marvel comics

The Best of the Worst

villains featured

With Forever Evil wrapping up and DC’s Villains month over, Adam and Nick thought it was the perfect time to talk about the most interesting villains in comics. We picked a group of villains who represent the different styles of villainy. Motivations range from the classic plotting to take over the world to more sympathetic goals like wanting to save a loved one. What makes a protagonist last for decades? We answer that question by examining some of the most important bad guys in comic book history.

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Fashion Decision

With the upcoming Iron Fist TV Show on Neflix (can you believe this is happening?), his costume will be something to consider. For most of his existence, Danny Rand has been in a green costume with yellow highlights which included his yellow “booties’. He was a product of his times. The 70s popularized martial-arts in cinema in a craze dubbed “Kung-Fusploitation”. His look took elements of many characters from that time and what we got was a costume that transcended that fad and was kept more or less the same up until he went into another dimension emerging with a white costume with gold highlights. Marvel does a great job giving you a rundown of all his costumes here - Earth’s Mightiest Costumes: Iron Fist

So you choose. Which should he wear in the show?

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50th Anniversary of The X-Men

JordanDWhite250We had the pleasure of talking with Marvel Comics Editor, Jordan D. White about everything X-Men leading up to the mega crossover, Battle of the Atom.

This crossover brings together the fractured X-Men teams against a threat from within just in time for the 50th anniversary of one of the most important franchises in comics. Jordan discusses where a number of different X-Books are and how they got there.

We also talk about how we got into X-Men comics including 90s Excaliber, Marvel trading cards, and why we love the X-Men.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us & More

INJUSTICE_11

Adam talks about his experience with the game Injustice: Gods Among Us. The game features an original DC super hero story centering around the Justice League and is a classic multiple Earths story. After that they talk about where the New 52 is and what is working and what isn’t. In addition, they talk about some of their favorite books like Hawkeye, Batman, and Age of Ultron. Check it out!

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Have something you’d like us to discuss? Please email us question at info@shortboxpodcast.com with “Listener Topic” in the subject line and make sure to let us know if we can use your name on the podcast. Thanks for listening!

My Picks of the Week

Marvel Now and The New 52 keep plugging along. Age of Ultron keeps getting better and the tie-ins have been exceptional. Superior Spider-Man’s story escalates and the repercussions of Rot World continue. It’s a Pre-Infinity and Pre-Trinity War landscape. Iron Man is on Friday and Free Comic Book Day is later this week. That’s where we’re at now let’s check out the best of the week (and one that just didn’t work).

The Best

detailX-Men Legacy #10

Marvel Comics

Writer: Simon Spurrier

Artist: Paul Davidson

The first 9 issues of this series were used to establish David Haller’s mindset and where he fits in the Marvel Universe since his father, Charles Xavier, died. The past few issues have gone a long way to establish David’s relationship with the mutant Blindfold. Everything feels like it’s been leading up to this new storyline that begins with this issue. Many who heard that Legion would be the star of his own series were very surprised and confused. With all the mutants out there more popular than him (literally dozens and dozens) how long would a book last about his adventures. It turns out that his outsider designation is exactly what propels this book. David does not see himself as a super hero and find most of them ridiculous. His biggest battles are internal ones and his attitude on his potential is far different that a more stock hero’s. This issue covers a lot of ground and works as a jumping on point for the series. I also feel as the the antagonist of this story might be something that no mutant has ever faced. You can’t call him a villain and it’s VERY easy to see where he is coming from. I think this book is exploring territories none of the X-Men books have since potentially the 90s series X-Man but this book has a much less mainstream feel to it. This feels like a Vertigo style X-Men book and I hope it continues to explore deeper territory.

file_204655_1_AgeOfUltron_7_TeaserAge of Ultron #7

Marvel Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Brandon Peterson, Carlos Pacheco, Roger Martinez

This is what I really like about alternate reality stories. A science fiction trope that ranks high in my favorites is the idea of changing the past and the ripple affect that it has from that point on. These stories from Back to the Future, Star Trek’s Mirror Mirror, and most comparatively The Age of Apocalypse. It all goes back to Ray Bradbury’s 1952 “A Sound of Thunder”. That story gives us the butterfly effect which states that a small change at one place can result in large differences to a later state. This story really is yet another Age of Apocalypse style story where the elimination of one important figure in the past yields a different world all together in the new present. In fact, Bendis’s own House of M deals with very similar ideas. I’m hoping that this is just one stop in this story that has yet to really deal with the titular Ultron. Still, fun deviation that I am sure will be mined at a later date. The art is exceptional in this issue especially with how the art chorus were broken up. Let’s all hope this is going somewhere that matters.

