For May 3rd, 2006



"Part One of Seven"

Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: Steve McNiven
Inks: Dexter Vines
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$3.99 U.S. / $5.75 CAN

"For the times they are a-changin'"
I don’t want to be the type of fan who goes looking for problems where none exist, but I find myself openly wondering why Mark Millar and the other writers involved in laying the groundwork for this summer event didn’t come up with at least one catalyst event that the government legislators pushing the registration act could point to as something that the act would’ve prevented. I mean the opening events involving the New Warriors would’ve still played out even if the team had been registered with the government, as thousands of car accidents occur every single day in spite of vehicles being registered. I mean what this story really needs at it’s core is a tragic event where a hero or group of heroes reckless behaviour caused an accident, and than they ran off and hid behind their secret-identities to avoid the fallout. Right now though the New Warriors involved in this accident are dead, and while one could argue that their recklessness played a direct role in this tragedy, the connection that is made to the registration act is nowhere near as smooth as I’d have liked to see. Still, I can’t deny that the argument that rests at the core of this project is rife with potential. Plus, Mark Millar does a lovely job of making arguments for both sides, as the anguished mother’s tirade against Tony is quite powerful, and the back & forth between the gathered characters is very effective at showing readers how this one event has provoked a very divided response. This being a Mark Millar written title we also have the added benefit of a writer who knows how to deliver some top-notch action, and this issue provides a high intensity exchange where Captain America has a difference of opinion with S.H.I.E.L.D. and it quickly transforms into an amazing sequence that ends with Captain America riding surfboard style on top of a speeding fighter plane (trust me it’s much cooler than it sounds). As for the art, Steve McNiven makes me a little nervous as he hasn’t exactly proven he can deliver a string of consecutive issues, but I can’t deny the simple fact that he is the ideal artist for this material, as his characters have a wide range of emotions, and he’s equally adapt when it comes to the action sequences. However the most effective image of the entire issue would have to be the chilling panel where the Watcher makes his presence known.

4 out of 5 Stars


"Jumping the Tracks - Part 1"

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Mike Wieringo
Inks: Karl Kesel
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN

"I want the world to change for me!"
Truth be told the what-if material detailing what happens to the life/career of Spider-Man when Aunt May dies instead of Uncle Ben does feel a bit like a repeat performance of the recent "Spider-Man: House of M" miniseries, but I have to give Peter David full marks for deciding to focus on Uncle Ben rather than Peter, as he makes for a far more engaging window into the changes that Peter has undergone. I also have to confess that "It’s a Wonderful Life" has been my all-time favourite movie for pretty much my entire movie watching life, so I’m a sucker for the type of story where we see what the world would’ve been like if someone turned left instead of right. Now the minute we got the scene where Peter and Ben were haggling over the percentage of Ben’s commission I could see where this story was headed, but the story manages to take a bit of a detour in the final moments that brought me back on board, as when Ben arrives in the mainstream reality, how can one not be remind of Jimmy Stewart’s frantic state when he finds himself in a world where he never existed. The issue also features a couple cute nods to the camera, as Ben and Peter get in a prophetic conversation about computer chat-rooms, and the brief look at Spider-Man 4 does a very effective job of presenting a cheesy summer blockbuster. In fact the only real compliant that I’d make about this issue is that the big baddie is presented to readers like we’re supposed to recognize him, and while I make a habit of picking up pretty much everything Spider-Man related, I don’t know who this character is. Still I imagine this problem will be rectified in the next issue. As for the art, it’s great to have Mike Wieringo back on board, as his work brings a much needed sense of energy to the proceedings, and he’s one of the better visual storytellers working in the industry. From the visual impact of the credit page which nicely sets up the entire hook of this parallel reality, to Ben's growing confusion when he finds himself in a new reality, the art does a very effective job selling the story. The visual design of the big baddie left me a bit flat though, as if nothing else I found his goblin glider looked a bit goofy.

