Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Monthly Stash - February 2014

Man…I really wanted to get this post up before we went out of town for Spring Break.  Alas, I failed.  My shame burns hotter than one who knows fear in the presence of the Man-Thing.  If only there were someone who could motivate me through intimidation and constant nagging mixed with a feeling of mild revulsion…

Move Ur Sorry Hide

That’ll do.

Whether due to February being a short month, or perhaps because I actually had more of a life than I typically experience, I didn’t make it even halfway through my monthly stash before March 1st rolled around.  I’m going to have to really buckle down; this precarious stack looks like it might topple at any moment!  On to the books!  Here’s what I read this last month:

Feb 2014
All-New X-Factor #1-2
All-New Marvel Now Point One #1
Avengers #25
New Avengers #14
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #6-8
Avengers World #1-2
Nova #12
ROM Spaceknight #9
Avengers A.I. #8-9
Uncanny Avengers #15-16
Indestructible Hulk #18
All-New Invaders #1-2


All right, let’s get the “All-New” stuff done up front.  All of these frequently recurring initiatives with their new titles, relaunches and reemphases are pretty much par for the course now at Marvel.  The frustration and bitter sorrow I used to feel every time a long running, high number book got canceled and then relaunched the next month with a new creative team and a new #1 has mostly subsided.  Mostly.  As much as I love the idea of a decades-spanning volume, the reality is that in today’s market publishers can more easily promote, publicize, and thus make a lot more money on, a character/property following a “by season” model not unlike what viewers of dramatic episodic television experience.  All-New Marvel Now is just the latest of these initiatives from the House of Ideas, and at first glance there appears to be a pretty broad sampling of characters, genres, and new #1s to choose from. 

Of course, no launch would be complete without the obligatory “first look” sample anthology with tenuous framing sequence, thus we have “All-New Marvel Now Point One” #1.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly great either.  The challenge this type of assemblage faces is allowing each of the separate vignettes the chance to distinguish themselves and show readers what to expect in the ongoing, while still maintaining the pace and semblance of tone in the greater, overarching tale.  It succeeded well enough, but didn’t persuade me to pick up any of the featured titles beyond what I’d already ordered, namely “Loki: Agent of Asgard,” “Silver Surfer,” “All-New Invaders,” and “Avengers.”

I’ve been a fan of Peter David’s work on “X-Factor” from the moment he took over the ongoing title after “The Muir Island Saga” crossover.  I remember picking up issue #70 (vol. 1) back in the summer of '91 and quickly becoming devoted to then B & C-list characters Havok, Polaris, Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Quicksilver and Wolfsbane.  I squealed like a little girl when the "Madrox" mini was announced in 2004, and was ecstatic when that then led into the noir-toned new ongoing.  Over the course of 20+ years and around 150 published issues (over several titles and volumes), Mr. David's run has been one of Marvel's most interesting and consistently entertaining offerings and is one of my all-time favorite series.  So yeah, snatching up David’s “All-New X-Factor” 1&2 was pretty much a given.  I’m excited about this new “corporate team” direction, though I’m of the opinion that not everything at Serval Industries is on the up and up.  Polaris deserves a chance to shine as leader after years of playing “unstable girlfriend” to Havok.  I am going to miss Madrox, Strong Guy and Layla, but having David chart Quicksilver’s course once again makes me incredibly happy.  Gambit and other hinted at teammates (Danger, Cypher and Warlock?) should make for an interesting team dynamic and a fun ride!

          While I like Cap, Namor, Torch and Bucky, and am respectful of their exalted place in Marvel history, the idea of them coming together again for yet another Invaders yarn kind of smacked of tired desperation- not unlike an aging rock band’s 14th “farewell” tour.  However, James Robinson has a proven track record with me when it comes to breathing new life into Golden Age characters (“Starman”).  His involvement in “All-New Invaders” was all it took for me to join up- at least for the first arc.  So far it’s primarily been a beautifully drawn “where are they now?” and “let’s get the gang back together!” story, which is to be expected.  He’s setting the stakes, naming the objective and introducing us to the antagonist- a decidedly unlikable Kree Pursuer named Tanalth.  As far as GA character appearances, thus far we’ve seen the Vision (Aarkus) and Major Liberty in flashback, and I expect there are more to come. 

Over in the Avengers family of books, A.I.M. seems to be stirring up all sorts of trouble in “Avengers” and the newly launched companion title “Avengers World.”  I suppose that after the recent intergalactic brouhaha it’s only fitting that the sprawling team deal with some issues closer to home.  While they do, Doctor Strange is busy biting off more than he will likely ever be able to chew over in “New Avengers” #14 (love that cover!).  I am bummed at the news that “Avengers A.I.” is getting cancelled; I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than I ever expected to.  Doombot should totally get his own mini-series.  While I am still enjoying “Uncanny Avengers,” I kind of wish Remender would pick up the pace a little bit.  I get that this is a long-form story, but this Apocalypse Twins/Kang tale needs to wrap.

           So, I didn’t get around to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “All-New X-Men” crossover this month, though some of the big reveals were SPOILERed thanks to inconsiderate and haphazard comic reporting sites.  Lame.   As for “Nova,” it’s still sucking.  I don’t think even the appearance of Beta Ray Bill can diminish the sheer suckatude of this book.  

 Anyone wanting a quirky, refreshing read should look no further than “The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Seriously, it’s awesome.  Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber and Rich Ellis have put together a book that is a delightfully amusing- and sometimes heartbreaking, peek into the lives and times of several of Spidey’s B and C-list rogues.  As they face scenarios both mundane and preposterous, these previously (mostly) one-dimensional punching bags endear themselves to the reader and before you know it you are rooting for the bad guys!  This book is a real treat.

 As I was scanning pictures from my old copy of “ROM Spaceknight” #9 for an earlier post, I suddenly felt compelled to sit down and leaf through it.  It’s probably been about 30 years since I last read it cover to cover, but as I did, I was amazed at just how vivid my memories of getting and reading through this issue were.  I recalled my joy in discovering something foreign and new, my anticipation and desire to know what came next, and that sense of community felt amongst those who share a particular hobby.  In short, it reminded me of everything I love about reading and collecting comics.  Fans might not always be able to adequately express their fervor, but we’ve all got our little tokens that remind us of why we are so passionate.

BEST of the month
All-New X-Factor #1-2
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #6-8

WORST of the month
Nova #12

What I’m looking forward to next month
Moon Knight
Loki: Agent of Asgard
Fantastic Four

          Well, that’s all for February.