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411’s Comic Reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy #11, Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1, More

September 8, 2016 | 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 Marvel’s MU Finally Revealed!

Now on with the show!

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Guardians of the Galaxy #11

Review by RobF

The GOTG have returned to Earth at the request of Carol Danvers a.k.a Captain Marvel to join her side of the Civil War. But whose side are they on? Brian Bendis and Valerio Schiti present a Civil War crossover that hardly crosses over.

The issue begins with a lively debate over the merits of returning to Earth. While most of the team wants to return, Rocket and Ben Grimm, for different reasons, are opposed. When they finally arrive CM gives her side of the story to Peter Quill, Star-Lord, off panel. What we get the recap delivered by Quill to Kitty Pride. The elephant in the room is Thanos and how Gamora will react when she finds out he is within striking distance. Is it wise to keep this information from the universe’s most dangerous warrior?

Since it was revealed at the end of CW #4 that the Guardians were involved in CW, this issue feels redundant. It really didn’t reveal any new information about their involvement, it seemed more important to further the Thanos/Gamora storyline.

This is my first time experiencing Valerio Schiti’s artwork. I can’t say I am a fan. I guess the word I’m looking for is “smooth”. At times Drax and the Thing look too smooth. Grizzled warriors should look rough, like they’ve been through the ringer, not clean and new.

Overall this issue doesn’t do much to advance the CW storyline. It seems like they could have either provided more insight on the Guardians or showed their direct involvement in the conflict. Bendis usually delivers but this issue is a misstep.

Rating: 5.0 out of 10

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Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1

Review by Rob Bonnette

Blue Beetle is one the storied DC characters who we haven’t seen in a while. There was a series in the New 52 era that ran for 17 issues, and after that we only saw a panel at the end of the Forever Evil miniseries with Ted Kord wearing a T-shirt with a beetle emblem on it. With the DC Rebirth one shot to kick off the new era, we saw a few panels with Kord and the wearer of the Blue Scarab Jamie Reyes. Blue Beetle is going to get another shot at a series with the Rebirth line, and this issue is the one shot setup for it. As with most of the other DC Rebirth series, the events of the New 52 era remain in place so Reyes is the wearer of the scarab and Kord is serving as his benefactor/mentor trying to figure out how the scarab works. The two have competing motives in that Ted wants to learn about the scaab so that Jamie can maximize it’s capabilities in the name of superheroing whereas Jamie ultimately wants to figure out how to remove it so he can lead a normal life. For all intents and purposes Jamie is playing the reluctant hero-role here.

The issue starts off with two bad guys, not so cleverly named Rack and Ruin, trashing a coffee shop in an attempt to draw out the Blue Beetle for a fight. While this is going on Jamie’s sister is leaving for school with a friend, followed by Jamie himself shortly after. Jamie and his friends are making their way to school when he gets a call from Ted to come in to Ted’s beetle shaped flying batcave (his own description), where they have some back and forth before Jamie suits up and goes off to fight the bad guys while Ted plays tech support over their comlink. The fight ensues, and after a while the bad guys get what they wanted out of it (to get some readings on the energy signature from the beetle suit while Jamie was using it) and flee the scene. While Jamie is gathering himself on the ground Ted gets visited by Dr. Fate, who tells him that everything he thinks he knows about the scarab is wrong and that it’s not alien tech per se but that it is magic. We end with the introduction of what we can only assume is a villain of some sort on the phone with her minions/associates beginning to discuss how to deal Jamie and Ted.

This was a pretty basic, no frills reset of the Blue Beetle story. We meet Jamie and Ted, learn some about Jamie’s everyday life (most importantly that his friends know he’s the Blue Beetle), get some insight into how their partnership works and where each of them is wanting to see it go, and get to see Jamie suited up and in action as the Beetle. And then we get the Dr. Fate interaction which was also given a few panels in the DC Rebirth one-shot as a setup. If you’re interested in the Blue Beetle and wanted to see him back in action then this is right up your alley, especially since Ted Kord is alive here and involved so you don’t really have to ponder whether or not they made the right choice as far as which character to put in the suit. Dr. Fate’s solo series didn’t sell great but he’s a cool character with a following so it’s good to see him get some more space here. The artwork is good enough, not mind blowing in any way but also not a turn off. Overall I’d say it’s good enough to keep you around if you already were a fan but not something that will snag and keep new readers around.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

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Spider-Man #7

Review by Rob Bonnette

This issue is a Civil War 2 tie-in, as was it’s predecessor, and continues to mix the ongoing Spider-man storylines with the story of the big event. Before I get going let me say off the top that they do a much better job of blending them here than in the last issue, where an important but seemingly tacked on Tony Stark drop in conversation was the only real link between the two. Here we get some real first person insight from Miles Morales into how he’s taking all this heroes-fighting-heroes business. For better or worse, Marvel has shifted a lot of the important details as to where everyone stands in choosing Carol or Tony’s side to the tie-in series and while that takes away from the main story (you can get really lost as to what has possessed everyone to choose who to side with if you only read the main book) it does add to the tie-ins. In Miles’ case the question so far isn’t so much who to join as it is whether or not to get involved at all. He agrees with Tony, and Tony asked him to help him, but the whole heroes fighting heroes thing has got him really bummed out. And while that’s going on his parents are dealing with the rash decision Miles grandmother made to hire a private investigator to tail him (who just happens to be Jessica Jones, of course) This issue also gives us some real interaction between Miles and Bombshell, one of the few characters from the Ultimate Marvel universe that made it over with Miles to the All New Marvel Universe that was formed after Secret Wars. For all intents and purposes it looks like the rest of Miles crew from that world save Cloak and Dagger are gone for good now.

