By Jon Durmin
Ahoy there true believers! We’ve got a month of Secret Wars behind us now and maybe you’ve found a new book or two set on Battleworld to enjoy in the month of May. If not, never fear. There’s a whole slew of additional Battleworld titles premiering in June. As we took a look at what lay before us at the end of April, we’ll start the summer with a survey of the sizzling new series you’ll be seeing soon.
(Also, sincere apologies for the tardiness of this piece. I tried, tried, tried as hard as I could, but between final exams, last minute wedding planning, a whirlwind weekend of events, and high-flying honeymoon adventures I just wasn’t able to get this forecast finished for Jarid and Darrin in time to beat our June 3rd releases. There’s still a whole month of new titles to explore! If you weren’t feeling quite sure about something on the 3rd, take a look at our thoughts, and check things out later this month.)
What we know: In King James England, the realm of Neil Gaiman’s 1602 series, new Marvel resident (and Gaiman creation) Angela (or the 1602 version of her . . . DOUBLE-GAIMAN!) is a witch hunter. But her hunt for the witchbreed (1602 mutants) is at an end. Is she prepared for the challenges facing her as she faces the devilish forces known as the “Faustians”!?!
Pros: We’re getting a series dedicated to the 1602 corner of the Battleworld which fans of that series should appreciate. Co-authors Kieron Gillen & Marguerite Bennett have been penning the Angela: Asgard’s Assassin series since its inception and are carrying forward with a different iteration of the character. Gillen has built (and earned) a strong following for himself at Marvel and in his creator owned work as a highly skilled crafter of both plot and character relationships. Bennett has also acquitted herself well in her work at Marvel to date (personal note: I swear her guest stories in Nightcrawler and the most recent Uncanny X-Men annual read like Claremont at his peak). Stephanie Hans’ art style is like a clean portraiture that seems appropriate to invoking the renaissance feel of this corner of Battleworld. The other series artist, Marguerite Sauvage, is also a highly elegant artist.
Cons: Stephanie Hans’ artwork is gorgeous, and she’s composed some brilliant covers, but she’s not proven as an interior artist. Gillen is discerning enough and has the clout at Marvel that I doubt they would have been assigned to do full series art chores if he (and Bennett) didn’t believe they could handle the demands that he and Bennett will place on them. Sauvage’s portfolio is dominated by advertising work, but she has illustrated at least one actual story for a major publisher about a major character (one that I might compare to one of our first and most firey Marvels). Her work there shoes promise for a narrative competence to match
Should I buy it?: If you’re a fan of the 1602 setting, Gillen and/or Bennett’s previous work, or find the elegant art that Hans and Sauvage appealing this might be worth picking up.
What we know: The Avengers go west! West-ern that is. Gerry Duggan and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner take us to the town of Timely in Doom Valley where the star of Sheriff Rogers is the only thing that stands against the lawless.
Pros: Fans of the western genre may have an opportunity to see a fresh take on popular characters like Captain America, Iron Man & the Hulk reinterpreted through that lens in a dedicated title (credit where due though, if you don’t recognize Old Man Logan as a western you don’t know from westerns). Duggan & Doc have teamed up before on the most recent Deadpool series, establishing their ability to collaborate effectively. Speaking of Doc Shaner, this guy really brings it in the art department with a style that revives the sleek charm of Paul Smith. If Marvel can reign him in for more projects post-Secret Wars fans will be lucky.
Cons: Westerns carry a very specific tone, and it’s generally not a very comedic one. Gerry Duggan’s done his time and proven his talent as a purveyor of action-laced humor stories and humor-laced action tales on series like Deadpool and Nova (the most recent, Sam Alexander iteration). Whether or not he’s capable of executing the more quiet intensity of a true, gun-slinging, stare-downing western series will be put to the test with this title.
Should I buy it?: If you have even a little bit of interest or love of the Western genre this is the first time this is the first dedicated, clear cut opportunity to see an effort made in that direction at Marvel in a good, long while. I feel confident that Shaner’s art will deliver KO blows with every turn of the page. If Duggan’s tone is true to the format Western fans might rejoice or discover their affection for the duel at high-noon for the first time. If he doesn’t this may be a series for fans of his more humor-driven work. Either way there’s definitely an audience for this book, and we won’t know just who that is until the first issue is in our hands.
Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies
What we know: On Battleworld the “Perferction” of the Age of Ultron shares a long border with the “Deadlands” of the Marvel Zombies. These two nations of conquering hordes are set in furious battle against one another, and Original Human Torch Jim Hammond, the Vision, Wonder Man, and an alternate version of Henry Pym are out to spoil things for both sides.
Pros: This is the first series set on Battleworld to actively take advantage of the potential for border disputes between hostile territories. That it’s pitting this summer’s big villain (Ultron) against the fan-favorite Marvel Zombies just turns the heat up further. Fans of Robinson’s work on All-New Invaders will be glad to see him re-team with that series artist Steve Pugh and continue the Torch’s story on Battleworld. Furthermore the central characters of this series are connected by a rich, pseudo-familial history, and working with this type of character dynamic has been a strength of Robinson’s in his past work.
Cons: Age of Ultron (the mini-series and tie-ins, not the movie) is not terribly well regarded as far as recent comic book events go, and Marvel Zombies doesn’t have quite the momentum it did five years ago. The creators may have an uphill struggle to reinvigorate both concepts by pairing them together.
Should I buy it?: If you are a fan of Robinson’s recent work on All-New Invaders or Fantastic Four or his acclaimed work in the mid-late ’90s for another publisher this series seems like a good bet. Fans of the Marvel Zombies line of books, and fans of horror, war, and post-apocalyptic fiction may find this series to their liking as well.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows
What we know: In “The Regency” Peter & Mary Jane Parker struggle to make ends meet as a young family with a baby. Webs are sure to be slung and heart strings strummed as one of the most celebrated couples of the 616 gets a second-chance at happiness in this corner of Battleworld.
Pros: There’s no shortage of fans who have lamented the numerous changes in Spidey’s continuity over the last decade (or two) and this is their chance to see their prayers answered. Series writer Dan Slott has shown us Spider-Man from a dozen different angles during his time with the character and now he gets a chance to explore the character through a more nostalgic lens. Artist Adam Kubert is a superstar talent who is utterly deserving of acclaim as co-successor (with brother Andy) to the unparalleled Joe Kubert’s legacy.
Cons: It’s been about ten years, maybe fifteen or twenty, since we were anywhere close to Spider-Man married and with a child. Do readers truly want to travel back to that state of affairs? Or is this a case where we fans should be careful what we wish for. With Slott and Kubert on board the talent is solid enough that if this series isn’t a success I’d err on the side of a flaw in the premise, not the execution.
Should I buy it?: Forget the clones. Forget the “Carnage” of being “Back in Black” or “Superior” for “One More Day”. Do you yearn for the days of Peter Parker swinging home to Mary Jane? Do you miss the promise of their future with baby May Parker? Then renew your vows to be a Spidey-fan, no matter how long you’ve been away, and try the first couple of issues of this series out in June.
What we know: Within the boundaries of Battleworld’s Technopolis a disease has made Iron Man-esque suits of armor a necessity of survival. Now Baron Tony Stark and his brother Arno are about to butt heads over control of this armor-encased realm.
Pros: It looks like fans patiently awaiting an Iron Man series during Secret Wars can stop holding their breath because that title is here! The same strength in writing familial groups with an eye towards the long term payout that make James Robinson a strong choice for Age of Ultron Vs. Marvel Zombies play to this series focus on Tony and Arno. Recently revealed preview pages by series artist Marcio Takara speak volumes towards the electric intensity in store here.
Cons: Readers that can’t buy into the main conceit of the story (the whole everybody HAS to wear armor here thing) may not be able to get past that.
Should I buy it?: Fans of Iron Man may not have many alternatives to enjoy tales with the armored Avenger at the center and should probably give this series a shot. Robinson’s fans should also give it a look. Oh . . . and if there are any fans of giant robot/mecha battles reading this . . . yeah, might want to get on board with #1.
Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps
What we know: Air Ace Carol Danvers commands the Carol Corps of Hala Field! Get ready for high flying adventure and daring dog-fights as Kelly Sue DeConnick carries on her work with the good captain.
Pros: DeConnick’s work with the good Captain has been very highly regarded, and this book will give fans of her work in the 616 a place to enjoy both her writing and the Carol Danvers character. Co-writer Kelly Thompson has been one of DeConnick & Captain Marvel’s staunchest and most articulate supporters in the blogosphere, and there’s a tangible excitement to her helping to pen the series. Not to be overlooked, artist David Lopez existing work is all distinct character looks, and the expression of motion. This is a powerful combination for a series centered on a group of pilots with different backgrounds and body types. Pilot-centric comics used to have a huge fan following in series like Blackhawk, Enemy Ace, Robotech and the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron titles and this book is providing an opportunity for the genre to renew itself.
