Tag Archives: hawkeye

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #698 – WHY, DAN?! WHYYYYYYYYYY?!

Amazing Spider-Man #698
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Richard Elson and Antonio Fabela [Color Art]



Dan Slott, you broke my heart.

Ever since your run on Amazing Spider-Man began last year, I’ve been one of its biggest supporters, going so far as to compare it to the Michelinie and Stern runs.  And then you did it.  You drove that spike in my heart that was like a thousand One More Days.

Actually, that’s a terrible analogy.  I actually liked One More Day.  Comparing that spike to 1,000 Clone Sagas or Ben-Reilly-replacing-Peter-Parker scenarios or JMS runs is far more accurate.

But the point is, you shook my faith in my favorite series.  You weren’t the first, though.

When I was nine years old, I quit reading new issues for five years because of the ridiculousness of the aforementioned Clone Saga and (temporary/retconned) replacement of Peter by his clone, Ben Reilly.  What you have done here, though, may be impossible for me to recover from.

Amazing Spider-Man #698 begins with a reminder that Doc Ock is on his death bed, with only hours left to live.  He’s struggling to say something, and it turns out what he’s trying to say is, “Peter Parker.”  For the rest of the issue, longtime readers will notice that the way Slott has written Peter’s dialogue and inner monologue is strange, and we eventually find out why when Spider-Man is summoned by the Avengers to the Raft (the ultra high security prison for supervillains) because Ock’s about to die and he keeps saying the name of Spidey’s secret identity.

And then, once the two are in the room, we get the big reveal.  We now know why Peter’s words sound so strange in this issue.

It’s because one of the most ridiculous and asinine predictions for what would happen in the “Dying Wish”/Amazing Spider-Man #700 arc ended up being true–Doc Ock somehow switched his consciousness into Peter Parker’s body and vice versa, and Ock’s body dies with Peter’s mind trapped inside.

I’ll probably still buy #699 and #700 just to have a complete run up through the “final” issues of Amazing Spider-Man–and I’ll probably still buy Superior Spider-Man #1, because, well, eBay–but for the first time in about five years, I’m not all that excited about the next issue of Spider-Man.

On the bright side, I can’t imagine this being something that sticks in the long term.  For the foreseeable future, however, it might be time to move on to something else.

RATING:  It’s gonna harsh your mellow, man…but at least the art is good.


3-page preview: Hawkeye #2

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Marvel Comics released a three-page preview of Hawkeye #2 written by Matt Fraction with art by David Aja. Hawkeye #2 will be in your local comic book store on September 5, 2012.

Your First Look at HAWKEYE #2!

Marvel is proud to present your first look at Hawkeye #2, brought to you by the superstar creative team of Matt Fraction and David Aja! The Arrowed Avenger is back on his feet and hitting the Marvel Universe to prove once and for all that he’s worthy of the title of Avenger! But he won’t be going it alone, as fellow archer hero Kate Bishop fights by his side!

The critics have spoken, Hawkeye is a hit!

“9 out of 10” –Newsarama

“One of the best and most interesting superhero books on stands.” –Comic Book Resources

“Simply gorgeous to behold.” –iFanboy

“I can’t wait for the next chapter. “ –IGN

“A fun, unpredictable ride, which handles the Marvel Universe from a perspective which we haven’t seen before.” –The Beat

“This is a series that needs to be read.” –ComicVine

“Solid.” – ComicsAlliance

Actions, guns, and double the arrow-slinging conflicts await in Hawkeye #2, hitting the bullseye in comic shops everywhere, the Marvel Comics app, and Marvel Digital Comic Shop this September.

HAWKEYE #2 (JUL120588)
Pencils and Cover by DAVID AJA
FOC – 8/13/2012, On Sale – 9/5/2012

Fraction takes on Hawkeye

Marvel Comics Tuesday afternoon released the Adi Granov variant to Hawkeye #1 written by Matt Fraction with art by David Aja. Hawkeye #1 hits your local comic book store on August 1st, 2012.

Adi Granov Covers HAWKEYE #1!

