Mighty Marvel Trade Post: Thanos Rising, Silver Surfer Vol. 1 & Avengers Vs. X-Men

thanos rising Thanos Rising (Marvel)
Written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Simone Bianchi
Collects Thanos Rising #1-5

I’ve been requesting a ridiculous number of trade paperbacks from the library recently. I’ll sign into the system with an idea about one book to put on hold and the next thing I know, I’ve got a dozen or so books in the hold section and am getting a few messages a week from the library telling me my stacks are in. In an effort to put my thoughts down and get these books back into the system, I’m going to do some brief reviews here and move along.

First up we have Thanos Rising, an origin story for one of Marvel’s most powerful villains (and the driving force behind the fantastic Guardians Of The Galaxy) written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Simone Bianchi. I think this is probably the first interior work by Bianchi that I’ve actually read and I think he did a stellar job bringing the intensity and detail seen on his covers to the interiors.

Of course, it also helps that Aaron wove a compelling story about the bad guy who’s in love with death. This story starts with Thanos’ birth and travels with him as he grows into the genocidal maniac we’ve all come to know and love in Marvel’s cosmic adventures. Heck, there were even times when I felt bad for a character who almost killed Captain America. This feels like a great book to pass to someone who’s seen a Marvel movie and might be interested in getting into comics because it’s very much unattached to the more complicated universe.

silver surfer volume 1 new dawn Silver Surfer Vol. 1: New Dawn (Marvel)
Written by Dan Slott, drawn by Mike Allred
Collects Silver Surfer #1-5

When I’m sitting on the computer trying to think of books to look up, I try to remember which runs everyone seems to love. Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer popped into my head and not long after, I had it in-hand. I’ve only just started reading Slott’s excellent Amazing Spider-Man work, but Allred’s an easy sell for me because I love Madman and his work on iZombie (I reviewed volumes one, two and three and have four waiting for a read).

Silver Sufer is an Allred-illustrated book that felt more like an Allred-penned comic, which was an interesting experience. The Surfer is on a vast vacation world, hanging around with a young quirky girl who could easily be played by Zooey Deschanel and having trippy nightmares about being trapped on Earth again. There’s also an awesome appearance by SS’s Defenders teammates Dr. Strange and Hulk. The story itself wasn’t my cup of tea, but how cool is it seeing Allred draw those characters? The answer is that it’s very cool. Overall, this story didn’t really latch onto me, but I liked the art enough that I’ll probably give the second volume a look just to see where it goes.

avengers vs. x-men Avengers vs. X-Men (Marvel)
Written by Jeph Loeb, Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman & Matt Fraction; drawn by Ed McGuinness, Frank Cho, John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel & Adam Kubert
Collects Avengers Vs. X-Men #0-12, Point One #1

Back in my days at Wizard I was fully up to date when it came to the big time Marvel and DC events. But, it’s been about five years since I got the axe and a whole lot of craziness has gone on since then. DC implemented a complete reboot and Marvel rolls out an event roughly every year (plus more character or team-based side events). As I’m trying to catch up and dive into some X-books, it seemed pertinent to check out Avengers Vs. X-Men.

And I’ve got to say, I really enjoyed this book. I worried going in that it might feel like Civil War which, no matter how hard any of the writers tried, always seemed very much in favor of Captain America’s side, but in this case both Cap and Cyclops have pertinent points. Better yet, Cyke gets possessed by the Phoenix Force, so you don’t have to worry about his side making sense. More impressively, though, were the little bits and pieces that hit home. The second issue does a great job of framing these events that might seem commonplace and making them seem cool and huge.

I was also impressed with how well these issues flowed considering six different writers and five artists were working on the issues. I’m not always the biggest fan of events because they can easily get bloated and plot-driven, abandoning character along the way, but that wasn’t the case here so it gets a big thumbs up from me. Oh, also, it resulted in more mutants, so that’s cool!

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern No Fear

GREEN LANTERN: NO FEAR
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Darwyn Cook, Carlos Pacheco, Ethan Van Sciver and Simone Bianchi
Collects Green Lantern #1-6, Green Lantern Secret Files and Origins 2005
As I mentioned in the first Books of Oa post about Green Lantern: Rebirth, I’m looking to get a better grasp of Hal Jordan as a character and see how the overarching, multi-color Lanterns started out. While I wasn’t doing much blogging over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was stealing away time here and there to read through a lot of the earlier GL and GLC trades and also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to piece together not only a real time release chronology of post-Rebirth Green Lantern comics, but also an in continuity one as well. That’s a roundabout way of saying that the actual rebirth of the Green Lantern Corps is surprisingly non existent in the actual comics. See, Rebirth finished off with a cover date of May 2005 with the Green Lantern comic starring Jordan kicked off in July 2005. Hal’s still got his ring and kicking around Earth and fighting some familiar villains and even visits Oa at one point, but we never actually see the Guardians talking to the five GLs from Rebirth (Hal, John Stewart, Kilowog, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner) and telling them what’s up. I wasn’t expecting a full issue or miniseries focusing on these kinds of things, but I was surprised going back and discovering that not even a scene of such things exists and it doesn’t in Green Lantern Corps: Recharge or any of the other books I’ve read so far.

