Avengers Assemble #1 Review

The Avengers (2012 film)

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not often I do comic book reviews, but when I heard Marvel were releasing an in-continuity title for audiences seeing The Avengers movie, I was intrigued. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by Mark Bagley, does this latest Avengers offering serve up anything different than what’s on shelves already?

The hook with this book is that from the start, all of the movie Avengers are present. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow all feature, however there’s no sign yet of Nick Fury. Though considering the 616 version of Nick Fury may alienate movie fans that’s understandable.

Avengers Assemble #1 opens with Bendis highlighting the rise of a new Zodiac. Praise must be given for Bendis for providing a threat for the team that differs from the movie. Bagley’s artwork leaves a little to be desired, up close his artwork is brilliant, from long angles it’s lacking in detail.

In terms of characters, Clint Barton steals the show. Bendis shows he can write Hawkeye brilliantly, showcasing his sarcastic traits that prove the Ultimates dress-up hasn’t changed much about the character. As a long-term reader, I felt as if a Bucky reference was due when Clint was hitting on Widow, but I can understand why none was used. Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, get enough screen time, but there wasn’t really any reason as to why the team was together, other than being at the right place at the right time. If Bendis really wanted inspiration for how to formulate the team, he should have taken notes of his own New Avengers: Breakout arc. That’s how you form a new Avengers team.

My main criticism would be how the Hulk is handled. From this take, it’s easy to see why Bendis has refrained from largely using the green giant in his eight-year Avengers run. In this book, the Hulk is reverted back to his dumbed-down mindless version. For a long-term Marvel reader, this is a little distracting, as that’s not usually how the Hulk is written these days, however it could because a dumbing-down is in store for the Hulk during Jason Aaron‘s Incredible Hulk epic.

To conclude, Avengers Assemble is a fantastic jumping on point for Avengers movie fans, while still offering something new for long-term readers. It’s light on continuity, but full of great dialogue and solid characterisation. In terms of how well I think Avengers Assemble will do in the future, hopefully there’s more to come from this book to make it stand out amongst the million other Avengers titles.

Rating: 7/10

 

Advertisements

New Avengers Trailer Deconstruction And Analysis

I didn’t think it was possible, but The Avengers is looking better than anybody could have ever predicted. Debuting exclusively via Apple, the new trailer offers us tons of fantastic action scenes, a closer look at Loki‘s ‘army’ and some intriguing story moments. Simply put, it was one of the best movie trailers I’ve ever seen.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

1) Continuity Counts

One of my main fears when Marvel first announced their intention to build a cinematic shared universe was that it would be difficult to interweave the separate films into the same continuity. True, there have been some hiccups here and there, and the recasting of James Rhodes/War Machine and Bruce Banner didn’t help. Thankfully though, this trailer at least confirms that the ending of Iron Man 2 will be addressed in The Avengers. I’m a strong believer that when this film hits, it’s going to bring all the Marvel films before it into better context. Plus, the new Stark tech looks fantastic.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

2) There’s Conflict In The Team

For comic book fans out there, you may have noticed how this scene looks as if it has been taken straight from the pages of Mark Millar‘s and Bryan Hitch‘s revolutionary series Ultimates 2. In the original trailer, we saw signs of hostilities between Captain America and Thor, but now this new trailer reveals more to the story. Has Loki manipulated events and turned the other Avengers against his brother? Either way, praise must be given to Joss Whedon for bringing this interesting dynamic to the team.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

3) Maria Hill Finally

Here we finally get a shot of Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill standing alongside Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). We haven’t seen much of her so far, but knowing Whedon’s talent for handling female characters, I’m sure Maria Hill will be represented well on screen.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

4) Mind Control Or Double Agent?

