There’s a good piece over at “Comics Alliance” by Juliet Kahn about how Sam Wilson’s tenure as the new “Captain America” and Female Thor are essentially gimmicks that only represent the illusion of progress and will likely be reversed in two years or so. Go ahead and read it, her piece is very well thought out and positive in its outlook. What she left out, however, was that these changes don’t have to be gimmicks. There is a simple, yet extremely difficult way to ensure that Sam Wilson as “Captain America” and New Thor stick around for as long as necessary to become the defining versions of their characters.
What is this way? Get 300,000 people to start reading their ongoing titles on a regular basis. Make them the best-selling comics in the industry by a wide enough margin that Marvel will want to keep this particular change going as long as they possibly can. If they ever decide to revert back to Steve Rogers and Male Thor, then people should vote with their wallets and stop reading. If anyone wants to give this a try, consider this: It may be easier to find 300,000 people willing to promote gender and racial diversity for $8 a month than 300,000 dedicated comics readers. Something to consider.
Darth Vader #’s 1&2: Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca tackle the original Dark Lord of the Sith in the next ongoing “Star Wars” title from Marvel. I think it’s a winning combination, though, as is the case with Jason Aaron and John Cassaday on the “Star Wars” ongoing, I’d read pretty much anything from these creators. Even if they wanted to tackle something as misguided as the Xorn/Magneto mess -- except I think they’d get better mileage from a creator-owned title. In any event, I hope they stick around for a while as digging into the perspective of Vader and the Empire as they try to crush the Rebel Alliance is something that hasn’t been done to death in the comics yet.
Guardians Team-Up #’s 1&2: Years from now, after the Marvel Cinematic Universe has run its course and our sun starts to cool, comics fans will go, “Hey, did you know there was a time when there were five ongoing ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’-related comics in the Marvel Universe? That’s insane!” Of course, you can also go back in time a couple years and tell this to people reading the Abnett/Lanning run and likely get a similar reaction. Anyhow, in what is surely going to be the first title to get the axe when “Guardians” mania calms down, Bendis works with Art Adams (in the first issue -- no indication if he’ll be back for the second) to give us a “Guardians/Avengers” team-up that will likely play off the writer’s “Avengers Assemble” arc that brought the characters together as well. Let’s hope that Bendis can improve on that story, as it shouldn’t be that hard to do…
Spider-Gwen #1 & Silk #1: Hrm, how to interpret this. I’ve been aware of the very positive fan reaction to the Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman after she appeared in the “Edge of Spider-Verse” mini-series, while Silk made her debut in the “Amazing Spider-Man” ongoing as part of the “Original Sin” crossover. Given her high-profile introduction, it’s not hard to see how Silk was being positioned as a breakout character with her own ongoing title in the offing. What I find difficult to believe is that at the time this was decided, someone at Marvel went, “Hey! Why don’t we give another female Spider-person an ongoing title too!” I’m guessing that “Spider-Gwen” is the result of the company wanting to strike while the iron is hot to capitalize on the enthusiastic response the character generated. Hence, we now have two ongoing series featuring female Spider-people. I liked Silk’s introduction in “Amazing” well enough, but the energy behind Spider-Gwen is something that you don’t see much in superhero comics these days and I find myself looking forward to reading about her adventures more.
Avengers #41: Uh, that’s the cover to “Ultimates #1” from Bryan Hitch. Not an homage -- it’s the EXACT SAME COVER. What the hell? Really, the fact that Marvel is using the same cover from one title on another is more head-scratchingly interesting than the tease of another meeting between the regular and Ultimate Marvel Universes. Or, it could be a mix-up on the part of whoever is handling these solicitations.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3: Billed as “Die Hard” in Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. Written by Mark Waid. Illustrated by Alan Davis. Yeah. I’d read that.
Avengers & X-Men: Axis [and] Rage of Ultron OGN: Finally! Some pricing consistency between Marvel’s products. The “Axis” HC is billed as being $50 for 240 pages, while the “Rage of Ultron” graphic novel is $25 for 120 pages. THIS MAKES SENSE! Both are still quite pricey, but “Axis” is key to the ongoing narrative of the Marvel Universe and “Ultron” features Rick Remender teaming up with his “Uncanny X-Force” partner, the fantastic Jerome Opena. Soooooooo… I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet when these two arrive next year.
Miracleman Book 3: Olympus: In which Alan “The Original Writer” Moore wraps up his run after he reinvented the character and took superhero comics in directions that he later came to regret. How so? Mainly by demolishing London in an attempt to show what a fight between two superpowered beings would really be like. Instead of getting people to think about how the genre works, everyone has since spent the past few decades trying to top it. And you wonder why he’s so grouchy all the time. That said, the Neil Gaiman run will be kicking off now, with NEW STORIES to be had once the old stuff has been reprinted.
All-New Ultimates vol. 2: No Gods, No Masters: In which the deadliest battle of the gang war is… Wait a second, the story from the first volume is STILL GOING ON? Right. I’ll be buying this one pretty much out of an obligation to see the Ultimate Universe to its end, and to see how Giannis Milonogiannis’ comes off in his Marvel debut.
All-New X-Factor vol. 3: Axis: Speaking of seeing things through to the bitter end… Well, not really bitter per se but something that just didn’t quite capture the magic of Peter David’s original 100+ issue run on “X-Factor.” “All-New” was a nice enough change of pace, but I’m not going to mourn its passing. It kept the party going a little longer and now we’ll see if it manages to turn the lights out when it leaves in a classy manner.