All posts by luquillo

I have been reviewing for several years across many different sites under various names with The Mad Penguin and The Main Man being most notable (some still refer to me as the latter). I also go under Cyclonus_The_Warrior on comicvine.com. However, over the last 5 years I been better known by Luquillo. My favorite review categories are Marvel and DC comics, Horror movies, Metal and Rock music, and some times anime. I would like to make it clear that my reviews are my own opinion and I have my own standard on what I look for in a title for me to consider it bad or good. I do not take under consideration a book's, a movie's, or an album's influence. Nor do I take under consideration at all other people's feelings and place "nice guy" ratings to make someone happy; and I will never, ever, change a rating or re-write a review because someone tells me to. I personally believe that people whom review solely to please others shouldn't be writing at all, and I have no respect for vote phishers (there are plenty on amazon) and you shouldn't either. I'm not in this to make friends but I have made plenty over the last 11 years of reviewing though. I can be reached at this email at all times: madpenguin2011@hotmail.com If you wish to contact me to complain about one of my review ratings that's perfectly fine. I don't mind discussion as long as you come correct.

Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 5 (Marvel Masterworks) – Peter moves on in life, while the Kingpin moves in for takeover.

Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 5 (Marvel Masterworks)


(4.5/5)


Pros: Romita’s artwork, new villains, and some good storytelling at times

Cons: Some annoyingly repeated elements

Peter attempts to move on with his life simply because he just has to. Soon another powerful menace appears to force him into donning the Spidey outfit, and attempt to save the son of someone whom hates Spider-Man a bit too much. -summary


This Spider-Man TPB collects a pretty interesting batch of issues, and not only because it debuts some new characters with the most notable being Mary Jane Watson and the Kingpin, in which the latter would go on to plague Daredevil years down the road; but this is also when Peter Parker grows into adulthood and tries to become an independent man. I said it many times before, but it’s just so clear to see that Spider-Man had a very soft spot with Stan Lee. Despite some repetitive elements here and there. I always felt that he was most creative in this title. This TPB collects The Amazing Spider-Man issues 41 – 50 and Annual #3.

One of the running themes going on in this book is Peter transitioning into his own man, therefore escaping his Aunt May’s constant, but very loving badgering. He finally makes friends in college and Harry Osborn invites him to become his roommate,  he meets Mary Jane and begins to break some type of ice with Gwen Stacy, plus the seeds of friendship with his high school nemesis Flash Thompson begins to blossom. This type of change wasn’t only good for Parker but very necessary too.


The drama is done very well for sure. The encounters with newer and returning villains is done even better. Spider-Man battles the Rhino in his debut appearance in a rather under-rated fight, which gets slightly better in their second encounter because it not only shows that Spider-Man has gotten better as a fighter, but he also again resorts to using his brain. The Shocker makes his first appearance in a pretty good fight, and the Lizard returns in violent fashion. However, things take a different turn as the Kingpin surfaces in an attempt to unite the NYC mobs; and these stories prove how important Spider-Man is when engaging the crime element.


These stories are full of excitement and are too gripping. There seems to be something new around every corner as Lee introduces revamped villains, or dives deeper into developing this characters. For those whom prefer solid storytelling before anything else really need not to worry with this volume. The one flaw in these issues takes place with certain characters. I really like Aunt May, but Lee resorts to her getting sick too often which is already a tired plot device; and at least for me, she slows the progress in Peter becoming a man. I get were this is coming from and it’s fine I guess; yet it feels too Mama’s boy for Peter at this point.

John Romita’s artwork is incredible to say the least. It has a dated feel especially when looking at Rhino, because he appears to be a fat guy in a suit; but it’s the creativity in the action panels. The artwork manages to tell the story at times in place of and sometimes better than the actual writing. Romita also again shines with the character designs, by adding a certain amount of sex appeal to female characters Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane, and even Better Brant.


The flaws are minor in these issues for the most part. There’s simply too much to like and the building story elements can leave someone new wondering what’s happening next with some things. In any case, this is an overall solid volume that can come off newbie friendly, but I do recommend the earlier volumes. Spider-Man is one of those titles I think all budding comic fans should see from the beginning and moving on up.

Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 3 – Secret identities are required for a reason Steve.

Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 3

(3.5/5)

Pros: Lee takes time to evolve the character, Kirby and Steranko’s artwork

Cons: Feels quite stale in many places, weak ending

Captain America recognizes an old Nazi war criminal living his life as a well mannered civilian but decides to attack him anyway. Nick Fury appears and apparently betrays Cap by letting the man go as a friend. Cap is completely puzzled by this, and he hopes there’s more to Fury’s actions. - summary

The last volume was indeed very good as Captain America began to evolve more. He allied himself with SHIELD and started using their gadgets. Plus he found something of a love interest in Agent 13, whom is revealed to be Sharon Carter. This volume continues that path and along the way introduces a leader of a terrorist organization; but at the same time this batch of stories began to show that Cap really couldn’t carry a title as well as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk and others, which is why I always felt that to be the main reason Falcon was introduced to his title later on; but that’s another story though. In any case, around 1968 it was kind of obvious that Stan Lee hit a creative snag in some of his titles, and I will always believe that Captain America suffered first. This TPB collects issues 101 – 113.

The plot begins with Captain America being given a mission and the lead takes him to the Red Skull, whom has chosen to activate his fourth Sleeper robot that had been dormant for years. Later on he sets up Captain America for another sinister plan. One thing here is obvious, next to Dr. Doom, The Red Skull was the most diabolical villain at this time, and he had the expertise to accomplish many things. He was a very and still is a very interesting villain, but Stan Lee really didn’t use him to his full potential though.

The encounters with Red Skull felt kind of familiar and at times simply annoyed me. It was just hard to buy into his ego being such a weakness, because it led to him making very foolish mistakes and the Red Skull is no fool or maybe he is.  This time I felt their encounters to be kind of weak and routine, and I wanted Cap to feud with someone else. For me, their confrontations lacked the magic of Spider-Man vs. Dr. Octopus for example.

This volume simply has a stale feel with Cap frequently struggling over his loss of Bucky, and Agent 13 is too much of a plot device to spring Cap into battle on occasion. I simply didn’t feel many of these stories, and the confrontations with Swordsman and Batroc despite being pretty good in regards to the former, really didn’t help all that much. Stan Lee attempts to up the ante by falling back on a previous and critical story element. Captain America was on the verge of quitting, therefore he gave up his secret identity in an attempt to live a normal life. This comes back to bite him as his enemies and even newer enemies takes advantage of this. This adds an interesting dynamic to his character and on one occasion against Dr. Faustus it was used quite well. However, by the end of the book it seemed as if Stan Lee felt that was a mistake, and the events leading to some type of closure felt like a patchwork at best. There was so much I couldn’t buy into it and it just didn’t work to my taste.

The one major highlight is definitely Jack Kirby’s imaginative artwork. His pencils has bailed out Lee on numerous occasions especially in regards to earlier issues of Thor, and these issues are no exception. The man was able to craft some engaging action panels that worked towards Cap’s major strengths: his fighting ability and combat awareness. The action on his end is really good, and Jim Steranko’s cinematic art style followed up quite well. Despite the writing issues this is a fun book visually, especially during the final confrontation against Madame Hydra.

This volume of Silver Age Captain America isn’t bad, but it really isn’t great either, at least to me it’s not. There’s just so much lacking even down to the short meeting with The Hulk. I would only recommend this to serious old school comic fans and Captain America fans. This really isn’t something to run out for unless it’s going out of print.

 

Marvel Masterworks: Sub-Mariner – Volume 3 – To face the Tiger Shark.

 

Marvel Masterworks: Sub-Mariner – Volume 3

(4.5/5)

Pros: Some really good artwork, action

Cons: Storytelling has rough spots, some people may not care for Namor

Namor the Sub-Mariner has just suffered a defeat to an enemy by the name of Destiny, which lead to the man escaping with the Helmet of Power which grants him superhuman abilities. Namor is in a destructive rage as he sets off after Destiny vowing revenge. -summary

Namor  is one of the more under-appreciated characters under the Marvel banner and always has been. I have two guesses to this; one is probably because many people never really grew a liking to his underwater fantasy adventurers because his rogues gallery was kind of lacking when compared to many other characters. Plus, like Dr. Strange his world does feel quite different from the city roaming heroes. The second is more than likely due to his attitude. Namor feels more like an anti-hero, and to a certain degree a villain when looking at some of the company he kept; but Namor’s attitude was definitely an issue because his temper either caused his problems or made them worse. He wasn’t the goody-goody Cap or Spidey type, and that put people I know off. In any case, he was a character that I felt much later on, but coming back to some of these older stories helps me appreciate his earlier run. This TPB collects Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner issues 2 – 13, and continues his own running series, in which he earlier shared the Tales to Astonish title with the Hulk.

