By Jon Durmin
Half of our new additions for 11/11 are so certain they’re new and different that they’ve included the claim in their title. We round that out with a group of multi-dimensional web-heads, a web-slinger mimicking ultimate criminal, a group of criminals weaving a web of intrigue under the name ‘Illuminati’, and an illuminati of heroes with a dimension-teleporting teen operating under the name ‘Ultimates’. What’s the right series for you?
All-New, All-Different Avengers
What we know: This is it. The big release of the Flagship team book of the All-New, All-Different team of Avengers. Classic members Iron Man and Vision are joined by new Captain America Sam Wilson, new Thor Jane Foster, new Nova Sam Alexander, new Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, and new not-so-ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales making a very different era for this team.
Pros: The Avengers team has always been intended as the home for Marvel’s brightest stars and biggest names, and latest sensations This line-up of the title ably checks off every quality on that list. Mark Waid is an industry veteran with a long record of writing affirming, character driven, classic feeling superhero comics that are accessible to readers of all ages, without coming off as “All Ages” titles. Able to execute acclaimed stories as tonally distant as Archie and Kingdom Come with equal aplomb, Waid’s reputation precedes him and his assignment to THE core Avengers series seems a natural fit. On art are artists Andy Kubert, a star whose work has only gotten better with age, and rising star Mahmud Asrar, both of whom have the talent to execute the type of big story that readers expect in an Avengers book.
Cons: Waid has a lot of fingers in a lot of pies right now, and his devotion to Marvel is not absolute. This could mean less coordination between this series and the work of other Avengers writers who are primarily working for Marvel right now. If this happens, some readers may see the fact that they don’t need to follow other series to enjoy this book as an advantage, but others may interpret this to mean the story “doesn’t count” or “doesn’t matter” as part of the grand Marvel narrative. As for the line-up – this is a relatively inexperienced team, and while that’s a part of the story Waid is telling, it’s more typical of lower-selling, but loyally followed titles with a focus on younger or side-kick heroes (e.g. New Mutants, New Warriors, Avengers Academy, etc).
All-New, All-Different Hawkeye
What we know: Look into the future of Hawkeye and Hawkeye and you will see a divide between Clint Barton and his successor Kate Bishop. What’s happening then? What’s happening now that might lead to that unfortunate falling-out? Can anything change it?
Pros: Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez have already proved their mettle on this series pre-Secret Wars so those who still have a Hawkeye hankering can have it satisfied with this revival. Readers who haven’t tried Hawkeye out in the past but enjoyed Lemire’s great start to Extraordinary X-Men and are looking for something new to try this week may find their match in this book’s pages too.
Cons: Nothing all-new, or all-different to expect as far as the tone of this story goes. Fans of earlier Hawkeye runs may not be enamored of the flash forward in these characters’ story.
All-New, All-Different Wolverine
What we know: There’s a new Wolverine in town! Laura “X-23” Kinney, the double-X chromosome clone of the original Wolverine has become Laura “Wolverine” Kinney. As ever Wolverine is the best she is at what she does, but what she does might not be very nice.
Pros: Fans of X-23 have been clamoring for her return in a solo-title for years, and they’re about to have those prayers answered in a big way. With his work on Superior Iron Man and Secret Wars: Agents of Atlas Tom Taylor has already made a strong mark on Marvel. Combined with his flair for dramatic, high-intensity action in his work at DC and Dark Horse, Taylor seems to be a fitting writer to pick up the story of our inheritor of the Wolverine mantle. David Lopez has been drawing the X-women impressively for some time, and has more than earned the assignment to this book. David Navarrot is a relative newcomer but preview art shows a cartoony but tidy and highly expressive manga-inspired dynamism to his work that seems to be en vogue.
Cons: If your Wolverine is James “Logan” Howlett (or just Logan) then this book may not satisfy your yearning for the return of the original canuckle-head. Then again, if the tone and feel that Taylor and the Davids deliver is true to the espionage, adventure, and noir feel of classic Wolverine stories it may not matter who is behind the mask; it simply comes down to whether or not fans of the original Wolverine are able to accept another character taking up the mantle. The art balance also leaves some question as to how Lopez’s and Navarrot’s contributions are going to be stabilized on this book. Other recent series’ have used one artist for flashback sequences and another for the main arc to some success, but if the art chores aren’t clearly delineated between story-beats, the respective art styles of these two talents are distinct enough that a mid-scene artist change could be jarring and take the reader out of the story.
What we know: Got a hankering to catch a killer? Do you like Dexter? Hannibal? If so, look towards Marvel’s preeminent super-powered serial-killing sociopath, Cletus “Carnage” Kassidy as he slaughters his way through this new series with the FBI and super-cops John “Man-Wolf” Jameson and Eddie “Toxin/used-to-be-Venom” Brock hot on his trail.
