The thing about being a Marvel fan is that I’ve been reading their comics off-and-on since I was a kid in the ‘70s, usually see their movies in the thThe thing about being a Marvel fan is that I’ve been reading their comics off-and-on since I was a kid in the ‘70s, usually see their movies in the theaters a couple of times each, and watch all their TV shows. (Not just the Netflix ones either. I’m talking both Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter.) Yet there can still be a moment while I’m reading one of their books that I'll scratch my head and wonder who the hell Mattie Franklin is and when exactly was there a third Spider-Woman? *sigh* Well, that’s what Wikipedia is for.
Everyone’s favorite ex-superhero turned private detective crosses paths with superhero hatin’ newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson. At first he tries to hire Jessica to find out Spider-Man’s secret identity and after that doesn’t work out like he wants JJJ is mightily pissed at JJ. That complicates matter when Jessica later discovers that Jameson’s adopted daughter, Mattie, is a minor superhero and in terrible trouble. On the personal front Jessica is still dating Scott Lang (a/k/a Ant-Man), but her secrets and his hesitation about her particular brand of crazy may trainwreck the relationship before it really has a chance to get started.
Alias continues to stand out as being a part of the Marvel universe, but also apart from it. Jessica keeps getting sucked into superhero business despite her best efforts to stay away from cases involving people in tights, and her position on the fringes gives us a new angle to look at all of stories that usually fall through the cracks. It’s also one of the most mature comics I’ve seen from Marvel with sex, profanity, and adult themes with subjects like drug abuse and rape dealt with directly and far more frankly than you’d ever see in of most of their titles.
I particularly liked the first issue in which the entire story of JJJ hiring Jessica and what happens afterwards is told in a unique way. A couple of larger panels are on each page and instead of dialogue balloons or captions the dialogue is in a type face font placed at the edges. This gives you a vibe that you’re looking at photos and a transcripts of conversations so it’s like you’re reading a case file. It’s one of the most clever and offbeat playing with the typical comic book format that I’ve seen. ...more
If I look at it as the glass being half-full then this is the best of the books King has done with the Bill Hodges character. On the other hand it’s sIf I look at it as the glass being half-full then this is the best of the books King has done with the Bill Hodges character. On the other hand it’s still pretty much a shoulder shrug of a three star read which tells you how little I thought of this trilogy so I’m pretty sure that cup is half-empty after all.
Uncle Stevie tried his hand at doing a straight up crime thriller with Mr. Mercedes, but I found it to be a painful slog of poor plotting, uneven pacing, and a main character who came across as a reckless and irresponsible jackass. Finders Keepers had a pretty decent concept, but again it’s biggest flaw revolved around Hodges himself because he was almost completely irrelevant to the story which again highlighted that King struggles with mystery novels.
Now here in the third book King has thrown in the towel on trying to write a straight-up action thriller/ detective novel and gone back to his roots with a villain who has psychic and telekinetic abilities. By introducing spooky powers King doesn’t have to rely on trying to put together a logical chain of events that depend on characters reasonably deducing things or behaving rationally. Instead, he can have them following hunches and feelings, and the supernatural element keeps him from having to twist the plot into pretzels to make it all work. Like a lot of King novels most of the characters also seem to have an uncanny knack for guessing at what's happening elsewhere which seems more acceptable with all the bizarre stuff going on.
As a Stephen King horror story by itself End of Watch would probably rank somewhere in the middle of his works. The problem is that it builds on the far weaker Mr. Mercedes as a foundation. Finders Keepers can be skipped, but it’s telling that you can bypass one-third of the story and still follow the major narrative. So what you end up with is a trilogy that started as a very flawed crime thriller, had a second book with zero impact on the main story, and then goes paranormal in the third act with only some minor hints dropped in the previous book that it’s coming.
