New year, new title.
X-Men by Gerry Duggan vol. 1
This month it was less a question of if I was going to pick an “X-Men” book than what “X-Men” book I was going to pick. The first volume of the latest “X-Men” series is arguably a safe choice, but it still has some intriguing unknowns to it. First and foremost being whether or not new writer Gerry Duggan has a plan for his run. The solicitation text tells us to expect the likes of the High Evolutionary, Dr. Stasis, Cordyceps Jones, the Headless Horseman, and Captain Krakoa as potential antagonists in this volume alone, which is an eclectic mix of new and old threats. Then you’ve got the team itself which is made up of expected members like Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Wolverine, and Rogue, along with new members Polaris, Synch, and Sunfire. All of this does not give me a clear idea of what to expect from Duggan’s first volume and, as I’ve said before, that’s actually a plus. Except for Pepe Larraz and Javier Pina, who are providing the art for this first volume. Those two I know I can expect great things from.
X Lives of Wolverine #’s 1&2 (of 5)/X Deaths of Wolverine #’s 1&2 (of 5): Well, if the bifurcated miniseries approach worked for “X-Men,” then there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for its most popular member. This is being masterminded by current “Wolverine” and “X-Force” writer Benjamin Percy with Joshua Cassara illustrating “Lives” and Federico Vicentini doing “Deaths.” As to what this is actually going to be about, the solicitation text makes it sound like Percy is going to be doing the same kind of past/present/future setup that defined “House of X” and “Powers of X.” Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. I’ll be picking this up eventually because I’m a big Wolverine fan, and this is being positioned as a major storyline for the character. I’d be more excited for it if Percy had been doing better work on his current titles. What he’s doing is fine, it’s just not quite good enough to get me to buy them in print.
Devil’s Reign: X-Men #1 (of 3): The Daredevil-centric “Devil’s Reign” event is getting more tie-ins, and this one looks to be more high profile than most. That’s because it’s coming from aforementioned “X-Men” writer Gerry Duggan and frequent collaborator Phil Noto. The setup sounds like an interesting retcon as we’re promised the secret history between Emma Frost and Wilson Fisk. I’m not aware of them having any kind of history before now, but it makes a certain amount of sense that they would have some kind of shady dealings in the past. As this is only a three-issue miniseries, I’ll likely be checking it out on Marvel Unlimited as opposed to waiting for it to be collected alongside another random “Devil’s Reign” tie-in.
Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 (of 5): J.M. DeMatteis, one of the people who wrote “Spider-Man” comics during the days of the 90’s-era “Clone Saga,” is joined by artist David Baldeon for some untold tales of the adventures of Ben Reilly during that time. You know, we’re not even a month into the return of Reilly as Spider-Man and I’m still a little shocked that it’s happening. Turning him into a villain/antihero during “The Clone Conspiracy” made sense since that was still feeding off of lingering animosity towards the character and the storyline he was involved with. Yet now we’re doing an unironic take on the character as a hero who has properly assumed the mantle of Spider-Man? It honestly kind of blows my mind. Checking out his tenure on “Amazing” is still on my “To Do” list once those issues start hitting Marvel Unlimited, because they’ve thrown a lot of talent I like at that title.
She-Hulk #1: You know what I’ve missed seeing in Marvel Comics for the last few years? Jennifer Walters as She-Hulk. Not a savage version of the character, a sensational one. The good news is that’s the version writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Roge Antonio are looking to bring back for this series. Super hero-lawyering and all… eventually I hope. The solicitation text makes it clear that Jen has a life and career to rebuild after these last few years and that’s very understandable. Though I don’t have any familiarity with Rowell’s writing, she presided over a run on “Runaways” that was almost as long as original writer Brian K. Vaughan’s, which is a pretty impressive achievement given everyone else who tried to follow in his stead.
Sabretooth #1 (of 5): He was cast into the Pit during the course of “House of X” and that’s where he’s been for a few years now. I thought that he’d find his way out during “Inferno,” but the setup for this miniseries implies that I’m wrong. We’re about to find out what he’s been doing down there, and if he’s really been alone all this time. Victor Lavalle, who is described as an “award winning novelist,” writes this miniseries while seasoned veteran Leonard Kirk does the dirty business of showing us just what Victor Creed has been up to.
Fantastic Four: Reckoning War Alpha #1: Dan Slott has had the idea for the “Reckoning War” for a while now. Fifteen years according to the solicitation text. As for what it’s about, nothing less than the First War. Before the Kree, Skrull, or Shi’Ar Empires. Before the emergence of Galactus and the birth of Asgard, there was a war that consumed the entire multiverse. Now, it has been reignited and only the Fantastic Four, the Unseen, the Silver Surfer, and… Jack of Hearts(?) stand in the way of annihilation. Sounds epic, if nothing else. Fortunately I’ve still got enough faith in Slott that he’s got something interesting planned for this since the setup so far sounds like a whole lot of flash without a solid hook behind it.
Marauders Annual #1: Okay, so it looks like the series is continuing. We’ll just have to wait until next month to see if they do it with or without a renumbering. Steve Orlando takes over for Gerry Duggan while Crees Lee illustrates this issue. Kate Pryde and Bishop are still on the team, while the cover implies Psylocke and Daken will be joining the cast. The latter of which will have to do so after he’s been rescued by the crew from Brimstone Love and his Theater of Pain, who have set up in the backyard of the old Xavier School. Orlando is a writer who I’ve heard a lot of good things about, but haven’t really made it around to checking out what he’s written. Looks like I’ll finally be doing that with his latest series.
X-Men: The Trial of Magneto: Is it an “X-Men” event series? Or is it the last arc of “X-Factor?” Or is it both?! None of these questions are key to the central plot of this miniseries, which sees the Master of Magnetism on trial for breaking one of Krakoa’s sacred laws: Murder no Man. The (wo)man in question is none other than his former daughter, Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. The Scarlet Witch. Did he do it? Almost certainly not, since he’s the prime suspect and there’s always some kind of twist in these stories. Still, I don’t think this will stop Magneto from making everyone’s life difficult as they try to get to the bottom of what actually happened. “X-Factor” writer Leah Williams and artist Lucas Werneck will be handling the arraignment and everything after. Also, while we’re on the subject of stories with obvious twists in them…
The Death of Doctor Strange: I still don’t think this is about the doctor’s actual death. The death of his physical body, maybe. The death of his actual spirit? Fuhgeddaboudit. Still, I’m kind of curious to see what kind of twist that writer Jed McKay has planned for this series, and to see how the very capable Lee Garbett goes about illustrating it.
Marauders by Gerry Duggan vol. 4: In my review of vol. 3, I noted that the series was still fun, but it had settled into a kind of formula. For his final volume, Duggan looks to shake up that formula by having the Marauders head off to the place that no one was expecting them to: SPACE! Oh, and Fin Fang Foom is in this one too, so it’s anyone’s guess how he’ll be worked into the plot. Matteo Lolli, Phil Noto, Klaus Janson, and Ivan Fiorelli handle the art as Duggan calls it a day on the high seas.