubaker leading the charge. This issue was everything you hoped and waited for, plus fun twists in choice of villian! And i’m not referring to the clocked tin man. Though I’m sad to see Bucky no longer wearing the flag, I’m glad he’s not dead: Long live the Winter Soldier!

Story: 9
Art: 9

Recommended this week:
Avengers X-Sanction #3 – Two unexpected guest crash Cables party!
Uncanny X-Force #21 – Fantomex undergoes mutliple Lobotomys. Reviewed here.
Swamp Thing #6 – The Rot inches ever closer to cutting off the Green.

Follow me on twitter @DDsuperbatnix

Avengers Teaser – Is this our first look at Skrulls on Rocket Bikes?

Here’s a teaser for the full Avenger’s trailer that will be featured during the Super Bowl this Sunday. Is this our first look at Skrulls on rocket bikes? How will mainstream audiences react to super-powered alien doppelgangers?

Joss Whedon said today during the Avengers twitter chat:

“It’s a combo platter: classic, Ultimate, plus a little “Richie Rich and Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

And this:

“There is no Spider-Man cameo. But the Avengers do turn off the dark.”

This thing looks awesome, I’m truly excited for the movie after seeing this tease!

Jerry Nelson

Follow me on twitter and tell me what you think @the_hellhounds

Review: Deadpool #49.1 – Deadpool: The Musical!

Deadpool #49.1
Writer: Daniel Way
Art: John McCrea & Veronica Gandini [Colorist]

Sure, it would be easy for Daniel Way to write a simple recap for the latest Marvel “Point One” issue for Deadpool, but simple and easy wouldn’t be as fun as writing that recap issue AS A FREAKIN’ MUSICAL!

[For those not in the know, “Point One” is Marvel’s initiative to give new readers a good “jumping-on” point to a comic. – Voice #2]

In Deadpool #49.1, Way takes a stroll through his 50-issue run on the current volume of the Merc With A Mouth’s solo book.  From his involvement in the Skrull Invasion and his war against Norman Osborn and epic battle with Bullseye to his attempts to be a hero and interstellar adventures, all are covered here and intended to be recapped to the tune of Naughty By Nature, Tay Zonday, Britney Spears and the Misfits.

Doing the story overview this way was a fitting way to condense 50 or so issues of Deadpool into a 32-page book.  To top it all off, John McCrea’s art diverges from regular artist Salva Espin in that it has a more ’90s Deadpool feel to it.  This adds even more of a “flashback” sort of feel to the issue, even though the stories recapped here only began in 2008.

Overall, this was a fun recap and great for anyone interested in trying Deadpool or just looking for some cheesy humor.  [Cheese…I like cheese.]

On a final note, what ever happened to Hit-Monkey?  As the assistant editor of this website, I’m demanding that Marvel bring back Hit-Monkey in some way, shape or form in the next year.  He doesn’t have to be in his own series.  I know the attempt at giving him one kind of flopped.  Or something.

Just bring him back.  Now!

[Yeah!  What he said!]

STORY: 7/10  (Because, you know…It’s a recap. Nothing new to see here.)
ART: 8/10 

Winter Soldier #1 3-page preview

Marvel Comics released a 3-page preview of Winter Soldier #1 written by Ed Brubaker with pencils by Butch Guice. Winter Soldier will be in your local comic book store on February 1, 2012.

Captain America’s Former Sidekick Takes Aim In WINTER SOLDIER #1!

Steve Rogers most trusted partner and a former Captain America, Bucky Barnes, must tackle his greatest challenge yet as Winter Soldier #1 hits store shelves everywhere this February! After going toe to toe with the Nazis and being assumed dead for decades, Bucky Barnes went through hell and back as the Soviet Union rebuilt his war torn body into their own one man army known to all as the Winter Soldier. But what if he wasn’t the only one?

From the blockbuster creative team behind Captain America, Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice send Bucky back into the shadows to take down the remaining ex-Russian sleeper agents and dismantle their diabolical plot. Teamed with the Black Widow, the former Captain America will have his hands full when he finds out that he trained them all AND that Doctor Doom is involved! With the entire Marvel Universe thinking he’s dead, Bucky will have to tackle this threat head on with limited resources. Get in on all the action this February in Winter Soldier #1!

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Black Widow goes rogue: Secret Avengers #20 4-page preview


Tuesday morning Marvel Comics released a four-page preview of Secret Avengers #20 written by Warren Ellis with artwork by Alex Maleev.

How has the Warren Ellis run been? Are you enjoying the single issue format? Would you like to see more books like this?

THE SECRET AVENGERS ARE DEAD and only the Black Widow can save them in your first look at Secret Avengers #20! Fan favorite creators Warren Ellis & Alex Maleev send the Black Widow on her most secret mission yet…even her teammates don’t know she’s on it. Can the world’s greatest secret agent save the team alone? Find out as Ellis’ critically acclaimed run on Secret Avengers continues in Secret Avengers #20. Run the mission. Don’t get seen. Save the world! – Marvel Comics

Follow Matthew Sardo on Twitter! @comicvault

Avengers movie poster



Here is a look at a prototype Avengers movie poster with the full cast. I do like that the Avengers are on the S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier! My only question is why is Nick Fury taller than Thor? Hawkeye looks pretty bad-ass, I never was a big fan of the Black Widow and they still need to work on Iron Man’s suit (They missed a spot). The Hulk looks like the Hulk. Over-all, I look at this poster and I get super jazzed for next summer. Avengers hits the theaters on May 4, 2012.

What do you think?

Follow me on twitter @comicavult

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