Cons: If the authorial Kelly’s of this series fail to synch up their storytelling styles scripts may come out sideways, and any conflict of vision will be left to Lopez to mitigate through his art. Reviving the flying ace/squad genre may not click with readers who are used to Carol Danvers in more traditional superhero stories.
Should I buy it?: If you’ve got a fondness for the high-flying adventure of the pilot/flying squad genre this may be a book that satisfies that fandom for you. Fans of DeConnick’s previous work with Carol Danvers will absolutely want to continue with both writer and character here, but should be cautiously open-minded about the change in setting.
What we know: “No more mutants”? Not around these parts. This series picks up just before the merciless mayhem of the last story arc of Grant Morrisson’s New X-Men run.
Pros: Let’s talk creators. Series writer Chris Burnham has worked extensively with Grant Morrisson at other publishers (and continues to do so). This may “Grant” him additional insight into Morrisson’s thoughts on what he might have done differently without editorial interference, or given the opportunity to author New X-Men over again. This inside knowledge and close trust with the everybody’s second-favorite Scottish Professor X lookalike (surely it’s a safe assumption that Patrick Stewart is the first, right?) may help the title resonate for fans of Morrisson’s work longing for his return to the Marvel U. On pencils, Ramon Villalobos seems utterly committed to reviving the signature-series style of Morrisson’s
Cons: As fond as some are of Morrisson’s innovations with the New X-Men series other readers recall it with contempt, and are reluctant to touch anything that tracks back to theses spandex-less days with anything less than a ten-mile pole. Chris Burnham is known primarily as an artist, and hasn’t really been tested as a series writer yet. This may mean an opportunity to discover a new talent, or prove why he hasn’t worked on many scripts previously.
Should I buy it?: If you’ve got a fondness for Grant Morrisson in general and his New X-Men concepts in particular then yes. If you’re not familiar with either, but have enjoyed indie books with a focus on testing different ideas that divert from standard superhero formulas you may find yourself wanting to read Morrisson’s back-catalog at Marvel by the end of the first issue.
What we know: In the realm of Dystopia the Maestro’s rule is brutal and absolute. Peter David pulls out all the stops in assembling a revolutionary force to challenge the despotic Hulk of his classic Future Imperfect story.
Pros: Fans of PAD are sort of being treated to THE ultimate Peter David book here. Early indications are that it brings together threads from every corner of David’s work at Marvel. It’s almost as though this is the series that Peter David’s whole career has been building towards. Preview pages of Greg Land’s art indicate that this effort may be among the best and most inspired of his career.
Cons: PAD’s fans are some of the most creator-devoted in the history of comic book publishing, but not all readers are Peter David fans. Those that aren’t may have a tough time coming aboard for this one. Additionally, as much as Land’s art for this book appears to be among the best and most inspired of his career (yes, I’ll repeat myself on that) he’s been a polarizing artist, and there as many fans that active dislike his work as actively like it.
Should I buy it?: If you’re a fan of Peter David and/or Greg Land check this series out. If you’re a fan of Peter David, but don’t like Greg Land . . . give the first issue a chance, and Land a second chance to redeem himself in your eyes.
What we know: Multiple Ghost Riders (and others) race for the chance to escape “THE ARENA”!
Pros: Current Ghost Rider series writer Felipe Smith will continue his work developing the Robbie Reyes character. As a veteran manga comics writer Smith also has a history with comics in genres beyond the superhero which may be just what this book need. Series artist Juan Gedon is a relative new comer to the industry, but run a quick Google image search for him and you’ll see his designs for the different characters AND vehicles for the series. If these are any indication this book may be a visual standout among the Secret Wars launches.
Cons: The success of films like the Fast and the Furious franchise, and video games like the Mario Kart, F-Zero, and Gran Tourismo series have succeeded by engaging their audience directly with an ultra-fast, almost out of control, pacing to make them a part of the race. In comics, where the page is static and the reader controls the rate at which they process the images and text, that same high-octane pacing may be more difficult to pull off. It’s not impossible, but Smith’s going to have to go light on the text and hope that Gedon’s ability as a visual narrator will bring the dynamism and leading panel transitions necessary to hit a staccato pace that will match
Should I buy it?: If you’re a fan of Ghost Rider, any Ghost Rider (well probably not the Nicholas Cage one) this is THE Battleworld book to buy. Fans of racing games and movies, this series is geared towards you! But remember: in comics you’re at least partially responsible for controlling the speed of the story, and if it seems too slow pick up the pace and give it a second chance.
