While I’m still concerned about how they’re going to incorporate so many characters into a single, long-ish movie, I think this is a pretty good trailer for Avengers: Infinity War…

The release of Avengers: Infinity War has been brought forward, to April 27th, 2018.

Marvel Graphic Novel Catch-Up: Fearless Defenders, Avengers, and Thor


Three new Marvel NOW collections that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I had my doubts about the new re-launch/re-boot, but I have actually rather enjoyed the stories themselves (despite, sometimes, only have movie knowledge to get me situated…).

Reviewed: Avengers, Fearless Defenders, Thor: God of Thunder

FEARLESS DEFENDERS, Vol.1 – “Doom Maidens”

FearlessDefenders-Vol.01Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist: Will Sliney | Colors: Veronica Gandini

New team! New villains! New creators!Valkyrie and Misty Knight are the Fearless Defenders, and not since Power Man and Iron Fist has an unlikely duo kicked this much – well, you know.

Collects: Fearless Defenders #1-6

Cullen Bunn offers up  an all-female team of super-heroines, with a distinctly mythological slant. The story is fun and quirky, with Bunn’s signature, gentle humour often on display – witty asides, amusing narrative moments, and pretty great characterisation. I wasn’t wholly gripped, as I have been with some of his other work (The Sixth Gun remains one of my favourite series of all time). The artwork is good, sometimes a little exaggerated (think Marvel in the 1990s, perhaps). There’s some darkness in the story, too, which offered a nice balance to the levity, although I think I would have preferred to see that a little more developed. By the end, I thought I knew the characters rather well, but that the story had been a bit thin.

It was recently announced, I think, that this is being cancelled. That’s a pity, as I think this could have grown into something pretty cool, if given time. I’ll certainly be reading the remaining issues, though.


AVENGERS, Vol.1 – “Avengers World”

Avengers-Vol.01Writer: Jonathan Hickman | Artist: Jerome Opeña (#1-3), Adam Kubert (#4-6) | Colors: Dean White, Justin Ponsor, Morry Hollowell, Frank Martin, Richard Isanove (#1-3), Frank D’Armata (#4), Frank Martin (#5-6)

The greatest heroes in comics together on one unbeatable team! The Avengers “go large”, expanding their roster and their sphere of influence to a global and even interplanetary level. When Captain America puts out his call – who will answer? Big threats, big ideas, big idealism – these are the Avengers NOW!

Collects: Avengers #1-6

Captain America and Iron Man are rebuilding the Avengers. They’re using a more sophisticated organisational model, this time (it’s not as dull to read about as that sounds…). Meanwhile, Ex Nihilo, Abyss and Aleph have been terra-forming Mars and lobbing “evolution bombs” at Earth, re-writing Evolution. As you do. And, collaterally, killing whole bunches of people all over the world. Naturally, this irks the Avengers. After the core Avengers team confronted them at the start, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor and Hawkeye are held captive by these new baddies. Ex Nihilo likes to monologue. Cap is sent back to Earth to “bring everyone”. And then… We get one of the most anti-climactic conclusions in issue/chapter 3. It’s a total deus-ex-machina, couldn’t-be-bothered moment. Sadly fails to deliver, and I felt rather disappointed.


Recruiting, Avengers-Style

The second story in the book looks at the clean-up after the evolution bombs, from different perspectives, coupled with the backgrounds of some newer Avengers recruits (new for me, at any rate). First, Hyperion (a rather emo-God-type from another dimension, who seems to miss his former station on his world). Second, Smasher (a female “guardian”, or “subguardian” – basically, a Green Lantern with cool tech, a mask instead of a ring, and attached to the Shi’ar Empire, rather than the, uh, Guardians…). And third, Captain Universe (who appears to be a god… or perhaps the origin of all things… It’s not entirely clear…).


Three Moments of Levity: Bruce Banner explains himself (top), Thor confuses Tony (bottom, left),
and Thor is unimpressed by puny human’s idea of “Godlike”…

Overall, though, this isn’t a bad start to the new Avengers series. There’s a lot of rather cryptic information. Certainly, the Avengers are going Bigger. Hopefully it won’t become too silly in the future, but I am looking forward to reading Vol.2, “The White Event”. The artwork is pretty fantastic, too. Lots of great detail, rich colors, and it really pops throughout.


ThorGodOfThunder-Vol.01Thor: God of Thunder, Vol.1 – “The God Butcher”

Writer: Jason Aaron | Artist: Esad Ribic | Colors: Dean White (#1), Ive Svorcina (#2-5)

Throughout the ages, gods have been vanishing, their mortal worshippers left in chaos. Now, Thor follows a trail of blood that threatens to consume his past, present and future. The only hope for these ravaged worlds is for Thor to unravel the gruesome mystery of the God Butcher!

