A few weeks back, the Comics Should Be Good blog asked if the Spider-marriage dissolution via pact with the devil to save Aunty May's last year or two of life was a dumb idea, or perhaps the dumbest idea. At the time, it sure seemed like the dumbest idea ever, but has Marvel managed to top it? There's certainly a strong contender in the crop of books they're releasing this March*. Join me as I sift through them, won't you? You can find the full list here, and my commentary on the highlights and lowlights below.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #552
Written by BOB GALE
Pencils & Cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
Variant Cover by ADI GRANOV
BRAND NEW DAY continues with two new web-slingin’ creators: Oscar-nominated screenwriter Bob (Back to the Future) Gale and artist extraordinaire Phil (NEW X-MEN, Infinite Crisis) Jimenez! What starts as a petty theft from a local Soup Kitchen turns into a chase that results in the birth of a brand-freaking-new Spidey villain – and we mean “Freak” literally! Plus: more JJJ! More Daily Bugle – oops, we mean DB! Repercussions from the actions of new villain, Menace! Curt Connors! And – what you’ve really been waiting for, true believer – Peter Parker does his own laundry! Will those stains come out? And what ARE those stains anyway? Find out in “Just Blame Spider-Man!”
Wait, I thought MJ did Spidey’s laundry? At least, that’s what I gathered from that one comiquette.
Captain America as Peter Pan—the worst idea ever?
Actually, if they cast the Grim Reaper as Captain Hook, cast Tigra as Tiger Lily (and call her "Tigra Lily"), Warpath, Wyatt Wingfoot and Thunderbird as her tribe, use Stingray, Namor, Namora and Namorita as mermaids, have a Red Skull Rock...okay, maybe this has a little potential. But a British fairy story character wearing a Captain America costume made out of leaves? Come on now, Cebulski; there are limits to this shit.
Hmm…not really feeling the Sue and Johnny’s short-sleeves there. The FF costumes are so damn hard to tweak and not look wrong, given how classic and iconic their originals are. Other than making them gradually tighter, there’s not a whole lot of changes that have been done to them over the years that seemed right.
Looks like Hitch is getting better with The Thing, who doesn’t look quite so itty bitty on this cover as in the previous month’s.
Confidential to Kaare Andrews: Including the “.com” on your signature kinda ruins the “super-old comic” vibe of the cover. Just saying.
THE LAST DEFENDERS #1 (of 6)
Written by JOE CASEY
Pencils by JIM MUNIZ
Cover by STEVE MCNIVEN
At long last, the team book you've been waiting for! The return of the Defenders! (no trademark infringement here!) And look who's on the team: The mutant Colossus! The sensational She-Hulk! The unpredicatable Blazing Skull! An all-new lineup led by the enigmatic Nighthawk! Injected into the heart of the modern Marvel Universe, the Defenders have been reformed to serve a specific policital purpose...but is there a greater destiny in store for this crew? It's hi-octane superheroics mainlined right into your fanboy brain!
Oh man…The Defenders are by far my favorite Marvel team, but it’s “The Big Four” that make them so. It looks like this is going to be Big Four-less, plus be part of the Initiative, despite the fact that the line-up includes someone who sued and fought Tony Stark over registration, someone who fought against him before changing sides because he was a big pussy, and someone who declared neutrality during the civil war. Huh.
I do like the fact that Casey assembled a team that has some kinda sorta versions of the real Defeders’ Big Four. You’ve got your shiny silver guy, your green goliath and…um…your guy who was alive during World War II? I don’t know, I’ll give it a shot; it can’t be any worse than 2002’s The Order was.
LOGAN #1 (of 3)Written by BRIAN K. VAUGHAN. Art & Cover by EDUARDO RISSO. Superstar artist Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets) joins critically acclaimed writer Brian K. Vaughan (TV's LOST, Y: The Last Man) for a unique take on the man who's the best there is at what he does. Finally armed with long-lost memories from his past, Wolverine returns to one of his first battlefields to settle an old score in an all-new adventure with a shocking revelation about the man known as Logan.