Marvel is proud to present your first look at superstar artist Adi Granov’s variant cover to Hawkeye #1, the start of an all-new ongoing series featuring the breakout star of the hit summer blockbuster! Join self-made hero Hawkeye in a high stakes adventure with the ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop at his side! Will he be able to prove himself worthy to be called one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? The red-hot fan favorite team of writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja reunite to kick off this action packed epic in Hawkeye #1, coming to comic shops everywhere, on the Marvel Comics app, and the Marvel Digital Comics Shop this August.

HAWKEYE #1 (JUN120659)
Pencils & Cover by DAVID AJA
Variant Cover by ADI GRANOV
FOC – 7/9/2012, On Sale – 8/1/2012

3-page preview: New Avengers #28 – Prison Break!

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Marvel Comics Thursday afternoon released a three-page preview of New Avengers #28 written by Brian Michael Bendis with artwork by Michael Deodato. The Avengers vs. X-Men cross over will be in your local comic book store on July 11th, 2013. Are you enjoying Avengers vs. X-Men?

Marvel is proud to present your first look at New Avengers #28, an epic tie in to Avengers VS. X-Men from the blockbuster creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato! With the Phoenix Five pursuing and imprisoning Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, it’s up to the New Avengers to stage a prison break! But can Luke Cage, Hawkeye, and Spider-Woman escape from the heart of X-Men territory? It’s non-stop action in New Avengers #28, coming to comic shops everywhere, the Marvel Comics app and the Marvel Digital Comics Shop this July.

NEW AVENGERS #28 (MAY120651)
Pencils & Cover by MICHAEL DEODATO
FOC – 6/18/2012, On Sale – 7/11/2012

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

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

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!


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.


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: Carnage U.S.A. #5 – Double-Amputees Battle to the Death!

Carnage U.S.A. #5 (of 5)
Writer:  Zeb Wells
Art:  Clayton Crain

So here’s the recap:  Carnage takes over a small town in Colorado.  Spider-Man and a group of Avengers (Captain America, Hawkeye, Wolverine, and Thing) go there to stop him.  Unbeknownst to them, the Carnage symbiote ate a ton of cows at a meat-packing plant and expanded exponentially, allowing its host, serial killer Cletus Kasady, to control the town’s occupants like puppets.  This also allows the Carnage symbiote to possess Cap, Hawkeye, Wolverine, and Thing in the same manner.

Spider-Man narrowly escapes, finding the town’s survivors in a compound/private zoo owned by the now-dead owner of the meat packing plant.  The government sends in the cybernetic symbiote Scorn (see last year’s Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain mini-series Carnage] and a spec ops team augmented by the four symbiotes that once composed the symbiote Hybrid, and Cap breaks free of Carnage’s control long enough to call in the newest Secret Avenger, Venom.  Scorn manages to trap Carnage (and Venom) in some sort of sonic machine that scares away their symbiotes.

That brings us to this week’s final issue of Carnage U.S.A., which opens with Cletus Kasady (complete with cybernetic legs) preparing to kill double-amputee Venom host Flash Thompson.  Fortunately for Thompson, Kasady’s legs were partially powered by the Carnage symbiote and the machine fries their circuits in short order.  The result is (and I’m making an assumption here) the first fight to the death between double amputees in a comic not published by Avatar Press.  This fight gets nasty pretty quick–I’m talking blades impaling arms, biting, and meathooks to the rib cage.  It’s exactly what you’d expect to see in a book starring Carnage.

Meanwhile, the Venom and Carnage symbiotes have gone rogue.  Remember that private zoo I mentioned earlier?  Yeah, you can see where this is going:  Avengers vs. Animal Kingdom.

For what it’s worth, Carnage U.S.A. (and last year’s Carnage) have been the best story involving Cletus Kasady I’ve ever read.  Wells has successfully revamped a character that, for many people, was run into the ground during the ’90s in a lot of cheesy, over-the-top stories.  In all fairness, though, comics were still fairly PC at the time, with the darkest the Spider-Man books had gone probably being Gwen Stacy’s death, Harry Osborn’s drug addiction, and “Kraven’s Last Hunt.”