An interesting moment here is seeing Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) engaged in combat with her former partner Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). First assumptions would be that Loki has somehow used mind control over Hawkeye and is able to use the Avenger as a weapon against Widow. As a big fan of The Ultimates, I can’t help but wish this shot represented Black Widow revealing herself as a double agent working against the team. I doubt that’s going to happen (there’s not even the slightest hint of Russian) but it certainly would raise the stakes of the movie to another level.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

5) More Ultimates Genius

Here is another shot that brought back memories of reading the opening of The Ultimates 2. In that universe, Cap jumping out of planes is a trademark aspect to the character and it looks brilliant on-screen in The Avengers.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

6) Hulk Is Loose

Another pivotal screenshot, this time perhaps revealing that Loki is able to control the Hulk, and even manages to chase down Black Widow possibly on board the Hellicarrier. I’m really happy with how the trailer is able to convey the mess Loki is causing. It really is exceeding my expectations.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

7) Kneel Before Zo.. Loki

Perhaps my favourite moment from the trailer, simply because it highlights how Loki isn’t on Earth to simply destroy it or invade it, he wants to rule it. Anyone following the set pictures online knows how this ends up, but for now, Loki is winning.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

8) Hawkeye Is In The Film

In case you didn’t know, Hawkeye is in this film. He only gets a few snippets of screen time in the trailer, and even Agent Coulson gets more dialogue than him. Why do I get the feeling he’s going to take down the monster revealed at the end of the trailer though?

All Rights Belong To Marvel

9) Thor Imprisoned

Once again, another scene that looks as if it has been taken straight from The Ultimates, this time revealing Thor imprisoned by SHIELD as he screams in anger. What’s interesting is that Thor is imprisoned; yet still holding his hammer Mjölnir. Why would SHIELD imprison Thor while still armed with his hammer? Something doesn’t add up, is Loki yet again behind this?

All Rights Belong To Marvel

10) The Skrulls, Or Kree, Or Something Else Entirely

We are yet again teased at the identity of Loki’s alien army. We’ve been told time and time again they’re not Skrulls, yet that seems the most logical choice. I’m beginning to think they will likely be a new race created by Whedon himself.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

11) Hulk Is A Hero

Putting aside any rumours of Hulk being a villain in this movie, here we see Hulk catching a fallen Iron Man after taking heavy fire while attacking the invading army. It’s a shot that looks as if it has been taken straight from the comics. The Hulk has slipped off radar in recent years, it looks as if Whedon is about to put him straight back at the top. Mark Ruffalo also impresses as Bruce Banner, reminiscent of the classic Bill Bixby series.

All Rights To Marvel

12) The Midgard Serpent?

Easily the best Easter egg ever found in a trailer. Is this a nod to the classic Thor villain, the Midgard Serpent, or a different take on the Marvel dragon Fin Fang Foom? Either way, the mechanical beast has the potential to make for a fantastic cinematic battle. May cannot come soon enough.

Why Nova Is The Best Character Marvel Have Right Now

Why sometimes taking a chance on an unknown character can do wonders for the comic book fan…

Nova (comics)

Image via Wikipedia

I really didn’t know much about Nova until late last year. To me, he just seemed like a Marvel rip-off of Green Lantern. Cocky superhero, check. Intergalactic police force. Check. There comes a time though when it gets boring seeing characters like Wolverine and Spider-Man dominating the market. A change was needed, and for me it was Richard Rider.

Nova (Richard Rider) is a superhero in the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. Upon becoming a member of the galaxy’s Nova Corps (an intergalactic police force), Rider gained enhanced strength, flight, injury resistance, energy projection and a specialized uniform with life support.

