December 2013 Marvel Comics Diamond Previews Review
Welcome to my look at the Previews Magazine dated December 2013 and for product set for store shelves beginning in February 2014. Marvel is really impressing me with this latest round of Marvel Now launches. The first round had some excitement, and a couple of curve balls that sadly did not make it to first base, but the launches this second round make me happy to be a Marvel fan, and not a second too soon. My enthusiasm for the Marvel Universe had definitely been waning. This is getting back to my pre New 52 levels of fandom, with DC Comics taking a back seat to Marvel.
Has everything Marvel’s released been a hit? No, Morbius was a failure, but that was due to a weak storyline, no offence to the writer. It should have been darker. Journey Into Mystery feat. Sif was beyond brilliant, and I saw a woman who could go toe to toe with Wonder Woman and more than likely come out on top. Sif showed why she needs to be featured more prominently, maybe have her join one of the multiple Avengers books, and we know at some point she will become a member, putting on spandex in the Marvel Universe almost guarantees inclusion in a team, whether it be the Avengers, or the different X-Men factions, or if your lucky maybe as a Superior Spider-Man supporting character! Well that was a bit of a sidetrack, what it all boils down to is that Marvel is releasing work that while they are progressive with it, they still feel traditional. With this second round of releases I see shades of Hawkeye with such a wide variety of writers and artists, with many books showing an art style that would put them nicely at home on a shelf next to other independent titles.
First up are the notable issues, that are not number one issues. First one I want to spotlight is Captain America #17. This book by Rick Remenber (W) and Nic Klein (A) looks to bring back some of the zany fun that comics were occasionally known for in the seventies and the eighties with our introduction to another creation of the Weapon Minus program, Dr. Mindbubble. I lost interest quickly in the relaunched Captain America but this issue might be enough to at least get me to sample one more issue. It looks like fun, and not allot of comics embrace fun these days.
The fun looks to be spreading to Nova #13.NOW. Gerry Duggan (W), and Paco Medina (A) bring the fun in the form of Beta Ray Bill, a character who may have started life as a clone like copy of Thor, but has since become a staple of the Marvel galactic publishing side, and here’s hoping that this leads to allot more of the character around the Marvel Universe. This issue is also an anniversary issue of sorts as Marvel celebrates the 100th appearance of the helmeted hero Nova.
Avengers A.I. #9 caught my interest not because of it’s storyline, which I honestly stopped following after the first couple of issues, but more because of a certain characters appearance on the cover. If you have read issue #14 of Uncanny Avengers, then you will know which character I am referring too. I won’t reveal anything here, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but it will be open for discussion next month.
Miracle Man #3 continues the reprints stories detailing the life of one of the most powerful and dangerous superheroes. Miracle Man #3 reprints the Miracleman stories from Warrior #6-8, and the Warpsmith stories from Warrior #9-10. I am so excited to actually read these stories. This is a real treat for fans of the medium who never got to experience one of the best stories ever created for our medium.
My excitement for George Romero Empire of the Dead has faded to mild interest once I found out that vampires were going to be involved. I have nothing against the mingling of vampires and zombies, and Max Brooks is handling it well in the Extinction Parade series over at Avatar. My issue lies more in this innovator, the grand-father of the zombie genre, a man who combined political commentary with a healthy dose of horror and (at the time) allot of gore, he now seems to be chasing what is popular. Now I will still be checking it out since it is Romero but my hopes are running low for this chapter of his zombie epic. I would be so happy for the first issue to prove me wrong.
A couple of notable endings happen in February, both of which have since been revealed as part of the current wave of Marvel Now launches/relaunches. First up is one of Marvel’s most critically acclaimed character, and one of the four heroes being utilized in the recently announced Netflix deal, namely Daredevil. Mark Waid (W) and Chris Samnee (A/C) bring the current volume of the adventures of the man without fear to an end in issue #36. While I enjoyed the first trade the title was not quite for me but I can understand why critics love it. It is a wonderful take on Murdoch’s character.
Another series drawing to a close but relaunching, this time with a different creative team as opposed to Daredevils creative team remaining the same, is Wolverine and the X-Men. Issues #41 and 42 both hit shelves in February and bring the school year to a close at the Jean Grey school. The school will be radically different when it returns, not only in terms of the students but also the faculty. With the recent semi-pointless, but beautifully rendered Battle of the Atom causing additional rifts amongst the mutant community, we will see several faculty members leaving the school. The first 24 issues of this book are some of my favourite comic book issues released in recent memory, and really added another dimension to Logan’s character as well as bringing some notable students to the forefront like one of my personal favourites Quentin Quire. Jason Aaron (W), Nick Bradshaw (A), and Pepe Larraz (A) will undoubtedly make the end of this school year one you cannot forget.
