I wrote in the most recent episode of Noob’s Book Club that I can keep a deadline when things aren’t so insane busy. I also wrote in my DC Comics review that I needed to go back and read some past issues for homework before next month in order to have a better idea of the quality of the books. Both of those things combine in this Marvel Comics April 2023 review.
Because many of the books this month come as parts of stories already in progress, I need to go back to get caught up on those stories. One of them, The Avengers, I might just ignore until it’s over because it is part of a multi-book event that I don’t want to chase right now. I’m invested in the TMNT Armageddon Game series of books and that’s all I can handle as far as multi book events. So, I removed the Decent section and begrudgingly moved one book from there into Good in order to make room for an “Incomplete” section this time around.
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I only need to read 2 books to get caught up with Thor. Punisher said “Book 2, Part 5”, so I might just wait until the next story for that one. I already said that I plan on skipping Avengers until the next story. By the looks of it, they plan on renumbering with the next one, too. Speaking of homework, I got the insane idea to catch up on all 260+ titles in the Bryan Hitch era of X-Men, so it might be a while before I review them.
She Hulk 12
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All three of these books lived up to expectations, both good and bad. They read exactly like I remember them reading back when I was an irresponsible teenager buying the books. I mentioned earlier that I begrudgingly moved one from Decent into this category. I wanted to put FF in the decent. The story just felt so disjointed and all over the place. Alas, to keep the article consistent, I moved it here. Strange almost made it into the great. Strange and Clea fighting side by side with Moon Knight making a cameo? Next month against Dormammu, I assure you it will get bumped up to great.
Amazing Spider-Man 24
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A word about Amazing Spider-Man: These only make it here because my love for Spider-Man outweighs my hatred of the current direction of the story. I hate angry Spider-Man. The god makes no sense to me. If this continues, I might need to bump him down a level or two. A note about Guardians of the Galaxy: I love what James Gunn and the MCU did to my beloved Guardians. I also love the original dysfunctional Guardians and this book brings them back to me. A note about Venom: Al Ewing is the best. This book feels very much like his Immortal Hulk. That’s a good thing. I need to read the rest.
Marvel looks to be going back to their roots, at least from what I read in the Marvel Comics April 2023 books. Obviously, I need to do my homework to see if the other books follow suit. I try not to fall for the Marvel vs. DC nonsense. But, if I did, they win this round going away.
With some of the kid activities calming down over the next few weeks, I decided to try to get back to updating the page on a regular basis. This week, I eased into it with some comic reviews. Instead of just Spawn, I reviewed two other independent comics on Monday. Today, I return with DC Comics April 2023.
Before we continue, I need to come clean. I skimmed most of the books this month. Almost all of them are in the middle or close to the end of an arc. Therefore, I need to go back and do a little research before reading next month to get a better idea of the quality of the books. Therefore, and I know you all probably do anyway, take this month’s reviews with a grain of salt.
Wonder Woman 798
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I came clean a few years ago as not a fan of Superman. I know that probably pains my brother Tim, but the character just never interested me all that much. I like my heroes with flaws and Superman traditionally has none. Let me tell you something else, though. I absolutely hate Superman when they try to humanize him. But, if anyone can make me care about ole Supes, it’s Williamson. Watch these reviews to see if it comes true.
As far as Wonder Woman and Flash this month. Overall, I enjoyed reading through them. As mentioned above, I only flipped through Wonder Woman because I need context before passing final judgement. The only reason I started collecting Flash was for Aiden, but he seems to be out of his comics phase, so at this point I’m just collecting for collection’s sake. I will say, though, that the concept of the “One Minute War” looked interesting and I want to read that story.
Action Comics 1054
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Well, apparently I lied when I said that only Williamson can make me care about Superman. Because, I thoroughly enjoyed the story presented in Action Comics this month. It revolves around Metallo and offered one heck of a cliffhanger at the end of 1054. Can’t wait until next month.
I flipped through both Bats and Cats this month. Both wrap up their current stories soon and I actually wrote under Batman in my notes that I needed more context because maybe it will be great. Zdarsky is writing it and Chris said he liked the story. I promise to update you next month. Plus, I pine for older writers on these books, so I need to get over that first.
Remember those old writers I pined for earlier? Ram V is absolutely one of them. I love everything he does. He just writes such amazing stories and it doesn’t matter what character he writes for. Similar to James Gunn and super hero movies, every book that Ram V touches is gold.
For me, DC Comics April 2023 was a mixed bag. Part of that, admittedly, is my fault. I need to go back and read the previous books for some context in the stories. Who knew that coming back to review comics would give me homework? Oh well, I promise to be more well versed in the stories by next month. Until then….
We unintentionally took 2 months off this year. We played the least amount of games by far this year than any of the other years since starting the page. I can’t explain either of those. It also defies explanation how, in spite of them, we had one of our best years as 2 Guy Gaming. I heard someone say that they just blame everything on Covid. So, let’s go with that and continue with our Top 10 of 2021.