IM2012009_DC11Iron Man #9

Marvel Comics

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

This is the prologue to what is suppose to be the biggest Iron Man story of the year. Since this is a year with an Iron Man movie in theaters, I’ll listen to Marvel hyperbole more than I usually do. I’ve been impressed with every issue of Kieron Gillen’s Marvel Now Iron Man and it feels like most of it has been leading up to this. I think the addition of Dale Eaglesham is a welcome one after the recent arch with Greg Land. This prologue feels like a bridge between Tony’s space adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy and an origin story. I was unsure how there could be a natural bridge until I saw the last panel of this book. Suffice to say, the next issue can’t come fast enough after this cliff hanger. Fans of the movie franchise could very well start here with the comic but you’d be missing out on the equally approachable previous 8 issues. If you haven’t been reading Iron Man, give it a shot again. You’ll find a hybrid science fiction/super hero comic that’s a real page turner.

Animal-Man_20_FullAnimal Man #20

DC Comics

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: John Paul Leon

Ever since Rotworld ended (and you could make a case during Rotworld) Animal Man hasn’t felt like the book I fell in love with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still been one of the better DC books but it’s horror/drama story that it started as was something that gave me so much hope for The New 52. Almost two years later, I’m not that impressed with much of what DC is publishing but Jeff Lemire’s work has continued to be the high water mark (for books not starring Batman). This is all preface to what I’m about to say…Animal Man #20 is one of my favorite issues of 2013. It’s a refreshing reflection on what remains of Buddy Baker’s life. I’m not going to get into much detail on how Lemire tells this story but it’s very inventive and I’m surprised I haven’t read an Animal Man story like this before. What propels this issue to the top of my list for best issues of this year is the art by John Paul Leon. I am sure many who read this will draw comparisons to David Aja’s minimal line masterpieces in Hawkeye and Iron Fist but Leon’s style is also (ironically) cinematic. Like the best comic book artists, he’s really the director (more irony) of this story. Many of the most poignant panels in this issue have no words. They don’t need any. This comic is self contained and very approachable. It also punches you in the gut. Lemire excels at these emotional stories and this has been his best issue in a while. The next issue promises a new start for Buddy Baker. This issue, however, was just what I needed to remind myself why there are stories that can only be told in Animal Man.

The Most Disappointing

Detective-Comics-20Detective Comics #20

DC Comics

Writer: John Layman

Artist: Jason Fabok

Here’s a book that has been derailed a lot recently. This sort of thing happened a lot with pre-New 52 DC books and with Death of The Family, the death of Damian, and the anniversary issue, Detective Comics has struggled to finish this story. It all ends in this issue, though for the antagonist Emperor Penguin. While his rise to power was fun to watch at the beginning, we received a pretty weak payoff in this issue. Yes, it seems that the whole point of this was to create a new colorful character to Batman’s rogues gallery but we still don’t know what makes him interesting. At first it was his philosophy of staying in the shadows and being the power behind the throne that separated him from the other villains of Gotham. That was something different. The problem is that he throws that all away very quickly in this issue leaving you with a rushed and unsatisfying ending. I also felt ripped off of a chance to see Penguin rebuild an empire from nothing. That would have been a story that could have defined him and yet that wrap up happens in just a few panels. I hope Layman gets another chance at telling a memorable Batman story because in the glut of all the other Bat-Books, this is quickly becoming the least important. I will say that the art of Fabok was consistently well done and dynamic in this book, however.

This Week’s Best

spider-man batman superman reviewsI read about 30 new books a week. This is a pretty good sized haul considering that the overwhelming majority of books I read are from Marvel and DC and are super hero books. It’s not like all I like is Big Two capes books it’s just that these stories work in this format for me the most. The rest of what I read comes in trade paper back for me. Since Marvel and DC books are so interconnected, I like to keep up.

