Giant Monsters Make Me Smile: Marvel’s Monsters Unleashed

Between all the mega crossovers Marvel has had they had one that got lost in the shuffle, Monsters Unleashed. It’s a comic that has the Marvel Universe vs. Giant Monsters/Kaiju and that’s all you need to know. Cullen Bunn cut loose on a massive monster fighting fest and it’s beautiful in its simplicity. Simplicity is not a knock on this as sometimes all you need is giant monsters and on with the show kids. Sometimes an event can be that simple to dive into. I was underwhelmed by the first issue of this but in reading the Monster-Size collection, I fell in love with this wonderful piece of madness. Yes I am playing my hand too early but this isn’t as much a review as more, heck yes Giant Monsters. Let’s get on with this fun as I tell you of my love of Monsters Unleashed.

Monsters Unleashed is sheer joy in a comic book. Yes I know the story is bonkers but I believe that is what makes it beautiful.

One major factor is why I dig Monsters Unleashed as much as I do is simple, it really is just a straight up monster slug fest. The collective Marvel Universe set in battle against multitudes of monsters and that’s perfect. Even more cool is it brought Elsa Bloodstone back to the Marvel Universe and gave Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur a neat role. Some people are mixed on this event I know but for me, it works. Kei Kawade and his connection to the Monsters is a nifty little addition to the story. I’m a sucker for art based powers so Kei’s ability to draw monsters and have them come to life is so slick. The way this series plays out is simple, the new heroes of the Marvel Universe are the solution. That’s cool.

Though before you know what Kei’s role is in this and even after, you get lots of giant monster fights. If you’re someone who’s in the mood for an event that gives you what’s advertised, this is it. You get a new character to the Marvel Universe and unleashed imagination in the monster designs, I love it. Bunn’s story works for this and even more so you get a great group of artists, Leinil Francis Yu, Steve McNiven, Salvador Larroca, Adam Kubert, and Greg Land, each working on an issue of this event. With Jay Leisten inks on McNiven and Land and Gerry Alanguilan and Michael Jason Paz inks on Leinil’s work, it all looks great. Add in some gorgeous coloring by David Curiel and Michael Garland and you get a complete package of beauty.

Did I mention a lot of these fights are done in double page spreads? It enhances the joy. So much joy. So much wonder.

Inhumans Monsters Unleashed Mega Battle

Art: Steve McNiven and Jay Leisten. Color Artist: David Curiel, Lettered by: VC’s Travis Lanham

Oh and check out the size of the Monsters Unleashed collection in Hardcover, the sheer size of this is glorious.

Monsters Unleashed Monster Sized Trade

Photo taken by me and I don’t think I can do the sheer scale of this book justice.

Even I’m surprised at how much of a nerd out I am having with this. Of course then again, I do love Kaiju.

Avengers Assemble Monsters Unleashed

Yeah I can see why Monsters Unleashed wouldn’t be to the taste of everyone. I get it as some people would be wanting more than what they got. The major goal of this from what I can tell from Cullen Bunn’s story is bringing a new character to life. We get a new character and a new world to explore within the Marvel Universe. Even more so we get the entire Marvel Universe fighting freaking giant monsters, which is awesome. Heck, in the aftermath of Secret Empire we would love for something that simple right now.  This is the kind of event that all you need is a simple premise to open up a new world. Now I’m curious in the Monsters Unleashed series that came out of this. I do like Kei and want to know more about him and his monster friends.

Not a major spoiler considering the series is out there but we do get new monsters into the Marvel Universe. Now we have Kei/Kid Kaiju figuring out his place in the Marvel Universe with his new friends with his parents along for the ride. Yeah I am game for more of this and I’ll have to check this series out down the line. I wish I wouldn’t have waited this long to read Monsters Unleashed but I have now at least. Sometimes a series finds you when you need it and Monsters Unleashed was well timed for me in my eyes. When you need a simple and fun event story that introduces new characters and has large scale battles, Monsters Unleashed is perfect. Just what the proverbial comics doctor ordered.

Like I said, not really a review, just a massive excuse to nerd out about giant monsters.

Always remember this in your days my friends, giant monsters no matter what will always rule. A simple idea out of Marvel turns into a fairly fun event that deserves more attention. It got lost in the midst of everything else but give this a shot. I think you’ll like it as much as I do by the end of the story. If nothing else, you’ll get some great and gorgeous double page spreads out of it all. If you look further though I think you’ll find a fun little story. Give it a go and take some time to hang out with some Kaiju, you’ll be glad you did.