I decided to take a gamble and bought a Nova trade (Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning) as it had received some rave reviews on Amazon. Taking it with an open mind however, I still didn’t know if it was going to be for me. To my delight, Nova instantly struck me as a fantastic hero. What I liked was that he was just an ordinary guy thrust into the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. The character had some amazing powers and lot of weight and responsibility on his shoulders. Not to mention his fantastic dynamic with his inbuilt super-intelligent Worldmind computer. His first arc, post Marvel’s Annihilation event stands as the best comic book I’ve read in over a year. Better yet, Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso promises we will see more of Nova in 2012 as Avengers Vs X-Men heats up. Whether or not it’s Richard Rider remains to be seen

What originally inspired me to do this post is how Sony are willing to give Ghost Rider a mediocre sequel, yet no studio has yet to capitalise on giving Nova a feature film. The character rights for Nova are owned by Marvel Studio, so using him would be a great way to development their cosmic universe for future movies. With Green Lantern failing to impress, now is a great opportunity to stake a claim in cosmic superheroes. Providing the casting was solid, Richard Rider would be a more relatable character for viewers. He’s more of a likeable character than Hal Jordan, but still maintains a charismatic edge. The dynamic between him and his computer Worldmind would provide humour with a great dynamic, similar to what was done with JARVIS and Tony Stark in the Iron Man films. If there were any doubts over whether or not Nova would be a viable movie franchise, Marvel still has the opinion of incorporating him into a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

He’s not having the best of luck in comics right now, but I urge any comic book readers to pick up the Nova trades. They have everything you could want in a comic book, space battles, high-octane action, comedy and even a lot of drama. I would love to see Marvel create a movie for Nova. It can’t be any worse than Green Lantern…

Deconstructing: The New Amazing Spider-Man Trailer

What a week it’s been for comic book fans. On Sunday we were treated to an action packed trailer for The Avengers and now Sony have gone and done one better by releasing an extraordinary two and half minute trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man. Starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Conners, this brilliant trailer gives us our first look at The Lizard, as well as highlight that this is a very different incarnation of Spider-Man than what we’ve seen before. (Spoilers below)

All Rights Belong To Sony

1) Peter Parker Is A Genius

One thing that initially worried me about the Spider-Man reboot was that they would try and change Peter Parker’s character too much in order to differentiate from Sam Raimi‘s films. Thankfully though, this reboot looks to have captured Peter’s personality better than ever, as hear we see him designing what looks to be his web shooters proving that Parker is indeed a genius in the film.

All Rights Belong To Sony

2) This Is A Darker Spider-Man

Here we get our first look at Spider-Man’s new suit in action as he webs up a car thief to a wall. Peter’s wisecracks and sarcastic humour traits are still evident as just before he asks the thieves “Do you seriously think I’m a cop in a skin tight red and blue suit?” There’s definitely a sense of arrogance however that stems from the hero, something that was lacking in the previous films.

All Rights Belong To Sony

3) Peter Is Connected To The Villain

Here we meet Dr. Curt Conners played by Rhys Ifans. Peter introduces himself to his future nemesis by stating he was Curt’s partner’s son, revealing that an interesting sub-plot to this movie involves Peter’s parents. What Spider-Man 2 showed us is that when the hero has an emotional tie to the villain, the showdown is far more engaging. It’s where other superhero movies such as Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The First Avenger failed, as they didn’t build up a relationship between the hero and villain enough for us to care who wins.

All Rights Belong To Sony

4) He Creates The Villain

Again, this is another example of how well Marc Webb has built up the Parker/Conners relationship as we find out from a weakened Peter that he is somehow responsible for the creation of the Lizard. This is further shown as we also see Peter display his impressive knowledge to Conners that somehow allows Conners to re-grow his missing arm back. Like all scientific villains though, it goes wrong and he eventually mutates into the Lizard that you see above. From this image, it looks as if those PEZ dispenser images we saw a while back were more accurate than we realised. It’s definitely a more humanoid Lizard than what most people expected, but Internet rumour suggests that Dr. Conner’s transformation progresses in stages and eventually towards the end of the film we will see a more monstrous version of the Lizard.

All Rights Belong To Sony

5) He Is A Wanted Man

Yet another example of how grittier this incarnation of Spider-Man is, here we see Spider-Man apparently being unmasked by Captain Stacey (played by Denis Leary), father of Peter’s love interest Gwen Stacey. The Spider-Man as an outlaw theme was only briefly explored in the original films, therefore seeing Spider-Man having to win over the public is an important part of the comic book mythos that Marc Webb seems to have captured brilliantly. It also elevates the drama in Amazing Spider-Man to Batman Begins type levels. I’m guessing Captain Stacey doesn’t make it until the end of film though.