The issue starts out with Miles having a nightmare inspired by Ulysses apocalyptic visions of the Hulk laying waste to everyone around (of all Ulysses visions this is clearly the one that is driving the entire event, even more so than the one that led to the mission against Thanos that resulted in James Rhodes death). We then shift over to Jones’ Alias investigations office where Miles mother is trying to get Jessica to stop tailing her son, while Jones continues to insist that she can’t stop unless the person who hired her tells her to pull the plug. Miles mother tries to push her to tell whatever she’s found out so far and gets told to get out in a pretty forceful fashion. Then we get to the meat of this issue, Spidey and Bombshell’s conversation over whether he should get involved that goes on while they’re fighting bad guys. The tone and direction goes much different than if Miles were talking to one of his fellow Avengers; Bombshell isn’t affiliated with any groups and is working on her own, which gives her a different perspective on it all. She’s also a survivor who’s had to fend for herself a lot and is wary of Stark and his request of Miles. From where she’s sitting Stark is being manipulative and trying to get Miles to do something he himself doesn’t want to do, and he should do the smart thing and stay out.

Their debate isn’t resolved and the issue ends with Miles being accosted by Jones and her husband Luke Cage, which implies that Jones knows Miles identity as Spider-Man. This issue was a really good exploration of Miles character and his life, from the reasonable fears he has of what could happen according to Ulysses visions to his earnestness to his naiveté in dealing with more experienced people like Stark. And using the one hero who has known him longer than anyone else to talk to him, Bombshell, was absolutely the right way to go. Unlike everyone else Miles works with she has some real concern for him built over time and not just over the last few months. She wants what is best for Miles out of all this and has a moral clarity from not being involved in any Avengers business that informs her advice that no one else brings. Back in Ultimate Marvel land she was easily the most interesting of Miles compadres and always adds to the story when she shows up. If there’s a downside to this issue it’s that it’s a real deep cut so what goes on will resonate a lot more if you’ve been reading Miles all the way back to Ultimate Marvel than if you’re new to his story here. That, and that what action there is gets relegated to background noise to all the dialogue. But all in all another very good issue.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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Ultimates #10

Review by Sankalp G.

Sorry for my absence. Now lets get on with things. Ultimates used the help of Ulysses in the last issue to rescue/befriend Micronaut. We also saw how Thanos is playing with Anti-Man’s head. This issue follows up on it in a big way and also ties in with Civil War II.

The first part of issue retreads what happened in Civil War II. How the Ultimates captured an innocent civilian and branded her as terrorist. Now all the Ultimates are racing around to find out what is in the suitcase, which will prove the guilt or innocence of the captured person.

This is the moment where the team breaks up. Ms. America (Chavez) brings up the issue of predictive justice and how it screws over the realities she has seen. She starts attacking Carol with Panther evaluating everything while the rest are fighting.

There is a turning point, the moment where the Ultimates face their biggest task. Anti-Man has an emotional breakdown and breaks the prison, which in turn sucks out the energy. Guess what? Under Triskelion, Thanos now roams free! And broken, distrustful heroes have a battle on their hands, one which seemingly took the life of Rhodes.

The art, as always, is fantastic. Though this issue didn’t had any battles other than Chavez and Blue Marvel, it was still slick and I am expecting a very good show from Rocafort in the next issue, as the battle is raging on.

Al Ewing again has beautifully tied up the issue with Civil War and it is must read for completionist people. With the seemingly big baddie out of his jail, like Vision, this series has been a slow burner and is going to have a big climax.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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Avengers Disassembled