This story is as fun as it is dark, and Crain’s art, though it doesn’t always have the most detailed backgrounds, compliments it perfectly.  I think I’ll pretend “Maximum Carnage” never happened in favor of this.

STORY:  9/10
ART:  9/10 

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: Avenging Spider-Man #5 – Captain America, Art School Student

Avenging Spider-Man #5
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan [Inker], Sunny Gho [Color Art]

The latest issue of Zeb Wells’ Spider-Man team-up book sees Spider-Man pairing off with Captain America–because, well, they’re both Avengers and that’s kind of the point of this book.  Also, both characters have movies coming out in the next few months.

At the beginning of the issue, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye, and Spider-Woman are in Avengers Mansion reading a reprint of an old comic strip in the Daily Bugle.  The comic strip, it turns out, was drawn by a pre-super soldier serum Captain America, who, as it turns out, wasn’t just scrawny and weak–he was an art school kid.  The Avengers are all joking around about the comic having “liberty bonds” in every sentence (Hey, it was World War II, you know?) and Cap himself walks in right as Spider-Man sticks his foot in his mouth.

Captain America tells the Avengers that they’re going to round up the rest of the Serpent Society, who were causing trouble in the last issue of Avenging Spider-Man (and who also caused trouble this week in Avengers vs. X-Men #0, because they are omnipresent or something).

Anyways, realizing that both he and Captain America were nerds, Spider-Man calls dibs on teaming with Captain America and then annoys him with his trademark banter.  Ultimately, the two have a bonding experience later in the issue, which I guess is different from when they were pretty close friends during Spider-Man’s time living in Avengers Tower prior to 2006’s “Civil War” story.  Back then (during Straczynski’s “The Other” storyline in Amazing Spider-Man), they were sparring partners and Captain America taught Spider-Man how to catch a bullet with his bare hands instead of just dodging it, because Captain America can do that, too.  For the record, neither of them ever really spend much time catching bullets with their bare hands, but that’s beside the point.

Wells does a great job here of furthering the idea that Spider-Man can’t help but be a pain in the ass to his fellow heroes, as has been the case since he first became a member of the Avengers.  Unlike other writers who handle Spider-Man in an Avengers setting, though, Spider-Man isn’t just written as a wise-cracking idiot here.  As much as he annoys the others, you an see that they acknowledge what he contributes to the team and that there’s a certain level of respect for him–although in the case of characters like Wolverine and Captain America, their respect has long been established).  That Wells also manages to add something more to the Captain America mythos with the art school comic strip is icing on the cake.

The art in this issue strikes a nice balance between realistic and traditional, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho on more books.  My only real complaint here would be that Spider-Man seems to have gotten a bit shorter, only coming up to Captain America’s shoulder in one panel (Spider-Woman, by comparison, appears just a few inches shorter than Cap on the same page).  It just kind of makes Spider-Man look like a little kid by comparison, when he’s actually around his mid-20s–not to mention it makes me wonder just how short Wolverine is supposed to be, since he’s shorter than Spider-Man.

Regardless, Avenging Spider-Man continues to be fun and, so far, offers a lot of easy jumping-on points for new readers who might be uncomfortable just diving right into the character’s flagship book.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10 


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 

Review: Carnage U.S.A. #4 – Venom Assembles

Carnage U.S.A. #4 of 5
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Clayton Crain

Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain’s Carnage U.S.A. begins to wind down this month as  Spider-Man rallies Doverton’s survivors and Venom joins the fray.

Last issue, Captain America was able to break free of the Carnage symbiote’s control long enough to call for help from Venom (who is now a member of the Secret Avengers if you’re out of the loop).  Of course, Venom shows up this issue right as the government task force powered by the de-amalgamated Hybrid symbiote is failing and Carnage is about to tear Spider-Man’s eyes out through his mask (while promising it will be “like your skull is givin’ birth!”).

