Welcome to Tuesday and Bullet Reviews! This week: Age Of Ultron #7, Fairest #15, Green Arrow #20, Indestructible Hulk #7, Iron Man #9, Mars Attacks #10, Superior Spider-Man #9, Thanos Rising #2, and X-Factor #255:
AGE OF ULTRON #7 (Marvel NOW!)
This is the issue that has made Age of Ultron very interesting. We deal completely with the Butterfly Effect of Logan killing Hank Pym previously. After performing the act, and with Sue Richards letting him, the duo head back to the future to see what happened. Logan was positive that after killing Pym, the lack of Ultron would save the future. But there were some lingering questions as well: what about the Vision who was created by Ultron? What about the whole Vision and the Scarlet Witch marriage, and in connection 2 of the founding members of Young Avengers? There is the whole ripple effect and I’ll give Bendis absolute credit here: he did his homework before doing this. What are the things that could have happened? He addresses most of them. (It’s impossible to get them all, but it sounds like he figured out what the possible impacts could be. I would have LOVED To see the white board he had to generate this list of impacts.) It’s interesting that upon their return to “present day”, they are attacked by the Defenders… Doctor Strange, the Wasp, what looks like Star-Lord, Captain America, Hulk, Cyclops, the Thing, and Wolverine. Yes, the Logan from this time stream meets the Logan from the earlier issues. You can tell that Bendis must have enjoyed writing Doctor Strange, as we see the same kind of spell-casting notes he used throughout his tenure on New Avengers. Now, with this impact of the death of Pym, we know the Age of Ultron has been removed. There can be no Ultron. So things must be better, right? Well, not necessarily. Who else do we know who was involved in various electronics, was a scientist, and had an ego larger than he should have? Yup, looks like Tony is back into taking power. (I really think Bendis has it in for Tony – he seems to be giving him the biggest shit-kicking he’s ever been through over and over again…) It will be interesting to see what happens as we know that we’ll return to the status quo at some point… Maybe before the Ultron invasion happened by the end of the series… Otherwise the rest of the entire Marvel Universe will see a crapload of changes in what has happened and I don’t think Marvel is ready to go the route of that kind of reboot just yet. -Kelly Cassidy
What is this!? A Marvel Event that doesn’t suck and it isn’t completely predictable? Enter Age of Ultron a title that I am just not that sure what is going on. What we do know is Wolverine and Sue Richards have gone back in time and killed Hank Pym therefore Ultron is never created. Vision is never created. The Avengers never assemble. Star Lord never leads a team called Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead a new team was assembled. The Defenders. But not the Defenders we have come to know. This team consists of Captain Marvel, who is now Janet, Doctor Strange, Wolverine, Cable although we know him better as Cyclops, The Thing, Wolverine, Hulk, and Colonel America. The New “Now” is just as bleak of a future but it looks like Tony Stark rules this version of now. Not sure exactly where it goes from here but I have to say I am intrigued. We may have something similar to Age of Apocalypse on our hands, but after killing Hank Pym it is The Age of Stark. Great read, look forward to how this whole thing plays out. -Nick Furious
FAIREST #15 (Vertigo)
The Return Of The Maharaja begins with this issue and, as Bill Willingham and Seas E. Williams have been saying, this story cannot wait for trade. You have to read it now because it will have a major impact when this story collides with Fables. I wasn’t sure what all that meant until I saw the cover and thought the guy in the picture looked familiar but I kind of passed it off as coincidence even with more evidence on the cover as to who he really is.
Well, the story features a new character, Nalayani whose village is always under attack by dhole so, to save her village, she decides the new Maharaja is the man who can help her. Along the way she meets up with a jackal named Tabaqui who offers to help her on her journey. Their adventure has everything you need to have an exciting story but the biggest surprise, shock really, is towards the end. Let’s just say it features the return of a major character who we all thought sacrificed himself during the war with The Adversary. As exciting as it is to have this character back (and no, I’m not going to spoil who it is) what will be even more interesting is when he shows up in Fables again, especially considering what’s going on there right now.
