Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marvel's January previews reviewed

There are only five books that Marvel Entertainment plans to publish in January of next year that will sell for $2.99. Of those, three are non-Marvel Universe books tying in to mass media adaptations of other Marvel comics, and two of those are aimed at kids: Marvel's The Avengers #2, Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors #3 and Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble Season Two #3. Of the the other two, one is She-Hulk, which is publishing it's last issue, and the other is Ms. Marvel.

All of the new books launching in February will carry a $3.99 price tag (or higher, due to higher page-count), so, come February of next year, Ms. Marvel will be the only Marvel comic not tied directly into a cartoon show for kids that isn't $2.99. It's take a few years to get here, but Marvel is now at the point where they've almost completely purged their entire line of $2.99 books.

In theory, DC should be kicking their asses then, but I'm afraid there is a quality gap between the output of the two publishers that makes up for the price gap between the two; that is, DC's advantage of publishing a whole bunch of comics that are as much as 33% cheaper than Marvel's comics is rendered moot by the fact that Marvel seems to publish more higher-quality books.

Of late, DC has launched a few quirkier books that don't look or read like anything else in their line though, so maybe that quality gap is going to be something the publisher becomes conscious of and seeks to close.

On the other hand, the Big Two are basically just multi-media IP farms now anyway, so who really cares?

Aside from us, of course. For Marvel's complete solicitations, click here; for my complete commentary on a handful of those solicitations, scroll down.

ALL-NEW INVADERS #14
JAMES ROBINSON (W) • STEVE PUGH (A/C)
THE RETURN OF TORO!!!
• THOMAS "TORO" RAYMOND emerges from his INHUMAN cocoon with new powers and new enemies. Can JIM HAMMOND, NAMOR and NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA SAM WILSON help their colleague through his dangerous rebirth?
• Will the BRITISH INVADERS UNION JACK and SPITFIRE—along with WINTER SOLDIER—solve the mystery of the MARTIAN INVASION?
• Guest Starring KILLRAVEN and the INHUMANS.
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99


I recently read a trade paperback collection of The Torch re-read Invaders Now, my interest rekindled by All-New Invaders Vol.1.

I was a little surprised by the quite small All-New line-up of just Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Namor and the original Human Torch...plus the original Vision. At the very least, I would have expected to see Toro, who like Cap, Bucky and Torch, is now a man out-of-time...he's actually in worse shape than Cap and Bucky, who have at least been in the present long enough to make friends and find purposes in their lives.

Well, it looks like Toro's finally being introduced to the book, as are Union Jack and Spitfire (the latter two of whom played roles in Invaders Now). I don't know if I like the sound of Toro emerging from an "INHUMAN cocoon with new powers," as I'm not entirely sure what's going on with The Inhumans at the moment (And can a mutant be transformed into an Inhuman, the same way humans can...?).

Also, considering how the first story arc ended—with Cap, Namor and Torch deciding to continue to hang in large part because they like one another's company and forged bonds during World War II—I'm not sure how replacing Steve Rogers with Sam Wilson might effect the series.

I guess I'll find out eventually....


Damn, that's some cover for All-New Ultimates #12, David Nakayama...


ALL-NEW X-MEN #37
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (W) • Mahmud Asrar (A)
Cover by Kris Anka
...
• You know your friends from growing up? The ones you went to high school with, and are to-this-day some of the people who know you best?
• Well, imagine there are only five kids in your high school, and you're all hated and feared by the world around you.
• Sometimes, it's nice to take a step back and realize that what you've been told is your "team" is really something much better—your best friends.
32 PGS./Rated T ...$3.99


So I'm pretty sure that this was the first time I finished reading a solicitation to a comic book and said "Aw" aloud to myself.

Looks like Bobby's reading Ms. Marvel, for what it's worth; he must have spent the $1 he saved by buying it instead of any other Marvel comic on that candy bar.


