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 411mania » Movies » Columns

Comics 411 5.21.14: Best Avengers Villain Edition
Posted by Steve Gustafson on 05.21.2014

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Welcome back to the Comics 411! My name is Steve Gustafson and this is a corner of 411mania reserved for those interested in talking comics! As always, I want to thank everyone who took a few minutes to read and comment last week. Check out my Hollywood gossip (and anything else!) Hollywood 5 & 1 and my weekend movie recap The Big Screen Bulletin!

Click and read my interview with Playboy'sMiss May, Dani Mathers!


It's real simple, each week I'll take two covers and you vote on your favorite. Some weeks the covers will be random, some will be themed, some will be classic, and some will be ones you've never seem. Have fun with it.

Last week we two striking covers that featured Spider-Man and Wolverine. The results came down to this:

Spider-Man 74.79%
Wolverine 25.21%

Spidey took it pretty easily. Maybe Wolverine was a bit TOO ripped. This week we have two cov...GOOD LORD! What is going on there? Wow. OK, the other cover I picked is...Wait a minute. Rick James? The Hulk? Cue the "Cocaine is a hell of drug" jokes.

Which makes you go, "WTF" more?

This might be the only time you'll see the words "ALF VS RICK JAMES" ever.

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Last week I started a firestorm by discussing overrated storylines. Let's look at the numbers:

Civil War 28.53%
All-Star Superman 27.04%
Watchmen 22.29%
The Dark Knight Returns 13.22%
Days of Future Past 8.92%

The results don't matter as much as the comments did. We had an outpour of comments from a number of passionate people. The back and forth (for the most part) was heated but respectful. I even received a record number of EMAILS, most of them being semi-positive.

And yes, I found it hilarious that the ONE storyline that I truly believe is overrated, came in last. On to your comments. I don't usually post the replies to comments so if you want to see them, click over to last weeks column!

Dave Tomlinson: "Given how TDKR and Watchmen literally changed the entire comics industry and you can literally trace the current boom of superhero movies to them I don't think it's possible to OVER rate their importance. Comics today as we know them can be traced to those two books. Putting them on this list is either some hipster like posing or blatant trolling. Either way, you're wrong."

Captain Mcgloo: "I think the Dark Phoenix Saga is overrated. I want my x-men fighting a world that hates and fears them not fighting aliens on the moon."

Kyatollah: "Steve, I've got to disagree with you on one point. The comparison of DOFP to Kang's history is off. Kang almost universally concluded that saving his timeline meant killing someone or destroying something in the past. However, the X-Men are fighting to save a man's life because the way he dies leads to a future that bodes well for no one, human or mutant. They don't kill Mystique or Destiny, they stop them from committing an assassination that doomed their world. What about that isn't heroic?

One book I have to say is vastly overrated, though, is Watchmen. Alan Moore got a helluva lot of credit for reinventing superhero fiction, but many people overlook that a) he really doesn't like superheroes or their fans all that much, and b) he wrote it because DC wouldn't let him kill off the heroes they had just acquired from Charlton Comics. Plus, I'm sorry, but even when I had a thorough appreciation for that story, it was still one of the most depressing, cruel, borderline nihilistic pieces of fiction I had ever digested. Maybe I'm a fool for it, but my view of humanity is not altogether quite bleak enough to buy into what he's selling."

armchair theologian: "For me its Days of Future Past. Civil War is probably the worst, but it also isn't particularly highly regarded. DoFP has some really neat concepts/events/characters, but ultimately is just a clusterfrak of ridiculousness."

Go2Sleep: "Is Civil War overrated? Most of my friends who read comics think that it sucked. I don't think it's really considered among the greatest storylines of all time. I voted for The Dark Knight Returns, which is considered by most to be a top ten comic book storyline. I feel that the plot itself was not that good, for the reasons that Steve stated above. The importance of The Dark Knight Returns is it's influence. Frank Miller changed what a Batman story could be and multiple comic book storylines and films borrowed heavily from some of his themes, even if the particular story being told in TDKR was mediocre."

Sean Jaramillo: "You put Civil War in that poll to troll everyone, right? I mean, the other four, while none are perfect, are at least understood to be good, if not great, stories and were game-changers to the medium. Civil War is like Maximum Carnage or Identity Crisis: It's a 50-50 bet whether the person you're talking to loves or hates the thing."

CCF: "Anything Batman or DC is overrated. I just don't get the love. I find Batman extremely boring, and Watchmen was, too. There was nothing about Watchmen that drew me in. As a matter of fact, it reminded me of a ripoff of a What If comic from Marvel."

