The Mighty Thor: Thunder in Her Veins

You couldn’t have produced a book like Jason Aaron’s The Mighty Thor twenty years ago. Maybe if you had, it wouldn’t be as entertaining as it is now; more likely we’d have something resembling Red Sonja with lightning hammers. The current run has been something of a pleasant novelty amongst the myriad generic capebooks currently on shelves; a clear story-and-character-driven piece which cares little for much of the superpowered crossover shenanigans going on around it. It’s written as both an empowering feminist paean, a thoughtful meditation on terminal illness, and a straightforward drama with superpowers. It’s what you’d get if you fused Supergirl, The Big C, and the political machinations of Game of Thrones. It is, pure and simple, a really great book.

lady thor 3

Thunder in Her Veins is the latest volume of Aaron’s epic Thor yarn, which began all the way back in 2013’s The God Butcher. In the years since, the previously-masculine Thor is now the tough-ass Dr. Jane Foster, the Odinson’s on-again-off-again romantic interest. Man-Thor has been told he’s no longer worthy to swing Mjolnir into the faces of unsuspecting supervillains, so the mantle’s been passed to Jane. As the new Thor, Jane flies around saving the Avengers, the Earth and the rest of the Nine Realms whilst slowly dying of breast cancer; wielding the hammer gives her strength, though it purges her system of chemotherapy drugs. While Jane considers the catch-22 of either a slow death from chemo or a quicker one from fighting bad guys, political movements within the Nine Realms threaten to destabilise Asgardia and unleash the evil power of Malekith, Lord of the Dark Elves and insatiable scenery-vore.

lady thor 1I’ve talked briefly about Aaron’s new take on Thor before, and I stand by what I said then as now. Jane Foster is a refreshingly different Thor to the original Odinson, at once embodying the old Thor’s braggadocio but tempering it with a more level-headed, sensible approach to superheroism. Where Man-Thor would’ve knocked Loki’s head off at the first sign of deception, Jane’s Thor instead takes the time to listen to Loki’s explanation of his behaviour, then knock his head off when his words show he really deserves it. She kicks ass, but isn’t the raging bull her masculine counterpart could be.

Her civilian identity’s impending death also lends a tragic element to the affair. Thunder in Her Veins goes to great lengths to stress that there is no way the magicks of Asgardia or the high-tech gadgets of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will be able to prevent the cancer from killing Jane Foster. The book has a grounded, human narrative enveloped within Thor‘s usually medieval superhero trappings; would you rather try and live longer at the expense of being alive, or cut short the journey in order to go beat up Frost Giants? Unsurprisingly, the book opts largely for the latter, though it adds nuance to the moments when Jane firmly decides she’s going to fly off with her hammer, cancer be damned.

The book also thumbs its nose at errant critics through a meta-undertaking similar to the Captain America: Sam Wilson series. Asgardia’s walls are plastered with lady thor 5WANTED posters declaring Jane’s Thor is an impostor; although the story’s conceit is that Jane’s powers were illegitimately given to her, the subtext, representing some of the wretched real world criticisms the book’s received about a woman wearing Thor’s mantle, is a fairly unsubtle one. Suffice it to say, neither Jason Aaron nor Jane herself seem to give a frosted lump of duck snot about whether their respective critics think she’s “worthy” enough to be Thor.

lady thor 7Without venturing too far into spoiler territory, Thunder‘s biggest problem is its villains. Much like 2013’s big-screen epic Thor: The Dark World, Dark Elf Lord Malekith is once again the least interesting element of the proceedings, an unholy fusion of Dick Dastardly moustache-twirling and gothic hair-metal attire. He wants to discredit Thor and take over the Nine Realms because…he’s got nothing better to do? Besides garden-variety megalomania, Thunder – along with the preceding volumes of Aaron’s run – offers little to make Malekith an engaging antagonist. The scenery-chewing and overly-flamboyant villainy is somewhat fun on a base, Saturday-morning-cartoon level, but seems at odds with the much more thoughtful story going on with Jane. Malekith’s human co-conspirator – a character so completely engrossing and memorable that I forgot his name was Dario Agger until I Googled it just now – is a similarly weak presence.