3.5 out of 5 Stars


"Freedom Ring - Part One of Five"

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Andy Kuhn
Colors: Studio F’s Marte Gracia
Letters: VC’s Rus Wooton
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN

"Anything your heart desires"
I’m seen other reviewers online kick up a big fuss and bother that this opening issue doesn’t hold true to the Marvel Team-Up format, as while the book opens with a six page battle where Captain America does battle with an armored squadron of A.I.M. goons, he’s the only hero to make an appearance in this issue, while the bulk of the issue looks in on a young man who discovers the wish granting ring that Captain America lost track of during the fight. However, I’ve never been much of a stickler when it comes to the idea that every issue of Marvel Team-Up should feature an actual team-up, and given this is the first chapter it’s only fair that Robert Kirkman be given the time to lay the groundwork that will inspired team-ups in the future chapters. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the new character that Robert Kirkman brings to the table is a fairly engaging character with a nicely defined personality. He also comes complete with a supporting cast, so that when he discovers the magical properties of the ring, he’s not forced to monologue. Now there are a couple moments that felt a little too cute, as we spend far to much time on a Seinfeld-style of whether a restaurant would care if you brought your own bottle of syrup, and the big "next morning" reveal felt a little desperate for laughs. However, the initial reaction of Curtis when the power of the ring first manifests made me smile, and the back and forth conversation between Curtis and Troy managed to deftly address the potential of the ring. In fact the more if it’s handled properly Curtis and his magic ring could make for a promising new addition to the Marvel Universe. In fact I rather suspect the team-ups that we’ll see in upcoming issues, will involve Curtis hooking up with a steady stream of Marvel’s established heroes. As for the art, Andy Kuhn work is a bit sketchy at times and he has a hard to ignore quirk of squeezing the character’s facial features in close to the centre of the face, or slightly off centre, which gives characters odd looking heads. However, he’s really quite good when it comes to the basics of good storytelling, and the art deftly captured the sense of wonder and excitement as Curtis and Troy mess with the ring.

3.5 out of 5 Stars


"Deadpool: Part 4 of 4"

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: John Dell with Mark McKenna
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN

"A face only a mother could love"
Everything plays out pretty much the way one would expect it to as Spider-Man and the X-Men work together to turn the tables on Deadpool and his group of hired guns, and before they head off into the sunset they also use the opportunity to condemn the Mojoverse practice of staging televised mutant hunts. Now I have to confess I had bought into last issue’s cliff-hanger moment, and while I did openly wonder why I never considered the fact that Brian Michael Bendis had already established Deadpool had the ability to change his appearance, since it didn’t cross my mind until Spider-Man nailed the Professor with a good punch to the head I have to give Brian Michael Bendis full credit for how he played this hand. The issue also manages to offer up a couple more solid developments as the big reveal of Deadpool’s true appearance was a very effective moment, as was the unsettling scene where the book leaves what Professor Xavier does to Mojo up to the imagination of the reader. On the other hand the battle itself was a rather bland sequence, as there were no real moments where Brian Michael Bendis looked to be interested in offering up anything more than the typical display of power. In fact the most effective sequence of the issue in terms of actual excitement would have to be the final pages where Peter returns home expecting to get an earful from Aunt May only to discover a slightly disturbing message waiting for him on the answering machine. If nothing else this does serve to introduce another character from the mainstream Spider-Man books to the Ultimate Universe in a rather unexpected manner. As for the art, Mark Bagley is a good fit for this issue as for the most part it’s one extended action sequence, and he delivers some highly effective displays of power. The art also does a wonderful job on the big reveal moment as Deadpool’s true appearance is truly a nightmarish image. I also enjoyed the double-page shot of the group as they bring the battle to a close. Plus, Peter and Kitty’s expressions as they listen to the phone message do a great job of selling their different reactions to what they hear.

3.5 out of 5 Stars