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19 August 2011 @ 05:26 pm
Avengers 30 (July, 1966)

After the initial opening event of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch believing that they are becoming de-powered and taking a leave of absence, “Frenzy in a Far-Off Land!” features two never-seen-before items in Avengerdom. Firstly, the story does not kick off with a villain shaking his fist at thin air and declaiming ‘I must have mine reuenge upon the accursed… Avengers!” or even some villains deciding that before their Master Plan is implemented they must make sure that the accursed Avengers are out of the way. No, the main plot motivators this episode are, firstly, Captain America deciding that the Avengers must track down the Black Widow, the Swordsman and Power Man and, secondly, Hank ‘Goliath’ Pym deciding to track down one Dr Anton, who has been conducting experiments in the growth of humans and may, therefore, be able to shrink him back down to normal size from the ten feet he became stuck at recently. This latter, of course, is only after Pym has moaned to himself about his pitiful plight and refused to speak to his wife Jan now that he is a mere freak. Goliath does find Dr Anton before the story ends: by getting captured by the same group of villains who have captured Anton, the Keepers of the Flame from an underground kingdom who have deposed their rightful ruler. Hawkeye, if you were wondering, more or less disposes of the Swordsman and Power Man on his own, with a little help from the Black Widow now that the Evil Communists’ brainwashing is beginning to wear off.

The second mighty Marvel innovation is that instead of the overused trick of having the heroes fight each other - presumably because half of the villains have reformed and become members of the Avengers - they have the villains fight each other, in this case the Swordsman and Power Man bickering over the Black Widow, as they prepare for their latest doomed attempt to defeat the Avengers. The high point for me is the Swordsman’s classic to Power Man, which starts the fight: ‘She is too lovely… and far too intelligent, to prefer a muscle-bound clod like you to a man of my finesse!’

The art is once again by Don Heck and Frank Giacoia, but this time around is not at all bad. I don’t think that it’s just me getting used to it, either.
10 August 2011 @ 01:03 pm
Avengers 29 (June, 1966)

“This Power Unleashed!”

In this episode of the continuing saga by Stan Lee, Don Heck and Frank Giacoia, we start with a Doctor informing the Avengers that Goliath is stuck at ten feet tall for the foreseeable future. This causes him to storm out in a fit of self-pity. We then switch to somewhere in the Far East, where some Evil Communists have brainwashed the Black Widow into attacking the Avengers, which makes me wonder if Stan Lee was aware that various Communist countries were different powers rather than one enormous happy family. At any rate, the basic plot of this issue is that the brainwashed Black Widow recruits Power Man and the Swordsman to attack the Avengers, then attempts to recruit Hawkeye, who realises that she’s been brainwashed. Other Avengers realise that there’s something amiss and blunder in in attempts to help, but only prevail when they are all together teamed up against the trio of villains. Goliath seems to officially return to the Avengers while bemoaning the fact that he can never return to normal (I can be flippant about this as I know he gets better). Cap opines that Hank is the most tragic Avenger of all. The end.

It’s a pretty basic story, but Stan manages to handle it quite well; it would seem that he is getting the hang of the writing lark. He even manages to curb his Cap/Hawkeye squabbling most of the time. The art is what one might expect from Heck and Giacoia: mostly a mess but with the occasional glimmer of good stuff showing through. Even Kirby’s cover is not on eof his better ones - he doesn’t seem to know what to do with a ten-foot-tall character.
29 January 2011 @ 10:27 pm
Let the Catch-Up...Continue!!

Avengers Unconquered 20

‘Secret Invasion’ part 5

There have been complaints that this story is merely one long fight scene. In this episode we start to see that come to a close, as Reed is rescued and Maria Hill does for the Skrullvis.

And were I an eccentric millionaire, I would so make all my friends t-shirts saying ‘Nick Fury was right.’

Mighty Avengers: The Void (Mighty Avengers 14)

This Void should not be confused with the character of the same name created by Steve Ditko.

A bit of a so-so issue, with art that is sort of okay in places but also often disappoints - I mean, in 6/4, that is supposed to be Reed Richards. Oh, and is Jarvis supposed to look like David Suchet as Hercule Poirot? ‘Nom de un Chien, Rogers! Jarvis has been an idiot!’

