Marvel Trade Post: Siege, Doomwar, Captain America And Black Panther & X-Statix: Good Omens

Just about every weekend I spend a few minutes sitting in front of the twin to-read longboxes of trades I have sitting in my closet and pull out a small pile to read. I rarely get through all of them, but I tend to do pretty well. As such, I wind up reading a lot more books than I can get to when reviewing doing one, sometimes two, Trade Posts a week. So, I’m going to run through a quartet of Marvel books I’ve read in the past few months.

Siege

Siege (Marvel)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Oliver Coipel with Michael Lark, Lucio Parrillo & Jim Cheung
Collects Siege #1-4, Siege: The Cabal & FCBD 2009 (Avengers) #1

First up you’ve got Siege. This was the big Marvel event that came out in the beginning of 2010. If memory serves, this was the big header to the massive, ongoing story that started off with Civil War, marking a pretty dark time in the lives of that universe’s superheroes. At this point, Norman Osborn was leading H.A.M.M.E.R. which used to be S.H.I.E.L.D. after supposedly saving the world from the Skrulls at the end of Secret Invasion. Jeez, that’s a lot of continuity to remember.

The story itself revolves around Osborn — who’s bug nutty crazy, by the way — attacking the floating city of Asgard which hovers above a town in Oklahoma. This attack draws all the heroes together — both registered and unregistered, harkening back to Civil War — to help defend Asgard against Osborn’s army of Dark Avengers and villains.

At the time, I was excited to see an event comic coming in at only four issues and to see how this would lead into the more positive, less dark Heroic Age at the company. As a story, it involves all the things you’ve come to expect from comic events these days: big group shots, copious amounts of dialog from newscasters, wildly violent moments to let you know things are serious, deaths and splash-page worthy moments returning important characters to their status quos. Maybe it’s because we’re so far removed from this era of Marvel comics — which I wasn’t a huge fan of in the first place — or maybe it’s because this feels like a lot of familiar elements being perpetrated by different people, but the story didn’t do a whole lot for me. It’s beautifully composed by Coipel who’s a top notch talent. He does as well drawing Captain America talking to people as dozens of superpowered folks battling at the same time.

Basically, this book served its purpose by making the good guys good and the bad guys bad again and it’s definitely necessary if you want to know what happened between roughly 2006 and 2010 in Marvel’s books, but it doesn’t really stand out as the kind of book that needs to be revisited.

doomwarDoomwar (Marvel)
Written by Jonathan Mayberry, drawn by Scot Eaton
Collects Doomwar #1-6

I’ve written about this here and there, but I am a huge fan of Reginald Hudlin’s Black Panther series. I think it was an amazing mixture of action and drama that did a great job of cherry picking fun characters from the Marvel sandbox to play with. Because of that run, I’ve become a fan of the character and done a bit of checking in on what he’s been up to here and there.

Doomwar finds Wakanda under attack by the likes of Dr. Doom. With Storm framed for treason, the X-Men come in to help T’Challa and his sister — the then-current Black Panther — clear her name and save the country. As the story — which feels like an event, but was contained in just these six issues — progresses, the scope gets bigger and brings in more characters. I like when comic stories do this, combining an epic feel without making me buy or read a huge stack of comics.

I also like that this story works as both a continuation of the Black Panther story, but also works well as a Marvel Universe story. Doom is such a classic villain that it only makes sense to throw as many heroes at him as possible while keeping his machinations HUGE. And huge they are. I won’t spoil his end game, but it actually works and winds up changing a chunk of the Marvel U. Of course, this is comics, so that may or may not last (or might have already been changed for all I know). I also really dug Eaton’s artwork which has a dark boldness that works on everything from giant monsters to armor-covered heroes. I’ll definitely be keeping this one around.

captain america black panther flags of our fathersCaptain America & Black Panther: Flags Of Our Fathers (Marvel)
Written by Reginald Hudlin, drawn by Denys Cowan
Collects Captain America & Black Panther: Flags Of Our Fathers #1-4

Hey look, another Black Panther comic! This one also stars Captain America, a character who I have grown to love thanks to Ed Brubaker’s run on that book and teams him up with T’Challa’s dad during WWII as the pair face off against Baron Strucker, Red Skull and their band of evil Nazi supervillains. Just like his run on the regular series, Hudlin does this great thing where he grabsgreat characters — like Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos, Master Man, Tiger-Man and Warrior Woman — and just has fun with the story. These four issues basically fully tell a story more briefly mentioned in Hudlin’s early days on Black Panther.