 

The Great Social Media Battle of 2016: Marvel vs. DC Movies

DC Marvel Social Media Logos

Copyright: Logos from Marvel and DC Comics

Social Media was a unique place in 2016 within pop culture. There are many factors to dive into but one stood out, Marvel vs. DC Movies. You had MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) represented by Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange, both for the most part getting positive marks. With the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) you had Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad getting decidedly mixed reviews. Now the battleground with MCU and DCEU gets interesting with social media comes into play. We had an MCU backlash happen within the social media landscape and a battle with DCEU over their content as well. With both MCU and DCEU fans in a divisive and comical at points battle online, I’m going to explore this a bit. So let’s dive into the Great Social Media Battle of 2016, MCU vs. DCEU.

Let the Social Media Exploration Begin!

Now I debated writing a column like this for ages. You could see me on my own twitter debating this idea. Yet it’s been in me for months now to write about this. Possibly because I seem to be a rare voice of calm in the midst of the social media battles. What was so frustrating about the MCU and DCEU battles is these arguments would borderline on the ridiculous. Take note of this, the petition against Rotten Tomatoes. People got mad about Rotten Tomatoes and how MCU films scored higher than DCEU films. Among the many arguments, the Rotten Tomatoes battle on social media bordered on the hilarious. Simple version, people thought Disney/Marvel bought Critics to give Marvel movies good reviews and DC films bad ones. Yes, a petition was started over this and it is as silly as it sounds.

Now in my own personal perspective, I enjoyed the films of the MCU and DCEU alike. None of them were perfect but I had a good time at the theater watching them and ultimately that’s what counts. Same with other viewers who liked the films. Yet some, a mighty battle was in full swing over which company had the superior films. Arguments were varied from thoughtful to downright insane arguments. Usually, it boils down to if you like or dislike a film but some people then get into full-blown hysterics and war begins. Many of you out there reading this who are on any kind of social media, you have seen the threads and are likely getting flashbacks. I wasn’t immune to it either as everyone got dragged into these threads at one point.

From these Social Media arguments on MCU vs. DCEU, It boiled to another conversation, tone.

Now another argument that initiated a lot of quirky situations is the tone of the MCU vs. DCEU. MCU trends towards a lighter tone, brighter costumes, and overall a friendly atmosphere for the viewership. Now for DCEU it has trended darker with a more intense tone to the films. Yet a lot of people weren’t happy with the darker tone. Look at the MCU, they have a gameplan and they know where they’re going to go. DCEU saw the films making money, but not as much as Warner Bros. would have liked, especially with Batman v Superman. Now going forward DC is working towards a lighter tone in their films, as noted with Geoff Johns stating as much. Now the DCEU is forming a game plan and we’ll see how Wonder Woman and Justice League are received next year.

2016 was a divisive year on many fronts, so what does 2017 hold?

Now MCU wise we have Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, and Thor: Ragnarok hitting in 2017. DCEU has their powerhouse lineup and Marvel has a powerful lineup too. Next year is going to be stacked and I can imagine that the arguments will be a wild ride come 2017. We’ll see what the lighter tone of DCEU will be and what will happen with that. With the MCU we’ll get to see if they can keep the money train rolling on into 2017. The fans on social media will keep the fire and hype for these movies throughout the year, good or bad.

Many arguments will be held over the coming months as the MCU and DCEU make announcements and as the films are released.  2016 was a weird year on many fronts. If you’re wondering, no one won the Marvel vs. DC argument with the films. At the end of it all, it’s all about what you like. There’s no big conspiracy from either Disney or Warner Bros. with these films and the critics. People like what they like and critics are like anyone else, they like what they like. A good or bad movie is in the eye of the person watching it. If someone likes or hates something, no massive tweet storm, facebook post, or whatever else, it won’t steer them to your way of thinking. It may give them a new perspective but won’t change their mind entirely.

No one ever wins in an Internet battle, it just gets weirder and more annoying as it goes along.

The arguments on social media with Marvel vs. DC movies will keep going and evolve in many strange directions. We won’t know the full scope of a DCEU tonal change until Justice League and maybe somewhat into Wonder Woman. Just as Marvel will have to keep on keeping on and we’ll see how things go for them in the new year.