What we know: Adorable antics abound! Lil’ Avengers and lil’ X-Men have a lil’ dust-up in whatever corner of Battleworld features child-size champions of good.
Pros: As a single-issue, humor extravaganza with Marvel’s most recent line-wide event in its crosshairs (most-recent up until Secret Wars, that is) this title might be just what the doctor ordered for fans with event fatigue, and those who just miss their regularly scheduled 616, but still want some Marvel themed entertainment in the midst of the publishing change-up.
Cons: For the fan who wants to save their attention and money for stories that “count” this may be a poor use of both. I’m sure there are those that just don’t “get” Skottie Young’s gags who may not appreciate the series either.
Should I buy it?: If you’ve delighted in Skottie Young’s previous episodic tales of the lil’Marvels I think the issue speaks for itself. Furthermore as a single-issue, seemingly stand-alone fun-fest the commitment is low. If you haven’t found much else to hold your attention while Secret Wars disrupts our regularly scheduled programming this may be the single best purchase you can make this summer.
What we know: Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato re-team as Bendis continues his work with the cinematic Guardians of the Galaxy team on Battleworld’s moon Knowhere.
Pros: Bendis and Deodato have a strong history of working together effectively, and Marvel is trying to catch lightning in a bottle again by re-teaming them. Furthermore, the GotG team from last summer’s film has become HUGELY popular with both long-time fans, and newcomers for whom the movie was a gateway into the joys of reading comics.
Cons: This series seems to be targeted squarely on giving fans of Bendis’ recent GotG run a series to follow, and new readers still trickling in from the movie familiar faces to turn their attention towards. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much new here to bring in those who weren’t already on board for that series.
Should I buy it?: If you liked Bendis recent (Marvel Now) run on Guardians of the Galaxy and are missing that title absolutely pick this up. Others can probably seize this as an opportunity to save a few dollars.
What we know: Dan Abnett continues his work with the Guardians of the Galaxy who now serve . . . Michael Korvac?!?!? Heroes are sure to collide as Korvac’s Guardians of Forest Hills clash with Simon “Wonder Man” Williams and his “Hollywood Avengers”.
Pros: As fans of Guardians 3000 can attest getting Dan Abnett back on board with the characters of cosmic Marvel is a big-time pro. Jim Shooter’s Korvac Saga is one of the most intense and well regarded superhero opuses of the late 1970s and the array of characters Abnett is pulling together for it should excite fans of classic Avengers and Guardians tales. Otto Schmidt’s art might be best described as “Saturday Morning Sexy”, and the action-loaded cartooniness of his character designs seems well suited to the particular collection of characters.
Cons: As good as Schmidt’s art could be for this series it might be the wrong fit if it doesn’t gel precisely with Abnett’s vision for this story. The Korvac Saga is one that absolutely can be treated as Saturday Morning Drama, but it can be approached as a Shakespearean tragedy as well. If Abnett is opting for the latter the juxtaposition of story and art may interfere with readers’ enjoyment of the final product.
Should I buy it?: If you’re a devotee of Abnett’s cosmic-work or the premise catches your fancy I’d say, yes, take the chance on that first issue, and see if you feel like the pieces (writer, artist, characters) fit. If so stick it out. If not, move on.
What we know: In the second Marvel Zombies themed series launching this month Elsa Bloodstone takes the fight to the Marvel Zombies as they try to sneak past the Shield.
Pros: Fresh off his work with Secret Wars mastermind Jonathan Hickman on the Avengers titles artist Kev Walker has been making a name for himself. Also in the business of name-making is Si Spurrier who has earned a strong following through his work on X-Men Legacy and X-Force. The Elsa Bloodstone character was conceived as a Marvel U Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and sticking her in the midst of Battleworld’s Deadlands seems like a perfect fit.
