Sunday, December 15, 2019

SWEET AS: DC Comics' Top 5 March 2020 Solicitations

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all of DC Comics March 2020 solicitations (here), these five picks make the 'Sweet As' grade:

Jeremy Roberts' Aquaman - when your movie does better than 'Iron Man' you get covers like this.

ONE) I am so excited for STRANGE ADVENTURES #1 (of 12), it's hard not to rename this site after Adam Strange - my ultimate jetpack-wearing, ray-gun-blasting, sci-fi hero. The creative team behind Mister Miracle (Tom King and Mitch Gerads), pick up artist Evan “Doc” Shaner, to tell the tale of Adam and Alana, as they return to earth after helping the planet of Rann to victory in a planetary war - only to find trouble has followed them home!

Artist Jae Lee masters Wonder Woman subliminally auditioning for the X-Men.
2) Also in March, DC offers a whole bunch of key Justice League #1 reprints, from the team's 60-year history. While this list even includes JLA #1, the ultimate issue to hurdle your nana for - is JLA: YEAR ONE #1 by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, and Barry Kitson. It's got aliens, Black Canary, Hal Jordan and Aquaman - and if there was any actual justice, it would be the team's only #1 you would ever need to keep in mind.

3) Does anyone care that Hawkman had his 80th anniversary, with no acknowledgement at all? Just to rub salt in the wound, one of DC's other heroic bird dudes gets the ROBIN 80TH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR, with the publisher emptying their rolodex onto the book's creative team. Each Boy Wonder gets his own feature, with writers including Marv Wolfman, Chuck Dixon and Tom King, backed up by Tom Grummett (YES!), Scott McDaniel, Andy Kubert and more on art.

4) I can't write the above and not give a prop to HAWKMAN #22. Here, Hawkwoman (yes, she's back), Atom and Adam Strange try sending the murderous past-life the Batman Who Laughs has brought out in Hawkman, back to the end of the queue. With Carter Hall reincarnating endlessly until he's atoned for all the lives he took in his past, can the team stop Sky Tyrant from sending the tally in the opposite direction?

5) You know the book is going to be good, when the plot's one of those 'why hasn't anyone thought of this before' kind of moments. In BATMAN/SUPERMAN #8, writer Joshua Williamson has General Zod seek to resurrect his fellow Kryptonians in the Bottle City of Kandor, by using the Lazarus Pits of Ra’s al Ghul! Only Ra's isn't in the sharing mood. Not only does he have a league of assassins at his side, but the World's Finest also have to stop their super-foe-feud AND face a horde of Kandorian zombies. I mean how can you turn this stuff down?

Sunday, October 27, 2019

SWEET AS: Marvel Comics' Top 5 January 2020 Solicitations

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all of Marvel Comics' January 2019 solicitations (here), these five picks make the 'Sweet As' grade:

ONE) If there's a Marvel book you should be reading (outside Immortal Hulk and the X-relaunch), it's Daredevil. Kingpin is starting to realise as Mayor his rage still can't be denied, and Matt is realising he can't walk away from the Devil either. The woman helping him navigate the road to Hell('s Kitchen) paved with good intentions? Elektra. Even including Spider-Man to Punisher, Chip Zdarsky's work here has been criminal, DAREDEVIL #16 being exhibit 'A' in January.

2) THE Iron Man event of the year launches in January. When Arno Stark first appeared as Iron Man 2020 in Machine Man in 1984, he seemed very futuristic - evil, but futuristic. Now 2020 has rolled round, he's just evil, and the only Iron Man around.. or is he? IRON MAN 2020 #1 (of 6) sees the war for robot rights ignite!

3) Hulk, Namor, Dr Strange and Silver Surfer - the original Defenders are all riding high right now, so when is Marvel going to bite the bullet and give the original non-team their own book back? In January, TAROT #1 (of 4) from writer/variant cover artist Alan Davis debuts, with The Avengers mixing it up with the Defenders of old, over Namor's recovered memories from WWII. 40pgs.

4) At the end of House of X / Power of X, it was revealed Mystique's hopes of bringing Destiny back from the dead were being falsely cultivated in return for her services because a reborn Destiny would poke holes in the new cover story mutantkind is presenting to the world. How long will it take for Mystique to figure things out? Bookies favour January's X-MEN #6.

5) It's official. WTF is now WTH - as in 'What The Hulk?!' Writer Al Ewing and artist Joe Bennett have made this series one of "I didn't see that coming" moments, horror, hope and Joe Fixit - who was always of the best personalities leftover in the fractured psyche of Bruce Banner. In January's IMMORTAL HULK #29, Kirby-esque monsters are ravaging Phoenix, Arizona. Without a hero to call their own, they're about to find a friend in a 'monster' of their own. HULK SMASH!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

MAKE NO SUDDEN MOVES: Force Works Part of Iron Man 2020 Event

U.S.Agent, the Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman, Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man better get ready. According to a breakdown in the spin-off titles involved in next year’s Iron Man 2020 limited series, one of them is Force Works. 