ANT-MAN #1
NICK SPENCER (w) • RAMON ROSANAS (a)
Cover by Mark Brooks
...
*SHRINKING VARIANT COVER (Numbered) BY Ed McGuinness
• Scott Lang has never exactly been the world's best super hero. Heck, most people don't even think he's been the best ANT-MAN -- and the last guy invented Ultron and joined the Masters of Evil, so that's saying something.
• But when the SUPERIOR IRON MAN calls with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Scott's going to get a chance to turn it all around and be the hero he's always dreamed of being.
• Sure he's been to prison! Sure he's been through a messy divorce! Sure he's been, um... dead. But this time is different! This time nothing is gonna stop the astonishing ANT-MAN!
40 PGS./Rated T+ ...$4.99
*Each variant will be a unique cover with Ant-Man at a different size and each cover will be numbered- Marvel will only produce as many as ordered. Check Marvel.com and upcoming Diamond Daily stories for more information on this special variant.


I don't really get the sad-sack, no-respect tone of the solicitation copy here, given Ant-Man Scott Lang's big-ass victory at the climax of FF. Nor can I really make sense of the...um...creative variant cover scheme mentioned above (and that is, of course, in addition to the four other variant covers).

This is one of those Marvel comics that I'd happily buy in single issue format—I like Nick Spencer a whole lot, and I like Ant-Men, particularly this one after FF—but, given it's price tag (which I assume will shrink to $3.99 with #2), I will likely just wait for the trade. And rather than buy that trade, I'll likely just borrow it from the library. And so Marvel gets no money from me for Ant-Man.


Michael Del Mundo does another fantastic cover for Elektra #10.


MILES MORALES: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #9
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (w)
DAVID MARQUEZ (a/C)
MILES MORALES: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.?
• ‘Nuff said!
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99


Based on everything I've seen about that "Spider-Verse" story so far, I think a SHIELD uniform is about the only costume Spider-Man hasn't worn yet. Give him a black Spidey mask with white eyes, and he's good to go...


A skull-mask to go with your skull shirt? Really, Frank? Jeez, get a pair of pants with a big skull on the crotch and you can be a snowman of skulls...


SHE-HULK #12
CHARLES SOULE (W)
JAVIER PULIDO (A)
Cover by KEVIN WADA
...
BY JAVIER PULIDO
FINAL ISSUE!
• The end of the Blue File...and the end of an era!
• But when one door closes, another one opens, and Jen finds herself face to face with her most important case yet.
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$2.99


Well, that's one way for Soule to lighten his work load...

I'm really sad to see this one go, as it's been great fun so far, and it and the also-cancelled Superior Foes of Spider-Man were the last two Marvel books I was reading serially.


Awesome Silver Surfer cover by Mike Allred.


STAR WARS #1
JASON AARON (W) • JOHN CASSADAY (A/C)
CONNECTING VARIANT COVER A BY J. SCOTT CAMPBELL
TEASER VARIANT COVER BY JOHN CASSADAY
VARIANT COVER BY BOB McLeod
MOVIE VARIANT COVER
VARIANT COVER BY JOE QUESADA
SKETCH VARIANT COVER BY JOE QUESADA
VARIANT COVER BY ALEX ROSS
SKETCH VARIANT COVER BY ALEX ROSS
VARIANT COVER BY SARA PICHELLI
YOUNG VARIANT BY SKOTTIE YOUNG
PARTY VARIANT BY JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER
ACTION FIGURE VARIANT BY TBA
BLANK VARIANT COVER also available
THE GREATEST SPACE ADVENTURE OF ALL TIME RETURNS TO MARVEL!
Luke Skywalker and the ragtag band of rebels fighting against the Galactic Empire are fresh off their biggest victory yet—the destruction of the massive battle station known as the Death Star. But the Empire's not toppled yet! Join Luke along with Princess Leia, smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca, droids C-3PO and R2-D2 and the rest of the Rebel Alliance as they strike out for freedom against the evil forces of Darth Vader and his master, the Emperor. Written by Jason Aaron (Original Sin, Thor: God of Thunder) and with art by John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny Avengers), this is the Star Wars saga as only Marvel Comics could make it!
48 PGS./Rated T ...$4.99


I usually edit out the variant cover info because there's usually a whole bunch of it and also because I hate variants and think they are generally a very bad thing for the comics industry, particularly when they occur as frequently as they do. I just thought I'd leave them in for this one though, just to show how ungodly many of them there actually are on this issue, and to note the fact that I have no idea what things like "Party Variant" or "Teaser Variant" actually mean. Hopefully retailers have that sort of stuff explained to them before they have to order these damn things.

