Why Marvel’s Secret Wars Leaves Me Cold

Marvel_com__The_Official_Site___Iron_Man__Spider-Man__Hulk__X-Men__Wolverine_and_the_heroes_of_the_Marvel_Universe_Comics__News__Movies_and_Video_Games___Marvel_comFirst, the usual disclaimer: I’m a Marvel Comics reader and collector for 35+ years, with no particular axe to grind. Now onto business:

Today Marvel’s head comic honchos Axel Alonso and Tom Brevoort unveiled a future, universe-wide event called Secret Wars, which unless I’m missing some key history is the third Secret Wars event in Marvel’s history.

Which is why I’m feeling pretty cynical about the whole thing from the get-go. I can’t blame Marvel of wanting to reset some things (although they’ve claimed this event isn’t a reboot, which is as believable as them saying they’ll retire the X-Men forever), but it’s been done before. Twice.

The thing is, I actually don’t have an issue with repeating a successful event – and I don’t doubt this latest Secret Wars will be a success, at least commercially.  It’s that I’d nearly bank my whole Marvel collection on the fact that it’ll also happen again. Put Secret Wars 4 in your diary folks – say, 2017 or 2018? That’s what leaves me cold: this is just another small stepping stone in an endless road of ‘universe-changing!!’ events.

So there you have it, the old guy who’s seen too much is telling the new kids to get off his lawn. Except that us old people are a fairly hefty chunk of the people who buy Marvel stuff month after month. And I for one am buying less and can’t see that changing.

All that said, here’s three things that would get this old whiner back on board in a big way:

1. Provide some sort of commitment to a title’s longevity. I’m seeing the ever-growing cynicism towards the constant ending of titles, with new number one issues a month or three later. Marvel needs to, and is, making money, but there are ways of refreshing titles that treat readers less as idiot money machines than the constant series re-launches. If post-Secret Wars there were some sort of commitment to series longevity, I’d be impressed. If a title does need to be cancelled, that’s reasonable, just don’t insult me by re-launching it a month or two later.

2. Reduce the cross-overs. I find cross-overs have an inverse relationship with story quality, so I’m hoping that once Secret Wars is done that maybe there’ll be a little less of it happening. Which is of course a naive thought given the commercial imperatives for cross-overs.

3. A final and least likely to be implemented request: pull off some good licensed title integrations in the new merged universe. If ROM for example is now part of the main universe ongoing, I’m a happy man (yes I’m easily pleased like that). Hell, throw in The Micronauts as well!

Now it’s over to you: does the Secret Wars announcement excite the hell out of you, leave you cold like me or put you somewhere in-between? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Top 100 Comics of 2014

Via PREVIEWSworld, the list of the top 100 comics sold during 2014.I’m pretty sure the number 1 for 2015 is already decided (Star Wars #1) and it’ll be interesting to see how many of the series shown below make it to next year’s list. The split between the big three publishers isn’t that surprising. As we’ve mentioned before – Marvel blitzed the top 10 for single issues but were trounced by Image in the trade paperback stakes.

Onto the list itself:

