Comic Book Reviews for 9/18/2013: Infinity #3, New Avengers #10

I read a lot of comic books every month, and sometimes I get the itch to review them. As it’s comic books more than any other form of media that fuel my action figure collecting hobby, I’m including comic book reviews here on Marvel Toy News (if you don’t like it, yell at me). In this installment, I’ll be covering comics released on 9/18/2013, including reviews of Infinity #3, New Avengers #10, Uncanny X-Men #12, Thor God of Thunder #18 and more…

Marvel Comics Infinity #3 CoverInfinity #3

I am trying desperately (no lie–desperately) to like Infinity. The idea of the big Marvel Comics 2013 event being cosmic-based absolutely appeals to me, I’ve been a big fan of Jonathan Hickman and his prior work on “Secret Warriors” and “Fantastic Four”, and I love me some well-written Thanos. All that said, I pretty much loathe “Infinity” this far–especially as a standalone series.

While comic book event tie-ins are often inconsequential, in the case of “Infinity”, I feel like they’re absolutely essential. Want to know what happens next after the big reveal at the end of Infinity #2? You won’t find the answer here–you’ll literally have to buy New Avengers #10 to find out.

Meanwhile, hugely important events happen at the speed of light in Infinity #3. In fact, the speed at which these events occur undercuts the magnitude of their importance–content that could be built up to for an entire comic book occur in 1-2 panels total and feel like throwaway scenes instead. This speed hurts the credibility of the characters involved in the series as well–I know barely more about The Builders now than I did when this series began, and they feel more like generic “villains of the week” than the ominous, world-endingly dangerous characters they’re meant to be.

As far as the story progression with Black Bolt and Thanos, well–it felt forced and contrived to me, to be brutally honest. This felt more like something crow-barred into the story for the purpose of setting up future stories than something that logically should–or would–happen in this scenario.

Halfway through Infinity, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to fight off my feeling of malaise toward the event. Jonathan Hickman is capable of some great work on a grandiose scale, but I honestly believe that this is not it.

Infinity #3 Grade: C-

Marvel Comics Infinity #3 CoverNew Avengers #10

If you want to feel that Infinity is a worthwhile storyline at all, you really need to be reading the tie-in issues of Avengers and New Avengers. Whereas I’m finding the main Infinity comic book series to be devoid of character moments, New Avengers #10 is rife with them, and it makes the whole event feel a bit more tolerable to me.

My favorite subplot going on in New Avengers is the ongoing developments between Namor and Black Panther’s warring nations, which remind me of the subtle manipulations I love so much in the “Game of Thrones” novels (yes, the novels–I’ve purposely never seen even a moment of the HBO show). Hickman’s Namor may end up being my favorite take on the character ever, when all is said and done.

It’s also worthwhile that these Infinity tie-ins are giving a small portion of character development to Thanos’ lieutenants, who are basically flat, generic big bads in the main Infinity series. I still don’t want–or expect–any of these characters to survive the Infinity event, but at least the villains will feel less like cardboard cutouts when they do die.

If you’re not reading the main Infinity book then New Avengers #10 will be nigh-impermeable, but as a part of the event it’s easily one of the best issues of Infinity released thus far.

New Avengers #10 Grade: B

Thor God of Thunder #13 CoverThor God of Thunder #13

Ordinarily it gets under my skin when villains show up in a superhero comic book immediately before they’re about to appear in a major feature film. Though that tradition continues here in Thor God of Thunder #13, I’m not at all annoyed.

See, you can legitimately have read thousands of Marvel comic books featuring Thor over the years and still not have even the slightest clue who Malekith–the primary antagonist of the upcoming “Thor: The Dark World” movie–is. Malekith the Dark Elf is just not on the same level as characters like Loki or Magneto. It’s for that reason that I’m glad to see Malekith make an appearance for the five-part story beginning here in Thor God of Thunder #13.

In just a few scant pages, the reader is able to get a feel for how twisted–and deadly–Malekith the Dark Elf can be. At the same time, other Thor movie mainstays like Lady Sif, Volstagg, Fandral and Hogun get their own share of the spotlight (though Loki was obviously unavailable for this story, as he’s busy being evil and inhabiting the body of his reincarnated child self).

This legitimately feels like the start of a legendary storyline that Walt Simonson himself might be proud of. I’m very interested in seeing how this storyline develops over the next several months.

Thor God of Thunder #13 Grade: B+

Uncanny X-Men #12 Cover Battle of the AtomUncanny X-Men #12

In stark contrast to Infinity, I’m not particularly trying to become invested in the X-Men “Battle of the Atom” crossover. I’ve read so many X-Men time travel stories over the course of my life that I feel pretty numb and ambivalent toward the whole notion of a big time travel event. That said, the first four parts of the crossover have been benign, albeit slow.

Uncanny X-Men #12 consists almost entirely of (old) Cyclops trying to make up his mind as to whether or not to protect (young) Cyclops and Jean Grey from being forced to return to the past. The answer Cyclops comes to is rather perplexing, considering he was almost wiped out of existence due to their presence a few issues back on the storyline. However, Emma Frost makes a fascinating observation about Cyclops’ motivations that manage to salvage the plot point, even if the whole scenario still feels pretty questionable.

The X-Men from a doomed future (no, not that future–or that one even, for that matter) continue to be wildly generic and uninteresting. I think at this point we’ve just seen so many different time-traveling X-Men from a dark future that the concept feels tired and rehashed, even if this iteration does bring some new potential to the table in the form of the new Xorn’s secret identity.

The issue culminates in a cliffhanger which is such that I can legitimately picture Brian Michael Bendis clenching his fist and self-congratulating himself on it as he wrote it. And you know what? I bought into it totally, just as Bendis planned. So, yeah–I’ll be back next week for more. Though this 2013 X-Men crossover isn’t the most original X-Men story (by far), it is an enjoyable weekly ride thus far.

Uncanny X-Men #12 Grade: B-

The Superior Spider-Man #18 CoverSuperior Spider-Man #18

I think that a lot of the negative sentiments surrounding this book will dissipate once Peter Parker is back in his own body and Doc Ock is dead and waiting to be resurrected. Though there’s been a lot of hate directed at this series and its premise, Dan Slott has put together some really clever and entertaining stories as part of Superior Spider-Man. This, unfortunately, is not one of them.

I actually liked Marvel 2099, but this Superior Spider-Man/Spider-Man 2099 story arc is doing nothing for me. Miguel O’ Hara’s character development in this story arc consists of being a guy in a cool costume who uses funny swear word euphemisms and futuristic-sounding things like “hotload” and “thought-bank”. Any reader who didn’t read the classic Spider-Man 2099 series is going to be hard-pressed to find anything to like about Spiderman 2099 in this story (sans his incredibly awesome costume).

The saving grace for this issue is seeing Doc Ock’s carefully-laid plans (and his mind) starting to unravel, as Ock simply cannot accomplish everything he wants to as the Superior Spider-Man and in his own personal life at the same time. Ock is inching closer and closer to the inevitable epiphany that he may not be as “superior” a Spider-Man as he initially thought, and I’m fast approaching the point when I’m ready for that comeuppance to occur.

The Superior Spider-Man #18 is a competent comic book, but nothing at all groundbreaking or particularly compelling. For costing almost four bucks and being part of a very highly-promoted story arc, I found it merely average.

Superior Spider-Man #18 Grade: C

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