On the Panel

May 3, 2014 | Posted by in Comics

Closer to the time frame I want this week, Amazing Spider-Man relaunched this week too and I plan to do an more comprehensive piece on that so stay tuned for that.

Avengers World #5

My feelings on this series have been quite mixed, at times I feel like the whole Avengers comic franchise is getting a bit too big for itself, which makes sense given the in universe events that are going on but at the same time I feel that it lacks direction and cohesion at times.

I really found that with this issue, Bruce Banner plays a significant role and he is utterly different to how he appears in the new Hulk series which just confuses me. Is this in an alternate reality? Set before? Set after? How am I supposed to contextualise the Marvel universe these days? Different comics are set in the same universe yet some are pretty far behind others. Aren’t they all going to have to sync back up when Original Sin begins just next week? It’s all a bit mind boggling. Seriously does anyone agree with me on this? Feel free to tweet me, facebook me, G+ me (is there a verb for google plus yet?) or we can have a conversation in the comments section about it.

That being said, the fact that this issue doesn’t mesh with a completely different comic doesn’t detract from what goes on here at all, the comic exists to tell its own story which it does quite well I have to say. I actually really liked how Banner was presented here as he is forced to deal with a number of young S.H.I.E.L.D recruits and seems to go out of his way to intimidate them, some of it does appear like an older person ashamed of the current youth culture but it works pretty well. Seeing Banner at the limits of his self control for his own amusement is great fun to read, it just makes the guy more interesting than the tortured soul he is often portrayed as.

The main focus of the issue is Iron Man having a chat with Manifold -I have to confess to not knowing an awful lot about this guy but there are so many characters kicking about that it’s hard to keep track, if you’re interested then there’s info here– to try to convince him to help out with saving the lives of three avengers trapped behind a forcefield that needs a special kind of teleporter to get through. Manifold tells Iron Man that his powers have been weakened by recent events and he has to recover. This recovery leads him to speak to the current Captain Universe –Tamara Devoux– who takes him into The Dreamtime, apparently that’s where the universe dreams. While in there he sees the end of Earth -and possibly more- which causes him to reconsider helping Iron Man.

I found the Manifold stuff tough to follow because I don’t have much idea who he is but on the whole this was a well written issue with some great character stuff, mainly coming from Banner and Manifold. On the whole I enjoyed it but it does slightly collapse under the universal cross referencing required.

Avengers, Vol 5 #28

The conflict rages on against their alternate universe counterparts here. One of the better issues of this series I felt.

Most of the issue concerns a conversation between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner -another different version to Avengers World #5 and Hulk #2?– who are discussing the state of The Avengers in general. Banner has nothing but questions for Tony about why he chose the particular setup that he chose for this specific team. This doesn’t seem to be something that has occurred to anyone else but Banner is a genius on par -if not exceeding- Tony so it makes sense that he would be ahead of the curve on this one. Their conversation is very tense as they seem to be at some kind of intellectual stalemate with Tony continually asking what’s in Banner’s briefcase to steer the subject away from what Banner is trying to find out. It’s revealed that Tony is aware of the death of the multiverse and that it is coming to their universe so naturally it has to be stopped. Tony inducts Banner into the Illuminati and reveals his plans.

The intellectual stalemate is fantastic, Banner is logically laying out the facts of what he has discovered and Tony is at a loss to deny them. Tony and Banner play off each other wonderfully and their intelligence is very well shown here. We get side stories involving the adaptoids and the alternate Avengers which acts as setup for later issues, not bad but just waiting for the payoff of it all.

Overall an intelligently written issue that moves things along nicely. The real strength lies with Tony and Banner’s conversation, these characters have a rich history and this is nicely alluded to here.

Hulk (2014) #2

Forgetting for a minute that this seems to be a completely different Bruce Banner to the one featured in Avengers Vol. 5 #28 and Avengers World #5 and that none of this connected universe seems to connect, this story is excellent.

Banner is living a simple life as a mentally handicapped janitor under the name Bobby which brings him absolute contentment since he has no recollection of his former life. Finally he’s able to find some peace through ignorance. This is a great way to approach a Bruce Banner story, he’s the most vulnerable he’s ever been considering he can’t fall back on his intellect any more and doesn’t even know who he is. He’s being cared for by an elderly couple who are terrified of his mood swings, of which there are many. The dangerous thing now is that the most innocuous things set him off and they are terrified of him Hulking out. Fortunately the ease of angering him means that it’s easier to summon The Hulk when The Abomination returns.

As I said above, this issue was excellent. We see Banner in an entirely new light which makes him more unpredictable than his green skinned alter ego, I also really liked that Maria Hill didn’t want to upset his new life and feels genuine regret in causing him to become The Hulk. It’s not yet know what Banner’s mindset is when he is The Hulk but he seems as destructive as ever, it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out and I wonder if this is a setup for the hyper intelligent Hulk of the future as we’ve seen before. It would certainly make sense, if that future is to happen then swapping the intelligence divide in this character would be a good way to do it.

