Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.
Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.
While it’s not uncommon to see fans organize in an attempt to save a low-selling comic, it’s rare to see them actually seek a title’s demise. However, that’s the goal of a petition at Change.org, which calls for the cancellation of Avengers Arena, the new Marvel series whose kill-or-be-killed competition premise has invited comparisons to Battle Royale and The Hunger Games.
What’s more, the petitioners ask Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso to “retcon the deaths” that have occurred so far in the comic — there are three to date — which is referred to on the website as a “travesty against fans.” As of this morning, just 61 people had signed on.
Avengers Arena, which launched in December as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative, finds 16 young heroes transported to Arcade’s Murderworld, where they’re forced to fight each other in a series of death matches. “[T]he story is about choices,” writer Dennis Hopeless told Comic Book Resources this week. “These young people have to make some very difficult choices that will affect the course of the rest of their lives — What would you do to protect yourself or your friends? What are you willing to sacrifice? Who are you willing to leave behind? What can you live with? They’re in no way ready to make these decisions, but they have to. To me, that’s what makes a teenage superhero death match relatable. Life is about choices and being young is about making choices you don’t fully understand. Take all the fantasy elements away and Murderworld starts to sound a lot like high school.”
However, the petition’s creator clearly doesn’t view the series as an exploration of deeper themes, but rather as a cold grab for sales.
Sixteen heroes enter, one hero leaves in Avengers Arena, the new Marvel NOW! series by Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker and Allesandro Vitti. At least that’s the plan of the diabolical Arcade, who drops such young Marvel characters as X-23, Reptil, Nico, Chase, and Juston and his Sentinel into Murderworld for a twisted kill-or-be-killed reality-show scenario.
Marvel has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of Avengers Arena #4, by Hopeless and Vitti, which the solicitation text teases pits the Runaways against Avengers Academy. The issue goes on sale Feb. 13.
This week saw the release of another Marvel NOW! title, but this one was a little bit different than the others. For one thing, it isn’t a relaunch of an existing title — at least, not directly — and it’s gotten some attention already for its similarities to The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Avengers Arena, by Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker and Frank Martin, has the classic X-Men villain Arcade kidnapping 16 young Marvel heroes and throwing them into Murderworld, where it’s kill or be killed. Plus, y’know, it’s Murderworld, so there’s more to worry about than just your temporary ally turning on you.
So does the book deliver, or does it leave you “hungering” for something else? (Ack, that’s bad; sorry about that). Here are a few reviews from around the web:
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “After an opening sequence set (presumably) near the end of the series’ set-up, Hopeless re-introduces readers to the characters that he’s lined up to get kidnapped by Arcade in the latest iteration of his Murderworld complex. Here, these sixteen characters are given 30 days to kill or be killed, with only one allowed to be standing at the end of the time period. If this sounds a little bit like The Hunger Games (or going further back, Battle Royale or even The Long Walk), you aren’t alone in that assessment. Hopeless has Arcade acknowledge the similarity and move forward from there, a nod to the connection between the two. But once you get past that, there’s actually less to get worked up over than you might suspect.” (2.5/5)
Dec. 12, marks a new era and a new team dynamics for writer Jeff Parker‘s Dark Avengers as Issue 184 goes on sale. But before the new storyline begins, I convinced Parker to reflect on his Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers run, which started in November 2009 (Thunderbolts #138) as well as discussing what lies ahead with the series. It was interesting to learn his thought process when collaborating with past series artists like Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey, as well as what current artist Neil Edwards motivates Parker to tackle. This interview was a fun romp for me, full of surprises — none more than the first: that Parker nearly passed on writing the series.
Once you finish the interview, please chime in if you agree that Parker should get a chance to write a Man-Thing series for Marvel. And if you missed CBR’s Dave Richards’ interview with Parker regarding Red She-Hulk, be sure to read it to learn about more great Parker storytelling.
Tim O’Shea: You started writing Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers in November 2009. Could you have envisioned it would be a book you would still be writing a solid three years later?
Jeff Parker: No, I almost passed on it. When Bill Rosemann asked me if I’d be interested in coming on after Andy Diggle. I’d never read much of the title, and he described that they wanted to base it around The Raft superprison. And I was wary. “It’s all set in prison? They never go anywhere?” But Bill and Tom Brevoort assured me that they’d be able to go on missions, it just needed to have prison as a big backdrop; that’s what had been discussed at one of the Marvel summits. Bill had asked me because I’d just worked on The Hood sequel miniseries with him and Kyle Hotz and he thought I’d be good for continuing with a villain book.
• Marvel announced that Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, The Massive and Conan the Barbarian writer Brian Wood will take over writing both X-Men and Ultimate X-Men. About the latter, he told CBR, “I can bring something to the table here, a certain POV that I think will work really well. At its core it’s still the same mutant/human conflict, but the stakes are incredibly high and with the Ultimate line having more leeway than 616, you can really push it to the edge, and over the edge. With my stories, I’m looking forward to having them push back against this repression in a major way — not just in one-on-one cases but as a collective whole, a unified mutant push for freedom, for safety, for basic human rights. For the right to be a mutant and live free. What’s happening to them now is essentially a genocide, an ethnic cleansing.”
• Marvel also announced a new Dark Avengers series by Jeff Parker, Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey that replaces Thunderbolts. The book will feature Dark Scarlet Witch, Dark Spider-Man, Trickshot, Ragnarok and Skaar, along with Luke Cage.
It was right about the time that Merlin stepped up to speak in the most recent issue of Thunderbolts that I had to check the cover and make sure I had picked up the right book. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Thunderbolts and have really seen them bloom into something rather special in the Marvel Universe, but there was this strange feeling in the back of my mind this issue. Something about how all the Thunderbolts had new Ren Faire costumes to fit into the Camelot scheme that were similar to their usual togs. Something about the casual guest star factor with the court of King Arthur (especially the Black Knight, I miss that guy!). Something about how all the characters worked together or didn’t, depending on the situation and the greater needs at hand.
But really, while listening to Merlin I suddenly realized that I had seen a story like this before. Not the exact same story, but going to Camelot, overcoming adversity, the comparisons between the heroes and the knights of old, even the stylish dress up factor made me want to go find old issues of “The Morgan Conquest,” the post-Heroes Reborn issues of the Avengers from Kurt Busiek and George Perez. It’s not too surprising that the T-Bolts would remind me of a by-gone era of Avengers lore. In fact, taking a closer look, there’s a lot to be said for this rag-tag team of super villains being taught redemption and their exploits in battling evil.
Could it possibly be that the oldest trick in the Thunderbolts book was becoming a reality?
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Dark Horse assistant editor Jim Gibbons, who I spoke to about his new job on Friday.
To see what Jim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …