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Face Front, True Believers! A Marvel Comics Thread

Jeanie

(Fem or Gender Neutral)
The current run of New Mutants is...



Very good.
 
Is that from after Vita Ayala takes over? I'm looking forward to that.

(I'm reading MU so I'm behind by a few months.)

Pleased that Jay (and at least to a point, you) like Howard Mackie's maligned X-Factor->Mutant X run... hope that lasts.

At some point it lost me as a kid, but this is one where I think I was probably too dumb to understand some of it back then. I'm not saying it's the most complex comic book of all time, but it feels much more like a workplace drama about morally compromised government agents now (which it should), and also it's the first time Mystique has felt like an interesting character since Claremont left.

(Also when it was coming out I still really missed Peter David's hilarious jokes like, "Did you know there's a show on TV called Ren and Stimpy?" and "Did you know there's a show on TV called Beavis and Butthead?" Why wasn't Howard Mackie reminding me about popular cartoons????)
 
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Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
I've been away from comics altogether since Secret Empire, but is that Ilyana fighting a sentient cartoon sword while Not-Adam, Mutant Warlock fights a giant kitten?
 
I've been away from comics altogether since Secret Empire, but is that Ilyana fighting a sentient cartoon sword while Not-Adam, Mutant Warlock fights a giant kitten?

With no additional context, to me it looks like Warlock is the cartoon sword and that Dani is creating the phantom image of a cat in the style of the Demon Bear.
 

Jeanie

(Fem or Gender Neutral)
Yeah, that's from the issue of NM that came out this week. Magik was sparring with Warlock, who took the form of a sword to protect Doug Ramsey during the recent X of Swords crossover, and Dani Moonstar using her power to create a phantom projection of the bane of all robotic lifeforms, a cat.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
There are bits of Empyre that feel very much like typical big bloated event comics, but there are also enough great character moments that I ended up liking it more than most.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Decided to reread some Silver Age Marvel, specifically Thor from about the point where Jack Kirby knocked Stan out of his chair and yelled “Move over, nerd. I’m driving” (I want to say Journey into Mystery #117 or so. First appearance of the Destroyer, if you’re reading along at home). It is perhaps the most narratively dense comic I’ve ever read; in the course of a half length comic;

1. Thor concludes his association with perhaps the most problematic comic story of the era (which is saying something) by abruptly just leaving Vietnam without talking to anyone.

2. A poacher sees Thor wandering around the jungles of Vietnam and decides to bag himself a literal deity

3. Loki sees this and makes the most of it by tricking the poacher into wandering into an Asgardian temple (in... Vietnam)

4. Thor wakes up from his tranquilizer dart nap and chases the poacher into the Temple of the Destroyer; partly to punish him for attempting to poach an actual god, and mostly because the Destroyer scares the hell out of him

5. The Destroyer wakes up, sucking out the poachers soul and proceeds to literally beat Thor to death.

6. Loki realizes he screwed up and if Thor is killed, everyone will definitely blame him

7. Odin can’t step in to save his sons life because he’s in the Odinsleep, a nap so intense that the entire kingdom named it after him

8. Nobody believes Loki when he says he’s trying to barge into Aldine bedroom to save Thor’s life because he is literally Loki, so they throw him in jail instead, confident that he’s probably done something to warrant it

And all that with 6 pages to spare for a backup Tales of Asgard story.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
On the opposite side of history, Jason Aaron’s Avengers continues to be, y’know, fine. Which is a weird opinion for me to have since, on paper, this should be the most Octo comic ever. It’s got the Avengers defending Dracula in a Vampire War, a Fast and the Furious-esque race through hell with multiple Ghost Riders and frequent stops in Caveman days with the Avengers of 1 Million BC.

And yet...

And yet...

It’s just fine
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
And as soon as I came to the conclusion of “this is okay, but it’s not grabbing me”, there’s a Starbrand story wherein the Avengers are called in to investigate a jailbreak at a galaxy sized prison complex, the stars that power its Dotson spheres are putting out apparently the one kind of solar radiation that can affect Blade, Thor’s been turned into a Broodling and Iron Man is missing because the devil sent him back to Caveman times.

And, y’know? I’m completely invested in how this story is going to play out.

And that’s despite Ed McGuiness handling art, and I generally feel just as strongly about his work
 
I've been reading a bunch of comics old and new.

