Marvel Comics I Liked: Twelve, Iron Man, Mary Jane

I read some Marvel comics this week I enjoyed (even though they came out a week before). Here’s some quick thoughts on them.

The Twelve #7 cover

The Twelve #7 — I’m still enjoying this saga of 40s heroes brought into the modern era. The blend of culture clash and dark secrets becoming known keeps me interested. I hope that all the hints pay off satisfactorily, but in the meantime, I like the characters, especially the reporter narrator who’s trying to keep practicing his profession. The short stories that make up each issue, woven in amongst the other threads, are usually interesting; this time, it’s a bitter, aged sidekick who can’t cope with the way the spotlight moved away from him. He’s still looking for the hero, now returned, to change his life for him.

Invincible Iron Man #4 cover

Invincible Iron Man #4 — Writer Matt Fraction makes the title character sound the way I think he should, like he did in the movie. The scenes sparkle — I’m not sure I buy Tony Stark defeating genius Reed Richards at chess, but it’s a great scene to work in exposition and dialogue while still giving the characters something to do visually.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #1 cover

Most fascinating is what’s happened to Pepper Potts. Tony gave her, through a set of circumstances I don’t remember, the kind of magnetic heart he’s got. She’s ambivalent about it, although we see her reactions mostly through how he feels — the book is very much solo-focused on Stark. But, you know, fun dialogue, outrageous events, dangerous threats, snarky comments, clever schemes… good superhero book. I want to know what happens next. Maybe needs a little more action.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #1 — I bought this because I love Craig Rousseau’s work, but the story (by Terry Moore) isn’t bad either. You likely know this story: Mary Jane goes to school, chats with friends, worries about family issues, dreams of Spider-Man — teen soap opera with a superhero overlay. The best moment in the book, though, is a short scene where the previously unknown Zoe McCall reveals fear and despair, and we don’t know why.


19 Responses to “Marvel Comics I Liked: Twelve, Iron Man, Mary Jane”

  1. Dave Rose Says:

    Johanna,

    Including your comments here, I’ve heard a lot of good buzz on The Twelve, so I may pick up this series.

    I’m going to play the “wait for the trade” game with this current Invincible Iron Man story. If for some reason Marvel doesn’t collect this story, I can live without it – I already have plenty of good Iron man stories. I have to trim the budget somewhere. :)

    Regarding Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, I have the previous issue in this series. It’s had it’s fun moments, but I feel it’s time to jump ship – darn that nasty old budget.

  2. odessa steps magazine Says:

    I bought the first two issues of the Twelve and then decidded to wait for the trade. It felt like something that would be best read in one fell swoop.

    Pepper got the “tony heart” after the bad guy (Stane’s kid) blew up the building they were in last issue or the issue before. I’m glad Pepper isn’t drawn to resemble Gweynth. When will Happy Hogan show up? Are they still married in Marvel continuity?

    My thoughts on MJ v2 were about the same as MJ v1: cute book, but I’m not likely the target audience for it.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Odessa, re the 12, maybe. I’m not sure whether it would be too much all at once. I like the slower pacing, as suited to the era.

    Good question about Happy. I wonder that too.

    Dave, I have a whole stack of older good Iron Man stories waiting for me to find the time!

  4. David Oakes Says:

    I think “The Twelve” will be a very different book when it is collected. While most comparissons to “Watchmen” are made cynically, saying JMS is no Alan Moore, both stories are structured as twelve interlocking tales that join together to show a much bigger picture. Read all at once some themes may come off as too blunt, while others are lost without time for reflection.

    This is of course true of all trades that were originally collections. But in this case – like Watchmen – I think it is being done intentionally. Issue #1 will be a very different beast by the time issue #12 comes out.

  5. Joan Says:

    Since IIM is (more or less) in current continuity, Happy’s dead (Civil War, of course), and not for nearly long enough to make me comfortable with all the Tony/Pepper movie-inspired flirtiness that Fraction favors. Just one of the many reasons why I really can’t stand this book and miss the Knaufs’ IM writing like a limb, alas. They wrote such a great Tony. Fraction’s take just pains me (and I loved the movie).

  6. odessa steps magazine Says:

    I haven’t read Iron Man reguarly since… let me see… he had red and white armor.*

    So, although I’m not keen on the Tony/Pepper romantic idea, I do like Fraction and will keep reading the book likely as long as he’s writing it.

    * Although, as an old school IM fan, I did get the new Micheline/Layton Iron Man/Doom Camelot series.

  7. Dave Rose Says:

    Well, Tony dated (or at least flirted) with Pepper before Happy came along. Now that Happy’s gone, It’s not really a stretch for Tony and Pepper’s old feelings to reimerge.

