Marvel 616 Politics

Marvel 616 Politics

This site has recently started up and with the need of contributors, I have started to turn my energy towards helping my friends as they build a strong Marvel Comic based community. This means few to no new reviews on this blog for awhile. If you have enjoyed and found my reviews useful I am sorry, but I encourage you to head over there and check out all there is to check out. It is far more than reviews. It is a celebration of everything Marvel Comics.

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Review: All-New Ghost Rider #1

Written by Felipe Smith

Art by Tradd Moore

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In the 90s, I had a hard time searching for dark and gritty comics which recognized my teenage angst and pragmatic worldview yet still had the mother approving seal of the comic code on them. Since I was enamored predominantly by Marvel (I flirted with Superman and Batman, but my love was the 616) I leaned towards particular titles. These included Wolverine, Spider-Man (by Todd McFarlane), Punisher, and the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider. One of my main memories was picking up issue 25 with the gore filled covered of Danny’s transformation to Ghost Rider. I thought I had picked up something I wasn’t supposed to, but the seal in the top left corner meant it was okay. I say all that to say that I have a great fondness towards Ghost Rider, mainly due to him being one of my earliest forms of teenage rebellion. I’ve always looked at Ghost Rider comics as somewhere some kid’s first rebellion towards authority. He’s a spirit of vengeance that is basically a demon and has no issues killing those that deserve it, and those who are inhabited by him usually have to wrestle with this possession by basically a fire breathing Punisher. I think as the hormones start to course through a young man or woman’s body there is some aspect of this which translates to them. In certain ways I can see this idea being continued forward in the latest volume of Ghost Rider as Robbie Reyes takes the mantle passed from Alejandra (and Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze).

ImageThis series starts with the basic introduction of the character as he is doing his best to both take care of his crippled brother and sow his wild oats in a sketchy part of Los Angeles. Robbie cares for his brother and seems like a good guy, but is also shown to be reckless and quick to use violence. Felipe Smith does a great job handling the introduction of the character and helping us understand who Robbie Reyes is and what are his priorities. The sequencing and passing of the script make for a fairly quick but a solid read. I think my many problem with this book is the same problem I have with so many books: the quickness of the read. As is with many comics, there is a chance you have just dropped $4 to read something for ten minutes with very little left to give reason for a second read. I read this issue three times and gained nothing extra that I didn’t get from the first read. Maybe that is to say the writer did an extremely skilled job in telling the story (which I think he did), but the length of the book seems like what would have been covered in several pages, not a complete issue, in the 80s or 90s. That’s a grip I have with most books though, and that does include this one. Other than that it is well written and I was fairly engaged with the character.

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The art by Tradd Moore may take some getting use to. The cover art is the art in the book, so if that greatly turns you off then you know you most likely will not enjoy the interior as well. There is a frenetic energy he brings with his style that I think is perfect for Ghost Rider, but his characters have a cartoony or anime feel which pulls away from the darkness I felt I should be feeling towards the end of the book. He is a talented artist, and I could see enjoying his work on Deadpool or even Spider-Man, but I’m not buying his Ghost Rider or the weight and scariness of the character. Instead of a flaming skull striking fear into the hearts of evildoers, it just feels like a guy in a mask and a cool car. The transformation he give Robbie into the Rider does harken back to the 90s cover of issue 25 that I loved so much though. The drag racing is where he really shines and the energy he brings through his style works perfectly. But overall in terms of the darkness and supernatural elements he has a lot of work in the next issue to sell me that he is the correct artist for this title.

ImageThis is a fairly well done introduction to the character and the story is left open to intrigue me to want to the read the next issue. With the quickness of the read and the frivolity of the artwork, if you are sitting on the fence for this title I can’t help but recommend you wait until the trade to check it out.

