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Author Topic: Secret Wars (2015)  (Read 9884 times)
Velorath
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Reply #35 on: October 11, 2015, 04:57:42 AM

The first post-SW books launched on Wednesday including:

All New, All Different Point One - This is an anthology issue using Contest of Champions (the new book not the old mini) as a framing story to introduce 6 of the books getting launched between now and January. It's perfectly ok with the main problem being that it introduces Contest of Champions a lot better than Contest of Champions #1 did which also released this week.

Contest of Champions #1 - The book takes place on the remains of Battleworld, with the Collector pulling together heroes and villains from the reestablished multiverse using the help of the Maestro to pick his team. This team must defeat the team picked by the Collector's opponent. The opponent might be Grandmaster but they don't say outright. The stakes are ill-defined save that all if all five members of a player's team are defeated, the player dies. The rules are also unclear, and don't seem to be explained to the heroes and villains who find themselves suddenly teleported into the middle of a fight either. Basically this book is a mess, and as I said above, what little I understand of the book's plot wasn't even established in this issue. There's no page at the beginning to summarize the premise, but they take the time to do a page at the end talking about the original Contest of Champions, mentioning the mobile game, and then explaining that some characters from this series will end up getting added to the mobile game. This just ends up feeling like a bad marketing tie-in.

Avengers #0 - Another anthology book, this one uses the Squadron Supreme as it's framing device and introduces the five Avengers books that will be launching (Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, New Avengers, A-Force, and Ultimates). Perfectly ok stuff.

Dr. Strange #1 - Never been a fan of Bachalo's art, although it's not entirely out of place in a book like this. Actually found myself liking this one a quite a bit though. Reminds me of some of the post-Midnight Sons Dr. Strange stuff from the 90's like when Warren Ellis stepped in to do a revamp which Marvel promptly canned three issues in.

Invincible Iron Man #1 - Started off a bit flat for me with the reveal of the new suit. The art is really good in places, but the issue is a bit dialogue heavy. Flipped back to the front to see who wrote it. Oh, Bendis, that explains it. Not too bad for a Bendis book but not something I'm particularly interested in reading more issues of.

Amazing Spider-man #1 - Dan Slott is still here writing Spider-man and this largely feels like a continuation of his run. Peter finally seems to be taking advantage of having his own company (this happened during Superior Spider-man for those who haven't been following). Much like Superior Spider-man he's got new gear for fighting villains including a new Spider-mobile and different web cartridges he can call up which have different effects (one shoots out electrified wires for instance). This is done under the cover of Spider-man being referred to as Peter Parker's bodyguard (prompting a reporter to ask if doesn't just make him a poor man's Tony Stark), with things additional being covered up by the Prowler occasionally acting as Spider-man when Peter and Spider-man need to be seen at the same time. It's a different status quo for Spider-man and Slott has shown that he can run with those for a couple years and keep it interesting. He's also starting to pick up some plot threads regarding Otto in this issue which I'm looking forward to.
Khaldun
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Reply #36 on: October 11, 2015, 02:10:03 PM

Still on the fence about Dr. Strange. The internal "voice" doesn't seem quite right, but I appreciate the attempt to do some reboot on Strange's magic and the magic of the Marvel Universe. I also was reminded of the Midnight Sons Dr. Strange, which I rather liked even before Ellis (the arc about Salome).

I made the mistake of picking up Iron Man and had the exact same reaction--read through it, was like, "Man, I didn't like that dialogue or characterization", and then yeah, noticed it was Bendis. Also there was some really badly done panel layouts that made it ultra-confusing to read in spots.
Velorath
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Reply #37 on: October 11, 2015, 03:06:27 PM

I tend to be a little more forgiving with Dr. Strange's characterization because I think getting an interesting tone for the book is more important. I'd actually like some more bizarre takes on Strange himself, rather than typical Strange who is often just written like a regular superhero who just happens to use magic. I get what you mean though. Especially with references to Strange nailing tons of women, and having read Spider-man this week also, it felt a bit like every hero is trying to be like Tony Stark in some respect right now.
HaemishM
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Reply #38 on: November 02, 2015, 08:35:21 AM

The first issue of this finally came to Unlimited (though I had to search the Internet for a torrent of the Free-but-hey-let's-not-release-this-digitally-anywhere #0) and I read it. #0 does do a decent job of recapping where we are, though it gives us none of the Beyonder stuff, meaning all we know if you haven't been following New Avengers is that incursions are happening, but not why. None of the Doom stuff - which I take it is also pretty goddamn important. #1 was a big chaotic mess of fighting for no good reason.

