All posts by MMDG

Misty Morning Disco Goblin and Idler-in-Chief. (BB Karo is my secret identity. Shh.)

Infinity Wars #1

Is it that time of year already? For those of us no longer in school or working in education (and, living in San Francisco, perennially devoid of any true seasonal awareness), summer doesn’t start until Marvel officially rolls out its big annual event series. In 2018, unsurprisingly, the focus is on the company’s cosmic canon, with the Guardians, Avengers, and this new breed of Infinity Stones taking center stage. We have borne witness, in recent years, to the way Marvel Studios has dictated the central cast and plot points of these crossovers. Whether by editorial mandate, or merely a concerted effort to boost sales with cross-media awareness, the hyped-up books on the shelves vary depending on whichever Hollywood blockbuster is currently stuffing the company’s coffers.

That may be a cynical stance on the inception of these events, but it doesn’t necessarily take away from the quality of the stories themselves. Marvel crossover events in recent years have run the gamut between convoluted, uninspired slogs (Civil War II) and engaging surprise-filled epics (Infinity).  How these stories will pan out is not always apparent going in, which is why we examine, with particular interest, the first volume of any given core title. And this week we get the first official chapter of Infinity Wars, courtesy of Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato.

Continue reading Infinity Wars #1

Mr. and Mrs. X

Marvel’s X-family of titles experienced their own fresh start of sorts, in last year’s ResurrXion event. The publishing initiative, coming on the heels of the Inhumans vs. X-Men throwdown, seemed like a concerted effort to realign Marvel’s media focus on the mutants, and away from the Inhumans. In light of Marvel Studios’ spectacular failure at making the Inhumans live-action relevant, ResurrXion feels more like a precursor to the thorough housecleaning we’re now experiencing. I’ll read Death of the Inhumans for Cates & Olivetti, but I can’t help but cringe when I consider the editorial tantrum that seems to have started the fire.

Even when the “resurrXted” books segued into Marvel’s Legacy season, the titles felt diluted and stale. The art on some of the later X-Men: Gold and Blue books in particular was atrocious and spoke to a general apathy towards the mutant corner of the Marvel universe, something that the initiative was specifically trying to dispel.

In other words, Marvel’s current line-wide Fresh Start, now in its thirteenth week, couldn’t have come at a better time for the X-books. And the architects of a genuinely fresh approach to these titles are themselves rather new to the scene. After flexing his muscles on Phoenix Resurrection, Matthew Rosenberg continues to build his mutant cred with an excellent New Mutants series and the new Multiple Man mini. He’s poised to make a bigger dent, partnered with Greg Land, as the regular writer on Astonishing X-Men.

Mariko Tamaki, who penned an excellent She-Hulk-fronted Hulk title, is leading the charge with the new X-23 book, the first issue of which has immediately endeared me to Laura Linney and her sister Gabby.

And then there’s Kelly Thompson. Fresh off an Eisner best-series nomination for Hawkeye, Thompson brought her brand of sharp, witty dialogue woven through a fun fast-paced caper to the Rogue & Gambit: Ring of Fire five-issue series. When a creator cares about certain characters as much as Thompson does these two off-again, on-again lovers, it shows. The follow-up is an X-book I had no idea I wanted to see, until I held that goofy cover in my hands. Mr. and Mrs. X #1, out this week, by Thompson and artist Oscar Bazaldua, is a welcome addition to the revitalized stable of mutant titles.

Continue reading Mr. and Mrs. X

SDCC 2018: Top 5 Comic Book Exclusives

I’m foregoing the weekly new release column to focus on a different kind of release: the 2018 San Diego Comic Con variant. With the convention officially kicking off tomorrow (and knowing full well that I have no willpower when it comes to resisting limited editions and event exclusives), here’s a list of five special releases that are on my radar.

Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 – J. Scott Campbell Glow-in-the-Dark Variant (Marvel)
A surprisingly entertaining addition to Marvel’s recent “Fresh Start” initiative, Cosmic Ghost Rider by Donny Cates and Dylan Burnett is an offbeat far-flung future jaunt taking the new Ghost Rider, Frank Castle, on a version of the back-in-time-to-kill-Hitler plot. This time, however, the Punishing nutjob journeys back to ancient Titan to fuck with a certain purple Eternal in his crib. The book itself is entertaining, and funny in a way that Deadpool wishes it could be, and this limited variant has a cover that glows in the dark. So. I want it.

