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 End 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 Supreme 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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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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Thanos: A God Up There Listening

After the events of Infinity, Thane is taken away by the Ebony Maw, one of Thanos’s henchmen. Maw tries to convince Thane to inherit his father’s legacy but Thane is reluctant to become a killer like Thanos. Maw takes Thane to a bar to talk to an alien who recorded an instance of Thanos taking on Ego the Living Planet. This is somehow supposed to convince Thane that he is his father’s son.
Infinite Comics are digital only comics that are presented in a different format where slight changes are made through a page to tell the story. For example, a page will have Ebony Maw in the middle and when tapping to go forward Thane will now be on the page next to him. It’s an interesting storytelling format and it makes this kind of bland story a little more bearable. The art is pretty good as it’s bright but muted enough in its colors to represent this darker story. The fight with Ego is pretty good as Thanos and him are equally matched even if it’s predictable because this is a flashback sequence.
While the flashback story may be good the framing device around it with Thane just isn’t so good. I think it was obvious how the story would go even if the character development towards it wasn’t great. Ebony Maw is just a cliché talking villain who is trying to convince the hero to become evil. Thane himself isn’t an interesting character as everything about him I’ve seen before. I never bought his change at the end of Infinity or what was so bad about what he did so his turn here still doesn’t work.
So while this isn’t the worst comic in the Thanos story it can just be skipped.
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Iban Coello
Rating: Borrow from a Mate
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Infinity

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Infinity is a 2013 comic book event written by Jonathan Hickman that crosses over with his then current runs of Avengers and New Avengers. The Avengers go into space to fight off an invasion by the Builders, an ancient civilization that have deemed the Universe broken. When the Avengers leave Thanos decides it’s the perfect time to invade Earth to hunt down and kill one of his own children, Thane. Thanos has brought along his own minions this time, the Black Order, who hunt down the Illuminati for their Infinity Gems.

Ok I’m gonna try and keep this short as this review is from the Infinity hardcover which is over 600 pages long. Going into this I caught up on Avengers and New Avengers just to get a grasp on the current storyline but I was aware of what was happening with the Marvel universe ending. Hickman’s Avengers was weak as it was very dry and it had too many pointless characters just clogging up the pages while the important characters got all the spotlight. However, New Avengers was a great series where a small cast paid off and we get some interesting stories where our heroes had moral decisions and there’s tension between the characters.

Infinity is like a sandwich where the event comic is between a mediocre series and a good series and it just gets lost in there. There’s two main plots going on so the plot of the Builders in space is handled in Avengers and the attack by Thanos is handled in New Avengers. So the Infinity comic itself just stays in the middle of these two plots until they finally converge. It’s a while before things meet as the plot in the Avengers series just takes so long to finally end. There’s a lot of strategizing and galactic politics but in the end it really just took Starbrand to wipe out all the Aleph and the day was saved. Starbrand and Captain Universe are two overpowered characters on the Avengers team who just completely wipe out any villain. This, plus the lack of deaths or any noticeable destruction, completely remove all the tension and stakes from the story.

New Avengers does a lot of good things in its issues. As the Illuminati try to save their Earth by destroying other Earths, Thanos attacks. Now there are two very clear problems with no easy solution to either of them. One of my favorite aspects of this series is the rivalry between Namor and Black Panther. T’Challa still hates Namor after he flooded Wakanda in AvX and Namor is just an arrogant jerk so they get into conflict. They talk bad about each other and threaten each other and in this series you actually believe someone’s going to kill the other. Black Bolt has some great moments as he works on a secret machine with his brother Maximus and has a one on one fight with Thanos. The only downsides I’d give this series is that it lacks focus on some members of the group, mainly Doctor Strange and Beast. Strange has a moment where he gets angry and prepares to fight, it cuts away for a couple pages, and then we get back to the scene and he’s blown away instantly.

The main focus of Infinity is the son of Thanos, Thane. I’ll talk a lot more about him next review but here he’s pretty lame. He has this cliché perfect life until Thanos comes into it and tears it apart. He has an alright power but it’s only used to make an homage to a scene from way back in Avengers vs. Thanos. Speaking of Thanos, here he’s just completely generic. He wants to kill his son and that’s about it for motivation and there’s no big scheme or plot to get interested in. Thanos’s henchman, the Black Order, have cool names and appearances and it’s good that they stuck around as they provide a good fight scene for the last issue.

So while Infinity and Avengers aren’t so good the New Avengers comic is and I’d recommend that highly over the rest. I’d say just skip over the Avengers issues as they’re pointless.

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artists: Jim Cheung, Jerome Opena, Dustin Weaver

Rating: Buy for a bargain

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