2 WALKING DEAD #132 (MR) $2.99 AUG148104-M IMA
3 ROCKET RACCOON #1 $3.99 MAY140803-M MAR
6 THOR #1 $3.99 AUG140785-M MAR
7 ORIGINAL SIN #1 $4.99 MAR140616-M MAR
10 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #31 $5.99 FEB140659-M MAR
12 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2 $3.99 MAR140642-M MAR
13 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #9 $4.99 SEP140826-M MAR
14 BATMAN #32 $3.99 APR140211-M DC
15 BATMAN FUTURES END #1 $3.99 MAY140318 DC
17 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4 $3.99 MAY140763-M MAR
18 BATMAN #33 $4.99 MAY140231-M DC
19 BATMAN #35 $4.99 AUG140270-M DC
20 BATMAN #29 $4.99 JAN140291-M DC
21 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1.1 $3.99 MAR140640-M MAR
22 BATMAN #36 $3.99 SEP140249-M DC
23 BATMAN #27 $3.99 NOV130173-M DC
24 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #7 $3.99 AUG140797-M MAR
25 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #3 $3.99 APR148221-M MAR
26 BATMAN #28 $3.99 DEC130251-M DC
27 BATMAN #34 $3.99 JUN140217-M DC
28 BATMAN #37 $3.99 OCT140295-M DC
29 BATMAN ETERNAL #1 $2.99 FEB140141-M DC
30 BATMAN #30 $3.99 FEB140199-M DC
32 BATMAN #31 $3.99 MAR140213-M DC
33 HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1 $5.99 AUG140295-M DC
34 ORIGINAL SIN #2 $3.99 MAR140629-M MAR
35 AVENGERS #35 $4.99 JUL140623-M MAR
36 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #5 $3.99 MAY148282-M MAR
37 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #11 $3.99 OCT140830-M MAR
38 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10 $3.99 SEP140829-M MAR
39 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #8 $3.99 AUG140801-M MAR
40 HARLEY QUINN #7 $2.99 APR140225-M DC
41 ORIGINAL SIN #3 $3.99 APR140626-M MAR
42 SPIDER-MAN 2099 #1 $3.99 MAY140810-M MAR
43 SUPERMAN #32 $3.99 APR140191-M DC
44 FOREVER EVIL #6 $3.99 DEC130198-M DC
45 SPIDER-WOMAN #1 $3.99 SEP140834-M MAR
46 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #6 $3.99 AUG148300-M MAR
47 MULTIVERSITY #1 $4.99 JUN140146-M DC
48 ORIGINAL SIN #4 $3.99 APR140632-M MAR
49 FOREVER EVIL #5 $3.99 NOV130121-M DC
50 FOREVER EVIL #7 $4.99 JAN140241-M DC
51 SHIELD #1 $4.99 OCT140819-M MAR
52 ORIGINAL SIN #5 $3.99 MAY140765-M MAR
53 WOLVERINE #1 $3.99 DEC130613-M MAR
56 ORIGINAL SIN #7 $3.99 JUN140607-M MAR
57 THOR #2 $3.99 SEP140858-M MAR
58 HARLEY QUINN #2 $2.99 NOV130171-M DC
59 ORIGINAL SIN #6 $3.99 MAY140769-M MAR
60 ORIGINAL SIN #8 $4.99 JUN140611-M MAR
62 GRAYSON #1 $2.99 MAY140157-M DC
65 BATMAN ETERNAL #2 $2.99 FEB140142 DC
66 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #32 $4.99 JUN140644-M MAR
67 AVENGERS WORLD #1 $3.99 NOV130571-M MAR
69 SANDMAN OVERTURE #2 $3.99 DEC130331-M DC
71 SUPERIOR IRON MAN #1 $3.99 SEP140805-M MAR
72 DETECTIVE COMICS #27 $7.99 NOV130177-M DC
73 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1.2 $3.99 APR140683-M MAR
74 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #30 $3.99 JAN140722-M MAR
75 JUSTICE LEAGUE #32 $3.99 MAY140175-M DC
77 ORIGINAL SIN #0 $4.99 FEB140657-M MAR
78 JUSTICE LEAGUE #27 $3.99 NOV130124-M DC
79 BATMAN ETERNAL #3 $2.99 FEB140143 DC
80 WALKING DEAD #127 (MR) $2.99 APR148156-M IMA
81 BATMAN ETERNAL #4 $2.99 FEB140144 DC
82 JUSTICE LEAGUE #28 $3.99 DEC130203-M DC
83 WYTCHES #1 (MR) $2.99 AUG148011-M IMA
84 HARLEY QUINN #3 $2.99 NOV138174-M DC
85 BATMAN ANNUAL #3 $4.99 OCT140297 DC
86 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #25 $4.99 NOV130661-M MAR
87 ALL NEW X-MEN #22.NOW $3.99 NOV130562-M MAR
89 HARLEY QUINN #8 $2.99 MAY140246-M DC
91 DAREDEVIL #1 $3.99 JAN140631-M MAR
92 JUSTICE LEAGUE #29 $3.99 JAN140244-M DC
93 JUSTICE LEAGUE #30 $3.99 FEB140150-M DC
94 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #28 $3.99 DEC130654-M MAR
95 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #29 $3.99 JAN140721-M MAR
96 JUSTICE LEAGUE #33 $3.99 MAY140178-M DC
97 NEW 52 FUTURES END #1 (WEEKLY) $2.99 MAR140165-M DC
98 JUSTICE LEAGUE #31 $3.99 MAR140176-M DC
99 SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #26 $3.99 NOV130662-M MAR
100 AVENGERS AND X-MEN AXIS #5 $3.99 SEP140776-M MAR

