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review 2019-01-19 22:13
The Avengers and the Thunderbolts (book) by Pierce Askegren, illustrations by Mark Bagley & Jeff Albrecht
Avengers and Thunderbolts - Pierce Askegren

Baron Wolfgang von Strucker and Baron Zemo forge a temporary alliance to...accomplish something. I didn't really follow along very well. Something about Hydra (Strucker's folks) gaining power and Zemo gaining access to research Strucker had acquired that's based on work originally carried out by Zemo's father.

The Avengers first become aware that something's up when the Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man's date is interrupted by an apparently indestructible Dreadnought. Wonder Man is kidnapped. At approximately the same time (I think), the Vault, which used to be a maximum security prison intended for supervillains and is now being modified to house broken/inactive supervillain technology instead, is broken into by Hydra. The Thunderbolts just happen to be in the area, for reasons I can't recall.

Strucker, Zemo, and Techno manage to produce a mindless and obedient super-powered army of creepy golden people. The Avengers and the Thunderbolts have to work together and somehow figure out how to defeat them and foil whatever it is they're planning.

This was published back in 1999 and begins with an editor's note stating that it takes place shortly after the Marvel comic Avengers (Vol. 3) #12. I haven't read an Avengers or Thunderbolts comics in at least 10-15 years, so this information didn't really mean anything to me. What I can say is that it seemed to take place after the Thunderbolts comics I vaguely remembered reading. In the ones I read, the Thunderbolts were still villains under the direction of Baron Zemo, pretending to be superheroes. In this book, the Thunderbolts have been found out and are trying to figure out how to clean up their image, regain people's trust, and become true superheroes, with Hawkeye as their new leader. As far as the Avengers chronology went, the Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man were dating, and there was a bit of tension between them and the Vision.

I've owned this book for ages. Every time I thought about getting rid of it, I felt a burst of vaguely remembered fond feelings for the Thunderbolts and just couldn't do it. Now I've finally read it and...meh.

There was so. Much. Exposition. So much. I don't know if Askegren thought it was a good idea or if Marvel required him to include it, but it bogged things down and still didn't provide me with quite enough information to get a good handle on all the characters, their relationships, and any other relevant background info. I spent a lot of time browsing Wikipedia pages.

There were hints of character relationship info that interested me a lot more than anything Strucker and Zemo were doing: MACH-1's worries about going to prison and leaving Songbird; Moonstone's shadowy motivations; Jolt and Atlas's sibling-like relationship; Hawkeye's empathy for the Thunderbolts; and the tension between Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, and the Vision. But the book wanted to focus on the Avengers and the Thunderbolts vs. Strucker, Zemo, and Techno, so that's what I got.

Even if the things that most interested me had gotten more page-time, I'm not sure how enjoyable they would have been, due to the limited page count and many, many characters. A few people got a little more page-time than others, but I don't think that anyone in particular stood out. Iron Man battled a Dreadnought. Thor stepped in and provided assistance multiple times. Techno and the Vision fought one-on-one. Askegren occasionally reminded readers that Firestar and Justice existed. Jolt worked undercover at a fast food place (it was the only place where they figured a teenager wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb). Captain America spent some time tied up, and Moonstone enjoyed it more than someone who wanted to be seen as a superhero probably should have. Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and Simon (Wonder Man) went on a date at a monster truck rally. As soon as I got my bearings with someone, the narrative switched to someone else.

All in all, this really wasn't for me, and I'm not sure it would have been that much more appealing if I had read it back when I was plowing through my uncle's boxes of comics.


Each chapter begins with a black-and-white illustration. The book ends with a chronological list of Marvel novels and anthologies published by Byron Preiss Multimedia Company and Berkley Boulevard Books between October 1994 and May 1999.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-09-12 00:00
The Blood of the Hydra
The Blood of the Hydra - Michelle Madow The story continues in second book of Elementals. This time their quest will take them to mythical Greek Islands which are very real.
Five witches were chosen to save the world from Titans. In the first book they learned about the prophecy and found Book of Shadows which will now be their guide. In this second book they learn more about the creatures which have come to earth. Also they learn a few things about each other which were very unexpected. But in any case five of them are in this mess together and they must learn to trust each other.
We also get a glimpse into their personal lives. Apart from fantasy, adventure, there is usual teenage drama which makes it all the more fun to read. Blake has broken up with Danielle but Nicole still thinks getting involve with him is not a good idea. Although resisting to act on their mutual attraction to each other will also not be easy. It cannot be denied. Kate happen to have a crush on Chris, who seems to be completely unaware of this fact. The amount of time they all spent with each other, fighting battles together, learning about their world, and what it means to be witches has brought them closer to each other. They are capable of taking care of themselves and the world. But it's important that they stay focused or things might get even more messy.
The book is full of adventure and intrigue. Anyone who has interest in Greek mythology will love it. I certainly did.
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review 2016-05-06 20:58
Review- Captain America: Civil War



After the sloppy, undercooked mess that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War is a gourmet meal that’ll cleanse your palate and leave you wondering when the heck DC’s gonna get their act together. Put it this way: people are still divided about BvS. You either love it or hate it.


