Friday, December 10, 2010

Free Comics Review for 12/08/10

Another Friday, and that means it’s time for another edition of Free Comics Review! Or as I should more accurately call it, Free Marvel Comics Review. That’s right true believers, in this week’s edition there’s only Marvel comics review to be found, as the other companies didn’t upload any free full issues for me to review (plenty of previews though!). To make matters even strangers, two of those comics have now stopped being free, making for a rather short column. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Immortal Iron Fist #23 (Marvel App)

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Travel Foreman

Note: This comic does not appear to be free anymore.

This is the second issue from Swierczynski’s second arc in Immortal Iron Fist, titled Escape From The Eight City. The Immortal Weapons find themselves trapped in the mythical eight city, which is hellish and full to the brim of its horrible and cruel inhabitants.

I read this when it originally came out in singles, and I found it to be much better than Swierczynski’s first arc on the title, and I think it would have been more welcomed after the switch from Brubaker and Fraction’s departure.

The story follows Danny Rand, the current Iron Fist, who is currently imprisoned and forced to engage in gladiator-like fights for the entertainment of the denizens of the Eight City. In the cell right next to him, though, is another captured Iron Fist. The very first one, in fact.

We gain further knowledge into the origin of the 8th city, which is the equivalent of hell to the other seven cities, and it acts as a prison to anyone captured in there, with no known means of escape.

As a whole, this comic is pretty clever and intriguing. If you dropped Iron Fist after the Brubaker/Fraction team left, make sure to check this one out, I think it might just win you over.

Foreman’s art is a pretty good suit for this arc, as he ably captures the grim and grit of the 8th city, which has spend a millennium festering like an infected wound.

Marvel Holiday Spectacular #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Various
Art by Various

In order to get into the Holiday spirit, Marvel decided to upload last year’s Holiday issue for free. It’s made out of several short stories, as well as three reprints and a bunch of extras. It’s a HUGE package, with over 90 pages. You’ll be reading this one for a while.

Most of the stories are pretty short, usually a couple of pages at most. The highlight is the one starring the Illuminati, which temporarily give Santa Claus the Infinity Gauntlet to help him deliver gifts (his reindeer turned out to be skrulls!).

All the stories deal with the holiday spirit, and loving each other, and all that. There’s a pretty good homage to Kitty Pryde, who despite being Jewish, has always been a key part of celebrating X-mas at the X-mansion (did you see what I did there?!). Ironically, this was released when she was still in space, but if you are reading it now, she’s back.

Some of the extras included in this book are data and stats about all of Santa Claus’ previous appearances in the Marvel Universe. Apparently he first showed up in a Doctor Strange book. The More You Know!

The reprints follow the same spirit as the short stories, though obviously longer. It includes a Beast/Iceman stories from the early-90’s, a Colossus story from the late 90’s, and a Spider-Man story that pits The Lizard vs. Stegron from the 70’s.

I was talking about it the other day on Twitter, but I have a really low tolerance for old comics that are overwritten. Parts of reading these reprints felt like a bit of a chore. Your mileage may vary.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #27 (Marvel App)

Written by Mark Millar
Art by Greg Land

Note: This comic does not appear to be free anymore

Marking the beginning of the arc called “President Thor”, this is the penultimate arc by Mark Millar on this title, with Greg Land on art duties.

I’ve previously expressed my distaste for Land’s art, and this issue certainly didn’t help improve my opinion.

Land struggles with even the simplest of tasks, such as portraying the right age for the characters. The Ultimate Fantastic Four are supposed to be teenagers, but someone must have forgotten to send Land that memo, because Sue Storm looks like Pamela Anderson, Thor like Brad Pitt, etc.

When the story isn’t being sabotaged by the art, Millar does a pretty good job this time around. I’m usually pretty wary of time travel stories, but this opening chapter is pretty clever. There’s a couple of scenes that appear twice, from two different perspectives of the time travelers, that is done quite well. Nothing earth-shattering, but still pretty good.

As it tends to happen with time travel stories, not everything goes the way it was intended, and the time stream is violently altered.

If there was one thing that confused me is that Millar decided to change the name of the Chitauri back to Skrulls (like in the main Marvel universe). He was the one that previously introduced them in the pages of Ultimates. Makes me wonder what brought about the change.

Wolverine: Origins #17 (Marvel App)

Written by Daniel Way
Art by Steve Dillon

Another second issue, this time of “Our War”, an arc of Wolverine: Origins that explores the relationship between Wolverine and Captain America during World War II.

I knew before reading this particular issue that this series included a lot of retcons to Wolverine’s history, but I had no idea just how big these changes were. Him being in the same battalion as Sabertooth and Cyber is small potatoes, and easily explained. Not so much with other things...

The story centers around Wolverine, still called Logan around this time, being tasked to rescue Captain America and a group of soldiers from a fallen plane in the middle of the African desert. He gets the help of one Nicholas Fury, who also did some wetworks for the American government.

All is fine and dandy so far. However, the last couple of pages is where this comic truly comes off the rails, when Logan finally gets to Cap. We learn that earlier, at some unspecified juncture, Logan was offered the position of Captain America’s sidekick, before Bucky came around.

Wait, what?!

Yes, you read that right. Apparently Logan, at this point already well into his forties maybe even fifties, was offered the position of sidekick to Captain America, who was only in his twenties. You will also remember that Bucky was used as a symbol to encourage American boys to enlist. Hard to do that with a middle age Canadian man instead, isn’t it?

This is truly one of the worst comics I’ve read. It’s not even badly crafted, but the idea at the center is so very rotten that it spoils whatever positive this issue had going for it. Steve Dillon’s art, good as it is, does not redeem this car crash of an issue.

That's it for this week's column! Any ideas, tips, or advice are welcome. Remember that you can always read the comics in the ComiXology web reader (with the exception of the Marvel ones). We always try to improve our content based on your suggestions, and with a new column, it's good to hear back from the readers. So, comment away!

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dave said...

its an easter egg matt

the skrulls in ultimates were actually based on a conspiricy on aliens running the world called "Chitauri" look it up , its quite intresting:)

Millar presumably thought that readers would catch on to the fact that humans have been calling Skrulls by a deogratory name. Its just further insight into their culture . To be fair to him it's quite obvious

Anonymous said...

.....ummm hate to be in the fire line of being called a troll but image gave all the pilot comics out for free yet there has been no mention . Not calling you bias but...

Matt Duarte said...

@Anon 2: Two weeks ago...

I didn't review all of them individually, but I did mention them. Ryan did a pretty handy guide/review of them only a couple of weeks prior to that, so it felt quite unnecessary to do another review of the same set of comics.

Anonymous said...

...really the Skrull comment ? I agree with anon 1 was that even worth mentioning?

Anonymous said...

None of the covers for these four comics are good, three of them are terrible, and two of them are laughably bad and one of those two is so bad I would be embarrassed to be seen with it, namely the thor cover.

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