Monday, August 27, 2018

STAND ASIDE MANDRAKE: Marvel Reunites Earth's Best Defenders

It looks like Marvel is finally learning not to let the tail wag the dog. After a handful of double facepalm moments, like replacing the original, unbeaten Nick Fury with a more Samuel Jackson-esque movie version, the House of Ideas looks set to have comic continuity define its own path once more.

With The Defenders series uniting Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Misty Knight, Iron Fist and Luke Cage scorching up Netflix screens, it seemed that the old 'live-action rules' made a traditional Defenders reboot an impossibility.

Yet, this weekend, Marvel put the boat back in the water, by announcing the original non-team will star in a series of one-shots, in time for Christmas 2018. Yes - 2018!

This is fantastic news for these tried and tested - and often overlooked icons of Marvel's past. Especially Namor. I hated his 'death' via the Squadron Supreme.

In fact, let me be honest; despite being important enough to warrant his own cartoon in the 60's, in my opinion, there hasn't been a decent Namor the Sub-Mariner at Marvel since Ed Brubaker's seminal run on Captain America. 

His one-shot teaser art this weekend conveys a similar tone and puts the majesty, might, and arrogance of the Prince of Atlantis right back where it should've been. 

Marvel's original super-hero/amphibious tank looks re-ready for glory. And he's not the only one.

Doctor Strange looks darker than he has in a while, which ties perfectly back into the original title's rogue files of interdimensional demons and adventures (not to mention the good Doc's stint in the Midnight Sons)! 

So much so you can almost see other classic Defenders such as Hellcat, Gargoyle, Beast and Hellstrom with his flaming horse-pulled chariot, lurking in the background.

Silver Surfer's recent Mike Allred drawn run visually seemed to divorce the fan-favourite character from his butt-kicking Annihilation event-self. However, that too now looks left to the pages of the past, with a more formidable Surfer back on the cards.

Yes, while the Fantastic Four is Marvel's #1 signature of the company's love of teams built on the four elements, Bruce Banner (earth), Namor (water), Norrin Radd (air) and Stephen Strange (fire - from holding back the gates of Hell) are it's most potent.

Hopefully the books that will make for the ultimate stocking stuffer in December - Immortal Hulk: The Best Defense (W) Al Ewing (A) Simone Di Meo; Namor: The Best Defense (W) Chip Zdarsky (A) Carlos Magno; Doctor Strange: The Best Defense (W) Gerry Duggan (A) Greg Smallwood; Silver Surfer: The Best Defense (W and A) Jason Latour; and The Defenders: The Best Defense (W) Al Ewing (A) Joe Bennet - get to make for the ultimate ongoing in January.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

SWEET AS: Marvel Comics' Top 5 November 2018 Solicitations

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all of Marvel Comics November 2018 solicitations, these five picks make the 'Sweet As' grade:
Monica knows, one day Giant-Man is really going to get tired of crouching for group shots.

ONE) Marvel really needs a win with this. The X-Men need to be the X-Men again, and now that the House of Mouse essentially owns the movie rights, this revamp might actually deliver. Heck, they have the name right at least. Now a 10-part weekly adventure might be a different way to start a new UNCANNY X-MEN ongoing (and hard on the wallet), but if this X-Men Disassembled'' storyline restores Rogue, Archangel and co to glory, who are we to argue? 72 pages.

This must be a revamp, Jubilee's a firework again!
2) 'Classic Marvel' is as much defined by its villains as it is by his heroes, and few iconic foes are as underrated (or as awesome) as The Absorbing Man. In the IMMORTAL HULK #9, Carl Creel is just trying to live, and build a new life... but the Green Goliath living doesn't mix with that idea, and one of these things is going to have to die for the other to breathe...

3) While I roll my eyes at the thought of Ghost Rider in the ranks of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, I love the world-building that is going on in the pages of the AVENGERS. Namor has assembled the Defenders of the Deep, there's a new Russian Super-Soldiers, not to mention the Agents of Wakanda, the Government's gunning for them, and the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC - plus a new member! 

4) I remember in an old issue of Wizard, Mark Waid saying that when he gets writing block, he thinks of two characters who rarely share the same stage and analysing what would make the pair tick - and that that's where a lot of the great stories come from. Writer Gail Simone must be of similar thought, as in November, DOMINO comes face-to-face (or neck-to-fang) with Morbius The Living Vampire!

