Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Marvel's December previews reviewed

So this month Marvel’s doing that annoying little thing they seem to do after their big crossovers these days, in which they temporarily redact their previews, so as not to “spoil” the ending of their current rotten storyline.

I personally find it kind of amusing that Marvel does this, that they think the ending of Secret Invasion is so important that no one should even be teased about what it might be, and that no one bothers to write something totally generic, like, I don’t know, “The Invasion is over, but its ultimate ramifications are just beginningg to be felt. It’s a shocking new status quo for Iron Man and the whole Marvel Universe in this can’t-miss issue” or whatever for Invincible Iron Man But then, maybe that’s the point: By simply saying that they can’t say anything, they advertise the big-ness of these issues.

I can see how this would be awfully annoying to a retailer, however, as they have to order these silly things, and that usually means a degree of gauging and guestimating the interest of their readers, based on what they know about the market they serve and what they know about the products they’re selling. Should Secret Invasion: Dark Reign be ordered as if it were Secret Invasion #9, or Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust #2? And for retailers who factor in readers with pull-lists into their ordering, these info is also unavailable to the readers.

From where I sit, this seems like a pretty shitty business practice on Marvel’s part, but I’m not a retailer or a Marvel exec, so I’m just really shooting my uninformed mouth off (If these “classified” books are returnable, unlike the majority of Marvel and DC releases, then maybe it’s not so bad, for example).

And if retailers really do get upset about this practice, it doesn’t seem to have been upset enough to capture Marvel’s attention, as they did the same thing after Civil War and, to a smaller degree, after the Spider-Man franchise re-boot and World War Hulk.

You can see what I’m talking about (and the rest of the Marvel solicits for December) by clicking here. It looks like there are eight books with the “These solicits are classified until the release of Secret Invasion #8” in place of the normal solicitation, so all retailers and readers have to go on are the titles and the creators (although in the case of one listing, Secret Invasion: Requiem, that title is followed by a note reading that the title itself isn’t final, and no creators are listed).

Given some of those titles, Secret Invasion: Dark Reign and Dark Reign: New Nation, it sounds like the war doesn’t actually end, and that a Skrull presence remains on earth afterwards, whether secretly or not. The regular titles affected are the Avengers related ones (The two Bendis-written books, Initiative, Ms. Marvel, Iron Man).

Anyway, here are the best and worst-looking Marvel books that aren’t top-secret…

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #579 Written by MARK WAID. Pencils & Cover by MARCOS MARTIN. Villain Variant by TBA. We have excess of extra “M”s so: This month starts with a mountain of massively malevolent mayhem from the minds of Mark Waid (52, CAPTAIN AMERICA) and Marcos Martin (DR. STRANGE: THE OATH). With Spidey trapped underground, the Web-Head learns more about the surprising new cast-member who promises to cause trouble for him and his old pall JJJ.

Marcos Martin returns! I’m excited to see him doing another issue on a high-profile Marvel book, and will probably get this, but I kinda wish they could find something more important for him to do beyond illustrate chapters of the almost-weekly Spider-Man soap opera.

Oh, and note the phrase “Villain Variant” above. Apparently that’s the new monkey variant, which was itself the new zombie variant.

The downside of Ross’ photorealistic painting style is that when it’s applied to characters whose costumes don’t really make sense outside of a 2D, cartoony drawing, it underscores how silly said costumes really are.

For example, bare-assed Ms. Marvel.

Wow, Hulk only had to shoulder four letters, but Cable’s doing five. Does this mean that, contrary to Hulk’s assertion, it’s actually Cable who is the strongest one there is?

FANTASTIC FOUR COSMIC SPECIAL Cover by MATT. To be revealed at a later date. Check back to Marvel.com, the Marvel Mailer & Diamond Daily for more information. 64 PGS./Rated A ...$4.99

Hmm…this one’s curious. No creators attached, and no information given, but it’s not given in a different way than the info not given in the Avengers/Secret Invasion books. BUT! Could this be because it does tie-in to the the end of Secret Invasion so strongly that Marvel is afraid to even group it with the other titles? The name of the jpg for the cover is "ffinvcov.jpg"..."inv" for Invasion? Is this a clue?

