marvel now

SEP130696_mEasily the most controversial decision in the Spider-Man universe since One More Day, Superior Spider-Man was definitely a divisive moment for spider-fans.  Admittedly, I had enjoyed Dan Slott’s run immensely up to that point, so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  It helped that Steve Wacker was continuing to edit the book and Wacker’s track record on great comics speaks for itself.  Thankfully, my faith has thus far been well-placed.  Despite some early, and arguably questionable missteps, Dan Slott has found his footing and more importantly he’s found Otto Octavius’ voice.  While I certainly want Peter Parker back as much as the next fan, I’ve enjoyed the dichotomy of seeing someone like Otto Octavius (ruthless, vain,etc) grapple with the sense of duty and responsibility that fueled Peter Parker.

Over the last 20 issues we’ve watched Spider-Ock navigate his way through the minefield of Peter Parker’s life, possibly improving it in some ways (finally getting that PhD for Peter) and tearing it apart in others (burning bridges with Max Modell and MJ, alienating the Avengers, and turning NYC into a mini spider themed police state).  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the series has been watching the ways that Otto-as-Peter-Parker deals with the various people in Peter/Spider-Man’s life, be it friend or foe.  Otto is invariably more acerbic, misanthropic, and curmudgeonly but Dan Slott has also added an intriguing depth of compassion to underlay Otto’s rather unsavory nature.  We saw it early on with Otto’s extraordinary rage at the Vulture’s use of children and in his relationship with Anna.  It’s that relationship with Anna that a somewhat indirect bit of depth to the conflict in this issue.  Specifically, issue #20 saw the return of Stunner, Otto Octavius’ former love interest, taking the fight to Spider-Man as, wait for it, vengeance for killing Doc Ock back in Amazing Spiderman #700.

Amidst the property damaging battle with Stunner, Dan Slott is beginning to pulling at the seams of Otto’s carefully plotted life.  His PhD is now in question, Carlie Cooper is finally beginning to unravel the mystery behind Spider-Man’s sudden personality shift, and the Green Goblin is slowly moving in.  In short, it’s becoming clearer that we are moving ever-closer to the downfall of Superior Spider-Man.

If there’s a weak spot in the issue, it’s Dan Slott’s penchant for exposition dumps and semi-crowded script.  I occasionally get the sense that Dan Slott had a longer timeline in mind when plotting these stories and for whatever reason is now a shortened schedule.  But, these are ultimately minor complaints.  This is another solid issue in what has been a solid few months of Superior Spiderman.

8.0/10

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So, I guess the first question to get out of the way is the obvious one – Do we really need another X-Title?  Well, here’s the short answer…if it’s written by Jason Aaron, then yes, yes we do.   The thing about the X-men books right now is that they are strong across the board and the flagship titles (Uncanny, All-New, Wolverine and The X-men) are really knocking it out of the park.  Therefore, any new book needs to fire on all cylinders right out of the gate to warrant a place on the pull list.

Rest easy, True Believers, Amazing X-Men is everything we’ve come to expect from a Jason Aaron comic not titled Scalped.  Aaron lays down a healthy dose of bombast, wit, and absurdity.  Oh, and swashbuckling.  There is definitely swashbuckling.

For me personally, one of the most tragic moments in recent X-memory was the death of Nightcrawler.  In general, I don’t pay a lot of attention to character deaths in the big two.  Death is most generally a temporary condition in the world of mainstream comics.  Because of this, character deaths very rarely have the writer intended impact of me.  However, Nightcrawler’s death was one that got my attention.  It was well done and it fit with the character.  Of course, Nightcrawler was also one of those somewhat rare universally loved characters.  Because of those reasons I had mixed feelings about Nightcrawler’s return.  When a character’s death actually has an impact, I sort of want said character to stay dead otherwise there’s potential for the death to be cheapened.  Also, characters tend to return from the dead in contrived ways (I’m looking at you Jason Todd).  To Jason Aaron’s credit, he just straight up hangs a lamp-shade on the whole issue of Nightcrawler returning from the dead, by making it just that.  Nightcrawler is 100% dead at the beginning of this issue, no clones, no time displacement, no reality punching.  Nightcrawler is in heaven, he’s bored and he’s going to be heading back to life.  It’s as simple as that.

Now, that the preliminary stuff is all out of the way let’s get to the meat, shall we?  How is the issue itself?

Exceptionally entertaining.

This comic reads a lot like Wolverine and the X-Men and that is by no means a bad thing.  As a matter of fact, this issue seems to indicate that Amazing may be a sister title to Wolverine and the X-Men in the same way that Uncanny X-Men is related to All-New X-Men.  Jason gives us a solid quick introduction to the major players and their various character dynamics.  Wolverine and Storm are arguing and flirting in equal measure.  Beast is careening through the school on the trail of those mischevious bamfs.  Iceman is having some lady problems.  It’s all great stuff and worth the price of admission.  Perhaps most interesting for those who have followed Wolverine and the X-Men is that we are finally getting some explanation on what the bamfs are and what they are up to (unsurprising hint #1, it’s got something to do with Nightcrawler).  And it’s the bamfs that bring the principle characters together and pull Wolverine and Northstar into the afterlife and right on track to meet up with that ubiquitous blue elf we all know and love.

