Az's Spin on Current Stuff [JUN '06]

Az here, and I'll be going over a few of the things I've got on my Pull List every month. I have quite a bit to go over so I broke it down into two parts. The first part will focus on my Marvel and DC picks so far, and part 2 will be on the rest, namely the Independents, Top Cow and Image.

Today I'll give my belated review on Giant-Sized Ms. Marvel #1, Ms. Marvel #1-3 and Shadowpact #1

...and yes... there will blood...and spoilers!


Giant Size Ms. Marvel


Carol Danvers looks good back in action and this time, it looks like she's got a writer that finally understands her (I hope!). The fact that by the end of the story, Carol doesn't get raped/stripped/crippled/maimed/killed/beheaded/sodomized is always a good thing in my book. Yeah, guys rarely get a fair shake when it comes to comics (et tu Spidey?) but rarely do they ever get run over the coals as Ms. Marvel has in her colorful history.

But, that's chit-chat for another day. Today is GIANT SIZED for a reason. The issue starts with a quick tie-in to the House of M mega-crossover. All you need to know is that Magneto was Elvis and New York was his Graceland. But, like every song, that came to an end but Carol saw something in that "other" life that she missed -- she was popular! (Uh... when you look like that, how can you not be popular? Only in a comic book I guess...)

After a run-in with some villain named "Sir Warren Traveler", Carol decides to be all she can be... no... she doesn't join the Army... but instead makes a promise to herself that she'll do everything she can to do whatever she can with what she has. I guess those years of playing 3rd string benchwarmer left a bad taste... The story then folds back into normalcy or post-House of M.

That's the first quarter of the book. The rest is a retro re-print of her first appearance with Captain Marvel in Captain Marvel #18, her first adventure on her in Ms. Marvel #1 (vol.1), her "orgins" in Ms. Marvel #2 (vol.1) and her new black costume in Ms. Marvel #20 (vol.1).

Art was great -- loved the cover and it's variants, though I don't support that gimmick of multiple covers... grrrrr! The panelling was good, people looked like people and overall a good first impression.

Plotwise, I like how they deal with Danver's lack of street cred in the annals of Marvel lore. For a chica with more firepower than a small country, you'd think people would know ONE of her many names.

-ART- 3/5 (new stuff looks great, old stuff looks old... what can I say?)
-STORY- 4/5 (great on all fronts except the Ms. Marvel first appearance vs Scorpion... probably the weakest link)

-TOTAL- 3/5 (fun but short read. Recommend for collectors and fans of Danvers.)

Ms. Marvel #1Ms. Marvel #2Ms. Marvel #3


Ms. Marvel #1 -- Ms. Marvel (yeah, she dropped the Warbird name...) but still sporting the same black bathing suit with bolt. She saves a bunch of people from the wrath of... Stilt-Man? OK, I found that hilarious and even moreso when he tried to fight back. Stilt-Man? Anyways, MM creams the cretin and does lunch with Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman for the uninformed). We also get a glimpse of the glamorous life of a superhero as Danvers meets with her publicity agent, Sarah Day. Who knew the X-Men had a publicist? Carol's meeting is less than super, and after that, she decides to become what she was during House of M -- not just popular but respected because of what she can do and not because of who she is or was.

Going out on a patrol, Carol spots something weird falling (or flying?) through the sky. She then does what anyone would do... call Captain America's personal cell phone. ^_^ Since the object appears alien, he suggests calling the Fantastic Four for help but she declines... something about a weekend in Vegas and Torch. She decides to go at it alone and discovers the meteor contains the Brood!

Ms. Marvel #2 -- Starts with a commercial for the superhero show Carol is scheduled to appear on as the Brood ride their Whale Express but are under attack which prompts them to bail out over Earth. Fast forward to the present and Ms. Marvel is up to her armpits in aliens. Just as she appears to be overwhelmed, another alien shows up. It's Cru... some sort of Brood-hating fighter but he doesn't seem to jive with Carol as he downloads her memories and takes off.