Mighty Avengers: Whatever Happened to Henry Pym? (Mighty Avengers 15)

Now this is the good stuff. John Romita, Jr. - I suppose the apple cannot fall far from the tree. Very nice finishes by Messrs. Palmer and Janson, too. However, I think I rather object to Pym’s recent Moment Of Awesome defeating the latest Ultron being ascribed to a Skrull imposter; I am fed up with writers dumping on poor old Henry. Otherwise, enjoyable and well-written.

I’d give this issue overall a 7 out of 10.

And while we're at it:

Avengers Unconquered No. 21

‘Elektra’ (Mighty Avengers No. 16)

As is the case with rather too many of these issues, we don’t see much of the Avengers in this story, which is an Elektra solo yarn in which, in flashback, she fights some Skrulls and loses in the end and her Skrull replacement takes over the criminal organisation called The Hand. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, of course, and drawn by Khoi Pham and Danny Miki, whose work I must say I rather like on this showing. Fairly enjoyable, but we seem to spend not much time getting not very far.

‘The Answer’ (New Avengers 44)

Bendis is even more extreme in this story, as not only are there no members of the titular team in it, there are no Avengers at all, and in fact no humans at all… just a flashback of how the Skrulls managed to begin creating Skrull 3.0. This is actually quite convenient, given that artists Billy Tan and Matt Banning seem to be significantly better at drawing skrulls than humans (or mutants or Atlanteans). Despite my quibbles (I’m a fan; I am obligated to have quibbles) I did enjoy this episode.

‘Secret Invasion’ Part 6 (Secret Invasion 6)

Ye-e-e-esss... I’m seeing why some people are less than happy with this series. On the other hand, I see why Bendis organised it this way (this series tells the story of the invasion as it happens; the flashbacks give the backstory to it). I am almost getting used to Yu’s art inked by others, but am still nowhere near happy with it. And I don’t see Iron Fist being a merry Marvel quipster like Spidey.

Overall: ‘Elektra’ has the best art and ‘the Answer’ the best story, the latter dragging this issue overall up to a 6 out of 10. 
07 January 2011 @ 09:26 pm
Avengers 28

“Among Us Walks… a Goliath!”

In this episode of the continuing saga by Stan Lee, Don Heck and Frank Giacoia, the Collector turns up for the first time, eager to collect the set of Avengers for some reason, probably because his collection either lacks focus or is a collection of everything - we see a time machine, a levitation cloak and the beans from the legend of Jack and the beanstalk for starters. No, Stan doesn’t bother to explain to us precisely who the Collector is or where he came from, or, indeed, anything much at all about him, either because he forgot or because he did not have Jack Kirby collaborating with him to do it for him. At any rate, Heck does a good job of designing this new villain. The Avengers do a good job of defeating him and Stan has a deus ex machina whisk him off for re-use elsewhere. All in all, it’s a pretty decent mid-’sixties Marvel superhero comic and an important issue of this series in that it sees the first rejoining by one of the founder members, as Henry Pym and Janet ‘the Wasp’ Van Dyne sign up again, with Pym changing his name to ‘Goliath,’ his third name in as many years, and acquiring a new costume courtesy of the Scarlet Witch. I am not going to criticise Stan for having had Wanda make a new costume for Hank Pym just on the off-chance that he might reappear one day; not after that deus ex machina and his insistence on continuing to have Captain America squabble with Hawkeye.
07 January 2011 @ 09:13 pm
Should a Catch-Up... continue?

‘Secret Invasion’ part 4 [Secret Invasion 4]

The Skrulls reckon that they are going to inevitably win, presumably on the basis that past performance is no guarantee of future activity. I make them wrong, but we shall see. A nice twist from Bendis on the is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-Skrull front and a nice scene with the Black Widow and Wolverine. I have been out of the loop long enough to be unable to identify the character who boards the Skrull vessel at the end of the story (and don’t know if I simply don’t know the character or don’t recognise the Yu/Morales depiction).

