While we’re still waiting to find out how the Batman/Catwoman wedding is going to go down, “X-Men: Gold” gave us a look at the kind of bait-and-switch that tends to go along with these kinds of events. The series has been building up to a Kitty Pryde/Colossus wedding for a while now and issue #30 was supposed to be where the big event happened. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that “a” wedding happened in that issue. Between a couple of characters who have had a relationship that can charitably be described as “star-crossed” if you’re familiar with how it played out in “X-Men” comics from the 90’s or even the animated series from the same era. It also turns out that the “X-Classified” series is directly tied to this event as well since “Mr. & Mrs. X” will follow the newlywed couple’s adventures.
Surprisingly this twist has apparently elicited frustration and elation in equal measure. Some are upset about the sudden nature of these developments, while others are glad to see these two finally together. Me? Let’s just say that all this brouhaha has convinced me to pick up a certain Kelly Thompson-written miniseries that will be on stands soon. I understand it might be pretty relevant to what’s been going on.
Return of Wolverine #1 (of 5): The team who killed him, writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven, are now bringing him back. Given that they made “The Death of Wolverine” a worthy (temporary) sendoff for the character, I should be excited for this. But is this something that really needed four prequel miniseries in front of it? I’m only realizing this now in retrospect, but the whole “Return of Wolverine” event has basically played out like the old “Annihilation” events in that there was an issue that kicked things off, four separate miniseries spotlighting the main players in the event and then the core miniseries itself. It made sense for “Annihilation” because the whole event was cosmic in scope with a large and diverse cast. For the “Return of Wolverine?” One of the reasons his death worked so well is because Soule and McNiven kept the scale of it small and personal for the character. Maybe they can make it happen again but the deck seems stacked against them at this point.
Thanos: Legacy #1: “Thanos Wins” is in the mail right now and the solicitation for this involves what seems like a rather tiny spoiler for it (time travel is involved). Fans of that storyline, and it sold well enough to convince me it had plenty, should know that this issue apparently acts as a bridge between that storyline and “Infinity Wars.” So it’s a continuity patch-job, but at least “Thanos Wins” writer Donny Cates is co-writing this with “Infinity Wars” mastermind Gerry Duggan so everything should flow together smoothly.
Asgardians of the Galaxy #1: The punniest title of the month, for sure. Here we have Angela, Valkyrie, Skurge the Executioner, Kevin “Thunderstrike” Masterson, Throg -- Frog of Thunder, and the unknown wielder of the Destroyer armor out to stop Nebula. Why? It turns out that the events of “Infinity Wars” left her with an Asgardian weapon powerful enough to enable the Daughter of Thanos to rule the galaxy. Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Matteo Lolli have the job of making this setup work and, given the writer’s track record, they stand a pretty good chance of it. Just don’t expect this to be your new favorite series.
Iceman #1: Uh… didn’t we have one of these last year? Wasn’t it just cancelled due to low sales? And now we’re getting a new one, because… I mean, it wasn’t even one of the cancelled Marvel series that received an Eisner nomination. It’s good that Marvel wants to give a series with a gay main character another chance, but relaunching a cancelled series within a year of its final issue with no obvious hook for it seems like a huge mistake. Were I a betting man I’d say this is one of those “stealth miniseries” that will be “cancelled” with its fifth issue.
Spidergeddon #0: The solicitation text for the prelude to this latest Spider-event wants you to know two things: One is that Sony/Insomniac’s new “Spider-Man” game comes out on September 7th. The other is that the Spider-Man from that game will also be in “Spidergeddon” starting with this issue which will show how he makes it there. This issue also calls the event the final chapter of “Spider-Verse,” which is funny because that event was pretty self-contained.