Collection of Carl Potts / Jim Lee Punisher War Journal from the late 80's. This is early Jim Lee work and you can see him rapidly developing his own style over the first 6 issues. He draws a good Punisher, but certainly the X-Men were a much better vehicle for him. His initial run on Uncanny with Psylocke and Wolverine in Madripoor are some of my favorite comics. The late 80's moralizing is just absurd. There's one issue where a news reporter snorts some cocaine and brushes off accusations that drug use fuels the violent drug trade. At the end of the issue, Punisher leaves her in the middle of a bunch of land mines to fend for herself. In another issue, a rich trophy wife takes part in hunting endangered species in Africa. Punisher shoots her in the back!

Late 60's Captain America in the Epic Collection Vol. 2. The quality of the stories fluctuates. This is the period of time when Stan Lee was losing interest in writing and began taking on other responsibilities at Marvel. A real shame in retrospect, because his efforts to get Marvel into Hollywood movies (which he would often write about in Stan's Soapbox) were a failure, and his writing successors like Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas were poor replacements. Still, there are some great issues pencilled by Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko. The quality of inking varies for poor Kirby. Obviously Joe Sinnott was the best inker for him at this time, and many of the other inkers that Marvel assigned (probably under tight deadlines) were not up to the task. I found myself eagerly reading the creative team on page 1 when I turned the page for a new issue, praying for Sinnott. The three Jim Steranko issues are famous for good reason. Every single panel is creative and attractive, at a time when 99% of comic book art was pure meat and potatoes.

Brian Bendis Uncanny and All-New X-Men. I only just started reading these. I like Bendis more than most. The story of All-New starts really strong and I like Stuart Immonen art. It's strange that All-New seems to be the "core" book and Uncanny seems to be the supporting story. Uncanny has Chris Bachalo who has a cool style but weak storytelling. He will often draw a baffling panel. He also does his own coloring on this book, and it's not good. There's a lot of Illyana Rasputin in these stories which is cool for me.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
One thing that doesn’t really get mentioned enough, or at all, about 60s Marvel is how mean Stan was to the letterer. At best they get backhanded compliments, as compared to the writer, artist and inker.

And its usually at Artie Simeks expense! Artie Simek!
 
One thing that doesn’t really get mentioned enough, or at all, about 60s Marvel is how mean Stan was to the letterer. At best they get backhanded compliments, as compared to the writer, artist and inker.

And its usually at Artie Simeks expense! Artie Simek!

True. The writer and penciller often get snappy nicknames ("The Man", "King", "Jazzy"), but I don't think the letterer or colorist ever get them...
 
Fantastic Four: The End
This is a mini-series from the 00's or 10's written and pencilled by Alan Davis that tells the "end" of the FF, decades into the future. Davis is one of my favorite comic book artists of all time and his artwork here doesn't disappoint. I do prefer his work with flat coloring, but the computer coloring here, while not optimal, is fine. (In general, I think flat coloring works better for art in a more classic cartooning style, and computer coloring with gradients, shadows, and reflections is a stylistic mismatch.)

Davis is a competent writer and he has a great grasp of the FF characters. It's sentimental and heroic in a good way. The plot is kind of thin and relies on too much technobabble (energy flowing through different dimensions...), and too many dramatic "all the heroes bust through a wall just in time to save a desperate situation" but the character work is good enough to carry the story.

Excalibur: Alan Davis Visionaries
I don't have the full set of these trades that collect Davis' run as writer/penciller on the series in the late 80's / early 90's. The writing is solid and Davis' art is at its peak. The story and characters have the quirky British quality that defines the series. For example, you meet a group of government - created mutants named after vegetables. Davis' run tells a more or less complete story, and ties up many storylines that had developed over years of Excalibur comics, and it has a satisfying ending.

There's one issue in particular with Phoenix and Galactus that is particularly breathtaking.

 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
True. The writer and penciller often get snappy nicknames ("The Man", "King", "Jazzy"), but I don't think the letterer or colorist ever get them...

As per a comic I read this morning;

WHO ELSE, but Stan Lee could write this tale?
WHO ELSE but Jack Kirby could draw this epic?
WHO ELSE But Vince Colleta could Ink it?
WHO ELSE but Artie Simek could be called Artie Simek?
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I'm fairly sure that Irving Forbrush was just someone Stan made up so he could heap the abuse on someone who wasn't on payroll.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I’ve learned that, despite his name appearing on the cover, Dr. Strange was only a back-up story in the Strange Tales comic at first.