Black Hammer #1 – Fábio Moon Convention Exclusive (Dark Horse)
Jeff Lemire’s Eisner-winning love letter to Golden Age superheroes has been one of my favorite books over the last few years, and Dark Horse has three different variant covers to celebrate the reprinting of this first issue. Of the three, this cover by Moon, paying tribute to the first issue of Giffen & Maguire’s Justice League, is easily my favorite. Limited print run of 1,400 copies.

Continue reading SDCC 2018: Top 5 Comic Book Exclusives

Comic Book Trivia: The Cap, Cats, & Bats Edition

As part of the July 3rd celebration and midnight release for Captain America #1, Catwoman #1, and Batman #50, featuring the purported nuptials of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, we hosted a special trivia night at Mission: Comics and Art.

Congratulations to the Anagraminals for becoming the first repeat champions, taking home a full set of the nine variant covers to Captain America #1 along with $50 in store merchandise. And special recognition to Hsiangrila for finishing second as a solo player!

Now for a chance to test your knowledge. Partly for posterity, and partly to avoid doing a new comics post this week, here’s the quiz in its entirety. Lots of questions on Captain America and Batman, of course.

Question #1
Batman #50 isn’t the only super-wedding issue this summer. Which two characters got married in last month’s X-Men Gold #30?

Question #2
3 Dev Adam, also known as “the Turkish Captain America,” was a completely unauthorized 1973 Turkish movie. Who is Cap’s nemesis is this film? [Hint: think popular Marvel superhero, reimagined as a villainous gang leader.]

Question #3
Since 1997, the Ignatz Awards have been conferred at the Small Press Expo. The name is derived from a character from what seminal comic stip by George Herriman?

Question #4
What political movement is mocked in a protest scene from Captain America #602 (2010), causing a page to be edited before publication in the trade paperback collection?

Question #5
In which comic series did Judge Dredd make his first appearance?

Continue reading Comic Book Trivia: The Cap, Cats, & Bats Edition

From Iron Man to Infinity War: Trivial Musings from a Marathon Viewing

Like most of the world, I saw Avengers: Infinity War on opening weekend, in a crowded theater with an audience energized by expectations, curiosity, and love of a spectacle. And as much as I wanted to stay up into the wee hours of the morning discussing it with my own assembled group of friends, we all realized that there’d be time enough for that later, particularly after sleeping off maybe one Widow’s Sting too many.

Let’s talk about John Brolin! And did the #nospoilers pleas make us expect an ending different from the comics? What about that Gamora arc? And Thor & Rabbit! Ultimately, most opinions and observations were met with the concession that, well, we’re going to have to see it again.

My girlfriend was a bit surprised (despite being among at least two people who had already seen it a second time, this being Friday and all) and confirmed with me, “You really want to see it again?” When I responded in the affirmative, and asked if she’d be down, her response was, “Okay, but not until we watch all the movies in order first.”

Prior to getting together four years ago, my girlfriend says that she “thinks” she “probably saw” one or two of those Marvel movies when they came out. In the time since, of course, she has been a willing and eager student in my mildly exhausting course on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At this point she had seen all eighteen movies leading up to Infinity War, but likely not in order, certainly not close together, and with an admittedly limited amount of attention paid to certain installments. That was all about to change.

We did this over a two-and-a-half week span, but the idea was inspired by one of our friends who sat in the theater for a 28-hour stretch during Alamo’s continuously running MCU marathon. By now maybe you’ve seen one or more viewing diaries from pretentious film critics who have self-righteously subjected themselves to these types of marathons despite professing to abhor the genre. Oh what witty observations about farty upholstery and snoring men in Deadpool shirts do abound! If anything, it proves that being an obnoxious dick on the Internet isn’t limited to comment posts and Twitter feeds.

Anyway… this is not that kind of viewing log. And as much as I would have loved to take a day off work to join one my pals for the overnight marathon, I relished the opportunity to take this in at a more managed pace, allowing my girlfriend to watch Kevin Feige’s ten-year epic unfold from the comfort of our couch. And because I had already seen each of these movies several times (many several, in the case of Avengers), I was curious as to whether or not I would pick up on anything new while watching them in succession over a short period of time. Plus, as soon as we were done, I would get to see Infinity War again.

