Posts Tagged ‘Avengers’

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Marvel’s comic event of the Spring kicks into high gear as former Captain America, Steve Rogers, learns a secret so devastating it could shake up the Marvel universe in a very big way.

Writer Nick Spencer delivers on the mystery and intrigue in the opening book of this mini-series. For fans who read the prelude book, Welcome to Pleasant Hill, we already have a pretty good idea of what’s going on, but it is fun to watch as the writer strings Steve Rogers along, leaving little breadcrumbs for him to find that eventually lead him to the bigger reveal. The story is definitely not heavy on the action, but I don’t think it needs to be. Based on the titles slated to be a part of this event, this issue seems like it’s more of a bookend, and most of the action will probably happen in the tie-ins.

The artist here is Jesus Saiz, and he does a solid job. As previously mentioned, there wasn’t a whole lot of action in this issue, so he had to do a lot of expression drawing, and close in shots. Fortunately, Saiz seems to be pretty good at those, which made reading through this issue a lot more pleasant than it could have been.

Overall, I like this story and where it seems to be going, but I still wonder if maybe the conceit was revealed a bit too early. I can’t help but ask what else the creators have in store for us. One thing is for sure though, I will be along for the ride to find out.

The Verdict for Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Alright, so… admittedly, it’s been a little while, but I’m back! And what better way to come back than with the prelude to Marvel’s next big event, Avengers Standoff?

The way I understand it, Standoff is supposed to act as the prelude to Civil War 2, so… I guess that makes this issue the prelude to the prelude.  In any case, the issue starts with the Winter Soldier on a covert mission inside a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. He soon learns a little more than he thought he would just before an abrupt cut to an idyllic little town, and a man waking up in the middle of a field, with no idea who or where he is. The story advances from there as the mystery man slowly tries to piece together his identity, and discovers an interesting secret about Pleasant Hill in the process.

Nick Spencer crafts the introduction to what could be an interesting storyline, particularly as a lead in to another, bigger and more complicated event. It’s already clear that this will be the catalyst that creates an ideological rift in the Marvel community. However, I almost have to wonder if Spencer gave everything away too soon. By the end of this issue, we know exactly what’s going on, so there doesn’t seem to be much left to dangle in front of the readers. That being said, I am curious to find out what could possibly happen over the remaining two issues of the main event book and the half dozen tie-in series that are planned.

Mark Bagley’s artwork is crisp and clean as always. However, all of the perfection of Pleasant Hill leaves an uneasy feeling in the midst of all the surrounding beauty. The main character feels it, and so do the readers. Bagley’s action shots are still some of the most dynamic in the business. There aren’t many here, but what we do see is great, and really provides an uncanny sense of motion and speed.

I can’t say that this is the best starter book to an event series that I’ve ever read, but it’s far from the worst. Spencer may have let the cat out of the bag a little to soon for my tastes, but at the same time, it makes me curious as to where the story is going to go from here. It does seem like this is shaping up to be a pretty interesting event, so if you want to get in on the ground floor, I would recommend you start here.

The Verdict for Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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One of the most anticipated new titles for Marvel’s relaunch dropped last Wednesday with All-New All Different Avengers #1.  This issue finds the new team lineup all sort of doing their own thing, until Iron Man, Captain America (Sam Wilson), and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) are brought together through some strangely incidental circumstances.  We also get a very brief scene involving Ms. Marvel and Nova, but Thor and the Vision are strangely absent here despite their presence on the issue’s cover.  As far as a “team” goes, it looks like we’re not quite there just yet with this group.

Writer Mark Waid gives us a slightly disjointed tale in this comic.  As mentioned above there is a VERY brief introductory scene and then the book more or less jumps straight into the action which apparently led up to that moment.  There is no real team just yet, but Stark and Cap have an interesting discussion regarding the lack of a team carrying the official Avengers name, and I have my ideas as to where the story will go from here.  The narrative does jump around a little bit, and some characters just happen to be in the right place at the right time, which seems to be slightly contrived.  The main villain seems to show up out of nowhere, so I’m hoping future issues will give a little backstory, because there seem to be a lot of holes that need filling.

