Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Marvel's December previews reviewed
Aside form that, apparently the dead Jean Grey, last killed off at the climax of Grant Morrison's millennial run on New X-Men, back when the previous Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada was taking his "dead means dead" pledge pretty seriously, is coming back in December, so that gave the publisher all the excuse they needed for that particular variant covers scheme.
It is, of course, just one of many variant cover schemes they've got going on. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, for example, will publish its 27th issue in December, and yet that issue will have four different variants attached (although, oddly enough, not a Phoenix one).
If the publisher has been making moves to de-clutter the more overstuffed franchises within their line, as we discussed the other day, they certainly aren't giving up on the sales-through-variants strategy.
Other than that, it seems like a fairly quiet month, with a limited-to-the-Spider-Man-franchise crossover going on and the launch of a rather unexpected X-Men comic from the Hip Hop Family Tree cartoonist that I expect to be very well read by comics readers in general, and very poorly sold in the direct market.
Anyway, here's what jumped out at me...
I think so.
Say, has J. Jonah Jameson ever been possessed by the Venom symbiote? That really should have happened in an issue of What If...? at some point, right? What If...The Venom Symbiote had Possessed J. Jonah Jameson? Like, he finds a new black tie that makes him feel really strong, and confident and powerful, and starts editing the fuck out of the Daily Bugle, until the tie gradually takes over his mind and his life...?
Written by BEN DUNN, UDON, ADAM WARREN, PETER DAVID, KAARE ANDREWS, C.B. CEBULSKI, KEVIN GUNSTONE & MORE
Penciled by BEN DUNN, UDON, CHUCK AUSTEN, LEA HERNANDEZ, KAARE ANDREWS & MORE
Cover by BEN DUNN
East meets West as your favorite heroes are reimagined in hyper-kinetic style! It’s a new dawn as the Marvel Universe emerges like never before. Brace yourself for a kaiju-esque Hulk and a mecha-style Iron Man! Plus: Versions of the Avengers, Spider-Man, Punisher, Ghost Rider, the X-Men and more unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! The excitement only builds with a fresh take on the Galactus saga! Can the Fantastic Four and friends save the day, or are they destined to meet their Doom?! Make yours Marvel manga!
Collecting MARVEL MANGAVERSE #1-6 and MARVEL MANGAVERSE: NEW DAWN, AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, FANTASTIC FOUR, GHOST RIDERS, PUNISHER, SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN and ETERNITY TWILIGHT.
392 PGS./Rated T+ …$34.99 • ISBN: 978-1-302-90765-5
This was a weird project, which only looks weirder in retrospect--seriously, I just completed a very long reorganization of my comics midden, and I ran across a cover with what looked like furry versions of T'Challa and Tigra on it, and I was like, "What the fuck even is this...?
It was produced in 2000, which was around a creative high-point in Marvel publishing history, at least in terms of trying crazy new things. Reading that first suite of books, there was a rather palpable tension to it; you could see that someone very high up at Marvel had said, "Hey, the kids seem to like the mangas and the animes these days; can we get in on it?" and the people below that person had varying degrees of expertise with real manga in the wild.
And so various Marvel characters were assigned various analogues or tropes, some of them extremely specific (with Doctor Strange borrowing his hairstyle from Osama Tezuka's Black Jack, for example), much less so, with The Hulk being turned into basically just Godzilla, and The Avengers into a Voltron-like team piloting ships that combined to form Iron Man (Giving a new meaning to the "Avengers Assemble!" battle cry).
If you look at that list of creators, there are some who were very obviously deeply steeped in manga, like Ben Dunn and Adam Warren, and who had producing popular work for North American audiences inspired by manga for years, as well as creators who were heavily influenced by manga like Kaare Andrews, Lea Hernandez and the artists of Udon studio. And then there are long-time American superhero creators like Peter David in there, and some genuine outliers who don't really fit neatly into those categories.
