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.
Marvel Comics November 2019 saw a downturn in both quantity and quality. There are only two books anymore that consistently get a “great” rating and I actually gave my first Immortal Hulk book a “good” rating. Plus, my DCBS order was under 80 dollars for the first time. I know that Chris and I are doom and gloom. However, I think that this really might be the beginning of the end for comics.
I mean, like a stopped Nostradamus, we have to be right one of these times. Let’s look at the evidence. Comics have been in a slump since the 1990s. There have been some fake outs that have looked like actual comebacks. Those have just turned out to be mirages.
Marvel movies that didn’t suck came along. They started to take on more of the personality and narrative style of the comics. Disney bought them and mass produced the films at a breakneck speed. They are now being downloaded into people’s brains through Disney Plus. Who wants to pay 5 bucks a book when you can get unlimited comic book entertainment for 7 bucks a month? So, who’s hyped for some comic reviews?
I think I started this section last month. I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that I have no use for The Punisher now or in the near future. Unless I hear otherwise, let’s just assume that I’m collecting The Punisher because I’ve forgotten to remove it from my pull list.
Captain America 15 (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jason Masters) – I was excited to see the Daughters of Liberty in the last issue. They are back in this one. But, I have to be honest. I only skimmed this issue. It feels like the narrative is being lost a bit.
Avengers 25 (Jason Aaron and Stefano Caselli) – I didn’t enjoy this story at all. However, the book is still fun and I like Aaron’s take on the Avengers. The message about family at the end made me say, “Awww”. Also, I wrote something about getting back on track, so the last reveal must have been something. I just don’t remember what.
Doctor Strange 19 and 20 (Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz) – I used to get nerd cred for being a Doctor Strange fan. He was one of the second or third tier heroes, but he was always one of my favorites. Then Benjamin Cucumber came along and made him the true MVP of the Marvel cinema universe. None of that is relevant to these books necessarily. I mean, it’s cool that the doc is a doc again, but they’re relaunching as a new title. Speaking of forgetting to update my pull list…
Fantastic Four 15 (Dan Slott and Paco Medina) – I’m loving the retro feel of this book. I like that it reads very much like the original Marvel comics. Like Spidey, the retro feel is heartwarming. I didn’t know who the hell the new people were, but it was a nice way of telling a fun story. Keep it up.
Amazing Spider-Man 32 (Nick Spencer and Patrick Gleason) – I got very excited to see the ad earlier in the year for the new 2099. I know now that it is just a miniseries that is also interspersed among a couple of other titles. That’s probably for the best, but it does leave me wanting more. This serves as a nice intro to the 2099 story and I can’t wait for the rest of it.
Immortal Hulk 24 (Al Ewing et al) – I gave this one a “kind of me” initially. They’re back in hell with Bruce’s dad, which is my least favorite storyline in the book right now. But, the hulks are merging and the end was pretty awesome. Long live Worldbreaker.
Amazing Spider-Man 31 (Nick Spencer and Cliff Rathburn) – Chris kept telling me how good Absolute Carnage was, but I never bit. I should have because the tie in issues have been fun. This one focused on Norman and his time as Carnage, reckoning with the past as Spidey had to a couple of issue ago. This new villain is behind all of it, but why is Gwen here again?
Immortal Hulk 25 (Al Ewing et al) – We were promised a Hulk comic unlike any other. That’s for sure. This is Ewing’s take on the Worldbreaker mythos and it was just awesome to read. The big reveal of Leader at the end was a nice touch, too. I love this comic.
I suppose I was too harsh on Marvel Comics November 2019. Sure, there weren’t many “great” books, but the good ones were just below great. It was a fun month of comics and looking back made me smile more than once. I’m still not sure that the end of comics isn’t extremely f***ing nigh as the sign in 28 Days Later read, but I will continue to enjoy them as long as they are being made. Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll be back on Friday with my DC review.
Welcome to my Marvel Comics September 2019 Review article. I mentioned in my previous article about DC Comics last month that it looks like Chris and I finally are on to something when it comes to predicting the doom and gloom of comic books. We have both been talking about it for at least 3 years. I will talk about it more in a couple of weeks when I finally get caught up with this month’s comics, but it is affecting my Marvel books more than my DC, it seems.
