Thanks to reader support on Patreon, every week I put together weekly recaps and analysis of the biggest storylines impacting Big 2 superhero continuity.
If you want to get the full weekly recaps, in addition to other benefits like priority access to Q&A’s, reading order recommendations, and monthly custom reading playlists, consider supporting Comic Book Herald on Patreon.
Otherwise, enjoy a sampling of the month’s events below:
Note: Spoilers For All Discussed Comics Follow!
WOLVERINE AFTER DARK
One of the strangest strategic decisions about Marvel Legacy was to resurrect Wolverine (in extremely on-brand Frost Giant stabbing fashion) and announce no follow up plans for the character. No ongoing to follow, no ties to the X-Men, just… he’s back. As a result, here we are three months later, with the hype for Marvel Legacy souring into a realization that very little changed for Marvel (yet again), and Wolverine is back in his first “post credits” appearance. And by “post credits,” we of course mean Marvel’s bewildering decision to include short Wolverine stories across their over-priced lineup.
In Captain America #697 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, the big Wolvy return is about as disappointing as they come. Wolverine walks into a bar and misses having a drink with Cap (who’s already embroiled in the action of his own comic). Marvel is clearly setting up Wolverine’s involvement in Infinity Countdown, but I know more about that from press releases than any actual comic book story, and that’s always a bad sign. Color me smh.
DARKSEID’S ALL GROWN UP
Thanks to Patron Steven M. for the tip on this one. I seem to have pushed Wonder Woman to the distant backburner following the departure of the “Year One” creative roster.
The New 52’s Darkseid War has had a strangely large impact on DC Rebirth.
In Wonder Woman #37, Darkseid completes his quest to return to full power by defeating Zeus (aka, Wonder Woman’s dad).
Honestly, the loss of Baby Darkseid, or even surly teen Darkseid is a huge hit for all of us. While the DC Universe doesn’t feel even close to whole without the evil that walks on Apokolips, I would have added a Baby Darkseid limited series to my pull list faster than you could say “Tiger force.”
NO ALARMS & NO SURRENDER
Avengers 675 kicks off the 16 part weekly Avengers series written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub, with various artists keeping the regularly scheduled insanity on retailer shelves.
As much as I love the Marvel work of Al Ewing, am coming around on the Marvel work of Jim Zub, and have historically cherished the Marvel work of Mark Waid (albeit… not for a few years), I met Avengers 675 with disappointing apathy. Unlike DC’s 52 (the 2007 weekly series from a Morrison, Waid, Johns, and Rucka braintrust that may well be one of the most incredible feats in modern comics), Avengers No Surrender doesn’t spiral out of any grander picture in the Marvel Universe. This means it has do all the heavy lifting in the first issue, and we get (another) end of the world scenario, with some mysterious being literally “stealing” earth from orbit.
In classic Avengers style, every possible Avenger meets up at the mansion to discuss the ramifications of the “end of the world.” The surprise development comes in the form of Voyager, a founding Avenger who has been lost to time and memory.
I’ll admit, when I turn down the cynicism that stems from Marvel’s Avengers failing to have a meaningful moment since 2015, this is a potentially very cool idea. It’s also one Marvel has explored many times in the 2000’s, most notably with the likes of The Sentry and Jessica Jones. These are heroes who have “always” been a part of the Marvel Universe, but have been lost to history for one reason or another.
Although this can feel a bit too much like Dawn in Buffy, Marvel’s track record with secret origins is surprisingly strong. Characters like Sentry, Jessica Jones, Vulcan (from X-Men: Deadly Genesis), and Silk all wound up playing varying degrees of relevant roles throughout Marvel comics in the 2000’s and 2010’s.
I’m looking forward to the remainder of No Surrender and am extremely hopeful that this series can begin lifting the Avengers back to the heights they deserve.
There’s a lot of weird, wild and wacky in the pages of comics every month, and it’s a big reason I love the medium so much. Sometimes the weird is so frequent that it becomes commonplace, such as the completely bonkers fact that the X-Men’s Jubilee has been an honest-to-Dracula vampire since 2011!
I’ll be honest, I had completely forgotten Jubilee was still a vampire until I checked out Generation X as part of Marvel Legacy. The move is such a product of a bygone era (you know, a scant six years ago), when Twilight and Vampires were absolutely everywhere, and the X-Men’s Curse of the Mutants desperately attempted to keep up.
While Curse of the Mutants will always feel like era-specific pandering to a fleeting cultural moment, there is a strange reality to the X-Men’s connections to vampires, and in particular, Marvel’s Dracula. One of their own becoming a bloodsucking mall babe has a preposterous sort of internal logic.
Nonetheless, Jubilee’s penance as one of the damned feels long overdue, and judging by the near unanimous support, it’s a strong final move from the recently axed Generation X.
The “New Age of DC Heroes” officially kicks off this week with Damage #1.
The big reveal for the not altogether uninteresting new hero comes at the issue’s conclusion, with the titular Damage joining an all new Suicide Squad, aka Task Force XI!
I have some very mixed feelings tied up in this “New Age” from DC. On one hand, my comic book collecting has ramped up tremendously since DC Metal started, and I’m so into that series I’ve been committed to its follow ups. On the other hand, the “New Age” just doesn’t look that interesting. I hope I’m wrong, but it looks like a collection of familiar superhero comics. Realistically what I want out of it is something like Young Animal, and guess what, there’s a whole slew of Doom Patrol “Milk Wars” crossover coming my way soon.
THE RED GOBLIN
The 90’s called, and they want rights to this reveal: the new Red Goblin is a combination of Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) and Carnage!
Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man run has been a celebration of all eras of Spidey history, with a particular fondness for forgotten or reviled pieces of 90’s history. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before he finally made his way to Carnage. Honestly, it’s amazing that in nearly a decade of Spidey, Slott hasn’t (to my knowledge) touched the red, murderous symbiote.
I’m excited to see the Slott era go out in style. Slott’s Spidey entered the “Bendis” zone a while back, where recent declines overshadowed consistent excellence from about 2007 to 2014. It’s absolutely time for a new creative team to get a shot at Spider-Man (Zdarsky and co. are doing some great work on Spectacular Spider-Man), but credit where it’s due: Slott’s run is my overall favorite of the 2000’s.
DOOMSDAY CLOCK SHOCK
In a depressing turn, some news this week trumps (pun intended) anything to do with comics: The actual, real-life Doomsday Clock is two minutes to midnight. It puts the fictional stakes of Doomsday Clock in stark contrast, and for me, highlights what a damn luxury it is to read, write, and think about comics. We’re lucky chumps, you and I.
Slightly less upsetting, but still ethically compromised: It’s getting harder and harder to watch Geoff Johns raid Alan Moore’s pantry. It hadn’t occurred to me until this week either… that’s exactly what Johns did on his way to becoming a superstar on Green Lantern. Moore tossed off the Black Lantern concept like it was nothing in a Green Lantern mini (it’s an awesome read, highly recommended).
The Doomsday Clock mega event started innocently enough with Gary Frank bringing it in a valid Dave Gibbons’ impression, and Johns doing late-night Moore karaoke. I suppose I was being naïve, but I did not expect Doomsday Clock to reconfigure any elements of Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen. Pulling Comedian from his death fall makes for a good reveal, but also plays with the sacred text (hyperbole intended) more than anticipated.
In general, it’s a weird thing to watch current artists pay homage to a clearly unwilling living source. If you can keep your head out of the “behind-the-scenes” elements long enough to just enjoy Rorschach eating Batman’s sandwiches, Doomsday Clock is somewhere between slow and interesting. And maybe that’s the part that stands out the most: Johns and Frank are trying to recreate Watchmen, and by golly, what a mission statement assured for failure.
For the DC Rebirth #1 nuts, connections to Johnny Thunder and the JSA begin to take more shape here, and will certainly play out over the series’ twelve issues. I’ve never been more than a cursory JSA fan, so this feels like a minor “big return” to me, but it’s clearly coming.