Top 10 of 2021 (Honorable Mention)
Atari 2600 – If I remembered earlier to hook it up, this might have actually made the list. Instead, I just hooked it up the other day and played through a few games of Circus Convoy. The games are so simplistic, but o much fun. Look for this to be on the list next year.
Jackbox Party Pack 8 – I talked about this one in the last article. We played it a couple of times as a family and had an absolute blast. I would have liked to have gotten it working on Christmas to play with a larger group, though.
Top 10 of 2021 (#10-6)
10. Comic Books – Like most of my hobbies, I lost the time I used to devote to comics. I dedicated more time to my job (which, if you’ve been reading the other page, you know didn’t ultimately pay off) and family (worth the investment always). Comics were the first to go. Still, I collect them and enjoyed the storylines when I stopped. I will pick them up again at some point.
9. Football – I swore of the NFL about a decade ago. I simply found less and less enjoyment from watching. Perhaps, as a result, I leaned more heavily into college. It helped that my friend Craig liked college football. More recently, Chris texts me about the NFL. As a result, I watched more the last couple of years and enjoyed it.
8. Hades – This might be higher on the list if I played it before today. As it is, I think being number 8 solely on the recommendation of Chris is pretty good.
7. Geocaching – I found a cache on a whim during our trip to the museum with Quinn in late summer. That triggered something because I started hiking/caching after school and on the weekends. Then, I got the silly idea to try for a full year (366 days) streak of finding geocaches. I’m currently at 118 days. You can follow those adventures here.
6. Dungeons and Dragons Duet – When we tried playing D&D as a family a few years ago, it met with limited success. I wasn’t prepared to be an entertaining and engaging DM and, frankly, maybe the family just didn’t enjoy the game that much. Quinn did, though, and on a whim I bought him some D&D dice. I have also been reading a page on how to play 2 player D&D, called Duets.
Top 10 of 2021 (#5-1)
5. Battlegrounds – I have a love/hate relationship with Hearthstone. Every now and then, it evolves to hate/hate. However, I admit they did something right when they designed Battlegrounds. It takes little time or brain commitment and is a good way to kill 10-15 minutes.
4. Magic the Gathering Arena – In spite of the fact that I played less games this year, I still logged in to MTGA on a daily basis to complete quests and get my “free” loots from the reward track.
3. Disney + – From the best show to come out in recent memory, WandaVision, to the Covid shortened and potentialy ruined Falcon and the Winter Solider. From the Mandalorian to the new Book of Boba Fett. From What if to Hawkeye. I even splurged for their premier access to be able to watch Cruella after prom earlier this year. As with most things, Disney took the streaming service and improved it by leaps and bounds.
2. Marvel Movies are Back – We saw Black Widow in the theaters. Christine, high on girl power, enjoyed that one more than the rest of us. I liked it, but it wasn’t necessary and a huge let down after the last two Avengers masterpieces. Then, we just saw the new Spider-Man movie. Those who say it is the best Marvel movie ever are engaging in hyperbole (both Infinity War and Endgame are better stories and movies), but it is the best live action Spider-Man.
Commander – I wrote several times in the last few months about my adventures in Commander. Chris and I finally played face to face while eating pizza and watching Alabama destroy Georgia in the SEC Championship. He Alabama’d me in the games, but it inspired me to improve my decks for the rematch next month.
As you see, even though we weren’t active on the page as much this year, we still found time to do the things we enjoy. Maybe this will inspire us to do more of them and write more and, who knows, podcast (inside joke, haha) more. Or, maybe this is one last hurrah and we fade into obscurity. Only one way to find out. Stay tuned.
Chris clued me into DC Future State. I knew nothing of their plans for…whatever it is. Immediately, we though reboot. DC assured us this wasn’t the case. Okay, must be an event, then. Upon reading the books, I confirmed that with a text to Chris. I don’t remember the exact wording, but I’m pretty sure it was along the lines of, “This isn’t a reboot. It’s not an event, either. The Batman and Aquaman books are just like regular books. I’m so confused.”
Yes, I just dated myself with yet another reference. This movie is so old and there have been so many movie jokers since that I had to use an oddly specific search term. Plus, as you see, I wrote the text under the meme like some sort of plebian. Living in the future isn’t always the utopia they make it out to be in the movies.
And so, faced with my own mortality and bitter that I spent over 100 dollars on what feels ultimately like a failed reboot that they tried to repackage as an event, I read only the writers I like. Okay, that’s not entire true. I eventually finished the other books for the first round, but I haven’t made it there on the second round of books. And, now, before they move on and act like nothing happened, let’s look at the great from DC Future State.
Catwoman (Ram V and Otto Schmidt)
Joelle Jones and Tom King got me to start collecting Catwoman. I almost bailed after Joelle left and they cycled through writers. Then, Ram V came onto the title and I started collecting and reading voraciously again to support one of my favorite comic writers.
