Tag Archives: Marvel NOW!

New Comics: Hellblazer

The Hellblazer prologue issue that came out a few weeks ago was a passable effort at introducing the character, re-establishing him in London, and incorporating him, once again, into the capes n’ tights universe of DC superheroes. Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman felt squeezed in solely to reassure the masses that this was, indeed, a DC book. But in Rebirth Week 14, we get the formal first issue of Oliver and Moritat’s Hellblazer series and, thankfully, assurances that John Constantine will be doing a lot more than matching wits with a demon or road-tripping with his amazing magical pals.

The issue opens in Sarajevo on that very fateful day in the summer of 1914. Two brothers, clearly aware that a Serbian Nationalist is about to murder Archduke Franz Ferdinand, thus setting off “a hundred years of human brutality,” struggle with whether or not they should prevent the assassination.

A century later we catch up with the brothers in present-day Paris, and the mystery deepens. Who or what they are, and which divine pair of eyes they’re trying to hide from, remains to be seen. The stage is set for an intriguing opening storyline that weaves together history, celestial incarnations, and good old-fashioned Biblical-style fratricide. Should be fun.

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New Comics: SuperF*ckers Forever

Seeing any James Kochalka book published by IDW, let alone his obscenity-laden Superf*ckers, caught me by surprise. But why the fuck not? They publish comics based on existing properties almost exclusively – whether they be movie franchises, action figure lines, or animated series. And the original Superf*ckers series, published by Top Shelf in 2005, was developed into an animated series for Cartoon Hangover. So, it makes sense, more or less: let’s call it a based-on-a-cartoon floppy. Superf*ckers is basically Spongebob with sex and skin flayings, after all. Congratulations, James. This week’s release of SuperF*ckers Forever #1 means we’re that much closer to seeing Optimus Prime battling talking piles of shit in space armor.

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New Comics: The Accused

File_001This week’s The Accused fills in the gap between issues 3 and 4 of Civil War II. Specifically, we are in the gallery and behind closed doors for all the conspiratorial intrigue that takes place during Hawkeye’s month-long trial. There’s no drama in the final verdict: that was revealed two weeks ago (Clint walks!) but this one-shot puts a very different spin on the hero vs. hero conflict that is at the center of the Civil War event. By now, in Week 45 of All New All Different Marvel, readers know that Matt Murdock has returned to New York and is once again practicing law. This time, however, he’s sitting at the other table, as one of the prosecuting attorneys tasked with convincing a jury to convict Clint Barton of murder. And sentence him to death.

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New Comics: Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn

It’s Week 11 of DC: Rebirth and, in a clearly coordinated effort with this weekend’s release of the Suicide Squad movie, we get both the “zero-issue” one-shot Suicide Squad: Rebirth, as well as the debut issue of a Squad member’s solo book, Harley Quinn #1. While fans of the comic book characters have taken exception to the film’s critical response as compiled on Rotten Tomatoes, they can rest easy knowing that the new comics have a much more narrow audience. Adam Graham of The Detroit News probably hasn’t ever been in a comic shop. Russell Baillie lives in New Zealand. What could he possibly know about genre flicks? The vast majority of comic readers are already familiar with, if not fans of, Suicide Squad, and Harley in particular. They’ll appreciate these books. Besides, there isn’t a Rotten Tomatoes for comics.

But maybe there should be…

Typically we’d wait until all of the rebirthed titles have been released to tabulate and publish our rankings, as we did with Marvel’s All New All Different initiative. But in honor of this weekend’s fan revolt against the aggregated Rotten Tomatoes percentages, we’re revealing our scores for these two comics right now.

SS RT image

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New Comics: ROM

Everyone’s favorite Spaceknight (sorry, Venom) didn’t make an appearance at San Diego Comic Con’s Guardians of the Galaxy panel this past weekend, but he does make his long-awaited return to the comic book shelves this week, courtesy of Christos Gage, Chris Ryall, and David Messina. IDW adds to their stable of cult classic toy licenses with Rom #1, joining successful properties G.I. Joe and Transformers, as well as the other new 2016 arrivals, Micronauts and Action Man.

As cool as Parker Brothers’ Rom toy was, it wasn’t overly successful, especially compared to Hasbro’s 80’s goldmines, the aforementioned Transformers and G.I. Joe. What was successful, however, was Marvel’s Rom comic book series, originally created as marketing support for the toyline. Even after Parker Brothers discontinued production of the toys, the Galadorian spaceknight continued to traverse the galaxy, hunting down those insidious Dire Wraiths wherever they might be lurking.