5) Who are the Fantastix? If this was a few years ago, I'd say it's the FF version of that Avengers team that was half X-Men a while back. However in FANTASTIC FOUR #4, it doesn't seem like that's the case. The imposters have moved into the Baxter Building, and creating a stir... my money is on H.E.R.B.I.E. being responsible - what about you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

SWEET AS: DC Comics' Top 5 November 2018 Solicitations

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all of DC Comics November 2018 solicitations, these five picks make the 'Sweet As' grade:

ONE) Writer Grant Morrison and DC Comics go together like peanut butter and jam, in fact they are better than PB&Js - even if you cut the crusts off. By giving his wild imagination, the hero whose weaponised ring pretty much turns imagination into reality, THE GREEN LANTERN #1 is a bonafide 'must read'. Intergalactic conspiracies, traitors, and the cosmic police force that is the Green Lantern Corps. 'Nuff said! 40 pages.

2) GL isn't the only icon getting a makeover at DC in November! Writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Cary Nord, start The Just War in WONDER WOMAN #58, where Ares breaks free of his prison beneath Themyscira, only to seem a new and improved 'God of War'. Myth, monsters, Terry Dodson covers and Grail - sounds like a classic run in the making.

3) Right now, the comic I'm racing to open every month isn't Superman, Justice League or Captain America - it's HAWKMAN. I can't describe how well writer  Robert Venditti and artist Bryan Hitch are working the Winged Wonder and combining all his identities across time and space. Look for more origin work to amaze in November's #6 - and The Atom!

4) Jason Blood, Spectre, Deadman... it always surprises me when people describe the DCU as "golden". Its supernatural arm is as rich as the cast of the Justice Society, and this book is set to prove it, with Lee Bermejo on pencils and Brian Azzarello at the keyboard. Oh yeah, Harley Quinn is on the cover to BATMAN: DAMNED #2 too, so I guess she's in here as well. You know, if you're a Harley fan... 48 pages.

5) I get into a crisis every time I have to choose a fighter on Mortal Kombat, but I have a low crisis threshold I'm told. In HEROES IN CRISIS #3 it's murder suspect Booster Gold vs Superman - and the match isn't as one-panel-of-heat-vision as you'd think. Secrets not yet spoiled by the net, Batman, Flash and more all cram into this Tom King written hottie, with Clay Mann doing art.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Sure, the world knows the X-Men, Justice League and the Fantastic Four etc, but what about their distinguished competition? That's why I'm counting down the Top 12 'Other' Super-Hero Teams - today, #8, Batman's own black ops crew; THE OUTSIDERS!

When a woman with a sword asks you a question, the answer is 'yes'.
THINK: Mission Impossible vs Heroes For Hire

WHY THEY'RE COOL: In the main comic universes, I hate that most new heroes aspire to join the golden ranks of The Avengers or Justice League. Who the hell wants to fit in? Who wants fame? Talk about your poison chalice. What happened to heroes who just want to do the job? The likes of Manhunter, who don't care about club benefits or rep, as long as right wins over injustice - even when the methods needed skirt around justice and the law.

The Outsiders, that's who.

That's where Batman works, and its a method he knows works. By selecting others who also seek right not the spotlight, he, Metamorpho and more, can take that approach to the back allies, shadow organisations and riots of the world. Behind the backs of the JLA and Bat-Family, where it's cool and get hits done. 

The best part about The Outsiders is all the potential the team could have, reborn in today's world of #false news, shady governments, humanitarian aid and human rights agendas/atrocities. For the team created in the 80's, their time has finally come. Katana never suited being in the Suicide Squad anyway...

STAR PLAYER: Sure Bats is cool and all, just for my money, the guy that really energises the team is Black Lightning. His bromance with Geo-Force lit up the book more than Halo, and his street-smart attitude cut through the pages slicker than Katana. Plus he had an afro and rocked a costume that never should've been replaced. Every General needs a great right-hand - if anyone's going to be that for Bats aside from Nightwing it better be Jefferson Pierce.

RECOMMENDED READING: Anything with Jim Aparo on the creative team is always worth your dosh, especially the crossover over with The New Teen Titans (Outsiders #5 / NTT #37), and Batman and The Outsiders #13, where the team discover the secret identity of their Dark Knight Detective leader, in the most unique way I've ever read... one that goes right back to the Caped Crusader's origins.