If you take anything away from this, let people like what they like. In my own case, I want both the MCU and DCEU to have a great 2017 ahead. If you like both, that’s awesome and the best way to be in my opinion. If you prefer MCU over DCEU, that’s okay too just don’t be a jerk to the fans who prefer the DCEU. Same goes for the DCEU fans, don’t be jerks to the MCU fans, be nice to another in 2017 as 2016 has been weird enough.

Just be excellent to one another my friends.

It’s interesting how this became much more thoughtful as I wrote it. At this stage though I am tired of the battleground and want some kind of unity in this crazy universe. For 2017 give me this Internet, quit it. You can have debates about the films of the MCU and DCEU without it becoming a mega battle. Enjoy what films you want to enjoy and may 2017 be one with less ridiculous Internet fights.

 

 

Wes Reads Thunderbolts #1: A Good Surprise Gets You Everywhere

Thunderbolts #1 2016 Cover

Thunderbolts is a series that means a lot to me. It was one of the first books I got into when I started reading comics again. I have given every iteration of Thunderbolts a shot over the years. Every version of the team had a unique style to it that love or hate, you can never say that it didn’t take chances in one way or another. The original Thunderbolts was the Masters of Evil pretending to be heroes and along the way some of them realizing they like being heroes. This time around the Thunderbolts have sprouted out of the events of Avengers Standoff with Winter Soldier (James “Bucky” Barnes”) leading the team of Moonstone, Atlas, The Fixer, and Mach-X, so a good mix of old and new in this team. On paper this is one of the better ways to revive the team, especially after Standoff went over well with a lot of fans. The team has come together to clean up the mess left in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D. and their experiment in imprisoning villains, Pleasant Hill. There’s much more than that in the mix too, but we’ll get into more of that as I talk more about my thoughts on this new Thunderbolts book. As this book while having similar touches to the classic Thunderbolts, there is a couple new ideas in the mix that surprised me.

To begin with if you haven’t read Avengers Standoff yet, you’re fine. Jim Zub sums up the event smoothly, Zub gives you everything you need to know within the first few pages. The team dynamic is easy to dive into for older readers of the series and if you’re new to it, the dynamics are made clear to you. It shows a team that knows how to work with one another yet Moonstone is still that wild card of the team.  I like how Zub captures the dynamic of the original team and working with Bucky, comfortable and exciting all at the same time. Bucky is the outsider and now leader of the Thunderbolts, making life interesting for this new team. It adds a new quirk outside of the major addition to the team which is Kobik, the energy of the cosmic cube brought to life as a four year old girl. I had no idea Kobik was involved in this series but it works and I am pleasantly surprised by that. Even if you haven’t read Standoff, you know what Kobik can do and why she means so much to the team. Kobik is so likable and you see how she fits in. Take note though, she is a kid yet she is pure cosmic cube energy so that can play out in many fun and surprising ways.

Thunderbolts #1 2016 Splash Page

The tone of the comic is a good mix of action, comedy, and a good dose of high end drama here and there. The blend of tones work well as it seems the revivals of Thunderbolts over the years have trended too dark and this has the right balance. I can tell Zub is already on his way to finding the right tone on this series. Which is where we dive into the one thing that I feel works but for some it may not, the art. Jon Malin was an artist I first discovered on his work in Youngblood and I liked it, quite a lot. That same energy that was within Youngblood that shines well here. In fact there’s more energy to it, the opening double page splash is filled with action, unabashed firepower, and pure excitement. A nice way to follow up the moody and strong opening page that shows the team preparing for the mission, enhanced by the strong coloring of Matt Yackey. Nice dark tones to set the mood and then a blast of color on that double page spread that is enough to knock your socks off. Malin and Yackey work well with the tone that Zub is aiming for, a classic action story but with humor and some dark twists to boot.

A big part of what caught my eye about Thunderbolts and my excitement for this new run is the final page. No spoilers here my friends as this final page is adding a nice amount of unpredictability to the proceedings. It’s why I did a tweet about it before this review, I had to let out that reaction fast. People are going to quibble about the art and I say give it a chance, this is some good storytelling here and a lot of fun, and that ending is going to blow your mind and have you begging for the next issue. Welcome back to my pull list Thunderbolts and to a new group of readers discovering the Thunderbolts in the process, this series is already rocking and rolling from the start.

Wes Reads Totally Awesome Hulk #1-4: Giant Monsters are Radical!

