Hulk: The End

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When I reviewed Marvel: The End in the Thanos marathon, I mentioned today’s comic as one of many in the “The End” line. Hulk: The EndĀ takes place, of course, at the end of the Earth. The world has been destroyed by nuclear warfare so Bruce Banner/Hulk wander around the planet. The only other things in the world are monster cockroaches which tear into the Hulk daily and a small video recording robot. With almost nothing left, what kind of story can be told here?

Cutting to the chase here, this is one of my favorite comics. I’ve never been a huge Hulk fan but I gave this a read one day and was blown away. Peter David and Dale Keown’s work here really sold me on the Hulk concept and they took it to it’s conclusion. There’s a lot of clever metaphors and parallels of the current situation to classic myths. A lot of the story is about just showing off how depressing this situation is for Banner. He sees visions of his former friends and family, his multiple suicide attempts are foiled by the Hulk, and record keeping aliens arrive just to wait for him to die. Things aren’t good for the Hulk either as he is constantly torn apart by the cockroaches. Thanks to his healing factor he recovers from the mauling and this also explains why he’s lived so long.

Because there’s only the two characters they have to carry all of the comic. Hulk is his usual angry self but you can really understand it this time. As Banner tries to convince Hulk that things would be better if they died, Hulk’s arguments are pretty reasonable for a rage monster. It’s that understanding that makes the ultimate end of the story just that much more crushing. I’ve never seen a comic by Dale Keown before but this is some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s bright and uses nice shading when it’s needed for scenes in the past while using very dark shadows and well drawn gore for the current day scenes. Keown conveys emotion so well and you can see all the rage on the Hulk while Banner can be seen in his eyes. The two being seen in each other’s eyes is a very interesting way to show them talking to each other.

This comic is amazing and I recommend it to anyone, especially for Hulk fans and people who like their stories dark.

Writer: Peter David

Artist: Dale Keown

Rating: Vintage

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Spider-Man: Reign

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Spider-Man: Reign is a 4 issue miniseries written and drawn by Kaare Andres. In this story set over 30 years in the future, Spider-Man has retired and New York is now a dictator state controlled by the mayor and their police force called the Reign. Peter Parker lives alone and at the beginning of the story he is fired from his day job. A somehow still alive J Jonah Jameson comes to Peter’s house to try and get him out of retirement. After Peter refuses JJJ is attacked outside so Peter saves him. Now that Spider-Man has returned the Mayor sends the new Sinister Six after him. Now Spider-Man must survive the fight, take down the mayor, and try and get over the death of Mary Jane.

This is a pretty infamous comic right here. I’m sure if you’ve heard of Reign you know the big twist about Mary Jane’s death. I’m of the consensus about how ridiculous it all is so when I finally read through this myself I wasn’t bothered by it. There’s a lot of other parts of this story that I have problems with but there’s a lot to like here.

Andrews art here is very interesting. It definitely sets the mood for this dark future and there’s good designs for these older characters. The fight against the Sinister Six in the end is a good fight, it’s like Karate Island or something where Peter fights a different member as he climbs through a building. My favorite thing overall though has to be everything with Mary Jane, her cause of death not included. Andrews really sells the relationship that they had and shows how losing her really affected Peter.

Moving on to some negatives though as the story does have a few. There is a lot of just weird stuff in this story. Doc Ock is dead and his body is being dragged around by his tentacle arms to go out and find Spider-Man. The true villain behind this is all is a cool reveal but I think it was just there to have a twist in the story. Some of the dialogue is pretty overdramatic and unrealistic here too. This little girl talks like a revolutionary and that kind of makes sense because of her father but it’s still weird and looks like an adult’s dialogue.

Reign is a weird story and I really think you should read it and form your own opinion. There’s a good emotional and personal story in here but it’s a little too on the nose and grim.

Writer: Kaare Andrews

Artist: Kaare Andrews

Rating: Buy for a bargain

It hasn't got a leg to stand on...

Squadron Supreme (1985)

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In 1985 Mark Gruenwald wrote Squadron SupremeĀ a 12 issue limited series starring the titular Squadron Supreme on an alternate Earth, Earth 712. On this Earth Kyle Richmond, Nighthawk, was the president of America when he was mind controlled and took over the Earth. He and the rest of the Squadron are returned to normal but the world is in ruin. Hyperion decides to make Earth into a Utopia and solve all of the world’s problems by focusing on issues like violence, famine and poverty. Nighthawk opposes this plan and disappears from the team as they unmask and announce their plan to the world. Can even the world’s greatest superheroes reform the planet or will they tear themselves apart?

Squadron Supreme is a very interesting, mature look at a superhero story. It raises a lot of moral questions and the heroes of the story do questionable things. The Squadron kill, brainwash, rape and can barely get along but in the end they’re trying to make things better. There’s a lot of characters as they are based on DC’s Justice League but they all get enough focus or play some role in the story. It’s a twelve issue series so there’s a lot of time for Gruenwald to build up background events like Nighthawk planning to stop the Squadron and when things are about to completely implode you can feel the suspense and tension. The climax of the story is a giant battle where casualties mount on both sides and thanks to the nature of this alternative universe anybody can die.

This series has a lot of cool characters that are all flawed in some way but they’re still interesting to read about. I prefer DC over Marvel anyway so reading knock offs of their characters makes this series more interesting to me. Doctor Spectrum, Golden Archer and Tom Thumb were the best characters to me as they all have flaws and have to make moral decisions that are pretty awful. A lot of scenes in this series are pretty dark as a lot of the characters die of things like cancer or in accidents. My only criticism would have to be how it can be pretty wordy and that it’s a long read because it starts slowly.

Writer: Mark Gruenwald

Artist: John Buscema

Rating: Full Price

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Infinity Finale

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Infinity Finale is the final graphic novel in the new Infinity Trilogy by Jim Starlin, with Ron Lim now on art. Picking up where Relativity left off, Thanos wakes up in Death’s palace. Months have passed since the last comic and Annihilus has destroyed most of the universe. His power has increased to the level where he has taken out Galactus and all the Celestials. The only hope left to save this universe is Adam Warlock, who is still trapped with Doctor Bultar. Thanos defends against Annihilus with the last of Earth’s heroes and again the universe is destroyed and remade.

We’ve reached the end of this marathon finally and it’s pretty fitting as this comic reminds me a lot of Marvel Universe: The End. Once again there’s this unstoppable cosmic threat who destroys most of the universe, a lot of heroes die in the fight against them, and then in the end something hits reset on the universe. This time it’s the alternate reality Adam Warlock, with the powers of his destroyed universe, who fixes everything and sets things back to the start basically. He disappears in the end to become the new Living Tribunal but before he goes he brings back the original, who died in Infinity Revelation. So basically the point of this whole trilogy was just to show off Starlin’s favorite characters and make them the strongest characters in the Marvel Universe.

Despite the stakes being higher than ever, the entire universe is almost gone, there’s still no tension or drama here because Starlin doesn’t build it right. When we begin our comic with a dead Galactus you know that something is going to have to fix that. Annihilus is insanely overpowered now so anything that does defeat him will come off as cheap or convenient, which is what happens here with Adam Warlock taking out all the villains. So we have no stakes, no character to care about as our main character has died so many times now it doesn’t even matter, and the plot is thin. The best parts of this comic are just rehashes of Starlin’s better works. I will at least compliment Ron Lim on his art. He draws bloody battle scenes and dead bodies pretty well.

I’d say just skip this whole trilogy. Entity may have been slightly better than all of this but it only really works in context with the rest of comics so on it’s own I wouldn’t recommend it.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artist: Ron Lim

Rating: Rubbish

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Infinity Entity

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The Infinity Entity is a 4 issue miniseries taking place in between The Infinity Relativity and the Infinity Finale that focuses on Adam Warlock. At the end of Relativity, Warlock was kidnapped by Annihilus and put inside some tube. Here he suddenly wakes up in the middle of nowhere and he ends up at the first meeting of the Avengers in an early issue of their series. After fighting them he goes on an adventure through the universe to understand his current situation.

Like most modern Starlin comics, this comic doesn’t have much in story as Warlock just goes around to figure out what’s going on right now. The final issue reveals that none of this is actually happening so it can feel like a waste of time to read this as a lot of information is repeated from Relativity. The big reveal of Doctor Boltar comes in this series but like I said last time it’s pretty obvious who he really is. After the reveal the villain spends a few pages just monologuing and explaining his evil plan. Starlin falls back into the familiar plot point of the character not yet adjusting to their omnipotence to explain why they were defeated so easily despite their amazing power.

