Rich Johnston’s The Avengefuls

The Avengefuls

Today’s review is for The Avengefuls, a parody comic by Rich Johnston. If you don’t know who that is, he is the founder of the internet rumor mill BleedingCool. However, I don’t want to make this post just about bashing Johnston and his website. We’re going to look at a series of comics he did around 2012 to ride off the hype of the Avengers movie coming out that year. There’s 4 comics: Iron Muslim, Captain American Idol, Scienthorlogy, and The Avengefuls. Just going to talk about them all right in this one post because there’s no point in distinguishing them as I’d just say the same thing about every single issue. That point is that every single issue of this parody series is just horribly unfunny. Of course comedy is subjective and maybe there is somebody that thinks that this sort of humor is funny, but this right here didn’t work for me at all.

This series is just like one of those movies like “Disaster Movie” or “Epic Movie” where most of the jokes are just random reference humor. Captain American Idol is the biggest offender, as Gordon Ramsay and David Hasselhoff are in it for no good reason. In Scienthorlogy( I’m probably gonna spell this wrong throughout the review, but it’s a pain to type) there’s references to Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta and something about Anonymous which I had to look up to actually understand. The Avengefuls issue actually has Black Widow call Thor out on making an outdated “There’s an app for that” joke when these books reference a movie from 2005. It’s not just the reference humor that’s bad though, the other jokes are just lame. There’s a lot of lazy sex jokes, random humor, jokes trying to be adult by having the characters be racist or make fun of religion, and jokes like having characters say “exposition” over and over in the Thor comic.

The final Avengefuls issue is just the worst thing about this whole series. This whole issue just feels dated and every joke about the Avengers has been done before. Here’s a “hot take” from Rich, Hawkeye and Black Widow aren’t as cool as the other Avengers. The villain turns out to be a Hulk powered Osama Bin Laden and they must have thought that this was hilarious because almost every line has him say Osama in the place of Hulk. The ending of this issue for no reason has Obama come in and save the day. This might have been some kind of parody but I don’t understand this joke and it doesn’t even really seem like a joke.

Nothing more to say here, except I think the art overall is just bad even though the artists are talented.

Writer: Rich Johnston

Artists: Chris Haley, Michael Netzer, Bryan Turner

Rating: Rubbish

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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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Marvel Zombies Return

Let’s just end this. This book is the finale of the original Marvel Zombies story that got sidetracked after Marvel Zombies 2. It is also just absolutely awful.

Alright, the book is 5 issues long with the first 4 issues showing off what happened to the Marvel Zombies after they were teleported away by Cortez.

The first issue is the Spider-Man story, which probably had the best concept based on the art alone. It has this silver age vibe to it and I really like it. However, the story is just zombie Spider-Man killing the Sinister Six in increasingly gory ways.

Issue 2 is about Iron Man, but not the zombie Iron Man. It’s a retelling of “Demon In a Bottle” but with zombies attacking. Everyone but Rhodey dies, and he takes Iron Man’s place.

Issue 3 stars Wolverine. Zombie Wolverine fights another Wolverine and gets wrecked. I could barely tell what was going on in this issue because the art is so muddy. I couldn’t even root for either Wolverine because I forgot who was the zombie and who was the normal guy.

Issue 4 is World War Hulk with zombies. The end. Nothing else happens beyond that statement.

Issue 5 is where everyone comes together. They show a group of zombie heroes and villains who are all supposed to be Justice League analogues inside a base next to a dead Galactus. They talk about killing Black Panther, Luke Cage, and Wasp so there goes the only likable characters from the previous story. The four heroes from the previous issues arrive and fight these other zombies. Sandman appears and kills them all using some nanites that Spider-Man helped make. Giant Man, who had been appearing and planning something since the beginning, tries to trap the Sentry to use a battery to teleport to another universe to feed off. Uatu the Watcher appears and sends the Sentry back in time to the original zombie universe to contain the virus, creating a time loop.

Final Thoughts: I was confused throughout because the first two issues don’t mention that this is “Earth Z” so the timeline was messing with me. After all the zombies are killed they show Iron Man still hovering around. But earlier he mentions that heat seeking missiles don’t work on our kind, so he is also a zombie. So that means zombies are still around and the virus isn’t contained, negating the point of the entire book.

Rating: Rubbish

 

Civil War

Alright, the Civil War movie is coming out so everybody else is going to be making these Civil War reviews, right? And it’s almost time for the awards show so I’m just going to crack on with this one.

I’m pretty sure you all know the plot outline but if you don’t then here you go. The New Warriors cause an explosion in Stamford while they are fighting some super villains, killing 612 people. This causes the government to create a superhero registration act that forces superheroes to reveal their identity and work for the government. The Pro-Registration team is led by Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Hank Pym. The Anti-Registration force is led by Captain America with help from Daredevil, Falcon, and Nick Fury. The two sides fight for a while, people die, and everyone just looks above each other while puffing their lips.

