This month’s round of solicitations contains a couple of “Classified” advance-solicits for January. Apparently Marvel thinks that “Avengers” #675 and “Guardians of the Galaxy” #150 are going to be so big that the company not only has to get the word out about their existence a month in advance, but price them at $5 each. Assumedly for an extra-sized reading experience. While the anniversary issue of “Guardians” comes to us courtesy of regular writer Gerry Duggan and artist Marcus To, no information has been revealed about the creative team for “Avengers” #675. Speculation is that it’s going to be the debut of the rumored new creative team of writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic. That would be a smart move on Marvel’s part since Aaron is the biggest writer at the company who has yet to be given the keys to its overall direction while Ribic is a phenomenal artist who delivered some awesome “Thor” stories working with Aaron. As to what this new run is going to be about, no one can really say. But it may have something to do with the big return Marvel has in store for December…
Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #1: By the time this issue arrives in stores (adult) Jean Grey will have been dead for nearly fourteen years. I’m honestly surprised she stayed dead this long. Much longer than when she “died” the first time at the end of the “Dark Phoenix Saga.” When her younger time-displaced counterpart showed up for “All-New X-Men” I figured that was going to be it for the original version of the character, but I apparently underestimated Marvel’s drive for the kind of nostalgia to sell their fanbase on the idea that everything is back the way it should be. Now, it’s not that there aren’t interesting stories that can’t be done with the character’s return -- such as seeing what happens when she finds out what has happened to Scott and Logan. I’m just feeling a little bit cynical that the character’s return is part of the “Legacy” initiative long after she was successfully written out of the Marvel Universe. This comes to us from writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Lenil Yu, so we can at least expect visuals worthy of the character’s return.
Marvel Two-in-One #1: Even though Jean Grey is coming back, the “Fantastic Four” are still nowhere to be seen. If you’re missing them, then the first arc of this new team-up series featuring Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm may be just what you’re looking for. Assuming you’re a fan of the comedy writing style of Chip Zdarsky, that is. Oh, and while this issue features art from Jim Cheung it’s anyone’s guess as to whether he’ll stick around for enough issues to fill out an entire volume or just the first two.
Tales of Suspense #100: This series originally lasted 99 issues before transitioning into “Captain America.” I can only assume Marvel is bringing it back because they’re desperate for ANY sales bump an anniversary issue will bring. Cynicism aside, the setup for this series/arc/miniseries(?) does sound promising. In the wake of her death someone is going around and killing off the Black Widow’s old enemies. Left to follow the trail of dead bodies here are two of her ex-boyfriends, Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier. Putting aside the mystery of who is doing the killing, or if the Widow is actually dead (because c’mon), seeing two headstrong, stubborn villains-turned-heroes try to work together should be pretty entertaining in and of itself. This comes to us from the above-mentioned Rosenberg, and artist Travel Foreman.
Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Alpha #1: It would appear that Dan Slott has one more crossover left in him before his Spider-writing days are over. At least, I’m still working under the assumption that he’s going to call it a day when he gets to “Amazing” #800, but I could be wrong and we’ll see him stick around until #900. IN ANY EVENT, the premise for this series has Peter Parker and original Venom host Eddie Brock facing down a new threat from the symbiote and an “amped-up villain named Maniac.” It all feels kind of vague for a crossover that’s big enough to have it’s own kick-off issue, but I’m not about to jump off Slott’s Spider-train if we really are that close to the end.
X-Men: Grand Design #1 (of 3): Ed Piskor of “Hip-Hop Family Tree” fame tackles the sprawling continuity of the “X-Men” and tries to turn it into a unified narrative in this new miniseries. Marvel is calling this a “trilogy” as opposed to a “three-issue-miniseries” but I guess you can take that as a sign of how much they value working with Piskor. While the description for the first issue says that they’re going all the way back to the team’s beginning, there’s not much else to go on. What I’m hoping for is to see Piskor adapt the “Hip-Hop Family Tree” storytelling format where a complete story/anecdote is told in three or four pages and adapt it to “X-Men” continuity. If nothing else it might make the wait for a new volume of that series a little less painful while knowing that it’s going to be delayed because Piskor is currently working on this.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #15: Hrm… remember how last month it looked like Kieron Gillen would be co-writing this series with Simon Spurrier? Well, this month Spurrier is flying solo according to the solicitations. All I can say now is that it’ll be interesting to see what Gillen has to say about this (if he mentions it at all) in his weekly newsletter. Maybe there’s some drama here or maybe nothing at all. We’ll see.
X-Men: Legionquest HC: The whole idea behind the “Age of Apocalypse” was that without Charles Xavier around to found the X-Men and promote his dream of humans and mutants working together in peace, Apocalypse would rise to take over the world. So if Xavier had to die, then who was going to pull the trigger? The writers at the time came up with the idea of bringing Xavier’s comatose son Legion back with his mental issues intact and with a drive to see his father’s dream succeed by travelling back in time to kill Magneto. If you’re thinking that I’ve spoiled this storyline for you, then I’ll accept your thanks. Diving into 90’s-era “X-Men” is a dicey proposition even with the nostalgia goggles on. Plus, the fact that Marvel is only listing “Various” as the writers and artists for this sixteen-issue collection really doesn’t inspire confidence here.
Marvel Mangaverse Complete Collection: They really will reprint anything that has the faintest commercial appeal, won’t they. I’m not going to spend $35 to witness Marvel’s ill-advised attempt to cash-in on the manga boom of the early aughts. DC’s CMX imprint certainly had its issues but at least they were ACTUALLY PUBLISHING MANGA instead of ripping it off. This volume does include an Adam Warren-written take on the “Fantastic Four,” but I’d rather track down the issue itself (it doesn’t appear to be available on ComiXology) than buy this to get it.
X-Men: Legion -- Shadow King Rising: Oh, I see. It looks like Marvel is trying to get more “Legion”-related comics back into print in advance of the second season of the TV show. The first season of which was quite good as its solid acting and writing along with its visual inventiveness made up for the fact that you really had to squint in order to see the “X-Men” connection. This volume collects the character’s first appearances and the “Muir Island Saga” which saw Legion placed in the above-mentioned coma. If you’re looking to read more comics featuring the character, and have already gone through Simon Spurrier’s “X-Men: Legacy” run, then this is a better and cheaper bet than “Legionquest.”