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Rating 3 out of 5

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Review: Daredevil #1 (All-New Marvel Now)

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee

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The renumbering of this series starts as Hell’s Kitchen’s very own hero has moved out West for some sun and sourdough. If you haven’t read the digital Daredevil series yet you will see the trip taking place, because Matt Murdock cannot have a simple road trip. The first episode of that series also explains quickly why Daredevil is moving out west. The all-new Daredevil series starts with him acting as a private consultant on a kidnapping case in San Francisco, to then attempting a rescue of the girl kidnapped, to him trying to settle in to the new city and joining a friend’s legal firm. I have not read many issues in Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil up until now, so this review is from the perspective of this issue being a jumping on point.

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If you are a staunch purist of the Daredevil during and post Frank Miller (also as written by Smith, Bendis, and Brubaker) then Waid’s take on Daredevil may bother. For those who read and enjoyed Bill Everett’s original work on Daredevil (yes, the Bill Everett that also created both the Sub Mariner and what we consider the 616 Universe in 1939), Waid’s take on Marvel’s crimson knight is a strong reflection of that original character and a fresh take after years of a dark and brooding character. The main aspect I love about Waid’s take (and what Everett created) is that Matt Murdock loves being Daredevil. There is true joy when he puts on the mask and does what he does best. He is a daredevil and is thrilled in the daring deeds and fantastic feats he expertly executes. Sorry, I think I was just embodied by Stan Lee. But in all seriousness, the slightly more light-hearted approach in certain aspects that Waid takes with the character is a welcomed take after approximately thirty years of sadistic (but skilled) writers putting Daredevil through the ringer. I found this a welcomed change.

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This issue, beyond just his take on the character, feels like a great welcome to readers looking to jump onboard to a new series. This issue doesn’t get muddled down in trying to explain why Daredevil is in San Francisco. It assumes if you want to know that you will read or have read the previous volume, but it starts fresh the same way the character is in a new town. At the same time, Waid doesn’t ignore the past actions and scenery of the character, adding hints and subtle references and jokes for those readers who have been on board for years. And as too Waid’s skill as a writer, well, that should never be questioned.

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Chris Samnee has stunning artwork in this issue. He plays around on a few splash pages with some innovative paneling, but does not get bogged down in trying to recreate how comics look as to create something that is difficult to read. His storytelling and paneling stays traditional when the action and story requires, and he ends up creating an expertly drawn issue. His artwork has a nostalgic edge in this issue harkening back to the origins of the Marvel universe in the silver age of comics. It is similar to Ditko and Kirby, yet still its own.

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If you haven’t read any of Mark Waid’s work on Daredevil yet, I strongly recommend starting here. This book is a perfect jumping on point. If you have been reading the series then I’m sure you already know whether or not you enjoy Waid’s take and Samnee’s art, but if you don’t like them, I’d still encourage you to give it another shot with this issue.

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Rating 4 out of 5

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Review: Captain Marvel #1

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by David Lopez

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First, I am not an avid Captain Marvel reader, nor am I a Carol Corps member. I generally understand the appeal, especially to female comic readers, of a strong and de-sensualized female superhero, and I think it is something that the mainstream comic industry is working hard to correct. What I feel the comic book industry is not working hard to correct is the constant renumbering which falsely portrays this issue as an easy jumping on point for new readers.