On one hand, Flags Of Our Fathers works as a cool team-up story pitting heroic good guys against dastardly bad guys, but there’s also some really great dramatic and personal moments going on here. I really enjoyed seeing Howling Commando Gabriel Jones interacting with Captain America as well as T’Chaka and his people. There’s a really great dynamic there where Gabe is mentally balancing a love for his own country even while a large part of which fears and hates him. He’s even offered Wakandan citizenship, which gives him an interesting problem to mull over coming to a conclusion that isn’t super surprising, but felt natural and earned.

Cowan’s an artist whose style doesn’t always hit with me. I really enjoyed him on The Question because he let his get syper sketchy which really fit the tone of that book and I really like him on this mini series too because he reigns that sketchiness in a little bit while still retaining his style. As with Doomwar, I’ll be adding this one to my collection as fun stories featuring two of my favorite characters.

x-statix good omensX-Statix: Good Omens (Marvel)
Written by Peter Milligan, drawn by Mike Allred with Darwyn Cooke and Paul Pope
Collects X-Statix #1-5

The Peter Milligan/Mike Allred run on X-Force which quickly turned into X-Statix is one of those comics I’ve heard great things about for years, but just never got around to checking out until a few months ago when I got the Good Omens book from a Sequential Swap trade. I had forgotten that this concept actually kicked off in the pages of X-Force and wrongly assumed that this would be the beginning of the story.

The big thing about this team at the time was that they weren’t afraid to put their names out there, let the world know they were mutants and grab their share of the spotlight. This arc follows the darker side of that as a reality-warping mutant named Artie whose an obsessed superfan of the recently deceased U-Go Girl causes trouble for them while at the same time, there’s also a rival super team that offers the team more competition for the spotlight than they’ve previously known.

I should note that this is not really the best place to start reading these characters. As I mentioned, the story really started in X-Force and ran for 14 issues. Huge, huge portions of the Good Omens storylines are based on what went before it. However, even though I wasn’t completely caught up on what was going on, I never felt completely lost. In fact, I was still so interested in these characters and events that I’m trying to figure out the best way to read the whole thing. There’s an out of print omnibus that has everything, but there’s also a hardcover and two softcovers that collects the X-Force stuff as well as the four volumes of X-Statix. I guess I’m on the hunt for a few more books now!

Black Panther Trade Post: Little Green Men & Back To Africa

BLACK PANTHER: LITTLE GREEN MEN (Marvel)
Written by Reginald Hudlin, drawn by Francis Portella, Andrea Divito & Cafu
Collects Black Panther #31-34

One of the many blog projects I started for myself but never finished was going to be a book-by-book review of Reginald Hudlin’s Black Panther book for Marvel, explaining why I thought it was awesome. If you’re curious, you can check out my reviews of volume one and two. As I explained in the first one–which, damn, I wrote two years ago–I started reading the book three or four arcs into it’s run, got hooked and then went back and collected the trades. I really enjoyed how Hudlin utilized the Marvel Universe from the history of Wakanda to putting a team of villains together that included the Rhino and Batroc the Leaper. It reminded me of how I used to play with my toys as a kid. I didn’t care what line or movie they originally came from, they all got thrown into the box and pulled out as needed. “I need a ninja! I choose you, Karate Kid ninja!”

