Not Kurt Wagner, Nightcrawler, but the Night-Crawler, interdimensional guardian who protects the doorway to the realm of the Undying Ones. And he’s the answer to the question, who’s the other guy on Grandmaster’s tower in Thor: Ragnarok?
In a movie characteristically replete with fun Easter eggs, it surprised me to see such an obscure Marvel reference figured prominently in the bottom left of of this towering tribute to Sakaar’s grand champions. Not surprisingly, the Internet has had a very hard time identifying this guy. I only recognized him because I had just finished an exhausting research project on Valkyrie in anticipation of this very movie. The Night-Crawler makes his first appearance in The Incredible Hulk #126 (April, 1970) by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe. In this same issue Barbara Norriss, who will later go on to inhabit the body of Brunnhilde the Valkyrie (Defenders #4), sacrifices herself to release Doctor Strange from a mystical prison. Catch up on the whole twisted tale here. Continue reading It’s the Night-Crawler!→
The influx of quality crime comics over the last two decades has helped keep alive the storied pulp tradition of the early twentieth century, when hardboiled detective yarns and creepy horror rags ruled the spin racks. And as great as it is to read a modern by-the-numbers crime epic, like Kane or Goldfish, the beauty of this medium is the ability to blur lines between genres; shadows hide more than cigarette smoke and bullet casings. Brubaker and Phillips get it, in stuff like Kill or Be Killed; David Lapham in Stray Bullets. I’d like to nominate Abbott, by Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä, for inclusion on that list of engaging supernatural crime chillers.
Elena Abbott is a badass chain-smoking reporter investigating a series of grisly murders set against the powderkeg backdrop of early-70’s Detroit. Abbott’s husband had been murdered, years earlier, under an ominous cloud of dark, ancient magic. Now, the “claws of the shadow world” have reappeared, leaving their calling card on these slayings, and Abbott realizes that she might be the only person who can crack the case.
Thor is a person, he is an Asgardian, he is the son of Odin, he is the future king. Thor is also a mantle, a gift given to the God of Thunder, a license to wield the hammer Mjolnir. Separating the man from the mantle has been Jason Aaron’s primary focus in his incredible run with Thor thus far. The Mighty Thor #700, the defining title from Marvel’s Legacy initiative, is also Aaron’s greatest Thor story yet. Featuring a huge cast of “Thors,” a cavalcade of artists of an astounding variety of styles, and a realm-sprawling story worthy of the Legacy name, the issue is such a success because of the way it blends the past and present of Thor, as well as hinting at some intriguing future tales of the God of Thunder.
Aaron’s continuing saga of The Mighty Thor (Jane Foster’s story) takes a backseat to give the real meat of the issue to the original Thor, now unworthy of Mjolnir due to Nick Fury’s revelation that the Odinson himself believes Gods unsuitable for such a gift. Odinson must fight a horde of Malekith’s diverse army at the sanctuary of the Norns, weavers of fate. His failure in the central story of the issue is what’s used as a jumping off point for several potential followup stories. Though the issue features layers of groundwork for the future, it does so by building upon the past. Aaron’s run began in Thor, God of Thunder with Thor being thrust into the God Butcher’s sick attempt at genocide, an intense encounter which would leave the Odinson with that very feeling of unworthiness in the back of his mind. Issue #700 furthers that story by showing how the remnants of the God Butcher found their way to Galactus and Ego, the Living Planet. In one of the most conceptually insane series of pages in modern comic book history, Ego eats the corrupted Galactus.
As many people know, the Fantastic Four, despite being the quintessential Marvel team, has always been a tough gig to nail down. Beside the initial Stan and Jack run, the only two people have made their marks on the team for me: Jonathan Hickman and Mark Waid. Both runs took me a minute before falling fully behind them. This was not the case with Chip Zdarksy and Jim Cheung’s Marvel Two-in-One. I was fully invested within the first five pages.
While not being labeled a Fantastic Four book, it clearly is nothing else but that. In the post-Secret Wars world, Reed, Sue, and the kids have been out exploring the multiverse while leaving Johnny and Ben on Earth. Not knowing whether the rest of their family is actually alive has left them both in a rut. Johnny’s powers are fading and he has become a sort of adrenaline junkie trying to stimulate himself to the point of his old adventures. Ben has become a sort poster child for all charity efforts of the Fantastic Four. They are both aimless in different ways with neither of them particularly thinking that they need each other. Heartbroken over the loss of their family, they feel that the isolation from each other is the only way to heal. Zdarsky shows how wrong they both are.
Marvel probably couldn’t have picked a better creative team to follow Nick Spencer’s subversive Captain America epic than Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. As great as the Hydra-Cap saga was (and despite mixed feelings regarding the conclusion of Secret Empire, it was great; don’t let the naysayers fool you), it was time for a fresh start. And in Captain America #695, his first issue under this season’s imprint, this new creative team perfectly captures everything that we’ve ever loved about the character, celebrating his past and paving the way for the future. These guys take their Legacy directives seriously.
The stellar team behind brilliant runs on Daredevil and, most recently, Black Widow, bring that same gorgeous storytelling to this Cap relaunch. Samnee’s elegant lines and fluid layouts are matched up with a vibrant color palette that manages to capture some genuine Golden Age nostalgia. And Waid’s first storyline doesn’t completely abandon the topical political bent of Spencer’s work. Cap goes undercover, returning to a town he had first helped when fresh out of the ice years ago, to intercept the plans of a supremacist organization. There’s some of that signature Marvel chronology compression that the continuity junkies will complain about, but just give us something to get excited about, is what I always say.
