So there’s a lot of first-issues hitting the market these days. And I mean a lot. Let’s take a look at just the ones I took home with me last week alone, and see what rises to the top.
(There was one more number-one I would definitely have picked up, by the way, Bendis’ new INVINCIBLE IRON MAN series, but by the time I got to my shop this weekend we were already sold out. Which, speaking as a comics retailer, considering sold-out books are always a good thing, sort of already makes INVINCIBLE IRON MAN my favorite from a strictly mercenary, commercial point of view. But I digress.)
Technically, AVENGERS #0 isn’t quite a first-issue, more of a preamble for the new upcoming Avengers franchise books, some of which seem much more promising than others. The most powerful and disturbing of the stories here is a Vision and Scarlet Witch story from Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar, the team behind the upcoming ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS. As a kid brought up on the Vision/Scarlet Witch romance, the tale told here is a heartbreaker; hopefully Waid has plans to follow up on it in his new series.
Speaking of Waid, this companion series to his and Fiona Staples’ outstanding ARCHIE relaunch doesn’t quite meet its standard, which admittedly is a little unfair. JUGHEAD #1 never really seems to come together, introducing a new principal as a foil for Jughead in order to give the famously lethargic and gluttonous Mr. Jones something to struggle against, namely inferior cafeteria food. It’s fun, but ultimately a little empty.
NEW AVENGERS #1 from Al Ewing and Gerardo Sandoval has the most out-there concept of the new Avengers books. Here former Avenger and New Mutant Sunspot has taken over the super-scientific villain organization Advanced Idea Mechanics, with his own accompanying Avengers team made up mostly of castoffs from other teams like the Young Avengers and the Thunderbolts, and Hawkeye thrown in as a sort of SHIELD-assigned adult chaperone. Not my favorite mix of characters and it feels like a waste of Hawkeye, but I’ll check it out for a while and see where it goes.
UNCANNY AVENGERS carries over some of its plot from the previous series, with a Steve Rogers-led team of humans and mutants working together, now with new recruits Brother Voodoo, Quicksilver, the Human Torch and most surprisingly of all, Deadpool. The art by Ryan Stegman is a bit of a liability here; while he’d be great on a sci-fi or monster book, something more grotesque that would be a fit for his unique style, here all the Avengers continually look contorted and practically emaciated. But the real problem here is something I’m noticing across a lot of these books: 90-year-old “Grumpy Old Man” Steve Rogers. Thanks to the Marvel movies and the charismatic Chris Evans, Steve Rogers is a more popular character than he has ever been, and what does Marvel give us? Not the handsome, humble, sincere ass-kicker new readers see from the films, but a crotchety, unfriendly scarecrow who doesn’t remotely act like Steve Rogers. If the notion of Deadpool as an Avenger holds interest for you, this could be going places. But as an Avengers book, it’s got me a little worried.
And on the subject of Grumpy Steve, he also makes a brief appearance in SAM WILSON: CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, by Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna. This got off to a good start, grounding the former Falcon’s adventures as Cap in a political flavor that has always worked well with the character; as I reminded people when the Fox News types began attacking this storyline (without reading it or appreciating the historical context, of course), back in the 1970s, Captain America was fighting Richard Nixon, so using Cap to explore politics of the day is nothing new. So here we have Sam going it alone as Cap, with no government or SHIELD backup, with the help of two creations of my favorite CAP writer, Mark Gruenwald: the Captain America hotline, to let people who need his help contact him, and the return of Dennis Dunphy, aka D-Man, one of Cap’s former sidekicks from the ‘90s. This was good stuff.
What a pleasant surprise this was. LOIS AND CLARK #1 brings us the return of the married Superman and Lois from the post-Crisis DC Universe, where it’s revealed that they somehow made their way to today’s New 52 DC Earth, and have been living in secret, doing what they do: namely, journalism and saving people. Really good work from writer Dan Jurgens and artist Lee Weeks. This was like visiting old friends.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 from Bendis and Valerio Schiti brought back the Guardians team from their last series, but with two new members: Ben Grimm and Kitty Pryde, with Kitty now serving as the new Star-Lord in place of her boyfriend Peter Quill, who’s off ruling his father’s galactic empire, and not enjoying it one bit. As a longtime fan of Ben Grimm and Kitty Pryde, it’s great to see them get the spotlight here in an all-new environment. I think this is going to be a lot of fun.
This new miniseries from Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke takes its time getting going with its tale of a mysterious glowing orb that shows up off the shore of a little beachside town, but with art by Cooke, you never mind the slower pace one bit. My shop manager Harley remarked that it has a DOCTOR WHO feel to it, and she’s spot-on. Looking forward to the next issue.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1? The biggest surprise of the week for me, by far. The whole notion of “Peter Parker as Tony Stark” seems so far removed from the everyman, “Hard-Luck Parker” quality that’s so integral to Spider-Man, I just couldn’t see how it could work. But Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli pull it off, introducing us to a globetrotting Peter Parker at the helm of his own multinational high-tech corporation, complete with “official bodyguard” Spider-Man tooling around Shanghai behind the wheel of his all-new Spider-Mobile, with Mockingbird riding shotgun. It’s like no Spider-Man I’ve ever read and it can’t possibly last, but man, was it a lot of fun. Definitely check it out.