Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yesterday's News --- Today!

So, I was marveling (HAR!) at what a crappy week last week was in comics --- so crappy that I had only one come in, and didn't even bother reviewing it (Hawkman, and it was Rann/Thanagar nonsense).

When I realized that the April solicitations came out.

I stopped reading Previews awhile back, because I don't like spoilers three months in advance. But I'm going to try something here. Remember February's solicits? No, neither do I. But now that February is almost upon us, I figured I'd take a look at them, because I'm strapped for material and I need something for today because reviews won't go up until Thursday. What better way to fill blog space than to remember the Hype From Three Months Ago! And I'm doing it without cover shots, because A) it takes too damn long, and B) let's judge the prose on its own merits, hmmmm?

Warning: This is going to be a looooooooong entry, because of the meticulous copy/paste job I'm doing. So bear with me, or just faff off if you get bored two paragraphs into the darn thing. Don't worry, I'm not doing the ENTIRE Marvel solicits, just the ones that provoked a thought from me (insert joke here). Also, feel free to tell me in the comments section whether this is worth doing on a monthly basis.

MARVEL SOLICITATIONS FOR FEBRUARY

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #27
"PRESIDENT THOR" (1 of 3)
"A guilt-ridden Reed Richards attempts to undo his greatest failure by using time travel to fix the snag that caused the teleportation accident which resulted in Ben Grimm's becoming the Thing. If it works, Ben will be Ben and the Thing will never have existed. And neither will the F.F. Be careful what you wish for."

I'm going way out on a limb here, but I'm guessing that Ultimate Thing never existing will result in Ultimate Thor becoming president. A perfect example of a crappy preview, because the arc title gives away the crux of the story, while the text attempts to make a mystery of it. Randy really likes this comic. I view it with mostly apathy.

ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK #2 (of 6)
"Doctor Bruce Banner. Mass Murderer. Responsible for the death of hundreds in New York City. Now, he wanders the globe in search of inner peace-in an attempt to never again unleash the monster within. Banner travels through Paris, Ireland, India, and finally to the hills of Tibet...where at last he finds Nirvana. And that is precisely when Wolverine shows up. To kill him. Let the games begin. Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and superstar Leinil Francis Yu continue the fight of a lifetime!"

Didn't the game begin in issue 1? And how the hell are they going to make this last 6 issues? Issue 1 was OK, but I'm not really inspired to read issue 2. Which is a shame, because Ultimate Bruce Banner is one of the more compelling characters in the Ultimate U.

ULTIMATE X-MEN #67
"DATE NIGHT"
"It's a hot time in the old town as our young X-Men's romances flair up or fizzle out. And while Cupid is keeping busy there, a solitary Wolverine must face a dreaded foe from the past who comes back to haunt him with unbearable secrets that have been buried for years. Part 2 (of 3)"

Read that last sentence, the part where Wolverine faces a foe from the past who haunts him with buried secrets...zzzzzz....whoa! I'm awake! Really! Given that hoary plot, shouldn't it read "Part 176 of Infinity"?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #529
"Clothes make the man. At least that's what Tony Stark seems to think. Transformed by his experiences during "The Other" saga, Peter Parker stands poised for the next chapter of his life. And to mark the occasion, Tony has got a very special present: a new Spider-Man costume that's certain to raise eyebrows!"

Hey, Tony's giving Spidey a new costume to "mark the occasion"! What are you doing to mark the occasion? I bet you had nothing planned, did you? Might I suggest pointing and laughing at those who buy this comic?

FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #5
"Presenting "Weblog," an off-beat Spidey tale which starts at the very beginnings of Spider-Man's career and goes all the way through to the distant future...as seen through the eyes of a woman who is convinced that the web-slinger has been stalking her her entire life."

This actually sounds halfway interesting, since it's written by Peter David, drawn by Mike Wieringo, and sounds like a one-off not mired in continuity or Mega Event Foundation Laying(TM).

SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE #3
"The Hurtful Thing"
"Life seems to be going pretty good for Mary Jane, so naturally that means something has to come along and muck things up. This time, she has to contend with her newest girlfriend, Lindsay Leighton, dating her ex-boyfriend, Harry Osborn! Is Harry using Lindsay to get back at MJ, or is something far more sinister at hand?"

People tell me this is a good comic. Tell you what: take out the focus on Mary Jane, the 90210-like relationships, the manga-esque art, and teen angst. Then I'll start reading this comic. Until I have reliable reports of this happening, this just isn't my bag, baby. No offense to Sean McKeever, who's pretty good in his own right.

