Comic Book Review – Immortal Hulk Book Two

Immortal Hulk Book Two (2018)
Reprints Immortal Hulk #11-20
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Joe Bennett and Eric Nguyen

Rereading Immortal Hulk has been sparking my interest in going back and revisit Peter David’s Hulk run. That is a daunting task because of its enormity, but Al Ewing does such an excellent job of building on David’s numerous contributions to the Hulk mythos in a way that doesn’t feel derivative. This is done by introducing new aspects to Bruce Banner & The Hulk that complicates their relationship. I also think Jackie McGee is a grounding force, always there reminding the reader and Banner about the human costs of being this green behemoth. In Book Two, Ewing literally takes us to Hell, where Banner confronts those closest to him left as collateral damage.

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Comic Book Review – X-Factor: Genesis and Apocalypse

X-Factor: Genesis and Apocalypse (2017)
Reprints Avengers #263, Fantastic Four #286, X-Factor #1-9, X-Factor Annual #1, Iron Man Annual #8, Amazing Spider-Man #282, material from Classic X-Men #8, 43
Written by Roger Stern, John Byrne, Bob Layton, Bob Harras, Louise Simonson, Tom DeFalco, Chris Claremont, and Jackson Guice
Art by John Buscema, John Byrne, Jackson Guice, Keith Pollard, Paul Neary, Bob Layton, Rick Leonardi, Marc Silvestri, Terry Shoemaker, John Bolton, and Mike Collins

It was 1986, and for five years, Jean Grey had been dead. In a shocking development within the pages of Uncanny X-Men, she became possessed by the Phoenix Force, driven mad, and gave up her life to stop the cosmic entity from wreaking any more havoc. The original X-Men: Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel grew apart and left the team they started with. Then something miraculous happened, a cocoon was found in Jamaica Bay in New York City by the Avengers. With the help of the Fantastic Four, they discovered Jeany Grey inside, apparently without any memory of the tragedy that occurred. Her return would spur on events that would resonate throughout the Marvel Universe for decades to come.

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Comic Book Review – Immortal Hulk Book One

Immortal Hulk Book One (2019)
Reprints Immortal Hulk #1-10 & material from Avengers #684
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Le Beau Underwood, & Rafael Fonteriz

When I was a five-year-old living in Central Illinois, I can vividly remember watching NBC Saturday mornings, and my favorite shows were Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends and The Hulk. I would play-act, by myself usually being these heroes, and the transformation from Bruce Banner to Hulk was always one of my favorites. The shoes splitting open as his feet grew, shoulders expanding to split my shirt. Hulk, like dinosaurs, is one of those empowering figures for little kids; they represent an ability to unleash anger & strength in a world where your size and lack of knowledge make you vulnerable. However, as I got older, I didn’t find Hulk to be that compelling of a character. There were moments during Peter David’s epic run that piqued my interest, but after he left the book, it felt like there wasn’t much to say about Hulk other than retread that territory. Then Al Ewing came along.

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Comic Book Review – X-Men by Jonathan Hickman Volume 2

X-Men by Jonathan Hickman Volume 2 (2020)
Reprints X-Men #7-11
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Francis Lenil Yu

Jonathan Hickman’s new status quo on the X-Men books has been such a refreshing surprising over the last year from Marvel. It seems more and more often, comic books get stuck in nostalgic cycles of retelling the same basic stories over and over. Hickman has totally reinvented the X-Men, ending the entire conflict between the team and their villains to tell a much more compelling story about a new race of people trying to carve out their own place on this planet. There really isn’t an X-Men team anymore with this title and many of the others featuring regularly rotating casts. 

