In preparation for Free Comic Book Day, Marvel opted to release some of its titles this week, instead of later in the month. As such, what would have been a tight week has been upgraded to packed. In part one, we examined the offerings from DC comics. Here in part two we’ll look at the books from Marvel comics.
First on the list is DAREDEVIL #12, one of the issues released well in advance of the normal release schedule to take advantage of Free Comic Book Day. Although it makes me wonder, if they release this now, will the regular day later this month simply not have an issue of the series? I guess, though you’d think this would be the optimal time to release a Point One issue of it.
Having to talk about Daredevil again for the fourth week straight gets on my nerves. Spent most of last month on the Omega Effect storyline, so this early release has me drained. Not that this issue is bad, mind you. It’s another great one, this time being more or less a standalone affair. Matt Murdock goes on a literal blind date (blindfold included) with longtime associate and assistant DA, Kirsten McDuffie. And the readers get a rousing tale of how Matt met and became friends with business partner Foggy Nelson, back in university. Not only do we get insight into how the sight-challenged superhero gained his lifelong friend, but also bear witness to his growth and preliminary experience as a lawyer. Frankly, I find these self-contained stories much more entertaining than the multi-part epics that comics seem to love these days. It’s why I enjoy Resurrection Man.
Oh, and another Black Spectre agent makes an appearance, foreshadowing future conflicts. But it’s a minor point altogether.
Next up is the other book put out early by Marvel, THE DEFENDERS #6. Continuing the trend of issues focusing on individual members of the team, number six is an Iron Fist issue. Danny Rand is just trying to make amends with his lady friend with a nice dinner, and then a dying sumo wrestler busts in, claiming to be ruining everything for everyone. Turns out a number of the Immortal Warriors, of which Iron Fist is a member, have been killed off by someone that doesn’t want our martial arts hero investigating the Concordance Engines.
So naturally he digs deeper, discovering his collection of journals, written by an ally of the previous Iron Fist, contains detailed records of the exploits of a team of adventurers and proto-supermen forgotten by time. He teams up with the Silver Surfer to read up on these amazing men and women, raising questions of how this group, and others like them, could be so hidden from history. They had a battle against blimps over Manhattan for Thor’s sake, and nobody remembers it?!
The air of coincidence and almost supernatural conspiracy abound in this issue, as they have since this series began. And I am loving every minute of it. Where other stories might use coincidence as a shortcut to moving narrative along, this book makes the stupidly convenient coincidences as a plot point. Like reality breaks down, and twists itself into knots as the story progresses. And it has one of the best excuses for why the Defenders don’t just ask the Avengers and other groups to help them. They literally cannot talk about what they’re doing to those not already involved, because the words escape them every time they try. This is a brilliant narrative conceit!
Plus, flashing back to the earlier forgotten era in superheroism is gratifying in an old style, pulp fiction kind of way. That makes me smile.
Next is AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #3, and the long hinted fight between Wolverine and Captain America. Ever since the AvX event began, alternate covers came out depicting the two in battle, which is naturally very perplexing since the two were basically on the same side. So what’s that about? Well, in order to explain it, this issue needs explaining.
The fist battle is over, and Cyclops tricks the Avengers and splits with the X-Men to look for Hope. The aforementioned mutant messiah, with powers growing to a level beyond what either side is capable of handling, wanders about on her own. Both teams then attempt to locate her.
Now the difficulty in the Avengers camp comes from the inherent disagreement between Captain America and Wolverine over whether it’s right to kill Hope, and whether Wolverine can be trusted because of his desire to do so. This leads to a brief fight between the two, and a parting of ways. Out of a plane.
It makes sense in context.
Of additional note is a scene with Cap and Iron Man, the latter voicing doubts about what the Avengers are doing, and how practical their search is. He even points out how the two were once in the same situation as Cap and Cyclops are now, with the Captain on the opposite side of the argument (referring to Civil War, where Stark and Cap were on the Pro/Anti Registration sides of the conflict, respectively). I think this does a lot to mitigate the inherent lopsidedness of the arguments in this event, since it paints the Avengers as being barely more sympathetic than the X-Men, who are actively playing with fire when it comes to Hope and the Phoenix Force.
Alright AvX. I’ll continue to play your game. For now.
Lastly for this week (from Marvel), AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #685 gives part four of the Ends of the Earth storyline. If there’s a focus on any one of the Sinister Six, like last issue, it’d probably be the Rhino. I’ll admit I’m not too familiar with the Rhino, and this issue doesn’t exactly tell us a whole lot about what mysterious request he has of Doc Ock, in place of just asking for money. Speaking of, there’s also a scene where Chameleon and Mysterio question whether they can just leave now that their rewards are secure. It’s actually a testament to something that Mysterio drops the idea, ostensibly out of professional pride as a mercenary villain.
Not that it matters a whole lot in the end, since…well I won’t spoil things for those not reading. Let’s just say Doctor Octopus is a villain through and through, and not to be trusted.
Oh, and while Spiderman, Black Widow, and Silver Sable go around destroying Doc Ock’s factories, the webbed wallcrawler calls upon the aid of any random superhero still willing to fight for him, even without evidence of Doc Ock’s ill intent. Those than answer the call are a bunch of no doubt minor heroes from around the world that I’ve never heard of. I’m sure they’re perfectly decent heroes, but it’s no coincidence they’re such unknowns. Apparently this actually spins off into a one-shot coming out later this month, which shows the adventures of Spiderman’s team and all the other unknown heroes as they take on the various factories. And I’m not really sure I want to buy it just to find out what happened in the interim.
If you’re interested, I guess check out ENDS OF THE EARTH SPECIAL later this month. If you want.
That does it for the current ongoing titles for this week. But don’t get comfortable yet (I certainly won’t). Because there’s still three new series from DC to discuss. When next we meet, it’s time for the long-awaited return (?) of the Justice Society (maybe), in the pages of EARTH 2 #1.