Namor’s character is either a like or don’t like for the most part. He seems more driven by personal pride and issues, and sometimes even hesitates to bother helping mankind because he simply cannot stand humans; his inner musings are some times hilarious as he goes off about things concerning his enemies, and even how mankind gets on his nerves with polluting their own waters. I really couldn’t turn too many pages without being thoroughly entertained in some way. The plot follows Namor as he begins his search for Destiny, which lands him in encounters with Plant-Man, as well as one of the Inhuman named Triton. These first issues are fun with a pretty good fight between Namor and Triton that begins underwater then makes it to shore.

The story arc concerning the Helmet of Power takes up the entire book which finds Namor in a slugfest with the Thing. Then later one of his future nemesis’ makes his debut in the form of Tiger Shark, and this is some really good slugfesting fun.

While the story is fairly well paced with plenty of things happening, it gives off a rather madcap like feel, as if writer Roy Thomas is just making up things as he goes along. At times it feels unfocused even though there’s a path leading somewhere; but I really can’t knock it much since it was rarely boring for me.

John Buscema, Marie Sullivan, and Gene Colan deliver some entertaining pencils with nice underwater backgrounds, fairly decent character designs, and some good hard hitting action. While the battle with the Thing has gone down as a classic, and one of the greatest slugfests to many. I lean towards the fight with Tiger Shark as being my favorite of the two. The art displays him as being quite powerful and I found it to be better written as a good confrontation.

This is a TPB that I can definitely recommend and it’s a pretty good starting point. However, unlike let’s say the early Thor (especially), Iron Man, and Fantastic Four volumes. I would recommend going back to the earlier volumes at some point, especially to see Namor’s memorable clash with the Hulk in the last volume, which took place in Tales to Astonish issue 100. If one still has no interest in Sub-Mariner but  wishes to read that fight, it can also be found in Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk Vol. 3.

Avengers: Legion Of The Unliving – Earth’s mightiest locked up with the powerful undead.

Avengers: Legion Of The Unliving

(4/5)

Pros: Some complete stories, very good action and artwork

Cons: Some incomplete stories

Kang the Conqueror is locked in battle through space and time with his future self Rama-Tut. The Master of Time Immortus pulls the two into his realm of limbo. Then he forms an alliance with Kang to plot against the Avengers. Kang uses Immortus’ technology to not only bring the Avengers to limbo, but also pull dead individuals from various points in time to form his Legion of the Unliving. -summary

Avengers: Legion of the Unliving is a pretty good book for what it’s worth that features different incarnations of the team battling various versions of the Legion of the Unliving, whom was first created by Kang The Conqueror. The purpose of usually bringing back the dead to fight the Avengers is to match them against powerful adversaries whom had once before caused them problems or opponents capable of defeating them, and also reduce their combat effectiveness through the shock of these encounters, as almost always they will be up against former Avengers whom were lost in battle. Over the decades these encounters would actually become better due to being more and more personal. When looking at some of these stories, it’s best to ignore all of the long running storylines that were going on at the time, and focus on the battles due to each running arc at that time being left completely unfinished.

This TPB collects stories from 1975 on to 1998, so one can see this book stretches across two decades. Therefore, you can expect a revolving door of artist (Sal Buscema, John Romita Jr.) and writers (Roy Thomas, Kurt Busiek). The issues included are Avengers 131-132, 352 – 354, Annual 16, Giant Size Avengers 3, Avengers West Coast 61, Avengers Vol. 3 10-11.

The first story is definitely something to focus on the action, because this takes place during the Celestial Madonna story arc, and this is left completely unfinished and doesn’t offer too much outside of Kang meeting Immortus for the first time. There is some really good action to be found here though, such as Iron Man taking a beating and an angry Thor seeking some revenge. The story with the absolute best action takes place in the Avengers annual; they battle against a powerful cosmic being The Grandmaster. He was able to trick Death and still her powers; this leads to him creating several bombs capable of destroying entire sections of the galaxy. He splits the West and East Coast Avengers into small teams to destroy his bombs, which are guarded by The Legion of the Unliving. This is by far the most brutal encounter with action all over the place.

