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Marvel Spotlight #4 – May 2010

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: True Believer Tuesday All-Stars, Keith Dallas, Kelvin Green, Jason Sacks, Dave Wallace, Charles Webb
Here we are once again, True Believers!

The True Believer Tuesday All-Stars have picked their way through Marvel's May 2010 solicitations in order to find you the titles that look like they have the most promise, the most heartbreak, or simply the most frustration. And this month there's plenty of all three.

So without further ado, I bring you...

Marvel Spotlight.




ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN/WOLVERINE #1
Written by JASON AARON
Pencils & Cover by ADAM KUBERT
Foilogram Variant Cover by ADAM KUBERT
THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE!
Spider-Man and Wolverine! Everyone's favorite wise-cracking web-spinner and ferocious furball come together in their first major series ever! The super-star creative team of Jason Aaron (WOLVERINE: WEAPON X, PUNISHERMAX) and Adam Kubert (ULT. FANTASTIC FOUR, X-MEN) send Spidey and Wolvie to the edges of the Marvel Universe as they face such awful beings as The Czar, Big Murder and Doom the Living Planet! But who is the major Marvel villain pulling the strings? And can Spidey & Wolvie refrain from killing one another long enough to find out?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


It’s interesting to see that Marvel are planning to expand their “Astonishing” line of books from the X-Men to those other niche-interest, under-exposed characters Spider-Man and Wolverine.

Joking aside, this looks like it could be a pretty interesting project. Hot writer Jason Aaron teams up with Adam Kubert for a new team-up series that promises to be light on intricate continuity, and big on comic-book excesses and over-the-top action.

Aaron has cited Grant Morrison’s Marvel Boy miniseries as a tonal influence on the series, which makes me very keen to see what he has planned for the book. And if Kubert’s work is anything like it was for the recent Dark Reign: Spider-Man: The List one-shot, it’s sure to look great.
- Dave Wallace




ASTONISHING X-MEN: XENOGENESIS #1 (of 5)
Written by WARREN ELLIS
Art & Cover by KAARE ANDREWS
Foilogram Variant Cover by KAARE ANDREWS
THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE!
The superstar team of Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrews (SPIDER-MAN: REIGN) take X-Men into the Heroic Age!
Something's happening in the tiny East African city of Mbangwi. Something that requires immediate investigation. A newborn sprouts metal electrodes and explodes, taking out an entire hospital. Is this the first wave of mutant rebirth that the X-Men have been praying for…or something very, very different? Something sinister?
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


Continuing the new publication of the book under Warren Ellis as a series of minis with generally self-contained arcs, Astonishing X-men takes on another artist, this time with Kaare Andrews. With Andrews comes some drastic redesigns to the characters, perhaps more in keeping with the sci-fi action series that Ellis has crafted the book into. From the solicitation text the story also appears to revisit a common thread among Ellis' arcs in the series: that is the subversion of manufactured mutant powers by the enemies of the X-men in the wake of M-day.

At this point I'm somewhat bored with that script and would personally prefer it if the writer moved on to something else. I will be checking out the book because I'm intrigued by Andrews' designs but again I'm nonetheless disappointed that Ellis is returning to the same well.
- Charles Webb




RESCUE #1
Written by KELLY SUE DECONNICK
Penciled by TBA
Cover by TRAVEL FOREMAN
Spinning out of the Eisner-winning INVINCIBLE IRON MAN!
When Tony Stark needed to save Pepper Potts' life, he gave her the Iron Man treatment -- with a repulsor chest implant and a suit of armor to call her own! Pepper went on to become Rescue, one of the heroes of the fan-favorite, critically acclaimed arc WORLD'S MOST WANTED! Now see one of Rescue's incredible solo adventures, as Pepper Potts lets loose with her bleeding-edge suit and her astonishing power!
32 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T+ …$3.99


I can’t say that I ever felt that Pepper Potts needed a spinoff comic of her own, but I guess that her prominence as a member of the supporting cast of Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man combined with the rise in profile thanks to her upcoming appearance in the Iron Man 2 movie makes this as good a time as any for the character to get a chance in the spotlight.