I confess to liking some of those original ones a lot more than others, but even the ones I liked least tended to be interesting in a, "Well, this is kind of insane" way, like David and Hernandez's "What if The Punisher....were a Japanese school girl?" take.
A $35/400-page book is a big ask for the merely curious, and I suppose a lot of these individual issues won't be too hard to track down in single issues, but overall the Marvel Mangaverse has the EDILW seal of approval, for whatever that's worth (not much!), and I'm actually looking forward to revisiting it in this format. I'm fairly certain I didn't read everything collected in, and I'm curious to read it now that I have an additional 17 years worth of familiarity with manga to call upon when reading it.
As big as it is, it doesn't look like it's completely complete though, as I don't see a mention of Spider-Man: Legend of The Spider Clan (Kaare Andrews, Skottie Young and Khary Randolph's 2002 mini-series) or X-Men: Ronin (J. Torres and Makoto Nakatsuka's 2003 miniseries).
But if you want the very best Marvel-related manga project? You have to look beyond Marvel Comics/Entertainment to Raina Telgemeir, Dave Roman and Anzu's 2009 X-Men: Misfits, published by Del Rey as a black-and-white tankobon (It has my favorite Beast and Colossus designs of all time in it).
CHIP ZDARSKY (W) • JIM CHEUNG (A/C)
THE FOUR ARE NO MORE, SO TWO MUST DO! Something is very wrong with THE HUMAN TORCH and only THE THING can help him! It’s the Marvel Universe reunion you’ve all been waiting for (well, HALF of it, at least!). Plus: What monumental secret has DOOM been hiding since the end of SECRET WARS, and how will it completely change the lives of Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
So Marvel's current plan for the Fantastic Four has been to cancel the book and let the characters "rest"...or at least to let the duller half of the FF, Reed Richards and Sue Richards, rest, having The Thing hanging out with The Guardians of The Galaxy (which, conceptually at least, sounds like it would work; I only read maybe a trade's worth of GOTG comics with Thing in them), and The Human Torch with the Inhumans (which sounds a little more forced, despite The Inhumans original status as spin-offs from Fantastic Four, and Johnny's long-time relationship with Crystal).
Now it appears the fun half of the FF are reuniting for this title, which has a pretty interesting creative team, given Zdarsky's propensity for comedy (and ability to make that comedy sometimes somewhat poignant) and Cheung, a very "straight" comics artist who I wouldn't expect to be a good fit for Zdarsky...or at least the Zdarsky whose Marvel comics I have read so far. In fact, seeing the pair work together, and on these particular characters, actually makes me pretty intensely curious about this book.
I don't know if this means Marvel has figured out what they want to do with the FF exactly now, and this is the first step towards their return, or if this is simply a new way to keep the Thing and Torch in circulation while they figure it out, but, honestly, Zdarsky seems like he might be a good fit for that particular franchise (the market, which seems to reject every attempt at FF revivals, may disagree, of course).
If Marvel is still looking for ideas for what to do with the FF, I had one while reading the excellent Ghost Rider: Four on the Floor.
Just do this--
Oh, and put them in team uniforms too, okay? I think that looks cool.
You know, Galactus' original color scheme wasn't exactly one a lot of people could pull off, but it has certainly become an integral aspect of his rather iconic look over the decades. This new one just looks kind of...wrong to me, for some reason.
Oh, that's the cover to Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #26, by the way. You will note a rather distinct lack of Devil Dinosaur on the cover.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG (W) • Leinil Yu (A/C)
THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY Part 1
She will return, like a Phoenix from the ashes. Years ago, Jean Grey died and the X-Men mourned her. Since then, the world has changed, her teammates have lived without her and died without her. And now, when strange events start happening all over the world, those teammates can only come to one conclusion – the one true Jean Grey is back!
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99
I find that title, with the word "adult" in parentheses to distinguish this particular Jean Grey from the somewhat younger Jean Grey who has been running around the Marvel Universe for a couple of years kind of hilarious.
