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411’s Comic Reviews: Civil War II #8, Hulk #1, More

January 5, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

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Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review Roundtable! Each week we’ll be serving up a warm dish of reviews from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.

Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!

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Yesterday we discussed, “Do We Want More Watchmen Comics?”

Now on with the show!

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Hulk #1

Review by RobF

Jennifer Walters has survived moral injuries, Thanos and the death of her cousin. But can she survive her greatest battle, day to day living? Markio Tamaki and Nico Leon take us on a journey from loss to recovery and all that it entails.

Jen has recovered, at least physically, from the near-fatal beating she took at the hands of Thanos. Now it’s time to get back to a normal life, whatever that is. The fact she isn’t walking around in her Hulk form is proof that all is not well in the Walters camp. I’m wondering when we will see She-Hulk again and what form/color will she be?

What I can appreciate about this issue is the depiction of a post traumatic stress disorder sufferer. The normal minutia of life-taking the train, going to work-can be a real struggle and you can feel Jen’s trepidation and fear. While I am not enthralled with Jen’s first case/client but I am intrigued to read on.

Nico Leon’s art and Matt Milla’s colors is spot on. You can practically feel her emotions oozing off the page. The art is subdued and the colors really drive it all home.

For a Hulk issue there is no appearance of a Hulk. No Hulk smash. Anything. A bit disappointing. For many years we were subjected to the rampaging/savage She-Hulk. How we get to focus on Jen and her struggle overcome devastating losses and regain her sense of self and I think we have the right team for that.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

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Civil War II #8

Review by Rob Bonnette

OK, so here it is, the final issue in a frustrating seven month, eight issue journey with umpteen crossovers and a few delays. Would the finale redeem this event in the eyes of all the people who have expressed various issues with it, or would it end in as problematic a fashion as it has lived? What would become of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Miles Morales, Carol Danvers, and Ulysses the kinda clairvoyant Inhuman? Would the deaths of Bruce Banner and James Rhodes be revealed as not real, or will they stick for the time being? Is the whole thing just a vision from Ulysses, or is it real? Were the much hyped splash pages in the middle of the book and bonus or completely unhelpful? And finally how does this whole thing reshuffle the deck in the Marvel Universe, and did we really need a reshuffling this soon after the huge reshuffling that resulted from Secret Wars? Well we definitely got some answers, and how you like those answers will probably determine how much you liked this issue and the event as a whole.

The issue picks up where the last one ended, with Captain Marvel (Danvers) and Iron Man (Stark) locked in battle while Spider-Man (Morales) is locked in an energy field Stark trapped him in. Danvers is trying to bring Morales in to keep him safe from killing Rogers while Stark wants to get the kid away from her and whatever kind of confinement SHIELD has in mind. At SHIELD headquarters director Maria Hill is holding back a group consisting of Danvers’ two teams (the Ultimates and Alpha Flight) from going in to help her defeat Stark. Their argument is interrupted by Madusa, queen of the Inhumans, who implores her to stop the fight before Ulysses’ latest vision comes to pass. Danvers and Stark continue to go at it, refusing to stand down, so Hill changes her stand down order to a go break up the fight order. They all go, and the Inhumans head to the scene of the fight as well. Everyone arrives on the scene to see the fight reach its conclusion AND a final vision from Ulysses before he’s called to join another plane of existence and departs. Then we get the aftermath.

Ulysses final vision is what fills up the splash pages in the middle, and is essentially an advertisement for upcoming Marvel events/storylines along with what may be some red herrings of possible futures. Stark is for the time being not in a capacity to serve as Iron Man in the near future. We get glimpses of some of the new teams that are forming post-Civil War and some of the individuals who will be forging some new paths on their own. And we end with Danvers in the office of the President having a similar conversation to the one her boyfriend Rhodes was having with him before he was killed in the first issue. And that’s a wrap for the issue and the series. So what did I think? The artwork was top notch as it’s been throughout, and there definitely some gripping moments in the story. But that doesn’t save it from the same frustrations that have popped up along the way. Ulysses’ ascension puts him squarely in the human plot device Hall of Shame. And the rest of the conclusions are essentially little more than springboards to future stories, even Stark’s condition at the end.

There is zero sense of finality or conclusion to anything here, and apparently zero consequence of any kind to be felt by those who went too far in the name of protecting whatever it is they were trying to save. The character degradation of Danvers that took place over the course of the event was not reversed or ultimately justified in any fashion, and the reveal of Stark’s central argument for opposing her as vehemently as he did is something that didn’t require eight issues of carnage to hash out. As wrong as she has been through this whole event there isn’t an ounce of perceived remorse or anguish on her part at the end of it all, even as everyone around here is broken on the inside and out. Maybe we’ll get that later. This issue is, at least to me, a shiny, good looking advertisement for all the awesome stuff Marvel is doing next year and not an end to a super huge universe consuming story. It’s better than the stretched out filler issues that were six and seven, but still unsatisfying.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

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U.S. Avengers #1

Review by Sankalp G.

Let me get to the point, the only reason I decided to pick this book was Al Ewing. This book is a gimmick strategy. Check its name and characters and it succeeds at becoming one, albeit a funny one.