That’s a true shame. As you will see soon, I am almost 100% back to my Marvel zombie roots. I have 5 books in the “Great” column and 6 in the “good” and “decent” column combined. So, you can safely call me a mark or stan or just a zombie like I called myself and I will have no valid argument against it. I don’t care. I just think that Marvel is doing a great job with their books.
The Great (Too Many to List Individually/Marvel Comics September 2019 lineup is so strong)
Doctor Strange 17 and 18 (Mark Waid, Barry Kitson, and Jesus Saiz)
I’m pretty sure this is probably the most controversial pick of my greats. People hate Mark Waid. I can’t blame them. He’s said some stupid things in his own defense. However, none of them are relevant to me because I’m not one of these Comicsgate (or whatever the hell that stupid thing is/was called) dingbats. I like how he writes and he has mostly done a good job with Strange. Stay mad, nerds.
Avengers 22 and 23 (Jason Aaron and Stefano Caselli)
Like Doctor Strange with the previous story, things got a little slow in Avengers when Jason Aaron was presenting the War of the Realms. However, the epilogue issue and these two have been as strong as the issues right after the Legacy reboot. This is an Avengers team that I hope lasts at least a couple of more years.
Amazing Spider-Man 27 and 28 (Nick Spencer and Kev Walker)
Okay, maybe this is the one “great” choice that would be considered most controversial. After all, this one contains two things that Comicsgate nerds hate, Nick Spencer and women. Yeah, I’m intentionally starting crap with a potentially dead “controversy”. Hey, I’m not above a little manufactured beef to goose readership. With all that being said, I love the all female Sinister Six (or whatever they’re calling themselves) and Spidey is the Spidey I remember.
Venom 17 (Donny Cates and Iban Coello)
Venom has consistently been my second favorite book behind Immortal Hulk. I’ve enjoyed the horror vibe that Donny Cates has brought. I wasn’t sure about the retcon (if that’s what it is) of the symbiote, but it has been an okay storyline. Also, the introduction of Eddie’s kid has helped to explain some of his back story. Overall, a solid book.
Immortal Hulk 22 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett)
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, but there are two books that have been consistently great since both companies rebooted a couple of years ago. Justice League Dark for DC Comics and this one for Marvel. I’m running out of ways to praise this book. All comic books should be like this one.
The Good (Black Panther, Captain America, and Tony Stark, oh my?)
Tony Stark Iron Man 15 (Dan Slott and Jim Zub)
This book is written by one of my favorite writer’s and drawn by one of my favorite artists. It’s just been too inconsistent. I don’ t like Tony by himself. Because I like the Tony Stark in Avengers so much more because there’s a buffer. I didn’t like the Tony as alcoholic storyline even if it was only virtual. But, this book does have potential. I hope they find it.
Captain America 12 and 13 (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Adam Kubert)
I don’t know if it was intended, but putting Ta-Nehisis Coates on Captain America was a perfect troll move by Marvel. The story of America reckoning with Captain America after Hydra has mirrored reality, sometimes a bit too much for my tastes. That’s the only thing keeping this book from being great. I just can’t handle how real it is sometimes.
Black Panther 14 and 15 (Ta Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuna)
I waited quite a while to finally experience Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Panther. I like the things he has to say. Black Panther has always been one of my favorite characters. However, this storyline of the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda just doesn’t speak to me. Maybe it isn’t for me. Even so, I do enjoy the book.
The Decent (World’s Greatest?, Too old for an anti-hero?, and The God of Thunder)
Fantastic Four 12 and 13 (Dan Slott and Sean Izaakse)
I got excited for the Fantastic Four to be coming back in their original form. However, as many of these comics have shown, be careful what you wish for. That’s not to say that the book is bad. Far from it. It has just suffered from the curse of high expectations. I do like that they called back to the original books with this cover, so maybe things will turn around. Hey, like I said, I’m not above shameless cross promotion.
The Punisher 14 (Matthew Rosenberg and Szymon Kudranski)
Like most disaffected teenage boys, I found solace in the story of Frank Castle. It was dark, gritty, angry, and full of guns going “pew, pew”. Like most disaffected teenage boys who grow up, I think I might be outgrowing Mr. Frank Castle. I just can’t get into his methods and his anger no longer resonates. Like Deadpool, he might need to grow up a bit for me to jump back on board.