Anyway, the point of this review isn’t to talk about what wasn’t in the book, but was. Aside from some somewhat schmaltzy short stories taken from what I assume was the Secret Files issue in which we see Hal flying Kyle and a brief history lesson, we’re along for the ride as Hal gets back to his life. He’s living in Coast City which is being rebuilt, but having trouble getting new people to move in. He’s trying to get a job back in the Air Force flying planes. And, most importantly to the action of the series, he’s fighting villains like Manhunters old and new, Hector Hammond (as much as you can fight that giant-headed weirdo), The Shark and Black Hand. We get a hint after the Manhunter story that a group of GLs we thought were dead from Hal’s rampage seem to be held by the Manhunters and their mysterious hooded leader which is a major point of the next arc. There’s also some yellow alien Gremlins running around who, we’re told, evolved Shark and Hammond. There’s an interesting note in the issue where Hammond says that the aliens were planning on harvesting both villains for parts to sell as weapons in an upcoming intergalactic war. I don’t remember either character or the Gremlins being mentioned during Infinite Crisis or Sinestro Corps War, so it could be a detail that Johns hasn’t gotten around to getting back to.

On the other (heh) hand, Hal’s dealings with the higher powered Black Hand (the Gremlins did something to him too, but I’m not sure what) definitely refer to Blackest Night. The rejuvenated villain seems to have an even deeper connection to death and even says “You think you’re strong. But death is stronger. It is the pure power of the far end of the emotional spectrum. The emptiness of space. The blackest night.” At the time the scene just seemed like the ramblings of a madman, but reading it now, it’s easy to see that Johns was planting seeds not just for Sinestro Corps War, but also Blackest Night in the earliest moments of the series.

When these issues first came out, I wasn’t all that interested in them. I wasn’t a big Hal Jordan fan and the inclusion of weird old villains like Shark and Hector Hammond that I didn’t care about, didn’t help matters much. This time around, I’m still not super interested in those villains, but I do like seeing the foundation for the books I’m still enjoying to this day. I was also interested to see the establishment of Hal as a character. He’s confident, like I’ve said previously, but he’s also a good man with a good heart who’s trying to do the right thing, it’s just that his ego gets in his way sometimes. I’m not up on my Hal Jordan history, but there’s an event in Hal’s life that I thought was really interesting. See, after his dad died in a plane explosion, his mom didn’t want any of them to join the Air Force, but Hal did anyway. She wouldn’t talk to him after that, so when she was on her death bed and she refused to see Hal because he was in the Air Force, Hal had to find a way out of the AF without quitting so he could go see her. He couldn’t bring himself to quit so he slugged his commanding officer and got thrown out. His ego got in the way of something that could have been easily explained away. The worst part of the whole ordeal is that he went to see his dying mother, free of the Air Force and she wouldn’t see him. It’s an interesting relationship with his past that Hal has and it’s interesting to see it revealed here and there.

Last, but not least, it’s time to talk about the artwork. I’m not Cook’s biggest fan when he’s writing, but his art has an interesting Silver Age quality to it that’s still dynamic, plus it’s interesting to see that style on a newer character like Kyle Rayner as seen in the opening story from the Secret Files issue. Van Sciver jumper around here and there with a retelling of Hal’s origin early on and an issue or two where he gets to really flex his artistic muscles by covering Kilowog, a slew of rookie GLs, a hulking Shark, the gross Hammond and the creepiest Black Hand ever seen up until then. Pacheco has art chores on the story that brings the Manhunters back into the fold. His art is solid and I like it, but it doesn’t blow me away. The most interesting artist in this book, as far as I’m concerned is Bianchi. I completely forgot that he worked on the series here and there in the early days. I’m a big fan of his work with Grant Morrison in Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight, so seeing more of his work with characters I know and love is a lot of fun. He also gets to play with the same villains that Van Sciver does and it’s really interesting to see such different takes on the characters all within the same book. I can see how the jumping on and off of artists might have bothered some folks, but it doesn’t bother me at all.

Next up for Books Of Oa, I’ve got Rann-Thanagar War which featured Kyle Rayner’s first post-Rebirth action (as far as I can remember), then Green Lantern Corps: Recharge and the second volume of the regular GL series. I’m having a great time re-reading these books and hope to either get my hands on a copy of the Infinite Crisis trade or dig out my issues so I can remember how the GLs played into that story, but if not, I’ll come back to it later on.