While last week, whether by design or coincidence, was a huge one for independent comics, because neither DC nor Marvel released any books. Well, the mainstream comics are back in force this week.
DC released many more than Marvel, but Marvel’s got a big one coming next week, and it’s free.
In a better-late-than-never Free Comic Book Day contribution, Marvel will offer a new X-Men story written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Pepe Larraz that will usher in a “game changing summer” for Marvel’s mutants. The comic will also contain a second story that “foreshadows” an upcoming story by Tom Taylor and Iban Coello.
There are plenty of great comics out this week, including an off-the-wall issue of the Fantastic Four with Empyre: Fantastic Four ($4.99.) It ties into the Empyre storyline that will run through the summer, which echoes the infamous Kree-Skrull War. This title is lighter fare, featuring the Fantastic First Family on a road trip in space where they get involved in galactic gambling. It’s by Dan Slott, so we know it’s good.
Skipping across the aisle, Justice League #48 ($3.99) spins a slightly similar tale about the League involving itself in interplanetary politics.
We’re used to superheroes swooping in and saving the day, but this tale questions what happens next. When they remove the ruthless ruler of a planet, who steps in? Are they going to rule the new world? Will they act as peacekeepers? Will they let the angry peasants kill the former leader?
Meanwhile, DC slowly gets closer to the Batman Joker War with Batman #94 ($4.99); the Dark Knight begins to realize that the Joker is deadly serious about causing mayhem this time around. James Tynion IV writes a pretty serious piece of fiction that includes some well-placed flashbacks to Bruce Wayne’s pre-Bat days. Artists Guillem March and Rafael Albuquerque the early days are bring some serious changes to the bat.
In Superman #23 ($3.99) writer Brian Bendis is finally acknowledging a bunch of dangling plot points and bad decisions made by the Man of Steel. In a man-to-man talk with the new Dr. Fate, Superman says he doesn’t really know why he:
+ Allowed his son to wander the universe with his newfound grandfather.
+ Never dealt with the fact that young Jon aged several years during the absence. (He never mentions that he was tortured for those years by the Earth Three versions of Superman and Wonder Woman, raising the question of whether he even knows.)
+ Admits having mixed feelings about Jon running off to join the Legion of Super Heroes in the future ten minutes after he returns home.
+ Notes that he’s not really sure why he felt the need to reveal his secret identity to the world.
None of these are really answered, but it’s nice to know that at least Bendis knows fans have been asking these questions for months.
If there was any doubt that comics are back during the Covid plague, this week’s shipment will erase them.
I can’t wait until next week when (hopefully) Marvel will be releasing a full complement of new material.
Meanwhile, if you hurry you can still score some great independent books that were released last week when Marvel and DC took a break.
This meant that the Bat-heads and Spider-freaks had nothing to read and perchance slid over to the indy rack where they would find some groovy books.
In All-America Comix #1 (Image, $3.99), America Vasquez will look familiar to Marvel readers of books featuring America Chavez, also known as Miss America. Both characters are teenage females Hispanic characters with super-strength and dimension-hopping powers, and both were created by Joe Casey. I can imagine a lot of behind-the-scenes discussions going on between Image and Marvel over the two very similar characters.
Back in the day when I was creating an invisible hero for Marvel, I was planning on calling him Nowhere Man. We had the masthead ready and I was showing it off at comic cons. This prompted an editor at Image to call and say they had already announced a spy book called Nowhere Men and asked that I change the name. I passed the buck to Marvel Editor Joe Quesada, who asked if I could change the name to keep the peace. I didn’t mind and changed it to Phantom Jack, and later on the character appeared at Image, anyway. When I switched to IDW a few years later, I called the sequel Phantom Jack: The Nowhere Man Agenda and used the name for the bad guy.
But I digress, as Peter David would say. Bottom line is the Image America is just as good as the Marvel version, which makes sense. The Image book even has an Avengers-ish team in it that interacts with the character.
And not to be outdone, Marvel is releasing its own America Chavez book this month with a new writer Kalinda Vasquez, interesting since the Image character’s name is America Vasquez.
Circles within circles.
The Image book that is going to grab everyone with a masthead of huge red letters almost three inches tall: NEGAN LIVES.
Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard are back in the Walking Dead universe with the most popular villain turned, um, nicer villain, in comics.
The one-shot issue ($4.99) is classic Kirkman and features a more subdued Negan facing new challenges. The story is stacked up like a Jenga game and I don’t want to cause an avalanche by saying too much about the plot, but it’s a must-have.
Lastly, Kirkman and Chris Samnee came out with the first two installments of their new book, Fire Power, featuring a somewhat familiar Kung Fu character with power in his fists. Iron Fist anyone?
The first is a trade paperback called Fire Power: Prelude, (Image, $9.99), a now familiar story of a guy struggling to find a mystic temple where he can learn magical martial arts from a mysterious teacher named Stick. No wait, hat’s Daredevil. Learn from a teacher named Splinter; no, that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ripping off Daredevil.
Anyway, he perfects his skills with an old martial arts master with secret superpowers.
The character is an orphan seeking the truth about his allegedly dead parents. After his training, he is attacked by a mysterious older man with great powers. Hmmm, any guesses?
That is paired with a Free Comic Book Day edition of Fire Power, which counts as the character’s first issue.
See you next week!