Thor 16 (Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo)
First, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I don’t like the art of this book. It just doesn’t work for me. Usually, I like Jason Aaron. I do like his Avengers. But, this book just doesn’t do it for me. I’m not sure entirely what it is missing, but Mjolnir wasn’t it. Like I said in a previous article, War of the Realms just seemed like an overly complicated way for him to get the hammer back. Maybe I was just bitter because I liked what Endgame did with the story.
The Verdict (Marvel Comics September 2019 is in good shape)
I can’t repeat how much I enjoyed the Marvel books for this month. Even the books that I didn’t enjoy that much were fun. Any one of the books can easily make the jump from decent to good or even to great with some TLC. Thanks for reading my Marvel Comics September 2019 review and come back in a couple of weeks for October!
I think I wrote in my last article that it was going to be the final one written in that format. So, i present to you my review of Marvel Comics for August 2019. The comics are actually from last month, but that’s more recent than the first reviews. So, as I’ve said a few times, unless I get famous and they start sending me reviewer copies, this is as recent as I get.
I’ve also reconfigured “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. I still have 3 categories, but I’ve renamed them. If you’ve been reading this whole time, you know why. If not, allow me to explain quickly. I’m sure this will be a standard note at the top of future articles.
I’m a reviewer who tries to find the good in creative things. You might think this is dishonest. Sometimes people think that positive reviews are simply to get in good with companies for free stuff. While I wouldn’t turn down free stuff, that’s not my motive. I’m a frustrated self-published writer, so I try to encourage creativity whenever possible.
The Great (I Have a Feeling These May Not Change Much)
Amazing Spider-Man #25 and 26 (Zeb Wells, Keaton Patti, Nick Spencer, Kev Walker, Humberto Ramos, Ryan Ottley, Todd Nauck): I was worried that the book might suffer after what was a really good story in “Hunted”. However, the follow up story has been excellent, as well. I wasn’t too sure about Mysterio because it felt like cross promotion in the worst way. I’m glad to be wrong. The Mysterio story has been interesting. Also, they are introducing (? They’re new to me) the Sinister She Six and MJ’s and Spidey’s relationship are no longer on the rocks. All in all, a solid book.
Venom#16 (Donnie Cates and Juan Gedeon): This has probably been my second favorite ongoing Marvel book behind the new Hulk. They have done a slight retcon on the origin of the suit. Again, I’m not positive about that. However, that retcon has added a bit of a horror element to the book that is appealing. Plus, the “new” Venom with the dichotomy of Lethal Protector is awesome as far as I’m concerned.
The Immortal Hulk #20 and 21 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett): Truth be told, this book is the main reason that I decided to rework the format of reviews for the page. I couldn’t ever think of a bad thing to say about the book, let alone ugly. Like I texted to Chris, this and Justice League Dark have just been solid books since the relaunches and I don’t think there has been a bad issue with these teams. Keep up the great work.
The Good (Avengers and Dead Mutants)
Uncanny X-Men 21 and 22 (Matthew Rosenberg and Salvador Larroca): Chris and I were texting about books that we have been enjoying lately and I mentioned this one was getting good again. He replied, “I might be wrong, but I thought they killed it.” FFS, sure enough, he’s right. Well, add this one to the pile with Weapon X of books that died right as they were getting good.
Avengers #21 (Jason Aaron and Jason Masters): I haven’t enjoyed the Avengers comic book as much as I have the movies. I will say that I’ve enjoyed Tony Stark in the Avengers book more than his solo book. But, more on that later. This issue was some clean up from War of the Realms. This is the first “event” that I didn’t read in quite some time, but Chris said it wasn’t that good, so I’m glad I missed it. With that being said, this issue was a bit slow, but it was a nice set up for what’s to come.
The Decent (This Would Make for an Odd Team Up Issue)
The Punisher #13 (Matthew Rosenberg and Szymon Kudranski): I have never been a huge fan of the Punisher. Oh, sure, when I was a teenager, he and Deadpool were the anti heroes that I needed. Now, however, it’s just more of the same. I will say that I enjoyed the part where the Punisher took it to the cops that thought he was doing right. An interesting take on current events.