Pros: So the guy writing this series is some fellow by the name of Gerry Conway. Co-created the Punisher. And the Jackal. And wrote the original Spider-Clone story (the original one, not the one that went on way longer than anybody wanted it to). Oh, and this minor story that included the deaths of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn. Basically, we readers are about to get spoiled with the return of the writer of some of the most essential Spider-Man stories ever published. Mike Perkins’ more serious style and large body of experience with shadowy espionage, military action, and noir comics is an apt choice for this tale of a manhunt.
Cons: What is this series going to be? Are we getting a point of view with Carnage as a deviant protagonist/anti-hero? Is it Carnage as boogey-man with our focus on Jameson and Brock? A bit of both? Solicitations haven’t been super helpful on setting up readers with what to expect, and promotional interviews have been sparse. Clear expectations haven’t been set. With that being the case it may be wise for readers to check those at the door and trust in Conway and Perkins to deliver the goods.
What we know: Parker “the Hood” Robbins is back and he’s putting a new crew together. After years of heroes fighting each other as much (or more) than villains, this new team embraces their badness with has grand plans to get ahead.
Pros: Joshua Williamson cut his teeth at Marvel this summer on the Red Skull Battleworld series; another tale of villains on a mission, so he’s no stranger to this sort of framework. He’s no stranger to it at all, with a deep resume of work at Dark Horse, IDW, and DC that showcases a talent for gritty, pulpy, rough and tumble tales. Shawn Crystal’s art has proven appropriate to this type of story in Marvel books like Fantomex MAX & Deadpool and Wolverine so it seems a good match for the most part.
Cons: The other end of Shawn Crystal’s art is that his characters are a bit exaggerated and cartoony. This isn’t as much a liability as one might think for his ability to sell a rough fight sequence or an intense argument (he’s very good at this), but readers who see the brighter costume designs on this book’s cover and are unfamiliar with his and Williamson’s previous work may be in for a rude awakening when they crack this book open to realize it’s [likely] a bit more Breaking Bad than Better Call Saul. While this book’s mission statement, “bad guys getting theirs,” trends more towards that associated with teams like the Thunderbolts, Sinister Syndicate, and Masters of Evil, the Illuminati moniker has been more often used for groups of heroes who are working behind the scenes to challenge secret threats. In that sense it’s a series title that might be a bit more appropriate to our next series.
What we know: An Ultimate force, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Blue Marvel, Ms. America and Spectrum, have all assembled to defend Earth from those threats from beyond. Threats that would threaten the destruction of Earth. Threats like . . . Galactus.
Pros: With this and last month’s New Avengers relaunch, writer Al Ewing has a big corner of the Avengers franchise of books firmly under his control. As with that series, this book’s line-up carries forward two core members of his Mighty Avengers run to continue their stories. This should please fans of Ewing’s previous Marvel work, fans which Ewing has earned with his consistent ability to deliver a synthesis of modern character dynamics with a classic feeling of heroism and sense of adventure. Handling visuals, Kenneth Rocafort’s characters carry with them a clear stylistic inspiration by former Image artists like Jim Lee that have seen a big revival in popularity recently, making him a smart choice for a big book. With these creators and the titular team serving as home to two characters that Marvel Studios is banking on making core figures of the third phase of the development for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is a series that readers invested in the larger picture of the Marvel Saga can’t ignore.
Cons: Rocafort’s good – he might actually be too good for this book’s own good. If you’ve taken a good look at Rocafort’s visual narration you’ll find a structural inventiveness that challenges the art form. He’s willing to bend and break away from the 9-panel grid structure and a lot of the other old tools of the trade established during the early days of comics. This makes for impressive stories for readers with an advanced enough familiarity with this medium to follow the narrative. It may even be especially appropriate to stories about otherworldly threats. However for those readers that are still getting used to the synthesis of imagery and the written word that this art-form espouses, or for those that prefer to stick to the classic visual dynamics of the silver age, or the poster-ly pizzaz of the Image founders and their breed, this may be a big turn-off.
What we know: Did you like the Spider-Verse event? Did you like the Battleworld mini-series Spider-Verse? If you’re answer is ‘Yes!’ then have we got a book for you!
Pros: Mike Costa, writer of the Spider-Verse Battleworld mini is carrying the Spider-Verse squad forward in this book which should bring some consistency of feeling to readers who enjoyed the tone and character dynamics of that title. Artist David Baldeon may be the real highlight of this book however; bringing a style that aptly mixes distinct and cartoony characters with clean, dynamic action and narrative.
Cons: If you didn’t like the Spider-Verse event, or did, but were turned off by Costa’s Battleworld title with these characters this book is not going to provide anything new or different to pique your fancy. This book may be for the true Spider-verse devotee only.