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Mark Waid and Ron Garney’s Run on Captain America (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!

Mark Waid and Ron Garney’s ten-issue run on Captain America is a bit of an oddity. The run follows an impressive ten-year stint by writer (and editor) Mark Gruenwald, but is situated right before Marvel’s attempt at a mid-nineties reboot with Heroes Reborn. As a result, the run feels like it is over before it begins, more of a blip on the radar than a bold new beginning for the character – indeed, it is very much a bold new beginning right before another bold new beginning.

Mark Waid is probably one of the most easily overlooked writers to work on Captain America. He has written over fifty issues featuring the character, but his work has been scattered across multiple volumes and divided by editorial decisions. His longest unbroken stint on the character is thirteen issues of the same comic book. It’s a very weird relationship to have with a character, and there’s a sense that Waid’s take on Captain America was never as developed as it might have been. It feels like scattered snapshots rather than an entire mosaic.

Funeral for a friend...

Funeral for a friend…

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Red Skull: Incarnate (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!

Incarnate is something of a companion piece to Greg Pak’s Testament. Testament was a miniseries following the life of a young boy named Erik during the Holocaust. Of course, Erik would grow up to become the supervillain known as Magneto, but Pak was more fascinated in the history surrounding the character – his origins as a Holocaust survivor. The series was beautifully written and well received, prompting Marvel to hire Pak to produce a companion piece.

Incarnate is effectively the origin story of the Red Skull, Captain America’s arch-enemy and a character Pak himself describes in the afterword as “the Marvel Universe’s most evil villain.” Setting the story in late twenties and thirties Germany, Pak sets the character’s origins against the rise of Nazism and the decline of the Weimer Republic.

A slice of life...

A slice of life…

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The Amazing Spider-Man by David Michelinie & Todd McFarlane Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

The Amazing Spider-Man by David Michelinie & Todd McFarlane Omnibus is a fun comic book collection. Todd McFarlane was one of the rising stars at Marvel in the late eighties, and it’s no exaggeration to suggest that his work on The Amazing Spider-Man (along with Jim Lee’s work on Uncanny X-Men) had a massive influence on how the company would develop during the nineties. McFarlane’s artwork still looks absolutely superb, but it’s easy to forget that McFarlane worked for an extended period with author David Michelinie, crafting stories for the iconic web-crawler. While the stories and characterisation might not have been as strongly influential as McFarlane’s artwork, they still remain impressive until today. This might not be the finest or most important collection of Spider-Man adventures ever collected, but it reads incredibly fluidly and has a great sense of fun behind it.

Itsy-bitsy Spider...

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Acts of Vengeance: X-Factor – Apocalypse vs. Loki (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.”

In celebration of the release of The Avengers, this weekend we’re taking a look at the massive 1989-90 crossover “Acts of Vengeance”, which pitted various villains against some unlikely heroes. I’ll be looking at some of the most fun match-ups. This arc is collected in the companion omnibus.

It is very clear, reading some of the issues connected to John Byrne’s Acts of Vengeance, that some writers weren’t entirely on board with the crossover. After all, it was a giant line-wide event that existed purely to pit heroes against villains who traditionally faced other heroes – there was no more rhyme or reason than that. In many cases, that meant derailing whatever was happening in the book at the time, or even reversing or setting back characterisation. Magneto, in particular, found himself reverted back to little more than a villain. While a lot of books were implicitly critical of the event, Louise Simonson’s X-Factor seems particularly bothered by the intrusion, to the point that the only real tie-in to Acts of Vengeance sees the big villain Apocalypse effectively booting Loki out of his book.

I’m not sure Loki’s enthusiasm will crossover quite well…

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Acts of Vengeance Omnibus (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.”

As The Avengers is getting its U.S. theatrical release this weekend, I thought I’d celebrate by taking a look at a gigantic crossover. I’ll be reviewing individual tie-ins over the weekend, so check back!

Truth be told, I would have been quite disappointed if I made it all the way to the end of the month without taking a look at one of those token “big, dumb” crossovers featuring Marvel’s iconic characters. Truth be told, Acts of Vengeance just looked kinda fun. Although it spread to Marvel’s whole line, it was directed by writer and artist John Byrne, who was behind Avengers and West Coast Avengers at the time, so I’m totally counting it as an Avengers crossover. It’s one of those incredibly silly concepts that could only ever work in the context of superhero comic books. Basically, tired of being soundly defeated by their heroes, a bunch of supervillains decide to band together and exchange partners. Hilarity ensues as the line struggles to maintain editorial consistency.

Shattered heroes…

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Ultimate Comics Avengers by Mark Millar Omnibus (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.”

Read our review of The Avengers here. And because it’s release day in the rest of the world, here’s a second Avengers-related review. And it’s a long one.

They say you can’t go home again. The Ultimates was easily one of the best comics of the past decade, and perhaps the comic that really got me into the medium. A clever, timely, astute and well-considered exploration of the superhero in the twenty-first century, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch undoubtedly had a massive influence on everything that followed. Of course, all this would seem to be for nothing when Jeph Loeb took over the franchise for Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum, two stories that were very poorly received and damaged the franchise quite considerably. So Millar’s return to write four six-issue miniseries of Ultimate Comics: Avengers seemed like a breath of fresh air. Critical and fan reaction to his twenty-four issue run has been somewhat muted, and there’s no denying that a lot of the magic from that origin story was lost. That said, I’ll concede to finding it an interesting, complex and occasionally compelling examination of Millar’s views on superheroes.

Not quite the ultimate Avengers comic…

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Non-Review Review: Captain America – The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger doesn’t have the heart of X-Men: First Class or the wit of Thor, but the story of Marvel’s star-spangled superhero does have its own charms. Part of it reflects its lead, little Steve Rogers, an appealing and sincere earnestness in dealing with material that it would be too easy to cynically dismiss. The First Avenger embraces the cheesiness at its core, and offers a rather stunning version of THE great American myth. Zack Snyder would do well to play close attention when bringing that other America fable to the big screen.

Patriot games...

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