Danvers realizes that this new player is trouble and interrogates a few Brood warriors. They tell her that Cru is off to find some cavorite crystals, which are really unstable and in the wrong hands ... go nuclear. The Brood pulled a fast one on Cru, but Carol gives the last one a parting gift and chases Cru to some military base with the crystals. Just as Cru uses the crystals, everything fades to white.

Ms. Marvel #3 -- Ms. Marvel and Cru are flying into space, courteousy of the cavorite explosion which sent shards of the crystal into orbit. Though Carol is spaceworthy, she still has to breathe and a quick dip into the atmosphere gives her a shock. The town of Spaulding and McCord military base are gone, replaced by a 15 mile wide crater. Well, that just pissed off the wrong superhero and she takes the fight back into space with the alien. He still wields the crystal and uses it against Carol but she shrugs off the blasts and overloads the sucker, blowing him and the gem apart.

Carol is found by the Fantastic Four, who went in to investigate the massive blast zone. With only a broken arm and a few minor wounds, she returns to New York to find that she's due for her interview on the talk show. (A girl's job is never done...)

Before this series, I was all right to Carol Danvers. Always felt a little something for her, because of the Rogue connection but never read a story where she shined or did more than the requisite 6th man role. Well, I think she shined in this outing. Kudos to Brian Reed for doing something with her that goes beyond skin tricks and shallow sell. The Brood as the first major villain was an interesting choice -- I didn't see them coming but the point or theme so far has been about Carol the person trying to be a hero.

-ART- 3/5 (Overall solid though some faces looked a little odd...)
-STORY- 3/5 (Too early to tell what's going on)

-TOTAL- 3/5 (Not sure if this is really a good blind buy, but she's got potential to go places.)

Shadowpact #1


Part of the One Year Later gig that DC is doing right now, the book follows the events in the one-shot specials Day of Vengeance and the sequel one-shot Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special (that's the title... I know... wordy eh?). Luckily, it doesn't look like you need to know/buy the BILLIONS of other books in the Infinite Crisis/52/OYL miasma to understand what's going on in here.


But, I highly recommend reading DoV and DoV:ICS before this... not required but it helps to meet the crazy cast of characters and playing together. Phantom Stranger sets the stage of what has happened, immediately following DoV:ICS -- the 9th Age of Magic is over. The 10th Age has begun and there's a lot of shiznit going down. (Not what Stranger said, but I'm working on a deadline!)

Now onto the story and we see a familiar alien.... Superman! Now I know some people said "HEY! HE'S POWERLESS! HE NOT FLY NO MORE!!! THIS SUCKS!!!!" ... well... they're being dumb. The story starts ONE YEAR AGO .... after DoV and before Infinite Crisis. OK, back to the review:

Superman spots a strange red globe and investigates. However, he cannot break through and find out what's going on inside. He returns with Green Lantern Hal Jordan, but he cannot best this either... uh oh! It must be magic!

Meanwhile, inside the red blob we find out that a strange group of characters have surrounded a town and plan on some mischief. And yes, they apparently are wise to the ways of magic and seem rather primed to kill but don't because of some higher purpose.

Phantom Stranger enters the scene and tells Hal and Kal that he knows what's what, but needs to send some peons inside to deal with the problem. Yup.... it's time for Shadowpact (or should I say Shadowpawns?)

Remember -- this is one year ago immediately after DoV:ICS... thus they are all doing basically nothing, save for Ragman and Blue Devil who are battling a demon, part of the new 10th Age of magics -- more bad things are appearing so Shadowpact is doing what they can and kicking spectral booty. Phantom Stranger summons the team to the red dome, which cuts into some nice character moments between Detective Chimp with Nightshade, and Enchantress with Nightmaster.