I hope that when Wolverine returns, it's in something with an even more laborious title, like Logan ReXcarnation: The Return Of Wolverine (Not The Old Man Version Or The Young One From The Ultimate Universe, But The Other One).
DONNY CATES (W) • GEOFF SHAW (A)
Cover by Geoff Shaw
Phoenix Variant Cover by RAHZZAH
THANOS WINS Part 2
Thanos has journeyed to the end of time to the moment of his complete victory…and he’s not happy with what he sees! Writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw (God Country) continue the tale of the Mad Titan’s biggest glory and ultimate shame!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99
No idea what's going on here, and who that particular Ghost Rider is, but I kinda dig his space-bike. It's an intriguing concept for a space motorcycle. The space motorcycles I see most often are generally the varieties that Lobo drives, and they just forego wheels, rather than using some sort of sphere of energy in place of a wheel.
RYAN NORTH (W) • ERICA HENDERSON (A/C)
LH Variant Cover by VERONICA FISH
Legacy Headshot Variant Cover by MIKE MCKONE
Variant Cover by Michael & Laura Allred
Trading Card Variant Cover by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER
THE FORBIDDEN PLA-NUT Part 1
What happens when we take Squirrel Girl back to her roots? Well, we shoot her into space, OBVIOUSLY. Nancy and Tippy find themselves on an alien world where all is not what it seems. Squirrel Girl needs to find a way to get to the other side of the universe to save ’em, STAT. Intergalactic transport through the cosmic realm? This sounds like a job for the Sorcerer Supreme! I’m sure Doctor Strange will be happy to he – I’m sorry, what’s that? Doctor Strange is gone and now LOKI is Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme? Oh. Well, I’m sure he’ll do his best. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Guess what, in this issue, everything possible goes wrong! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
Okay, see this is one reason why I prefer to trade-wait certain series...How could I possibly choose one from among all of those great covers? Why should I try, when they will all be available in the trade collection...?
DAN SLOTT & MIKE COSTA (W) • RYAN STEGMAN (A/C)
VENOM INC. Part 1
Peter Parker, Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson have one major thing in common – the Venom symbiote changed all of their lives. The inky black alien life-form is doubling down on our heroes – and they’re not the only ones about to be put through the ringer. VENOM INC. kicks off here and rolls into AMAZING SPIDER-MAN & VENOM as a familiar face rises to new levels of villainy!
40 PGS./ONE-SHOT/Rated T …$4.99
I kind of love how complicated the title is for this particular comic book, whatever the heck Venom Inc ends up being, and the fact that Marvel deigned give it both the word Alpha and a #1, because I'm pretty, pretty sure there's not going to be an Amazing Spider-Man/Venom: Venom Inc. Alpha #2 (Although there may be an Amazing Spider-Man/Venom: Venom Inc. Omega #1).
ED PISKOR (W) • ED PISKOR (A/C)
CORNER BOX Variant Cover by ED PISKOR
Character Variant Cover by ED PISKOR
From Eisner award-winning creator Ed Piskor (Hip-Hop Family Tree) comes a thrilling new series chronicling all of X-Men history! X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN stitches together the most important moments in mutant history, creating a comprehensive narrative celebrating the X-Men’s past, present, and future. The first in a trilogy, GRAND DESIGN returns to Charles Xavier’s assembly of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel, and Beast! A must for fans looking to brush up on their X-Men lore or as jumping-on point for Marvel’s merry mutants.
48 PGS./Rated T+ …$5.99
Hip-Hop Family Tree and Wizzywig cartoonist Ed Piskor gets to do whatever he wants with the X-Men, which seems like a pretty good idea for a comic book series. Marvel really should do more of these sorts of "Hey, Extremely Talented Cartoonist, want to play with out characters and let us publish the results in exchange for money?" projects.
I have no idea if it will be an actually good comic book or not, but I know this is the first time I'm excited about reading and X-Men comics in...well, since Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely were on New X-Men, I guess.
Please note that this series will also have multiple covers--it looks like two variants, in addition to the "regular" cover--but Piskor is drawing all of them himself.