I moved comics to this week because the package came this week and, frankly, with the start of school I am in no position to talk about Roll Player Adventures or Baldur’s Gate as I originally planned. Even with that business, I kept more or less on schedule with DC (though only the Manga sampler) and independent comics. I recorded the 4th episode of Noob’s Book Club today. In it, I talked about how busy Thursday was and how yesterday just sort of got away from me. So, Marvel Comics August 2023 comes later than anticipated.
I texted Chris, “They’re killing me boy.” I said more than that, but in the interest of “can’t say anything nice” and all, I will refrain from repeating them here. A few months ago, when I restarted this column, ASM got his own section. This issue so offended me that I can say no more than, “Ugh.” Chris said he might stop collecting the book altogether. I have the entire run back until 700 now, so I’ll keep collecting. But nothing says I have to keep reading.
Amazing Spider-Man #32 (Writer: Zeb Wells, Artist: Patrick Geleason) Last night, Chris texted to say that he didn’t like Gleason’s art on this book. I agree that it looks weird in parts. But, honestly, that’s the least of my worries with Webhead lately. I actually like the current storyline and I think I said last time that it might find it’s way out of the dumpster. But, then, they tossed it right back in. This issue was actually pretty good and I considered putting it there, but not until they stop it with the nonsense.
Fantastic Four 10
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Writer: Ryan North, Artist: Leandro Fernandez
All of these titles are either trending up or treading water right now. Fantastic Four ventured into “Great” territory a couple of times recently. This one only takes a step back because I don’t understand the story or the reason for it. I’m sure they’ll explain in the next couple of issues. For now, I’m just confused. Doctor Strange, likewise, tells a seemingly unrelated story, but has a promising ending.
Black Panther lost me with the first two issues and I started to wonder if maybe I just lost the thread of the book. This issue brought me back in and I want to see what they do next with the story. The one that excites me, most, though, is the Avengers. I wanted to see what they did with this lineup. The first issues mostly set up them and the villains. This one brought a conflict between the heroes and the villains that I enjoyed very much. Depending on how the next issue goes, I see this one moving up to “Great” next month.
Venom 24 (Writer: Al Ewing, Artist: Sergio Davila) Chris wrote me to tell me that he is on the outs with Venom. While I obviously don’t agree 100%, I have to agree when he said it’s just symbiote after symbiote. Like, I had to take a pause and remember how Eddie became the new Red Venom. After that, though, the showdown with Dr. Doom delivered everything I could have hoped. I think Ewing put the Lethal Protector in a good place and hope that Grønbekk can keep the momentum going.
Guardians of the Galaxy 5: (Writers: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, Artist: Kev Walker). The gang is back together and, as always, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. They go after the galaxy spanning threat, Grootfall finally. Realizing that they are out of their league, they retreat and try to come up with another plan. At the end, I finally get a promise that they’ll explain the Grootfall story. I don’t see this one leaving “Great” territory for a while.
Other than the assault on my favorite comic book character, Marvel Comics August 2023 does alright. All of the books are telling some really good stories and many of them remind me of the books of my wasted teenage years. Growing older does things to our brains. I, as I believe many of you, welcome the diversion that takes me back.
I wrote in my independent comics article on Sunday that this month (and maybe next month) comic reviews will look different. DC released their Knight Terrors 2-month event. I ordered all of the books for July, but forgot to order them for August. So, if I want to review all of the books, I need to go to an LCS to pick them up. Additionally, they sent almost 50 DC titles this month. With school starting soon, I don’t know if I’ll have the time to review them all. But, for now, I have Marvel Comics July 2023.
I think I wrote about last month’s books that I like the place that comics are in right now. Other than the Spider-Man “Paul” story, I enjoyed all of the books since starting reviews again a couple of months ago. I hope that momentum continues. Mind you, I hold no delusions that comics ever again reach the heights of the 1990s. Especially since my wife and I went into a comic store the other day and she recoiled in horror at the state of cleanliness. But, at least, those of us who never let go can still enjoy the art form.
Amazing Spider Man29 and 30: Writer: Zeb Wells, Artist: Ed McGuinness. Someone at Marvel realized what a mistake the “Paul” story was. Either that, or this story is a complete coincidence. However, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Because, this return to a simpler time when Doc Ock kidnaps Norman Osborne to try to release the goblin administers the perfect antidote to whatever that mess was. If they keep this up, Wells may yet find himself in Good or even Great territory.