Unfortunately, Spider-Man stops Venom from blowing Carnage’s head off, giving Carnage a moment to regain the upper hand (and control of Captain America, Wolverine, Hawkeye, and the Thing) before Tanis Nieves (AKA the most recent addition to Marvel’s long list of symbiote characters, Scorn) uses a bulldozer to push both Carnage and Venom into a…silo of some sort? Whatever it is, it causes the symbiotes to leave both men and run off, and leaves Venom’s host, Flash Thompson, in a compromising situation with mass murderer Cletus Kasady.

If my description of the plot sounds a bit chaotic, that’s because this issue moved along at breakneck speed. That’s not to say the writing suffered–it didn’t. Wells’ Carnage gets more and more maniacal with every issue he writes the character, and his Spider-Man stays well in-line with the “No One Dies” status quo Dan Slott has set for the character.

Most of the backgrounds remain relatively sparse, but that’s to be expected when each frame is painted by hand on a monthly title and features the amount of character detail that Crain includes here. It really works in his favor that this story is set in a small Midwest town because there isn’t really anything to see in a place like that, anyways.

I’m excited to see how this one wraps up (and hopefully get more of an explanation for that big silo thing).

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10

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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: Carnage U.S.A. #3 – Symbiote dogs and moral dilemmas

Carnage U.S.A. #3 of 5
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Clayton Crain

When Cletus Kasady, aka the symbiote-enhanced mass murderer Carnage, takes over a small Colorado town and compromises an Avengers task force, there’s only one thing the government can do–and it doesn’t involve napalm.

They assemble a top secret, symbiote-enhanced task force of their own.

Last issue, we were introduced to said task force, powered by the four de-amalgamated symbiotes that once comprised Hybrid.  The coolest among these is the symbiote-enhanced military dog Lasher, who has a confrontation with Carnage’s pet, the Doppelganger (remember him?), at the beginning of the issue.

Zeb Wells keeps the dark tone in place throughout, with Kasady–dressed as a priest–holding much of the town’s population in a church and demanding they each remove their teeth with pliers as a sacrifice to him.  Meanwhile, he’s demanded that the wife of the town’s sheriff, leader of a small camp of survivors where Spider-Man has found refuge, kill her husband lest he should kill their children.

Of course, he’s also using them as puppets via the Carnage symbiote, and Spider-Man intervenes as soon as things take a turn for the ugly.  This creates a moral dilemma, though, as Spider-Man finds himself having to fight off two Carnage-possessed children.  To Spider-Man’s relief, Kasady becomes angered that Sheriff Morell’s wife still won’t kill him and calls the sheriff’s family back to the church.

If writers had created these types of deranged moral dilemmas back in the ’90s when Carnage was first created, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so one-dimensional.

On that note, Carnage isn’t going to kill the sheriff’s kids himself if he can scar someone else’s psyche in the process.  Attempting to get the symbiote-possessed Captain America to do the dirty work backfires, though, as Cap fights back and is able to free himself from Carnage’s control long enough to radio for help from “Code Name 4563.”

Given recent developments in Secret Avengers (Carnage U.S.A. takes place after the events of Secret Avengers #23), fans probably already know who Cap was calling in…

Overall, this series is still moving along at a great pace with enough nods to (and improvements upon) the past to keep longtime readers engaged while not alienating anyone new to the characters.  Crain’s artwork still fits the story’s dark tone, although a lot of his backgrounds are very plain, if there’s anything in them at all.  Of course, this story is set in the Midwest, where there really isn’t much to see to begin with, and Crain paints everything, making extremely detailed backgrounds in every panel something that would be quite a bit more time-consuming.

This is still required reading for any 90s kids who like to go on and on about how awesome Carnage is, or anyone who hated symbiotes after Marvel stuffed them down everyone’s throats during that same time period.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10

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Review: Secret Avengers #22 -Captain Britain and Giant Man join Hawkeyes Team

Secret Avengers #22

Story By: Rick Remender

Art By: Gabriel Hardman

Review Score : 8.5/10

Rick Remender comes aboard Secret Avengers and immediately injects the humor and bat shit crazy story ideas hes known for. The question is can he juggle two very different team books and have both be so high in quality? The short answer is yes.

