Tag Archives: All New All Different Marvel

Aaron & Bachalo’s Doctor Strange

Blame it on the Time Gem, that re-imagining of Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto for the MCU, warping temporal conventions and mortal publishing schedules. This week’s Doctor Strange #20, the culmination of Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s brilliant run on the book, comes a week after issue #21. Weird, yeah? One might say strange, even. Or maybe Marvel was just really eager to get the first issue from the new creative team on the stands for its Secret Empire tie-in. The real reason for the twisted release schedule, however, can be found in the afterword of this week’s book: “Why, you ask, is issue #21 already on sale? DO NOT BLAME KADAVUS! Blame the incompetent editor whose buffoonery has put him on the edge of infinite torment!” Well, sure. It’s well-established that comic book editors are all buffoons, so I’m sure a slight delay on an oversized book brimming with mind-bending Bachalo splash pages and interior art from the legendary Kevin Nowlan can fall squarely on that moron’s shoulders.

And we’ll excuse it. Because, truly, none of us really wanted to see this creative team bid farewell. We typically spotlight series or storyline premieres in these weekly New Comics posts, but this time we’re making an exception. Since Aaron and Bachalo first introduced us to this new axe-swinging Stephen Strange in the opening week of the All-New All-Different initiative, Doctor Strange has been one of the most exciting and visually gratifying superhero books on the shelf. This new issue even brings back that “sexy incorporeal asian succubus” that had a little something to do with the book’s high finish in our ANAD rankings.

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Marvel NOW! – The First Six Months

It didn’t take long following Marvel’s All-New All-Different relaunch for the company to tease information regarding another “things will never be the same again” initiative. There was bound to be some fallout from last summer’s major crossover event, and the new season of books and fresh storylines was geared for a Marvel NOW! branding. No, this wasn’t the same Marvel NOW! slate that followed 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men event. This was an all-new, all-different Marvel NOW, if you will. I mean, look at that shattered and distressed NOW logo. Totally different.

In the same way that 2015’s Secret Wars set the stage for All-New All-Different universe, Civil War II was meant to segue into these Marvel NOW titles. And, in the same way that Secret Wars scheduling delays detracted from the initial ANAD offerings, major lags in CW2 meant that Marvel NOW! releases were rife with spoilers. And, sure, we Idlers bitched and moaned with the rest of the comic book community. But that didn’t mean we weren’t excited to read, rank, and review another stack of new books. In fact, the first month of this “shattered” NOW! initiative gave us some of the most promising superhero books in years.

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Love Is Love

The most important book on the new releases shelf this week is a trade anthology published by IDW, in conjunction with DC Entertainment. Love Is Love, with dozens of stories, artistic tributes, and messages, is a collaboration organized by Marc Andreyko intended to honor those killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando earlier this year. From the book’s solicitation: “this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talents in comics — mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today’s world. All material has been kindly donated by the writers, artists, and editors with all proceeds going to victims, survivors, and their families. Be a part of an historic comics event! It doesn’t matter who you love. All that matters is that you love.”

2016 has been a helluva year. The Idle Time clubhouse, for all its escapist frivolity and arguments about superpowers or cinematography, has not been immune to the disbelief and confusion brought on by real-world events over the last twelve months. I’m a little tired of being told that “we live in a bubble,” or that “we don’t understand what’s going on in the rest of the country.” What I do understand is that it’s almost 2017 and my nation is still beset with racism, bigotry, rampant misogyny, and hate. As a straight, white male I have a hard time accepting this. I can’t begin to imagine how my gay friends, my Muslim coworkers, or my own daughter feels when any one of them sees the news each day. When they’re told that they don’t understand what’s going on in the world.

I firmly believe that there are more of us that love than hate, more of us that celebrate than destroy. More of us who appreciate diversity than are frightened by things they don’t comprehend. And the more of us need to start affecting the rest of them. Seeing so many artists and writers who I admire come together for a project like Love Is Love exemplifies this. If it takes pinups of Superman waving a rainbow flag, or goofy exchanges between Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, to drive the point home, so be it.

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Marvel NOW! – Week 12

One of the most exciting things about this year’s Marvel NOW! initiative has been the rejuvenation of Marvel’s cosmic universe. Since the days of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, through the ascent of Jim Starlin and Chris Claremont, and even in recent work by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, there has been something uniquely special about the characters, exploits, and themes explored in the company’s spacefaring titles. The All-New All-Different relaunch last year dropped the ball in that regards. Most of the books were mediocre (Venom: Space Knight, Rocket & Groot), phoned-in (Guardians of the Galaxy, Star-Lord), or downright lousy (Drax, Guardians of Infinity). The few saving graces were Slott & Allred’s Silver Surfer (which was a carryover from the pre-ANAD era) and Ewing & Rocafort’s Ultimates, whose NOW reinvention is spearheading the current resurgence.

