Hey all, I won't bore you all with a long winded intro, instead I'll just go right into my two topics du jour and then to the reviews. Onward!
I want to buy Iron Man #500... Can you spare $150?
So I was going through the solicits on Tuesday to see what I'd be grabbing from the comic book shop come Wednesday, and I noticed that Invincible Iron Man #500 would be released. That's good, since issue #500 was the start of a new storyline(or so I thought), one that I'd be following from the beginning, unlike the last story, which I started reading at the 3rd or 4th part. Since this is one of those MEGA, GALA, SUPER anniversary issues Marvel LOVES to put out, not only was Iron Man released with one cover, it also received several variant covers. Now I personally have never understood who would buy a $3/$4/$5 comic book for an extra amount of money simply because of the cover, but somebody must, because Marvel REALLY loves putting out variants. Anyway, IM #500 had 4 different covers, so I figured I'd take a look at them just for kicks. You had the original cover which was $5, a JRJR cover for $18, a Marko Djurdjevic cover for $50(!)and a Joe Quesada cover for $150(!!!!)... Yes, that's right, one hundred and fifty dollars for a comic book you could instead buy for $5... I mean really, who in the WORLD would pay an extra $145 for a COVER?! Maybe if the comic was made of gold and had an I-Pod built into it I'd consider paying that much money for a NEW comic, but $150 simply for a cover?! I can't rationalize that at all...
Good-bye DC... It's been fun.
The rumors state that Chairman Johns, aka he of no original ideas, will be renumbering many DC series during the sure to be sucktacular Saint Barry Allen love-in Flashpoint ala the awesome Age of Apocalypse from Marvel back in the 90's. I've already stated that I WON'T be buying any DC Flashpoint issues as a protest due to DC allowing Chairman Johns almost unlimited power to destroy the DCU as he sees fit, but now it appears that DC will be dragging even more titles into the black hole of creativity that I'm sure Flashpoint will be. Let me state this in as plain a manner as I can. I buy a lot of comics, both Marvel and DC. Lately my enjoyment of DC comics has been waning, while my enjoyment of the Marvel books has been growing. I WILL NOT buy ANY DC comic that carries the Flashpoint banner. So let's say for example DC decides to have the Secret Six x-over with Flashpoint. That means I won't buy the Secret Six for as long as Flashpoint is ongoing. Furthermore, once I stop buying a book like Secret Six, there's a really good chance I won't bother picking it up again once Flashpoint ends, since I'll probably have started picking up other Marvel/Image or indy books to fill the void. I've enjoyed reading about the DCU these past four years or so. I've brought TONS of DC comics, as this blog is a testament to(as of right now I have 1,001 posts with a “DC Comics” label). I honestly think Flashpoint will be my breaking point, and the thing that destroys my interest in DC once and for all... I hope that isn't true, I mean if I was able to withstand the unadulterated awfulness that was Secret Invasion from Marvel, maybe I'll be able to stand Flashpoint, but the outlook seems bleak, and I fear I'll be saying good-bye to those DC characters I still do enjoy. I hope you're happy Chairman Johns and his brainwashed Silver Age cronies, you're about to lose a huge fan...
Okay, let's get to the reviews. Up first is Widowmaker #3(of 4). We get things started with Black Widow sending Hawkeye into a Dark Ocean Japanese brothel with the hopes of getting some information about the Dark Ocean organization. Basically, the Dark Ocean is an evil Japanese organized crime organization run by Ronin that has been killing several international spies. Hawkeye blows his cover almost immediately and is attacked by the women in the brothel. Black Widow rushes in to help and confronts the leader of the brothel, the Madame. The Madame explains that she was working with Ronin and that once Ronin's plans come to fruition she'd be an emperess, not just a simple Madame. After dropping some more vague hints, she disappears, leaving Widow not only knowing where Ronin was, but WHO he was. Meanwhile, Mockingbird and Dominic Fortune go after the Russian side of the Ronin mystery, and after beating up and tricking Russian soldiers, they head to an island that was disputed by the Russians and the Japanese. Upon arriving at the disputed island, Mock and Fortune meet up with Hawkeye and Widow, who had arrived moments before. The heroes share notes, and Ronin walks out of a temple, at which time Black Widow attacks. She takes Ronin down and unmasks him to reveal the Red Guardian, her ex-husband. Ronin explains that he was sickened by the democratic Russia, and wanted to take out the leaders of both Russia and Japan to create a new world power. This issue ends with Ronin forcing a volcano to erupt on the disputed island, figuring the destruction of the island would distract the Russian and Japanese governments enough for him to swoop in and kill all of their leaders. Well, we finally found out who Ronin was, and what his plans were. That was a major plus here, because the first two issues basically had the heroes running about aimlessly. I really don't have much more to say than I enjoyed this issue and am looking forward to seeing how the heroes will be able to stop the insane plots of Ronin. Score-wise, let's give this one a solid 7 1/2 out of 10.