We start the issue off following Captain Britain as he takes on Riot and his sentient mob of humans . The fight is short and it gets Captain Britain from London to Other World which is featured heaily in Remenders other team book Uncanny X-Force. Britain gets a call from Captain America and is transferred to the Secret Avengers new base using Pym Particles. It seems Hank Pym and Beast have been left to their own devices and have created a new Headquarters for the Secret Avengers to operate out of . The kicker is that anytime they are inside of the base they are shrunk down to the size of an Ant . Britain accepts the invitation to join the team and after Captain America announces he is leaving there is a very funny moment between Britain and Hawkeye . Hawkeye lets Britain go on assuming he is the choice to lead until he fires a well placed sticky arrow over his mouth and announces his acceptance as the new leader of the team.

Remender does a fine job juggling all of these characters and their personalities . Captain Britain is Cocky and Regal, Hawkeye is Brash and a bit of a trickster , Hank McCoy gets to have a little more fun than we are use to seeing him have due to Remenders quick wit on the page. Everyone seems to benefit from his writing style.  While there is a large amount of humor in this book Remender writes a very dire situation in Pakistan . A suicide bomber sets his sights on a woman and child and manages to have the bomb go off  only for the women to reveal that she has the ability to consume the explosion and redirect back into the city. The woman is an Adaptoid and this incident sends the team to investigate the fallout. Other Adaptoids across the world activate and head for Pakistan as well. A fight ensues between the Avengers and The Adaptoids with the Avengers losing their battle .

Gabriel Hardman handles the art in this series and I’m having a hard time enjoying his work. Characters look great but his style is a bit sloppy in areas . Maybe it has to do with the inking but it could be a bit cleaner. The characters all look very unique which I appreciate and he can draw a very kinetic action sequence .I’m also not a huge fan of the washed out colors in the issue. The inks tend to pop a bit too much for me.

Hawkeye instructs Antman to jump onto one of the Adaptoids which takes us to our final scene of the issue and a huge reveal involving Lady Deathstrike and a group of other villains to good for me to spoil. Needless to say between the final page reveal and the promise of Venom joining the team next issue I’m definitely excited to see what Remender has in store for this series .

Mike DeVivo

Follow me on Twitter @pandasandrobots


Review: “X-Men Legacy #261” When an Exodus comes a knockin’

X-Men Legacy #261
Writer: Christopher Gage
Artist: David Baldeon and Jordi Tarragona

Rogue, Gambit and Frenzy have arrived at the Jean Grey Institute and they barely have time to unpack their bags before something big and bad comes knockin’ upon their door. In this case, as the cover depicts, the big bad is ex-Acolyte leader Exodus. Last we saw Exodus was  in issue #225: Charles Xavier had persuaded Exodus to drop his scheme to reign supreme over the mutant race and instead band together and fight the good fight.  Here, he returns for an admirable cause–to reunite both Cyclops’ and Wolverine’s teams once again, as everyone agrees in ‘strength in numbers’ and that ideal has more than proven itself warranted during the time spent on Utopia.

So, Exodus puts forth an Ultimatum: come with him back to Utopia, freely or, if necessary, by force. Of course, no one likes to be told what to do, especially our southern bell Rogue. Admirable cause aside, it was a terrible presentation, so battle erupts! But here in the Jean Grey Institute, all children must evacuate to safety as the X-Men control the situation. I do enjoy Cyclops’ mentality that all mutants are active X-Men combatants, as the situation is ever so dire, but THIS is a breath of fresh air! And the teachers at the institute make one hell of an X-Men Team.

Christopher Gage crams this issue with content, which is always highly appreciated. The issue kicks off with Rachel picking Rogue’s brain on the current status of her relationship with Magneto, who is currently residing with (as Rogue perfectly states) his “heir to his legacy,” Cyclops (scary thought). Rogue and Magneto’s relationship, I believe, is bound to fail, between long distance and/or Magneto eventually ripping the world asunder once again. Personally,  I’m rooting for them (and Magneto’s prolonged good streak), as I’m a huge fan of their iterations during the Age of Apocalypse.