Black Panther 2: Writer: Eve L. Ewing, Artist: Chris Allen. I wrote in the previous Marvel article that I understand that some things aren’t for me and maybe Black Panther just isn’t for me. I like this issue better than the last and, again, I hope they continue this trend forward.
The Avengers #3: Writer: Jed McKay. Artist: C. F. Villa. On the other hand, The Avengers trend is definitely down. The cover evokes the big fight from Age of Ultron. And, that’s kind of how I feel about this book right now. Full of promise that it’s not quite reaching just yet. However, in my short time reading Jed McKay, I am confident that he can turn it around and build this into a good story and book.
Dr. Strange 5: Writer: Jed MacKay, Artist: Pasqual Ferry. Speaking of MacKay, he handles Dr. Strange and company quite well. This issue steps back a bit from the action of the last few for the wedding of the century of the year. I still liked reading the book and watching the story advance even if it feels less exciting than recent issues.
Venom 22 and 23: Writers: Al Ewing and Torunn GrØnbekk, Artists: Ramón F. Bachs and Ken Lashley. I made no secret about not liking GrØnbekk’s Thor. But, I think Al Ewing left Lethal Protector in a good place and the subject matter might fit GrØnbekk’s writing style more. With Ewing taking over Thor, I think that might be a good switch.
Fantastic Four 9: Writer: Ryan North, Artist: Ivan Fiorelli. Along with She Hulk and Guardians of the Galaxy, this is my favorite comic on the market right now. They found writers for all three books who understand the characters on a fundamental level and write stories geared to the overall style of the book. This one weaves two stories together, one about the blind history of comics and the fight with the monster that took over a town. Both classic FF stories well told.
Guardians of the Galaxy 4: Writers: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, Artist: Kev Walker. As they reintroduce the Guardians after Grootfall, it took until this issue to finally tell some of Rocket’s story. Poor Rocket. This guy constantly gets the shaft and watches his loved ones ripped from his life time and time again. He is not adjusting well to losing the one constant companion ever since striking out on his own. But, still, a great GotG story and hits all the notes.
She-Hulk 15: Writer: Rainbow Rowell, Artist: Andrés Genolet. I’ve run out of words of praise for this book. It’s fun. It’s light hearted. It’s serious. irreverant. It tells a great story. Okay, so I haven’t run out of words just yet. But, none of the words I use give justice to how great She-Hulk is right now. If you like the character, read this book. If you don’t, read the book to see why people do.
The Verdict (Marvel Comics July 2023)
Many of the Marvel books I read are on an upward trajectory. I wrote earlier that I like the place that comics are right now. Marvel Comics July 2023 brings everything that I enjoy about comic books. Some of the temas change, but like I said with Venom, I think they can be good changes.
If we thought recent developments in DC Comics surprised us, Marvel one upped them in a big way. Last month, I needed to create a whole new category for the Amazing Spider-Man. Spoiler Alert: In spite of the name of the book, it wasn’t better than “Great”. They remedied that some with Marvel Comics June 2023, but I still hesitate to move the book any higher than I did for fear that they hurt me again.
Other than that, most of the books follow a recent status quo. The good remain good (with one teetering on great) and the great stay on top (with some, other than one suprising exception, tettering on good) of the comics heap. For a while there, DC threatened my status as a Marvel zombie, but Marvel went a long way to finding their roots and bringing the fun back to many of their books.
I started this section for X-Men because I saved the books for after I get caught up with the most current story. See, after years of listening to Chris tell me how good the book was, I finally invested in finishing my run of the main title books and buying trades of the supporting books. I intend to read the main title, probably before September, to rescue them from this section.
As far as Punisher, I either (a) grew out of my Punisher phase, (b) got tired of Jason Aaron, or (c) possibly both. Evidence points to the second very strongly. So, I skimmed the book in search of anthing interesting and found nothing. Without reading, I reserve judgement.
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Amazing Spider-Man 26, 27,28: Writer: Zeb Wells, Artist: JRJR and Ed McGuinness. First things first. Thank god that abyssmal Paul storyline is over. It pushed the book into territory never before seen on the page. When it ended and Ms. Marvel died, the death barely even registered. I recently learned about women in refrigerators and this one qualifies. Wells went to some old standards with the follow up story, bringing Doc Ock into the mix. I liked that much more. But, I reserve judgement in case he loses his mind again.
Black Panther 1: Writer: Eve L. Ewing, Artist: Chris Allen. I started reading Black Panther during the Ta-Nehisis Coates era. I kept reading it through the John Ridley era. To be fair, I’m probably being too tough on this book because of the tagline on the cover. Seems like every book lately represents the “most exciting” part of Panther’s life. Even though I know that things just sometimes aren’t for us and maybe this book goes there now for me, I’ll keep giving it a chance.
Thor 35: Writer: Torunn Grønbekk, Artist: Serio Dávila and Juan Gedeon. Speaking of Jason Aaron, he kind of killed Thor for me. I think during his entire run, the only story that I genuinely liked (well actually, there are two) were Thor working to get Mjolnir back and the Donald Blake one. I’m glad this one is ending and they’re bringing Al Ewing in for Immortal Thor in a few months.
Doctor Strange 3
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Avengers 2: Writer: Jed McKay, Artist: C.F. Villa. I wrote last time, “another month, another Avengers 1”. While that might seem like I damned the book with faint praise, I suppose you’re partially right. I meant what I said, though. This book follows in the footsteps of that one and gives each character some screen time to show how they fit in the new team.
Doctor Strange 3 and 4: Writer: Jed McKay, Artist: Pasqual Ferry and Andy MacDonald. I wrote earlier about Marvel getting back to its roots in the introduction. Among others, this book shows that big time. In number 3, Strange faces off against Dormammu for the soul of a mortal. In 4, Wong and his allies work to put together a new version of W.A.N.D. Both stories are entertaining.
Fantastic Four 8
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Note: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, insert this at the beginning of each of these reviews, “Speaking of Marvel taking us back to their roots, Marvel Comics June 2023 does just that.”
Fantastic Four 8: Writer: Ryan North, Artist: Ivan Fiorelli. A relaxing time on the farm turns into a mystery that leads to a super villain enslaving the entire town. Stop me when this sounds familiar. An excellent entry into the genre.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3: Writer: Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, Artist: Kev Walker. An issue that focuses on Star Lord and reckoning with his past. Can’t go wrong with that, ever. Except, it always does and then he has to spend the rest of the issue fixing it. Also, we get some more clues about Grootfall. I really need to read that story.
She-Hulk 14: Writer: Rainbow Rowell, Artist: Andrés Genolet. Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, She-Hulk reigns supreme among all comics right now. So, instead, a story. I saw they are resetting the issues for She-Hulk. Not a new writer. Maybe a new story. I asked why. Someone commented that it makes it easier to read and collect. I don’t know if that’s true. Without legacy numbering, I get confused.
Venom 20 and 21: Writer: Al Ewing, Artist: Cafu. I worried previously that Mr. Ewing strayed a bit too far from the horror angle that I enjoyed so much from his Immortal Hulk run. Yes, I know that different books are different, but I think that Venom works best with that undercurrent of horror. Well, he brings the horror in both of these issues and I’m going to miss him when they mix things up in a couple of months.
Marvel Comics June 2023 continues the upward trend of the books from the last couple of months. I gave no “Decent” in DC Comics this month and the ones that are “Decent” this month actually look promising going forward. Chris and I keep claiming the medium dead. Like the titual Marvel zombies, though, they keep coming back stronger.
Like Across the Spider-Verse, we planned on seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 as a family. Christine likes these ones, too. But, Aiden ended up going with his girlfriend. Liam saw it with some friends. Christine and I got busy at the end of the school year and I thought I might have to wait until it came to Disney+.
Then, Father’s Day arrived. We usually don’t do much for Father’s Day. I’m not big on these, or really any, holidays other than the fall and winter ones. Those ones are awesome and worth celebrating. I just wish Halloween lasted longer like the others do. Anyways, I did what all dads do on their day. I fell asleep on the couch for an afternoon nap. When I woke up, Christine said, “Liam and Quinn want to take you to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 for Father’s Day.” Well, count me in.
Not Enough Cosmo: Look, I get that not every character gets to be a main, or even primary supporting character. But, they shafted us with the criminally underused Cosmo. I appreciate the screen time and the dedication to the running “bad dog” gag. We also laughed when the three of us compared the dog to our own, Lilo. I just wanted more.
