Tag Archives: carol danvers

Mondo Reveals Two Captain Marvel Enamel Pins by Matt Taylor!

Carol Danvers is a force to be reckoned with, and her theatrical debut as Captain Marvel this past March showed us exactly why. Marvel wonder Matt Taylor created two enamel pins for the film back in January, that Mondo is releasing alongside the film’s home video release. Captain Marvel in her Kree suit and Nick Fury as we know and love him are Available Now!

CAPTAIN MARVEL Enamel Pins. Designed by Matt Taylor. Captain Marvel – Kree Suit (1.21″ H), Nick Fury (1.28″ H). Hard enamel pins; both on a 1.18″ x 2.36″ backing. Expected to Ship in 7 – 10 Business DaysAvailable to ship in the US and Select Countries Internationally. $10 Each

C2E2 2017: Secret Empire is Footloose and Context Free

 

Thanks to the clutchness of my former podcast co-host and current Comicosity writer, Terrence Sage, I got a front row seat to the Secret Empire panel at C2E2 on Saturday where editors Christina Harrington, Nick Lowe, and Wil Moss discussed Marvel‘s summer event with writers Nick Spencer and Margaret Stohl in addition to PR guy, Chris D’Lando. The panel solidified my idea that Secret Empire is a series that will be filled with twists, turns, and various summer blockbuster flourishes, but is unaware of the context or larger world around. Throughout the panel, Spencer stressed the fact that Secret Empire is apolitical even though it is clearly about the secret rise of fascism in the Marvel Universe with references to the Axis Powers starting on page one of issue zero. This is pretty painful because both Captain America’s co-creator Jack Kirby fought in World War II and the cover of Captain America Comics #1 famously featured Cap punching Adolf Hitler although the United States was still neutral.

But the panel wasn’t all negatives. Thanks to Steve McNiven and Andrea SorrentinoSecret Empire is going to have some glorious artwork. On the tie-in front, there was talk about the rise of the Blue team of X-Men and Matthew Rosenberg and Javier Garron’s Secret Warriors as the de facto antifa resistance. Mighty Captain Marvel writer Margaret Stohl was the hero of the panel as she redeems Carol Danvers from being an authoritarian herself in Civil War Ii and back to being one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest soldiers in the upcoming “Band of Sisters” storyline. In keeping with its name, this storyline was inspired by watching documentary footage of World War II, including the Battle of Midway and the D-Day landing.

Andrea Sorrentino art from Secret Empire #3.

The panel kicked off with Chris D’Lando and Nick Spencer doing a two man PR spiel for Secret Empire and its core tie-ins, Captain America Sam Wilson and Captain America Steve Rogers. Spencer stressed that this story was his own idea that he came up with in early 2015. Secret Empire didn’t come out of Marvel editorial retreat, and Spencer pitched it personally to Tom Brevoort. I can definitely respect Secret Empire coming organically from Nick Spencer’s work on the Captain America titles and Avengers: Standoff. However, he use our favorite magical MacGuffin, the Cosmic Cube quite a lot. This reality warping thingamabob could offer an instant reset with its cosmic abilities although Spencer stressed to fans that he wouldn’t “walk back” anything in this storyline.

Divorced from any kind of historical or sociopolitical context, Secret Empire has some cool things going for it with a two front war with Captain Marvel, Alpha Flight, and the Guardians of the Galaxy taking on the Chitauri,  heroes like the Defenders, Dr. Strange, and Cloak and Dagger, battling in the Dark Dimension, and the rest of the heroes fighting HYDRA in Washington DC. Secret Empire #2 will contain the reveal that Steve Rogers is evil in the form of a beautiful mosaic double page spread from Andrea Sorrentino while issue 3 will take place in space. It’s the big heroes vs villain event that many fans have been looking for, but the biggest villain of them all happens to be the former moral center of the Marvel Universe. Oh, and there’s going to be mini Cosmic Cubes to promote the event that look kind of cute and are better than comic book store employees dressing up like mythological creature themed Nazis.

Spencer, D’Lando, and Marvel executive editor Nick Lowe teased some of the tie-ins too. Captain America Steve

Captain America Steve Rogers #18 Cover

Rogers will focus on Cap as basically dictator of the United States and feature guest appearances from the journalists of Civil War: Frontline and Namor. Two of those three things are excellent, and the friendship between Namor and Steve as members of the Invaders in World War II has always fascinated me. Doctor Strange #21 marks the debut of a new creative team of Dennis Hopeless and Nico Henrichon, artist of Pride of Baghdad as well as lots of monsters in the Dark Dimension. I haven’t followed the new Doctor Strange series, but the combination of excellent art and guest appearances by cast members from the late, great Spider-Woman means I’ll give the new run a shot.

Lowe also mentioned Amazing Spider-Man #29, which stars the Superior Octopus, or Dr. Octopus in a new body working for HYDRA. It looked like Richard Spencer’s ultimate wet dream as drawn by the talented Stuart Immonen. There will also be an anthology series called Secret Empire: Brave New World starring obscure, yet insanely awesome Marvel characters, like Blade, Domino, and of course, Bob, Agent of HYDRA from Deadpool. Some highlights of Brave New World‘s creative team included Ethan Sacks (Formerly of the New York Daily News) writing a story from the POV of the Daily Bugle and Kim and Kim creator Magdalene Visaggio doing a Starbrand one.

Editor Christina Harrington cheered up some of the X-Men fans in the room by teasing X-Men Blue #7 and the first look at #8 and #9, which will focus on the return of Emma Frost and Polaris. In the Q and A, she said that Emma will be “back in white” and hinted at her having her diamond form too and also hinted at other guest stars in the run. Nothing was mentioned about Holocaust survivor Magneto’s role in the fight against HYDRA, and hopefully as the secret team leader of the X-Men’s Blue team, he will be beating them up with magnetic things.

