Human Torch 2003-2004

With the recent box office flop known as Fant4stic, I wanted to do some research on Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, to learn more about what the character is like. One people think about Johnny Storm they think about him being hotheaded, a speed demon, and a ladies man. And what would Johnny be without his family, the Fantastic Four? That last bit, however, isn’t really explored in this solo series, as Johnny is mostly solo throughout. So I guess the real question is can Johnny carry his own 12 issue series?

The first arc, which takes up half of the entire run, is Burn. In this story Johnny and his old friend from high school, Mike, team up to catch someone who murdered his firefighting chief, Vinnie. Mike picks Johnny to help him out because it looks like Vinnie just combusted for no reason, like a Human Torch. There’s some definite tension between Johnny and Mike because Johnny accidentally burned Mike during a small fight they got into back in school. At the core this is a murder mystery, with everybody at this fire station being the possible killer and I really enjoyed the suspense and mystery to it all. My only gripe would be the character Sheila Donner, a stereotypical paparazzi character who just annoys everyone and takes advantage of Johnny’s kindness.

Afterwards, we have the four issue arc, Plague of Locusts. Johnny and his assistant Jian go to the Balkans to uncover a secret experiment called the Locust Project. The Locust Project promises to end world hunger, but in an odd way, by shrinking people down to make the food bigger. Johnny becomes prisoner of the Locust King, and must escape with the help of the king’s daughter and one of Jian’s Balkan friends. This is also a pretty good arc, with some good action and humor, but a predictable twist.

The last two issues are two different stories from the rest. The first is a more serious issue where Johnny and his ex-girlfriend, Namorita, meet up at an Atlantean teleportation experiment. The artist on this issue changes, who gives this a much less cartoony style to match up with the subject matter. The last issue goes back to the cartoony style for an issue about Johnny and The Thing at a college football game. Dragon Man attacks while Ben and Johnny argue about the need for college. The ending to this is a little rushed, but it seems like this was intentional.

Final Thoughts: The very cartoon-like style for the first 7-8 issues, really made this more enjoyable. I wish this style was used more often

Rating: Full Price

Great Lakes Avengers: Misassembled

While almost every review is just a subjective opinion, a comedy movie or book is a very subjective thing. What one person finds funny you might not and vice versa. Now I’m a fan of dark comedy and if you are too this is a pretty good book, but with one glaring issue (For me.)

The Great Lakes Avengers are a joke team, consisting of around 6 people who all have almost useless powers. The team’s main roster includes greats like Doorman, Flatman, Dinah Soar, Big Bertha, and Mr. Immortal. In this series, the GLA face off against Maelstrom, a big name Avengers villain. Dinah is killed in their first encounter, sending Mr. Immortal into depression. Flatman and Doorman take it upon themselves to recruit new members, while Bertha has some modeling gig to worry about. There’s something that I just love about how happy and cheerful Flatman and Doorman are in the face of rejection, nobody wants to join the GLA of course. And this is pretty solid comedy for about two issues, but now for that flaw I mentioned earlier.

Throughout every issue, there’s this ongoing meta commentary by Monkey Joe, some squirrel belonging to Squirrel Girl. It’s painfully unfunny, going for cheap jokes like how all comic writers and readers are losers. This squirrel also ruins otherwise funny jokes by over explaining them, when the wackiness is played seriously. Squirrel Girl herself isn’t better, just going on and on about squirrels and how she beat Doom once. Other than that, the book is really funny, with some actually deep and dramatic moments near the end.

Final Thoughts: I don’t know if Maelstrom is a big villain or not, I’m just going with what they said.

Rating: Full Price

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The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1-10

This isn’t an exact review of a certain issue or graphic novel. This is just a review of how far I could actually get into this series. This was one of the relaunch titles of DC’s New 52, back in 2011. It actually made it to 20 issues, but as stated before I couldn’t make it that far.

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First off, the entire tone of the book is just depressing. It starts off with terrorists killing children and then attacking the school were our main characters, Jason and Ronnie, go to. Later in they end up blowing up a sporting stadium and Ronnie gets mutilated and acts like some caveman.

Second, the pacing is terrible. The main characters are either fighting each other or another Firestorm character. Then we see government people giving out exposition of why they are doing generic, shady things.

Lastly, Jason is an unlikable idiot. From the start Jason is just obnoxious, pulling the race card when Robbie says “You look like you could play (Football.)” He accuses him of being racist, even when the only other person Robbie has talked to is his black friend, Trevor. When he isn’t being an idiot he is angsting about some girl he likes.

If I were to throw out any positives it would be the first villain, Helix. He’s a crazy American Firestorm, who sees Jason and Ronnie as Nazis, while shouting “God Bless America!” He is sadly killed way to quickly. There’s also the crossover issue with the JLI and the British and French Firestorms.

Final Thoughts: This is forgettable and I’m glad I quit when I did. I didn’t see the book getting any better.

Rating: Rubbish

Avengers – Ultron Unbound

Yeah, another Ultron comic. With the terrible showing last time I wanted to read a comic that actually had Ultron. Let’s find out if this one is actually good. This publication is a 2015 collection of West Coast Avengers #89-91, Annual #8, and Vision Vol.1 #1-4. I think the best way to go about this is to review them as three separate stories.

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West Coast Avengers #89-91: Ultron-13, an Ultron with a really big upper body, escapes from an adamantium prison using a video game and some robot bugs. He attacks the West Coast Avengers, whose members include Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, U.S. Agent, Spider-Woman, Hank Pym, Vision, and Mockingbird. Ultron manages to steal a couple older versions of himself, Hank Pym, and Mockingbird. He makes himself another robot mate, named War Toy, so the Avengers have to stop him. I thought this section was really good, once you get past the 80’s art style. Ultron is a strong villain, who actually does damage while not seeming indestructible. There’s also his mate, War Toy, who has a funny running gag of calling Ultron “Ulty,” which annoys him. My only real negative is how some characters (Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch) act unjustly angry at Vision for being emotionless.

