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Five New Comics Featured on comiXology Include the Pulse and Thanos

There’s five new comics on comiXology today. Four are from Marvel and one from Harlequin. You can start shopping now or check out the individual issues below.

Pulse Vol. 1: Thin Air

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Mark Bagley
Cover by Mike Mayhew
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Collects Pulse (2004) #1-5.

It’s an inside look at the Marvel Universe’s most notorious newspaper, the Daily Bugle! Former super hero and current private investigator Jessica Jones has just been offered a new job: a position with the Bugle’s new super-hero section, The Pulse! Jessica’s first assignment: to uncover the true identity of a former Bugle reporter’s super-powered murderer! How is millionaire industrialist Norman Osborn involved in the case? And how will Jessica’s shocking discovery affect the entire Marvel Universe?

Pulse Vol. 1: Thin Air

Pulse Vol. 2: Secret War

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Brent Anderson
Cover by Mike Mayhew
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Collects Pulse (2004) #6-9.

Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s lives have been destroyed by the events of the Secret War, so what is Jessica going to do about it? Fans of SECRET WAR – feel THE PULSE as it pounds out more gritty intrigue even as it welcomes a new artist: award-winning comics superstar Brent (RISING STARS, ASTRO CITY) Anderson! Guest-starring: Captain America, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Nick Fury and more!

Pulse Vol. 2: Secret War

Thanos: Epiphany

Written by Jim Starlin
Art by Al Milgrom, Jim Starlin
Cover by Jim Starlin
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Collects Thanos (2003) #1-6.

The most powerful, enigmatic villain in the Marvel Universe takes center stage in a galaxy-spanning tale woven by his creator, Jim Starlin (MARVEL UNIVERSE: THE END). He’s held ultimate power in his hands, only to see it all slip away time and again. His attempts at conquest and destruction have all been thwarted. So what inner demons drive the mad Titan known as Thanos towards his goals — and what hidden desires now pull at his heart and mind?

Thanos: Epiphany

Thanos: Samaritan

Written by Keith Giffen
Art by Ron Lim, Al Milgrom
Cover by Jim Starlin
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Collects Thanos (2003) #7-12.

At the very edge of existence, Thanos has a fateful encounter with his lost love, Death, which causes him to re-evaluate his goals and his approach to attaining them. Meanwhile, a co-op of alien races Thanos has victimized forms a Super Posse to bag the Mad Titan once and for all!

Thanos: Samaritan

His Pregnant Princess Bride

Written by Catherine Mann
Art by Yu Mahara
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Erika, a princess of a small country in Northern Europe, is traveling to America. She needs to tell billionaire Gervais that she’s pregnant with his child. Three months ago, Erika met him in England and they spent a night together. She never intended to see him again but feels obligated to inform him of the baby. She’s shocked when Gervais is delighted by the news and proposes to her. But as the fifth sibling in her family, she has no claim to the throne! What could Gervais possibly want with her?

His Pregnant Princess Bride

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ComiXology Has Four New Releases including McFarlane Spider-Man and Art Adams X-Men

There are four new releases today on comiXology from Marvel, Harlequin, and Yen Press. You can get shopping now or check out the individual releases below.

Spider-Man Legends Vol. 3: Todd Mcfarlane Book 3

Written by David Michelinie
Art by Todd McFarlane
Cover by Todd McFarlane
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Collects Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #315-323, 325, 328.

After a wildly popular run on Spider-Man, artist Todd McFarlane set a record for the highest selling single comic book ever – a record that stands to this day – and later went on to create the multimedia phenomenon known as Spawn. Now, in this third collection of his best Spider-Man stories, see how the legend of Spider-Man grew, and the legend of Todd McFarlane began. Featuring the mega-popular VENOM in the stories that turned him into a comics’ sensation.

Spider-Man Legends Vol. 3: Todd Mcfarlane Book 3

X-Men Legends: Art Adams

Written by Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson
Art by Terry Austin, Al Gordon, Mike Mignola, Al Milgrom, Art Thibert, Bob Wiacek
Cover by Arthur Adams
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Collects New Mutants Special Edition #1; Uncanny X-Men Annual #9-10, 12; Fantastic Four #347-349.

Before manga hit it big, Art Adams brought big monsters, big eyes and cinematic action to the Marvel Universe. This volume collects the best of Adams’ Marvel work, from his landmark work on the X-Men to his odd-couple new FF team of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Wolverine & Ghost Rider.

X-Men Legends: Art Adams

Le Mariage De Matilda

Written by Betty Neels
Art by Shizuku Katsuragi
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Matilda Paige est une jeune femme ordinaire qui travaille dans un cabinet médical où elle aide le docteur Henry Lowell à soigner les habitants d’un village du Comté de Somerset. Elle doit partager son temps entre son patron plutôt taciturne, son père malade et sa mère nostalgique de ses années fastes. Même si son travail n’est pas particulièrement compliqué, Matilda ne parvient pas à cerner Henry. Comme si cela ne suffisait pas, la fiancée du médecin, Lucia, est hautaine et méprisante, et dissimule sa méchanceté sous son immense beauté. Matilda a un faible pour son patron, mais parviendra-t-elle à conquérir son cœur et à lui montrer qu’un peu de chaleur et de gentillesse peut être le meilleur des remèdes ?

Le Mariage De Matilda

So I’m a Spider, So What? #46

Written by Okina Baba
Art by Asahiro Kakashi
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With Mother’s stats at an all-time low, it’s my chance to attack-or so I thought. But now I’m on my last legs ‘cos I forgot to account for one basic fact: Mother is a spider, just like me…

So I'm a Spider, So What? #46

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Review: X-Factor Epic Collection Vol. 8 X-Aminations

X-Factor: X-Aminations is volume 8 in Marvel’s Epic Collection. It collects issues #84-100 and Annual #8

Story: Peter David, Scott Lobdell, Skip Dietz, J.M. DeMatteis, Shana David, Joe Quesada
Art: Jae Lee, Joe Quesada, Chris Batista, Buzz, Jan Duursema, Terry Schoemaker, Paul Ryan, Greg Luzniak, Cliff Van Meter
Ink: Al Milgrom, Mark McKenna, Andrew Pepoy, Jeff Albrecht, Cliff Van Meter
Color: Brad Vancata, Glynis Oliver, Marie Javins, Ariane Lenshoek, Tom Smith, Joe Rosas, Mike Thomas, Matt Webb, Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Richard Starkings, Steve Dutro, Lois Buhalis, Janice Chiang, Dave Sharpe, Pat Brosseau

Get your copy in comic shops now and bookstores on November 26! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: X-Men Milestones: X-Cutioner’s Song

Cable has assassinated Professor X! Wait, what!? This “X-Men Milestones” collects the classic story that helped define the 90s X-Men.

X-Men Milestones: X-Cutioner’s Song collects Uncanny X-Men (1991) #294-297, X-Factor (1986) #84-86, X-Men (1991) #14-16, X-Force (1991) #16-18, and Stryfe’s Stryke File.

Story: Peter David, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza
Art: Greg Capullo, Andy Kubert, Jae Lee, Brandon Peterson, Larry Stroman
Ink: Terry Austin, Harry Candelario, Andy Kubert, Al Milgrom, Jimmy Palmiotti, Dan Panosian, Mark Pennington
Color: Steve Buccellato, Marie Javins, Glynis Oliver, Joe Rosas, Mike Thomas, Brad Vancata
Letterer: Steve Dutro, Chris Eliopoulos, Richard Starkings

Get your copy in comic shops now and in bookstores on November 5! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man

Carnage is hunting down everyone who wore a symbiote in “Absolute Carnage.” What about the person who wore the “black suit” briefly before Peter Parker got it? Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man is his story.

Story: Peter David
Art: Francesco Mobili
Color: Java Tartaglia, Rain Beredo
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #99 & 100 pages by Al Milgrom, Herb Trimpe, Jim Mooney, Geof Isherwood, Bob Sharen, A. Kaotic, Joe Rosen, and Diana Albers.

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the

All Time Comics Returns with the 5-part Epic: Zerosis Deathscape

All Time Comics returns for a second season with new publisher, Floating World Comics!

New series writer, Josh Simmons, scripts Zerosis Deathscape, an epic 5-part event co-written by ATC mastermind, Josh Bayer. Each monthly issue is drawn by Bronze Age maverick, Trevor Von Eeden.

Von Eeden’s unique and powerful style has developed a cult following among genre and underground cartoonists, who celebrate his run on Thriller and his early DC career drawing Batman, Green Arrow, and Black Lightning. He is joined on art duties by indie cartoonists Gabrielle BellJulia GfrörerBenjamin Marra, and Tom Toye, and colorist Daniel Lee.

The series is about space and time meeting anti-time and alternate-space combining Bronze Age adventure genre comics with other comic styles. The massive superhero crossover hearkens to other classic cosmic event comics and brings together all the characters established in season 1 of All Time Comics.

Zerosis Deathscape begins monthly in June and is preceded by a special prologue issue, All Time Comics #0 in April. Written and illustrated by Josh Simmons, with inks by Ken Landgraf, this zero issue is the perfect intro to the new wave of ATC. Features the first appearance of The Red Maniac, and we meet Time Scientist Vampire, who foretells the devastating power of Zerosis!

All Time Comics Zerosis Deathscape #0 cover by Das Pastoras
All Time Comics Zerosis Deathscape #0 incentive cover by Brendan McCarthy

All six issues of All Time Comics Season 1 are finally collected in a massive 240 page trade paperback, coming this June from Floating World Comics.

Atlas – his only weakness is fear!
Blind Justice – the man who walks through bullets!
Bullwhip – here to put a stop to the bullsh*t!
Crime Destroyer – will fight for justice or die trying!

These four heroes face an over-the-top lineup of villains including The Misogynist, Raingod, White Warlock, Krimson Kross, P.S.Y.C.H.O., and the Time Vampire.

All Time Comics features the work of current indie comics creators like Josh BayerBenjamin Marra, and Noah Van Sciver, alongside the work of established artists like Al Milgrom and the last art by legendary artist Herb Trimpe, co-creator of Wolverine.

All Time Comics Season 1

Talking All Time Comics with Josh Bayer and Mixing “Contemporary” with “Old School”

atc-1-crime-destroyer-1-jim-rugg-cover-2In December, Fantagraphics announced a new superhero universe All Time Comics headed up by Josh Bayer. The line will feature a series of six comics featuring stand alone, interconnected adventures with a focus of retro crime fighting bringing together new cartoonists with classic creators.