This first issue begins with Rom’s dramatic arrival on Earth, a reprint of the eleven-page prelude that was released as part of this year’s Free Comic Book Day. The good news for readers unfamiliar with his story is that we seem to be opening with a re-telling of that original narrative. Rom, the built-for-space cyborg, hunts down and executes the black magick-wielding Dire Wraiths who hide among us, having used their shapechanging abilities to replace humans. So, when Rom neutralizes a crowd of alien beasties, it looks like he’s mowing down all of your neighbors. That’s not going to go over well on social media. And when you look like this, it’s hard to remain inconspicuous…

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New Comics: Black Hammer

Jeff Lemire must be the hardest working person in comics right now. He captained four books in Marvel’s All-New All-Different relaunch; continues to publish the excellent Descender with Dustin Nguyen, has a full graphic novel scheduled for release early next year, and will be writing Marvel’s new Thanos series for this fall’s Marvel NOW! initiative. For starters. But his new Dark Horse series Black Hammer, debuting this week, may end up being my favorite Lemire book this year.

Together with artist Dean Ormston (Sandman, Lucifer), he tells the story of a Golden Age super-team now mysteriously trapped in an alternate reality and relegated to life on a small farm, just outside city limits of an equally small town. In fact, the main adversarial conflict in this first issue seems to be from the local sheriff, jealous of the attention his ex-wife is giving to “Abraham Slam.” The mystery deepens as we discover that, in the process of protecting Spiral City from an unnamed threat, the titular hero sacrificed himself to not only save the city, but his teammates as well.

File_000 (9)There’s a special reverence in the creation of Lemire’s Golden Age-inspired heroes, the kind that we’ve seen from so many other writers and artists over the years, from veteran auteurs like Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, to more recent homages by folks like Jeff Parker and Paul Jenkins. All of the characters in Black Hammer are classic Golden Age archetypes, lovingly brought to life by this creative team, and imbued with that sense of wonder and space-age fantasy that first captivated society more than three-quarters of a century ago. Some of them, like Martian warlord Barbalien, are obvious nods to what must be some of Lemire’s favorite classic heroes (“Mark Markz..? Uh… it’s Swedish.”)

Like it or not, we live in an era of scrutiny and suspicion, where every opportunity to disgrace and denigrate is embraced with the speed of a Tweet or soundbite. Knocking people down a peg has become a full-time job for anonymous Internet trolls and publicly recognized spokespeople alike. Human heroes have always had flaws; but it seems like rather than celebrate the ability to overcome those flaws, we’d rather bury people in them. Not even our superheroes are safe. Shields are tarnished, capes are torn, and  they’re at war with one another.

So when you get to the last page of this first issue of Black Hammer, and you discover that an intrepid reporter (the Golden Age worship is nonstop!) from their home reality is still searching for those heroes, even ten years later… her words “no matter what, I’m going to find them” resonate with serious profundity. She’s looking for heroes, for all of us.

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Civil War II and the Marvel NOW! Preview

File_005 (5)Bendis and Marquez’s Civil War II #3 provides plenty of shock value this week, and in the world of melodramatic superhero event books, where every reveal is built up via rickety scaffolds of significance, that’s saying something. So, yes, major spoilers ahead. This book is as recommended as they come, so if you haven’t already done so, check it out, and then report back here for some fallout analysis. We’ll hang tight. Skedaddle.

Fresh off the encounter with Ulysses, in which the Inhuman with the power of prognostication gives the assembled superhero community a palpable vision of The Hulk’s impending murderous rampage, the capes and tights gather outside Bruce Banner’s mountain laboratory for a much more stressful confrontation. Things go south from there.

Over the last decade, the death of a superhero has become a dangerously cliched plot device. The media at large makes note of it, adding to the artificial significance of the event, despite every comic book reader of any interest level knowing full well that it’s only a matter of time before the character is resurrected. Besides, you can’t kill superheroes. Particularly in this modern era of Hollywood blockbusters, animated television series, and mobile video games, when the concept of a canonical timeline has become blurred to the point of irrelevance, telling anyone that The Hulk is dead rings a little hollow. Hell, just today the fine folks at Marvel Puzzle Quest unveiled their five-star Hulk character, the Bruce Banner edition. The Hulk seems pretty okay to me.

So what is relevant? Why is this single issue so powerful? Like all good superhero epics, the weight is in the delivery and the treatment. How Bruce Banner is killed is as important as why he is killed, and if the developing storyline can make us question the meaning of heroism and the responsibility of power, then all the better.

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