He took up the mantel of Future State Catwoman writer, as well. Ram loves him a heist story. Sure, it fits the character, but the same storyline over and over gets old. Well, guess what? Cats and friends board a train with heist intentions. I admit to liking this story very much. I mention that only because very few of the main title Catwoman titles kept my interest like this one. Hopefully Ram V can keep the inspiration and momentum going and bring back Cats in the main.
Dark Detective (Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora)
I’ve made no secret of my fan boy love for Mariko Tamaki’s writing. I don’t remember where I discovered her, but her work on X-23 was top notch. Come to think of it, that might have been the first book of hers I read. I watched Logan, loved the portrayal of our favorite Wolverine clone in that and picked up the book based only on that. Hey, cross promotion works! She brought her talents to DC as writer on Wonder Woman and now Dark Detective in Future State. Surprise! Bruce Wayne is dead. Now, from here, I can go one of two ways with an inside joke. I can either use an overused line that one of the Simpsons Facebook groups I frequent and say, “That’s right! Dead serious about going to Itchy and Scratchy Land!” But, I think I’ll go with family favorite, Voldemort.
Spoiler Alert: Bruce Wayne isn’t really dead. Nevertheless, a sinister and possibly evil (aren’t they always!) police force took over Gotham and rule with an iron fist. Tired storyline to be sure, but Ms. Tamaki gives us a compelling storyline in spite of the limited environment. If DC went ahead with Future State instead of making it a tepid collection of one shots, I’d definitely like to see where this book went.
Justice League (Joshua Williamson and Robson Rocha)
Justice League Dark (Ram V and Marcio Takara)
If I’m being honest, I only got this title because of Justice League Dark. You already knew that, though. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw Joshua Williamson wrote it. I enjoyed his Flash very much and have kept an eye out for his name ever since. This book follows the pattern of the others. We introduce the new Justice League. Some familiar faces in the group, but ultimately it goes nowhere because both DC and Marvel are afraid to take a leap and try something new.
As I wrote to Chris, I get that the market is different, but this whole Future State thing now just feels like the latest 2099 trip, which were simply half assed as a series of one shots. As with that “experiment”, some failed spectacularly. This is supposed to be about the ones that succeeded. This one mostly succeeded. And, Justice League Dark made it worth the price of admission.
Legion of Super Heroes (BMB and Riley Rossmo)
At this point, I only include this one because of BMB’s legacy. After his, let’s say “inconsistent”, runs on Superman and Action comics, I need a break from Bendis. I knew almost nothing about the Legion before this book. I still know very little. I definitely need a break from Bendis.
Swamp Thing (Ram V and Mike Perkins)
I saved this read for last. Chris and I both love the character of Swamp Thing. Honestly, his guest spot in Batman at the beginning of Rebirth cemented my decision to keep collecting DC Comics. You all know that I’m not much of a DC fan, but I always try to give them a chance and the benefit of the doubt.
This title represents all the potential of Future State. It features a lesser utilized character in a bigger role. It gives us a glimpse into a possible future that is both a hopeless post-apocalypse and a hopeful pre-rebirth (pun sort of intended). This is the best title of the lot and it isn’t even close. I can’t wait for the main title.
Wonder Woman (Joelle Jones)
I already said above that the Catwoman ongoing after Rebirth introduced me to Joelle Jones. She wrote the character in such a unique way that it kept me coming back in spite of the fact that I’ve never been a fan of Cats other than maybe Michelle Pfieffer’s portrayal in Batman Returns.
She brings that unique voice and storytelling to a new Wonder Woman. Having little history with the character other than the movie and collecting since Rebirth, I don’t know if this particular Wonder Woman has any history in the series. However, I like the character and wish we got more of her. Oh well, Future State, we barely knew ye.
Overall, DC Future State: The Great delivered. Each writer gave us a compelling story that I wish would be followed up in some form or fashion. You might ask why I only reviewed these books. If you remember, I ordered all of the books. However, other than these and one or two surprises, the books were underwhelming.
I think once I realized that Future State fell into this weird limbo it took some of the luster off of the books. As we all know, don’t count anything as ever completely over in the world of comic books. If DC ever grows a set and decides to follow this thread at some point in the future, it can be great.
Well, another week passed with limited content. I wrote a review of WandaVision last Sunday in the hopes that it might inspire me to get back on track because all I planned for last week was comic reviews. I suppose that school is more detrimental to the development of the page than I thought. So, Marvel Comics March 2021 arrives nearly a week late.
It took me a paragraph to get to the Chris and I texted portion of the article. I texted him to say that I might need to follow his lead and start looking at some indy comics because my DCBS order has been right around 50 dollars. For some context, before Covid, I regularly paid 75-100 a month for comics.
