It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited about? What are you all getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
This week marks the end of both “War of the Realms” and the Messages from Midgard column. There are a few straggler tie-ins like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and an Omega issue, which I will cover in its own review, but the core miniseries plus three ancillary tie-in minis and Jason Aaron’s arcs on Thor and Avengers wrap up this week. Plus there’s a fun Superior Spider-Man story where Peter Parker and, of all people, Gwenpool, teaching Doc Ock that heroism is about saving individuals and not just trying to glory hog the whole event. That privilege is reserved for Thor, of which there are four, because its their event.
War of the Realms #6
In War of the Realms #6, Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson knuckle down to give both this event and basically Aaron’s seven year run on Thor one hell of a conclusion. It’s centered around a simple premise. If only Thor can break the magic circle and confront a Knull-infused Malekith, then why not bring four of them: Odinson, King Thor, Young Thor, and Jane Foster’s Thor, who now wields Mjolnir from the Ultimate Universe. What follows is an exercise in fighting, bickering, and true heroism while the rest of the heroes confront Laufey on Midgard.
Before digging into the fantastic things that Aaron does with both Thor and Jane Foster’s arcs, I would like to praise the visuals of Dauterman and Wilson, who really outdo themselves in issue six. Wilson’s palette is majestic and varied ranging from the eye of the storm to the clash of lightning on symbiote ooze and a snowstorm to end all snowstorms. Like the different hammers and weapons used by the Thors, Dauterman switches up his inking style to fit the scene from looser work when Malekith does anything symbiote-y to more clean polished art when Odinson forges Mjolnir anew in the eye of a storm. His attention to detail is uncanny, and he draws many epic moments like when Odinson punches his own hammer and memorable small ones like Screwbeard and Ivory Honeyshot doing their best Gimli and Legolas imitation at the end of the world.
One word that can be used to describe War of the Realms #6 is “satisfying”. Odinson has gone on a painful heroic journey that draws comparisons to the one his own father, Odin, went on to become All-Father sacrificing body parts to gain the wisdom and power to rule Asgard. There are also parallels to the journeys of Dionysus and Jesus Christ in his story as he humbles himself and suffers to save the whole world. But, lofty comparisons aside, this is really the story of a man who becomes a hero and “worthy” in spite of his flaws, which is a metaphor for most of the Marvel heroes, who have fantastic abilities and feet of clay. It is a rare sight to see such an iconic character, like Thor, grow and change over a run, and Jason Aaron has pulled this off with War of the Realms #6 being the finishing touch and earning an Overall Verdict of Buy.
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #4
In New Agents of Atlas#4, this new pan-Asian superhero team finally gets their act together to assemble and prevent Sindr, the Fire Goblin queen from melting the polar ice caps. Greg Pak and artists Gang Hyuk Lim, Moy R, and Pop Mhan take their cues from third act of the 2012 Avengers film from Jimmy Woo playing the Nick Fury role and lying about Pele’s true nature to get the team to work together and lots of big epic splash pages of heroes doing team-up moves. However, with the exception of Brawn, Shang Chi, and the Filipina heroine Wave, I feel like I barely know these heroes so the big fight scenes look pretty, but feel like action figures in position, not characters reaching the end of their journey.
Pak, Lim, Federico Blee and the guest artists and colorists had a tall order introducing new characters and ones who had only appeared in Korean and Chinese comics as well as mobile games to a new audience. Having four issues and a big, yet underdeveloped baddie helped, but in the end, the cast of New Agents of Atlas was simply too large to get to know the new folks. Hopefully, the upcoming miniseries will take its time to develop their personalities as well as show off their cool costumes and powers. Unfortunately, New Agents of Atlas #4 earns an Overall Verdict of Pass despite its one genuinely memorable twist.
War of the Realms: Punisher #3
War of the Realms Punisher#3
features the same fantasy baddies as the rest of “War of the Realm’s” tie-ins,
but Gerry Duggan, Marcelo Ferreira, Roberto Poggi, and Rachelle Rosenberg
take a grittier, more violent, and at times, fatalistic approach to their story
beginning with Frank Castle having guns pointed to his head by former mobsters.
He gets out of this pickle pretty easily by swearing on the souls of dead wife
and kids that he’ll spare the criminals once they get the civilians to safety.
Most of them don’t have to worry about living as they’re immediately set upon
by a squad of trolls; one of which Frank tortures in a chilling scene that
makes the criminals realize that they’re not getting out of this alive too.
Duggan and Ferreira portray Frank Castle as a hardened soldier in War of the Realms Punisher #3, and his enemy is the criminal element, both mortal and otherworldly. Sure, he’ll get the civilians to safety in New Jersey, but he’ll also gun down the last criminal standing with him while the doctor he was assisting shrieks in terror. This is because Castle is as much of a monster and a force of nature as the trolls and Fire Goblins that he was gunning down or blowing up tanker trucks to stop. Duggan’s understanding of Frank Castle’s character, and that we can cheer for him to take out the bad guys and recoil at killing one in cold blood as well as the hellish visuals of Ferreira, Poggi, and Rosenberg earns War of the Realms Punisher #3 an Overall Verdict of Buy and definitely has me interested in Duggan’s upcoming Punisher Kill Krew series.
