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Messages from Midgard #13- The Four Thors

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’s War 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.


Thor #14

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

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

Superior Spider-Man continues 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 Coast Avengers.

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.


War of 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.


Panel of the Week

Young Thor and King Thor bonding over craft beer is the cutest thing. (From War of the Realms #6, Art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson)

Preview: The Superior Spider-Man #8

The Superior Spider-Man #8

(W) Christos Gage (A) Lan Medina (CA) Mike Hawthorne
Rated T
In Shops: Jun 26, 2019
SRP: $3.99

WAR OF THE REALMS TIE-IN!

• Otto Octavius and Quentin Quire – BFFs!
• With America Chavez as the power, transportation and…well…only real hero, can Superior Spider-Man and the West Coast Avengers help turn the tide against Malekith and his forces?

The Superior Spider-Man #8

Review: Aquaman #42

A “Drowned Earth” tie-in, Aquaman #42 follows Aquaman’s journey after he’s stabbed by Poseidon. Is this tie-in vital? Find out our thoughts!

Aquaman #42 is by Dan Abnett, Lan Medina, Vicente Cifuentes, Gabe Eltaeb, and Steve Wands.

Get your copy in comic shops now! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

 

DC Comics 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

Preview: Aquaman #41

Aquaman #41

(W) Dan Abnett (A) Vicente Cifuentes, Lan Medina (CA) Ricardo Federici
In Shops: Oct 17, 2018
SRP: $3.99

From the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE, the road to “Drowned Earth” starts here!

Aquaman is missing-and the world has gone to hell! With Arthur imprisoned by Black Manta, Queen Mera is left to deal with the arrival of an alien armada aiming to punish the Earth for the sins of Atlantis. As the cosmic tides begin to rise, Mera finds herself in a fight for her very life when the flood unleashes new horrors of the deep!

The Justice League and Aquaman Face a Drowned Earth this November

Get ready for a soggy Thanksgiving at the Hall of Justice (as in underwater, like the rest of the world will be) when the James Tynion IV is joined by the Justice League crew of writer Scott Snyder with artists Howard Porter, Francis Manapul, and Frazer Irving, plus the Aquaman team of Dan Abnett and Lan Medina. Together they’ll pit the League against a race of ancient and long-forgotten sea gods and an army of alien mercenaries, reveal shocking secrets about Arthur’s legacy, and thwart a plot to flood the planet and turn people into aquatic monsters in Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth.

The saga begins with Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 by Tynion IV and Porter, on sale October 31. This 48-page one-shot introduces the Ocean Lords–ancient and powerful deities with an axe to grind against both Aquaman and Wonder Woman and a plan to flood the world. As the rest of the League races to stop the waters from rising, Arthur faces off against his nemesis Black Manta in a must-win battle if he is to retain his connection to the world’s oceans.

The action continues November 7 in Justice League #11, written by Snyder with art by Manapul. Pursued by the Ocean Lords and their army of alien warriors and at risk of turning into inhuman fish monsters, the League is scattered across the seven seas. A crippled Aquaman believes he holds the key to victory, but it would mean unleashing a different revenge-driven god upon Earth’s oceans. Meanwhile, remember the Totality, that rogue piece of the Source Wall that’s been bouncing around? Well, a certain Dark Knight has been guarding it in a now-sunken Hall of Justice. He seems to think that no one can attack him there, but that might not be exactly true…

Justice League #12 opens the third part of Drowned Earth on November 21, with Tynion stepping as writer and featuring art by Frazer Irving. This promises to be one of the craziest fights in comics as a bed-ridden Batman, complete with full body cast, takes on the Legion of Doom – The Joker, Lex Luthor, Gorilla Grodd and Sinestro! Meanwhile, Aquaman crosses tridents with Poseidon and Mera discovers an ancient secret that could change the fate of Atlantis, if not the entire planet!

November 21 also showcases Abnett and Medina’s Aquaman #42, a tie-in story where Aquaman and Wonder Woman have discovered the secret to turning the tide against the Ocean Lords in the mysterious Graveyard of Gods. However, Arthur begins to think that the League may be fighting the wrong foe when he learns a startling secret about Atlantis. Arthur must join forces with Mera and confront the Ocean Lords with this newfound knowledge and learn the truth before the flood changes all life on Earth!

The Drowned Earth event reaches its conclusion on November 28 in the 48-page Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1. In this blockbuster finale, Aquaman must find a way to reclaim the power of his birthright or watch the rising tides drown and corrupt everything that he holds dear. With the Justice League on the ropes and the fate of the world at stake, Arthur may have to make the ultimate sacrifice to restore balance to the land and the seas!

Preview: Mera: Queen of Atlantis #6

Mera: Queen of Atlantis #6

(W) Dan Abnett (A) Lan Medina, Norm Rapmund (CA) Nicola Scott
In Shops: Jul 25, 2018
SRP: $3.99

Ocean Master means murder! Aquaman’s half-brother Orm continues his underwater power play with his sights set on Xebel, the watery kingdom nestled deep within the Bermuda Triangle. Will Mera’s home become Ocean Master’s domain? It’s mano-a-Mera when the Mighty Mermaid duels Orm in the finest royal tradition, with her ward Tula forced to marry the evil Nereus if she loses. Don’t miss this finale to the six-issue miniseries, which flows directly into AQUAMAN #38 this month!

Preview: Mera: Queen of Atlantis #5

Mera: Queen of Atlantis #5

(W) Dan Abnett (A) Lan Medina (CA) Nicola Scott
In Shops: Jun 27, 2018
SRP: $3.99

Just as Mera and Orm prepare to fight side by side to save Atlantis from utter desolation, Nereus makes Orm a devious proposal that’s hard to refuse: control of the Xebellian army in exchange for Tula’s unwilling hand in marriage! Can the Ocean Master really resist the call of the sea? Or will Mera have to fight her own people to help Tula escape a fate that was once her own?

Preview: Mera: Queen of Atlantis #4

Mera: Queen of Atlantis #4

(W) Dan Abnett (A) Lan Medina, Norm Rapmund (CA) Nicola Scott
In Shops: May 23, 2018
SRP: $3.99

Desperate for a new ally in the fight for the soul of Atlantis, Mera turns to her ex-husband Nereus, the king of Xebel! But even after winning his favor in a deadly clash, can someone like Nereus ever be trusted? And what of Ocean Master’s promise to return to the surface? Is there anyone Mera can trust?

Preview: Mera: Queen of Atlantis #3

Mera: Queen of Atlantis #3

(W) Dan Abnett (A) Lan Medina (CA) Nicola Scott
In Shops: Apr 25, 2018
SRP: $3.99

After a brutal clash between Mera and Ocean Master almost costs Mera her life, Tula suggests that the three of them work together to save Atlantis – and recruiting an army will require a united front. Can Mera and Orm be united by a common enemy? Or will their hatred of each other be their undoing?

Review: X-Men: Gold Vol. 4 The Negative Zone War

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the X-Men!

X-Men: Gold Vol. 4 The Negative Zone War collects issues #16-20 and material from #12 by Marc Guggenheim, Luke Ross, Lan Medina, Ken Lashley, Jay Leisten, Craig Yeung, Frank Martin, and Andrew Crossley.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores April 10. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFW

 

 

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

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