After years of lawsuits, speculation, confusion, anticipation, and that one time when Todd McFarlane kinda sorta put him into the “Spawn” story in the Image 10th Anniversary Hardcover: “Miracleman” is returning to comics. At this point, the story of how Marvel’s legal team got all of the rights to the title and characters may make for a story just as compelling as the one they’re bringing back into print. It’s doubtful that we’ll ever know the full story as there’s so much bad blood and conflicting accounts about the title’s history already. That’s even before we get into all of the NDAs certain people likely had to sign in the process of Marvel securing the rights. One person whose story we won’t be getting: the “original writer’s,” Alan Moore.
For reasons as of yet unknown, he’s not credited in these reprints. Though the knee-jerk response would be to blame Marvel, it’s actually unlikely that that the company wouldn’t want to credit him here. After all, that would give them an “Alan Moore” book to sell in bookstores. More likely is the fact that the man himself probably asked for it as part of a handover of whatever rights he had as the man has, somewhat justifiably, become vehemently against being associated with the works that he doesn’t have a full ownership stake in. While I can understand his stance of not taking any money from these projects, insisting that your name be taken off of this one after EVERYONE knows you wrote it (or can easily find that information out if they don’t) strikes me as being faintly ridiculous.
Miracleman #’s 1 & 2: Of course, the question I imagine a lot of people are asking is, “Are these comics any good?” Having read most of them, I can answer that with a resounding, “YES.” Not only do the comics represent not only some of Moore’s cleverest superhero writing, but one that pushes the genre in some very compelling and disturbing directions. It has been years since I originally read them at the University of California Riverside’s Eaton Collection, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing how they’ve held up in that time.
Inhuman #1: Meanwhile, back in the regular Marvel Universe we see just how serious they are about making the “Inhumans” their next big thing. After all, Joe Madureira can still sell comics and even though he can only keep a schedule if he’s given enough of a lead, putting him on the first arc of this title means that it’s going to sell. The real question for me remains whether or not we’ll get the “good” Matt Fraction with this title. As I’ve said before, the writer tends to do his best work when he’s not working on a high-profile title essential to the direction of the line. There’s a reason his “Hawkeye” is so beloved and no one brings up “Fear Itself” these days.
All-New Invaders #1: The last “Invaders” title was a miniseries that was cancelled halfway through its run. An act which sent its writer, Paul Jenkins, to work over at DC. (He then decamped to BOOM! not long after, but that’s another story.) Marvel seems to be putting more of a push behind this one, setting it in the modern day and giving it a team consisting of Cap, Namor, the Winter Soldier, and the Original Human Torch and pitting them against a Kree invasion. It has James Robinson, who knows a thing or two about vintage superheroes, writing and Steve Pugh illustrating, so that’s a solid creative team right there. I, like many other comics-reading individuals, have a deep indifference to the “Invaders” name so Robinson and Pugh are going to have to go beyond their A-game in order to make sure that this title doesn’t die as swift a death as the other comics that have borne this name in the past have.
Avengers World #1: A new “Avengers” title written by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer. With art by Hickman’s “Secret Warriors” collaborator Stefano Caselli? Sure, why not.
Black Widow #’s 1&2: Okay. So her last series lasted all of eight issues in 2010-2011. Does Marvel really think that her profile was boosted enough by the “Avengers” movie to give her another shot? I’m not optimistic about that. That said, I’m more interested in writer Nathan Edmonson’s new “Punisher” series that he’ll be doing with his “The Activity” artist Mitch Gerads. That title’s best moment came when they stopped adhering to absolute realism and went for something more movie-like. Maybe the environment of the Marvel Universe will have a liberating effect on them and we’ll be able to get that kind of storytelling all the time with Frank Castle’s latest exploits.
All-New X-Factor #’s 1&2: I’ve still been reading the regular “X-Factor” for the past few years. It’s just that I’ve been really lazy about writing it up here. Expect a podcast about all 100+ issues of it once the next volume ships. Now, it looks like writer Peter David is giving us a new take on the team as a corporate-owned mutant team. I’m game, but the solicitation text raises the idea that the company bankrolling them may be up to no good… Frankly, at this point I’d be far more surprised by a big corporation actually having good intentions and working for the betterment of society. I’ve been reading David’s work long enough to know that he’s some twist planned for this setup, and I can only hope that I’ve called it right here.
George Romero’s Empire of the Dead: Act 1 #1 (of 5): This was announced as running for fifteen issues and I was wondering how long it would be before artist Alex Maleev would be replaced due to low sales. Seeing as how this is going to be three five-issue miniseries, it would appear that I have my answer. As for my thoughts on the potential quality of such an endeavor, I’ve certainly enjoyed Romero’s zombie movies over the years but I believe this is the first comic that he has done. Even if he has been directing movies for decades, you don’t throw someone into the deep end of the pool without making sure they can swim first. Here’s hoping that he hits the ground running in this first act.
Infinity HC: Awwwwwwwwww yeah! Over six hundred pages of Hickman goodness (with some Nick Spencer and Jason Latour thrown in for good measure). While I’ve been looking forward to reading this epic event, the collection offers a real deal since it also collects two volumes’ worth of “Avengers” and one of “New Avengers” as they set up and provide critical information regarding the event. As someone who was reading both titles beforehand, picking up this extra-sized hardcover is an easy choice.
Infinity Companion HC: This, on the other hand, looks to be deeply skippable. One of the criticisms levied against the crossover so far is that you HAVE to be reading “Avengers” and “New Avengers” to get what’s going on in the story. Everything that’s collected here? Completely superfluous to the event and I’m not reading most of those titles anyway. What’s worse is that even though this collection is only 90 pages longer than the “Infinity HC” it’s $24 more expensive at $99. That was the same case as the “Avengers vs. X-Men Companion,” but you got an extra 400 pages there.
Savage Wolverine vol. 2: Hands on a Dead Body HC: While I lamented that the Zeb Wells/Joe Madureira “Avenging Spider-Man/Savage Wolverine” stories were getting their own hardcover together, this collection makes it better. Not only does it collect their arc on that title, it also features Jock’s sci-fi story featuring the character stranded on an alien planet with a little girl who is out to kill him. The man has done some fantastic work on titles like “The Losers” and “Hellblazer: Pandemonium,” and this represents the first writing I’ve seen from him. I’m definitely interested in seeing how he turns out here. Of course, this will be after the title hits softcover. Maybe.