Saturday, February 01, 2020
Marvel's April previews reviewed
JASON AARON (W) • JAVIER GARRÓN (A)
Cover by MATTEO SCALERA
Mummies are rising from their graves. Secret armies march by moonlight, from K’un-Lun to Wakanda to Greenwich Village. A dark god invades Asgard. And the Moon Knight has been unleashed as never before. So begins the Age of Khonshu. So fall the Avengers.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
That strikes me as an awful lot of words to say "The Avengers vs. Mummies," guys. You woulda had me at "Avengers vs. Mummies."
AL EWING & DAN SLOTT (W) • VALERIO SCHITI (A) • Cover by JIM CHEUNG
The Kree and the Skrulls have united under a new emperor – and their war fleet is on a collision course for our world.
On the moon, the Avengers are ready to strike with the full power of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Approaching from outer space, the Fantastic Four are seeking a diplomatic solution.
If the two teams can’t work together to save the day, things can only get worse...
56 pGs./Rated T+...$5.99
I like the Avengers/FF sigil part of the logo for this series. Marvel's space stuff is not a particularly strong suit for me, given that so many of the characters and the prominent storylines seem to have been generated so long before I started paying attention to Marvel comics, or comics in general. That said, Al Ewing and Dan Slott seem to know their way around a comics script okay, and I've enjoyed plenty of work from both of them before, as solo writers and when they were collaborating as parts of writing teams.
It seems like they will be capitalizing on a story point that Allen Heinberg introduced as part of his character Hulkling's origins in his 2005 Young Avengers, which is cool. That was the sort of story seed that I think Heinberg would have gotten to eventually--and probably a good decade or so ago--had he been a traditional comics writer and the title set up as a traditional, ongoing monthly series, rather Heinberg being a TV writer dabbling in mainstream comics and the series pioneering the idea of "seasons" in comic book series.
The problem with this particular crossover event series is the same as all of Marvel's crossover event series. It is just so goddam big, it's structure is somewhat confusing, and, looking at the solicitations here, for example, it's impossible for me to know for sure how to read it. Like, certainly the six-issue series, but then there are two different #0 issues differentiated by subtitles, three-issue character-specific miniseries with varying degrees of importance that won't be clear until after one has read them, one-shots, a handbook...
I see this many comics, and even if I didn't mind paying more than $4 for a single comic book issue with staples, I'd be unsure how to proceed. And so I will wait for the trades...but then you leave it to Marvel to curate the event for you and, well, they're the ones that have come up with this particular publishing strategy. These are the times when I pity retailers, who have to decide things like whether they should order Empyre #0: Avengers and Empyre #0: Fantastic Four as if they were standalone one-shots, which is what they are labeled as, or as if it were really both Empyre #1, and if they should order more of the former than the latter, because Avengers books tend to outsell FF books or...what.
Regarding the size of this thing, I count 10 Empyre-related books this month, ranging in price from $3.99 to $5.99. That seems like an awful lot to me, but then, I counted X-Men titles, and that franchise has 13 books shipping in April, including the launch of a new series, Children of The Atom, so maybe the Empyre event isn't so big after all...or the X-Men franchise is always way too big. I don't know.
EMPYRE: AVENGERS #1 (OF 3)
Jim Zub (W) • Carlos Magno (A) • COVER BY STEVE MCNIVEN
With the threat from the stars now reaching Earth, Captain America sends out the call for heroes to meet its advance across the globe! But in the far–off Antarctic Savage Land, Ka–Zar and the Agents of Wakanda have located an enemy offensive that could change the course of the conflict! Which Avengers will answer the call to this remote area and will they be able to cope with the strangeness they find there?
32 pages/Rated T …$3.99
Not to be confused with Empyre #0: Avengers, which is also the title of a comic Marvel is publishing this month.
DAN SLOTT (W) • SEAN IZAAKSE (A) • Cover by NICK BRADSHAW
With the Fantastic Four neck–deep in the menace in space, who can Powerhouse and Brainstorm call upon to deal with the crisis down on Earth? Only Spider–Man and Wolverine, of course!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
I like these costumes. And Nick Bradshaw.
I am so far behind on Fantastic Four though--I haven't even read Ben's wedding yet--that I fear I may never catch up.
TARAN KILLAM (W) • DIEGO OLORTEGUI (A) • Cover by HUMBERTO RAMOS
Spider–Man has the best rogues’ gallery in comics with the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Kraven, Venom, Carnage and recent additions like Red Goblin, Itsy Bitsy and Kindred.
• But there’s another archenemy of Spider–Man who’s been hiding in plain sight, and only the actions of the Kree/Skrull have brought him to the fore of Spider–Man’s story AND Marvel’s big 2020 event!