Fear the Reaper is a three part story that isn’t as action packed, but it’s definitely the most ambitious story in the book. The Grim Reaper had recently returned from the dead and he developed supernatural powers. This story is completely different in style utilizing the horror element. This story is actually pretty creepy and the Reaper is indeed very twisted and evil. There are two more stories left with one focusing on the Reaper again written by Kurt Busiek. It’s quite story driven but it’s mainly remembered for its ending and the further evolution of the Scarlet Witch’s powers.

These stories really are enjoyable and if anything someone unfamiliar with the Avengers would more than likely want to dive in further. Some of the characters have just enough development to make these stories interesting; but I can imagine fans of the team enjoying them a lot more. The artwork has several stand out moments, with the Avengers annual looking really good with some nice character designs. The 80’s really did have a very attractive style and it shows. The action panels in that issue is full of really good clashes resulting in some bone crushing action. Wonder Man and Hyperion, along with She-Hulk duking it out with Drax the Destroyer quickly comes to mind. Fear the Reaper is very dark and atmospheric, with the feel of death through out the caverns. There’s a feel that at least one Avenger is going to die in this encounter.  It’s some pretty awesome stuff.

Overall I would say this is title that I would recommend, but it’s not something to run out for unless you’re a hardcore collector. The best advice I can think of for a new comic or Avengers fan, is to read several other finished Avengers titles in order to get to know these characters. These are some really good books to start off with, Avengers: The Bride of Ultron, The Korvac Saga, Under Siege,  Assault on Mount Olympus, and Ultron Unlimited. If these storylines can’t turn a person into an Avengers fan, then I don’t think anything can.

The Amazing Spider-Man – Vol. 4 (Marvel Masterworks) – From trapped to unmasked.

The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 4 (Marvel Masterworks)

(4.5/5)

Pros: Highly influential stories, some very good action, John Romita’s art

Cons: Some filler stories here and there

Spider-man attempts to thwart a theft operation by an unknown outfit, whom he then learns that their leader is an unknown entity calling themselves The Master Planner. At the same time, Peter must deal with his first day of college, and then suddenly tragedy strikes his home. -summary

The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 4 may not be the best volume at this point in regards to overall quality storytelling. However, it’s definitely the single most influential volume because the outcome towards the end of the book will play a critical catalyst in the life of Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the rest of his life. This one major event is very important in the Spider-Man mythos.

It was no secret that Spider-Man was one of Stan Lee’s favorite children, easily 1 or 2 as he seemed to be a lot more into these stories. Spider-Man decides to search for The Master Planner when he steals something very important to him. At this point, this is definitely Spider-Man like never before as he becomes very aggressive when dealing with the criminal element. His angry drive and determination is such a shock that he sends his deadliest enemy running off practically fearing for his life. Things also take another turn when the Green Goblin returns to settle the score and things end up going in his favor.

The major running storylines taking place such as “The Master Planner” story arc is definitely Spider-Man at his best; this storyline is what puts the “super” in hero, as he does everything in his power to protect and save family. He is very selfless and full of courage, and this is just some of the things that make him so great. The final major arc Spider-Man vs. The Green Goblin, results in one of Marvel’s most famous battles, and it was no doubt Spider-Man’s most important battle by this point.

There are some other good stories taking place with Spider-man engaging in another forgotten, but very fun slugfest with the Molten Man. I will never understand why these confrontations would never make it to most people’s “greatest battles” list, because like the Scorpion, Spider-Man is usually forced to take it to the Molten Man, and I can’t think of a single boring brawl between them.

While Spider-Man’s life is no doubt interesting; Stan Lee continues to make Peter’s life equal or close to it. This batch of stories features the first appearances of Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy, and I love the rocky start here because it all plays into the now legendary “Parker Luck”. The minor flaws come in two forms; filler stories that really aren’t as good as everything else, but they serve their role as nice cool down stories though. The second is that Lee straight up rehashes how he handles his main characters love interests. There is way too familiar of a feel across Spider-Man, Iron Man,  and Thor books. It’s quite clear that Lee had very little imagination handling these, with Captain America being handled the best in this department when looking back.

