The Hood #1

Boy in the Hood Dark Reign; The Hood #1

Jeff Parker Kyle Hotz

Another in the group of Dark Reign minis that answers the question "What is up with THAT guy?". I think the Hood is a cool character, so I appreciate the opportunity to read about him. What worked. Kyle Hotz's artwork seems to be firing on all cylinders. He is one of this new generation of Marvel artists who you look at and say "what is HE doing working at Marvel?". Not to say that he is not talented, quite the opposite, in fact. I mean that he is one of examples that proves that there is no such thing as a Marvel "house style". Other reviews might be better at spotting influences and all that, but to me it looks exaggerated and almost cartoony like an old horror comic. This comic is some of his best work. My guess is that he is not being given as loose a reign as he might be used to. Someone, maybe writer Jeff Parker, is making Hotz get what playing he can while staying within strict guides. This is totally a guess on my part, but it seems that when Hotz is left to call the shots, he falls back on close-ups and a few other shots that he knows will work for him. This book features that wild, intense, energy...but focused and controlled. The story is good so far. It is really nice to get more panel time with this character who has recently become a very important player in Marvel comics. It is looking like it is developing into a straightforward crime story, and a bit of a character piece. And, oh yeah, the Hood has a baby daughter. It is easy to forget about that stuff when you just see him showing up in other books. This book seems to be about The Hood's conflicted nature. His exchanges with Madame Mask, his own second in command, and the demon that is all show him dealing with those who only know a small fragment of this man. But none of them show him as a complex and conflicted character as well as his late night interaction with his Baby Mama.

What did not work. For the past few months, any Marvel comic book featuring Norman Osborne, Dr. Doom, Emma Frost, Namor, Loki, or The hood has had the Dark Reign logo on it whether or not it really had a lot to do with that story line. That is fine with me. I understand that Dark Reign is more of a CONDITION that the universe is in rather than an ARC. The thing that strikes me is that this book STARS The Hood and features that nice Dark Reign logo, but it seems to less to do with Dark Reign than any of the tie-ins that i have read. The Hood was running things BEFORE Dark Reign and he is running things now. So far, in this first issue, I don't see why this is a tie-in at all. I was hoping this would not just be a story about The Hood and what he does (which is run a criminal empire) but instead about him adjusting to being the new low-man on a much higher totem pole. What is it like for this new-minted top=dog to find himself essentially, once again, an outclassed loser? The story that we get seems to be a pretty cool one, but it seems to be missing some opportunities by not exploiting the circumstances that come along with the Dark Reign logo.

Wolverine #72

you want some a THIS? Wolverine #72

Mark Millar Steve McNiven

Some kind of delay, or publishing schedule over-lap or something like that, has caused this to be the last chapter of this story which will appear in the regular Wolverine title. I think they are shuffling it off to a double sized special edition in order to get this book back in line with main continuity. This issue sees Old Man Logan coming to the end of his long, messed up journey. And, of course, things are still getting worse and worse. What worked. The art. Normally I am a big "story first" kind of reader, but McNiven's pages are just so beautiful. You could look at these panels in any order and they would be breathtaking. And when they tell a good story (and they do!) it is even better. If you pulled a Bruce Banner and separated McNiven into two different artists, one who could do his dramatic framing, pacing, and acting, and one who could do his amazing detail and shading....they would BOTH be top-notch artists. Mark Millar is also at the top of his game here. This whole arc has been like a big, relaxing, sigh of relief after the continuity twisting, mega-cross-over, Civil War. It is like after undertaking such a huge event, they just wanted to cut loose and play around. And they really, really, do. This story has been an awesome romp across a twisted-up nightmare America. The whole thing has been a running back-and-forth between what-is-the-craziest-shit-we-can-think-of and what-is -the-worst-thing-that-could-happen. While showing us Logan and Clint's journey across the messed-up US, this arc has also given us glimpses (via flashback) into how the world got that way and just what led Logan to swearing off violence. So now all of those journeys come to their conclusion. We have seen what pushed Logan to that point, and now we get to see what pushes him PAST that point. Whatever DOES happen next issue, as a result of this issue's gruesome conclusion, it'll be big. The big violent conclusion to a long, hard, crazy, journey.

What did not work. I don't know. you are asking the wrong guy, here. I think this was basically flawless. Even a two-page spread near the end with nothing but one huge sound effect managed to work.