The only reason to like these three books being stringed together is if King managed to make you love the main character, Bill Hodges, and his two assistants/friends. I didn’t. I mean, I really didn’t. When he wasn’t hiding critical evidence and inspiring a maniac to seek new levels of carnage Hodges came across as this bland, grandfatherly figure. Mostly he exists to ask tech questions of his younger colleagues who seem to look up to him for some reason. I never really buy him as a tough ex-cop, and he sure as hell isn’t a brilliant detective which is shown yet again here when the major breakthrough in this one comes from Hodges asking a very basic question that he failed to do in an earlier interview. Frankly, it’s a bad sign that my first reaction (view spoiler)[ to finding out that the Hodges has terminal cancer was relief that his recklessness and general incompetence wouldn’t be endangering the public any more. At last, his reign of terror has ended! Also, in three books Hodges is never once the guy who actually stops the main baddie during the final showdowns. So what purpose did he really serve? (hide spoiler)]
King tries desperately to make the reader care about Hodges and his friends, but I’m left thinking that it would have been better for Uncle Stevie to just do this basic story as one book which could have been easily accomplished. Here's how. (view spoiler)[A cop stops a mass murderer and gives him brain damage in the process. After the cop has retired he hears about weird deaths surrounding the comatose patient and investigates. Hilarity ensues. (hide spoiler)]Finders Keepers also could have been a better stand-alone book without trying to cram it into this narrative.
One other note of complaint: I doubt that King accepts product placement fees for his books, but I was really starting to wonder if MacDonald’s hadn’t paid him off when the first several pages feature an adult EMT completely losing his shit over the prospect of going through the drive-thru. This guy, who a few pages later will be portrayed as a clear headed hero in a crisis, has this gem of a line when he sees the yellow arcs of a MacDonald’s sign: ”The Golden Tits of America!”
Classy. I guess I wouldn't turn down CPR from the guy if I had a heart attack, but I can only hope he's not too busy making boob jokes and doesn't have a hunk of half-chewed Egg McMuffin in his mouth if he gives me mouth-to-mouth.
Overall, I found all three books underwhelming. It really should have been one or two good Stephen King novels vs. two-thirds of a very flawed crime trilogy that Uncle Stevie tried to salvage by going weird in the last one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I received a free copy from the publisher for review.
A reporter who had been fired for his refusal to kill a story about a politician’s sex scandal goI received a free copy from the publisher for review.
A reporter who had been fired for his refusal to kill a story about a politician’s sex scandal goes into a strip club and during a lap dance he strikes up a conversation that helps reignite his passion for writing true crime stories. So he decides to look into the disappearance of a college student that sends him down a self-destructive path as he copes with some ugly family history as well as fears about his own nature.
This sounds like the setup for a pretty good fiction thriller with a flawed protagonist becoming obsessed with a mystery to avoid dealing with his own problems, but it’s one of those cases where the facts are probably stranger than any fiction a crime writer could dream up.
On February 9, 2004, nursing student Maura Murray vanished under puzzling circumstances after suddenly leaving the University of Massachusetts Amherst and driving over two hours north. She was last seen following a minor car accident on a rural road but refused help from a passing school bus driver who went to his nearby home and called the police. Even though only minutes passed from the time that Maura spoke to the bus driver until the first police officer arrived there was no sign of her.
In 2009 James Renner had just settled a lawsuit related to his wrongful termination as a newspaper reporter when he decided to dig into the disappearance of Maura. He’d find the family surprisingly uncooperative because usually the loved ones of missing people are anxious for publicity to keep the case in the public mind. With limited information and a belief that journalism today requires total transparency Renner decided to take an open approach to his research of posting information and updates on a blog, and this attracted a group of internet armchair detectives anxious to help who would provide information and tips related to the case. It also took a dark turn when someone began posting creepy YouTube clips that seem to be hinting towards knowledge of what happened to Maura as well as eventually making Renner’s family the subject of unsettling videos.
This is one of those books that I find myself of two minds about. As a non-fiction tale of a writer getting unhealthily obsessed with a missing woman as a way of coping with and/or avoiding his own issues it’s an extremely interesting page turner. It’s also got an intriguing mystery at the heart of it because the more Renner digs into Maura Murray’s life the more evident it becomes that this was a young woman with problems, and there’s a lot of things to question and speculate about including the odd behavior of her father and her history of petty crime.