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DeConnick is not a bad writer, and I don’t think is at the place she is in the industry due to some affirmative action type scenario or her husband’s clout. She is a very skilled writer in her element with dialogue and character relationships. By character relationships, I do not necessarily mean romance, but the inner workings of personal connections between characters. I think this, potentially above anything else, is what has made her extremely popular. That work is shown skillfully in this issue as Carroll both talks with a young child whom is living with her and as she deals with her desire to expand her superhero career in a conversation with James Rhodes, with whom she is having a romantic relationship. Both of those scenes play out well, and bring forward sides to the character which generally do not appear in the pages of Avengers where she is much more of a stoic soldier. The largest problem with this issue and its writing it that I came in thinking it was a jumping on point. While it is the start of a new arc for Captain Marvel, the finishing touches of her interpersonal relationships which DeConnick has been building since she took over the series left me feeling slightly lost at points. Who are these people living with Carol and why do they all live in the head of the Statue of Liberty? Who is the old lady who is dying and who are all these people at her party? While it would not be difficult to go back and get caught up on previous issues, honestly the issue was not so amazing that I really wanted to go back and do that. I’m still interested to see where the comic is going because it looks to potentially shift tones dramatically to an outer space adventure, but I think there may be some people who pick this up for the first time and are turned away due to the trickery of Marvel’s constant renumbering. The one piece which I do not understand at all and do not enjoy about this series (and this again may be due to the fact that I have not read much of the series at all) is the overwhelming sorrow and isolation that Captain Marvel appears to feel and place on herself. This may be something that I am generally missing, and potentially may make sense, but from jumping on this issue after only reading three to four previous issues, there is a strong pensive under current to the character which at times is somewhat of an annoyance. The final line of the issue has to do with the character no being able to find her place in the world, and while I’m sure this may have a connection to some of the younger readers, I have a difficult time imagining an air force ace pilot and one of the most powerful Avengers dealing with this problem, especially if Captain America isn’t even dealing with this anymore.

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The art by Lopez is great. While it isn’t the greatest work at Marvel, Lopez does do a fantastic job of drawing expressions and making the silence in the script matter. Being that this is a comic built very much on relationships, having an artist that is capable of handling more than just action is vital, and Lopez shows that he is extremely capable of handling a dramatic story. Yet when it turns to the few moments of action in an otherwise dialogue driven issue, Lopez show he isn’t a slouch at showing those moments either. His characters do not feel static or stiff. His work helps lift a script that I may have otherwise not enjoyed as much.

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All-in-all, I think some people will be turned away by the large amount of relationships addressed and the lack of action in the issue. I don’t necessarily think that the drama is bad, and enjoyed the issue over-all apart from the feeling that I was missing something when it came to certain character relationships and the inner struggle of the main character. This was not a book that made me want to go back and get caught up, but was one that makes me interested to see where the story is going. I’m not ready to jump on board and become a member of the Carol Corps yet, but I can see why others are so enthusiastic about this character and her story.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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An Announcement (Of Sorts)

This blog was part of the ComicCodes.com website, and while that venture didn’t come to full fruition, this blog is still here, and it might as well stick around because I don’t have that much to do. There is somewhat regular traffic to this site, and while there is little feedback on whether this site is providing useful reviews of Marvel comics to those visiting…I like to hope it is. But I would like to have more than hope.

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Avengers 31

I’m requesting that regular (heck, even random) visitors here let me know what books you are interested in reading reviews about. I have another blog which involves all around comic book reviews, and since this blog is unofficially tied to one of the cohosts of the Marvel 616 Podcast I would prefer just to keep this to Marvel only reviews which is what it has been up until now. If you are interested in other comic publications or analysis of comic subjects please see my other blog. Also because of the tie to Marvel 616 Politics Podcast and their desire to create a family friendly community (even though they talked about horrifically slaughtering a handicap bunny on that one episode) this blog will veer away from most of the mature titles Marvel offers. But I will be happy to review those on my other blog.

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Fantastic Four 12

I’ll try with somewhat regularity to keep reviews coming on the books I am reading. And I’ll try to branch out on titles to cover a wide girth of interests from Marvel Comics. But if you, the reader, would like to see a review of a certain issue or even an arc please let me know and I will do my best to fulfill that. Any excuse I can find to buy and read more comics is not a problem to me.

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Uncanny X-Men 35

Also, I am deciding to most likely not do the current week’s releases in reviews. I’ve looked over past reviews and after further mulling and reading I believe in a hurry to release the latest reviews I haven’t properly reviewed and critically analyzed certain issues. While many of the reviews I stand behind, the issues still deserved further contemplation and potentially more than just two read-throughs prior to writing a review.