I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing, but I only purchased one title (Daredevil #1) out of the Top 100. How about you?

New Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer – Watch It Here

The latest trailer is out and it provides the usual minimal pieces of new footage to keep up drooling. Love the Hulk stuff at the end:

Give us your thoughts below!

50-Word Review: Daredevil #11

backgroundWaid and Samnee are on a roll, but there’s no complacence here. Recent issues have covered post-natal depression and Murdock’s own depression and now we have a great story on aging and relevance involving The Stunt-Master. I’m hoping the TV launch doesn’t change the great trajectory this title is on.


Daredevil TV Show Launch Date – Australian Availability?

54ad66e9a53deHot on the heels of yesterday’s Ant-Man trailer launch, Marvel have now finalised the launch date for the Daredevil TV series.

That’s right Marvelites, Season 1 of “Marvel’s Daredevil” will premiere with 13 one-hour episodes on April 10, 2015 at 12:01 a.m. PT in all territories where Netflix is available.

Now this is interesting from an Australian viewpoint: Netflix launches here in March, so in theory we should have access to Daredevil from the time it launches, unless the rights had already been signed away to another company prior to that.

As for the show itself, I’m encouraged by the small snippets I’ve seen so far. DD is my favourite Marvel character (it’s the only Marvel title I attempt to be a completist on), so like a lot of people

I’m very keen to see the show work. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. shows how a Marvel show can work well (albeit after some initial stumbles), so I remain hopeful for a great ride.

Personally I’m not a Netflix subscriber, but I will be if I get to see Daredevil.

What about you?

Ant-Man Trailer Released – Watch It Here

The hype in the lead-up to this trailer has been incredible – there was even an ant-sized version of the teaser, which itself was just touting the trailer that’s premiering on Marvel’s new TV show Agent Carter. .

Here we go:

Not surprisingly, there’s not a huge amount to see but I don’t doubt it’s achieved the aim of building interest in the widening Marvel movie franchise.

Over to you: do you like what you see?



Review: Edge of Spider-Verse #5

eosvThis series, designed to introduce us to some of the many and varied other inhabitants of the Spider-Verse has been one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises to come out of The House of Ideas this year. The main thrust of this five issue series consists of five one-off stories that get our collective reading appetite primed for the big upcoming Spider-Verse event that is to feature these obscure Spider-Men and Women as well as countless others.

However, the series has ended up being much more than the sum of its parts. One of the biggest developments to come out of the series is of course the inclusion of Spider Gwen in the Marvel Universe proper but for me that was secondary to just how good each of these single narratives really were. These stories were diverse in content, tone and style of execution, the one thing they all shared was dynamic storytelling. As good as each of these issues were, it appears that they saved the best for last.

The final issue is written by former My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way. This is Way’s Marvel debut but he has co-created the brilliant Umbrella Academy series as well as The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys for Dark Horse. There is a significant anime influence to Way’s work and that is definitely apparent here as he introduces the young heroine Peni Parker, daughter of the late Peter Parker and genetic heir to SP//dr, a symbiotic combination of an Iron Man-like suit of hi-tech armor and arachnid companion. Way and artist Jake Wyatt present a completely fresh and inventive re-imagining of the Spider-Man mythology; there is just enough of the familiar to provide a connection but from there it is certainly not the same old “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”. Given the limitations of a single issue, Way does a fantastic job of creating fully actualised characters. Sure, we don’t get the luxury of a meticulously detailed back story, but we do get a sense that these characters have some extensive roots in this universe. Take Way’s clever slant on Mysterio –  it’s the perfect melding of science fiction and comic book villain but something more than merely an amalgam of the two genres. The same applies to the writer’s take on the extra-dimensional doppelgänger of Daredevil.