However, I always find myself extremely wary when the public gets interested in unsolved cases. It’s really easy for cable news, schlock documentaries, and click-bait websites to exploit these. Even when a story is done well with a painstakingly researched and unbiased look at a case like the Serial podcast’s first season it makes me uneasy because it seems to inspire the interwebs to unleash the worst kind of speculative nonsense without regard to facts or the realization that most crime is depressingly mundane and that it’s almost never the result of a flashy serial killer or a conspiracy of some kind.
(I’m not immune to this either. I spent more time than I like to admit poring over the cell phone logs and tower maps posted on the Serial website coming up with my own theory. So I totally understand the allure of a true crime mystery. I just don’t trust the average interwebs user’s ability to solve one. That includes me.)
People are prone to indulging our inherent biases when we try to figure out what happened during some mysterious event, and we are remarkably stubborn about not letting facts get in the way of what we want to believe. We also like to turn anything unexplained into a larger story that follows our own internal sense of logic and will incorporate any random scrap of knowledge that seems to support a pet theory. All of these things tend to combine to turn any case that catches the public eye into a clusterfuck of any wild theories the human mind can concoct, and it seems like the result is often a murky swamp of rumors, half-truths, misunderstandings, and outright lies that make it nigh on impossible to separate fact from fiction. If you send a bunch of hounds into the woods baying after a fox it’s impossible to track the fox later because its paw prints will have been obliterated by the dogs.
I’m not saying that Renner exploited Maura’s disappearance or was irresponsible in his reporting here. He’s got a variety of reasons for becoming obsessed with the case, and as he points out he probably would have made more money by simply writing another novel. For the most part he does do what seems to be a reliable job of research, discounting crackpot notions, and sticking to the facts. However, he also isn’t above thinking that coincidences are the universe's way of telling you something, visiting a psychic, tossing in the idea that the world as we know it is really just a computer simulation, and describing a couple of weird incidents that make his son sound like a character in a Stephen King novel.
At the end of the day Renner has got his own theory about what happened to Maura. His idea isn’t outlandish and there is evidence to support it, but I do question if he didn’t fall into the rabbit hole of looking for a reason Maura disappeared when the answer might be a lot more meaningless and random than what he believes. I suspect that if ever do learn of Maura’s fate that the answer will turn out to be surprisingly simple.
While this digging into an on-going mystery hit on some personal pet peeves of mine with the true crime genre, I still found Renner’s story and writing compelling overall. He also seems like a decent guy who was struggling with a lot, and the book made me hope that things got better for him after he wrote it. Maura Murray’s story almost certainly doesn’t have a happy ending, but there’s still hope for James Renner....more
A retired mercenary and his entire family are brutally murdered in what appears to be a home invasion robbery. This wasn’t just any ex-merc though. HeA retired mercenary and his entire family are brutally murdered in what appears to be a home invasion robbery. This wasn’t just any ex-merc though. He was an old buddy of professional kicker of asses Joe Pike, and Joe promptly sets out on a revenge rampage. I do so love a good revenge rampage!
Robert Crais has done something off-beat in his modern PI series that usually stars Elvis Cole as the first person hero of the story with Joe Pike featuring as the bad ass buddy that might as well be put in a glass case with the words BREAK IN CASE OF EMERGENCY stenciled on it. Crais has always done a good job of creating the sense of a real bond between Pike and Cole without explaining it, but by occasionally doing a book from Joe’s third person POV it adds a new wrinkle to the series that sheds light on Cole as well as the relationship between the two men.
An internalized no-nonsense character like Pike works best as a weapon to be deployed, and this is the kind of plot that utilizes him well with him instantly picking up a trail that leads to Serbian gangsters and going after them with the subtly of a brick through a windshield. Then we get Cole coming in at the edges of the story to do the detective work and back Joe up as needed. Not that he needs much of it.
My favorite part was when Pike starts to systematically hit the gang in the pocketbook by going after their sources of income, and that seems like what he’s best suited to do. When the story started adding twists and turns it started to feel more like an Elvis Cole book that could have used more of his point of view rather than just being the support staff. Frankly, I expected to see Joe Pike mowing through ruthless gangsters John Wick style in this and was a little disappointed I didn’t get more of that.
