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> Thursday Morning QB
THURSDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK
A water-cooler review of this week’s comics

Posted December 13, 2007  8:40 AM

When the new batch of weekly comics arrives at Wizard HQ, the workday stops and the fanboys and fangirls inside take over. Every week in Thursday Morning Quarterback, we discuss and debate three of the most attention-getting titles, be they good, bad or indifferent—and maybe crown one of them our Book of the Week!

Your critics this week:
Wizard Associate Editor Andy Serwin: “I’m into offbeat superheroes like James Robinson’s Starman or genre books like Brian Azzarello’s Loveless.”
ToyFare Editor Zach Oat: “Superheroes, Vertigo, indie, manga—if it’s got good art, good dialogue or just a cool concept, I’ll read it. Bonus points if it’s funny.”
ToyFare Price Guide Editor Jon Gutierrez: “I enjoy fast-paced, post-modern superhero deconstructionism. Or anything with Captain Carrot in it.”
ToyFare Senior Editor Justin Aclin: “I unashamedly love superhero comics, books heavy with characterization.”

Reviewed this week: Ultimate Iron Man II #1, New Avengers #37, Green Lantern #25 and Quick Hits out the wazoo, faboys! Can you dig it?!?

WARNING…Spoilers ahead!


ULTIMATE IRON MAN II #1 (of 4)
Marvel Comics
Orson Scott Card (W)/Pasqual Ferry (A)
 

 
JON: “So this latest edition starts up right after the first installment, also written by sci-fi guru Orson Scott Card, with Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, and he’s just been blown up by terrorists, losing his arm and two legs in the process. He gets tasked by the government to use his ‘robots’—though it’s actually him and James Rhodes in armor—to go wipe out a terrorist camp in the Middle East. Tony Stark’s a lot weirder than we thought, because not only can he regrow limbs, but we learn that his brain is actually housed in every cell of his body.”

ZACH “Even if he was super-smart, didn’t he lose part of his brain when he got those limbs blown off? Seems like it would have dumbed him down some.”

JON: “And cause him to lose his wonderful memories of DisneyWorld!”

[LAUGHS]

JON: “This is essentially Iron Man’s origin, but they dispense with a lot of the classic origin stuff. Is that why you’re shaking your head, Zach?”

ZACH “The fact that this is the first time you see him acting as Iron Man is fine, but I thought his being able to pilot the armor was from something special about him. But Rhodey’s also involved, and he’s piloting a suit, too, so that sort of negates that. And then the government comes along and takes the ‘robot’—Tony pretends it’s a robot, even though he’s in the suit of armor—and sends him on a mission. But this mission involves Tony Stark and Rhodey going to kill a WHOLE BUNCH OF PEOPLE! They just do it and kill everyone because the government told them to? That seemed absurd! They killed a whole bunch of kids.”

ANDY “Well, to be fair, it was a terrorist camp, and the kid they confront in this ish is wearing dynamite strapped to his chest. But I see your point; it’s a little unclear exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. And they pretty much take it on faith that the government is telling them the truth. It’s a lot of people taking things at face value. But hey, it’s not like our government would ever lie about something, would they?”

JON: “If you’re going through this from a real-time standpoint, yeah, Tony doesn’t bring up a lot of questions, and everything here could be easily faked. It makes him seem gullible.”

ZACH: “Sadly, James Rhodes goes right along with it. He just signs right up! Like, ‘Can I be War Machine? Let’s go!’”

[LAUGHS]

JON: “But the government is just as gullible; they don’t even look into the robot’s workings. They just take what they’re given by Stark and don’t invest too much effort into making sure it will work.”

ZACH: “Perhaps our high-tech robots will fall into the hands of a terrorist cell! Nothing bad can come out of that!”

[LAUGHS]

JON: “Let’s put these two killing machines in a helicopter with other soldiers and hope nothing goes wrong!”

