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Ultimate Marvel Team-Up (Review/Retrospective)

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up occupies a strange place in Marvel canon. Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by a rake of top-tier talent, it was essentially a series designed to showcase these impressive artists while adding a bit of depth and breadth to the then-fledgeling Ultimate Marvel Universe. Essentially a continuity that had been launched from scratch, with the goal of attracting new fans put off by decades of back story in the regular shared universe, Brian Michael Bendis had pioneered the line with his superb Ultimate Spider-Man, a book that he is still writing today (albeit in a slightly different form). Due to its nature, Ultimate Marvel Team-Up is a somewhat disjointed effort, where quality varies almost from issue-to-issue, but it’s still worth a look for anybody with any interest in Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man work.

Who says there aren’t crocodiles in the sewer?

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Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man – The Singularity (Review/Retrospective)

And so I’ve finished my trek through the tie-ins to Avengers Disassembled. And it was surprisingly painful. Sure, Robert Kirkman’s Captain America at least made sense if you looked at it from the right angle, and Mike Oeming’s Thor was one of the best stories to feature the character, but the Invincible Iron Man and Captain America & Falcon tie-ins serve to illustrate just how lost some of Marvel’s top books were at the time. The Invincible Iron Man actually had two arcs tying into the big event, from two very different creative teams, perhaps illustrating that Marvel was aware of this fundamental dysfunction. Unfortunately, neither is especially impressive, and both feel like they are simply treading water, waiting for Avengers Disassembled to put the book out of its misery.

Things look Stark…

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Avengers Disassembled: Captain America & Falcon (Review/Retrospective)

If any of the Avengers: Disassembled tie-ins make a case for the drastic shake-up that took place amid Marvel’s Avengers-themed titles in 2004, it’s probably Captain America & Falcon. By the time the tie-in to the event began, the book was only on its fifth issue, but it had already found time for the juvenile and shallow conspiracy-theory mongering that would make John Nay Rieber and Chuck Austen’s Captain America proud. Still stuck in a hamfisted attempt to tie into the post-9/11 zeitgeist, the book offers some of the worst examples of comic book storytelling at Marvel at a time when their Avengers line wasn’t particularly strong to begin with.

Not a smashing success…

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Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man – Turf War (Review/Retrospective)

It’s probably true that in comics, like in any other medium, you have a preference towards the stories that brought you into that medium. While I think Marvel was doing some truly exceptional stuff during the early part of the 2000s, like Morrison’s New X-Men or Waid’s Fantastic Four or Garth Ennis’ Marvel Knights: Punisher, I think that the Avengers line of books were all struggling to find a direction. While I have some issues with the clunky crossover- and tie-in-reliant nature of the period, I do think that there was a lot more energy for the Avengers-related titles after Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers Disassembled. Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and J. Michael Straczynski’s Thor can stand alongside the best interpretations of the characters, with Matt Fraction’s later Invincible Iron Man run also standing as a classic Iron Man run.

These Disassembled tie-in issues offer a pretty solid indication of where Marvel’s Avengers comic book line was just before the crossover, and most of them seemed to be in very serious trouble. There are two arcs from The Invincible Iron Man collected here, from two very different teams, and neither seems to know exactly what it is doing.

Iron Man decompressed?

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Avengers Disassembled: Captain America (Review/Retrospective)

The fourth volume of Captain America had a brief but troubled run. Launched on the Marvel Knights imprint by John Nay Rieber, the book was originally intended to follow the eponymous hero as he attempted to make sense of the world after the September 11th attacks. It was precisely as heavy-handed and awkward as you might imagine. After Rieber departed the series, supposedly due to differences with editorial, Chuck Austen arrived to write a story where the US government apparently conspired to freeze Captain America in the block of ice because the hero had discovered plans to use a nuclear weapon. So, when Robert Kirkman was assigned the task of helping the series limp across the finish line so that it could be relaunched as Ed Brubaker’s Captain America, it felt somewhat appropriate that the writer cast the story as a much more conventional and goofy superhero adventure.

A punchy little run?

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Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – Disassembled (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.” Today and tomorrow we’ll be taking a look at the two Brian Michael Bendis events that kick-started the writer’s work on the franchise.

Avengers: Disassembled welcomed Brian Michael Bendis to the Avengers franchise. The super-star writer had enjoyed long and well-received runs on Ultimate Spider-Man and Daredevil, but his tenure on the Avengers franchise proved much more divisive. Taking over for a three issue arc on the main Avengers title, Bendis literally destroyed the team. Not only did he demolish a lot of the iconography associated with the bunch of superheroes, he also launched a fairly scathing deconstruction of the stalwart superhero team. Bendis wasn’t just going to adopt a caretaker position on the series, he clearly planned some very serious remodelling. That meant that some walls had to get knocked down. In many ways, Disassembled feels like a brutal demolition.

Things come apart…

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