It’s still solid work by Crais, and an entertaining crime story overall. However, I would have preferred a bit more rampaging by Pike and a little less plot. ...more
I initially felt a lot of sympathy for Iron Man while reading this one. After all, Tony Stark isn’t a villain, and he genuinely thinks that he’s doingI initially felt a lot of sympathy for Iron Man while reading this one. After all, Tony Stark isn’t a villain, and he genuinely thinks that he’s doing the right thing while feeling guilty that he’s causing a lot of trouble for friends of his. Essentially he’s isolated and despised for doing what he sees is the only thing that will prevent the superhero community from being utterly destroyed so you can’t help but feel bad for him.
But then Iron Man gets into it with Spider-Man, a guy he manipulated into revealing his identity as a public relations move which promptly made Peter Parker's life hell, and yet Tony has the nerve to berate Spider-Man as a traitor. Oh, and we also find out that the special suit that Tony designed for Peter secretly recorded a bunch of data about his spider senses that enables Iron Man to kick Spidey’s ass. Yet he still acts like he’s the injured party.
Boooooooo! Go to hell, Tony! Ya big sneaky jerkface!
This was probably the strongest of the Civil War stories I’ve read because it did focus in on one of the most interesting factors of the whole thing in the way that Tony is both kinda right and yet completely wrong at the same time. His conversations with Captain America really bring that out that Tony is convinced he’s doing what’s best, and yet he’s completely sick about what’s happening because of it.
The subplot of Happy Hogan getting critically injured is strong but seems out of place in this, and most of the major events still takes place in the main Civil War books so there’s not that much action. This was still a solid read because of the way it shows Tony questioning what he’s done even as he refuses to stop....more
You know who doesn’t need your Civil War? Besides Axl Rose, I mean. Peter Parker could also do without it because it ain’t been nothing but trouble foYou know who doesn’t need your Civil War? Besides Axl Rose, I mean. Peter Parker could also do without it because it ain’t been nothing but trouble for the poor guy.
Most of the major events for Spidey in this event happened in the main CW books or Amazing Spider-Man so what this collection focuses on is how the public revelation of his secret identity has impacted the people in Peter Parker’s life. There’s some decent stories with Aunt May, Mary-Jane, Felicia Hardy a/k/a The Black Cat, and even a random student from the high school science class Peter was teaching. There’s also a fair amount of time spent showing all his old enemies start coming out of the woodwork to attack him now that they know who Spider-Man really is, and that also puts May and MJ in constant danger.
It all ends up being mostly a tease because it just flirts with the kind of stories I was hoping we’d get as on-going things to be explored after Peter came out as Spider-Man. However, since all this was wiped out about ten minutes after it happened and didn’t really matter it’s kind of like reading one of those What If…? issues. Not bad but ultimately pointless.
It’d also be messy to read by itself since the stories happen as Civil War progresses with little to no explanation given as to what’s been happening with Spidey there....more
T S Eliot wrote that the world would end with a whimper instead of a bang, but if you’re were in space or at the frozen wasteland at the top of the plT S Eliot wrote that the world would end with a whimper instead of a bang, but if you’re were in space or at the frozen wasteland at the top of the planet you might not even hear that much when it finally happens.
Augustine is an elderly astronomer who refuses to leave his Arctic research station after an unspecified world emergency causes the evacuation of everyone else there. He soon loses contact with the outside world, but a mysterious young girl becomes his only companion. Meanwhile, Sully is a female astronaut on the spaceship Aether that is returning from a mission to explore the moons of Jupiter, but they’ve lost all contact with Earth even though their equipment is functioning perfectly. The unsettling silence from home and what it means begins to deeply affect the crew.
Augustine and Sully, with one surrounded by ice and the other floating through a merciless vacuum, may be in vastly different circumstances, but they have a lot in common, too. They’re both people who deliberately avoided family entanglements and steady domestic lives to pursue their scientific dreams. In his younger days Augustine was always ready to move on to the next observatory once his chronic womanizing had worn out his welcome somewhere. Sully left her daughter in the care of her ex-husband to pursue her quest of going into space. Their isolation and fear make both of them reflect on their lives as they wonder if their choices had any meaning at all one way or another considering the now silent Earth.