While a couple of books are ending, there are several launches and relaunches that excite me that this may be my favourite month of Marvel Now to date. One such relaunch is one that has gotten allot of criticism online, and that is the James Robinson (W) and Leonard Kirk (A) Fantastic 4 relaunch. I may be in the minority but I love the costume redesigns and the new logo. It is nice to see Marvel continue to take chances on their established characters. Whether they are successful or not with this story that is forbiddingly titled “The Fall of the Fantastic Four” will be up to the readers. With James Robinson proven ability to respect what has come before while expanding characters in ways not done before, this title has already proven itself to have a pedigree. Plus Leonard Kirk is an extremely talented artist whose style has continued to increase over the years. This may very well be a career defining run, or be a dramatic failure. I am thinking success is in the cards. I rarely have been tempted to pick up a Fantastic Four book before but this is coming home. Fantastic Four #1 looks to be a book to watch in my opinion.
A relaunch that has been getting a large amount of attention from many media outlets, including Stephen Colbert is the G. Willow Wilson written and Adrian Alphona drawn Ms. Marvel series. This title no longer belongs to Carol Danvers whose own Captain Marvel series will be relaunching later in the year, but now it is the home of Kamala Khan, a Jersey City, Muslim, teen girl. With shape shifting powers, a strong creative team, and an indie feel, this book is sure to start strong, and hopefully with readers support and good stories this can become a benchmark for all other mainstream female centric titles from the big two.
Speaking of female centric, a certain cousin, lawyer, and 7 foot tall muscled green beauty cracks open the law books at a new practice in She-Hulk #1. The creative team is Charles Soule on writing duties and Javier Pulido on art. While I secretly wished Peter David would be the one writing it, I will still check out what Charles Soule can bring to the character. Charles Soule became quite prolific at DC and while he has skills I did drop a couple of titles after sampling his writing. She Hulk is always worth a try and regardless of my opinion I do want to see Jennifer succeed and join the small group of successful leading ladies in comic books. She’s done it before, here’s hoping she does it again.
New Warriors returns to the stands in February thanks to Christopher Yost, who has proven time and again that he is perfect to craft stories about the younger heroes in the Marvel Universe. He is joined by artist Marcus To in bringing back together fan favourites Nova, Justice, and Speedball, while incorporating recently cancelled Scarlet Spider, Sun Girl, and as well bringing the High Evolutionary into the Marvel Now extravaganza. There will be new additions and while I appreciated the attempts at previous relaunches this really does strike me as having an old school New Warriors vibe, while tying into the next event, Inhumanity. I admit I do wish that Firestar would grace these pages but on the other hand it is nice to see her embrace her mutant side and finally get to wear an X on her costume over in the pages of the Amazing X-Men.
Marvel should take advantage of the Marvel Now relaunch and bring in a new Alpha Flight series. How exciting would it be to have an Alpha Flight series when DC re-brands one of there League books into Justice League Canada? A Canadian centric title from each of the big 2? Yes please!. With Marvel Now announcements coming fast and furious one can hold out hope.
A new launch building on the continuously building popularity of the character is Loki: Agent of Asgard. The first issue of the series from Al Ewing (W) and Lee Garbett (A) brings us an older Loki who is slowly lining up more and more with his movie version while respecting the characters recent evolution in the pages of Journey Into Mystery and Young Avengers. While I am excited to read this series, the solicitation for the first issue mentions the death of Thor, and that seems like a boisterous and really unbelievable story point. Either way I cannot wait to check out the adventures of the sexiest god from Asgard (worry Thor).
No one is sure what the future of the Ultimate line is but hopefully we will find out soon when the March solicits are posted online. If not we may have to wait until Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #5 (of 5) hits in February. My suspicions are that this is the end for that imprint. Let’s face it, since Ultimatum it hasn’t been the same, and if this is the last issue of this universe it is appropriate that Brian Michael Bendis (W) and Mark Bagley (A) are the ones to bring an end to the imprint. On the other hand they could relaunch the entire thing but it would be neat to see Miles Morales in the 616 Universe.
While this doesn’t cover everything happening at Marvel in February I believe these are the most notable releases and again applaud Marvel for stepping up there game and surpassing DC in terms of sheer relevance and lack of fear in trying new approaches to existing characters, or even returning characters to their old school roots, and realizing what made them work in the first place.
This truly is an exciting time to be rediscovering Marvel and their characters. See you soon with our look at DC.