The image up top is the Skottie Young variant which, as far as I can tell at this juncture, is the sole good news to come out of Marvel getting the license back after Dark Horse's super-fruitful stewardship of it over the course of the last few decades.

I'm a little surprised at the particular time in Star Wars history they're covering, if only because that's exactly what the last big Dark Horse series covered (the Brian Wood-written one, also just called Star Wars), it's also the time period that the original Marvel Star Wars comics of the late 1970s and early 1980s covered and I assume that the "expanded universe" novels and suchlike are just lousy with stuff set then, but I could be wrong. While I just re-watched all seven feature films with a friend over the course of the last month or two, and I've been reading some Darth Vader comics (oh, and Dark Times Omnibus Vol. 1, which I didn't write about), I'm extremely inexpert about Star Wars continuity...maybe because I've devoted so much brain-space to that of the DC Universe and chunks of the Marvel Universe.


Wait a minute here. Long blonde hair, beard, shirtlessness, robot arm—Is Thor gradually turning into 1990s Aquaman?



THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1
RYAN NORTH (W) • ERICA HENDERSON (A/C)
Variant Cover by Arthur ADAMS
...
• Wolverine, Deadpool, Doctor Doom, Thanos: There's one hero that's beaten them all—and now she's got her own ongoing series! (Not that she's bragging.)
• That's right, you asked for it, you got it, it's SQUIRREL GIRL! (She's also starting college this semester.)
• It's the start of a brand-new series of adventures starring the nuttiest and most upbeat super hero in the world!
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99


Now this is interesting.

Marvel's been making a very noticeable effort to try new solo series starring female protagonists, some of which have sold surprisingly well (Ms. Marvel) and some of which haven't (She-Hulk). They've also been putting some effort into producing more off-beat series with their own identities (What Andrew Wheeler once memorably referred to as the "Hawkeyezation" of Marvel's solo titles at Comics Alliance).

This looks like it could fit into both categories, although if you look at the art style of artist Erica Henderson and note the name of the writer, this book seems to be almost a direct answer to he success of Boom Studios' Lumberjanes and other popular-with-everybody-books (North, after all, has been writing Boom's Adventure Time).

Also of note? Squirrel Girl is noticeably less Barbie doll in appearance, even in Arthur Adams variant cover, than she has been typically depicted.

I'm not crazy about the adjective in the title, since "Squirrel Girl" is such a perfect name for a character as is, and I actively hate the $4 price tag, the latter of which puts this in "Maybe check it out in trade if the reviews are good" category rather than something I'd read serially via pull-list.


UNCANNY AVENGERS #1
RICK REMENDER (w) • DANIEL ACUñA (a/C)
...
COUNTER-EVOLUTIONARY PART 1
• From the ashes of AXIS an all-new, all different Avengers assemble!
• The tragedy at the end of AXIS has left the Uncanny Avengers vulnerable, and someone is taking advantage of it.
• One of the Avengers oldest foes returns with a terrible secret that will, all hyperbole aside, shatter the lives of two members of the squad.
• What is Counter-Earth? What terrible secrets does it house?
32 PGS./Rated T ...$3.99


Well, it's not an all-new, all different Avengers line-up—Rogue and Scarlet Witch are still there. The concept of the "Avengers Unity Squad" seems somewhat muddied by the presence of Brother Voodoo, who was neither Avenger nor X-Men (or was he Avenger for, like, seven issues somewhere during the Bendis run...?), and without long-time, original line-up Avengers Wasp, Thor and Steve Rogers, and mutant revolutionary Scott Summers' brother Alex, the premise of the original series seems to shifting quite a bit.

But, having no idea what actually will happen in Axis, there might be a very, very good reason for that shift.

Not fond of the costumes, although everyone's certainly worn worse in the past. Rogue's hood-but-exposed cleavage never quite seemed right to me, like she's trying to hide her face and show off her boobs simultaneously. But it's just a single issue, and might include a zipper I can't see that Acuna just happened to draw more down than up.