Adam Kubert and Mahmud Asrar take the art chores here and both do a solid job.  Kubert gets the main part of the story, and Asrar gets a little back story in the final pages detailing the first meeting of Ms. Marvel and Nova.  Asrar does particularly well with the more personal story and the facial emotions of the characters involved.  Kubert does well with the larger action story, where he’s really able to show his talent for expressing movement and big events.

To be honest, I kind of wished they might have started a little bit slower.  I get the desire to jump right in and get people attracted to the action, but it doesn’t leave much room for the characters to get to know one another and interact on that more personal level.  That being said, I’m only one issue into this storyline, so my sincere hope is that there will be more personal moments between the characters in the upcoming issues to really establish solid relationships with one another.  If the current model continues this series will be lots of style with little substance.  I did enjoy the issue, but I would have liked a little more story.

The Verdict for All-New All-Different Avengers #1:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Well, here it is, arguably the most anticipated movie of the year.  But does it live up to all the hype?

Avengers: Age of Ultron starts with a bang, as it picks up not too long after where Captain America: The Winter Soldier left us.  Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, have been raiding Hydra bases looking for Loki’s scepter from the first Avengers movie.  Given the events of the most recent Captain America film, the scepter has fallen into Hydra’s hands, and the good guys suspect they’re up to no good with it.  From there, the movie essentially becomes a non-stop, action thrill ride, with bits of plot mixed in here and there, and the introduction of a few new characters, and of course the titular villain, Ultron.

Speaking of Ultron, let’s start there.  James Spader owned the role.  He doesn’t have the standard maniacal robot voice one might expect from a comic book character.  He almost makes Ultron sound like something that could be reasoned with, and something that might convince you that he’s right, and for a majority of the movie, he delivers his lines in a soft-spoken manner that gives off an incredibly menacing quality to everything he says.  Unfortunately, for as great as the voice acting was, I do feel like the character looked a little silly, particularly when viewed from afar.  Up close, the image matches the menace of the voice well, but from a distance, the character looks oddly disproportionate, and I did find it kind of distracting, but that’s a minor gripe.

The rest of the cast gives solid performances, particularly from Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, and Evans as Captain America.  These two emerge as the main players on opposite ideological sides in what is undoubtedly a lead up to next year’s Captain America: Civil War.  I was pleased to see Jeremy Renner get a chance to better explore the character of Hawkeye in this movie.  We really don’t learn much about the character in The Avengers, but here he becomes far more fleshed out, which definitely added a human element to the team and the movie as a whole.  Hemsworth does his Thor thing as well as he always does, and there are some interesting moments between Scarlett Johannson’s Black widow and Mark Ruffalo’s Banner/Hulk.  Now for the new additions.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen perform reasonably well as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, respectively, and they make interesting new character additions, but their performances are by far the weakest in the entire movie.  They are intended to be vaguely Eastern European and for most of the movie, they pull the accent off well enough, but during other times, it seems to fade, or even disappear completely.  I would have expected more from Disney and Marvel.  And finally, without delving too deep into spoiler territory, I’ll just say that Paul Bettany’s first on-screen role in a Marvel movie is fantastic.

The overall plot in this movie is, to put it lightly, somewhat convoluted.  At this point it’s become blatantly clear that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is less a group of related films all happening in the same universe, and more like a TV series that focuses on a different character every week, and then has a special two-hour long TV movie once a month where all the characters come together.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly makes for an enjoyable model for die-hard followers, but it also means that there is a definite and established continuity at this point and it would be quite difficult for someone who had never previously seen a Marvel movie to walk into this and be able to understand what’s going on.  Also, when The Avengers was released in 2012, there was a certain magical quality to seeing all of the characters on the screen at the same time.  With Age of Ultron, even though these same characters have done their solo adventuring for the past couple of years, I was hoping that same magic would return, but it just wasn’t there this time.  In some ways it seemed to act more like a setup for what was to come rather than focusing and digging deep into its own story.  However, all gripes aside, it was still an entertaining and fun movie to see, just not quite what I’ve come to expect from Marvel.

The Verdict for Avengers: Age of Ultron:
I can dig it

Upcoming reviews:
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
The October Faction #1-#6
Wytches #1-#6
Secret Wars #1
Mad Max: Fury Road

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.