These previously unseen versions of characters we have known our whole comic book reading lives serve as anchors that keep this entirely new universe from feeling alien to us. It’s more like seeing a person we love with a completely different hairstyle; all the things we love about them are still there beneath the newly styled coif. Way very accurately captures the feeling and tonal quality of a Spider-Man story right down to the subtle nuances; the quirky sense of humor, the high ideals, especially the “great responsibility that comes with great power”. It’s all there, transcending time, dimension and universe.

eosv1Way enters the Marvel Universe like a brilliant, blazing shooting star. This story is engrossing, entertaining and refreshingly dynamic. The only complaint I have is that it is only one issue. I hope that Marvel gives Way another assignment sooner than later. He brings a degree of edginess and, God forgive me for saying this, a certain hipness that is not easy to find. Way is cool without being pretentious possessing an obvious love and respect for the medium of comic books. Much of his intelligent use of metaphor and penchant for obscure references as found in Way’s lyrics, are likewise evident in his scripts.

Jake Wyatt’s art is as unique and brilliant as Way’s writing. He has a style that readily lends itself to Way’s anime infused imagery and brings these images electrically to life. The artist incorporates Peni’s personality with SP//dr extremely effectively, particularly in one panel where we see that the young protagonist has put Hello Kitty-type stickers on the actual armor providing a touching and humorous juxtaposition between the menacing look of SP//dr and the diminutive girl who pilots the heroic symbiotic robot. Wyatt’s art is dynamic and his approach to storytelling is energetic, fueled by his unique use of panel placement and vivacious page composition.

The final Edge of Spider-Verse installment will definitely leave you wanting more. Marvel showed extremely shrewd judgment by closing the series with Way and Wyatt’s electrifying issue. It has all the action, excitement and razor sharp humor that we have come to expect from a Spider-Man related title. I would love to see these two creators return to these characters, this time for an extended stay. Until then I’m sure they will turn up in the big event along with a multitudinous amount of other Spider-Beings like Miguel O’Hara and Peter Parker but I for one will be looking forward to being reunited with Peni Parker and SP//dr. (5/5)

Batman Eternal #21 – James Tynion IV and Jason Fabok

batman-eternalThis review contains spoilers for the issue

Batman Eternal has been a series that has been ticking along nicely in one corner of the DC universe. The weekly format lends itself more towards a television show, rather than the standard monthly fare, as the fast release schedule has allowed for a series that has been happily dropping major cliffhangers left  and right. The Bat universe suits this format easily, as the large ensemble cast ensures that not one character is going to hog the spotlight for too long – well aside from the titular Batman of course. The team of writers and artists, led by the always excellent Scott Snyder, have manged to find a suitably epic groove in which to explore the Bat family, and issue #21, while beginning a little slowly, manages to solidify this series place as some of the best Batman stories to come from the New 52 – and with the current lineup, that’s saying something.

James Tynion IV picks up the scripting reins of issue 21 and he maintains a steady hold of the events barreling out of issue 20. Batman believes he has got Jim Gordon out of prison after evidence comes to light regarding the train crash back in issue one, and the newly appointed Commissioner Bard isn’t quite who he seems. But the real star of the show is Alfred this week, finally being able to show off his skills that his daughter has consistently bemoaned him for apparently losing in previous issues. Bad-ass Alfred is always a treat when he pops up, and his speech when he lets the intruder know that while Bruce may have an aversion to guns, he certainly doesn’t, makes me hope that Alfred’s back story gets it’s own series.