To talk positives I’d mention the art. Alan Davis does a lot of cool splash pages and spreads of the cosmic entities, even if they’re just standing around doing nothing. In the Avengers section the art takes on a Jack Kirby inspired style that fits very well into the tone of the issue. Sometimes the art has a Neal Adams like quality to it with the faces while retaining some of Davis’s own original style. I feel if Starlin just let the art tell the story and removed a lot of his heavy exposition the story would be a lot stronger here.

At the end of the day it’s a mostly irrelevant side story to the new Infinity trilogy but it has good art that makes up for the poor storytelling.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artist: Alan Davis

Rating: Borrow from a Mate

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The Infinity Relativity

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The Infinity Relativity is the second part of the new Infinity Trilogy. Let’s hope it improves over the last one. In this comic Thanos fights Annihilus, the Bug King who has his swarm of insects attacking the universe. He teams up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Adam Warlock again to fight off Annihilus, who’s power has been increased since his appearance in Annihilation, and his Annihilation Wave. We also finally get a resolution for the events of Infinity Revelation, which barely had an ending.

So I will say Infinity Relativity improves over Revelation in a few ways. There’s more characters, like the Guardians and they get their own moments to be competent and fight the Wave. Annihilus isn’t a great villain but at least this comic has a villain unlike last time. Thanos gets some beating at least when he first faces Annihilus but even then Thanos wins their fight because he is Thanos. Getting an answer for what happened at the end of Revelation at least makes the Adam Warlock parts better as there’s an interesting development with him.

To go onto negatives I’d have to start with how it’s still a boring, predictable read just like the last one. Being the middle issue of a trilogy there is no true ending here as the story just stops on a cliffhanger. I think Revelation can stand on its own as you at least get a conclusion with Thanos and the Universal beings. Starlin is still doing double duty as writer and artist but the art is way less appealing here. There’s no neat visual tricks like last time and there’s no interesting fight scenes here, just big space battles that don’t really matter. Annihilus is a generic villain and he has this sidekick who’s obviously more than he looks but the twist of who he really isn’t revealed here even though it’s pretty easy to figure it out.

So even if this did improve on the last one a little bit it still doesn’t make it any good.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artist: Jim Starlin

Rating: Rubbish

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The Infinity Revelation

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The Infinity Revelation is a Marvel Graphic novel that is the beginning of Jim Starlin’s last Infinity Trilogy. Thanos detects some imbalance in the universe; an imbalance inside of himself. After meeting with the Guardians of the Galaxy and a newly reborn Adam Warlock, Thanos discovers some Dreidel looking object. This object leads Thanos on a quest that brings him into conflict with the Annihilators and somehow they destroy another universe.

Infinity Revelation is another Jim Starlin comic where Thanos goes on a quest for power and in the end the whole universe gets wiped out. So once again we retread the same plotlines but with even more meta commentary about things that Starlin himself is guilty of doing. What really soured me on this comic was how much Starlin tried to prop up his own work while ignoring the works of other writers. In this comic there’s a few pages of Thanos history that covers basically everything I’ve reviewed for the marathon (it includes the battle with Akhenaten which is apparently non-canon so I’m not sure where this OGN fits in.) During this recap and a little before it Thanos mentions his appearance in Infinity was out of character for him and shares a similar sentiment for when he joined Annihilus in Annihilation. Another example would be the aforementioned battle with the Annihilators where Adam Warlock and Thanos take down some of the strongest cosmic superheroes with barely any effort. There’s no stakes or tension in the story because Thanos and Warlock are so much stronger and smarter than everybody else.

While I don’t have much good to say about Starlin’s writing, his art is still really good. It has a classic feel to it even with modern coloring and inking. Starlin does some interesting visual tricks like having characters change appearances between panels to show off the current imbalance in the universe. While I don’t like the purpose of the fight against the Annihilators, it’s a well done action scene. My favorite image is the two page spread where we see a world ruled by Thanos.

In the end good art doesn’t make up for a lack of quality writing and plotting. The shilling for Starlin’s pet characters kills this comic as he tries to make them the coolest characters by making everyone else weak.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artist: Jim Starlin

Rating: Rubbish

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