Now there is some good in this book, but there is also a lot to hate. A lot of that comes from how illogical most of the story is. The director of Shield, Maria Hill, tries to arrest Captain America before the Registration Act is even signed, there is this annoying woman who lost her kid in the explosion, who basically keeps the war going by cheering on Tony, Johnny Storm is put into a coma by random people just because he’s a superhero.

So now the good stuff. The art is very good, with dark colors and settings that convey the mood that there is no good solution in a tragedy like this. The fight scenes, which are most of the book, are really cool, with all the heroes and villains showing their best. The scenes with the members of the Fantastic Four are the best parts of the book. Captain America does make a good lead, but in a story where there are two sides with valid points, one character shouldn’t be the main focus. And that leads to the worst part, the ending. Most people know who wins, but I’ll still try to not spoil it. One side is definitely shown to be in the wrong, with everything they do causing more and more problems. However, they’re the side that “wins.” It’s anticlimactic and wastes all the buildup the story had.

Final Notes: I had a hard time finding any images with the puffy lip thing I noticed, but if you read this book you’ll notice it fairly quick. Spider-Man is in this, but his scenes are more about setting up his own book than advancing the story in any way.

Rating:Borrow from a mate

Superior Iron Man

Tony Stark was never the nicest hero in Marvel. He has done some terrible things, especially during the Civil War. So when his worst aspects get brought out during AXIS, he decides he has to be Superior.

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Superior Iron Man was a series written by Tom Taylor which came out in 2015 and ran for 9 issues. Basically, Tony is now the villain of the story while Pepper Potts and a mysterious person are trying to get him back to normal. The previously mentioned worst aspects of Tony return, his alcoholism, his greed and most definitely his ego. To go along with this new attitude he makes himself a shiny new chrome suit, which is powered by a symbiote (because that worked so well for the Iron Rangers.)

I really was on board for this Superior version of Tony and the series is very good, but then the last 3 issues kinda drop the ball. I’ll get back to that later but I wanna talk about the good stuff. First off, Tony’s plan to become rich and famous using the Extremis virus on San Fransisco was evil and genius. He gives people a free trial to make them perfect for a day, but then makes it cost $99.99 so only the rich can pay for it. This leads to the city tearing itself apart as the rich get better and the poor become criminals to try and buy Extremis. His plan is so well planned out not even Daredevil can stop it.

There’s also the introduction to a new character, Teen Abomination. He starts off as a joke villain in the first issue but soon becomes like a son to Tony. There’s an issue dedicated to his origin which is sad, but a little generic. After that he has no real role in the book except to be Tony’s bodyguard. So now we got to the cons. The “dropping the ball” comes in the reveal of Pepper’s accomplice. I won’t spoil it but it is foreshadowed pretty well. So after that the book becomes another Tony vs his own armor type story we’ve seen a bunch of times before. It then ends with no real purpose or climax to the story.

Final Thoughts: If it wasn’t for Secret Wars I think this book could have gone on for longer and gotten even better. Every scene with Daredevil and Tony are fantastic and it makes the book almost worth it just for those. The art is also really good throughout.

Rating: Full Price

Carnage: Family Feud

[Minor spoilers ahead]

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Carnage is one of the quintessential 90’s villains. His only goal is to destroy, kill, and cause mayhem wherever he goes. At some point in the last couple years the lamest hero ever, The Sentry, threw Carnage into space and ripped him in half. Demonstrated by the title, Carnage has returned but how he’s back and who is in control of it is the main sticking point of this story. Before reading this book I highly recommend you either read or read about the Maximum Carnage event as this is a sort of sequel to it. I’m also going to try and keep this short because the mini-series is short at only 5 issues.

The story begins with Tony Stark at a meeting for Michael Hall, a tech genius who’s name makes it impossible for me to not think he is Michael C Hall in Gamer. He has some prosthetic arm on display and later he uses the same technology to create his own Power Rangers team called the Iron Rangers. When Tony tries to find out info on Hall he notices Doppelganger attacking a van, and calls up Spider-Man to help him out. When the Iron Rangers (Who’s names are all based on colors like Royal Blue and Burnt Orange,) show up they accidentally shoot off Dr. Tanis’s, a psychiatrist for the villain Shriek, arm. She gets a prosthetic from Hall Industries, and that’s where everything starts to turn dark.

This was an amazing read and most of my enjoyment came from the photo realistic, painted art style. The artist, Clayton Crain, draws Iron Man the best of any artist I have ever seen. There’s also the banter and interaction between Iron Man and Spider-Man, who have a lot in common. The fight against Carnage at the end is a great example of escalation, as more characters get involved and the villain gets stronger. My only gripes are the amount of random powers the symbiotes seem to have and the time spent until Carnage actually arrives is too long.

Final Thoughts: The title makes me want to see Steve Harvey as a super hero. Also the way Doppelganger is drawn is actually scary, way better than when he was just Spider-Man with more arms.

Rating: Full Price

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