In-Depth on Marvel's "Divided We Stand" and The Latest Hydra Cap Twists
Marvel editor and all-around snazzy guy Axel Alonso said something super-important at WonderCon this year. I’ve written it down and taped it to the inside of my wallet so I never forget these words of wisdom at the most crucial of times. With the $3.99 standard, reprints and the multiple titles you’re about to see, I wanted to pass this knowledge on to you. It may sound blasphemous, it may even be madness, but trust me on this one. These words could save your comic collection:
“You don’t have to buy all of them.”
Madness! You’re going to be seeing a lot of repeat faces in here — the obligatory bevy of Deadpool books, our masses of Avengers, the Shadowland tie-in that grows stronger every month, etc. But just remember this: You don’t have to buy them all.
Is it true? Stay sharp and come with me down the path to Marvel’s September comics. And may God have mercy on our souls.
Let’s take Thor, for example (because he’s awesome):
He’s got four titles out this month, not including Marvel Superheroes or Avengers. THOR #615, finally written by Matt Fraction and exquisitely drawn by Pasqual Ferry, THOR: FOR ASGARD #1 & 2 (of 7) from Robert Rodi and Simone Bianchi, THOR THE MIGHTY AVENGER #4 with Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, and THOR: FIRST THUNDER #1 (of 5) written by Bryan J.L. Glass with art from Tan Eng Huat. Each of these four books covers the spread: You have your ongoing Thor title; your big, sweeping painted epic in miniseries format; a sort of all-ages title for everyone to enjoy; and your Thor origin story for people just catching up. Each of these books could have elements of the other, but keeping them strained and separated, per se, gives the customer a way to find out which Thor is right for them so as not to be left out of the Marvel fun.
As fans, we don’t have to buy all of them. Well, we can (and might), but we don’t have to. We’re giving the buying market a chance to find something that interests them, to lure them into the rest of the Marvel Universe without having to catch up in trades or watch my one-woman performance of the origin of Thor at my local comic shop.
So Marvel hedges its bets by putting out titles designed for a specific reader’s demand. I’m for it, thanks to my magic words from Axel Alonso and because of how much I like to see people read Thor comics. Something for everyone!
Or something for that one guy, you know, you. Yes, you on the left. This is for you: TASKMASTER #1 (of 4) from Fred Van Lente and Jefte Paolo! Having lurked around the fringes of the last four events or so, Taskmaster deserves his own book, as we’d been unintentionally following his rather self-serving lifestyle from title to title. The solicitation reads as follows:
Taskmaster has trained hench-thugs for every terrorist organization and criminal cartel in the Marvel Universe. So when the rumor starts that he’s turned traitor and now works for STEVE ROGERS, a billion-dollar bounty is put on his head, and every cadre of costumed fanatics — A.I.M., Hydra, Ultimatum, the Sons of the Serpent, everyone — looks to collect. Now Taskmaster has to fight hordes upon hordes of his psychopathic students while at the same time figuring out who framed him — which requires him figuring out who he really is! That’s right, the man with the photographic reflexes has no memory of his true identity — and you’ll learn the unexpected truth along with him!
An origin story! Everybody love an origin story, and the premise sounds lively and fun, along with being informative. In a similar vein is VALKYRIE #1, written by Bryan J.L. Glass and penciled by Phil Winslade. Man, that Mouse Templar guy is getting into the Asgard market, as not only will he be writing a Thor title this month, but he’ll have the Herculean task of explaining the when and the how of Valkyrie’s return:
In AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED, Ragnarok claimed the lives of the Asgardians, until they were reborn along with Thor himself…but when and how did the legendary shield maiden Brunhilde return? How does a murder mystery hold all the answers? And how can Valkyrie solve the riddle of her own death? Dare a glimpse into the soul of Marvel’s most misunderstood heroine, and witness her transformation from myth to Defender to Avenger!
As usual, we have our assemblage of Avengers titles, counting eight in all, with Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Avengers Prime, Avengers Academy, Avengers: Children’s Crusade, Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet, and I am an Avenger. Being that these are team books and there’s twice as many of them as there were Thor books, I’m starting to feel some title fatigue as the different groups vie for my attention and dollar. AVENGERS PRIME #3 promises “The team-up you never thought you’d ever see again! Steve Rogers and Tony Stark battle together to save each other and the life of their fallen friend Thor!” Which begs me to ask, Weren’t we all done with that after Civil War? Haven’t Tony and Steve gone through enough restart/reboots to effectively wipe that out-of-nowhere grudge and show them what really matters? And what the heck took down Thor like a damsel in distress?!
Over in NEW AVENGERS #4, they’ll be battling arcane forces more powerful that ever before.
With reality under furious attack by arcane power far beyond anything anyone on Earth has ever dealt with before, the Avengers have to start getting creative or forfeit all that we know. The rules of magic and mysticism in the Marvel Universe are about to change in a gigantic way and it’s all going to happen here!
This is why Doctor Strange handles the mystic arts. Because what he deals with on a regular basis isn’t what Wolverine handles and vise versa. Stephen Strange would look a little silly fighting, say Sabretooth, while Logan doesn’t strike me as the guy to gather lore and beat back the depths of the sanity-shrieking unknown with anything more than his claws. It’s taken some time, but this “gigantic change” is something that’s been coming for a long time and all I can ask is that it finally puts Stephen Strange back in his Sanctum Sanctorum so Wong can return from whatever vacation he’s been on and all will be right with the world.
By the by, Jason Aaron will be out to prove me wrong as the all-new WOLVERINE #1 with Aaron and Renato Guedes take Wolverine to Hell as well as to five different variant covers. You see, his soul will be in Hell while his body will be … doing something else. Maybe a wild Weekend at Bernie’s-like adventure? Unlike the Hulk’s, Logan’s offspring will be getting their own titles as well, with first issues for X-23 and DAKEN: DARK WOLVERINE. The family that variant-covers together …
Wait, speaking of Hulks … notice they’re suspiciously absent this moth? Nope, not a single solicit, unless you’re counting ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 3 #2 (of 6), doing the best they can to have the worst title ever. UCA3 #2 (yikes) has not only Millar’s Vampire Story but what looks to be the Hulk on the cover, and that’s kind of all we’re getting in the Gamma department this September.
You know what we will be getting? VAMPIRES! Fangs, fangs, fangs as the X-Men resurrect Dracula (WHAT? See why Dr. Strange does this better?) to fight Drac’s evil son as opposed to his not-as-evil son. We’ll also be getting some grindhouse horror with X-MEN: CURSE OF THE MUTANTS – X-MEN VS. VAMPIRES #1 (of 2) which tosses its hat into the ring for worst title ever but includes a reprint of the first time the X-Men fought vampires back in X-Men #159. Also, the Science Club get another one-shot tie-in like the champs they are and Namor finds *gasp* SEA VAMPIRES!
Will it ever end? So much is coming down the track for the month of September, we could be here all day but I’ll tell you what: go take a look at Marvel’s Solicitations for September and let me know what you’re looking forward to, what I might have missed or what you might not be buying. The power is yours! Excelsior!