No surprise this week, folks, as Marvel rolls out a high-profile relaunch of one of the most surprisingly successful properties in comics, just a few days before the box office premiere of the new movie. All New Guardians of the Galaxy #1, by Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, couldn’t have come at a better time, either. Not because folks need some shelf eye-candy when they peruse the new release racks after leaving the theater, or during Free Comic Book Day this Saturday, but because the last few months of Guardians has been insufferably bad. Bendis is still one of the best funnybook scribes in the business, but it’s been pretty clear where his energies have been devoted. The way he phoned in Civil War II and, especially, the last year of Guardians, makes me hope he never gets assigned to another team book or major event again. Say no, once in a while, BMB. Leave the insane capes n’ tights output to the younger set; Jeff Lemire is still hungry.
But I digress. The new book is tantalizing eye candy for both casual readers as well as longtime fans hungry for a return to form. The fact that Kuder is providing the art is almost good enough, by itself, for me to sign on for a full arc. Marvel fans may not be too familiar with his work, but his Frank Quitely-inspired artistry had been on display on various DC projects over the last few years. He’s found a welcome home on a major Marvel book, especially among those of us who wished Arthur Adams could have been doing more than just Guardians covers. There’s a mix of startling intricacy in his linework, but it’s combined with a fluid dynamism that not only complements the humor of Guardians, but also fits wonderfully with Marvel’s trippy cosmic legacy, from Steve Ditko through Jim Starlin. Also, thank you for restoring Drax and Gamora to their pre-movie designs.
So much fun! This book has everything I want from a Spider-story, slice-of-life Peter Parker mayhem, wisecracking Spider-Man, dinosaurs! Oh yeah, it also has this excellent new Spider-team consisting of the Webhead, Mary Jane, and their daughter Annie. Great writing, great art, great all-around. I loved this book, and will absolutely be reading more. – IP
I’m glad they have the Earth-2 stuff still going (been around longer than the Ultimate U!) but I’ve never been into it, and this book isn’t changing my mind. – MMDG
First collection: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows Vol. 1: Brawl in the Family (June)
Matthew Rosenberg and Ben Torres
Good, not great. Still a big fan of Rosenberg’s work, so, even though I’m not partial to the “other side of villainy” tales, I trust that this writer – especially with the titular character – can make it work. – MMDG
First collection: KingpinVol. 1: Born Against (September)
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.
Charles Soule & James Asmus
I’m definitely disappointed that the Inhumans are basically the new X-Men. At least the Inhumans have pretty much the same back story now, which is still compelling, but I don’t know how much I’ll attach to the characters. Crystal seems to be heading in a different direction than she’s been before, and I like Gorgon’s complicated existence, but I hope the don’t run the wheelchair thing into the ground. Hopefully that Xavier comment punctuates it and he can have stories where people aren’t constantly pointing out that he’s semi-paralyzed. It’s a pretty-looking book; the elemental stuff in the riot scene is particularly cool. I will read more to see if the new direction these characters are going is as endearing as the X-books. – RF
First collection: All New Inhumans, Vol. 1: Global Outreach (May)
Gerry Duggan & Mike Hawthorne
I haven’t read much Deadpool; he always seemed very gimmicky, but I really enjoyed this book. It does seem weird that in order for current super heroes to be successful, they have to embrace capitalism and some form of bureaucracy, making them somewhat less super. But the concept of using Deadpool – a powered, ultraviolent gunman – to finance super-heroic operations is tasty irony. I’m a sucker for a good mystery plot, so I’ll definitely finish this first arc. – RF
First collection: Deadpool, Vol. 1: Millionaire with a Mouth (May)
Only three series debuting this week. Silk is the latest entry into Marvel’s Spider-verse. Venom: Space Knight showcases a very different Venom learning about his role as a cosmic agent in the third solo Guardians book. And one of Jack “King” Kirby’s wacky 70’s creations, Devil Dinosaur, gets re-inserted into the ANAD Marvel U in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.
All New All Different premieres Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #1 Silk #1 Venom: Space Knight #1
Six more All New All Different books hit shelves this week, bringing the total number of new series launches up to ten. Week 2 features two more books from the Spider-verse, and our first official full-length look at two of the Avengers teams.
Not only is today Jim Starlin’s 66th birthday, but this month also marks the 40th anniversary of the release of his game-changing Warlock #9, one of the books that cemented his legacy among some of comics’ all-time greatest creators, and made his name synonymous with Marvel’s cosmic universe.
“The Infinity Effect” became more than just a starting point for Adam Warlock’s adventures with his evil future self; it set the groundwork for arguably the grandest four-color space opera of all time. The saga of the Infinity Gems and the characters linked to those stones – including Thanos, Gamora, and, of course, Warlock – has spun into numerous universe-shattering events and limited series over the last few decades. And, more significantly for even the casual superhero fan, it has become a slowly building central plot point for Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Seeing Thanos slide the Gauntlet onto his purple mitt in the final scene of Age of Ultron might have been the coolest big-screen teaser since seeing Thor’s hammer chilling in the desert.
So to celebrate Starlin’s birthday, and help prep the uninitiated for the coming Infinity blitz, here’s a Top 5 primer on his Marvel cosmic canon. Rather than rank these, they’re being presented chronologically, from the early 70’s right through the present day. Continue reading Jim Starlin and Marvel’s Cosmic Infinite→