Marvel Spinner Rack: Secret Avengers 13, Iron Man 2.0 4, Incredible Hulks 629, FF 4

FF #4

FF #4 cover

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Barry Kitson

I want to like this new FF concept, since I really appreciate the way Hickman writes Sue, especially. She’s a caring, unflappable, all-powerful mom. But all the conflicts end up being so cosmically huge that I find it ludicrous, without a hook I can find to care about the situation.

I know that that’s part of the history of the Fantastic Four, that super-intelligent Reed Richards faces down foes from the Negative Zone or across the cosmos or whatever, but it’s not what I care to read. Which is a shame, because I love all the kids running around, with their various powers and abilities. (Except when, as here, they make Valeria the bad guy. She’s as smart as her dad, so when they keep having her screw up, the message I get is that girls aren’t as competent as boys with the same intelligence.)

In this storyline, Valeria has accidentally opened a portal to allow evil, mean, no-family Reeds from alternate dimensions to band together to … I dunno, they’re bad, I guess they want to take over the earth. So the FF has assembled a bunch of their worst foes to figure out how to defeat the Reeds. About the only part of this I enjoyed was watching Reed try to cope with his ego in realizing that he was weaker than the others because they didn’t have the distraction of loving anyone. Not the best message, but I’m sure it will be reversed by the end of the story.

Artistically, I didn’t immediately recognize this as a Kitson book, which is a plus. I enjoy his style, but when it’s not at its best, everyone can look a bit alike. That’s not the case here, with strong faces and diverse looks.

I wish the market was such that we could get a spinoff series of the kids. That would be a great regular read. Although I’d need a “who’s who” first, since I’m not sure I know the backstory on all of them.

The Incredible Hulks #629

The Incredible Hulks #629 cover

Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Cory Hamscher with Rick Magyar

I like Amadeus Cho, super-smart kid, especially when written by Pak. I will follow him from book to book, buying titles I would not ordinarily, if he’s in them. I’m glad, with the revamp of the Hercules book into a much more standard tough guy punch-em-up (and thus, a book that’s off my list), that he’s been given a new (even if temporary) home here. Pairing him up with a Hulk restores much of the entertaining smart/brawn contrast he got with Herc.

This issue concludes a four-part storyline in which Banner’s ex-wife Betty is also hulking out, and the two act like they’re trying out for a superhero version of War of the Roses. She’s been hanging out with a Eurotrash immortal out to steal Pandora’s Box, who’s just transformed into a mystical giant. The story combines mythology-based heroics (a strength of Pak’s) with interesting personal interactions and a light, comedic touch to make for a good read.

It was a pleasure to see Grummett’s art again, too, solid and well-constructed for larger-than-life adventure. As a wrapup, there’s plenty of battle action, with unexpected reversals and surprise strategies. I admit, I was hoping for a much different ending, but the one we get has plenty of potential. I was ready to sign onto this series for the long term. Unfortunately, the next six-issue story will be Pak’s last on the title — but in the meantime, I’m eager to see how he wraps all this up. And I have hope Cho will continue to appear elsewhere.

Iron Man 2.0 #4

Iron Man 2.0 #4 cover

Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ariel Olivetti

No, not the current #5, which is a Fear Itself tie-in (and thus worthless to me), but the previous issue. I’m talking about it because it’s an excellent example of how to kill a promising superhero series.

At the end of #3, War Machine John Rhodes was given new, better designed armor, and I was excited to see what happened next. What we got was a self-indulgent waste of space. Villain Palmer Addley is thought to be dead, but it turns out he’s faked his records. That’s an interesting take on a bad guy, with a modern twist of incorporating bureaucracies and government tracking. But this issue …

There’s a good opening, as a functionary is sent to see the real set of files. But then we cut to what’s in them, and it’s all exactly as expected: smart kid, too smart, gets bored, gets in trouble. Talking heads against non-existant backgrounds are interspersed with space-wasting generic double-page images of said kid in the past. We still don’t know the current story, just that this character now has a very predictable background.

This is not the end to a story, just a completely artificial, unsatisfying stopping point so the book can go be part of an Event. It doesn’t even feature the title character at any point. Will anyone bother coming back to this title after the next three Fear Itself tie-ins to find out what’s going on?

Secret Avengers #13: Fear Itself

Secret Avengers #13 cover

Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciler: Scot Eaton
Inkers: Jaime Mendoza and Rick Ketcham

And this makes it 0 for 2 with the new, hot writer … but I don’t expect any one to show off their skills well when it comes to crossovers and high-visibility branding.

Still, I did expect a bit more than this. There are three main features of this issue. The first is an unfamiliar character, a black Congressman who’s locked himself into the House of Representatives chamber and winds up monologing to Beast about their past together fighting for civil rights. Standard-issue retroactive history, introducing a new character who can say all the things that superheroes can’t take a position on. Oh, and he turns out to be a secret mutant, conveniently.

The second is a rip off of A Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, having the Lincoln Memorial start walking around to fight whoever it is that’s the invasion force. He’s joined by various Smithsonian exhibits: dinosaurs, native Americans, fighter jets, George Washington, and so on.

The third is a cheap writer’s hack: run text of an important historical moment, in this case, the Gettysburg Address, over standard battle scenes to give mediocre work an air of significance. This is a highly disappointing, disposable issue for $4. What I want to know is, where are the Secret Avengers? This reads like an X-Men issue.

Onslaught Unleashed #4

Story: Sean McKeever
Art: Filipe Anorade

Extraordinarily ugly art, and another dead girl superhero. Sigh. I’m astonished Marvel bothered to publish this. It seems to achieve nothing useful or entertaining.

5 Responses to “Marvel Spinner Rack: Secret Avengers 13, Iron Man 2.0 4, Incredible Hulks 629, FF 4”

  1. William George Says:

    I’m pretty sure that the end of the FF storyline is going to tell us that family is actually a strength.

    I just get that feeling.

  2. Grant Says:

    Wait, so you’d rather see a comic about Sue making sandwitches for the kids instead of getting involved in a cosmic crisis like the men folk? Tsk.

    And I don’t think they’re coming down on Val for the mistake of letting in the alternate Reeds so much as they’re angry about her trying to hide the mistake from them and making a bargain with Dr. Doom to fix it. At least that’s how I read it. I think it’s right that a kid should take some heat for that because that has more to do with not being honest with your parents.

    It’s not really about girl smarts not being as good as boy smarts. It’s about she’s a little kid with this amazing and dangerous intelligence and still needs the guidance of someone older and wiser to guide her in it’s use. I wouldn’t let a kid go to school with a nuclear bomb just because he/she was smart enough to know how to use it properly.

    I always get Kitson and Kevin Maguire mixed up. They have similar styles. But I like Kitson much more than Epting. I’m glad he’s on the book now because it gives it a more “comic booky” feel and that’s how FF shold be. Epting’s art is just too…serious. And I always dig Acuna’s covers. Wish he was doing interiors on something regularly so I could buy it.

    Entertaining reviews. Seems like you’ve had a little burst of traditional big 2 superhero activity lately. Are you feeling okay? ;)

  3. Mitchell Craig Says:

    Of course, there’s also the fact that Val stumbled onto something that Reed swore he was done with, so Papa Richards has to take the lion’s share of the blame. And he will, I bet.

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