The Fifth Color - Forward into the Past: Marvel in Aug '10

The Heroic Age is here, every one! Hoorah! Siege is over, the great event Seven Years in the Making has reached its last chapter and we stand in May on the crossroads. Behind us, we can see a different Marvel Universe, full of doubt and fears. Heroes were in hiding, the Avengers were villains, it was madness, my friends. But now, ahead of us is this all new age (a Heroic one, you could say) and as prices average to $3.99 a comic, the iPad gives you access to digital content, movie studios and comic company walking hand and hand... a new age is indeed upon us.

So let's think to the future without forgetting where we came from; from darkness, the True Believer will emerge unscathed and approach the future facing front, chin held high, excel-

Wait. The Women of Marvel alternate cover for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #640 features the Black Cat and MJ in a cute T-shirt? Mary Jane doesn't love Spider-Man anymore. I thought we were through with this, Marvel? You can't sweep the marriage under the rug and then use her to promote a man you untied her to!! No! This is an outrage! This is just rubbing our noses in the Mephisto deal and I won't stand for it! Angry letters at the ready! Open weeping in the streets on standby! BAAAW-

*achem* My apologies. Excelsior.

So August is all part of the big change into the Heroic Age as by now, most of the settling in is done, new books are getting into the groove and yes, some small event books are getting their big kick off just in time for the end of summer. And as the dying of the Summer Sun fades into the chill of Fall, I just gotta say it's a good time to be Blade. Marvel's vampire-hunting Daywalker is coming back as you might imagine, the Curse of the Mutants bringing vampires and mutants together. Blade's going to have his own one-shot for that, X-MEN: CURSE OF THE MUTANTS – BLADE #1, but the smart bet is that he might hang out for a bit through the storyline. I mean, he's a great resource when fighting vampires, you're not going to let him just come in, swings some swords and walk away until the vampire threat is no more.

Blade will also be appearing in SPITFIRE #1 as Paul Cornell brings back a Captain Britain and MI:13 character to celebrate Women in Marvel. A spectacular choice (though a Faiza Hussain/Excalibur one-shot would have been a bit more daring), she fits in with the vampire chic and can provide another big promotion of her old book. Captain Britain and MI:13 was a fantastic title I hated to see go and as some smart cookies in the blogosphere have noted, you can cameo your characters in other books and see if that leads to a new title. It worked for Agents of Atlas!

And on that positive note, it's time to address a problem. At first it was funny, then it was kind of snide and then it got to be too much. Now we seriously have to stop it. DEADPOOL #1000 is eight shades of ridiculous.   Now, it's an anthology with some amazing creators (Dave Lapham, Peter Bagge, Howard Chaykin, Fred Van Lente, the list goes on), a cover by Dave Johnson and it's a 104-pages of Deadpool fighting stupid and ridiculous things for $4.99. But come on! How many times do we have to do this? How many games and festivals can Caligula have before we realize he's a terrible Caesar? How many of these books are going to come out until Deadpool just isn't cool anymore?

On the other hand... DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #890 makes a pretty convincing argument in the other direction. It, too, is an anthology with a different writer and artist team each time and has Deadpool fighting stupid and ridiculous things. But it's only $2.99 and has the benefit of a guest-star. This month it's Machine Man, so it'll be irreverent assassin and irreverent robot fighting each other most likely until they do as it says on the cover of the book. And to think, if they has split up that #1000 issue into four Deadpool Team-Up issues...

In other not-Deadpool news, ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #6 ends one storyline while ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 3 #1 will be starting a new one. I don't know about you, but it's hard to explain this new numbering system to some customers. This looks like structuring for the trade, so each six-issue storyline can be easily collected and, perhaps read on its own? But from what I've read, I'm sure someone picking it up for the first time might have a bunch of questions as to who these people are. In fact, a longer running series encourages people to pick up more comics; Mark Millar's a popular guy and needs to have more comics on the market. If someone reads #6 in a 6-issue mini-series, they can be done. If they read the last part of a story arc and then are offered #7 that starts a new story, I think we can get behind that.

So while i complain about Ultimate Comics Avengers being a little gun shy when it comes to continually numbering their comics, ULTIMATE COMICS MYSTERY #2 (of 4) is coming out and I'm OK with that. Sure, it's the dead center of three, four issue mini-series that tell a larger story afoot in the Ultimate Universe, but it seems to make more sense: it's a overarcing story that pulls in a lot of characters who don't have their own books or have one but want to continue their own narrative. So this can exist in orbit around the Ultimate Universe without throwing off the groove of their main titles. Or, main title.

And speaking of Spider-Man under our breath, back in the ol' 616 universe he's about to have his life changed ... FOREVER!! The solicitation for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #640 & #641 reads:

How did the world REALLY forget Peter Parker was Spider-Man? And what does the future hold for Peter & Mary Jane? Every question is answered, the past laid to rest, and Spider-Man swings into a new direction for the future!

NEW DIRECTION? How? Why? Is the direction we're going in the wrong way? Were the fanboy tears too much? And honestly, this is comics: the past WILL NEVER be laid to rest. All I hope is that enough questions will be answered that no one will pester Joe Q again and we can just Superman Red/Blue this one under the rug. The deal is done, you either live with it or you don't. I think the Spidey Trust has done some fun work in their time since Brand New Day, as much as any writer could have. Where in Aunt May's name could we be going now?

If the four extra covers per issue have anything to say about it, I'd say that Spidey was going to marry Deadpool.

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL #4 comes to an end... as much as Spider-Girl book can ever end. Which is ironic because SPIDER-GIRL: THE END! #1 is coming out in the same month! Much like the The End series of yore, Spider-Girl is really truly going to try and wrap up her stories once and for all. Or at least in a What If?, Uatu's-watching style because I really can't believe anything can stop Mayday Parker from getting her own book now and again. And that's okay.