I’m also mighty (ha!) confused by what’s going on with Odin. Tholady thor 4ugh previous Thor stories have done well in depicting the Allfather as a staunch guardian figure whose antagonism towards Thor stems from a protective outlook, Thunder can’t seem to decide whether he legitimately has problems with Jane or if he’s being influenced by someone else (more specifically, a character whose last comic book appearance was in a story I had multiple issues with). As it stands, Odin’s logic for opposing the new Thor is nonexistent, leaving a feeling that Thunder is making Odin a quasi-villain for some other, as-yet-undetermined purpose.

lady thor 2Dialogue is Aaron’s usual standard of excellence, though Loki’s words make him appear even more slippery and untrustworthy than he already is with that beard made of toothbrush bristles. Having Jane as the new Thor also lends her dialogue a bit of 21st-century-snark to complement the appropriately operatic introspection her Norse alter ego has.

Artwork is…well, it’s hard for me to put into words how much I adore Russell Dauterman’s art. While it’s admittedly a lady thor 6little overloaded with colour and frenetic action in the battle scenes, especially in comparison to how those aspects were handled in past volumes, Dauterman still makes The Mighty Thor one of the most visually delicious books on the shelf (Loki’s toothbrush beard notwithstanding).

Though it ends on a slightly underwhelming cliffhanger, Thunder In Her Veins is still a top-notch volume in a fantastic arc. It’s a decent jumping-on point for new readers as well as an excellent new chapter in Jason Aaron’s ongoing Thor epic, it’s got some quality writing, and it’s very, very pretty; a solid book about a dying woman kicking ass with a big hammer.

lady thor cover

PUBLISHER: MARVEL COMICS

STORY: 4/5

ARTWORK: 5/5

DIALOGUE: 4/5

OVERALL: 13/15

BEST QUOTE: “[after having his head knocked off his shoulder] *Sigh*.” – Loki

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Chris’s 2015 Catch-Up

Did you think I’d forgotten you?

Actually, no, you didn’t. You were probably too busy watching The Force Awakens. It’s ok, so was I.

I mentioned at the close of my 2014 best and worst roundup that 2015 was going to be a quiet year on the website front for me, and it was. Work, thesis writing and tumultuous adventures (and adversity) with domestic situations got in the way of all those wonderfully mediocre reviews I like to write. As such, the only Chris Kills Comics entry for me in 2015 was a part-sarcastic/part-serious guide to which post-Secret Wars Marvel titles might be worth a look. Not that I’ve yet read any of them at time of writing, but I’m never afraid to judge books by their covers and writing teams. That’s also why it’s unlikely I’d ever stoop to checking out the gonzo mess that is Miller and Azzarello’s new Dark Knight Returns sequel.

But while it was a more sedate year for me comics-wise, 2015 still had no shortage of great titles. I did spend a lot more of 2015 reading novels and non-fiction books, thanks to a new gig I’ve got as a book reviewer over at Geek of Oz, but there was still the occasional moment for graphic diversions. I’ll admit up front that I maaaaaybe read a tenth of the good comic titles 2015 produced. Ok, probably closer to a twentieth. Call it a fiftieth, at least?

sandman overture coversex criminals 2 coverhawkeye 4 coverlumberjanes cover

PICTURED: Some of 2015’s greatest hits that I haven’t read yet, but totally will. At some point. Yup.

