Already the end of October? Gracious! 2007 comes swiftly and although we’ll be missing our Millar Civil War fix in January, there are plenty of books coming out to dazzle and delight. A lot of stories end, some begin in big epic beginning, and a lot of promises of things ‘never being the same again’. That’s a very popular phrase these days, what with Peter Parker’s reveal, the arrival of Clor, Hulk’s departure, man… how can we possibly remember what life was like before if everything keeps changing FOREVER and the internet keeps breaking in half? Isn’t there one book that promises to give you everything you’re expecting?
On to the books! Let’s try on another list of Five for size. Three’s a heck of a lot easier but since I’ve been so under the weather and slacking on my posts for B@N here, I’m going the extra mile!
Five Best Books to Currently Confuse You – Three months is a long time and these books seem to have a huge jump between today and tomorrow. CIVIL WAR: THE RETURN In lieu of a main Civil War book this month, we get a couple of stories from Paul Jenkins that… don’t really seem to tie into one another. Then again, we are treated to a mysterious return of ‘one of Marveldom’s greatest heroes’ who’s been gone since Civil War started. Is it Thor? No, Thor’s second coming would have a little more hype machine in it. Get out your flow charts for the War at hand and figure out where a story about the Sentry’s inner demons fits in with the Walls of 42 revealing a long gone hero. BLADE #5 What’s Blade doing in a Casualties of War tie-in? And how’s he tied in to the current ‘Vendetta’ storyline? Vendetta seems to be more of a conspiracy theory as to the strings behind Civil War, and Blade’s been so far keeping to his supernatural self… putting these two together, while very cool in a ‘punching and kicking’ way, is going to be an interesting twist to say the least. GHOST RIDER FINALE This is the last issue of the 1998 run of Ghost Rider which was canceled before the end of the story could be finished. Last we saw from that series, Dan Ketch was dead. Is this just another extra bone to throw before the big dog that is the Ghost Rider movie in February or has it taken this long to get those last few pages finished? Does this mean that we’ll see Daredevil: Father #6 by the year 2013 if not this November? Have poor Ghost Rider fans been on the edge of their seat this long? Thankfully, they’re pairing #93 in there too to keep the back issue hunters at bay, as well as ‘other bonus material’. From the solicit: With Blackheart deposed, the Ghost Rider is now lord of the Nether Realm. What does he intend to do with his power? And will the other Dark Lords – like Belasco, Pluto and Hela – allow him to keep it? ULTIMATE CIVIL WAR SPIDER-HAM CRISIS (FEATURING WOLVER-HAM) #1 ‘You asked for it, you got it!’ And if we ever find you, we’re going to shake you down to find out what the hell you were thinking. JMS does a hell of a job on something with Spider-Ham. Originally a joke mentioned as an Ultimate Spider-Ham one shot, Joe Q decided what the hey, the guy thought up Gwen Stacy’s crazy love kids with Norman Osborn so we already know he’s a little off the wall. The artists, Mike Wieringo, Mike Allred, John Severin, Nick Dragotta, Ariel Olivetti and Jim Mahfood, seem like just the kind of guys you want on this ‘most important comic ever’. Most likely one of those ‘seen to be believed’ books. From the solicits: He’s Spider-Ham – and he’s about to embark a kaleidoscopic, time-spanning, universe-shifting journey that will prove just how big a pig he really is. X-MEN ANNUAL #1 Okay, this is probably just me, but how are the X-Men getting onto a SHIELD Helicarrier during the Civil War? And why is this a ‘last-ditch effort’ to restore Northstar and Aurora? I’m all for giving these guys a break considering the brainwashing issues Northstar, at least, has been having, but don’t they have a telepath named Emma Frost on their side who helped the Sentry through his own brain games? I’m not sweating it since there’s three months to figure out why, but as of now, I am well and confused why books doing so well outside of the big crossover event would venture so near. From the solicit: But a powerful enemy from the X-Men’s past has a different agenda – and his plans to hijack the Helicarrier for his own uses lead to a terrible revelation. Maybe that’s why.Five Best Books for the Novice Comic Fan – Recommending books on your New Years Resolution List? Here’s a few suggestions to steer folks in the right direction.
