Weekly Comic Round-Up, January 15, 2014 Edition

by Aaron Einhorn
Welcome back! If you’ve followed me here from Comic Hero News, or going even farther back to Underneath My Mask, than you probably remember that one of the regular features I had was a review of the comics I’m reading that week. Full disclosure: This is not everything I read, and it’s not everything that hit the stands this week. It is, however, the books I feel merit being talked about, either because they were awesome or because there was something really, really wrong with them.

So, here we go. What came home with me from The Laughing Ogre? Read on.

All-New_X-Men_Vol_1_21_TextlessAll-New X-Men #21
Ten years ago, I swore off reading X-Men titles. Five years ago, I found myself missing them. Then A vs. X happened, and I got pulled back in, kicking and screaming, to the point that I now collect five different mutant-centric titles. But of them all, All-New X-Men is easily my favorite – for several reasons.

First off, I love these characters. The original five X-Men, plus Kitty (and now X-23) are just a great mix of characters. They’ve got great banter, and it is so interesting to see how being in a modern world (one shaped by their actions) is changing them. And honestly, if you don’t love the idea of Scott falling for Laura, then there is no poetry in your soul.

What makes this issue all the better is seeing this team pitted against Stryker and his ilk, along with the utter chaos of having AIM involved. This is just a solid, fun read from page one to the last page, and it’s well worth a look.

astro_city_8Astro City #8
I talked last month about how the first part of this story was shaping up to be the best Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman story that didn’t actually involve those three characters. I still stand by that, but I realize that I was also very, very wrong to describe it that way.

Because Samaritan isn’t Superman. The Confessor isn’t Batman. And Winged Victory most certainly isn’t Wonder Woman. And to think of the homages as simply being reflections of their archetype cheapens them.

The basics of this story work with DC’s version of the Trinity, but the specifics are where Busiek shines. Seeing how Victory’s outreach centers are being used against her is heart-breaking and makes this deeply personal. The way she explains to Samaritan that the damage is done cannot help but resonate, and seeing how he understands what it costs her to accept help from him and the Confessor is beautiful.

I also really like seeing the Confessor. We haven’t seen the former “Alter-Boy” much since he took up his mentor’s mantle, and it’s very cool to see how not-Nightwing has become not-Batman. I’m a little saddened to see the runes emblazoned on the Confessor’s torso, or to find out he has a living costume, just because I liked that he was mostly human, but when I step back and remember that the Confessor is not Batman, it works. Seeing the friendship developing between the Confessor and Samaritan is also very cool.

This is just a really solid issue, and I can’t wait until the final part of this story is released.

miracleman_1Miracleman #1
It’s hard to know how best to write about this issue, because this isn’t a new story. Marvelman/Miracleman is looking at thirty years between the time of its original writing and this printing, and I’m one of the lucky folks who has been able to lay his hands on those original issues. So, the tale of Miracleman isn’t new to me – it’s more like coming back to an old friend.

So, for once, I’m not going to discuss the story. Either you’re familiar with the story of Miracleman, in which case you know what will unfold in each page of each issue, or you’re not, in which case the worst disservice I could do to would be to ruin it for you. Alan Moore“The Original Writer” has penned an incredible tale, and whether you’re rediscovering it or reading it for the for the first time, I think it’s one you can enjoy.

Instead, I’ll talk about what this reprint offers you. First off, if you haven’t been lucky enough to read the first prints, it gives you a chance to see this incredible tale. It hasn’t been reprinted in the thirty years since it was first published, so this will be the first opportunity for many people to read the tale. We’ve all managed to read Watchmen, but Miracleman has been out of reach for many.

(You also get the amusement of seeing Moore’s name replaced with “The Original Writer,” but that’s neither here nor there.)

In addition, this book gives us an interview between Marvel EIC Joe Quesada and Mick Anglo, the creator of Miracleman, which is kind of cool, and it reprints several of the original Marvelman tales in black and white.

This is the most expensive title I picked up this month – and it’s the one I was the happiest to spend my money on.

Superior_Spider-Man_Vol_1_25_TextlessSuperior Spider-Man #25
The rubber is really hitting the road now. The central conflict involving Superior Venom fighting the Avengers is a little silly – as big a threat as Octavius-in-Peter’s-body-with-the-symbiote is, he’s just not a match against Thor, Iron Man and Captain America, to say nothing of the other Avengers present. But hey, it’s Spidey’s book, so we’ll ignore that.

I like seeing the story move. Watching how MJ is “tricked” into thinking that things are back to “normal” with Peter was kind of interesting, and although I really liked Carlie, I’ve no serious regrets about seeing her transformation into Monster.

The “war” between Osborn’s crew and Kingsley is shaping up nicely, and should be a lot of fun. And they really let Flash shine as a hero here, which was a nice touch (and makes me wish I was reading Venom).

And it’s great to finally see the Avengers acting like their world’s greatest heroes, instead of being played for patsies by Otto.