John Romita follows up Steve Ditko’s artwork very well with how he handles the action. The way Spider-man maneuvers in battle is something I never get tired of seeing; but the highlights are definitely the brawls with Molten Man, along with the fights against Dr. Octopus and Green Goblin. His character designs especially for the females are really good, and he gets Gwen Stacy down as the girl any man would want to be with. I especially like the fusion with Lee’s storytelling as his pencils captures most of the drama perfectly, and the closing of The Master Planner storyline is the best example.

This volume doesn’t end in a cliffhanger to leave one salivating for the next volume, but with the good stuff found here it really didn’t need it. I definitely recommend this volume as a must buy to anyone whom has either been following these stories or reading them for the first time.

Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Power Couple – They don’t just go out for dinner and a movie.

Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Power Couple (The New 52)

(4/5)

Pros: Good development, action, and build up to later stories looks good

Cons: Carry over story elements may put off some people, some things could have been better

Superman and Wonder Woman are sent on a patrol where they attempt to stop a serious storm out at sea. They’re soon separated and Wonder Woman encounters a very powerful being whom is capable of easily overpowering her. Superman returns to take her to his fortress and hopes to identify what she came up against. He isn’t the least bit happy with what she shows him. -summary

One of the biggest gripes comic fans had with the New 52 was the developing, romantic relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman which began in the pages of Justice League. I never had a problem with it because seeing the two like this opens up plenty of doors, and it jells with what DC wants with this reboot. Superman and Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Power Couple focuses on their budding romance as well as sets the stage for some future storylines. This TPB collects issues Superman and Wonder Woman issues 1 – 7.

This  storyline was actually the best read about these two at this point. Wonder Woman’s book which mainly focused on some serious world building took some time for me to get into. There were some very nice ideas introduced but story progression was too hit and miss for me. Superman’s two books ranged from mediocre to outright dull; as far as I’m concerned Superman was fairly boring to read. This is simply not the case here though.

Charles Soule whom is climbing towards being one of my favorite writers at this time does a very good job making both of the characters lives interesting inside and outside of costume. The relationship is handled very well as they consistently ask certain questions. Despite them being two of the most powerful people on the planet; they’re personalities and backgrounds couldn’t be anymore different, and Soule delivers in a gripping way. Some of the issue with them is that Wonder Woman, whom is an Amazon but also learned that she is a god wants to go public with their relationship. Superman wants to keep it secretive to not worry the public. There’s more than enough going on here to hold interest, and the two make a wonderful couple.

For those whom probably brushed this book off thinking it’s all about the drama; I’m happy to say that there is some pretty good action to take place. Superman identifies Wonder Woman’s assailant and he learns that the Phantom Zone dimension may be breaking. One of its criminals, the Kryptonian general Zod, manages to free himself and later his lover Faora; and together they engage in a big brawl with Superman and Wonder Woman.

The action and drama are paced really well; but there are still a few issues going here such as things just feeling rushed, and although the book ended with an amazing cliffhanger. The ending to the conflict felt too stale for me. It didn’t deliver enough punch, at least not what I was hoping for. Also, there are certain story topics that crosses over from Wonder Woman’s title which is actually unexpected since her book distanced itself from the DCU. People are going to wonder how she became the new God of War and why are the amazons snakes. These things are only addressed across Wonder Woman Volumes 1 – 4.

The book’s final highlight is definitely Tony Daniels’ artwork with Sandu Florea and Barry Kitson dishing out the inks. I think it’s best to ignore the criticisms in this category, because some of these people ripping the art are praising Humberto Ramos’ Superior Spider-Man art, and that’s just something I can’t take seriously. There are some brutal, hard hitting action filled moments that also continues the character development. The character designs are very good looking and consistent despite some fill in artist; there are also some nicely done, vivid, and well detailed backgrounds.

Overall, this is a solid book and I came into this with high hopes anyway, and my disappointment is minimal. In any case, even if Superman’s books have been unreadable for some I still recommend coming into this. It is among the New 52’s good titles.

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (soundtrack): A trip that is overall worthwhile.

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey

(4/5)

Pros: Many songs from the documentary make it, nice enough intro for newbies

Cons: Some songs missing, well rounded metal heads would prefer different stuff

A hardcore headbanger by the name of Sam Dunn went on a journey diving deep into the roots of heavy metal searching for its earliest influences, the one band to be held as the first metal band ever, and what attracted and pushed people away from metal. He completed his journey and released a documentary in 2005 titled Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. For more information on that see my review here.

