Top 5 Marvel Comics for Week of 3/20/13

Reviews of Avengers #8, Indestructible Hulk #5, Nova #2, Deadpool #6, and Daredevil #24

Any week where there’s two Mark Waid comics is probably a good week, and that’s exactly what happened this week with Daredevil #24 and Indestructible Hulk #5. The cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe continues to expand with Nova #2. Deadpool #6 is funny, wrong, and funny again. And Avengers #8 is dealing with bigger ideas than you’ll probably see on the screen any time soon!

 

Daredevil #24

Writer: Mark Waid

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Art: Chris Samnee

Color Art: Javier Rodriguez

Man, can Chris Samnee tell a story. Seriously, half this issue takes place in a hospital room, as old friends discuss pending cancer test results. The images are as filled with heart and tension as any Daredevil/Bullseye fight, through subtle change of angles and use of shadows, Samnee just nails a moment filled with fear and love. Waid is the master at writing for any artist’s strength and this issue is a prime example of that talent.

Waid doesn’t just entertain, he educates. Anyone who went through the nightmare of cancer with a loved one will tell you that this is what the experience is like. The fear, uncertainty, and sudden, acute awareness of pending mortality that come along with the diagnosis are all here. Yet, Waid has Murdock still stand and be the staunch hero for Foggy. It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds, as Daredevil must face a threat he can’t just punch or kick.

Waid also brings the superhero in this issue, as Daredevil continues to investigate a rash of crimes committed by crooks with Daredevil’s powers. He recruits Hank Pym to help in the investigation, and as readers everywhere will realize, what with the Ant-Man film down the road, Waid REALLY needs to write a Hank Pym comic. The banter between the two heroes is spot on perfect, as Waid reveals the complications of having a phone conversation with someone that is changing size on the other end.  The two heroes are able to fend off an attack by rabid dogs with enhanced senses. The action is pure classic Marvel, but there is a tense undercurrent of reality, as both heroes realize that with their super-senses and super-science, neither can help Foggy. This balancing act of the hyper-real in the exaggerated realm of the Marvel Universe is what makes Waid’s Daredevil such a unique experience. Combine it with Samnee’s textbook pacing and ability to capture emotion; readers are left with a product that is damn near perfect.

There is an undercurrent of dread the entire issue, not only for Foggy, but because of the unrevealed mastermind behind the attacks. Waid reveals the villain to be some creepy manipulator locked in a sensory deprivation tank. The coming battle between a man who lacks senses versus a man with hyper senses should be pure Waid insanity. Waid is not just playing with the same pieces everyone else has over the past few decades, the Kingpins, Bullseyes, Elektras, and Typhoid Marys, he’s adding to Daredevil’s world, while finding unique threats from other places within the Marvel Universe. As Matt Murdock must face a very personal struggle with Foggy’s cancer, Waid is making sure the external threats are ones neither Matt nor readers have experienced before.

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Review by: Marc Buxton

Writing: 9/10

Art: 9/10

Overall: 9/10

 

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Nova #2

“Believe”

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciller: Ed McGuinness

Inker: Dexter Vines

Colorist: Marte Garcia

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It takes a lot to get me to bail on a first issue. I don’t care how dull and decompressed your first issue is, if I’m even halfway interested in the creative team, I’ll be back for seconds. That being said, I wasn’t really knocked out by Nova #1, but there was never any real danger I wouldn’t give Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness time to tell their story. While Loeb can be inconsistent, I’m a big fan of McGuinness’ art, and occasionally, the two of them produce superhero magic, as they did in the early days of their Batman/Superman collaboration all those years ago…

Nova is one of those characters that can be equally daunting for a new creative team and a new reader. He’s been around long enough to have a pretty serious history and complicated backstory. He’s had numerous short-lived solo series, stints on various super teams, and a prominent role in Marvel’s recent Annihilation crossovers. And as Marvel is in the midst of revamping as many of their cosmic properties as they can in preparation for the Guardians of the Galaxy film (and whatever films that may lead to), it makes sense for us to get a version of Nova that is not only new reader friendly, but perhaps big-screen friendly, too.

