The word around town is that Marvel’s latest revamp is not a revamp. Confused? Well, the idea is that the company wants to get back-to-basics with a lot of their characters much in the same way that DC did to much success with “Rebirth.” Not only can you expect to see more classic iterations of characters -- working alongside their “legacy” counterparts, which Marvel is turning into its own thing with the “Generations” one-offs -- but a lot of titles will be resuming their original numbering as well. After reaching an anniversary issue so that they can capitalize on that particular sales boost, of course.
Before that, the company has to get through “Secret Empire.” Its latest event lumbers through these solicitations with two more issues in the core miniseries solicited alongside a host of tie-in issues and miniseries. With the zero issue due to hit stands soon, previews have been making their way to news sites and what they’ve revealed about the story has been… disturbing. Apparently WWII didn’t end the way we thought it did thanks to the use of a Cosmic Cube. However, the actual truth is really goddamn depressing and throws a giant wrench into the concept of the Marvel Universe being “the world outside your window.” I’d be more upset about this if it weren’t for the fact that this also reads like a giant swerve designed to get the reader to think the worst about the story before doubling back to reveal that actual inspiring, reassuring truth by the end. Which, now that I think about it, does kind of line up perfectly with the company’s “not a revamp” revamp.
Edge of Venomverse #1 (of 5): Remember “Spider-Verse” from a few years back? That was the “Spider-Man” event that had Peter Parker teaming up with Every Spider-Man Ever to fight some really uninteresting bad guys. Well, now Venom is getting the same treatment with this new lead-in minseries that posits the question of what would happen if X-23 was Venom-ized. Maybe not quite “Spider-Gwen” but this mini has four more issues to see if lightning can strike twice in that regard.
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #1: For all of you who couldn’t stand the “Parker as CEO” status quo over in “Amazing,” here’s what’s billed as a back-to-basics approach for the character. Granted, not much is said about said approach than the fact that he’ll be going back to his old neighborhood to fight foes old and new. It does, however, have a solid creative team in the form of writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Adam Kubert. Maybe not an essential read, even if the idea of seeing Kubert draw Spider-Man and his rogues gallery (on an irregular basis after the first arc, of course) does have its own appeal.
Defenders #1: Sooooo everyone knows that there’s going to be a “Defenders” series on Neflix later this year that brings together the principal characters from all of the other Marvel shows on the streaming service, right? Well, here’s the new comic they’re launching to tie into that series. It’s written by Bendis, and while his output has been… uneven as of late, he has extensive experience writing three of the four principal characters here. Those being Dardevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. He’s also written Iron Fist as well, but usually only in a supporting capacity. Maybe he’ll show us what he can do with the character here. “Defenders” will be illustrated by David Marquez, who has collaborated a lot with the writer over the years and shown that he can deliver quality work every time even when the script isn’t quite up to par.
The Vision: Director’s Cut #1 (of 6): How acclaimed was Tom King and Gabriel Walta’s series about the synthezoid Avenger? So acclaimed that it’s getting a “Director’s Cut” that reprints two issues at a time with special extras. While some of these “extras” are decidedly standard issue (script excerpts, sketches) one of them happens to be King’s original series pitch. These things are always interesting to read because of the insight the provide into the creation of a series and to see what winds up being changed in the final product. That alone won’t get me to re-buy this series, which I thought was somewhat overrated, but if you’re interested in checking this series out and haven’t got to it yet… then you should skip these reprints and wait for the inevitable “Director’s Cut Hardcover” collecting everything that will no doubt be solicited down the line.
Darth Vader #’s 1&2: After Gillen and Larroca’s excellent take on the character which detailed his personal journey between Episodes IV and V, you’d think that any writer would hesitate at the thought of following that series up. Most writers aren’t Charles Soule, who has made it clear through his work that he loves a challenge. This is the guy who gave us “The Death of Wolverine” and its fallout, and tried to get people to care about “The Inhumans.” He’s at least taking a different approach with this series, which follows Vader in the wake of Episode III and will show us how he built his reputation as the Emperor’s most feared enforcer. It’s not a bad approach and I’m curious to see how artist Giuseppe Camuncoli -- best known for his work on “Amazing Spider-Man” for the past few years, but is also someone who worked on “Hellblazer” for a good long while -- handles the character here too.
Inhumans vs. X-Men HC: Exactly what it says on the cover. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem picking up the latest “X-Men” event in hardcover. The problem here is twofold in the fact that the seven issues here, said to total a little over two hundred pages, will set a dedicated reader back $50. Which is too damn much when I’m not as invested in the story as something like “Secret Wars” which was better value too. The other problem is that the “Death of X” prelude to the event was kind of terrible. While I’m very invested in the ongoing narrative of Marvel’s Merry Mutants, it’s not to the point that I’ll be rushing to pick this up before it hits paperback or if I can find it at a deep discount (digitally or otherwise).
U.S.Avengers vol. 1: American Intelligence Mechanics: Despite it’s title, this is basically a direct follow-up to Al Ewing’s “New Avengers” series. Whose latest volume still stands as the best Marvel comic I’ve read so far this year. Now working for the U.S.A. (Or is he?) Roberto DaCosta looks to defend our country from corporate takeover by the Golden Skull with… well-fitting tuxedos? Compared to the wild ride of Ewing’s “New Avengers” that actually doesn’t sound completely ridiculous. Neither does the promise of “Dedd-Puul, The Mercenary That Walks Like a Man.” All of this just makes me want to read this volume as soon as it comes out!
The Punisher vol. 2: End of the Line: It’s a sadly apt title, given that it contains the last issue of comics Steve Dillon illustrated before he passed away unexpectedly last year. That’s reason enough for me to pick it up even though I was underwhelmed by the story in the previous volume. If it does wind up getting better here, then that’ll be another reason to appreciate the man.
Amazing Spider-Man: Worldwide vol. 6: Stuart Immonen joins the series as the new artist while Dan Slott finally lets us in on what Norman Osborn has been up to since the end of “Superior Spider-Man.” As it turns out, he’s worked his way into a position of power in the nation of Symkaria. This means that any effort by Spidey to take him down will be perceived as an act of war. In an interesting turn, this arc also has a formal title: “The Osborn Identity.” Which does seem kind of plain if we’re talking about Norman’s identity issues between himself and the Green Goblin given that… Wait a second… “OsBORN Identity?” GOD DAMN IT DAN SLOTT!!! I finally got the joke and it is TERRIBLE! I hope you’re proud of yourself because that’s some first-degree PUNishment you’ve inflicted on me here!