This sounds a lot more like the sort of story I’d expect to see in a book like Wolverine: Origins, which doesn’t ever sound like it ever actually has anything to do with Wolverine’s origins. Still, the last BKV miniseries I read was quite excellent (Dr. Strange: The Oath), and I do like Risso’s art, so I’ll definitely check this issue out.
MARVEL ADVENTURES FANTASTIC FOUR #34
Written by PAUL TOBIN
Penciled by DAVID HAHN
Cover by TOM GRUMMETT
Ahh, Reed Richards. Ever absent-minded. When the Fantastic Four helps to raise money for a block renovation, Reed runs an "I'll fix anything!" booth, and in between putting booster rockets on mopeds and laser cannons in wristwatches, he sort of, you know, accidentally fixes the Mad Thinker's android. Oops. Now it's the Mad Thinker and his Awesome Android versus the Fantastic Four and some toasters. Yeah, I said toasters.
First off, The Mad Thinker’s Awesome Android is —well it’s right there in the name, isn’t it. And the FF vs. toasters? That’s also awesome. But what pushes this from “might want” to “must have” is the artist—David Hahn?! This David Hahn?
MARVEL ADVENTURES IRON MAN #11
Written by Fred Van Lente
Penciled by Graham Nolan
Cover by FRANCIS TSAI
The Living Laser is back, and having merged with the aurora borealis, he's laying waste to the Great White North. Iron Man had better call in the cavalry! Wait, no--the Mounties! No, better yet--Canada's greatest super heroes, ALPHA FLIGHT!
Another MA book with a awesome sounding plot, written by Fred “Totally Wrote Action Philosophers! Which Was Like The Best Comic Ever” Van Lente, and featuring art by the excellent Graham Nolan, one of the most under-appreciated Batman artists of all time? This might be the first month where I buy all the MA books, depending on what’s in Spidey’s book.
MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN #37
Written by MARC SUMERAK
Penciled by ALE GARZA
Cover by SEAN GORDON MURPHY
They say the best defense is a good offense and Peter Parker doesn't find anyone more offensive than Midtown High's biggest bully, Flash Thompson! When Peter starts taking self-defense classes, he figures he can finally stand up to Flash without giving away his secret life as the Amazing Spider-Man. Too bad the Taskmaster has other plans for our webbed wonder...
And Taskmaster vs. Spider-Man in MA Spider-Man this month! Wow, Marvel Adventures is the new Ultimate Universe!
Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING
Penciled by PAUL PELLETIER
Cover by ALEX MALEEV
Rocketing from the pages of ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST, a new story begins, featuring the debut of new cover artist Alex Maleev (HALO: UPRISING) and new interior artist Paul Pelletier (FANTASTIC FOUR)! Nova finally reaches the end of his quest…but will his techno infection take him out before a surprise former fan–favorite guest–star can attempt to save the day? Before the Human Rocket jets back into the pages of CONQUEST, now is the time to jump onboard and find out why ComicPants.com says “this series just keeps getting better.”
Wait, what? New interior artist Paul Pelletier?" No! Pelletier, your Fantastic Four collaborator Dwayne McDuffie needs you on JLoA. I need you on JLoA. Don’t do this to me…!
Written by GARTH ENNIS
Penciled by GORAN PARLOV
Cover by TIM BRADSTREET
“VALLEY FORGE, VALLEY FORGE: THE SLAUGHTER OF A U.S. MARINE GARRISON AND THE BIRTH OF THE PUNISHER,” PART 1
Garth Ennis concludes his seminal run on PUNISHER -- in style. Thirty-five years ago, the Fifth Cavalry disgorged their troops on an isolated Vietnamese hilltop and was met by a scene of utter devastation. The final body count ran to well over seven-hundred -- almost 200 hundred of them American soldiers. Standing alone amidst the carnage, a sole survivor: Captain Frank Castle, who years later would be known as the most fearsome vigilante to walk the Earth: The Punisher. Now the Punisher is about to face his stiffest test: He’s hunted big game in his day, but none as big as this. Five men with unlimited resources. Men who’d put anything between themselves and the Punisher’s bullet. Men who know exactly who he is…and how to fight him.