Books cancelled or delayed. Shipment problems. That one Chris mentioned during our text exchange. He mentioned having to supplement his books through Midtown. I said, yet again, that I wanted to stop at the comics store in Jaffrey to see if I can’t pick up some of the books I missed over the last year. Stay tuned. Perhaps in future installments, but for now, Marvel Comics March 2021 has only 5 books to review. As a result, I will revert back to the earlier format for reviews and give each book its own section.
Amazing Spider-Man 59 (Nick Spencer and Marcelo Ferreira)
The Great (Skeletons in the Closet): Both Harry and Norman returned for the latest “Spider-Man in Peril” story. I commend Spencer for mostly leaving the Goblins in the past and giving both Osborns a new purpose in this arc. Harry torments Spidey as the new character (spoiler alert) Kindred as Norman wrestles with the past and tries to repair the family legacy through his son and grandson. So far, his effort failed, but some headway is made in this issue, at least, with Normie. It remains to be seen how Harry’s story plays out this time.
The Good (Why Would They Ever Kill Aunt May?): Aunt May “died” once during issue 400. She also got mortally wounded during Civil War and that kicked off the One More Day storyline that some consider to be one of the worst stories in the history of Spider-Man. I hope they learned their lesson from that. Don’t ever kill off Aunt May. Her heroism during this story serves as a reminder of her selflessness and heroism. Aunt May is, and always will be, the real MVP of the Spiderverse.
The Decent (Mr. Negative needs to go away): I understand that Spencer brought back some 2nd and 3rd tier villains for this story. For the most part, I appreciate that choice. However, I have no use for the Mr. Negative story and would rather they release Kindred and give him another chance. I know it will happen eventually, but I have no patience right now. Only 5 books in my pull list, Marvel? They better be good.
Avengers 42 (Jason Aaron and Luca Maresca)
The Great (Wolvie’s reaction to the Phoenix Force): It came at the end of the issue and nearly saved the entire issue by itself. I say nearly because the rest of the issue is just so bland that not even Logan’s apprehension at being given control over nature’s most destructive force can drag it out of the doldrums.
The Good (The final reveal): Ever since the Legacy reboot, Avengers focused on the history of the group going all the way back to prehistoric times. The embodiment of the Phoenix Force featured prominently in that history. Now, this issue confirms (?) something long assumed. Again, the final interaction between the Force and Thor almost saved the issue. Almost.
The Decent (The rest of it): I have no use for this story. Given what I said about the end, perhaps that will change. In lieu of an actual review, allow me to give Aiden’s thoughts.
Aiden: “There’s this guy with a shield, but he’s not red, white, and blue. He’s orange?”
Me: “Yeah, that’s Captain America with the Phoenix Force.”
Aiden: “What’s up with Hulk?”
“That’s She Hulk.”
“Now, Logan has the Force?”
“Yeah, that’s my favorite part.”
“I just don’t get it.”
“This hasn’t been my favorite story lately. Not a good time to jump in.”
Fantastic Four 29 (Dan Slott and Ze’ Carlos)
The Great (The Previous Storyline Continues): As you see, this issue has tie ins with the Venom story, King in Black. Naturally, that warps the story some. However, our intrepid heroes still work to deal with the fallout of that previous story and Slott manages to work that in mostly seamlessly in spite of having to symbiotize the book.
The Good (About Those Symbiotes): I always like to see how they “Venomitize” heroes. A few years ago, they put out some of those Pop figures where they looked like they wore the symbiote costume. I planned on purchasing all of them. I actually purchased none of them. Through this non sequitur, I attempted to illustrate how excited it made me to see the heroes succumb to Knull.
The Decent (King in Black): With that being said, I have no use for King in Black. I admit that some of the lead in issues got me interested. However, like Death Metal and even Dark Knights before it, I didn’t collect the main series and I certainly didn’t buy in like with Civil War and even Secret Empire. Perhaps that’s my Marvel bias showing. Then again, I mostly ignored Empyre and can’t wait until King is Black is over so I can have my comics back.
The Immortal Hulk 43 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett)
The Great (Joe Fixit): The Leader destroyed Devil Hulk. He also trapped Banner in Hell. Dumb Hulk looks like a puddle of melted Jell-O. That leaves Joe Fixit, stuck in Banner’s body and unable to change into Grey Hulk, to pick up the pieces. He does an admirable job for much of the issue until Jell-O Hulk needs to take over.
The Good (The Set Up): The reveal at the end of the previous issue got me excited for the show down between Hulk and Gamma Flight. A training montage only increased that excitement. Finally, they took a trip to the desert base of Hulk’s birth. Oh, man, this fight is going to be epid.
The Decent (The Lack of Pay Off): So, about that epic fight. It, uh, didn’t happen. All this gearing up and no fight. Unlike Avengers, which got me slightly more excited for the next issue, this one just annoyed me. Yes, we are closer to the fight. But, we still have to wait at least one more month. And, according to the math, we only have 7 issues left. Need to pick up the pace here.
