This week is fairly indicative of my new comic purchasing habits, with DC Comics and their largely disappointing relaunch taking a back seat to some truly entertaining tales at Marvel.
The Incredible Hulk #1. Writer Peter David got me hooked on the Green Goliath, as I began following him towards the end of his stellar 14 year run. Now I’m collecting all the Hulk Visionaries Trades that gather his epic. This new series finds Bruce Banner and Hulk separated, and writer Jason Aaron (Ghost Rider, Scalped) promises to explain how in future issues, as well as just why Hulk is hanging around deep below the earth, and how Banner managed to fund a laboratory in the middle of the jungle for his Island of Dr. Moreau experiments. Guided by Hulk’s Banner hating narration, and begrudging friendship with the mole men he feeds with huge subterranean beasts, is this worthy intro issue. Marc Silvestri’s sketchier style than usual works a treat with the angry action on display, although he’ll be getting help in coming issues. If you’ve been away form the Hulk for a while, this is a great place to return to.
Shame Itself. And now for something completely different. This ish doesn’t takes itself seriously at all, whcih makes it such an enjoyable romp. As an anthology one-shot mocking Marvel’s antics, I found this surprisingly funny. Despite the title, this doesn’t focus on the recent Fear Itself epic that ran throughout Marvel’s titles. Kicking things off with an awesome 5 pager by Victor Varnado and Clayton Henry, it finds various baddies including Galactus, Dormammu and Thanos (“He’s got jewellery!”) all turning up at New York to announce their latest world domination plans and then awkwardly realising that they can’t all rule the world and need some sort of schedule. Elliott Kalan and Dean Haspiel bring us Reed Richards and The Thing’s high school reunion, in which much to “Read’s” (as his name tag suggests) chagrin, Ben Grimm is much more popular than him. A Wy-If, as opposed to Marvel’s alternate universe What If series, by Wyatt Cenac, Kalan and artist Colleen Coover present 5 one page gags that work rather well. There’s a 2 pager prose piece from Michael Kupperman and a piece called “I Hate Peter Parker,” that doesn’t work. Overall, the whole ish does though, but only in the same way DC’s Tiny Titans does – for fanboys who know their stuff. If you’re new to Marvel, you won’t know most of these characters so the jokes won’t work. It’s awesome to see new writers here (a few from the land of TV), all of whom have a clear love of Marvel’s costumed adventurers.
Avengers Origins: Vision. The first in a series of Avenger centred one-shots is this painterly beauty. I’ve never been a massive fan of the avengers, but I do have a fondness for their low-key heroes such as Wonder Man, and this androgynous android. If you don’t know much about Vision, this is a nice teacher, although it won’t bring you up to speed on what he’s doing now. I haven’t seen him in a Marvel comic for ages, so I don’t know if he’s dead or what.
This tale, written by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel with gorgeous art by Stepahne Perger focuses on Vision’s creation by the evil Ultron 5, himself a robotic creation of Hank Pym of the avengers. Vision trains under Ultron, learns that his sole mission is to destroy Earth’s mightiest Heroes, which he fails at. He does arrive at a crying Janet van Dyne’s (Wasp) bedroom window and begins silently taking out the team, as Hawkeye, Pym (known as Goliath at this stage), Black Panther rush to each other’s aid. No sign of Thor, Cap or Iron Man though, which is just as well as that’d be too much to fit in this one-shot. Vision is impressed by their heroism and friendship and decides that Avengers aren’t worth his killing mission, and focuses his wide array of powers on his silver creator instead. It mixes some well constructed action and emotional touches as Vision goes beyond his original programming to become something more.
Perger’s art is lush and vivid, and reminded me of Alex Ross’ early work in Marvels. The fight scenes are filled with bold reds and yellows and laid out on the page very dynamically. I hope Perger does more superhero work. It fits in this nostalgic context but the balance of high action and emotion is splendid and would work in any series really.
Wolverine and the X-Men #1. No, it’s not based on the cartoon, but is set after the events of the recent Schism mini-series in which Cyclops and Wolvie had an ideological falling out, so Cyke and his students remain on the island of Utopia while Wolvei and his return to their old school, now called the Jean Grey School for higher Learning, in honour of their fallen comrade. This debut was a lot more light hearted than I was expecting, beginning with Wolvie and Kitty Pryde stressing out about being headmasters on the opening day, coupled with the visitation of two inspectors who are unimpressed on their tour with all the dangers around them.
It’s a good intro to the state of the new series and the faculty and students. We see glimpses of Husk, Beast, the once evil Toad (who only wants a bed) and new arrivals Kid Gladiator (his alien father has given the school lots of cool tech) and his bodyguard Warbird. There’s bound to be tension from within and attacks from outside, as Prof. X (he can walk now apparently!) tells Wolvie to expect lots of explosions and to get the number of a good debris removal company. Jason Aaron has done well to fit in humour, and lots of character moments here, and Chris Bachalo’s art is much more refined than his sometimes messy style. The exaggerations and light manga touch work a treat.
Marvel: Point One. This one-shot has been touted as an important pointer to some upcoming Marvel stories, so it mainly serves as an extra-sized anthology hinting at what’s to come. Consisting of 7 different tales, it begins with two explorers looking at the all-knowing Watcher’s records and then has spacefaring Nova (in a new suit that makes him look like’s been de-aged) fighting Terrax before fleeing to warn everybody that the Phoenix force is coming. It’s good to see Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness teaming up again, even if it’s for a short tale like this.
Next up is a future set Age of Apocalypse tale in which mutants rule and humans are the hunted species. David Lapham’s scripts works with Roberto De La Torre’s slightly gritty pencils to present an interesting tale that does very well to present a handful of new characters in as many pages. The Scarlett Spider and Yin and Yang tales are OK, but Matt Fraction’s and Terry Dodson’s Dr Strange story gives us a look at December’s The Defenders series (which I’m looking forward to, only because of the creators) and Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch show Spider-Man and Hawkeye fighting a losing battle against a few vicious Ultrons in their intense style.
Avenging Spider-Man #1. Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira know how to do fun and funny comics. It’s good to see Joe Mad back doing comics again, with his heavily manga inspired pencils lending Wells’ all-out action story a vibrant visual panache. Yes, Spidey’s a popular guy, but if , like me, you don’t read his monthly series (any of them), this new team-up book is awesome and will hopefully serve as a godo intro to the wider Marvel Universe as Peter Parker battles alongside various fellow costumed adventurers.
Here, it’s the turn of Red Hulk (former enemy of Hulk, General Ross) as they finish fighting a massive robot with a few other Avengers, before Ross gives Spidey a lift back to New York, in a most humiliating fashion. Of course, they arrive just in time for an invasion by the subterranean Moloids, who kidnap New York’s new mayor (and Parker’s old boss), J. Jonah Jameson. This ish is mostly fight scenes, including Hulk destroying a flock of seagulls, and a double pager of a mass of Moloids jumping on a mass of marathon runners, so it means it’s slightly unsatisfying due to it being a quick read. Perfect for newbies though, as this ish (and assumedly, all future ones) consists of a neato intro summarising who Spidey and this new red Hulk are.