The thing that concerns me is Fairest is supposed to focus on the female characters in the Fables Universe but this story obviously is getting attention because of the return of a long running male character. I hope it’s a one-off thing but that doesn’t mean it takes anything away from the female lead. Nalayani is a very interesting character and even though this is her first appearance I can already tell she’s very complex and will be a welcome addition to the Fables cast. -Skott Jimenez
GREEN ARROW #20 (DC)
I’ve been hoping for something wonderful for Ollie Queen since the New 52 started and I think that under the writing direction of Jeff Lemire we are going to get something great. Although this is Lemire’s 4th issue, even though I felt that his writing was better than his predecessors I did not see anything that really grabbed me in his short tenure… until this issue. What Lemire has done here is given Ollie an opponent that is suitable to the role of the Emerald Archer, and that is what was significantly lacking for his character until now. Let’s also not forget the art of Andrea Sorrentino, who continues to knock it out of the park with each subsequent issue. This is an artist who is perfect for this title and the noir-style stories that Lemire is putting down. It’s a great partnership. With all of that said, I still have issues with the series as a whole. Never mind the fact that since Flashpoint, it seems like Ollie has de-aged significantly whereas his old best buddy Hal Jordan has not. (I knew Flash restarted the universe, but I never knew he affected the timing of Ollie’s birth…) Second, this is getting to be far too much like the Arrow TV series. Although I like the series, I’d like the comic which takes place in a world with many superbeings to not be a (more or less) copy of the show. And unfortunately that’s the feeling I am getting right now. I hope Lemire can bring some uniqueness to what has the promise to be one of the best books coming out of DC today, and I’m hoping that the second arc will do just that. -Kelly Cassidy
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #7 (Marvel NOW!)
Just when you thought Mark Waid’s first arc on Indestructible Hulk couldn’t get any better, he goes and tops himself. First, this title puts a whole new perspective on the Hulk/Banner paradigm than we’ve seen in many years. The definitive run on a Hulk title for many fans (myself included) is the many years spent developing the character by Peter David, who introduced us to multiple-colored Hulks, different supporting characters, and actually put a new dimension onto the character of Hulk than we had seen in a number of years. Waid is doing the same thing here and this is the first time I can say I’ve been excited for a Hulk title in a long time. Not only that, but this issue is the middle chapter in a 3-issue arc with art by none other than the legendary Walt Simonson. Simonson is heralded as one of the greatest writers AND artists on Thor in a long time as he has gone on to create many a legend within that realm – he created Beta Ray Bill, he made the Asgardians more accessible in terms of who they were to the general reader, and he did what no one else had the balls to do and turned Thor into a frog. Why do I mention that? Why, because in this arc Thor teams up with the Hulk to take down some frost giants. So, one of the best Hulk writers to date pairing up with one of Thor’s best artists ever to deliver an epic Hulk-Thor story? Epic! And not only that, let’s not forget that it appears that Hulk is using Thor’s hammer… and a little bit of time travel tossed in! So… If you aren’t sold on this issue yet… What the hell? -Kelly Cassidy
IRON MAN #9 (Marvel NOW!)
I know that one of my colleagues only picked up the last few issues of this title because of the presence of Death’s Head. Well, if he hasn’t picked up this issue, he should… as Death’s Head returns! (And, if you look at the letter’s page, they promise there is more DH to come…) Now, as the cover shows, we are about to find out the secret origin of Tony Stark. That’s right. Tony Stark. Not Iron Man, but Tony Stark. This story follows immediately after the AvX aftermath story over the last few issues, where Tony went out into space. This story, even though it does follow the AvX story, also takes place after Tony joins the Guardians of the Galaxy. (Don’t believe me? Just read the splash page.) This story, and this series to date, is being penned by Kieron Gillen. Although the first few issues of the story kept me wondering if he was the right person to helm the Armored Avenger, I think he needed to get through that story in order to get to this one. And I think this story is going to prove very challenging for several reasons. First, to explain that there is an origin to Tony Stark and not Iron Man himself will prove a challenge. We all know Iron Man’s origin from many retellings in the comics as well as the recent movies. But to imply that something happened before all that? And that it doesn’t change everything that happened? That’s taking on a major test of Gillen’s storytelling capabilities. Second, it will be interesting to see how this can tie in to other stories that Iron Man has been involved in over the years – anyone remember the Avengers: Timeslide arc? We saw a completely different Tony Stark there. I can honestly say that when I first heard of this story arc I was like “Really??” and not in a good way. It sounded ridiculous. It sounded just plan stupid! But now that I’ve read the prologue, it’s actually interesting. I am definitely surprised. And now I cannot wait for the next issue to come out. -Kelly Cassidy
MARS ATTACKS #10 (IDW) FINAL ISSUE
I’m figuring this is the final issue because there are no solicits for the series after this issue. There are a few things of interest here not the least of which is the possibility that this whole time it wasn’t Mars attacking. Yeah, you read that right. The scientist who created the weapon that killed the aliens also seemed to think they weren’t from Mars. He was about to tell us where they actually came from but he was killed by an alien so the mystery remains and we’ll just assume they are from Mars until we know different.
So, where this series, or I guess this part of the story, ends is not really a full ending. The invasion is halted but not stopped, the man who created the only effective weapon is killed before all his secrets could be known but there are others who can carry on the fight. Young Tommy Bailey is probably the only person on Earth who can recreate the weapon but he doesn’t have all the information, or so he thinks. His dog actually holds all the information on a flashdrive the scientist put on his collar before he died. So what does this all mean? Well, it means the invasion isn’t over yet. The Martians have planned this invasion for years and I’m sure they weren’t planning to put all their eggs in one basket.
