So, did you know Marvel Unlimited actually releases modern Marvel comics along with Silver Age classics? It’s true! I’m trying something new. I’ve just finished plowing through this week’s very latest MU releases and now I’m sharing my thoughts in a speedy(-ish) rundown.
Number of Fin Fang Foom appearances this week: 2/3. (It’s three if you count the stories in the Gwenpool special separately.) Was 2016 the year of the ☠☠☠☠-ing dragon or what?
Peep the full list here, then strap in for a ratings rundown.
Epic Comics (★★★★★)
My picks for the week’s must-read(s).
I know the Verdict of the Internet is that Bendis’s Guardians is a bad series, but this isn’t a Guardians story. It’s the story of how Ben Grimm joins SHIELD, and it’s an achingly good character study of our beloved Blue-Eyed Thing. Now granted, Ben Grimm might be the easiest character in Marveldom to write heartwarming stories about, but Mr. Bendis knocks it out of the park here. There are at least four moments of breathtaking “wow,” with my favorites being that no merchant in New York will let Ben pay for service and that Maria Hill convinces him to join up primarily by handing him a classic bathtub Fantasticar.
Great Comics (★★★★)
Comics that will almost certainly be worth your time.
The story of Muse, one of the creepiest new villains of the ANAD era, comes to a wrenching close. Blindspot is seriously wrecked and Daredevil has to wonder if dragging a partner into his world is such a good idea.
Kate Bishop, Los Angeles PI, take 2! Action! Kate gets an all-new supporting cast in this bright, colorful, inescapably sassy retread of the promising setup that was shortchanged at the end of Matt Fraction’s epic run.
Continuing the theme established by this week’s Daredevil, this is another story elevated by a great villain. Alex Wilder is back and he’s making a dangerous play for control of Harlem. Luke and Danny are playing catch-up and they don’t even know how far behind they are. Also, the flashbacks to the 80s Fang Gang continue to be delightful.
Gwen discovers the holidays are different in the Marvel universe. Galactus in place of Santa Claus! Pantsgiving! Wait, this wasn’t what the holidays were like in Gwen’s last special! (The one frigging She-Hulk hijacked!) It’s up to Gwen, Miles Morales, the Punisher, Big Ronnie, Fin Fang Foom (sigh), and Red Skull to put things right. And there’s a rather shabby Deadpool Haloween story attached because whoever was creating the “Namor’s Feast of Fish” story blew their deadline.
The mutants are nearly unanimous in their conviction that war with the Inhumans is inevitable. A series of daring first strikes take some of the Inhumans’ biggest players off the board as Storm and Medusa head for a showdown. It’s the big crazy hero vs. hero war that CW2 could have been but wasn’t!
This all-new introduction to an all-new Inhuman has been noodling along for a while, but this month basketball superstar Morris Sackett finally starts exploring the subtleties of his body-surfing powers. More significantly, he discovers that his father/manager and girlfriend might not be the staunch allies he thought they were. Decent writing and nicely stylized art.
Silk has a confrontation with a resurrected Mattie “Spider-Woman” Franklin as she sinks deeper into the Clone Conspiracy. This title’s been in the doldrums lately, but this crossover is a satisfying and very nicely-drawn return to high adventure. I’m faced with the weird conclusion that Silk at her best is Gwenpool minus the meta.
Yeah, it spoils the end of CW2 a bit, and the last issue of the main event still hasn’t come out. But it’s a much-needed look inside the head of one of the key players as Miles unpacks how rough the Carol-Tony conflict has been on him.
This was a pleasant surprise to me. I was heavily underwhelmed with the Ghost Rider debut a couple weeks ago, but this felt much better. Robbie saves his younger neighbors from the horrors of the Krampus and Santa shares a lesson about the power of belief. It’s also aimed at a young audience, but that didn’t feel like as much of a limitation here as in Ghost Rider #1. I have a terrible suspicion that Robbie Reyes is an awesome character that ends up being more enjoyable when he’s taken out of the hands of his original creators.
Decent Comics (★★★)
Comics that reward your attention with a healthy dose of entertainment.
It’s the Squirrel Girl version of the classic “Pizza Dog” issue of Hawkeye! Mew the cat defeats Taskmaster. Guest-starring Lucky the Pizza Dog himself! It’s good, but it’s not the tour-de-force that the original was. Bump this issue up into the “Great” category if you happen to be a cat person who already considers Mew one of the title’s top characters.
The young X-Men clear their plate by letting Hank banish Madelyne “Goblin Queen” Pryor so they can get down to IvX business next month. The art by Mr. Bagley is gorgeous as ever but this issue went a little heavy on Hank’s non-stop “woe is me” monologues.
I lack the “how dare you take MJ away from Peter” gene of a long-term Spidey fan, so the very idea of this book hasn’t reduced me to a puddle of fan-serviced goo. It’s a good story, but the ironclad plot structure makes it easy to see exactly how #3 will play out. Also, Mary Jane’s name (Spinneret? Really?) and costume (Gym Shorts? Really?) are kinda lame.
This series had a good CW2 tie-in, but the story of the Avengers vs. Zombie Hulk has gone on for about an issue too long here. Gorgeous art makes it easier to gloss over a few missteps in the writing.
Mobsters playing with demonic powers – the perfect setup to bring these two unlikely allies together. The interplay between Frank and Doc S is surprisingly good as they experience a bit of an act one reversal and get put on the defensive.
Disappointing Comics (★★/★)
These are books I would advise against reading unless you have a reason that’s better than my pathological “gotta read ’em all” craziness.
Amadeus Cho and Jeremy Lin spend a whole issue patting each other on the back. It’s a gimmick issue similar to Squirrel Girl, except here there’s nothing but a shrug waiting for you if basketball isn’t your jam. (Plus I think the overlap on the “Squirrel Girl Fan/Cat Lover” Venn diagram is a leetle bigger than the one on the “TA Hulk Fan/Basketball Fan” diagram.)
Mr. Bunn needs to stop trying to make Killer Thrill happen. It’s not going to happen. No one else is interested in his sadistic murder pixie 90s reject. There’s also not a lot of folks thrilled with another awkward injection of Deadpool into a classic 80s story. Finally, this comic “guest starring” Spidey sees him knocked out after two pages and used as a bait Macguffin. Severely underwhelming.
A superfluous two-issue filler story about saving Jubilee from Dracula comes to a close with Logan decapitating the count. I doubt this will slow him down for long. I normally love Filipe Andrade’s art, but it was just too sketchy here. I counted; there are six panels with real backgrounds in the entire book. Plus our guest stars are the Howling Commandos of SHIELD, a pack of monster-folk who wouldn’t be that memorable even if they were drawn clearly.
Max Bemis exhausts all the respect he earned with his “Worst X-Man Ever” series by devoting too much (i.e. any) attention to a joke villain named “Shit King” who got supernatural stink powers after Fin Fang Foom killed his family with an inopportune dragon dump. There’s other stuff about Foolkiller becoming an increasingly-psycho enforcer for a rogue SHIELD cell, but c’mon, “Shit King.”
Comics I Skipped:
“Marvel Universe” in these titles is code for “shabby comic kludged together out of cartoon snippets.” I ain’t got that kinda time. (He said after racing through 19 comics in two days…)
I consciously skipped the Star Wars titles to get myself up-to-date with my MU reading. I’ll rectify the omission someday, but not yet.
Are my Ratings Accurate or a Sign of Mental Infirmity?
Let me know!
Images snipped out of Marvel Unlimited by yours truly.