19th Feb2018

Panel Discussion #46 – Bloomin’ MARVEL-ous!

by Dan Clark


Welcome back to another installment of Panel Discussion – this time featuring a round-up of the Marvel titles that have been peaking our interest recently…

The Amazing Spider-Man #795

Written by Dan Slott, Christos Gage | Art by Terry Pallot, Mike Hawthorne

With Dan Slott ending his epic run on Spider-Man soon, The Amazing Spider-Man #795 operates as a take a breather story. One that comes off as the minor calm before the major storm that is no doubt on the way. In true Spider-Man fashion, he is teaming up with another Marvel character and this time it is the Sorcerer Supreme himself. For those not keeping up with the most recent going ons in the pages of Doctor Strange (on a side note you should be because its great) that person is no longer Stephen Stranger but the god of mischief Loki.

Where this issue excels best is the interplay between Spider-Man and Loki. Of course, based on their past Spider-Man has his doubts Loki wishes to do good, but Loki wishes to prove him wrong. Some standout moments include a call back from everyone’s favorite story ‘One More Day’ and Spider-Man calling Loki Cher, but overall it’s a series of unforgettable events. Events that are propelled by what is not much more than an aggravated slip.

Most of the attention of this issue will come from the developments that occur in the final pages. On the surface, the attention is understandable as it has some intriguing possibilities. Although It does reek of the worst of the 90’s coming back to haunt us. Dan Slott has proven he can take what may seem like a bad idea and make it into something special. With his limited time left on the book he may be giving himself his biggest challenge. A noble pursuit if anything else.

*** 3/5

Avengers #679

Written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub | Art by Kim Jacinto

It is good to enjoy an Avengers comic on this level once again. No Surrender continues to be an enjoyable series so much so that even when it is not working on nearly all cylinders there are enough pieces to make the issue strong enough to recommend. Although if more balance is not brought to the overall structure that may stop being the case.

Last issue was mostly full of massive action set pieces while this one deals with the ramifications and exposition that has been building from the start. To the story’s credit, the answers that are provided are not obvious. Plainly it is great to see an event like this not having Thanos as the major villain yet again. They even made the bold step to create new characters rather than solely rely on what is familiar. Nice to also see an event like Secret Wars is still having a lingering impact long after its gone. Some of the more emotional beats are not nearly as well executed. Rogue’s reaction towards the fate of Johnny Storm was one that lacked any weight. Mainly because it’s a relationship that is not very well established. To be honest I did not even know they had a connection on that level. Also, the story transitions quickly to massive dumping of exposition that the moment is generally wasted anyways.

Kim Jacinto takes over art duties from Pepe Larraz who did the past few issues. Jacinto did not miss a beat and what was most impressive was how close stylistic the art has remained issue to issue. Marvel books as of late have a hard enough time remaining consistent within an issue so to see this level of consistency for a weekly comic is an achievement.

We are near the midway point of No Surrender and it keeps finding a way to work despite some of the problems it continues to create for itself. Every time we get a new piece of this mystery puzzle we find out the board is actually bigger than we realized. Storytelling of that nature could easily become frustrating but the sheer energy these creators have injected into this relaunch keeps it chugging along. Maybe it is low expectations, or maybe it is just the strength of these characters and that are finally getting a stage big enough to properly play in.

***½ 3.5/5


Black Panther: The Sound and the Fury #1

Written by Ralph Macchio | Art by Andrea Di Vito

Black Panther: The Sound and the Fury #1 epitomizes nearly everything that is currently wrong with the comic book industry. You can understand where Marvel is coming from. Wanting to have a comic that people can easily go to when they want to continue the cinematic high of the latest movie blockbuster. The current ongoing series is not one that new readers can jump onto so a one-shot comic not connected to anything is a good place to go. The issue is this comic gives a completely false expectation of what comics today are capable of achieving. It is a story that lacks any of the sophistication of modern comics with art that is obviously rushed into production

The story is as standard as could be as Black Panther needs to save Dubai from the evil clutches of Klaw. He is using his power to threaten the lives of all of Dubai in hopes of getting rich. In true Dr. Evil fashion, he is asking for five billion dollars in what I would assume is an attempt to break even with all the tech he had to purchase to gain such power. Luckily T’Challa is there and vows to stop him and save the city.

The art lacks any major detail with backgrounds that are barely ever there. Considering this is taking place in one of the most picturesque cities in the world you would think they would want to take advantage of that. This feels like a Marvel children’s book that was transferred into a comic with little to no change. Maybe that is the desired audience as anyone above double digits will have little to enjoy. Telling a throwback story with a classic style can work. Look at the current run of Captain America for example. What is lacking here is the execution of the characterization of Black Panther. Better dialog can be found in some of Marvel’s mobile video games.

If there is any reason to pick up this book it is the reprinting of Black Panther’s first appearance that is included. Having it right next to this comic does make it that much more apparent how off this mark everything about this issue was. The biggest is this issue will actual drive away poential new comic readers who assume this type of story is a standad affair. If that is you please know that comics are better than this.

