Tag Archives: Mark Waid

Catching Up With…

So… by tomorrow I obviously meant in a few days.  It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed, well, pretty much anything – so this might be a bit long (that’s what she said) buckle up and enjoy the ride here, folks!  There is a lot of ground to cover!  Let’s begin with:

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Hulk #4

W: Mark Waid
A: Mark Bagley

What can I say that hasn’t already been said (by me) with this swan song from the ultimately cut short Hulk saga from the ultra-talented Mark Waid?  Well, he left us with quite the doozy – extremis not only saves Bruce Banner but also gives us a mysterious future with Banner being maybe even more brilliant than before – who knows?  I liked the last issue – the Abomination returning (even a clone) is still a great thing to me – I just wish since the recently launched Savage Hulk also has the Green Goliath battling the age-old foe that we could have had a different baddie.  It almost seemed redundant reading the Savage Hulk.  Over all, I will miss Waid and will forever be bummed we didn’t get to see his ultimate vision come to fruition.  Grade: A-

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Thunderbolts

W: Soule, and then the Bens
A: Diaz Luque and then Barberi

What can I say abou… wait, that’s how I started out the last issue review – nevermind.  I have enjoyed the Thunderbolts and thought it hit its real stride with the Infinity tie-ins.  Bringing back Madman and the Leader (even though he was turned red – big mistake in my opinion) was fun to start things out but when Red turned the deciding missions over to the rest of the group that’s when the real fun began!  Watching these personalities clash with each other and how they never seemed to agree but still made winning a possibility was entertaining as heck.  Too bad it didn’t last.  Soule’s final issues seemed rushed and sloppy.  What began as a haunted ride down a murky swamp in search of a mystical treasure quickly turned into a “Crystal Skull” type ending.  Unsatisfactory and unfair.  Unfair to all the readers who were following this unconventional team of super-mercenaries with questionable morals and even more questionable methods.  This book made me even tolerate Deadpool – which says a lot!  The art was even getting better with each issue!  Overall, I think dwindling sales turned this series on its belly and it will end its run at issue #32.

So far the Punisher vs Thunderbolts story line has delivered some great moments but nothing worth real mention – the magic seems to have been dropped from the book – and they are even recycling earlier events back into the fray.  The Punisher shot the Leader… again.  Haven’t we been here before?  I liked when the Leader allowed Red to berate him all the while plotting to take the entire team down – but even that has become tiresome since nothing ever comes of it.  Soule had a real knack for making these characters interesting – but we’re seeing more clichés of these characters rather than the hilarious “Odd Couple” scenarios that made the earlier issues so much better.  Grade: C-

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Original Sin:

W: Aaron
A: Deodato

Everyone said to read other Aaron works – to just turn a blind eye to his ill-suited Hulk run and read his other stories – and I did.  I read his Wolverine Omnibus – fantastic, I read some of his Punisher – great stuff.  This Marvel event, though, takes the cake. It’s fast paced, exciting and the best part – thus far it actually makes sense.  Every issue delivers a great “What the-?” moment that makes you want to pick up the next issue!  Not to mention, I have not picked up every variant, only the Hulk ones and the “Eye” variants, but there are two sets that actually look really decent together!  The Art Adam’s variants combine to create a huge mural type scene and the “Eye” variants look amazing displayed together!

Grade so far: A-

This mini may fizzle in the end – but with two issues left and the story still going strong – I have high hopes for a “blow me away” kind of ending.  I can’t even tell you how refreshing it is to read an event comic that isn’t making me roll my eyes.  It’s been a while – I loved AvX but even that one had its moments that didn’t keep my attention.  Age of Ultron was a disaster from the get-go – and I didn’t mind Infinity but it really crapped the bed with the “homage” ending.  Even World War Hulk, coming off of one of the greatest Hulk stories of recent memory, was a bit of a let down.  We all knew the ending before it even began.  Original Sin, on the other hand, has even served up a pretty thrilling tie-in series with:

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Original Sin: Hulk vs Iron Man

Let me begin with the idea that I never usually enjoy the idea of going back to origin and changing status quo.  Hell, it usually opens a can of continuity worms that the writers explain by saying “It’s just a fun story – don’t worry about the history” and that never sits well with people.  When this series was announced I was immediately thrown back to the Hulk: Gray moment when Iron Man showed up when everyone knows the first time the two powerhouses met was Avengers #1.  Of course, Loeb has never been one for continuity – it takes a more skilled writer to care about such things (let’s face it, he’s no Jeff Parker) – but I was worried that this was just another Marvel moment.  You know, just write a story and see if people have a god memory or not.