The line of comics features the creative talents of Bayer, Herb Trimpe, Ben Marra, Jim Rugg, Johnny Ryan, Al Milgrom, Das Pastoras, Tony Millionaire, Rick Buckler, Victor Martinez, and Noah Van Sciver.

I got a chance to ask Josh some questions about the line, its influences, and what we can expect.

Graphic Policy: Where did the idea for All Time Comics come from and how long did it take from the initial idea to the announcement?

Josh Bayer: That’s a good question. It was an incredibly long time, from 2014 ‘til now. Looking back, that three years represents a ton of work under the bridge, writing scripts, editing contacting talent, getting worked lettered, colored, not to mention promoting and getting the work ready to print.

GP: With a shared superhero universe starting from scratch, that has to feel a bit overwhelming. How’d you go about figuring out what to characters to highlight with this initial batch?

JB: Beginning points are always hard. With All Time Comics, we started eating the sandwich from the middle. Not only did we jump into the middle of this endeavor, but we wrote the books as if there was a whole history, as if these are from an alternate universe where All Time Comics were an ongoing thing for decades. I wrote most of the books, or co-wrote them with Ben concurrently with each other, so if one book wasn’t the best beginning point the next one might be. That lessened some of that anxiety.

atc-1-crime-destroyer-1-johnny-ryan-cover-2GP: What were your influences while putting this together? What are some of your favorite shared superhero universe?

JB: I don’t know if they influenced but inspired yes: Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics, Alan Moore’s 1963 line and some of Mark Grunewald’s Dp7 comics, and a few of the other New Universe books. Definitely, but mostly Mark Grunewald.

GP: One of the big things you hear folks talking about when it comes to shared universes is accessibility. Was that on your mind when you went about creating everything?

JB: Yes, but that’s more like something which makes sense in retrospect rather than something I planned.  I just wanted to make some books with my brother and my friends, and then with my heroes, it got more interesting as it went on.

GP: How much detail have you go into creating all of the characters? Is there years of backstory or is this the “birth” of these characters and universe?

JB: Not all the backstory is present, we really scratch the surface. We show Crime Destroyer’s origin in a one-page montage that is my favorite Herb Trimpe page. We don’t go into the other three heroes’ backstories, so there is a lot of that to delve into in the future, potentially.

At the same time Phil Jimenez was my teacher at SVA, he used to say that the modern comics industry sometimes thinks that everything needs a reason behind it and an explanation, but not everything needs an explanation all the time. So there’s checks and balances, we know the past of the characters, but you don’t necessarily need all that information to make them the best comics they can be.

atc-2-bullwhip-1-das-pastoras-cover-rgbGP: The folks participating on the project is an impressive roster of talent. How’d you go about recruiting everyone and what were some of their initial reactions?

JB: The younger cartoonists were mostly people I already knew. For the older artists I asked around. One of my friends Cliff Gailbrath was instrumental in getting me in touchy with Herb, and I think I contacted Al through his commission website. Once Herb vouched for me it opened a lot of doors. Aside from that I was really lucky and worked hard to impress those guys. I had never done as polished as script as I produced for Herb, but I wanted it to be as impressive as I could manage. I have no complaints about how that evolved I look back and I was very fortunate that this thing worked.

GP: How’d it get decided who would work on what project?

JB: I just made lists of my favorite people, made them offers, and shifted teams around based on their needs and availability. Each one was an experiment, and each one worked out. Believe me, I’d love to have 15 more teams of unlikely collaborators working together. It’s just a matter of time, money, and basic resources, not a lack of inspiration.

GP: Diversity seems to be on the mind of so many in the industry. Was that something you thought about when creating the characters and recruiting the talent?

JB: Having older and younger artists working together is a nice step towards representing those older and younger faces, but I’d like All Time Comics to be more diverse. Season one, we had four artists, all from similar backgrounds, even if we’re from different eras.  If there’s a Season Two, you’ll hear from a broader array of voices in some All Time Comics books we have coming out after these first issues.

atc-2-bullwhip-1-tony-millionaire-coverGP: The announcement talks about “old-school comics” and “contemporary storytelling.” What are those things to you?

JB: That’s a good question, since those are broad terms and are meant as a calling card to the public. Old School comics had a texture and an energy I liked. That energy was embodied by people like Al and Herb, and that energy is still around, not just in our books — it’s not like mainstream comics are done by robots. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve seen that I like in other people’s superhero comics. People like Ben and Noah are both contemporary and old school, they are traditionalist, and at the same time are interested in speaking to people in today’s world. And so am I. Old school and contemporary means the combination of all our efforts.

GP: There’s been the initial announcement and launch, can we expect more down the road?

JB: First, we need everyone to go out and dig Crime Destroyer, Bullwhip, Atlas and Blind Justice. After that? To be continued….

GP: Thanks so much for chatting.

Flashback Friday Friday Review: Cable Vol. 1 #4

cable_vol_1_4It felt appropriate for a “Retro Friday” review to check out a comic featuring Marvel’s time-traveling mutant Cable! Cable Vol. 1 #4 stems from 1993 and holy crap does it feel like a product of the time meeting all of the stereotypes of the comics from the time and living up to all that was bad during the time period.

I recognize that I come into the story four issues in so the story arc is well under way, but that’s part of the point of this column, not everything is going to be first issues.

