We're back again with another round of comic reviews for the week of October 07, 2015. This is an odd week because we're getting another issue of Marvel's Secret Wars, but we're also starting to see some All-New, All-Different Marvel titles, which take place after the crossover is done.
Marvel's publishing schedule is all kinds of messed up, with Secret Wars expanding to nine issues and the final issue coming in December, by which time a large number of ANAD titles will have launched. That's before you even get to Uncanny X-Men #600, which takes place before Secret Wars and ends writer Brian Michael Bendis' run on the franchise. That's coming in November, meaning the new X-Men flagship title, Extraordinary X-Men, will launch before the old one officially ends.
Anyways, we're diving into Secret Wars #6, Amazing Spider-Man #1, Doctor Strange #1, Invincible Iron-Man #1, Batman & Robin Eternal #1, Action Comics #45, and Jughead #1. Like always, this series highlights just a few of the comic books on sale each week, without delving into heavy spoilers. If you're interested in any book, click on the title and it'll take you to that book's Comixology page. Let us proceed.
- Written by Jonathan Hickman
- Art by Esad Ribic, Ive Svorcina
Things are not well on Battleworld. The Raft survivors and Thanos' Cabal are running wild in Doom's universe and the person tasked with finding them, Valeria, is starting to question her father's lies. This is a bit of middling issue, putting pieces in their place on the chessboard in some interesting configurations.
First and foremost is Reed Richards working with his evil Ultimate Universe counterpart, The Maker. Both want Doom gone, though the Maker is willing to go that extra mile if he can. The Spider-Men investigate the source behind Doom's power, while Black Panther and Namor reach Sheriff Strange's inner sanctum and recover weapons which may help in the fight against Doom. Finally, Thanos finds himself in a prison underneath the Shield Wall, where he convinces an unlikely ally to revolt against Doom.
Doom's screwed, but that's always the way it is with Doom.
It's worth noting that if you want to be completely unspoiled, you shouldn't pick up any Marvel comics for the foreseeable future, because again, All-New, All-Different takes place after Secret Wars. The new series outline a new status quo for the Marvel Universe, formed by events and survivors from Secret Wars. The books don't give away how the crossover ends, but I know some people are finicky about spoilers.
Note: Though I won't be using review space for them, the concluding Secret Wars issues of Siege and Old Man Logan are good reads.
- Written by Dan Slott
- Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Marte Garcia
Normally, I'd alternate from Marvel to a DC, Image, or indie book (or vice versa), but I feel it's worth following up my Secret Wars review with Marvel's new status quo. So let's turn our attention to the All-New, All-Different Peter Parker.
One of the reasons I enjoyed the Superior Spider-Man was it took Peter's heroism to its natural conclusion. With all that power and responsibility, why not do more? How can you develop web-shooters in high school and then spend the next 15-20 years being a photographer? Why is your technology as Spider-Man so limited? Doc Ock might've not been a great guy, but he was willing to see Spider-Man and Peter Parker as something greater.
The new Amazing run is about Peter looking for that greatness on his own. It's a very Tony Stark take on the character, with Peter as the head of the multinational tech company Parker Industries. He's globe-trotting, filling in the millionaire playboy slot, creating charities like the Uncle Ben Foundation, and designing non-lethal tech for SHIELD. On the flip-side, Spider-Man is Peter's public bodyguard, with new Parker Industries tech behind his crime-fighting and a body-double played by Hobie Brown, the Prowler, to keep Peter's identity under wraps. (Stark had this very status quo back in the day, with James Rhodes in the Iron Man suit.)
This is about what Spider-Man can become while still remaining a hero. It's the Superior concept done right. Honestly, it's kind of Amazing.
The back-end of the book is essentially previews for the rest of the Spider-Books, including Spider-Man 2099, Silk, Spider-Woman, Web Warriors, and Spider-Man (Miles Morales). The last tale also features the inclusion of a Renew Your Vows character into the Marvel Universe, though it's not the one I was expecting.
- Written by Jason Aaron
- Art by Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin
Doctor Strange has always been a hard character to get a handle on because his powerset is largely undefined. Magic in comic universes tend to have issues because they lack concrete limitations. Writer Jason Aaron has taken some steps to rectify that issue here.
This is a new Stephen Strange. Gone is the grey hair and the stern demeanor that previously marked the character outside of his own minis. This is a younger Doctor, sort of an urban legend in New York, a man who will help you when what ails you is a bit too odd for normal authorities. This Strange is more hands-on, wielding magical weapons as well as magical spells. He's also gained a reputation as a bit of a ladies man in the months since the Marvel Universe returned. (Tony Stark again!)
Into this new normal, Aaron introduces the concept of equal trade: "A life for a life" as the cantankerous Monako tells Strange at the local magical watering hole, the Bar with No Doors. Magic has a cost and for too long, Strange and others have not been paying that cost. The "Coming Slaughter" has all the denizens of the outer realms worked up and Strange needs to get his ledger in order to face it. As a first issue, it reads great and hits all the points needed for you to understand where the new Strange is coming from.
One highlight of this book is the absolutely amazing artwork by Chris Bachalo. Bachalo has always been an odd artist, filling his work with random detail and compositions, but he's previously been assigned to straightforward superhero books. Here with a magical title, his art style really gets a chance to shine and it comes across as a far better fit than X-Men or Spider-Man.
- Written by Brian Michael Bendis
- Art by David Marquez, Justin Ponsor
Finally after two faux Tony Starks, here's the real deal.
Honestly, after the events in the Avengers' Time Runs Out arc, I expected we'd be seeing a drastically different Tony Stark in All-New, All-Different Marvel. I was wrong. This is same billionaire playboy engineer we've seen before. He's got a new suit of armor, a new AI companion, and new romance, but he's largely the same guy.
In fact, other than redefining Stark for new readers, there's not much to this issue. Stark goes on a date and Madame Masque is stealing things for some reason. This is all build-up. That's said, the last page of the issue is legitimately jaw-dropping and hints at something much bigger than the rest of the issue. In fact, the other two ANAD #1's are far more satisfying until that last page.
Joining Bendis on this title is David Marquez, who killed it on Miles Morales: Spider-Man. His work is still super-clean here, though I think the new, malleable armor could use some more rough edges. I need to see what it can really do before making a judgment though.
- Written by Scott Synder, James Tynion IV
- Art by Tony Salvador Daniel, Tomeu Morey
Last year, DC Comics ran Batman Eternal, a weekly limited series. Of the weekly series the company tried at the time, Batman Eternal was the best one, though it sort of went off the rails at times. Regardless, it must have worked out, because DC is back again with Batman & Robin Eternal, a follow-up 26-issue weekly series.
Though the title is "Batman & Robin Eternal," this is probably just for marketing purposes, as this really should be called "Robin Eternal" or "Sidekicks Forever". The book stars Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Bluebird, previous and potential sidekicks of Batman in his never-ending crusade. Unfortunately, Bruce Wayne no longer remembers his past and the new Batman isn't looking for a sidekick.
There's a secret past, Batman did a thing, Bruce Wayne doesn't remember, and Batman's former sidekicks need to find out what those secrets were before someone mysterious called the Orphan kills them. This is a similar setup as Batman Eternal and it's entirely possible the pay off won't be worth the build up, but I've always loved Batman's partners more than Batman himself. That means I'll stick with it to see where it goes.
The best part is this issue delivers with the return of a character fans thought long gone in the new 52. I'm glad to see her back, even if she doesn't take up the mantle she once held.
- Written by Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder
- Art by Scott Kolins, Tomeu Morey
This issue has been billed is some news stories as showing Superman's new secret identity. That is not true. It's clear that the identity Clark is using here, trucker Archie Clayton, is a temporary one used to get closer to his goal. Clark is trying to found out how Metropolis' upper echelons were poisoned by new villain Wrath and Clayton is his undercover identity to get closer to the truth. This isn't a new Clark Kent, this is Superman's Matches Malone.
That's your public service announcement for today. Pak is still doing good work, but this issue is all setup.
- Written by Chip Zdarsky
- Art by Erica Henderson
If you haven't been keeping up with the Archie reboot, you may have missed the phenomenon that is Sexy Jughead. While the character has been goofy in past incarnations, the new version is much cooler. Here he gets his own adjoining series, where Sex Criminals writer Chip Zdarsky and Squirrel Girl artist Erica Henderson get a chance to flesh him out a bit.
If you haven't been exposed to both creators before, you may be confused at how odd this book is. One half of it is Jughead's real life up until the point that he finds out that the school's Lasagna Mondays have been cancelled due to administration changes. Then there's the weird fantasy dream where Archie gets toasted by a dragon who just wants to give people free burgers. Then Jughead learns how to cook because he never knew people could make food before.
While Archie is a bit more grounded, with a CW-type feel to it, Jughead is more off-the-wall as the creative team would suggest. Together, they're both great reads that build on one another. It's another comic where I just want to post panels from it all day, every day.