It’s Over, Man: Hey, I also understand that all things (good or bad) must come to an end. And, this ending works. It doesn’t mean that I have to be happy about it. I liked the Guardians from my introduction to them in the 1990s. I always gravitated to the oddballs back then and they were the oddest. When Gunn brought them back in the movies, I geeked out hardcore. Vol 2 shot to the top of my MCU list and it’s still top 5. So, yeah, I will miss the group going forward.
Adam Warlock: The Soverign started with big bad potential in Vol 2, became a gag when they actually fought, and then redeemed themselves in the post credit scene by introducing Adam Warlock. He, in true Soverign fashion, came onto the screen as a flash of indestructable light, then got punked and exposed as a mere child, and finally saved the day in the end. I laughed audibly when they referenced “The Creation of Adam” in that scene.
Gamora: I think I read somewhere that James Gunn disagreed with the direction of Gamora’s character. Maybe the article meant the Guardians in general. I don’t remember exactly. Respectfully, I disagree with Gunn. I liked seeing Gamora back. They made it fun by having her join the Ravagers, I’d like to think as a way to honor Peter’s heritage there. Then, she and Peter start to rekindle something and that just hits me right in the “warm and fuzzies”. Hopelessly romantic, that’s me.
Story: While not as engaging as the second movie, I still liked (well, “liked” is a stretch) learning Rocket’s story and connecting the dots. While I understand the High Evolutionary filled an integral part of the plot, I honestly didn’t see what all the hype was about. People kept comparing him more favorably against Kang from Ant-Man. I think they just wanted another reason to shit on that movie. Because, honesly, I didn’t see that the High Evolutionary was any better than Kang. In fact, as I watched the movie, I thought maybe they were setting him up as a version of Kang. Maybe that gets revealed in one of the next movies. I already said I enjoyed the Peter and Gamora story and the Cosmo “bad dog” saga had me in stitches. Finally, Kraglin working to keep the legacy of Yondu alive (complete with a “force ghost” scene) made me cheer. Overall, a great story.
Themes: Vol 1 dealt with family and how, in spite of what people say, you choose your family. Vol 2 focused heavily on father/son relationships and that’s solely why it holds such a high place in my rankings. This one, as much of the media I consume lately, brought to light past trauma and how we deal with that and (hopefully) move on. I understand that we all, well, understand more about the role that trauma plays in our lives and how toxic the effects of that trauma can be if not dealt with. I, personally, talked about some of that in Noob’s Book Club especially with the death of my father. So, thank you James Gunn (and, unrelated to this but still relevant, Alanis Morrissette) for helping me and my family heal.
I still like Vol 2 just a tiny bit more than this one. The focus of fathers and sons, with the song played just in case you missed the theme, made me focus on the kids in my own life and how I can be a better father to them. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, with it’s theme of trauma also came at a good time, but I’m actually on the other side right now, so it only made me feel better about where I am versus where I was.
The first week of June closes with Marvel Comics 2023. Having already reviewed TMNT and Spawn and then DC Comics in the previous articles this week, I looked forward to finally getting a chance to sit down with my favorite publisher. You know me. I’m an unabashed Marvel zombie to the end. MCU included.
As the banner up above reads, school is out in a couple of weeks for all of us. Granted, Christine, Liam, and I are going to Germany for three weeks. But, I hope to keep content consistent until then and maybe run some classic articles while we are gone. When I went through the archives to remove the malicious code, I read through the articles. As I said to Chris, “We have a unique voice. Wish more people heard it.” Well, on with the reviews.
X-Men #22 Jerry Duggan – Writer, Joshua Cassara – Artist. Chris kept telling me how good the Hickman run of X-Men was. I should have listened at the time. A couple of weeks ago, I spent an ungodly amount to get all of the paperbacks to get caught up on the MCU level of homework needed to read these books. I still haven’t had a chance to do so. Until I do, I can’t properly rate X-Men in Marvel Comics May 2023.
WTF Did I Just Read (Or: Can You Don’t?)