With all of that in mind this new (awkwardly numbered) mini-series promises to serve up an interesting take on what went down that fateful day the green Goliath was created.  So far all we know is that Stark was acting like his pompous self and, thinking he knew best, let his clouded judgement take president over what Banner’s ultimate vision was for the gamma-bomb.  Stark knew how to make it into a more destructive weapon which is exactly what Ross always wanted.  This series still hasn’t let the car out of the bag just yet of what Stark actually did – but it is shaping up nicely.  Grade: B+

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Savage Hulk

W: Alan Davis
A: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer

For all the people who have griping that Waid didn’t bring back the classic Hulk stories that they thought he would – I give you – Alan Davis.  There is only one Hulk guest-spot issue that I had a terrible time finding.  eBay not withstanding, I’ve only seen this issue once – The Uncanny X-Men #66 – and it’s the one in my collection.  With Xaiver is real trouble he needs Banner to help him heal.  The X-Men go to retrieve Banner but have to deal with the Hulk first.  It’s a fun issue with Banner coming out victorious in saving the Professor.

Davis brings us back to that point of time and we re-examine the super-hero battle and it is truly a blast from the past.  The classic Hulk that graced the comics (and television to a lesser extent) is back in full form here.  For everyone hoping for that 80’s child-like Hulk back in action – it’s finally here!  The follow up issue gives us a wild gamma-romp with the real Abomination tearing up the desert in a classic tussle with our favorite Jade Jaws!  This is an entertaining series so far – let’s hope they can keep this train chugging along at a great speed!  Hell, they ended the second issue with the Leader in his original color!  What a refreshing sight!  If only current times were the same!  Grade: B+

I’ve also been asked what my opinion is on the recent news that Thor is being turned into a woman.  Well, it turns out that he isn’t.  Thor isn’t worthy of Mjolnir anymore – and this new chick is.  Thor now battles with an axe.  If you’re wondering what I think about that – well, I haven’t read it.  In fact, no one has – because it’s not out yet – and I remember not too long ago that people were freaking out because Doc Ock was going to inhabit Peter Parker’s body – and look how all of that turned out.  So, let’s be patient – it may turn out kind of cool.  If not, no worries, these are comics – nothing lasts for ever.

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My Thoughts On Waid…

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This is it – I will not harp on the subject any longer after I say my peace with this post.  I am also not going to say that if you hated the Waid Hulk run that you are wrong – I am not going to give you reasons that you should have liked it – because I agree that it could have been better.  Here’s what I will say, it started with a strong premise – a NEW premise – one that had great possibilities.  Banner is allowing SHIELD to use the Hulk as a weapon.  Banner gets to exploit his genius to help the world… finally.  He’s wanted to do something good for the world since The Incredible Hulk #1 when he created the Gamma Bomb.  He despised the fact that his creation could possibly be used to harm people – it was always about protection, about keeping people safe, with Banner.  But that’s not how things turned out.  Sadly.  Now was the time for Banner to use his brain to do what he always set out to do.  The new series was off to a great start when Waid not only had Banner address Tony about the trick that sent Hulk into space.  Then he brought back the Quintronic Man, had the Hulk deal with Atumma (a wasted opportunity when he could have brought back AQUON!) and even better – had Simonson come for a timetraveling Thor arc.  Things were going swell.

