Secret Avengers #3

Awesome week for Marvel titles and I still grabbed for this one first.

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Look at the cover! Tradd Moore and Matthew Wilson created this magnificently detailed cover, Widow looks pissed wiping a bloodied nose, Spider-Woman is frantically disarming a bomb and Coulson appears to be in real trouble while still looking hilarious, which is just perfect.

Maria Hill Micromanages the Secret Avengers. Phil Coulson Blows up space stations. Nick Fury has one eye. Black Widow Played by Scarlett Johansson, except when she’s not. Spider-Woman New to the secret team ops thing. Hawkeye Eats about 4 protein bars a day.

Black Widow, Spider-Woman and Coulson are sent to the island Sokotra to neutralize a failed poet with a nuclear device. While they are there, Spider-woman and Widow find themselves against Derrida’s soldiers while Coulson is cowering. Natasha thinks he’s having a PTSD thing. She lets Jessica handle the bad guy while she goes to protect Phil.

Those menacing eyes at the top of the cover? They belong to Lady Bullseye. And she’s gunning for Widow.

Meanwhile the space bomb starts talking to Jessica and tells her that it is going to commit suicide. The bomb’s chosen name is Vladimir. Spider-Woman talks him out of suicide by offering caramel gelato. 

Coulson overcomes his anxiety and jumps in a Jeep, runs over Lady Bullseye. “I just killed Lady Bullseye? Oh my. I’m on a roll.”

I really enjoy this series so far. Consistently fun, quirky and badass. They pull villains and settings from all corners of the Marvel Universe. And Spider-Woman got to kick ass AND use quick thinking and more stereotypically girly means of problem solving. Michael Walsh’s art is kick ass, somewhere in between more classic styles and more modern, some panels switch color schemes (colors by Matthew Wilson) or go with blank backgrounds or silhouettes, it creates momentum and excitement and is well matched to Ales Kot’s quirky writing style.

I will note that Nick Fury and Phil Coulson look like their film counterparts, but the others do not. Including Black Widow, even though they name dropped ScarJo.

The end pages have Fury and Hawkeye going after The Fury who is lost in space.

Agents of SHIELD- episode 18

Brett Dalton goes to see the Girl In The Flower Dress in prison (and brings her a flower dress, from the Clairvoyant) she didn’t know he was a double agent. Garrett is officially the Clairvoyant, but he is not clairvoyant. A con artist, but an artist all the same. Ward looks more handsome beat to shit. Raina AKA Flowers is not amused to find that she’s been mislead. 

Our (former?) SHIELD team still thinks that Fury is dead. Skye sets to work scrubbing their identities while Fitz and Triplett fix the bus. Triplett says that Garrett had him fooled, but Coulson doesn’t trust him. Simmons whose life he saved goes to bat for him and says he’s on the level. Coulson is leery, but lets him aboard the plane with Gemma in charge of him. Fitz is so sad to see Gemma stick up for Trip who easily shows him up at everything from fixing the plane to classic lit. I have no tears for Fitz. I am so glad that brainy chick Simmons is getting a love triangle I give no fucks.

Skye calls Ward to see what’s taking him but she thinks that nothing is amiss while Garrett has Raina trying to crack the hard drive and Ward just got done explaining how he was able to fool everyone. He used Agent May but he really fell for Skye. Now… what?! now that he’s the bad guy and it’s revealed that everything was a lie what could he really have in common with Skye? People need things that they can appreciate about each other to fall for each other. Not just that they like looking at each other. That’s not enough. He conned Coulson with his attitude, Fitz and Simmons were easy, blah blah woof woof. And Agent Garrett says, “Even Romanoff couldn’t have pulled that off.” SHUT UP. 

There’s actually another insult to Natasha later in the ep when Patton Oswalt tells the team that fury is dead, but privately says that Fury is alive but was limiting this knowledge to Coulson, Maria Hill, Cap “And a couple of others” yeah, Natasha and Falcon are “a couple of others” Admittedly, Coulson didn’t know about Falcon, but he sure as shit knows Black Widow. “A couple of others” GO HOME.

Oh yeah, and they meet Patton Oswalt after Coulson’s badge lights up with coordinates that Coulson believes to be from Fury, May tries to take his weapon because he’s being irrational, and they fly until the jet is out of fuel (unbeknownst to the team) to the middle of Canada (somewhere. Hollywood acts like Canada is all snowy wilderness) and upon finding nothing Coulson has a total breakdown. But then tada, secret SHIELD facility. So Coulson’s impulsiveness is validated while the rift between Coulson and May gets greater.

Garrett and Ward let some soon to be villains out of “the Fridge” but Raina can’t crack the hard drive, so Ward has to go back and meet up with Skye. Which no one has any reason to be suspicious about apparently, even though they knew Ward was at the Fridge and said facility was compromised. He shows up beat up and Skye rushes to his side. 

It looks as if next episode she will find out the truth about him. 

BJ Britt as Agent Triplett got some great lines and Raina got more morally ambiguous, I think eventually she’ll be on the same side as Coulson and crew. So that’s undoing a lot of the race fail that was earlier eps. 

This one was good. Not as good as the last two, but I’ll take it. At the very end Ian Quinn comes out of the fridge and gets the case full of gravitonium. That’s from wayy back. Graviton. Time for more villains. But Deathlok was notably absent this episode!

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Secret Avengers #2

Best Buddies Coulson and Fury are drifting through space. Widow, Spider-Woman and Hawkeye are on their way to save their butts. There’s a lot of bickering. Spider-Woman is not ready for space. “But we’re in a car and we’re flying to space and cars don’t fly in space unless they are miracle cars and is this a miracle car we clearly need a –” “No. we don’t need a miracle. All we need is will… imagination.. …a dependable team of scientists. ..and a big red button.”

Back on Helicarrier Iliad, where Maria Hill has taken a bullet to the hand and is being held hostage by the Latverian assassin who has just told her that his parents died because of SHIELD’s actions. Collateral murder. She’s defenseless. Meanwhile, MODOK is watching SHIELD satellites fall from the sky. Another scientist (with an exposed brain) asks MODOK what they should do about the more pressing and nearby issue with Director Hill. MODOK decides to save her, because he’s an ego maniac.

Coulson + Fury = bro time in outerspace/drifting toward the sun. MODOK = watching satellites. Black Widow, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman make it the the smash up space station that Coulson and Fury fell out of and assess the situation. And fix things, and it turns out they needed Hawkeye after all! The satellites stop falling and MODOK saves Maria Hill by taking down the assassin with a trained lab rat and a syringe. It’s super cute and silly. “CLAP FOR MODOK!” 

Maria’s not impressed.

Then Coulson and Fury, who are resigned to death but still cracking jokes are scooped up by Widow, Spider Woman and Hawkeye (of all people) in a nanobot blanket that MODOK designed. MODOK is genuinely surprised that Maria spied on him and copied his work.

“This is the secret Avengers, there are no rules.” -Maria Hill

This series kicks so much ass. It’s witty and zany. Ales Kot arms everyone with witty but distinct dialogue, I get to read Coulson lines in Clark Gregg’s voice, Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson do and excellent job of keeping the art clear, crisp, colorful and expressive. The bright colors and Hawkeye’s dopey facial expressions really emphasize the fun feel of this one. Everyone has really expressive eyes, a feat since it’s very cartoony. 

Black Widow is a total bad ass, I like her as a mentor for the new Secret Avenger: Spider-Woman. I like the 50-50 female/male split. Ummm… + MODOK. 

 

Movie Review- Captain America: the Winter Soldier

I’ll put this at the top: 5 out of 5- One of those rare and awesome occasions where the sequel is far better than the original. Ridiculous action sequences, character emotional development for Both Captain America and Black Widow, girl power galore, a few thought provoking moments about government reach and friendship. 

Don’t read past this if you don’t want spoilers!

At the beginning of the film Steve Rogers meets Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and they bond over their military service and fitness routine. As the trailer gave away, Wilson comes to play an important role (for both the action and Cap’s character development). 

Soon after Captain America and Black Widow out on a mission, only, they aren’t exactly on the *same* mission. Romanoff is not perturbed by this, but Rogers: America’s hero, golden boy and symbol of freedom, is not feeling it. He confronts Fury, who reveals a detailed plot about how they created these helicarriers to detect threats before they become threats. Meaning that people are being punished before crimes are committed. Logically, people change their minds or there are 1000 variables about why someone considering committing a crime might change their minds. But people in the US HAVE been arrested and charged with “thought crimes” and some of them have been orchestrated to create perceived threats by government agencies SO none of this is even far fetched. I always post this same information abou Eric McDavid who was entrapped by an FBI informant and then charged with conspiring to commit eco-terrorism. He didn’t actually do anything, and most of the planning and prepping was single handedly done by the informant who was heavily pressured by the FBI to not be wasting their time -which meant planning a crime involving property destruction of a logging company. He was sentenced to 22 years because the government wants “Green” to be the new Red Scare (this movie is still playing up the Red Scare, though). This theme re-emerges again later with Dr. Arnim Zola and the Hydra plot to orchestrate crimes and tragedies so that people will just hand over their freedom and say “protect us at all costs” …I live 45 minutes from Boston and we’re coming up on the year anniversary of the Marathon Bombing. When they searched for the suspect the entire city and neighboring suburbs SHUT DOWN more extreme people said we were under Marshall Law (we weren’t), it was voluntary, but how voluntary is it really when you’re being told that an armed fanatic is in your backyard and these people with the big guns are here to handle it… can you let us in your basement? People have very divisive opinions about it and I understand that. The ensuing high fiving “This is our fucking city” mentality was alarming. I thought that shutting down all businesses sent the wrong message. But no one asked me, either. But that’s part of the problem. We have no choice but to trust the people who make these choices for us.

