Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
February! Love is in the air! Presidents are in the air! The holiday season is done with, and we can all look forward to a bright new year.
Or not, as Marvel is bringing you this future month (and I do quote from THUNDERSTRIKE #4 (of 5)‘s solicit) “scenes of excessive action and angst in the mighty Marvel manner”. Angst! Not just fear, anxiety or strife, but angst in the mighty MARVEL manner! That’s right, other guys! You don’t do trauma like we do trauma!
Really, it looks like February is just going to be promoted as a downer with a lot of terrible things happening to good people and then Captain America takes on some pigeons. But it can’t all be doom and gloom, can it? Can there be a prevailing mood for books during certain seasons? Does the House of Ideas have a post-holiday melancholy? And if so, what’s Deadpool doing in the bathtub? Please, join us as we click for more information below and look at Marvel’s menu for February 2011.
As you cruise down the list of Marvel’s licensed comics (more Orson Scott Card goodness, Halo for the fans) we get to two Ultimate issues on this list for this month. Ultimate Doom #3 and Ultimate Captain America #3. Hrm. Suspiciously missing is Ultimate Spider-Man, I wonder where he could-
-OH MY GOD. He’s dead! He’s gone! The book is over, pack it up, turn of the lights, we’re going home. No solicitation, it’s been canceled? No, because press releases over the past few weeks have stated that while, yes, you’ll believe a spider can die, that storyline will kick off in February with “a prelude in Ultimate Spider-Man #153 and going into high-gear with Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates #1“. So, what’s the deal? Where’s my terrible red-print-on-black-background announcement in my online solicitations? Sure, it’ll be the cover of the Previews catalog next week, but couldn’t you scare up a token announcement for what might possibly be the worst and most unimaginable thing to ever happen to Peter Parker since he died during the never finished The Other! Or during the Avengers Disassembled period of Spider-Man comics! Or… you get the idea.
Actually, they’re saving all their death knells and solemn tones of hyperbole for Amazing Spider-Man! Let’s go about this in a numerical fashion because there’s a Point One in here throwing off my whole number groove. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #654.1 is the jumping on point for new readers and a recap of current events, plus the introduction of the all-new Venom host: “Witness the birth of a new Spider-Man in the start of a brand-new story arc!” Hrmm. Sure, they say that the new guy is showing up Peter Parker and he has to go turn to someone in his darkest hour, but… In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #655, “Awakenings” has Spider-Man making a choice — a PROMISE. Right before this big promise? Venom comes back into play in the Spider-Man books. I’m just saying, based on only this information, Peter Parker could be wearing the old black costume and working with the symbiote again. I mean, that’s some angst in the mighty Marvel fashion…
Another form of Stryfe to show the reader is the surprise return of Cable & Deadpool again, the series that pops up every now and again. Last seen back in April with issue #25, Duane Swierczynski comes on back with another shot at current X-Men events long after we’ve moved on. In DEADPOOL & CABLE #26, Deadpool’s verklempt over the loss of his former buddy book co-star and decides to go take up a lost project of Nathan Summers: Rumekistan, the troubled and totally fictional European country that Cable once tried to turn into a Utopia on earth. If you read the series, this is a rather pleasant little call back and you might get a warm feeling from the return of a fairly entertaining juxtaposition of mutant utopian politics and slapstick ultra-violence. Otherwise, HEY GUYS DEADPOOL’S ON THE COVER! I have no idea if this is a now yearly series or they just like hauling it out every now and then.
For a more personal and better spelled idea of strife, let’s look at Iron Man, shall we? Now, I know Marvel is going to throw as many types of Iron Man books out there as they can to lure in as many kinds of readers as possible. There’ll be a kids’ Iron Man book, a continuity laden Iron Man book, a more high tech story with Iron Man, a Iron Man and guest star kind of book, that sort of thing. If they only put out one book a month, then that’s only one issue of revenue and if they put out a bunch of books… you get the idea. But never these books shall meet, you just choose the one you like the best and read that one, leaving the more movie style Iron Man book or the reprints of older Iron Man issues to people who’d want to read that instead. War Machine is finally going to jump in as a bigger part of the ongoing title’s cast and it’s about time, if you ask me. The public knows who Rhodey is, Pepper freakin’ Potts has armor now, why not Tony’s best buddy? Only here’s the deal: he’s not getting his own book. He’s not getting a mini or one-shot called “War Machine” or “Jim Rhodes: War Machine.” No, it’s called IRON MAN 2.0. There’s going to be a three issue lead-in to an ongoing series of the same name. From the solicitation: “when Rhodey has to face a mysterious enemy he can’t shoot, can’t bomb, can’t even see, he’s going to be forced to evolve…or die. Find out why War Machine becomes Iron Man 2.0 in the 3-part launch arc of this all-new ongoing series!”
Even if they called it “Iron Man: Machine of War” we’d still get the point! What is up with the decimals, Marvel? And why is issue one of this mini-series $3.99? Issue two is $2.99!
It gets better, my little angst monkeys, because then INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500.1 comes out. Again, a jumping on point for new readers, long time readers will want to pick this up as well because this is going to set the tone for Iron Man and his crew. And then there’s the regular ongoing issue of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #501. So, if you want to keep up with Iron Man, IRON MAN 2.0 #1 and #2 spin out of the current storyline, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500.1 recaps and introduces the new storyline and oh yeah, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #501 gets you into the all new thrills and spills in the life of Tony Stark. That’s… around $14 bucks of just current Iron Man continuity this month. Not mini-series flavors, not age-appropriate titles to make the character relatable to the most people. That’s just current continuity, read-these-to-know-references-we’ll-be-making-later comics.
Kind of makes me want to read IRON MAN LEGACY #11. From their solicitation: “THE ILLUMINATI versus THE PRIDE as “INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION” reaches its senses-shattering conclusion!…’NUFF SAID!” ‘Nuff said, indeed.
Some of these solicitations do go on a little longer than they should this month. A lot of them could be easily sold on their first lines alone. Take for example HULK #30 by Jeff Parker and Ed McGuiness, “Ed McGuiness draws a special (and especially insane) issue of HULK!” DONE. Do we need to know what kind of insanity? Haven’t the Hulk books in general just been their own special sort of insanity? Looking back at Loeb’s run on the Hulk books, wasn’t that the best-selling modus operandi of his stories?
Meanwhile, the first line of INCREDIBLE HULKS #622 lets you know that the Mighty Marvel Angst is front and center, “In the horrific tragedy of life sweepstakes, the Hulk has won the jackpot, time and time again.” Yow. By the way, Hulk fights against the Allfatheriest one of them all, so while still depressing in the House of Ennui style, there will also be a punch up. DAREDEVIL: REBORN #2 (of 4) wants you to know that “Guilt-ridden and alone, the man who would be Daredevil turned his back on the life he once knew, and fled into the New Mexico desert.” FANTASTIC FOUR #588 will have a whole “month seeing how the remaining members of the Fantastic Four, the extended family, other heroes, and prominent villains react to the loss of this legendary hero.” Spidey will console a distraught Franklin Richards. Marvel will also be canceling fan-favorite series “Your Brand New Puppy” and reveal that SANTA CLAUS ISN’T REAL.
Then there’s the first line of SUPERHEROES #11: “Captain America knew something was odd when he spotted an entire flock of supposedly extinct passenger pigeons.” Some days Marvel’s all-ages comics are like that melted marshmallow topping on your candied yams.
Awkwardly, Marvel has ravaged through the Thor title landscape, flinging bodies to and fro and decimating the rather plentiful line of books. We’re just getting to the end of both IRON MAN/THOR and THOR: FOR ASGARD, then it’s just THOR #620 (no, I’m not counting Thunderstrike). For a guy cited as the next Deadpool in over-saturation, seeing us back down to one comic at the end of February seems a little over-kill. And then of course there’s the sad state of Thor: the Mighty Avenger, fan favorite, reviewer’s darling, all ages fun and expertly drawn getting the axe this week. Support has been overwhelming for a book I really didn’t read and hopefully, this will translate to sales for the doomed title. There could be a last-minute Hail Mary and the efforts of the #SaveThorTheMightyAvenger hash tag on Twitter, the Facebook fan page, the articles and great rallying done by dedicated and snazzy fans could bring this book back from the brink, but really. This is not the first time an off-beat book that was popular with comic readers got canceled to make room for more “accessible comics for new readers” or another Wolverine book. The comic business loves the familiar and not the innovative. Maybe in a few years, Thor: the Mighty Avenger will have that sense of nostalgia to it that gets us a new issue, like Cable & Deadpool get. Maybe fans will give it a Spider-Girl break or it’ll continue in fits and starts of mini-series like Atlas does. Maybe it’ll sell as trades as a staple comic like the Immortal Iron Fist. Only time will tell.
PUNISHER: IN THE BLOOD #4 (of 5) starts out its solicitation: “Who is the gorgeous, leather-clad, burn victim romantically entangled with both the Jigsaw Brothers?” I just wanted you all to know that I totally have an alibi.
In other news, the Astonishing X-Men title was originally announced way back when as the continuity-free X-Men book to cater to movie goers and those interested in jumping in with Marvel’s merry mutants without digging through back issues or pondering out the Ultimates line. It had Joss Whedon and the man had the Midas touch, making it one of the most popular books for its time. Personally, I still sell the first trade to those wanting a Whedonesque look at the X-Men and it serves pretty well as some fun reading with a mutant twist. Then Warren Ellis took over and the book became more of a high-concept book, a Marvel Knights X-Men with elaborate art and a sci-fi mindset. Not exactly for the new reader anymore, it seemed to elaborate at times on themes going on with the main title while shooting the rest of it off into space.
In February, Daniel Way gets to make his mark on the malleable title with ASTONISHING X-MEN #36. From the solicitation: “New series writer Daniel Way (Deadpool) is joined by superstar artist Jason Pearson to bring you a widescreen, mega blockbuster story filled with classic Kirby monsters, heart-stopping revelations and over-the-top action!” I’m intrigued to see where this one will go after a few issues and what flavor of X-Men book we’ll be getting.
There will be a WOLVERINE #5.1, despite being only FIVE ISSUES INTO THE STORY. I mean, come on! It’s Wolverine! How could you possibly not know what Wolverine is doing right now? He stabs, he’s short and he’s on the X-Men and the Avengers. He’s the best there is at what he does. Done. Why would you need a Point One issue for a book that is not only just five issues in, not only starting a new storyline in WOLVERINE #6 (“Once again, a mindless Wolverine is raging out control, a danger to everyone around him.” Again, sounds like Tuesday.), but there’s also a WOLVERINE #1000 issue coming out packed to its 80-page brim with writers and artists telling all new stories and adventures. Couldn’t the Point One story be added to this book? Not that I don’t adore Jason Aaron’s take on Wolverine, I just don’t think it needs a #5.1 one to get it into the hands of new readers.
In books returning from the dead news, PunsherMAX is back in February. Now, I had no idea it was gone until I looked at when the last issue came out and that was back in July. Well, whatever horrible thing the book was doing in that 6 month absence, it’s back now and cross your fingers that it’s really ongoing this time, for serious, because PUNISHERMAX #10 looks to continue to look into the obscene madness that only Jason Aaron could come up with in a battle of wits between the Punisher and Bullseye. Also, while not in the mature range of literature, I would like to point out that Dan Jurgens’s run on Thor is finally getting some reprints in the form of the THOR: THE DEATH OF ODIN TPB. This was a fantastic run that’s frustratingly difficult to get one’s hands on, plus it leads to the awesome Thor: Lord of Asgard run that ends with Michael Avon Oeming’s Ragnarok finale. These are some great comics that didn’t come out all that long ago, I’m glad to see them return to the masses.
Wow, for such a downer of a month, there’s still even more going on in the ol’ Marvel Universe. Some of it isn’t even angst driven! So go ahead, take a look for yourself at the Marvel Solicitations for February 2011 and tell me what you like best! Is it the new Marvel Girl mini-series that’s long overdue? Is it The Thanos Imperative HC that collects what hopefully isn’t the last of Marvel’s cosmic goodness? Greg Pak finally getting his hands on the Silver Surfer in his own titular mini-series? Or dare I even say it, the return of ONSLAUGHT??? Buck up, True Believers and look forward to the future!