In the distant past, Thor follows the bloody wake of murdered gods across the depths of space. In the present, the Thunder God discovers a forgotten cave that echoes with the cries of tortured gods… and is shocked to find himself among them! And thousands of years from now, the last god-king of a ruined Asgard makes his final stand against the God Butcher’s beserker legions. As three Thors from three eras race to stop the God Butcher, the full extent of his vicious scheme takes terrifying shape!

Collects: Thor – God of Thunder #1-5

Another great start to a new Marvel NOW series. This is the first Thor solo series I’ve ever read, and I think Aaron does a great job of offering a starting point – given that the story hops between three times (past, present, and very far future), there’s no need to be greatly versed in the Thor mythology (Norse or Marvel’s). We see the character develop a bit, and a millennia-long struggle against the God Butcher, who – true to his name – has been working his way through the various pantheons of the universe, culling the numbers of deities. Thor, the only one to give him much of a challenge, has been chosen as the Last, in order that he sees his fellow gods killed, one-by-one.

It’s a solid story, and I’m certainly going to try to stick with the series for a little while. The writing is great, the story and artwork complement each other brilliantly, too. Definitely recommend this one to anyone who either likes the character already, or wants somewhere to jump on.


Wait, Marvel’s rolling out what, now…? (This is not a joke, but it reads like one)

AllNewMarvelNow-LogoNot so long ago, Marvel unrolled its not-a-reboot-honest Marvel NOW initiative. In their latest move of re-branding (or added-branding?), the company announced today that in December we will see… All-New Marvel NOW! I find this rather funny. Is this the “and a cherry on top” approach to branding? And I now wonder how long it will be before we see “Ultimate Marvel NOW!”…? Naturally, I meet this announcement with some mockery and sarcasm, but believe it comes from a place of endearment.

Here’s what the press release had to say about it…

“This Winter, the Marvel Universe heads in an exciting all-new direction, as the industry’s top creators like Brian Michael Bendis, Rick Remender, Dan Slott, Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen & more,  join the top Super Heroes – Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine and other Marvel heroes – to deliver  the best comics on the market with all-new ongoing series, AND must-read .NOW entry #1 issues for all readers!”

Avengers-24.NowThis new initiative will start in December, when Avengers #24.NOW (which is Avengers #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!), which is helmed by Jonathan Hickman (Infinity, Avengers) and Esad Ribic (Thor: God Of Thunder, Uncanny X-Force). This issue, the release say, will lead the Marvel Universe in “a bold new direction”. At least one new series will be launched every week. The publisher is going for “unique mission statements, epic scales, and bigger conflicts than ever before” in their new series. I hope this doesn’t mean story is going to take a back-seat to pyrotechnics – at least keep it a little bit more Bruckheimer and less Bay, ok? Judging by the synopsis (brief as it is), I may not get my wish. In Avengers #24.NOW,  the Avengers team must re-assemble like never before after the devastating events of Infinity. In the wake of that game-changer (and the endless, previous game-changers)…

“As a rogue planet hurtles towards Earth, only the mightier-than-ever Avengers can prevent the annihilation of two worlds!”

Hm. Rogue planet. Riiiight…

AllNewInvaders-01In January, ANMN (sorry, I feel silly writing the full title) heads “to the battlefront” with James Robinson and Steve Pugh’s All-New Invaders #1. Robinson, the Eisner Award-Winning writer of (among others) Starman and Earth 2 recently exited his roles and series for DC Comics as part of the (now-well-documented) editorial issues facing Marvel’s number one rival. Steve Pugh has come to prominence for his work on Animal Man (talented fellow). This series actually sounds pretty cool, and I’m looking forward to seeing Robinson et al meet expectations:

“Brothers-in-arms Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Namor, and the Original Human Torch re-band for an all-new, all-different kind of war! But when the Kree Empire discovers a way to weaponize Norse Gods, can these timeless allies survive the deadly cosmic trenches?”

Inhuman-01Also in early 2014, Marvel’s new initiative will be asking, “Are You Inhuman?” (This necessitated a lot of “teasing-but-not-compelling” images that simply had “Is he?” and “Are they?” written on smokey backgrounds…)

This third series, Inhuman, will be written by Matt Fraction (the writer of the incredible, near-perfect Hawkeye) and artist Joe Madureira (Avenging Spider-Man, Savage Wolverine – let’s skip over the fact that Madureira’s name is misspelled in the press-release). Fraction’s involvement makes my ears and interest prick up, certainly, so I am sure I’ll be reading at least the first story-arc. The series “thrust[s] the Inhumans into the spotlight as the newest power players in the entire Marvel Universe.” Showing my ignorance, I have no idea who the “Inhumans” are (or what makes them different to mutants), or what this is all about. Inhumans also unfolds in the wake of the cataclysmic Infinity event, as new Inhumans spring up around the globe forcing the once-secret society out into civilization:

“With Avengers-level powers and abilities, will they chose to stand with Earth’s Mightiest… or against them? As the chaos consumes the globe, discover the fate of King Black Bolt and his royal family as the world becomes Inhuman!”

