Marvel Spotlight #2 – March 2010

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By Keith Dallas, Paul Brian McCoy, Dave Wallace, and Charles Webb

Has it really been a month already?

Welcome back, True Believers, to Comics Bulletin's True Believer Tuesday: Marvel Spotlight! Marvel released their March 2010 solicitations last week, and this week our crack True Believer Tuesday team are ready and rearing to let you know what they're looking forward to, what they're a little concerned about, and all with that patented Comics Bulletin attitude.

You know the one. It's a little bit smart-ass, a little bit know-it-all, but wrapped up in a lovingly sincere belief what you don't know can really hurt you. Or your pocketbook, anyway.

So without further ado, let's see what the gang have in store...

Pencils by TIM GREEN
The battle for Asgard is in full force. One of the biggest battles in all of Marvel history!
And at the heart of that war is a battle so intense and crucial that the entire future of the Marvel Universe relies on who emerges victorious. This is the story of that battle!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

To be quite honest, I haven't got much hope for the whole Siege event and haven't read New Avengers in months. I don't know what's going on with the characters. I don't know how far Bendis' plots have advanced.

Hell, I don't even know who's on the team anymore! Have there been any big changes?

None of that matters, though, because Tim Green is doing the art! That means that regardless of how crap the writing may be, it's going to look great! It'll be interesting to see how his Seventies European Science Fiction style will mesh with the street-level grit of this team.

Regardless, Green is someone who's work I will buy, no questions asked.

You should too.
- Paul Brian McCoy

Penciled by JORGE MOLINA
In Asgard, Taskmaster clashes with Captain America! Meanwhile, the battle for Camp H.A.M.M.E.R. reaches a fever pitch...but whose side is Penance on? And will Night Thrasher betray his friends to get back his brother? This is the story that changes the Initiative forever!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

Hmm. Captain America vs. Taskmaster. I suspect this is the other shoe dropping for old TM that I mentioned in earlier this month. The two outcomes are either that he ends up with a shield-shaped dent where his head used to be or he switches sides at the last minute in a stab at getting clear of the mess he’s made for himself.

While it’s not certain this will be the end of the road for the character (Siege doesn’t end in February) it’s still a refreshing sign of some kind of payoff coming out of this fairly nebulous event.
- Charles Webb

SIF #1
Pencils by TBD
The Asgardian warrior Sif was no stranger to battle; the heft of steel, the pitch of combat, the spray of an enemy's blood...she even craved it. But when Asgard and its people made their glorious return through the power of Thor, Sif's body was stolen and possessed by crafty Loki. Cowed by such defilement, Sif hasn't been her true self...until a former lover and mate in arms comes to her with a call to battle and blood-spattering adventure...Now Sif sets out with Beta Ray Bill to fight her way back to true warrior's glory!
32 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T+ …$3.99

The content of this book doesn’t interest me so much as the cover – which I really rather like. It’s sexy without being gratuitous, reminding me in some ways of Aeon Flux/Reign creator Peter Chung’s work. The lines are very clean and the figure is dynamic and dangerous-looking . It also looks like the title character earned a bit of a redesign after her resurrection, a new and interesting look I’d be interested in seeing in motion if Foreman is actually the one working the interiors.

Now that I think about it, I’m a little more interested in the project given that it’s launching during what is ostensibly the month where Marvel pays lip-service to their female characters (meaning one-shots from She Hulk and X-23, two characters who represent the more challenging aspects of Marvel’s relationship with their female icons and sex)) and creators (with Girl Comics #1).

Sif is being written by Kelly Sue Deconnick – a name with which I am unfamiliar. Apparently she translated a manga title I quite like, Sexy Voice and Robo and co-wrote a 30 Days of Night mini with Steve Niles. She’s also the wife of Matt Fraction, one of the most consistently excellent writers Marvel currently has. Here’s hoping extreme talent attracts extreme talent.
- Charles Webb