War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3
Even though it’s nice to see Cyclops, Multiple Man, and your
favorite former New Mutants defending Citi Field from Frost Giants, Matthew Rosenberg, Pere Perez, and Rachelle
Rosenberg’sWar of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men has been the weak link of the tie-in
minis. Issue three is no exception with the pointless killing off of Sunspot,
the repetitive dialogue of (dead in the main series) Wolfsbane’s lover
Hrimhari, and a tacked on sequence with Dani Moonstar and the Valkyries even
though this plot point was only touched upon at the end of issue one. It could
have been a good hook for the miniseries and a through-line to the main action,
but in the end, it’s too little, too late.
War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3 does have a few cool moments like Multiple Man’s dupes luring the Frost Giants into a Limbo portal, a visceral claw on claw fight between Sabretooth and Wolfsbane, and Cyclops precision sniping Frost Giants. However, these are few and far between, and after three issues, this miniseries has really done nothing to justify its existence and earns an Overall Verdict of Pass. But the silver lining is that Jonathan Hickman is coming in a month and probably all these events/pointless character deaths will be retconned.
Jason Aaron, Scott
Hepburn, and Matthew Wilson’s story in Thor
#14 covers much of the same ground as War
of the Realms #6, but from the POV of Young Thor as the Fantastic Four
summon him from brooding and trying to lift Mjolnir to a fight for all ten
realms. I read this almost directly after War
of the Realms #6, and there are obvious re-draws of Russell Dauterman’s art
although Hepburn has an earthier take on the material to match the boisterous,
shit-talking Young Thor. The issue also has more direct connections to the last
adventure of the three Thors in Aaron’s Thor,God of Thunder series and a similar
art style although Hepburn is no Simon Bisley. There’s a lot of gruffness, talk
about hammers, and an indirect reference to Back
to the Future along the way.
However, compared to the standalone issues about Loki, Cul Borson, and even Gorilla-Man in Aaron’s tie-in issues of Thor and Avengers, Thor #14 seems less essential because Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman portrayed Young Thor’s carelessness, brashness, and adventurous nature so well in War of the Realms #6. He does get a cool action sequence against a gnarly Hepburn-drawn Venom symbiote and lifts Mjolnir in a moment that again proves that “worthiness” and heroism is not something bestowed externally, but internally. Most of the material in Thor #14 is covered in Realms #6, but that scene and the sheer joy that Aaron gets at writing Young Thor earns the issue an Overall Verdict of Read.
Avengers #20 is yet
another standalone success from Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, and
Jason Keith and is a metafictional
look at She-Hulk, and how she’s changed as a character in the past few years.
The opening sequence is brilliant and set in side a Wakandan therapy simulation
where She-Hulk looks at a pinup of the John Byrne version of her and beats up a
version of her that looks like it was drawn by Javier Pulido. The comic is a
narration about how she likes embracing the monster and getting to beat up
enemies with her new powers instead of being sexually harassed while in
costume. Unlike Bruce Banner, she enjoys the freedom of being Hulk, and
McGuinness and Morales use wide panels to show the swath of destruction she
causes with her bulging forearms.
Using the character of She-Hulk as a case study, Avengers #20 is also a bigger commentary about how women have to fit pre-conceived roles in the workforce (Even if that means the Avengers.) and society and get pushback whenever they’re assertive or show anger. Deadpool asking She-Hulk why she doesn’t crack jokes or break the fourth wall any more is the metafictional version of a male co-worker asking a woman why she doesn’t smile. And, on a more a geeky level, this issue also has some foreshadowing of Aaron’s future plans for the Avengers title with the help of omniscient Daredevil showing Aaron can work on both a micro and macro level. Avengers #20 is a fantastic, holistic character study of She-Hulk and her recent developments and easily earns an Overall Verdict of Buy with a side dish of allusions to Immortal Hulk.
Superior Spider-Man #8
to be an underrated delight and study in ego from Christos Gage, Lan Medina,
Cam Smith, and Andy Troy. Doc Ock continues to be terrible at reading the room,
er, event and wants to take out Malekith all by himself with the help of the
Fantastic Four and West Coast Avengers. He doesn’t want to protect New York
City, but basically hack America Chavez’s portal abilities to get to what he
thinks is the real action. This ends up backfiring, and he gets one hell of a
dressing down from Spider-Man in the nature of heroism while Spider-Man is
wearing his helmet from the Land of
Giants one-shot and is immediately abandoned by his “minions” aka the West
Gage and Medina use the wide scope of “War of Realms” to tell an entertaining and at times fourth wall breaking (Thanks to Gwenpool.) story about how heroism isn’t just about defeating the final boss, but saving one person from death and danger. Having Spider-Man deliver the lecture about this topic makes sense because for the most part, he has focused on protecting his neighborhood instead of mixing it up with gods and monsters. Gage’s script is self-aware, and Medina and Smith have a classic, illustrator style approach where it is easy to follow the action even in a Southern California blizzard. For commenting on the nature of heroism, being funny as hell, and having plentiful America Chavez side eye, Superior Spider-Man #8 earns an Overall Verdict of Buy.