All Rights Belong To Sony

6) New Love Interest

Another theme the trailer conveys well is the strong relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey. Previous Spider-Man films simply had Peter lust over Mary Jane until he finally got her. Now, there looks to be a more complex relationship between Peter and his love interest, as it’s clear Gwen Stacey knows Peter is Spider-Man quite early on, and that there is a strong friendship underneath their relationship as well. Keeping the Parker luck mythos of the comics alive though, is the fact that her father is hunting Spider-Man, making for one complex relationship.

All Rights Belong To Sony

7) Justified 3-D

As you may have seen from this site, I am not a fan of watching movies in 3-D. Too often than not, films are pointlessly converted into 3-D post-production, leaving most of the film distorted for a few pointless 3-D moments that are somehow meant to justify a more expensive ticket. Thankfully though, The Amazing Spider-Man was actually filmed in 3-D, and judging on the trailer, the action scenes are likely to complement the 3-D spectrum brilliantly. Reviews from Monday night’s Amazing Spider-Man secret footage reveal have all been praising the film’s 3-D, meaning for once I might actually be happy to watch a film in 3-D. That’s something no Marvel Studios film has managed yet.

So there’s my deconstruction of the new Amazing Spider-Man trailer. In short, I feel as if it was a fantastic trailer that offered plenty of substance and action, without spoiling too much of the plot. If this and the Avengers are anything to go by, 2012 is going to be a fantastic year for comic book movies.

Deconstructing: The Avengers Superbowl Trailer

(Warning: Spoilers In This Article)

Debuting during the Superbowl, the action packed trailer for The Avengers offers us our first glimpse of the full Avengers team assembled. Simply put, the action packed trailer was just pure brilliance. Here I will look at some of the interesting moments from the trailer, and discuss how I believe The Avengers will be one the best comic book movies of all time.

Unlike many suggestions on the internet that seem to imply the scene with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers is when they first meet, to me, it looks more like they’ve just been ordered to make up after a brief spat by Nick Fury. One thing that separates the Avengers from the Justice League is that it constantly feels as if the personalities of the Avengers team shouldn’t be together. Yet somehow, the team works brilliant. With a huge ensemble move like this, each character needs to have unique distinctive qualities, and based on what we’ve seen so far, they’re bound to clash from time to time.

Here we see Iron Man flying towards what looks to be an oncoming alien invasion. Some have argued that Iron Man is flying towards the alien mother ship, however it looks more like he is flying towards the portal that links the alien world to Earth. Upon Iron Man and the Avengers Quinjet entering the portal, it looks as if Thor thunderously lands on the Quinjet, initially believing the Avengers to be either imposters or belonging to the alien species. This is why I think Thor attacks Captain America in the previous trailer.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

We also get our first glimpse of ‘Loki‘s’ Army invading Earth. Marvel have done very well here, as they have revealed the alien army’s appearance, yet it’s still difficult to determine what species they are. Everything seems to suggest Skrull, yet FOX apparently owns the rights to them. It’s definitely not Frost Giants as some have implied, as the aliens seen here are far too technology advanced to have come from an ice realm. The same goes for Atlanteans. I’m thinking it’s a lesser-known species such as the aliens from the Breakworld or even The Sons of Muspell. Hopefully though, there will be some hidden references to army in previous Marvel films so that Nick Fury creating the Avengers feels organic like it was planned all along, and not forced for the sake of giving this movie a villain

All Rights Belong To Marvel

Whedon promised that every character in this movie would have their moment, and this trailer certainly confirms that. From Cap performing death-defying leaps, to Hawkeye shooting off arrows while free falling, it looks so far as if no character is going to get left behind.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

Seeing the team fully Assembled proves to me that Joss Whedon seems on intent on delivery the perfect comic book move. One that is action packed, over the top and not held bad by contemporary realism. He also seems to have captured the one element that other superhero ensemble movies seem to miss, teamwork! With the heroes combined, there is a sense that whatever threat they’re facing is incredibly serious, and it really adds some gravitas to the movie, which the previous trailer failed to do. My only complaint would be that compared to Cap, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk, Black Widow arming herself with one gun is a little underwhelming. Hopefully there’s more to her than what meets the eye, and based on Whedon’s history with writing strong female characters, I’m sure Black Widow will impress on screen.

