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...

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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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