Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

A Return to Physical Comics

I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a very young child. They have been such a mainstay in my life, that it’s hard to think of a life without them. Growing up, they were a refuge from bullies and a place to see characters that had become friends of a sort, offering comfort and escape from reality when I needed it. As I got older, they were a source of inspiration that I used in my own creative endeavors.

My wife says I got a lot of my morals from comic books, and I can’t disagree with her. When Spider-Man learned “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”, I took that phrase to heart. No, I’m not more special than anyone else, but I’ve always believed that if you have the opportunity and ability to help someone, you should do it.

My friends and family equate me with comic knowledge, and I wholeheartedly accept that assertion. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast last week, but I can tell you who the creative team on Superman #16 from 1986 was.

I read Marvel and DC equally over the years, with indies thrown in as time went on. From Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, to Civil War and Flashpoint, I was there for every major event. Eventually, some things changed.

First off, I had a daughter. Wouldn’t change anything about having her, but the reality of a dual income household becoming a single income with an extra boarder, made our finances change. No longer was the disposable income there for buying lots of comics. Diapers aren’t cheap!

Second, DC Comics began ‘The New 52’. They restarted everything over again after Flashpoint. What came before was no more. This was a new DC Universe. I signed up for all 52 DC series in September 2011, cautious but excited to see what we as readers were in store for.

Within 3 months, I had cancelled nearly every DC comic from my pull list. These new books didn’t ring a bell for me. They weren’t the same characters I had known for years, and my interest went away quickly. When it came time to decide to cancel my pull list entirely, I was sad. This was the first time since the 1980s I would not be buying comics. My Marvel portion of the list had been going down as well; things just weren’t interesting me like they used to. I was sad, but when the pull list was closed, I was more disappointed than anything else. That’s when I realized that I was wanting quality over quantity.

A couple of years later, I did subscribe to Marvel Unlimited. It is six months behind on issue releases and there is no ownership, but it allowed me to keep up on Marvel on a budget. Marvel had a lot of things going on, but what got my interest was Jonathan Hickman and his work on the Avengers. I went back and read his Fantastic Four and other work. I was amazed at the world building and long game he played in all his work. He was writing the kind of comics I wanted to read.

Jonathan Hickman’s talent at world building and his interest in telling long stories within his series is likely one of the reasons why Marvel hired him to orchestrate a revival of the X-Men.

I heard in 2019 Hickman had taken on the X-Men, so my interest was piqued. I read the House of X / Powers of X lead-in series and couldn’t believe it… Hickman had found a way to completely reinvent the X-Men. He had done it with the Fantastic Four; he had done it with the Avengers. I should not have been surprised. His work blew me away. I needed to get back in the normal habit of reading his work. Thus, I started a pull list again for the first time in years. All of the X-titles are on it, and Chad & Comicreaders were great in getting me caught up on the back issues I was behind on.

X of Swords is an epic in 22 parts that runs through most of the X-Men comics.

I’m getting into X of Swords, the latest X-event, and am loving it. I’ve loved each of the series to date and the entire tapestry Hickman and Co. have made is fantastic. If Marvel simply put Hickman in charge of all of their publishing, I would be a happy camper.

I’m glad to be back reading physical comics and making that trek to the comic store several times a month. It’s a good time to be an X-Men fan, and I’m loving every minute of it. (Mike Hintze)

Super Hero Squad: Infinity Sword Quest

Super Hero SquadSuper Hero Squad: Infinity Sword Quest
Marvel Comics
(w) Various
(a) Various
FC, 176 pgs, $16.99 USD

I believe many of the superhero comics published by Marvel and DC are inappropriate for young children. Violence, mature storylines, complex plots, and the occasional sexually suggestive moment make mainstream superhero comics more suitable for teens and adults. Marketing to those demographics is certainly important, but a lot of publishers have also turned their attention to a younger generation in an effort to attract new readers and develop them into long-term readers of comics. One of the ways to do this is to make available quality, age appropriate comics to the younger readers and- equally important- to their parents. While there are many excellent, highly recommended comics and graphic novels for this young demographic, very few of these are within the superhero genre. Continue reading Super Hero Squad: Infinity Sword Quest

Secret Avengers #1

Secret Avengers #1
Marvel Comics
(w) Ed Brubaker
(a) Mike Deodato
FC 32 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher In Canada

The second of Marvel’s relaunched Avenger titles debuted this week. Ed Brubaker is tackling this title instead of Brian Michael Bendis (who writes almost all the flagship Avenger titles) or even Dan Slott who was writing The Mighty Avengers before the new Heroic Age began. It seems like an odd but welcome choice.