Week 12 of Marvel NOW! adds two more books to a stellar recharge that already includes the aforementioned Ultimates², the fantastic Nova, and promising Thanos. While these other books offer tours of the Marvel cosmos, however, the first of this week’s space books features a Peter Quill who has been forced to leave the intergalactic escapades on pause. In Chip Zdarsky and Kris Anka’s Star-Lord #1, the Guardians’ leader, along with the rest of his team, is “Grounded,” following the events of Civil War II. And life on Earth, he soon discovers, is quickly complicated by evasive ex-girlfriends, unsympathetic ducks, and feisty dimensionally displaced Wolverines.

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Marvel NOW! – Week 11

It’s about time, really. One could argue that the prior few volumes of Hawkeye, both the Matt Fraction & David Aja series and the Jeff Lemire & Ramón Peréz version, were intentionally ambiguous regarding the titular hero. Which “Hawkeye” is given the top billing? Shouldn’t we really start calling the book Hawkeyes? But with this week’s Marvel NOW! debut of Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero’s Hawkeye #1, there is no room for debate. This is Kate Bishop’s comic book. She’s packing her bow & arrow, saying farewell to Clint, and heading for California.

file_002-9Bishop settles in Venice, where she’s opened a private investigation office. And she’s taking surveillance photos of surfers. Like all good modern crime narratives, we need to de-romanticize the hardboiled intrigue of the professional detective’s line of work… before completely diving into a flurry of mystery, mayhem, and action sequences. This is still a superhero book after all. And Thompson is already demonstrating a knack for fun capes n’ tights books that serve up the super with a heaping side of sass. The two-page spread of Kate explaining to one potential client after another that she’s not that Hawkeye is gold.

Her recent Marvel work included picking up G. Willow Wilson’s all-female Avengers team on A-Force, a book that, sadly, did not seem to be part of the company’s 2016-2017 plans. Which is a shame, really, because that had been one of the more entertaining ensembles in Marvel’s catalog. The developing dynamic in A-Force makes me excited for the potential of this series; thus far, Thompson & Romero seem to be sticking with what works, or what is familiar. The storytelling, plot construction, and even general aesthetic are very reminiscent of Fraction & Aja’s Hawkeye. Given time, however, I’m pretty excited to see this creative team carve their own path, and tell a unique story, in much the same way that Lemire and Peréz were able to do in their two arcs.


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Marvel NOW! – Week 10

Something’s happening to the Marvel cosmic canon. It’s getting pretty freaking great again. Last year’s All-New All-Different Nova was a nice introduction to Sam Alexander; indeed, it earned high marks in our focus group ranking based on accessibility and, in the words of one Idler, “its existence in its own special comic book universe.” Over the course of the year, and into this season’s Marvel NOW!, young Nova has become ever more integrated into the capes n’ tights collective, from a turn with the Avengers through his current role as part of the Champions. This week’s Nova #1, by Jeff Loveness, Ramón Pérez, and Ian Herring, is a gorgeous relaunch of Alexander’s solo adventures, and sets up a promising return of some of those great space yarns that have been sorely missing from the House of Ideas in recent years.

The book opens with Nova helping everyone’s favorite giant talking head, Ego, The Living Planet, deal with an infestation of Sidri. And the book concludes with the mysterious resurrection of Richard Rider, dripping with some sinister ramifications from his time in the Cancerverse. But between the nods to Lee & Kirby, Claremont & Cockrum, and recent cosmic champions Abnett & Lanning, Sam Alexander is faced with his most difficult challenge to date: talking to a girl.


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Inhumans vs. X-Men

Somewhat lost amid the dragged-out Civil War II event, the ongoing Captain Hydra drama, various Marvel NOW! debuts, and even the fresh look at the cosmic catalog in the pages of books like Thanos and Ultimates², is the impending conflict between The Inhumans and the X-Men. This has been brewing for some time – indeed, for more than a year, since the opening weeks of Marvel’s All-New All-Different initiative. And in the pages of Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Aaron Kuder’s tantalizing Death of X, we learned just exactly what Cyclops did all those months ago that served to both brand him as a despised mutant terrorist, as well as instigate the forthcoming Inhuman-Mutant war. In this week’s prologue book, Inhumans vs. X-Men #0, Soule and Kenneth Rocafort deftly summarize the mutants’ fight for survival, and set the stage for the big showdown.

file_002-7In the aftermath of the Infinity event, we learned that the Terrigen mists unleashed by Black Bolt, while transforming both Earth’s populace and the greater Marvel Universe by awakening the Inhuman potential in thousands of unsuspecting humans around the globe, also have a terrifying side effect. The Terrigen mists are deadly to mutants.

The threat to mutantkind felt real. If it was Marvel’s intention to make readers perceive the circulation longevity of the X-books running short, then props to editorial genius. Two new Inhumans series debuted. The “Unity Team” featured in Uncanny Avengers, first formed following Avengers vs. X-Men, now unified Avengers, mutants, and Inhumans. Wolverine was still dead, ostensibly replaced by X-23 and Old Man Logan. Professor X was still dead, seemingly replaced by the Inhuman Gorgon (he’s a wheelchair-bound mentor to new Inhumans!) Cyclops, apparently, is dead, and the entire world hates him. Conspiracy theorists were going nuts: was Marvel really replacing their beloved mutants with these Inhumans? Does Marvel Studios, supplanting their absent X-license with Inhumans on television and, purportedly, in movies, carry that much clout?
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In the post-Civil War II era, which, unfortunately, continues to crazily coexist with the Civil War II era, the Marvel universe still has a need for a team of “awesome people working together to do awesome things.” Maybe more so now than ever. When Ewing and Rocafort’s ANAD Ultimates series wrapped with issue #12 last month, we were treated to yet another one of those g-d spoilers caused by ridiculous scheduling delays. Namely, that Civil War II would conclude with Black Panther switching sides, turning on Captain Marvel, and effectively shutting down their proactive problem-solving super-team of super-scientists. Say it ain’t so, T’Challa. This series was so good.