None of this sits well with Captain America and he goes to discuss it with Peggy Carter, who unlike Steve has aged, she tells him he has to adjust to the way things have become. Then in a moment that almost turned me into a crying child (I was hung over, don’t judge me) she forgets that she was just talking to him, and starts crying because she’s so happy that he’s alive. Chris Evans is a better actor than he’s gotten credit for, because it was really his reaction that turned me into mush. It seems like a brief moment along with a joke to Black Widow that “everyone in his barbershop quartet is dead” so he has no plans this weekend, yeah Cap has next to no one. 

But that all changes when he finds out that he’s not the only WWII soldier to be made super. 

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In an explosive scene, Fury is targeted by “The Winter Soldier” who is thought to be responsible for decades of assassinations, he even shot Romanoff once. Fury “dies’ (come on, no one thought he was dead) at Steves house and it’s revealed that his cute neighbor is really Agent 13 who has been watching out for him (Fury always has people watching each other, just happened on Agents of SHIELD where Melinda May was watching Coulson). And Steve and Natasha are sent off on this journey together to find who killed Fury, what’s on the drive that Natasha uploaded in the earlier mission and find out who can be trusted, all the while dodging Hydra agents and the Winter Soldier in intense fight scenes and car chases. With no idea who to turn to, Steve chooses to trust Natasha and Sam Wilson. While they recoup at Sam’s, after they are exploded in a bunker, Black Widow confesses that she has the same sense of betrayal as Steve, She thought she stopped working for the KGB to be one of the good guys. There wasn’t as much character development for Widow in this go around, just a glimpse, she was also sans-catsuit most of the time. She got to do a ton of standard bad ass stuff, like nurse bullet wounds while getting the drop on the Winter Soldier.

In a lengthy and interesting fight scene with the Winter Soldier, Captain realises that he’s Bucky. “Who the hell is Bucky?” the villain replies. Captain America’s best friend from when he was still Skinny Steve, he’s being manipulated and brainwashed by Hydra to take out those that they want taken out. Soon they will have the Helicarriers for that. But seeing Steve brings back some of Bucky’s memory. and at the final fight scene, Bucky pulls Steve out of the water. And it was really nicely done. In a flash back to after the death of his mother we seen Steve trying to go through it alone, so he doesn’t dissolve into a puddle over the fact that his best friend is a brainwashed assassin who doesn’t remember him. But he can’t kill him either. Sam recognizes this early and goes along (with his project Falcon suit) to make sure what has to happen does. But in the end it’s down to Cap and Bucky. Captain America orders Maria Hill to destroy the helicarrier (that he is on) and continues fighting with Bucky. And Steve says, “I’m not going to kill you. You’ll have to finish the job, because I’m with you til the end of the line.” And it wasn’t played up very emotionally, and it didn’t need to be. But it speaks volumes about what Cap is willing to live with and what he’s willing to live without. So couple the fact that this was borderline suicidal with the fact that he doesn’t want to work for SHIELD, he doesn’t believe in the path the government is taking and he’s losing Peggy? Ouch.

Meanwhile, Black Widow is taking out Redford’s character, Alexander Pierce -top brass who is really Hydra. And she has to electrocute herself to do it (she was also shot in pretty much that same spot). She’s going to put up all the info about Hydra, but in the process she could be putting out all her deep dark secrets. Since one of her main points in Avengers as well is her legacy in comics was atoning for her past, this is a sore spot. But she does it. 

Then, they all have to find new jobs. Fury lets his identity stay dead (but probably not for long), Romanoff goes to find a new identity, Agent 13 joins the CIA, Maria Hill interviews for Stark Industries and Falcon goes back to what he was doing before he got embroiled in this.