This is definitely the “sci-fi movie” version of Nova. If, by “sci-fi movie” I mean an eighties classic like The Last Starfighter or something along those lines. Sam Alexander is a teenage boy in the middle of nowhere, destined to not live up to his potential…who, as luck would have it, has a dad who was a cosmic hero in the Nova Corps. Now he has to figure out his place in the universe, especially when he wakes up in the hospital with Gamora and Rocket Raccoon staring him in the face.

Nova #2 is a little more evenly paced than the first issue. And while it’s clear that we’re in for a five issue origin story (which I would ordinarily complain about) there’s something about the tone and the characterizations (not to mention the great art from McGuinness, Vines, and Garcia) that’s got me right now. I love the new Nova uniform, and as far as I’m concerned, there aren’t many out there who can do over the top, big budget superhero action like Ed McGuinness. Nova looks like it’ll be a fun book. I just hope that we can kinda accelerate Sam’s discovery of everything he can do so that things can really pick up. Nova #2 is making us take our “origin story medicine” right now, but I suspect that before this arc is finished, we’ll be on to the good stuff.

Review by: Mike Cecchini

Story: 6/10

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Art: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

 

Deadpool #6

“National Maul”

Writers: Brian Posehn & Gerry Duggan

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Artist: Tony Moore

Colorist: Val Staples

So, we’re finally here, at the end of one of the best Deadpool story arcs we’ve ever seen.  The Dead Presidents storyline made us laugh and made us cry, and then made us laugh some more, all while reviving our faith in Deadpool comics. 

For Deadpool #6, Brian Posehn & Gerry Duggan bring the funny, again. The banter between Deadpool and Magic Mike is likeable, and fat President Taft in a bathtub is imagery that I’ll never be able to forget. There’s a subtle play on Disney owning some of Marvel’s assets that literally made me laugh out loud, which I haven’t done since Deadpool #. And, just when you think Posehn and Duggan have utilized all of their creative, comedic juices, they write in a few panels where Deadpool punt-kicks George Washington’s head onto the Lincoln Memorial.  History at its finest, folks!

Tony Moore continues to prove himself as THE Deadpool artist. From his incredible electrocuted elephant, to Deadpool’s newly found enchanted sword piercing Nixon, to this issue’s big ole’ fat Taft in the bathtub, Tony Moore sure knows how to be creative with his artwork.  Each page has its own feel, and yet it all fits together nicely in its entirety. 

Val Staples has quickly become one of my favorite colorists in just six issues. He makes each page his own, and his style compliments Deadpool very well. Staples has a knack for making extremely vibrant pages, and issue #6 follows the path lead by the first five issues; it’s vibrant and electric. I’m a little concerned about what’s next for Deadpool, though.  Posehn and Duggan put a twist in Deadpool #6 that puts Agent Preston in Deadpool’s body, similar to the whole Peter Parker/Doc Ock thing Dan Slott had going on. Hopefully, it was just intended to be a comical jab at the idea, and Posehn and Duggan go in a different direction, although I do have trust in their ability.

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After Joe Kelly’s run, I rarely found a Deadpool I liked, although Gail Simone’s is also noteworthy. Now, Posehn and Duggan’s version of everybody’s favorite regenerating superhero deserves to be added into that mix, with their first story arc being a success.  Hopefully, Posehn and Duggan will be able to have Deadpool continue on his journey of awesomeness.

Review by: Robert Bernstein

Story: 9/10

Art: 10/10

Overall: 9.5/10

 

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Indestructible Hulk #5

Writer: Mark Waid

Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu

Inker: Gerry Alanguilan

Colorist: Sunny Gho

I pulled double Waid duty this week, which certainly doesn’t suck. Hulk’s mission to bring down Attuma, warlord of Atlantis, continues as Mark Waid continues to find new and unique threats for Hulk to face in Banner’s new role as S.H.I.E.L.D’s secret weapon. I should like this book more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, Waid has a unique take on Bruce Banner, one that never has been explored before. Banner is now excepting of his dual persona and willing to let SHIELD utilize his monstrous self for the greater good, as long as S.H.I.E.L.D. also funds Banner’s research. The book is not decompressed or boring, it is not derivative and it moves at a break neck pace. Maybe that’s the problem. In Daredevil, Waid takes time to smell the roses. His quiet moments are as poignant as his action scenes, and that makes the book something special.