The documentary featured several songs by well known and lesser bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Rush, Diamond Head, and even Blue Cheer. This album collects many of the songs that were actually played but a few were indeed left off for whatever reasons. Perhaps he couldn’t obtain the rights for those songs. I’ll provide the track listing later, but what’s here is definitely good for someone wanting that musical feel from the movie, plus it’s a good start for those wetting their feet in the genre, as the soundtrack covers many of the sub-genres: Black, Death, Melodic Death, Speed, Thrash, and a few others.

The live version of Hallowed Be Thy Name starts things off with the guitars at the forefront with Bruce Dickinson’s vocals soaring over everything. This song opens up the soundtrack right. If the testosterone level isn’t high enough, then Balls to the Wall has the right amount of “grrr” for that with its crunchy guitar opening and headbanging chorus. Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell slows things down a notch, but the late Ronnie Dio’s vocals maintains some intensity and that awesome closing still gives me goose bumps.

There are several more noteworthy songs with some of the most memorable riffs grabbing the listener by the neck with Diamond Head – Am I Evil? The riffs in this song are indeed that memorable and the lyrical content matches it really well with a memorable chorus. Rush’s bluesy, progressive, metal number, Working Man is still amazing with its pounding rhythm, solos, and vocals.

I can’t let this review go without mentioning the one song that is the living embodiment of rebellion, Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It.  At least for me the memorable riffs are overshadowed by Dee Snider’s message of not sitting down taking garbage, but instead getting up and doing what you want, this song will always bring out the dirt bag in me; and I have to give a shout out to the evil minded, wicked vocals in Blood Lust. This song is kind of lacking in the technical department, but it’s still very catchy. Needled 24/7 by Children of the Bodom has such an amazing opening with some good riff oriented sections but I feel those mallcore and techno touches hurts that track badly along with some of the childish content and screamo. I was also glad to see Cannibal Corpse -Decency Denied, since I do prefer Corpsegrinder’s vocals over Chris Barnes.

This is a very solid soundtrack overall, but when looking at some of the stuff that holds it back like Lamb of God and Slipknot; I have a feel to rate it lower. However, I’m not going to condemn it for the things I would want here. Instead give it props because it does have a nice portion of songs from the movie, plus it makes a nice introduction to several of Metal’s sub-genres for those very unfamiliar. In closing, I definitely recommend watching the movie, and be sure to pick up this soundtrack together with it, especially if you don’t already own these songs.

Track Listing:

1) Iron Maiden – Hallowed Be Thy Name (live)  2) Accept – Balls to the Wall 3) Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell 4) Lamb of God – Laid to Rest 5) Blue Cheer – Summertime Blues 6) Rush – Working Man 7) Motorhead – Killed by Death 8) Diamond Head – Am I Evil? 9) Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It 10) Venom – Bloodlust 11) Slayer – Disciple 12) Arch Enemy – Silent Wars 13) Slipknot – (Sic) 14) Children of Bodom – Needled 24/7 15) Cannibal Corpse – Decency Defied 16) Emperor – Inno A Satana (live)

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Vol 2 – One on one with Batroc and against A.I.M.

Marvel Masterworks: Captain America, Vol. 2

(4/5)

Pros: Some really good action segments and better stories

Cons: Writing issues and some inconsistency

Captain America is prepared to perform one last security check around Avengers Mansion before going to bed. He begins to feel dizzy and soon passes out. He later wakes up and comes upon the ending of a battle, and one of the combatants is an exact replica of him. He captures the man or creature hoping to later find some answers. -summary

Captain America had still been sharing the Tales of Suspense title with Iron Man at this point, and it was no surprise to see that a strong case was made for him to have his own series in which he later got in the form of Captain America #100. These stories were great for their time I’m sure and many of them hold up well even now; at the same time they do suffer from some sloppy writing once in awhile and it seemed as if Stan Lee simply wanted to get these arcs out of the way, and focus on the books his heart were clearly into more; such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and The Incredible Hulk. This TPB collects Tales of Suspense issues 82 – 99, and Captain America 100.

There are plenty of story arcs that take place and conclude with some nice surprises here and there, to include a villain Captain America saw perish in their last encounter. Things kick off with a pretty good fight against the Super Adaptoid, whom copies the powers of various superheroes to take a deadly fight to Cap. Then Captain America continues his feud with Hydra, which lands him in one of Marvel’s greatest slugfest of all time against Batroc the Leaper; and believe me people, this is some top notch action here.