Amazing Spider-Man 25: Zeb Wells – “Writer”, JRJR – Artist. I felt compelled to add a new category after reading this train wreck of an issue. I mean, what the hell is this story? It reads like the bastard child of a terrible Moon Knight issue with the worst of one more day. I saw several people online griping about this one, but you know me. I don’t trust randos on the internet. Also, I try to give all creative pursuits a chance. Well, I gave this one a chance. Bury it in the desert with E.T.
Thor #34: Torunn Gronbekk – Writer, Juan Gedeonwith Sergio Davila – Pencilers. In Avengers, Carol says, “Thor used to be more fun. He’s been through a lot.” I liked the beginning of Aaron’s run of Thor. Then, he got weird on the same level as Snyder and his Dark Metal nonsense. Now, Thor just reminds me of the fun character he used to be and that makes me sad.
Avengers #1: Jed Mackay – Writer, C.F. Villa – Artist. Another day, another Avengers #1. This one sees Captain Marvel as the new chairperson. She recruits Stark, Thor, Panther, Captain Samerica, Vision and Wanda. As introduction issues go, this one is fine. I like Aaron’s Avengers (for the most part), so we’ll see how Mackay puts his stamp on the team.
Venom #19 Al Ewing – Writer, Roge Antonio – Artist. After last month’s Marvel article, I texted Chris to tell him how much I enjoyed Venom. I compared it to Ewing’s Hulk run. This issue read more like a traditional beat em up, but the last page seems to be setting up for some more of Ewing’s classic horror story that he showed in Immortal. Come back next month to see if he delivers.
Fantastic Four #700: Ryan North – Writer, Iban Coello – Artist. In the DC article, I wrote about how underwhelming a couple of the landmark issues were. No such let down here with the Fantastic Four. Marvel’s first family is in good hands. This story comes with the fun and frenetic pace that the FF is good for. Plus, they commissioned a sweet wrap around cover again and got me to buy three copies of this book. Shrewd.
Guardians of the Galaxy #2: Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing – Writers, Kev Walker – Artist. I come into this knowing nothing about Grootfall other than Groot is now some sort of cosmic being on a similar level as Galactus. The Guardians, as they often are at the beginning of stories, scattered to the winds and need to come together to face this galaxy spanning threat. You all know I love my Guardians from their awkward beginnings (even before James Gunn became the “defining” voice) and they seem to be in good hands right now.
She-Hulk #13: Rainbow Rowell – Writer, Andres Genolet and Joe Quinones – Artist. People, predictably, backlashed online against the She-Hulk series. I watched just enough to know that it contained the fun and funny voice of the comics. I want to finish it to see how it ended, but who has the time to keep up with all of this. On the topic of this run of Shulkie, I absolutely adore it.
Overall, Marvel Comics May 2023 comes with some strong issues. Granted, ASM leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that I won’t soon forive Marvel for assassinating my boy so badly, but the rest of the issues read like the characters from my youth. For someone recently discovering how cool nostalgia is, that feels great.
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.
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?
I already reviewed the first 4 or 5 episodes of WandaVision on the page. Searching for the post to add the link confirms that it was 5 episodes of the show. The title is not a lie. This show took our family by storm and became must watch viewing from episode 1. We love WandaVision Part 1 implies that there might be more than one article in this series. While I can’t promise that’s the truth, I have a lot to say about this show.
While it may seem awkward, some of the sections in this post will come in the form of reactions to the responses I received on that post. Since the page doesn’t quite have the reach I always hope it will, I can’t respond to anyone here. Hopefully some of you reading out there will have some of the same reactions and it will feel like we are having a conversation about this really great show.
In this post, I plan to address the first couple of episodes, the overall theme of the show, the fan theories that almost all went kaput, and where do they go from here? Before we get too far into it, though, a word of warning. I neither care nor respect the culture of “No spoilers”. I won’t actively spoil anything, but I won’t be careful about what might be considered a spoiler. You’ve been warned. Let’s see why we love WandaVision Part 1.
Those First Episodes
I probably addressed this is the previous article. But, we are nothing if not thorough around here. I constantly repeat myself in case an article picks us up a new reader or two. Several people in my orbit (and by orbit, I mean one of them is a famous individual who I follow on social media) came away from the first two episodes disappointed.
Having possibly watched two of the most epic movies ever made (Infinity War and especially Endgame are in my top 10 movies of all time, MCU or not), they wondered why two of the most powerful heroes from those movies now played house in black and white complete with the messed up dinner and messed up magic act in the talent show trope. I implored the friends over who I believed I might actually have influence to stick with the show. It will pay off, I promised.
