I’ve been feeling kinda burnt out on all the Wolverines running around the Marvel U. We currently are at three and with the original Logan returning, I was wondering how Old Man Logan’s place would be affected. I didn’t really have too high of hopes for Old Man Logan #31 going in because I’m not the biggest fan or either the character or artist Mike Deodato; however, I can say I was pleasantly surprised by both.
Aside from a few scattered lines, the book doesn’t really deal with OML’s time issues. Instead it focuses on Japan. For some reason, I always find myself liking Logan in Japan stories. I don’t know what it is but the setting always makes people bring their A game.
Writer Ed Brisson chooses to focus on a war brewing between The Hand (led by Gorgon) and the Yashida Corporation (led by fun Jason Aaron creation Shima Harada). Of course, Logan gets caught up in the war by accident and thus the story begins. Mike Deodato seems very well suited for this story of bright lights, ninjas, Yakuza, and mechanized samurai suits. It’s honestly one of the times I’ve enjoyed his art the most.
This holiday season, we’ve got quite a bit to be thankful for. In theaters: a Thor movie that is fantastic, and a Justice League movie that isn’t completely terrible (I might have hated it more than most, but the general consensus in our little collective is that, apart from The Flash, Zach Snyder’s latest DCEU flick is at least somewhat enjoyable). On the couch: a wonderfully satisfying Stranger Things follow-up segues into a surprisingly good Punisher series. And on the stands: DC’s Doomsday Clock is garnering rave reviews, and Marvel, godbless’em, still doesn’t mind publishing comics that feature superheroes without a film or television deal, and who have been seemingly forgotten entirely.
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #25, by Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos, continues to be one of the most charmingly entertaining books on the stands. It’s the kind of book I want to give to my little cousins to show them that superheroes and superstories can exist outside of movies and video games. In fact, this little gem of an issue, part of Marvel’s Legacy initiative, may just open up their young impressionable world to the fact that comics not only gave birth to the characters and wonderment that are so pervasive in pop culture today, but its pool is exponentially more deep and engaging. Case in point: who the hell are the Fantastic Four?
Or in the case of this storyline, the Fantastic Three. We got the teasers in Jason Aaron’s Legacy one-shot, but it’s nice to be reminded that Marvel’s first family is merely gone but not forgotten. Lunella, smartest human on the planet now that Reed Richards is out of the picture, may be sans one giant red dinosaur at the moment, but she will have no shortage of team-ups and sidekicks if this FF-inspired new story arc is any indication. I was one of the kids who thought H.E.R.B.I.E. was simultaneously stupid and awesome back in the day, and it made me smile to see that same kind of reaction elicited in this comic. Welcome back, guys. And pay attention kids — you might learn something.
The popularity of The Punisher seemed to have peaked during the gritty anti-hero 90’s, in a forgettable era of comic book vigilantes that lost the plot, turning Golden Age ideology on its head and forcing us to examine what heroism really means. The Punisher began his comic book career as a villain, plan and simple, a foil for Spider-Man intended to underscore the fact that revenge and justice are not the same thing. But the character took on a life of his own, and for good reason — it’s a helluva concept and a brilliantly iconic design — and this week’s issue, the first under the Legacy imprint, hits shelves a few days before The Punisher stars in his own thirteen-episode series on Netflix.
The Punisher #218, by Matthew Rosenberg, Guiu Vilanova, and Lee Loughridge, has lofty aims. On the one hand, there’s the appeal of a Garth Ennis run, more at home in this Call of Duty era among espionage or crime comics like Queen & Country or Criminal. On the other hand, there’s this notion of Legacy, and, in Week 7 of the initiative, we’d still like to think that Marvel’s storied legacy is populated with more light than shadow.
Rosenberg, an up-and-coming writer who has already tackled Marvel’s underworld with his Kingpin series, looks poised to make good on both goals. There are lots of gangsters’ heads getting blowed up, and several sadistic grins from a Frank Castle who, of course, looks a lot like Jon Bernthal. He’s the same ruthless badass that he’s always been, and we are never asked for a minute to consider the humanity of his victims. But there’s also the matter of a certain piece of ordinance that Frank steals in the opening to this arc, and a wider scope to the story than we’d come to expect.
