The Avengers vs. Thanos

Let’s begin the marathon with the origins of Thanos.

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Avengers vs. Thanos is a trade paperback collecting many different comics that make up Thanos’ first two major storylines, the Cosmic Cube and the battle with the Magus. I’ll include exactly what’s collected in the bottom but the main comics include issues of Warlock, Captain Marvel, Marvel Feature, Avengers, Marvel Two-In-One and Daredevil mostly while including his very first appearance in Iron Man #55. 

With so many different comics put together in this collection you’d think the story wouldn’t flow so well, and besides a kind of weird tangent into Daredevil, it all fits together well. I would put that down to a good list of editors like Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Roy Thomas, and Archie Goodman. The art team manages to create a consistent art style across every issue that keeps the book looking good in that classic 70s Marvel style. Of course when talking about Thanos Jim Starlin’s name comes up and his pencils, plotting, and scripting definitely keeps this book on track.

Thanos first appears near the back half of Iron Man #55 and his appearance still hadn’t been ironed out so he looks very odd. His lips are way too big, his outfit doesn’t cover his whole body yet, and he’s more wrinkly than craggy. This Thanos though, is actually a robot; our first hint of Thanos’ intelligence and scheming. Then the next issues of Captain Marvel show Thanos with his modern appearance, notably the dark eyes and craggy chin. He reveals his first scheme is to acquire the Cosmic Cube, the ultimate weapon in the universe. Here Thanos is given the motivation that makes him such a compelling and interesting character, his love for Mistress Death. Of course he does such awful things and goes too far but it’s almost admirable how much he would do just for the one he loves.

The main heroes opposing Thanos in this early story are Iron Man, the Thing, Captain Marvel, and Drax while the Avengers pop up mostly as fodder. Thing is written very well and has some of the funniest lines of the book. Captain Marvel is the most interesting character to me and his dynamic with Rick Jones makes his issues my favorite ones. Special mention to issue #29, Metamorphosis, where Captain Marvel goes through a journey of enlightenment and comes out with the power of Cosmic Awareness. It’s very trippy and psychedelic, like most of Starlin’s comics, and the way the universe is drawn is always amazing to look at. Drax is in the story in his original incarnation as the Destroyer, with thoughts of destroying Thanos as the only thing he has. This sets him up for his future characterization but he’s not very interesting as he is here.

After a very interesting conclusion to the Cube story, Thanos ends up in the Warlock comic. Adam Warlock is a major character in cosmic Marvel and here he faces off against an evil future version of himself with an awful afro called The Magus. Thankfully most of the very overt religious metaphors with Adam aren’t here and it’s mostly about Adam wandering as everything falls apart around him. These issues set in motion events that will be followed up on in the final issue of the trade and even the Infinity Gauntlet. Not to spoil anything but the final issue does a very good job of wrapping everything up and gives Spider-Man one of the best scenes I’ve seen from him.

After planning this marathon and having read so many related comics I appreciate these early issues more. A lot of important characters are created and key concepts like the Infinity Gems and Cosmic Cube show up here. My only criticisms go to the more tangential Daredevil issues that only explain a little more about Moondragon, a future important character, but don’t really relate to the overall story of the Cosmic Cube which is where the issues are placed. Overall I really enjoy this trade and would recommend it to anyone interested in Thanos.

Issues collected in the trade: Iron Man (1968) 55; Captain Marvel (1968) 25-33; Marvel Feature (1971) 12; Daredevil (1964) 105-107; Avengers (1963) 125; Warlock (1972) 9-11, 15; Avengers Annual (1967) 7; Marvel Two -In-One Annual 2; material from Logan ‘s Run 6

Writers: Jim Starlin, Mike Friedrich, Steve Gerber, and Steve Englehart with Scott Edelman

Artists: Jim Starlin, Don Heck, Bob Brown, and John Buscema with Mike Zeck

Rating: Vintage

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The Mad Titan Marathon Announcement

Happy New Year’s everybody .

I know I’ve basically disappeared again but I wanna make it up and get back into the review game. So that’s why I’m announcing this marathon; a marathon all about Marvel’s Mad Titan, Thanos.