The story involves Cable trying to find the Six Pack and eventually X-Force but first he has to fight G.W. Bridge who thinks is a sell-out for working with SHIELD. There’s also Kane making coffee and watching the fist fight.Then there’s Six Pack featuring Grizzly, Hammer, and Domino, plus there’s Copycat (remember her as fake Domino?) who are looking for Cable and X-Force.

Then there’s Six Pack featuring Grizzly, Hammer, and Domino, plus there’s Copycat (remember her as fake Domino?) who are looking for Cable and X-Force.There’s also this guy named Sinsear that I don’t remember at all being all villain in his secret base.

There’s also this guy named Sinsear that I don’t remember at all being all villain in his secret base.Eventually Cable catches up with the Wild Pack and Hammer attacks Cable for injuring him in the past. It’s the usual hero fighting hero before they team-up story.

Eventually, Cable catches up with the Wild Pack and Hammer attacks Cable for injuring him in the past. It’s the usual hero fighting hero before they team-up story.

Written by Fabian Nicieza, with Art Thibert, Rob Liefeld, Jim Reddington, Bill Wylie, and Scott Koblish all on art, Bart Sears provides the cover, Al Milgrom does inks, Marie Javins and Michael Thomas are colourists and Chris Eliopoulos is the letter. I think fewer people put a man in space than put this comic on the shelves.

From stunted dialogue to a choppy narrative I re-read this comic utterly baffled that I loved the comic when I was younger. What was I thinking that I enjoyed it? But, it also explains how I read so many comics so quickly back then if this is what they were all like. The action sequences are by the numbers laughable, such as Kane getting coffee for Cable and Bridge as the two men fight. There’s the by the numbers hero fights hero before coming to his senses. A bad guy disappears. Another bad guy looms in a secret base. I almost want to dig out the rest of the comics in this story arc to bask in the horribleness of it all.

cablevol1-4-cardfront

The best part of the comic? The trading card still inside it in perfect condition and when I saw it the existence of them came rushing back to me… ah memories. There’s also some retro ads that are amazing like an X-Men/Pizza Hut tie-in (have it!) and a Stridex tie-in (have it too!).

This was “of the time,” I’ll go with that. At the time, it was so cool (ah 14 year old me), but today, holy crap is it bad. Laughable dialogue, inconsistent art (Cable’s hair!!!), and predictable sequences all abound. It’s x-treme and with pouches galore! We’re past this as an industry and reading this, so happy we’ve come to our senses.

Story: Fabian Nicieza Art: Art Thibert, Rob Liefeld, Jim Reddington, Bill Wylie, and Scott Koblish Inks: Al Milgrom Colors: Marie Javins and Michael Thomas
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos Cover: Bart Sears
Story: 2 Art: 3 Overall: 2.5 Recommendation: Pass

Fantagraphics Launches a New Superhero Universe with All Time Comics

atc-1-crime-destroyer-1-jim-rugg-cover-2From Fantagraphics comes All Time Comics, a shared superhero universe featuring the world’s most fanta*stic heroes. Atlas! Blind Justice! Bullwhip! Crime Destroyer!

Each issue of All Time Comics features a mash-up of new cartoonists and classic comic book creators collaborating with writer Josh Bayer to unleash superhero stories that no other publisher would dare to publish: a stunning series of six comic books featuring startling stand alone, interconnected adventures chock-full of retro crime fighting. The launch title, All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1, is a 36 page oversized spectacular featuring the wonderful writing of Josh Bayer, the irresistible inks of Ben Marra, and the last art by legendary artist Herb Trimpe, who co-created Wolverine. The first issue also features covers by acclaimed cartoonists Jim Rugg and Johnny Ryan. Upcoming issues of All Time Comics feature art by Rick Buckler, Ben Marra, Al Milgrom, Noah Van Sciver, and more.

All Time Comics is the joint venture of the Bayer brothers: Josh Bayer, an underground comics artist and teacher, and acclaimed mainstream director Samuel Bayer, who launched his career 25 years ago with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video.

atc-1-crime-destroyer-1-johnny-ryan-cover-2In addition to featuring the last art by Wolverine co-creator Herb Trimpe, All Time Comics features the first work of veteran artist and industry legend Al Milgrom since 2014.

All Time Comics is a shared superhero universe featuring four heroes: Atlas, Blind Justice, Bullwhip, and Crime Destroyer.

The oversized first issue of All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer issue 1 will retail for $4.99, and subsequent standard size issues will retail for $3.99.

Don’t miss the most talked about superhero event not published by a corporate conglomerate when the adventures of the world’s most fanta*stic heroes begin in March 2017!

Check out the full creative teams for the comics below.


All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1

Josh Bayer (story); Herb Trimpe (pencils); Ben Marra (inks); Jim Rugg (cover) + Johnny Ryan (cover); MARCH 2017

crime-destroyer-pg-1-rgbAll Time Comics: Bullwhip #1

Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Das Pastoras (cover) + Tony Millionaire (cover); APRIL 2017

All Time Comics: Atlas #1

Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story, pencils, inks); Das Pastoras (cover); MAY 2017

All Time Comics: Blind Justice #1

Josh Bayer (story and pencils); Rick Buckler (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Victor Martinez (cover); JUNE 2017

All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #2

Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story, pencils, inks); Das Pastoras (cover); JULY 2017

All Time Comics: Blind Justice #2

Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story); Noah Van Sciver (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Das Pastoras (cover); AUGUST 2017

 

Have Them Fight God: Magneto Without A Cause

I’m reading every Fantastic Four comic and posting four thoughts about each.

