Marvel’s been in a hot seat of their own making since the conclusion of Secret Wars (and really before then, considering they illogically launched “All-New All-Different” Marvel *prior* to the universe-shattering event’s conclusion. Despite their ability to reign as the leading market share publisher throughout a turbulent time, there’s no question Marvel *knows* they’re in need of a new perception. The question remains whether they can quite settle in on an answer for how to correct course.
As you may remember, all the way back in the previous age of October 2016, Marvel announced “Marvel Legacy,” their newest linewide banner. Legacy promised a DC-Rebirth esque oversized one-shot by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic (among various others), and uh, old numbering? Despite this tantalizing combination, Legacy barely made it three months into 2018 before Marvel announced May would bring a very on-the-nose “Fresh Start.”
As a result, 2018 promises to be pretty clearly divided into two halves, with the best of the first half rounding out the end of Marvel Legacy, and the remainder of the year building Marvel’s “Fresh Start.” That is, of course, assuming “Fresh Start” can make it to year’s end prior to the October relaunch of “Marvel: Branding, Right?”
So, more so than most years, I anticipate my mid-year Marvel best-of list will see some dramatic shifts by year’s end. Nonetheless, these are the best comics Marvel has released to date!
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The chopped up title relaunches mask a reality that Jason Aaron’s total time writing Marvel’s primary Thor comic now totals over six years, and nearly 100 issues. The Jane Foster/Thor era, with incredibly talented artist Russell Dauterman, reigns as one of the most public and successful products of Marvel’s “All-New All-Different” linewide blowup.
Hardcore fans of the Odinson will be pleased to know the Jane era came to an effective, heartfelt conclusion this year, in what was year-in and year-out one of the best books in the Marvel lineup.
Joined by Secret Wars: Weirdworld creative partner Mike Del Mundo, Aaron is far from finished with the world of Thor and Asgard.
Black Panther has been and will continue to be one of Marvel’s most interesting comics so long as Ta-Nehesis Coates is writing the title. For my money, the Legacy era of Black Panther took a muted step back, but so far this series has paid dividends when consumed in bingeable chunks. I have no reason to believe otherwise with Black Panther in 2018!
The Donny Cates Rising Superstar tour reached fever pitch with the writer’s work on a single Thanos story arc titled “Thanos Wins.” The immensely entertaining future-flung narrative benefited from a broader increase in Thanos’ profile due to Avengers: Infinity War, as well as the fact that it’s extremely entertaining marvel playground insanity.
From cosmic ghost rider to all sorts of Marvel cosmic mash-ups I can’t even talk about without spoiling, “Thanos Wins” is already assured a spot in the best Thanos comics pantheon.
Speaking of Cates, his time writing Doctor Strange didn’t generate quite the same amount of Infinity War laden hype as “Thanos,” but that’s a bit like saying Doctor Strange isn’t *quite* the same measure of sorcerer as Loki, the new sorcerer supreme. Wait, what?
For my money, Cates’ storytelling choices are even more interesting in Doctor Strange, reviving the long gone presence of a Marvel 2000’s mainstay, and developing the lasting legacy of Bates the ghost dog. Plus, the first story arc features the art of Vision artist Gabriel Hernandez-Walta!
Writer Christina Strain delivers teenage X-angst at its best.
Although technically 75% of the series was published in 2017, Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s work on Black Bolt is too good to keep off the 2018 best of list. I’ve suggested as much before, but it’s amazing how *good* Inhumans comics have been during the already forgotton MCU bomb that was ABC’s Inhumans. Black Bolt is the cream of the crop, cementing Ahmed and Ward as two of the most talented figures in comic book storytelling, and cementing the Absorbing Man and Titania as one of the most compelling romances in Marvel comics!
I had tunnel-beneath-the-basement expectations for this miniseries, but it continues the Inhumans broader hot streak of excellent comics!
To be fair, Marvel fans are hard up for Fantastic Four comics after the series (admittedly *very* effective) conclusion at the end of Secret Wars. Nonetheless, the Thing and Human Torch team-up series is everything I wanted and more, sporting writing from Chip Zdarsky and art from Jim Cheung. Best of all, Marvel 2 in 1 annual #1 merges the Infamous Iron Man (aka Doctor Doom) with the results of Secret Wars and Jonathan Hickman’s time writing Fantastic Four. It’s a continuity dream come true!
Speaking of Legacy transitions that really worked, Laura Kinney’s all too brief stint as Marvel’s Wolverine will go down as one of the highlights in the character’s entire history. Fans are happy to have Logan-proper back, but Laura was an *excellent* Wolverine, and frankly deserved better than the also-ran status the larger Marvel Universe stuck her with. Give this one a read from jump (2015!) to get the full joys of Laura, Gabby, and Jonathan.
The Tom Taylor tribute hour continues, as his new X-Men team book with Mahmud Asrar is the best X-Men title Marvel’s had in years.