‘Rebirth’ Part 2 [New Avengers 42]

Okay, I can see where ‘Rebirth’ is going now. Interesting and enjoyable background on the Skrull Queen and her Earth identity sewing chaos.

‘Survival’ Part 2 [New Avengers 43]

More Avengers, Ka-Zar and Shanna in the Skrull-infested Savage Land. I must say I was taken by surprise on the revelation about the characters in the crashed spaceship - apart from anything else, I was not expecting the revelation so quickly in the story. I’ve decided that I don’t like Tan’s art as much as I do Cheung’s, let alone Yu’s. More nice interplay between Spidey and Shana in the dialogue department. Good stuff.

A 7 out of 10, I think.
07 January 2011 @ 09:03 pm
Or even: If a Catch-Up... CONTINUE!!

Avengers Unconquered 18:

‘Rebirth’ Part 1 [New Avengers 40]

Aha! At last some deep background on the Skrulls’ latest Master Plan, years in the making. If you look closely you might spot an Avenger in this story.

‘Secret Invasion’ part 3 [Secret Invasion 3]

Why are there more Avengers in this story than in the previous one? Why does someone insist on destroying Leinil Yu’s pencils with Mark Morales’ inking? Does Nick Fury really need a gun almost as tall as he is?

This story may well raise more questions than it answers.

‘Survival’ Part 1 [New Avengers 41]

Continuing the exploits of the two Avengers teams in the Savage Land from Secret Invasion No. 2, as we are joined by Ka-Zar and Shanna, who fill us in on a smidgen of Skrull activity in the said land prior to the current events. Decently drawn, as well-written as ever by Bendis - highlight of the issue being that Spidey thinks Shanna is called Sheena.

Overall, I’d rate this Issue at a 6 out of 10.
Continuing the catch-up game, let's turn our minds back to the Real Avengers (in a review from 9th May last year... yes, this is catching up...):

Avengers 27 (April, 1966)

Four Against the Floodtide!

Stan Lee, Don Heck and Frank Giacoia

More of the same as last issue, really: the Avengers fight Attuma, whose mothership giant submarine base thingie has its windows smashed two more times, and forget that they were meant to rescue the Wasp, who does not appear in a single panel this issue. The threat of Attuma makes the three male Avengers forget to squabble with each other, at least for most of the time. The Beetle pops up in the Avengers HQ, as previewed in the shadows the previous issue, apparently to provide an action scene or bulk the story up to 20 pages. Giacoia’s inking is not as good as the previous issue, but Stan doesn’t have Cap noticeably irritated with Hawkeye.

I’m sorry I don’t have more to say on this one. Oh, alright then: I wonder why Stan puts a hyphen in the word ‘floodtide’ on the cover blurb. Just idle curiosity, really. I suppose that the mini-flying-sub Hawkeye borrows from Reed Richards looks different on the cover from the one in the interior because Stan didn’t show Don Heck the cover or Jack Kirby the interior. Money for old rope, editing Marvel comics was.
Current Location: Avengers Mansion
03 January 2011 @ 11:45 pm
As they say: Let's play catch-up. I would appear to not have posted anything on LJ for some considerable period of time and am of the view that I shall rectify this position. Here goes!

Avengers Unconquered 17

‘First Strike’ [New Avengers: Illuminati No. 5]

The Big Five ruminate upon the discovery that Elektra was a Skrull, or rather, a Skrull has been posing as Elektra for some unspecified amount of time. Except that Black Bolt is actually a Skrull, which leads Iron Man to some pretty drastic action. 24 pages reads like a lot fewer when there are so many double-page spreads and so little dialogue at times. Nice script by Bendis, tolerable, I suppose, art by Jim Cheung and Mark Morales. Oh, a demerit to Bendis for perpetuating this thing that Black Bolt’s ‘real name’ is Blackagar Boltagon.

‘Secret Invasion’ Parts 1 and 2 [Secret Invasion 1 & 2]

The Main Event kicks off with the crash landing of a Skrull craft in the Savage Land. The two teams of Avengers rush to the scene, the Secret Avengers sealing one of Stark’s quinjets to do so, to his annoyance and my amusement. Computers play up while a bunch of Marvel super-heroes spill out of the crashed vehicle. This leads to a long fight and some confusion… presumably the crashers are all characters who have been kidnapped by the Skrulls and replaced on Earth by Skrulls; however, I suspect that some Skrulls have infiltrated the craft and some of the Avengers in the savage land are Skrulls. Doubtless we shall see as the story progresses.