Totally Awesome Hulk #1 Cover

Totally Awesome Hulk comes to us from the All-New All-Different Marvel launch late last year and just completed its first story arc, what a perfect time to check it out. I have been curious about this series and when Greg Pak put out the call on twitter for reviewers to review story arcs, I was totally game to do it. To fill in the story for you all, Greg Pak brings Amadeus Cho, the character he co-created with Takeshi Miyazawa, to the forefront as now he is the Totally Awesome Hulk. Yet you wonder what happened to Bruce Banner, why isn’t he The Hulk? What the heck happened between this book and Secret Wars? With an eight month gap, a lot of stuff happened in the Marvel Universe, Amadeus Cho’s transformation being one such thing. If I had only read one issue of this, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the full idea of what Pak was going for here. In reading the entire first story arc, there is a sense that Pak is taking the Amadeus Cho Hulk in directions that managed to surprise me. Totally Awesome Hulk is a different take on the character of The Hulk. Time to see more of what happens when the eighth smartest person in the Marvel Universe embraces the art of Hulk Smash in issues #1-4 of Totally Awesome Hulk!

Take note of the title of this Wes Reads, Giant Monsters are Radical. The entire first arc is Amadeus Cho our Totally Awesome Hulk, going after giant monsters, this has my heart from the start. Yet even more than that, Pak adds a great supporting cast with Amadeus Cho’s sister Maddy, short for Madame Curie, and her working with Amadeus as his Mission Control for his work as the Hulk. You even have Miles Morales Spider-Man and She-Hulk popping up in the rest of the arc too. You get a great supporting cast, strong characterization, and even non-stop action to boot. The major villain of this first arc are the giant monsters, specifically Fin Fang Foom who is my favorite thanks to Nextwave. I really do like Lady Hellbender, she’s after the Giant Monsters for her own reasons and she would be considered the villain yet she’s really not a bad person. She has her reasons and she also helps out too. It’s a unique idea to have your first story arc be about exploring the new status quo through a fun giant monster adventure and a powerful origin story, I dig what Pak did with this.

Spider-Man and She-Hulk with Totally Awesome Hulk

It’s also built for Frank Cho to cut loose, and Frank Cho cuts loose on this comic. This is loud splashy action at its finest. Amadeus Cho shows all his skills as the Totally Awesome Hulk in this comic. The giant monsters feel huge and powerful, the Fin Fang Foom fight and the giant monster battle near the end have to be seen to be believed. Though as you see lots of Hulk Smashing all over the place in these big bombastic action pieces, Frank Cho excels at those quiet moments where you get to know the characters a bit. Cho’s style is so expressive that even in the slow moments, it still has a sense of keeping the story moving forward. There’s a bit in the flashback sequences that thanks to Cho’s art that will break your heart in two, it’s touching and powerful all at once. Pak nails you with the emotional words then Cho knocks it out of the park with the emotions on each of the characters faces, it’s about as perfect a comic moment as you can get. I love Sonia Oback’s coloring on this, I note that in the present day there’s a brightness to the coloring then in the flashback there is a more muted tone, highlighting the more serious nature of the flashbacks. That nice subtle difference in coloring makes all the difference in making a comic like this work that much more.

Totally Awesome Hulk vs. Fin Fang Foom

I’m making this spoiler free too because Totally Awesome Hulk is a lot of fun and there’s touches that I won’t dare spoil for you all. Put it this way, Pak has another twist with the Amadeus Cho Hulk that Frank Cho has a lot of fun with that’s subtle and it works. I hadn’t gotten the chance to read anything of Totally Awesome Hulk and now I am planning on reading the next issue. There’s great characters developing here and I still feel like we’re only scratching the surface with the Totally Awesome Hulk. Right now the future of The Hulk looks bright and in the hands of this creative team, I have high hopes for the rest of the series to come.

Now to get your hands on the Totally Awesome Hulk for yourselves you can likely find it at your local comic shop and if you don’t know where your local store is just use the Comic Shop Locator to help find the comic store closest to you. If you prefer digital it is also available on ComiXology, and if you want to grab the upcoming trade of these issues you can even pre-order it off of Amazon.