I have no idea what this means for any of the old Marvel NOW titles. This endless re-branding, though, makes me concerned about following Marvel’s titles. Coupled with the flurry of cross-over events, I’m just not that interested to fork out quite as much money as would be needed to keep all the stories straight. And also because, thus-far, I haven’t been too impressed by the Events, all of which have fallen a bit flat towards the end, and not delivered on the over-hyped promise. At the moment, I’m only following three of the newer series: the aforementioned, awesome Hawkeye, and also Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (really like Miles’s story), and Ultimate Comics X-Men (rather enjoying this, too). I also recently picked up the rest of the pre-Marvel NOW X-Men series (another ComiXology sale), because I like the characters.

[And hey, CBR regurgitated the whole press-release, hyperbole and all! Seriously? No commentary?]

Marvel Events: “House of M” & “Secret Invasion”


Another dual-review, this time for two Marvel Events. I’m always wary of Marvel Events – they have a tendency to disappoint or prove a little pointless for those who are not devouring most/all of Marvel’s ever-expanding line of titles. The end of Avengers vs. X-Men at least had the benefit of shrinking their overall line, at least. It doesn’t appear that any of the big events that came before did. (I’d still like to read Siege, I think…)

Both of these two titles were included in a Marvel sale on ComiXology (which is pretty much the only way I buy Marvel titles, now, actually), so buying them and catching up with this Marvel backstory didn’t prove too costly. One of the titles was very good (much better than expected, certainly), and one just mediocre (and just a little bit of a struggle to keep reading)…


HOUSE OF M (2005)

HouseOfM-TPBWriter: Brian Michael Bendis | Artist: Olivier Coipel | Inks: Tim Townsend, Rick Magyar, Scott Hanna, John Dell | Colors: Frank D’Armata, Paul Mounts

The Avengers and the X-Men are faced with a common foe that becomes their greatest threat: Wanda Maximoff! The Scarlet Witch is out of control, and the fate of the entire world is in her hands. Will Magneto help his daughter or use her powers to his own benefit? Starring the Astonishing X-Men and the New Avengers! You know how sometimes you hear the phrase: and nothing will ever be the same again? Well, this time believe it, buster! Nothing will ever be the same again!

Collects: House of M #1-8

The book starts with Wanda Maximoff, also known as “The Scarlet Witch”, in a happy setting. Sadly, as Professor Xavier wheels in, we learn that it is not real – rather, a manifestation of Wanda’s power to bend and alter reality at will. What makes her power so deadly, though, is her mental instability. She’s clearly been spiraling into a much worse state, which forces the Avengers and X-Men to meet to discuss what is to be done about her. Some call for her termination, others call for restraint and understanding. A compromise is reached: they will go to the devastated land of Genosha to assess her state of mind, despite neither Prof X nor Dr. Strange able to help her retain (or, perhaps more accurately, attain) a grip on reality.


At the end of the first issue, Spidey walks off and wakes up… Only, nothing he sees is the same as it was… For one thing, there are a lot more apparent-mutants, too: they’re pretty much everywhere. They seem to be as numerous as humans, if not more so (later, it becomes clearer).

There are a number of funny moments in the book, too – not laugh-out-loud funny, but at least enough to make me chuckle. Here, for example, is Kitty Pryde, teaching a history class: “Who was the first mutant?” she asks her class. “And don’t say Moses or Jesus. I’m talking officially.”

Over the course the series, we are taken through this new reality for all the key players (too many to go through individually in a review, though). It’s pretty good, actually, and Bendis has chosen very well for most of the characters.

The spanner is thrown into the works, though, after Wolverine wakes up and knows something ain’t right… As Wolverine remembers his entire life in the “real” Marvel reality/timeline, he starts to seriously freak out. In a stroke of bonkers logic, he decides to launch himself off the Avengers’ Helicarrier… He flees from his former team-mates on the “Red Guard” (an elite S.H.I.E.L.D. unit), and gets scooped up and taken in front of the Human Resistance. And so begins his recruitment drive, collecting mutants and others to his side, as he realizes what Wanda’s done: given mutants what they always wanted, acceptance and a place in the world.


The chapters have a brief prose intro that is rather info-dumpy (I read this as individual issues, so I’m not sure if this is the case in the collected book). This is also probably because there were a lot of tie-in issues across Marvel’s titles at the time, all of which fed into and effected what happened in this book. I wasn’t prepared to buy and read them all, though (even with comiXology’s 99c sale).

In the sixth issue, we get this statement from Cyclops:

“I’ve – uh – I’ve been team leader of the X-Men since I was a teenager… And in that entire time, I’ve prided myself on my tactical restraint. Taking a moral high ground where violence is concerned.”

