War of the Realms: Week Six

I was never that big into variant covers. I fell in love with comics in the 80’s, and was then heartbroken during the 90’s when gimmicks, speculators, and reckless rockstar artists ruined the comics retail biz. (I’m okay now; me and comics are back together now for the long haul.) So in recent years, when incentive covers and con exclusives became highly sought after, with prices commensurate with quality art and small print runs, I didn’t really pay attention.

Until my brother got back into comics.

Growing up, my little bro loved him some Iron Man. And I encouraged his four-color fanaticism as bet as I could, but from high school on, his interest waned. I fed him trades on the regular — superhero stuff for birthdays, maybe Vertigo collections on Christmas — but despite minor upticks in engagement around the Warren Ellis and Matt Fraction eras, nothing stuck.

When Marvel kicked off its “Fresh Start” with a boatload of open-order variants for Tony Stark: Iron Man, I emailed my brother with a “collect them all” taunt, fully expecting to be calmly rebuffed. Much to my surprise, he told me to order him one of each. Later that year at SDCC he discovered incentive variants by the likes of David Aja and Alex Ross and, well… he was hooked. (Not just on variants either; little bro is reading comics again. So proud.)

So what does this have to do with my check-in on week six of Marvel’s War of the Realms event?

Well, when my brother started seeking out interesting variants, it spurred me to do the same. There is an infectious nature to enthusiasm (one of our guiding principles) that I am happy to foster. Also, part of me hated that he had some super-rare exclusives and I didn’t. So for the better part of a year now, I’ve been dutifully building my own collection of variant covers and, given my commitment to go all-in on War of the Realms, it made sense to add as many of those to my shortboxes as well. And since Marvel knows me (and kindred obsessives), they’ve been releasing a number of “connecting” variants: you can’t have just one variant in a series of connected variants, obviously. War has been no exception. Who wouldn’t want to collect all ten of those Yggdrasil-mapping covers?!

Anyway… so I called around for this week’s connecting variant for Greg Pak and Gang Hyuk Lim’s New Agents of Atlas #1 and discovered, to my mild surprise, that is was selling for quite a bit more than previous variants in the series. Upon further review, and a tour around eBay, it so happens that all the incentive covers for this book are in high demand, with the virgin Mico Suayan variant going for upwards of $500!

Character first appearances usually play a factor when prices escalate like this, and the first issue of Pak’s new all-Asian Atlas team has a few, including the first appearance of Filipino superhero Wave.

Suayan, who also hails from The Philippines, has added to the hype surrounding this book by going on record that the inspiration for his variant cover art was Filipino actress Nadine Lustre.

Other debuts include heroes from China, Korea, and Taiwan, who join Pak’s established Asian-American crimefighters Brawn, Ms. Marvel, Shang-Chi, and Silk, all working with Atlas chief agent Jimmy Woo to deal with the continent’s assault by the fiery foes from Muspelheim. It’s not just a nod to Marvel’s continued efforts at diversification, but it also has the makings of a team dynamic that could stick around awhile. Although the Realms-related action in this book isn’t essential to enjoying the event, the book is still highly recommended.

Wish I could say the same about this rag. I was pretty open about my feelings regarding this Journey into Mystery tie-in series when the first issue dropped, and had I not pre-ordered the run (actually, I pre-ordered anything with “War of the Realms” splayed across the cover because I have a problem), I wouldn’t even have bothered to see if things improved in this second issue. They don’t, fyi. Still stuffing shit gags and stupid lines of dialogue into every page if not panel, and still makes me feel bad for Kate Bishop and Thori. You deserve better, guys. Totally skippable.

And just as in week two of the War of the Realms releases, the hopelessly unfunny JiM shares rack space with the genuinely humorous Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Issue #44 picks up where the last tie-in left off, with the armored-up Colleen still fighting Canadian-conquering Jotunheim giants alongside the unexpected ally Ratatoskr, the squirrelly Asgardian god of chaos. While the action is tangential to the main plot of Realms, this book is still very much recommended.

May 1 | Weekly Buzz | May 15