I’m not going to be disingenuous and say that I’m not here to gloat. I’m totally here to gloat. After all, it’s the sole reason for this post. Whereas other comic book “fans” went off about Mephisto this and X-Men that, knew. I knew about pain, suffering, loss, and grief. Let’s just leave it at that. I knew.
The Overall Theme of the Show
The show finally accomplished what Marvel has been trying to do since they rebooted their most popular heroes in the early and middle 2000s. It brought a new audience into the Marvel universe. My wife, Christine, who often sneered at us when we talked about how excited we were about the latest Marvel cinematic offering and went out of her way to avoid the movies like the plague, bought into this show from the first scene. The mother of one of Aiden’s friends also found herself watching the show with her son.
Here’s the thing. They both became curious about the backstory behind these characters. We ended up watching Infinity War and Endgame to give the most recent history. Then, Christine actually asked to go back to watch the chronological order of the movies. We are currently at an impasse because she wants to skip Iron Man 3 and the 2 GotG movies and our boys aren’t letting her. Hopefully, soon, we can resume because the GotG are my favorites, but I’m staying out of it.
The mother mentioned earlier said she had some of the same questions as Christine, so I summed it up for her thusly. Wanda is a witch. Vision is an extremely powerful AI given humanoid form. They are in love. Vision is killed by Thanos who looks to balance the scales on a cosmic level. Infinity War and Endgame, if you want the backstory, but not crucial. Her brother was killed by another villain named Ultron. That’s Age of Ultron, again not crucial. Driven a bit crazy by the death of her brother and lover, she created this alternate reality to have the life denied to her. And, guess what. Yep, gloating time again. I mean, honestly, people, it’s in the bloody title.
Fan Theories that Ultimately Fizzled
I admit that I paid little to no attention to these. Along with Star Wars, there is a sect of Marvel fans that became insufferable about the MCU and tolerates no deviation from the comic stories that they know and love. It started with organic web shooters during the Toby Maguire era. Like most of these underground internet communities, it grew into an unnatural den of anger and suffering.
Regarding WandaVision, the two most prominent theories I saw were a retelling of House of M, but instead of wishing mutants out of existence, Wanda wishes them into the MCU. With the acquisition of FOX, this made some sense. Then, FOX Quicksilver showed up and it looked like the old boys might have stumbled onto some inside intel. Alas, that rabbit hole proved too deep and Quicksilver is just our husband Ralph.
Apparently Mephisto fan boys (and girls?) exist because that’s the other one I heard bandied about from the beginning of the show. This one made the least sense to me. I suppose they derived inspiration from the Spider-Man story “One More Day” (I think that’s the one where Mephisto deals with Peter to give him back Aunt May, but takes everything else), so I give them credit for doing their homework. However, nothing else added up. My jaw dropped at the Agatha reveal like anyone else, but it made more sense that a rival witch showed up to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings than Mephisto and his meddling ass.
Where Do They Go From Here?
The protagonists “won”, Agatha rests in a flesh prison of her own design (Admittedly, not the fate I wanted for her, but an appropriate end all things being equal), the Vision is whole again, and Scarlet Witch (yes, they finally gave her name!) went the Thanos route and retired to a mountain retreat. I mean, yeah, she’s astral projecting and reading from and old gods cursed magic book. But, baby steps!
I’ve been trying to figure out Scarlet Witch’s character arc since the beginning of the show. It feels like they have been setting her up as a big bad to be redeemed. That only left when the redemption might actually happen. At the end of episode 9, it appeared that Wanda was at peace with her decision and willing to move on to bigger and better things. As a colleague noted, in the end credit scene, she looked to still be a little bit bad. Back to square 1.
What I can say for sure is that she will most likely be in a post credit scene in Spider-Man to set up for her next big starring role in Doctor Strange. Also, no matter her role in that film, it always seems like even when she tries to do right or good, it ends up blowing up into unintended consequences. Thanks for reading my recap of WandaVision Part 1. Stay tuned for a possible part 2 and maybe even a part 3 and 4 after watching the series two more times between now and next year when Doctor Strange releases.
Not sure what’s going on in our WandaVision Part 1 review? Go watch the show on Disney Plus! Know exactly what we’re talking about? Come watch it again with us!