West Coast Avengers Annual #8: Shortly after the last issue, Ultron and War Toy are in a sewer when a guy, Gary Wilton, runs into them. Before they can kill him, he is saved by the WCA. However, Ultron mind controls everyone expect for Gary, because he wasn’t looking at him. While running away, Gary transforms into a golden bird called Raptor and calls for help using Mockingbird’s communicator. From there we get Avengers vs. Avengers, the origin of Raptor, and Ultron’s plan to blow up volcanoes. It’s very good, with my favorite parts being the ones with Tony Stark. It does kind of drag in the similar fight scenes, but it’s still good.

Vision #1-4: This was… weird. Vision is back to being green and red, and he is having dreams he has never had before. You see Vision was made out of Wonder Man and a scientist named Alex’s minds. So he dresses up like the Question and enters a bar, where he runs into Ultron, who is dressed up and acting like Clint Eastwood. Vision knows this isn’t normal, and runs into Jocasta. Some Avengers named Crystal and Deathcry follow Vision and he is now a gumshoe detective with Jocasta as his assistant. So they all get arrested and it turns out some guy called Anti Vision is the one responsible for messing with the robots’ personalities. Vision is stuck in a dream, until Deathcry screams which leads to this great bit of paraphrased dialogue “That was a deathcry, but Vision lies in his Deathdream.” So he wakes up and beats up Anti Vision, who I must say is hilarious with him saying Vision has the personality of a pocket calculator and a dish rag. So yes, it’s not exactly good but it is so random and the Western Ultron is a great character.

Final Thoughts: The art on Vision #1-4 fluctuates from good to everything that is wrong with the 90’s. I will leave this image of Vision’s cape to say what I need.

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Rating: Full Price

Age of Ultron

[Major spoilers]

Last time I said I was hoping for a good next month, but then I realized that the next book was a Bendis book. I’ve made fun of Bendis before, saying he can’t write Hank Pym and that Dark Avengers was pretty bad. I think it should be obvious I don’t hate him, hating someone because they wrote a book I don’t like is irrational. This was a heavy handed way to start a review, but I think that needed to made clear.

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Age of Ultron was a ten issue (technically eleven, but I’ll get to that later) maxi-series from 2013, about how in the future, Ultron has taken over the Earth. That’s a pretty solid premise, a “What If?” style look into the future of the Marvel Universe and a message on A.I and technology. However, this book tries hard to establish itself as the canon future of Marvel and tries way too hard to set up future events instead of focusing on the actual plot.

The first five issues are really good, setting up the future world and following great characters like Black Widow, Moon Knight, and Peter Parker (Hawkeye is here, too.) These first five issues throw amazing plot twist after plot twist, such as Captain America being broken down, Vision working for Ultron, and the big reveal that Ultron is attacking from the future.

However, issue six destroys everything that the series was working towards, throwing aside the future fight against Ultron for a plot where Wolverine and Sue Storm go back in time to kill Hank Pym to prevent Ultron’s creation. The people fighting Ultron are all killed by a bunch of Ultron head drones, mostly off panel. So Wolverine, being an idiot, murders Hank while Sue Storm stands by and watches, They try to make her seem conflicted, but she does nothing to try and stop Wolverine. Wolverine himself goes for the kill in one page, not even trying to explain to Hank why he’s doing this or maybe a possible alternative solution,

After this they go to Back to the Future, but of course the future is drastically different. Instead of Avengers there are Defenders, including Hulk, Star Lord, The Thing, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Cyclops, Captain Marvel, and Wolverine. They waste about two issues in this new timeline until two carriers crash into each other, killing everyone except Wolverine and this new world’s Iron Man. They say “Five Days Later” so I have to assume he was lying there, sliced in half for five days without either bleeding out, calling for help, or flying away. Tony tells Wolverine that time is an organism, then dies. (Wolverine stood still for about five days to let his leg heal, so Tony could have told him this at any time)

So he goes back in time again but is stopped by another version of himself. The two convince Hank to put in a virus override on Ultron and then the old Wolverine kills the new Wolverine somehow, the fight is off panel even though them fighting is the cover for the issue. So we finally get to see the Avengers fight Ultron in the present, before he is finally stopped by Hank’s new virus. Yep, that’s your lot. Nine issues of build up for a solution any one with a functioning brain, let alone a brilliant scientist, could come up with. We then get a montage of scenes of the timeline now broken, with the Illuminati talking about it, Miles Morales seeing Galactus, and Angela from Spawn showing up. All of this is for future stories, and has no bearing on the actual “Plot” of Age of Ultron.

Now for the technical, eleventh issue, Age of Ultron #10AI. It’s actually a really good issue, where we peer into the mind of Hank Pym. We see his origin and where he is going from here, as Giant Man again. It’s a build up to some series called Avengers AI so I’d recommend this issue alone.

Final Thoughts: I struggle to think of what rating to give this. I want to be nicer to it because of the beginning issues, but all of that potential is wasted on one of the worst couple of issues I have ever read. Even the beginning part isn’t perfect, with spotty logic such as, why are heroes like Luke Cage, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Moon Knight alive when people like Hulk, Thor, and even the freaking Sentry aren’t? Also, the actual Ultron character, not just his drones, only appears in nine panels.

Rating: Rubbish