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Now this marathon will start tomorrow on 1/2/2018 and will go through the whole month, just to cover the amount of comics I want to review here. There’s no set schedule for when posts come out yet but the order of comics is based on a reading list which can be found here. I won’t be reviewing and reading everything on that page so I will put down here exactly what will be included in this month long marathon.

  • Avengers vs. Thanos
  • The Death of Captain Marvel
  • Rebirth of Thanos
  • Thanos Quest
  • Infinity Gauntlet
  • Infinity Gauntlet Aftermath
  • Infinity War
  • Infinity War Aftermath
  • Infinity Crusade
  • Thanos: Cosmic Powers
  • Infinity Abyss
  • Marvel Universe: The End
  • Thanos #1-12
  • Thanos Imperative
  • Infinity
  • Thanos: A God Up There Listening
  • The Infinity Revelation
  • The Infinity Relativity
  • The Infinity Entity
  • The Infinity Finale

And that’s where I’ll cap off this marathon, I’ve got a lot read and still some to read so I’ll see you all throughout the month with these reviews. Until tomorrow, goodbye for now.

 

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher

After Punisher interferes with a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission he is taken into custody by Black Widow and Nick Fury. Fury teams the two up to infiltrate Leviathan, a terrorist group with access to S.H.I.E.L.D technology. They must stop them from selling this tech to other villains while dealing with someone from Widow’s past.

This is the first animated Marvel movie I have seen and from what I’ve heard this is somehow the best one. If that’s true I never went to see anymore Marvel animated films. This was a terrible movie and except for the animation there is nothing good here. None of the characters have anything unique about them and you’re just expected to know who they are. Even if I did know anything about these two I’d be annoyed with how inconsistent they are. Widow tells Punisher not to kill some super soldiers as they used to be innocent civilians so he starts shooting their legs instead. A couple minutes later he is blowing them away with a grenade launcher and shooting them in the chest.

The man who stole the S.H.I.E.L.D technology was a former agent called Elihas who was in a relationship with Widow. He thought he wasn’t good enough for Widow and left to join Leviathan and gets injected with some power serum. He talks about how much he loves her in the same conversation as he’s punching her across the room. Once he’s told how dumb his plans are he joins the heroes in taking down Leviathan. Just then we’re introduced to the actual villain behind the whole thing, Orion. Orion, the main villain of the movie, appears for only the last 15 minutes. His design is so ridiculous and he’s taken out so quick he’s not threatening at all. Speaking of villains the last part of the movie is a giant cameo fest. The titular Avengers finally arrive and the villains buying the tech brawl with them. They’re all taken from the comics but only one is named, Graviton. They all just come out at random for an action scene at the end.

The real killer for this movie is the voice acting. Brian Bloom is an alright Punisher, but he never emotes and just growls his way through the movie. Jennifer Carpenter is awful as Black Widow. Her tone almost never matches the animation. John Eric Bentley’s Nick Fury is the most boring character in the movie. He talks in this one inflection in every scene and doesn’t do anything to make him likable like Samuel L. Jackson. While everyone else is just boring and bland, Grant George’s Elihas is actually terrible. In his climactic fight with Natasha he sounds like he’s on the verge of tears, but not in a good way, more like he stubbed his toe. Every other character, which there aren’t many, is passable on the voice acting.

The animation is pretty good, particularly in the fight scenes, but it’s in those fight scenes that this movie again loses me. They talk about the main heroes being normal people but they must have super speed for all the wind they whip up when they fight each other and all the bullets and explosions they dodge. The animation can’t make up for every other problem and the numerous plot holes that I can’t go into without spoiling it make this a terrible experience. I think if you can get a friend to watch it with you you can have some fun riffing on it, but the boring scenes and trite dialogue might stifle your fun.

Rating: 43% = Burnt Chicken

Avengers Vs. X-Men

Real life got in the way, doesn’t matter, let’s get on with the review

Avengers vs. X-Men was a Marvel comics event from 2012 written by Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker and Jonathan Hickman. The maxi-series spanned 12 issues, with each writer scripting different issues. Having 5 people all working separately on the same book could cause some issues, and sadly that’s what happened here. Let’s get to the plot outline first.