9/10

infinity_1_variantdjdurdjevic_0I’m going to say it right up front, like a lot of you I have a pretty love-hate relationship with so-called “event books”.  And let’s be honest, as much as I love Marvel comics right now and the direction most of the series have taken under the NOW initiative, Marvel is…shall we say fond of the event book format.  I think its safe to say that the average reader is suffering from bouts of event fatigue.  But, what does that really even mean?  We all complain about events at one time or another.  You’ve done it, I’ve done it.  But at the end of the day we still buy the issues, don’t we?  Event books can be amazing.  Look no further than House of M, the Sinestro Corps War, or Infinite Crisis for examples of event books done right.  Even Avengers v. X-men had some exceptionally good bits, it just wasn’t consistent.  And that, in a round-a-bout sort of way, is actually a pretty good segue into why I was, and am, looking forward to Infinity.  Specifically, Jonathan Hickman at the helm.

I’ve thought that Hickman would an excellent choice for an event book for 3 reasons: 1) He’s a meticulous plotter, planning even the most minute details of a story from the very beginning; 2) He has a style that lends itself well to epic storylines; 3) His issues in AvX were the best of the series.  So, this obviously begs the question…how was Infinity #1?  Well, I would say it’s about as good as can be expected.  There are a lot of moving parts and a large, diverse cast.  Thankfully, with a hefty 64 page count there is space for everyone to breathe.

What sets infinity apart from your average event book is that, contrary to the usual formula, its not particularly friendly to new readers or those who haven’t been following at least Avengers and New Avengers.  Thankfully, if you’ve followed both, Inifinity #1 is a natural and intriguingly plotted continuation of threads started from issue #1 of the Avengers under the Marvel NOW banner.

Infinity #1 is very much a setup issue, but thankfully does not suffer for the fact.  Hickman begins moving a lot of seemingly disparate parts from his Avengers titles into place and setting up the board.  There a number of plot threads that move closer to fruition.  We finally get a glimpse of the Builders first referenced in Avengers #1 and the devastating scale of their power.  The larger effects of the incursion events in the New Avengers title become a little more apparent.  And as advertised Thanos makes himself and his intentions known building off of themes carried in both the Avengers and Guardians of Galaxy.  Perhaps, most interestingly (or perhaps sadly depending on your perspective) Infinity #1 adds a relevance and stake to Age of Ultron that that series sorely lacked during its 10 issue run.

In short, there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of characters to keep track of, but if you’re willing to put in the effort and follow Hickman down the rabbit hole he’s conjuring then the first issue is a definite success.  Jonathan Hickman is a writer well known for the intricacies and complexities of his stories and Infinity at this stage is falling right in line.

8.5/10

Injustice: Gods Among Us & More

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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!

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There have been very few comics since the Marvel Now launch that I’ve enjoyed more than Thor: God of Thunder.  Jason Aaron has a brilliant grasp on Thor (across multiple generations) and is writing an absurdly high concept, wonderfully pulp inspired story.  And if Aaron’s writing isn’t enough to bring you in, look no further than Esad Ribic’s utterly epic artwork.  Ribic is, without a doubt, drawing the most definitive Thor since Walt Simonson’s epic run.

This issue continues the ongoing God Butcher saga and see the three generation spanning Thor’s (Young Thor, Now Thor, Old King Thor) finally coming together.  The bulk of the issue, however, follows the brash, young God of Thunder as he attempts to rally the god-slaves of Gorr’s planet.   And thanks to the wonders of the space-time continuum, Young Thor gets a nice slap back to reality and a solid assist from Old King Thor’s granddaughters, the Goddesses of Thunder (Jason Aaron + time travel = awesome).

The remainder of the issue follows Now Thor and Old King Thor aboard their flying longship making their way to Gorr’s Planet.  The back-and-forth between Now Thor and Old King Thor is equal parts hilarious and insightful.  I’ve found it particularly impressive the way Aaron has managed to find three distinct flavors for essentially the same voice.  There is just enough difference between the three generations of Thor to keep the interplay engaging.  Young Thor is vain, arrogant and brash, but the reader can see the qualities that lead to the heroic Now Thor.  While Old King Thor is a battle hardened curmudgeon, with a healthy dose of exasperation directed at his younger selves, with a little bit of Odin thrown in for good measure.

It’s also noteworthy that Young Thor smacks Now Thor in the face with a starshark.  And that is one of the most amazing sentences I have ever written and precisely why you should be reading this comic.

9.5/10

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.

June 2013 Solicits

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We discuss the comics coming to stores in June 2013, what we think about many Marvel and DC titles, and Marvel Now vs. The New 52. We also look at some of the quotes Marvel is using to promote their books. They are so boring! Stuff like, “I Love This Book” – IGN. Seriously…you can do better.

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Win Free Marvel Comics of your choice by leaving us iTunes reviews. Click HERE to find out how!

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!

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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iTunes listeners: HELP US OUT!

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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!

iron man podcast captain america avengers

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.

Listen to the Episode Directly.

Listen to the Episode on iTunes.

iTunes listeners: HELP US OUT!

  • Rate Us
  • Leave a Review
  • Subscribe

Doing this really helps us move up in the rankings which means more people will find this show!

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!