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Daredevil 2

As always, I am happy to receive any positive or critical feedback as well as any unused digital comic codes. Please feel free to let me know what you think or request a review or, again, give me any unused digital comic codes. (hint. hint.) I hope to continue to grow this into a blog you can trust and rely upon even if you don’t always agree with my opinions.

kevin.mcvicker@gmail.com

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Amazing Spider-Man 5

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Review: Moon Knight 1

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Declan Shalvey

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Far too often Moon Knight is relegated to merely being little more than Marvel’s violent and crazy version of Batman. In the past writers and artists have taken one of two paths, violent or crazy, and amped that feature up to separate Moon Knight from Batman. David Finch’s path was a far more violent Moon Knight while Brian Michael Bendis’ Moon Knight focused on the crazy. Warren Ellis, in one issue, has found a way to balance both. Moon Knight is part Batman and part Rorschach in this issue, yet at the same time these comparisons fail to completely grasp the depth of the character that Ellis is bringing to Moon Knight.

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Warren Ellis creates a noir world for Moon Knight to inhabit, showing him as an intelligent fighter and skilled tactician. This standalone issue shows his overall detective skills with the addition of his pure ability to quickly size up opponents and approach them within an appropriate manner. It is important to note that Moon Knight’s detective skills share more with Sherlock Holmes than Batman which helps separate this from just a Batman rip-off. This is a much more patient and skilled Moon Knight than seen in previous incarnations. He has a cavalier flare about him as he deals with the police which also shows he has a great self-awareness. Ellis writes a fantastic intimate character portrayal that is welcoming to those new to Moon Knight but is also a fresh yet familiar enough of a take on this fan favorite figure.

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Declan Shalvey’s art will most likely be the hardest sale on this book. I personally think it is fantastic, but the indie feel he brings is in the same arena as Maleev and Aja, yet still all his own. It is obvious Marvel has fared extremely well with the personal character and odd personalities such as Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man and is attempting to add indie credibility to another title with Shalvey’s style which is an extreme departure to the sleek and clean styles of many mainstream titles. I think this is a great thing for the mainstream industry. While artists like Shalvey may not have a style as clean and sexy as Jim Lee or the like, often their ability to tell stories stands spectacularly beyond the popular artists. Shalvey not only lifts the story to new heights with his art, he immediately puts us into a dark and gritty world, bringing a perfect setting to the world Ellis is trying to create.

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I love this title, yet I have to admit I am a Warren Ellis fan boy. I think Ellis is to comics as King Midas was to everything, so I may be a bit biased on my review. I do think if you are more interested in fast action and intense drama which echoes throughout continuity like X-Men or Avengers this may not be the book for you. But if you enjoy the quiet character studies of Hawkeye or the recent Black Widow series, this may be a book right up your alley (pun kind of intended).

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Rating 5 out of 5

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Review: All-New X-Men 22.Now

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen

ImageThis issue marks part one of the six part All-New X-Men/Guardians of the Galaxy cross-over The Trial of Jean Grey. I fell off of All-New X-Men and Guardians mid last year once I realized that after ten years Bendis and I should take a break and see other people.

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Bendis is an incredibly skilled and talented writer. I still think he blew his great plot ideas after Secret Invasion, but even then he is undoubtedly one of the greatest dialogue writers in comic books today. I even enjoyed Age of Ultron with its lack of Ultron due to the interesting character interactions of Logan and Sue Storm. With all of that, Bendis still has that touch. Half this issue is basically Jean and Scott fighting and although nothing really happens, like a Kevin Smith movie, you can’t help but enjoy what he puts the characters through. I think the break from Bendis has made me appreciate his amazing skill in dialogue. And that doesn’t say anything negative about the plot and what he is building. I am honestly interested in where this is going and seeing GotG and the X-Men interact in future issues (nothing really happens until the final page in this issue).