Cons: Marvel may be taking a risk by doubling down on the Marvel Zombies concept twice this month, especially (as discussed above) since the Marvel Zombie mania of a few years ago isn’t quite as strong as it used to be. The premise that Elsa enters the Deadlands to save a human infant who she must shepherd to safety is very reminiscent of the 1990s Nomad series (which may be a pro if you remember that series fondly), and as a concept doesn’t seem to have a lot of longevity.
Should I buy it?: If you’re a fan of the creative team, a devoted Marvel Zombie Maniac or a fan of Buffy: tVS (Buffy specifically, not Joss Whedon broadly) then there may be something here for you.
Mrs. Deadpool And The Howling Commandos
What we know: In the Monster Metropolis beneath Manhattan Queen Shiklah rules the roost. With a little help from her Howling Commandos of course.
Pros: Deadpool writer extraordinaire Gerry Duggan does more of what he’s known for bringing a series to life about the barely living Lady who in the 616 married the Merc with a Mouth. The series may also give some of the little used horror characters in Marvel’s stable (e.g. Living Mummy, Werewolf by Night, etc) a chance to shine that they haven’t enjoyed for quite a while.
Cons: Those not already enjoying the most recent Deadpool run may not find anything new or different enough in this title to recommend it to them.
Should I buy it?: Fans of Duggan’s work with Deadpool and Shiklah should scoop this one up and strap in for amusement.
What we know: A group of youngsters (Skaar, Cloak, Dagger, Bucky, Amadeus Cho, Jubilee, possibly Valeria Richards, and a new character) hailing from all over Battleworld discover their school’s headmaster is a horrible super villain leading them to run away. The
Pros: Series writer and relative newcomer to Marvel Noelle Stevenson has received industry wide acclaim for her work on Lumberjanes. Artist Sanford Greene’s expressive and highly kinetic style fits the youthful energy promised by the series well. The premise of the series carries forward the spirit, if not the narrative of Brian K. Vaugn’s original Runaways books. This also stands as the premiere “youth” team book of the
Cons: Fan’s of Vaughn’s Runaways are very devoted to that series characters, or creator, or both, and may not be open to a re-imagining of the title that includes neither. All but one of the characters are alternate versions of existing characters as well and this may deter fans of those particular heroes in their previous (616) incarnations.
Should I buy it? If you’ve enjoyed Stevenson’s or Greene’s work elsewhere, if you enjoy youth-centric series or find the premise put forward by the creators appealing, buy this series. If you’re a fan of the original Runaways series first and a fan of comics second (or third or fourth) then it may help to approach this series with an open mind.
What we know: The Justice Le . . . Crime Synd . . . Squadron Supre . . . wait . . . oh, *ahem* the Squadron Sinister under the leadership of Baron Hyperion plot to expand their reach and authority from Utopolis into the neighboring corners of Battleworld
Pros: Carlos Pacheco. Review the body of work of some of your favorite artists with an objective eye and you might find they peaked earlier in their careers (I won’t name, names, but I’ve got a list in my sock drawer). Holey moley, Carlos Pacheco does NOT suffer from that syndrome. This guy’s work just gets better and better with age and the preview pages for this issue just drive that point home. Speaking of the preview pages, Marc Guggenheim seems to have a grasp of the characters that honors iterations of the Squadron as they’ve appeared under the author-ship of such winning writers as J. Michael Straczynski, Roy Thomas and Mark Gruenwald.
Cons: Returning to those preview pages again . . . this is NOT a comic for the squeamish. All indications are that this will be a brutally, super-powered crime comic with a gangster’s edge. I have friends who are huge fans of JMS’s Supreme Power series . . . based on the previews for #1 they (and anybody else who shares that love) may need a box of tissues to make it through this issue.
Should I buy it?: If you appreciate TV shows or comics that honor and explore the bad guys as (or more) thoroughly as they do their champions of truth and justice this might be the book for you. Fans of Mark Waid’s Empire, Bunn’s Magneto, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk, Sons of Anarchy, Hannibal, and Dexter . . . welcome home.
What we know: Starlord and Kitty Pryde have been dating in the good ol’ 616 for a little while now because Bendis. Now Starlord has been paired up with Kitty’s angrier, colder doppelganger from the Age of Apocalypse. Mismatched antics are sure to ensue!
Pros: This book, and its promotion, seem to be selling the equivalent of a relationship-based sitcom. Alti Firmansyah is a relatively new artist from Indonesia and her style is lively enough that if she and series writer Sam Humphries really play to the comic angle we could have some pretty funny and touching stuff here.