the Realms #6 was the best ending to a summer Marvel event since
Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic’s Secret Wars,
and it shipped on time too. One thing that these two events shared in common is
that they were a culmination of two macro-stories, namely, Jason Aaron’s Thor
run and Hickman’s Fantastic Four-Ultimates-Avengers/New Avengers project. The
War of the Realms has been foreshadowed for years, and the early battles were
fought in the pages of Mighty Thor and
Thor so the event was really just
icing on the cake. Sometimes, the montage of the different battles were a
little insufferable, but when Aaron, Dauterman, and Wilson grabbed onto the
character journeys of Odinson and Jane Foster, the book really sung. Nowhere
was this more evident than in War of the
Realms #6, and the spinoff I’m most excited for is Valkyrie even if I’m little disappointed that Tessa Thompson’s take
on the character is nowhere in sight although Al Ewing may pluck her from
somewhere in the multiverse.
This installment of Messages from Midgard is dedicated to the memory of Marvel Comics colorist Justin Ponsor, who passed away from cancer earlier this week. He worked on many fantastic comics, includingUltimate Spider-Manand the Avengers comic that led into “War of the Realms”.
“War of the Realms” hit critical mass this week with eight total tie-ins featuring characters as diverse as Spider-Man, Punisher, the X-Men and even Gorilla Man and one of the Jack’o’Lanterns. There were some books this week that screamed “unnecessary” or even “cash grab”, such as War of the Realms: Punisher and War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men, which did the mean thing of bringing Wolfsbane back after she was fridged a couple issues back in UncannyX-Men #17.
But there were also some hits this week. The McElroys’ and Andre Araujo’s War of the Realms: Journey into Mysterycontinues to be a delight, Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness play 3D chess by using Avengers to flesh out parts of “War of the Realms” while laying the foundation for future storylines in the book, and Tom Taylor and Jorge Molina turn in a Strikeforce: Land of the Giantsone-shot that has pathos, humor, action, and made me with they were writing an Avengers book. Honestly, that book is how you do a superhero comic with popular, long established characters in 2019.
War of the Realms Strike Force: Land of the Giants #1
Tom Taylor, artists Jorge Molina and Adriano Di Benedetto and colorist David Curiel depict Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist’s Pegasus-riding, Asgardian armor wearing quest to find Thor in War of the Realms Strike Force: Land of the Giants #1. Taylor makes Spider-Man the narrator and POV character as he processes all the violence, destruction, and fantasy beings around him in narrative captions that are him talking to Mary Jane. He is generally freaked out about what is going, but there is a feeling of real glee when Captain America swoops in on a flying horse to pick him up for a secret mission. The humor, both physical and verbal, is the secret ingredient in this comic from Wolverine messing with Spidey by putting a random helmet on his head to Luke Cage’s deadpan reaction to Spider-Man talking to his horse, Buttercup aka Queen Artorius.
And the character of Queen Artorius is the real emotional linchpin of Land of the Giants #1 as Taylor and Molina show that the death of the Valkyries’ steeds in War of the Realms #3 wasn’t animal cruelty, but mighty warriors fighting to avenge their riders. Also, her description of Spider-Man as a “noble jester warrior” captures his essence. When the team hits Jotunheim, Molina, Di Benedetto, and Curiel’s become quite dark as they must kill all the Frost Giants for Thor to snap out of his berserker rage. This ability to blend a fun superhero ensemble piece with the horrors of war and genuine emotion is why Land of the Giants #1 gets an Overall Verdict of Buy.
War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #3
Journey into Mystery is the one “War of the Realms” tie-in that I’m glad is a five and not three issue miniseries. Who would have thought that a group of guys (The McElroys) who hang out on a regular basis would excel at writing an ensemble cast that you wouldn’t mind hanging out with? In this issue, the team goes Western and ends up at a literal ghost town populated by old Marvel Western characters. This prompts Death Locket and Wonder Man to debate about their favorite Westerns that culminates in finger guns at dawn. The sassy teen Death Locket’s love of classic Westerns (Nothing after 1970’s Rio Lobo.) is a weird trait, but the McElroys connect it to character background because those were the only movies she had access to as an LMD living with her “Uncle” Dum Dum. (Another LMD).