So, in an effort to offer a mea culpa and address the deficit of comics critique from the past year, presented herein are some gems from the few comics I did read in 2015. I promise, once my thesis goes in on February 15th (submission forms are in, markers are being picked…oh God this is really happening), there’ll be more on the comics front from me. In fact, there are some fairly big plans being made for The Writer’s Multiverse as a whole, including one hell of a facelift…

But those will be in due course. For now, highlights from last year:


SAGA, VOLUME 5

Like you didn’t know this’d be on here.

saga 5 1There’s not much I can add to my previous gushing over how good Saga is. Suffice it to say, Volume 4 (from the tail end of 2014) was par excellance to its peers, and Volume 5 continued Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ overall conquest of the comics industry. Keep believing the hype; Saga is consistently delivering a thoughtful, engaging, nuanced and engrossing story across its gorgeously illustrated pages. Volume 5, while at times feeling a little like a bridging narrative than a story in its own right, closes with a nice hook that has me wringing my hands with apprehension during the wait for Volume 6. I guess what I’m saying, then, is that Saga‘s good for those who like feeling anxious and nervously expectant while they wait for the next book.

Actually, maybe don’t read it if you’re susceptible to that kind of thing.

saga 5 cover

STORY: 4/5

ARTWORK: 5/5

DIALOGUE: 5/5

OVERALL: 14/15


THOR: GODDESS OF THUNDER

Jason Aaron’s Thor run has been a rollicking sine wave of quality, with some thrilling highs and lackluster bottoming-out. Despite that, I think it’s fair to say Aaron really hit his stride wthor goddess 1hen he made Thor a woman.

Now, let’s be clear: this is not a gender-swap the way Loki’s was handled during J. Michael Stracynzski’s landmark run in the late 2000s; Chris Hemsworth hasn’t been turned into a woman, but instead has lost his worthiness to the mantle of the God of Thunder. Aaron’s new Thor is an entirely different character from her male counterpart (for reasons which become clear in the second book), uncertain of her new powers and bringing a more grounded persona to Marvel’s eminent deity superhero identity. It also helps that Aaron’s got a good story to go with the new protagonist, as well as some stellar artwork by Russell Dauterman and Jorge Molina. In an age where we need more powerful, prominent and well-written superheroines (and in a year where Meredith and David Finch were accidentally allowed to ruin one of them), it’s laudable to have one who’s as approachable, relatable and entertaining as Aaron’s lady Thor. Also, note my lack of capital on the “lady”; she’s Thor, not Lady Thor, Mrs Thor or Thorette. She is, you might say, the definite article.

thor goddess cover

STORY: 4/5

ARTWORK: 4.5/5

DIALOGUE: 4/5

OVERALL: 12.5/15


MS MARVEL: GENERATION WHY

ms marvel generation why 1Continuing the theme of female empowerment, G. Willow Wilson’s landmark Ms Marvel run has also shone a light on diversity in cape comics. Muslim action girl Kamala Khan is a Ms. Marvel who couldn’t be more distinct from her contemporaries, or indeed her predecessor (who’s busy flying around space). She’s fun, kicks ass and, much like Bryan Q. Miller’s Pollyanna interpretation of Batgirl, doesn’t ever seem to really be brought down. Generation Why builds on the massive success of No Normal, introducing Wolverine and Lockjaw to Kamala’s world of burgeoning superheroics and navigation of young adulthood.

While the real world issues Wilson wraps her story around can get a little heavyhanded – including a protracted scene regarding seizing your life between Kamala and some misguided young people modeled off socially-inept World of Warcraft players – there’s still a very joyful, bouncy tone throughout. Like Aaron’s Thor, Wilson writes Kamala as an approachable, relatable hero, a character women can look up to as truly realistic; despite her superpowers, Kamala’s still burdened by the everyday problems of work, friends and family that the Muggles among us are plagued with.

Also, Generation Why slips into my highlights for this scene alone:

D'awww.
D’awww.

ms marvel generation why cover

STORY: 4/5

ARTWORK: 4/5

DIALOGUE: 3.5/5

OVERALL: 11/15


BATMAN: ENDGAME

As much as I adored Death of the Family (it made it to my Best of 2013 list for a reason), I was hesitant about a return visit with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to their sickly psychotic version of the Joker. What were we in for in Endgame: more face-cutting and grisly dinner platters?