Written by Fraction’s wife, Kelly Sue DeConnick, the book promises to explore the character’s superheroic adventures as “Rescue”, which only warranted a few brief scenes in Iron Man’s own book. I’ll be curious to see how this turns out.
- Dave Wallace




ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #10
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Pencils & Cover by DAVID LAFUENTE
It's the end of the road for Miss Kitty Pryde as the law comes to Midtown High School to take her away. Will she go quietly into the night or will Peter Parker and his amazing friends come to her rescue? The answer will surprise you. Plus: the return of the Daily Bugle and J. Jonah Jameson, and the debut of an Ultimate villain that will take over Peter Parker's life in every way, shape and form. Don't miss the action as this fan favorite series kicks into high gear!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


This has been an awfully weird comic since its revival after the events of Ultimatum. First of all, we have the oddball art of David Lafuente on this comic rather than the much more traditional artwork of or Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen. But more than that, this comic has turned into the strangest damn team comic I can remember. Suddenly Aunt May's house has become a kind of boarding house for super-heroes, with Spider-Man, Iceman, Human Torch, Kitty Pryde and a clone of Gwen Stacy crowding into a little tiny house in the middle of Queens, New York.

This is not really Ultimate Spider-Man anymore, it's a weird sort of Ultimate Spider-Man and His Babbling Little Bendis Buddies.

This was a wonderful comic when it was all about Peter and Mary Jane, and Peter finding his way as a hero, and the craziness of his life. But lately this comic has been drifting, and drifting badly. No issues have been especially bad, though all the characters speak in that ultimately annoying sort of Bendis-speak, that pseudo-clever but really quite strange and tick-filled dialogue that BMB writes. But the whole central focus of the book has kind of evaporated and now the comic is so crowded that it really has no room to breathe.

In this issue, it looks like Kitty Pryde will be moving away from Peter's house – or at least that's what the solicits say. So that means that the comic will move away from being about Peter for yet another issue and instead focus on one of the many unwelcome supporting characters of this book.

C'mon, Bendis, let Peter take center stage again!
- Jason Sacks



GALACTA: DAUGHTER OF GALACTUS #1
Written by ADAM WARREN
Art by HECTOR SEVILLA LUJAN
Cover by ADAM WARREN
Galactus is the terror of the universe, devouring planets and destroying civilizations as he goes—and a father to a growing daughter! Meet GALI, daughter of the infamous planet-eater GALACTUS and the WINNER of last year's MARVEL ASSISTANT-SIZED SPECTACULAR poll! Unlike her father, Gali has formed an affection for the planet Earth, and does her best to subsist only on invasive alien life-forms…but when her cosmic hunger begins growing out of control, can she hold herself back from a deadly binge? Featuring WOLVERINE, THOR, and the FANTASTIC FOUR, this collects the original Galacta short plus three Marvel Digital Comic Exclusive Galacta stories from writer Adam Warren (Empowered, Gen 13) and with stunning digital paints by artist Hector Sevilla Lujan!
48 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T+ …$3.99


Whilst Marvel’s recent “Assistant Editors” anthology books were a mixed bag in terms of the quality of their stories, Adam Warren’s “Galacta” story stood out as one of the most amusing and inspired to come out of that project.

This new full-length book sees the creator of Empowered return to a character who appears to be just as neurotic as Emp. The only difference is, she’s a cosmic being of unimaginable power who has to balance her desire to protect planet Earth with a borderline eating disorder on a planetary scale.

I have no idea whether this book will be any good or not, but it sounds like it could be pretty original and unusual - and these days, that counts for a lot.
- Dave Wallace




AVENGERS #1
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Pencils & Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR.
Variant by JOHN ROMITA JR.
Variant by MARKO DJURDJEVIC
Heroic Age Variant by GREG LAND
THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE!
There came a day! A day unlike any other...where two of Marvel's top creators teamed up for the very first time to create a bombastic new monthly Marvel comic that not only ushers in the Heroic Age of Marvel Comics but unleashes onto the world the most blockbuster Avengers team ever! Who will answer the call? And will they assemble just in time...because Kang the Conqueror is here from the future. And wait till you find out why…! Bonus back up feature: the oral history of the Avengers, part one. A brand new illustrated look at the Avengers in a way you have never seen before by series writer Brian Michael Bendis.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


There's a lot to like here. The increasingly sprawling franchise is
getting cut back to a more manageable number of core titles, which will provide some much-needed focus. It looks to be a sensible blend of the classic Earth's Mightiest Heroes lineup and a more fan-favourite approach. It's got art from John Romita Jr, one of the finest artists working in the medium today. And above all, as part of this Heroic Age thing, it's ostensibly a return to classic superheroics, after too many years of not very much happening at all. I should be pleased, except...