No one’s gonna be divided on this movie. It’s everything it needed to be.



It’s been said before and will always be said: the main reason the Marvel movies work is because the audience has had the time to become fully invested in the characters. CA: CW introduces two “new ones”- Black Panther and Spiderman- and you’re brought along for the ride with them. Buckle up.


***MINI-SPOILERS AHEAD*** You know the plot: a year after the destruction of Sokovia in Age of Ultron, the Avengers are viewed as running rampant across the globe. Many of the world governments come together to declare the Avengers are in dire need of supervision… or else. (FYI: this isn’t a new idea; in the comics the Avengers operated under the auspices of the US Government.) For reasons both pragmatic and personal, Stark agrees but along those same veins, Cap doesn’t. Both have valid arguments. As the UN ratifies the Sokovia Accords, a terrorist attack leaves many delegates dead, including the King of Wakanda. Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, is identified as the prime suspect and the hunt for him begins. Bucky professes innocence to Cap, who supports his friend despite the pressure to bring him down and the lines are drawn.


There’s no real twists to this story; you can tell the whole time where it’s headed, but it’s a fun ride all the way. Even the prologue scene is framed so that if you didn’t intuit its significance right off the bat they still handed it to you on a platter almost immediately anyway.


In typical Marvel movie fashion, it’s the subplots and asides that made the movie shine. Scarlet Witch and Vision’s budding relationship, Peter Parker’s conversation with Tony Stark (and Marisa Tomei as a sexy MILF Aunt May!), Steve and Bucky reconnecting, even a seemingly throwaway line by Stark during the climactic fight at the end- all good stuff that put heart and soul into an action movie.


The villian’s arc also helps to sell the story. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy. The same hold true for the bad guys; it matters more when it’s personal and nothing’s gonna change their course. His entire history is inextricably linked to the whole- both the Avengers as well as Hydra- and makes for a good character arc in its own right.


The much anticipated big fight at the airport was surprisingly pretty good. Everyone got their moments to shine in the scene, even Spiderman and Antman making big contributions to the cause. Got a little choppy on the editing, but nothing too distracting.


As for the climactic fight between Bucky, Cap and Shellhead, it was satisfying both emotionally and visually, a dynamo of action and drama that brought the plot full circle.


Not that there aren’t a few warts here. The inciting incident at the beginning was clumsy and kinda dumb; I had a hard time believing anyone, even a rookie like Scarlet Witch, could’ve made a mistake like hurling an explosive device INTO an occupied area, especially when if you let it explode in the air- where it already was- you’d have been fine. But plotwise that was simply the icing on the cake anyway.


I thought T’Challa/Black Panther’s intro could’ve been built up a little more but they did a fine job of his development and juxtaposing him as an almost literal anti-Stark character: similar resources yet different personalities and motives.


The Peter Parker/Spiderman intro scene needed more explaining as to how Tony found him but you can roll with it. Spiderman was everything he should be- an anxious kid in way over his head yet eager to prove himself to the adults, and talking too much the whole time to cover up his nervousness. An excellent addition to the movie.


On a side note the Agent Carter story arc is also wrapped up, and given the ambiguous state of the tv show, it doesn’t look like a good sign.


CA: CW is a great comic book movie and fantastically entertaining. This is one you really need to see, not only for continuity but for the fun of it. 5/5 stars.


One question: how’s Tony calling Spidey ‘Underoos’ when in this world there weren’t any superheroes to make Underoos from…? lol

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review 2016-05-04 00:00
Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra #1
Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra #1 - David Mandel,Michael Walsh,Amanda Conner Hank Johnson is poor schmoe working for HYDRA. This is what he's done when he's not HYDRA-ing.

This is some funny shit, a few days in the life of less than successful HYDRA agent. His wife nags him about getting a job at AIM. His kids go to the Baron Strucker Academy. He gets sexually harassed by Madame Hydra. This is just a sampling of what befalls Hank Johnson.

The art and tone is very reminiscent of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye. If you ever wondered what HYDRA agents did during their down time, you'll enjoy this. Five out of five stars, for what it is.
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review 2016-04-25 12:26
Elementals: The Blood of the Hydra by Michelle Madow
The Blood of the Hydra - Michelle Madow
The Blood of the Hydra starts pretty much where The Prophecy of Shadows left off. Our Elementals are training hard both with their powers, and by fighting without them. Nicole and Blake aren't together, although they both want to be. After fighting a monster, Nicole receives a 'tip' from Apollo on how to read the Book of Shadows. This leads them to making a concoction to coat their weapons with in order to fight the monsters. Of course, nothing is simple, and they have battles to face to get each of the ingredients. 
Book two is written just as good as book one, and continues to set a thrilling and adventurous pace. These characters are well rounded and continue to grow in my affections! I even like Danielle now!! Instead, my animosity moved to Ethan and Rachael, but I'll leave that there to ensure I don't give out any spoilers!
This series just keeps on getting better and better, and I can't wait for the summer when the next book is due out. Highly recommended!
* I received this book from Barclay Publicity / NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review. *
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Source: archaeolibrarianologist.blogspot.de/2016/04/blog-tour-giveaway-elementals-blood-of.html
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