I’ve read a few comic compilations as of late. They’re a great idea. DC’s Vertigo Trades (such as First Cut) which present first issues of ongoing series probably kicked off this mini-trend. Then last year they produced a few extra-sized Countdown Specials reprinting classic tales of the New Gods and Kamandi, amongst others.
Marvel has got in on the act recently. Last week’s Astonishing Tales #1 seems like a re-branded Marvel Comics Presents, with a few short stories from new and old creative teams. The premiere ish has a tale called Madripoor Mix-Up from C.B Cebulski and Kenneth Rocafort and is the highlight. Sure, Punisher and Wolvie meeting in a bar and trash talking ain’t new, but it was a pleasant surprise when they started to lay the smackdown on Hydra soldiers and their female leader, Viper. Rocafort’s energetic pencils and bold page layouts really give the story some needed zest. An Iron Man 2020 story by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Lou Kang is next, followed by one focused on his predecessor Tony Stark in a pre-Secret Invasion tale by Christopher Sequeira and W. Chew Chum. Finally there’s a Mojo-centric adventure with Sunspot and Cannonball, ex X-Force team mates. This is written, and partly drawn, by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. Those unfamiliar with Hickman’s Pax Romana or ground breaking Nightly News may not like what they see here, but Hickman shines brighter in Secret Warriors #1. He’s adjusted to more mainstream fare very well.
I also picked up Marvel Your Universe Featuring X-Men #1, which is a new series, reprinting recent tales from a diverse array of titles. Included in the 128 pager are the debut issues of Nova, Ms. Marvel, and The Immortal Iron Fist, plus X-Men #208 and Ghost Rider #14, all with handy ‘Previously In…” guides. The comics industry needs more titles like this. Astonishing Tales is great for those already aware of Marvel’s epics, but the Your Universe books could easily garner new fans.