Written by JEPH LOEB
Pencils & Gatefold Cover by FRANK CHOvVillain Variant by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
Foilogram Variant by FRANK CHO
If only a few super heroes survived the Ultimatum -- who is left to become the next super powered team to be reckoned with? The NEW Ultimates! With Thor gone, Loki takes his revenge unleashing the worst of Asgard on Earth. Iron Man must gather the heroes for their biggest Ultimates adventure yet. But who has made the final cut? And who can't be trusted? The Ultimates face evil once again and you'll never guess the new enemies they'll find…or should we say old friends? Superstar creators, JEPH LOEB and FRANK CHO (in his Ultimate Comics debut!) bring you the new face of the Ultimate line in NEW ULTIMATES: THOR REBORN!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

Jeph Loeb, writer of Ultimates 3, Ultimatum, and the final three issues of Ultimate Power, makes his return to Marvel’s Ultimate Universe with New Ultimates #1. That pedigree should help you to decide whether to buy this book or not: personally, I disliked all of the writer’s previous Ultimate Universe work intensely, so I’ll be avoiding this new series like the proverbial plague.

Loeb seems to have an uncanny habit of having his work illustrated by highly popular artists--and this book sees him paired with Frank Cho, an illustrator who seems to have quite a fanbase thanks to his slick style and his penchant for drawing buxom women. However, the preview pages that I’ve seen for the book don’t have me too enthused. The appearance of the regular Marvel Universe version of Iron Man suggests either that Cho is simply reluctant to learn how to draw the Ultimate version of the Iron Man armour, or that Loeb is planning a story that revolves around a regular Marvel/Ultimate Marvel crossover: the storyline that Joe Quesada famously acknowledged would signify that Marvel had “officially run out of ideas”.

Either way, it suggests that we’re in for another lazy, sloppy Ultimate book from Loeb, and one that will further erode the distinction between the regular Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. If it turns out that the book is as bad as Loeb’s previous Ultimate work, then I can only hope that this title doesn’t have far-reaching effects on other Ultimate books in the same way that Ultimatum did.
- Dave Wallace

Written by ROGER STERN
Pencils & Cover by LEE WEEKS
When a pounding Spider-Sense headache leads Spider-Man to the comatose body of his biggest, toughest foe, he realizes that something -- or someone -- can indeed stop the Juggernaut! But who? How? And who are they coming for next? Can Spider-Man find out before it's too late? And will Peter Parker ever get to have dinner with Carlie Cooper? Roger Stern and Lee Weeks (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #580) return to unravel the mystery in the first part of the Spider-Man/Juggernaut Trilogy.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Not much to add here – just surprised that in the 40 years of the character’s existence there hasn’t been another story called “Something Can Stop the Juggernaut.”
- Charles Webb

The secret history of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine: How did Nick Fury's significant other end up working for the hated HYDRA and what's the even more sinister dark secret buried deep in her past? It's part four of WAKE THE BEAST and a major turning point for several of our most loved, and hated, characters. Don't miss it!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

I have been on-board with this series since day one and think it's probably the best Nick Fury story to ever see print. Ever since the reveal a couple of months back that Contessa was undercover with HYDRA, I've been looking forward to seeing this story play out.

Hickman is doing a fantastic job bringing Nick Fury and his entire supporting cast back from the brink of continuity ruin and making them, and SHIELD, important to the Marvel Universe again. This time it's without overexposing them and giving them ridiculous Deus ex Machina type roles to play, and instead, building up the science fiction flavored espionage aspects and making every develop build on what's come before.

This is top of the line writing and plotting, and have you seen Stefano Caselli's art? It's amazing! Even if he has to take off every other arc to keep the book shipping on time, it's worth it. And his back-up, Alessandro Vitti did a great job, too, helping to keep this book one of the best written and best looking books that Marvel is publishing today.
- Paul Brian McCoy

Written by JASON AARON
Pencils & Cover by RON GARNEY
Beginning an epic, action-packed arc featuring the debut of an all-new, all-different Deathlok. Killer cyborgs have come from the future to kill the heroes of today, while Wolverine embarks on an international pub crawl with a certain recently reborn Sentinel of Liberty. Beer and bullets galore!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

I won't lie to you. When I saw Deathlok on that cover I kind of squealed a little bit.

Yes, like a schoolgirl.

I mean, come on! Jason Aaron writing a comic where Wolverine fights Deathlok? And Captain America's involved, too? I think I've died and gone to heaven. This follows up, I suppose, on a plot thread that was left dangling at the end of Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine when Norman Osborn scattered a bunch of paperwork while having a hissy fit, and there, amongst the mess was the plan for a Deathlok Project.