Wes Reads: Marvel’s Avengers Standoff Stage One: The Event That is Actually Fun

Avengers Standoff Alpha #1 Cover

Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill has managed to surprise me. Heck if you read my Spoiler Filled Thoughts on Welcome to Pleasant Hill, I bought the first part of this on a whim and out of curiosity. Now I am finding myself into the idea of Pleasant Hill being a massive supervillain prison town populated by brainwashed supervillains thinking they’re someone else entirely. A massive S.H.I.E.L.D idea that has a level of brilliance that makes it great. For Stage one of this I’m reading Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3, and Uncanny Avengers #7. I’ve been reading Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and got Uncanny Avengers as it is part of this event. It’s not too insane so two tie-ins to an event like this isn’t too bad at all to deal with. This is Stage One of my Avengers Standoff journey. These are going to be loosely reviews, yet in general my shock that Avengers Standoff is a fun event so far. Yes my friends a Marvel and Comic Book Event in general that is a lot of fun, who could’ve thought that could happen right? Time to join me in the start of my Avengers Standoff adventures!

Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 is doing stuff that back in the day likely would have been revealed near the end than at the beginning of the adventure. I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible too. One part of this being that without anything too spoiler crazy, this is going to be our set up for Steve Rogers becoming young again and being Captain America. No real shock there but the big set up is happening. Even more fun, I adore Maria Hill in this series as Nick Spencer writes a rocking Maria Hill and Steve Rogers conversation. I like the role the villains are playing in this too, especially love the fact of Baron Zemo being the leader of the whole crusade to deal with Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D within Pleasant Hill. We even learn of a certain old favorite of the Marvel Universe in the mix too, which is a cool thing to see. We’re only starting to get more of the heroes in play too and it makes me wonder what the Thunderbolts series will be like after this is all said and done. It also helps that art wise, Jesus Saiz adds a level of rocking realism to the mix. Saiz adds depth and emotion to Spencer’s story. It’s a good way to continue the vibe that Avengers Standoff has so far.

(Seriously you all, this is not meaning to become a yay everything is awesome adventure here but this is giving me back Baron Zemo and more into the Marvel Universe, this makes me happy.)

Avengers Standoff Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 Football

It’s interesting with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D #3 and Uncanny Avengers #7 as to how much they really tie into Avengers Standoff. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a laser sharp focus with the story. Since it involves Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D. the focus is going to be more cohesive and it is overall. Marc Guggenheim is doing great work on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. anyway and Phil Coulson and his team split up as they deal with different aspects of the Pleasant Hill situation. It works well overall and I thought about it in the aspect of a reader new to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it still reads well overall. Guggenheim does a good job in making this a story accessible for the Avengers Standoff readers. Perfect way to operate with a tie-in story like this. German Peralta’s art fluctuates but it does well in conveying the story and mood of what Guggenheim is going for, though Rachelle Rosenberg’s coloring makes this shine.  If you’re new to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stick around after Avengers Standoff, it’s a pretty cool comic either way.

I haven’t been reading Uncanny Avengers #7 but I figure with Avengers Standoff, why not give it a go again? Outside of one story with Brother Voodoo, it is new reader friendly too. Garry Duggan works with the Avengers Standoff story as seamlessly as Guggenheim does. It’s a little off kilter with some last bit strangeness near the end of the issue but it does work. The Wrecker is the one that fills in the Uncanny Avengers on what is happening with Pleasant Hill and their place in the Avengers Standoff. It has a ton of action in between the fun banter the team has with one another too. I like that Cable is part of the squad helping to train a newer hero Synapse in new ways of using her Inhuman abilities. Lots of action, good characterization and meshing with the event too. Ryan Stegman’s art is also on point looking as sharp as ever and Mark Morales and Guillermo Ortego, the two inkers on this issue, mesh well with Stegman’s art.  The coloring of this book looks just as great too, with Richard Isanove and Matt Yackey working together on it, really making the action packed festivities look even better. I may stick around with Uncanny Avengers after Avengers Standoff is over as overall it was fun.

Stage One of Avengers Standoff for me was a good time and I will probably make this a regular thing throughout Avengers Standoff. It would be fun to cover an entire event again as I haven’t done that since Trinity War back in my Comics Crux days. If you all like this quirky pellet review/overview of Avengers Standoff, let me know in the comments below or hit me up on my twitter too. Always love feedback, take care everyone and thanks for reading!

Spoiler Filled Thoughts: Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill Cover

Spoiler Filled Thoughts is an old idea of mine I used way back when I first started comic reviews. Mostly it was a way to get extra content on my blog and keep it going. Now I think I could make this a regular thing for books that I have no idea what to talk about without spoiling things. As Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1 has been released for a few days now I figure I can talk more about it now and why I found myself enjoying it. I bought this on a whim, I had no major interest in Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill but I had been hearing good things so I figured I’d give it a shot. As I read it I realized that I could never really give my thoughts on it without spoiling everything about it. As you read this remember the warning is in the title, there will be spoilers, there will be tons of spoilers. I am straight up going to be spoiling everything including the ending of this comic. You really only have yourself to blame if you read this before reading Avengers Standoff for yourself. If you’ve either already read it or don’t really care to read it and want to hear what happened, here you go here is my spoiler filled thoughts on Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1.