It’s a pretty big book—page count and price—to be solicited with no info like that, though…

MARVEL ADVENTURES THE AVENGERS #31 Written by PAUL TOBIN. Penciled by DAVID HAHN. Cover by CLAYTON HENRY. Good Things Come to Those Who Bait! With the Avengers vacationing on the sunny California beaches, Tigra hopes to finally conquer her fear of water, but things go sour when Iron Man challenges Luke Cage to a deep sea fishing contest and the two of them, ahem, bend the rules a bit. Iron Man sends a sonar pulse to stir up the really big fish, unfortunately rousing not only a monster from the deep, but also one seriously angry Prince of Atlantis...Namor, the Sub-Mariner! Lucky the Avengers brought the Hulk along! It's the slugfest to end all slugfests, and it does nothing to help Tigra's fear of water!

David Hahn draws the Avengers? The debut of Marvel Adventures Luke Cage? And Namor vs. Hulk?! All in the same comic book?! Sounds like December’s issue of Incredible Hercules, the Ant-Man spotlight issue of Marvel Adventures Hero and the Machine Man vs. the Marvel Zombies mayhem of Marvel Zombies 3 will have some serious competition for best book of the month…

PUNISHER: WAR ZONE #1-4 (of 6) Written by GARTH ENNIS. Pencils & Cover by STEVE DILLON. Variant Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR. “THE RESURRECTION OF MA GNUCCI,” PART 1. The latest offering from the red-hot Marvel Knights line reunites the seminal creative team of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon for a special, weekly-shipping 6-part limited sequel to their legendary story arc, “Welcome Back, Frank.” It all starts when two mobsters take a trip to the zoo and piss off the wrong monkey. Limbs are lost (the kind you can’t easily replace), vultures are fed (with said appendages), and then things get, like, really crazy. Like back-from-the-dead crazy. That’s right -- she’s back and she wants payback. Ma Gnucci. Eighty-five pounds of hairless, armless, legless evil.

Well, Ennis’ break from Frank Castle sure didn’t last long.

I may be in the minority, but I always preferred Ennis’ funny Punisher to his serious one, so I’m really looking forward to this—as well as to the weekly schedule. I’m curious to see how that goes. DC’s made me a fan of the weekly comic format in general, and I’d really like to see it expanded into other iterations (i.e. something other than an annual, 52-part story).

WHAT IF? HOUSE OF M Written by BRIAN REED, JIM MCCANN & C.B. CEBULSKI. Penciled by PAOLO PANTALENA & PATRICK SPAZIANTE. Cover by JIM CHEUNG & MARKO DJURDJEVIC. We all remember when the Scarlet Witch uttered the three words that would change the landscape of the Marvel Universe: “No More Mutants!” But what if she said something different? And what of the consequences...? In a world without great power, who bears the burden of responsibility? Who will stand up to an enemy who fills the vacuum of power and whose hatred is unparalleled? Brian Reed (SECRET INVASION: FRONT LINE) with Marvel's own Jim McCann and brand-spankin’ new artist Paolo Pantalena answer the question: "What if Scarlet Witch had ended the HOUSE OF M by saying "NO MORE POWERS!" Also featuring Part 1 of a special five part back-up story in all the What Ifs this year, in which we see Iron Lad take a different path that leads him to recruit a different set of future Avengers. Join C.B. Cebulski (X-MEN: DIVIDED WE STAND, LONERS) and Patrick Spaziante (MUTIES, Sonic The Hedgehog) as they ask, 'What if the Runaways Became the Young Avengers?'

The question is, "What if Scarlet Witch had ended the HOUSE OF M by saying "NO MORE POWERS!” ? Um, well if it’s anything like what happened in the original version when she said “No more mutants,” then all of the superheroes who aren’t currently featured in a comic book will lose their superpowers, while the popular characters with books of their own will carry on as normal.

Of this year’s batch of What If? specials, the only one I’m really interested in is the one that’s been split up into five parts and is running as the back-up in each of the specials, “What If The Runaways Became the Young Avengers?”

Maybe they’ll collect that as a stand-alone reprint at some point…?

WOLVERINE: ORIGINS VOL. 5 - DEADPOOL TPB Written by DANIEL WAY. Penciled by STEVE DILLON & STEPHEN SEGOVIA. Cover by SIMONE BIANCHI. Marvel’s two deadliest fighters go head-to-head in a battle to the finish! Two men, both products of the Weapon X program, both highly trained killers. One claims to be the best he is at what he does, though what he does isn’t very nice — but the other is the Merc with a Mouth, and he might just have something to say about that claim! It’s Deadpool vs. Wolverine, no quarter asked or given! But when both men can regenerate virtually any wound in a matter of moments, just how does either man expect to finish off his foe? And whoever wins will have to face down Daken, Wolverine’s murderous son, who has a healing factor and aptitude for killing to match them both! Collecting WOLVERINE: ORIGINS #21-27.