Thor #15 (Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo): I texted Chris after reading this issue to say that War of Realms seemed like an overly complicated way to get Mjolnir back to Thor. Sure, that’s a big deal and all, but did they really need to do a whole event? I got the idea just from this issue. Oh well, what’s done is done.
Tony Stark, Iron Man #14 (Dan Slott, Jim Zub, Valerio Schiti): Tony Stark by himself is insufferable. I don’t mind him in the Avengers book, but I just can’t stand this version of Tony Stark. I do like the story of him not being sure if he’s real or not, but I don’t know how long they can keep it going.
Doctor Strange #16 (Mark Waid, Barry Kitson, and Scott Koblish): Normally I am a fan of both Doctor Strange and Mark Waid. However, this issue just fell a bit flat for me. It revolves around a Pyrrhic victory. Or, is it a Faustian bargain? Either way, the issue was fine, but doesn’t make me want to keep reading.
The Verdict (Overall Marvel Comics August 2019 was a good month)
I was going to do a “Forgettables” section, too, with Absolute Carnage. I obviously haven’t read it yet, but I’m not a fan of just retelling the same stories over and over again. That’s why I’m glad that recent reboots have gone out of their way to not have origin stories. Also, hopefully the reboots are done for a while.
But, I digress. I then learned that the Venom team was going to work on Absolute Carnage and that changed my mind. As mentioned above, I enjoy the Venom book very much. So, I will at least give Absolute Carnage the old 2 issue try to see if they can capture that same magic.
As far as Marvel Comics August 2019, these books overall were entertaining. The last four in the decent category have been uneven overall, but I have enjoyed them all on some level. Many of the books I’m reading seem to be getting cut from the lineup, so what i fear is that I’m no longer the target audience. Don’t ever grow up, kids. It’s a trap.
I mentioned in my previous article that I’m catching up on comics from the last six months. I think I might have said that I hadn’t read a comic in that time. That’s not entirely true. I read The Immortal Hulk and a few of the DC Giants that are available at Wal*Mart.
Now, I can also say that I’ve read some Marvel titles. X-23, Doctor Strange, Avengers, and The Immortal Hulk are all included in this review. I’ve been planning this relaunch of the web page again for a few months and I’m finally out of school again. In addition, I didn’t get a class first summer session. I should be able to get some momentum going before summer 2 starts. As always, no promises, but hopefully things get rolling.
X-23 (Issues 7, 9, 10)
The Good (Mariko Tamaki is one of my favorite writers)
I don’t remember when I was introduced to Mariko Tamaki. I think it might have been during her run on She-Hulk (which was just Hulk at the time because Bruce was “dead”) and the book was amazing. It dealt with death, mourning, and PTSD. When Marvel reshuffled the deck again and killed the newly-minted She Hulk title, I thought Tamaki was out of my life. A random search while sorting titles showed that she was, in fact, still writing. I have been a fan of the X-23 character since her appearance in Logan. While this isn’t quite that, I will read anything that Tamaki writes.
The Bad (That missing Issue 8 is haunting me)
This isn’t the only issue that I’m missing. It might not even be the most important. As I said, I’ve missed a couple of months of my DCBS pull list, so the Midtown order to fill all of them is going to be huge. But, this is the most relevant to this particular discussion.
The Ugly (Where’s the Pew Pew?)
Mariko Tamaki does it all. She writes complex characters around simple and easy to follow, but still compelling, plots. One thing that this book hadn’t had was the old punchy, punchy. I don’t demand a lot of that from my comics, but I was missing it in this series until she delivered in issue 10.
Doctor Strange (Issues 6-11 “The Two Doctors”)
The Good (Mark Waid is still writing it)
This is going to sound weird with what I’m about to say, but I do like Mark Waid as a writer. I think there has been some Comicsgate nonsense surrounding him, but I don’t care about that. In my experience, he does a good job. Also, I enjoyed the first story in the rebooted Doctor Strange book about him losing his magic and trying to find it again.
The Bad (This Story Just Isn’t All That Compelling)
With all of that being said, I’m not into this story at all. I was initially interested in the “2 Doctors” story, but that resolved too quickly. I don’t care about who the second doctor turned out being. I’m not all that bothered by the fate of the doc’s demon friend. I just didn’t care enough to even finish these issues.