One thing this clusterfuck has made me do is go back and start reading Ultimate Fantastic Four to try to figure out why Ultimate Reed Richards has become a 1000-year old megalomaniac villain. I'm about halfway through the first series and I can't say it's all that great.

Khaldun
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Reply #39 on: November 02, 2015, 10:34:27 AM

I think Ultimate Fantastic Four was the weakest of the major reboots--it never really had a good moment, let alone the great stuff in Ultimate Spider-Man. I just don't think they sorted out the question, "What stories do we want to tell about these guys that we never could in the main MU?"
Velorath
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Reply #40 on: November 12, 2015, 04:47:06 AM

Issue #7 of Secret Wars is an absolute mess. Hope you read (and remember what happened in) the right tie-in books to have it make any sense. Also even if you did read them, there's no stakes to the big battle scene that makes up this issue because it's acknowledged as just being a diversion, and there isn't a single important character involved. I can't be bothered to give a shit about the normal versions of Apocalypse, Sinister, or the Goblin Queen let alone alternate versions of them, and Maestro's appearance flat out contradicts the end of Future Imperfect (it could be another Maestro but then it's even harder to care).

I probably read about 90% of the Secret War minis and even I find this issue jarring. That part of the reason for the delays and the extra issue is because Hickman decided this conflict couldn't fit into just one issue pretty much confirms for me that the last couple issues of this are going to be a train wreck. Shame since for a while there in the middle the story wasn't too bad.
Khaldun
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Reply #41 on: November 12, 2015, 06:19:15 AM

Haven't read it yet but this is too bad. I guess this is where it's hard to sustain a good story in the middle of these things no matter what.
Fordel
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Reply #42 on: November 12, 2015, 06:34:19 AM

There was never a good story is the problem. It likes to tell me it's a good story, but that doesn't make it true.

It might have been a interesting idea or concept, but its execution and delivery were at BEST mediocre. A bullet list of 'cool ideas' shoved onto paper is not in of itself a epic saga. Endless escalation does not make a compelling story. Ignoring characterization in order to push forward 'the plot' doesn't make a good story. The plot itself is nothing but endless holes and loose threads and yet more threads being added with little to not payout or even discovery.

My reaction to the main line book of the entire MU's destruction and rebirth shouldn't be "oh, this is still going on?"  Ohhhhh, I see.



The side books were fun and entertaining though, and it's a decent (if clumsy) plot device to rearrange the universe and all that. The mainline book just needs to be fucking over sooner rather then later, I've utterly run out of fucks to give about it and I had very few to begin with.


and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
Velorath
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Reply #43 on: November 12, 2015, 07:37:31 AM

I liked Age of Apocalypse. At their best, I find that alternate reality stories are like playing with action figures as a kid. Characters who are normally heroes can be villains, villains can be heroes, characters can die, characters that are dead in the normal reality can still be alive, and even through there aren't usually any real long term ramifications, if you look at the story as a self-contained thing, it can be good in its own right. Secret Wars as a Doom focused AoA story wasn't bad and there have been some really good tie-in books in this event, but once Hickman got past the setup he hasn't seemed to have much idea what to do with the story.