This team of Avengers is run by Steve (formally Captain America) Rogers who is now running S.H.I.E.L.D. / H.A.M.M.E.R. or whatever they’re calling it now. Steve has put together a team of Avengers to covertly tackle various problems before they become problems. The team, it seems, will be a rotating cast of heroes depending on the mission but for starters the team is Steve, Black Widow, Valkyrie, Beast, Moon Knight, War Machine, The Irredeemable Ant Man and Nova. Ant Man seems like an odd choice considering he was just on the Thunderbolts but he kind of works here, especially given the covert mission statement.

Rogers’ organization has discovered that another Serpent Crown has been found and it’s currently in the hands of the evil corporation R.O.X.X.O.N. It’s funny how these evil corporations in comics are always dealing with things like evil magic crowns or cubes but they never seem to do something really evil like dump gillions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. I’m just saying. Apparently R.O.X.X.O.N. found the crown on Mars and there seems to trouble brewing there.

This was a pretty good first issue. I like the idea of the team but I’m always wary of Brubaker handling super-hero team books. I was never all that enthralled with his run on X-Men. Brubaker has always better with more down to Earth super-heroics (Daredevil, Captain America, I’d love to see him tackle the Punisher) but this series is intriguing enough that it might work in his favour. (Shane Hnetka)

Avengers #1

The Avengers #1
Marvel Comics
(w) Brian Michael Bendis
(a) John Romita Jr. & Klaus Janson
FC 32 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

And so Marvel moves the Marvel U. from Dark Reign to the Heroic Age. But what does that really mean? A lighter, brighter day? Or just more super-heroics? Well, it seems to mean that there’s a whole bunch of new number one’s from the look at it. And here’s the first – Brian Michael Bendis’ re-launched Avengers title. After a little over 5 years and 64 issues, I guess the New Avengers stopped being new (although there is a new New Avengers title on it’s way). Steve Rogers is now in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. / H.A.M.M.E.R. or whatever they are calling it these days and he’s put together a new team of Avengers. The team is pretty much the old New Avengers with Thor and Iron Man added to the line up.

Most of this issue is just Steve Rogers establishing the team. and then they face their first threat which seems to be Kang the Conqueror returning from the future and demanding that something must be done about the Avengers’ kids. Bendis’ fills the issue with his usual witty dialogue “Please don’t say West Coast. Please don’t say West Coast. Please don’t say West Coast.” Romita’s art – well, I’ve never been a fan of his style. Everybody looks like an aging boxer that has gone one too many rounds in the ring. That said, this was a fun read and it should be interesting to see where the Secret Avengers and the new New Avengers fit in to the new status quo. (Shane Hnetka)

Iron Man: Noir #1

Iron Man: Noir #1
Marvel Comics
(w) Scott Snyder
(a) Manuel Garcia & Lorenzo Ruggiero
FC 32 pgs w/ ads $3.99 US / Higher in Canada

I’ve been picking up all of Marvel’s Noir line since it’s inception. For the most part I’ve enjoyed the various takes different creative teams have had on popular Marvel characters. But there has been something fundamentally wrong with this line. It’s the moniker noir. The term film noir describes a large group of films, primarily crime films from the 1940’s and 50’s. The comics have tried to embrace this, X-Men: Noir, Wolverine: Noir, Luke Cage: Noir have come the closest. But being super-hero comics, their pulp origins tend to come through. Spider-Man: Noir and this comic are quite clearly more pulp influenced. There’s nothing wrong with this. I enjoy the stories all the same but at the same time, I can’t help but think that Marvel might think about a better name for the line.

As I said this comic is clearly more pulp than noir. Tony Stark is a world traveling adventurer. Complete with his own biographer for his pulp magazine stories that chronicle his various adventures, Stark and his team search the globe for artifacts that might cure his damaged heart. His current assistant, Dr. Gia Nefaria betrays him on his latest quest. (With a name like Nefaria, how could she not?) His next quest is taking him in search of Atlantis. So far Stark has had to wear any special armour but it’s only the first issue.

This is a pretty entertaining read – but it’s not noir. (Shane Hnetka)