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Where the fun ride ended – and keep in mind this may have not been entirely Waid’s fault – was where the Indestructible Hulk had to tie in with the big events.  First, after the Age of Ultron story line (and the Marvel timeline was broken) Hulk dealt with it in the pretty stagnant “Agents of TIME”.  An arc that could have been amazing had the finale led to a Maestro appearance instead of the forgettable UberHulk.  Think about it – Maestro was created by the Hulk’s over exposure to gamma radiation – or hell, they went back to the original gamma bomb detonation… where the Maestro WAS at the final scene of Future Imperfect.  Either way, wasted opportunity.  Then came the even worse tie in with Inhumanity.  A story arc that completely went off the rails with Banner creating a bomb to combat the effects of the mist triggering the dormant Inhuman genes in unsuspecting citizens.  It wasn’t just a tangent in the soild story line that Waid created prior but it was a tough read in general.

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We were served with a harder pill to swallow when Marvel announced yet another re-numbering in the Hulk series.  A 5th re-start in 7 years.  Amazingly upsetting to any Hulk purists who just want to read good stories rather than Marvel focusing on the short boost in sales by slapping a #1 on the cover.  That being said, reading the first three issues of the recently re-titled “Hulk” I have to report that Waid seemed to get back into form and the issues have been stellar!  I love having Abomination back (even if it is a clone with a mysterious “driver”) but I think it was a step in the right direction.  A cool addition into the history of one of Hulk’s oldest enemies.  Could this have been what was supposed to happen next had Waid not tied into Age of Ultron or Infinity?  Maybe – would this have been the better step into this new “Indestructible Hulk”?  I think so – yes.  This would have had fans singing Waid’s praises, I think.  To me, Waid has always been sort of “slow burn” kind of writer.  He doesn’t pack every issue with action but he does set something up to have a nice pay-off in the end.  The problem, as usual it seems, is that Marvel has certain agendas of their own to keep and that includes tying into main events or returning Peter Parker back into his own body because a movie is coming out – whether you want to or not.

This has been the case for years – I know PD was constantly battling with editors who would tell him that he’d have to have a tie-in with whatever they wanted Hulk being part of.  The real problem is – it’s their character!  You sort of have no choice, as a writer, to do what you want with these characters because they aren’t yours to keep.  They are on loan from the owner, sort of speak.  You can only do what you’ve always tried to do… your best.  What was presented in the Indestructible Hulk was not Waid’s best but he didn’t become a legend in the business for nothing.  This is why I tend to believe he didn’t have full reign on what he was looking to do with the Hulk.  Of course, this is all speculated and I have no insider knowledge – except what Waid decides to tweet out.  First he said that Hulk fans were worse than Legion fans (I am paraphrasing as he never actually used the word “worse”) and then he said he was leaving the Hulk for no other reason than he wanted to focus on Daredevil.  I find that a bit hard to believe though… are you saying that if Hulk was being praised then you’d still be leaving?  I doubt it.  He then tweeted that he was making a lot of people happy by leaving the Hulk.  That last bit is interesting for sure…

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We live in an age where information is spread so quickly.  Before the internet Marvel had to wait for letters to pour in to see the fans reaction to whatever was happening with their characters.  Not to mention, if you wanted your letter published you had to be diplomatic about any of your grievances and word it appropriately.  Now, reactionary fans go onto message boards, facebook, twitter and other social media sites to voice their opinions… most of the time more crudely than they ever would to someone’s face.  I’ve always hated that.  Ever hear the saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”?  Well, it seems that the squeaky wheels were the complainers this time around because they were heard loud and clear.  Granted, I am not talking about the posters from this site – the people here always seem respectful even when they don’t have anything nice to say.  I thank everyone for that.  Truly.

So here we are, and almost like a karmic bitch slap for how much complaining about Deadpool I do, the writer of Deadpool will be helming the Hulk series with issue #5.  I can nothing but hope for the best.  As always I will keep you updated.

– Ratch

Hulk #1 (2014) – The Review

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Let’s put it all on the table, shall we?  Loeb’s very successful but ridiculous and terrible Red Hulk series set off a very difficult time in Hulk history.  The over-hyped series did more damage than any kind of good to the Hulk mythos and it has been a rough voyage since.  The only shining beacon in the rough seas of Hulk issues was the brief stint when Pak returned the monster to us.  Even then, though, the issues were plagued with continuity issues – matching with the unreliable Red Hulk story lines – and focused on cementing Pak’s legacy in the Hulk lore rather than serving up fresh new plots for our emerald friend.

