500K+ orders for the first issue of “Secret Wars” in the direct market alone. It’s no “Star Wars,” but those are “Amazing Spider-Man #1” numbers from last year, and that had the benefit of whatever momentum the film brought to that launch. So it would appear that the Marvel Hype Machine has pulled off an impressive feat in convincing their general readership that this is a big, important event that demands your attention even more so than the last few big, important events that they’ve rolled out. It’s even more impressive when you consider that the numbers for the first issue are ten times the current readership for “Avengers”/”New Avengers,” the titles the event is spinning out from. I’m looking forward to it precisely because it’s the culmination of Hickman’s run on those titles and I can only wonder about the people who pick it up cold and are left wondering what an “incursion” is and why it means the end of the Marvel Universe. Expect sales to drop off sharply from that first issue, is what I’m saying.
Also, Bendis claims that the Ultimate Marvel Universe is not dead yet. Short of simply continuing the adventures of Miles Morales in a solo title, I’m not sure I see a point in keeping it around anymore. Much like the peasant who kept protesting that he wasn’t dead, someone needs to just put the once-great universe down so we can all get on with our lives.
Thors #1: While the relaunch featuring this mysterious female Thor has been a critical and sales success, it’s being put on hiatus while we get this miniseries featuring her and just about every Thor-related/inspired character who has wielded Mjolnir as cosmic cops keeping the peace during the conflict. That it’s coming from regular “Thor” writer Jason Aaron means I’ll be picking it up at some point, while the art from Chris Sprouse provides the gravy. Fun fact: Old Thor griped at Present Thor about becoming a cosmic cop in the second volume of Aaron’s run on “Thor.” I guess we now know what he was talking about there.
Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies #1: I didn’t much care for the former title, and the latter is so far past its sell-by date that it’s not even funny. Yet, I’m morbidly curious about this whole setup. You have super zombies vs. killer robots, and that seems like a match that could go either way. The zombies can’t eat the robots, but they can still fight them with the superpowers that they have. We’re told that this area is walled off from the rest of Battleworld and that those who are convicted of crimes against the state are sent here. So it might wind up being the story of some poor shmuck who winds up in here due to his or her bad luck as opposed to full-on robot vs. zombie action. Steve Pugh, veteran of “Animal Man” and a host of Vertigo projects, provides the art and James Robinson writes. I’m hoping that the writer will get to show off more of the “wild and crazy” persona he’s developed for his upcoming “Airboy” series.
Secret Wars Journal #2 (of 5) & Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 (of 4): In which we find out there’s a bit of a rivalry going on between these two anthologies as the former takes the time to trash talk the latter in its solicitation text. While “Journal” teases a story from Si Spurrier about Mr. Sinister’s chef Matt Murdock and his relationship with rare foods scout Collektra, “Battleworld” has a variant cover from James Stokoe featuring more Hulked-Out Heroes than you can shake a stick at. Hmmm… call it a draw for now.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #’s 1-2: In which Dan Slott gets to play around with married Peter and Mary Jane, and their daughter! Given that he’s done just about everything else to the character in his lengthy run, it shouldn’t be surprising that the writer would take a crack at writing the two as the married couple they were before their marriage was taken away by Mephisto. No diabolic intervention here -- just two people in love sticking it out through the Parker Luck.
Future Imperfect #’s 1-2: Peter David had a defining run on “The Incredible Hulk” which lasted over a hundred issues. During that time, he teamed up with artist George Perez to put out a two-part miniseries that had the Hulk journeying to a future where he had murdered every other Marvel hero to reign supreme as the Maestro. It was a great alternate-future story that has since become a much-referenced part of the character’s canon. You can pick it up in the “Hulk: The End” hardcover which collects the one-shot of the same name as well as the miniseries, or the upcoming paperback titled “Future Imperfect” which collects the same. Weird, I know.
Anyway, David is returning to that classic two-parter with this series. While a lot of the series taking place during “Secret Wars” have a kind of “greatest hits” feel to them as popular events are revisited, this has the benefit of the involvement of its original creator. I’m also getting the impression from the solicitation text that we’re going to see just what the Maestro’s rule was like, which is a welcome approach to take in going back to the well here. For this, I’m optimistic.
E Is For Extinction #1: Now this, on the other hand, is just awkward. This series is specifically evoking the Grant Morrison run on “New X-Men” only without the writer’s direct involvement. It’s written by Chris Burnham, who illustrated most of the latter half of Morrison’s run on “Batman” and his current “Nameless” series which is being serialized right now. I’ve read that Burnham has discussed some plot points with Morrison and even received his blessing. I’m not satisfied. This was a run that was defined by Morrison’s style and to have anyone besides him try and expand on it sounds like a recipe for disaster. Unless it’s revealed later on that he wrote the entire series himself using Burnham as a proxy I’ll be passing this by.
S.H.I.E.L.D. vol. 1: Perfect Bullets: In which I hope to see Mark Waid take the TV show to school in terms of how to do a proper story involving its cast. Yeah, he won’t have to worry about a budget, and has a top-notch team of illustrators in Carlos Pacheco, Humberto Ramos, Alan Davis, Chris Sprouse, Mike Choi, and Paul Renaud to give him the edge. What I’m really hoping for is that he avoids the pants-on-head dumb moments that continue to weigh the show down in its admittedly improved second season. I mean, what were the writers thinking when they came up with the “woman who has blades in her fingers” and her treatment by the organization in last week’s episode? C’mon Mark, show them how it’s done!
Hawkeye vol. 2 HC: You’ll want to keep in mind that the arrival of this volume in June is still contingent on the final issue of the series coming out before then.