Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
It’s a weird week for new releases, with everyone but Marvel taking it easy and pulling back on massive hauls in order to give our wallets a nice holiday break (unless you’re a Marvel completest, in which case, yowza. Look out). That said, if I had $15, I’d put it towards the special 200th issue of What If? ($4.99), the first issue of event tie-in Chaos War: X-Men ($3.99) because I’m curious how Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson handle Marvel’s version of Blackest Night, and the second issue of Scott Snyder and Jock’s Detective Comics run (#872, $3.99), because I was really happily surprised by how much I enjoyed the first.
If I had $30, I’d put Chaos War and What If? back on the shelf, and get Emitown ($24.99) instead. I’ve heard really great things about this print collection of Emi Lenox’s autobio webcomic, and I like the idea of seeing 2011 in by discovering a new cartoonist to love.
Splurging, I’d go back to Marvel, with the brand new Ka-Zar collection by Mark Waid and Andy Kubert ($19.99). I missed out on this series back in the 1990s, but as a fan of both fish-out-of-water stories and Mark Waid stories, something tells me that this might be right up my street.
Ever read a comic to the last page, close the book and just wonder to yourself how on Earth did this get printed?
Yeah, but in a good way?
Sometimes you meet stories or characters that don’t seem to fit in with the flow of your usual reading milieu and you’re floored that such a thing could hang out next to Iron Man and the Hulk on the shelves. I’m not saying those books can’t be deep or intellectual, I’m just saying when an indie book or Vertigo title gets heartfelt, sentimental, experimental or metaphysical, it’s kind of par for the course. Hey look everyone, Sandman’s referencing an abstract concept in a grounded yet mythological fashion! It must be Tuesday.
But when Thor does something similar and it’s not just a Kirby reference, there’s something that always makes me sit back in my chair and get my adult comic reading hat on and really take in the narrative. I’m as bad as anyone who reads far too many comics in getting complacent and bogged down in “what matters,” that weird, ephemeral concept that drives publishers to event books and banner titles. It has been said that comic readers want books that “matter,” taken to mean they want books that get a notation in the Overstreet guide: “First appearance of So-and-So,” “New Costume for Whatserface” and the ever-so-coveted “Death of That Guy.” These are things that matter… for now. They crack the internet in half and fans panic and then a few months/years later, Hawkeye’s death in ignominy is just something to chuckle about rather than scowl around.
But let’s really think on this.
Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.
Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15, I’d spend the first $2.99 on the last King City, which definitely appears on this week’s list. Yay! Then I’d split the remaining $13 between two DC Comics: Paul Cornell’s Action Comics Annual #13 ($4.99), in which a young Lex Luthor meets Darkseid (Editor Wil Moss promised me on Twitter the other week that this will fulfill my sick, sick desire for more comics like Jack Kirby’s Super Powers toy tie-ins from the 1980s, so I’m entirely sold) and Vertigo Resurrected: Winter’s Edge #1 ($7.99), a collection of long out-of-print seasonal tales starring Vertigo favorites and forgotten ghost characters from Christmas Past. Be warned: I’m a sucker for Holiday comics, so expect to see me picking those a lot in the next few weeks. It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, after all.
If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Food or Comics?, where every week some of the Robot 6 crew talk about what comics we’d buy if we were subject to certain spending limits — $15 and $30, as well as if we had extra money to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list to see what arrives in comic shops this week,then play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
I’d get Batman & Robin #15 ($2.99), the final chapter in the “Batman Must Die” arc, which, I think we can all agree, as been one of the best runs in the series so far, thanks largely to the stellar work of artist Frazer Irving. I’d also get Highland Laddie #3 ($3.99), the latest issue in the Boys spin-off mini-series. I haven’t been as impressed with this one as I was with the current storyline in Boys, but I remain ever hopeful that it will come together in some fashion by the end.
If I had $30:
I’d chuck those comics aside like so many election mail flyers and nab Picture This ($29.95), the latest book by Lynda Barry and a sequel to her stellar What It Is. As with that book, this uses collage, comics, autobiography and more to provide an inspirational, thoughtful examination of drawing and the artistic process. I can’t wait to sit down with a copy. If it’s half as good as its predecessor, it will be fantastic.
Let me say that again (in case any cover blurb people are listening): The new five-issue miniseries event, Chaos War, by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, is the finest example of what the “Heroic Age” means to the Marvel Universe and modern comics. If you had ever wondered what that blue banner on your books was talking about or what they meant by “Heroic Age,” then do yourself a favor and go read Chaos War #1.
Within this incredibly crafted over-sized issue, you not only see the triumphant return of a classic ’70s Marvel hero, but there is a Call to Action because the Universe As We Know It is threatened by divine figures, the ultimate authority figure. All the finest heroes are gathered like the best Whitman’s Sampler, along with a key element to make your tale astonishing: the common man. Along with all these heroes and powerful forces is a young man with nothing stronger than the power of his own brain. One who gave up divinity to be who he is and stand next to the impossible.
Pak and Van Lente have worked very hard to get us to this point. They took a title from one of Marvel’s less-touted events (World War Hulk was awesome, it’s just not as relevant as say Civil War or even Secret Invasion, but this is a topic for another time) and fought back story to provide an entertaining read issue after issue. From where they started, Hercules and Amadeus Cho have done something phenomenal to comics: they have grown as characters. Between Incredible Hercules #113 and Chaos War #1, you can actually plot the character arcs that have not only made them better heroes, but better people as well. Their adventures have been told in short and snappy plot arcs, they have weathered through Big Events like Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, they have read up and incorporated older canon (like the Olympus Group and the Pantheon) and even more recent events (the Oeming Ares miniseries) and incorporated both into their own stories like the finest herbs and spices. Incredible Hercules has gone above and beyond the call of duty to present we comic fans the finest in fun storytelling and legendary adventure.
So why does the best book to honor the Heroic Age not even get a banner? Why does the Thunderbolts have it? We’re not even supposed to know about the Secret Avengers and they got a Heroic Age banner! What gives?
(WARNING: maybe spoilers for Chaos War #1? I mean, everyone knows that there’s a war, and it’s against Chaos and our heroes are going to go and fight it, so … it’s a toss up. Go get yourself a copy of the book if you’re not sure. In fact, get two. Just in case.)
I hate Spider-Man costume changes. Yep, even the symbiote suit.
Let me amend that just slightly: I hate Spider-Man costume changes that this era’s Peter Parker makes, seemingly on a whim. Spider-Man 2099 and others of his ilk look just fine in their respective duds, it’s just when I get a splash page shot of a leaping lower-half in a crazy new outfit that I’m taken completely out of the story. It’s not the minor changes (under-arm webs, angles on the arms of the spider symbol, etc.), it’s the big ones where all I can think of is, “Man, someone’s trying to sell a new toy.” Then it’s whether they sell the toy through the direct market, what kind of packaging this new toy will have, any accessories, price point and then boom! Spidey’s saved the day and learned a new lesson about life and putting on his old costume anyways because we always prefer the original.
Now I know that fans do love the symbiote suit and yeah, it is pretty nifty with its simple design in slimming black and lower jaw distention, but it’s more nostalgia nifty than a desire for anything permanent. The storyline of how he got the suit, what it became and what it did to Peter Parker changed the style of Spidey stories for a whole decade. The costume was so popular, it got a new guy to wear him and then made a sort of ‘spinoff’ with Carnage. My sweaters do not do anything that cool when I donate them to the Salvation Army.
This success with the black suit has drilled a tiny hole in the House of Ideas so deep, it’s like they think every costume change they go with for Peter Parker is going to dress to impress. Scarlet Spider costume? No. Iron Spider costume? Used in Avengers: the Initiative for a few clones and promptly forgotten in the Heroic Age. There’s obviously more I could count but really, let’s not be the costume change that everyone is looking back on in a few years going, “Ha ha! He had glow-in-the-dark bits in his costume! How 2010!”
But do not fret! Now is not the time to panic! Now is the time to plan because, believe it or not, we only have 92 shopping days left until Christmas. Good thing Marvel sent us advance warning so that we can not only budget how much we spend on others so that we can also spend on our comics.
And that’s what Christmas is all about. Join me in looking over the December solicitations for Marvel Comics, won’t you?
Marvel’s next cosmic event will kick off in October with Chaos War, a five-issue miniseries featuring an all-new God Squad led by the newly returned Hercules.
Announced this afternoon by Blair Butler on G4TV’s “Fresh Ink,” Chaos War comes from the former Incredible Hercules team of Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente and Khoi Pham.
The miniseries centers on an attack on Earth by the Chaos King, who has amassed an army of alien slave gods. The only force that can stop him is an unlikely team of Marvel gods and cosmic entities: Thor, Galactus, Sersi, Silver Surfer, Venus … and, of course, Hercules. As if the re-formed God Squad weren’t enough to do the job, Butler said the Hulk assembles “the surviving members of his family” to face the Chaos King’s forces.
Watch video of the segment after the break or at the Attack of the Show! website.