There’s a new teaser from Marvel going around with the words “Dead No More” and a background that indicates it’s “Spider-Man” related. So who’s it going to be? I honestly wouldn’t put it past Marvel to do something crazy like bring back Uncle Ben. I’d bet money on that being the case if Dan Slott is handling the event, if only because he’s the kind of writer who knows that’s the kind of setup you lead with to get everyone interested/excited/angry about things before serving up the twist which reveals that this isn’t what’s actually happening. Hey, if it is Uncle Ben they’re bringing back, then maybe this is all a cover for the return of Doctor Octopus! It would make sense for Slott to bring him back after “killing” the character at the end of “Superior Spider-Man” and if he still has all of Peter’s memories this would be the perfect way to really mess with his arch-nemesis.
Or maybe I’m completely wrong about all this and it’s Gwen Stacy they’re bringing back. We’ll likely find out in a couple months.
Black Panther #1: National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates landed this job in part because he said some good things about what Marvel was doing with “Secret Wars” on Twitter and editor Tom Brevoort told the writer to drop him a line about pitching for the company. This is the result, with Brian Stelfreeze handling the art (for the first arc, I imagine). Given Coates’ rep, I hope this is good and it’d be great for the character to have another successful ongoing series after I’ve enjoyed reading Hickman’s take on him in “New Avengers.” But what about Christopher Priest’s take? Well, I did pick up the first “complete collection” and I was somewhat underwhelmed by it. Not only did the issues collected there focus on white government goofball Everett K. Ross, the writer’s use of non-linear storytelling grew old after a while. It’s an effective technique if used well, but repetition will drive any unique approach into the ground.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #1: The hotshot pilot from “The Force Awakens” gets his own ongoing series. Why him and not Rey or Finn? Well, “Episode VII” effectively left their characters in stasis at the end of the movie, so I doubt we’ll see anything done with them until “Episode VIII” comes out in 2017. Poe, on the other hand, was still hanging around with the Resistance, so he’s not saddled with the same constraints. He was also the least developed of the new principal characters so it’d be nice to see him fleshed out some more. Don’t go expecting the Big Gay Question regarding his character to be answered here, though. That seems like something they’d want to save for the movie. Anyway, the creative team here is writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto, both of whom have some experience in Marvel’s “Star Wars” universe. Soule’s “Lando” miniseries was a solid read, so this should be similarly entertaining.
Gwenpool #1: Coming at you from Christopher Hastings, writer of “The Adventures of Dr. McNinja” and the artistic collective of Gurihiru. I was tempted to pass on this as being an unnecessary spinoff of “Deadpool’s” current popularity. However, the solicitation text indicates that Hastings has found a really clever hook for this series. Gwen Poole was a comic book reader just like you or me, until the day she woke up in a world where all of the characters she read about were REAL! Since a situation like this couldn’t possibly be real, it means that her actions in this world have NO CONSEQUENCES! Do I want to see what the writer of “Dr. McNinja” does to the Marvel Universe with a character with this kind of mindset? Yes. Yes I do.
Moon Knight #1: Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood team up to give this character ANOTHER shot at an ongoing series. Unfortunately, Lemire is going with the “character wakes up in an asylum and finds out his life as a superhero was a delusion” setup. This strikes me as a form of creative bankruptcy rather than a compelling premise. Smallwood delivered some great art on Brian Wood’s run with the character, and that should mix well with Lemire’s interest in avant-garde panel layouts. So we’ve got a series that has potentially fascinating art saddled with a deeply unimaginative setup. Eh, there’s a lot of other interesting stuff to read out there right now. I think I’ll be passing on this.
Miracleman: The Silver Age #3: It only took some twenty-five years, but we’re finally getting the continuation of Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s run on this title with all-new stories. Featuring, the return of Kid Miracleman!? If this kind of story was coming from a lesser talent than Gaiman, then I’d be concerned. However, the writer showed with “Sandman: Overture” that he could deliver a worthy installment in a series he had returned to only intermittently since concluding it. I’m expecting the same results here. Though, with Gaiman writing new installments for “Miracleman” it’ll be interesting to see if this title will continue its monthly schedule or if it’ll be derailed in the same way that “Overture’s” was.
Star Wars: Kanan vol. 2 -- First Blood: This series wraps up its run by going even further into the title character’s past. Specifically, his first battle in the Clone Wars. Expect rude awakenings aplenty, particularly when the padawan known as Caleb Dume comes face-to-face with General Grievous. I’m betting he’ll live through that, but a bigger question will be whether or not Kanan and his crewmembers in the present day will actually manage to turn a profit on their latest venture. Particularly when the first volume left off with their leader poisoned and on the verge of death in a random warehouse.
Extraordinary X-Men vol. 1: X-Haven: I’ve heard a number of things about the first arc of the new flagship X-title from Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos. There’s an actual team of X-Men in this one instead of a random assembling of whoever was free. Mr. Sinister is the villain of the arc, which revolves around the Terrigen Mists sterilizing all mutants, meaning a return to the post “House of M: No More Mutants” setup. Though, this time the mutants are actually working towards a solution to this problem. Then there’s the fact that the execution has been described as “Claremontian,” but in a way that feels more like a compliment than an insult. So if you’ve been wanting a more traditional take on “X-Men” after all these years, then this is the book for you. I can’t say that I have, but the vibe on this book has been positive so I’ll be giving it a shot.
Daredevil: Back in Black vol. 1 -- Chinatown: Now written by an actual lawyer! Charles Soule has the incredibly difficult task of taking over from Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s excellent run and he’s making a clean break from the lighter tone established by those creators. Along with a few other things as well. Matt Murdock is now working for the district attorney’s office, has had his secret identity restored, is no longer involved with Kirsten McDuffie, and is training a protege -- Blindspot. If this sounds like a jarring shift from what has come before, I’m betting that’s part of the plan. Soule is a smart writer who tends to take better notice of continuity than other writers these days. It’s my thought that all of the changes from the Waid/Samnee run are going to be addressed at some point and are likely key to Soule’s plan for the title. I’m expecting to have a pretty good idea whether I’m right or wrong after reading this volume.
Spider-Man: Brand New Day -- The Complete Collection vol. 1: I’ve been waiting for Marvel to put out an omnibus-style collection of these stories for quite some time. Springing from the “One More Day” storyline where Peter and MJ’s marriage was offered up to Mephisto to save Aunt May’s life, there wasn’t a lot of goodwill going into this status quo that saw Peter Parker as an unmarried photographer working for the Daily Bugle again. Yet a rotating cast of writers, including Dan Slott in his first real work with the character, managed to deliver stories that were good enough to overcome that awful setup. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. We’ll see if this first batch of stories -- collecting issues #546-564 -- are as good as their reputation.