Book Blurbs: January 2021 – Marvel Comics Edition

“Books Blurbs” is a series where I write blurbs about books I have read in the mentioned time frame. I briefly review the books, giving them a rating out of five stars. These posts may contain spoilers. Last year was, to say the least, unconventional. At the start of the pandemic, I told myself I…


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Books Blurbs” is a series where I write blurbs about books I have read in the mentioned time frame. I briefly review the books, giving them a rating out of five stars. These posts may contain spoilers.

Last year was, to say the least, unconventional. At the start of the pandemic, I told myself I would now have so much time to read, which wasn’t wrong. But did I actually read that much? No.

I don’t know what it was, but after the first few months of quarantine, I wasn’t feeling up for reading anymore. So I got into a slump, failing to reach my reading goal last year.

I didn’t want that slump to continue into 2021, though, so I decided to ease back into reading by getting into comics.

I have always been a fan of comics-based superhero movies (in fact, my favorite movie in fourth grade was the 2005 Fantastic Four), and my interest in Marvel has grown significantly during the pandemic. That said, I’ve been getting more curious about the comic narratives the Marvel movies and television shows are based on.

Thanks to a great deal for Marvel Unlimited, I have finally decided to give comics a try.

Naturally, I started with the first Captain America comic because the First Avenger is my favorite superhero.

As a very new comic reader, I do not have a basis on what makes for a good comic. Obviously, they are different than normal books where words tell the whole story, because he illustrations and layout of the scenes play a significant role in the storytelling of the narrative. I’m also not sure how the story structure compares given comic books are often single issues that compose a larger series or volume of work.

Because of this, I’m opting for general thoughts on the comics instead of likes and critiques, which I provide for standard books.

Captain America Comics #1 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

  • Premise: The first-ever issue of Captain America, this comic introduces the hero, detailing his transition from a scrawny kid to the Sentinel of Liberty. But it also includes other smaller stories concerning adventures he has with sidekick Bucky Barnes.
  • Thoughts: It was nice to read this and recognize certain scenes because they were reflected in Captain America: The First Avenger. Seeing Bucky Barnes as Captain America’s kid sidekick was a bit weird for me. But that’s just because I wasn’t aware that how Bucky was originally conceived in the comics, and because I’m so familiar with the adult, childhood friend version in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    Overall, it was an enjoyable read with good visuals but nothing spectacular. Captain America is my favorite superhero, though. So unless there was a really uncompelling and poorly constructed story, I’m sure I’d like most any of his comics.
  • Rating: ★★★★

The Ultimates (2002) Volume 1 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

  • Premise: Much like the Avengers many people are familiar with thanks to the MCU, Nick Fury organizes a team of heroes called the Ultimates to protect the world from threats.
  • Thoughts: This was easily the most compelling of all the comics I’ve read thus far. A lot of elements from The Ultimates are used in the MCU, but there are also a lot of factors that make it drastically different from the movies as well. This made for an interesting read and left me guessing as to whole the narratives would progress. The pop culture references were amusing but got old the further into the issues I got.
    I also did find a couple characters much less likeable than their MCU counterparts, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the publication.
  • Rating: ★★★★1/2

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) Volumes 1 and 2 by Marc Guggenheim

  • Premise: In Volume 1, an old friend of Phil Coulson turns out to be a threat. In Volume 2, S.H.I.E.L.D. gets caught in a civil war between two superheroes.
  • Thoughts: I read these 10 issues within these volumes straight through and didn’t take time to distinguish the volumes from each other, so I decided it’d be better to rate them together.
    I figured this comic wouldn’t be strictly based on the TV show of the same name, so it was nice to see the various ways the comic stayed true to the show of the same name. Most of the characters are familiar, but their interactions and relationships differ. The narratives fell a bit flat at times, particularly early on in Volume 1, but picked up and featured some intriguing surprises. Volume 2 was definitely more entertaining, though.
    When I started reading this, I didn’t realize it was a follow-up to another AoS comic series also based on the show. I’m sure it would’ve helped clarify some things I wondered early on, but ultimately, it didn’t hinder my ability to comprehend it all.
  • Rating: ★★★3/4

Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1982) #1 by Bill Mantlo

  • Premise: Vision and Scarlet Witch begin their lives outside of the Avengers together, moving into their own place on Halloween of all days.
  • Thoughts: With the premiere of WandaVision, I found myself wanting to know more about the two characters’ narratives in the comics, so I figured the first comic focused on them as a tandem would be a good place to start. I especially enjoyed this because of the small amount of Wanda and Vision that has been presented in the MCU thus far.
    They’re already an established couple in this comic and are trying to move on from the Avengers. I enjoyed seeing witchcraft and magic tie in to Scarlet Witch in this issue, especially because it hadn’t quite be acknowledged in the MCU yet.
  • Rating: ★★★★

Guidebook to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Marvel’s Agent Carter Season One by Michael O’Sullivan

  • Premise: This publication provides an overview of the characters, storylines, and other elements that make up Agent Carter season one.
  • Thoughts: I had no clue what to expect from this. I just saw it in Marvel Unlimited’s library and added it to my library, because I’m a big fan of Agent Carter. It provides a good general basis of the television show’s first season. So if you need a refresher on what happened during those eight episodes, this comic provides all the essential information.
    It goes over important characters and elements, detailing how things relate to one another. However, because of this, the information gets very repetitive. But there are some side modules with fun facts that describe how certain things relate back to the comics, which I enjoyed.
  • Rating: ★★★1/2
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