Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This week's comic book expectations

If you're a Marvel fan, and a fan of the "Dark Reign" initiative in particular, this is the week for you. If you've other interests... well... it's not soooooo bad. Check out the full release list at THIS LINK.

Three of Marvel's four mainstream "Avengers" titles are in play this week ("Dark Avengers" being the exception), and the one I'm most hopeful for is Mighty Avengers #24, which features one piece of the fallout from the Scarlet Witch's return that I've been itching to see -- Quicksilver is looking to confront his sister. Remember, this isn't just the story of a brother/sister reunion, Quicksilver was the architect of the "House of M," taking advantage of a mentally ill and imprisoned Scarlet Witch in order to create his utopia. In turn, as part of her "no more mutants" edict, Quicksilver was robbed of his speed and subsequently traveled down a very dark path to desolation. These two have plenty to discuss, and I trust writer Dan Slott to handle it adequately.

On a side note, "House of M" was handled HORRIBLY. For as good an idea it was, the execution was over-decompressed garbage. But all was forgiven with that one fantastic scene in which Magneto bursts onto the scene to confront Quicksilver saying "What have you done in my name, boy?!?" CLASSIC Magneto in a horrible mini-series.

New Avengers #52 will likely hold its own as well, continuing the search for a new sorcerer supreme... if you can call what last issue did as "starting" the search. I am hoping the Scarlet Witch's reappearance coinciding with this storyline is just a red herring, but who can tell at this point. What I do wonder is how this group of Avengers would ever be able to defeat the mystical villains harassing Doc Strange. But I guess they'll Deus Ex their way out of it.

Avengers: The Initiative #23 is also a big issue if you've been reading the series... which I must confess I haven't... as the deeper effects of "Dark Reign" finally hit the team and force a issue to be titled "Disassembled" ... which, by the way, is my least favorite Marvel term. Can they possibly label any more books "Disassembled?"

Other "Dark Reign" books this week include Dark Reign: Elektra #2, Skrull Kill Krew #1 and Incredible Hercules #128.

From the file of "where the heck have you been?" comes Astonishing X-Men #29. Frankly, I'd forgotten this piece of junk was still going on. Remember waaaay back months ago when Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi were spinning a tale called "Ghost Box" to follow up Joss Whedon and John Cassady's fantastic run to open the "Astonishing" series? Come on, you must remember it. It was the storyline that included those two incredibly overpriced tie-in issues that had almost nothing to do with the main story? Yeah, that's the one. Well, it's still going on, crappy art and all. Just to refresh your memory, the X-Men found a "ghost box," they don't know really what purpose it serves, but they found a secret hideout in China where the Chinese X-Men presumably lived. Oh, and they are now under attack in a big way. All caught up? Good. I'm unfortunately going to be picking this up, since I don't have it in me to drop a series mid-storyline, but I encourage you all to just look away.

Much better this week is X-Force #14, continuing the "Messiah War" storyline. This crossover event with "Cable" has EVERYTHING you could ask for in a big event, from snappy writing to a strong team-up (Cable + X-Force + an even more insane future Deadpool = gold) to intriguing villains. And is often the case as one issue ends and another begins, when we left our heroes they were just about to be surrounded by Stryfe's forces with a rumble to ensue. Yes, I said Stryfe, that's the villain we're dealing with here, in addition to an increasingly desperate and ruthless Bishop. Now are you interested?

DC's offerings this week are much less exciting, but there are some bright spots. For one, Battle for the Cowl: Arkham Asylum may be the only one of the "Battle for the Cowl" one-shot tie-ins worth buying when all is said and done. While all the other issues were pretty self-explanatory (Really, didn't everyone see that "Commissioner Gordon" storyline coming?), I am intrigued by this Arkham issue, which promises to tell the tale of the Asylum's proprietor, Jeremiah Arkham. Sure, this issue could become a snooze-fest, but the idea that this issue may just redefine how the Asylum stands in Batman comics for years to come does have me curious.

But speaking of Batman, another from the file of "where the heck have you been?" is Detective Comics #583, the second of Neil Gaiman's two-issue "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" story. The good news is, after a couple of months of delay, this issue, which promises to examine the history of Bruce Wayne's relationships, is finally on the shelves this week. The bad news? After reading that irrelevant hot-air-filled first issue, does anyone care that much?

Believe it or not, I saved the best DC issue of the week for last. And, believe it or not, that issue is Supergirl #40. Can you believe we're living in a world where "Supergirl" is headlining an (admittedly slow) week? The mystery surrounding Superwoman takes centerstage in this issue, and it seems like we may even learn the villain's identity by the final page of this one. Meanwhile, Lois Lane is doing that investigative reporter thing she's so good at, following the clues left by Agent Liberty's death. This book has become 100% girl power in a very strong way, between Supergirl's new direction, Lois Lane's increased involvement and Lana Lang's role to play in the Superman Universe, all aspects that DC has lacked in recent years.

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