* 1/5

Cable #154

Written by Ed Brisson | Art by Jon Malin

There is certainly an audience for this current run of Cable. From the art design to the choice of characters there is no question this series is deadlocked in targeting fans who love what the decade of the 90’s brought to comics. If you consider yourself a major fan of Rob Liefeld’s work on titles like The New Mutants or X-Force this will be like reliving your childhood. For those who are not in that camp or simply do not wish to relive those days there is not much left to enjoy.

This issue completes ‘The Newer Mutants’ arc and brings with it a number of blockbuster moments including gigantic plane crashes, massive explosions, and plenty of major action. Watching this band of heroes take on a oversized version of Gideon provided some fun, and even allowed the character of Blink to demonstrate her capabilities in ways she had not yet in the series. Outside of the entertainment aspect there is not much more than nonsense. For this entire arc the primary focus has been on the Eternals and solving this unsolvable mystery of how they were getting killed. An answer that the actual narrative made obvious yet the purpose of which is as mundane as any villain plot can be.

By far the biggest issue with this series is the art of Jon Malin. Like the series itself, those who are fond of that rough 90’s style will probably take no issue. However, on a pure storytelling level, there are some major flaws that greatly detract from the overall comic. Character designs lack consistency with posing that is awkward and stilted. There is a specific panel of Cable holding a gun that makes it appear as if the pencils forgot to include a weapon so one was added in quickly before colors were added. Even a major moment like Gideon crashing the Blackbird is ruined by a perspective that is unclear and oddly designed. The X-Men books have suffered from some poor art and Cable is no exception.

** 2/5


Defenders #9

Written by Brian Michael Bendis | Art by David Marquez

The Defenders has been the best book Brian Michael Bendis has written for Marvel in some time. He gets these characters better than pretty much anyone, and when he puts them together we get some true magic. With the upcoming departure of Bendis this story is turning the corner to its conclusion. There is still a story to be told but I cannot help and be somewhat disappointed in the way this Diamondback story appears to be ending. So much build up to what ends up being not much more than your typical knockout drag out fight sequence.

With that said there is no taking aware the phenomenal artwork by David Marquez. I do not think there is a person in comics today that can draw action with such fervor in the way he does. Whether it is complex martial arts choreography or a massive brawl with people literally throwing cars at one another it is fun, fluid, and full of energy. Bendis gives him the stage to showcase his talents and he does just that. David Marquez has become one of those names that will cause me to pick up a book no matter what it is about or who else is on it.

Story-wise the issue starts off strong with Jessica Jones pleading with Misty Knight to get the opportunity to speak with the Punisher. Punisher’s place in this story is generally out of sorts. Hopefully, there will be more clarity to why he is in the place that he is in because otherwise some of his actions are out of character. With his help, the Defenders are able to find Diamondback and his forces. Up to this point he has been built up to be such a massive threat it was odd this entire confrontation was in the end a red herring. Sure there may be a more powerful force that is really behind everything, but that force does not have the personal and dramatic connection that has been building since the first issue.

As is often the case with comics you never fully know where this story will go so many of my disappointments with this issue may end up being moot. From a pure entertainment standpoint, this brought the goods. Bendis has had his issues in the past knowing how to end stories in a satisfying way. Let’s pray he leaves this book as well off as he started it.

*** 3/5

Marvel 2 In One #3

Written by Chip Zdarsky | Art by Valerio Schiti

Marvel 2 In One has been this tease in comic form to wet the appetite to the long awaiting return of The Fantastic Four. Chip Zdarsky is not a name I would first go to as the person to write that type of series. Considering the more classic style of the team and his sardonic sense of humor do not go hand in hand with one another. So far he has proven me wrong as he does have a great sense for Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm at least. Their back and forth banter is everything I remembered it being and has me excited for the prospect of Chip Zdarsky utilizing the entire team.

Now three issues in this does feel like the narrative is spinning its wheels a little bit. Considering we are in this race against time to save Johnny’s powers and find Sue and Reed a lot of time was spent with not much story. Ben and Johnny seek out the help of long time friend and sometimes god Hercules to see if he knows how they might get Johnny back to full speed. Knowing Hercules was in a similar situation they thought he could point them in the right direction.

Where this issue shines is the banter between all these different characters. Zdarsky has the voice of each character down leading to some great dialog. Anytime you get the trio of The Human Torch, The Thing, and Hercules together you are going to have a good time if a writer knows what he or she is doing. The issue that occurs is ultimately not much happens in this issue. It felt like a detour that should have lasted a page or two but ended up being the bulk of the issue. Considering this is a miniseries you would assume there would not been that much time to waste.

Valerio Schiti steps in as artist and does not miss a beat. It is sad to see Jim Cheung go, but Schiti is an adequate replacement. They often say the best way to make people want something is to take it away from them. Marvel has had success doing that in the past and they may again with the growing desire of wanting The Fantastic Four to return. This series has basically been an appetizer to a main course that is cooling in the window. At least it has been a good tease and with the reveal in the final issue, it appears events are just about to fully heat up.

*** 3/5


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