Markley’s Fevered Brain: A Family Affair

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

I am going to look at Marvel’s “family” titles. Originally I had planned to write about four different families of books but due to length I cut it back to focus on the Black Panther titles and the X-Men titles. Of the three Black Panther titles, one has ended and a second has been cancelled so my plan at looking at the family fell apart fairly quickly. The X-Men books are all fairly new with the newest issue only being up to issue four. Here I am looking at the three team books and not the individual titles that feature X-characters. I am also going to go back to my last blog and continue reviewing the DC and Hanna-Barbara relationship. This time looking at the DC/Hanna Barbara crossovers that came out a month or so ago. As with the tiles I discussed last time, there is a mixed bag here, and some of my thoughts reflect my fondness of the source material from my youth, so if I seem too harsh, I do apologize upfront.

Black Panther

Black Panther


The Black Panther family has three titles, but one was a planned miniseries and the other became a miniseries as it is ending with issue six. The main title is the Black Panther and it is written by Ta-Nehisi Coates with the art on the first twelve issues alternating between Chris Sprouse and Brian Stelfreeze. Wilfredo Torres came onboard with issue thirteen and his style is different than that of Chris and Brian but it is perfectly suited for the book. The first twelve issues of this book were heavy on the politics and seemed to lose some of its fan base as the story was long winded and the book suffered from a number of delays. With issue #13 a new story began called Avengers of a New World. This story is more action driven and more in the vein of traditional superhero books. It was a very good read and made me look forward to the next issue. Overall this book dragged to me in the early issues as the story was a lot of set up and laying the groundwork of all the politics of Wakanda. The art has always been very nice and at times breathtaking, but a great deal of the story lacked action and was more talking heads than fights (not that there is anything wrong with this). I think this current storyline will move this book back into a place where it will find a wider appeal. I should note that when this book was launched it got all kinds of mainstream press and a lot of people picked it up early, but I think the complex story and the delays lost this book it casual fans.

Black Panther: World of Wakanda

Black Panther: World of Wakanda


World of Wakanda was a six issue miniseries exploring the world of Dora Milaja, which plays a major part in the main Black Panther book. The first five issues are one single story by Roxanne Gay with art by Alitha Martinez and Roberto Poggi. I really enjoyed this series, even though at times it was wordy. Overall I could not wait for the next issue and the conclusion was excellent. It was a well thought out story with very nice art that helped explain and flesh out the main Black Panther title. The final issue was a standalone story that re-introduced the White Tiger to the Marvel Universe. This was written by Rembert Browne and art by Joe Bennett. This once again was a very good story with excellent art.

Black Panther and the Crew #4

Black Panther and the Crew #4


Black Panther and the Crew is the third title in the Black Panther family and it was recently announced it will be ending with issue six. It is written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey with art by Butch Guice and Mark Chater and inker Scott Hanna. This is an urban story filled with gangs and is very different from the Black Panther book as the focus is on community (the city) as opposed to Wakanda. I really enjoyed the first two issues as they tell the tale of the Black Panther putting together his crew consisting of himself, Storm, Luke Cage, Manifold, and Misty Knight. Overall I have enjoyed the Black Panther family even with my reservations about the early issues of the main book. I am sad to see The Crew end so soon as it seemed to have a lot of potential. I am also looking forward to the monthly Black Panther with the change of direction, and I am hoping that they can move some of the storylines set up in The Crew over to the main book. As a group of family titles, well worth reading.

The second family of books I want to look at is the recently relaunched X-Men books. So far there are three “main” X-books as well as a solo series with Jean Grey and Iceman is soon to join her in his own book. The X books are broken into three groups: Gold, which is the traditional X title; X-Men Blue which features the five X-Men that were brought from the past to the present in the late All-New X-Men book; and the third title is Generation X with all of the younger and newer mutants. Both X-Men Gold and Blue were set up in a one-shot called X-Men Prime, which was very good. Now I am going to look at the three individual X titles. Right of the bat, let me say I have really enjoyed all of these books so far, even though none of them have passed issue four yet.

X-Men Gold

X-Men Gold


X-Men Gold started out with a lot of controversy as the artist (who was fired and only did three issues) put in his own political views in writings in the background and many of these views were offensive to all kinds of people. Marvel took out the offensive background material in the second printing and in issues two and three. As for the book itself, it is a darn good read. It is written by Marc Guggenheim and the current artist is RB Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto (replacing Adrian Syaf who got the boot.) The story come out of the ashes of the Inhumans vs. X-Men and now has Kitty Pride as the team leader and rest of the cast is made up by Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Prestige, and Old Man Logan. Gambit joins the team with issue four and these stories have been fast paced action stories with a dose of drama and they read like the glory days of the book under Claremont and Byrne. The stories move at a quick pace and there is obviously a goal in mind as to where this is all headed, but it is not spelled out, but is slowly being teased, which is a nice effect. These early issues feature the New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants which is always a good start. Well worth checking out.

X-Men Blue

X-Men Blue


X-Men Blue picks up with what Brian Bendis laid down as it features the five original X-Men from the Sixties in the present day, and much younger than their current counterparts. It is written by Cullen Bunn with very nice art Jorge Molina and Ray-Anthony Height. While X-Men Gold seems to be going for the classic X-Men style and sensibility this book is going for a different tone. Here the focus seems to be on the team dynamics and the dysfunction between the five members. Perhaps the most interesting part is that Jean Grey is the team leader and not Scott. It does not have the sappy romance sub-plots that the sixties X-Men had, but it does have all of the action and intrigue that the X-Men are known for. As I mentioned earlier, this is very different from X-Men Gold, but I think that is a good thing. The early issues have been a very good read and I am looking forward to see where this title goes in the future. Also recommended.