Before we go further, I just wanted to take a moment and totally apologise for thinking that "Avengers Prime" was a nickname for the 'main' Avengers book. Avengers Prime is another book. So let's recap: Avengers (the 'Adjectiveless' or 'A-Vengers' title), Secret Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Academy, Avengers Prime. This month Avengers: the Origin ends and Avengers: Children's Crusade will be bi-monthly. That's a lot of Avenging.

Oh and hey, Camel? See if you can't fit one more straw on that back: AVENGERS & THE INFINITY GAUNTLET #1 (of 4). It's a mini, outside of continuity and by Atomic Robo's Brian Clevenger, so I can't complain too much. Let's just hope that all the X-Men teams don't get Avengers membership as well....

YOW! Five new mini-series for Shadowland! Let's hope they don't all come out in the same week. For the full story of Daredevil's dark descent you'll be getting the Shadowland title, Daredevil (obviously), then Bullseye, Moon Knight, Power Man, Blood on the Streets (with a new team of Silver Sable, Paladin, Misty Knight and the Shroud?) and Colleen Wing's Daughters of the Shadow. I'm sad that Misty and Colleen won't be NightWing Investigations, but it's interesting how Marvel wants to stop the Event Comic tredmill and then BOOM. Shadowland. I guess if you're not into Daredevil, you could ignore it but that's the same as the X-Men, so ... is Daredevil his own franchise? More importantly, is he an Avenger?

In more general Daredevil news, he'll be getting his own black and white 'magazine'-style comic with DAREDEVIL: BLACK & WHITE #1. Personally, I'm a big fan of these; the Mystic Hands of Doctor Strange, the Savage Axe of Ares, these are very cool and a nice taste of the character through some quick shorts.

You know who's make a great magazine? The Punisher. A bunch of short stories in gritty black and white, 32 pages in different styles and stories for around $3.99. Sounds reasonable, right? We should have something to read besides Punisher MAX and ... Franken-Castle. But, instead, we'll be getting MARVEL UNIVERSE VS. THE PUNISHER #1 & 2 (of 4) in August. Don't worry, it's going to be nothing like the definitive Garth Ennis tale! From the solicitation:

A terrible plague has swept the Earth, turning everyone – human, hero, villain, god and monster — into sadistic cannibal predators. As Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Thing and other infected start a feeding frenzy, the world falls in a wave of insatiable violence. Now, five years later, one man hunts the wasteland that was New York City. One man stands against the hordes of monsters who hunt the night. He is the Punisher, the Last Gun on Earth. And he has an endless supply of ammunition.

See? Nothing like Ennis! Much more Marvel Zombies.

You might remember my squeal of girlish glee at the June '10 solicitation proclaiming that Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry would be the all new creative team as of THOR #611. Well, last month Kieron Gillen was listed as the writer on the new "Thor in Hell" storyline and I thought, hmm. Must be typo. Must be fill-in. There's a reason for this. In August, we'll be getting two Thor issues, THOR #613 & #614 both written by Kieron Gillen. No offense to the man, he's had a pretty awesome job with Siege right in his back yard but what happened to June? I hit the twitter and @mattfraction told me that "the whole run starts with 615 in september". So the new creative team has been pushed back to give Mr. Gillen some room to do his book justice?  Personally, I just need to know when to release the doves for Fraction and Perry's arrival to Asgard.

Back in Midgard, San Fransisco way, the Curse of the Mutants will have more than just Blade. I know, I'm shocked too. But no, Gambit and Storm are going to re-team-up in their own one-shot appropriately titled X-MEN: CURSE OF THE MUTANTS - STORM & GAMBIT #1. They'll be stealing something to stop the great vampire threat, which seems a little above the Queen of Wakanda. Still, she's an X-Men and the books really do get better with her around. Plus, Gambit! Wonder if he worked through that whole "Death as Alter Ego" issue or will this heist be some character growth for both of them?

He's had plenty of titles before, but this is the first time he's not mixed in with the general MU populace.  Yep, NAMOR: THE FIRST MUTANT #1 hits stores this August, from Stuart Moore and Ariel Olivetti.  As much as I love Jae Lee's artwork and Joe Quesada was practically inspirational when I first saw his art so many years ago (can't say I'm impressed with his variant cover here), it's a disservice to the interior artist when he can't display his own art work on the front of the book.  Olivetti's done great work on his Cable and Punisher War Journal covers, why not let him introduce his new #1 issue?

X-FACTOR #208 is going to bring back Wolfsbane for some drama, now that she's pregnant and Rictor and Shatterstar are a couple. It's kind of like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if Willow was the werewolf and Oz had been dating Spike. Meanwhile, Logan will be paying some respects to Kurt's last wishes in WOLVERINE WEAPON X #16, proving that death in comics can lead to not only better stories once the character is reborn, but give some soul-searching stories to those they left behind.

Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu say goodbye to Logan's mohawked son in DARK WOLVERINE #90, bringing the series to a conclusion. Daken will be looking for truth, desire and empires. Maybe some ellipses. Will Daken fade into the background of Wolverine support characters? Will Way and Liu make me care enough to feel like that's not the best idea? I don't think the X-Men can handle two Wolvie-kids in their ranks and X-23 got here first.

So what else caught your fancy? Was it the $125.00 omnibus collecting the best of the Women of Marvel? Chris Claremont turning back time with New Mutants Forever? The oh-so-titillating title of X-Force: Sex and Violence which promises both this month? The 'Scared Straight' program running through Thunderbolts and Avengers Academy? Take a scroll through Marvel in August 2010 and tell me what you think!

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