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Mike Carey’s Run on Ultimate Fantastic Four – Vol. 4-6 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fantastic Four, I’m taking a look at some of the stories featuring the characters over the past half-century.

Ultimate Fantastic Four was never really the crown jewel of the Ultimate line. It wasn’t ever as consistent as Brian Michael Bendis’ 100+ issues on Ultimate Spider-Man, nor as zeitgeist-y as Ultimate X-Men (which had the success of the X-Men trilogy to back it up at least). Instead, like Fox’s Fantastic Four movies, Ultimate Fantastic Four was just… well, just kinda there, really. To be fair, I dug Mark Millar’s twelve-issue run on the title. Hell, I even enjoyed elements of the opening arc by Millar and Bendis, and the year-long run by Warren Ellis that followed. However, Mike Carey’s run is somewhat disappointing. This was the run which essentially saw the series through to the big Ultimatum event, and perhaps it justified the decision to clean the slate when it came to Marvel’s Ultimate line. Because, whatever Carey’s run was, it certainly wasn’t consistently fantastic.

That surfer dude looks spaced...

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Realm of Kings (Review/Retrospective)

This is the fifteenth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s shared universe (particularly their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity.

Realm of Kings is a strange little chapter in the cosmic saga that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have been drafting. It seems to exist not really as a story in its own terms (although it does contain some interesting narratives) but rather as a bridge between War of Kings and The Thanos Imperative. It’s essentially the story of an attempt to find stability in a radically warped universe, one turned upside down by recent events. It feels somewhat smaller in scope than the other events that the pair have produced, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, it’s nice to see a series exploring the consequences and aftermath of what has occurred, rather than simply pushing on right into the next big thing. While Realm of Kings does focus on “the Fault” opened at the climax of War of Kings that will become a galactic threat in The Thanos Imperative, the three miniseries are at their best when they explore the consequences of the political instability that the intergalactic war has produced.

That's gonna be Thor tomorrow...

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War of Kings (Review/Retrospective)

This is the twelfth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s shared universe (particularly their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity.

War of Kings is perhaps the best thing to come out of Secret Invasion. In fact, the miniseries went out of its way to highlight its links to the Marvel comics mega-event, with the story even kicking off in a Secret Invasion: War of Kings special (note the order there, it isn’t War of Kings: Secret Invasion). However, not withstanding the attempts to tie the series back to the high-selling mainstream events that Marvel was consistently churning out, War of Kings is essentially an epic space opera, the story of an interstellar war and alien politics, told with the wit and charm that writer Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have made the cosmic line famous for. Tying it into Secret Invasion only serves to highlight the deficiencies with that event, as the writers here attempt the same sort of story with the same sort of themes, but with more skill and grace than the bigger event could off.

Now is the time...

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Annihilation: Conquest (Review/Retrospective)

This is the tenth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s shared universe (particularly their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity.

Perhaps it was the novelty of Marvel’s Annihilation crossover which lent the series its appeal. It took some of the more often overlooked space heroes of the Marvel Universe and tied them all together as part of a gripping narrative fighting against the extinction of life itself. It was loud and bright and colourful and frentic – it was perhaps the best crossover that Marvel have produced in the past five years or so. So I was very much anticipating the sequel, Annihilation: Conquest – hoping that it could be another breath of fresh air in this long trek through Marvel’s shared universe. Unfortunately, it seemed that a lot of energy of the original was gone – the series couldn’t help but feel somewhat anti-climactic.

Feel the Wraith...

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Nova: Annihilation (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

I’m currently taking a look at the modern history of the Marvel Universe. I kinda figured that I should go through at least one cycle of big continuity-heavy events to at least engage with this style of storytelling, so I can get a feel for it. Although I’m focusing on The Avengers (what with the movie and all), I’m also checking out cosmic Marvel and the X-Men at the same time. My review of the big intergalactic crossover Annihilation: Conquest is going out today, so this is a bit of a sidenote on that. Nova was the first relaunched on-going “cosmic” Marvel series, launched in the wake of Annihilation, so I thought I’d follow the first year of the book. 

I have to confess that I quite enjoyed Marvel’s attempt to reinvigorate their line of cosmic comic books with the gigantic crossover event Annihilation. And it apparently did quite well, spawning a series of associated crossovers in the years that followed, as well as an on-going series following the character perhaps most greatly affected by the events of the miniseries. Although the character has had his own series in the past (no fewer than three times) and featured in a few high-profile teambooks, it’s good to see Nova returned to prominance, particularly written by two authors who clearly know and cherish him.

Iron Man expects Richard to show some Initiative...

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