[LAUGHS]

ZACH: “One thing I did like is the scene where Iron Man flips off the soldiers as the helicopter takes off. Take that, soldier boys! That’s my Flip off of the Week!”

 

 
ZACH: “ But the last page is one of the hokiest things I’ve ever read: ‘Gasp! Which of these guys is the terrorist kid’s father?’ What does it matter? They’re both terrorists! It’s an arbitrary distinction.”

JON: “My support for this book is quickly eroding, a la ‘12 Angry Men.’”

ANDY: “No, stay strong, Jon. You liked this book, and so do I. I had no expectations about it, because I hadn’t read the first series. But those plot quibbles aside, there were certain aspects I thought were just great. Adding the layer of Tony Stark’s background—his mother was a geneticist, his father an inventor—that granted Tony these amazing abilities. He’s more than just a rich guy who happens to be smart. Also, the practical applications of this early Iron Man armor were dead-on; they weren’t TOO advanced. It made the guys stronger, protected them, and allowed them to fire big guns. That’s where were headed in the military anyway! That’s right around the corner. So those sci-fi elements that Card brings it, I thought were great. My only concern was, is this the same Ultimate Iron Man that’s in Ultimates, because it almost seems like a totally different take.”

JON: “It’s got to be back in time in the regular Ultimate continuity, because Dr. Molekevic is still in the Baxter Building teaching, and in Ultimate FF, he’s already become Mole Man.”

ANDY: “Ah, it makes a lot more sense to me now. That clarifies a lot for me. So this is like a teen or early 20s Tony Stark. Now it makes a lot more sense; he’s a total genius, but pretty naïve, too. Trusting the government and getting a tongue-lashing from his dad for being none too savvy makes a lot more sense now.”

ZACH: “Well, I probably wouldn’t pick up issue #2, and I’m a big Iron Man fan. I love him in Ultimates, but I feel like this character that Card is writing about is a completely different character from what Brian Bendis and Mark Millar have done previously. Writers have different takes, but I don’t see how this version comes from the character we know and love. I love Card’s novels, but I feel his take doesn’t quite jibe here.”

JON “That doesn’t bother me so much. The Ultimate line has never felt very unified to me, and there are always continuity issues no matter what line or comic you’re talking about. I would definitely pick up issue #2. I liked this ish, even if Iron Man looks like a giant monkey on the cover!”

ZACH: “He DOES look like a monkey! Oook, oook, I’m Iron Monkey! That’s bananas!”

[LAUGHS]


NEW AVENGERS #37
Marvel Comics
Brian Michael Bendis (W)/Leinil Yu (A)

 

 
ANDY: “So for the past few months, we’ve been getting a lot of tension and paranoia from the whole Skrull conspiracy that’s been brewing, and that’s been all well and good, but here, we get what I love about the Avengers: action! It’s almost a non-stop fight from start to finish, but it still plays well in the overall sense of the story. Luke Cage and his team have recruited a ton of heroes to help take down the Hood and his army of supervillains. That’s all you need to know; the rest is pure entertaining mayhem with some pretty good banter.”

ZACH: “People get SO smashed in this. There’s one scene, where Piledriver from the Wrecking Crew guy gets stabbed in the stomach by Wolverine, then you cut to Luke Cage punching out another Wrecking Crew guy, then you cut right to Iron Fist punching Piledriver—RIGHT IN THE GUT WHERE HE JUST GOT STABBED! What did Piledriver do to you guys!”

[LAUGHS]

ANDY: “That’s got to be our ‘That’s Gotta Hurt Sequence of the Week!’”

 

 
ZACH: “The other thing I loved about this issue is that all the other Marvel heroes who show up, including the Mighty Avengers, are just a big hologram created by Doctor Strange! The villains pick up on it pretty quick, but the creative team played with it a lot, even after the reveal! The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Woman; they’re all in there fighting, even though you KNOW they’re not real. I suspect that the reason Brian Bendis did that was so that Leinil Yu got to draw a ton of characters.”