I didn't follow most of the Avengers lead up to Secret Wars but the bits I've read and the important stuff reiterated in SW in a lot of ways make Doom the hero (of sorts). Everything was fucked, and the only reason anything survived was because of him. He might not be the greatest ruler, and it's pretty creepy of him to make Reed's wife and kids his own instead, but overall he seems to be doing what he can with a less than ideal situation. There's rumblings some of the tie-ins that Doom is a tyrant but they don't really get much into what he does that's so horrible aside from just being an authority figure, which is why Hickman needs to have him kill Strange. That's the Black Goliath moment of SW. In Civil War the pro-reg logically made a lot more sense than the anti-reg side so they needed to manufacture reasons why we should sympathize with side that was pushing for unrestricted vigilante justice. To that end they had the pro-reg side cook up a Thor clone which murdered Black Goliath. Thematically it had nothing to do with argument between the two sides, it was just there because the pro-reg side couldn't be seen as the right one. Likewise in SW they aren't confident in their abilities to address Doom's control of what's left of reality on any sort of moral or philosophical level so they have him murder the closest thing he has to a friend as that sort of blinding "This guy is the villain!" sign.

Even that wouldn't be a complete deal breaker though, but the main problem is that the story has become jumbled and incoherent in the most recent issues. If you're just reading the main series, going from issue #6 to #7 feels like there's chapters missing. The dramatic reveal on the first couple pages is the identity of the Prophet. Now this is a character who wasn't really even mentioned until an issue or two ago and didn't feature particularly prominently. Now he's got an army more or less at Doom's doorstep although he himself is taken our fairly quickly. Then we have an army of Mr. Sinisters and a version of Captain Marvel who switch sides in the middle of battle and attack the Goblin Queen. Goblin Queen asks why and Sinister tellers her that betrayal is Captain Marvel's schtick but that doesn't have any context for people who are just reading SW. Whose side are any of them on and why does it matter? No fucking idea. I think it might have been partly covered in the Inferno mini, but that was so bad and forgettable I honestly couldn't tell you even though I read it. Apocalypse and Holocaust show up and attack Sinister. Again there's no clear explanation of who is fighting for what. From dialogue a few pages later it sounds like Apocalypse is fighting on Doom's side. The Thors show up and turn against Doom because of stuff that happens in the Thors mini. Then Maestro shows up with a bunch of Hulks. Once again, I have no idea whose side they're own and who they're fighting because when the Hulks land on the ground and attack, there's nobody else in the panel with them (there's a Hulk literally swinging at nothing in the last panel of the sequence).

The last bit is Black Panther and Namor. Black Panther breaches the Shield wall to let the dead through (an act which is diminished a bit because we've seen the wall breached three or four times in the various mini's already) and then they somehow convince the zombies to fight against Doom. It's implied that Black Panther is using some sort of mind control on them, possibly through the Infinity Gauntlet he picked up last issue but which is only supposed to work where Doom's castle is. There's some talk about Black Panther being the King of the Dead, but of course I have no clue if this refers to some plot thread from some other book, or possibly something in the Avengers stuff leading up to SW. I've read every issue of SW before this and as I said, a lot of the tie-ins and even I had trouble following a lot of what was going on in this issue. For someone picking up a TPB down the line, it's going to be indecipherable.
Khaldun
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Reply #44 on: November 12, 2015, 09:00:17 AM

Wow, that does sound like a mess. The Shield wall was breached in Siege (which I enjoyed) in rather dramatic fashion (and at the end of #6) so to do it again is Who Cares?

I think in an odd way that I would have rather the main story stay small and intimate in its fashion: a character study of Doom and Reed Richards and their relationship. That's what I was liking in the series so far. Doom is a guy who has several times in his career actually gotten his wish and ruled the world and he's never been satisfied with it. In one case, he had everyone breath in a gas that made them obedient to his will and he got bored with it and let Magneto and the Beast overturn it. What Doom has typically said is that the world is not enough--that he has to keep going, getting more power. That's a sign of someone who has a hole at the heart of his being, an absence, that he can't face or even acknowledge.