Wil Moss followed up with Secret Warriors #1, which will be written by Matthew Rosenberg, drawn by Javier Garron, and have one of the most stacked non-Avengers/X-Men team lineups, including Quake, Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, Devil Dinosaur, Karnak, and Inferno. It has a fun, yet highly problematic premise of the Secret Warriors traveling across the US and liberating Inhumans from internment camps that are scarily like the ones in Chechnya for gay men. (I discuss this troubling fact with Matthew Rosenberg in an upcoming interview.)  Rosenberg has shown a knack for comedy with Rocket Raccoon and We Can Never Go Home was a great road trip story so I have high hopes for this series, which could make fetch, er, Inhumans happen. Also, the X-Men are popping up in Secret Warriors #3

The highlight of the Secret Empire panel was Margaret Stohl’s enthusiasm for Captain Marvel, and hopefully she has a long run with the character like Kelly Sue DeConnick. Stohl that the upcoming arc of Mighty Captain Marvel would get back to what Carol does best “kick ass in space” and set her up as the ultimate soldier of the Marvel Universe like Steve Rogers used to be. But the book won’t just be rah rah and punching as she will also focus on young people’s first experience in combat through the Alpha Flight cadets, including the Wakandan Aki and Dante, who appeared in the YA novel Black Widow: Forever Red that Stohl also wrote. Margaret Stohl’s take on Secret Empire seems more grounded than Nick Spencer’s with her focus on things like the horrors of war and resisting authoritarianism instead of sensationalism and retconning iconic characters.

Usually, the Q&A sessions of most panels are filled with stuttering and long self-serving fan monologues, but the one for the Secret Empire was quite amusing. I did a Storify of my live tweets of it here, but some of the highlights were Nick Spencer’s edgy love Carol Danvers’ idea for a surveillance state, saying that tearing down an iconic character is a “redemption story” and a kid (Possibly a Marvel plant) ripping off a Superman t-shirt so he could read an early copy of Secret Empire #1.

On a more serious note, I was kind of saddened when a veteran told Spencer and the panel that Secret Empire had angered some veterans who look up to Captain America and his service as a soldier. Let’s just say there was much back pedaling involved in Spencer’s response to her showing that Spencer uses the trappings of fascism in his loud, quippy action driven stories like Michael Bay uses American nationalism in his. At least, Spencer has jokes as evidenced by Superior Foes, The Fix, and the Guardians of the Galaxy’s dialogue in Secret Empire #0.

My main takeaways from Secret Empire is that it has some exciting elements, including mass superhero battles, Carol Danvers being a hero again, and Andrea Sorrentino artwork, but it seems divorced from any kind of nuance and real-world relevance. This is troubling when the bad guys are Neo-Nazis and not just “for the evulz” supervillains. But Mighty Captain Marvel, Secret Warriors, and Secret Empire: Brave New World should be fun reads.

(Plot twist: I hadn’t even read Secret Empire #0 when I attended this panel…)

Physical proof that I was at this panel, and this isn’t fake news.

Review: Jessica Jones #6

I could hear the “theories” that filled my earlier reviews of the new Jessica Jones series laughing at me as the foe that Jessica Jones and Carol Danvers team up to fight up in Jessica Jones #6’s only redeeming moment is just another no-name HYDRA leader, who happens to hate superheroes and hire visually interesting henchmen like The Spot. Instead of being like Dennis Hopeless in Spider-Woman, writer Brian Michael Bendis decides to walk back over a decade of character development and wreck Luke and Jessica’s marriage in a single arc complete with a messy custody battle over Dani and some shaming from Jessica’s mother. Now, she’s single just like in the Netflix show, and there’s not even time for them to talk it over at the end of the issue or tell Luke that she was on a top secret mission. It’s just over.

After that highly negative paragraph, I would like to discuss the one positive of Jessica Jones #6: Carol and Jessica are officially friends again. Of course, Carol has to get punched around by The Spot in some gut wrenching art from Michael Gaydos to sell the subterfuge that Jessica Jones is selling out the superheroes. However, Bendis foreshadows that everything is going to be dandy early on when Carol works around Sharon Carter to keep the SHIELD safe house where they fight Allison and Spot away from SHIELD eyes. The issue also has a pretty fun opener where Jessica Jones (in her old superhero identity as Jewel) kicks Dr. Octopus’ ass, makes dick jokes about him, and the instantly befriends Carol Danvers, who is wearing her original 1970s costume. It’s easily the best part of this story arc complete with a nauseating color palette from Matt Hollingsworth and made me long for a Bronze Age superhero version of Broad City that this Jewel/Ms. Marvel team up comic would probably read like.

After assassinating Carol Danvers’ character in Civil War II and putting James Rhodes six feet under, Bendis turns his sights on a couple of his “babies” in Jessica Jones #6, namely Jessica and Luke Cage. Unlike his humorous, yet still nuanced portrayal by David Walker in Power Man and Iron Fist, Luke is just loud, angry, and not the brightest bulb in the box in Jessica Jones #6. He spent an entire arc looking for Dani before finally having the bright idea to check Jessica mom’s house after telling his “bro” Iron Fist that he didn’t sleep with his ex, Misty Knight after a tabloid pictures pops up of them close together. Yes, this is the guy that Bendis previously had leading the Avengers and then making an adult decision and stepping back from the team to be there for his family. And now he won’t even have a conversation with his estranged wife, who finally came back to him.

In retrospect, Jessica Jones‘ overarching plot where Jessica Jones goes to jail, sells herself out to HYDRA agent after pretending to hate all the superheroes, and sends baby Dani to live with her mother seems like one huge contrivance to break her and Luke’s marriage up. At least, it wasn’t dissolved by Mephisto. Allison Greene doesn’t even seem like that great of a villain and even worth the sacrifice to take out. Sure, she has some crazy, if derivative ideas about killing teen superheroes, but never really shows that she has what it takes.

Basically, after a whole arc of pain and teases not coming to fruition, Bendis and Gaydos put Jessica Jones back on square one as the colossal screw-up that she was towards the beginning of Alias. They also put the actual interesting mystery of the multiverse being destroyed on the backburner for the time being. Jessica almost tells Carol about this “case,” but is shushed and pretty much told to sleep it off. At least with no husband or kid to worry about, she’ll have plenty of free time to ponder the mysteries of the missing Earth-1610.

The story that he is drawing is mediocre, but Michael Gaydos continues to be a solid artist of body language and showing the flaws of superheroes beneath their bright costumes. If there’s any artist who can tell a story in a rhythmic grid about someone completely ruining their life with all the messy emotions in between, it’s him. He deserves better than Jessica Jones #6, which is a conclusion to an arc that had the clear purpose of breaking up Jessica and Luke in way that doesn’t feel earned and is buried underneath a cacophony of subplots and countless panels of The Spot punching people.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Michael Gaydos Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Story: 5.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Whatever Happened to Jessica Jones?