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Then, we were delivered one of the darkest hours our Hulk history with the Aaron Hulk series.  Aaron’s take on the Hulk made Loeb’s whole run look like classic literature.  His insulting and laughable “Crazy Banner” was so moronically juvenile it was a wonder if he was letting a elementary school child ghost write for him.  He did himself no favors when he had Doom doing brain surgery with, what else?  A chainsaw, of course.  Each arc got more and more ridiculous as a drug dealing canine/man gave Hulk the chance to do a “Crank” rip-off and ended with a sub-conscious fight with an intruder inside Banner’s brain.  Yes, this was the darkest hour indeed – I’d love to talk to Aaron someday and ask him just what he was thinking.

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With that series over we were given an genuinely welcoming life line when it was announced that they were going to re-launch the title once again but with Waid at the helm.  Things started off really well and continued strong through the return of Attuma, a time traveling Thor adventure and even a few classic Hulk foes sprinkled into the fray.  But, with every fun idea presented there were plenty of questionable ones still lingering – that, and a revolving door of artists – were weighing heavy on the readers.  Why is Hulk wearing that armor?  Which Hulk are we seeing?  Why isn’t the Hulk talking?  Sadly, none of these questions were answered and Hulk fans were getting restless.

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Waid has recently tweeted that Hulk fans seem to be the hardest to please – is this true?  I know we are a dedicated bunch – but I think what we’re looking for is a writer who seems to understand the character that we have all grown to love so much.  Someone who dips into his history to serve us new and interesting adventures with an evolving Hulk – or at least a reason on WHY he seems to have regressed to a child-like mute monster.  Heck, that was the biggest misgiving I had with Loeb’s writing – he didn’t have things happen for any rhyme or reason – just to boost sales or have a tag line for the next inept issue.  Waid hasn’t been that type of writer though – he’s never been a joke – he writes the slow burn that you wait for the big payoff… and I’d still been willing to wait, except that Marvel has decided to renumber the series once again.

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This time the renumbering makes very little sense – because, other than the new artist on board – the ever consistent Mark Bagley – nothing else has really changed – including the storyline that has Banner being shot in the head.  Ignoring the infuriating and unnecessary new numbering system, the first issue is off to a great start.  I’ve been excited before though – only to be let down by the second or third issue – so I will hold off on any recommendations to the loyal Hulk base out there until further installments – but for those of you looking for a letter grade summary of my thoughts – the issue is a solid A.  I even love the slight twist in the end – and not to give anything away – but mainly I love it because there was a great set-up with a fantastic pay-off.  If you’re reading it – let me know your thoughts – if you’re waiting… I don’t blame you.

P.S. – There is also the blank cover – which I have but don’t haven any sketches yet so I didn’t bother posting the pic of a blank cover.  Also, for anyone not aware there are going to be TWO different exclusive Comic-Con Hulk #1 covers (A Canadian Fan Expo Cover and a Wizard World Minneapolis Cover ) both of which I may have to head to eBay for – unless a generous reader here is heading to one of these cons and wants to pick up a spare for me?  Hint, hint!

Waid’s Run Wednesday!

So, not very many Hulk fans are digging this new Hulk run – and it’s not like I can really give solid reasons on why they SHOULD – all I have is my own reasons for liking it.  Believe me when I say that I know it is FAR from a great run so far – nor do I think it will go down in the Hulk history books next to PD or Pak’s Planet Hulk – but it’s a major step up from what we’ve been shoveled, as far as Hulk stories go, for the last few years.  I think Waid is building up to something – unlike Aaron whose ultimate plan was pretty transparent and also pretty shallow  at that – Waid is a really accomplished writer.  Sure, Hulk hasn’t really said a word yet and Banner seems to be controlling everything, but we haven’t really gotten to the meat of what his run will signify.  At least, I don’t think…

In the meantime we’ve been served some pretty fun, action filled issues where the Hulk is confronting former foes and former allies that he still has grudges against.  Maybe Waid hasn’t found the voice that he wants the Hulk to have – or maybe he has but hasn’t reached the point where he’s going to unveil it – but at least we have issues WITH the Hulk in them!  When Bruce Jones didn’t have an idea of who the Hulk he was writing was – he simply didn’t write the Hulk into the stories!  Also, I like reading a Hulk who has some trouble before ultimately accomplishing something – like Waid did in the latest issue.  Was Hulk going to pass out or die?  I doubt it – but the story is at least more interesting when the Hulk has some trouble fighting his foes but then is able to put the smackdown in the end – like in Planet Hulk.

