Walking into the local Borders bookstore, I noticed that the rack by the front is already starting to stock Christmas cards. This surprised me as much as seeing the latest and (as always) greatest next event brewing on the horizon for the Marvel U. Remember, Dark Reign is supposed to be over by the end of the year, so let pick up a pack of Santas and go look at the end of a banner title.
Oh, Dark Reign! How will miss you! Your only vaguely reasonable introduction brought us a bevy of brand new teams that make me ponder when Force Works is going to pop up next. You dismantled SHIELD in favor of his own private army ‘HAMMER’, an acronym that not only hasn’t been explained, but hasn’t really done much when you think of all those ‘dark’ superhero teams at Osborn’s disposal. And they haven’t really done much when you consider that Clint Barton ran amuck through Osborn’s hand-picked Avengers team in their own base until he got to the God of War. And Ares.
Really, what has Osborn done for us besides hand out frustration and stalemates and have to use a crappy acronym like GRANPA for a global supernatural/superhuman monitoring organization (like the Weird Happenings Organization wasn’t doing anything)? He’s been a fantastic and obnoxiously unbeatable object of hate, a red-haired target for all our heroes as he held are the cards. Perhaps Spaceballs was right, perhaps evil will always triumph because good is dumb.
Which brings us to SIEGE: THE CABAL! That’s right! When the heroes can’t be bothered to mop up the super-villainy in town, leave it to the nature of a group of super-villains to implode upon themselves. From the very start, the Cabal was pretty much ready to draw its own battle lines and now that Loki’s got his/her hooks in the Hood, Namor has Emma and a possibly not-so-forgotten allegiance with Doom, the Siege honestly couldn’t get here soon enough. We’ll get a free program to the Real Event with ORIGINS OF SIEGE, an interesting and bold move by giving the proper spotlight to AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE and it’s own one-shot SIEGE: THE CABAL which will cost you money.
$3.99 to be precise, along with 50 other titles, not including the licensed products or the ones that go over to the $4.99/$5.99 side of things. A quick scroll-through shows that most of these books average out at 32 pages, some more, some sadly less. Dan Buckley was very firm at Comic Con this year saying that he was the Decider when it came to issue’s price points, so we know where this all is coming from, but still not the why. It’s not page count, as SPIDER-MAN & THE SECRET WARS #1 (of 4) costs the same as AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #616, both coming in at 32 pages. It’s not limited series versus regular ongoing status as seen above either; I could see a limited series being more ‘rare’ like a Pokemon card and requiring more money to get it, but that’s neither here nor there and it’s a terrible metaphor. So, we’ll have to leave some questions be, like what is love and why Doom is raising two teams of super-villainy for two distinct projects.
Over in Jeph Loeb’s happy place, World War Hulks is going to start just you wait. Despite my recollections of this big even starting at the end of this year, all four Hulk-related titles (that’s HULK #18, FALL OF THE HULKS ALPHA, FALL OF THE HULKS GAMMA and INCREDIBLE HULK #605 for those of you keeping score) threaten the outbreak of the biggest Nerds vs. Jocks battle in history (led by Doctor Doom who- really, that’s gotta be a Doombot), but won’t get down to business until next year.
Strangely, HULK: WINTER GUARD has a ‘Hulk’ at the start of it but doesn’t really seem to deal with ol’ Jade Jaws himself: “Hot on the heels of their acclaimed series ‘High Moon’, David Gallaher and Steve Ellis unite to reveal the secrets behind Russia’s elite superhuman strike force! Red Guardian, Crimson Dynamo, Ursa Major & Darkstar — As the Winter Guard, they have sworn to protect the people of Russia. But, who will protect them when The Presence’s schemes threaten to claim one of their own?” This is a cool story and I’ll hate myself for picking it up (56 pages, a reprint for #3.99, oy), but did they really need to tack the ‘Hulk’ on there?
So, remember when I said that Disney took all their popular female heroines and have them their own licencing deal? Ladies and gents, BLACK WIDOW & THE MARVEL GIRLS #1 & 2! YAY! Ok, not t-shirts or direct-to-DVD movies yet, but this is a fine idea that I will be excited to see come Christmas time. Looks to be ongoing, looks to be written by Paul Tobin and looks to be kind of awesome: “She’s the most efficient spy in the world and one of the world’s deadliest women, but before there was ever a Black Widow, there was the Red Room, a brutal KGB training ground for assassins, undercover agents, and the most ruthless of spies. Now, tasked with removing a rogue weapon’s dealer from an impregnable safe house, the Black Widow remembers her escape from the Red Room training facility, an escape only made possible with the aid of the most unlikely of allies, the Asgardian sorceress known as Amora…the Enchantress.” Her second issue even teams her up with the Wasp, so mark your calenders for a bi-weekly, 32 page adventure for $2.99. BUCKLEY!!!!
There’s a lot going on this holiday season from the House of Ideas; the Punisher is joining the Legion of Monsters, Nation X is getting their own soap operatic tale not handled by Matt Fraction, as he’s busy with a bi-weekly Uncanny X-Men and the little bit fo the Void trapped in Emma’s skull. Some stocking stuffer What If?s will arrive, from the super cool (WHAT IF? DAREDEVIL VS. ELEKTRA) to the ‘didn’t I buy this before?’ (WHAT IF? WORLD WAR HULK).
A very important and pre-orderable ED HANNIGAN: COVERED arrives to not only show us a rare glimpse at Marvel’s art direction and incredible covers in the late 70’s-early 80’s, but also helps the Hero Initiative help out the man who gave us all these images in the first place, Ed Hannigan himself.
There’s the book you can get for that Brian Michael Bendis in your life, the BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS: 10 YEARS AT MARVEL TPB and the book that should be under everyone’s tree, the THOR: AGES OF THUNDER TPB. Like I said, something for everyone! Go check out the list yourself make that Christmas checklist twice!
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