Secret Empire

Please note there are a few spoilers in this review, but given that it’s for a story that ended months ago, I don’t feel bad about including them.


I’ve actually been in the process of kickstarting (not Kickstarting) a new occasional feature I want to write here. It’s called “The Rundown”, looking at notable superhero comic book runs by specific creative teams, analysing the good, the bad and the ugly of the Big Two. The first cab off the rank, until this week, was going to be Nick Spencer’s conflicted, controversial take on Captain America, which I actually ended up kind of enjoying.

I already did a preliminary look at his Captain America: Steve Rogers run by pulling apart the first issue, concluding that for all the kerfuffle surrounding Cap’s turn from hero to Hydra agent, the book wasn’t all that bad. Having read Spencer’s three volumes of Steve and five concurrent books on Captain America: Sam Wilson, I found that the former had lots of problems while the latter had lots of impact. Both stories did make me a little more confident going into Secret Empire, billed as the culmination of Spencer’s Cap run(s) and the Marvel mega-event for 2017. That confidence was needed, because every comics journo and their mums were tearing this thing to shreds.

Rightfully so.

Captain America is now a Hydra agent, and has been all along. Turns out that the history we’ve known for close to a century got it all wrong; every Cap story since 1940 was just the Allies manipulating the canon to make it seem that Steve Rogers, our eternal paragon of virtue, was always on the side of the angels. Wanting to set things right, Hydra have used their MacGuffin du jour, the Cosmic Cube, to rewrite history correctly, showing that Steve was a Hydra sympathiser from a young age. Now, at the height of his powers in modern-day America, Steve has assumed control of the entire United States with the intention of spreading the authoritarian control of Hydra to every corner of the map. The Avengers are split in half; the street-level heroes reside in a darkened New York under the fascist oppression of Hydra, whilst the cosmic-powered heroes are barred from Earth by a globe-spanning forcefield. Both sides need to work together to overcome Cap’s control and set things right.

There’s no nice way to put it – Secret Empire is a complete mess. It’s at once better and worse than my expectations, the manifestation of every best and worst impulse Spencer has had as a Cap writer, whilst also being a textbook example of the prosaic, predictable and (almost) utterly disposable work Marvel now calls an Event. That parenthetical “almost” is important, though, since Secret Empire – much like its predecessors Avengers vs. X-Men, Original Sin and Civil War II – would be entirely forgettable if not for the utter damage that Spencer’s work has already inflicted upon fans.

Despite what vocal minorities on the internet might spew, Captain America – like all good art – is inherently political. This feels like trying to explain to a child that water is wet and Tide Pods are not for eating, but it’s true. Of all the superhero books in circulation, Cap is easily the most recognisable as an inherently political character. So when he’s the central figure of a crossover where the good ol’ golden boy of the USA turns out to be corrupted and evil, things can’t not be politically charged.

Unfortunately, those politics are delivered and unpacked here with all the subtlety and nuance of a Godzilla rampage. Steve Rogers as a Hydra ruler is, arguably, meant to represent the Trump presidency and the rise of the alt-right. Sure, I get that. But whereas the ascendancy of Trump and his ilk comes with a lot of social, cultural and political baggage that enabled it, Cap’s control of the world basically boils down to, “Hydra was here all along and we’re evil so we’re going to take over now thank you bye”. There are no layers to any of the storytelling decisions made here, and the narrative makes no attempt to show Steve as the least bit understandable in his vile rhetoric. At least with Trump you can trace lines between him and his supporters to see the reasons why they like him and how they can validate him, even if those reasons are detestable. Steve Rogers is just evil because the plot says he has to be; while some interesting decisions were made about that in Spencer’s Steve Rogers series, nothing about that characterisation here comes across as anything other than a gimmick.

The result is a story that doesn’t know what it wants to be. At least in the past, Marvel crossover events were clear on their intentions: Avengers vs. X-Men was a dumb schoolyard fantasy brought horribly to life, while Infinity was both a climax to Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers runs and a sweet blockbuster throwing most of Marvel’s main cast into outer space to fight aliens. By contrast, Secret Empire can’t decide if it’s a mega-event superhero crossover of heroes vs. neo-Nazis, a thinly-written anti-fascist polemic, a comment on the Trump presidency, a marketing stunt designed to draw readers in, or just all of the above. The focus is scattered between these elements to an uneven degree, creating a book that is a mixed bag of politics and punchouts. There’s spectacle throughout, handled by an army of artists who do decent work but lack consistency, and the climax relies on a predictable deus ex machina that counters Marvel’s insistence that Hydra Cap is the real Steve Rogers. All of this is delivered alongside persistent, badly-written narration boxes that give Chris Claremont a run for his money in the field of over-explaining things.