Penciler, David Baldeon’s cartoon expressive style accompanies the book’s brother title, Wolverine and the X-Men, perfectly. Both have the cartoon detail that adds a youthful tone that works well for the attempt to make these kids seem vulnerable, though we know most are well seasoned soldiers. As Gage’s script demanded, Baldeon formed his pages to read fluently and not seem crammed. Along with the cartoon style comes over the top effects and colors, which poops off the pages; it’s quite a bit of fun. Beast sports his new uniform, only shown in preview art for the upcoming arc in the Secret Avengers, and it looks great as his old uniform was awkward fitting… almost as if it was crafted by Emma Frost.

This issue was fun and has brought Exodus back into the forefront. I only hope he brings battle to Magneto and then inevitably joins the X-Men, ’cause everyone’s invited! Hell, I predict Mr. Sinister will be an X-Man this time next year. Jumping back, I may add that I’m extremely glad that Rachel Grey has been added to the cast, her history brings a lot of possible story devices and she’s part of the Summers/Grey clan–gotta love em’ all. Kudos to Mark Brooks on a fantastic cover. The next issue’s cover of a battered Rogue tops it!

Story: 7
Art: 8

Also recommended this week:

Justice League #5It gets real! -Reviewed Here!
Angel & Faith #6There’s a horrifying mosquito demon on the loose…and that’s just scratching the surface.
Secret Avengers #21.1The prelude to the formation of Hawkeye’s new secret espionage team!

Follow me on Twitter @ddsuperbatnix

Review: Carnage U.S.A. #2, I’m Slowly Forgetting That ‘Maximum Carnage’ Ever Happened…

Carnage U.S.A. #2
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Clayton Crain

The Carnage symbiote, after devouring all of the cattle in the Midwest town of Doverton’s meat packing plant to increase its mass, has taken a small town hostage via its water supply for its host — the psychotic mass murderer Cletus Kasady.  A team of Avengers including Captain America, Wolverine, Hawkeye and the Thing, in an attempt to put an end to the terror, were compromised and placed under the symbiote’s influence with the exception of Spider-Man, who has found refuge among a group of the town’s survivors.

What’s the government to do, aside from, you know, napalming the town and everyone in it to contain the disaster?

They put together a task force of their own symbiotes, of course.  Unfortunately for Uncle Sam, however, heavy hitters like Venom (AWOL — See current issues of Venom), Anti-Venom (Inactive — See recent “Spider-Island” event story in Amazing Spider-Man) and Toxin (Missing — You’re on your own here, kids) are unavailable.

That’s not to say there are no options whatsoever.  After all, a new symbiote (Scorn, aka Dr. Tanis Nieves) was “born” in Zeb Wells’ first Carnage mini-series last year.  And it turns out that symbiote is a hybrid of symbiote and machine, allowing Nieves to “form sympathetic bonds with technology.”  (Yeah, I had a hard time suspending disbelief for the whole ‘hyrbid of organic creature and machine’ bit, too, but this is a comic book, so deal with it.)

Don’t think Scorn is going to the dance alone, though.  Back in the swingin’ symbiote heyday that was the 1990s and early 2000s, there was another symbiote called Hybrid (though I can’t recall at the moment which symbiote it was an offspring of…Who do I look like, the Maury of comicdom?).  It was an amalgam of 4 different symbiotes, though it was — as conveniently explained in four pages of this issue — “de-amalgamated” to be put to use by a four-member special forces group, a by-product of the success (or lack thereof) of “Project Venom.”

Each member of this special forces group trained its symbiote, rendered catatonic by the aforementioned “de-amalgamation” — to serve a specific purpose in the battlefield.  The coolest of the bunch?  A symbiote bonded to a military dog called Lasher.