So what follows are some truly inane bits of trivia, digressions, and realizations. Take it for what it’s worth.

Iron Man (2008)
No revelations in this repeat viewing, other than being ordinarily put off by the number of times Jeff Bridges smacks his lips before speaking. For that I blame djlazybear, who drew my attention to that cottonmouthed fucker’s penchant for puckering a few years ago. Also… RDJ sure does look young! Ten years is an impressive stretch, yeah?

The Incredible Hulk (2008)
This still isn’t good. I’d forgotten that Marvel tried setting up The Leader (I’ll wager Marvel was counting on us forgetting this) for some future sequel or tie-in. Best revelation: during the climactic brawl in Harlem, there’s a Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) cameo! Apparently he had a minor part that included some lines, but none of that made the final cut.


Continue reading From Iron Man to Infinity War: Trivial Musings from a Marathon Viewing

Captain America #1 by Coates & Yu

As much as I enjoyed Mark Waid’s post-Secret Empire run on Captain America, the entire arc felt like it was doing its best to avoid dealing with the fallout from Nick Spencer’s subversive epic. Initially, Waid’s book, launched under the Legacy trade dress, took the form of a Steve Rogers road trip, an effort to reconnect with a country that had been torn apart after Red Skull successfully re-wired Captain America’s reality to create a bastion of fascism and a conquering leader of Hydra. Then, before that reflective journey could really get going, Cap was frozen (again) and awakened in a future U.S. similarly gripped by an oppressive authoritarian regime. It’s almost as if the editors asked Waid to reinvent Empire, but with Steve now as the savior, rather than the enslaver. And when that little escapade had concluded, we got a few more fill-in issues featuring yet another far-flung future America, this time under the control of the Kree, and with Rogers’s descendants cast as the heroic protagonists.

We expected Marvel to put some distance between “Captain Hydra” and the relaunch, but avoiding a storyline that was so clearly part of Marvel continuity began to feel somewhat cowardly.

Secret Empire #1 (2017)

Everything about Secret Empirefrom its fomenting lead-in story in the pages of Steve Rogers: Captain America, released during the summer of 2016, and the eventual event series, which premiered in 2017, feels like a dark fairy tale of the Trump Era. And, as such, maybe it would have been better received, and, indeed, more impactful, had it been a self-contained “Elseworlds” type story.

Don’t get me wrong — I applaud Spencer and Marvel for boldly following through with such a politically charged story. The problem arises when the comics introduce themes of external forces manipulating our democracy, denials of freedoms, and paralyzing social divisions directly into the mainstream Marvel universe, but then seemingly ignore the repercussions.

Enter Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu. Uniting the acclaimed political writer and author of the inspired new Black Panther series with the artist responsible for Secret Invasion seems to be, on the surface, a pretty clear indication that the series was finally ready to address the ominous overtures of last summer’s crossover event. And this first chapter of “Winter in America” does not disappoint.

Continue reading Captain America #1 by Coates & Yu

Multiple Man #1

I’ve become a big fan of Matthew Rosenberg in recent years, and was thrilled when he started doing work for Marvel. In the process I have also become appreciative of the publisher’s technique for breaking in new writers; a number of entertaining and well-received mini series (including New Mutants: Dead Souls and Phoenix Resurrection) followed by a toes-in-the-water mixed bag of runs on some fringe monthlies (like Punisher and Secret Warriors) before he gets to cut loose on a high profile series. Later this month, Rosenberg joins veteran artist Greg Land as the creative team for a new era of Astonishing X-Men. And anyone who’s read the aforementioned mutant books can see that the guy is an adept student of X-history; I’m expecting to break out the Marvel Universe Guide To… with his very first issue.

