“Avengers vs. X-Men” wraps up this month. It’s hard to be invested in it right now as many are already talking about Marvel’s publishing plans in the aftermath. With Bendis leaving “Avengers,” Hickman leaving “Fantastic Four,” and Fraction rumored to be leaving “Thor” and “Invincible Iron Man” that leaves a lot of the company’s core titles and characters up for grabs. Naturally the wrap-up of “AvX” is going to act as a springboard for a lot of these transitions, but it’s hard to get excited about the finale as we don’t know what it’s going to lead to. Plus, there’s the fact that I’m already talking about it as a cog in the company’s publishing plan rather than a story in and of itself. Of course, if the Kieron Gillen on “Iron Man” rumor turns out to be true, that should be something to look forward to. Even with Greg Land doing the art.
Avengers vs. X-Men HC: It has occurred to me that the parts of these write-ups where I debate about buying something may be the least interesting thing in them. However, this one actually made me think about it. I will be buying this since I’m committed to following the ongoing narrative of the Marvel Universe, in so much as such a thing exists. It’s also a huge and pricey collection as it encompassess the main series (issues 0-12), all six of the “AvX” spinoff, and a couple of the “Infinite” issues from the web at $75. Then it occurred to me that as I also read most of the tie-in series, both “Avengers” titles, “Uncanny” and “Wolverine/X-Men” (well, the latter once it hits softcover) they’ll be issued in hardcover at the time this comes out. Sooooooo... why not just wait until everything is in softcover and buy it then. Your mileage may vary, but is this really THAT important?
Castle: Richard Castle’s Storm Season HC: Derrick Storm is hired to bug an African head-of-state’s hotel room and things go hilariously awry! Well, maybe not “hilariously,” but the first volume kept tongue firmly in cheek for most of its length so I’m expecting lots of funny business with the occasional dramatic moment as Storm also stumbles onto an international conspiracy in the process. Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick return as writers while art comes from Emanuela Lupacchino of “X-Factor” fame. Lupacchino has a great, clean style that’s appealingly expressive, so I’m betting that she’ll be a great fit for the material. Of course, whether or not you get to read my review of this will likely depend on whether or not my dad wants to shell out the money to read it himself first.
Daredevil vol. 3 HC & Punisher vol. 2: This is more of a PSA, but in case anyone was wondering how these titles would be collecting the three-part “Omega Effect” crossover that ran between them and “Avenging Spider-Man” we now have an answer. All three issues will be in each of these collections. That’s nice of them, even if there is going to be some redundancy for people like me who will be buying both (at some point).
Avenging Spider-Man: My Friends Can Beat Up Your Friends: So Joe Madureira came back to comics for just three issues? Well, at least they were all on time. It’s also more than Todd McFarlane has done in... forever, so I guess he deserves credit for that. The other two issues here have art by Greg Land and Lenil Yu, while the whole collection is written by Zeb Wells. I’m mentioning them in the off case that someone was going to pick this up for a reason other than Madureira’s involvement.
Winter Soldier vol. 1: The Longest Winter: I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about how Bucky has been characterized over the last several volumes of “Captain America.” He saw Brubaker’s treatment of the character as proof that the man wasn’t cut out for the title role, which was borne out in his “death” during “Fear Itself.” I can concede that makes a certain amount of sense, but to have the character and most of his supporting cast routinely outsmarted by their antagonists still makes them feel like fools in my opinion. (The discussion itself ended in a stalemate when we had to get back to our real jobs.) Anyway, the end result is that Bucky is now an undercover free agent as the Winter Soldier and is now out to right more of the wrongs he committed while mind-controlled by Russian intelligence. It sounds like a nice setup for international espionage by way of the Marvel Universe, though the story is going to have to be REALLY good -- like “Sleeper” good -- if Brubaker is going to have his protagonist get his ass handed to him again.
Wolverine and The X-Men vol. 1: This is in the bag. Unless my willpower fails me assuming I find this at Comic-Con for 50% off. Then you’ll just read the review sooner.
Journey Into Mystery vol. 3: The Terrorism Myth: Three volumes in two months?! Thanks!
Secret Avengers: Run The Mission, Don’t Get Seen, Save The World: Another PSA for those of you who were waiting to read this great collection in softcover.
Fear Itself: Invincible Iron Man & Uncanny X-Men: The train of collected editions from last year’s crossover rolls on. “Iron Man” should be a particularly interesting read since not only was Matt Fraction the writer of “Fear Itself,” but the series is also coming off of its worst volume (and one of the worst reads of the year) in “Unfixable.” It’ll be hard for this volume not to improve over that, so the question is whether or not it’ll improve to the point where it’ll be a good read. “Uncanny’s” crossover contribution is a riff on the “nothing can stop the Juggernaut” setup that has since led into Colossus inheriting the character’s powers. It also features the “final” issue of the series before it was relaunched a month later. Cynicism aside, Kieron Gillen has yet to disappoint me so this should still be a great read. Of course, Greg Land is still providing the art...
Punisher MAX (vol. 4): Homeless: Jason Aaron’s run on the title wraps up with this volume. Quite definitively from what I hear. Though Garth Ennis take is still the definitive “mature readers” version of the character, Aaron still managed to make his run unique by incorporating characters from the Marvel Universe (Kingpin, Bullseye and now Elektra) and showing how they could function as believable characters divorced of their superhero trappings. It’s been good reading, if a little unsubtle at times, and the wrap-up should be something to look forward to.