We gave him the War Machine armor, but he’s not becoming War Machine. He could never. War Machine is James Rhodes, a hero, an Avenger, something to aspire to. Frank is simply The Punisher, nothing more and nothing less. These characters we all love aren’t their suits or their weapons, they are the people inside that we care about. Hopefully, by having Frank steal the iconic armor, we can shine a light on not just Frank’s legacy, but Rhodey’s as well. – Matthew Rosenberg
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.
Waid and Samnee do just that. This issue is all about the core values of heroism and protecting those who can’t protect themselves. And just reading Waid’s afterward, a love letter from a talented writer to an iconic character, generates a good deal of excitement on its own. Waid has already made Avengers a monthly must-read, and his new take on Champions is almost as good. But with this title, returning to a character he explored in the late 90’s, he might be inspired to put together his best work to date.
I don’t recommend, as an adult, drawing all of your morality and ethics from super heroes. They are fortunate enough to live in a wonderful world where might always makes right, one sometimes absent the gray areas we struggle with as we mature. Nonetheless, I will share Steve Rogers’ core belief until the day I die. If you have the ability to help, then you have the responsibility, because everybody ultimately benefits. Life isn’t fair, but people can strive to be, and we are all better for it when we do. – Mark Waid
Before Laura Linney started calling herself Wolverine, before Jane Foster picked up Mjolnir and became The Mighty Thor, and way before Kate Bishop fronted her own Hawkeye title, Carol Danvers was protecting the cosmos as the heir to one of Marvel’s Silver Age stalwarts. Granted, she had to go by Ms. Marvel for decades, but as the cover of her new book proudly affirms, complete with Legacy-laden title design, she is Captain Marvel. We’ve finally entered an era in which gender qualifications for our superheroes no longer exist; that’s Jean Grey, thank you, not Marvel Girl. We’ll grandfather in folks like Wonder Woman and Spider-Woman, but it’s nice to be reminded that women can do the job too. (Besides, it’s not like Spider-Man is gender neutral). More significant, I think, is the fact that many comic book fans are unaware that there even was an original Captain Marvel, much less that he was a dude. And if Week 4 of the Legacy initiative is doing its job, we get a chance to celebrate the fact that a badass Air Force officer named Carol has taken up the mantle of the late Mar-Vell and elevated the character to the forefront of the Marvel Universe.
This week’s issue #125 restores the series numbering from the original title (which has gone through multiple volumes and restarts since the late 60’s), but it has very little in common with the pre-2012 issues. Instead, writer Margaret Stohl, along with artist Michele Bandini, seem eager to return to the story and direction that had been initiated at the start of last season’s NOW! era (before things got ridiculous with Captain Hydra’s Secret Empire, the planetary defense shield, and a video-game style infinite onslaught of Chitauri). Carol’s Alpha Flight may be out one multi-billion dollar space station, but the team has no time to rest on its laurels, as Dr. Eve and her shapeshifting assassin Mim are back on the scene.
And if you’ve been falling along since the conclusion of Stohl’s Mighty Captain Marvel series, you’ll know that the villains’ presence has a lot to do with the reappearance of Bean, the Kree energy kid that Captain Marvel saved a few months ago. Continue reading Captain Marvel #125→
Every once in a while a book comes out that reminds us not only how much we love the glorious spark and bombast of superhero comics, but also how much we’ve loved them over the years, and how much these characters, creators, and concepts have meant to us through various stages of our lives. One of the principal aims of Marvel’s Legacy initiative is to pay tribute to Marvel’s storied past while paving the way for an exciting future. No one has taken that more to heart, or done a better job embodying those ideals, than Jason Aaron. In Week 3 of Marvel Legacy, Aaron and a host of incredible artists drop the “god-sized” Thor #700 on the shelves, and, verily, the earth doth shake with its majesty.