JessicaJonesNYCC

Unfortunately, Jessica Jones hasn’t had a solo series since The Pulse was cancelled in 2006, except for a special one-off for 2015’s New York Comic Con. She’s had stories featuring her as the lead character in Brian Michael BendisNew Avengers, had a solo story by Bendis and her co-creator Michael Gaydos that is all but a pitch for Alias II in the Marvel 75th Anniversary Special, and even was a co-headliner in Chris Yost and Mike McKone‘s Spider-Island: The Avengers with Carol Danvers, but there have been no ongoing or miniseries with her as protagonist.

Also, even though Bendis gave her the semblance of an arc through six years of New Avengers as she went from mom to superhero and back to mom, Jessica has sadly become defined by her relationship with her husband Luke Cage and her daughter Dani. However, along the way, he has developed her relationships with Carol Danvers, Daredevil, and even Spider-Man, who she used to have a crush on back in high school and inspired her to first put on the Jewel costume. (This story is told in a wonderful backup drawn by former Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada.)  And when Bendis was running the Avengers (and by extension) and the main Marvel events, she made appearances in such high profile storylines as Secret Invasion, Siege, and Fear Itself and the tie-ins to Civil War and Avengers vs. X-Men. With Hickman in charge of the Avengers the past couple of years and Bendis focusing on the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy, she hasn’t appeared in any recent Marvel events, but this is going to change with Bendis penning Civil War II with artist Dave Marquez. Finally, Jessica is a consistent source of sarcasm and one-liners in the Marvel Universe making her a natural fit for the quip-heavy back and forth of the New Avengers team.

JessVows

The first defining post-Pulse event in the life of Jessica Jones as a character is her marriage to Luke Cage in New Avengers Annual #1, which acts as kind of an epilogue to The Pulse. Also, it ensured that thousands of more readers would be exposed to the relationship between Jessica and Luke, and it gives their wedding an “event” feel, like the previous high profile Marvel weddings between Reed and Sue Richards, Vision and Scarlet Witch, and Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson. Luke and Jessica were separated once when she decided to sign the Superhuman Registration Act to protect her and her baby, but they still remain married after 10 years. Bendis also doesn’t give into cliche in this issue and has the New Avengers fight the Super Adaptoid before the big day instead of having Black Widow’s replacement ruin the fun. Jessica also makes her own vows and says that Luke has inspired her and helped her not be stuck in her own head all the time, like the early arcs of Alias. It is touching climactic moment in their relationship, and artist Olivier Coipel captures it in usual clean art style and gives her a really poufy dress.

JessvsStark

The next big Jessica Jones moment (Sans her final guest spot in Young Avengers as team mentor where she gives Hawkeye’s bow to Kate Bishop and a couple appearances in Black Panther with Luke) is in New Avengers #22, which is a Civil War tie-in focused on Luke Cage deciding to not sign the Superhuman Registration Act. Bendis uses lots of loaded language and metaphors about the KKK and Jim Crow laws, but basically Luke wants to protect Harlem on his terms, not the government’s. Plus Jessica gets to call SHIELD, “the United States of corporate sellouts”. She shares a sad moment with Carol Danvers as it looks like the superhuman Civil War is going to fracture their friendship for a while, and she ends up not taking part in it going to Canada with her still unnamed daughter in tow for the duration of the event.

BabyDaniDanny

After the war, Jessica ends up on the run with the New Avengers, but instead of going on cool missions with them in Japan and fighting Japan, she stays cooped up in the Sanctum Sanctorum with Dani. Wong or Luke even does her shopping for her because of the Registration Act. Of course, this leads to some major cabin fever, and she snaps in New Avengers #33, which kicks off “The Trust” arc when the New Avengers decide to work with the Mighty Avengers to take on the Hood and a consortium of supervillains, who want to blow up Stark Tower. As a stay at home, she feels like she is suppressing who she really is, and this is confirmed in New Avengers #34 when Doctor Strange does an “imagery” spell on the team to see who they really are on the inside (and if they’re Skrulls.), and Jessica’s image is her in her Jewel costume. Bendis is foreshadowing her possible return to the superhero life, but she won’t join the New Avengers for quite a while. She does get to name her daughter, Danielle, after Danny Rand even though she jokes that the baby was named after Danny Partridge and empathizes with Luke’s paranoia that Dani is a Skrull in light of Elektra being outed as a Skrull in a previous arc.

JessWarOver

If New Avengers Annual #1 was the happiest moment for Luke and Jessica’s relationship, then New Avengers Annual #2 and its followup issue New Avengers #38, which is drawn by Michael Gaydos, is its darkest hour. In a frightening sequence of events, the Hood, who is majorly overpowered, overcomes the defenses of the Sanctum and Sanctorum causing Jessica to give Dani to Spider-Man while she runs away. She and Dani almost get sniped by Punisher villain Jigsaw, but Spidey saves them with his webs. The trauma of this attack causes Jessica to go to Avengers Tower and sign the Registration Act to protect Dani from both supervillains and Skrulls. She and Luke have a long argument where she tells him that he put his principles before being a father, and that all she cares about is Dani’s safety. He even almost gets arrested by the Mighty Avengers, but Carol does Jessica a solid and lets him go if he “thinks” about registering. Because Luke put his ideology before his family, Jessica and him separate with her staying in Avengers Tower, and him in an apartment owned by the Rand Corporation with the other New Avengers.