Cons: The characters. On the one hand Starlord and Kitty (at least 616-Kitty) have large and dedicated fan-bases that I suspect will follow them to this book. Character history and fan expectations may work against a series that seems to trying to do something a little sillier and more emotionally engaged than they might expect from the space opera and dystopian/post-apocalyptic tales in which they’re used to seeing the title characters.
Should I buy it?: Y’know what . . . did you like Scott Pilgrim? Gillen and McKelvie’s Young Avengers? Silver Surfer by Slott and Allred? I have a sneaking suspicion that this book will be a better fit for fans of those and similar series than for those following this book for the characters alone. (Still, fans of Starlord & Kitty may enjoy themselves if they show up with an open mind.
What we know: The Thors, ALL the Thors, of multiple Earths band together as a sort of Battleworld police force.
Pros: Jason Aaron has been the primary author of Thor tales for the last several years and this story is the continuation of that Saga. Marvel fans may not be as familiar with Chris Sprouse (he hasn’t drawn a Marvel book in over 10 years) but he’s proven himself a brilliant illustrator in his numerous collaborations with this little-known Original Writer from Northampton England . . . Alan something-or-other. Trust me when I say that getting Mr. Sprouse on board for a Marvel series is WAY overdue and that this series should be a visual treat.
Cons: The sheer concentration of different iterations of Thor may be a bit much for some readers. Readers expecting the high fantasy of the Thor films may be surprised by the alleged “Police Drama” feel that Aaron has promoted the book as having.
Should I buy it?: Are you a fan of Jason Aaron? Thor (classic OR ultimate OR new female OR Storm OR Frog-Thor OR Beta-Ray Bill)? Are you fond of police dramas like CSI and Law and Order and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (I know it’s not a drama; I just really like Brooklyn Nine-Nine)? Do you enjoy neatly rendered, highly dynamic sequential art? If you answered yes to one or more of those questions give this book a shot. If you answered yes to all of the above, go ahead and let the staff at your local comic shop know to hold a copy for you.
What we know: Interdimensional conqueror Arkon the Magnificent (or is that Arkon the Imperion? eh, either way) traverses the battleworld realm of Weirdworld in a series that seems intent on living up to its name.
Pros: If there is any writer in the present Marvel stable who seems up to making a book with a title like “Weirdworld” not only live up to its name, but also good, it’s Jason Aaron. Aaron’s fans might well remember his weird, wacky and inspired work on Wolverine and the X-Men or Original Sin. The spiritual successor to Marvel’s ’70s super-Steves (Gerber and Englehart) Aaron is absolutely the right man for this job. Add to the equation the genuinely gorgeous and lush illustration work of Michael del Mundo, and this series may be a career defining prestige project.
Cons: The fantasy setting, quirky tone, and previously marginal characters may be a bit much for some readers to take.
Should I buy it?: I suppose that all depends . . . I suspect readers on the poles of investment in the Marvel U will get the most out of this title. i.e. those who have a low level of investment in the Marvel U will appreciate the title on its own merits and craftsmanship without regard to Marvel continuity may delight in it. Likewise, the fan who is such a devoted scholar of the Marvel Saga that their knowledge begins to border on the encyclopedic (author’s aside: I have delusions of falling into this category), and has some familiarity with Arkon and the other more obscure corners of Marvel-dom may find this a worthy investment. Fans towards the middle of this spectrum (e.g. a reader who is devoted finish the first issue feeling disappointed or confused if they don’t approach the series with a very open mind.
What we know: In Westchester the X-Men are back just as you remember them from their early nineties animated series.
Pros: There are many contemporary fans for whom this series was their introduction both to the X-Men and to comics. If properly executed (and by all accounts of the first issue based on its digital release in May it is) this book should scratch that long standing itch of readers yearning for a book that revived that team and dynamic.
Cons: This is the premiere digital-first series of the summer which means those not purchasing the title for review on an electronic device will have to dodge spoilers for a few weeks before reading a print copy of each issue. Also, believe it or not, not all readers remember the old Fox-Kids X-Men Animated series fondly. Some fans were older when it came out and others discovered the X-Men later. For readers in this camp the book may seem nostalgically indulgent.
Should I buy it?: If the early nineties X-Men Animated series got you into comics AND you aren’t buying the digital release then you absolutely should give this series a chance.