My question at the start was why was Ewing given the job of handling this comic? One which will not last more than 6-8 issues. He has done good work with the Ultimates and there was no reason for him to show his funny bone with this one. My doubt was vanquished with the first issue and this series has potential to become a good one.

The team: Robert Da Costa (Sunspot, now Citizen V), his best bud Cannonball, Squirrel Girl, and new versions of Iron Patriot, Red Hulk (can become one for limited time), Captain America (alternate timeline) and Enigma (pod). The reason this team is chosen here by Marvel is because of diversity. I understand that this is the kind of message that Americans need now more than ever and I like this idea of having people from different nationality and race come together to save the country in which they live; though there is a major problem with this idea. If there were new heroes with new powers, this could have been actually a really fun ride. Most of the heroes mentioned here are either rip-offs or simply different versions of existing heroes. They could have at least changed the name of the characters, otherwise why would a reader pick this one if he can read the adventures of the original ones. Its not like there is only one team named Avengers.

Most of the issue is like a camera interview, a style Ewing has mastered with the Ultimates. There is action sprinkled in-between, though it is there to introduce the characters and nothing else. The villains of this series, Secret Empire and Golden Skull as their names suggest, are not impressive at all and also feel like cheap rip-offs, at least in their introduction. Cap (Steve Rogers) and Deadpool are already teased for the next few issues to give this series star power, which it sorely lacks.

The art is very good though and it injects life in those interview-style conversations we have here. Paco Medina has done a good job with the first issue.

This issue did a fine job of setting up the series. The main problem are heroes with same names or powers takes away a chunk of the rating. Art is good enough to carry reader through non-action panels.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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Over the Garden Wall #7

Review by Jonathan Durden

I don’t know about you, but when I read a lot of comics with heavy and suspenseful stress-filled scenarios I need a break. Over the Garden Wall gives me that much needed break. It’s an easy read, easy to look at, fun, and it is based off of a mini-series that aired Fall of 2015. Then it was picked up by BOOM! Studios as a four-part mini-series that is now an ongoing comic book for the publisher.

Over the Garden Wall is one of my favorite cartoons as it has a lot of interesting aesthetic properties. It combines that goofy Cartoon Network humor with old-timey themes as main characters Greg and Wirt travel to a mysterious land where things are very different than what they are used to.

This series is a lot of simple short stories that while very light and whimsical, can have impactful undertones behind them. This is one of the things I love most about the series. The artistic style is also a favorite of mine and fits the themes perfectly.

Overall, Over the Garden Wall would not make my top 10 for the year, but I would say it gets an A for being the perfect breather comic in between issues of books like Saga or After Death. And I have to give it to the many artists that have played a role in creating not just the comic, but the Original Cartoon Network mini-series as well. For this particular issue we have writers Jim Campbell and Kieran Sjursen-Lien, and illustrators Danielle Burgos and Jim Campbell again, as well as Cara McGee and Whitney Cogar. Lettering the interesting and appropriate bubbles is Warren Montgomery.

Although not a top-tier comic on par with some from the Big Three (Marvel, DC, Image), Over the Garden Wall is a great light read for anyone who wants a break from serious comics.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

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Doctor Strange / The Punisher: Magic Bullets #1

Review by Stephen M. Lyon

The latest crossover between 2 of Marvel’s most beloved characters fails to make an impact. Generally, when when 2 characters are brought together under one title (see the recent Daredevil/Punisher series), the goal is to have the result be greater than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, instead of creating a masterpiece deserving of these two characters, the writer struggles to let the both shine, creating a lackluster product. This is not to say that it’s a completely bad work; the story is okay, and enjoyable, and the art is solid, but when there are so many great titles being written right now, and such little time with which to read them, it does not make the cut. I won’t be adding it to my pull list; if I had to describe Doctor Strange / The Punisher: Magic Bullets in one word, that word would be: underwhelming.

The story begins with the Punisher entering a restaurant, which is revealed to be a mob front. He wreaks havoc in his usual manor; he eventually reaches the basement and one of the mobsters tries to convince him not to open the door. He is quickly “dispatched,” and ignored. Something hidden spooks him, and the story cuts to Dr. Strange battling a creature at Coney Island. It’s revealed that spells do not have the power that they did formerly, and that he has to rely on magical items now; his weapon of choice these days is an enchanted ax. When he returns to his Sanctum Sanctorum, Dr. Strange is visited by the Punisher, who reveals that there are magical creatures (of the grotesque variety) that he needs his help defeating. As they make their way back, the mob-affiliated restaurant owners have contacted an expert to help them deal with the creatures; the agreement is that he gets to use the creatures, after imbuing the owners with the creatures powers. As Dr. Strange and the Punisher arrive, there is an explosion at the restaurant, and the cliffhanger is revealed: the 2 owners and the expert have been joined with the creatures, resulting in three menacing, humanoid monsters.

This both characters share top billing, but its quite apparent that this is going to be Dr. Strange story, with the Punisher being used as an entertaining plot device. The story is ultimately a standard Dr. Strange tale, where magical or demonic creatures show up and he has to try and find a way to send them back. There’s nothing special about the story, and it wasn’t enough to pull me in or to make me feel the need to purchase issue #2. It’s not a bad read if you just want to kick back and avoid thinking, but if you want stellar writing, or innovation, pick a different title.

Rating: 5.0 out of 10

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