JessFindsLukesDad

However, thanks to a Skrull invasion and crossover event, Jessica and Luke reunite as she joins the fray in Secret Invasion #7 leaving Dani with Jarvis in Avengers Tower. This is the first time Jessica has been in action since she fought Norman Osborn in the first arc of The Pulse, and there’s nothing like a big group superhero fight to rekindle a relationship. Unfortunately, Jarvis is a Skrull and kidnaps Dani. In spite of this momentous event, Bendis even takes some time away from the action to tell a flashback story in New Avengers #47 with Michael Gaydos from her days in Alias Investigations when Luke hired Jessica (His third P.I. choice after Jessica Drew and Dakota North.) to find his dad so he can tell him that he’s not a criminal, but a hero. The flashback part is paced much like an issue of Alias with silent opening sequence and a dialogue heavy interview sequence shot with Luke emoting while Jessica is quiet and listens. Jessica does track him down and meets Luke’s step mom, who reads about his exploits as Power Man in the newspaper, and tries to show his father Luke’s good side. Sadly, they aren’t reunited, and Gaydos puts a literal screen door between them. However, Luke and Jessica grow closer and share a joke about Luke’s costume choices during the Bronze Age, and it cuts to the present where they talk about how Dani won’t have a normal life because they’re both superpowered people, but at least she’ll see the world.

Bendis uses Dani’s kidnapping as an opportunity to make Jessica and Luke the focus of the first post-Secret Invasion arc of New Avengers during 2009’s Dark Reign when the US government thought it was a good idea to put Norman Osborn in charge of SHIELD. After being just a mom and wife for most of his New Avengers run, Bendis and artist Philip Tan give her a more active role in the plot as she, Luke, and Wolverine interrogate a SHIELD agent, who is a Skrull after Jessica gets a Skrull detector from Invisible Woman. Then, Luke shows that he is willing to put Dani first and teams up with Norman Osborn and the Dark Avengers to get her back from the Skrulls. However, he beats up Venom and Bullseye with a crowbar to show them that he doesn’t work for Osborn, which creates a tension leading to a conflict between the New Avengers and the government sanctioned, yet utterly evil Dark Avengers.

PeterJessFriends

At her new abode of Bucky’s apartment (He’s the current Captain America.), Jessica doesn’t get to play superhero, but she has more input in the New Avengers plans, like telling them to keep their battle with the Dark Avengers out of the apartment, and starts to forge a platonic relationship with Spider-Man after he reveals his secret identity to the team. Bendis and Tan mine a lot of humor out of Jessica’s high school crush on Peter, Luke’s feigned (Or is it.) jealousy, and the fact that he only knew her as “coma girl”. Bendis and Joe Quesada explore their relationship in more depth in a backup story in Amazing Spider-Man #601 retconning a background girl in Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man #4 to be Jessica Jones as she watches Spider-Man beat up Sandman. She also gets a great line about Spider-Man starting his own religion with  “With great power comes great responsibility” and says she’ll teach Dani about that. Spider-Man talks to Jessica about showing Dani her best side, and maybe that means a return to superheroing. It’s a great backup that gives Jessica another relationship outside of Luke and Carol, but Quesada’s art is overly posed and not his best work. Jessica Jones also looks like Mary-Jane Watson with brown hair for some reason.

JessicaJonesSquadGoals

And Jessica does return into action when the Dark Avengers kidnap Luke, and Stuart Immonen ups New Avengers‘ visual quality when he becomes the new artist on the title towards the end of 2009. After shaking off some criticism from her mother, who is keeping Dani, Jessica spearheads Luke’s rescue by saying, “You don’t fucking mess with Luke Cage.”, a one-liner that should definitely be said some time in the Netflix Defenders show. And, in New Avengers #59, she assembles her own Defenders lineup of Daredevil, Hellcat (First canon meeting between Patsy and Jessica.), Dr. Voodoo, Misty Knight, The Thing, Valkyrie, and of course, Iron Fist to spring him from Norman Osborn. They rescue him easily, but in action movie villain fashion, there’s a bomb on Luke’s chest. It doesn’t detonate when Spider-Man plays it cold and blows up Osborn’s summer home again. (He probably did Harry’s homework there.) These events cause Luke and Jessica to consider their mom’s advice about finding a more normal life about Dani, and they daydream about walking through the park with Dani in her stroller and finding a place to live where they don’t have to be in hiding.

JewelisBack

Continuing the tradition of big Jessica Jones moments in New Avengers annuals, New Avengers Annual #3 features the return of the Jewel costume thanks to artist Mike Mayhew, who did the covers for The Pulse. The setup is reminiscent of DC’s Birds of Prey as the female members of the New Avengers: Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, and Mockingbird plus Jessica Jones team up to rescue Clint Barton from the Dark Avengers. They infiltrate Osborn’s helicarrier, kick around Mentallo aka the wannabe version of Mastermind, and grab Clint in a majestic fashion thanks to Mayhew’s painted art style. The successful mission has Jessica even more interested in being a superhero again and also features the return of Steve Rogers back from the dead to throw a wrench into everything as he becomes the head of SHIELD after Norman Osborn is arrested after the events of Siege, and the Superhuman Registration Act is repealed. This has a huge effect on the life of Jessica and Luke as they are no longer fugitives and take Dani on a simple walk in a New York City park in a gorgeous splash page from Bryan Hitch in New Avengers Finale #1.

But even if the happier times of the Heroic Age are upon Jessica Jones, she drew the short straw as Luke Cage got his own four issue miniseries called New Avengers: Luke Cage, written by BPRD‘s John Arcudi and drawn by Eric Canete (Martian Manhunter) and Pepe Larraz (Kanan). While Luke is off busting a crime and drug ring in Philadelphia, Arcudi writes Jessica Jones as a stereotypical nag constantly calling about him being back home instead of being sarcastically empathetic as a former superhero and private eye. To add insult to injury, Canete draws her like a teenage girl in a manga instead of an adult woman adding an air of creepiness into her all too brief scenes. Arcudi can spin a crime yarn, and Anete’s Philadelphia has real character, but their depiction of Jessica Jones is one note.

JessPunchesAgamotto

But even as she is turned into a sitcom wife in New Avengers: Luke Cage, Jessica Jones fared much better in the Heroic Age relaunch of New Avengers where Luke Cage bought Avengers Mansion from Tony Stark for $1 to house and support the New Avengers, who received a paycheck from SHIELD. Luke was still wary of getting a government paycheck because of his desire for independence, but Jessica accepted the check on his behalf and made a great quip about him being the original “hero for hire”. And she almost immediately jumps right back into battle when the Eye of Agamotto possesses Luke in New Avengers #2. Jessica punches it off him, and there is a lot of magic and possession genre stuff going like The Exorcist meets a standard superhero comic. She does get to punch ghosts and fly in Luke Cage to stop Agamotto (He’s a guy, actually.) opening a portal to scary dimensions along the way and rescue Carol Danvers from being incinerated by magical energy. You basically just want her to join the team.

