The Astonishing Ant Man: Everybody Loves Team Ups Graphic Novel Review

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The Astonishing Ant Man: Everybody Loves Team Ups written by Nick Spencer collects The Astonishing Ant Man #1-4 as well as Ant Man: Last Days #1 and Ant Man Annual #1. With marvel renumbering their comic books almost once a year what makes this series different from the others.

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As many of you may not know, Marvel is by far my favorite comic book publisher. It feels as the years go on though, that my relationship with Marvel grows more and more strained. With new series popping up every month or so, it’s hard to really follow the marvel cannon and continuity. Due to this, I really don’t follow new releases and read marvel comics within the last 10 years. So it truly was a surprise when I decided to pick up this book.

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I believe the thing that caught my eye with this graphic novel is the sheer number of villains and allies in this book. Not only that, but many of the villains are not mainstream in today’s Marvel continuity. Characters like The Grizzly, Whirlwind, The Beetle, Porcupine, and The Slug all make appearances in The Astonishing Ant Man: Everybody Loves Team Ups. Now I know what you might be thinking “aren’t these pretty awful villains?”. Truth be told, I have a sweet spot for corny superheroes and supervillains. I really love the fact that Nick Spencer wrote in these characters. It gives long time readers and Marvel efficianados something to look forward to while reading this book.

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Now thats not to say that this book doesn’t get the “new Marvel treatment”. One of the things I can’t stand about new Marvel is fourth wall breaks. Fourth wall breaks were really popularized by Deadpool and have been carried over way to much into other series. I mean, it works for Deadpool because that’s his gimmick, his niche. But with Ant Man it just seems forced and somewhat cringy. When I read a comic book I want to be immersed not feel like the characters are talking to me.

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The Astonishing Ant Man: Everybody Loves Team Ups’ timeline is also very hard to follow. It jumps all around the place and really does not wrap itself up explaining why they jumped back in time to explain something. By the end of the book I was totally confused whether the book ended where it started, or if it had actually progressed time.

Overall The Astonishing Ant Man: Everybody Loves Team Ups definitely does not damage my opinion of Marvel but it also does not improve my view on Marvel comics in the last 10 years. I give The Astonishing Ant Man: Everybody Loves Team Ups a 6/10.

The Punisher: Born Graphic Novel Review

Before I start this review I want to make clear that I am in know way a Punisher expert. Honestly, I have never seen the appeal of The Punisher. I get it, he’s violent. The Punisher killing his enemies make him somewhat of a “bad ass”. I have always thought that being a “bad ass” is not enough to be a good comic book protagonist. So ya, you can tell i’m not a huge fan of The Punisher at least that was until I read Born.

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“Born” written by Garth Ennis is more of a war novel than a superhero graphic novel. It describes how war gave birth to Frank Castles alter ego, The Punisher. As many of you probably don’t know, I consider myself quite the history buff. Specifically, I have always had an interest in war. So before even starting this book I knew that this novel would be right up my alley.

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Obviously since this is a Punisher book, there is violence. But, I don’t feel that the violence defines this book. Their are actually quite a bit of good characters. Two in particular are Goodwin and Angel. Goodwin is the moral compass of the platoon. His main goal in Vietnam is to get home alive. That being said, he still cares for his good friend Angel. Angel is a “junky”. The “Junky” group is frowned upon in the platoon. Goodwin is trying to keep Angel out of this particular crowd but Angel continues to shoot up in secret. In my opinion, these two characters keep the book grounded. Without Goodwin and Angel, the book would honestly be just another Punisher novel.

The art in this book is done by Darrick Robinson. This has to be some of my favorite penciling in any graphic novel I have ever read. In some ways it reminds me of Mark Bagleys artwork. Obviously, it’s much more violent than Bagleys work. Every once in a while you will get a full page mural of beautiful artwork. One of these in particular is when Firebase Valley Forge is being attacked by the NVA. To light up the battlefield, Castle orders flares to be shot up in the sky. The result is a beautiful piece of art that shows the horrors of Vietnam. This page should be in a museum.