ARES #2 (of 5)
"Ares -- The God of War -- is missing. The Norse gods are dead. And now, Zeus, surveying his kingdom from the bloodstained walls of Olympus, finds the great warrior Mikabusi and his forces gathered below, swords drawn, bows flexed, vengeance in the air. The siege of Olympus has begun. And Zeus knows that if his kingdom is to survive, his greatest warrior - Ares - must return. At any cost. Even if it means kidnapping his grandson and lying to his son. You haven't seen wrath until you're standing between the God of War and his only child."

I'm betting Ares finds his way into Not Avengers (TM Kelvingreen) after this is all over. And I dimly recall this exact same plot from a Thor run some years ago. And shouldn't it be part of the job description that if you're a God Of Fill-In-The-Blank-Here that you're not allowed to just "go missing" without nominating a stand-in? What if the God of The Laws of Physics decides to go missing? Or the God of Oxygen? (I know, I know. It's late.)

BLACK PANTHER #13
"Two the Hard Way"
"To every King, a bride -- and that's exactly what The Black Panther is searching for! But first, he's got to travel down South for a rendezvous with Blade, Brother Voodoo, the Next Wave's Monica Rambeau, and an endless horde of good old boy vampires. Jump on board here, True Believer, as BLACK PANTHER revs up to an event of cataclysmic proportions."

Aside from stints with the Avengers, has Black Panther ever been even remotely involved in an event of "cataclysmic" proportions? Unless you want to call the suck-tasticness of the first 6 issues of the BP relaunch an "event". Still, the plot sounds entertaining enough.

FURY: PEACEMAKER #1 (of 6)
Part One: "Kasserine Pass"

"Before he presided over S.H.I.E.L.D., before he ran with the Howling Commandos, Sgt. Nick Fury fought on the blood-stained sands of the Tunisian desert. It was here that he came face to face with the incomparable might of the 21st Panzer Division and its skilled warrior commander -- General Stephen Barkhorn -- and barely lived to tell about it. And it was there that he got a second chance at life...and revenge. In this gripping limited series, Garth Ennis (Ghost Rider, Punisher) and Darick Ropbertson (Punisher: Born) offer a never-before-seen glimpse into the soul of a warrior you only think you know."

Is this the same Nick Fury that Ennis so reverently depicted sleeping with 3 hookers in Punisher? Because I think I know enough about that Nick Fury now, thanks. Also, what the hell is a guy named "Stephen Barkhorn" doing commanding a Panzer division?

WOLVERINE #39
"Origins and Endings," Part 4 of 5
"The secret is out. Wolverine remembers. Everything. The entire blood-stained tapestry of his long, tortured life. And now that's it's been laid out before him in vivid detail, there's only one question: What's his first move? Well, whatever it is, it's brought him to Russia for an encounter with the legendary warrior known as the Winter Soldier. One thing's for sure -- they're headed for a major turf battle. Question is, can they find common ground?"


Because when you think of Wolverine's "turf", you think of Russia. And when you think of "legendary warrior", you think of Winter Soldier. Here's a wild guess: fighty-fight-fight-fight, followed by a standoff where they trade a few words about respecting each other as warriors and then wander off into the mists of what passes for continuity at Marvel. I just saved you all three dollars.

WHAT IS I (HEART) MARVEL?
"Sometimes, your favorite super heroes just need a little love. Help us pay homage to the romance comics of yesteryear with five two-fisted, love-centric one-shots in the Mighty Marvel Manner. They're all perfect to share with that special someone this Valentine's Day."

I (MIDDLE FINGER) Marvel. None of these look even marginally readable.

ALL-NEW OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE A TO Z #2
"The Handbook from A to Z rolls on - including bios on Bedlam, Big Wheel, the Golden Age Black Widow, Blizzard, the Brood, Bruiser, Bug, Buzz, Captain Universe, the Celestials, Chamber, the Collector and more! While the Handbooks of the past two years focused on specific themes, this twelve-issue monthly series will extend the coverage to all Marvel's characters, teams, objects, events, and places - plus past, future and alternate Earths. The spotlight will fall on more than 600 profiles -including new characters, characters who never received a profile and those needing major updates."

I applaud Marvel for doing this, but I'll stick to my Essential version of this, and why don't they just do a damn encyclopedia like DC?

CAPTAIN AMERICA #14
"THE WINTER SOLDIER"
"Fan-favorite creators Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting bring the most talked-about Captain America story in 40 years to a heartbreaking conclusion. Cap faces down his personal demons, in a hand-to-hand battle with the Winter Soldier. But he's not just fighting for victory, he's in a struggle for the heart and soul of everything he's ever cared about, and the results will send tragic echoes throughout his life for years to come! Part 6 (of 6)"

40 years. Hmmm. So this is the most talked-about Cap story since 1966? Memo to Marvel: do not make Captain America just another tragic-partner-killing-asshat like Batman. Just don't. Captain America is ten times more interesting when he's not mopey.

IRON MAN: INEVITABLE #3 (of 6)
"The noose begins to tighten as Iron Man's enemies are getting closer to acheiving their goal. As Tony Stark's experiments to save the Living Laser come closer to success, it also makes him a target for another industrial espionage assault on Stark International headquarters. It's Iron Man vs. the Ghost: Round Two!"

I just made Joe Casey a beneficiary in my will.

INCREDIBLE HULK #92
"Savage alien planet. Oppressed barbarian tribes. Corrupt emperor. Deadly woman warrior. Gladiators and slaves. Battle axes and hand blasters. Monsters and heroes...And the Incredible Hulk! Let the smashing commence! PLANET HULK BEGINS!!!"

OK, I'm positive this has been done before in Hulk. Or maybe it's just really bad fan fiction. Or both.

MARVEL MILESTONES: DRAGON LORD, SPEEDBALL & THE MAN IN THE SKY
"Who - or what - is the Wani? And can Tako Shamara, latest in the line of men trained to combat the creature, stay its wrath? It's a question of honor as the Dragon Lord debuts in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5 (March 1980). Plus: A colorful new bouncing, brawling crimebuster bursts forth in in SPEEDBALL #1 (September 1988). Also featuring "The Man in the Sky" from AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #14 (July 1962) - the first Marvel mutant story!?"

I thought this was a joke. Seriously. I can only assume this is a "milestone" in the same way that getting your first felony conviction, your first sexually transmitted disease, or your first execution as a traitor can be considered "milestones".

MARVEL LEGACY: THE 1960s
"Here it is, True Believers! You knew we'd do it sooner or later! From the Venerable Vaults of Marveldom, it's the Mighty Marvel Handbook -- 1960s style! Just what is the 1960s Handbook, you ask? Imagine a Handbook written at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31, 1969. The profiles within cover everything published by the hallowed House of Ideas up until that point. So if it's from a comic that has a December 1969 cover date or earlier, you'll find it in this magnificent mag! From the Acrobat to Zota -- with the Avengers, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, the Sub-Mariner, Thor and the X-Men as they were in the 1960s, as well as '60s-era characters such as Factor Three, the Beasts of Berlin, Chili, the Infant Terrible, Mogul of the Mystic Mountain, the Painter of 1000 Perils, the Living Brain, Patsy Walker, the Blackie Drago Vulture, the Ringo Kid and more!"

This will either be a fun bit of kitsch or completely irrelevant and overpriced. I'm betting on it being both, but hell yeah, I'm buying it.

NEW AVENGERS #16
THE COLLECTIVE: Prologue
"A very special prologue issue introduces the biggest NEW AVENGERS arc yet! After the horrifying events of House of M the planet Earth has changed beyond description... and thus the Collective is born. That's right! Its a brand new Marvel threat for the brand new Avengers. Plus, this issue Guest Stars Alpha Flight... in their final battle!!"

"Very Special Prologue Issue" = Nothing Much Happens. You know, if there's a surefire way to spice up a boring Avengers book, it's to include Alpha Flight, in their 142nd Final Battle!! Stupid Marvel. And I'm assuming that "biggest arc yet" means 8 or 9 issues. The book gets dropped this month, because I can't pay for this train wreck anymore.

NEXTWAVE #2
"This Wednesday, WEDNESDAY, Wednesday!! Witness the fight to end all fights!!! (Well, until next issue.) Aaron Stack (just don't call him Machine Man) takes on Fin Fang Foom in a knock-down drag-out slug-fest! While his robotic body digests in Fin's belly, the rest of the NEXTWAVE squad has to defeat the deadly Human Resource Department of their former bosses, the Highest Anti-Terroism Effort (H.A.T.E.)! PLUS: Things explode!! Pick up the comic that had Albert Einstein saying, "I haven't had this much fun since my college days at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule!""

Please, please, please don't let this book suck. Please. The potential-O-meter is very, very high here, I think, and you can take that any way you want to.

SENTRY #6 (of 6)
"In order to come to grips with the madness that has been tearing him apart, the Sentry must trace the roots of his forgotten origin, to learn who and what he truly is!"

Didn't we do this already? Seriously. We did this already. It was in Not Avengers.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE/DRACULA #1 (of 4)
"One is a villain that has been plaguing civilization since the time of the Pharaohs. The other is the deadliest vampire to ever walk the earth. It's the battle to end all battles as Apocalypse confronts Dracula! Enemies since the Crusades, they've met again in 19th century London. It's four issues of Victorian mayhem, and it starts here!"

When this was originally solicited, someone on the comicsblogosphere said that this is either the best or the worst idea Marvel has ever had. Couldn't have put it better myself. If Marvel have any stones at all, they'll give Frank Drake or Rachel Van Helsing a cameo appearance.

AVENGERS: GALACTIC STORM VOL. 1
"The Kree are one of the Fantastic Four's oldest enemies; the Shi'ar, one of the X-Men's oldest allies. But it's the Avengers who are caught in the middle when the two alien races wage a war to re-write Marvel's map of the universe! As two-legged WMDs land on Earth, the Avengers end up as alien invaders on wartorn worlds of wonder, both as a unit and individually! Featuring the Imperial Guard! Starforce! Deathbird! Thor vs. Gladiator! Super heroes from three galaxies and more clash in the first half of the story that shook the team to its foundations! Collects CAPTAIN AMERICA #398-399, AVENGERS WEST COAST #80-81, QUASAR #32-33, WONDER MAN #7-8, AVENGERS #345-346, IRON MAN #278 and THOR #445."

It's about friggin' time! This is some good comics. Read it and remember when the Avengers were, you know, cool.

Whew! Well, that's what caught my eye for next month. Again, let me know if this was worth doing at all or just rehashed pap. I'll probably do the same for DC next week, unless there's an overwhelming "I Say Thee, Nay!" in the comments section.

5 Comments:

Blogger CalvinPitt said...

As a Spider-Man fan, I'm going to have to respectfully request you not point and laugh at me next month when I buy Amazing Spider-Man 529. Haven't I suffered enough already?

4:53 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Have faith in Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk. It's written by Lost creator Damon Lindelof after all, who created Lost, and if there's anything the creator of Lost knows what to do, it's to string out a perfectly good short story into something far longer and somehow still manage to hold your attention, like he's done on Lost, which he created, because he's Damon Lindelof, the creator of Lost.

So #2 is a flashback from Banner's perspective? After the extended flashback that was #1? Dear gosh that's painfully drawn out. But he's the creator of Lost, so who am I to complain...

And to mark the occasion, Tony has got a very special present: a new Spider-Man costume that's certain to raise eyebrows!
"Hey, I'm sorry you died. Here's a shitty costume to make you feel better."

I've heard that Ares is actually a pretty clever take on the character, so the plot synopsis there may not be doing that issue proper justice. As for Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, the emphasis on teen soap opera seemed more true to Spidey than anything in his "proper" books. I seem to recall Stan Lee saying once that the original concept was Archie with superpowers. I understand your point about the art though; I like it, but I can see how it would turn people off. There's a certain blandness to it which almost bothers me on occasion.

FURY: PEACEMAKER #1 (of 6)
"DC are publishing new stories featuring their most famous WWII character back in his original setting, but that has nothing to do with this at all, no siree!"

Here's a wild guess: fighty-fight-fight-fight, followed by a standoff where they trade a few words about respecting each other as warriors and then wander off into the mists of what passes for continuity at Marvel.
Not to mention that (a) Wolverine won't get killed because it's his title and (b) tthe Winter Soldier isn't going to get killed outside of Captain America. So there's little chance of much excitement in this particular fight.

They're all perfect to share with that special someone this Valentine's Day.
Yeah, my wife's going to love it when I present her with a comic instead of flowers, chocolates and a fancy dinner.

OK, I'm positive this has been done before in Hulk. Or maybe it's just really bad fan fiction. Or both.
I think it's been done at least twice, actually. Once he was shrunk down to the Microverse, and it was all sword and sorcery stuff (I think this was reprinted in Essential Avengers v4 actually), and the other time was when he got sent into Limbo by Doc Strange and turned up on another sword and sorcery planet where he hooked up with the local green warrior princess.

A very special prologue issue introduces the biggest NEW AVENGERS arc yet!
Oh god...

After the horrifying events of House of M the planet Earth has changed beyond description...
Only because no one at Marvel sat down and set out exactly what the post-HoM world was going to be like. It's hard to describe it when every single writer has a different idea of what happened...

...and thus the Collective is born. That's right! Its a brand new Marvel threat for the brand new Avengers...
Well it wouldn't be a Gold Key threat would it?

Although Marvel do have the Malibu rights, and that would be a surprise.

My guess is that The Collective, if they're a threat to the Not Avengers, is made up of Rocket Raccoon, the Kidney Lady, Armless Tiger Man, Madcap and Paste Pot Pete. Then someone from anothher title entirely will come and bail the Not Avengers out.

Plus, this issue Guest Stars Alpha Flight... in their final battle!!
These are the April solicitations? April Fool, surely...

You know, it was Heroes Reborn that brought me back to the Avengers after a few years away, so you'd think that I'd have a high tolerance for shitty Avengers comics. I dropped Not Avengers after the Ronin arc.

NEXTWAVE #2
We SBC reviewers just got a preview of #1 to review for this coming Sunday. The suckage is minor.

Didn't we do this already? Seriously. We did this already. It was in Not Avengers.
And in the original Sentry miniseries too. I've been reading every issue, and every issue I think "didn't this get covered twice before already?" to the extent that I've started to believe that I'm either missing something important, or there was no original Sentry miniseries and my memories of it are false! Spooky!

And wasn't this originally solicited as an eight-part series? Lots of confidence in their flagship characters there...

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE/DRACULA #1 (of 4)
When this was originally solicited, someone on the comicsblogosphere said that this is either the best or the worst idea Marvel has ever had.

I not so humbly submit that it was I who did say that. This is exactly the kind of thing I loved about superhero comics, before they got all "serious". I'm glad that it's not just Grant Morrison who remembers the silly potential of the genre.

AVENGERS: GALACTIC STORM VOL. 1
It's about friggin' time! This is some good comics. Read it and remember when the Avengers were, you know, cool.

I like to think that the reason they're doing this is because I positively reviewed it here not so long ago. I'm probably overstating my influence, but nonetheless Galactic Storm remains a great Avengers story. If you think Bendis is doing a good job, read this.


Yeah, you can do this again. Maybe not every month, but semi-regularly perhaps.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

They're all perfect to share with that special someone this Valentine's Day.
Marvel wants to guarantee its readers never get laid. When you start dating icky girls, you have to spend money to take them out to the movies and stuff, and that's less money to spend on Nextwave. So, Marvel combats that possibility by trying to convince those pubescent kids to buy special Valentine's Day comics to set the mood.

The only thing missing is to have some special heartbreak or rejection themed books the following week, all with the theme "Love is fleeting, but Marvel Comics are forever!"

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"People tell me this is a good comic. Tell you what: take out the focus on Mary Jane, the 90210-like relationships, the manga-esque art, and teen angst. Then I'll start reading this comic. Until I have reliable reports of this happening, this just isn't my bag, baby. No offense to Sean McKeever, who's pretty good in his own right."

Fair enough. However, the early Spider-Man comics, with Peter worrying over Betty, Liz, his bad luck with girls etc, are not that different from this modern high school setting. Peter Parker's whole life has always been a soap opera with various super-hero interruptions (I assume that's what your crack about 90210 was complaining about -- its soap operish quality). Comics are a lot like soaps. And, in the original, there was always loads of angst -- plenty to go around for all the characters, not just Peter. There's far less angst here -- the complaint has been that it's too polished and shiny. (Not that I agree with that either).

As for the art of the Mary Jane comics, if it's mangaesque it's a very Americanized manga, IMO. Miyazawa's depiction of Spider-man is classic and attractive, as is his take on villains like Electro, the Vulture, the GG and the Beetle. The kids (except for the slightly oversized eyes) look more believable, more like adolescents, than Bendis' angular, anorexic teenagers. As for the writing, the dialogue and plotting seem clever, and the take on the major characters (Flash & Harry especially) fresh and nuanced. What's not to like? And what's wrong with Marvel branching out, trying to find a new audience? My daughter, who has been totally uninterested in comics previously, loves this; it's exactly the sort of book to appeal to non-comics readers.

Seems a pity to let a preconceived notion of what this comic might be like prevent you from giving it a chance. Just my two cents, as a fan of this series. --Jody P-J.

1:09 PM  
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7:42 PM  

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