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Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery – Fear Itself (Review/Retrospective)

This March, to celebrate the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’ll be taking a look at some classic and not-so-classic Avengers comic books. Check back daily for the latest updates!

Whatever about the quality of big “event” comics like Secret Invasion or Fear Itself, they typically serve as the launching pad for a variety of new series. Using the sales power of a tie-in to a big event, comic book publishers are more likely to convince readers to try something a bit new or a little outside the norm. It doesn’t always work, but – if used cleverly – these tie-ins can serve to draw attention to low-key books that might otherwise be flying under the radar. Or, you know, “Loki books.”

Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery is a contemporary classic. Even if one is unsatisfied with Fear Itself – and I’m quite fond of it, to be honest – Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery is enough to justify that juggernaut of an event.

Ghosts of gods of mischief past...

Ghosts of gods of mischief past…

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Roger Langridge & Chris Samnee’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger (Review)

This March, to celebrate the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’ll be taking a look at some classic and not-so-classic Avengers comic books. Check back daily for the latest updates!

There really aren’t enough all-ages friendly comic books, and there certainly aren’t enough comic books that you can pop into a curious stranger’s hands and say “hey! read this!” In this era of blockbuster movies and hit television shows based off comic book properties, you’d imagine that companies would be working hard to attract new fans, trying to make comics accessible and enjoyable to those with little experience of picking up a comic book or graphic novel.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger is a wonderfully accessible piece of work that provides a brilliant introduction to Marvel’s take on the classic Norse God of Thunder. However, it remains a tragedy that this is one of very few efforts to provide such a comic, and also that Thor: The Mighty Avenger came to such an unceremonious end, cancelled after only eight issues.

Taking Thor for a spin...

Taking Thor for a spin…

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – The Well (Review)

So this is what a tie-in to Thor: The Dark World looks like. This is the episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. broadcast specifically to tie into the major motion picture blockbuster. In essence, this is as close as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will ever get to integrating with the shared Marvel universe. Given the fact that the show’s official title includes the prefix “Marvel’s”, that cross-media synchronicity is a large part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s branding.

The result is… disappointing, to say the least. It’s just a generic “strange phenomena of the week” episode with even more crossed wires than usual, a tiresome bit of back story for a bland character played by a mediocre actor and an unwillingness to take advantage of any of the benefits of being a television show tied into a blockbuster franchise while remaining firmly anchored to the weaknesses associated with the medium.

Hot rod...

Hot rod…

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Watch! Thor: The Dark World Trailer!

Look! It’s Great Britain! Isn’t that so fantastical and surreal, arguably as strange as any of the nine worlds?

The first teaser for Thor: The Dark World has arrived. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little disappointed. I’ve made no secret that I think that Branagh’s Thor is the best of the films Marvel has produced, and I’m wary of trying to use some television directors to offer a large-scale fantasy. Still, while the trailer seems a bit jumpy and jumbled, there are some nice things. I like that Asgard seems to be getting its design tips from S.H.I.E.L.D. and that they seem to have taken some trouble to ensure Loki will feel right at home in a whited-out holding cell. And Anthony Hopkins’ narration is as wonderful as ever.

Anyway, check out the trailer and let me know what you think.

Avengers Disassembled: Thor (Review/Retrospective)

Thor: Disassembled is easily the strongest solo arc to stem from the events in Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers Disassembled. It’s  full of interesting and clever ideas about the nature of stories, and serves to wrap up Thor’s story fairly efficiently, leading into the big reshuffle of the Marvel Universe. Rather than merely treading water waiting for J. Michael Straczynski’s Thor, writer Mike Avon Oeming takes advantage of the unique set of circumstances before him to present that rarest type of superhero story: one with an ending.

Thunderbolts and lightening, very, very frighteningly…

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X-Men: The Asgardian Wars (Review)

With our month looking at Avengers comics officially over, we thought it might be fun to dig into that other iconic Marvel property, the X-Men. Join us for a month of X-Men related reviews and discussion.

It has been said that the X-Men rarely interact with the broader Marvel Universe. While characters like Wolverine and the Beast might have appeared on a roster or two of The Avengers, and Storm might have popped up in Fantastic Four, events within the X-Men line seemed to be self-contained, with Marvel’s mutants generally fighting their own problems in their own way. After all, Captain America was hardly a champion of civil liberties if he didn’t stand up for mutant rights, so it made sense to keep the mutants relatively self-contained.

However, despite this (somewhat deserved) reputation, it’s interesting to look back at the connections that writer Chris Claremont fostered with the wider Marvel Universe. Some of these (like the Claremont’s frequent connections to the Ka-Zar mythos) were relatively frequent within the pages of the main title (and no less strange for it), but Claremont was also a fan of making an event of a crossover between the X-Men and any other major players – things like Fantastic Four vs. X-Men. This story arc, told over four special issues, is something similar, making a big deal of the crossover between the world of Thor and the X-Men.

The Goddess of Thunder!

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Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – Prime (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

Avengers Prime feels more like an epilogue than a new chapter. It’s a very clear attempt by writer Brian Michael Bendis to draw a line under the past five years of Marvel continuity, the direction of the Avengers franchise from Avengers: Disassembled through to Siege. It’s an attempt to sum up everything that had happened thematically, and to all his characters to move forward, hopefully stronger for the experience – a genuine attempt at character development inside the relatively static genre of superhero comics. While it feels, at times, a little bit too simplistic, it does feel like Bendis is tying up all his loose ends and ready to push forward on to new ground.

From the wreckage...

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