This one belongs to be shelved along with other literary apocalypses like The Road or Station Eleven although this is definitely it’s own thing. (However, the cover certainly appears to be designed to evoke Station Eleven.) It’s extremely well written, and at about 250 pages it doesn’t have a wasted word. It’s by far the quietest end of the world story I’ve read, and that’s fitting with its settings as well as the lack of noise from Earth being the thing that lets you know something has gone terribly wrong.
It’s also got some nicely straightforward and pragmatic descriptions about the logistics of life in a mostly abandoned scientific station and a state of the art spaceship rocketing towards home. There’s enough to make both these places feel vivid, but whereas some books of this type become all about how you survive end-of-the-world scenarios this one keeps it focus on the inner lives of its two main characters which ends up being more compelling than how Augustine gets a snowmobile started or Sully helps fix a problem on her ship.
It’s the silence and the questions about what may have happened that lurk in the background here and give the book a haunting quality, but those questions end up being relatively unimportant. It’s the story of these two people and their deeper connections that really matters. (view spoiler)[ I’ll admit to feeling like a bit of an idiot that I didn’t pick up that Augustine is Sully’s long lost father sooner than I did. That piece could have made this all very hokey, but I think it works in the context of this story. (hide spoiler)]
I received a free advanced copy of this for review from the publisher.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
During the Civil War event Spider-Man was ruthlessly manipulated by someone into deciding to reveal his secret identity as Peter Parker with devastatiDuring the Civil War event Spider-Man was ruthlessly manipulated by someone into deciding to reveal his secret identity as Peter Parker with devastating consequences. Am I talking about Tony Stark or the writers and editors of Marvel? Because it’s questionable as to who screwed poor Spidey over more by the end of it all.
In a way the entire Civil War was a fight for the soul of Spider-Man with him caught between two men he greatly respects. Tony had been his friend and boss right before things went sideways, and he’d been warning Peter for some time about how increasing public sentiment against super powered people were turning into a political problem. Captain America is the guy that almost every Marvel superhero admires and looks to for guidance when things get rough, and Spidey is no exception so it was inevitable that he’d start questioning what Tony was doing when Cap stood against him.
One of the things I did like about Civil War is the way it pointed out that a billionaire like Tony Stark didn’t get rich by just letting things happen, he makes things happen. Tony shows a kind of ruthless brilliance in politics and public relations as part of his support of the Superhero Registration Act. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the way that he used Spidey here to further his own cause. Even though Tony obviously likes Peter Parker a great deal he doesn’t hesitate to switch from the carrot to a pretty damn big stick to convince Peter that he needs to publically tell people he’s Spider-Man.
That stuff all plays out pretty well, and I have to admit that I was very excited back in the day about the idea that Peter Parker revealed he was Spider-Man. He’d been doing the whole secret identity thing for about 40 years at that point, and I thought it was a really bold and interesting way to do something new and different with Peter dealing with the world knowing who he really was. Plus, I didn’t think there was any way that Marvel would be able to walk that one back without a giant retcon to their entire universe. Which just goes to show you that you should never underestimate the lengths a major comic publisher will go to in order to get a character back to what they consider a baseline status.
So that’s my biggest disappointment with this whole event. Despite being an interesting conflict between Iron Man, Cap, and Spider-Man that opened up potential new story avenues to explore, all that was instantly jettisoned in order to not just revert things back to normal but to also wipe out about 20 years’ worth of Spidey continuity in the process. Like most crossovers it didn’t offer real change but only the illusion of change, and that’s the real pity about the Spider-Man story angle in Civil War....more
The more things change the more they stay the same. For example, Lucas Davenport may not be a cop anymore, but that doesn’t mean that he’s done chasinThe more things change the more they stay the same. For example, Lucas Davenport may not be a cop anymore, but that doesn’t mean that he’s done chasing killers.
Lucas got fed up with certain elements of his old gig as a state investigator in Minnesota so he quit, but he’s still the first call that the governor makes when he needs a bloodhound. The gov is now running for president, and he got a bad vibe off some people he met on the primary campaign trail in Iowa. He fears that some whackos plan to do more than just vote for him and are going to assassinate the leading candidate of his party, Michaela Bowden. Davenport is soon tracing a network of political crackpots whose first instinct is to accuse him of being part of a federal conspiracy when he tries to talk to any of them.