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Immonen is an incredibly skilled artist and is amazing when he works with Bendis. He has a great talent at both subtle facial expressions and superheroic action. He is one of the bigger guns at Marvel and I honestly would love to see more of his work on indie books in the future. He has a defined style that is only his and can only be poorly mimicked. He does a stellar job in this issue. At points, some of his work in this issue is very reminiscent of Walter Simonson’s work on early X-Factor issues which is not a negative statement at all.

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I highly recommend this book even though I assume most of you are picking it up anyway. Bendis and Immonen show they still have great things to give us as comic fans even after ten strong years. If I could give one complaint, which this is often my complaint about Marvel Comics any longer, it is annoying to pay $4 for only seventeen pages of story. Luckily, these seventeen pages are extremely strong.

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Rating 4.5 out of 5

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Review: All-New Invaders #1

Written by James Robinson
Art by Steve Pugh

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I deserve something for this. Seriously, I can’t get that time back from reading this. I’m going to start with the positive points because I really dislike the idea of writing down how bad this issue is. People spent time and created something they are probably proud of and now I’m going to poop in their cereal.

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Steve Pugh does a fine job on the art. He has a clean style that works well for the book. Some of his backgrounds are shallow and occasionally it looks as though he is mimicking other artists like Mike Deodato or Greg Land. Yes, those are different stylized but certain panels harken to those artists. I think if he discoveries his own voice artistically he could become a great asset to Marvel Comics. He does a great job showing the Human Torch and he has a few stand out panels which make this something worthwhile to thumb through at the stands.

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Now…I’m going to start this section by saying I know bad comic writing because I’m a bad comic writer. Okay. I’m not saying I could do better than James Robinson (although maybe I could) but anyone else at Marvel could. And to be fair, I think he may have an interesting plot. But his dialogue is atrocious. It is trite and clichéd and boring. He tries so hard to make characters sounds quaint and Southern that he creates characters who are boring and ignorant sounding. I attempted to reread the issue as though it was written in the 60s or 70s but the truth is it is 2014 and I think we can all agree unless it is an “all ages” book we expect a slightly more intelligent read. It makes me question the entire editorial staff which allowed this poor dialogue to pass by them. In no way after reading this issue do I feel as though I better know the characters introduced. If anything, I feel like Robinson doesn’t know them either. And one more thing…the in-battle banter. Seriously, who writes villains stopping and having a monologue anymore? And the Human Torch is actually questioning out-loud yet rhetorically whether she is alien on Namor’s race in the middle of a fight?

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I will not be reading the next issue which irritates me because I enjoy the original Human Torch and was happy to see him in a book again. But not this one. Not now. Save your pennies, kids.

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Rating: 1 out of 5

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Review: Thunderbolts 20.Now

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Carlo Barberi

ImageThis issue marks a jumping on point for the All-New Marvel Now campaign while continuing the storyline set up with issue one of this latest volume. General Ross (aka Rulk) has his ragtag group of antiheroes and has promised them help with their problems as long as they help him with his. I haven’t read this series since Daniel Way handed the series off to Charles Soule, so I am reviewing this as someone who is slightly aware, but as a new reader.

Image Charles Soule does a fantastic job with this script. He shows he is at great ease with a team-book and making sure that each character’s voice and personality shine through correctly and adequately. Obviously any book where Deadpool is written well he can easily steal the show, but Soule does a great job of making sure that each character is given their piece of the spot-light without making it feel forced. Soule also uses the natural progression of the story-arc to add Johnny Blaze to the mix of the team without it feeling forced. All-in-all this is an extremely humorous script and is an enjoyable read. Another writer could have easily made this feel like a throw away issue that was forgettable. Soule is able to quickly make me want to go back and read his run on this series so far and then continue with what he has planned. This series has become my brand new series to pick up each month.