Secret Warriors #4

Secret Warriors 4 Secret Warriors #4

Jonathan Hickman Brian Bendis Stefano Caselli

Ever since Nick Fury vanished at the end of Secret War a few years back, the question would occasionally pop up "where is Fury in all of this?". Something big would happen with SHIELD or Hydra or whatever and you would wonder what Nick was doing. With the Secret Invasion come and gone, Nick (like everyone else) is adapting to the new status quo. In this New World Order, Fury trusts even fewer people than he did before. That short list now includes his hand selected, unattached, agents and, as we see in this issue, the remnants of SHIELD which would not be absorbed into HAMMER. What worked. In interviews, Brian Bendis has given the credit for the actual execution of the book to his co-writer, new-comer Jonathan Hickman. So, I am sure he will not mind if I do the same. Nick's manipulations make you think that the plot is all twisted and confusing, because to him it is, but for us it is a fairly straight-forward read. The deck is stacked completely against Nick Fury. Sinister revelations have called everything he has known into doubt.....except for one thing. Nick Fury fights the bad guys. The only thing that has ever been in question is just who those bad guys are. Nick is utterly incapable of compromising who he is and what he does. How do you show a character like that developing? You let the world change around him and show him responding to changing sets of circumstances. THIS is how action comics in shared universes should be executed. The facts and tone of the universe now demand a response from certain characters, and in this book, those characters do respond. The relationship shown between the new Secret Warriors, Nick's old crew, and even the members of Hydra's inner cabal, all seem individualized and genuine. The Hydra meeting, for example, is more than just villains taking it in turn to deliver exposition. Each one expresses his or her own unique perspective on the issues that they face.

What did not work. I am not entirely certain what was decided at the aforementioned meeting. Something evil, to be sure. I am just not certain what it was. Also, I could have used the standard Marvel who's-who and what-happened page. I can follow the events of the story clearly enough, I just don't have a handle on all of these new characters yet.

New Avengers: The Reunion #3

New Avengers: The Reunion #3 Jim McCann David Lopez

The newly returned Mockingbird continues her reintroduction to the Marvel Universe and her estranged husband Clint (Hawkeye/Ronin) Barton by leading us all on an international spy-chase to uproot the latest AIM game. What worked. This book is so deeply rooted in twists and layers of Marvel continuity the it is practically un-sumarizable. Just explaining who Barton is or is not at the moment is more than enough to turn away most non-readers. And then you factor in his past with Mockingbird, the Secret Invasion, Dark Reign....it is just too much to handle. But I do not mean that as criticism. Not every book should be written as a "jumping on point". This book is fully immersed in continuity and it acts like it. This is clearly not a re-purposed Catwoman/Batman pitch. Not only doe sit only work with these two characters, it only works at this specific moment of continuity. And, if you aware of that continuity, it is wonderful to see stories like this which weave exciting action and rich character drama in and around it. The actual plot moves deftly through points A, B, and C. A fairly straightforward espionage story with the usual exciting twists. What makes this story pop, however, is the character interaction. Mockingbird is actually pretty cool. Oh yeah, we recall, she is kind of bad-ass and really knows her stuff. Suddenly we don't quite recall what we may or may not have read in West Coast Avengers. She's tough and she certainly has it in for someone. Who, exactly, is hard to tell, just because her current position is so complex and convoluted. She is out to settle SOME score and Clint is out to figure out just where he stands with his wife/ex/friend(?)/or whatever she might end up being. These last few, confusing, sentences are exactly what is so compelling about this series. It is impossible to knw what is coming next for these two because it is impossible to get your head around their current situation(s). Clint, especially, comes off as pleasingly complex. He is obviously falling back into an adventure posture to try to cozy back in with Mockingbird. He acts the dumb himbo to charm her, but it is obviously an act and he can't help letting his competency and experience shine through when the situation calls for it.

What did not work. This story has had several flashbacks illuminating various key moments in the checkered past of the two leads. These moments have been wonderful in their fragmentedness. They leave us, the reader, desperate for the missing piece or firm footing from which to view this new again relationship. One particular sequence in this issue goes as far as to introduce the voice of a new narrator. And that is what pushes it too far. It can't possibly be the memories of either of our leads, because it is being told from a new, green, point of view. Though the story in this section is cool, and delivers needed info, the style of it is quite jarring.