I have to give this book a solid 9 out of 10. Though the books art is beautiful, and Born has good characters, it still has some problems. Castles use of violence still is sometimes excessive. I understand that he has a love for war but when he goes around killing men in his platoon, it’s hard to relate with him. Born has definitely opened the door for some more Punisher reviews though and I cant wait to see what comes next.

Iron Man: The Golden Avenger Epic Collection Review


In 2013 Marvel released their first epic collection. These Epic Collections set out to replace the outdated Marvel Essentials line of graphic novels. Whereas the Marvel Essentials contained paper like you would find out of a phone book and a lack of inking, these Epic Collections contained beautiful paper stock and were released in full color. With these additions though, Marvel Epic Collections were booked at 30 to 40 dollars whereas Essentials were booked at 20 dollars or less. With this being said, are epic collections worth it?

I received the first Iron Man epic collection, The Golden Avenger as a birthday present from my parents. Though I own two other epic collections (The Amazing Spider Man: Great Power and Daredevil: The Man Without Fear), I never had read one in its entirety. I can say right off the bat that the increased price point certainly paid off. Not only is the inking beautiful, but the paper is sturdy and certainly holds up well. The book itself is certainly great but what about the story.

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The book begins with the first appearance of Iron Man in Tales of Suspense 39. If you’ve seen the first Iron Man movie directed by Jon Favreau, than you know the story. Iron Man is trapped in a cave where he builds his first Iron Man suit and escapes capture. In the next couple of issues were introduced to some of Iron Man’s “foes”. Though these villains are certainly not “A list” villains, they get the job done. Probably the most notable of the first couple of foes is Jack Frost. Though not known to many by the Jack Frost moniker, he would later become the villain Blizzard, a foe that would become a thorn in the side of Iron Man for years to come. In Tales of Suspense 46 we are finally introduced to a true heavyweight in the lore of Iron Man-the Crimson Dynamo. The Crimson Dynamo also known as Anton Vanko is a Soviet scientist who challenges Iron Man to prove his worth to the Soviet Premier. Though Anton Vanko only had one appearance as Crimson Dynamo, he would leave a lasting mark on comics as many others would take on the Crimson Dynamo name.

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After the first appearance of the Crimson Dynamo, we see villains such as The Melter, Mr. Doll, and X-Men member The Angel. In Tales of Suspense 50 we are introduced to Iron Man’s greatest foe, The Mandarin. The Mandarin has a total of five appearances in this Epic Collection. The Mandarin is a mysterious Vietnamese villain that proves to be a lasting foe for Iron Man. In Tales of Suspense 52 the Black Widow appears for the first time. She is completely different to the Black Widow most know now. She actually is introduced as a villain. The Black Widow otherwise known as Natasha Romanov is a Russian spy sent to eliminate Iron Man for the Soviet Union. She is sent along side a new Crimson Dynamo. The two fail at the job requiring her to go back to her homeland in shame.  

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In this Epic Collection we also see the first appearance of Hawkeye. Hawkeye also begins as a villain. Alongside Black Widow, Hawkeye attempts to destroy Iron Man to win over the love of Black Widow. The two eventually become a pair and try to destroy Iron Man again. They fail in both of their attempts to stop the Golden Avenger.

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My personal favorite story arc in this collection is seen in Tales of Suspense 69, 70, and 71. In this arc Iron man goes toe to toe with The Titanium Man. Tony Stark’s friend and chauffeur Happy Hogan is caught in the crossfire and sustains a fatal injury. In his apparent final words, Hogan reveals that he knew Iron Man was Tony Stark all along. This ark features a lot of techniques seen in modern comics. Probably most notably a love triangle featuring Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts, and Tony Stark.

To answer the question are epic collections worth it, it really depends on your personal situation. Though Marvel Essentials are cheaper in price, they are also cheaper in a quality sense. In my opinion, Marvel Epic Collections are completely worth the bump in price.