Towards the end of the trailer we see the confrontation between Loki and Tony Stark. After being told by Stark that the team is called the Avengers, Loki tries to threaten Stark by claiming he has an army, to which Stark replies, “We have a Hulk”. It’s cheesy, but it’s brilliant. It highlights how well the dialogue is being handled in this movie, as well as illustrating how dark Loki has become.

All Rights Belong To Marvel

My second favourite screen shot from the trailer involves the Hulk. It’s shows our first glimpse of a fully transformed Banner in action, as he smashes through a building and punches an aircraft high in the air. It’s brilliant. Simply because the Incredible Hulk is one of Marvel’s best characters, but some average movies and meant that his popularity has declined over the years. By including the Hulk in The Avengers, Marvel has a chance to put the Green Goliath back at the top where he belongs.

So there’s my deconstruction of the Superbowl Avengers trailer. While it was a little short, it’s completely revived my interest in the movie after a lack of serious marketing. Now though, I can’t wait for the movie to hit theatres, and I want to hear your suggestions about Loki’s army, and any other thoughts about the movie.

Why Marvel Should Give The Sentry A Movie

 

The Sentry rips Carnage in half. Interior pane...

Image via Wikipedia

The Sentry has to be one of the most controversial comic book characters of this millennium. It was writer Brian Michael Bendis who brought Robert Reynolds back into the centre of the Marvel Universe by including him in The New Avengers. Since then, fans have ruthlessly criticised the character so often, Marvel had no choice but to respond and they decided to kill the Sentry off in 2010, and the character has not been seen since.

That’s quite a lot of hate. First and foremost, why do people hate the Sentry? Was it because he created continuity problems? Is it his overpowered skills set? Or is it his constant crying and running from battles? More often than not, people seem to dislike the Sentry because he was constantly used as a plot device for high-octane battles, as seen in World War Hulk, New Avengers and Siege. His split personality of Robert Reynolds and the destructive Void persona seemed like an interesting idea. After all, the Sentry is the deconstruction of the Superman archetype. A man with such an extreme set of powers, but burdened by his dark side. If he was handled better, the Sentry could have been Marvel’s answer to Superman and then some. But I guess they figured that’s what Thor is for.

Is Sentry just a Superman rip-off? No, but Marvel have hung the Sentry very close to that label in previous years. His dark side was never truly explored, and more often than not if he wasn’t used as a plot device for action sequences, he would simply run away from a battle in fear. If you need an example, look no further than Secret Invasion. He had potential for some great stories, but he spent too much time lost amongst various Avengers teams.

So what am I doing here wishing for a Sentry movie? We are arguably at an age where Superman is becoming obsolete. People no longer care for immortal characters. When a character is incredibly powerful there’s only so far you can go with them. The Sentry is the ultimate deconstruction of the Superman image. The Sentry is a character so powerful, yet ultimately flawed. If Marvel decided to release a movie on the character surely they would attract a Superman audience, but unlike the DC superhero, the Sentry could offer more providing his flaws were developed on screen. Rob Reynolds would be a more relatable figure than Clark Kent, but would still offer the same amount of thrills.

If X-Men: First Class proved anything last year, it was that you shouldn’t judge a movie before it’s released. Fox’s latest mutant adventure faced worldwide threats of boycott, all because it didn’t stick true enough to the source material. Yet, nearly a year later, and I would say X-Men: First Class was the best comic book movie of 2011 (it’s a pity it didn’t box-office records, but that’s a marketing issue). If a Sentry movie headed into production it would generate quite a media storm. Some people would love the idea of a Sentry movie, and others would ultimately hate it. There’s noting worse than no one caring about the movie (I’m looking at you Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance).