Captain America encounters the Red Skull again, meets the Black Panther for the first time, and battles A.I.M.’s new and deadly leader M.O.D.O.K which is short for Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing. He also works with S.H.I.E.L.D. to help take down various organizations and put an end to terrorist plots. The adventure never really seems to end.

It’s true that the action and intrigue are the stories main selling points. However, Cap’s character development is put under the spotlight as he actually gets frustrated with his sense of duty and wants a normal life. Although he has the Avengers to keep him company, he still feels the need of having a woman and things take a dramatic turn when he falls in love with Agent 13; but Stan Lee handles this pretty much the same as all his heroes at this point, and for some reason I find his handling of Cap and Agent 13 among the least interesting. The stories also have their bit of obvious filler, some weird writing at times, inconsistency, and the deus ex machine plays too heavy of a role to the point of outright silliness.  I get that this is a comic book, but Stan Lee’s more imaginative style of writing ran deeper in other titles.

Jack Sparling, Jack Kirby, and Gil Kane are at work with the pencils. Each of the artists capture Captain America’s graceful footwork and hand to hand skill, but Kirby simply owns with his hard hitting action-fests. The battle with Batroc was brutal and way ahead of its time; the energy and determination embodied everything a comic fan would want to see in a good guy vs. bad guy fight. I would rate this higher than Spider-Man vs. Scorpion in The Amazing Spider-Man #20, and that fight was sick as well. An action fan will indeed feel their money was well spent.

This is a solid collection overall and definitely better than the last volume to me. The action was a huge step up and for me the stories were more fun to read. However, I would still recommend volume 1 along with this book; but for those whom may be a in a situation where they have to choose between the two, then definitely get this one for the memorable action.

 

Silver Surfer: The Coming of Galactus – FF vs. The World Devourer

Silver Surfer: The Coming of Galactus

(5/5)

Pros: Epic story, action and character development

Cons: Contains a portion of issue 48, dated artwork for some

While on their way back to NY after a mission, the Fantastic Four notice that the sky now holds two suns. Afterwards, the sky becomes consumed by flames and the entire city is thrown into chaos. Later on, the sky goes through another unexplainable change. The FF are baffled on what is taking place until they’re greeted by the cosmic entity The Watcher. He explains to the Fantastic Four that he’s responsible for the disturbances in his attempt to conceal the Earth from the Silver Surfer; a powerful being whom is the advance scout for the world devourer Galactus. His attempt fails and the Silver Surfer is able to send off a message to his master alerting him of the planet. Galactus lands on the planet and announces that he will drain the planet of all elements and revert it to energy. -summary

The Fantastic Four had quickly became one of Marvels more lucrative properties by this time. The title was known not only for its growing rogues gallery, but for how it handled its sci-fi element. Along with The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four was among Stan Lee’s most ambitious projects and one can tell this was one of his babies along with the wall-crawler. There was this feel as if he wanted every story to feel epic, and even though I don’t think he pulled it off often in this series early run. He definitely accomplished this goal with The Coming of Galactus. This storyline which was re-titled as a Silver Surfer story took place in Fantastic Four issues 48 – 50; and it featured the first appearances of Silver Surfer and Galactus.

I will always love the opening to this Marvel Milestone. It begins with an immediate end of the world feel, as the all powerful Silver Surfer speeds through the space ways, then appears on Earth and performs his duty as if no on else is on the planet. Then the mighty Galactus appears treating everyone, even the Fantastic Four like insects beneath his notice; and he quickly proves that he’s far more talk as he brushes off a blow to the ankles by the Thing and Human Torch’s Nova Flame. It quickly becomes clear this is a threat like no one has ever faced.

This story handles its build up very well. There’s always this feel something is coming and the outcome usually delivered. There was plenty of imagination and good action for this time period. In addition the characters are developed well enough, with the Silver Surfer eventually breaking his mold, plus Reed Richards and Thing’s bickering remains entertaining. This is one of those earlier stories I still don’t find a chore to read.