Anyways, that’s enough synopsis babble.  You want the details and whether or not this is worth your hard-earned $3.99 (or less, if your local comic shop offers discounts to regulars like mine does).

If you love Carnage, darker Spider-Man stories, Zeb Wells’ writing, Clayton Crain’s art or all of the above, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Wells, who I praised briefly in my review of this week’s Amazing Spider-Man #677, really gets how to handle a dark Spider-Man story and manages to make Carnage a deeper, somewhat-more-interesting character while he’s at it.  (The guy is creepily longing for a family!  It’s…mildly disturbing and minutely sympathy-inducing…)  I know I give Wells a ton of praise on his regular Avenging Spider-Man series for being a fun, light-hearted Spidey team-up book, but these dark stories are where he really hits the ball out of the park.  Again, I hope Dan Slott stays on the flagship Amazing Spider-Man for as long as possible, but if he ever leaves, I want to see Wells get the job.

Once again, Clayton Crain’s individually painted panels really fit the tone of the story.  I know people who complain that he doesn’t have much detail in his backgrounds, and maybe that’s part of why this story was set in a tiny Midwest town, but it’s the characters that really make the story.  The facial expressions on the townspeople alone really drive home the despair of the situation.

Two issues into this five-part mini-series and, unlike the majority of Carnage stories from the ’90s, I’m not hoping it ends yet — especially now that a private zoo stocked with lions, gorillas and other wildlife was briefly mentioned this issue.  Like that’s totally not going to come into play later on…

Story:  9/10
Art:  9/10

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Review: Carnage U.S.A. #1, Midwest Mayhem!

Carnage U.S.A. #1
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Clayton Crain

Before last year’s Carnage mini-series (also by Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain), I pretty much cared very little for the character.  He was one of Spider-Man’s most one-dimensional villains:  A serial killer who ended up with a symbiote spawned by the Venom symbiote, which basically allowed him to kill on a more massive level.  It’s a pretty basic villain archetype, as he’s just a guy who likes to kill people.

Anyways, that series was essentially what the “Maximum Carnage” storyline of the ’90s could have been if it were done right.  As much as Wells is good at writing a light-hearted, fun Spidey book over on Avenging Spider-Man, the guy writes AMAZING dark Spidey stories.  For the best evidence, you need look no further than his “Shed” story arc from Amazing Spider-Man last year where Curt Connors ate his son Billy after transforming into the Lizard once again.

As we learned in Carnage, Cletus Kasady was alive and well, as was the Carnage symbiote.  Long thought dead after the Sentry had torn him in half in space during an Avengers storyline a few years ago, the symbiote had actually kept Kasady alive as they floated in Earth’s orbit.  Eventually, a weapons designer with little foresight and no integrity had the symbiote and Kasady retrieved from orbit, Kasady was held in a secret facility after being given a robotic lower half, and the symbiote was used for new technology…until it reunited with Kasady, allowing a typical Carnage killing spree.

The two escaped from Spider-Man and Iron Man at the end of that series, and in Carnage U.S.A., we find that Carnage has taken his latest murderous rampage to the Midwest and claimed the entire town of Doverton, Colorado as hostages.

Of course, Spider-Man and several Avengers — namely Captain America, Wolverine, Hawkeye and the Thing — show up, but that might not be enough to deal with a serial killer who’s using a baby as a shield and has symbiotic tendrils around the throats of an entire small town.

After having not cared about Carnage or the majority of the symbiotic characters since I was about 9 or 10, it’s been nice seeing Wells breathe new life into the character and make him interesting again instead of just a symbiotic Joker knock-off.  That, combined with Remender’s revamp of Venom, has made the last year somewhat interesting.  Of course, Clayton Crain’s painted (PAINTED!) artwork makes the story that much better, given his ability to bring out a gritty realism in his work.  These panels are absolutely beautiful.

If this series turns out anything like that last one, it’s only going to get crazier and darker from here.  Here’s hoping the detail of the artwork doesn’t hold up the schedule like on the last book.

Story: 9/10
Art: 9.5/10 

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