This from the mutant who will bring the world and community of mutants and super-heroes into a war so costly and devastating, that it will forever mess up the Marvel universe. What difference a couple of years make, huh?

At the end, we learn of what really happened, wrapping things up rather nicely. But then Wanda says those now-immortal words that forever changed the Marvel Universe…


After the pleasantly strong start, the book maintained its quality and pace. The artwork is also excellent throughout. Although, in an unusual twist: while the women are the comic-book ideal, it is the men who look deformed, as if their all suffering some steroidal gigantism. Sometimes, in the less-sharp or more-busy panels, it looks really wrong… On the whole, though, it was quite well realised on the page. Some of the pages were a touch too busy, which could make them unclear, and a handful of panels were sadly indecipherable. This didn’t have much of a negative impact on the book, however, as Bendis’s writing was strong and quite gripping.

This book was, therefore, much better than I had expected. I’m always wary of the Marvel Events, but this was well-written and fun. I would certainly recommend this to fans of any/all Marvel titles.



SecretInvasion-TPBWriter: Brian Michael Bendis | Artist: Leinil Francis Yu | Inks: Miles Morales | Colors: Laura Martin

SECRET INVASION IS HERE The shape-shifting alien race known as the Skrulls has secretly infiltrated every super-powered organization on Earth with one goal – full-scale invasion In this collected edition, page-after-page unveils reveal-after-reveal and shocking moment-after-shocking-moment Brian Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu leap off the pages of mega-hit New Avengers and deliver a story that will change the Marvel Universe forever.

Collects: Secret Invasion #1-8

This ‘Event’ collection was a bit of a disappointment. I read it after House of M, and only because I rather enjoyed that book. Something about the rapid-fire dialogue made me wonder if Bendis had been watching a lot of The West Wing in the run-up to writing this. Sadly, though, the dialogue in here has nothing on Sorkin’s style, and instead just felt choppy and rushed.

The story in general felt simplistic, overloaded with telling-rather-than showing (which has been a frequent complaint of mine lately, I know). The book then becomes a riotous mess. I had a vague inkling of who the Skrull were, but had difficulty following what was going on and, as a result, never really came to care.

I would not recommend this to people who haven’t been following the overall, web-like Marvel chronology and story. There are a lot of hints and allusions to what has come before, but without knowing much of the back-story, I imagine I missed a lot. I include myself in that group. I was lost and, despite Yu’s excellent artwork, ultimately bored.

Upcoming: “Avengers: Endless Wartime” (Marvel)


This is just a badass image. One of my favourite, recent pieces

In October 2013, Marvel will be releasing the first in a new series of original graphic novels. For those of us who tend to wait for collected editions of the monthly series, this is a great development. We’ll get a decent, “movie-length epic” (according to the press release). Here’s the premise for the first book, Avengers: Endless Wartime:

An abomination, long thought buried, has resurfaced in a war-torn land – but now it wears an American flag. Faced with another nightmare reborn, Captain America will not stand for yet more death at the hands of a ghost from his past. Haunted by his greatest shame, Thor must renew the hunt for a familiar beast. Side by side with the great Super Heroes the world has seen, united to end the threats no one of them could face alone, the Avengers will stare down the greatest threat the team has ever faced. But is even their combined might enough to overcome a force of pure evil?

So, that’s a little vague, but couple this synopsis, the title, the fact that it’s written by Warren Ellis, and also the cover (below), and I think this is going to be pretty awesome. “Chart-topping” artist Mike McKone is providing the illustrations and, while I don’t recall reading any of his work previously, the preview pages suggest an interesting, attractive and clean art-style for the book.


Warren Ellis, whose recent novel Gun Machine has received rave reviews for all corners of the reviewing public, had this to say on the project:

“When Marvel asked me to help re-launch their original graphic novel line, I had to say yes. Their total commitment, from story to design, made it a project I wanted to be part of.”

The graphic novel is bookended by an introduction from Clark Gregg, better known as fan-favourite character Agent Phil Coulson from The Avengers (and other Marvel Studios movies). There will also be an afterword from Stan Lee, who is one of the co-creators of the Avengers.


There’s something about Captain America’s character that really
lends itself to moody, cinematic shots.

Avengers: Endless Wartime will also be released simultaneously worldwide in North America, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Brazil, Finland and Turkey. Every international edition will be translated into each their respective nation’s primary language. Which is a pretty cool initiative, and something that should be encouraged. (This is apparently the first time this will be done.)

And, finally, and as-normal-for-Marvel, the graphic novel will also include a free code for a bonus, digital edition of the book, redeemable through the Marvel Comics App and online in the Marvel Digital Comics Shop.

I’m really looking forward to trying this out. Roll on October.