Chippy is quickly becoming my favorite Marvel writer. His entire run on Spidey has been great (the previous issue is an all-time favorite of mine now). He keeps up the trend with this issue and manages to make it both a great character piece and action story. The heart of Peter and the humor of Spidey is in full force. I’m going to follow this run for the entire time. – MeanOldPig
Collection: Spectacular Spider-Man Volume 2:
Most Wanted (April)
Kelly Thompson & Leonardo Romero beginning with #13
This was great. Reminded me of Fraction/Aja run that everyone fell in love with years ago. Kelly Thompson has a great handle on Kate and Clint and I could have watched them interact for awhile. The book made me laugh a lot and moved at a good pace. Leonardo Romero’s art is good as well! Reminds me of Aja without being a rip-off. I will read more of this. – MeanOldPig
While most of the news out of Marvel HQ this week has been in regards to yet another fresh start for the publisher’s entire comic book line, the oversized one-shot introduction to its spring mini-event may be generating the most excitement. Infinity Countdown Prime, by Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato, Jr., takes the obligatory company mandate to generate rack awareness for the next big Marvel film, namely, Avengers: Infinity War, and sets up a cosmic yarn with some genuinely surprising twists and a refreshing cast of characters.
Unexpected, that is, except for the Guardians of the Galaxy, of course. The Infinity Countdown series will supplant a regular Guardians title for the time being, and it makes perfect sense to focus in on this endearing collective of cosmic defenders. And in a refreshing switch from Bendis’s tired run, Gerry Duggan’s “All-new” crew has exhibited an effective balance of humor and pathos, reminding us of the team we were drawn to during the Abnett & Lanning era.
I’m enjoying this, but I grin every time I think of someone picking up this book for the first time. I probably wouldn’t keep reading it either – no context, no clue, just complications. But Javier Rodriguez’s character designs, especially the Progenitors, are wondrous. – MMDG
I don’t really see how this is supposed to be a great issue to pick up on its own. I dig Al Ewing’s other work and I know it’s very rich and reading everything is required so I don’t blame him. I followed it enough and some of if seems interesting to me. I love Maximus and his dialogue was spot on. The real draw was Javier Rodriguez’s art which holy crap is good. Him drawing big science ideas is something I really enjoy so I would keep reading if he was the regular artist. – MeanOldPig
Collection: Royals Volume 2: Judgment Day
19 Old Man Logan
Ed Brisson & Mike Deodato, Jr. beginning with #31
To me this book has the feel of a 70’s crime film about someone tangentially related to a crime getting pulled into it by fate. Kind of like Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza starring Robert Mitchum. This definitely has me intrigued and will make me read more of the title. While I don’t know what will happen to this book in the near future, this story seems like a fun one. – MeanOldPig
Brian Michael Bendis & Oscar Bazaldua beginning with #234
Judging a Bendis book as a jumping-on point is always a tough thing to do. The man is all about telling stories that have been years in the making. I don’t always like those stories but I’ve always liked his Miles Morales books so I dug this one. The Sinister Six is a concept that I always get behind and think you can have some good stories with. Do I think you can just pick up this book and enjoy it without any context? Yeah, but it is a bit like diving into the deep end and figuring it out. I liked it, but with Bendis’s announcement that he is jumping to DC, I can only wonder if this is his final Spider-Man story? – MeanOldPig
Collection: Spider-Man: Miles Morales Volume 5 (August)
Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez beginning with #6
Still a little lukewarm on Bendis. While there wasn’t anything bad about this issue, nothing from a script POV really blew me away. This is entertaining but not anything that I am salivating for more of. I do love a good Hell’s Kitchen War so there is that, and the team does have a lot more character than the TV show. The Marquez art and my own curiosity will probably make me give it one more shot. – MeanOldPig
I’m sick of Deadpool. Marquez’s art has never been better; Bendis can still ably write a team book; and, for the most part, I dig these characters. But I’m so sick of Deadpool. – MMDG
Christina Strain & Amilcar Pinna beginning with #85
I’m not sure why I have such a soft spot for this series. Could be the contrarian in me reacting to all the hate; I actually like Pinna’s off-kilter art style. It’s refreshing to see something produced with effort, no matter how odd, when so many of these other Legacy titles have been trotted out with boring, lazy art. Maybe I want this to recapture some of the magic from Jason Aaron’s Wolverine & The X-Men series. But maybe it’s just time to give up. This book is doomed. – MMDG
Collection: Generation X Vol. 2: Survival of the Fittest (April)
Al Ewing & Paco Diaz beginning with #11
I’m split on this. I really liked all the Sam stuff in his Archie prison world. I even liked the Celestial space robbers gang but there is always something missing from these books for me. I’m never sure why; Bobby and Sam are my two favorite mutants and their friendship is so good. Maybe it’s the team or some sort of tonal balance. A lot of the humor beside the Cannonball stuff didn’t really click for me. I just don’t buy the team as a whole and don’t really feel invested. While not bad, it’s not really my thing. – MeanOldPig