The almighty Phoenix is on it’s way to Earth. Its target is Hope Summers, Cyclops’ daughter from the future. Cyclops wants to keep Hope on Earth to harness the Phoenix to restore the mutant population, while Captain America wants to take Hope away to prevent the Phoenix from destroying Earth. That’s about as much plot as you need before the fists start flying and the cloud of stupid that occurs from the fight prevents any character from doing anything smart or rational. The name “Avengers vs. X-Men” would better be changed to “Cyclops vs. Captain America” as they are the only two characters that the book seems to focus on. Scarlet Witch and Hope are also very important to the story, but I don’t consider them really characters in this book. They’re just plot devices to keep the story going, and the ending with them is telegraphed by the halfway point.

While he is one of the only characters, Captain America is heavily out of character, All he cares about by the end is being right and beating down Cyclops. When a tragic attack is carried out by an X-Man, all Cap cares about is that this is now a war, even though people are dying all around him. Even Black Panther calls him out on this (he does the same thing to Tony but about science and magic.) The worst part is how hard they try to make Cyclops the villain, when he is only shown doing bad things after he is attacked or provoked. There’s no ambiguity by the end about who the villain is supposed to be, which shouldn’t happen in one of these superhero fight books. Having the villain be the more likable person, while the designated heroes are all jerks is like a double screw up.

There are some good parts in it, the second issue springs to mind. It’s the issue where the fight actually starts and there are some good single fights with pretty funny caption boxes. Spider-Man was also awesome in the book, with his crowning moment appearing in issue 9. The designs of the “Phoenix Five” are pretty good, but the characters themselves don’t really have much of a point. There is also another good fight on the Moon in issue 4.

The Phoenix itself seems to have its powers decided at random, where sometimes it is strong enough to keep Wolverine down for a couple hours and then later only for a couple seconds. It keeps him down for a long time when it wasn’t even close to Earth, but can’t keep him down when it’s in its almost purest form. And when one of the Phoenix Five reveals the ability to give legs to whales, he then remembers that whales don’t like land.

Final Thoughts: Huh, that got a little weird near the end. The book after this AVX Consequences and the AVX: VS tie ins are actually really good and I’d highly recommend those over this. This book is also really long, with too much padding and predictable foreshadowing.

Rating: Borrow from a Mate

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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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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

Dark Avengers Vol 1 – Assemble

Been a while since the last Marvel review, Marvel Zombies takes a lot out of a person. Ok, so the gist of this book is that the Avengers have broken up because of Civil War and a Skrull invasion. So naturally the best person to put in charge of the new Avengers is Norman freaking Osborn, aka Green Goblin. He gathers up a couple of characters of questionable morality and makes them look like the real Avengers. On paper this concept should work, Thunderbolts proved that is does. However, the characters chosen and the lack of focus on characterization kills this.

The book has a bunch of characters, but only two or three are focused on in these six issues. It’s mostly just Norman Osborn and The Sentry through most of it. There’s way to many scenes of Norman and Sentry just talking, because Sentry has a split personality that Norman is trying to abuse.And anyone who knows anything about The Sentry knows he’s the most overpowered character in the Marvel universe. His very presence removes any tension from the story, as you know nothing will stop him, which is what happens as he takes care of an entire army of Atlanteans by himself.

Every other character is underdeveloped. Venom just eats people, Moonstone is just angry all the time, Bullseye is angry all the time as well, Captain Marvel says almost nothing and then leaves the team, Daken says almost nothing throughout, and Ares is the God of War. They says “Ares, God of War” every single time and it’s obnoxious every time. The first arc is about Dr. Doom having a magic fight with Morgana le Fay, but he loses so the Avengers come to save him. Morgana is attacking them from the past, so Norman (As the Iron Patriot) and Doom go back and stop her using magic words.

Final Thoughts: Ugh, it’s been pretty negative these last couple of reviews. But at the end of the day this was a waste of time, with annoying or bland characters doing nothing.

Rating: Rubbish

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