I got a little giddy then and can't wait to see Aaron's take on the concept. Especially since I haven't been too thrilled with the Marvel Knights version that's running at the moment.

And look at that Ron Garney art! Gorgeous!
- Paul Brian McCoy

Pencils & Cover by DAN PANOSIAN
THEY'RE BACK! Once they were Xavier's young charges: mutant teens who bore the responsibility of protecting a world that hated them. But time has hardened these five X-Men, forcing them to reimagine their mission and purpose. And now, the original dream-team returns to fight the one threat that's haunted them since the day they took on the X-Factor name. Join legendary X-scribe Louise Simonson as she reunites with the title and characters she made famous for an epic in the FOREVER tradition!
40 PGS./Rated A …$3.99

Hold on a second.  Forever is now a Marvel Comics brand?  Seriously?  Here I thought X-Men Forever was a title that was created just to keep Chris Claremont busy and away from the Marvel Universe proper.  But if Marvel intends on building a Forever imprint in order to bring back legendary creators of yore and give them the creative freedom to do essentially whatever they want, then I'm all for it!  (In fact, what could be better than an Alpha Flight Forever title, written and drawn by John Byrne?  Alas, if I remember correctly, because of how the plug was pulled on his X-Men Hidden Years series in 2001, Byrne now refuses to work for Marvel as long as Joe Quesada remains at the helm.  Shame.  Lost golden opportunity there.  But I digress…)
For those of you who don't know, Louise Simonson (née Jones) was one of Marvel's most important creators throughout the 1980s; her accomplishments include editing Uncanny X-Men and creating Power Pack.  In 1986, she took over writing duties on X-Factor--a title created to reunite the original X-Men: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel and Iceman--and left it five years later after a distinguished run.  X-Factor Forever begins exactly at the point where "Weezie" Simonson left in 1991.
Truth be told, I wasn't an avid X-Factor reader in the 1980s, despite my fondness for the five founding X-Men, but I'm intrigued by X-Factor Forever mostly because it gives me the chance to enjoy the X-Men sans suffocating continuity.  Make no mistake: it was exactly during the 1980s when X-Men continuity began to become as confusing as the NFL playoff berth tie-breaker rules, but I'm willing to grin and bear through any continuity issues that stump me because this is a Louise Simonson project.  Her previous work has earned my respect, so I anticipate X-Factor Forever being deserving of my four bucks.  (I'll try to ignore the fact that when Simonson left X-Factor back in 1991, comic books cost a dollar, but that's a digression for another column.)
- Keith Dallas

Written by MARK MILLAR
Pencils & Cover by STEVE MCNIVEN
CIVIL WAR? Nothing. KICK-ASS? A warmup. What if the smartest, toughest costumed bad ass in the world was totally evil? Meet Nemesis. He's systematically been destroying the lives of every police chief in Asia, and he's now set his sights on Washington, DC. Between you and me, the police don't have a chance. Do not miss the book that EVERYONE will be talking about by the creative team that made CIVIL WAR the biggest book of the decade.
32 PGS./Mature…$2.99

The fact that Nemesis has been solicited with its creators’ names in the title suggests that Marvel is banking on the “star power” of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven--the creative team behind Civil War and Wolverine’s “Old Man Logan”--to sell this Icon-imprint creator-owned book.

However, even without their names attached, the concept would have got me interested. Millar has teased the series as being about a world in which the only super-character is a villain, and one who decides to use his abilities to vindictively make the life of random police officers a living hell (or, as Millar tactfully put it, “What if Batman was a cunt?”--I’m guessing he hasn’t read All-Star Batman, or he’d already know).

On the strength of the pair’s previous collaborations, it’s safe to say that we can expect Nemesis to be an energetic, high-concept, violent and (above all) great-looking book--and I’m hoping that Millar and McNiven make the most of the freedom that’s offered by a creator-owned title and produce a book that’s even better than their previous Marvel collaborations.
- Dave Wallace

Well, True Believers, how about that! Some things to look forward to, some things to worry about, and a little bit of snark at no extra cost to you!

Stop by the message boards to let us know what you're getting excited about from Marvel's March 2010 line-up.


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