Bendis. Look, I know he's popular, but the man does not know how to write this team. He gave us New Avengers, in which an admittedly interesting group of heroes did pretty much nothing for sixty-plus issues. He gave us Dark Avengers, which was just Kurt Busiek's Thunderbolts with all the good stuff taken out and replaced with adolescent grim 'n' gritty nonsense. And he gave us Mighty Avengers, which was supposed to be a "classic" Avengers title, but came across as a pisstake of such, and only improved when they gave it to Dan Slott. Marvel can hype this thing up as much as they like, but I have no reason to believe that Bendis will get it right this time.

I was going to get this, even at an extortionate price of $3.99, but Marvel are overlooking writers like the aforementioned Slott, Jeff Parker and Robert Kirkman, writers who show again and again that they can write a team like the Avengers, and as such, they've lost a sale.
- Kelvin Green




AGE OF HEROES #1 (of 4)
Written by KURT BUSIEK, RICK REMENDER, PAUL CORNELL & DAN SLOTT
Penciled by MARKO DJURDJEVIC, CHRIS SAMNEE, LEONARD KIRK & MORE!
Cover by GREG TOCCHINI
Heroic Age Variant by MIKE PERKINS
Eisner-winner & fan-favorite KURT BUSIEK RETURNS TO MARVEL!
THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE!
The Heroes are restored to their rightful place in this new era, and the world is safer for them. They defeated Osborn & his Siege on Asgard, now they have one last foe to face: the Mayor of New York -- J. Jonah Jameson! Also, MI13 come to the US, but one of them isn't leaving--they are defecting to the AVENGERS?! Plus Dr. Voodoo's Sorcerer Supreme duties infringe on "date night" and how much trouble can Spider-Man get into in one day? The answer: A LOT!
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


I’ll be absolutely honest, the only reason that I’m interested in this anthology title is the promise of seeing Paul Cornell work with the cast of Captain Britain and MI-13 again, after the untimely cancellation of that book.

That said, it’ll also be interesting to see whether Marvel really has something fresh to offer with its “Heroic Age” books - and this collection of short stories should give them ample opportunity to show off the kind of tone that we can expect from the next phase of the Marvel Universe.
- Dave Wallace




SECRET AVENGERS #1
Written by ED BRUBAKER
Penciled by MIKE DEODATO
Wraparound & Variant Cover by MARKO DJURDJEVIC
Variant Cover by MIKE DEODATO
Heroic Age Variant by TBA
THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE!
Who are the Secret Avengers? Are they a covert team of heroes working the darkest corners of the globe to stop disaster? Are they part-spy, part-superhero? Are they XXXXXXX's newest idea to save the world...or all they all of the above? A new era begins as Marvel's hottest team takes a 21st century twist!
32 PGS./Rated A …$3.99


Anyone who doesn’t want to read yet another Avengers title written by Brian Michael Bendis can console themselves with Secret Avengers #1, which sees Marvel’s best writer (that’s Ed Brubaker, in case you didn’t know) team up with Mike Deodato (who has provided excellent work in the pages of Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers over the last few years) for an Avengers book that will apparently have a more underground, espionage-based vibe than the Avengers titles that we’ve been used to lately.

It sounds like the kind of satisfying adult superhero storytelling that Secret Warriors and Brubaker’s own Captain America have been offering up lately, and I’ll be very keen to see whether that style of story can be successfully transplanted to an Avengers title - and who will feature in the cast.
- Dave Wallace




THUNDERBOLTS #144
Written by JEFF PARKER
Penciled by KEV WALKER
Cover by MARKO DJURDJEVIC
Heroic Age Variant by LARRY STROMAN
THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE!
The new era for Marvel's always-evolving, always controversial team kicks off here! It's a beginning, a return, a departure, and an arrival of a new artist (MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 & 4's Kev Walker) all rolled into one in a fresh, shocking status quo! The most dangerous people on Earth are now all in one hellish prison, and the only way out is through rehabilitation and contribution to society via The Thunderbolts...under the leadership of the steel-hard-skinned Avenger named Luke Cage! So bring on the first participants: Juggernaut! Crossbones! Ghost! Moonstone! And…Man-Thing? Against the sordid recent history of the group as a black ops kill squad, can Power Man restore the Thunderbolts to their rightful potential? Find out as the entire series is revamped, and also discover why ComicsBulletin.com says: "Jeff Parker writes villains with his typical panache...This is why I read comic books."
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99


Honestly, I have never been a regular reader of Thunderbolts. I've always been "aware" of the title and I have friends who gush about both Busiek's original run and Warren Ellis's recent run. The premise of villains masquerading as heroes has an inherent intrigue, but for whatever reason I've always been beguiled by other books.