But before that drops, we’re treated to an unexpected “Fresh Start” mini-series. Similar to the Quicksilver: No Surrender mini, which didn’t seem like it needed to exist (and hasn’t changed my mind over the course of two issues), Multiple Man #1, by Rosenberg and Andy MacDonald, has taken a character very few of us expected to hear from again so soon (or maybe even had forgotten had been killed off), and made him the focus of a thoroughly entertaining Madrox mystery. Continue reading Multiple Man #1

Amazing Spider-Man #801

It’s been a helluva run, Dan Slott. Amazing Spider-Man #801 marks the end of the Spider-scribe’s more than ten-year run on Marvel’s flagship title. This issue’s heartfelt farewell, beautifully illustrated by Marcos Martín, is at once a stirring self-contained story, rich with the character elements that have made Spider-Man so beloved for generations; as well as a sly bookend to an epic tenure that began with the first “Brand New Day” issue back in 2008.

Simply by virtue of his time on the title, Slott deserves to be counted among a handful of great writers who have taken ol’ Webhead on his share of some of the more memorable storylines in comic book history. Personally, I grew up during the DeFalco/Michelinie era. So between following conflicts with Hobgoblins, Gang Wars, and symbiotes, I caught up on the original Stan Lee, Ditko, and Romita issues, themselves some of the single most influential superhero comics ever created. And it is, of course, with a certain reverence that we look back on those formative experiences; to this day, I count David Michelinie among the top five Amazing Spider-Man writers of all time. So what of the generation that has grown up with Dan Slott’s ASM? A lot has happened to Peter over the last decade, from Doc Ock to Parker Industries, and this run will undoubtedly be special for a great number of young comic book fans. I think, however, that as we gain a little distance and perspective, we’ll all truly appreciate where Slott’s oeuvre fits in with some of these all-time great runs. Continue reading Amazing Spider-Man #801

Thor #1

If it feels like every new Thor launch is scripted by Jason Aaron, that’s because this is the sixth time the prolific writer has had his name attached to one thundering #1 or another. And while the Jane Foster/Thor arc (itself witness to two premiere issues) with Russell Dauterman will forever hold a special place in my heart, there’s reason to believe that for this week’s “Fresh Start” Thor #1, Aaron has saved the best for last.

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“Likely the last,” Jason? Tough to hear, and as much as we’d like for you to be to Thor what Dan Slott was to Spider-Man (or maybe you already are?), we know about all good things and such. But if your final act is going to kick off with art by the fantastic Mike del Mundo and feature back-up tales by the equally incomparable Christian Ward, you won’t hear anyone complaining. Continue reading Thor #1

Man of Steel #1

Yeah, I get it. Former Marvel Golden Boy jumps ship for the competition and his first major contribution is a limited series on the industry’s most iconic figure.

John Byrne rose to prominence at Marvel during the 80’s, first as part of the Uncanny X-Men revival alongside Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum (as well as a run on Avengers that made me a lifelong fan), and then writing and illustrating a seminal run on flagship title The Fantastic Four. His high-profile departure for DC began with a post-Crisis reboot of Superman in 1986’s Man of Steel limited series. Three decades later, and another major contributor to Marvel’s pantheon, Brian Michael Bendis, makes his celebrated DC debut (minus a few teaser short stories) in a Superman mini titled, of course, Man of Steel.

Byrne’s Man of Steel #1 (1986)

I’ll admit to not having paid attention to press leading up to this series and, as a result, this obvious correlation to Byrne’s DC tenure didn’t dawn on me until I had picked up this new book. And I think it’s a bad move.

Is the goal to strike a parallel to prior reboots? Or is DC trying to draw attention to the fact that Bendis, like Byrne, was essentially lured away from the competition to work on a high-profile series, a snarky gloat immortalized in publication history? If it’s the former, then it seems like this series title would have made more sense as part of their recent Rebirth initiative. But if it’s the latter, then it seems like a childish ploy, particularly given the fact that Byrne ended up returning to Marvel after just a few years. It would also undermine the sentiment of virtually every comic book fan, DC and Marvel alike, who applauds Bendis’s move, seeing it as an opportunity for the tapped-out creator to refresh his own psyche and get back to writing compelling comic book stories once again. Maybe that’s the real meaning behind the title! Brian Michael Bendis is getting the reboot — he’s the Man of Steel! But… probably not. It’s more than likely just a wink and a nod.

And maybe it doesn’t fucking matter in the slightest and I should move on to talking about whether or not I liked the book.

Continue reading Man of Steel #1