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.

The New Avengers #52

Eye spy. The New Avengers #52

Brian Bendis Billy Tan Chris Bachalo

Marvel's Dark Reign flows into this "Sorcerer Quest"* story line. The characters are all still clearly under the influence of Dark Reign's new status quo, but the world is moving on. Regardless of what conditions restrain them, there will always be work for Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In this case, it is an unbalance in Marvel's often overlooked magical sub-verse. The dimension needs a new Sorcerer Supreme and all the major magic players are out to get their hooks into whomever that will be.

What worked: This book really feels like part of a larger universe. Doctor Strange is not an Avenger, but he is the Avengers circle. He was a member recently, and he knows these people. So, he is more than a guest star, but less than a cast member. He really feels like a friend who came by because he was in a moment of need. It makes sense with the logic of this book's universe. These people know eachother and can count on eachother. The "call to action" in this story comes about unlike you will find in any other super-hero comic. There is no alarm bell, or shouting of orders. Rather, a bunch of friends sit around a (rather large) table and talk about the problem. It less about the immediate peril, and more about pride, humility, and loyalty. If you just count the number of pages and panels where nothing seems to be happening, you would say this was a fairly boring comic book. But, when you read what is actually going on in those scenes, the story is never slow or dull. Those scenes have meaning because you care about the characters. But they are also, strangely, exactly what makes you care about them in the first place. Luke Cage and Peter Parker explaining simple morality and team ethics to the high-and-mighty Dr. Strange makes for a really nice scene. Billy Tan is really stepping up for the art on these issues. And though i love Chris Bachalo's work, his action can just get confusing. Which brings us to...

What did not work: All of the action in this issue was in the demonic/mystical sections, which were done by the amazingly talented Mr. Bachalo. And though I really do love his work for its energy and beauty...he forces it. He will push a shot in too close, or exploe an effect too far and a panel or two will simply be lost. Though I do trust this arc to pick up the pace in the next issue or two, it is off to a rather slow start.

*My name for it.