But enough about the awesome Alfred sequence – lets talk about the reveals. Firstly, Hush makes his big entrance into the New 52, and it seems his original back-story is going to remain intact. Hush is an interesting choice, as he is inevitably going to draw parallels to Lincoln March who was brought up in Court of the Owls, both men vying for the position that Bruce Wayne holds. It will be interesting to see how differently this story will develop moving forward, as the especially muddy events surrounding anything pre-New 52 may alter how much Batman has come to blows with this villain.

The next large development this week is Bard being revealed as one of the big bads for the series. Now this I like – Bard in previous issues had read as a slightly more pessimistic Jim Gordon, willing to do some of the “tough choices” eschewed by the larger superhero community. This is fine, as this can create some pretty decent morality issues – especially due Batman’s work ethic – but this had been done to death. Having Bard taking on a more sinister role is a welcomed approach, and it seems to come out of nowhere.

Jason Fabok is as suited to a Batman story as he has ever been. His detailed and realistic pencils make for a fantastic full page spread with Hush and Alfred (even if it does look like Alfred is being stabbed more than he seems in later panels), and his character work is full of dark and foreboding frowns – always a plus for a Batman comic. Brad Anderson’s colours don’t do heaps to stand out, but it does lend a nice dark and bleak atmosphere to the proceedings.

Batman Eternal is a blast, and shouldn’t work as well as it does on a week-to-week basis. Faring much better than its DC counterpart Futures End, Snyder and Co. have crafted a beast of a story that continues to impress as it closes out its latest arc. But lets be honest – I’m just thankful to see a badass Alfred once again.

Review: Original Sin #5

os1Jason Aaron steps on the brakes, slowing the brisk pace of his revelation filled narrative in this current issue that trades dynamic character interaction and up-tempo timing for meticulously detailed exposition and historic flashbacks – all in the cause of more fully examining the character of Nicholas J. Fury.

One may infer by this opening sentence that they are in for an arduously drawn-out, exhaustive portrait of Marvel’s eye patch sporting super spy, but boy would they be wrong. Aaron does take a rather unexpected detour with this issue, especially in light of how exciting and shocking this story has been thus far. However, he very deliberately dissects Fury with surgical precision at the very moment this information becomes imperative to the forward progression of the narrative. There are elements of Fury’s extensive and storied past that even die hard Marvel fans may not know or readily remember because of Aaron’s decision to literally turn this issue over to Nick Fury (a great majority of the story is narrated by Fury).

The preceding two issues have ended with mind-blowing revelations centered on Fury; first his perceived murder by the Winter Soldier which is immediately followed by the revelation that the Fury slayed by the Winter Soldier was in fact an LMD and the “real” Fury is actually alive but a very elderly man. All of this  data is almost too much to take in – so much in the way that the Star Wars films go on to become the story of Darth Vader, Original Sin has become Nick Fury’s tale. This shift makes an exclusively Nick Fury-centric issue not only clever but necessary.

Aaron delves into the history of Marvel’s greatest Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. beginning with his days as a member of The Howling Commandos through his time as leader of the Secret Warriors on up to his current often ambiguous position within S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Universe as a whole. This interlude may seem to be a bit too lengthy of a digression at this point in an exciting, well established narrative but I think that if you read it as a precursor to the next chapter of the story it makes perfect sense. Although this approach does seem to hang a dynamic supporting cast out to dry for an entire issue; that is my only complaint and it is precisely because Aaron has done such a bang up job with the characterisations and interactions within this diverse and eccentric cast that they are so sorely missed, particularly Doctor Strange and the Punisher. For my money you can’t get a more “odd” couple, but Aaron makes magic happen with these two diametrically opposed “heroes”. The main plot of Original Sin is so strong that it can withstand a course deviation to further and more deeply develop one of the main players in this multi-faceted narrative without losing significant momentum. I can just about feel Exterminatrix and Dr. Midas lurking in the shadows, waiting for their moment to strike with maximum proficiency and malice.

Mike Deodato does a phenomenal job of bringing Fury’s legendary past to the page as he astutely illustrates Fury’s narration, enhancing his words with striking and dramatic images. Deodato does some of his most stunning and inventive page composition in this issue. He makes effective use of panel layouts creating an intensely cinematic feel depicting scenes from Secret Invasion and other equally iconic moments in the life of Nick Fury. Once again Frank Martin captures the tone of the narrative perfectly with his evocative palette of moody, subdued shades. The collaborative result of this creative team is a cohesive work crafted with chemistry and a mutual vision. This is visually one of the most dramatic issues in the series.