Brian Michael Bendis is up to his usual quite high standard here. Sadly, Leinil Yu’s pencils are ruined by Mark Morales’ inks on this occasion.

I am sorry this review is so short, especially for a 100-page issue, but I really don’t have that much to say on this.
26 May 2010 @ 09:15 pm
Yes, I continue my quest or performance target of getting up to date on Panini's Avengers Unconquered title. Here's a review of No. 16:

New Avengers: The Breakup

The breakup in the title would appear to be that of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, as the latter switches sides (New/Secret Avengers to Mighty Avengers, an Offical Team under the New Marvel Universe Legislation) in order that she might protect her baby. Most of this issue is a couple of conversations between Jessica and Luke; very interesting and well-handled in that while Luke comes across as being a complete prawn one can see his point. I can see this relationship ending, I’m afraid.

The New or Secret Avengers also get a new headquarters thish, courtesy of the extensive business interests of Daniel ‘Iron Fist’ Rand. This sequence delivers the line of the issue when Danny tries explaining who The Leader is and has to finally resort to ‘Big green head. Used to fight the Hulk’ before his team-mates twig.

The art is… you know, I don’t think it’d be fair to comment. I am missing Leinil Yu and whoever replaced him would be at an unfair disadvantage when being assessed by my good self.

Text feature: Echo (Maya Lopez)

Very good to know who this character who’s been popping up in these stories for a few issues now actually is, particularly given that it’s immediately followed by

New Avengers: Echo

This story is like an Echo sandwich: she has a conversation at both ends of it as the bread and a fight in the middle as the ham, holding out against a Skrull for quite a respectable amount of time before Wolverine chases it off. Clint Barton also appears, but we see nothing of the other members of the team; as I think I’ve said elsewhere, I am glad I’m not an American, having to pick up these episodes one at a time and having to go for a couple of months without certain characters or with very minimal development in some plotlines. Quite a lot is packed in by Bendis in comparison with some episodes he’s written. The art again is not up to Yu’s standard, but the same applies as to ‘The Breakup’ in that regard. Oddly, it seems to slip in the last segment (the Maya/Clint scene). I’m impressed by the cover.

Mighty Avengers: The Awakening

Sorry. Did I write ‘Mighty Avengers’ up there? This is a 22-page Nick Fury story with Spider-Woman from the Mighty Avengers making a three-page appearance. It also features heavily photo-referenced art (as does ‘The Breakup’). At any rate, Nick Fury has discovered that there are Skrulls among us and tells Spider-Woman, who gives no indication that she knows this already – I guess that this story happens before the Elektra Skrull dies, and is why Spider-Woman is not as surprised as the other New Avengers and takes it more seriously when that happens. As is the case with ‘Echo,’ I liked this though not as much) but wonder if I would have the same view if I was reading it as a on-off rather than in an anthology issue.
25 May 2010 @ 12:26 am
Okay, here's something I haven't done here previously: a review of one of Panini's U. K. Marvel titles.this will have to keep youhappy until I post a review of the Lee-Heck Avengers No. 29 at some point.

Avengers Unconquered No. 15:

Mighty Avengers: ‘Trapped’

Very impressive semi-wrap-up to the Dr Doom storyline (something tells me that there’s a little sting in the tale (or tail) to come and one more installment. Sparkling dialogue this time round – the absolute highlight being Wasp’s ‘You saw Luke Cage naked?’

New Avengers: ‘The Siege’

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Brian Michael Bendis is his ability to write extended fight scenes – twenty or more pages – which one can read and yet not think that one has wasted one’s time on nothing but an extended fight. This story is evidence of that. Very enjoyable. I do miss Leinil Yu’s art.

‘The Thunderbolts’

I’m glad that this only took up nine pages, because I foundi t little, if anything, more than nasty and pointless.