It’s safe to say that Death Locket geeks out the entire fight sequence against characters like Apache Kid and Phantom Rider, and artist Andre Araujo and colorist Chris O’Halloran use all kinds of grids to make the action easy to follow. Their strong storytelling allows the McElroys to pepper in jokes and character insights like Miles and Thori bonding, or Balder admitting he’s a bad leader and letting Kate Bishop take charge. Kate was already a cool character, but her ability to know where arrows land by looking an archer’s stance and holds puts her on another level. There is still an ongoing story with Thor’s sister Laussa and Ares as the divine Javert, but the McElroys and Araujo continue to give each issue its own distinct flavor of adventure, which earns Journey into Mystery #3 an Overall Verdict of Buy.
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #2
I’m really glad that a New Agents of Atlas miniseries was announced in Marvel’s August solicits, but these characters deserve better than they’re getting in this miniseries. Greg Pak, Gang Hyuk Lim, and Federico Blee fill New Agents of Atlas #2’s pages with action, but the only character whose personality that I have a grip on is Pele, the Pacific Islander fire elemental. She’s much more serious than her compatriots, Aero and Wave, and her connection to Earth allows her to see the big picture. Clayton Cowles stately world balloons for her really drive the point home in this issue that is full of strategic retreats, carefully timed Amadeus Cho teleports, and the takeover of South Korea by Fire Goblins.
New Agents of Atlas #2’s pacing is the opposite of decompression as Greg Pak and Gang Hyuk Lim try to move from battle to battle and show off new characters, like Sword Master’s powers, while using Jimmy Woo to comment on the “team’s” lack of teamwork. They are allergic to establishing panels and locations and want to skip to the cool moments of which there are a few like Shang Chi kicking a Fire Goblin in the face. New Agents of Atlas could be a new team of international heroes with different cultures, personalities, and abilities, but right now it’s just a big old jumble with house style visuals, which earns this issue an Overall Verdict of Pass. Hopefully, the team fares better when they don’t have to be an event tie-in.
War of the Realms: Punisher #2
The Punisher has fared quite well in the “War of the Realms” event as Freyja made him the leader of her team to invade Malekith’s realm and destroy the Black Bifrost. His background as a veteran of wars, both overseas and against organized crime, fits the series’ themes and has led to some unlikely bonds between him and the Asgardians. But, none of this comes through in War of the Realms: Punisher #2 where writer Gerry Duggan, artists Marcelo Ferreira and Roberto Poggi, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg tell the story of him and team of prisoners leading a group of people to safety from New York to New Jersey via the Lincoln Tunnel. It’s all (cool looking to be honest) violence, a predictable plot twist, and a non-existent antagonist/supporting cast. Also, Frank is drawn as ugly as the trolls he’s mowing down.
The first issue of War of the Realms: Punisher established the characters of Dr. Baldwin and the criminal Ferrante, but the first does nothing and the other just betrays Frank on the last page. Duggan’s writing of Frank is one dimensional too with the exception of a touching, sepia colored scene where he remembers being stuck in Lincoln Tunnel traffic with his wife and kids during a happier time. Punisher is there to kill and make gritty faces. His using lighter fluid, lighter, and a grenade to blow up a troll is cool, but this story continues to feel unnecessary because Frank is written much better in the main series and the Dark Elf Realm tie-in. The concept of a vigilante teaming up with the criminals he usually executes to protect innocent people is intriguing, if a little 1970s. However, Duggan, Ferreira, and Poggi can’t pull it off on the page so War of the Realms: Punisher #2 earns an Overall Verdict of Pass.
War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #2
I despised War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1, but issue two isn’t as bad with Matthew Rosenberg, Pepe Larraz, and Rachelle Rosenberg leaning more into the X-Men’s role as the last protectors of Queens with Citi Field as a base. But, then, there’s the whole Wolfsbane subplot featuring a child and a Norse god plus a wild Sabretooth appears with no explanation of why he’s acting this way and teaming up with Frost Giants. Except Wolfsbane is dead in the main series so the subplot comes across as an arbitrary something to move the story other than team action sequences.
The highlight of War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #2 is Larraz’s mostly solid fight choreography from Jamie Madrox and his dupes leaping and slicing Frost Giants with an axe to Havok and Cyclops blasting things and finally a heavy on the reds and claw shaped panels battle royale between Wolfsbane and Sabretooth. But, then, it seems Rosenberg realizes that he has to throw in some kind of a cliffhanger so he introduces Wolfsbane’s ex on the last couple pages and goes full soap opera. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the X-Men, which has always been a soapy comic, but comes across as disingenuous in relation to Wolfsbane’s recent death. Like War of the Realms: Punisher, a band of fan favorite X-Men protecting New York from the friendly confines of Citi Field sounded like a cool concept, but it can’t really sustain its own miniseries and earns the Overall Verdict of Pass again.