Of course, we were also given notice that the team would be back in Ultimates² #1. Al Ewing is joined by new series artist Travel Foreman and colorist Dan Brown for the highlight of Marvel NOW! Week 8, hitting stands the same day as the rather anti-climactic Civil War II #7 (which isn’t the last issue by the way). Not a moment too soon, either, because now that the Earth’s heroes have (apparently) finished their petty squabble over the merits of predictive justice, the Ultimates can get back to work taking care of the problems that really need solving. Enter Anti-Man, newly knighted by the transformed Galactus as the first Herald of Life. And if nobody was listening before (except Thanos, ironically), it’s time to pay attention. The universe is in chains, and the Cosmic Jailer seems to be a very pressing issue. Continue reading Ultimates²

Marvel NOW! – Week 7

No, seriously. How many Jeff Lemires are there? Does this one guy ever sleep? Does he take a day off? For the record, I’m okay with his insane output for the major monthly publishers (and incredibly okay to see him revisit his own super-origins in the icy, hockey-obsessed north of Essex County when Roughneck comes out next year), and will do anything in my power to help keep Jeff running. Can I stock your refrigerator for you? Howsabout the password to my Munchery account? I’m a Nespresso convert. I can hook you up.

Lemire was one of the anchors of last season’s All-New All-Different Marvel launch, captaining Extraordinary X-Men, scripting a poignant Hawkeye yarn, and making B-listers like Old Man Logan and Moon Knight monthly must-reads. And now, partnered with veteran artist Mike Deodato, he’s debuting Thanos #1, one of the early bright spots for Marvel’s 2016-2017 NOW! season.

This isn’t the first time during the Marvel Cinematic era that the company has turned to a high-profile writer to maintain rack presence for the malevolent Titan. In the previous Marvel NOW! season, back in 2013, Jason Aaron teamed up with Simone Bianchi to give us the beautiful Thanos Rising, and both of Jonathan Hickman’s major summer events, 2013’s Infinity and 2015’s Secret Wars, featured integral villainy from Purple Puss. Now it’s Lemire’s turn. After being brought back to life in All-New All-Different’s Ultimates, Thanos isn’t looking to waste any time reasserting his galactic dominance. His first stop is the Black Quadrant, home base for former minion Corvus Glaive’s band of mercenaries and pirates.

file_003-3While Thanos is no stranger to recent Marvel books, what makes this series particularly exciting is the rest of this book’s cast. It’s a true family affair, as both Thanos’s brother, the former Avenger Starfox, and Thanos’s son, Thane, have plots in motion to come into conflict with the despot. We also get to see the never-humble Champion of the Universe making some bold proclamations regarding Thanos’s fate. Deodato’s style, both in the gritty realization of his action sequences and the geometric wizardry of his layouts, taps into the great 70’s and 80’s Heavy Metal/Epic vibe of classic four-color science-fiction. The House of Ideas has some marvelously trippy characters in its cosmic catalog, and it’s a treat to read a book that looks to explore that roster.

Continue reading Marvel NOW! – Week 7

Marvel NOW! – Week 6

Marvel’s latest NOW! initiative may not have gotten off to the best start, particularly given the fact that so many of these new titles and storylines were meant to rise out of the ashes of the as-yet-to-be-concluded Civil War II event. This isn’t the first time scheduling delays have caused confusing overlaps between “seasons” of Marvel’s releases, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed among comic book readers, many of whom are expressing their rightful frustration by avoiding new series launches. We’re now in week 6 of the “shattered” NOW! initiative, but still two weeks away from the scheduled release of the final chapter of Civil War II. And delays aside, the series just hasn’t been very good. Whether or not it’s fair, much of the heat falls on Brian Michael Bendis. He’s Marvel’s chief architect, and, as the hardest working guy at The House of Ideas over the last decade-plus, it’s only natural to wonder if maybe he’s just feeling a little worn out. Superhero burnout is real, folks. And, the really scary thing is, history tells us it has a very low recovery rate.

file_000-11But here’s the thing. Bendis isn’t slowing down. On the contrary, he seems out to prove that his knack for telling some of the most compelling and entertaining capes n’ tights stories of our generation hasn’t cooled in the slightest. The continuing adventures of Miles Morales in Spider-Man; new titles Infamous Iron Man and Jessica Jones; and especially this week’s Invincible Iron Man #1, make the bloated and unwieldy Guardians of the Galaxy and Civil War II runs look like company mandates that steered the scribe too far from his home.
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