UNCANNY X-MEN #30 & 31
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (W) • Chris Bachalo (A)
COVERS BY Kris Anka
ISSUE #30 - WELCOME HOME VARIANT COVER BY TBA
Issue #30 -
In the fallout from AXIS, the Uncanny X-Men return to the Xavier school to lick their battle wounds. But for some, the events that transpired may have left a deeper wound than anyone realizes. Wounds heal, but sometimes the scars become too much to bear, and the ruby glasses come off.
Issue #31 -
As the fallout from AXIS continues, the Uncanny X-Men seem to be searching for an identity. Viewed as terrorists by some...as revolutionaries by others...as teachers by their students. If odd ones at that. But some don't see the grey. For those whose world is black and white, the wrongs will add up...and they will see RED.
32 PGS. (EACH)/Rated T+ ...$3.99 (EACH)


Wow, that is some particularly, noticeably terrible writing in the solicitation copy for these books. The last sentences of each made me laugh out loud. Particularly that last sentence for #30, which has way too many metaphors going on.

...

Although one of the characters in the book literally wears ruby glasses, like actual glasses made of actual ruby quartz, so I guess maybe that's not meant to be a metaphor at all, nor is the bit about seeing red in the copy for #31...?


X-MEN #23
G. WILLOW WILSON (w) • TBA (a)
Cover by TERRY DODSON
"THE BURNING WORLD" PART 1!
• The start of a brand new story penned by MS. MARVEL creator G. WILLOW WILSON!
• When a sinkhole appears under mysterious circumstances in the middle of the Black Rock Desert, the X-Men go to investigate...
• But little do they suspect that the phenomenon has connections to old allies...and enemies!
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99


Hey, check it out! That all-female X-Men team book that everyone was so excited about when it launched (but was actually super terrible), the one that was written by creepy old Brian Wood, is now going to be written by a woman. That's cool; Wilson's solo writing has been hit-or-miss for me (I haven't read Ms. Marvel yet), but Wood's run so bad, I can't imagine she could do much worse if she tried.

Oh, and hey, maybe it will have a female artist too, as it doesn't look like they've figured out who's drawing it yet. Better hurry guys; January's only a couple months away. Need ideas? Ask Janelle.

6 comments:

Evan Dawson-Baglien said...

It's been announced that the new Star Wars trilogy that's starting next year will completely ignore the massive and labyrinthine continuity of the Expanded Universe. I imagine that Marvel's new Star Wars comic is the start of a new rebooted Expanded Universe that's continuity will be in line with the new Star Wars movies.

Michael Hoskin said...

Caleb, did you see in the IDW solicitations that there's a Popeye Classics issue with a Steve Mannion variant cover? Talk about an unlikely collision between two of your interests!

Rev'd '76 said...

Toro!! The nostalgia bug bit me and I bought the John Byrne Namor run. Those are some DAMN fine comix.

Bram said...

Hopefully retailers have that sort of stuff explained to them before they have to order these damn things.

No, retailers don't get any more info than the general public. Unless, by the print version of Previews there's more specifics, comic shops are generally just as baffled.

About a month out from release date there's "FOC" (Final Order Cutoff), which allows retailers to make last-minute adjustments to quantities; by that point, sometimes previews are available for a book and reviews are circulating.

It's not like shops wind up with any secret knowledge to help make ordering decisions.

Caleb said...

Evan,

I had heard the new movies would ignore the non-movie continuity (and would likely HAVE to, as, like, pretty much every minute of Luke, Leia, Han and company's life has been dramatized in some fashion or another by this point, right?). I can't imagine Marvel KNOWS what's going on in the new movie though, so I assume they'll just be working or re-working the between New Hope and Empire territory...and I imagine they'll feel free to contradict stuff from previous comics and media. I'm assuming they'll be going an Ultimate or New 52 route, but I guess we'll see.

Michael,

I have now! Thanks. IDW's had some great, and often unexpected, artists do those variants. I never see 'em in my shop though, so I assume they're incentive variants or...something.

Bram,

Yikes. So only Marvel knows what, like, a "Welcome Home" variant is...?

Bram said...

@Caleb

I'm sure more details will come out about variants, and more specifics once the order comes due — but retailers don't get any extra info or advance notice, and are taken by surprise plenty.