So with the first 5 issues and in the run up to Secret Wars, I thought Hickman did a pretty good job of saying: here is a guy who has at last come to the end of keeping going and getting more power. He has all the power there is, but it's only a power to keep shit together. It's the power of responsibility. And what does Doom do first with that power? Take what Reed Richards acquired through being responsible and caring: a family. I thought that was what was nice about Doom's inability to heal his own face: he knows he hasn't earned any of this through the hard work of being a responsible, caring adult. He got it through the equivalent of a magic wand. And he likes having it. That's a great story hook: he sees what it's like to *be* Reed Richards. To have men fight for you because they want to, to have a wife love you because she admires you, to have gifted children look up to you because you're responsible to them, to have Stephen Strange be your friend and comrade-at-arms because he respects your strength and decisiveness, to have good people literally worship you because you kept the world alive and keep it alive even still.

The thing I liked so far was that not only was all that going on, you could see Hickman planting the seed that Doom was basically terrified of the future--he was finding it hard to look ahead to an eternal life of keeping all of reality safe and intact and yet was terrified to do anything that might make reality once again independent. Scared of being God Doom, scared of not being God Doom (and thus not being a husband and father). No wonder he was looking for Reed Richards: in a funny way, who can save Doom from that impossible dilemma but the furious efforts of his worst enemy to change the status quo? I still hope before the end that Reed Richards and Doom have a reckoning that isn't the usual punchathon but is actually a conversation that changes the status quo between them.
HaemishM
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Reply #45 on: November 12, 2015, 11:28:54 AM

I haven't read past Secret Wars #1 because nothing's on Unlimited yet, but as for Black Panther being King of the Dead - I know a lot of times in New Avengers, he communed with the previous Black Panthers/Kings of Wakanda who were ghosts in the City of the Dead in Wakanda. Though how that elevates him to king of all the dead - Hickman? During his time on Avengers/New Avengers, he did a whole lot of shit where he'd just have someone show up with an entirely new status quo (like Cannonball and Smasher's baby and Sunspot owning AIM), then have a different (better) writer come in and do a flash back story to explain it in a different book (this is what the last half of Avengers World was).

Khaldun
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Reply #46 on: November 12, 2015, 04:11:37 PM

Yeah, this is what Hickman largely did with the Black Panther in the last four years of stories in New Avengers combined with some of what happened in the Panther's own book. He abdicated his throne in favor of his sister and became a sort of high priest or servant of the Panther God and the Nekropolis below Wakanda, speaking with the dead of his own lineage and the dead of his people.
Margalis
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Reply #47 on: November 18, 2015, 08:23:24 AM

I've never really gotten Black Panther - he strikes me as just a lame, black Batman knockoff.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Khaldun
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Reply #48 on: November 18, 2015, 02:32:46 PM

Man. No way. He's actually a pretty original character if you stick to the Kirby originals and then some of the Priest and Hudlin books later. In between, yeah, he's kind of generic black Batman when folks who don't know how to deal with the character had to write him. That's what he sometimes has been in the Avengers. The original conception is a sort of awesome, positive riff on the Edgar Rice Burroughs/H. Rider Haggard "secret city in the heart of Africa" trope--rather than that being a place that some studly white guy "discovers" (and then usually rips off/destroys), it's a place that has its own futuristic technology and its own distinctive hero/king. The Panther when he's written right is basically a bundle of great contradictions: liberator/aristocrat, global outsider/ultimate insider, quiet but arrogant, mystically powered/self-made. The Priest Black Panther was great for the first 20+ issues, and I liked Hudlin's original story arc, not so much later. I think Hickman's been writing him well--the Panther makes an interesting contrast/comparison to Namor, Doom and Reed Richards, the other kings and "ubermenschen" in the Marvel Universe.
Fordel
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Reply #49 on: November 18, 2015, 08:21:27 PM

BP isn't a Batman rip off, but he does have the same borderline Mary Sue/Plot Armor that Batman usually has. The whole win any fight with PLANNING!

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
Khaldun
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Reply #50 on: November 18, 2015, 08:36:54 PM

That much is true. I can buy it once or twice but it gets annoying when any writer working on the Panther always wants him to be silently strongly mysteriously eight steps ahead of everyone else. Part of the problem is also that his Rogues' Gallery is just completely stupid. It's basically a dude with a sonic claw who is normally portrayed as a greedbag idiot; five or six people who want the Panther's throne; a couple of African baddies who are as stereotypically non-Wakandan/Panther as they can manage, and that's about it.