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This issue gives Banner some time for Banner and readers to regroup as Banner meets the anti-Attuma underground operating out of Lemuria. Waid fills in the background of these characters and creates an interesting love triangle between the Hulk, a Lemurian warrior woman and her warrior betrothed. This issue has its funny moments as the woman wants no part of Banner and lustily begs him to turn into the Hulk.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Indestructible Hulk is big, badass, and at times, pretty darn awesome. It’s just not Daredevil awesome. I might be comparing apples and oranges, but Waid has set the bar so high for himself that when he doesn’t reach quite reach it, it’s newsworthy. But, this is a great direction for the Hulk, one that is filled with story possibilities as Banner continues to be S.H.I.E.L.D’s weapon, but this issue, as fundamentally good as it was, seemed more about Atlantis than about Banner. It’s evident that Waid will write a killer Banner when the narrative slows down just a bit.

The enjoyable part of the series is the focus on the positive impact the Hulk is having wherever he goes. As he leaves Lemuria, Banner is pleased that the Hulk made allies, which is in contrast from the usual Hulk ending of Banner slowly walking away from the destruction he caused. Waid knows how to counter the expected, and it is obvious that this book is destined for greatness, but things just haven’t gelled perfectly yet. That being said, this book still kicks eight different kinds of ass and is worthy of any pull list. Leinil Yu has though, as the artists dynamic style is evident in the exotic locals and action Waid is providing for him.

Review by: Marc Buxton

Story: 7/10

Art: 8/10

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Overall: 7/10

 

Avengers #8

“Starbranded”

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Dustin Weaver

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Color Artist: Justin Ponsor

I have a confession to make. I know absolutely nothing about Marvel’s New Universe. No, I’m not talking about Marvel NOW! or the current status quo of any of the dozens of new superhero books Marvel puts out each week. I’m talking about the New Universe imprint Marvel launched in 1986. I could probably, just via geek osmosis, probably rattle off a few titles, notably Star Brand, off the top of my head, but that certainly doesn’t qualify as “familiarity” in any traditional sense. Not only that, I even sniffed disdainfully at Warren Ellis’ Newuniversal title from 2007. You know I had a low opinion of something (that I never read a page of to begin with…because, y’know, that’s perfectly normal and rational) if putting Warren Ellis’ name on it won’t get me to read it.

So now we have Jonathan Hickman, a man who is prone to some Warren Ellis like “big ideas” from time to time making the concepts from the old New Universe central to his second story arc on Avengers, which, I might add, is arguably Marvel’s flagship title right now. Is there another book Marvel is publishing right now which is so closely associated with (and recognizable as) its cinematic counterpart? It’s tough to think of one. So to take such an obscure corner of the Marvel Universe and polish it up for the big stage like this is rather ambitious.

It’s the Star Brand which has taken center stage so far in this arc, as a teenage boy finds himself with some pretty hefty cosmic powers, while the process of acquiring said powers wiped out every living thing in a one mile radius. The obligatory shouting match, “this is for your own good” shoving match ensues (and just wait until you see where the Hulk gets shoved!), and that’s basically that. In the meantime, we learn a little more about the mysterious Nightmask (another New Universe holdover),

It seems like a thin story, but it’s better than it sounds. Dustin Weaver’s art is rather appealing, and has a subtle anime flair to it (in fact, I’d KILL for an Avengers animated cartoon that looked like this), and Justin Ponsor’s colors complete that picture. Avengers is tremendous fun from issue to issue because of the absolutely ridiculous power level of this team, so Hickman is introducing a whole web of villains and characters that can match that. If they can keep it up, I can certainly keep reading.

Review by: Mike Cecchini

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