Rocky4228: "Watchmen is basically the only complete comic I've ever read. I had great expectations going in...hell it's on TIME's 100 greatest novels of all time list. The first 80% of it was great. Then I got to the ridiculous ending that completely ruined it for me."

redhotrash: "Civil War should have been one of the coolest storylines in a long time. It should have been two groups fighting over equally valid but very opposite philosophies. Instead Iron Man was the clear cut, mustache twirling villain, Still I'd have to go with World War Hulk. A complete fanboy's wankfest that catered to one character at the expense of pretty much all the others. It also started the absurd overexposure of the Hulk that is only not starting to settle down. Thanks for nothing Loeb."

Joe: "Civil War is the worst story on the list. It's also the least critically acclaimed. So that puts the question in a predicament. Also hard to vote for DKR or Watchmen. For better or worse they've shaped the industry more than any other works, and are impressive stories to boot. So I guess it comes down to All Star and Days of Future Past.
Personally I find DOFP to be overrated in context of the era of X-Men it is in. Meanwhile I find All Star to be the best Superman story since Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow."

CMWolf: "Since this column has become more Marvel-centric. Im SHOCKED you submitted any Marvel storyline as overrated. Also, how could you state that ANY of these stories overrated? Each story listed has proven to be both critical AND financial successes therefore dispelling any overages in their rating. Im a DC guy but I loved both Days Of Future Past and Civil War. Oh. Watchmen, DKR and All Star Superman CANT be overrated, the changes those works brought for not only the characters but in Watchmen's case redefine the superhero story as a whole were by definition epic. So with all due respect Steve, I cant participate in this particular poll. I try not to say any comic is overrated because I think all of them rate the same level of respect. Sappy yeah but sorry....i love comics. =)"

Captain Mcgloo: "The only way you can really call DKR and Watchmen overrated is because so many people have tried to copy it and missed the point. Dark Knight Returns lead to the all the crappy Superman vs Batman stories we've gotten since then and Watchmen lead to a punch of crappy stories about cynical superheroes fighting each other (pretty much everything in the new 52) Although I honestly think Mark Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme is better than Watchmen."

W. Ryne Hall: "Civil War. So many people I've met LOVE it, but it's just absolutely ruined by poor editorial control."

CyberVenom: "I can't agree with any of those. But of those choices, I went Civil War. Here's my top 10, even though I love most of them:

1. Crisis on Infinite Earths
2. Maximum Carnage
3. Kree Skull War
4. The Age of Apocalypse
5. Marvel Zombies (this one hurts :( )
6. Final Crisis
7. The Armor Wars
8. Contest of Champions
9. Marvel vs DC/DC vs Marvel
10. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

This week I thought we'd take it down a few notches and go with something easy. Like the Avengers. When it comes to their villains gallery, they do...OK. I picked a random batch that stand out as my favorite and you get to vote which one you think is their greatest enemy!

He's the reason we have the Avengers. Thanks to Loki, the Asgardian prince of lies, our team of heroes was faced with a "threat no single hero could withstand". In a scheme designed to pit the Hulk against his own brother, Thor, he inadvertently alerted several other powerful superhumans to his scheme. Presto! The Avengers! Loki has the family connection to the team and he's always scheming to beat the Avengers, rule Asgard, or just cause general chaos. In recent times, Loki's aided in the fall of Asgard at the hands of Norman Osborn, as well as the death of Avenger and Olympian war god Ares in the miniseries Siege.

Ah, Thanos. The despot of Titan has one obsession: Death. Aspiring to win "her" affection, Thanos has sought a method to destroy all life in the universe. His usual method involved the Infinity Gauntlet but he's no slouch on his own. Still, with the Gauntlet, Thanos went on a killing spree that claimed the lives of almost half the sentient beings in the universe, including the X-Men, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. When the Avengers stepped up to stop him, Thanos easily wiped them out. In recent times, thanks to his mid-credit cameo, he's appeared in the initial Avengers Assemble arc, Thanos Rising, and all the Infinity events.

Baron Zemo & The Masters of Evil
Even if the only Baron Zemo & The Masters of Evil storyline with the Avengers was "Under Siege," that would be enough to get on the list. The Masters lead an attack on Avengers Mansion that left the building in ruins, the Avengers scattered and broken, and their servant Jarvis on death's door. It should be noted that aside from the Zemos, the Masters have been lead by such villains as Ultron, Dr. Octopus, Justine Hammer, and Egghead. At one time they boasted a membership almost 20 strong, including the entire Wrecking Crew, the Absorbing Man, and Mr. Hyde. The Masters haven't been very evil lately, blame that on Zemo's Thunderbolts, I have a feeling we'll be seeing them sooner rather than later.