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Comic Book Review – Venom Volume 3: Absolute Carnage

Venom Volume 3: Absolute Carnage (2020)
Reprints Venom #16-20
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Juan Gedon, Jesus Arburtov, Iban Coello, Rain Beredo, and Ze Carlos

You’re saying, “Didn’t you review Absolute Carnage last month?” Yes. That was the core mini-series of the event while these are the issues of Venom that tie-in that storyline. Comics are hard to understand sometimes. That said, these issues focus Dylan Brock, Eddie’s son. While Eddie is out fighting Carnage’s hordes of symbiotes, Dylan is staying with Normie Osborn, former host to a piece of Carnage thanks to his grandpa, the Green Goblin. The two kids are being watched over by The Maker, aka Reed Richards. I’d like to talk about that character for a bit.

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Comic Book Review – Absolute Carnage

Absolute Carnage (2020)
Reprints Free Comic Book Day 2019: Spider-Man/Venom #1, Absolute Carnage #1-5
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman

During the 1990s, there was a character I disliked even more than Venom, Carnage. If you aren’t familiar with Carnage, he is Cletus Kasaday, a serial killer whom Eddie Brock shared a prison cell with. When the symbiote returned to bond with Eddie and break him out of prison, it also gave birth to another symbiote. This organism bonded with Kasaday to create Carnage. I always felt like the character’s only selling point is that he was “edgy” in look and behavior. He was just teeth and claws who killed people, a villain that felt more at home in Image Comics than at Marvel. Apparently, he is very popular because Marvel has sold many titles based on Carnage being there, definitely not as much as Venom but still enough to make me think he must have some sort of fanbase.

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Comic Book Review – Venom: War of the Realms

Venom: War of the Realms (2019)
Reprints Venom #13-16, Venom: Cult of Carnage
Written by Cullen Bunn, Frank Tieri, & Donny Cates
Art by Iban Coello & Danilo Beyruth

Marvel is no stranger to the sprawling event comic. Currently, they usually have one big event with some smaller ones sprinkled in more concentrated ways over a year. War of the Realms was the culmination of Jason Aaron’s run on Thor and saw the hordes of Norse mythological monsters unleashed on Midgard, aka Earth. This doesn’t seem like too natural of a fit for Venom, but with Donny Cates’s expansion of the antihero to include ties to a Lovecraftian god in the form of Knull, it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch now.

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Comic Book Review – X-Men by Jonathan Hickman Volume One

X-Men by Jonathan Hickman Volume 1 (2020)
Reprints X-Men v5 #1-6
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Francis Lenil Yu, R.B. Silva, and Matteo Buffagni

After Jonathan Hickman’s magnificent House of X/Powers of X reboot of the X-titles’ status quo, it was clear the classic Marvel characters were headed in a brand-new direction. The mutants had finally dropped their petty squabbles and coalesced into one community, relocating to the living mutant island of Krakoa. Now with their new-found sovereign nation status and the ability to grow medicinal plants that could change the survival rates of numerous diseases, they leveraged a place at the tables of power. We also learned in that mini-series how the mutants have overcome death, using Professor Xavier’s Cerebro computer and Krakoa’s regenerative properties to regrow dead mutants complete with all their memories. This is where the fifth volume of X-Men opens, a brand new world. 

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Comic Book Review – Venom Volume 2: The Abyss

Venom Volume 2: The Abyss
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman & Iban Coello

Donny Cates’s run on Venom has been all about the strange symbiosis between Eddie Brock and his companion. It’s a fascinating study of body horror, precisely the moments where Eddie loses time and learns the symbiote was moving him around and speaking for him. The title leans into its horror elements more than it’s superhero roots. There’s also a desire to build out the Venom mythos beyond just being a part of the Spider-Man niche of the Marvel Universe.

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Comic Book Review – Venom: Rex

Venom: Rex
Reprints Venom v4 #1-6
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman

I’ve previously delved into the world of Venom via Rick Remender’s run on the series. I always admit upfront that I am not a fan of the character. Venom came about right as Marvel was being dominated by the future Image Comics founders, most artists, where grimy & complicated design overshadowed proper character development. Venom is essentially “evil Spider-Man” and has become an anti-hero with an apparently large fanbase, comparable to The Punisher or Deadpool (two more characters I don’t really like). I had heard extremely positive buzz about Donny Cates’s current run and decided to put aside my personal biases and give this one a look.

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