Or at least, I should be, but here on Graphic Policy an unfortunate counting error has caused the project to start with Tom DeFalco’s Fantastic Five miniseries from 1999. I feel such a silly goose. Too late to go back and fix it now, I suppose. The only way out is through.  

That series was part of the ‘MC2‘, an alternate universe set sixteen years into Marvel’s future, and so before we can even get to it, we’re looking at every prior appearance of the Fantastic Five in that universe. Thus far we’ve considered What If? #105, Spider-Girl #3 and A-Next #5.

Today it’s…

J2: The Son of the Original Juggernaut #6

J26 jpg

…from March 1999. Another comic in which the FF only appear on a screen in the background for one panel. It’s all important context, though. A new Age of Heroes has dawned and, in this issue, it finds its first critic.

ONE

Franklin Richards, a mutant, is the most popular boy in the world. He’s the non-threatening heartthrob of a generation. Usually at Marvel there’s an interesting tension to that sort of thing.

Avengers #400, to pick one of a million examples, has a crowd wild with enthusiasm for the World’s Mightiest Heroes. They’re cheering and chanting about the virtues of the Avengers, and two particular virtues they’ve identified are that they’re not like those creepy mutant teams and that “they’re our kinda people.”

The Scarlet Witch, both a mutant and an Avenger, begins to express discomfort with receiving praise on those terms. The Vision shushes her. “It hardly matters, Wanda” he says, and helpfully goes on to explain that humanity comes from the soul. “We’re all one race; The human race” is a typically Avengersy stance.

That the crowds cheer for superheroes but persecute mutants is something that a lot of readers find awkward about the Marvel Universe, but it seems to me to be one of the very few things about “the mutant metaphor” that totally works as a metaphor. This is a thing that happens. Our culture habitually selects a few individuals from any group we’re oppressing, raises them to celebrity status, and declares them to be National Treasures. The process offers us the emotional reward of not feeling like we’re oppressing the group (because, look… we love that National Treasure) while also bolstering the logic by which we oppress the group (we love that National Treasure because they are exceptional). It’s an old and sneaky trick, and some people get very cross when the likes of Beyonce stop listening to the likes of the Vision and find ways to disrupt it.

Franklin Richards doesn’t have to bother though. In the MC2 universe that he has inherited then the persecution of the fictional minority to which he belongs seems to have stopped. We know this came about through the “efforts and sacrifices” of the X-Men but we’re otherwise light on details. Regardless, halfway through the MC2’s first year as an imprint then this universe has been established as one where all that nasty business has been sorted out.

That might change. This book’s contemporary, Mutant X, presented a different alternate universe where anti-mutant prejudice was over, only to eventually realise that it didn’t know how to tell mutant stories without it. Mutant X swiftly retconned itself to say that, in fact, anti-mutant prejudice was rife, and that our protagonist just hadn’t noticed it because he was busy. The MC2 might end up doing the same somewhere along the line. I don’t know. I just know that if it does, it won’t be as believable as with Mutant X because the MC2’s protagonist isn’t Alex Summers.

Until that day comes, Jubilee’s X-People seem to be keeping themselves busy by fighting crime. We know from dialogue in J2 #4 that the X-People are not continuous with the X-Men. They are not what the X-Men have evolved into. The X-Men have not re-branded. The X-Men have disbanded. And then Jubilee has formed the X-People. To what ends, exactly, is unclear. We know from J2 #2 that they’re responsible for foiling the get-rich-quick schemes of Enthralla, the Niece of the Original Mastermind, and in this issue they’re listed as part of a category of reactive crimefighters. Based on everything we’ve seen, they have no distinctive mission beyond ‘superhero.’

If there’s no distinct role in the MC2 universe for the X-Men, can there be one for a Magneto figure? Magneta, All-New Mistress of Magnetism, certainly hopes so. Otherwise she’s kind of redundant. She really doesn’t want that. Magneta’s the antagonist on this issue and has “dreams of power and glory” that are dependant on her being the Magneto of her generation.

J2, the Son of the Original Juggernaut, questions her on this. He’s fairly unconvinced that his generation needs a Magneto and the strength of his feelings tells us a lot about how the last generation’s Magneto has been remembered.  

“Why pattern yourself after one of the greatest super-villains of all time?” asks the kid dressed as the supervillain who, in 1991, destroyed the World Trade Centre and stood cackling delightedly amidst the carnage. Magneta makes a half-hearted effort at suggesting he might be coming from a somewhat compromised position, but the scene bustles us along past it. The weight of the story is behind the guy dressed as the Juggernaut being the voice of reason when he tells off the woman dressed as Magneto for taking on the identity of “as mass murderer.” Public acceptance of mutants clearly hasn’t come with any reevaluation of Magneto’s radicalism. If anything, this suggests that whoever wrote the history books hardened the line. In J2’s world, Magneto is remembered simply as a monster.

Magneta thinks differently. Her stance is that he was “a victim of poor press management.” She might be onto something there. The one time we’ve seen Magneto make use of a PR specialist, in Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men run, then she turned out to be Mister Sinister in disguise. That’s not ideal. So far, the facts bear Magneta out.