JessBeatsDoombot

And she does take another step to being a full-fledged New Avenger by searching for a nanny in New Avengers #7, which features some funny Marvel D-lister cameos as Bendis and Immonen show they can deftly balance humor and action. She and Luke eventually settle on Squirrel Girl even though she has a bushy tail and a weird past with Wolverine because she can easily control her powers and is interested in working in childcare while she is a student at NYU. Getting Squirrel Girl as a nanny allows Luke and Jessica to go on their first real date possibly ever in New Avengers #8 as Daniel Acuna draws her at her most gorgeous. Luke thinks that Jessica would make a great Avenger as well as a mom and suggests the moniker “Power Woman” for her, which of course, she vetoes. In the issue, Bendis shows her torn between wanting to be present for Dani while wanting to inspire her as a superhero. And there’s a battle between her, Luke, and Doombot where she take the robot out with a fire hydrant. This is the spark that she needs to decide to join the New Avengers for real with Luke adorably saying, “Boo yah.” New Avengers #8 is the lighter counterpart to New Avengers #31 as Bendis focuses in on Jessica and Luke’s ever changing relationship and takes a break from villain plots or magical mumbo jumbo to give her a real milestone as a character even if she is technically a supporting character in the title.

JessJoinsAvengers

Jessica’s first mission is a pretty fun espionage tinged one fitted for Mike Deodato‘s photorealistic, noir style of art as she and the New Avengers hunt down Superia, who they later find out has a briefcase with the Infinity Formula that Nick Fury alive, not too old, and strong. She gets a pretty fun moment as she actually drives a truck to take down Superia while Luke carries his with his super strength with Iron Fist in it because Danny doesn’t have a driver’s license. Later, as a tie-in to Fear Itself, Jessica gets to punch Nazi robots controlled by the Red Skull’s daughter Sin, who has godlike status. It’s nice to see Jessica have an active role in a Marvel event for once instead of running away to Canada in Civil War, or staying in some kind of domicile like in Secret Invasion and Siege. She also gets a mini-team up with Squirrel Girl, who surprises Jessica with her squirrel summoning abilities, and successfully sets up the Avengers Mansion safety protocols to protect Dani. Nothing climactic happens to her in New Avengers Annual #1, but Bendis remembers she has a friendship with Daredevil from his days as her lawyer in Alias and client for her bodyguard services in his run on Daredevil. This is why it’s fitting that she gives him an Avengers keycard and welcomes to the team for a short duration as Bendis basically gets to make the New Avengers a clubhouse of all his favorite characters.

NormanThreatensDani

However, Jessica Jones’ Avengers status is less than permanent, and she completely unravels as a superhero in New Avengers #16.1, a special issue drawn by Neal Adams. Jessica is part of an escort to transfer Norman Osborn to the Raft when he becomes the Green Goblin again and threatens to kill Dani until Wolverine forces him to stand down with his claws. However, he ends up escaping, and a few issues later, Jessica confides in Luke that she is afraid to leave Dani’s side because Norman Osborn on the loose. Jessica’s concern for Dani’s safety causes her to sit out of the team’s next mission even though Squirrel Girl is there to watch the baby. Later, she uses her status as a relatively unknown superhero and tries to speak to protesters who decry the destruction left in the wake of the Avengers’ battle, but gets called a spoiled princess. This causes her to go on the run yet again with Dani and Squirrel Girl and argue with Luke for putting their daughter in harm’s way by being at Avengers Mansion. This is basically a rehashing of what went down in “Dark Reign”, but with Deodato instead of Immonen art except with Jessica quitting the Avengers team. Bendis and Deodato also make a clumsy parallel between Luke’s participation in Avengers vs. X-Men with a soldier going to war and leaving his family behind.

JessCaptainMarvel

Michael Gaydos makes his final (for now) return drawing the character of Jessica Jones in New Avengers #31, which is mostly a conversation between Jessica Jones and Carol Danvers, who has taken on the identity of Captain Marvel. Jessica feels like she has driven Luke to quit the New Avengers and is a “bad wife”, but Carol reassures her by telling her that it just took him a while to understand his responsibilities as a father and husband. Jessica is really happy with Carol’s new name and costume saying that it suits her as a great superhero and friend as she gets sarcastically sentimental. Even though some of the writing makes Luke seem flighty or a deadbeat dad, Bendis and Gaydos really capture what is great about Jessica and Carol’s friendship, and it’s a pity that they haven’t had much time to interact in issues after this arc of New Avengers. This is probably because Carol’s solo books, especially the past two volumes of Captain Marvel, are more concerned with cosmic threats and adventures than earthbound things. With Bendis on Civil War II, their lack of interactions will likely change, and it will be interesting to see if they resent each other after such a long absence.

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After a magically caused battle between the New Avengers and Avengers team, Jessica Jones finally says her goodbye to the team in New Avengers #34 as she, Luke, and Dani are there for the unveiling of a statue of Victoria Hand, who went from Norman Osborn’s stooge to government liaision to the Avengers, and dying heroically. It’s a pretty touching issue filled with lots of jokes about the events of previous issues, and she even gets a warm hug from Spider-Man. Deodato draws a beautiful double page spread showing all their big moments from Alias onwards as Bendis tries to make an argument that they were the heart of his New Avengers run. I could maybe see that Luke Cage was the focal point of his nine years on the family of books as he went from being a barely used supporting character in Daredevil and Alias to a team leader of both the New Avengers and the Thunderbolts. (He was more of the Tbolts’ babysitter.) However, Jessica Jones, despite her showcase issues, ended up mainly being a mom and sarcastic comic relief. For every scene where she got to punch a Doombot or joke around with Spider-Man, there’s another one where she’s standing silently with Dani on her arm with a baby bottle.

But, at least, while Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers was a key book in the Marvel Universe and led to or tied into the big summer event books, Jessica Jones got panel time. This hasn’t been the case since Jonathan Hickman and other writers have taken over the books titled Avengers and New Avengers. Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, and Mike Hawthorne use her as a nagging wife stereotype in a couple of stories dealing with Deadpool’s team up with Luke Cage and Iron Fist against the racist supervillain, White Man. It’s a pretty funny parody of the old Power Man and Iron Fist comics, and Jessica Jones does get one great moment when she punches Deadpool out a window when he remarks on her “post baby body.”