Sure this issue is a bit of a change of pace, especially following the big reveals of the previous issues, but Jason Aaron shrewdly throttles down the action and gives us a decidedly more cerebral chapter as a preface to what is sure to be a return to the excitement and over the top action that we have come to expect of this wildly entertaining and engrossing epic. Don’t jump ship if this issue didn’t scratch you where you itched. Have faith true believers, this is going to be one event that lives up to and dare I say exceeds the hype.

’nuff said. (4/5)

Review: Rocket Raccoon #1

rr1Skottie Young and Jean-Francois Beaulieu could have gone for an obvious cash grab when given the opportunity to work on a Rocket Raccoon solo series. It’s a character that many see as the next Deadpool or Harley Quinn in terms of his popularity among non-comic readers who are obsessed with t-shirts, action figures and everything else featuring the likeness of a comic book character. However, Young and longtime collaborator Beaulieu took the high road and gave us a darn near perfect comic book full of gorgeous, eye-popping imagery and a story powered by endless kinetic energy. The lush, meticulously detailed pages stuffed to overflowing with imaginative images should come as no shocker to anyone even remotely familiar with Young’s brilliantly inventive style. But what pleasantly surprised me was his skill and competence as a writer. Young deftly crafts a narrative more befitting the adult audience that will be seeing Rocket on the big screen in this summer’s hugely anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy film. That’s not to say that this book is overtly “adult” in its content, but Young does build on Rocket’s reputation as a bit crass and somewhat rough around the edges – he is no Lobo but he is not too far behind when it comes to attitude and conquests of the fairer sex. In fact, his dealings with the ladies are the reason Rocket has found himself in hot water this time around.

This is a runaway train of epic proportions; from the opening pages which feature two guards discussing the merits of a reality show based on the concept of a living sentient planet, Young displays his comedic prowess as he cleverly uses humor and the over the top action to propel the narrative forward at break neck speed. There is scarcely time to catch your breath between pages as Rocket is chased from a wrestling event featuring his good friend and fellow Guardian, Groot through an arena teeming with every form of flamboyant alien life imaginable, and boy can Young imagine some colorful creatures (one of them sporting a Southern Bastards patch on the back of his jacket). This is precisely the kind of exciting, fun-filled story that Rocket Raccoon was created to star in and Young really gets the most out of the character, whether it’s through the extremely sharp, spot on dialogue or just his attitude-exuding posture. Rocket comes across as a bushy-tailed Han Solo, equally savvy with weapons and women. This little guy is on a rampage fueled by the possibility that he may not be the last of his race and the need to clear his name while this shadowy other is on a killing spree.

Rocket Raccoon is a decidedly more mature title than we have seen Young work on before; however he proves with a single issue that he is more than up to the task. He seems exceedingly comfortable with the material and handles the grittier fare with proficiency and flair, particularly when it comes to scripting dialogue. Young is a shrewd storyteller and one of the most gifted and inventive illustrators working today. His highly stylized, larger than life approach to sequential storytelling is a perfect fit for this character and setting especially when Beaulieu’s vivid colors are added to the equation. There is a definite otherworldliness to the finished product here. The scene inside the arena is a particular stand-out with its nearly limitless array of hues glimmering and gleaming in an ethereal glow. There is a certain cinematic sensibility to the entire work, a vivaciousness that enlivens the imagery giving life to the pages as the story unfolds as if of its own volition. It is a living narrative full of energy, heart and humor.

This is a perfect inaugural issue – there is action by the ton, there are loads of laughs, the genuine variety that are the result of good writing and there are characters that capture our collective interest and at times even our hearts. Skottie Young has done his job well – he pulled us in and made us want more. Now all he has to do is continue to do that on a monthly basis – after reading this tremendous first issue I have no doubt that he can and will do just that.