Review by Torin Johnson

In Avengers Disassembled, we learn about how one bad day, mired in tragedy and loss, can lead to the end of the path, the end of an era and the end of a legendary team (At least until New Avengers premiered shortly after). In this collection of issues 500-503, along with the Finale issue, the Avengers went out with a bang, but not without a few misfires here and there.
A strong positive to this story is how it gets right to the point. The first few pages consists of the Avengers casually conversing and joking with one another. Immediately, a zombified Jack of Hearts appears and Scott Lang engages, struggling to express his emotions regarding Jack’s sacrifice to save Lang’s daughter in the previous story. Before he can even find the words, he’s disintegrated in Jack’s self-destruction. The other Avengers hardly have any time to assess the situation before The Vision crashes a Quinjet and spawns a group of Ultron robots. After dismantling the Ultron drones, She-Hulk seethes with anger and rips Vision in half. In each second during the act, She-Hulk becomes completely enraged and loses control. The remaining Avengers attempt to calm their teammate, which results in the Wasp and Captain Britain getting hospitalized. While this madness is happening, Tony Stark also loses control in front of the entire UN. After years of dedicated sobriety, Tony is overcome with a familiar drunken sensation and nearly attacks a Latverian ambassador. Tony then receives the call about what’s happening at Avengers Mansion and arrives to punch out She-Hulk before she can do anymore damage.
Before the group can really get a sense of what went wrong, they’re greeted by former Avengers and allies who stand in solidarity…only to be attacked by a Kree armada. Another beloved Avenger, Hawkeye, dies in the process. When the dust settles, Doctor Strange arrives to explain the person who is behind these attacks is not an enemy, not an evil mastermind, but an old friend and trusted teammate: The Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff. Doctor Strange theorizes that Wanda has turned against the Avengers in a fit of madness over the loss of her children, having her memories triggered by Wasp’s comment about aborting her and Hawkeye’s would-be children.

The Avengers confront Wanda, fight some constructs and are on the verge of being destroyed by Wanda until Doctor Strange uses the Eye of Amagotto to put Wanda into a coma. Magneto retrieves Wanda, lamenting how he failed her and the Avengers ultimately disband amid these various tragedies, combined with the fact that Tony can no longer fund the team.
All in all, this story was a heartfelt sendoff to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, especially with the epilogue, where every classic Avenger reminisces about their favorite moments as an Avenger; even Jarvis, the butler, gets to say his piece. I would say the epilogue was the strongest point of the entire story. The flashbacks where each Avenger got to look back to a pivotal moment in their lives really put their respective development as Avengers into a different light. To cap it off, they toast to the Avengers who have fallen since their founding and look out at the citizens holding a vigil for the heroes, ultimately displaying their respect and gratitude to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
But this story is not without its flaws. The first problem was at the beginning, where we see an inconsistency in action. Between the Zombie Jack of Hearts blowing up Avengers Mansion and Vision flying a Quinjet into the remains, we see a level of destruction and explosions that would make Michael Bay giggle with glee. Destruction is fine, as it demonstrates how Wanda wants to literally destroy the Avengers. However, the fight sequences afterward against the Ultron robots and She-Hulk seem very underwhelming, considering the Ultron robots just needed their heads severed and She-Hulk was beaten by Iron Man in one punch. In other words, the action in the first and second issues are unbalanced. It would have paid off if the mayhem from the first two attacks (Jack & Vision) were toned down a bit or maybe the last two attacks (Ultron & She-Hulk) were amped up a bit in order to really demonstrate a balance of what was at stake.

Another issue I had with this story was how Hawkeye met his demise. His quiver catches fire and instead of disposing of his arrows before blowing up, he grabs a Kree soldier with a jetpack and launches himself into the Kree ship. He probably believed it was a noble sacrifice, but it just seemed like a waste. Furthermore, the quiver didn’t detonate instantly. When his quiver caught fire, he had plenty of time to grab the Kree soldier, force his jetpack to launch them both and fly into the Kree warship to blow it up. That’s plenty of time for Clint to have taken off his quiver, tossed it to a stronger hero present, like Hercules or Wonder Man, who could have easily thrown the quiver into the ship and destroyed it. And I understand that the death of Hawkeye, a long time Avenger and beloved friend, was meant to be a moving sequence in the story. But his death could have been done in a way that made more sense.

My last gripe with this story was the change in artwork from the main story to the epilogue. David Finch does most of the work in this story; and does a spectacular job. But other artists had their hands in this as well, including Olivier Coipel and Alex Maleev. I don’t have a problem with an art change in one comic/story in general. One example of art change that I liked was Superman: American Alien, which lasted seven issues and had a different artist for each issue. Superman and the supporting characters maintained a consistent look in all seven issues. Also, in Disassembled, Coipel does a page or two in between Finch’s work. This was also ok, as each character’s look remained consistent. In the epilogue, however, character consistency was lacking in the beginning. Hank Pym, Janet Van Dyne and Sam Wilson specifically were unrecognizable in the beginning of the epilogue. After a few pages in, I had to go back and look twice to see who these people were. Now I’m sure other readers figured it out quicker than me. But to me, certain characters in the epilogue look rather vague compared to Finch’s design in the rest of the work. The other art changes took place in flashbacks where each Avenger reflects on their best moment as an Avenger. This art was well done, as each character was clearly defined and it was a creative way to construct a different perspective for each Avenger.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, where the good outweighed the minor misfires. As any Marvel fan knows, Avengers Disassembled served not only as the end of an era, but also as the prep work for House of M as well as Brian Michael Bendis’ timeline for Marvel’s heroes, like New Avengers, House of M, Secret Invasion etc. But despite being the beginning of Marvel’s annual crossover ‘game-changing’ events, Avengers Disassembled does a good job of standing on its own.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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