For it to work, I think a Sentry movie would need to exist outside the Marvel cinematic universe, meaning under studio such as Fox or Sony. I feel this would be best, in order for the character’s darker psychological problems to be explored. It’s no secret Marvel Studios aim their movies at a young audience, one I don’t think would appreciate a super powered being ripping his enemies apart.

For all my wishing, I don’t think we’ll ever see a Sentry movie. I think Marvel just lost their way with the character at a crucial time, so I’m not even sure if we’ll see him in the pages of the Marvel universe in the near future. I’ve said time and time again however, there comes a time when Batman and X-Men get boring and it’s time for something new once in a while. Iron Man proved that. If a former b-list hero played by a washed out actor looking for a comeback can hit big, there’s no reason why there couldn’t one day be a Sentry movie.

 

 

Captain America 2 Is Happening

Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan as depicted in...

Image via Wikipedia

Continuing my Avengers centric theme, it’s just been revealed that Captain America 2 will start filming this year. Speaking to IMDB, Neal McDonough, the actor who played Dum Dum Dugan in last year’s Captain America: The First Avenger, revealed that a Cap sequel would likely start production by the end of this year. He also revealed he is set to star in a Nick Fury movie, alongside Samuel L. Jackson.

It was always likely a Cap sequel would take place. For me, it was last year’s dark horse. A movie many predicted would flop, actually managing to be one of Marvel’s best yet. Sure, it was lacking in some areas, particularly villain and side character development, but it was a fun, story driven film. A sequel has a chance to build on the excellent groundwork already set, and deliver what could potentially be Marvel’s finest movie yet. Like the last movie, Captain America 2 will likely face a struggle to win over the sceptics. There are some ways it can help itself though, and here’s my prediction for how it may turn out.

1) Introduce The Winter Soldier:

This has to be the main draw. When we last saw Cap’s partner Bucky (Sebastian Stan), he was plummeting to his death over a mountain. It’s a little different to his comic book origin, but Cap fans expect to see the Winter Soldier in film form at some point. Bucky Barnes has reached an all time popularity high, after writer Ed Brubaker controversially brought him back to life in the pages of Captain America in 2005. Adding him to a Cap sequel, will only aid the movie by giving it an emotional driven story. X-Men: First Class showed superhero films about friendship can be done well, so Cap should do the same.

2) Mix The Modern Day Setting With Flashbacks:

What makes the Captain America comics so compelling is that they are set in the present day, but constantly feature flashbacks from various WW2, and Cold War scenes. There’s no reason the Cap sequel couldn’t replicate the success of the comics using this formula. WW2 settings could be used to add gravitas to the Steve and Bucky friendship, while a Cold War setting would be brilliant for exploring the origin of the Winter Soldier. It would be challenge to weave through the timelines, maintaining a constant narrative, but if Marvel pulled it off it could easily be their best movie yet.

3) You Don’t Need Hugo Weaving For The Red Skull:

Cap fans were disappointed last year, when Hugo Weaving announced he has no plans to return as the Red Skull. Granted Weaving was impressive in the roll, but Marvel are no strangers to recasting, and a certain plot device allows them to easily recast the Red Skull for a Cap sequel. In the comics, the Cosmic Cube is responsible for transferring the Skull’s conscious into other bodies, and the Skull even used this to take on the form of Aleksander Lukin, the man left in charge of the Winter Soldier. The plot is already there, Marvel could easily transfer it on screen. The only problem is, it wouldn’t make for great popcorn entertainment, as the story wouldn’t involve as much action as the last film.

So there are three paths I think a sequel to Captain America could explore. With Marvel risking oversaturation of the comic book movie market, every film they produce needs to win over critics and fans. A Cap sequel could easily do this.