So “Spider-Men” now stands revealed as the long-awaited (or dreaded, depending on your point of view) crossover between the “616” and “Ultimate” Marvel Universes. I can’t say that I’m pleased by this, but I guess it was inevitable after the latest round of relaunches failed to bring any real sales spark back to the imprint. The crossover itself should be good, being written by Bendis with art by Sarah Pichelli, but it’s essentially relegating the once-proud “Ultimate” imprint to being just another alternate universe in Marvel continuity. That ticking sound you hear in the background is the countdown to the “Ultimate Crossover” when the universe itself will be destroyed and all of its interesting characters wind up living in the 616 permanently. But I’m getting ahead of myself, that shouldn’t be happening for a couple of years at least. Cynicism continues after the break.
Avengers vs. X-Men #7: From the solicitation, “Cyclops changes the game with these three words, ‘No more Avengers.’” I doubt that he’s going to get the Scarlet Witch to depower or delete all of the opposing team, but it would be hilarious if he did. Just imagine them standing around for the next five issues doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! If the plan is to drive the audience’s expectations down with this kind of text, so that they’re surprised when the end result is actually good, then it’s working great so far.
Space Punisher #1: Yes, it’s the Punisher. In space. The way I see it, there are two ways to go about this: Full-on comedy in the Garth Ennis “Welcome Back Frank” vein, or dead straight a la Peter Milligan’s “Wolverine/Punisher” and let the comedy flow from the absurdity happening around the characters. You’ll notice that I gave no setup for how this can be taken seriously. That’s because I sincerely hope writer Frank Tieri isn’t dumb enough to imagine that such a premise can produce a legitimately dramatic story. The very title begs over-the-top ridiculousness and the man had better be prepared to deliver on it, or else... or... else... uh... Well, I guess if it sucks, Chris Simms should be primed to give us a good post-mortem on what went wrong.
X-Treme X-Men #1: Spinning out from writer Greg Pak’s recent “Astonishing X-Men” arc is a series that takes its name from the Chris Claremont title of the early aughts and its premise from “Exiles.” I didn’t think we needed a series like this, but okay.
X-Men #32: Brian Wood’s writing this now. Guess I finally have a reason to start reading it.
Powers FBI #1 & Takio #2: So let me get this straight: After the schedule for the most recent launch of Bendis and Oeming’s “Powers” went right the fuck out the window around the time the first arc ended, these guys think they can do TWO ongoing series now. Much as I love “Powers” and the idea of them doing an all-ages title, I can’t see how they’re going to come out on any kind of regular schedule based on the team’s previous track record. Hell, I’m skeptical we’ll even get the final two issues of the trade paperback for vol. 14 of “Powers” solicited here before it’s scheduled to arrive in July. Again, THIS IS WHY I BUY THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF COMICS I READ IN COLLECTED EDITIONS. I’d love to see these guys prove me wrong and show that they can deliver these on a monthly basis, but... it’s not going to happen.
Casanova: Avarita: Speaking of series where their final issue may not arrive before the trade paperback is scheduled to... At least this one didn’t reach “Halo: Uprising” levels of delays. I’m actually really looking forward to it too, based on the previous two volumes (both of which I want to re-read before this arrives).
Man-Thing Omnibus HC: From the solicitation text: “Trim size: Oversized.” So it’s an oversized Man-Thing now? *rimshot*
Captain America by Ed Brubaker vol. 1: Apparently this title marks a return towards more superhero-centric action with the writer’s noir/espionage impulses being channelled towards the “Winter Soldier” series. The premise for this volume, which has yet another mysterious figure from Cap’s past out to get him, doesn’t fill me with hope, but if it at least allows him to be heroic and beat up the bad guy in a decisive manner then I’ll be satisfied.
Daredevil by Mark Waid vol. 1: I’ve been anticipating this ever since the rave reviews started pouring out from the critics after each successive issue. With the character written into a corner of self-destructive loathing and miserabalism (mostly driven there by Brubaker), Waid has apparently lightened the tone successfully while not ignoring anything that has come before. The art from Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera is supposed to be phenomenal as well. Probably the thing I’m most looking forward to reading in these solicitations.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis vol. 1: Is Bendis’ name actually going to be part of the title in order to differentiate itself from the previous “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” series, which is likely still in print? I kid (mostly), but despite my pessimism about the upcoming crossover I’m still looking forward to reading about the adventures of Miles Morales. Though he may have been born through out-of-the-box thinking about how to rejuvenate a title’s flagging sales, Bendis has gone on record as stating that he had a vested interest in creating a character his daughters could read and identify with. So I’m down with that, and the fact that he writes “Spider-Man” better than any other writer I’ve read. But how will MM be a substantially different character than PP other than in skin tone? Stay tuned to find out true believers!
The Punisher by Greg Rucka vol. 1: It feels somewhat anticlimactic by closing on this, but oh well. Rucka pretty much set the standard for novelists looking to start a second career in comics with his work on “Whiteout,” “Queen and Country,” many Bat-titles... hell, pretty much everything he’s written has been eminently readable if not great. Though he’s not the first writer with a background in crime fiction to tackle the character, his history in the medium suggests that he’ll be the only one (Duane Swierczynski excluded) to write something worthwhile with the character.