JON “I thought this issue was cool too, but I had a problem with the art from a layout standpoint. There were a lot of panels in some sequences, and they were hard to follow at times.”

ANDY “I agree. I’m a huge fan of Yu’s as well, but sometimes I’m not always clear which way my eye’s supposed to go. He does some amazing and dynamic sequences, but sometimes from a storytelling standpoint, it’s not always crystal clear.”

ZACH “I wonder how much of that is Bendis, too. I love Leinil’s style as well, especially now that’s got that sort of sketchiness to his work. But I recall from looking at Mark Bagley’s layouts in Ultimate Spider-Man that that was sometimes an issue, especially on a double-page spread. Do I read straight across the spread or do I read it as separate pages. So I think that’s Bendis to a certain degree in his scripts.”

JON “This is not me picking on Yu, but his women in this ish are a little jarring sometimes.”

ANDY: “I agree with you, but I think it’s just the style of his art. And when you look at it, there’s some guys who can do great cheesecake art, but can’t pace an action scene to save their lives. I’d rather have Yu, who can pretty much do it all; I think in this case, it’s just a one-off misstep, because I’ve seen him draw some smoking hot female characters before, even in this grittier style.”

ZACH: “I love this one line from Spider-Man: ‘Agh?! That’s all I get? This ain’t just Spider-Man you’re getting spanked by—this is black-costumed Spidey.’ I loved when Bendis’ characters talk about themselves as if they KNOW they’re comic characters or action figures.”

ANDY: “This was some of the best fight banter I’ve read in a while. Not every writer nails Spidey 100 percent of the time, but I think Bendis does a great job in this ish. Almost every line from every hero is a winner.”

JON “I love the Hood as a villain in this storyline. He’s really proving to be something new and interesting.”

ZACH: “I’ve dug him since his first mini, but he’s so cool in this. He’s not playing by the rules anymore. He doesn’t care about he heroes at all, and he’s got his own set of rules: villains run away, they look out for each other, everyone gets taken care of, they get revenge if the heroes mess with them. I loved that bit where he breaks into S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters to free the Wrecker, and he’s like, ‘Everyone sleeps in their own beds tonight.’ And lights out by 9 o’clock!

[LAUGHS]

ANDY: “Yeah, I thought the Hood was going to be a throwaway villain for awhile, but then after this job goes wrong, he breaks INTO prison to free Wrecker, and now he’s super-pissed and wants the Avengers’ blood. Plus, with all the demonic background you saw when he squared off with Doctor Strange leads me to believe it’s bad news for the heroes. He’s going to be more formidable than I would have imagined.”

JON: “All I could think of after reading that final sequence, especially when you see the two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents talking about Sloppy Joes in the cafeteria was, ‘I’ll bet you S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Sloppy Joes taste SO good!’ I just imagine Nick Fury’ serving that up in the lunch line!”

[LAUGHS]

ZACH “You guys didn’t know that’s what S.H.I.E.L.D. stood for? Sloppy Hamburger Initiative, Eggplant Lasagna Directorate!”

[LAUGHS]


BOOK OF THE WEEK

GREEN LANTERN #25
DC Comics
Geoff Johns (W)/Ivan Reis & Ethan Van Sciver (A)

 

 
ZACH “This is the culmination of everything we’ve been loving about the Green Lantern books: It’s Hal Jordan’s journey to gaining everyone’s respect again—the Corps, the Guardians, Coast City; it’s Kyle Rayner’s journey to coming back from being Ion; and the Corps itself has gone on this journey of becoming an expanded fighting force. And just as it’s back, things are going to be changing big time in the future. And that makes it MORE exciting. There’s a LOT going on. The fights extend through the whole double-issue: You’ve got armies of DC heroes battling to save Earth from Superman-Prime, but then there’s also the Guardians taking on the Anti-Monitor, and Sinestro leading an army against Coast City versus Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner, and they get backup from the Lost Lanterns. So there’s like five crazy battles going on. People get torn to shreds.”

ANDY “My one previous knock about epic Green Lantern fights was that they always ended with the entire Corps getting together, blasting stuff with their rings, then winning by superior will power. But here, Johns does away with all that; EVERYONE’s got to come up with a clever way to win. My favorite part had to be when Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner’s rings ran out, and it was just them against Sinestro.”

ZACH “You think of Sinestro as some puny guy, or an intellectual villain because of the ring. But when he lands on that rooftop, and he’s powerless too at this point, he looks at both Kyle and Hal and he says, ‘Come on then. The both of you…”

ANDY “That was SO awesome! And he didn’t just wait for them to attack; he went after THEM!”

ZACH “It’s the craziest fistfight ever! They tackle him off the roof, they land on another building, Hal smashes him with a 2-by-4, they Kyle tackles him again and they go out a window! He totally holds his own against the pair of them.”

JON “I love Sinestro as a villain, and that fight scene was great, but I loved the moral victory he gains when the GLs started killing—it proved his vision true. That was great. Plus, also to see some of the Sinestro Corps run in the heat of battle was a great twist. They couldn’t stand up to the fear.”

ZACH “I got scared because I thought for sure they were going to kill of Guy Gardner when he’s infected by that virus Sinestro, Despotellis. He’s coughing up all the yellow blood and it looks like he’s going to buy it. I was freaking out! They can’t kill Guy Gardner. But then he gets injected with an angry smallpox virus and it totally cures him!”

ANDY: “There’s Johns going the extra mile again, because that smallpox GL, Leezle Pon, is an actual GL created in an old ‘Tales of the Green Lantern’ written by Alan Moore. It’s from the ‘Mogo Doesn’t Socialize’ story! But leave it to Johns to dig up that little tidbit from 25 years ago, and make it an important little side moment in this giant epic.”

ZACH “Just the story of a smallpox virus looking for revenge and trying to make his way in the world—I’d read that comic!”

JON “It would be better than ‘Osmosis Jones’ for sure.”

[LAUGHS]

ZACH “The story wraps up, but you still get a ton of ground covered, including the creation of the other Lantern Corps, each with a separate color scheme. Can’t wait to see how that plays out; some of these guys look crazy, especially the Red Lanterns. But then you also find out that a lot of the principals who you thought were dead are still alive: Superman-Prime, Cyborg-Superman, the Anti-Monitor. I’m a little disappointed that of all the villains who are defeated, none of them are dead. In all the drama of the moment, nothing’s permanent. I don’t wish characters dead, but it drew back a bit from the drama. But there’s still a lot of stuff set up for the future, including these Black Lanterns, who look ominous and creepy. So many things were reconciled. Even Coast City moves forward; it’s the City Without Fear now. It’s the biggest battle I could have imagined.”

A: You get so many amazing spreads from Reis, I don’t know how we pick just one to show off, but I’d have to say it’s this one that foretells the Lantern war between all the factions! It’s without a doubt the Spread of the Week!”

 

 
ZACH: “One of my favorite bits in the whole issue had to be Guy Gardner attacking the Sinestro Corps with a batch of wolverines. The animal, not the mutant. And the wolverines are wearing Michigan armbands while they attack. And he’s making a ‘Red Dawn’ reference to boot! Of all the things that Guy could attack with, he’s using college-educated wolverines? Still, if any hero in the DCU can get away with a ‘Red Dawn’ reference, it’s Guy Gardner.”

JON: “Watching the Green Lanterns help with the reconstruction after the end of the fight, I just have to wonder: When a GL fixes a building, who keeps it up to code?”

[LAUGHS]

ZACH: “You have to call the GL Corps of Engineers.”

JON:That’s a book that’s waiting to happen.”

[LAUGHS]

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