Markley’s Fevered Brain: Marvel’s Renaissance

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

While as a general rule of thumb I hate when publishers relaunch their books with number ones over and over again, and both Marvel and DC are guilty of this, I am forced to admit with the most recent relaunch of the Marvel Universe, and by that I mean starting their biggest titles over with number ones not restarting the entire universe as DC has done a few times, I can forgive them as these books have been some of the best Marvel titles I have read in years. Over the last six months as Marvel was dropping bits and pieces of who was going to be doing what, I cannot say anything really got me excited, and on a few titles I was even concerned. Well, I was wrong. Almost all of these new books (and miniseries) have been amazing. They are well written, with strong plots that make me want to come back for more. These are stories that not only tell a current story but actually tease the future, and great art by a mix of new people to Marvel as well as some established artists. I have not enjoyed Marvel Comics this much since I was a kid. Here are a few reviews of just the most recent releases, so almost all of these have just one or two issues out so far, so time will tell if I continue to be so enthusiastic.

Captain America #1

Captain America #1


I was hesitant when it was annoyed that Ta-Nehisi Coates was going to take over writing Captain America because I did not care for his early work on Black Panther. I thought it was overly written and relied too heavily on Black Panther stories from the past to tell his story that was deep in the weeds in terms of politics and Wakanden history. With Captain America I was proven wrong, so wrong, I own Mr. Coates an apology. This book was fantastic. Following Mark Waid’s excellent (alas, too short) run on the book, I was fearful where the book would go next. Coates went back to the roots of the character and re-energized the star spangled Avenger in ways I did not expect. From the open page filled with Hydra agents, to an army of Nukes (the villain, not the weapon), add in the Winter Soldier and Agent 13 (dear old Sharon) and the actually end of Hydra, only to have a new one rise in its place while building on the stories from the last ten years. All the while Coates is able to define who Cap is and what makes him tick. From his aversion to killing, even though he has been a soldier his whole life, to his love and devotion to his country and the afore mentioned Sharon Carter. When you add in the beautiful art by Leinil Francis Yu, you come off with a near perfect book. I love Mark Waid’s run on the book but I must admit that Ta-Nehisi Coates may have topped him. A bit of a warning though, so far there has only been one issue so my opinion could change with time, but based on this first issue I would highly recommend this book.

Death of the Inhumans #1

Death of the Inhumans #1


Death of the Inhumans lives up to its name as by the end of number one a number of Inhumans are dead (keep in mind in comics being dead is not necessarily a permanent thing). For years now Marvel has tried over and over to push the Inhumans as an A level super-team book but none of the various incarnations has worked. I think part of this is because Marvel tried too hard to push them down the readers throats and instead of giving the readers good, compelling stories what we got was mediocre soap opera after soap opera. Instead of focusing on the original concept of the royal family of Inhumans, Marvel over the last few years has tried and tried to expand the franchise to recreate what the X-Men once were. Sadly, it has not worked. There have been some good stories here and there, and some interesting ideas started but alas, even the interesting stories seemed to have stalled and fallen apart. I do not know if this series will truly lead to the end of the Inhumans, and I hope it does not as I like the core group and I think they have a place in the Marvel Universe, but not on par with the Avengers or the X-Men or the Fantastic Four. To be fair though, writer Donny Cates and artist Ariel Olivetti do a very good job with this first issue (of five) and I was sad by the end with the death of a number of characters. If this is truly their farewell, then this is a nice sendoff.