Until now, that is. Now I'm eager to become a Thunderbolts reader. Faithful ComicsBulletin readers are no doubt anticipating me to wax poetic about Thunderbolts' new scribe Jeff Parker, since we CB contributors seem to be completely in the tank for him (as the CB pull quote within the above solicitation description suggests). And I certainly agree with my colleagues that Parker is one of Marvel's best writers, but my enthusiasm for Thunderbolts is principally due to the fact that I'm completely in the tank for a different Thunderbolts creator: its new artist Kevin Walker. Walker is someone I've been following ever since he filled in for Olivier Coipel on DC's The Legion back in 2003 (and yes, Brits, I know Walker worked for years before that "across the pond" for titles like 2000 AD, so don't get on my case). Walker's flair for dark shadows and grotesque figures echoes Mike Mignola's artistry. If you haven't seen Walker's work in the current Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard mini-series (or the Marvel Zombies or Annihilation: Nova mini-series in previous years) then you're missing out on some uniquely bold visuals.

May's Thunderbolts #144 promises to feature Man-Thing, and Walker's rendition of Marvel's token swamp creature should be well worth the three bucks it will cost to get the issue. Can't wait to see it!
- Keith Dallas




MARVEL MASTERWORKS: SGT. FURY VOL. 3 HC
Written by STAN LEE & ROY THOMAS
Penciled by DICK AYERS
Cover by JACK KIRBY
Report for duty! It's time for another Marvel Masterworks mission with Sgt. Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos! It's all-out action against the Axis powers, done in the Mighty Marvel Method as Fury and the Howlers protect the Manhattan Project and the atom bomb against Nazi spies and saboteurs; uproot an undercover agent who is none other than Red Skull; confront a traitor in their own ranks; and go mano-a-mano with Baron Strucker in a knock-down, drag-out fight battle in war-torn France. You'll also see revealed—for the first time—the origin of Nick Fury's eye-patch, follow Dum Dum Dugan as he goes it alone behind enemy lines, and experience the Allied push when Operation Overlord comes together on D-Day! Illustrated by the fightin' man's penciller, Dick Ayers, and scripted by Stan "The Man" and his armed-forces heir apparent, Roy Thomas, it's an all-out classic. Reserve your copy today or it's gonna be K.P. duty for you! Collecting SGT. FURY #24-32 & ANNUAL #2.
224 PGS/All Ages …$54.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-4212-6


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: SGT. FURY VOL. 3 HC — VARIANT EDITION VOL. 143
224 PGS/All Ages …$54.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-4213-3


I'm really excited about this Marvel Masterwork, but not because of the comics included in it.

Wha huh?

The thing is, I'm a huge fan of classic reprint comics. I've been worried for awhile that the Great Recession might take a giant bite out of the classic reprint marketplace. When people are worried about the state of their financial life, the first thing to go has to be super-deluxe $55 hardcover collections of mediocre comics.

So when Marvel announces a super-deluxe $55 hardcover collection of ten issues of a highly mediocre comic, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandoes, it's an awfully exciting sign for those of us who love classic reprint comics. Marvel obviously has decided that there are enough people like me, people who get thrilled by brand new copies of 40 year old comics, to continue pressing along with their classic reprint line.

And the thing is that it's not just any reprints, either. We're not just getting comics like Fantastic Four or Iron Man or Spider-Man in these super-deluxe reprints, we're getting mediocre mid-range issues of freaking Sgt. Fury and His Freaking Howling Commandoes . These ten issues are nobody's favorite comics of the Silver Age.

Oh, they're not bad comics. They're written by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, and illustrated by Dick Ayers, so you know these comics are professionally written and drawn. I'm sure they're quite entertaining in their own way. But the ten comics are on nobody's list of classic Marvel books. No fans ever write rhapsodic reminiscences of "Dum Dum Does It the Hard Way" in Sgt. Fury #26 or "Incident in Italy" in issue #30.

But Marvel doesn't care. They're pressing on with these reprints, and giving readers continuing entries in what has undoubtedly become the most successful reprint project in the history of comics. That's fantastic news. That means we'll get more Iron Man and Daredevil and Amazing Spider-Man, but also much more obscure books like Inhumans and Black Panther and Deathlok, all of which have been released or announced in the last 12 months. Who knows what might come next?
- Jason Sacks




There you have it, Gentle Folk. The good, bad, and ugly of Marvel's May 2010 solicitations.

Until next time, remember...

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