The War of the Ten Realms is still raging, and now things really escalate as Malekith and his armies move against the stronghold of the Norns at the base of the World Tree, Yggdrasil. The sisters who weave strands of fate are besieged, and in the process, the very fabric of storytelling itself comes under attack. It’s the perfect milieu for this launch, and the gorgeous two-page interior spread by Thor artist extraordinaire Russell Dauterman portends enough future storylines, each of them with threads connecting back to that legacy tapestry, to make your head spin. There’s Loki with the Infinity Gauntlet and Odinson with what looks like a golden hammer. Both Namor and Brunnhilde look primed for battle. Jane Foster might really (snif…) succumb to cancer and, in the background, the Mangog looms!
You want more Legacy? You’ve got more Legacy. What’s more Marvel than a classic Hulk vs. Thor battle? Except in the modern era, that means Thor, Goddess of Thunder, taking on Jennifer Walters, the hero formerly known as She-Hulk.
Despite Marc Guggenheim’s comical abuse of the term “legacy” in recent issues of X-Men: Gold, there are two other corners of the Marvel Universe that I fully expected the publisher to focus on in this new initiative. And, appropriately, in Week 2 of Marvel Legacy, the camera pans wide to take in the scarred landscape of Captain America and The Fantastic Four. There may be no character dealing with more trauma from Secret Empire than Sam Wilson, and Falcon #1, by Rodney Barnes and Joshua Cassara, is an especially poignant opener to a series that refuses to stand up for the anthem, as it were.
Sam has given up the shield and mantle of Captain America, and he’s back in costume as the Falcon, patrolling the streets of Chicago with the new Patriot, Rayshaun Lucas. Their first order of business is an attempt at dealing with a simmering gang war, but their real mission statement seems much broader, and far more daunting. Nick Spencer did a fine job reflecting the sociopolitical turmoil in this country in the pages of his two Cap books, and deserves commendation for persevering despite backlash from racist retailers and closed-minded readers (I mean, fer crissakes, this just happened last weekend). But now he passes the torch to Barnes, and he’s not holding back, or sweeping anything under the rug. “Legacy” may be the operative term, but Marvel’s recent editorial shifts to diversify its character base and shake up generations of white male super-icons is not only admirable, it’s imperative.
Steve Rogers has his own shit to figure out; that’s not Sam’s problem any longer. He does, however, have to deal with the fact that the most trusted human being on the planet just committed the biggest act of betrayal, and, right now, disillusionment with the superpowered set is at an all-time high. Especially when you’re dodging bullets in the South Side.
Last week’s opening shot into Marvel’s Legacy initiative was a surprise-laden tour de force featuring a main story peppered with enough coming attractions trailers to put a Hall H Saturday to shame. And while we’re eagerly awaiting developments in Thor’s story (well, not eager to see Jane Foster edge ever closer to death, but the Mangog business is exciting) and wondering what the hell is going on with this Black Panther planet, Legacy Week 1 begins with a gem from another segment of the Marvel Universe. Avengers #672, by Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz, kicks off “Worlds Collide,” the highly anticipated crossover between two of the best team books going. With the fates of multiple earths on the line, the Champions attempt to make nice with their former mentors, The Avengers.
The issue opens with simultaneous debates in both camps regarding the same impossible claim: a “counter-earth,” run by the High Evolutionary, exists on the opposite side of the sun, completely invisible to detection by anyone here on normal earth. Of course, those of us familiar with decades of Marvel legacy, know this to be true, and we’ve enjoyed numerous storylines involving the home of that unhinged scientist and his hordes of crazy animalmen. And in wonderfully adept adherence to the premise of this publishing initiative, Mark Waid uses the new generation of Marvel heroes as a sounding board for a modern understanding of physics and comic book plots anchored in a proper respect for scientific fact.
But then you’d be missing the point, Amadeus and Nadia! You operate in a universe of impossibility, and the last thing any one of us Marvel fans wants is to retcon away the marvelously campy and cosmically inaccurate tales from those halcyon days of 70’s four color fantasy! Give us counter-earth! And save Kentucky, while you’re at it, because a meteor just belched into the atmosphere and is rocketing towards the planet.