Next up we head to DC and Secret Six #29. This comic actually crosses over with the last issue of Action Comics, although I have NO idea what issue that was, and I'm not really interested in figuring it out. Picking up from that issue of Action, the remote control rigged to blow up Lex's building is sitting precariously on top of its button. Lex acts nonchalant about it, which annoys Vandal Savage, but Lex has good reason not to care, as he sits in his chair and erects a force field around himself, sure that he'd survive the explosion. Lex taunts Vandal a bit and then has a bunch of guns set their sights on Scandal Savage, telling Vandal that if he doesn't disarm the bomb, he'd ventilate Vandal's daughter. Vandal stomps over to the remote and tries to shut it down, but realizes that it was stuck... D'oh! With the bombs now activated and counting down, Lex sends Black Alice away to try to find as many bombs as she could, while Vandal asks Lex to at least allow his daughter into the force field. Scandal says that she wouldn't go unless the rest of her team was saved as well, so Lex says fine, provided Vandal admitted defeat. Vandal reluctantly does as asked, and Lex allows Vandal, his underlings and the Secret Six into the force field just as the building blows. From there, Scandal slugs Lex for threatening to have her killed earlier and leaves with the Six, while Lex and Vandal decide to stick together, ending this issue. Hey, this was the first time in AGES I enjoyed an issue of the Secret Six! Of course Gail Simone did try to ruin that by emphasizing Ragdoll, who is just painfully unfunny by this point. This story would have been SO much better had it simply focused on Lex and the two Savages. Instead we get Ragdoll narrating the thing. Ragdoll was funny back when he was still new, back when Simone first brought the Six together, but right now he's just tired... I get it, he's a sexual deviant and screws monkeys. Yawn. Whatever. The Ragdoll annoyances really brought down what could have been a great comic and simply left it a very good comic. I mean I still REALLY enjoyed this comic, but I can't help but feel it could have been better. As it was though, I'd easily recommend this issue and the Action Comics that set it up, as this was a fun little two-part crossover. I'll give this issue an 8 out of 10 for a score.
Heading back to the Marvel Universe, here's X-Factor #213. After his confrontation with Hela last issue, Darwin seems to be having some difficulty ridding himself of her death influence. Jamie catches up with Darwin in Vegas, and Darwin tells Jamie he wouldn't be returning with Jamie to X-Factor Investigations until he was able to purge Hela's influence. With that, Jamie returns to the rest of the team and they complain that he should have done more to help Darwin. Shatterstar tells Rictor that Wolfsbane's child wasn't his, which is something Rictor had figured out two issues back. Shatterstar tells Rictor that he met the father of the unborn baby while fighting Hela, and Rictor decides he needed to clear the air with Wolfsbane. Rictor heads to Wolfsbane and tells her he knows about the baby's father, and was wondering why she lied. Wolfsbane tells Rictor that she didn't want to be responsible for Rictor going to Hell(on account of him being gay)and figured a baby with her would have kept him with her and away from Shatterstar. The two talk, and Rictor once again reiterates that Wolfsbane leaving him didn't “turn” him gay, and that with a baby on the way she had more important things to worry about then Rictor's soul. This issue ends with Pip the Troll(who X-Factor saved from Hela last issue and was serving as X-Factor's receptionist)seemingly plotting against the team over the phone with somebody. This was really an aftermath/set-up issue, and it was a VERY strong one at that. Wolfsbane seems to finally have come to terms with Rictor's homosexuality(or at least as much as she can with her ultra conservative upbringing), Darwin has left the team for the time being, while Pip has joined and seems to have some sort of plan against the team formulating. Really good stuff here, but what would you expect? It's written by Peter David. For a score, I'll go with an 8 out of 10.