“Many of his ideas and ideals are quite admirable when stripped of his usual arrogant rhetoric” she goes on to say. Again, uncontroversial. Jay and Miles Xplain the X-Men sell a very amusing t-shirt to that effect. But then she runs into trouble.

Magneta is arguing for herself as a new Magneto and has identified that Magneto’s ideas have something to offer. Okay, but what do they have to offer in a world where mutants aren’t being oppressed? Depending on how much you want to engage with, and how you want to parse, the mutant metaphor then that’s a question that’s certainly eminently answerable in its terms. But that’s not where Magneta goes with it.      

Up on a screen she displays pictures of all the MC2 heroes we have met so far. They all make the same mistake, she tells us. And that mistake is that “they always allow the criminal to make the first move, and only respond after some outrage has been committed. Her plan is to form “a super-team of like-minded individuals — a Brotherhood of Proactive Heroes — who will strike at anyone we regard as a threat!”

This is both remarkable and unremarkable. Contrasting the traditional values of superheroes with the values of the more gung ho types that crashed through your walls in the early nineties Image boom was, by Nineteen Ninety-Nine, a conversation that was well under way, and Nineteen Ninety-Six’s Kingdom Come had already established that alternate futures like the MC2 were the ideal place to stage it. This conversation was under way, but it was far from over; a couple of months before this comic was published then Stormwatch had been destroyed by Aliens, and a couple of months after this comic was published they would return as the Authority. More than one nearby universe would get precisely the Brotherhood of Proactive Heroes that Magneta called for.

The remarkable bit is the idea that this might be Magneto’s legacy. Something that is nothing to do with identity or resistance but just tips on how to catch criminals. That the notions of his that have value are those that are applicable to the business of being a costumed crimefighter. Both the person arguing for and the person arguing against Magneto have no concept of there being any political context for his actions. It’s strikingly absent from either of their considerations. 

The world in which Franklin has entered adulthood is one where being a mutant has been depoliticised, and already we can see how that’s distorted its cultural memory.

TWO

Magneta has a context in which she sees herself. She is, she announces, “the most powerful of the new generation of heroes!” The MC2 characters are developing a sense of themselves as a group. They know that something’s changed. They know that their synchronous emergence is a thing.

She defines that group by displaying them all on her wall o’ monitors.

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There they all are. The Avengers. The X-People. The Fantastic Five. Darkdevil. Whatever the Doctor Strange analogue was called. Spider-Girl. And seeing them all there together like that really brings home what DeFalco’s done, the extent to which this new generation is a recapitulation of the Silver Age. Seeing them all assembled together for the first time truly explicates what the MC2 is. It can sneak past you when you’re just seeing successive introductions of new versions of old concepts, but when you put them together like that then the big picture is clear.

The MC2 is a new start for the Marvel universe because it’s a re-enactment of the start of the Marvel universe. It’s not just a new generation. It’s specifically a new Sixties.

Last week we talked about exactly this happening in 1602. How, in Gaiman’s story then the introduction of Captain America to Ye Olden Days caused Ye Olden Days to contort themselves into the shape of Marvel’s Silver Age. To extrude analogues of its characters.

Since this is a Fantastic Four project then we might be a little grumpy at the notion of Captain America being the trigger for a Silver Age, but I’m afraid that’s what it says. I checked.

What about in the MC2 though? The fiction’s pretend material history offers no explanations within its bounds for why the Silver Age is repeating itself, so we can only assume that a process similar to 1602’s narrative causality is at work. One retro-snowball has caused this retro avalanche, but which?

Looking at the sequence of these characters emergences sends us cascading backwards. In Spider-Girl’s first story we learn that her superheroic debut is pre-existed by the X-People, the Fantastic Five and the new Avengers. Later events will make it clear that Darkdevil was also on the scene before her. A-Next establishes that the X-People beat the new Avengers to formation, and that that Doctor Strange analogue has been around for a while too.

The Fantastic Five are not a viable trigger for the start of this new Age, since they never went away, but perhaps whatever mysterious catastrophe they have undergone is. Something as yet undiscussed has happened to the team to put Sue out of the picture, put Reed in a cute little robot body, and put metal bits on Ben. Perhaps that mysterious disaster constituted the end of the age they began and prompted the commencement of this one.  

Failing that, then the internal chronology seems to leave the Doctor Strange analogue as the first of the new heroes. That might be interesting, given the antagonistic relationship A-Next has shown him to have with his predecessor. The actual Doctor Strange got fired from the Sorcerer Supreme gig! I sort of love that. If we had more to go on, it would be a lot of fun to consider the two magicians as representatives of two different magical epochs and to account for the two Silver Ages in terms of what they represent. We might keep an eye on that.         

Based on what we have got now though, I think our best bet is to take another close look at What If? #105. No active superheroes are mentioned, shown, or otherwise evidenced anywhere in the comic until May learns of her legacy. As soon as she has…SUPERHEROES EVERYWHERE! It seems most likely that the MC2’s reality has warped around Spider-Girl in the same way 1602’s warped around Rogers.  

THREE

Or it could just be dynasty.

Magneta has got Magneto’s powers, costume, and hair but no apparent personal connection to the chap himself. She’s the new Magneto because she’s mysteriously acquired sufficiently attributes of Magneto-ness and adopted ‘Magneta’ as what she calls her “nom de costume.” Magneta is unusual. Most of the MC2’s analogues have some personal connection to their predecessor.