SPIDER-MAN AND POWER PACK #3 (of 4) Kids love Spider-Man. Kids also love anime. And who doesn’t want to think that they could have superpowers at age 9? The Power Pack mini series have been great to give parents looking for something for their son or daughter that isn’t too violent and just the right style for younger readers. This issue just so happens to have Venom on the cover as well as Spidey, sure to delight every boy and girl. From the solicits: It’s a terrifying tale sure to get your fashion sense tingling! MYTHOS: GHOST RIDER Paul Jenkins puts a lot of heart into his stories and his Mythos: Hulk story distilled the Jade Giant down to his essential parts (ironically, not really seen in his current title). As the buzz for the Ghost Rider movie gets louder and louder, people are going to be coming to the local comic shop looking for what the guy with the flaming skull is all about. Rated ‘A’, this should be well stocked for young and old alike. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #5 (of I didn’t get it at first, I admit. But this series is everything short of titled ‘Marvel Adventures: X-Men’. Have a hard time getting a book into the hands of an X-Fan from movies or cartoons? Another all ages book that fits the bill for fun adventure and characters with less of the heavy back story that comes with the Mutant Label. And how can you go wrong with a visit from the (real) God of Thunder? newuniversal #2 Sometimes the opposite happens and some folks are looking for less capes and tights and more for the human story. Heroes seems to be the talk of the town, so Warren Ellis’s revival of the New Universe should be right up the alley for those seeking something they can jump into without having to check the back issues first. Keep in mind, people have a deep rooted fear of #2 issues, but be strong True Believer. They often have more meat to their stories than the first issue and are still fine starting points. Be strong! SHE-HULK #15 Ignoring the part where SHIELD needs someone to take the Hulk’s place, it is honestly wonderful to see self-confident and strong Jen Walters through the eyes of Dan Slott. With all the charm and wit that She-Hulk comics have had since the Byrne days, Slott brings in a lot of character and balance to keep She-Hulk from being a joke and more of a premiere Marvel heroine. Seeing how the book’s taking a new turn as Shulkie: Agent of SHIELD, this could be a great jumping on point for new readers and a fine book to put into the hands of those who think female superheroes are all alike.Five Best Turns of the Hype Machine – If Marvel could hire a marching band, these are the books that would twirl batons.
MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: DARK TOWER Around a year since their first announcement, Marvel’s reminding us all of the awesome opportunity of doing a adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. With the comics due out starting in April 2006, this issue of Marvel Spotlight is getting everyone together to remind us all how much we salivated at the idea in the first place. From the solicit: We’ll talk to the creative team that will unite Marvel Comics with the concepts of one of the giants of modern fiction… IRON MAN: HYPERVELOCITY #1 (of 6) With word of the new movie in the works, not to mention the general discontent with ‘Big Bad’ Tony Stark in Civil War, what’s the best way to get readers back on your side? Explosions. Super cool sci-fi technology. And smash ‘em, big bang battles that no one could disagree with. Thanks to Adam Warren, man good for his word on hyperactive mega tech super fights, I think we’ll all be on the same side come January. Nothing like a little pocket continuity to get a refresh on a mired-in character. From the solicits: Besieged by ballistic missiles, supersonic jihadi LMDs, seductive viral avatars and cyberdrug-addled roboravers, Iron Man must push himself far beyond his technological and biological limits to survive the onslaught of ultra-tech war machinery… MOON KNIGHT #9 Honestly, I just love the guy who writes the solicits for the Moon Knight comics. They’re almost mini-stories in and of themselves. You can practically here the movie preview narrator voice in your head! From the solicits: Bodies, torn limb from limb. All for your benefit. This guy wanted your undivided attention–and he got it. Now he wants more. Now he wants your blood. You knew he was coming, but you had no idea who he was…or what he had become. He’s out of your league and you know it. You’re gonna need help, God help you. And that’s exactly what God’s gonna give you. Movie preview narrator… and wailing guitars. Rock out, dude. WOLVERINE: ORIGINS #10 I had two categories that I could have put this one in from the solicit alone, but being both the alpha and the omega for this off shoot series as well as the death of a character and the debut of another, it could only belong in Hype City. From the solicit: It all ends—and it all begins—in this issue, featuring both the death of a beloved Marvel character and the debut appearance of a new one: the son of Wolverine! X-MEN: PHOENIX – WARSONG #5 (of 5) As the Cuckoos complete their revealed secret Weapon Plus purpose, Emma Frost will make the most terrifying decision of her life this issue, which is pretty terrifying when you think about this going along at the same time as her ‘hijinks’ in Astonishing X-Men. If you think about it, terrifying sort of leaves you with the death of her favorite pupils, sort of a twist on how protective she’s been about those under her care in the past? Or maybe it’s terrifying because of some sort of terrible powers abuse, such as mindwiping the Cuckoos to forgetting about the Phoenix or taking it into herself? Or maybe she’s a Reed and Stark made clone! That’s pretty terrifying to me.Five Best Major Conclusions – You’ve read the rest, now get the best! And be sure that nothing will ever yadda yadda yadda.