Silver Surfer (2014) #2

Dan Slott’s Silver Surfer comic continues and picks up right where the last issue left off. The Silver Surfer serves as champion of The Impericon and takes on The Queen of Nevers to save the life of a young woman from Earth that he’s never met.

Of course he does everything he can because that’s the kind of guy he is, he’s the protector of anyone in the universe who needs protecting but he lacks all the facts. Unsurprisingly The Incredulous Zed -love that name- hasn’t been truthful with our hero and is using the queen’s heart to power The Impericon so it’s entirely understandable that she’d be annoyed at that. This causes him to switch sides and decide to help the queen retrieve her heart.

Lots to like here. Dawn is a fantastic character who adapts to her new situation really well, taking the alien interactions in her stride and showing how resourceful she is in her escape. I also really liked how The Surfer was shown alternate realities and gets a hint of why Dawn is supposed to be important to him. The idea of wishing being an unknown power in the universe is quite fantastical but also fits in this sort of story, there’s been more insane stuff in Marvel stories so this isn’t that bad.

The comparisons to Doctor Who are undeniable, we have a feisty, smart and curious companion who sees the universe in a unique way which will ultimately cause The Surfer to see everything through her eyes, we have the lonely traveler in the form of The Silver Surfer who is missing something in his life and needs the help of a human being to fill that void and we have over the top science fiction/fantasy set in far off alien lands. This isn’t a bad thing and I think it’s a good direction to take this character in, a story like this makes sense for him and I like the quirky, colourful style that this series has so far. I really look forward to reading more. If it has any downfall is that Dawn seems pretty quick to accept everything but I do love how excited she is about everything around her.

What If? Age of Ultron #5

Well, at least it has some Ultron in it. The unsatisfying conclusion to the unsatisfying series that is based on another unsatisfying series.

The scenario this time is supposed to be What If Hank Pym had never created Ultron? which seems to be what issues 2-4 were about too. In this outing, the worlds depicted in issues 2-4 all converge and the different versions of the characters all meet until we get an alternate Avengers comprised of members from different realities. So we have sailor Wolverine, one of the many Captain America offshoots, Black Widow with Thor’s powers and a Hank and Jan from the universe where Hank randomly forgot his Ultron idea.

Sound ridiculous? It is but it’s not bereft of cool moments, these characters were fun to see in those issues if nothing else so to see them team up is oddly quite exciting. It seems to make sense for Ultron to go reality hopping in his quest for dominance and it was cool to see the various action pieces of these bizarre takes on characters taking on versions of Ultron.

The ending seems to suggest that these characters will return someday since it’s not stated that it’s purely a What If? scenario. It’s clearly taking place in multiple realities which could easily cross over into the main one at some stage, time will tell I guess.

Wolverine (2014) #5

We’re finally fully in the present and we see Wolverine try to acclimate himself into his cover story. He’s having a fake -or maybe it’s real- romance with Pinch and is generally trying to prove that he’s now not on the side of the so called angels.

Not before he gets a tattoo which I actually think makes sense for Wolverine to do, he’s no longer immortal and his skin won’t heal from it so why not? I also found his choice quite interesting. He goes for a rose which represents someone with that name whom he wronged in his life at some point. What that particular woman he wronged and not one of the seemingly endless others isn’t made clear but I hope it will be at some stage.

Pinch serves as the narrator for this piece and I think it works for the most part, it give an interesting insight into how Wolverine’s new friends perceive him and how he is not yet trusted by all of them, even his current lover. She’s also a good character so it’s great to see how she thinks.

The disappointment comes in the confrontation with Thor which doesn’t last long at all and ultimately serves as a lot of buildup for something that’s fairly underwhelming. I do like that it seems to make Pinch think that he’s not acting like a villain when talking to Thor but maybe the altercation did something to convince some of the others of Wolverine’s allegiance.

In summary, it was pretty good with strong Wolverine character moments. Getting the insight into Pinch was interesting and it seems that the story pace is about to quicken, all in all a strong effort if a little slow paced and at time unnecessary, it serves as more of a side story than an actual continuation.

Batman Eternal #4

Another excellent issue in this ongoing story. I haven’t found Batman this interesting to read in a long time.

Most of the narrative here focuses on Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl and her single minded obsession with clearing her father’s name. Both emotionally and rationally she can’t believe that he is guilty because if he is then it would suggest some form of incompetence on his part, something that she knows very well to be untrue. Her obsession causes her to fight with Batman before she continues on her personal mission.

Batman is no slouch here either, he goes to speak to Falcone and causes some expensive damage in the process as well as fighting with a few of his henchmen. The conversation between the two is great, dripping with history and deep seated resentment between the two men.

Stephanie’s development is relegated to a couple of pages but her story is furthered nicely, turns out her mother also can’t be trusted. Seems that she can’t go to anyone for support at this time and I’m really interested to see where that will take her.

A great continuation that moves some of the pieces in this complex story superbly. Jim Gordon in prison should prove interesting since he helped put away many of his cellmates and Batgirl’s single minded mission is something that is guaranteed to get her in a lot of trouble. I also like that Batman is losing control of the situation from almost every angle, roll on next week.