So you know all that hand-wringing and second-guessing I was doing about the fate of Marvel’s cosmic characters? Turns out it’s all for naught as Bendis is bringing them back himself. Hot on the heels of “You Know Who” appearing in the end credits of “The Avengers” the Guardians of the Galaxy will be back in issue six of “Avengers Assemble.” This comes after “You Know Who” himself has put in an appearance in the third issue of that series. It’s nice that they’re giving the characters a push like this even though the thinking behind the book itself annoys the hell out of me. See, “Avengers Assemble” is an “Avengers” book with a team made up of the members from the recent movie with the idea being that it can then be pitched to said movie with a minimum of fuss. As Marvel has demonstrated over the years, this NEVER results in attracting new readers beyond the first issue as sales promptly crash afterwards. One needs to look no further than “The Invincible Iron Man,” “The Mighty Thor,” and “Captain America” for proof of this. Still, someone keeps thinking this is a good idea, so we’re going to keep seeing it for the forseeable future. At least the titles themselves have produced some worthwhile stories... without any pretense of trying to appeal to fans of said movies.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #13: This is billed as being a tie-in to the “Divided We Fall” crossover running between “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” and “Ultimate Comics X-Men.” It’s notable for the fact that this is only the second time this title has acted in such a capacity -- the first was in the issues that closed out the first volume as part of the “Ultimatum” event. I think it’s kind of odd to see this title function in that capacity, since you’d figure that Bendis would have enough clout to say that he doesn’t want to participate, but all the “Ultimate” titles need all the sales they can get these days.
Daredevil #17: It’s not mentioned in the solicitations on Comic Book Resources, but this issue is going to have art from Mike Allred. That sounds too awesome for just one issue. There will be more, right?
Hawkeye #1: The last series to star the character lasted only seven issues in the early aughts. Given that this is being written by Matt Fraction with art from David Aja (for the first arc at least) I can see this lasting a bit longer. After all, the Bendis/Maleev version of “Moon Knight” made it to twelve.
The Mighty Thor #18, Journey Into Mystery #642, Daredevil Annual #1, Wolverine Annual #1: All of these feature art from Alan Davis with the latter two being double-sized. That means we’ll be seeing over a hundred pages of art from him this month. Dude’s been busy, with some ferocious lead time on these projects too.
Fear Itself: It took about seven months, but we’re finally being graced with the paperback edition of Marvel’s next-most-recent crossover. Everything I’ve heard about it has screamed “Wait for the trade paperback, or just skip it entirely” as this came off as the least focused of any of their crossovers since “House of M” kicked off the narrative that wrapped up in “Siege.” Apparently the idea is that an old pre-Asgard evil god has come back and is spreading fear throughout the world while transforming certain heroes and villains into unstoppable engines of destruction. It’s a decent enough jumping off point for more superhero face-punching action and the one friend I know who did read this liked it. Eh. We’ll see.
Fear Itself: Journey Into Mystery and Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself Fallout: It’s a naming convention that would confuse lesser readers, but make no mistake: Marvel is releasing two volumes of the Kieron Gillen-written series about Kid Loki’s adventures in the crossover. Comparisons to “Sandman” have been tossed about whenever this series is mentioned, but I think that’s setting the bar a little too high. Regardless, with Gillen involved both volumes should be great reads.
Ultimate Comics Ultimates vol. 1 & Ultimate Comics X-Men vol. 1: The former I’m buying because it’s Hickman at the helm. Though the premise for the story, superpowered beings emerging from a place called “The City” and stomping all over our heroes, sounds a bit too close to the “Children of the Vault” from Mike Carey’s “X-Men” run I’m betting the writer has something clever in mind to set his take apart. As for the latter, it’s been a while since I’ve read an “Ultimate X-Men” story and I’ve liked what I’ve read of Spencer in “Morning Glories” and “Forgetless.” Neither of these series have set the world on fire sales-wise or creatively, but even if they do turn out to be failures I’m betting that they’ll be interesting ones at least.
Elektra: Assassin: Hey everyone, remember when Frank Miller could be counted on to produce groundbreaking, boundary-pushing and most importantly GOOD comics? Yeah, it seems like the man has let his “legendary creator” status go to his head and his quality and output have both fallen off a cliff in recent years. However, he did create so many great comics for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and others that his “legendary” status is secure no matter what he chooses to do next. This, is one of those classic projects. A mindbending take on the iconic female ninja assassin he created, “Elektra” will confuse and mystify you until everything snaps into place and you see that Miller had everything planned out all along. It also features some of Bill Sienkiewicz’s best art as his impressionistic, over-the-top style was exactly what this story needed and gave it a look that’s still unique in comics today. So if you’ve never read this, here’s an opportunity to fix that now.