World Comic Book Review

19th April 2024

Thunderbolts #1: A Childlike Evil

Thunderbolts #1 (review)
(Marvel Comics, July 2016)
Writer: Jim Zub

In William Gibson’s groundbreaking science fiction novel “Neuromancer” (Ace, 1984), a psychopathic character, the charming and perverted Peter Riviera, is described as being a product of the radioactive ruins of Bonn, one of a group of feral children who engaged in cannibalism to survive. The equally significant science fixtion novel by Robert Harris, “Fatherland” (Hutchinson, 1992), concerned with a parallel universe where Nazi Germany won the war in Europe, sees the cunning betrayal of the lead character to the SS, leading to certain torture and death, by his young son. And Grant Morrison’s graphic novel “Kid Eternity” (Vertigo Comics, 1991) describes a screeching bridge as constructed of the souls of “bad babies”.

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REVIEW: Welcome to Pleasant Hill

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1 (review)
Marvel Comics, April 2016
Writer: Nick Spencer
Review by Neil Raymundo, April 13, 2016

American comic book publisher Marvel Comics, at least within the past few years, has been determined to publish stories that are inaccessible to the average reader due to over-reliance on continuity. Like British science fiction, North American professional wrestling, and television soap operas around the world, a majority of the regular monthly audience is helplessly ensnared by continuity. These colossal, hyper-meticulous plots, sometimes lasting decades, can be a substitute for quality writing: suffering from a form of literary Stockholm Syndrome, that sector of the audience which is devoted to the continuity will not just forgive but will actively defend the injudicious publisher.

This new title, “Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1” is the latest hostage taker, to extend the continuity metaphor. But in this instance the problem – and it is a systemic problem to the North American industry – is exacerbated by the fact that the comic is meant to be a prelude to an upcoming crossover event. Ludicrously, the setup requires its own setup.

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Sidekick Lost

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier Volume 1 – The Man on the Wall
Marvel Comics, October 2014
Writer: Alec Kot

Marvel Comics, an American publisher of predominantly superhero themed comic books, is almost certainly lost on what to do with its character The Winter Soldier. A legacy child sidekick character written to have died in World War Two, and thereby providing a tragic backdrop to Captain America’s fight against evil, the character was revived and then served as a substitute Captain America in 2013. Once the original Captain America returned from the dead and resumed his name and costume, what to do with the Winter Soldier? This problem was especially pronounced by the success of the movie “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” released in April 2014. Interested and new readers might like the character and want to buy a title featuring its adventures.

When the star of the show returns, the understudy quietly leaves the stage. The challenge is to do this with finesse, to repurpose the character in a way which preserves its fundamental integrity. Marvel Comics decided, oddly, to place the character in space, serving as an intergalactic assassin and agent provocateur. It makes no sense having regards to the character’s history and does not work.

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