Well, turns out, not so much. Part of Endgame‘s effort to distinguish itself from Snyder and Capullo’s last Joker story is in having the mad clown come back, not to maim or threaten or cajole, but batman endgame 1to kill the goddamn Batman. As part of his “closing up shop” in Gotham, Joker’s out to murder everybody; Batman, Batgirl, Red Robin, the lot of ’em. Deadsies, in the ground, end of story.

With stakes like that, it’s hard not to like Endgame. As always, Snyder’s on point with his writing, and Capullo continues to ably demonstrate why he’s the best Batman artist since Alex Ross. It may not be entirely inventive in parts of the story, and the ending (which, despite the internet spoiling it to high heaven, I won’t reveal here) might lack tension somewhat. But it’s also got a knock-down, drag-out fight between Batman and a Joker venom-addled Justice League, a compelling emotional core, and one of the best Batman-on-Joker fistfights ever put to the page.

I get the sense Snyder and Capullo might soon be saying goodbye to Batman; if this is the last we see of their Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime definitely ends on a high note.

batman endgame cover

STORY: 3.5/5

ARTWORK: 5/5

DIALOGUE: 4/5

OVERALL: 12.5/15


STAR WARS: DARTH VADER, VOL. 1 – VADER

Believe me, nobody’s more surprised than I that a Star Wars comic ended up here, much less one centered on the Dark Lord of the Sith. 2015 was, obviously, a landmark year for Star Wars that really rescued the franchise from the mire (getting rid of its immense expanded universe probably helped with that). Part of that rescue involved Marvel nicking off with the Star Wars comics license, previously stewarded by Dark Horse Comics.

Of the many series Marvel have produced since they got their toys back – including a superb self-titled ongoing, an ill-regarded Princess Leia miniseries and a nice post-Episode VI diversion in Shattered Empire – I’d offer that Darth Vader is the most compelling. You would think, as I did, that an ongoing series based on Star Wars‘ most public face of villainy wouldn’t have a lot to offer. We know what happens to him, and any stakes regarding his survival in a cliffhanger would be removed based on that.

darth vader vol 1 1Writer Kieron Gillen circumvents that problem by taking Vader in an entirely different direction than the one I’d envisioned. See, the Emperor’s a little pissed off that Vader allowed the first Death Star to blow up, and as such he’s holding deadly auditions for a new apprentice. Vader has to “compete” against an array of colourful psychotics who are vying for the Emperor’s favour. Assisting him are a young doctor, who’s fully aware Vader will kill her when he’s done with her and only asks for a quick kill from his lightsaber as payment for her services, and a black-clad, evil pair of murderous droids modeled off C-3PO and R2-D2, with a dash of Borderlands‘ Claptrap and Knights of the Old Republic‘s HK-47 thrown in. The whole affair is gorgeously rendered by artist Salvador Larroca, whose work I was already in love with from his stint on The Invincible Iron Man.

I’ll have more to say about Vader and the other new Star Wars comics in a Mind’s Eye post I’m working onbut suffice to say I really enjoyed it. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s definitely a lot of fun. Vader himself makes for a surprisingly interesting protagonist, even though we know almost everything about him from nearly four decades of films, books, comics, video games and breakfast cereal boxes, and his supporting cast are a lot of fun. The plot kinda becomes like a really dark and twisted take on Doctor Who, with the more relatable human companion being our everyman viewpoint for an inscrutable protagonist. Safe bet says Volume 2 opens with Vader and Friends finding their own ship to go around the galaxy, solving mysteries.

One minor criticism: Volume 1’s subtitle is entirely redundant. We know his name’s Vader, guys; you wouldn’t have a book called Batman, Volume 1: I’m Batman. That’s less a title and more of a crazed inner monologue.

darth vader vol 1 cover

STORY: 3.5/5

ARTWORK: 5/5

DIALOGUE: 4/5

OVERALL: 12.5/15


 

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.

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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.

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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.