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.
Why start with WandaVision Episode 5? Are you one of the people who questioned the initial premise? No, but I can name several people who did. People I respected as intellectual and even one who works in the industry. Wait, what? Do you have connections to people in entertainment? Well, technically, yes. A former student is living and working in California and a friend from a message board is a stand up comedian and bit actor in some TV shows and movies.
Instead, I speak of Wil Wheaton, who posted on his Facebook page that he felt the first two episodes wasted the potential of the characters and the time of the audience watching. He nearly gave up on the show because of it. Also, a friend said that he lacked confidence in the show’s creators to make it more than an homage to classic television sitcoms.
In all honesty (there’s that word again), I simply didn’t even consider doing a review of the show until this morning when I went back to bed after discovering we had a 2 hour delay remote day. As I fell asleep, I thought about the article that I planned to write, a review of Kaldheim cards because the set released this weekend. For whatever reason, the idea popped into my head to write a review of WandaVision Episode 5.
How Did We Get Here? (Spoilers Abound!)
Episode 1: Wanda Maximoff, one of the most powerful magic users in the Marvel Universe, and Vision, probably the most powerful Artificial Intelligence in that same universe, live in a 1950s sitcom loosely based on Bewitched. Haha, get it? WandaVision! Perhaps, a bit too on the nose. What’s this at the end, though? Someone is watching this television show. Are they controlling the show?
Episode 2: Now, on to the 1960s and a wacky plot point about the gumming up (literally) of Vision’s innards and a magic show potentially gone wrong. The twist (well, there are several) revolves around Wanda’s sudden pregnancy. With it, comes another oddity. A beekeeper exits from a manhole. Wanda says simply, “No”, before turning back time. Fade to color as the 1970s enter.
Episode 3: Wanda’s pregnancy is progressing…and quickly. The doctor’s car conveniently breaks down so that he and his wife can’t go on vacation. Pregnancy is causing Wanda’s powers to go wonky. Babies arriving! Vision goes supersonic to get the doctor. He still isn’t fast enough. When a stork arrives to indicate that the babies are imminent, a neighbor shows up to deliver the babies and drop the bomb on Wanda about her brother. Wanda ejects the neighbor, Vision meets the babies, and agents surround the ejected neighbor. After this episode, a small brained individual on the internet made fun of me for pointing out that it looked like things were about to get real. Haha, he mocked, that stork sure was something.
Episode 4: We see who has been watching. We also learn the identity of the beekeeper. The neighbor who delivered Wanda’s twins is revealed to be working with them both. What could easily have been a filler episode ends up tying up several loose ends. It also opens new cans of worms. Told you, GTFO of here, rando on the internet. It’s about to get real.
WandaVision Episode 5
After episode 3 or 4, Christine asked to watch Inifinity War again. That led to us watching Endgame and then Captain Marvel. We showed her the chronological list of the movies. So, our Super Bowl marathon this year ended up being Captain America and Iron Man. Only two movies because they are so damn long. We rounded out the marathon with WandaVision Episode 5.
Aside from that, the point is that I explained the main plot points to the movies and the television show. I got the idea and expressed to a couple of friends, that I should do a Cliff’s notes for the MCU. I said that I’m sure it already exists, but the show is bringing in new viewers and maybe this can be the thing that finally gets me some notoriety. Apologies for that bit of indulgence.
What about this episode stuck with me for two days and led to this article? Well, we are now in the 1980s and stuck in a show resembling Family Ties. The twins age up twice in this episode and threaten to do so again at the end when their new dog ends up dying (rough, I know). Vision gets a glimpse of the world beyond Wanda’s control. Wanda interacts with the agents outside of her sitcom. The final reveal is the biggest mind eff so far when Pietro shows back up. But, that’s not all. It’s the Fox Studios actor playing Pietro.
Hot damn. I loved this show from the beginning. Like I said, I always knew there was something underneath the sitcom setting and honestly couldn’t believe that people thought, “That’s all there is?” Well, the first payoff was huge and with only 3 episodes left, I can’t wait to see what they do to bring it all together. Granted, that will only lead to more set up for the movies this year and next. Honestly, though, I’ve been looking for a reason to get excited about the the next phase of the MCU. Wanda, showing her power once again, has done just that.
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