At the end credits we see Bucky in the Smithsonian watching the feature about himself and Captain America. Bucky’s resurrection in comics was always controversial, he was killed off in 1948, but revived periodically, before 1968 where his death became official. He was then used as a symbol of why superheroes shouldn’t have young sidekicks. It stayed this way, as angst and a cautionary tale, until 2005 when Ed Brubaker decided to bring back Bucky. And retcon all that wherein Bucky was really a 16 year old trained operative who was trained to conduct covert assassinations. Co-creator Jack Kirby wasn’t opposed. Anyway, so he’s the Winter Soldier but in the books Cap gets him his memories back via the cosmic cube and Bucky becomes a good guy… and then he becomes Captain America. So it’ll be interesting to see the next time Sebastian Stan reprises the role again (be it for May 6th, 2016’s Cap3 or before that) and what phase it will take. 

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Falcon first appeared in Captain America in 1969, he was from Harlem and was a community volunteer. Tones of that definitely showed through in the film where he was counselling PTSD sufferers, I like the way they applied those traits to modern and personal purposes and I’m glad they left out his affinity for birds.  

And after after the credits we get our first glimpse at Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver *squeeee*

Avengers Confidential, Black Widow & Punisher

SHIELD is on a mission to stop a global terrorist organization, Leviathan, at the same time that The Punisher is on the trail of an arms dealer. SHIELD needs intel form the dealer, and Punisher just wants to …uh, punish him. Black Widow interrupts Punishers mission and he winds up in SHIELD custody. The Punisher, not the bad guy, who escapes while SHIELD agents, including Nick Fury, Black Widow AND the Punishe all bicker and brawl. Kinda stupid.

Anyway, there’s a lot of “we do this my way” tug of war between the spy and the vigilante as they investigate what Leviathan is up to. Which is, specifically that Leviathan is creating programmable super soldiers with stolen SHIELD technology. Strike two when it turns out to be all Natasha’s fault.

SPOILERS AFTER THIS GIF- not that you should care. I want to save you from this movie.

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The former SHIELD scientist was in a relationship with Natasha Romanoff. But she was always going on missions and he wasn’t a powerful hero and therefore felt inferior… so he faked his own death and started working for the enemy AND experimenting on himself so that he would be super enough for Widow. Oh, fucking spare me. This is just another one of these “working women make men feel inadequate” shit shows. STAHP. How would this woo her? And you faked your own death, how does this establish trust? And if your response is “well, I can understand feeling inferior next to Black Widow, she’s a fucking bad ass.” I feel you. But think about it. They were already in a relationship. He doesn’t do it because he might be a liability to her, like that enemies might get to her because he’s weak and that would put them both in danger. He does this because he can’t compete with her work schedule and he’s not as bad ass as her and her coworkers. Would Pepper Potts fake her own death and conduct risky experiments on herself? Would MJ? Would Lois fucking Lane?! Fuck to the no. Why? Because in the patriarchal system that we live in, the dude is supposed to be tougher anyway.  So the fictitious women and the folks who write them understand that this wouldn’t be impressive. It would be deranged. And Widow’s former fling is portrayed as deranged… but also a terrorist org has supersoldiers because Widow wasn’t a doting housewife. Oh fuck off.

There were fight scene between Widow and the traitor AND Widow and the Punisher where she didn’t land a blow. So she was so badass that she earned this tragic and twisted love story… but not bad enough to actually.. you know, hold her own on her own.

Aside form that the art was underwhelming, the voices were poorly selected and the music was tacky. I was actually surprised at how much I hated this. It’s written by Marjorie M Liu who recently provided a “legend” for Red Sonja and notably the X-23 series.

The whole “reprogramming heroes” has been done before. SO MUCH. They’re powerful, what if their powers fell into the wrong hands?! DC is a little more infamous for that overused plotline, but come on. We get it. Being a human weapon is a huge liability. And that Widow was dispatched to save the entire Avengers from becoming unstoppable killing machines SHOULD have been badass… except that it was her “fault” for not making her man feel like the man? BOOOOOO

There were good things: Amadeus Cho, a young prodigy with a pet fox and a crush on Black Widow was a fun character for a bit. Fury admitting that Widow and Fury were dispatched because he could cut them loose. The good guys not always doing good things.

There’s a video where everyone makes it clear what they thought they were doing. But I can really only give this 2/5 Stars.

 

Secret Avengers #1

Save the Empire!

“Run the mission. Don’t get seen. Save the world.”

SHIELD director Maria Hill has assembled a black ops squad to deal with things that cannot publically involve the Avengers. Maria selects Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Spider-Woman and Black Widow. …and SHIELD informant turned developer MODOK. …And Hawkeye accidentally joins up.