Journey Into Mystery: The Birth of Krakoa #1: This is billed as a one-shot, which wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, say, fifteen years ago. In this day and age, to solicit a one-shot completely unrelated to a current, future, or past event is just about unheard of. Maybe the “Journey Into Mystery” branding will be used in similar one-shots in the coming months. We’ll see. Anyway, Krakoa was the living island that the new X-Men team from way back in “Giant-Size X-Men #1” went to rescue the original team. It’s been back a couple times, most recently as the, uh, groundskeeper at the Jean Grey School. Now we get to find out just how it came about, courtesy of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos. Djibril Morrissette-Phan illustrates, while Dennis Hopeless writes and after his work on “All-New X-Men” and “Jean Grey” I think you can expect this to be better than you’re expecting.
X-Men: Gold & Blue #’s 36: The latest “X-Men” flagship titles reach their final issues. It’s kind of surprising since I thought they were doing well sales-wise and “Gold” was at least getting some good buzz off of the build-up to the wedding. Well, I’m not particularly sad to see “Gold” wrap up, but “Blue” was hitting its stride with the last couple of volumes. If Marvel wants to give its writer, Cullen Bunn, another shot at writing one of the flagship titles that comes after this I think they should do it. Or Dennis Hopeless since he’s deserved a shot for a while too.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #31: Poe and the rest of Black Squadron come up against the one thing they can’t overcome: Catching up to the timeline of the new “Star Wars” movies. While I’m sure sales had some say in this, the series wraps up having taken Poe and his squadmates up through the events of “The Last Jedi.” I’m sure if this was selling, say, 100k an issue Marvel would’ve had writer Charles Soule find some way to keep the pilot busy until “Episode IX” comes out in December 2019. But it wasn’t and it looks like everyone decided to call it quits here. It’s hard to feel upset about it as “Poe Dameron” was always a decent-to-good series that always felt hamstrung by the way it had to play in the rigidly defined boundaries of the current timeline. Soule’s “Darth Vader” series has shown that he can deliver better work when he’s got a wider playground to have fun in.
Hunt For Wolverine HC: Going back to talking about how this whole “Return of Wolverine” series of miniseries resembles “Annhilation,” the first “Annihilation” was collected in three paperback volumes for $25 a pop. All of the “Hunt For Wolverine” one-shots and miniseries will be collected in this volume for $50, which is a surprisingly good deal in this day and age. As for the “Return of Wolverine” miniseries itself, expect to shell out another $20 when it’s collected in paperback form.
Marvel Knights Black Widow by Grayson & Rucka: The Complete Collection: Worth mentioning because while the original miniseries from Devin Grayson & J.G. Jones, and then Grayson with Greg Rucka and Scott Hampton on art, were good the third miniseries in this new edition has never been collected before. It’s a mature-readers mini from Marvel’s MAX imprint written solely by Rucka with art from Igor Kordey that really shows what he’s capable of when he doesn’t have to churn out three issues in a month. It’s about how Yelena Belova became the successor to the Black Widow name as she traces the death of her instructor through Russia’s seedy S&M underworld. I also have it on good authority that someone may have said some very nice things about this mini back when it looked like it would be “never collected.”
Avengers by Jason Aaron vol. 1: The Final Host: Aaron finally gets his turn at the wheel of the Marvel Universe, and what does he do? Have a new team of Avengers take on a host of Celestials who have come to take Earth down for the count. That Aaron guy, he doesn’t go small for his superhero comics. And they’re all the better for it. Art for the main story is from Ed McGuinness and Paco Medina, who both know how to go big, with Sara Pichelli pitching in for the Free Comic Book Day Special.
Mutant X: The Complete Collection vol. 1: Wow. So Marvel’s determination to reprint just about everything in their back catalogue, no matter how terrible, has finally come around to this series. Its premise involved the Marvel Universe’s version of Havok being sent to a parallel one and displacing his version there. Now he’s working with a team of EVIL mutants, including his wife Madeline Pryor, to take over the world. I never read this series. What I did read, and how its awfulness was communicated to me, were the reviews of each issue from Paul O’Brien back when “The X-Axis” was its own site instead of a series of columns on his blog. According to him, it started off OK, got pretty boring and generic in the middle, and then went completely off-the-rails crazy in its final few issues. Like a roid-rage version of Captain America blowing up the moon crazy. This volume collects the first half, so I guess you’ll want to wait for the second if you’re into hatereading awful comics.