We’ve been building up to this for months, in the pages of various one-shot Generations books: a new publishing initiative that honors the tradition of decades of Marvel characters, stories, concepts, and creators with a mind towards the future and a host of recent additions to the superhero family. Legacy is a loaded term, and not one that you’d expect the House of Ideas – or its fans – to take lightly. For this latest trade dress, a return to sequential numbering for the various series is only part of the appeal. Of the two major comics publishers, DC has been the one traditionally most hesitant to restart volume numbering on its titles, respecting a much more rigid and carefully curated continuity. Which is fine. Part of Marvel’s appeal has always been its loose adherence to storyline sequence and chronology. Maybe Tony Stark created the Iron Man armor during the Cold War… or maybe it was during the war in Afghanistan… it doesn’t matter; the spirit of the story and the character is more important.
But, at some point, all of these new number one issues and “All-New” restarts and “NOW” jumping-on points start to disrespect the ancestry. How excited are we, really, for a new Avengers series every fall? Oh, this one isn’t just all-new, but all-different as well? It’s lousy marketing, and it takes away from the fact that Marvel Comics continues to lead the field with the best stories, characters, and creative teams in the superhero genre. Having said that, it sure is nice when you can pull in some new fans, and nothing seems like an easier gateway book than a first issue.
So this season they’re trying something a little different (trying something different again – Marvel did a return to series numbering for some of its books in the early 2000’s as well). Following this week’s Marvel Legacy one-shot, by Jason Aaron and a host of incredible artists, a number of new titles will be debuting, but the majority of their books will be renumbered to align across previous volumes. Next week’s Avengers #672, for example, follows 406 issues of the initial run; the thirteen issues of that abominable Liefeld volume two from ’96; eighty-four issues during the Busiek-era volume three, sixty-four issues from Bendis’s first New Avengers title; the thirty-four issues from volume four that kicked off the “Heroic Age” publishing initiative; forty-four issues of 2013’s volume five, Hickman’s follow-up to Avengers vs. X-Men; the fifteen issues of Waid’s All-New All-Different Avengers; aaaand the eleven issues of the most recent “NOW” Avengers restart. Whew. Confusing, right?
Not only will Avengers #672 revive the original numbering, but it will also be merged with two other offshoot titles – U.S.Avengers and Uncanny Avengers – before the end of the year. But more on those developments next week. Meanwhile, on the topic of Avengers, and an intense spin on the promise of legacy, let’s turn our attention back to Aaron’s one-shot, and the main storyline, with sensational art by Esad Ribić.
Those are the Avengers, if you will, of one million B.C. That’s Odin wielding Mjolnir, and the legendary Agamotto himself operating under the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Prior incarnations of Black Panther, Iron Fist, and Ghost Rider round out the team, along with Phoenix, whose past relationship with the Asgardian allfather was revealed recently in the Thor Generations book.
Comic shops around the country have been abuzz celebrating Jack Kirby’s centennial this week. The undisputed King of Comics would have turned 100 this past Monday, August 28th. For a guy as influential as Walt Disney or George Lucas, it’s a shame how few people recognize his name or appreciate his contributions to comics, entertainment, and popular culture. Despite a #doodleforjack campaign, Google didn’t get it together in time to enlighten the masses with some Kirby crackle or dream machinery (we, did however, learn a little bit more about James Wong Howe on the 118th anniversary of the cinematographer’s birth).
But we know how important Kirby is, and each and every Idler, just like every one of you reading this blog, has his or her own favorite Kirby creation or a story about discovering his genius for the first time. And it’s up to us to spread the word. Take a friend to the comic shop this week, and act as a docent through the living museum of Kirby’s 2017 impact. Several one-shot specials are being released this month by DC and, this week from Mark Evanier and Scott Kolins, is the Darkseid Special. Be sure to point out the fact that the Justice League movie coming out in a few months looks to feature one of Jack’s most inventive concepts, as well as the Lord of Apokolips, one of the most insidious villains in comics. This oversized special also has a new OMAC story, and two classic Kirby reprints. And for more Fourth World fun, you could also pass along the new Black Racer and Shilo Norman special, by Reginald Hudlin and Ryan Benjamin, which also contains some great Kirby originals.