Though their styles are at odds with one another, the artists here do as well as they can. The bulk of the main duties are helmed by Andrea Sorrentino, whose distinctive style – reminiscent of Jae Lee – brings an appropriately washed out, nasty look to the story’s early, despairing chapters. The rest is handled by Steve McNiven, himself no stranger to a Captain America story, Leinil Francis Yu, Jesus Saiz and Daniel Acuña, all of whom acquit themselves well. There are moments where the disparate styles manage to pull off great work on their own; McNiven’s vivid style, made whole by inker Jay Leisten and color artist Matthew Wilson, ably illustrates the bravura final clash between Hydra Cap and our heroes. Similarly, cover artist Mark Brooks delivers sterling work through a number of images which each deserve a framed place on your wall. Otherwise, there’s little cohesion with the artwork, giving the impression that the shifts were done out of editorial necessity rather than narrative decisions.

But at least the illustration comes out looking better than the scriptwork. In addition to those damnable narration boxes, there is little in the dialogue that doesn’t come across as immensely clunky. Given the sheer size of the book’s cast, many main characters lack their distinctive voices, used only for exposition delivery. Those who do get given focus are largely blunt and bland, lacking even the barest hint of Marvel’s now-trademark Joss Whedon snark. The most egregious case, besides our headlining villain, is Black Widow, who attempts to be a hard-nosed spymaster in teaching some of Marvel’s younger heroes how to fight a cold war – because the political allusions weren’t alreayd blatant enough – but largely comes off as an insensitive and needlessly callous bully. There’s also a lot of schmaltzy scripting about the need for hope in times of peril, which unfortunately ramps into overdrive as the story reaches its disappointment of a climax.

About the only time Spencer gets it right with the words is in the final issue, Secret Empire: Omega, an issue-long conversation between Hydra Cap and a spoilery character, intercut with scenes of the Marvel Universe rebuilding in the wake of Hydra’s demise. This, coupled with the decent work he did for his issue of the follow-up anthology series Generations, works better as a resolution to Spencer’s twin runs on Captain America than the entirety of Secret Empire. This is Spencer bidding adieu to the characters he’s spent nearly two years writing (or ruining, depending on who you ask), and it’s easily the most satisfying moment of the entire book. But as good as Omega is, it doesn’t save a story that is almost universally reviled.

I honestly can’t remember the last time a book was as hated as the works Spencer did for the Star-Spangled Man. If the internet’s reactions are anything to go by, Secret Empire seems like a culmination of that hatred, the apex of every bad narrative impulse that both Spencer and Marvel Comics have had for the past two years. Without question, the book has a lot of problems, many of them indefensible but most of them endemic to the problems of writing and marketing crossover events to begin with.

For my money, Secret Empire is both a failure of an ending to what could have been one of the most interesting Marvel experiments of their history, and yet another predictably disappointing superhero crossover comic. Even if you took the politics out of it – which would be like taking the blue out of the sky – it’s still a narrative trainwreck, not quite as offensive as I was led to believe it would be, but nowhere near the gold standard either.

PUBLISHER: MARVEL COMICS

STORY: 1.5/5

ARTWORK: 3/5

DIALOGUE: 1/5

OVERALL: 5.5/15

BEST QUOTE: “I know some part of you might want to give up hope. But this is our moment. Our chance to turn things around. I know we’ve been divided. Torn apart. Broken – for so damn long – but now it’s time to assemble.” – Sam Wilson

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The Completely Unsubstantiated Guide to What You Should Probably Read When Marvel Reboots in 2015

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.

secret-wars-battleworld1-590x284

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.

all-new-all-different-marvel-590x330

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.

Let’s go.


A-FORCE

A-Force-590x806By all accounts, the current run of girl power Avengers has been warmly received, and G. Willow Wilson is an excellent writer on the current Ms. Marvel run. A fairly safe bet.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Probably.


AGENTS OF SHIELD

Agent-of-SHIELD-590x807To 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

All-New-All-Different-Avengers-590x787Mark Waid is writing an Avengers book. That’s really all I need to know.

IS THIS WORTH GETTING?: Most definitely, one hundred percent yes (also, that cover is gorgeous)


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ALL-NEW HAWKEYE

Hawkeye-590x808I’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.


ALL-NEW WOLVERINE

All-New-Wolverine-590x808Yeah, 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.


ALL-NEW X-MEN

All-New-X-Men-590x808Thank 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)

Amazing-Spider-man-590x814You 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

Anegla-Asgards-Assassin-590x811No thanks.