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Coulson and Nick Fury are sent to a space station where they end up in over their heads with THE Fury (an immensely powerful cybiote programmed to exterminate all life). This interrupts Black Widow and Siper-Woman’s spa day. …Well, TECHNICALLY Hawkeye accidentally busting in to escape AIM agents does (there’s a lot of nip slips covered up by ‘classic hero stickers’ it’s really fun). Natasha Romanova had been trying to teach Jessica Drew how to unwind when all hell broke loose. 

Maria Hill sends the trio to space to assist Coulson and Fury while Maria and MODOK get blindsided by a Latverian Hitman. 

So there’s a bunch of things happening at once. I’m at least peripherally aware of these characters. Sneaked in snippets of backstory were all that I really needed here. Maria Hill is doing a lot, maybe too much, and it shows. Hawkeye stumbles comedically through life threatening situations. Coulson is more reckless than the decisive Nick Fury.  MODOK is always being MODOK. It was funny. Very Funny. 

I’m really into Michael Walsh’s quirkier art style, Matthew Wilson adds the colors and its somewhere between looking like 80s comics and a Samurai Jack cartoon. It’s really awesome, that’s the kind of thing I like, some people enjoy more realistic interpretations… Well, I don’t. It carries along Ales Kot’s somewhat slapstick and action packed script perfectly. 

And it was fun to see Coulson in the books. 

Nerd News-day Tuesday

Comics Alliance featured an essay about IDW’s “sexualized” PowerPuff Girls #6 variant cover that got pulled in the dust up. It pretty much summed up my feelings on the matter, but NBD if it outraged you. There’s a lot to be mad at about out here. What you can’t be mad about is Eric Stephenson an Image comics publisher throws down for the ladies and tells writers and retailers alike that women WANT comics, be inclusive and they will come.

Of course, dumb-dumbs everywhere think that female supes can’t handle a movie of their own. But, well, tough shit. Black Widow’s getting her own movie. Slated for sometime after summer 2015, it appears Black Widow will get a movie before the illustrious Wonder Woman (because Marvel > DC, just saying). Although the new Black Widow comic book series didn’t thrill me, I think if they did this with a little more 007 flair, I could really get into it. And, come on admit it, the first Captain America movie was sub par and everyone is seeing this one because Marvel cinematic universe is a steam roller at this point +special effects +ScarJo is there. A Black Widow movie would do just fine. (PS Scarlett Johansson is expecting her first child, congrats!) But a recent essay on Storm over at KissMyWonderWoman  about Storm made me think about how rad it would be to have a X-Men movie that followed Ororo and Yuriko. They became fast friends under Claremont’s pen, and it would make sense since Yuriko followed Wolverine to the US after The Wolverine. I’m just saying: you should make that. Come on 20th Century Fox.

We get details about Terminator: Genesis (2015), which will revisit big moments from the first 2 movies. So it’s not remake, but an in continuity retcon. I think. According to MovieHole:

“Firstly, we will indeed be revisiting the events of the original 1984 film again. The ‘Terminator’ from the future will arrive on earth, attack some punks (keen to see who they get to play ‘Bill Paxton’), and then slaughter his way through a bunch of Sarah Connors’ – until he finds the correct target. And all the characters that appeared in the Cameron original, like Detective Hal Vukovich (played by Lance Henriksen in the original), Lieutenant Ed Traxler (played by Paul Winfield way back when), Sarah’s roomie Ginger (Bess Motta in the ’84 film) and, yep, even Pugsley the Iguana, return. So, yep, we’ll likely get to see Schwarzenegger back in the leather jacket and cool sunglasses he wore in the original. And, of course, Kyle Reese (Courtney) volunteers to go back to 1984 and save Sarah – just as he did first time around. But don’t expect everything to work out like it did in the original.. something is going to play out different.”

How (or ‘if’) they’re going to explain the THREE decades older Schwarzenegger, reprising his 1984 role, I don’t know. Which of course makes Hugh Jackman’s recent comments about his days as Wolverine being numbered slightly ironic. Days of Future Past will be his 7th time as the adamantium boned hero since 2000’s X-Men. Jackman recently told IGN “Look, that’s inevitable, man. Anyone who thinks they’re indispensable in this business is fooling themselves.”

And it all comes back to Marvel heroes again: Pumped for Agents of SHIELD’s return tonight? Bill Paxton drops in for tonight’s episode. Check out Comic Book Resources interview with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tanchareon where they discuss May and Ward’s relationship, epic guest stars and tiny hints about what’s in the works. Still not OFFICIALLY renewed, though.

Photos from Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For emerge, the older -and blonder Jessica Alba is smoking hot as usual. ❤ ❤ Jessica Alba.

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