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Rick Remender’s Run on Secret Avengers – Avengers vs. X-Men (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of Thor: The Dark World towards the end of next month, we’ll be looking at some Thor and Avenger-related comics throughout September. Check back weekly for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Secret Avengers manages one of the strongest tie-ins to Avengers vs. X-Men. I will confess that I am not normally a fan of comic book event tie-ins. They tend to distract from on-going narratives crafted by long-term writers in order to assure a cynical short-term sales boost. At worst, they can feel like vacuous filler, comics full of nonsense that are impossible to decipher unless you’re reading the giant crossover of the month. Both Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man lost a lot of momentum thanks to crossovers.

On the other hand, I’ll concede that good writers can shrewdly use crossovers to tell their own stories. Perhaps the most obvious example is Alan Moore’s wonderful Swamp Thing tie-in to Crisis on Infinite Earths – stories that can be read (and be quite entertaining) on their own terms, without requiring the reader to constantly flick back or forth. Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men tie-in to Avengers vs. X-Men manages to retain its own identity and tell its own story, and Rick Remender’s Secret Avengers makes a valiant attempt.

Into the fire...

Into the fire…

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Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Wolverine later in the month, we’re taking a look at some classic X-Men and Wolverine comics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday here. I’m also writing a series of reviews of the classic X-Men television show at comicbuzz every weekday, so feel free to check those out.

Between Uncanny X-Force and Venom (and arguably his run on The Punisher), Rick Remender seems to have built a comic book career out of rehabilitating symbols of nineties excess. Taking a bunch of grim and nihilistic concepts that were very popular in mainstream comics during the nineties, Remender uses them to craft a compelling story about the wages of vengeance. Its premise and pedigree might lead you to believe that Uncanny X-Force is another throwaway comic about gratuitous violence. Instead, it’s a masterpiece about profound consequences.

Welcome to the World...

Welcome to the World…

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The Punisher by Rick Remender Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

Rick Remender’s Punisher is a fun run. It’s not the most important or iconic take on the character, nor is it the writer’s best work at Marvel (or in the industry as a whole). It’s disjointed, it’s awkwardly paced, it seems to resolve itself merely because Remender was moving on to another title, but it’s also fun, exciting and interesting. Somewhat akin to Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider work, it’s a great writer cutting lose with a grindhouse character and concentrating on telling a tale that is entertaining rather than definitive. In many respects, Remender’s Punisher really shouldn’t work half as well as it does, and that’s certainly a testament to the writer’s skill.

Here there be monsters…

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Venom: Circle of Four (Review)

If you had told me that I would enjoy a Venom collection quite this much, I would have laughed. I picked up the oversized hardcover collection of Circle of Four after enjoying Rick Remender’s Venom issues tying into the Spider-Island crossover. Which, I guess, is one of the benefits of such spin-offs and crossovers, I suppose. Anyway, intrigued by Remender’s take on the character, I was curious enough to take a look at this collection, featuring a crossover between Venom, Red Hulk, X-23 and the new Ghost Rider. Of course, two of those books had been cancelled by the time the crossover rolled around, so the whole “mini-event” was rolled up into Remender’s Venom. While Circle of Four isn’t necessarily a groundbreaking comic book storyline, or even a truly exceptional event, it does demonstrate that even the most conventional premise can work well in the right hands.

Back in black, baby!

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