That all said, I’ve been dropping more DC books than I have in a long time and picking up many more Marvel books. It’s been widely reported that DC is losing market share as well as critical acclaim as the New 52 continues. The Batman books have been the only DC books that have consistently stayed at the top of my pile. Animal Man and Aquaman have and continue to be some of my favorite books while Scott Snyder leaving Swamp Thing has me worried. Either way, here are the standouts from this week:

 

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_3_5Uncanny X-Men #5

Marvel Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Frasier Irving

This is starting to really feel like an X-Men book now. It’s a totally new era but what makes X-Men books work is all intact here. Enemies from all sides, love triangles, mysteries, an all powerful villain, humans fearing them, in-fighting, new mutants, powers not working…this really has it all! This was billed as the true flagship X-Men book before it came out and I found that hard to believe. Wolverine and the X-Men felt like the true flagship book to me. Then I thought about it more. Wolverine and the X-Men represents the Morrison-era X-Men style of a book while Uncanny X-Men represents the more classic X-Men team. Uncanny has more baggage and is the outlaw team with a manageable roster. I think both styles work and are just as legitimate. This issue let the action die down just a bit in order for the interactions to have their place. The expansion of this team feels organic and really has me wanting more.

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Batman-Inc-10-variantBatman Incorporated #10

DC Comics

Writer: Grant Morrison

Artists: Chris Burnham & Jason Masters

While not my favorite issue recently, Batman Inc. books are still some of the best on the shelves. This one felt a bit slow till the last page and somewhat redundant but I see why Morrison made these choices. With three issues left in his HUGE run on Batman, this issue brought in elements from a variety of his past stories that are all going to build towards the finale. I love the idea that Batman is pulling out all the stops to take on Leviathan. Incorporating his Batbots, the Suit of Sarrows, and the Man-Bat Serum to give him the edge he needs makes this feel as big as it should be. The Al Ghul “family” is coming apart and it’s going to be a factor for the future of Batman. This had one of the best last pages of a Batman book that I can remember. If this was a Rocky movie, it’s where you would hear his theme music starting up. Game on!

Avengers_Arena_Vol_1_8Avengers Arena #8

Marvel Comics

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artist: Kev Walker

Last issue took time away from the main story (which had one crazy ending) to give us the set-up of Arcade to the way we find him in issue #1. This issue takes us back to the scene of Kid Briton’s death and we see how everyone is dealing with it. With as many characters with powers there are in this book, this never feels like a super hero book. These teens are confused real sounding characters who are way out of their element. This title grows on me with each issue. Once I got over if this whole story was happening in a virtual reality or not I finally fully committed to what’s been going on. Combining all these eras of Marvel teens from every corner of the Marvel U really works because the cliches feel very tenuous and alliances feel strained throughout. I’ve read many of these characters in the titles they came from so the accumulation of all those stories really enhances this for me. As a Darkhawk fan from the 90s as well as someone who has never missed a Runaways appearance, this book had a great twist for me. I recommend this book to non super hero fans as well as seasoned Marvel Zombies. There’s really something for everyone here and Kev Walker’s art is always crisp and approachable.

This week’s Worst

X-Termination_Vol_1_2

X-Termination #2 – Conclusion

Marvel Comics

Writers: David Lapham, Marjorie Liu, Greg Pak
Artists: David Lopez, Guillermo Mogorron, Raul Valdes, Matteo Lolli, Don Ho, Lorenzo Ruggiero, Carlos Cuevas, Allen Martinez
It’s really rare that I use this space as a place to complain about comics. For the most part, I’m dedicated to talking about what I like in comics and letting people know about it. This storyline and this issue (in particular) is awful. Uncoordinated collaborative writing and art made this feel like the obvious editorially mandated story that it was. Two so/so X-Men books that everyone knew would be canceled crossover with the least important X-Men title (Astonishing) to combine into a really basic story that ends two titles. Extreme X-Men was the new version of the Exiles which means it was a reality jumping title that was basically Sliders meets the X-Men. Crossing that title with Age of Apocalypse makes sense because that’s another alternate reality X-Men title with low sales. The contributions made by the various artists seem rushed and are very inconsistent from page to page. It was jarring. The ending was obvious from the from the first page and it felt like everyone was just going through the motions. The upshot is that I will be picking up two less mediocre books from now on so at least there’s that.