The Fantastic Four is a family saga, but rarely a dynastic one.

Certainly there have been attempts to interest us in other generations. Sometimes ancestors, sometimes descendants, sometimes ancestors who have time-travelled to the future and sometimes descendants who have time-travelled to the past. It doesn’t matter so long as they’re all called ‘Nathaniel.’ But for all that, the focus is always on Reed and Sue’s generation.

The utterly wonderful Fantastic Four 100th Anniversary Special illustrates the point well. Purporting to be an artefact from forty-seven years ahead of its publication, its recap page gets up up to speed with who the FF will be by then…   

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Fantasic Four: 100th Anniversary Special #1

We don’t get to spend much time with these kids. We get a fabulous story about Sue and Valeria that I wouldn’t trade for anything, but… damn, I kind of want to know if Vicky and Kirby are gonna kiss again.

But Fantastic Four will never be about Vicky and Kirby. It’s only towards the very end of Fantastic Four, in the Millar and Hickman runs, that Franklin and Valeria finally became viable protagonists.

Here and now, in the MC2, the Fantastic Five stand as part of this “New Generation of Heroes.” Four out of the five of them are from the previous generation.

Elsewhere, there has been a succession and it has mostly been a dynastic one. The new team of Avengers consists of Thunderstrike’s son as Thunderstike, Scott Lang’s daughter as a bug-themed hero, the Juggernaut’s son as J2, and a robot that Tony Stark built (I don’t know if robots that Tony builds count as his children, but I bet that’s explored somewhere). The Spider-Girl comic’s tagline is “the daughter of the true Spider-Man!” which even sounds like a genealogical claim being asserted to oust some pretender from the throne.

A-Next’s ‘Kooky Quartet’ characters inherit their roles by more circuitous routes. The American Dream is the niece of Sharon Carter, who is the niece of Peggy Carter. Association with the person of Captain America is obviously passed along the line of nieces. The Crimson Curse, the Scarlet Witch figure, isn’t the daughter of the Scarlet Witch, but is the daughter of Agatha Harkness, her mentor. Even where the relationship between these characters and their predecessors isn’t quite one of linear descent, it’s still all in the family.

Also, the new Avengers’ reserve member, Coal Tiger, is the son of the Black Panther. We might expect them to act like a royal family, I suppose, since they are one. What’s everyone else’s excuse?

The mainstream Marvel and DC universes have long had to negotiate the fact that they have two broad generations of heroes in their stories, the Golden Age and Silver Age characters. Marvel cheerfully started integrating Nineteen-Forties characters into their universe from Fantastic Four #4 on, while DC have gone back and forth on whether or not their Golden Age and Silver Age characters exist in the same reality or if old people are from another universe. As I write, another swing of that pendulum is scheduled for the end of this month.

On the occasions when the DC universe does house both its ‘forties and ‘sixties casts then there’s a further tension. How is the succession to work? How bound are these roles to the bloodlines of their originators? That’s a massively complex question over there. James Robinson’s Starman gets well over eighty issues worth of drama out of interrogating the intersection of the Knight family and the Starman identity.

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Starman #One Million

Sometimes you’re Black Canary because your mother was. Sometimes you’re Wonder Woman because your daughter was. Sometimes you’re Wonder Woman because your daughter was but then you then went back in time to be Wonder Woman before her. The late nineties and early two-thousands were a wild time for this sort of thing at DC. A reader could readily observe the push and pull between people who thought it’d be cool if Hourman was a colony of intelligent machines apprenticed to a New God and people who thought it would be more cool if Hourman was some generic bloke called Rick, because Rick was the son of the true Hourman.

It is a complex question at DC because it is one with huge implications.

Generation One have titles and powers. The two are associated.

Generation Two have titles and powers, again associated.

How that association of powers and titles is transmitted from one to the other is a big deal. Making those associations and managing their transmission is literally how Rome gets a line of Emperors without formally having Emperors. That’s what defines what a Roman Emperor is and this potentially tells us a lot about what a ‘superhero’ is too. It makes a huge difference to what has been created, within the fiction, when one creates a superhero identity if it’s established as the natural norm for you to have just instituted a dynastic inheritance. It colours any response to the question of how superheroes relate to their power if one of the things they’re expected to do with it is pass it on to their kids.  

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Starman #One Million

This isn’t as inextricable a concern for Marvel as it is for DC. Marvel might tie themselves up in a muddle of retcons as to what exactly the Vision has to do with the Golden Age Human Torch, but it never has to worry about whether or not he’s the son of Marvex the Super-Robot. Whatever relationships may be established between Marvel’s ‘forties and ‘sixties characters, there’s rarely a sense that they share identities to an extant that demands an explanation.

When DC’s ‘forties characters became superheroes, did they found dynasties? Um, it’s complicated. On the days when they exist, then some certainly did.

When Marvel’s ‘forties characters became superheroes, did they found dynasties? No, they categorically did not.

Which makes it interesting when Marvel imagines futures for itself. When it imagines a Generation Three. Because then it has to ask if its ‘sixties characters founded dynasties. If they did what their predecessors did not and made the imperial move when they associated titles with powers.

The MC2’s answer is a definite yes.

They’re not the only ones at it. One of the back-up stories in this issue is an adventure for Wild Thing, the daughter of the original Wolverine.      

