Marvel Spinner Rack: Black Panther #521, FF #6, Iron Age #2

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #521

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #521

written by David Liss
art by Francesco Francavilla

Why didn’t someone tell me this was good? This was the best Fear Itself tie-in I’ve read, because it directly addresses the theme. (Although sticking a “Fear Itself” banner on a book with THAT title is pretty silly.)

A mediocre worker blames diverse co-workers for his failures, leading to a downward spiral that turns him into the Hate-Monger. This is apparently an old character who’s been reworked here, but it’s a perfect choice for this storyline and our current society. As in so many other times and places, instead of holding accountable poor economic policies or politicians who lie to them, people fear those who don’t look like them. This particular jerk can’t even take responsibility for his own choices.

The Black Panther, for reasons I didn’t read, is now hanging out in a poor neighborhood in New York City. He’s no longer a king (and I’m not sure where his wife Storm is). Instead, he’s running a diner that also operates as an unofficial medical clinic. Of course, his accent and skin color make him a target for the new Hate-Monger and his American Panther.

The streamlined art has a good emphasis on faces and emotions, suitable for such a feeling-driven conflict. The cliffhanger ramps up the danger believably, and I’m eager to read more. I appreciate a superhero comic that dares to tackle current events in an engrossing way. This is a great way to make the Panther approachable for a different audience.

FF #6

FF #6

written by Jonathan Hickman
art by Greg Tocchini

What the heck is this? I’ve been following this series, even though I didn’t care much for the gathering of Reeds plot, but I open this issue to find some mush about Black Bolt, who’s dead, but running around anyway.

I flipped back to the cover, expecting to see a Fear Itself banner, since that’s what usually’s happened when I no longer know what’s going on in a series, but no dice. Apparently, someone just wanted to do an issue of interstellar war and intrigue with characters I don’t know or care about and no visible connection to the rest of the ongoing story. This is the kind of thing that gives superhero comics a bad name, spelled Self-Indulgent.

Iron Age #2

Iron Age #2

written by Jen van Meter/Elliott Kalan
art by Nick Dragotta/Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema

While loosely linked together with a goofy time-travel quest plot, this series is really about telling Tony Stark stories. As he bounces around looking for pieces of some world-saving device, he winds up in his own past, having to face up to his poor choices and work with friends who aren’t aware he’s older and more mature than he used to be. The result is some good storytelling.

I’m finding it a great introduction to the history of the character, as well. I only came to appreciate Iron Man through the movies, so seeing these teamups and the references to key moment s of his history is really helpful, as well as entertaining.

There are two stories in this issue (accounting for the inflated $4.99 cover price). The first pairs him up with the Heroes for Hire (Power Man, Iron Fist, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing) while confronting the results of a recently passed (from their perspective) poor choice: Iron Man, while drunk, trashed Times Square, leading people to fear another of his rampages. The tale is nicely character-focused, even during the battle with the Tinkerer and the Scorpion.

The second tale is even more retro, as Stark faces off with Doctor Doom, illustrated in a classic Marvel style, paired up with Johnny Storm the Human Torch.


8 Responses to “Marvel Spinner Rack: Black Panther #521, FF #6, Iron Age #2”

  1. Rob Barrett Says:

    I can understand the need to bring Black Bolt back into the book given the presence of the Inhumans as one of the four cities in Hickman’s current storyline, but yeah–this was a textbook example of how *not* to introduce a new element into an ongoing storyline.

  2. Johanna Says:

    You have just explained why this issue exists much better than anything in the actual comic did. Thank you.

  3. James Schee Says:

    Its not the first time Hickman’s done something like this. In the first TPB (which so far is the only one I’ve read) he had all these characters that were never named or told about. It was the issue where Johnny, Ben and the kids got kidnapped and brought to an alien world.

    I learned later online that they were characters introduced in the Millar run that had predated Hickman’s. Yet it was confusing as hell to me.

    He has good ideas and can be a really great writer, but has issues introducing characters to stories from what I’ve seen.

  4. Greg Manuel Says:

    James is right…it’s not just characters, but crucial events, too.

    When I was still reading Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four, I think it was Part 1 of the “Three” storyline, where Valeria pays Dr. Doom a visit. Apparently Doom had suffered a seizure or a stroke of some kind, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where or when it happened.

    Turns out Doom’s condition developed out of something that happened in a miniseries that had just wrapped up. A miniseries that I hadn’t been reading, nor had it been explicitly referred to outside of a few flashback panels. And that my friends, is when an Editor’s Note used to come in handy…

  5. Thad Says:

    They brought back the Hate-Monger? That alone is reason enough for me to buy the book.

    For more on his original appearance, take a gander at Brian Cronin’s http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/05/11/five-goofiest-moments-in-fantastic-four-21-25/ . It’s magic.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Interesting to know the character’s history, Thad, but I really wish I hadn’t read the sexist comments at that link. I had no idea some FF fans LIKED the idiot airhead portrayal of Sue and thought more modern, competent female characters were a bad trend.

    Greg and James, I’m glad it’s not just me. I know it’s old-fashioned to say every issue could be someone’s first, but there’s another factor: Older readers have so much going on in their lives that they appreciate the memory hints of reestablishing basics of a story.

  7. Thad Says:

    I try not to read comment sections (present company excluded) but yeah, sometimes I can’t help myself either.

    ’60’s Sue isn’t quite as painful to read as ’60’s Jan, but yeah, pretty bad.

    There’s something fascinating about the dichotomy of Stan writing Sue as an airhead while simultaneously being frustrated when readers didn’t take her seriously (the famous “Abe Lincoln’s Mother” issue — also featured on CSBG but I’ll refrain from digging up another link). There’s a real sense in the 1960’s and 1970’s of liberal male writers trying to present Strong Female Characters while simultaneously being hamstrung by their own (obvious but most likely unconscious) biases — Doctor Who eps of the same vintage suffer the same sort of schizophrenia. (Sarah Jane Smith is a much less stereotypical character than Jo Grant, but frankly they’re a little too self-conscious on that score — there’s a bit in The Ark in Space where the Doctor actually goads her into saving the day with a series of misogynistic taunts.)

  8. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I know that episode! Yeah, there’s a lot of manipulation by the Doctor there. Interesting observation about the writers blaming the audience for reacting to their work.




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