Sticking with Marvel, here comes the final part of the I Am An Avenger mini-series with issue #5. We have three stories here, so let's get started. The first one is a suicide prevention PSA starring Captain America. A teenager with a lousy life heads up to his roof to jump when he spots Cap battling against the forces of Hydra. Cap puts down the Hydra goons, but a huge Hydra robot lands to continue the battle. Cap flings his shield at the robot, but it knocks it away, right over to the kid on the rooftop. Without his shield, the robot manages to take advantage of Cap, and the kid decides to try to help Cap by tossing the shield back, hitting the robot. The robot blasts at the kid, destroying everything around him but somehow leaving the kid unharmed, which gives Cap the opportunity to destroy the robot. Cap looks over at the kid and gives him thumbs up, and the kid heads back inside to call the suicide prevention hotline. Story #2 deals with Ant-Man sneaking around Avengers mansion(or thinking he's sneaking around Avengers Mansion). After some sleuthing, Quicksilver approaches Ant-Man and tells him that he was vouched for by Steve Rogers, meaning he had no reason to sneak around the Mansion like a criminal. After some thought, Ant-Man leaves the Mansion and walks in the front door, being welcomed by the team. Finally we had a little 3 issue story about the Young Avengers wanting to play baseball, but realizing it was raining outside, and we all know it's IMPOSSIBLE to play baseball outside, lest the universe implodes. Man are baseball players a bunch of wimps... ANYWAY, Thor arrives and wonders why the kids were standing around with clubs(HA!), and they stammer that they were just hanging out. Finally realizing what they were up to, Thor taps his hammer and clears the storm. However, after seeing Thor, the kids decide to head back inside to train as opposed to playing around. I actually liked all three stories in this mini. Not loved, but liked. The Ant-Man one was probably my favorite, but as a HUGE Young Avengers fan, I also enjoyed their little mini-story. What more can I say, this was a perfectly acceptable comic, and what kind of score do we give perfectly acceptable comics around here? How about a 7 out of 10.
One more and we're done. I'll close this post out with another Marvel book in Uncanny X-Men #531. I don't remember if I posted a review for Uncanny #530, but I guess that's neither here nor there. This issue begins with most(if not all)of the mutants living on Crazy Mutie Island(Utopia)suffering from a strange flu that was robbing them of their powers. Lord Summers(who has also taken ill, but is no-selling it)walks along the hallways of Crazy Mutie Island looking in at all of his various sick soldiers. The few X-Men who were off of Crazy Mutie Island are told by Lord Summers they can't return to Crazy Mutie Island until they've figured out what was causing the flu, so they decide to look into the Collective Man's attempt to take over the crime gangs of San Francisco's Chinatown. From there we head to the Sublime Corporation's Secret Offices where Lobe(the leader of the Sublime group)is toasting his 5 fake X-Men. Back on Crazy Mutie Island... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............ Oh wow, I must have fallen asleep out of absolute boredom! Um, where was I? Oh who cares. This issue ends with Sebastian Shaw falling out of Fantomex's ship and powering up from impact of the fall, much to the rage of Emma Frost. Sorry, this issue was just painfully boring. I don't care about this weird rehashing of the Legacy Virus storyline. I don't care about the Sublime Corporation and the fake X-Men(if it wasn't for the dumb “No More Mutants” proclamation, we wouldn't NEED fake mutants!), and I SURE as hell don't care about Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw! After reading Invincible Iron Man, I KNOW Matt Fraction can do better than this, but I'm now of the mindset that NO writer can really make the X-books worth reading again until Marvel FINALLY undoes the damage done during the House of M. With the Scarlet Witch's return in Avengers: The Children's Crusade, hopefully this will be the year “No More Mutants” is retconned and the X-Men are once again led by Professor X and head back to X-Mansion, where they belong. For a score, I'll go with a 3 1/2 out of 10, which is almost generous...