Iron Man 2020 is a Marvel event launching in January 2020, where Arno Stark dons Iron Man armour and in fitting with his legacy, becomes a corrosive force against freedom.

One of my favourite runs as a comic collector, was Avengers West Coast (oddly enough, my first issue of which included Iron Man 2020), through into the team’s decision to step to the side and cast their own shadow as the Iron Man-funded, proactive global defence force; Force Works.

Thanks to the Scarlet Witch’s hex magic, the team was able to maximise Iron Man’s technological resources to predict chaos across the globe and intervene before the crisis started. Plus, as effectively the 'X-Force' of the Avengers world, this mighty militia had the best ‘almost members’ too, such as Hawkeye, Black Widow and War Machine.

True, it might be a revival in name only, however, from Agent and Cybermancer to Dreamguard and Century, the original team aren't exactly booked up at the moment, and they have the added plus of having already helped stave off one evil Tony Stark (cough) The Crossing (end cough).

While no creative teams have yet been announced, it wouldn’t be out of the question for original writers, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning to return, post making Guardians of the Galaxy a movie ready comic-book. Force Works 2020 #1 and Machine Man 2020 #1 are due out in Feb. Watch this space.

Monday, October 21, 2019

TRADING POST: Reviewing As Many Retro Comics As $3.99 Will Buy

More places on earth need to sell secondhand comics. Each month, I go back-issue bin diving and see how many comics I can grab, with no more than the cost of a modern comic to spend. Then once I've devoured the four-colour goodness (or not-so-goodness as the case may be) I review it online. For October 2019 my $3.99(US) haul looks like this;

X-FACTOR #1 This comic is one of those "I've always wanted to own" jobbies, but until now I've never had the chance. I mean, it's the first issue of the FIRST EVER X-Men spin-off title right? Like it's not a comic must-have on that point alone, uniting the original X-Men - including the then-recently reborn Jean Grey, after her death in the Phoenix Saga.

Sadly, after reading this double-sized issue, it was better living in mystery. Now that's nothing against Jackson Guice, who draws the bejeebers out of this issue. In fact, it is great seeing Beast look like his classic self again under his pen.

It's just the twist of the team reforming under the cover of mutant investigators, consistently plays second-fiddle to the love dramas of Cyclops in 37 pages of drawn-out set-up around a 3-page battle.

It is also frustrating that Ice-Man and Beast get bugger all to do, and struggle saving half a dozen men on a construction site 'without Cyclops' leadership' when alone they've faced much worse - heck one was even an Avenger. They make similar remarks multiple times and it is just B.S. 

I was a HUGE fan of The Defenders. When that book ended and Angel, Ice-Man and Beast walked their separate ways, I thought when they inevitably landed back under the X-umbrella, they would still be treated as heavy-hitters. However, sadly this is the Cyclops show, and him chucking his wife and kid at short notice to catch up with his reborn ex-on the sly, is all the book really wants to tell us. Maybe that's why its called X-Factor.

In terms of 'X-Factor', this issue has little. Maybe if it took its name from the debut of Rusty inside, then it actually might do what it says on the tin. *****

SUPERMAN #164, 177, 181 Ed McGuinness maybe a Marvel artist now, but his DC days are still my favourite (except possibly his Deadpool run), and few DC dudes did he draw better, than Superman. His east meets west art style just suits the DC-verse more, especially the Man of Steel, Bizarro, and the manga-ised revamped Metallo going head to head with the Toyman, as he draws in these issues.

#164 sees Superman watch in disbelief as Luthor looks set to be voted in as American President (unknowingly foreshadowing the disbelief the world had at the last US elections) while Supergirl and Jimmy Olsen try to survive Bizarro. #177 is the ultimate manga tribute with the Toyman battle mentioned above and the biggest Pok√©mon homage ever. #181 sees Bizarro and Kal-El wake-up in each others body, which spells a headache for Lois and the JLA.

This is the key to what made Ed's run on this book with writer Jeph Loeb, so successful. These issues are light, fun and done-in-one stories that still tie into a larger plot from issue to issue. Too many comics now require a commitment of a six-month spend in order to get just one story. We need to be easier on newcomers, and fans on budgets (which is all of us) - and nothing can do that better than single-issue Superman stories, that show that anything and everything can happen around the Last Son of Krypton. *****