Venom 33 (Donny Cates and Iban Coello)
The Great (Spider-Man’s talk with Dylan at the beginning): Clearly, the recent history with the Osborns has matured Mr. Peter Parker. He gives Eddie’s son Dylan one heck of a pep talk to jump into the fray and help in the fight against Knull.
The Good (Eddie and Flash reminisce and arrive at an agreement of sorts): The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Good to see all of the Spidey old heads coming back for a reunion to defeat the common menace. I just wish that I cared more about that menace that feels like it was cooked up in a fever dream and never quite reached maturity.
The Decent (I won’t say King in Black again, but I guess I just did): There is no connection for me in this story. I don’t care one bit about Knull or the fact that it represents the eventual end of the Marvel universe if it wins. I enjoyed the Venom arc before all of this happens and I hope that Cates can recapture that once this is all over and done.
The Verdict (Marvel Comics March 2021 represents several disappointments)
As I just said, I’m quite disappointed in the overall quantity and quality of the books I received in my Marvel Comics March 2021 shipment. Immortal Hulk and Amazing Spider-Man both continue their consistent great storylines. Fantastic Four and Venom are both tied into an event that I have no interest in, but they’ll hopefully be back. And, the Avengers are in the same boat with the Phoenix Force story. Add to the fact that I think there’s still something wrong with the supply chain. No Captain America? What about Thor? Where’s the X-Men?
Technically, all of these books released in January. But, you know what you get here at 2 Guys Gaming. I’m not part of the comics media elite (yet, and I may never be, but hope springs eternal), so I order my books from Discount Comic Book Service and they arrive all in a big box at the end of each month. And, so, you read the general review of the first month of books DC Future State February 2021 instead.
I originally planned to review each book individually as I do for all of my comic reviews. That plan is unfeasible for a couple of reasons. One, there are a ton of books (my order doubled for this month) and I only give myself a week to read and review the books. Two, none of the books have been very good so far.
I ran the gamut when it came to opinions of Future State. Initially, when I thought DC planned to use it as a reboot, yet again, I met it with my usual cautious optimism. When Chris assured me that DC said it was an event and not a reboot (though that’s looking to be delightfully devilish on their part in retrospect), I jumped all in. I put ever single book on my pull list. I even added a few variant covers by mistake. Now that I read a few of the books, put me on the (spoiler alert) extremely disappointed list. What makes DC Future State February 2021 so disappointing? I’m glad you asked. Let’s start with the good news first.
Sorry folks, no great this time. I wager there are more than one or two great books here. They have some of their best writers (Tamaki, V, Jones, Bendis, among others) on the “project”. So, once I get around to reading them on vacation, I might write an amendment to give them their props. Overall, though, as mentioned, the books give me the impression of a failed reboot that they repackaged as an event. It all looks and feels like the next generation reboot that pissed off so many Marvel fans about a decade ago now.
I, personally, would have more respect for them if they just powered through the awkwardness of another reboot until the books got good again. You know it would happen eventually. The hard core collectors would keep collecting because they’d be afraid of missing out. The lovers like me and Chris would grab the books that held our attention and eventually found new books to enjoy. The casual fan (haha), if they still exist, would pop in here and there. Who knows, you might even expand your audience. Again, I mock, haha. Instead, we’re met with this mealy mouthed “event” in which nothing really happens.
That can be forgiven when Bendis writes for a title for 3 or 4 years. There’s bound to be lulls in the story. But, when you give these characters 2 or 4 books in which to be introduced and possibly concluded? Those books had better be damn good. And, quite frankly, they just aren’t.
Marketing – I often say that I’m not very susceptible to marketing. I say it almost as much as I say that I don’t hate Tom Brady. Both come out of my mouth (and virtual mouth) enough that you may think that I’m compensating. Chris has said as much on numerous occasions. Honestly, that may be partly true.
Mostly, I repeat myself because I don’t know which post might lead someone to the page. Therefore, I feel the need to explain myself on as many articles as possible so people know what they’re in for. To make a long story short…
Even though I generally feel like I don’t respond to marketing, of course I do. It’s just that marketing needs to be tailored exactly for me. DC accomplished that with Future State admirably. I went from not caring and maybe picking up a few titles that interested me to ordering every single title they published. Well played, DC.
The Stories: I don’t mean to imply that the books are bad. They’re not. Admittedly, at this writing, I’ve only read three of them. However, the overall trend follows this pattern. They’re DC books set in the future. Sure, Aquaman mentions the multiverse. However, the Batman Superman and The Next Batman stories are just Batman and Superman stories set in a near future dystopia.
Don’t get me wrong. That’s all fine. It’s just not “event” stuff. As I said, it looks, smells, and feels very much like an aborted attempt at another reboot. I give them some credit for trying to switch it up and give the reboot some flavor. However, I have no respect for backing off and then trying to resell it as an “event”.
