So, “Age of Ultron:” Thoroughly entertaining and a worthy sequel to “Avengers.” No, the story itself and the title villain’s scheme weren’t all that impressive, but the film was filled with plenty of entertaining details and situations to compensate. The featured-in-previews scene where everyone had a go at picking up Thor’s hammer played great on the screen, Vision’s brief role actually got me to care about him (as opposed to how I feel about him in the comics), James Spader’s relaxed villainy as Ultron was immensely satisfying, and Hawkeye gets the “most improved” award thanks to his secret family life and “Mind control. Tried it, didn’t like it,” rejoinder. Really, there were so many moving parts in this film and while you could tell a lot of it was setup -- is anyone not expecting Andy Serkis to be back as Ulysses Klaw in the upcoming “Black Panther” movie -- it felt rather effortless and not very plot-grind-y. By the end of the film, I still felt energized for the current direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And in “Bendis Delay” news, “Uncanny X-Men #600” has been delayed until October. Not because it isn’t done, but because Marvel editorial apparently feels it makes more sense to do it that way. As I write this, Marvel editorial has yet to offer an explanation as to why it makes sense. It should be noted that we’re currently scheduled to get two new issues each of Bendis’ long-delayed creator-owned projects -- “Brilliant” and “Scarlet” -- before “Uncanny X-Men #600” ships. Anyone want to take any bets as to whether or not that’ll actually happen?
Ant-Man: Last Days #1: This is a one-shot which… Okay, looking back through the last couple solicitations reveals that this title got out five issues before going on hiatus for “Secret Wars.” After that came a movie-themed one-shot, an annual, and now this. That second volume, whenever they get around to launching it is going to be a strange read if it collects these (and maybe more) one-shots. Also worth noting is that Marvel’s variant theme for this month is “Manga Artist.” Now that could mean that they either got actual manga artists (from Japan) to do the covers, or are having other creators draw them in a “manga” style. I’m hoping for the former, but fully expecting it to be the latter. Regrettably, there aren’t any images of these covers in these solicitations.
Thors #3: Kind of disappointing that we’re seeing the schedule catch up to artist Chris Sprouse as Goran Sudzuka is listed as a co-artist here. However, this issue also features the title characters interrogating Loki. The Crown Prince of Mischief vs. All The Thors? Yeah, that’s definitely worth looking forward to.
Secret Wars: Secret Love #1: In which a bunch of lesser-known creators serve up some romance-themed stories set amidst the crossover. That Felipe Smith of “Ghost Rider” and “Peepo Choo” fame is one of the contributors is certainly of interest to me. After reading his manga, I’m equal parts intrigued/frightened to see what romance looks like to him in the Marvel Universe.
Secret Wars: Battleworld #4 (of 4): James Stokoe is writing and illustrating a tale of the Silver Surfer of Egyptia as he collects silver for a giant desert sphinx? That sounds like a storyline full of nonsense! But since it’s from Stokoe, it’ll probably be highly entertaining nonsense. Now I know which “Secret Wars” anthology to buy in trade paperback form.
Howard the Human #1: Writer Skottie Young and artist Jim Mahfood team up to give you a story that has probably been done before -- Howard the Duck as a human! That said, the last time someone did this story was probably before most of the people reading it were born. Or maybe Chip Zdarsky already did it in the ongoing series he launched earlier this year. I don’t know! I’ve got enough stuff in my life to keep track of without having to wonder about when the last time Howard turned human was.
Superior Iron Man vol. 2: Stark Contrast HC: Four issues of the regular series plus a reprint of issue #182. All for $25. ...At least the upcoming volume of “Thor” had an actual annual to pad out the three issues of the relaunched series it was collecting. Also, the revelation of who the new female Thor is in those issues as well. We find out here that one of Tony’s oldest friends is working against him. Most likely because he’s a gigantic asshole now. Pass.
Star Wars: Princess Leia: In which the title character copes with the loss of her home planet while taking on the Empire as they round up fugitive Alderaanians. It sounds simple enough, but writer Mark Waid has shown time and time again in the past that he knows how to take this kind of setup and find a new angle to explore it from. Throw in art from Terry and Rachel Dodson and you have one more new “Star Wars” comic that will soon find its way into my library.
Uncanny Avengers vol. 1: Counter-Evolutionary: Relaunched in the wake of “Axis” just in time to go on hiatus during “Secret Wars.” The actual news here is that this new first volume has gone straight to paperback. My, how things change in just a few years…
A.K.A. Jessica Jones: Alias vols. 1 & 2: Renamed because the upcoming Netflix series based on the series by Bendis and Michael Gaydos is going to be called “A.K.A. Jessica Jones.” Doesn’t matter. It’s still a great series that’s deserving of the higher profile the show will no doubt give it. That said, if Marvel was really interested in making sure this series reached a larger audience, they should’ve knocked five bucks off the cover of each volume. Just saying…