What we know: Picking up 10 years after the nation shattering X-tinction Agenda crossover’s conclusion, in this re-imagining of the aftermath things have gone a bit differently, with Havok and Wolfsbane leading the reconstruction of Genosha into a brave new nation. But now, beset by disease, abandoned by the X-Men and quarantined by the outside world the fragile dream of re-building Genosha for the better seems poised for collapse.
Pros: This book picks up concepts from one of the most intense and impactful X-stories ever. Writer Mark Guggenheim has promised that in this story later ideas and events (such as Beast bringing past X-Men forward in time) will be turned on their side, and re-shaped into some interesting iterations. Overall, the premise as presented in interviews and solicitations reads more as a what-if scenario than almost any other book announced to date (maybe this and Renew Your Vows) which may make it a favorite for What If . . . ?-fans. Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art has a sharp, near-apocalyptic, sci-fi feel that seems well suited to the premise.
Cons: The series premise is VERY specific, and the focus is on characters that have rarely made it to the A-List. This may mean a loss of appeal for fans who are unfamiliar with the X-tinction Agenda arc, and the Genosha that existed before Cassandra Nova reduced it to an island-sized charnel house.
Should I buy it?: Fans of What-If . . ?-style stories in general, and the X-tincition agenda in particular, should find this series very interesting. Those who enjoy “world-on-the-brink” Sci-Fi (think Akira) may also be pleasantly surprised with the book, and might want to set aside a few dollars to give it a chance.
What we know: In the shadowy Sentinel Territories Chrissy Pryde, and her parents (Kate & Piotr) struggle with their fellow X-Men against the tin-plated tyranny and brutal racial policies of their regional regime.
Pros: Marguerite Bennet. Seriously. I already sang some praises for her limited body of Marvel work in the entry about 1602 Witch Hunter Angela (see above), but Bennet has shown a real love and talent for her handling of Marvel’s mutants to date. In addition to the brilliant and heartfelt issue of Nightcrawler she co-authored with X-Sage Chris Claremont, Bennet’s contribution to the recent Amazing X-Men annual was perhaps the most brilliantly executed, and profound Firestar story to ever see print. Preview pages of artist Mike Norton’s work for this series reveal a simple yet emotive style and a natural fluidity to his storytelling. Finally, the DoFP setting is one of the most well regarded of any alternate timeline in the Marvel canon, and it’s inclusion is sure to excite many fans.
Cons: Readers who don’t care for the X-Men or feel like the DoFP setting is played out may not be excited for this. The first issue has a $4.99 cover price . . . that’s about all I can come up with.
Should I buy it?: Unless you fall into one of the two categories mentioned under Cons: yes. YES. Honestly, there seems to be a lot going for this book, and very little running against it. If you purchase only one series during the Secret Wars publishing cycle BUY THIS. If you’re disappointed you can always send us angry emails and Jarid will send you an M6P knock-off, no-prize signed by not-Stan Lee himself (Editor’s Note: I don’t remember agreeing to this. When did we talk about this? – Jarid).
Last Days Round-Up
Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Punisher, and Silver Surfer join Magneto, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, and Loki: Agent of Asgard as series telling a tale of how these characters use their last moments on the 616. If you’ve been following and enjoying any of these series it seems like seeing them through to the end may bring a lot of satisfaction.
What’s old is new! (Anthology Books)
Writers Kevin Maurer and Si Spurier will team with artists Cory Smith and Jonathan Marks to bring us two new tales in Secret Wars Journal#2 (of 5). Sadly there’s not a solicit we at M6P could find anywhere to indicate who is working together (or on which story) this time, but we will be getting stories from new corners of Battleworld. From the ’70s-‘splotation evoking Killville territory we’ll get a short tale of Kraven hunting down that territory’s Misty Knight and Paladin. Meanwhile, we get an introduction to Bar Sinister where the Matt Murdock is a chef who finds himself in a love triangle between his boss (Mr. Sinister) and his beloved “Collektra” (the local Elektra analog).
For a more action oriented pair of stories we turn to Secret Wars: Battleworld #2 (of 4) and this time we know who’s doing what! First David Walker and JJ Kirby tell a tale of Blade stumbling into conflict with New Quack City’s leading resident Howard (the Duck) over the fate of a quacking Dracula. Meanwhile, Donny Cates and Marco Turini take us over to Greenland where Hulkbuster #1, General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, has become a War Machine who seeks vengeance in the gladiatorial arena.