This is no event. Civil War was an event. Planet Hulk was an event. Secret Empire was an event. This is a well (at least to suckers like me) marketed shift of focus. Again, nothing wrong with that. They invested quite a bit into this and want to see some return. I just don’t understand why they’re being so coy about it. Perhaps their margins are thinner than Chris and I have feared all these years. If so, do what you need to do to keep making comics, guys. I’m 100% behind you.
I will read the rest of the books in DC Future State February 2021. I’m on break next week, so I’ll need things to keep me occupied. Perhaps I will also write an addendum article with some of my free time. I mean, there are some great writers and artists on the project. Almost every one of my favorites is involved other than Tom King and James Tynion. I suppose some had to stay back to hold down the fort when we return to the present. At the risk of sounding like one of those comic nerds, that return can’t happen soon enough. In the meantime, there’s always WandaVision.
Well, football is finally over. We recovered from the emotional trauma of watching Tom Brady win another Super Bowl. Hell, that one event devastated me so much that I even forgot that Alabama won another national championship. January indeed represented a dark time in our page’s history. But, we can safely put all of that behind us. Welcome, fans of 2 Guys Gaming, to Marvel Comics February 2021.
My high on Marvel Comics dulled a bit last month. I still put all books in the Great and Good categories. However, all three good books took a turn for the worse last month. I know that every month can’t be a winner. However, add in the fact that Spawn dragged on for about 20 pages too long and it looks like we are in the winter doldrums for comic books.
I should have seen it coming. My pull list went from almost 100 dollars at times in the middle of last year to just over 50 dollars the last few month. I think there are only 7 titles in my Marvel list for February. Plus, Marvel scheduled Immortal Hulk to end in less than a year. Sure, DC made up for it by blitzing us with Future State, but I’m going in to this Marvel Comics February 2021 review less than enthused.
Amazing Spiderman #55-58 (Nick Spencer, Mark Bagley, et al): I feared a bit of a let down with the end of Last Remains. I needn’t have worried. Spencer came through again. Good ending and now Petey has to deal with the fallout, which promises to be potentially deadly.
Immortal Hulk #42 (Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, et al): I didn’t care for the Jackie sequence. The Gamma Flight sequence was compelling, but ultimately unnecessary. This issue nearly bumped Hulk to “Good” for the month. However, the Leader “in The Below” and Utrecht starting to pull out the stops at the end sets up for a potential fun next few issues.
Thor #11 (Donny Cates and Nic Klein): Man, I love this Donald Blake story. Throw a little Jane Foster and some murderous tension for good measure. Also, we get to see what Thor’s been up to. The final reveal nearly made me put this in “Good”, but I will give Mr. Cates the benefit of the doubt because this story has been so great.
Venom #32 (Donny Cates and Iban Coello): Eddie’s dead? Flash is back in symbiote form? So many questions that perhaps will be answered when I finally pick up the King in Black main story. Perhaps not. But, unlike the previous issues, this one makes me want to check it out.
Fantastic Four #28 (Dan Slott and RB Silva): The story was interesting. I enjoyed seeing what the Griever had in store for some of our intrepid heroes. The main problem is that the issue wrapped up a bit too quickly.
X-Men #16 and 17 (Johnathon Hickman, Phil Noto, and Brett Booth): I feel like I’m missing something with this latest iteration of X-Men. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the story. I just honestly have no idea what is even happening half the time. Someone give me some issues I need to read to catch up.
Avengers #40 and 41 (Jason Aaron and Javi Garron): Boy, this story went off the rails quickly. I remember writing during the introduction to this story that I looked forward to the eventual payoff. Now that it’s here, I feel 100% meh about the whole experience. What could have been great has just become another beat ’em up with the Phoenix Force as the prize.
Marvel Comics February 2021, like Spawn before them, took a bit of a step back this month. It appears as if much of their focus is going into King in Black right now and the quality of their other books is suffering as a result. Mind you, they’re not bad. They just don’t “do it for me” (I’m pretty sure that’s a movie or television quote, but I can’t find it right now)
in the same way that the books of the past few months have. Maybe I’m just out of the Christmas spirit finally.
Well, as expected, Spawn 314 represents another step in the recent history of the roller coaster of quality. Up for a few months, down for a few months, back up for a few months. The last few issues looked to be building to something. You can draw your own conclusions before I reveal my thoughts.
See, I told you. Right back. Spawn 314 is boring. It is the first issue of Spawn that I haven’t read cover to cover. I skimmed through the fight with Hulk Spawn (more on that later) or whatever. I completely ignored the soliloquy from Omega Spawn that covered way too many pages. I saw hate a few weeks ago for a page that Donny Cates wrote for Venom because it was just 9 panels of Eddie’s face. I’ll take that over whatever this issue was any day.
You might argue against the title of the article Never mind that “Love Letter to Spawn ***” grew out of my attempt to turn my “Headline Analyzer” green. And, it worked. Nevertheless, I still love Spawn. I will always love Spawn in the same way that I love Mario and Sonic. The book introduced me to more “adult” themed comics and started my life long (and consistent again) collection of them. Why, then, don’t I love Spawn 314?