The Superior Spider-Man

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One of the boldest stories in Spider-Man history, Peter Parker’s body is now in the control of Doctor Octopus! Dock Ock is not Spider-Man but he has been infected with the memories of Peter Parker. He is trying to be the best hero he can because his ego demands nothing less. This has been a wild few months of Spider-Man comics. Adam and Nick discuss the first 5 issues of this Marvel Now title as well as the first 4 issues of Avenging Spider-Man. Listen to what longtime Spider-Man fans think of this huge Spidery story.

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Check out Keith’s Review of Superior Spider-Man #2

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A VS X #10
A VS X #11
A VS X #12
A VS X #8
A VS X #9
A VS X CONSEQUENCES #1
A VS X CONSEQUENCES #2
A VS X CONSEQUENCES #3
A VS X CONSEQUENCES #4
A VS X CONSEQUENCES #5
A+X #6
A+X #7
ALL NEW X-MEN #10
ALL NEW X-MEN #9
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #690
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #695
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #697
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699
ASTONISHING X-MEN #52
ASTONISHING X-MEN #53
ASTONISHING X-MEN #54
ASTONISHING X-MEN #55
ASTONISHING X-MEN #56
ASTONISHING X-MEN #57
ASTONISHING X-MEN #58
ASTONISHING X-MEN #60
ASTONISHING X-MEN #61
ASTONISHING X-MEN ANNUAL #1
AVENGERS (AVSX) #28
AVENGERS (AVSX) #29
AVENGERS (AVSX) #30
AVENGERS (END TIMES) #31
AVENGERS (END TIMES) #33
AVENGERS (END TIMES) #34
AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #10
AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #2
AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #3
AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #5
AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #6
AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #7
AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #8
AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #9
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #10
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #11
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #12
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #14
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #5
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #6
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #7
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #8
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #9
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE ANNUAL #1
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #4
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #5
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #6
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #10
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #11
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #12
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #13
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #15
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #16
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #17
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #19
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #9
AVENGING SPIDER-MEN #18
CABLE AND X-FORCE #6
CABLE AND X-FORCE #7
CAPTAIN AMERICA (MARVEL NOW) #1
CAPTAIN AMERICA (MARVEL NOW) #2
CAPTAIN AMERICA (MARVEL NOW) #3
CAPTAIN AMERICA #14
CAPTAIN AMERICA #15
CAPTAIN AMERICA #16
DAREDEVIL ANNUAL #1
FANTASTIC FOUR #5AU
FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #33
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #.1
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #1
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #2
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #3
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #4
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #5
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #6
IRON MAN #2
IRON MAN #3
IRON MAN #4
IRON MAN #5
IRON MAN #6
IRON MAN #7
IRON MAN #8
Issue
MINIMUM CANAGE ALPHA #1
MINIMUM CARNAGE OMEGA #1
NEW AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #2
NEW AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #3
NEW AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #4
NEW AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #5
NEW AVENGERS #28
NEW AVENGERS #29
NEW AVENGERS #30
NEW AVENGERS #31
NEW AVENGERS #33
NEW AVENGERS #34
NOVA #1
NOVA #2
NOVA #3
SAVAGE WOLVERINE #3
SECRET AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #1
SECRET AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #2
SECRET AVENGERS (MARVEL NOW) #3
SECRET AVENGERS #29
SECRET AVENGERS #30
SECRET AVENGERS #31
SECRET AVENGERS #33
SECRET AVENGERS #35
SECRET AVENGERS #36
SECRET AVENGERS #37
SPACE PUNISHER #1
SPACE PUNISHER #3
SPACE PUNISHER #4
SPIDER-MEN #3
SPIDER-MEN #4
SPIDER-MEN #5
THANOS RISING #1
THE FIRST X-MEN #1
THE FIRST X-MEN #4
THE FIRST X-MEN #5
ULIMATE X-MEN #25
ULTIMATE IRON MAN #1
ULTIMATE IRON MAN #4
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #13
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #14
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #15
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #16
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #17
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #18
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #19
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #20
ULTIMATE X-MEN #24
ULTIMATES #13
ULTIMATES #14
ULTIMATES #15
ULTIMATES #16
ULTIMATES #17
ULTIMATES #18
ULTIMATES #19
ULTIMATES #20
ULTIMATES #21
ULTIMATES #22
ULTIMATES #23
ULTRON #1AU
UNCANNY AVENGERS #4
UNCANNY AVENGERS #5
UNCANNY AVENGERS #6
UNCANNY AVENGERS #7
UNCANNY X-FORCE (MARVEL NOW) #3
UNCANNY X-FORCE #27
UNCANNY X-FORCE #28
UNCANNY X-FORCE #29
UNCANNY X-FORCE #30
UNCANNY X-FORCE #31
UNCANNY X-FORCE #32
UNCANNY X-FORCE #33
UNCANNY X-FORCE #34
UNCANNY X-FORCE #35
UNCANNY X-MEN (MARVEL NOW) #3
UNCANNY X-MEN (MARVEL NOW) #4
UNCANNY X-MEN (MARVEL NOW) #5
UNCANNY X-MEN #17
UNCANNY X-MEN #18
UNCANNY X-MEN #19
UNCANNY X-MEN #20
WOLVERINE #1
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #27
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #27AU
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #28
X-TERMINATION #1
X-TERMINATION #2

