Back in the 1980s, Marvel produced a limited series called Secret Wars taking place in a realm called Battleworld. It was a Crisis-style crossover that combined multiple premier titles and characters, eventually leading to a dramatically changed status quo.
In this year 2015, Marvel are producing a limited series called Secret Wars taking place in a realm called Battleworld. It’s a Crisis-style crossover that combines multiple premier titles and characters, eventually leading to a dramatically changed status quo.
Funny how history repeats.
As the Secret Wars – misnomer of a title, given these wars are anything but covert and inconspicuous – rage on, we’re reaching a new crop of #1 titles for Marvel to throw at the masses in the wake of whatever tremendous paradigmatic shifts Secret Wars sees fit to inflict on us. There’ve been hints of the titles and characters that’ll stay on once the series concludes, with no bones especially being made about the fact Miles Morales is surviving the imminent collapse of the Ultimates Universe and that all-girl dream team A-Force will almost certainly still be a thing when the dust settles.
Fortunately, we now know the 45 (!) titles that’ll be in circulation come October, signalling new directions and team makeups for the Marvel Universe going forward. Also fortunately, you’re lucky to be reading a completely unsubstantiated, uninformed and largely predictive guide to which of these 45 penny-pinchers will be worth funding, and which may be worth sending to Guantanamo Bay for torture purposes.
I’ve got to be honest, I read a lot of creative teams and characters for these upcoming books, and a lot of them left me feeling very cynical. The loss of Jonathan Hickman, the scribe behind the current Secret Wars and a fantastic Avengers run that I’ve previously covered, as well as the continued absence of excellent writers like Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and Kelly Sue DeConnick leaves me feeling like we’re left with either writers who are good, but not great, or writers who are a combination of completely unsuited and/or untested. But who knows, I’ve been wrong before. Maybe ever single title will turn out to be a gold-encrusted jewel pelted at the populace from the treasure vault of Zeus.
So keep in mind that all of the below is built on mindless and completely uninformed speculation (well, uninformed in the sense that I obviously haven’t read any of these titles), written as speculative the same way all those “Who might get cast as [insert superhero name here]?” garbage articles are penned like waste spewing from a sewage outflow pipe. It’s quite possible books I pre-emptively recommend may transpire to be nothing but yet another collection of 30-odd glossy pages to sit gathering dust in a box under your bed. It’s also quite possible something I target with ridicule and scorn may be the best thing to happen in comics since Grant Morrison decided he wanted to have a crack at Batman.
All title pages and creative details are taken from this Polygon article.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Probably.
AGENTS OF SHIELD
To be honest, I don’t know what to make of this one. I’m pretty sure Marc Guggenheim is alright, and Coulson’s a lot of fun. But I’m wary of any text seeking to ape something the MCU did well, the same way Agents of SHIELD thought the best thing to do with an awesome character like Coulson was give us twenty-two episodes of him each year.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Maybe. Approach with caution.
ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS
IS THIS WORTH GETTING?: Most definitely, one hundred percent yes (also, that cover is gorgeous)
I’m tepid on this one. Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye was, according to the internet, the greatest thing ever to happen in the history of the universe, so a follow up has big shoes to fill. That said, Lemire’s a fairly decent writer, having done an excellent run on Animal Man, so I’d be willing to hear him out.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: I’d say so, but maybe temper expectations if you’re a fan of Fraction and Aja’s run.
Yeah, no. I’m one of the few who doesn’t share an affinity for everyone’s favourite carve-em-up Canadian, so I’m fairly sure I’m not the target audience here. Also, not yet convinced Tom Taylor can handle a premier Marvel book.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Probably not. See where it’s at after the first half-dozen issues, if you’re a Wolvie fan.
Thank God the X-people have tossed off Bendis (wait, that came out wrong). I’m willing to give it a shot for the new creative team alone, which should tell you how lowly I think of Bendis’ contributions to my favourite mutants. Also, that 70s combi-van style, that harkens a little of the old Claremont and Byrne-style stuff, looks great.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Quite possibly.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (The Peter Parker one)
You may be surprised, after my constant bashing of his Superior Spider-Man series, to know that I’ve actually come around on Dan Slott. He’s willing to make fairly seismic moves on the title he’s given, and sometimes having readers pushed out of their comfort zone – by, for instance, replacing a decades-old character with one of his greatest villains in a bodyswap gone wrong – isn’t a bad thing. With that in mind, yeah, I’d give this a shot.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Yep.
ANGELA: QUEEN OF HEL
I mean, come on. Look at that cover. You sure Rob Liefeld didn’t have a hand in this?
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: See above.
Yeah, ok then.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Likely, especially if those really are the former Superior Foes of Spider-Man in the background.
Disregarding for a moment the bias I have towards Kelly Sue DeConnick’s work – in that I think it’s excellently excellent – I’m wary of this one. Butters and Fazekas, aka former showrunners of Dollhouse and current showrunners of Agent Carter, might have what it takes to see Carol Danvers through a great new series. But it’ll be hard to step from KSD’s immense shadow, given how integral she was to the original book’s success.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: I really want to say yes, but let’s wait and see.