((Note: Willingham did the artwork, but it's odd that of all the characters Enchantress was the only one with a "different" ONE YEAR AGO outfit... which by the way, she was a ringer for Wonder Woman in that panel... I mean, gold tiara and long straight black hair? All she was missing was the lasso and hooker attire...))

The pawns... er, I mean team agree to go in and investigate as Phantom opens a portal with his own body. Zoinks! Superman and GL look on in the background, doing what they do best against magic ... which I guess is nothing, though it was cool to see Supes volunteer first to go in but was talked down by Stranger. Kal is a credit to his race! ^_^

Anyways, ONE YEAR ELAPSES since the pawns enter the dome... whoa.... and Phantom Stranger has enlisted other random DC magic wielders to play domesitter and watch for any changes or if the Shadowpact appear. Valda (looking very modern... I might add) and Rex are on the watch, as Phantom Stranger goes to recruit some more help such as Witchfire. He won't risk opening another portal as the explosive feedback from the last time left a wide swath of destruction that left the forest shattered and shorn.

Yeah... there's some bad mojo going on here that even scares Phantom Stranger.... now that's a bad sign.

Meanwhile, ONE YEAR AGO, inside the dome the Shadowpact arrives with some humourous character moments but like any good team they split up and look around for clues. Nightshade creates a pair of shadow birds to scout ahead (ok, I didn't know she could do that...) and she runs smack dab into the first baddie -- Sister Shadow. Looks like Nightshade's about to rumble... and the issue ends.

((note: Call me Bugs Bunny, but that's a really convenient meeting of two similarly powered women... both who use shadow-like apparitions and forms... OK, monologue over.))

The story and art were done by Bill Willingham, and I think it shows somewhat as he manages to sneak in some warmth to the motley characters and painted a cast that didn't look like they hopped off the Supermodel train. I can appreciate that. Speaking of looks, I am not sure why the team arrived at the red globe in "new" outfits. Willingham didn't explain that. The most obvious change is Detective Chimp, who now looks like he was part of the Russian space program. Nightmaster, Ragman, and Blue Devil look unchanged, while Nightshade is now sporting longer hair (huh? Grew fast since DoV...) and a skirt while Enchantress stripped off her old costume entirely, sporting the Wonder Woman tiara and shoelace bodice with boob support and expanded cleavage shot. Also, she seems to have developed a serious case of anemia because Enchantress is whiter than Nightshade... which is pretty hard to do.

The story itself is still early but I liked the intro. We meet a team of uglies that look like a mirror-match for Shadowpact (as in the aforementioned Sister Shadow x Nightshade pairing) though I can't wait to see what Chimp can do as we all should know by now he's a thinker not a fighter.

I liked this, and will definitely stick with it (a lot of questions raised), but I can see how it's not for everyone. If you want hard-hitting earth shattering epic battles of internet splitting proportions.... uh, this is not the place to find it. What you will find here is a team of unusual characters who try hard. They aren't the best at what they do... but they try.

Detective Chimp is a talking chimp with a high IQ.
Nightmaster is a retired hero with a magical sword
Blue Devil is an ex-stuntman with a magical pitchfork
Nightshade is a shadow manipulator
Enchantress is a wizard (or wizardress?)
Ragman is a guy wearing a magical suit that abosrbs souls

Yeah... the JLA this is not, but you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. They aren't the best of friends but they know what's at stake and do what they can do. Yeah, this is starting to sound repetitive but it's something that I strongly feel readers should be aware of, before dismissing this as weak-ass flotsam.

The art was decent, plot moved at a decent pace and I like the inclusion of Phantom Stranger. If anything, I felt the issue was too short but that just means Willingham did his job and got me interested enough to keep reading.

-ART- 3/5 (decent, but didn't care for Enchantress' makeover)
-STORY- 3/5 (introduction... a lot of questions with no answers)

-TOTAL- 3/5 (interesting read. Nothing really happens though. Recommend this ONLY for people who like C-list characters and/or people who liked Day of Vengeance.


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