He's a man with many names. The man once called Nathaniel Richards is best known, and most feared, as Kang, the Conqueror. A time-traveling ruler from an alternate Earth, Kang is one of the Avengers' oldest foes, having fought them in his various guises almost since the team's forming. He's also been known as the Scarlet Centurion, Rama-Tut, Victor Timely, Iron Lad, and Immortus. No matter what the name, his goal has almost always been the same; to find, defeat, and conquer the Avengers. Most would find this easy, thanks to time-travel but Kang has a code of honor. He'd rather plot against them on a level playing field. One standout moment for Kang was at the end of Kurt Busiek's Avengers run and the "Kang Dynasty" story. Kang succeeded in conquering the Earth. He was then beat by the mysterious Master of the World, who was in turn defeated by the Avengers, with aid from Kang's "son," a clone bearing the identity of the Scarlet Centurion. Again, Kang's code of honor said he would accept the consequences of his defeat, but when he was rescued by the Scarlet Centurion, Kang turned on his "son," condemning his actions, and vowing to find a true heir.

Ultron. A force of destruction. Ultron is a great tragic figure and one of the Avengers' greatest failures. Created by Hank Pym, a founding Avenger, Ultron was meant to be a crowning achievement of robotic science, the world's first true artificial intelligence. Pym's experiment worked all too well, which seems to always be a problem with AI tech, and his creation rebelled. His Age of Ultron storyline is getting the big screen treatment and we've learned that Ultron always comes back. Bigger and badder than before..

Originally this list was 10 but I decided to boil these down to 5. FYI, Korvac was #6. Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments!

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Do YOU want to be a reviewer for COMICS 411? Send me an email at stevethegoose@gmail.com to find out how! If we can get enough people doing a weekly review on a consistent basis, I would love to spin it off into it's own column. One step closer to getting a Comic Book section back at 411mania! Take it away, RobF, Rob Bonnette, and Max Traster!

Superman: Doomed

By RobF

Forget whatever you knew about Doomsday. This juggernaut is a toxic nightmare for the DC Universe particularly Superman. Scott Lobdell, Charles Soule and Greg Pak usher in the New 52 version of Doomsday. Can they add a dimension to a one-dimensional character? (Doomsday, not Superman)

The plot is basic and recycled: Man vs. monster. And no one can stop it. Other heroes (Steel and Wonder Woman) fall before his power. The inevitable showdown between Superman and Doomsday is the main event. Only the ending differs from the original story. (To this point)

There's a lot of flash in this issue but not much substance. It's hard to believe it took 3 people to develop it. One can only imagine with crossovers scheduled that there is more story than this, but so far I am underwhelmed. Doomsday has some new powers and abilities but at the core it's the same character. It's difficult to make a persona interesting that has no dialogue. I feel like the artwork and particularly the use of the splash pages attempt to mask the thin plot.

Speaking of the art whatever they are paying Ken Lashley they should double it. Drawing this version of Doomsday is a daunting task but he is clearly up to it. Kudos to colorist Sunny Gho as well. This is easily the most vibrantly colored comic I have read in a while.

With his toxic blood and life absorbing powers Doomsday is a formidable challenge for the Man of Steel. The real challenge is sustaining any level of interest over several issues. I'm not sure this is possible but the authors have a strong track record so I will be hanging in a bit longer.

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Superman/Wonder Woman #7

By Rob Bonnette ( robsagenius.blogspot.com

This issue in part of the prelude to Superman: Doomed. When it starts out, Superman and Wonder Woman in flight, and their thoughts are laid out for us in narration. Clark (or Kal-El, whatever you prefer) has expressed his feeling for Diana, but she's still held back from totally laying out hers. This is the first time they've been back together since the events of the last issue. We flashback to then; both are laid out in a nuclear reactor, Wonder Woman covered in Superman's cape. In the previous issue, the two were in a Superhuman Tag Team Match against Zod and Faora, Kryptonians who we saw on film in Man of Steel last year and were making an appearance in the Superman/Wonder Woman series. The battle was resolved when Superman triggered a nuclear explosion to take the villains out, and shielded Wonder Woman with his body to protect her.