The Art: I think I mentioned in the last article that the art isn’t on Capullo level. Then again, recent Capullo art isn’t exactly at his level. I don’t even like this art as much as I liked Ken Lashley’s short recent tenure. However, the covers are amazing as always. The interior art looks great, too, and I focused on that as I ignored the text for the most part.
The Story: Up to this issue, the story got better and better with each issue. I went from not caring about She Spawn, Cy-Gor, or Overtkill to actively enjoying their contributions to the story. The story, as I just said, also improved over that same time period. Then, wit this one issue, it fell so far. Hopefully, in the end, it doesn’t even matter. Yes, I understand it’s a poor interpretation of the lyrics. And, I apologize, Linkin Park fans.
Omega Spawn: In the last section, I said that I couldn’t have cared less about the supporting characters at the beginning of this most recent arc. I recently just said the same about Omega Spawn and the Hulk Spawn or whatever it’s called. The fight meant nothing to me. The subsequent explanation felt empty. Who knows? Maybe Uncle Todd is smarter than I am again and he has a way to make me care about this story, too.
Spawn 314 bored me. I hope this represents simply a filler issue and that the next issues serve the same purpose as more recent issues. They need to flesh out the Omega Spawn and give me a reason to care about his existence. I mean, I’m not one to tell someone how to do their jobs. However, if Uncle Todd wants me to sing his praises next month, he needs to round this story out better.
We finally finish out comics week and a half for this month with DC Comics January 2021. I planned on posting this article last week on Friday. I had a busy weekend of playing Minecraft, Lego, and board games with my family. Plus the NFL unveiled their Super Duper Mega Wild Card Weekend. Finally, college football played their national championship game. There’s only so much I can be expected to do in a weekend.
And so, it is how I have arrived at nearly a half a week past my self imposed deadline to review DC Comics January 2021. I know you won’t believe me, but I swear it’s not because DC has been a let down these last couple of months. I always go into a new month of comics with an open mind and hope for the best. More often than not, that faith is rewarded. Let’s see if that’s true this time.
Batman 104 and 105 (James Tynion IV et al): I always feel bad when there are numerous artists on a book because I use the et al tag for them all. They all work hard on these books and they should get credit. By the same token, I mostly read comic books for the writing. However, I don’t want my byline to be two or three text lines, either. None of that is relevant to this review. I just want to be as open and honest as possible.
Now, for the review. As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, James Tynion IV on Batman excited me when I first heard the news. Either high expectations or the reality of the situation or both brought me crashing back to earth. Slowly, but surely, the book got better until Joker War. Since then, the book lived up to that promise. Now, comes Future State. I, again, hope that the book survives the hiatus.
Wonder Woman 768 and 769 (Mariko Tamaki, Rafa Sandoval, and Steve Pugh): Similar to Tynion on Batman, Tamaki on Wonder Woman excited me. Honestly, I enjoyed Wonder Woman for most of the last 2 or 3 years since Rebirth. They hooked me with Rucka and then it stayed just above water enough that I don’t think it ever dipped into “Decent” territory for more than a month or two. Now that Tamaki is on the book, she makes even secondary storylines fun to read.
Aquaman 66 (Andy Lanning, Ron Marz, and Miguel Mendonca): Like Wonder Woman (is the theme of this article going to be call backs to the previous books?), I started collecting Aquaman because of the movie. Also, I wanted to get in on the ground floor of Rebirth with as many titles as possible. This book hasn’t been as consistently good as Wonder Woman and I considered dropping it a few times. My favorite writer is Deconnick, but Lanning is a good stop gap on these titles, too.
Action Comics 1028 (BMB and JRJR): I make no secret of my distaste for the unholy union of Brian Michael Bendis and the Superman titles. At least this book shows promise every so often. I saw the news recently that he’s moving to Justice League after Future State. So, I will spare you the same old story going forward. Maybe, for old time’s sake, we can resurrect it when he writes Justice League.
Catwoman 28 (Ram V and Fernando Blanco): I texted Chris about this title last week. I saw that Ram V will be writing for Swamp Thing after Future State. We both agreed that his work on JLD has been solid. I then surmised that perhaps Catwoman isn’t a strong enough character for a solo title because his work on the book is solid, but I just don’t like the stories. How many different “heist” issues can you do? I liked this one, though. More of these types of stories, please.
Justice League 58 (Andy Lanning, Ron Marz, and Xermanico): I suppose that Lanning was not a stop gap on Aquaman. He and Marz are cowriting the Endless Winter story. I admit to being skeptical when I saw yet another event in DC Comics with Future State so close. However, I enjoyed this story even if it is just a rip off of Frozen. Which, of course, is a ripoff itself. Aiden even liked it. He asked where the missing issues were. So, maybe I’ll have to find them at the LCS.