Jason Aaron is using the events of “War of the Realms” in Avengers to maneuver pieces in his overall plan for the series as well as show the events of the War from a different POV with the help of wide screen art maestros Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Justin Ponsor, and Erick Arciniega. In this case, it’s Gorilla Man, who is an alcoholic with an ancient curse as well as the head of security for Avengers Mountain and an Agent of Wakanda. Aaron uses him to provide some snarky commentary on crossover events as well as share his honest opinions on A-listers like Captain America, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Tony Stark (Respect, respect, fear, douchebag.) He also gets to check in on some Avengers ongoing plotlines like Russia’s superhero team Winter Guard and the fate of Dracula and have a chance to be a hero.
The choice of art team really impacts the story of Avengers #19. McGuinness, Morales, and Ponsor are known for their work on blockbuster comics and for the most part, play Gorilla Man’s entry into the War of Realms straight even if he and Russian double agent Ursa Major meet in a zoo to swap intel. Gorilla Man isn’t an Avenger, but his quick swinging and technical know-how allows Shuri and Tony to score a hit on the invading Frost Giant/Dark Elf army with a Celestial weapon. But, in keeping with the previous issue’s dark and shady tone, this isn’t the triumphant tale of a Z-list hero finding redemption, and Avengers #19’s subversive ending, characterization of Gorilla-Man, and big time art earns it an Overall Verdict of Buy. Aaron’s Avengers run is really the love child of Brian Michael Bendis’ sharp, savvy character interactions and Jonathan Hickman’s long term planning.
Asgardians of the Galaxy #9
Out of all the “War of the Realms” books, Asgardians of the Galaxy #9 does the best job of exploring the emotional impact of the death of the Valkyries in War of the Realms #3. But this isn’t just a sit around and mourn issue. Cullen Bunn, gritty, yet pretty artist Paolo Villanelli, and colorist Federico Blee send the team (Minus Angela and Urzuul) on a magical mission with the Inhuman Ren Kimura to rescue her girlfriend and fellow Asgardian of the Galaxy, Annabelle Riggs, from a limbo-type state.
Basically, Bunn and Villanelli take the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and make it lesbian and more action-packed. Villanelli and Blee veil the area around Valhalla in shadow and fill it with revenant warriors that are a perfect punching bag for Ren, Clea, and the wholesome boys/frog Thunderstrike, Skurge, and Throg. But this story isn’t just about smiting, and Bunn gives the unique relationship between Valkyrie and Annabelle Riggs real closure and motivates the team to fight back against Malekith and his forces. Also, there’s smooching, Valkyrie’s sacrifice is justified, and the usually standoffish Angela empathizes with Ren because she had just gone through a similar situation with her girlfriend, Sera. Asgardians of the Galaxy continues its great tradition of telling fantastic stories under the constraints of crossover events and gets an Overall Verdict of Buy. Hopefully, it will get more issues after getting name checked in Avengers Endgame of all places.
One of the big continuity boo-boo’s of “War of the Realms” is that currently Venom has his normal symbiote and is a slave of Malekith in the core series while he has a magic symbiote and is doing his own thing in the comic called Venom. However, Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, and Andres Mossa’s focus on the relationship between Eddie Brock and his son (Who think he’s his little brother) Dylan and monster movie worthy battle between Venom and Jack’o’Lantern made me forget about the continuity issue. Basically, in Venom #14, Venom fights Jack’o’Lantern, who initially is a puppet of Malekith’s War Witches, but then goes off the reservation and starts burning down San Francisco.
If Venom #13 was The Road with elves and magic, Venom #14 is a kaiju movie. Less Dylan means less pathos, but there is more crazy symbiote action and yet another costume change for Eddie Brock that is more Viking berserker than Todd McFarlane. Coello’s loose cartooning is perfect for a clash between a fire character and viscous fluid character, and Bunn continues to tap into the “Lethal Protector” characterization of Venom as a monster who protects innocents from worst monsters that include corporations in a nice bit of political satire. Venom #14 is messy and angsty, but it’s a lot of fun and still has the emotional core of Eddie and Dylan so it gets an Overall Verdict of Read.
Reading through the “War of the Realms” books this weeks definitely felt like going to one of those all you can eat buffets off the Interstate. There were parts of the meal that I definitely savored with Journey into Mystery and Land of the Frost Giants being the yummy, yet healthy salad bar and Venom being that terrible for you, yet addictive fried chicken. And then, there were War of the Realms: Punisher, Uncanny X-Men, and sadly, New Agents of Atlas, which felt like yesterday’s warmed over leftovers. Writing for an event can be handcuffs on some creators, but others, like Tom Taylor, Cullen Bunn, and the McElroys, use it to craft stories that are fun and sometimes even a bit emotional. (RIP Buttercup/Queen Artorius)
What the hell, people? I feel like I’ve been saying for a decade, “True fans stay through the credits.” Not just because we want to see The Avengers eating shawarma or watch “that Ayesha chick” talk about Adam Warlock, but because now that’s just something we do! And now someone said “There’s no extra scene at the end of Avengers: Endgame” and you’re like, “Welp, that’s it, then!”
