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Marvel Month in (P)review: April-May 2009

A 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 Invincible Iron Man #13, Captain America #50 and Wolverine #72!



APRIL REVIEW:



DAREDEVIL: NOIR #1


Although a comic called Daredevil: Noir might sound like a tautology, the first issue of Alexander Irvine and Tom Coker's miniseries managed to provide a "noir" take on the character that was distinct from the tone of the regular Daredevil title.

Transplanting Matt Murdock to another time (prohibition-era New York) and giving him a new occupation (sidekick to Foggy Nelson, Private Investigator) might have been the most visible differences, but it was Irvine's slightly more dangerous voice for the character and Coker's gritty artwork that really served to differentiate the book from Brubaker, Gaudiano and Lark's ongoing efforts in the core book. A great start to what is shaping up to be the best "Noir" miniseries yet.


WOLVERINE: WEAPON X #1


The first issue of Jason Aaron's new ongoing Wolverine title set some interesting elements in motion, but didn't really do anything with them, drawing to a close just as it felt like things were getting going. Whilst this "leave them wanting more" approach might indicate that the writer was doing something right, the lack of spectacle and of any really strong direction for the book made it feel more like a prologue than a truly gripping first chapter.

Hopefully things will kick into higher gear next issue: either way, Aaron's reputation as a writer will ensure that I give it another shot next month to see how some of this issue's more interesting plot points develop.


FANTASTIC FORCE #1


TV writer Joe Ahearne is a newcomer to comics, and his first book for Marvel adopted a fairly old-fashioned tone, following the fortunes of the "New Defenders" super-team from Millar and Hitch's current run on Fantastic Four as they attempt to settle on the parallel world of "Nu-Earth".

Whilst there were some decent action sequences and some fun banter between the team members, I still didn't get a strong sense of the characters or of the team dynamic from this first issue -- and didn't get a particularly strong impression of where the book's larger story was leading either. The concept certainly has potential, but I'm not yet sure that it will be fully realised by this creative team.


IMMORTAL IRON FIST #25


The latest issue of Immortal Iron Fist threw its readers a curveball with a deft twist that I didn't see coming. Writer Duane Swierczynski continued to lay out his vision of a supernatural hell in the form of the Eighth City, and Travel Foreman continued to provide visuals that brought his writer's nightmarish visions to life effectively.

I can't say that I still look forward to each issue of this title in the same way that I did during the Brubaker/Fraction/Aja era, but it's still a solid read with a unique tone that sets it apart from the majority of other superhero comics.


DARK AVENGERS #4


Books like Dark Avengers #4 are the kind of comics that can really sadden me as a reader. Lapses in logic, indistinct characterisation, ideas dragged out far beyond their natural lifespan and nonsensical dialogue all combine to produce a mess of an issue that puts another nail in the coffin of the "Dark Reign" event.

I hope that all of the people who are buying this book are doing so on the strength of Mike Deodato's artwork, because that's really the only reason that I can think of to recommend it.



MAY PREVIEW:



WOLVERINE #72
After issue #71's dramatic ending, the penultimate issue of "Old Man Logan" promises to be one of the most compelling issues yet. I look forward to seeing how Mark Millar and Steve McNiven bring their dystopian vision of the future Marvel Universe to a close, and these pages promise yet another glimpse of the final battle between the superheroes and supervillains -- this time, the battle between Captain America and the Red Skull.

I can't wait to see where things go from here, and to see whether the closing pages of this issue will finally see Old Man Logan pop his claws.



INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #13
Despite a slightly wobbly twelfth issue, Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man is still one of my favourite superhero books being published today. This issue promises a showdown between Iron Man and the Hood, a confrontation between Pepper Potts and Norman Osborn, and a continuation of Maria Hill's attempt to thwart the evil plans of the Controller.

The ticking clock of Tony Stark's gradually diminishing intelligence gives the series a strong sense of pressure, and Fraction's knack for sharp characterisation and dialogue makes every issue an entertaining read. Combined with the lush visuals of Salvador Larroca and Frank D'Armata, this really is far too good to pass up.




CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI:13 #13
If the previous issues of Captain Britain & MI-13 didn't feel epic or exciting enough, last issue's cliffhanger should have really got your attention. I can't wait to see how Paul Cornell's team of misfits handles the threat of Dracula's nation of Vampires, how the relationship between Blade and Spitfire will be brought to a head, and whether Faiza Hussain can rescue her father before time runs out.



CAPTAIN AMERICA #50
This milestone issue of Captain America marks 50 issues since Ed Brubaker took over the title, and 25 issues since Steve Rogers was killed.

With hints already being dropped about a Captain America-centric miniseries coming this summer from Brubaker and artist Bryan Hitch, and the new information that was remembered by Sharon Carter in issue #49, many readers are wondering whether this issue will begin to lay the groundwork for Steve's return, or whether it'll just be another part of the intricate larger tapestry being weaved by Brubaker and his artists. Either way, it's bound to be an interesting read.




ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK #6
Considering the delays that this book has experienced, I never thought I'd say this -- but I really don't want this miniseries to come to an end. Each issue has provided a highly entertaining alternate perspective on the fight between Wolverine, the Hulk and She-Hulk, and this issue promises to provide the culmination of all of Lindelof's setup so far.

I hope he can pull it off with the same mixture of humour, inventiveness and spectacle that has informed the rest of the series, and I hope that Leinil Yu can somehow manage to top his previous work on the book and go out on a high.

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