Coming Up: Marvel Comics Due October 2010

So, do you think Marvel starts off its catalog with all the licensed junk — movies (Tron), video games (Halo), comics loosely inspired by big-name writers (The Stand), foreign imports (Soleil) — because that makes it easier to show the licensees how they’re presenting their properties? Instead of having to flip through and find the right pages, they’re up there first. And customers have to get through them to get to the good stuff.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #15

I thought the notice given to what might be Marvel’s first gay cover kiss (on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #15, as shown here, $3.99, AUG10 0549) was both sweet and sad; the former because it’s romantic, the latter because it’s a huge shame that there’s so little content for that audience that this was seized upon so greedily. Then I noticed that in print, in the catalog, the two guys were blocked and cropped out entirely under a page margin color bar. I’m curious now to see what the actual cover will look like. If Marvel’s uncomfortable with the attention, then we may never see those two sweethearts again. (Click the link for a visual example of what I’m talking about regarding the catalog.)

A couple of years ago, everyone was rushing to put President Obama on their covers or in their comics to get some undeserved attention. This year, it’s vampires, as we get the one-shot Spider-Man Vs. Vampires ($3.99, AUG10 0561) to keep the ongoing X-Men vampire storyline company. (Or, if you’re Archie, this is the year you do both.) This one guest stars Blade, of course, and it’s also a Marvel Digital reprint, repurposing their online content. Also following the trend, several books this month get “Vampire Variant Covers”. You know, I seem to remember variants, once upon a time, were a way to show another cool scene from the comic, maybe by a different artist than normally worked on the book. Now, it’s cashing in on some other fad entirely. I guess that’s just as creative, but it feels even more calculated, like it’s trying to encourage those who spend more on alternate art to chase them all. (Although the Thing as a vampire, for the second cover to Fantastic Four #584, is funny.)

Decisions, decisions. I like Greg Pak and Fred van Lente’s writing, and they’re working together on the miniseries Chaos War starting this month. But it’s some stupid mega-universe crossover, returning a character from the dead when no one believed he’d stay gone anyway, and it’s $4 an issue. Worst of all, they’re promoting this with “the shocking death of a major Marvel character”, reinforcing the revolving door nature of the whole game. So I’ll pass.

Thor and the Warriors Four Digest cover
Thor and the Warriors Four Digest
Buy this book

Instead, I’ll stick with the charming Thor: The Mighty Avenger. #5 (2.99, AUG10 0628) is offered this month, and this all-ages series has finally made the title character interesting to me. (I’m not the only one: check out this great writeup by Glen Weldon.) That’s due to the talented writing of Roger Langridge and impressive art of Chris Samnee. And there’s a cool new friend for him named Jane, a museum curator who helps Thor adjust to Earth. I’ve only managed to read the first issue so far, but I’m signed on for lots more.

Also a good idea: the Thor and the Warriors Four Digest ($9.99, AUG10 0698), featuring the kid superheroes of Power Pack teaming up with this year’s hot superhero … and don’t forget Horsey-Man Beta Ray Bill! It’s a good story with plenty of hooks, from adventure to emotional appeal.

As I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying Marvel’s Heroic Age, but I have no idea why anyone would want a bunch of number one issues from various continuing series lumped together under that title for $25. The 300-page Heroic Age collection contains the Avengers #1s along with the first issues of Age of Heroes, Heroic Age: Prince of Power, Atlas, Hawkeye & Mockingbird, and other bits and pieces. They’re all good, but few of them are satisfying stories on their own.




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