This week brought Secret Wars to a conclusion – but Marvel are already seeding the ground for their next big thing, with hints and teasers that someone may just be coming back from the dead… Plus: the Russo brothers talk Spider-Man, and the X-Men Hellfire series has hit some stumbling blocks…
This week in Marvel Comics:
Secret Wars comes to a conclusion!
I admit, I wasn’t holding my breath; I kind of expected Secret Wars #9 to be delayed yet again. But Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic’s epic has finally come to a conclusion, albeit as head-spinning as it ever was. You can read my initial thoughts on the series as a whole, but since then – over on his Tumblr – Marvel’s Tom Brevoort has been clarifying and explaining. The fact he needs to do so much explaining kind of indicates the problems with the issue…
Meanwhile, a heated debate has begun over Marvel’s insistence on calling their universe ‘Marvel Prime’ rather than ‘616’. Again, to refer to Tom Brevoort’s Tumblr:
Marvel are already fighting a losing battle, not least because both Web Warriors and Contest of Champions have referred to ‘Marvel Prime’ as ‘616’.
AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. return to the comics!
It wasn’t exactly a surprise when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. entered on to the comic book series, and this week saw the launch of the All-New All-Different series! Marc Guggenheim has crafted a fun first issue, one that begins by answering a tantalising question that’s hovered over the TV series since it’s inception:
Who is Lola?
It’s a smart move, coupled with the fact that he’s started off an adventure with high stakes, while playing with the characters we know and love. For example, in Guggenheim’s book, Fitz isn’t interested in Simmons; he’s interested in May. Guggenheim has chosen to pack the book with familiar metahumans – from Quake to Deathlok, the characters fans of the series know and love are all present and correct. Meanwhile, German Peralta’s art is superb, working well with the story. This is a book that deserves to do well.
A GREAT Week for X-Men Fans!
Not only has the fun and off-beat Worst X-Man Ever miniseries been continuing, this week saw the release of three other X-Men issues! The first arcs of Extraordinary X-Men and All-New X-Men both came to a conclusion, one continuing in darkness and the latter proving to be serious fun. In general, Jeff Lemire’s Extraordinary X-Men #5 was a little bit of a disappointment, with Lemire dodging the bullet by making his Cyclops a clone. Humberto Ramos’ art was generally excellent, but occasionally stumbled, feeling a tad ‘rushed’. In the conclusion, Storm makes a public stand, putting the X-Men on the world map once again. Loz has summed up his thoughts on this issue and the first arc.
All-New X-Men concluded the team’s confrontation with the Ghosts of Cyclops, a fun and off-beat story that really worked. In an interesting (and surely intentional) contrast, the issue ended with Cyclops making a speech that went viral. The problem with both Cyclops’ and Storm’s speeches is that they continue to carry weight from the unknown events that we’ve not seen – the mysteriously evil actions the older Cyclops was responsible for in the eight-month time-jump. It’s getting old fast. Still, of the two comics, I found All-New X-Men to be far more enjoyable.
Finally, this week saw the continuation of All-New Wolverine, with Laura teaming up with Doctor Strange. It’s an entertaining story, with strong characterisation and some great moments – Tom Taylor shows entertaining self-awareness, even getting in a nod to people on the internet who won’t accept Laura as the new Wolverine. Taylor’s focus is clearly on establishing Laura as part of the wider Marvel Universe, and he’s doing a good job of it.
Pick of the Rest: Scarlet Witch and The Mighty Thor!
I freely confess that I had my doubts about Scarlet Witch – not least because writer James Robinson isn’t even being given a regular artist! However, the first two issues have changed my mind. Robinson’s scripts are superb, and it’s clear that Marvel are choosing the right artist for each issue. Marco Rudy is picture-perfect for this issue, which plays to all his strengths, and we’re left with the impression that this is a very confident second issue. Meanwhile, Robinson’s narrative structure – single-issue stories with an overarching narrative – is working well, not least because we already met the Emerald Warlock in December’s Uncanny Avengers Annual, so he doesn’t need to be introduced.
Did I mention Marco Rudy’s art? It’s like nothing I’ve seen in Marvel since Astonishing X-Men finished its “Ghost Box” arc. He uses tremendously creative panel-styles to evoke senses of place and flow, and his attention to detail is inspirational. I want to see a lot more from him.
There’s a common thread between Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange – the cost of magic – that suggests Marvel are firming up the ‘rules’ of magic in the Marvel Universe ahead of December’s movie. It’s a good call.
Meanwhile, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman continue their epic Mighty Thor series, this time facing the new female Thor against an army of Lokis – and then against one Loki in particular. The issue works as a fun character-piece for both, setting them up for their roles in Aaron’s ongoing saga.
It all comes to a head in a way that may just blow Thor’s secret identity out of the water, while progressing the Asgardian plot in a fascinating way. The All-Father is turning into just as much a villain as Malekith himself…