Slight lows on the reading this past week since I didn’t manage to finish either of the graphic novels I started this week, and generally didn’t read as many singles either, but I did manage to get through 35 of them, so that’s something, yeah?
For this week, I’d say that the surprise hits are Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing, Catwoman #35 and Secret Origins #6 from DC Comics and Predator: Fire and Stone #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The comics that win the “disappointment of the week award” are Grimm Fairy Tales: Dark Shaman #1 from Zenescope, Arkham Manor #1 and Sensation Comics #11 both from DC Comics. Ongoings like Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #8, Aquaman #35, Tomb Raider #9 and Nancy A. Collins’ prelude Vampirella: Prelude To The Shadows #1 were all first-rate comics this week, and quite satisfactory as well.
The graphic novels I’m in the middle of at the moment are Supergirl Vol.4 by Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves, and The Flash Vol.2 by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
After two rather dreary weeks of reading comics, where I didn’t manage to hit my recent highs of 40 singles/graphic novels a week, this week was much different. I got back on track for one, and moved through three entire volumes of DC’s Earth 2, almost catching up to the current status of the series.
The surprise hits of this week were Blood Queen Annual 2014 from Dynamite Entertainment, Deadpool’s Art of War #1 from Marvel Comics and Trinity of Sin #1 from DC Comics. The comics that disappointed me this week were Wytches #1 from Image Comics and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #1 from Marvel Comics. Of the other titles, the ones that I really loved were recent ongoings like Flash Gordon #6, Unity #0 or even Ms. Marvel #9.
James Robinson’s deconstruction’s of Marvel’s First Family has seen the Fantastic Four go through some really troubled times of late. Old villains coming back. Interdimensional invasions. Getting thrown out of the Baxter Building by the Avengers and SHIELD. The children of the Future Foundation all being taken away from Sue and Richard. Sue taking on the Avengers by herself. The falling out between Ben and Johnny. And so much more. It has been a trying time for the family team of late, and with the Original Sin event these bad times certainly didn’t go away, especially not once James Robinson began to revisit the plot-threads he had introduced in the very first issue a few months back.
To be honest, this review is kind of me catching up to this massive backlog I built up for this series. As such, there are a ton of things to unpack here. But suffice to say that after laying down a lot of groundwork in the first seven issues, James Robinson finally moves forward with the “real” story progression as he touches on concepts that plots that were hinted at back when the series started and that we continue to see how the Fantastic Four are fracturing up, divided as they are because of various reasons like Johnny losing his powers, Ben arrested for murder and so on. Robinson’s writing gets ever more heart-breaking with each issue, even as the art teams switch in and out over the course of these four issues.
Kamala Khan, the new and current Ms. Marvel has been through a lot in the last few months. First she got caught in a Terrigenesis cloud that brought out her Inhuman genes and gave her her shapeshifting morphing powers. Then she went up against a bunch of villains, normal and eccentric alike, and even got to team up with none other than Wolverine, one of the greatest X-Men ever. And now she finds herself the proud (temporary) owner of Lockjaw, a loyal follower of the Inhumans’ Queen Medusa who has taken an interest in Kamala on Wolverine’s suggestion.
Recently we saw that Kamala’s powers were on the fritz and that it happened at the worst time possible, when her enemy The Inventor sent a giant murderous robot after her, which tracked her to her school and started laying waste to everything in sight. In Ms. Marvel #9 we see what happens after that, how Kamala’s powers come back and even how she meets Medusa for the first time, a meeting that has been building up for a good while now, especially once loyal and faithful Lockjaw entered the story. G. Willow Wilson knocks this out of the park once again with artist Adrian Alphona and it was a really fun issue to read.
Over the last several weeks, and even months, Marvel Comics has been setting the stage for Death of Wolverine. One of the most popular X-Men to have existed to date, Logan aka Wolverine died this same week in Death of Wolverine #4, in what was a heroic finale to the character. And where Ororo Munroe aka Storm is concerned, I as a reader know that she’s been worried about him for quite some time, as we saw in Storm #2 back in August, which was a really heartfelt moment between the two characters, who have often been lovers over the years.
And now Logan is dead, and that leaves a void in Storm’s heart. This is what writer Greg Pak deals with in Storm #4, also released this week. As far as I can tell what from what little Marvel I’ve read this week, Storm is the only character to mourn Logan’s death, and she does this in quite a spectacular way that is also typical Ororo. You really feel the emotional bond that existed between them, and you want to cry your heart out as well. It was a great issue for the most part, though there were indeed some things that bothered me about some of the ancillary characters.
Major characters in comics die all the time. It is how the publishers, especially the Big 2, keep things rolling and try and do some interesting things in the wake of these deaths. But deaths also rarely stick, because some major characters are just too important to the entire line-up to just let go like that. I mean, even Peter Parker is back in the Ultimate Universe right now after being dead for a number of years and with his successor having stepped in to fill his shoes big time. But the big focus is on Wolverine right now, Marvel’s greatest success in terms of any media you pinpoint.
For some six weeks now we have been watching the story of how Wolverine is going to meet his death. Whether Avengers of X-Men, Wolverine has been one of the biggest characters in the Marvel universe, and there’s a line in the second issue of this mini-event series which sums it all up (paraphrase): “nobody out there who doesn’t owe me their life…” Few heroes in the Marvel universe can say that with the same conviction. And that’s why this series has been almost heartbreaking to read, though Charles Soule and Steve McNiven bring it all to a very sentimental, true-to-form close in this week’s finale.
The last five months have seen some big changes happening to one of Marvel’s longest-running titles. Following on from the end of Dan Slott’s game-changing Superior Spider-Man, the flagship Spidey title The Amazing Spider-Man was relaunched with the return of Peter Parker and we’ve seen the hero go through some major stuff of late, whether it is fighting an Elektro and Black Cat team-up or finding out that someone else got bit by the same spider as he did, and in stepped new female superhero Silk, who is a match for Peter in almost every way, and also a major problem too. It has been a fun five-and-a-half months, and things look to be getting even better with the ongoing Spider-Verse crossover.
The latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man brings in one of Marvel’s biggest successes of the year, Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, as a guest star and also deals with what has been happening in various realities around the omniverse with the villain Morlun and others killing various Spidey-heroes left and right. Both stories are great fun, as they should be since writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage have worked on them, and the Spider-Verse story in particular seems to have some interesting callbacks to more classic stories and the same vibe as well. And the artwork with Giuseppe Camuncoli is also great, just as I expected it to be.
After two straight weeks of reading 38 singles and 2 graphic novels, this week saw me lagging behind, with only 36 singles read and no graphic novels at all. Makes me kind of sad since there were comics that I was really looking forward to reading in GN format, but I just couldn’t get the time, and I’m seriously behind on my novel reading as well.
The surprise hits of this week were Brides of Helheim #1 from Oni Press, The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Gotham Academy #1 from DC Comics. The disappointing comics of this week were Fantastic Four Annual #1 from Marvel Comics and Green Arrow #35 and Green Lantern & New Gods: Godhead #1 both from DC Comics. Titles like Death from Wolverine #3 from Marvel, Angel & Faith Season 10 #7 from Dark Horse Comics, and Grayson #3 from DC comics continued to rock it.
As I’ve mentioned before elsewhere, October 2014 is a big month for Marvel in that the publisher is launching its third big wave of new comics under the Marvel NOW! banner, Avengers NOW! The month sees the release of lots of new titles, such as this week’s Thor featuring a new Thor, a woman this time, among many others. With the end of the recent Original Sin event series, there have been some really big shake-ups in the Marvel universe, and the publisher is using the event to spring-launch lots of new books, alongside all of the new ones it launched previously in 2014.
Two other new titles this week are Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier and Guardians 3000, which are as different from Thor as you can get, and even with each other. The former sees Bucky taking on the role of the dead Nick Fury as the “Man on the Wall”, which was revealed in Original Sin, while the latter sees the Marvel NOW! debut of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Both titles are quite fun to read with some interesting artwork, but they aren’t wholly consistent, in one way or another, so they are not as impressive as they could have been, but I do see some great potential in both of them, especially the former since it features a character I am much more aware of rather than the latter.
Note: This review contains major spoilers for Original Sin.
Marvel’s The Death of Wolverine is its current big event of the year and though it isn’t exactly on the same scale as Original Sin or Inhumanity or the like, it is still a pretty big deal. But then, the deaths of superheroes, or their closest friends and family members in some cases, are always big events. They are big emotional milestones, both for the characters and for the readers alike, and they should definitely get the attention they deserve. Especially when the character dying off soon is Wolverine, Marvel’s biggest success of late, whether we talk movies or comics.
Charles Soule is the writer entrusted with killing off Wolverine for the modern audience and it is quite possibly his biggest gig in comics to date. While some of his other work has failed to resonate for me, with Death of Wolverine at least he has won me over. The first two issues have seen him fighting off a bunch of assassin mercs and then going off to Madripoor for a showdown with Viper and Lady Deathstrike, all without his healing factor. In the latest issue, we see him face off against yet another personal foe, someone he has a lot of history with, and Charles definitely brings his A-game here, as does artist Steve McNiven and his fellows.
With the advent of the Original Sin crossover event earlier this year, Marvel set itself up for some big changes in October. The most startling change was that Thor Odinson was deemed to no longer be worthy of the great hammer Mjolnir. This storyline was introduced in Original Sin #3 where the dead Watcher Uatu’s mutilated eye (one of them) caused a psychic bomb that made the gathered heroes and villains aware of some of the deepest secrets of their lives. The storyline then culminated in Original Sin #7 where Nick Fury whispered something to Thor that caused the God of Thunder to suddenly become unworthy of Mjolnir, utterly breaking him.
Today’s Thor #1 sees the continuation of that last point. At the end of Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm, Odin the All-Father returned to Asgardia and now the entire court of Asgard gathers on the Moon to watch as a broken Thor continues to whisper to Mjolnir, asking it for some kind of redemption and reaffirmation. And in the meantime, Malekith the Accursed leads a raid of Frost Giants on Midgard, seeking something they value, and the stage is set for the introduction of a new Thor, a woman this time. Jason Aaron’s writing is mostly on point here, but it is the art by Russell Dauterman & Co. that really shines here.