Man, now that I've read it, 100% agree on how bad the latest Secret Wars book (#7) is. Totally loses the thread of the story to date, incoherent plotting. Major disappointment.
Fordel
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Reply #51 on: November 19, 2015, 05:07:50 AM

I've already said this but SW is going to end with such a fizzle, leaving everyone going 'whelp, I guess that's it?'.

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
Velorath
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Reply #52 on: November 19, 2015, 05:21:54 AM

I've already said this but SW is going to end with such a fizzle, leaving everyone going 'whelp, I guess that's it?'.

Given that it's ending months after the post-SW books have launched, people have already stopped caring what happens. Of course the last couple issues will still be the top selling comics of the months they release in, and they'll still get bafflingly good reviews.
Khaldun
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Reply #53 on: November 19, 2015, 06:33:18 AM

I honestly liked #2-6 of the main book.
HaemishM
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Reply #54 on: November 24, 2015, 12:26:18 PM

I've been reading some of the ancillary books out this week on Unlimited and while some of them are interesting "What-If?" stories, the whole thing feels incredibly disjointed. Reading Secret Wars #2 didn't help as it gave me absolutely no explanation for how or why Doom created this Battleworld thing. Last we saw Doom, he was getting his shit kicked in by the Beyonders, then we got the battle in New York and Richards life boat crashing somewhere and then GOD DOOM.

... the fuck?

Fordel
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Reply #55 on: November 24, 2015, 01:43:23 PM

The side books have almost no tie in at all with the main line SW books. They are purely just fun what-if scenarios taking advantage of the SW situation.

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
HaemishM
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Reply #56 on: November 24, 2015, 01:55:11 PM

Which explains why they feel so disjointed.

Khaldun
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Reply #57 on: November 24, 2015, 02:56:46 PM

Well, they're meant to be, which I think is sort of a mercy, e.g., to be just fun mash-ups on their own with often minimal service to the central plotline.

As far as how Doom made Battleworld, that's basically the "mystery" of the main plot--both how he did it and why he did it/what Battleworld is.

To date, what they've established is:

a) Doom blew up the Beyonders using the remaining multiversal Molecule Men and stealing their power (essentially a scaled up version of what he pulled off in the first Secret Wars series many moons ago). Stephen Strange had a chance to share the power but declined because he couldn't handle the responsibility of deciding what fragments of the existing realities to save, but agreed to work with Doom in the reality that Doom created.
b) Doom grabbed the Future Foundation kids and the rest of the Fantastic Four out of the part of Reed's ship that broke off from the main liferaft, and 'adopted' them.
c) Doom is keeping the Molecule Man around and hidden under his floating castle--nobody but Strange knows he's there. It's implied heavily that the Molecule Man is important for the continued existence of reality. (I think basically because he's the last unexploded bomb of the Beyonders.)
d) Doom is feeling guilty about something--I think at the least about 'stealing' the rest of the FF, but I suspect also about a secret about Battleworld--and so his face is still unhealed despite his omnipotence.
e) Doom has the powers of God but he can't act because? it's implied that somehow if he becomes too involved, Battleworld's existence might be imperiled. Implies that he's probably having to concentrate all the time on just keeping it in existence. He uses Strange and the Thors to enforce his will instead. I think he's made it like Battleworld because he has no more than fragments of various alternative futures, other dimensions, etc., to work with, but also because it keeps his subjects from hassling him too much (they're too busy hassling each other).
f) I suspect that what we're going to find out is that he could potentially 'reboot' a Marvel reality that would exist independent of his will any time, but he's too attached to his own omnipotence and too afraid of losing Sue, Valeria, the Future Foundation kids, the esteem of the universe, etc., to do it, and it's probably risky even if he wants to try. 
HaemishM
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Reply #58 on: November 24, 2015, 03:16:27 PM

Ok, so at least my confusion is intentional? Yay Hickman?

Fordel
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Reply #59 on: November 24, 2015, 06:20:35 PM

'Intentional' yes.  Ohhhhh, I see.