Jessica later becomes a supporting character when Luke Cage starts yet another Avengers team in Mighty Avengers, but Al Ewing is careful not to tread on old Bendis plot points and has Luke have the team meet in an old theatre while Jessica and Dani have their own apartment. She doesn’t factor into the plot much except for a great scene where she gets to clock Superior Spider-Man (When Dr. Octopus’ brain was in Peter Parker’s body, and he was a pompous ass.), but continues to be occasional support and comic relief and gets past Blue Marvel’s hard shell to chat about his college age daughter. Jessica plays a similar supporting role in David Walker and Sanford Greene‘s Power Man and Iron Fist where she exists to say funny lines and get on Luke’s case for not spending enough time with Dani. Again, she hasn’t factored into the plot so far in the first three issues.

On a brighter note, Jessica made an appearance in the epilogue of Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #5 in an homage to her friendship with Patsy in the Jessica Jones television show, which is the equivalent of her friendship of Carol Danvers in Alias without the extra Avengers and cosmic baggage. Jessica Jones is a P.I. for Alias Investigations in Hellcat and is actually working for Patsy’s rival, Hedy, which should stir up some real drama as the comic continues. And hopefully this portrayal continues to seep into the other corners of the Marvel Universe as Jessica is supposedly playing a role in Civil War II and getting her own solo series in its aftermath, written by Bendis with art by Michael Gaydos and covers by David Mack.

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Thanks to the high status Brian Michael Bendis has had in the Marvel stable of writers since in the mid-2000s, Jessica Jones had consistent appearances in the New Avengers titles as well as appearing in Avengers when she became a New Avenger during the Heroic Age. Because of her friendship with Spider-Man, she also appeared in some issues of Amazing Spider-Man, like when the New Avengers helped in the whole “Spider-Island” situation when random New York citizens all got powers, including Dani Cage-Jones, who promptly stuck Squirrel Girl to the wall. But her myriad appearances were mostly in support of Luke Cage or the New Avengers team with the exception of the occasional “solo” issue of New Avengers that Gaydos drew, or special annual that gave her a semblance of an arc.

Fans of Jessica Jones can only hope that Marvel’s heroic character who doesn’t want to be a superhero, overcame PTSD to be a great mom and Avenger, and might have the sharpest wit in all the Marvel Universe, but cares for the little guy and often helped out civilians while the rest of the New Avengers were punching things, gets a story of her own in the years to come and doesn’t have to play second fiddle to Luke Cage. The other Jessica gets a nuanced portrayal as mother, friend, and superhero in Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez‘s Spider-Woman, and I hope Jessica Jones gets a series like that soon, especially with the critical and commercial success of her Netflix show.

Feeling the Pulse #12-13

portrait_incredibleFeeling the Pulse is a weekly issue by issue look at the follow-up series to Alias featuring Jessica Jones and a team of reporters at the Daily Bugle, who investigate and report on superhero related stories.  In this installment of Feeling the Pulse, I will be covering The Pulse #12-13 (2005-2006) written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Michael Gaydos with colors from Matt Hollingsworth.

In The Pulse #12-13, which concludes the three part “Fear” storyline, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos continue to have a two plot structure with Ben Urich investigating and writing a story on D-Man while Jessica Jones goes into labor, gets discriminated against by an anti-mutant hospital administrator, but gets swooped up in the nick of time by the New Avengers. (Luke being on the team is super helpful.) Getting Gaydos and colorist Matt Hollingsworth back for this pivotal moment in Jessica Jones’ life is a true coup as her raw emotions are on display while they show just how much Luke cares for her as he runs through the streets of New York (breaking up a drug deal along the way) and leaps into a Quinjet just to be with his girlfriend, who will hopefully become his wife.

The Pulse #12 opens frantically with Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel at this time) flying Jessica to the nearest hospital where she is peppered with questions about her mutant and radioactive status. This is while Luke Cage is stuck in the New York traffic and can’t catch a cab so Wasp does the old “Avengers Assemble” thing so he can be with Jessica. While this is happening, Ben Urich continues his titanic struggle with J. Jonah Jameson, who finds D-Man’s name and backstory to be amusing, but quickly backpedals when he thinks that this story is a cover for trying to keep Daredevil safe because he is currently being investigated by the feds after his secret identity is outed in Daredevil. Urich does end up doing the story, finds out that D-Man (whose real name is Dennis Dunphy) has been arrested for vagrancy multiple times, and ends up meeting him in the sewers after one of the shopkeepers he’s robbed tells him that he uses it for travel. Back at the hospital, an administrator basically says that Jessica can’t deliver her mutant abomination under her care, but the New Avengers show up in the nick of time and take her to the best doctor around, Stephen Strange.

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The Pulse #13 deals with the birth of Jessica and Luke’s daughter as well as Ben Urich interviewing and helping D-Man. Bendis and Gaydos show that Jessica and Luke are non-conventional parents when Jessica keeps swearing and also makes a leaning on the fourth wall reference to Alias when she tells Dr. Strange about her mouth “a few years ago” while Luke asks for Public Enemy and not soft music to be played in the delivery room. And then the press decides to show up overwhelming Dr. Strange’s valet, Wong so Captain America takes over the PR duties and lets Kat Farrell come through because Jessica signed an exclusive with the Daily Bugle to cover the birth of her child. However, Jessica refuses to talk to Kat and let the Bugle have the story because they lambasted Luke Cage in the paper back in New Avengers #15.

Speaking of the press, D-Man takes Ben Urich to his sewer home after complimenting his news stories about Daredevil and offering him a stale cupcake. There is some voiceover narration (Ben typing the story) about D-Man refusing to join the Avengers to be a hero for the homeless, but now he is just alone. Ben confronts him about stealing the jewelry, and it is clear that D-Man isn’t in his right mind as he thinks that the pieces of jewelry are Infinity Gems. And finally Jessica has her baby while J. Jonah Jameson is furious that he got scooped by the Daily Globe and printed a story about D-Man instead. Urich says he shouldn’t have disrespected her, and it flashes back to Urich getting in contact with Daredevil, who gets D-Man the help he needs. The issue closes with Jessica and Luke holding their baby when Luke proposes to her.