This follows the standard formula of the Prey novels in giving us the parallel stories of Lucas and the people he’s hunting. This time the villains are a middle aged woman and her son whose hard economic circumstances as rural farm folks have convinced them that Bowden is part of a system that has been deliberately keeping them down. When they learn that Davenport is trying to find them they desperately try to divert and stall him until they can pull off their plan, and their methods include murder.
Once again Sandford delivers a tremendously satisfying thriller. One of the great things about his books is that they depend on the bad guys being clever, but there are no Insane McGeniuses pulling off Bond villain levels of schemes. Instead they’re just people whose view of the world is about 10 degrees off center combined with certain paranoid and ruthless tendencies that make them dangerous but not unstoppable killing machines. Likewise, Davenport is as smart, capable, determined, and sometimes ruthless as you'd want the lead of this kind of book to be, but he isn’t some bulletproof action hero or a Sherlock Holmes type of detective either.
Sandford also still has a reporter’s instincts for having the pulse of current events as well as a knack for tapping into them for stories. Here, with a female presidential candidate campaigning in a time where an overworked sense of outrage and conspiracy theories have helped create an environment of seething political hatred that is immune to facts, logic, or common decency, we get a story that seems all too plausible. However, Davenport blessedly remains pretty much apolitical with little interest in who gets elected or getting drawn into debates.
You also have to give Sandford credit for being willing to shake up a winning formula this deep into a series. Shifting Davenport from a big shot Minnesota cop who can make things happen by picking up a phone to a guy without a badge wandering around Iowa makes for him going through an interesting adjustment. At times not being subject to the usual rules is an advantage he can use, but Lucas finds himself frequently frustrated with his lack of authority in these circumstances. It’s a nice bridge to what seems to be a new era in the series, and as a long time Sandford fan I’m excited to see what comes next for Davenport.
One side note: I’ve gotten several comments on my Sandford reviews asking if you can just read one book or if you need to complete the series for it to make sense. (My standard response is that most of the books are self-contained stories that can be read alone, but you will know how some events in previous Davenport books turned out from casual references. There are also a couple that do act as direct sequels to earlier ones.) This would be an excellent place for anyone who hasn’t read them to jump in because it’s the start of a new phase for the series with Davenport interacting with mostly new characters so it’s pretty light on the previous elements, but still has all the hallmarks of what makes them such great crime thrillers....more
A lot of the blame for Civil War can be placed on Tony Stark, but in the Marvel history books there should also be a fair portion assigned to Reed RicA lot of the blame for Civil War can be placed on Tony Stark, but in the Marvel history books there should also be a fair portion assigned to Reed Richards, too. Which shouldn’t be a surprise because that guy has always been kind of a jerk.
The idea here is to show how Marvel’s First Family is torn apart by the conflict. Reed is a staunch supporter of registration and is using his big brain to help the government including building a prison in the Negative Zone to house super powered people who refuse to follow the Superhero Registration Act, and they won’t be getting a trial. Sue questions the new law as well as what Reed and Tony are doing, and she leaves to join Team Cap. Johnny was badly beaten by a crowd of civilians looking for a superhero to blame after the Stamford explosion, but he’s still on his sister’s side. Poor Ben Grimm is the one torn up the most about what’s happening to his friends and his country because he thinks the law is terrible, but he also doesn’t believe in fighting against his own government so he decides to just go hang out in Paris for a while.
These FF comics should have been a series of devastating stories if Marvel wanted to really sell readers on the idea of how the Civil War was splitting the ranks of its superheroes, but it never gets to that level where you fear that that irrevocable damage is being done. Sue leaves Reed for a while, but that’s happened before so while it’s sad there’s not that much bite. Johnny is strangely MIA for a lot of the story. I felt for Ben the most as he struggles with his conscience, and the best bit in the whole thing when he stops a battle between the two sides by pointing out the damage they’re doing all around them. This also includes some things celebrating the FF's 45th anniversary including a mildly funny meta story featuring Stan Lee. It's not bad, but it seems weird to have something celebrating the team in a story that should be about it disintegrating.