The Ugly (The Story is Also Confusing)
I mean, they can’t all be winners. On top of not being all that interesting, this story is confusing. Generally speaking, you should be able to drop into a new story and more or less know what is happening. That wasn’t the case here. Admittedly, I did skip the first issue. Even so, I went back and read them in order and stopped after the second reading of the second issue.
Avengers (14-17 “Something Something Dracula”)
The Good (When Good, this book is great)
There have been some panels in this book that have made me want to applaud. When Tony and T’Challa are both trying to deal with their vampire massacre in their own way. New Ghost Rider dealing with the aftermath of his freak out. The big reveal at the end of Issue 17, even though I saw it coming a mile away. Marvel is treating one of their marquee books very well.
The Bad (What is this Story?)
It has been interesting and fun. Also, it’s nice to see Blade and New Ghost Rider get some love in the book. But, I have no idea where this story came from. Sure, I’ve missed the lead in issues, so maybe there was some build up, but it seems completely random.
The Ugly (Everyone Sounds Like Tony)
When I started reading the rebooted Avengers book, I said to Chris that I liked Tony more in this book than his standalone book. I do like Tony Stark, Iron Man, but too much Tony is too much. I don’t exactly get that feeling here, but his snark is rubbing off on the other characters every now and then.
Amazing Spider Man (The Hunted)
The Good (Nick Spencer is writing)
Noticing a theme here? I enjoy the art of comics, but I’m a frustrated writer myself. I associate more with them than the artists. Again, I think that some comic fans might be off Nick Spencer since Secret Empire. I understand why they did what they did there, but I can also understand why people feel cheated by it. Even so, I still like Spencer and was excited to see him writing Spider-Man.
The Bad (Kraven Clones?)
Now, this wasn’t a huge plot point. Okay, that’s not true. It is a big plot point. However, it didn’t take long to resolve. Even so, as soon as I saw clones in a Spider-Man book, I rolled my eyes.
The Ugly (Showdown)
Kraven was dead (spoiler alert). He’s not any more (spoiler alert?) He’s very mad about not being dead. And, he seems to be coming for Spidey (Spoiler Alert!) I, for one, hope that this is a big one.
The Immortal Hulk (The Entire Series)
The Good (Everything)
Okay, you’re still reading the review instead of reading the book. I guess that means that I need to explain myself and why I’m breaking the routine to only talk about how good the book is. Perhaps you read that I wrote in my Spawn review this week that this book is probably the only perfect book right now. So, let me explain why.
I seriously cannot find anything wrong with this book. And, I was a skeptic. Chris will text me periodically that some book or another in the series is starting to spike in price. So, it’s understood if I was skeptical. It would seem that Marvel wasn’t sure what they had with this book and have produced low print runs as a result.
The story has tinkered with some of Hulk’s most basic mythology. Even now, I do cringe a bit when I read that headline. So far, though, it has only added to the appeal of the character for me. The horror element of the comic fits well with the Hulk character and the Jekyll and Hyde dynamic that makes Hulk so endearing is there in prime form.
The art is varied and fits the theme. In one of my favorite issues, they had 3 or 4 different pencillers working on different parts of the story based on who was telling that part of the story. It was a nice touch and kept things fresh for what ultimately was just a “we’ve seen the Hulk, why don’t you believe us” type issue.
Now, we are getting into some more familiar Hulk themes, which is welcome, as well. Loss, trauma, mourning, etc. It hasn’t been handled with the deft hand of She Hulk from a few years ago yet, but there is time to grow into that. Even so, I hope they keep the horror element of the book as they go forward.
The Verdict (Marvel is in an okay place right now)
Marvel was hurting for a while there. It seemed like they had no idea what they wanted to do after Secret Empire. They rebooted (but didn’t reboot) with Legacy after they had just rebooted not that long ago. Then, there was talk of another potential reboot. I suggested at the time that they just take the tact of DC and let it ride for a while. Even though they are releasing far too many books a month (and seemingly increasing that monthly), their core of heroes is in good hands. They just need to keep on keeping on and hopefully the lull in movies for a bit will allow them to focus on the books.
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