The Weekly Pull – 4/18/12 (Part 2)

   

In part one, we examined the offerings of DC comics for this week. Here in part two, we look at the books Marvel put out. Includes the continuation of three current storylines, including “Ends of the Earth”, “The Omega Effect”, and “Avengers Vs. X-Men”. All that and more after the cut.

First up for discussion is THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #684, and part three of Ends of the Earth. The Avengers have been thoroughly trounced by the Sinister Six, and Spiderman’s confidence in his months of planning is shaken to its core. Only by the assistance of Silver Sable can Spiderman and Black Widow make an escape, and formulate a plan to stop Doc Ock. But Otto Octavius won’t just roll over and end his life with failure, and already has counter plans for the webbed wallcrawler.

While the last issue saw Electro taken out of the picture with more or less little fanfare, this issue much more closely centers on Flint Marko, aka Sandman. And when Doc Ock leads Spiderman and his team to Africa, he leaves them up against the master of sand with the entire Saharan Desert to fight with.

As usual with this series, I liked this issue. Of special note was touching not only on Sandman’s past and motivations, but also giving specifics on how the villain’s granular powers work. It’s positively brilliant, from how it manifests to how Spiderman and the lovely ladies exploit it. It’s the kind of thing I like to see in comic books. Creating a functioning system and exploring all the story opportunities it presents.

Next is THE PUNISHER #10, and the second part of The Omega Effect. The uneasy alliance between Spiderman/Daredevil and the Punisher (plus assistant) goes into effect, and a plan of attack goes underway. The Omega Drive, containing vital information on the many super gangs, needs to be taken out of the picture where everyone can see. So the trio (plus one) are up for a night of attention grabbing. Forcefully.

There’s a twist here I won’t spoil, but it’s wonderfully pulled off. It’s a matter of misdirection, which the comic accomplishes while perfectly setting up the real deal, and the real threat, over the course of the issue (if not the two combined issues). My only gripe is that when the reveal happens, it’s not quite planned out artwise, so if you blink it might be hard to tell what happened given what’s depicted in the panels. But the meaning is clear, especially for those paying attention throughout the issue. Not to mention while this storyline mainly serves to tie up the plotline in the Daredevil ongoing (which is where the last part comes in), it’s also perfectly in sync with everything established in the Punisher ongoing. We’re talking since the beginning of this run, which is no mean feat.

Also, Spiderman and Daredevil deliver a baby in this issue. It’s adorable and hilarious.

Finally moving away from Spiderman (for a bit), THE DEFENDERS #5 continues the hunt for Miracle Machines, those great engines that are hinted to break the universe somehow. And the Defenders find another one, mainlined into the Nautilus of Jules Verne fame, hidden inside a massive tomb at the bottom of the ocean and guarded by tentacle-faced fish women of ancient origin. And when I say they find the Nautilus from 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, I mean they literally find the one from the books, somehow real and piloted by a (long deceased) Captain Nemo in the flesh (in a manner of speaking).

Last issue largely focused on Doctor Strange, and this issue focuses on Namor, the half-mutant king of Atlantis. We explore his past as a child and half-breed, and get some insight into his relationship with his mother. It’s even brought up that Namor’s parents had some history with Captain Nemo, though naturally the comic is light on details. And even lighter on what any of the details ultimately mean. We’re making progress though, which is good.

The last few pages switch from Namor centered to Iron Fist centered. So it’s safe to say the next issue focuses on out rich martial artist friend.

Finally we have AVENGERS VS X-MEN #2, and the second round of Marvel’s current massive crossover event. The fight is on, with neither Cyclops and his Utopian mutants nor Captain America and his Avengers backing down. It’s a pretty big battle royale, all things considered. Which is exactly why I have to ask why this battle needed to happen in the first place.

Maybe for the sake of the story, I ought to just shut up and enjoy this huge brawl, but I can’t stop thinking this conflict could so easily have been avoided. Sure, the Avengers came expecting to perhaps need to fight, and the X-Men see their home and their messiah under threat. But this fight could easily have been averted had the two leaders just talked. And that means I find it very hard to see Cyclops’ angle on this. I will reiterate Scott’s personal history with the Phoenix, and thus he’s not thinking all that rationally. But why didn’t Emma Frost or Magneto or Namor step up and try to calm their leader when he’s picking a fight against the largest force of superpowered fighters around?

My own family has more of a history with the X-Men and related properties than it does with the Avengers, but I really can’t see myself rooting for them in this battle. On the other hand, I guess the utter foolishness of Cyclops’ actions, coupled with the tragic tone of the narration in this issue, does convey how terrible this event is that good people, heroes all, have to fight tooth and nail over petty pride.

The issue goes around a lot, showing select parts of this first battle from multiple angles. We’ve got Namor vs the Thing and Luke Cage under water, Emma Frost and Magneto fighting the raw technological might of Iron Man in the air, and even Doctor Strange fighting Magik in a hell dimension. And yes, I know what it is, I just don’t bother to remember its name because the Marvel universe has thousands of pocket and hell dimensions that all blend together after a while. Point is, it makes me kind of want to read about some or all of these characters, which means the event is succeeding by making me interested.

Despite my reservations about the point of it all, I liked this issue and want to see more. Hopefully we’ll see more action, more friend-on-friend violence, and more Hope becoming a star child in the next issue.

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