No no no no no no no no no.
First of all, it’s totally misleading to say “There’s no extra scene at the end.” It’s also patently false to say (as numerous sites have reported), “There’s nothing at the end of the credits.”
There’s something. I won’t say what, but stick around for it.
Why? Because. . . True Fans Stay Through the Credits.
Think about it. 11 years. 22 movies. I know you have to pee because it’s been 3 hours of excitement and you ordered that giant movie-sized Dr. Pepper, so go and then come back. But stick around. Because True Fans Stay Through the Credits.
Not only is it a great way to pay respect to the literally thousands of people who worked on this movie, but you might learn something. Like, wow. . . lots of people have assistants. Or, oh, I didn’t know the name of that song that they used and now I do. Or ask, “What’s a key grip?”
And here’s the best part– you know where literally the only place in public where it’s ok for you to discuss what just happened in this movie is? In that theater. Right there. Not in a restaurant or coffee shop afterward. Not in the bathroom or on your walk out of the theater.
Keep your butt in that seat and use those credits to process what you just saw. You’re going to have feelings. People die. People don’t die. Torches get passed. Evil and good are in the balance. Things get blown up!
And? Think about this for one second, True Believers– this is the last Stan Lee cameo we have.
This movie leaves you with so much to process, so much to talk about– and talk you should and talk we must. So do it there in your theater seat!
Because you’re going to have to shut up about it until you get someplace private. It is literally the perfect place! Because you know with 100% surety that everyone in earshot of you just saw what you just saw.
And? Because True Fans Stay Through the Credits.
Stay through the credits and pay very close attention to the end. Then go speculate about what the heck that meant.
I’m not going to tell you a thing about the plot of Avengers: Endgame that isn’t in the trailers. And anyone who spoils the secrets of this film — the true culmination of every single one of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — deserves a punch in the throat from Thanos himself.
Yes, it clocks in at over three hours (3 hrs 02 minutes to be precise). Yes it’s overstuffed. Yes it’s worth it. Yes it’s everything fans are hoping it will be. Yes it has lots of surprises.
But that isn’t what’s truly amazing about Avengers: Endgame. What’s amazing is how personal it is. All of this really started with the Holy Trinity of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. And each of them has a truly amazing journey.
Tony Stark started this all with a movie in the summer of 2008. And he has had more ups and downs than anyone. We see him at his worst. We see him at his best. We’ve seen his daddy issues. We’ve seen him try to be a mentor and a father figure himself. And we’ve seen him fail. Over and over and over and over. But perhaps Tony Stark’s superpower in all of this is not his intellect of wealth and privilege but his resilience. Despite all his failings, he comes back.
Which brings us to Steve Rogers, whose journey in this film is also intensely personal. While Tony overcomes failure, Steve Rogers seems to seek martyrdom. He’s always fighting the good fight because he can take it, perhaps better than anyone can. But inside he’s still that skinny kid from Brooklyn and he’s been carrying a lot of guilt and desires around the road not taken from 1945.
And then there’s Thor, who simply doesn’t know how to fail. He literally doesn’t, and his guilt over Thanos and the death of nearly all of his people take a heavy toll. He also has regrets about the past, and perhaps there’s a way to fix what is broken. And talk about daddy issues– Thor’s guilt over what happened to his family looms large over everything.
These three broken people are the keys to unwinding what Thanos has done. And their journeys are as much personal as they are cosmic and fantastic.
It’s in the quieter moments that this film especially shines. While a bombastic third act that is unlike anything you’ve quite seen in the MCU, there are tiny, stolen moments that mean so much for each of the main characters.
So much of Avengers: Endgame is about generational trust and angst. So many of our characters are motivated by loss– especially loss of family — it would be hard not to. But the families of the MCU, from Thanos and his children to the found families of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers to the actual families of Tony Stark, Thor Odinson, Steve Rogers, Clint Barton, Scott Lang. . . the ties that bind us together are what matter, what ground us, what give us our values. They’re the people we fight with (what was Cap: Civil War but a family squabble gone wrong?), but they’re also the people we will fight beside.
Beyond the beautiful meaning of the film, what is most amazing is how it ties up the entire history of the MCU is a beautiful bow. Everything you wanted to see? I hate to be so grandiose but most of it is in there. No matter what your favorite film or franchise is, you will get a moment that directly ties back or references something from that movie, and perhaps several.
There are a couple of “problems” with Endgame, but they are few. This is a weird gripe, but as amazing as the final act is, it makes the preceding two hours a little less good by comparison. But, we needed that setup.
The film is a little padded, but this is not the movie to hold back on. And I daresay on repeat viewings it will be incredibly hard to identify anything that could or should have been cut.
It also starts incredibly abruptly, sort of out of nowhere with no fanfare, no Marvel page-flip animation. But it works because we are meant to be taken aback by it. It’s meant to be disruptive and raw. We are talking about the aftermath of Thanos’s snap, right?