They survive, but both are knocked out and are in pretty bad shape. They wake up and free themselves, but are still in a pretty weakened state. Neither is able to get airborne on their own, but together they are able to take flight so that Clark can take in the sunlight and begin to get his full power back. Clark is soon able to get healthy enough to carry Diana and asks her where to take her, suggesting Olympus himself but being told instead to take her elsewhere. He takes Diana to an exiled healer from Diana's home to restore her, whiles he retires to his Fortress of Solitude to continue healing himself.

While this is going on, a submarine is attempting to retrieve Doomsday, one of Superman's most infamous adversaries. (It was Doomsday who ‘killed' Superman in the pre-New 52 continuity, one of the most memorable stories in Superman lore.) Doomsday has been freed from the Phantom Zone, and some secret group is looking to move his supposedly frozen form back to its base. For those who don't follow the Superman New 52 stories there are secret sponsored military nits that have been amassing weaponry with the ability to take out Superman should he ever go bad. The crew of the sub may be a part of that, but we don't know yet. We won't find out right away, either, because the sub gets destroyed as Doomsday isn't long for the ice that he was temporarily frozen in.

We go back to a now fully healthy Clark and Diana, who seize the brief moment of relief they have from what they just went through to go out and just have a regular night out, in civilian form and away from any fighting. They go to a club in London, Diana's adopted hometown and just do what normal people do there, dance and have a good time. A friend of Diana's takes Clark to the side for a moment and explains to him that Diana comes there all the time but he's the first guy she's ever brought there. As they continue to enjoy their moment of fun together, the issue ends with a fist rising from the ocean. The fist, of course, is that of Doomsday.

If you're going to follow the Superman: Doomed story are that just began, this is an important issue. We see Doomsday's full awakening and some serious exploration into Clark and Diana's relationship. If you're not for the mushy stuff….well, the series is Superman/Wonder Woman. Another good chapter in what's been an excellent New 52 series.

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Cyclops #1

By Max Traster

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Joe Caramagna

The X-Book, be they team or individual, are traditionally the most convoluted of all the MARVEL books. Coming into any one of those titles requires you know at least "something" about their current continuity to have it make any sense. You know what you need to know about Cyclops #1?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

You don't need to know a Star Jammer from Space Jam. This issue takes care of all of that.

The story runs 20 beautiful action packed pages, and by the final turn you will know everything you need to know about who is in this book and where it's going. I could sell you on the beats of those pages, the violence, the honesty, and the visual spectacle of father and son space piracy, but the book speaks for itself better than I can.

Instead, let me sell you on the writer so you can have a better sense of where this book may go after issue one. If Greg Rucka stays on this title, it will be heartbreaking, exciting, and satisfying. It will be what it sets out to be, a coming of age story set to the backdrop of "What if Han Solo was your dad". (His words, not mine). I'm not a fortune teller, but I know the man's work, and I know what he does well. He tells stories that put humanity first in worlds where it's always more expedient to be a monster or a machine. This book is worth the chance because the story that will come out of it will be worth reading.

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Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #1

By Max Traster

Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Lettering: Cory Petit

This isn't a real #1, it's just a good place to start. This isn't a problem though, because the last 14 years of Ultimate Spider-Man stories weigh down on Miles Morales' shoulders just like continuity can weigh down on a new reader.

Don't worry though, you're in it together with him and you can figure it out together.

This issue, like every issue since it occurred, is in some way about Peter Parker being dead.

If Peter wasn't dead, none of this would be happening.

If Peter wasn't dead, Miles would still have both his parents.

But he is, and this poor kid has to try and live up to being a hero while he tries to just live.

But that's what the core of any good Spider-Man story.

That's the story that Bendis and Marquez tell.

It's also about the Green Goblin breaking out, and that mean's it's about the monster that murdered the last Spider-Man being on the loose.

It's also about Spider-Manish looking imposters going on a crime spree.

And it's about trust, and abandonment, and being young.

Buy it, read it, and if you love it, go back and read the last year or two of Ultimate Spider-Man. There's not a lot better than Miles Morales' story.

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Final Issue! Solicitations for August product are out for DC Comics, and it's bad news for some fans. Six comics are solicited as "final issue" in the August Previews catalogue, including Birds of Prey, which has been in more or less continuous publication since 1996. All-Star Western, a critical favorite co-written by Jimmy Palmiotti, leads the pack of cancelled titles, along with Superboy, Batwing, Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger and Trinity of Sin: Pandora in addition to the aforementioned Birds of Prey.