32 pages/Rated T …$3.99
I believe there's a gentleman in Gotham City with a much, much better claim on "the best rogues' gallery in comics" (or anywhere, really), and I think the examples listed above make that fact pretty clear (We've got The Green Goblin! And Venom! And a red Venom! And a red Venom plus The Green Goblin!). Spider-Man might have one of the top three best rogues' galleries in comics, I'd say he and The Flash might be tied for second or third (Personally, I think Superman's rogue's gallery is pretty great; you could stop at Luthor, Bizarro and Mr. Mxyzptlk and you've got some of the better comic book concepts for villains, but I don't think Superman's villains have penetrated all that deeply into pop culture consciousness beyond comics and cartoons. Like, Batman villains can support their own Batman-less movies, even if they are terrible; I can't imagine a Bizarro solo movie...I mean, I can imagine it and it's awesome, I just don't see Warner Bros ever actually making one.)
This is the cover to Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling #1, by the way; God I hope there's a checklist or something.
Written by RALPH MACCHIO, GEORGE PÉREZ & MARY JO DUFFY
Penciled by GEORGE PÉREZ, BOB LAYTON, LUKE MCDONNELL
& GIL KANE
Cover by GEORGE PÉREZ
Natasha Romanoff, the deadly Black Widow, showcases her highly particular set of skills as she is put to the test — by S.H.I.E.L.D. itself! As the Widow takes on an army of armored agents, Nick Fury recounts Natasha’s incredible life — from her origins as a Russian secret agent, to her change of heart and alliance with the Avengers! But all the while, Natasha is closing in on identifying the enemy — and soon, she will be targeting S.H.I.E.L.D. for answers! Featuring some of the most sensational Black Widow art ever seen, by the legendary George Pérez! Plus, A backup tale featuring Mowgli, star of The Jungle Book — adapted from a tale by none other than Rudyard Kipling! It’s one of the all–time great Marvel comic books, boldly re–presented in its original form, ads and all! Reprinting MARVEL FANFARE (1982) #10.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
I just wanted to point out the obvious here: That George Perez sure can draw, can't he? This is just one of a veritable slew--a slew, I say!--of Black Widow material, new and old, being published in April, certainly in anticipation of the upcoming movie. I suppose the biggest Black Widow-related news in these solicits is that Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande will be launching a new Black Widow ongoing series, but I pulled this one out rather than that one, because the cover they released with the solicit isn't as nice as the Perez image above (I believe it was by Adam Hughes; there are, of course, lots of cover images. Seven in all.)
RYAN NORTH (W) • NICO LEON (A) • Cover by RYAN STEGMAN
Variant cover by NICO LEON
Variant cover by EDUARD PETROVICH
HIDDEN GEM VARIANT COVER BY TBA
MARVEL ZOMBIES VARIANT COVER BY TBA
Power Pack is back! Katie, Julie, Jack and Alex Power have been super-heroing since they were learning to tie their own shoes. It’s been ages since they fought side by side as a family, but a special occasion — and an old grudge — is about to put the gang back together. There’s just one teeny tiny hiccup: a brand–new law restricting underage super heroes! But surely, if the fate of all New York City is at stake, the powers that be will make an exception? Keep your fingers crossed as the Power siblings fight for their right to save the world!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
Hmm. For some reason, I thought the end of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl meant the end of Ryan North writing Marvel comics, but I guess not. This is just a limited series, though. I am curious to see what a North-written Marvel comic that isn't USG will be like, I confess, as that book was so...particular. Ryan North is a, and I don't use this word lightly, comics genius, so I have to imagine this will be pretty good.
DEVIN GRAYSON (W) • Michele Bandini (A) • Cover by MIKE MCKONE
Devin Grayson, one of the creators of Yelena Belova — the Red Room recruit who once nearly killed Natasha Romanoff — returns with a brand–new story drawn by rising star Michele Bandini! Yelena has spent years trying to figure out who she is. Once she thought the Black Widow mantle was her destiny, but fate had other plans. Now the past is catching up with her — and with Alexi Shostakov, a.k.a. the Red Guardian! Alexi has worn many titles, including husband to Natasha, but while the Widow played her avenging games, the Red Guardian waited in the shadows. Now a new day is dawning — and this time, no one will stand in his way.
40 PGS./ONE–SHOT/ Rated T …$4.99
No offense to Kelly Thompson, but this is the Black Widow project I am most excited about, and the one I'll likely buy off the rack in April, rather than trade-waiting. And that's because it's written by Devin Grayson, one of my favorite Batman writers (and hers was also my favorite Titans run, brief as it was), and seeing her bylines in either the Marvel or DC solicitations these days is a rather rare occassion.