More to come soon! Get the ones you want first!

ua-lede-1352933199

Marvel Now Part 2

Marvel Now has been out for a few months now and has proven it’s proven itself as more than a gimmick. New titles, reinvented characters, and new rosters make Marvel Now the most talked about initiative in comics in the last 6 months. Adam and Nick go through each title and break down what’s been going on.

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Have something you’d like us to discuss? Please email us question at info@shortboxpodcast.com with “Listener Topic” in the subject line and make sure to let us know if we can use your name on the podcast. Thanks for listening!

Winter-Soldier_15-674x10241-300x455This issue was a nice surprise.  I’ll admit, I knew very little of Jason Latour when I picked up my books this week.  I truly didn’t know what to expect.  I knew Latour was an artist (and a talented one), I knew he was an occasional writer.  Perhaps most importantly, I knew he was stepping in and taking over for the recently departed Ed Brubaker.  So – big shoes to fill.

Thankfully, Jason Latour squares up to the plate admirably.

Issue 15 picks up at an undisclosed time after the tragic events of 14.  The Winter Soldier managed to takedown Leo Novokov and rescue Black Widow, but in the aftermath discovered that Novokov had ultimately erased every trace of Bucky Barnes from the Natasha Romonov’s memory.  It was a real gut punch for fans of the series and a bitter, but effective note to end Brubaker’s run.

The aftermath finds Bucky searching out absolution for his past.  He’s interrupted by Nick Fury (the real 616 version, cigar and all), ostensibly to bring the Winter Soldier in from the cold so to speak.  What follows is an intriguing bit of introspection that indicates Latour may have a solid hand on Bucky Barnes inner turmoil.

Eventually, the Winter Soldier, on Fury’s order, takes off to bring in a deep cover hydra agent – an agent who’s love was murdered by the Winter Soldier.  Latour seems to be laying the groundwork for his overarching villain.  In this case, a sect of Hydra devoted to the occult.  It’s a competent setup.

Beyond the writing, in my opinion, the art was a major highlight and nearly a reason in and of itself to give the issue a look.  Nic Klein pencils the issue with a loose expressive style that when combined with the dreary color palette really drives the darker, espionage tone of the book.  The characters look haggard, weary.  And it fits.  The style is reminiscent of Alex Maleev, David Aja or Michael Lark.

So, what’s the verdict?

I’ve been a fan of the Winter Soldier since his first appearance in Captain America #1 (2005).  I was more than a little worried when I saw that Ed Brubaker was departing Marvel and more importantly the Winter Soldier.  But, thankfully, Jason Latour seems up the challenge.

 

8/10