Marvel Month in (P)Review: June/July 2009A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: David Wallace
Marvel Month in (P)review highlights the Marvel Comics' month that was and previews the Marvel Comics' month that will be. This month's column features previews of Captain America: Reborn #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #600!
Uncanny X-Men #512 saw Matt Fraction craft a one-shot story that saw the Beast and his "X-Club" travel back in time to early 20th-Century San Francisco to investigate the origins of the X-gene.
The Steampunk vibe and compressed storytelling style played perfectly to Fraction's strengths, and the strong artwork of Yanick Paquette infused the tale with period detail that helped to sell the reality of the story perfectly. After a few months in which Uncanny X-Men has been sidetracked by a less-than-stellar story arc, this issue was a breath of fresh air that hopefully leads the way for better stories to come.
This was a bumper month for fans of Dark Avengers, as two issues of the book were released. Happily, they were two of the best issues yet.
Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato moved away from the time-travelling magic-based plot of the first four issues to pursue a more grounded storyline that saw Norman Osborn juggle PR concerns with the need to take decisive action over an Atlantean terrorist attack, burning bridges with his ally Namor in the process. We also saw some interesting new developments with the Sentry, which suggest that Bendis is finally going to make good on the potential of the character after several years in which he's failed to do anything really compelling with him.
Hopefully, this mini-arc is an indicator of where Bendis and Deodato will be taking the book in future, as I much preferred it to the book's earlier issues.
Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi ended their run on Astonishing X-Men together on a high note, providing a conclusion to the "Ghost Boxes" storyline that went some way to make up for the sagging middle section of the arc.
In addition to the weird and wonderful "new mutants" and the explosive finale to the alternate-universe-invasion plot, the issue saw Ellis continue to grapple with the murky morality of the X-Men's current role in the Marvel Universe. Some X-fans may have questioned the writer's outdated use of Forge in this story, but for more casual readers this was a surprisingly solid end to a sometimes-patchy story.
The first issue of Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem saw J. Jonah Jameson tasked with writing a tribute to Spider-Man in the aftermath of his apparent "death" in the Ultimatum crossover.
Regular series artist Stuart Immonen provided a framing sequence that housed an entire issue's worth of artwork from original penciller Mark Bagley, making this something of a nostalgia trip for longtime fans of the book as well as an effective cap for the first volume of the title. I'll be interested to see how Jameson's reaction to this chapter's cliffhanger plays out in the concluding issue #2.
Fantastic Four #567 saw Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch continue the story of the Masters of Doom, who made good on their name this issue by inflicting an extended sequence of psychological torture on Victor Von Doom.
Even though the FF barely appeared, this was a solid issue with an interesting premise, and one that set up the Masters of Doom as imposing enemies for the Marvel Universe's first family. My only concern is that, with only a couple of issues left, there might not be much time for the story to do their conflict justice.
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #1
There can be little doubt that Marvel's most high-profile book of July is going to be Captain America: Reborn? Ever since Steve Rogers was killed off in Captain America #25, fans have been waiting for the inevitable moment of his return, and this miniseries looks to be the place that it'll finally happen.
Personally, though, I'm not interested in this book because of the possibility that Steve Rogers might be back – I'm interested in it because it unites two of the strongest creators working in comics today. Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Bryan Hitch rarely disappoint with any of their projects, and I can't wait to see what they come up with when they join forces.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600
Marvel has done a great job with its big anniversary issues recently. For example, Thor #600 was a great package that threw together an extra-sized main story along with several backup tales and the added bonus of a little reprinted material to boot. Amazing Spider-Man looks as though it's going to be a similarly generous collection, with (amongst other things) an extra-sized lead story by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr., a short story by Stan Lee and Marcos Martin, and multiple variant covers by such luminaries as Alex Ross, Joe Quesada and John Romita Sr.
As these preview pages show, it looks as though the main story will focus on Doctor Octopus, and the logical outcome of his many years of being caught up in superhero slugfests. It sounds like an interesting angle to explore with one of Spidey's most high-profile villains, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.
DAREDEVIL: NOIR #4
Alexander Irvine and Tomm Coker's Daredevil: Noir has not only been the strongest Noir miniseries yet, but has also been a great Daredevil story in its own right.
This final issue promises a showdown between Matt Murdock and "The Bulls-eye killer," along with a final confrontation between DD and the Kingpin. Let's hope the book maintains the quality of previous issues to go out on a high.
DEADPOOL: MERC WITH A MOUTH #1
Despite having never been a fan of the character in the past, I'm starting to develop a real fondness for Deadpool. His self-deprecating, fourth-wall-breaking brand of off-the-wall humour is a great antidote to the dour seriousness of many of today's superhero comics, and for this reason I've enjoyed his appearances in his recent solo series and its Thunderbolts crossover.
This new series looks to be pairing Deadpool with the severed head of his Marvel Zombies counterpart for an extended jaunt in the Savage Land, which sounds like the perfect "Odd Couple" set-up to me. I can't wait to see what creators Victor Gischler and Bong Dazo do with this.
IMMORTAL WEAPONS #1
As disappointed as I am to see Immortal Iron Fist come to an end, I'm just as happy to see release of this new miniseries, which shifts the spotlight on to the Immortal Weapons who were introduced in Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker's second arc on the title.
Writer Jason Aaron is a star on the rise, and Mico Suayan has turned in some fantastic work on Moon Knight and Werewolf By Night, so I look forward to seeing what they do with the most beloved of the Immortal Weapons -- Fat Cobra -- in the first issue of the series.