So, that’s everything that was right about the issue. And overall, that’s quite a bit. But let’s talk about what was wrong with it. Namely, the return of Peter Parker.

By now, most of us know that Marvel has already announced that Amazing Spider-Man would be returning in April. And honestly, only the most insane among us thought that there was any chance that Marvel would let The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hit the theatres without having a comic titled Amazing Spider-Man on the racks, with Peter Parker inside of it. So, the fact that they only have three-to-four issues to bring Peter back. So, I don’t have an issue with that.

But it seems like it hasn’t been that long since Otto “erased” Peter from his mind, and lost access to his memories (which has been one of the most fun elements of the recent issues.) But in any case, if seems like “Whoops, you missed Otto, and I’ve just been biding my time,” is a bit of a lame way to bring him back – and it seems like several of Otto’s actions of late would be just as worthy of bringing Peter “out of hiding” as possible possession by Venom.

Look, I’m going to be as happy as anyone to see Peter back in his own body. But this just didn’t feel like a good way to handle it. Still a good read, and I’m really looking forward to the Goblin War heating up next issue, but I cry “lame” on seeing Peter back like that.

thunderbolts_20_nowThunderbolts #20.Now (All-New Marvel Now #1)
It’s good to see new blood in the Thunderbolts, and Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider is a good fit for the rest of the team. Heck, he even pretty easily sits within the red/black color scheme favored by most of the members.

That said, this is a pretty weak-sauce issue. I’ve already grown tired beyond belief of Deadpool, to the point that for the first time since the title started that I’m ready to drop Thunderbolts. Now that the uncertainty has been lifted about the Leader, he has become solidly one-note to me, and the flirting between Punisher and Elektra has gotten tiresome.

About the only thing I enjoyed about this issue was seeing that they are at least willing to admit that Mercy is an absolute menace and threat, and it’s good to see them being proactive here. That said, seeing the team go to hell because Ghost Rider miscast the spell is just silly.

I’m not entirely done with the title yet, but give it another couple of issues like this and I might be.

Meanwhile, in Amazing X-Men #3, Beast, Storm, Wolverine and Nightcrawler continue to fight against Azazael and the damned pirates, Cataclysm: The Ultimates #3 wraps up the battle against the Gah Lak Tus drones in a largely unsatisfying manner that undid the destruction of both Cassie and the Hulk and which brings us Ultimate Machine Man, Daredevil #35 pits Horn-Head against the Sons of the Serpent as they try to blackmail him, and is fun if not an exceptional read, Secret Avengers #14 manages to be confusing as heck as we look at Bobbi/Barbara/Mockingbird’s history as a double (or triple) agent, and Uncanny X-Men #16 takes Magneto to Madripoor to topple the Free-Mutant Empire established by Mystique.

Our First Look at the Newly Restored Miracleman!

by Aaron Einhorn
I wrote about it when they originally announced it, so you shouldn’t be surprised to know that I am terribly excited about Marvel’s reprinting of Miracleman. And now Marvel has given us a look at the first few pages of the comic.

And wow.

See, not only has this comic been out of print forever, but as great as the comic was, I was never thrilled with the final art. The colors were… just off somehow.

This looks as good as my memories of the original comic are (which are better than the actuality).

The full press release from Marvel follows, but if this doesn’t have you excited for the release of this comic come January, I don’t know what will.

The Wait is Over! Your First Look at the Remastered Miracleman #1!

The series that changed comics forever finally returns in 2014, and Marvel is proud to present your first look at the remastered MIRACLEMAN #1! Long out-of-print, these timeless, groundbreaking stories injected a new sophistication into the super hero genre still felt today.

“When these stories were originally colored, the artists were never consulted – and it shows” said Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. “The coloring methods used at the time really hurt the finished product. But through close collaboration with all the artists, we’re proud to now present these stories in a manner that matches their creative vision.”

Working in closely with the original series artists, Miracleman has been remastered using the original artwork in every instance possible – and the most advanced restoration methods available applied to ensure the most authentic reading experience based on the artists’ original visions for the series.

“You’ve never really seen Miracleman, until you’ve seen this Miracleman,” said legendary Miracleman artist Garry Leach.“I’m positive this will rapidly be recognized as the all-time, definitive, Miracleman series. It’s simply looking that ridiculously sharp!”

In addition to material originally published in Warrior Magazine, Miracleman #1 also includes character designs, pencil sketches, original art, an article chronicling the history of Marvelman/Miracleman, an interview with Miracleman creator Mick Anglo, as well as a Mick Anglo’s first Marvelman stories. Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the most popular comic few have ever read when Miracleman #1 makes it’s long overdue return to comic shops this January!

Marvel to (Finally) Publish Miracleman!

by Aaron Einhorn
Several years ago at San Diego Comic Con, Marvel announced that they had obtained the rights to Marvelman/Miracleman.