I did say I have been enjoying this – even more than Pak’s second run – and that’s because when Pak took over he was forced into writing a Hulk book without a Hulk and instead his first few arcs centered around Banner training Skaar.  Let’s face it – Skaar has proven to be a pretty forgettable short-lived character in the MU.  He may follow in the footsteps of Spider-Man 2099 – one that a lot of people liked – but not enough to keep a series of his own alive.  He may stick around in the MU – but he’ll never be the lead.  Then Pak dealt with the other son Hulk had… I think Hulk said it best here:

apple picking 050That’s right… ANOTHER SON… while I really liked reading Pak’s second run – there was too much whining and Hulk children and… goodness, I mean, Hulk had two sons and a daughter in the span of a year!  How is that humanly possible?  All of which needed to be addressed and cleaned up.  That’s what Pak’s second run was all about to me – cleaning up the mess that was created before him while trying to tell his own stories too… not an easy feat.  He did it better than most could have – but the “Hulk Family” was a failed experiment that I don’t think anyone will ever want to re-visit.

Back to Waid’s run: We are still pretty early on here – and unlike when Aaron’s run was at this point – I am still hopeful that this is going somewhere great.  I have patience when I see a writer has consistency and seems to be writing a decent story.  Notice I have been giving slightly above average grades – but not exceptional – which reflects how I feel.  This is not classic material – but so far, so good.  What do you guys think?

 

The Indestructible Hulk #1 (2012) – The Review

Indestructible Hulk #1

Thank goodness Marvel has eliminated the horrendous Aaron run after a little over a year.  There wasn’t much more I could take… and I would have been forced to drop the Hulk book for the first time in 20 years.  Now Waid has come to the rescue!  What a wonderful feeling to read a Hulk comic and actually be excited to see what’s to come!  Before I get too much into that though – I need to address something…

Baby Hulk Smash!

Early on in the issue Banner says he realizes that there is no “cure” for the Hulk.  The latest Hulk scribes seem to forget all the times that Banner has actually been cured of the Hulk!  Why?  You should be forced to know your Hulk lore before taking the reigns on the title.  I also think it’s funny that Waid writes that Banner realizes their is no cure right after Aaron wrote an entire arc about Banner collecting these ridiculous trinkets and magical items to create a cure for the Hulk.  Funny how Waid even gives the middle finger to Aaron’s run without really doing so at all!

Yu’s 1:25 cover

As far as the issue itself goes – it’s a really interesting start!  The Hulk now works for SHEILD?  Yeah, that works for me – especially if he is used as a weapon – one of the most powerful and deadliest weapons around!  Waid has certainly started things off with a real bang – he didn’t even wait (like so many others have) to give us some great action – and not some arbitrary “killing a big prehistoric whale” kind of action.  I’ve been burned before with interesting starts (screw you Aaron) but I trust Waid to deliver a exceptional new era of Hulk.

1:50 Simonson Cover

Variants this time around are plentiful (again).  We have the regular cover, a Skottie Young – who, in my opinion, should do variants for every comic ever, a 1:25 Leinel Yu cover, a 1:50 Walter Simonson cover (which is the least impressive), a 1:100 Quesada cover – and the even rarer 1:150 colorless Quesada cover.  I do know there is a Phantom Variant – as well as the blank cover.  My LCS said they did not receive those yet – but will be getting them in next week.  I will be picking mine up then.

The Boring 1:100 Quesada Cover

Grade for 1st issue: A-

The ultra rare 1:150 Colorless Quesada Cover… wish they did this for the Skottie Young cover instead…

I’m not going to look – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

Here is a first look at the new Hulk title coming in November!  I want to wait until the book it out to read any of it – I am not into spoilers – but check it out – click on the image above to be brought to the sneak peek!