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #104 The end of the Ultimate Clone Saga, a story that so far as taken a huge curve into ‘Where the Hell is this going?’-ville, will end off with a battle with Doctor Octopus, a double sized issue with a $3.99 price tag and the infamous tagline of ‘nothing will ever be the same’. Which, considering Bagley’s leaving as of #110, is more true than normal. They said it couldn’t be done, but Bendis has played with fire using the Clone Saga and here is where he proves himself with the end of a generally bad idea. ULTIMATE X-MEN #78 The end of the road for another X-Man (oh, Ultimate Beast, we knew ye well), as another death hits Xavier’s bunch as Ultimate Cable continues his fight. Considering Hank’s still dead, bumping off another character is pretty threatening, but my money’s on Jean’s demise. Not only is there some irony, but considering how far her Phoenix plot has advanced, it’s about that time. RUNAWAYS #24 A conclusion that will change everything forever (as they are wont to do), we bid farewell to the men who made this book the most honest and character driven book on the stands and strap ourselves in for Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan. Will this slow to a bi-monthly title? Will little Molly Hayes become a super-soldier killing machine? Is Karolina Dean slated to go crazy and/or die? Only time will tell. So long Vaughan and Alphona, you will be missed. DAREDEVIL #93 The last issue in the “The Devil Takes a Ride” storyline, it looks like DD’s coming back to Hell’s Kitchen and everything will be going nervously back to normal between him, his position as a hero and the Kingpin. How he’s going to pull it all together is one of the things that makes Brubaker so good on this book and I, for one, can’t wait to see it. NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF H.A.T.E. #12 Why, God, why? Why is this the last issue? How could you? What am I going to tell the customers who I hooked on this book? Where will things he kicked? How will things ‘splode?Five Best Foots Forward – These are the superheroic New Year’s Babies of 2007; fresh starts and new beginnings.
EXILES #90 Hey! Chris Claremont’s back and he’s got Psylocke! Considering the funky new powers he gave her this time (her wacky brother Jamie reworked her at her resurrection to be immune to the reality-warping abilities of other beings), she’s a good fit for a reality hopping bunch. Oh, yeah, and someone wants to destroy every world in existence. Again. THUNDERBOLTS #110 Though I mourn the loss of Nextwave, I have to admit the new Thunderbolts should be an interesting replacement to say the least. The premise is weak, the villains horrible and their purpose questionable, but if anyone’s going to do this book, it’s going to be Warren Ellis. Surprisingly, it didn’t start with a new numbering, so do you think the last Thunderbolts team will transition well to the new ones? SILENT WAR #1 (of 6) Ah, the Inhumans ‘cold war’ against America gets some attention as the idea of a ‘Silent’ war is lost on Gorgon, who decides to lead a terrorist attack on New York. Not that I’m all that comfortable with the idea of ‘terrorist attacks’ on New York, but I’m rather curious about the Inhumans, who have been the target of US troops before and always seemed a little more acquiescent than openly aggressive, getting good and upset about something that rightfully belongs to them. Though… the Fantastic Four? Aren’t they more like the Fantastic One and some kids right now? Is this a slipup letting us know that Marvel’s First Family will come back home by January? WOLVERINE #50 Jeph Loeb starts here at #50 with a fan favorite, a slug out between Logan and Sabretooth. Who’s on the X-Men right now, but what can really stop the big hairy guy from going after the… smaller hairy guy. I’m not complaining. We even get a Hulk backup story to boot with Ed McGuinness. All fighting! All the time! What a way to start your run on a title! Also note: readers keep watch over any characters introduced at the start of the run as they will most likely be the villain we weren’t expecting. SQUADRON SUPREME: HYPERION VS. NIGHTHAWK #1 (of 4) Superman allegory versus Batman allegory! All over the ‘real world’ tragedy of Darfur, Africa. Yep, we’ve officially moved away from the philosophical debate of freedom vs. security using the idea of a Superhuman Registration Act to actual real world tragedies where no superheroes exist. This kind of story is tricky, as solving the issue at hand makes the real world problem seem trite while leaving it lie makes the heroes seem weak, but Marc Guggenheim is doing a pretty good job with Wolverine, so he may just have a trick up his sleeve to make it work. From the solicit: The most thought-provoking and action-packed book you’ll read all year!Five Best Hints to Kick about on the Message Boards – Nothing like Marvel’s unspoken Wait and See policy to make people on the ‘Net squirm and debate.
SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #34 Let’s hear it for blog commenters! Though I was left scratching my head, a Fifth Color reader figured out the third spotlight of Women in Peter Parker’s life would hit on Felicia Hardy. While the other issue have seemed to be described as more introspective with Aunt May and Mary Jane, this Black Cat spotlight is pure action with her getting revenge for an attack that befell Spidey by the Rhino. But since the Rhino is huge, she’s going to call in back up by the Puma, meaning she’s asking her new beau to go attack a legendary thug to avenge her old flame. Wow. FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #16 Deborah Whitman, the Vulture, Peter Parker, all of whom are upset plus Betty Brant in an unknown role. But look! The cover clearly shows Spider-Man getting his butt kicked (again) but in his original costume! Ding dong, the Iron Spider suit is dead! Short was its reign, but we all knew it was destined for the dumpster. BLACK PANTHER #24 From the solicit: With the Civil War racing toward a senses-shattering conclusion, the Black Panther and Storm pledge their allegiance to the renegade Captain America.Again, who thought Black Panther was going to choose Iron Man’s side. I mean, really? Should superhumans take refuge and asylum in Wakanda, that’s some pretty heavy mercenaries to have on your side should you want to do something on a global level. Should they know a way to counter the ‘Antarctic Vibranium’ that SHIELD has, this could be a huge turning point in the War. MARVEL TEAM-UP VOL. 4: FREEDOM RING TPB Oh man. Better people than me have summed up what’s disappointing about the Freedom Ring arc of Marvel Team-Up, and now the whole embarrassing mess is available in a collected paperback. Thrill to the short lived life of a homosexual hero with probably one of the most powerful abilities in the Marvel Universe that was pretty much used for nothing. From the solicit: An all-new hero is introduced into the Marvel Universe, but is the world ready for Freedom Ring? Apparently not. DOCTOR STRANGE: THE OATH #4 (of 5) Have you read this? Have you picked up your copy of this back to basics story featuring the Sorcerer Supreme? If people aren’t talking about this mini-series, I’m going to just have to start singing its praises from the mountain tops. Fantastic art, clever dialogue, it’s also got a better use of Night Nurse than any idea I’ve heard in years. From the solicit: Outside the hidden hospice of the vigilante caretaker known as Night Nurse, Doctor Strange takes on a terrifying new villain in the strangest battle of the Sorcerer Supreme’s career! I believe it.Five Best Books for Me to Read Before I Die – As miserable sick as I have been, it’s mostly just been annoying. But lets go with a life-threatening angle and give me something to live for!
ANNIHILATION #6 (of 6) Oh, this series is so good. Now, I’m not the best fangirl when it comes to the cosmic Marvel Universe; I couldn’t name you the Heralds of Galactus nor could I explain Infinity Watch. But if you’re willing to ask a friend or your local comic shop employee, you can enjoy the best galactic drama Marvel has seen in a long time. Breathing life into characters you’ve never heard of, bringing you to the frontline of a real space-spanning war where galaxies are at stake and boy howdy, do I believe it. This is the final issue, and my guess? Quasar is still linked to his Quantum Bands that Annihilus took from him when he ‘died’ and somehow he’s still stored in there. Never underestimate a guy named ‘Wendell’. From the solicit: Need we add that after this issue, Marvel’s cosmic landscape will never be the same? AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES II #5 & #6 (of Now, my sick little brain loves Hank Pym and nothing encapsulates why more than his freaky marriage to Janet Van Dyne. You know, where he switched personalities, kidnapped her, told her he killed himself and she said “I Do” knowing full well that Yellowjacket was Hank all along? Joe Casey’s going to take us through the issues slowly and carefully in loving detail. This is something I gotta see. MARVEL ADVENTURES THE AVENGERS #9 Considering the last issue I read had Iron Man and Spider-Man playing video games, a happy Hulk smashing things harmlessly in the middle of nowhere, a simple solution to the problem at hand, this is one of my favorite books Marvel’s putting out. Fun for kids, fun for adults looking for something classic and funny, I think it’s great. And after this cover, you should too. From the solicit: When the Avengers run up against MODOC! Do we really need to tease this plot? Just look at the picture. Oh thank you. IRON MAN: ARMOR WARS TPB Remember when Iron Man would realize that things went wrong and villains profited from his actions? And then he’d go out and do something about it? It’s hard to believe, but a lot of people don’t know about who Tony Stark is because the best of his stories happened awhile back. A lot of them (Mark Millar included I would believe) only know him from the Extremis and forward. Or only have a general knowledge from the New Avengers. Remind me to thank Marvel for reprinting in glorious trade paperback the 208 page storyline that is truly one of Iron Man’s finest moments. X-FACTOR #15 Despite it’s unusual twists and turns as of late, I am a sucker for Jamie Madrox. And the idea of the Multiple Man in the hands of super-terrorist organization Hydra is just too good to pass up. Oh, and the girls go shopping. From the solicit: Having a hard time accepting the idea of Jamie Madrox, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Actually… no. When Nick Fury was around, wouldn’t you have wanted to join up?Five Best Heavy Things – The finest in trade paperbackery.
SPIDER-MAN: DEATH OF THE STACYS PREMIERE HC In both a ‘Marvel Masterpiece’ cover and a ‘No seriously, this is a book, take me seriously’ cover, two of Spider-Man’s most personal and defining losses are now collected together for your enjoyment. From the solicit: Two of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies, Doc Ock and the Green Goblin, made comic-book history by killing the wall-crawler’s police-officer mentor, Captain Stacy, and his first true love, Gwen – events that affect the Marvel Universe to this day! GHOST RIDER: ROAD TO DAMNATION TPB The neat thing about Clayton Craine is that he made it his mission to make sure that all the lavish detail on the covers of this series matched the interior artwork and boy, did he succeed. With “a story that only Garth Ennis could tell”, this is good, gruesome fun for the Spirit of Vengeance and one more log on the Ghost Rider movie fire. Did you see the Hardcover Edition and say you were going to wait for Softcover? No excuses now! DEFENDERS: INDEFENSIBLE TPB The ‘bwahaha’-iest team of Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire bring you Marvel’s most powerful that simply can’t stand each other, but manage to come through to defeat the greater evil. Ah, if only this was an ongoing. A great story, some great artwork, no deeper themes or brick-heavy metaphors, just the good, clean fun that made these guys legends. MARVEL MASTERWORKS: ATLAS ERA HEROES VOL. 1 The start of the atomic science age, Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Heroes vol. 1 gives us a look at the growth of comic history from “Nazi-stomping super heroes” into the ’50s age of science and exploration. Reprinting comics you would have to sell your grandmother to get in readable condition, enjoy a flip through the origin of Marvel Boy and rare appearances of Human Torch, Captain America, Sub-Mariner and more. A hefty cost at $54.99, but a must for historians and the die-hard fan to spend their Christmas money on. From the solicit: …ATLAS ERA HEROES VOL. 1 is just the first peek into a historical bridge between the Golden Age and the Marvel Age of Heroes no fan should be without! FANTASTIC FOUR: BOOKS OF DOOM TPB A surprisingly good story with rather mediocre art, I would still recommend taking a peek through a handy guide to the history of Doom. Interestingly told in an interview, Ed Brubaker takes us through Doom’s early years all the way up to his takeover of Latveria, filling in a few blanks and giving the Fantastic Four’s greatest foe a dark and tragic tale to pass down through legend. From the solicit: The story of the missing years and the journey that shaped the man who would be king.The full list of January 2007 Solicitations for Marvel is this way. Do enjoy!