Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Marvel NOW review: Indestructible Hulk #1-2, Thor: God of Thunder #1-2, Uncanny Avengers #1-2, X-Men Legacy #1-2

Indestructible Hulk #1-2 by Mark Waid & Leinil Yu

Bruce Banner has had an epiphany: There is no cure for the Hulk. Bruce, one of the scientific geniuses of the Marvel Universe, decides that he’s wasted enough time with cures, running, and struggling to suppress the Hulk and approaches, Maria Hill with a proposition. In exchange for a laboratory and staff with generous resources, he will deliver inventions that will benefit the world and SHEILD gets to point the Hulk at things that need smashing.

GOOD: Mark Waid is one of the best writers in comics. He has a way of boiling a character down to its essence and crafting simple stories that allow the reader to get involved in the story and get to know the character all over again. He’s doing that over on Daredevil, showing us a Matthew Murdock who has refocused his life on defending the law, being a superhero, and embracing a little bit of joy. Mark has remade Bruce Banner into a confident man who is more at ease with his dual identity and focused on how his genius can benefit the world. This is an interesting Bruce, a Bruce that is likeable and the readers can relate to better. Bruce working for SHIELD is a good idea – with all really great ideas, you wonder how no other writer thought of this slant.

Leinil Yu’s art is beautiful to look at whether Bruce is talking to Maria Hill or the Hulk is beating on Iron Man.

BAD: The ‘sibling rivalry’ with Tony in #2 was a little dumb. I liked how it was resolved but ultimately hated that it was Bruce’s plan to put Tony in a position to irritate him enough to let off steam. It’s the Hulk so even though it’s starting out strong, Marvel will want Hulk soon for some crossover or other and then the writer will have to adjust or Marvel will get another writer. Hulk is only really interesting a year or two at a time.

I don’t understand – if Avengers Assemble is part of continuity and Hulk is already on that team, then why is Tony so shocked that Bruce is working for SHEILD? And if Hulk is actively an Avenger, why does Maria Hill need to look for him?

IN CONCLUSION: A pretty good start. Like Daredevil, Mark Waid has made this character likable and given him a simple, engaging purpose without skimping on the action. I’ll enjoy this title while it lasts with Mark Waid as writer.

Thor: God of Thunder #1-2 by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, and Dean White

Thor’s past, present, and future are threatened by a God who kills other Gods.

GOOD: A God who kills other Gods is a great idea and well executed. The fact that it takes Thor several hours to dispatch one servant of that God is incredible and sells the very real threat that the God-killer poses. We also get to see the Thor from over a thousand years ago, back when he yearned to wield the hammer but wasn’t yet worthy.

BAD: Thor isn’t a very interesting character to me and he fails to dazzle here. If you’re a Thor fan, I think this is a really nicely done story. But the fact that the story shows Thor in the future making a last stand as the last Asgardian in Asgard undercuts the danger of being killed by the God-killer in Thor’s present story.

IN CONCLUSION: Jason Aaron is one of the best writers in comics today and I really enjoyed what he did on Ghost Rider and some of the stuff he did on Wolverine. But I’m not a Thor fan and my mind hasn’t changed.

Uncanny Avengers #1-2 by Rick Remender & John Cassaday

In the shadow of Professor Charles Xavier’s funeral, the Red Skull (isn’t he dead?) unleashes a lobotomized Avalanche against the city. Alex Summer’s brother, Scott is imprisoned for Xavier’s death, and he’s about to join the Avengers at Captain America’s request. With public sentiment decidedly more anti-mutant than normal, it’s going to take a lot of work to reverse public opinion. Of course the Red Skull getting a hold of Xavier’s brain and gaining his incredible powers isn’t going to help.

GOOD: Red Skull is as threatening and as scary as I’ve ever seen him - the thought of him wielding Xavier’s power amps up the threat in my mind. Seeing Alex lead a team of Avengers isn’t something I’ve seen before and you can see how stiff he is in the role. Also, Rogue and Wanda’s discovery of Xavier’s body is one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in recent memory and Rogue’s flashback to Xavier sticking up for her when she came to the X-Men after being one of their most vicious villains will tear your heart out.

BAD: Fear Itself established that Red Skull was dead. I didn’t know he was dead but Fear Itself wasn’t that long ago. I hated Fear Itself so I can probably ignore the Red Skull’s recent resurrection. Chances are I wouldn’t care how he came back to life. Death is temporary in the Marvel Universe, though I don’t know how Professor X is resurrected after being dissected and having his brain removed.

IN CONCLUSION: It’s a great beginning to the series. The stakes are high, the emotions are raw, and if you don’t want to cry at the end of #2, this might not be the title for you. Rick Remender does a great job of capitalizing on all of the changes in the character’s status quo without beating it into the ground. John Cassaday, in addition to the action scenes, does a great job of showing the aftermath of Avalanche’s attack as well as the emotion on the character’s faces.

X-Men Legacy #1-2 by Simon Spurrier and Ten Eng Huat

Legion has learned to deal with his personalities until one breaks out and he’s forced to fight for his sanity.

GOOD: Legion imprisoning the personalities in his psyche and even gaining control over them is an interesting idea.

BAD: It’s a title starring Legion…who’s about as interesting as grass growing.

IN CONCLUSION: I’m not sure why you green-light a title about a guy who doesn’t have many fans and who has only popped up once every five years or so. I won’t be back for #3.

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