I haven’t read a single issue of The Punisher since that one arc about the modern sex slave trade—not because it was bad, but simply because every arc had gotten as predictable as clockwork, and were all going to be available in trade anyway—and yet it still sounds like sad news to hear this is Ennis’ last story. I feel sorry for whatever poor sucker has to follow Ennis, just as I felt a little sorry for poor Matt Fraction when he started War Journal.
WAR IS HELL: THE FIRST FLIGHT OF THE PHANTOM EAGLE #1 (of 5)
Written by GARTH ENNIS
Penciled by HOWARD CHAYKIN
Cover by JOHN CASSADAY
Set against the grim backdrop of Word War I, mysterious aviator Karl Kaufmann arrives on the western front dressed outlandishly and at the controls of his own plane. Overconfident and full of romantic ideals, he has come to fight and kill the Hun. But soon Kaufmann confronts staggering loss and witnesses violence on a scale he has never imagined. In the process, he learns the harsh truth of conflict: war is hell. Written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Howard Chaykin.
Unless I’ve miscounted, this makes the number of comics featuring a pilot protagonist set during one of the world wars that Garth Ennis has written an even 1,000.
ULTIMATES 3 #4 (of 5)
Written by JEPH LOEB
Art & Cover by JOE MADUREIRA & christian lichtner
Who rules the Savage Land? Who could possibly challenge Magneto's authority? How about the Ultimates with special guest Wolverine! Plus: back in NYC, the Wasp makes a discovery that will change everything! The most-talked-about series from superstars Jeph Loeb, Joe Madureira and Christian Lichtner charges toward Ultimatum!
The “most-talked-about series from superstars Jeph Loeb, Joe Madureira and Christian Lichtner?” Isn’t this the only series from superstars Jeph Loeb, Joe Madureira and Christian Lichtner?
Well, at least we know Greg Land didn’t use porn for reference material for this particular piece. Or did he? Oh God, what if he did? What kind of crazy porn is that guy into, where people who look like the mad Titan Thanos are involved?
Doesn’t it look like someone threw a wicked razor-sharp boomerang into Colossus’ head in that image?
Kind of looking forward to this one. I don’t think I’ve seen much of the Ultimate X-Men since…well, the last time they were in Ultimate Spider-Man, probably.
And that’s exactly why I haven’t read an Ultimate X-Men comic in ages. Ultimate Onslaught? Ultimate Stryfe With A Y? What has become of you, Ultimate Universe? Where has all your awesome gone?
WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS #1 Written by FRED VAN LENTE. Penciled by ANDREA DI VITO. Cover by SALVADOR ESPIN. Return with us again to the early days of the all-new, all-different, X-Men for all-new solo adventures of Wolverine and Kitty Pryde! The next generation of students has arrived at Xavier's School—Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, and the mysterious Wolverine—and with them, new teaching methods. Professor X pairs up green recruit Kitty Pryde with the been-everywhere, done-everything vet Logan, and neither of them are all that happy about it. But unless they learn to work together, neither of them will come back from their first mission together alive!
Normally I’d make a joke about Wolverine needing another monthly title, but this one is by Van Lente, is supposedly in the vein of Jeff Parker’s X-Men: First Class, and sounds pretty good.
I don’t really get the title, though. I mean it says “next generation of students’ right there; shouldn’t this technically be “Second Class” then? And wouldn’t Wolverine and Kitty be a better title anyway? I mean, even if you don’t know who Kitty Pryde is, it sounds cute, right?
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #10 Written by Jeff Parker. Penciled by CLAYTON HENRY. Cover by John Romita Jr.
“Why’re ya so dang boring?”
“Well…if we give ya a whole issue of First Class, do you promise to be cool?”
It’s always a good sign when the solicitation for a comic itself is funny. Now I wish I wasn’t trade-waiting this series, because this issue has a sweet cover by John Romita Jr.
*Okay, not really. Said dumb idea is actually in a non-continuity, self-contained miniseries, and not part of the main line Marvel Universe.