I’m gonna go with “almost certainly not”.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nope.
CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS
I’m going to quote this article from Geek.com, and its assessment of Contest of Champions:
“This is a comic based on a mobile fighting game. That’s pretty much all you need to know.”
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Only if you really think those Injustice: Gods Among Us comics are actually worth reading.
Yet another creative team stepping from the shadow of an excellent predecessor. Charles Soule is a solid writer, with a great ability to write believable, human characters out of people who are decidedly not human. Ron Garney’s also a pretty great artist.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Quite probably.
Seriously, can we please get over Deadpool? He’s not that funny anymore. The wacky hilarity of his character should be spent sparingly, not copiously. I am officially sick of the Merc with a Mouth, and am thus admittedly biased towards any series that cares to utilise him.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: If you’re a fan, sure. If you’re me, stay at least 500 metres away at all times.
I’m torn because I love the writer but hate the artist (Chris Bachalo being the main thing that brought me down on Wolverine and the X-Men). If the writing is incredibly strong, maybe it could sell me. I’ll reserve judgment until then.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: I’ll be on the fence until I see some of the work.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nope. Art from Ed McGuinness might be solid, but I’m not convinced of the story’s efficacy.
I’m a bit excited.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Yep.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Also, Venom’s on the team.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nah.
HOWARD THE DUCK
Look, Chip Zdarsky, I adore your work on Sex Criminals but neither you nor Marvel as a whole will be able to convince me this maladjusted mallard’s worth reading about. I’d sooner clean my teeth with bacon fat.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: From the above, what do you think?
HOWLING COMMANDOS OF SHIELD
Not sure what Clayface is doing there, though.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Maybe. Looks a little too weird for weird’s sake.
I Googled writer Josh Williamson, and found he’s the writer on a few Image titles. I Googled artist Shawn Crystal, and found a Batman modeled after The Maxx.
Make of that what you will.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Hard to say. It seems like this might be a big toss of the dice, especially given how well-received Hickman’s Illuminati/New Avengers storyline recently was.
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
Brian Bendis takes on the Armoured Avenger, probably with a story involving some kind of overblown cosmic threat and a distinct lack of Alex Maleev pencils. To be honest, I wasn’t enthused by Kieron Gillen’s recent run, and by most accounts the recently short-lived Superior Iron Man under Tom Taylor didn’t fare very well. Let’s see what happens, though. Maybe Bendis’ Daredevil lightning could strike twice.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Tentatively. Maybe.
I’m sold by Warren Ellis’ presence alone (just to show how much of a fanboy sheep I am), but having a story focus exclusively on an Inhuman I’ve never heard of might be interesting. Having David Aja on covers certainly won’t hurt.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Yeah, why not?
THE MIGHTY THOR
This one’s a no-brainer. Lady Thor kicks all kinds of ass, and Jason Aaron has (mostly) kept a really good handle on his story thus far. I’m excited to see what’s next, and if you haven’t yet picked up Goddess of Thunder you should really go do that. Like, right now.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Resoundingly, yes.
Another no-brainer. A review will probably be forthcoming of G. Willow Wilson’s run at some point, but chances are you’ve probably already heard critical acclaim surrounding Ms. Marvel thus far. Trust me, it’s well-deserved.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: See The Mighty Thor above.
I’m not sold. Gerardo Sandoval looks like a fine artist, and Al Ewing’s meant to be a pretty good scribe. But judging by the team makeup, I foresee something of a revival of the old Young Avengers/The Children’s Crusade thing going on here.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nah.
I honestly don’t know why this book exists (much less why Jeph Loeb is suddenly not writing it). Marvel’s apparent answer to Green Lantern never really took off as its own thing, and the current iteration just looks fairly dull.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Pass.
OLD MAN LOGAN
I’ll give Lemire the benefit of the doubt, but I’m already foreseeing an easy way to reinstate male Wolverine even though the Hugh Jackman one is currently dead. If Old Man Logan really is a vehicle to de-age a fan favourite Elseworld-style character into his younger and more marketable counterpart, please know that this is the place and time where I called it.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: If you’re a hardcore Wolvie fan, sure. Otherwise, probably best avoid.
SAM WILSON, CAPTAIN AMERICA
Of the two changes to the Marvel Big Three made in comics last year, this was the one I was least sold on (see The Mighty Thor for my thoughts on the other change). Granted, that was partly because Rick Remender, he of the superlative example of why ripping off Ed Brubaker is a bad idea, was on writing duty. But maybe Nick Spencer can turn it around.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Depends on how the first couple of issues go, especially since Daniel Acuña is on art. Might be a very subjective book.