I really hope that this isn’t the end for this story. With an all-new set of Mars Attacks trading cards coming out soon I hope we get another miniseries to further this story. Maybe that would be the best way to continue Mars Attacks, as a series of miniseries…? All in all it was a great ride and I’m on board for whatever IDW has planned for the future of the Mars Attacks franchise -Skott Jimenez
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #9 (Marvel NOW!)
This is the issue that was supposed to piss off fans more than ever? Really? Talk about a disappointment. I knew Doc Ock was going to defeat Spider-Man again. No surprise there. What I did find surprising was the battle inside Peter Parker’s head. It was almost a message to the fans to see what kind of awe-inspiring stories can come from this change of character. Yes Ock has made Parker’s life hell, and yes he has been a very morbid hero, but a hero nonetheless. And he has been Superior to top that. That isn’t Peter Parker in his head, that is Doc Ock’s version of Parker. Spider-Man has been dead. This is just Otto’s insecurity. I don’t have any proof of that but I have a very strong feeling that is exactly how this will play out. And if you think for one second Marvel isn’t going to have Peter Parker back in the driver’s seat by Amazing Spider-Man 2 you are a damn fool. Marvel and Sony would never miss out on the chance of free advertising, hell I wouldn’t put it past them to have Spidey taking on Electro in that exact month in a monumental battle, something that will make people take Electro seriously. Yeah good luck with that. Parker is gone. Let’s move on. Bring on the great new stories Slott! -Nick Furious
THANOS RISING #2 (Marvel NOW!)
Jason Aaron’s writing with Marvel has been completely love-it-or-hate-it for me. I have loved what he’s been doing in the pages of Thor, but although Wolverine and the X-Men had a strong premise it just didn’t do it for me. So, when I heard that he was writing the Thanos miniseries that will be used to introduce a number of new readers to the character in anticipation of both the upcoming Infinity event that Marvel is doing as well as making sure that movie viewers learn who Thanos is before Avengers 2, I was considering not bothering since I am familiar with the character. However, with Simone Bianchi on art… Now I had to get it. Whereas the first issue I was kind of… meh, I did like this issue. We are now seeing where Thanos’ first infatuation with death has come from. It gave a reason as to why he was looking into it in the first place. Now, we see it more as an intellectual interest here; we don’t see the kind of obsession he has with it elsewhere. But this appears to be more of a precursor to how he got introduced to the concept of death and I anticipate the next few issues will deal with his obsession. What I did like in this issue was the use of Eros. For those that do not remember him, Eros is the brother of Thanos and was the Avenger known as Starfox. I am wondering if we can expect to see Starfox in the upcoming movies as a natural connection between Thanos and the team. (I’m hoping, as I’ve always loved the character.) So is this issue worth it after all that rambling? It was all right. I think it fell right in the middle of Aaron’s writing spectrum for Marvel currently. I don’t think it truly takes away from the history of Thanos at all, but I don’t think this miniseries to date really adds anything, either. Unless there is something that will arise out of Infinity. We’ll just have to wait and see. -Kelly Cassidy
X-FACTOR #255 (Marvel)
X-Factor is the one X-book that just doesn’t fit with the rest and since writer Peter David originally took over the title with #71 of the original run that was the case. I mean, it had characters from X-Men, New Mutants, X-Force, and Generation X as its main characters. It had mystery and humor, whereas the other books were primarily dealing with the latest mutant menace, be it Magneto, Apocalypse, or some impending parallel universe. No, Peter David has spun a story that takes place within the current Marvel universe but lives outside of the drama that happens elsewhere. And when you can live in your own isolated bubble within the greater world, what happens? You get probably one of the most fun superhero comics that takes superheroes seriously… but not, all at the same time. Now, this issue is part 6 of a story arc called “Hell On Earth” which has all of the characters who represent a definition of hell having a part to take Wolfsbane’s son, Tier, away from her. Why? Because he has the power to “kill” these Hell Gods. (Well, not really, but he can discorporate them for a period of time which really ticks them off.) Never mind that, but something seems off with M who is in the middle of a fight with Strong Guy at the end of last issue. (For those new to X-Factor, yes, there is a character named Strong Guy.) Peter has been building this title up to this epic battle for some time, and I’m amazed it happened as it did – mostly because Peter David suffered a stroke not too long ago and it impacted his ability to write the book! All the more power to him for recovering in that way! But now the bad news… After this arc is done, there will be a number of solo character stories… and then that’s the end of X-Factor. It’s done. And that’s too bad as this is an amazingly fun read every month. For those who have not read it yet, I recommend going back and picking up the trades. You will enjoy it. The humor, the stories, and (for those of us who love long-term story planning) a Claremont-style length of time on the book writing all of the adventures of the characters who have both unique personalities and family-style conflict. This makes it not only fun but a very unique title. -Kelly Cassidy