Furthermore, the main draw of the book was an honestly pretty terrible FF spin-off starring the Human Torch (it was your number one source of Paste Pot Pete action, however).

And even furthermore still; early Dr. Strange was pretty good. Had a kind of EC Comics vibe, but without the violence or moralizing. Also, it’s existence is utterly baffling considering how strict the comics code was regarding supernatural content back then.

My best guess is that using the term “another/alien dimension” is close enough to science fiction that they could skirt the line.
 
I’ve learned that, despite his name appearing on the cover, Dr. Strange was only a back-up story in the Strange Tales comic at first.

Furthermore, the main draw of the book was an honestly pretty terrible FF spin-off starring the Human Torch (it was your number one source of Paste Pot Pete action, however).

And even furthermore still; early Dr. Strange was pretty good. Had a kind of EC Comics vibe, but without the violence or moralizing. Also, it’s existence is utterly baffling considering how strict the comics code was regarding supernatural content back then.

My best guess is that using the term “another/alien dimension” is close enough to science fiction that they could skirt the line.

The shorter length of Doctor Strange and Tales of Asgard work to their favor. The full-length early 60's Marvel comics suffer from padded fight scenes that drag on. For my taste, FF and Amazing-Spider Man start to get good around issue 30, when the plots become more fleshed out.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
You really get the sense that Tales of Asgard and Dr. Strange were also where the Marvel Method of collaborative story telling really broke down; Tales of Asgard in particular is just pure Kirby, with Stan barely touching the script.

Dr. Strange, less so, but it really feels like it's more of Steve taking the reins and Stan struggling to figure out what the heck is going on on the page
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Only about half of it has shown up on Unlimited so far, but Mark Waid and Neal Adams’ Fantastic Four: Antithesis definitely... is a thing. It almost feels like a lost silver age FF story, except for all the content that couldn’t have worked in the 60s (Johnny references hashtags, Sue turns her clothes invisible to entice Reed away from an experiment, that kind of thing).

Really get the impression that Waid is just there to temper down Adams, since, while little of it is as blatantly buckwild as his Batman and Superman work, you can definitely see it trying to lean in that direction. Also, really not loving how Neal draws Ben; he looks like a really unhealthy chimp with twice as much gum as he has tooth.

Gonna hold off on judgement until I can see if it sticks the landing, but if you were going to read one bugnuts Fantastic Four comic that works as a Silver Age pastiche, published in 2020, make it Grand Design
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Jason Aaron’s Thor run is every bit as enjoyable and gripping as his Avengers run... plainly wants to be.

...and then I reached the part where Volstagg, arguably the goofiest most fun character in the whole Thor extended family, watches a bunch of small children get incinerated by goblin war crimes, and so he becomes War Thor, the Thor of War. Also, Odinsom gets a talking dog buddy, but it’s a hell hound that talks about murder exclusively.

Kiiiiinda undermines the fun a bit
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Silver Age comic writing tends to be clunky and stilted, which is a big part of the appeal, don’t get me wrong, but on the other hand, “The stage is set, the players are cast, it’s time for the tragedy to begin!” is some really good Bad Guy dialogue from Smilin Stan Lee.

Undercut somewhat by the fact that the tragedy is just Thor fighting Absorbing Man again
 
Stan Lee is really good at evoking the "it's incredible to behold this amazing feat of pure-hearted heroism...against all odds!" feeling that is at the heart of superhero comics.

Stan's contributions have been diminished over the years by Kirby fan-boys (and I love Kirby too...), but really there was no one better at scripting exciting stories. One only has to look at his successors like Roy Thomas (not bad, but no Stan) and Gerry Conway (pretty bad!), or DC's roster of writers at the time (who were mostly writing "gee whiz, what is Superman going to do this month?" juvenilia) to appreciate his talent.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Immediately started Aarons other Thor run after finishing the last one (Odinson, not Jane), and, man, this is an extremely fun comic. It really succeeds at bringing out what worked so well about Ragnarok while still continuing the big story he’s been working towards for a couple years by this point. Even Thori the Helhound has grown on me. Standout moment early on being Thanos crashing a sham political wedding in order to officially break up with the bride.

And Thor has trick hammers, now and that is bananas and I love it.
 
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