Justice League Dark 29 (Andy Lanning, Ron Marz, Amancay Nahuelpan): I will be honest. It wasn’t until I saw that Ram V wasn’t the writer on this title that I realized that Lanning and Marz were cowriting all of the titles in Endless Winter. Not sure why they included this title in the event other than as a send off. Which, by the way, I do not approve. The JLD will still be with us, but only as a bonus story on the main title. What are you doing to me, DC?
Detective Comics 1032 and 1033 (Peter J. Tomasi and Brad Walker): When Tynion wrote this title, I loved it. As soon as Tomasi took over, it dropped to the “Good” category. More and more, my enjoyment of the title eroded over time. Some people might like Tomasi. I just don’t Other than the Joker War issues, this book has been forgettable during his tenure. Williamson is taking over after Future State, though, so that’s something to look forward to.
Superman 28 (BMB and Ivan Reis): Action may have had some redeeming stories during it’s run. I did not enjoy this title after the rebrand from Man of Steel. I simply kept collecting for collecting’s sake. Now I can say I have the entire BMB run of Superman. For whatever that’s worth.
As we head into Future State, I’m tentatively optimistic about DC Comics. They are mixing up creative teams, dropping some books, and folding others into bonus stories on more popular titles. The only decision I’m currently angry about is their decision to make JLD a bonus title. I feel like it has been the only consistently good book for them over the last year and a half. As always, thanks for reading my DC Comics January 2021 review and we’ll see you next week for Future State.
When we last left Marvel Comics, I said only good things about them. None of the books ended up in the “Decent” section. I think at the time I attributed it to being in the Christmas spirit. I’m starting to think that there might be more to this story. What does that mean? Simply that I noticed an extension of that pattern into Marvel Comics January 2021.
Just in case I didn’t make it obvious enough, I enjoyed Marvel Comics January 2021 greatly. I might have been in the Christmas spirit, because they weren’t as much fun as last month. Still, I don’t have a single book in the “Decent” section. Then again, the explanation might be more logical, to borrow a phrase from our old friend, Mr. Holmes.
I can’t say that this is true for Marvel Comics overall. However, this month I only received 7 books. That’s, I think, about half of the books I normally receive. So, it appears as if Marvel Comics might have reduced the number of books they are producing. As is often the result, that improves the quality of the books. Let’s see what makes Marvel Comics January 2021 so good.
Amazing Spider-Man 54 (Nick Spencer and Mark Bagley): As with most of the books from last year, ASM oscillated up and down. This story, however, has been mostly great. I think there might have been one issue that I felt lagged. Other than that, I’ve enjoyed this entire story. Now that we know the big bad is Harry, I can’t wait to see how it ends.
Avengers 39 (Jason Aaron and Dale Keown): Similar to Spider-Man, Avengers turned the corner during the Moon Knight story. Unlike Spider-Man, I wouldn’t call it as consistently great. Even so, I enjoyed the Moon Knight story and I can’t wait to see what they do with Phoenix.
Immortal Hulk 41 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett): Of course, you all know I rate Immortal Hulk as probably the best Marvel book to come along in at least 5 years. Without doing research, that’s the best estimate I can make. Honestly, I’m having trouble naming another book I’ve enjoyed more. I will miss this book when it’s gone at the end of the year. At least I have the whole run and can reread it again and again.
Thor 10 (Donny Cates and Nic Klein): I kept collecting Thor mostly out of habit. Like Wonder Woman and Aquaman, I enjoyed the movie representation of the character and hoped for some of the same from the book. While not the exact same, I still liked the stories for the most part. I’m glad I didn’t give this book up. This Donald Blake story is insane and great and I don’t want it to ever end.
Captain America 26 (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leonard Kirk): When I saw the cover, I exclaimed, “Red Hulk!” Then, I read the book. Red Hulk only appears in the last four pages of the book. Also, I was reminded that Red Hulk is General Thunderbolt Ross. Overall a weaker issue than some of the more recent ones, but still a fun story and ending.
Fantastic Four 27 (Dan Slott and RB Silva): I don’t think any title has disappointed me more than Fantastic Four. Maybe, disappointed is not the word. Frustrated. No title has frustrated me more than Fantastic Four. I want to like it because Dan Slott is writing. I do like it because Dan Slott is writing. I just don’t like it as much as I should. It’s weird.
Venom 31 (Donny Cates and Iban Coello): I can say for certain that no title disappointed me more than Venom over the last few months. Venom Beyond had such promise and it just fell flat. King in Black quickly felt like a pet project that went sideways too quickly. I liked this issue, but in a text conversation with Chris, he thinks that the main King in Black title is moving too slowly. Oh well, I’m sure he will bring it back around.
None. Still in that Christmas spirit, I guess.
Marvel Comics January 2021 are still very good. Maybe not as good as I remember last months books being. But, still, when compared to the mess that is DC right now with the Bendis Superman experiment falling extremely short and the constant shuffling and reshuffling of creative teams, Marvel has all their ducks nicely in a row. Excelsior, True Believers and make mine Marvel.
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