Batwing, Birds of Prey, The Phantom Stranger, Pandora, and Superboy all have Futures End tie-in one-shots planned for September, which calls into question just how "cancelled" those books really are. If you haven't been paying attention, recent cancellations like Teen Titans and Suicide Squad have been almost immediately resurrected with new #1 issues, a tactic DC has apparently picked up from Marvel Comics's Marvel NOW! initiative, where relaunched books that aren't performing, or just have a pending creative change, can be relaunched yet again to bolster sales and visibility with another new #1 and give a new creative team the highest possible profile.

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Marvel Trolling. Marvel continued to poke at DC at this year's Diamond Retailers Summit. It's already been covered by BleedingCool about an upcoming "eight months later" Avengers story and they "broke" a rumor that Marvel will do a New 52 style reboot of the universe. At the retailer summit, Marvel announced that they will publish a comic with "3000" in the title as a return of the original Guardians Of The Galaxy was hinted at via a giant image, which you can see below.

They did announce a cool Deadpool vs Hawkeye project and then showed off a Deadpool 3D Motion Cover.

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Batman Eternal! Check out the latest preview of Batman's still-new weekly series: Batman Eternal #7.

On sale MAY 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
New players enter the gang war that's setting Gotham City ablaze!

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John Carter! Press Release:

(May 20th, 2014 - Tarzana, CA & Mt. Laurel, NJ) - Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., the company founded by the author to protect and maintain his literary creations, and one of the comics industry's leaders, Publisher Dynamite Entertainment, announced today a comprehensive agreement that will see the return of Burroughs' original "John Carter: Warlord of Mars" to the pages of comic books, comic strips and graphic novels.The agreement allows for the world-wide publication of the John Carter universe as well as "Lord of the Jungle" and ERB's library of archival material.

The initiative comes on the heels of the reacquisition of comic book rights by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. that had been held by Walt Disney Pictures and its Marvel Entertainment subsidiary, as well as a recent legal settlement with Dynamite that cleared the way for Dynamite to introduce key characters and plot elements from the John Carter back story that were, until now, absent from recent comic book interpretations.

"It was important to us that we reacquire the comic book and comic strip rights from Marvel Entertainment so we could reintroduce them in the market place.We're excited to see the exploits of Edgar Rice Burroughs' first science fiction adventure hero brought to life in their fullness by the passionate creative talents assembled by the folks at Dynamite," said James Sullos, President of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. "They're true fans - and it shows on every page and in every idea they've shared with us.Now fans everywhere will be able to appreciate the original adventure stories that later spawned Flash Gordon, Superman, Star Wars and Avatar."

"Working together with Jim and the team at ERB, we will be taking the worlds of John Carter and The Lord of the Jungle publishing initiatives to a new level.There's a rich history, and an incredible amount of archival material in the ERB library, and we're looking forward to bringing it to the fans around the world.I cannot wait to announce the creative teams behind each series in the coming months. This is the beginning of a great relationship." states Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. "I can't express how happy and excited everyone at Dynamite is to be working hand in hand with everyone at ERB, Inc".

John Carter debuted in 1912 as the lead character in Edgar Rice Burroughs' first novel, serialized as Under the Moons of Mars in the pulp magazine, The All-Story, and later published as a complete novel retitled A Princess of Mars.The character excited the imagination of readers and quickly imprinted onto the public psyche. As many literary and popular culture scholars attest, John Carter served as the template for a litany of adventure heroes to follow, from Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Superman to the Jedi knights of Star Wars fame and most recently, Avatar.

In planning for a late 2014 relaunch, Dynamite Entertainment confirmed that the new comic book series will be titled John Carter: Warlord of Mars.Dynamite will also republish other John Carter assets, going back as far as the early 1940s comic strips by John Coleman Burroughs, the son of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

In a related development, new John Carter: Warlord of Mars "adventure strip" episodes will make their online debut in early summer as part of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Digital Comic Strip Service atwww.edgarriceburroughs.com/comics.Written by the legendary Roy Thomas, with art by Pegaso (Rodolfo Perez Garcia) of Mexico City, this series will invite readers to accompany John Carter and his compatriots on exciting adventures that delve into the rich, storied history of Barsoom (as the inhabitants of Mars refer to their planet).As with the other nine series featured on the site, including Tarzan andCarson of Venus, the first four episodes of John Carter: Warlord of Mars will be viewable at no charge.

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Before I say GOODBYE!
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That's all the time I have. See you next week!


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