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The D-Man and Jessica giving birth plotlines in The Pulse #12-#13 aren’t super suspenseful, but they tie together nicely through the shared theme of empathy or the lack of it. Whether they are homeless petty thieves or celebrities (Superhero news stories are the celebrity gossip of the Marvel Universe.), these superpowered beings are human beings, who just want to make ends meet or start a family while helping others. Ben Urich chooses to listen to D-Man’s problems and not just use him for a story about a fallen story or as a joke, finds out that he respects Daredevil tremendously, and uses his connection with Daredevil to find him some kind of help or shelter.

And I don’t recall reading any of D-Man’s appearances in the past ten years, but currently, he is an important supporting character in Nick Spencer’s Captain America: Sam Wilson so perhaps Urich did some good. His actions are one final example of his belief that superheroes (even masked ones) are a force for good in society that is the complete opposite of his editor J. Jonah Jameson and fellow Pulse reporter Kat Farrell’s view that they’re good front page fodder to sell newspapers. Jessica Jones drives this point home more emphatically when she yells on the phone that Jameson is a mustache sporting Nazi while giving birth. Ouch, indeed.

On the other hand, with Jessica’s pregnancy, The Pulse #12-13 is a true example of superheroes cooperating to help one of their own even if they have different backgrounds from the retired Avenger Janet Van Dyne making the initial call to Carol Danvers being an amazing friend and holding Jessica’s hand and literally carrying her through this ordeal and finally to the New Avengers and Doctor Strange. Each New Avenger or guest hero (With the exception of Spider-Woman even though she and Jessica teamed up back in Alias.) has a great moment or line in support of Jessica.

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Carol’s shining moment comes straight out of the gates as she flies between New York skyscrapers and ensures Jessica checks into a hospital as quickly as possible and is followed by Wasp saying “Avengers assemble” as she immediately goes from chit chatting about fashion with Luke Cage to getting him a ride to the hospital. Wolverine gets to basically tell the anti-mutant hospital administrator to go to hell, Spider-Man makes awkward, badly timed jokes about the Vision and Scarlet Witch’s kids, and Iron Man flies the Quinjet moving Jessica from a hospital run by a bigot to the Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange. And Captain America pays forward Jessica’s saving of his reputation back in the first arc of Alias by being a literal shield for the hordes of press surrounding Dr. Strange’s house.

Cap gives a measured speech as Gaydos zooms into the star on his chest showing that he’s a champion for his fellow heroes whether they’re facing aliens, mind control, or journalists. Matt Hollingsworth’s color palette is usually pretty faded on Alias, but he makes the panels just a tad brighter when the various superheroes show up even Daredevil, whose red acts as a light to lead D-Man out of squalor and into a better life. Hollingsworth’s colors also stand out when Luke Cage is running to be with Jessica as she’s in labor and the street around him is all yellow because of the taxi cabs. Yellow has been Luke’s color since his Power Man days in the 1970s, and the use of color in both his shirt and surroundings shows his determination to be with the women he loves as she brings his daughter into the world. Their relationship continues to be the center of the story as he helps her get through the pains of labor holding his hand as she starts her contractions. (It was vice versa, but the unbreakable skin did more harm than good.)

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As I mentioned last week, Michael Gaydos’ return was super timely as he draw the dark corridors of the New York City sewers as well as the emotions that are running high as Jessica Jones has her daughter. Most of his facial expressions are pained as Jessica goes into labor while being hounded by doctors and various hospital people, who are asking about her mutant status, her superpowers, and kick Carol Danvers out because of her energy based powers. However, it gets better in The Pulse #13 when Carol, Luke, and Cap are there to soothe her as the pain increases, and the censored profanity increases. Even though he’s not allowed to show the actual words because this is a comic set in the mainstream Marvel universe, Bendis uses profanity in a manner similar to Alias to show Jessica’s raw feelings as she is about to experience a life changing moment. And Gaydos’ depiction of Jessica with her newborn daughter is quite touching as he goes away from the grid filled double page spreads that he uses to show the verbal tete a tetes that Jessica, Ben Urich, J. Jonah Jameson, and other characters have engaged in throughout Alias and The Pulse to back to back full page spreads. Also, the final page with Luke and Jessica is pure bliss with well-earned smiles everywhere. Of course, we don’t hear her answer to his proposal because Bendis has to leave one thread untied for next issue’s finale. (Jessica’s reaction to the proposal is priceless and ambiguous though.)

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J. Jonah Jameson detests it and mentions taking legal action while continuing to denigrate Ben Urich as less than a reporter, but the D-Man story that Ben Urich writes is what Jameson had in mind for The Pulse when he first came up with the idea. These articles that are in-depth, analysis pieces on superheroes that every day people can connect to, like human interest stories with a side of colorful costumes and punching. And this is the kind of story that Urich excels at writing even though he’s best known for investigative journalism about the Kingpin and Norman Osborn as D-Man talks about the “layers” he gave Daredevil, and how his writing style brought the Man without Fear close to a struggling superhero and wrestler, like him.

I’m not saying that Ben Urich is a self-insert character for Brian Michael Bendis, but it is handy to have a writer character in your story to  expound your ideas on a certain topic: superheroes in this case. In his superhero comics from Ultimate Spider-Man to Daredevil, Avengers, and way too many event miniseries, Bendis finds a kind of middle ground between deconstruction and reconstruction. He can write a character like Jessica Jones, who rejects the superhero life as painting too much in broad strokes and not looking at the big picture, or he can write Ultimate Peter Parker, who is the embodiment of heroism mingled with teen angst and optimism. Bendis’ best work and characterization has definitely come with the solo street level heroes, like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, and he does better at telling dialogue driven stories focusing on the human side heroes with splashes of action even though he has a couple of cool concepts in him, like House of M alternate reality, Nick Fury’s Secret War, and bringing the original 1960s X-Men to the current time period.

The Pulse #12-13 has plenty of emotional payoff for the characters of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage as they overcome discrimination and just the usual fears of bringing a child into the world with the help of their superhero friends. And in the B-plot, Bendis and Gaydos continue to show why Ben Urich is one of the most underappreciated supporting characters in the Marvel Universe as he uses his skills as journalism to not only tell the truth about the world around him, but also to create empathy for his fellow human beings even smelly, homeless Z-list superhero dropouts, who happen to be people with dreams, aspirations, and ideals too.