Ah, this is a blast from the past. Remember James Robinson? He was the creative brain behind what I hold as the ultimate example of Justice League gone wrong: Cry for Justice. Yes, the old chestnut that formed a big part of my raison d’être with this website (He also started off Earth-2, which I wasn’t fond of, before anyone accusing me of judging a writer from one book). With that in mind, and given how lukewarm the reception was to a Scarlet Witch series the last time round, I’m gonna go with…
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Almost certainly not, in this universe or any other.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Maybe? If it’s the heist story it looks like from the cover, I’ll upgrade that answer to a ‘sure’.
I’m tempted to check this out just to see what all the fuss was. If the Internet’s anything to go by then Spider-Gwen seems to be better than a YouTube video of baby kittens riding velociraptors, so clearly they’re doing something right with the character. Also I have a soft spot for Jason Latour and his track record of unfortunately cut-short runs. Let’s see what he can do.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Why not?
SPIDER-MAN (The Mile Morales one)
Though I’ve not read it myself, Ultimate Spider-Man was apparently a very good story. Bendis and Pichelli have been the unit for Miles Morales’ misadventures since 2011, so keeping them together here gives the impression they’re definitely working well together. As with Spider-Gwen above, I’ve not actually read any Miles stories. That alone would make me interested in seeing where this goes.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Well I’m already up for one web-slinging step outside the comfort zone, so why not go for two?
SPIDER-MAN 2099 (The Future-y one)
Well, Peter David is decent, and that costume looks badass. So ok.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Yeah…but I feel like we’re starting to approach critical mass with arachnid-themed superheroes here.
Oh. Ah. Right. She’s pregnant.
Hmmm. That happened.
Consider me intrigued, but apprehensive. If Jessica Drew’s bun in the oven is simply there as a macguffin, rather than as meaningful character or story development, or as – God forbid – a cheap and in-substantive hook to draw in new readers, then that ‘intrigued’ may shift to ‘I’ll just go back to Superman/Wonder Woman instead.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Yeeeeeees. For now.
Look, Marvel, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to make Hyperion into a thing. He’s an interesting bruiser in Jonathan Hickman’s run, but that’s about it. I also think giving me an Alex Ross cover isn’t going to seal the deal.
Oh, and James Robinson’s on it.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Not even a little bit.
Isn’t it cute?
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: I’ll stick to the Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray, thanks.
THE TOTALLY AWESOME HULK
Sorry, I’m too busy laughing at that title (and that hair silhouette).
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: If the new Hulk turns out to be anyone other than the Fonz, then no.
Wait, I thought we ended the Ultimate Universe a few months ago? Is this a selection of the survivors cobbled together to form a displaced team of alternate-universe heroes trying to find their place in the mainstream Marvel U?
Actually, that could be pretty alright.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Possibly provided Kenneth Rocafort doesn’t draw all the women like strippers.
No. Sorry. This looks about as fun and wacky as a tax ledger audiobook read by Joe Hockey. I’ll reserve total judgment until the book lands, but for now I’ll say to stick with Uncanny X-Force if you want a team story that uses Deadpool well.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: About as much as it’s worth getting your ear pierced with a rusted sickle.
Ok, Charles Soule is a good step, and Steve McNiven on art is a better one. I’m not sure if having an X-Men-style Inhumans team will be particularly Earth-shaking, but let’s assume the two can do a good job. Plus, there’s always the possibility Lockjaw might show up.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Yes, verging on a definitely if Lockjaw appears.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nope.
Just sit with that title for a moment. Let it roll around your mouth like some toothpaste you accidentally swallowed. Venom is now a knight, in space. And, according once again to the Geek.com article, he’s ‘a good guy now and fighting to save all of space from evil space fish monsters’.
Consider, for a moment, that somebody at Marvel read Robbie Thompson’s pitch and greenlit a monthly comic series about it. Now ask yourself how far below the barrel Marvel might possibly have scraped to pick this up.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Possibly in a hate-read ‘Tony Daniel-era Detective Comics‘ way.
Like Scarlet Witch above, I’m not convinced a solo series for the Vision is necessary. He stole the show in Avengers: Age of Ultron and is certainly a great character, but what, exactly could a solo series about a Spock-esque android offer that a team book doesn’t?
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: I’m not convinced, no.
In all honesty, it could be fun in the same way grilling cheese on its own in a sandwich press might be; fun and a guilty pleasure, but not substantial or particularly healthy. Also you forgot to clean the press last time, so you’re eating old grime with new cheese.
I don’t know, that analogy kinda got away from me.
IS IT WORTH GETTING?: As a trade, maybe. As an ongoing, not unless the story’s excellent.
So that’s the new Marvel Comics Universe landscape (New MCU? MC YOU?). As I said, it’s possible many or all of my claims above could turn out staggeringly true or blisteringly false, and most of my griping is based on prior experience with titles and particular authors (and my dislike of James Robinson). As always, though, I’m happy to be proven wrong. Maybe Marvel can convince me Venom: Spaceknight isn’t the worst idea to emerge from the House of Ideas since that crappy X-Men OGN last year.
Hope springs eternal – and so, given the above, do new franchise opportunities.