Has anyone out there read this? I remember seeing a lot of pretty positive reviews as it was coming out, and Tucker Stone spoke kinda highly of it this week, so I’m curious about it.

Maybe even more curious than I am eager to avoid anything containing “Daken, Wolverine’s murderous son.”

X-INFERNUS #1 (of 4) Written by C.B. CEBULSKI. Penciled by GIUSEPPI CAMUNCOLI. Cover by DAVID FINCH. Variant Cover by J. SCOTT CAMPBELL. The X-Men promise to make this one of the hottest winters ever! When last we saw Darkchylde, she had claimed the throne of Limbo as her own. And now she’s determined to get her soul back, even if she has to conquer Earth in the process. Can the combined forces of the X-Men stop her rampage? They’ll have to fight through every demon in Limbo to try.

I’m sorry, I can’t even attempt a joke that would be as funny as that cover actually already is. Kevin Church, who is apparently more familiar with the X-Men than I, made one though, and it really kinda freaks me out, since he identifies the devil woman above as Illyana Rasputina.

That’s Illyana up there? Colossus’ little sister Illyana? Whom he used to bellow about half the time in the old, crappy ‘90s X-Men cartoon? Now she’s a grown-up naked lady with devil horns and shins and a tail that doesn’t seem attached quite right? And is her name “Darkchylde” spelled funny? Am I understanding all this correctly? Please tell me I’m mistaken!


tomorrowboy 2.5 said...

In the '80s Illyana got trapped in a demon filled limbo dimension. While only a second passed for the other x-men, she was there for like 8 years or something (after being raised by Belasco and a witchy parallel universe Storm for various periods of time). She came back and looked normal most of the time, but had magic powers.
During Inferno and some other stuff (I think) she'd turn into a demon thing.
She's been showing up in uhm, new x-men or something for the last couple of years I think.

But really, you should avoid this (and the What if Runaway) because they are written by C.B. Cebulski, who wrote the terrible, terrible The Loners series a couple of years back.

Baal said...

I disagree about avoiding this since I thought the Loners series was pretty good. Not Young Avengers good but I enjoyed more than I ever have Runaways.

And this cover seems to be based off of Brett Blevins take on the Darkchylde persona from his time on New Mutants.

Tucker Stone said...

Honestly, if you just skip the entire Daken portion of the book, which, if i remember correctly, only makes up a bit of pointlessness in the last issue, then yeah, the Wolverine Origins thing is pretty snazzy. I don't know why Way is playing the regular series out the way he is--less funny, less gutsy and more banal overall--but it doesn't shame the majority of that trade. Of course, it helps that it's Steve Dillon, who i'm an unapologetic fan of.

Mory said...

I don't understand the hidden solicitation thing. Are the specific details of the plot really important? What the retailers need to know is how it fits into the market, and that can be said without mentioning plot details at all. To take the post-Civil War stories, for instance: You could say Civil War: The Initiative was three short teases for the new status quo, you could say The Confession was a character-driven coda about Iron Man and Captain America, you could say the Iron Man series starts a new long-term direction for the book, etc. Spoilers have nothing to do with what retailers need to know to sell the books.

Phillyradiogeek said...

And just what is wrong with a bare-assed Ms. Marvel, may I ask?

SallyP said...

I have to admit that I'm looking forward to the Garth Ennis Punisher story. Maybe it will have polar bears!

For the love of God, Secret Invasion goes to December? Will this atrocity never end?

John Foley said...

You think Secret Invasion goes on for too long? What about Avengers/Invaders? They're dragging that one out to 12 freaking issues?

I'm sure I've seen drawings of Ms. Marvel where her buttcheeks were actually covered up, yet she was still wearing the bathing suit costume. It can't be that difficult to do.

Ryan said...

Ah, but you see, Cable's extra letter is a vowel, and as we all know, giant stone vowels are weightless. It's the consonants you have to watch out for.

Riddering said...

Ms. Marvel's costume is usually in the same clothing category as Wonder Woman and Power Girl's. However, that Alex Ross cover makes it look like she's only wearing a top. What happened below the waist, Ross?

It's, dare I say, worse than Benes.

Tracer Bullet said...

Yep, that's our Little Snowflake. I'm mostly curious about she actually stands and walks on those legs. She must be ten feet tall. How does she keep her balance with all her weight so far in front of her feet? It's like she's got demon thighs attached where her lower legs should be. That must put tremendous strain on her knees. Can one get knee replacement surgery in the underworld?