For those not in the know, Marvelman began as a way for Warrior Magazine to continue making Captain Marvel stories after the licensing agreement with Fawcett Comics went kaput. A quick reskin of the character, change “Shazam” into “Kimota,” and voila, all new hero.

But what went from being a Captain Marvel rip-off became a whole new thing in the hands of Alan Moore and company, and then later on, Neil Gaiman.

(This is a horrid oversimplification. Read the full details here.)

I was in the crowd in 2009 when Marvel made that announcement, and I went nuts over it. I had been loaned a copy of the individual issues for Miracleman and loved the story. So, I was eager to see what Marvel would do with the character. After all, used properly, Marvelman could be a powerhouse and an icon on par with Superman. And he even had Marvel’s name in his title.

Of course, the licensing rights to Miracleman are a mess. And so, we got a few reprints of the original Mick Anglo stories, and then… nothing. For years. And most people assumed that the rights would be a part of Marvel/Disney’s portfolio and nothing would happen.

Then during Age of Ultron, it seemed like we would see Marvelman appear at the series’ conclusion. Instead, we got Angela, who Neil Gaiman still owned after creating her for Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. Nothing against Angela as a character, but her inclusion was somewhat anti-climactic to many. In a world without Hellspawn, her existence is confusing at best. It’s not that she can’t be retrofit to work in Marvel Comics, but is she needed?

(For the record? I am reading Guardians of the Galaxy, and I enjoy Angela’s presence there just fine. But I wanted to see Miracleman, dang it.)

Well, now, at least according to what was revealed at NYCC 2013, it seems like Miracleman is finally set to return.

According to a release put out today by Marvel, starting in January, we will see the Warrior/Eclipse comics series of Miracleman reprinted, and just as importantly, we will then see the series finished.

Because the sad truth is that Miracleman #25 was never printed. It was written, it was illustrated and it was ready to go, but it was never seen. And now, if all is to be believed, that final issue will also be printed and available.

Of course, I find it very interesting and curious that Alan Moore’s name is never listed in the press release. Hopefully that just means that Moore’s name can’t be used to promote it, and not that something weird is happening with his writing.

I’m thrilled, personally. I loved reading Miracleman, and am eager to own the issues myself. You can check out the full press release below, following a gallery of some of the covers that will be printed with the reprints.

MIRACLEMAN RETURNS! MARVEL TO PUBLISH GROUND-BREAKING ORIGINAL SERIES AND NEW STORIES BY NEIL GAIMAN!
“[Miracleman’s] heights are highs Watchmen cannot touch. It’s that good. It’s that important.” –Sequart.org

It was the series that changed comics forever. With the utterance of one word, Michael Moran transformed from the ordinary into the extraordinary – and Miracleman was born!

Long out of print, Marvel Comics is pleased to announce that the earth-shattering stories that injected new levels of sophistication into the super hero genre will finally see the light of day once again! Starting this January, Marvel will begin publishing the legendary run of Miraclemanby the original creators that began in Warrior Magazine and continued under now defunct publisher Eclipse Comics!

Fans lucky enough to have read these trailblazing stories when they were originally produced have often referred to this legendary run on Miracleman as “the lost Watchmen,” and Marvel is proud to finally bring these incredible comics to an audience that has clamored for them.

“The wait is over,” says Editor In Chief Axel Alonso. “Marvel will finally be bringing these timeless, ground-breaking stories to a whole new generation of reader.”

“We’ve been working with the Miracleman artists to obtain original artwork or photostats in every instance possible, and then applying the same painstaking restoration methods and rigorous quality standards that are utilized on the Marvel Masterworks line. The Marvel Special Projects team have even been developing some new techniques specifically for this project. These Miraclemanissues will receive the most advanced restoration possible to ensure the most authentic reading experience,” says SVP of Marvel Publishing David Gabriel. “The art is crisp, clear, and looks as good – if not better than the day it was published! Also, the stories are being completely relettered to meet today’s standards.”

Making these stories available to an entirely new generation is one thing – but following the original groundbreaking run, the epic more than 30 years in the making will reach its cataclysmic conclusion! You heard correctly – Marvel will also be publishing all-new Miraclemanstories from legendary creators Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham! Long left unfinished, Gaiman and Buckingham’s famous storyline will ultimately see the light of day!

“The tragedy of Miracleman was that we published two issues, wrote three and a half – and then it all stopped,” Gaiman said, in an interview with Marvel.com. “And Miracleman #25has been sitting in the darkness – nobody has seen it. It was drawn, it was written, it was lettered over 20 years ago.”

“I love the idea that I will get to finish this story,” added Gaiman.

“That Neil and Bucky can finally finish the story they started, is a great relief to still-gasping fans — myself among them,” says Alonso.

Re-presented in serialized form, each issue of Miracleman features additional content including new art, interviews with the creators as well as new covers from some of the industry’s most legendary artists! Look for Miracleman #1 in print and digital this January!