The Death of Captain Marvel

The marathon continues with one of the most famous deaths in comic history, Captain Marvel’s.

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Going into this I have to mention how before this comic I have read very little of Captain Marvel. Those eight issues collected in Avengers vs. Thanos are the most I have actually read of his solo comic. I am a fan of those issues I’ve read and would consider Mar-Vell one of my favorite Marvel heroes, (eventually I’ll make a list for that.) Another important thing to talk about is death in comic books. It’s widely known that death in comic books is cheap and that most characters that die will come back. It’s happened to almost all of the famous heroes. So one thing that sets this comic apart is that it still has not been undone.

The Death of Captain Marvel is a short comic, only 64 pages, and the main plot of the story is told to you in the title so there won’t be much to talk about here. The story begins with Mar-Vell hanging out with Mentor and Eros, the father and brother of Thanos, on Titan, when he collapses. A scan is done on him and confirms something his cosmic awareness had told him long ago, that he is dying of Cancer. That’s the basic story and I don’t wanna spoil most of the events as this comic is about the journey towards the inevitable end.

The thing that works the most about this comic is how realistic it portrays all of the events. The friends and loved ones of Mar-Vell just can’t believe it, especially Rick Jones and Spider-Man. Their scenes have the most impact as you wouldn’t expect something like that from them normally, but it makes for these two to be crushed by this the most. Rick was his best friend and the longest partnership he ever had while Spider-Man has dealt with multiple deaths of those important to him. Mar-Vell himself can barely accept the end of his life which is completely understandable.

Of course because this comic is in this marathon that must mean Thanos appears. Thanos takes on an interesting role here as he guides Mar-Vell to death. He’s not in the comic for long but his relationship with death itself and his history with Mar-Vell gives a satisfying conclusion to the story and their characters.

I highly recommend reading The Death of Captain Marvel. It’s a very good comic with great art and writing by Jim Starlin.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artist: Jim Starlin

Rating: Vintage

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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

Carnage, USA

[Spoilers for the last Carnage and Carnage, USA]

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Ok, this is the direct sequel to Carnage: Family Feud and it is also the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. Spoilers are going to be in effect because I must explain the amazing things that happen in this comic.

It starts with Carnage going to Doverton, Colorado. He takes over the entire town, turning into his vision of an American paradise. The Avengers and New Avengers go into the town, but all but Spider-Man are quickly taken over by Carnage’s symbiote. The government sends in the Mercury Team, a team of operatives wielding Symbiote weapons, and threatens to firebomb the whole town unless they get out in a certain time. Their final backup for the team is Flash Thompson, the current Venom. Dr. Tanis, who has the Symbiote, Scorn, also goes in to get revenge on Carnage.

Now here is where things get awesome. Dr. Tanis creates a machine to separate Cletus from Carnage, and pushes him into it with a bulldozer, but also knocks Flash into it, separating him from Venom. Both Flash and Cletus are both crippled and are now fighting in a meat packing factory. It’s hilarious to read, as they jump around and hang off of the meat hooks. Even more ridiculous is that their Symbiotes both attach to this group of zoo animals that were in the town. So outside a bunch of Carnage possessed lions and giraffes are fighting the Avengers, while a Venom possessed gorilla rushes to get back to Flash. Flash becomes Venom and defeats Cletus, while Captain America convinces the government to localize the strike to the Carnage symbiotes. They put Cletus into captivity and then realize that they didn’t really win, as the entire city is in ruins.

Final Thoughts: Wow, that was just something. Everything in this book is unsettling, from the look of the Carnage possessed town’s people and animals to the depressing ending. It’s just an amazing book, with great comic book moments and a powerful ending message.

Rating: Vintage

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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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4-5

I’m just gonna finish up this story quicker than usual, since there’s not much left. Here’s the quick recap: Darius got bit by a super spider and now has spider powers, and Spider-Man has been shot.

Issue #4 begins with Darius jumping out the gym (Huh, that works) to go follow Spider-Man. He sees Spider-Man fighting against some alien. He slams a truck against the alien which explodes, killing Peter Parker. Darius and Ganke later go to his funeral, where Gwen Stacy tells Darius the motto, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Back at his dorm, Ganke walks in and gives Darius a Spider-Man Halloween costume to which Darius replies “Would this be in bad taste?(Remember this!)

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The appropriate response to swinging as Spider-Man

Darius goes out webslinging to fight some criminals. He sees some Australian stereotype named Kangaroo attacking someone at a bar. Darius drops down to give his heroic banter and the guy getting beat up says “That costume is in terrible taste.” During the fight Kangaroo tosses Darius into a pizza parlor where he lands on someone’s table who says “That is in terrible taste.” Kangaroo lifts a car to crush Darius when Darius punches him in the throat, causing him to drop the car on himself. Darius asks if anyone called the police and someone in the crowd says, “That outfit is in bad taste.”  Darius hides in an alley, removes his mask, and says “Maybe the costume is in bad taste.” Later we see a news report that Ganke is looking at that says “It really was in bad taste,” to which Ganke says, “Maybe it was in bad taste.” (And that’s the last one, thank God.)

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Why are heroes’s first instinct to beat the other hero looking guy up?

Darius then goes back out to the roof to brood when he is knocked down by Spider-Woman, ending the issue. We begin issue #5 with Spider-Woman webbing up Darius and asking him who he is. Darius tries to activate his magic Jay powers, but he ends up hitting a satellite dish, knocking himself out. Spider-Woman takes him back to the Ultimates (The Ultimate Universe version of the Avengers) where Nick Fury says, “The outfit is in bad taste,young man” (It wasn’t funny the first bloody time!) So Darius and Nick Fury have a nice conversation where Fury reveals that uncle Snoop is known as The Prowler. In another location, a guy is waking up from a coma in a prison hospital and starts to become electrified.

The man is actually Electro and invades the Ultimates’s tower. Iron Man and Hawkeye manage to get him back on the ground where Spider Woman and Darius try to subdue him. Using his stunning touch, Darius manages to get past his electric shield, so Nick Fury can shoot Electro. The next day, Darius is telling the story of the battle to Ganke. Spider Woman then walks towards them and gives Darius a case with his new Spider-Man costume, ending the book.

Now that this self-indulgent review is over (and I have to admit this one was in poor taste) let’s get to the ratings.

Plot: Being just an origin story it does pretty well on that basis. It introduces our characters well and goes at a quick pace.

Characters: Miles is an alright guy, although his whining about not wanting to be a hero is, well, whiny. His friend Ganke just pushes him to do what he doesn’t want to, and Miles’s family are a good group.

Action: The fight scenes are alright, with Miles just testing out his new powers. The last fight with Iron Man and Hawkeye shows how cool they are.

Art: Art is good and David Cage would love the amount of emotions shown.

Ending: It ends how you would expect; he becomes Spider-Man and saves the day. It is a happy ending though so it gets points.

Final Thoughts: Now I haven’t exactly been dancing around the whole race issue in this book. I really don’t have a problem with a new character being Spider-Man and him being a race other than white does not offend me at all. I do enjoy these first couple of issues and I’m glad Miles is becoming a mainstay in the actual Marvel Universe.

Rating: Full Price