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Carlo Barberi is a talented artist. His work on Daniel Way’s Deadpool series was always some of my favorite, and while I’m not a huge fan of the way he chooses to draw the Punisher, the rest of the group and even the backgrounds are expertly drawn. One nice small touch is the addition of small background pieces that reference old storylines after General Ross mentions something about alien relics. The Mark I and the Beyonder’s jumpsuit are the obvious entries. Barberi continues to show he is a talented artist even if he isn’t one of the bigger names at Marvel.

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I have to recommend this book if you are interested in any of these characters. All aspects of this book bring a humorous and fun addition to each of these characters’ continuity. And as long are you are not a stickler for everything being serious you may find a new series to pick up as well. Basically this is a very fun read.

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Rating: 4 out of 5

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Review: Marvel Knights – Hulk 02

Written by Joe Keatinge
Art by Piotr Kowalski

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This is one of the harder reviews I’ve written. The main reason this is so hard is because I’ve left the issue not hating and not loving, but genuinely not caring. There is no part of this issue that jumps out as me wanting to encourage anyone to read it, but if someone told me they did enjoy it I don’t have a strong enough negative inclination to fight them and call them “stupid” (because this is what’s supposed to happen on the internet). Honestly the best word I can give to describe this book is “apathy.”

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This issue starts with at the ruins of the Louvre in Paris where two gamma irradiated men blew up which an amnesiac Banner survived. He is then kidnapped by an off-shoot of A.I.M. who is currently fighting A.I.M. They give him a super-soldier type drug to turn him into the Hulk but make him manageable to their will to help turn the fight in their favor. That is the entire plot of this issue. A little exposition and the introduction of pointless characters also occurred, similarly to the first issue.

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I have no knowledge of Joe Keatinge or anything he has written in the past, but as I read this issue I kept feeling like he was failing miserably at channeling Warren Ellis. It felt like there were attempts at humor and ridiculousness like Agents of H.A.T.E. but after a down-to-Earth tone set at the introduction of the first issue I kept questioning if it was intentionally supposed to be humorous or if it was just really bad writing. And I think that was my major issue with this. I reread issue one to remember what had occurred right before I read issue two, and honestly it could have been two different writers handling each issue and I would’ve probably been more on board. The last Hulk story I really read was the end of Jason Aaron’s run called “Stay Angry” which was incredibly ridiculous and while not a classic I thought it was fun and enjoyable. I also loved Peter David’s masterful arc which had a much more serious tones. So I can accept either tone in a Hulk story, but the disjointed feeling between these two issues is enough to make me not care to continue reading. Also the language in this book (which I’m fine with cursing and have the mouth of a sailor anyways) feels forced to give the series an edge but isn’t really strong enough to actually make it edgy. It is kind of like when the f-bomb is dropped in a PG-13 movie and you’re offended, not by the word, but by some strange marketing ploy to use that word once just to get a PG-13 rating.

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I understand that Marvel is using the Marvel Knights imprint this time around to give an indie feel to superhero stories, and with Spider-Man (which is Amazing!) and X-Men (not too awful) I get that feel especially in the art. With Piotr Kowalski, they’re just drawings. I’m not sure if it is because of how apathetic I feel about the story, but I’m as equally apathetic about the art. It isn’t bad, and given the right story I think I could very much enjoy his artwork. But it rides this weird line where it isn’t really indie enough for me to accept some of the sloppiness as style. I think the best way to compare his work is to Emma Rios (The Amazing Spider-Man, Osborn, and Pretty Deadly), who has a stylistically sloppiness that helps build and defines the worlds in which she is telling the story. Kowalski’s art doesn’t help define a world or define the story, and for the most part, if Keatinge is trying to be humorous, his art style doesn’t help get that point across.

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I think it is pretty clear that I can’t recommend this book. It isn’t awful and it isn’t the worse issue out this week, but there are so many other great books out every week (beyond just Marvel) that I really recommend spending your $3.99 elsewhere. But if you like you Hulk books sans the Incredible Hulk, here you go.

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Rating 2 out of 5

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