Cosmic Ghost Rider #1

Cosmic Ghost Rider #1


Cosmic Ghost Rider is a five issue mini-series Donny Cates (again) and Dylan Burnett. This book spins out of the recently ended Thanos book also by Danny Cates. I will be honest in that I loved Cates run on Thanos, and have enjoyed almost everything he has written so far. Largely because he is will to take a chance and do things that are borderline absurd but work within the context of his stories. In this case, in the pages of Thanos, Thanos encountered a former herald of Galactus, who was a motor cycleriding cosmic version of the classic Ghost Rider; think Jonny Blaze in space. As it turns out, the Ghost Rider is in fact (warning: Spoiler Alert) Frank Castle, the Punisher. Just brilliant. A spirit of vengeance taking over a man devoting his life to punishing bad guys. The first issue of this miniseries goes back and explains how Frank Castle became the Ghost Rider. By the time the first issue wraps up, you have the Ghost Rider flying through space with a baby Thanos riding attached to his chest. Just great and creative stuff. This book was a really fun read that I really enjoyed. It was not quite as good as Thanos was, as this book lacked the element of surprise that Thanos had. The art works well for this type of story and it is filled with the typical Marvel cosmic trappings. Based on the first issue, I cannot wait to see where this mini-series is going. Based on the Coates track record so far I have a feeling it is going to be filled with surprises.

Amazing Spider-Man #1

Amazing Spider-Man #1


Amazing Spider-Man #1 is the new series following up on Dan Slott’s amazing ten year run on Amazing Spider-Man. While I did not enjoy everything Slott did over the last decade, I did enjoy the most of it. I also greatly enjoy Nick Spencer’s writing in general, particularly his Spider-Man work in the past, particularly his Superior Foes of Spider-Man, which I thought was great. So when they announced Nick Spencer was taking over Spider-Man I was a bit hesitant as Spencer’s Spider-Man in the past has tended to be more humorous and a very different style than Slott’s. Boy, was I wrong. This first issue by Spencer and artist Ryan Ottley (who seems like he was born for this gig) was tremendous. It was a perfect mix of humor and action and filled with little bits of subplot to set up stories for years to come. I have not enjoyed a book like this in years. Basically, Spencer strips Spider-Man of everything he has become over the years and puts him back to where he was under Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Peter loses everything – honest, everything – lands up going back to school, is disgraced publically, loses his job, has a fights with the Rhino and Mysterio, Aunt May is displeased with him and it ends with the Lizard! (Plus there is another surprise at the end that takes us back to the early years, but it is the one good thing that happens to Peter.) This book surprised me as what a joy it was to read as it took me back to the days of Spider-Man’s earliest tales, but did not try to retro fit or do a back in time story or some other funky trick. Spencer was able to catch the essence of the original stories and bring them to a modern setting. As much as I enjoyed a lot of Slott’s run, and I did, this first issue made me forget about all of it and now I cannot wait to see where Spencer and Ottley are headed to in the future. If all of the issues are this good, I hope they stay around for a decade also!

Life of Captain Marvel #1

Life of Captain Marvel #1


As I am sure you can see from all of my blubbering, I have really enjoyed Marvel’s “renaissance”. They have taken almost all of their main characters and given them to creators I would not expect to fit with the character and come out with original and entertaining comics. What more can I ask for? There are other books recently I also really have enjoyed, such as The Immortal Hulk (which over the first three issues have all been standalone stories, bravo!) and the Life of Captain Marvel which has beautiful art and a very good story both explaining who Captain Marvel is as well as setting up her future. I suspect this miniseries is so they can have a trade out when the Captain Marvel movie is released that explains who she is, but it is working as this miniseries is excellent so far. I also have greatly enjoyed the new Avengers book, and I am mixed on the relaunch of Thor. I love the story and dialogue on Thor but I have a very hard time with the art which is pretty but does not work for the character, especially after the stunning work by Russell Dauterman. But that is a small complaint. Overall this is the most I have enjoyed a publisher’s line of books in years. At this point I look forward to each week’s new books as I know there will be a gem or two there. To be fair ,most of these books are new and only have one or two issues out so far so my opinions may change over time, but right now I am going to sit back and enjoy the new Marvel Universe.

As you might suspect, I would love to hear from you as to what you think of all of these books. Have you read them? Did you enjoy them as much as I have? What do you think? I truly would like to know. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. All of these thoughts, and even words, are mine and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. And finally,

Thank you.

 

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  1. Jim Burdo Says:

    I hated the retcon in Life of Captain Marvel. She can’t have “family PTSD”, her memories of them were stripped when Rogue stole her powers. Professor X got most of them back, but she has no emotional resonance with them.
    Her father was portrayed as a sexist, but not an abuser.