I did like the piece with Reed calling in his former foe The Thinker to essentially check his math on his projections about what would happen if they don’t accept registration, and he offers an explanation there about how both he and Tony are absolutely certain that following the SRA is the only chance to avoid bloodier conflict and possibly the entire destruction of the superhero community. It’s those moments that remind you that Tony and Reed are heroes and not just jackasses tearing Marvel apart for funsies....more
I’m usually not a big fan of solo Wolverine stories because his popularity has made him chronically overexposed, and I think that anti-hero types geneI’m usually not a big fan of solo Wolverine stories because his popularity has made him chronically overexposed, and I think that anti-hero types generally work better when they’ve got some other similar but different types to rub up against. Logan by himself is just a surly, homicidal Canadian with a bad haircut, but Wolverine with the X-Men is a guy fighting for a cause with his difference in tactics making for interesting internal conflicts.
However, this kinda works because Wolverine is a mutant, a member of the X-Men, and also an Avenger. (And just making jokes about his busy schedule doesn’t really explain that away, Marvel.) That gives him a unique perspective to this whole storyline with the government passing a law that makes any superhuman who doesn’t register and work for them a criminal. You’d think this would freak out the mutants since it’s precisely that kind of thing they’ve always feared, but since the House of M event has decimated their ranks the X-Men are just hoping to lay low on this one.
But Wolverine is determined to find Nitro, the supervillain who made everything go KERBOOM and led to the whole mess, and he isn’t letting anyone tell him he can’t do that. This puts him on a trail that leads to some interesting conflicts and alliances as well as the discovery that Nitro isn’t the only one who has things to answer for.
From a writing standpoint I was pleasantly surprised by this one because at first it seemed like reheated Frank Miller-style dialogue, but there’s actually some interesting stuff done with Wolverine’s personal code that incorporates both a sense of honor and a willingness to kill that is called into question when he's clashing with his fellow X-Men and the authorities.
The bad thing with this is the artwork which I absolutely hated. Wolverine and others look like monsters on steroids, and the artist has a thing for drawing huge open mouths that show more teeth than John Elway. Ick. I nearly dropped it to 2 stars just for that alone, but I ended up liking the story enough to keep it at 3....more
Apparently the roads to both Hell and Marvel’s Civil War are paved with good intentions…
This collection pulls issues from several comics to tell essenApparently the roads to both Hell and Marvel’s Civil War are paved with good intentions…
This collection pulls issues from several comics to tell essentially three stories that lay the groundwork for the upcoming conflict. The first shows a previously unknown piece of Marvel history in which the Kree/Skrull War that nearly destroyed Earth so rattled Tony Stark that he gathered a small group of influential figures to convince them that the superheros and mutants need to organize and join forces to prevent those kinds of events. When that idea doesn’t fly they instead form a cabal to share information and address problems like the Hulk’s rampages, and just to make this a dream come true for those who love conspiracy theories this group is known as the Illuminati.
The second story features the Fantastic Four battling Doctor Doom who thinks he can take Mjolnir after Thor has died. (Or at least died as much as anyone ever does in a comic book.) The final piece involves Stark recruiting Peter Parker to work as his aide when Tony has to testify in front of congress about the idea of superhero registration, and Tony provides him with a souped-up Spidey suit as part of the deal.
Because this is a prelude to Civil War there’s not a lot of resolution in this, but it does provide some solid build-up for what comes next. The stuff with the Illuminati does a lot to explain Tony’s fears and concerns that drive him to his conclusions, and the issues with Spider-Man, who’d prove a pivotal figure in the story later, really establishes the idea that Tony is willing to pull some seriously shady stuff when he’s convinced he’s right and the stakes are this high. The FF story is OK as a punch-em-up with Doom is at his bombastic best, but that piece seems a bit thin.
Overall, it makes for a decent prelude to Civil War, but it feels a bit padded....more
If you subscribe to Marvel Unlimited and look up the Civil War event on the app it tells you that there are 103 individual comics involved. 103!