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
HaemishM
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Reply #60 on: December 01, 2015, 04:06:11 PM

Some of the Secret Wars side books are interesting. I actually dug Old Man Logan despite HATING Wolverine as a character. Where Monsters Dwell seems fun. Inhumans: Attilan Rising seems decent, and Ultimate End at least seems to have some connection to the main Secret Wars book. Some of them though... I just don't know why they exist. Infinity Gauntlet? ... the fuck?

Fordel
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Reply #61 on: December 01, 2015, 05:48:08 PM

They exist because why not? If a creator had a decent pitch it got tossed in, since it was all irrelevant to the mainline setting and the actual event.

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
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Reply #62 on: December 10, 2015, 11:23:55 AM

They all seem to involve alternate world versions of characters who have lost their memories and are thrown together in some sort of temporary Doomworld which you know didn't exist in the past and won't exist in the future so I find it hard to care about them. Nothing that happens matters.
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Reply #63 on: December 10, 2015, 11:42:28 AM

In some sense nothing in any Marvel or DC comic really matters if it changes the status quo substantially. They'll always reboot etc. to restore the baseline. I don't know if I can think of a Marvel or DC character who really, really changed because of something in the linear storytelling going on in a comic book where that change was permanent and profound. I can think of a few characters who have evolved so much that they've got almost nothing to do with their original presentation, but that's sometimes less about a "consequential storyline" and more about the original approach being so hilariously out-of-date that no one has a desire to reboot to that status quo. (Like a lot of the Cold War anti-Communism that Stan Lee used to put into Marvel books in the 1960s and early 1970s.) 
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Reply #64 on: December 10, 2015, 11:57:46 AM

Yeah I know but the Battleworld stories don't even take place on worlds which are real within the fictional universe, and the people in them are not real people (even within the storyline) in the sense that they have temporarily lost their memories and are acting out a fiction based on the false memories they've got instead.

It's not about whether there are any profound changes that last. What happens in the Battleword stories doesn't really matter to any of the characters concerned even within the 24 page book you're reading at the time.
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Reply #65 on: December 10, 2015, 12:05:33 PM

Yeah. I think they're mostly fun only if you like the setting/storyline it's invoking or if the writers are really masterful at establishing characters through short, intense sketches. The Captain America-barbarian who is hunting the Red Hulk did a good job with that; so did the Siege book. Mostly, yes, it feels weightless and even the characters don't feel like they care that much.
Fordel
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Reply #66 on: January 13, 2016, 03:32:59 PM

The last issue of this is finally out apparently?

All early signs point to 'meh'.

and the gate is like I TOO AM CAPABLE OF SPEECH
Khaldun
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Reply #67 on: January 13, 2016, 03:51:48 PM

The previous two were also just a mess. Just very badly paced--it's an almost-intimate character study and then there's all this hullaballoo that barely makes narrative sense.
Velorath
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Reply #68 on: January 14, 2016, 06:51:09 AM

The last issue of this is finally out apparently?

All early signs point to 'meh'.

It's a step up from the previous two issues in that it isn't completely incoherent in parts and there's only 4 pages of Black Panther stuff and maybe some of the FF stuff that don't have any context for me because I haven't read Hickman's entire runs of FF and Avengers. Maybe if they hadn't spent those last two issues on meaningless fights with absolutely no stakes involving characters nobody cares about, they could have given the Richards/Doom conflict at the heart of this issue room to breathe as well as the reset of the MU. Instead, the payoff here doesn't feel earned.


Basically this book desperately wants to be the last word on the Reed/Doom dynamic but has to take so many shortcuts to get there in the end that nothing feels earned. Likewise it doesn't earn bringing back the MU either because the solution is stupidly simple. It's a story that had potential but ended with Hickman once again planting his head up his own ass and then trying to take us all on a tour of it. The result is that a book with the job of ending and restarting the MU ends up feeling like one writer's attempt to tie up a bunch of his old plotlines.

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Reply #69 on: January 14, 2016, 07:35:33 AM

That sounds awful.

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
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