Generation X #1

Generation X #1


Generation X just started and only one issue is out so far and I found it to be very enjoyable. It is written by Christiana Strain with art by Amilcar Pinna. The team consist of Jubilee, Bling, Kid Omega, Nature Girl, Morph, Hindsight, and Eye Boy. This book is a mix of action and teen drama as these young mutants are learning to be a mutant and about life at the School for Gifted Youngsters. I really liked this first issue as it mixed the hijinks and traumas of school with the action and threats that these new mutants are facing. I really like the art and the story was very well told. While it is too early to pass judgment, I really liked this first issue.

Last week I looked at the DC and Hanna Barbara titles and I mentioned the series of one shots that DC did teaming DC Characters with Hanna Barbara characters but I did not review them, so I am taking the time to do so now. Each book has a full length lead story and a short back up with a “re-imagining” of the classic Hanna-Barbara cartoon character. I am looking at all four crossovers and the backup features each one had and I thought there were mixed results. The one book I hated the idea of turned out to be the best of the four. So do not pre-judge a book!

Green Lantern/Space Ghost

Green Lantern/Space Ghost


Green Lantern and Space Ghost was written by James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela with art by Ariel Olivetti. First off, I loved the art as Olivetti did for a Space Ghost miniseries a number of years ago that was excellent and made him a perfect choice for this series. Unfortunately, the story left me cold. It was well done and competent but it just did not excite me. It was two space heroes teaming up to save the Universe from a new threat. It is a fairly standard science fiction comic book tale. To their credit, there is a fair amount of humor between the two leads that does add to the positive side of things. There is a back up story featuring a modernized Ruff and Reddy by Howard Chaykin. In this story Chaykin reimagines this classic cartoon comedy duo as aging nightclub comedians whose humor is mean-spirted and crude. In terms of Chaykin, this story fits in perfectly with most of his work, and if you are a fan of his work you will enjoy this short story. But as with many of DC ‘re-imaginations” of the Hanna-Barbara cartoons I do not see the need for this story and found it disrespectful of the source material.

Suicide Squad/Banana Splits

Suicide Squad/Banana Splits


Suicide Squad and the Banana Splits is written by Tony Bedard and art by Ben Caldwell. The story is the Banana Splits are engaged to rescue the Suicide Squad from the enemy who has taken then captive. Hijinks follow and a very good story. I have gotten a lot of grief from my friends as I thought this was the best of the four DC/HB crossovers. Both teams are treated with respect and the Banana Splits are written the best they can be in a comic book (to me, they are a television creation and the translation to comics is never the greatest, but Bedard does an excellent job). I also loved the twist at the end. The backup story was Snagglepuss and it is written by Mark Russel and set in New York in the 1950s. I cannot say I cared for this take on the character. But it may be like the Flintstones comic that DC is currently doing in that I have to read more of this version of Snagglepuss to appreciate it.

Booster Gold/The Flintstones

Booster Gold/The Flintstones


Booster Gold and the Flintstones is written by the writer of the monthly Flintstones comic, Mark Russel and drawn by Rick Leonardi and Scott Hanna. The basic story is Booster Gold trying to get the Flintstones to help him understand an alien race that is destroying the 25th century by going back into time to when the aliens first visited earth. This one is similar to the monthly Flintstones book with the snarky social observations but it did not thill me. It is a good, well told story and the art is nice, but it really did nothing for me. I did not enjoy it as much as the Flintstones book, and Booster Gold is a character I generally enjoy. A good read but not for me. The back us story was the Jetsons. This story was written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Pier Brito. This was a nice update of the classic cartoon which was an enjoyable story, but once again, as shown in the Flintstones/Jetsons collection, why mess with a concept that works just fine in its original version. This modernized version seemed liked a pale comparison to the original.

Adam Strange/Future Quest

Adam Strange/Future Quest


Adam Strange and Future Quest was from the writer of Future Quest, Jeff Parker and Marc Andreyko with art by Steve Leiber. This book was perfectly fine, with nice art. This story follows Adam Strange’s appearances in the Death of Hawkman, and the story is an action/adventure story that is fine for what it is. Like with the whole Future Quest series, this story seemed to be missing that secret ingredient that makes me want to read more. It was a well crafted story and had everything you would expect from these two properties, but it lacked a certain passion or soul to me. The backup was Top Cat which was written by Dan DiDo and art by Phil Winslade. This tells the tale of Top Cat breaking out of jail and, by a freak mistake, lands up in Gotham and confronting Batman. More of a set up than anything else. This was probably my favorite of all of these back up stories. But it once again seems to me to be missing what made Top Cat the entertaining cartoon it was – the mischief. He was not a hardcore criminal, he was just a jerk, maybe a petty criminal at best. Almost all of these DC/HB updates strike me as making the changes for the sake of change or in an attempt to shock the reader.

This wraps it up for this time. What do you think of Marvel’s family of titles? Are there too many books in general and should Marvel cut back on the concept of a family of books? What about the Avengers family of books? Or Daredevil? Or the recently greatly cut back Deadpool family of books? Am I completely wrong about these books? How about my thoughts on the DC and Hanna-Barbara crossovers? Am I old curmudgeon that is just looking back too fondly at his childhood and not appreciating these fresh versions of the characters? (I have been told this). I would like your opinion. I can reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. Everything I have written here is my words and thoughts and do not reflect the opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. I hope you enjoyed and as always…

Thank you.

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