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.


ASTONISHING ANT-MAN

Ant-man-590x819Nick Spencer is, by all accounts, a fairly solid writer. Ant-Man is, by all accounts, a fairly cool character.

Yeah, ok then.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Likely, especially if those really are the former Superior Foes of Spider-Man in the background.


CAPTAIN MARVEL

Captain-Marvel-590x811Disregarding 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.


CARNAGE

Carnage-590x812…how is this a thing? Is there really a lot of depth and complexity to a scarlet symbiote and his penchant for killing in a style akin to his namesake?

I’m gonna go with “almost certainly not”.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nope.


CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS

Contest-of-Champions-590x803I’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.


DAREDEVIL

Daredevil-590x814Yet 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.


DEADPOOL

Deadpool-590x806NO NO NO NO I REFUSE TO.

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.


DOCTOR STRANGE

Doctor-Strange-590x810I’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.


DRAX

Drax-590x811A former wrestler and a lukewarm writer scribing a story about a wrestler and lukewarm character in a backdrop that is literally an Intergalactic Fight Club.

Pass.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nope. Art from Ed McGuinness might be solid, but I’m not convinced of the story’s efficacy.


EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN

Please reExtraordinary-X-Men-590x809fer to my comments regarding All-New X-Men, but replace “combi-van and Claremont/Byrne style” with “older Logan and Humberto Ramos’ gorgeous artwork”.

I’m a bit excited.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Yep.


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-590x769I really wish Brian Bendis could go back to writing street-level books like Daredevil. He does them so much better than cosmic epics and grand, operatic storytelling that usually falls flat.

Also, Venom’s on the team.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nah.


HOWARD THE DUCK

Howard-the-Duck-590x817Look, 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

Howling-Commandos-of-SHIELD-590x805So this kind of looks like Secret Warriors crossed with the aesthetic of Rotworld. I dunno, sounds like it could go either way.

Not sure what Clayface is doing there, though.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Maybe. Looks a little too weird for weird’s sake.


ILLUMINATI

Illuminati-590x759I 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

Invincible-Iron-Man-1-Cover-88069-590x456Brian 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.


KARNAK

Karnak-590x813I’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

The-Mighty-Thor-590x805This 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.


MS. MARVEL

Ms-Marvel-590x809Another 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.


NEW AVENGERS

New-Avengers-590x805I’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.


NOVA

Nova-590x816I 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

Old-Man-Logan-590x807Wait, wasn’t this a limited series from Mark Millar back in the 2000s? And didn’t it end satisfyingly?

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

Sam-Wilson-Captain-America-590x812Of 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.


SCARLET WITCH

Scarlet-Witch-590x782Ah, 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.


SILK

Silk-590x806I’m not sure what to make of this one. Silk doesn’t seem to be as popular as the resurgent Spider-Gwen, but I seem to remember some decent critical swell during her last appearance in 2014.

So…

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’.


SPIDER-GWEN

Spider-Gwen-590x805I’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)

Spider-man-590x809Though 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)

Spider-man-2099-590x810Erm…are we sure there’s not an over-saturation of spider-themed characters is this reboot, Marvel? Is this the new answer to Batman’s overpopularity?

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.


SPIDER-WOMAN

Spider-woman-590x807Marvel, what was I just saying about too many-

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.


SQUADRON SUPREME

Squadron-SupremeLook, 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.


STAR-LORD

Star-Lord-590x796Oh, look! It’s a series all about everyone’s favourite incarnation of Chris Pratt! And the promo image uses lyrics from a 1970s Elton John song!

Isn’t it cute?

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: I’ll stick to the Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray, thanks.


THE TOTALLY AWESOME HULK

The-Totally-Awesome-Hulk-590x798.

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.


ULTIMATES

Ultimates-590x818Wait, 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.


UNCANNY AVENGERS

Uncanny-Avengers-590x801Uncanny-Avengers-side-2-590x804

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.


UNCANNY INHUMANS

Uncanny-Inhumans-590x802Ok, 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.


UNCANNY X-MEN

Uncanny-X-Men-590x808So it’s basically the Magneto series with a posse behind him, written by a boilerplate scribe and illustrated by an artist who’s regularly fielded accusations of tracing and plagiarism.

Skip.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?: Nope.


VENOM: SPACEKNIGHT

Venom-Spaceknight-590x826Just 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.


VISION

Vision-590x807Like 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.


WEB WARRIORS

WoWeb-Warriors-590x806w, Marvel’s really going for broke with the web-weaving thing, aren’t they?

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.