Strange Comic Trends: Carol Danvers Week

cd001 Secret Wars is now in full swing, and with so many crossovers being resurrected it can be hard to keep them straight.  With Battleworld in full swing, there are still new stories coming into the overall mix, with yesterday seeing the release of some new #1s like Spider-Verse, Civil War, Spider-Island, and Age of Apocalypse.  While it should be expected that with so many big name-crossovers being brought back from the past, that there are going to be a lot of recurring characters, it is interesting exactly who is showing up so much.  We expect Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk and a handful of the X-Men, but we don’t really expect to see so much of Carol Danvers, as she showed up yesterday in a wide variety of titles such as Age of Apocalypse, Civil War and Spider-Island.  She was a big enough player in Civil War when it first came out, but not so in the other two.

cd002Of course there is no reason that we shouldn’t see so much of her.  She has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, with the change from Miss Marvel to Captain Marvel and having her monthly series relaunched once again.  There is perhaps something a bit deeper going on here though.  It happened first with the Inhumans, how they were almost forgotten by Marvel, and then all of a sudden, they were everywhere it seemed.  If a random hero was going to show up, it was probably going to be an Inhuman.  The reason came from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Without the rights to the X-Men and in an expanding universe of the movies, it became necessary to explain the origins of certain characters, and as Inhumans are close enough in essence to mutants, with similar stories to do with their backgrounds and the prejudice against them, that it became an easy explanation for them.

cd003Perhaps this week might represent the beginning of that process for Carol Danvers and Captain Marvel.  She is scheduled for her own movie in 2018, and that is only two years off, which is daunting enough task for a character that has not yet been introduced on the big screen.  Of course certain other characters have had the ability to pull off their big screen debuts without much of a lead-in, but not surprisingly, the odds are more against a female superhero than a male one like Iron Man.  It might be that Marvel is getting a start on its own hype for the movie, as well as increasing awareness, just as it did with the Inhumans, as Captain Marvel slowly but surely becomes a constant addition to most story lines, whether that be as a human-spider hybrid in Spider-Island, a colonel of Iron Man’s half of America in Civil War, or as a human freedom fighter in Age of Apocalypse.   Whatever her role in these stories, Marvel has decided to increase it, to essentially make her the first in terms of female superheroes, the first to get her own movie and to carry forward the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Review: Age of Apocalypse #1

aoa001Secret Wars has been so noteworthy thus far for its ability to incorporate other crossovers into its stories.  While the quality of these tie-ins has varied wildly, it has nonetheless been somewhat comprehensive in its attempt to give some exposure to all the major crossovers from the past.  It would be nearly impossible therefore to leave Age of Apocalypse off of this list.  Although this story occurred in the pages of X-Men related titles, it was nonetheless one of the bigger crossovers that Marvel has seen, as well as being in part responsible for the upcoming sequel to the X-Men movie franchise. As it was told at the time it featured the introduction of the mutant Apocalypse, a mutant of extreme power who undertook a plan for world domination and very nearly succeeded.  In the original story Charles Xavier is removed from the scene early on, and Magneto takes his place as the mutant championing compromise between mutants and humans, while equally being responsible for trying to stop Apocalypse’s tyrannical and genocidal reign where he attempts to wipe out regular humans from existence.

As opposed to other tie-ins which have attempted to re-imagine or recast some of the major aspects of the stories, this one instead seems to be looking for more of a pure retelling.  Apocalypse’s Horsemen are sent to the Savage Land to track down Cypher, although he is defended by a group of core X-Men.  After he is captured he is taken to Apocalypse, who is revealed to be employing several other mutants, many of whom have joined his side.  Standing against them are still Magneto and his mutants, as well as a group of humans led by Carol Danvers.  Apocalypse grows restless to wipe out his opposition, but it will not necessarily be as easy as he planned.

This first issue most sets the conditions for what will follow, and it does so in a meticulous way.  It is a challenging enough task, condensing a huge story arc into a few issues, but at least a proper job is done at this if if this issue ends up being a bit clunky at times.  There is enough action mixed in with establishing the scenario that it doesn’t become too heavy in the dialogue and concept, but it also seems to be leaving a lot of potential for the following issues.  It bodes well for the tie-in, and while this issue is a bit too conceptual to get through at times, it still excuses it for what is bound to come.

Story: Fabian Nicieza  Art: Geraldo Sandoval
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Read

 

Review: Spider-Island #1

si001In some ways the entirety of Secret Wars has at times read like a fan fic.  Although there is a strong enough core to the overall story to hold it together, it is equally a relatively fertile ground for creators to let loose in terms of creativity.  Some tie-ins have benefited from this and others have not, and in the case of Spider-Island it is very like the former.  The creative team here has taken the crossover from four summers ago and repurposed it, asking some common fan fic questions like what if the Spider Queen had managed to take over the Avengers?  Or what if Flash Thompson as Venom was the one fighting for the city, not Spider-Man.

The plot here focuses on Flash and his few allies – Jessica Drew, the Vision and Werewolf by Night.  They are fighting a losing battle against the spread of the spider virus, and they are desperate to find something which they can do to counter it.  Werewolf by Night is himself infested but only comes to the side of the heroes when her turns into a wolf at night, and he manages to give Flash the information that he might need to finally stop the spread of the virus.  He launches a covert mission with the Vision, Jessica and himself, but things don’t turn out exactly as planned, though in this case neither for the heroes nor the villains.

The result is a fresh take on the crossover by recasting some of the main characters and by changing the baseline of the setting.  It is a bit grittier than the original, but the reimagining works well as the reader is drawn into the story almost immediately and the pace never lets up.  It is also nice to see the backup feature showing us a slightly older Spider-Girl (now Spider-Woman) from the MC2, which also sort of ties into the Secret Wars crossover.  In the end this is a pretty decent tie-in to Secret Wars, proving once again that those who are willing to push the boundaries that the freedom of the crossover allows, also benefit from those risks, as they have paid off here and elsewhere for these tie-in series.

Story:  Christos Gage, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz Art:  Paco Diaz and Sal Buscema 
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy