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for Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fantastic Four 538

Today, we're looking at the rest of the CIVIL WAR issues that were published in June. You can find my previous CW reviews in the TOT archives, just a click away from here.

FANTASTIC FOUR #538 [Marvel; $2.99] is a starring vehicle for the Thing. He sits with the comatose Johnny Storm, who was beaten by an enraged mob in the wake of the Stamford Tragedy, and the one-sided dialogue is moving and revealing. He goes to Yancy Street in an attempt to quell a growing riot fueled by his old neighborhood's opposition to the Super-Human Registration Act while sorting through his conflicted feelings on the legislation. It's another terrific issue from writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Mike McKone, topped off by the surprise reappearance of characters from early in FF's history. It earns the full five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

New Avengers 21

THE NEW AVENGERS #21 [$2.99] has Captain America on the run as a consequence of his defiance of the Registration Act. Written by Brian Michael Bendis and surprisingly/wonderfully drawn by Howard Chaykin, this issue is notable for the passion with which the good Captain embraces his beliefs and the risks he so willingly faces to fight for liberty in the land he loves. The real-world parallels to the insidious erosion of our rights by leadership obsessed with amassing unprecedented power are striking, making me wish even more than ever that we had a Captain America fighting for our rights in our world. This issue's return of the Falcon in a heroic and key role likewise delights me. With additional kudos to colorist Tom Stewart and Tom Brevoort and his editorial crew, THE NEW AVENGERS #21 also earns the full five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Wolverine 43

WOLVERINE #43 [$2.99] didn't please me as much as the previous issue, though I'm still in favor of Logan's determination to bring Nitro to justice. If I'm reading writer Mark Guggenheim correctly, Iron Man and the feds aren't as interested in getting Nitro as they are in Wolverine not getting him solo. Tony Stark is evolving into a proper villain and I'm completely cool with that.

Here are the nits I have to pick:

Does every single Wolverine story have to start with "I'm/he's the best at what I/he do/does"? It was a great line, but it's become a cliché.

Stupid government agents. Was any comics reader surprised at what happened when they tried to capture Nitro? Yes, our current president is the poster boy for mediocrity, but surely some of our federal workers or soldiers must be competent!

We get yet another mysterious and powerful character in Janus. Who is he? Where does he come from? What does he want? How many times have we seen this before? However, this should be considered as a tentative nit. If the answers to those questions are logical and interesting, then the cliché is nullified.

Wolverine's use of his healing factor blasted me right out of the story. It was too much too fast, even for a guy whose willing suspension of disbelief has remained strong for half a century of reading comic books.

The nits cost WOLVERINE #43 dearly. The best I can give this issue is two Tonys.

Tony Tony

X-Factor 8

Rictor may have lost his mutant powers, but there are ominous rumblings a-plenty in X-FACTOR #8 [$2.99]. Quicksilver has come to Mutant Town seeking his former X-Factor teammates and finding a new nemesis in Layla Miller. Billionaire bad guy Damian Tryp and his son are not what they appear, though we don't yet learn what they are. Siryn finds out Cyclops and the X-Men haven't been honest with them about what truly happened on M-Day, the day 90% of the world's mutants lost their powers. Almost none of this bodes well for the team and there are no resolutions in this issue, but the suspense is delicious. A hearty "well done" to writer Peter David, artist Dennis Calero, and editor Andy Schmidt as they pick up four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back Friday with the usual mix of news, reviews, and whatever else I feel like writing about.

Tony Isabella

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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