Hudlin continued this spirit into T’Challa’s search for a mate, his wedding to Storm, his stance throughout Civil War and his eventual joining of the Fantastic Four–along with Storm–when Reed and Sue took off to repair their awful marriage after CW. However, and I can’t remember specifically why, it was around this time that the book started to lose me. It might have had something to do with the fact that Black Panther and Storm were only in about one arc of FF, but they hopped around the universe with Johnny and Ben for twice that many in Black Panther. Or maybe I just wasn’t enjoying the toys Hudlin decided to pull out of the box like a planet of Skrulls who think they’re actually 50s gangsters and a golden frog that can traverse time and space.

Whatever it was, it didn’t carry over into my reading of these issues, thankfully. I don’t have the volume before this one in my collection, but I remember that it involved them going to the Marvel Zombies universe. They now find themselves on the aforementioned Skrull planet, which apparently the Thing spent some time on as a gladiator. They don’t seem to have learned their lesson and have a similar set up in their version of NYC, but this time, there’s a new group up in Harlem: Skrulls who have taken on the look of that area from the Civil Rights Era, including Skrull Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. I’m not sure whether I like this story idea or not, but I did find it interesting that Storm found herself talking to Skrull versions of the characters that Professor X and Magneto have been modeled after.

Anyway, it’s a fun little story with some interesting call backs that I wasn’t familiar with going in (and actually wish there were some editor notes to explain, like when Ben was on this planet). Also, even though three artists drew four issues, there’s an iconic, bold look to the book. That’s not to say the style is completely uniform, I actually like Francis Portella best of the bunch because he threw in a lot more detail. I found myself comparing Things from the different issues and his looked the craggiest.

BLACK PANTHER: BACK TO AFRICA (Marvel)
Written by Reginald Hudlin, drawn by Francis Portella, Carlos Rodriguez, Kevin Sharpe, Andrea Divito, Cafu, Larry Stroman & Ken Lashley
Collects Black Panther #35-38 and Annual #1

Thankfully, Portella winds up being the main artist in the next collection which not only brought Black Panther and Storm back to Earth, but also got at least T’Challa back home (Storm had to go deal with Messiah Complex stuff). Things aren’t all hunky dory in Wakanda, though. His sister has been captured, some of his people think he’s been neglecting his kingly duties and the man he has never beaten in battle Killmonger has taken over a neighboring country and declared war.

The continue my metaphor from above, Hudlin pulled out some fun toys that I enjoyed with this arc. I wasn’t as familiar with Killmonger, but the point was made pretty quickly. Another set of villains is also brilliantly included and there’s even callbacks to previous issues of this series with items and characters returning and being utilized when T’Challa needs help the most.

I just realized while writing this, that in addition to playing with continuity and existing characters and doing fun things with them, the real reason I like Black Panther so much is because he’s such a strong character. He’s what Superman should be, but maybe a little more arrogant. T’Challa never doubts his skills or the ability of his people to overcome whatever threat they might face. He knows that he and they are warriors of a class the world has never seen. He might be more political than Superman, but he always does the right thing and never feels bad about it. He’s also got some Batman thrown in because he always has a trick up his sleeve to take out an enemy and, let’s be honest, you tweak like three things on his costume and he’s wearing Batman’s duds.

Anyway, this collection ends with an annual that takes a look far in the future of the Marvel U. T’Challa and Storm’s son is marrying Luke Cage’s daughter and we get to see the festivities while also learning what has happened to the heroes in the time that has passed. I read this book a little while back and don’t really remember anything about this particular comic except what I already mentioned, but I’m glad it’s in the collection for completest sake. I should also mention that this collection brings Hudlin’s run on Black Panther to an end, which is something I didn’t realize until just now. It actually makes a very fitting book end to the first trade thematically and set-up-wise. After this, Jason Aaron came on and did one of the better Secret Invasion tie-ins. I’m not sure what happened after that. I know his sister took over for a while and he’s currently doing his best to keep Hell’s Kitchen safe, but I’ve only read issues here and there for those runs.