This week: Capsule reviews of Dark Avengers Annual #1, Fall of the Hulks: Alpha and X-Force Annual #1!
Review: Dark Avengers Annual #1
Bendis clearly took a shine to Marvel Boy somewhere along the line, so while it’s been underwhelming that the character hasn’t done much except disappear since he joined the Dark Avengers, it’s almost worth the wait for this rather neat alien-on-the-street story that we get within these pages. In it, Marvel Boy finally comes to terms with his place on Earth and his relationship to humanity, and he does so while depicted by some of Chris Bachalo’s best work in years. The only disappointing part of the story is that it replaces Marvel Boy’s current, distinctive look with an utterly forgettable Kree Sentry uniform that could adorn any number of generic Kree guest stars. I appreciate the need for a visual cue to accompany the character’s psychological transformation, but it’s a disappointing change on just about every level. Still, that alone shouldn’t sour what is undoubtedly Bendis’ finest single issue for some time. [JHu]
Review: Fall of the Hulks: Alpha
It should ring alarm bells when a writer previously unconnected with the line steps in to “launch” the next big Hulk family event, and indeed, FotH: Alpha is not what it appears to be. For a start, it’s not really about the Hulk, but about the Leader and his Illuminati-style group of super-smart villains, “The Intelligencia” (and yes, that is spelt wrong.). There’s a token effort made at the conclusion to explain what this has to do with the Red Hulk, but despite being a fairly fun story, it’s not really in keeping with the tone or content of the Hulk line at present and makes for a very strange bookend to the forthcoming Hulk crossover as a result. Unfortunately, Parker’s attempt at a continuity-dodging, history-spanning retcon compare poorly to Bendis’, and the attempt to mop up several unrelated continuity issues at the same time weakens the book’s focus severely. It’s enjoyable in isolation, but taken in the context of what it borrows from and what it relates to, it’s hard to recommend. [JHu]
Review: X-Force Annual #1
Robert Kirkman steps into the writer’s chair here, presumably as a try-out for the vacancy created by Chris Yost and Craig Kyle’s forthcoming departure from the book. And on the basis of this issue, it’s impossible to hope he gets the gig, as this is frankly dreadful stuff. Even taking the tale on its own terms, it’s hard to avoid noticing that this is simply a Wolverine story- the remainder of X-Force speak exactly three words, despite spending a significant amount of time on panel. The writer appears to have disengaged his brain for the exercise, with a telling moment coming at the climax, where Logan amputates a man’s arm to obtain a tissue sample… using three claws to make the cut instead of one. Even accepting that the guest character is insane enough to prefer this course of action than simply donating some bone marrow, it’s a staggeringly sloppy piece of storytelling that not even an excellent Kyle & Yost back-up strip can outweigh. [JHa]