Jack Kirby’s legendary artwork was definitely getting better by this point, but for some reason it always felt like he brought his best to this book. I’m guessing it had more to do with Lee’s enthusiasm and simply having a lot more to work with. The energy wielding battles are definitely a spectacle and get enough time to develop across these short issues. There is quite a bit of detail during its sci-fi elements which is something the FF books usually did well. It can make a reader new to them want to see more. Unfortunately, the artwork does have a dated feel that can put off more modern readers, but this is by far easier to get through when compared to the first ten issues for example.

While this is a great short story arc on its own packed with some good action and overall amazing storytelling. I would recommend Marvel Masterworks Fantastic Four Vol. 5 TPB instead and simply skipping this book. This can be a good introduction to the FF, but the TPB is the best choice as one will get a much better feel of the FF’s world. Bother with this book only if you’re a serious FF completest.

Marvel Masterworks – The Fantastic Four – Vol 6: Doom + Cosmic Power = Doomsday.

Marvel Masterworks – The Fantastic Four – Volume 6

(5/5)

Pros: Amazing all around. Dr. Doom vs. FF and Thing vs. Silver Surfer

Cons: Minor pacing issues

Thing wanders the streets of NYC in a state of depression  because of his grotesque appearance. Either due to instinct or some unseen force, he’s drawn to a mystery man whom wants to kill Reed Richards for personal reasons. He tricks the Thing then proceed to carry out his plan. -summary

After the Coming of Galactus story line that took place in Fantastic Four issues 48 – 50 which featured the first appearances and conflict with The Silver Surfer and Galactus. The Fantastic Four title began to really get good. The stories were interesting and fun before that point to be fair, but by this time they were moving with a full head of steam and it’s no wonder Marvel’s First Family was indeed the best team book out there. This batch of stories continues with the greatness and manages to provide reasons on why Dr. Doom was Marvel’s premier villain and why the cosmic powered charged Silver Surfer deserved his own title in which he eventually earned. This TPB collects The Fantastic Four issues 51 – 60 & Annual #4.

This group of stories contains plenty of content worth going crazy about, and is easily the best Fantastic Four trade at this point. First the reader will be treated to a pretty exciting story where a man jealous of Reed Richards soon learns what kind of man Reed really is, and the flow of the story along with its unexpected ending should be one of the high points of Stan Lee’s writing career. When I first read it more than 25 years ago it didn’t mean much to me, but now I can appreciate it as a brilliant work of art. Later on the Black Panther makes his first impressive appearance and the super villain master of sound known as Klaw, will be introduced later in a really good battle against the FF. Afterwards due to a huge act of jealousy, Thing battles the Silver Surfer in one of Marvel’s greatest battles of all time.  Then the FF are forced to battle a supremely powerful Dr. Doom, as he returns deadlier than ever.

These stories are not only awesome because they’re so action packed, but also due to Stan Lee’s character development. He makes these first appearances something to remember. In regards to older characters, despite his stubborn attitude that can make someone want to punch him. The Thing is someone a reader can’t help to feel sorry for because it seems all too obvious he will never be human again, which provides a real good reason behind his inferiority complex; but once this book makes it to issue 57 which takes up the remaining issues with a conflict against Dr. Doom, he simply steals the show and proves to be evil incarnate. The Silver Surfer also delivers a nice, showcase of power capable of making mere mortals tremble.

The only flaws these stories may have comes with the frequent appearances of the Inhumans, whom are trapped in some form of dome. Even if I considered myself a fan of the Inhumans, I think Lee milked their dilemma for far too long.  It gave off the illusion there was progress but it really felt like it was dragging feet, and this thing could have been wrapped up issues earlier. At times it hurt the pacing and it did distract from the climax.

Jack Kirby was also carrying out writing duties for Thor in Journey Into Mystery and his art was really good there, yet these stories are written around the same time and his work feels more complete. The sci-fi element has some nice moments as Reed Richards attempts to visit sub space. Plus the imagination in the action panels are something else. The issues featuring Klaw would have someone believe he was at least capable of being a  B-list villain; plus the battles with Black Panther, later on Dr. Doom, and even Human Torch vs. The Original Human Torch are simply amazing. The Torch battle features the two engulfed in flames in the backgrounds. It just looks great.

It’s really hard for me to even think about lowering this book’s rating even due to the minor pacing problems, because every issue is very good overall. The action, artwork, dialog, and overall heart put into it is hard to ignore. I definitely recommend this TPB to comic fans for its excitement, and also due to how newbie friendly it is.