    I understand about Tony moving in on her perhaps a bit too soon, but there is precident for Tony to be rude and callous to his friends in the past. Therefore, this storyline is not out of character for Tony Stark

  8. Johanna Says:

    Joan, I skimmed the prior Iron Man series before reading this, and I found it a very frustrating experience — storylines that started but concluded elsewhere, necessary plot points that weren’t included in the comic itself, and no real sense of Tony as a character.

    Thanks for letting me know what happened to Happy.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Those interested in the Mary Jane comic, you can read it for free online right now.

  10. Joan Says:

    Dave- actually, I find it really, really out of character for Tony. Despite his internet reputation, Tony’s not usually a jerk to his friends randomly. When he’s in the middle of a hostile takeover or yet another body/mind/armor hijacking or one of his horrible crisis of confidence, “everything I touch gets ruined!” moments, sure. But not just because it’s a Tuesday and he’s Tony Stark. Pepper and Tony flirted years ago (decades ago, really, but several years at least in Marvel time), but they both, wisely, maturely, decided it wouldn’t work. She’s been firmly in the friends/family box ever since. And Happy, also one of his best friends, is only months in his grave. Pepper went to the other side of the country to get away from Tony and his part in Happy’s death- still helping him, because she is still family and loves him, but not able to be near him. And yet now they’re all bantery and flirtatious and with ne’er a mention of the ghost in the room? Not a chance. There’s too much respect, history and love among these characters (Happy included) for this shallow nonsense.

    Johanna- yeah, I remember you saying that, and I had a really different experience (obviously *g*). The only random plotlines I tripped over were the two issues wasted on World War Hulk (feh), and everything else seemed to flow rather smoothly. And I loved the Knaufs’ take on the characters- their work and Brubaker’s take over in Captain America are just about the only versions of Tony I recognize these days. But maybe it’s a difference of background? I seem to remember that you didn’t have much prior exposure to the character (though correct me if I’m wrong), and he’s been one of my favorites for… maybe 25 years? I’m not sure, but since I was a kid, anyway. So maybe their work works better with a really big backlog of the right geek-hours.

    Or maybe it’s just a matter of what hits your character kinks, and what doesn’t. These things are tough to predict. I loved it madly, but I know you’re not the only person who didn’t (even leaving aside the sizable crowd who would still hate Tony if he rescued a bus full of kittens and nuns while discovering a clean energy source and making healthy doughnuts).

  11. Dave Rose Says:

    Joan,

    Thanks for bringing me more up-to-date on Invincible Iron Man. I haven’t read the new Iron Man stories in some time (nor did I read all of Civil War), so I have very little first hand knowledge of how Tony’s being treated these days. My earlier comments about him getting back with Pepper were based (in large part) on information I’d heard from others. I know their relationship years ago was mainly flirting (as I’ve said) but people have been known to give relationships another try. Finally, having not kept up with the current stories, I had no way of knowing how long Happy has been gone.

    There have been times when Tony has been rude just because the writers wanted him to (in his own title, Avengers, and guest appearances), so his personality has never been the most stable. But this is not a subject I care to debate (number of instances, issue numbers, etc.)

    As I mentioned above, I was planning on waiting for the trade on this storyline because I don’t currently follow the title. However, I do appreciate you (and others) clarifying what’s going on in Invincible Iron Man, so I’ll probably skip this story altogether.

  12. Johanna Says:

    Joan, yeah, I think background has a lot to do with it. You’re old friends with the character, while I met him six months ago. :) Of course you’re going to notice things that don’t make any difference to me.

  13. Joan Says:

    …his personality has never been the most stable.

    Hee, boy, are you not wrong! He’s the Wonder Woman of Marvel Comics. There are some really strong core elements to the character, but the surface stuff? Not just all over the map, but all over the atlas. Read too many old issues in a row and you’ll break something.

    It’s kind of amazing the movie turned out as great as it did.

  14. James Schee Says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the free MJ issue online. I enjoyed everything but the Peter Parker parts. Its weird that even with different writers Spider-Man/Peter Parker comes off as creepy in the book to me. (looking in her window? what if she’d been changing?)

    I’m waiting for a trade on The 12, it sounds good though. I’ll be curious to see if JMS can do similar things with the Archie heroes when he introduces them to DC?

  15. Johanna Says:

    Hee hee hee! Best phrase this week: The Wonder Woman of Marvel!

    James, I’ve never liked the Archie heroes, and I really don’t see the point of bringing them into the DC, where they’re going to seem like pale imitations.

  16. odessa steps magazine Says:

    “Despite his internet reputation, Tony’s not usually a jerk to his friends randomly.”

    Given we are talking about Tony’s romantic exploits, the first thing I thought of was him dating Jan, who did not know he was also Iron Man. That would be him dating a long-time friend and teammate who is also recently divorced from another friend AND you are keeping a large secret from them.

    Admittedly, it was only a one-issue story from my youth, but it’s one I remember resonating vividly.

  17. Dwight Williams Says:

    So it’s not the first time he’ll have messed up in this sort of way.

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