FOUR

Here are the credits for this issue –

givethedonkey

“This line was always aimed at a mass market beyond the comic book stores,” Tom DeFalco told the comicboards forum in 2004. It was aimed at “the K-Marts and Targets of the world.”

As we saw when we looked at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, this is what Marvel does in the late nineties. When it reaches outside the direct market, it presents itself as a retro brand. A pastiche of how Stan Lee books were presented in the Nineteen Sixties is what theme park visitors and K-Mart shoppers are thought to be looking for. It’s not clear if they’re expected to recognise the specific reference points for these hokey bits of bullpen buffoonery, but they’re expected to recognise this material as ‘old timey.’

Marvel were publishing two alternate futures in Nineteen Ninety-nine. The project aimed at the direct market, Earth X, traded off the solemnity of Alex Ross pseudo-realism. Readers in the loop were to be sold an idea that ‘Marvel Comics’ are something terribly, terribly serious with the authentic air of adulthood that can only come from all the characters looking like random middle-aged blokes. Meanwhile, the product aimed at the people outside the circle sold an idea of ‘Marvel Comics’ as a happy relic of simpler times. Both were extreme strategies.

The strategy for how the MC2 books were to be sold was a nifty one. Three titles, A-Next, J2 and Spider-Girl, would run in the direct market for a year. Then, when their time was up, they’d be replaced with three new titles on on the comic shop shelves. The twelve issues of each launch title that existed would then be bagged up and sold in the mainstream outlets in packs of four, six or twelve. The process would then repeat, with the second wave of titles enjoying their one year of life before making their way in turn to k-mart’s bundles.  

That’s not how it turned out though. A-Next and J2 made it to their allotted twelve issues according to plan, but Spider-Girl made no sense to cancel. So only two new books were introduced in the second wave, Wild Thing and Fantastic Five, and neither made it past their fifth issue. The K-Mart and Target deals had fallen through, and we were spared the strangeness of a continuation of DeFalco’s Hyperstorm saga being presented as an ideal way in to comics.  

I wonder how study those retailer deals were looking when this issue was written, as there’s a paranoid note to many of the frequent metafictional lines of dialogue. “I will be surprised if they survive a full year” says Magneta of the A-Next Avengers, obviously aware that that’s the specific finish line they’re racing to. She’s not sure about the branding either, telling J2 that his battlecry is “a little too Silver Age for today’s audience.”

Gone is the confidence we saw in Spider-Girl that this fictional universe can stand on its own rather than in relation to someone else’s. J2 begins his opening monologue with “In case you’re new to this particular plane of reality…” and so from the moment we begin to engage with this issue’s world, we’re asked to take a step back and remember that it is just one of many. Even to our viewpoint character, his reality is only provisional.

Then a flying car shows up and someone says “we must be living in someone’s future!”

With that, the MC2 characters abandon their claim to their own present. The world in which they live isn’t their now. It’s someone else’s future. It belongs to those someones and they just live in it. The line asserts that this world derives its meaning from its relation to another. Of the five characters who speak in this story, three of them make moves to downplay the extent to which the MC2 universe matters.

While the way in which the dialogue and the branding address the reader is often confused, J2 is a comic very certain as to whose needs its main character is to serve.

DeFalco’s teenagers are all about the nerd/jock binary. Spider-Girl’s social problems arise from her being equally successful in both groups and having to deal with the fallout of constantly crossing the streams. J2 offers the more traditional power fantasy of a nerd who is, secretly, bigger and stronger than all those mean jocks that pick on him. This is complicated by race. As Zane Yama, our hero experiences life as the son of his Asian mother. As J2 he experiences life as the son of his white father. The way this interacts with the standard male empowerment fantasy isn’t something the comic yet seems prepared to talk about out loud.

What it is really hyped to talk about is how J2 feels about large men. The comic appears to offer the consolatory pleasure of letting young men who feel disempowered imagine how cool it would be if you could transform into what it terms a “beef muffin.” Then you’d show them, you’d show them all.

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That Charles Atlas Ad

There’s a lot of that about. But what makes J2 interesting is that it runs with the idea that even if you did suddenly change from the kid who gets sand kicked in his face to the hero of the beach, you’d probably retain negative associations with large men.

J2 is a comic about a weedy kid who can transform into a large man, but is really, really unsure how he feels about large men. The primary relationship the book keeps returning to is between J2 and his Flash Thompson figure. His every night is filled with terrifying dreams of his enormous father looming over him in pursuit. One issue of J2 is an expansion of a scene in A-Next that exists so we can watch him bond with the Incredible Hulk. He is terrified of his own naked body.

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Panels from J2 #1

To the standard, if racially inflected, power fantasy and been added bucketfuls of paranoia and ambivalent sexual anxiety. If you could turn into a beef muffin, this book tells its hero, I’m afraid that would not resolve all your feelings about beef muffins.

This issue is about J2’s feelings towards women though. “Sure, I know some major lookers.” he complains,  “But they usually ignore me — or shove me into the best friend/faithful confidant role. There’s gotta be a girl for me somewhere!”

The character’s friendzone narrative is somewhat challenged by the story, since it turns out that when women do make advances towards him that doesn’t resolve all his feelings about women. But only somewhat. We’re still expected to have some sympathy for his viewpoint by the end. As I say, this comic has a very clear idea of the sort of person it was addressing, even if it was unsure of how to reach them outside of comic shops.

Almost American
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