There are a couple of characters who get short shrift, but not many. And there is a surprising lack of Captain Marvel in the movie. However, this makes a lot of sense. With her Omega-Level powerset, her presence makes so many of the other characters superfluous, and you would simply get a Danvers Ex Machina to get out of so many situations.
Plus, as she explains, there are thousands of other planets out there dealing with the aftermath of Thanos’s snap, and the others don’t have The Avengers to help. But, don’t cry, Carol Corps. She gets her time(s) to shine. But I could’ve done with a little more Carol Danvers.
This film also features a scene nestled in the middle of the climax that teases for a tiny moment what a thing to behold an A-Force movie could be. It was one of several moments where I cheered through tears of joy.
There were no less than five times when tears welled up in my eyes. Sometimes in joy, sometimes in sadness. It’s not perfect, but it is perfect in that it ties up everything from the last 11 years and delivers on fans’ wildest dreams. For their next act, the Russo Brothers should audition to take over for Santa Claus in terms of their ability to consistently deliver the magic. Avengers: Endgame is an emotional thrillride. Don’t let anyone spoil it for it. And don’t spoil it for others.
(W) Jason Aaron (A/CA) Ed McGuinness Rated T+ In Shops: Apr 24, 2019 SRP: $3.99
WAR OF THE REALMS TIE-IN!
See the greatest heroes of Washington, D.C., in action as the War of the Realms comes to the nation’s capital. Who needs the Avengers when you’ve got the all-new Squadron Supreme of America? But who are these mysterious new heroes, and where did they come from? Only Agent Coulson knows.
Welcome to Messages from Midgard #1, the weekly “War of the Realms” column where I will break down every core issue and tie-in of Marvel’s blockbuster summer event. As a fan of both the superhero and fantasy genres (I was into Lord of the Rings almost a decade before I picked up my first comic.), I’m cautiously excited for this event. I mean, Punisher shooting Elves in one of those classic, sketchy New York City warehouse is pretty epic, and that’s only one of many things that happen in War of the Realms #1.
A couple reasons I’m intrigued by “War of the Realms” and wanted to this column is, first, I think that it flows organically out of Jason Aaron‘s seven year Thor story starring both Odinson and Jane Foster and surviving numerous new #1’s, additional adjectives, minis, and events. It was first mentioned way back in 2013’s heavy metal meditation on godhood that was Thor, God of Thunder. To be honest, I thought Malekith showing up was just a forced tie-in to the underwhelmingThor: The Dark World film, but Aaron definitely proved me wrong. In his work on Thor, he has crafted tremendous arcs for characters like Odin, Loki, Freyja, Volstagg, and even baddies like Laufey, Cul Borson, and the corrupt Roxxon CEO Dario Agger. And these get to be played out loud on Marvel’s biggest stage.
The other reason is that I’ve sat out the last couple Marvel events. I didn’t read anything connected to “Infinity Wars” or “Spidergeddon” and was only hate reading the main Secret Empire series in the end. (I have checked out some of the X-Men stuff like Exterminationand “Age of X-Man“.) The break was nice, but I kind of want to give them another stab and checking out one connected to one of the better superhero runs of the 2010s could prove to be a good move.
In the future, most columns won’t have a 300 word introduction, but will have a one paragraph headline followed by analysis of each issue of War of the Realms and its tie-ins plus if you should buy, read, or pass each one. It will close with my general opinion of the event and tie-in’s so far and end on my favorite panel of the week. (I might even answer reader questions.) Without further ado, let the “War” begin!
War of the Realms #1
Don’t take out that second mortgage or pack a lunch instead of buying one today, War of the Realms #1 is the only “War of the Realms” related material out this week from Marvel. Writer Jason Aaron, artist Russell Dauterman, and colorist Matthew Wilson give the comic and series the full fantasy novel treatment with a double page spread map of the Ten Realms with Midgard in the center. There is a lot of exposition about previous events in the War of the Realms that have been told in different Thor comics, but I’m not super bad about because it’s the first issue. Also, Aaron tries to offset it with humor like Spider-Man swinging around in the Bronx and running into Freyja fighting off Dark Elf assassins on a brownstone roof top.
Aaron and Dauterman also hit some strong character beats in War of the Realms #1 beyond Malekith and his Dark Cabal attack Midgard and various superheroes. The first character that appears in this comic is Odin, who because of his unwillingness to change and estranged relationship with his wife and sons, has led him to sit in a ruined Asgard. He’s sad, alone, and a perfect target to be Julius Caesar’d by some Dark Elf assassins. This is just the first issue so he will probably come back, but even though he got help for his alcoholism in a previous issue of Thor and bonded with Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider in a previous issue of Avengers, it was too late. His failures have a cost, namely, death. Dauterman serves up some fantastic panel compositions for his last moments that look like a gleaming dagger before an overhead shot of the stabbing assassins. Wilson uses golden colors before muting them as Odin meets his end.
