Tag Archives: Tony Stark

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #694 – The 50th Anniversary story arc concludes!

Amazing Spider-Man #694
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks], and Edgar Delgado [Colors]

If Amazing Spider-Man #692 and 693 were about introducing Alpha, then this week’s #694 is all about setting the character up for his next chapter–whenever that may be.

Deciding to take a break from his research at Horizon Labs, Peter Parker heads out to the airport to say goodbye to his Aunt May and her husband, J. Jonah Jameson Sr., before they head back to Boston.  As is the case when he has something to do or somewhere to be, he’s interrupted.  The Avengers request his help fighting off Terminus, who’s once again intent on taking over the Earth.

The Avengers unfortunately have the bright idea of having Spider-Man summon Alpha, and the egotistical teen hero with more power than everyone else present darts across the world from Japan to lay the smackdown on Terminus.  This causes problems, as the fight takes place above the airport and Alpha’s irresponsible use of his powers short circuits all of the planes currently in the air–including the jet carrying May and Jonah Sr.  Naturally, the day is saved, but as soon as Alpha leaves, Spider-Man and the Avengers all agree his powers, created in a lab accident by Peter’s “Parker Particles,” must go.

But, irreparable damage may have already been done.

Dan Slott packs a lot of great moments into this issue, continuing to showcase Alpha as an extraordinarily unlikeable character.  At least two recurring members of Spidey’s supporting casts get apparent status quo changes here, as well.  Seeing Peter act in a more stern, almost parental-like manner was different for a change, and I especially enjoyed Dan’s nod to all of the people who are unclear as to whether or not Spider-Man is still a Future Foundation member.  Combine this with Ramos’ art and a nice lead-in to the “Danger Zone” arc and you’ve got a solid conclusion to Slott’s 50th Anniversary story arc.

RATING:  A Tantalizing Tale in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

*ALSO:  If you didn’t notice, this issue’s cover was an homage to a classic cover from when the “big two” comic publishers could play nice every now and then.

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! 

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 

Review: Avenging Spider-Man #3, Red Hulk is dead?

Avenging Spider-Man #3
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Joe Madureira and Ferran Daniel [Color]

The conclusion to Zeb Wells’ first story in his Spider-Man team-up book begins with the Red Hulk dead and Spider-Man on the run in Subterranea with J. Jonah Jameson in tow.

Last issue, Red Hulk was seemingly defeated in battle by the king of the Molans, who had conquered Subterranea and usurped the Mole Man.  After getting Mayor Jameson to safety, Spider-Man challenges the Molan king to prevent him from trying to do the same to New York.

In traditional Spider-Man fashion, this isn’t done without a little bit of humor.  After all, Avenging Spider-Man is probably the most light-hearted of the Spidey books out right now, and the tonal polar opposite of Wells’ current Spidey mini-series Carnage U.S.A.

If you’ve read my reviews of the first two issues of Avenging (here and here), you’ve no doubt heard everything you need to know about the book.  It’s a light-hearted, fast-paced ride in the tradition of the old Marvel Team-Up books.  The art matches the tone of the writing, and I’ve gotta say that I wish this were an animated series. I’d be stoked about it and hooked, waking up early on Saturdays again and stuck in front of the TV eating Count Chocula.

Definitely pick this book up if you like your Spider-Man to be fast, fun and cracking jokes every other panel.  I’m not sure this is going to be the consistent tone of the book based on some of the recently released teasers, but it’s a safe bet that breaks in that tone will be few and far between based on these first few issues.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 9/10 

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