(One extra spoiler warning tag here, this is your last warning.)

Now we can get to the thoughts here as really I have a lot to dive into. Here is the thing about Avengers Standoff, this comic takes a good bit to take off. Nick Spencer does what I call a slow burn and a wonderful sense of misdirection as to how this is going to play out. You have James “Bucky” Barnes infiltrating a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and starting to figure out something strange is happening. Before he can ponder why a mysterious little girl is somehow seeing him in a recording, he gets attacked by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. We get a blatant set up of flashbacks to World War II with Captain America and Bucky in battle. I was thinking in my mind, “Subtle.” as I saw that scene in my initial read. From there you get introduced to a man who has no memory of who he is. The man gets helped by the Sheriff of the town and you get introduced to the town of Pleasant Hill. Through our new friend we start to realize that nothing is quite right here. This is where things start to get interesting.

Avengers Standoff Bucky

Within the issue you learn that the name of the man is Jim, so you assume it is Bucky in the town. Jim has tried to escape and has seen glimpses of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, the mysterious little girl, and a piece of Stark technology in his adventures in Pleasant Hill. The misdirects in this book are off the charts, as you assume it is Bucky so Spencer is hammering it home that it is Bucky. That’s what you assume so as a reader, that is what you are thinking throughout the issue. Heck I was biding my time for that reveal. Yet, boy does Spencer have a rabbit that he is about to get out of his hat and that completely blew my mind. A fire is set inside a house in Pleasant Hill and that’s where Spencer starts to set the wheels in motion. The man who set the fire is trying to jog Jim’s memory and you get a glimpse of Bucky’s Winter Soldier arm in the midst of the chat. Another misdirection as you also learn that the mayor of the town is Maria Hill. She’s where the red flags start to really kick in as she’s trying to make sure that Jim doesn’t have any memories coming back. Even more signs that there is way more to Pleasant Hill than we ever imagined.

In a meeting Jim attends with the man who started the fire, the man looks like Tony Stark. Yet Tony is still in the main Marvel Universe so why is this guy who looks like Tony Stark here? That’s where you learn that Pleasant Hill is the ultimate S.H.I.E.L.D. prison. The prisoners have their minds altered thanks to Kobik technology and become a completely different person, a functional member of the town/prison of Pleasant Hill. Showing how powerful the technology is when Graviton is the criminal shown as the example of how well this tech works. There’s also a great point in using Graviton as the example here as it relations to our mystery man in the fire and the amnesiac Jim. Our mystery man created a device that somehow restored his memory and then uses it to restore Jim’s memory too and leading to a surprise revelation. The reveal being that Jim is Baron Zemo and the mystery man in the fire is none other than the Fixer. Let the fun begin as I smiled ear to ear at that ending.

Baron Zemo and Fixer Reveal Thunderbolts

Spencer is misdirecting the reader the entire time hammering it into your mind that this Jim is Bucky. Yet our surprise kicks in when Baron Zemo is revealed with the Fixer in tow. Meaning likely most of the Thunderbolts team is imprisoned in Pleasant Hill as a Thunderbolts series is going to come out of this event. Graviton played a role in the Thunderbolts series too, which is why I got a kick out of Spencer using him as the example villain. Even better that Mark Bagley and Scott Hanna were the art team on this as they worked on Thunderbolts as well. You have all these little hints towards who the reveal will be, yet it is so subtle that you don’t even think about it until it happens. I liked that a lot and appreciate the craft that went into this. From an event I had little interest in to one that I am more curious in within one issue, bravo to all that worked on this one.

A short review of this would be that this is worth reading and I am glad I read it just to realize that the Thunderbolts are making their return to the Marvel Universe. I already knew it was happening but this is a great way to kick it off and make this event count. I’m a big fan of the Thunderbolts as Busiek was one of the first creators I followed when I got back into comics. It’s why I formatted this in a way that isn’t a review, just me talking about why I liked this. Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill is one story that benefits from a second read after the reveals to understand how well this comic was executed. Thanks for joining me for the return of Spoiler Filled Thoughts, take care and thanks for reading!