Another character that is written reasonably well in War of the Realms #1 is Loki whose motivation as far as I can tell is that he wants bring on the end of the all realms, not some Dark Elf played by Christopher Eccleston in heavy makeup. He understands Malekith’s plan to take out and isolate the big Asgardian players (Odin, Thor, Freyja) and even protects Freyja by cutting off his father, Laufey’s, hand. But then he gets taken off the board via cannibalism. This is definitely a fake-out for the Father of Lies, and hopefully, Aaron has a big plan up his sleeve a la Kieron Gillen in Journey into Mystery and not just a generic wild card he can use to spice up plots. In Loki’s “final” moments, Dauterman does an extreme close-up of his face to show his vulnerability around his biological father and beloved, adopted mother. His ability to tease out these moments and beats visually as well as draw epic battle sequences are why he is such a good fit for this book.
The rest of War of the Realms #1 is really just a slugfest starring the cast of Thor, the cast of Avengers, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Punisher, Wolverine, and Dr. Strange. Aaron uses quips to get down to the essence of each player and then turns them loose with Spider-Man playing the role of long time Marvel fan, who is new this whole of “War of the Realms” thing. He and the various Asgardians have a whole mismatched comedy vibe going, and Spidey as well as Aaron’s gift for humor keeps the story from being action figures moving around or overly melodramatic.
It’s nice to have the first issue of an event actually have an action set piece and not just focus on aftermath or talking heads, and Russell Dauterman’s art has an easy to follow, Mike Allred quality to it. Captain America’s shield has motion lines, and the double page spreads are more than just pin-ups. Even if War of the Realms is just a generic sub-fantasy creatures for aliens-invasion storyline, the book will be worth checking for his nuanced figure work, layouts, and Matthew Wilson’s colors alone that all come together in the final page that seems to be an homage to an underrated scene in Avengers Infinity War.
War of the Realms #1 doesn’t have any shocking, cliffhanger endings, but Jason Aaron does solid work with Loki, Thor, Odin, and Freyja’s arcs to show that this a family epic that happens to an epic epic now. Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson create interesting layouts and compositions even in the crowd scenes as Dauterman becomes the heir of George Perez in this way. It’s fun to go back and pore over different panels and find fun details like a Dark Elf killing a civilian with a Howard the Duck standee although it’s easy to find the focus of each panel in the early go-round.
The amount of exposition might piss off some of the Jason Aaron reading faithful, but fun battle scenes that don’t drown out all the character beats makes War of the Realms #1 a solid start to the event. I actually want to see what Loki is up to in Thor and see Punisher, Wolverine, and Daredevil’s interactions with various fantasy genre beings in War Scrolls. There are some real Hellboy: The Golden Army and Fellowship of the Ring prologue vibes, and it’s worth reading. Overall Verdict: Buy
A hyped up weekly comic event that delivered?! That’s Avengers: No Surrender which brought together the various Avengers teams for a story that could only be told in comics… it’s that epic!
Avengers: No Surrender collects Avengers #675-#690 by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub, Pepe Larraz, David Curiel, Kim Jacinto, Mike Perkins, Stefano Caselli, Sean Izaakse, Paco Medina, Joe Bennett, Juan Vlasco, Ruy Jose, and Cory Petit.
Get your copy in comic shops now and book stores December 31! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site
The War Of The Realms is coming…and no corner of the Marvel Universe will be untouched! But before the award-winning creative team of Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson ushers in this epic event, Marvel invites you to journey on the road to the War of the Realms with some of the universe’s biggest heroes!
Join the Avengers as they battle the undead, who are vying for the title of the new Lord of the Damned! Hop into space with the Asgardians of the Galaxy as they encounter Ego the Living Planet! And in the final prelude to the War of the Realms, prepare for an invasion with Thor and Lady Freyja as they fight to keep Midgard safe from an initial strike by the Dark Elves…
The War of the Realms is coming, and it starts in March with these stories! Look for Marvel’s special “Road To” branding on the covers of these select issues!
AVENGERS #16 Written by JASON AARON Art and Cover by DAVID MARQUEZ
AVENGERS #17 Written by JASON AARON Art and Cover by DAVID MARQUEZ
ASGARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #7 Written by CULLEN BUNN Art by MATTEO BUFFAGNI Cover by JAMAL CAMPBELL
THOR #11 Written by JASON AARON Art by LEE GARBETT Cover by MIKE DEL MUNDO
In celebration of Marvel’s 80th Anniversary, Marvel kicks off 2019 with a series of special variant covers, designed by acclaimed superstar artist Phil Noto! Highlighting some of Marvel’s most beloved super heroes, each cover represents a different decade in Marvel’s storied and momentous history – and Marvel is proud to present all 9 covers coming together to create one visually stunning image!
Look for Marvel’s 80th Anniversary variants by Phil Noto on these select titles, starting in January!