This cIf you subscribe to Marvel Unlimited and look up the Civil War event on the app it tells you that there are 103 individual comics involved. 103!
This collection consists of the 7 core issues that tell the main part of the story. A group a C-list superheroes botch the capture of some bad guys and essentially nuke a school full of kids. That’s the last straw for the American public who has had enough of costumed crusaders running around with no accountability. A law is passed that states anyone with superhuman abilities is required to register with the government, and if they want to fight crime or help people they have to become trained agents on the SHIELD payroll.
Some prominent figures like Tony Stark and Reed Richards support the Superhero Registration Act and urge their comrades to sign up. Steve Rogers thinks that trusting the government with control of the powered community is a recipe for disaster and starts an underground movement to keep fighting the good fight without submitting to oversight. All the Marvel superheroes find themselves choosing to side with either Iron Man or Captain America, and while Spider-Man is at first willing to become the public face of compliance he soon finds himself questioning the side he’s chosen.
There’s definately a compelling story in the set-up for the this, and I like that both sides have very valid points of view. I especially found it interesting that intellectually I side more with Team Iron Man because you shouldn't have a bunch of walking weapons of mass destruction running around doing whatever they feel like, but I found myself rooting for Team Captain America more. A big part of this is because of how Tony Stark starts acting like the Pope of Chili Town. Tony is convinced he’s right and that the ends justify the means so while his intentions are good he uses increasingly questionable tactics.
However, since this is trying to boil down an insane amount of side stories into one coherent narrative thread it often feels rushed and as if things come out of left field. For example, the way that Captain America gets branded as uncooperative seems to happen extremely fast for a guy who is generally the most beloved and respected superhero of them all. Essentially it goes like this:
SHIELD Director Maria Hill: Captian America, are you going to support the Superhero Registration Act and lead our new government sanctioned Avengers?
Captain America: Well, I’m not sure. I have a lot of concerns so I’d like to take a moment to talk about what this course of action might…
SDMH: Agents, arrest this man.
CA: What the hell? I just said I need a minute here.
SDMH: Oh, you’re resisting? SHOOT HIM!
Perhaps the biggest problem I have with Civil War is that it doesn’t have the courage of its convictions. This was marketed as an event that would change everything in the Marvel universe. (Yeah, yeah. I know. We hear that one for every crossover.) But this actually did seem to profoundly alter the status quo. (view spoiler)[Like Iron Man as the director of SHIELD in charge of the superhuman community, Spider-Man revealing his true identity of Peter Parker, and Steve Rogers being killed although that doesn’t happen in this collection. (hide spoiler)]
To be fair, the fallout from portions of this story did linger for quite some time, but as usual the biggest things were eventually reverted back to baseline with the most egregious example being what was done to get Spider-Man back to ‘normal’.
There was a pretty intriguing idea at the heart of all this, and that does make it a bit better than most of the epic comic crossover events. However, it still couldn’t shake off the inherent problem of making the whole thing too huge to be readable for the average person except in this Cliff Notes version which feels like you’re only getting a small piece of a story that ultimately doesn’t matter that much anyway.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Deadpool has been trying to become a ‘good guy’, but it hasn’t been going well. So he’s off to Vegas where he finds his former acquaintance Weasel worDeadpool has been trying to become a ‘good guy’, but it hasn’t been going well. So he’s off to Vegas where he finds his former acquaintance Weasel working as security for a casino with a super suit of armor, and Deadpool convinces him to let him help. But of course the Merc With A Mouth has his own agenda.
This is the first collection of this Daniel Way’s run of Deadpool that I’ve found lacking. A big part of that has to do with just how mean DP’s scheme seems this time. We’ve seen him screwing over former friends before in this series, but this one just seems extra skeevy and just not that funny. Like a lot of anti-heroes Wade needs someone a lot worse than him around to seem sympathetic. Or the last two collections have had him interacting with Spider-Man and the X-Men who keep him in check, and the humor comes from them trying to manage Wade’s outrageous behavior. It’s just not as much fun when Wade is going around doing any crazy thing that pops into his head with no one around to try and stop him.
There’s still some entertaining stuff here, but it seems a little down from the high points of the previous collections. ...more