The Uncanny Avengers, known officially as the Avengers Unity Squad, are trying to bring humans and mutants together in the wake of the big AvX event last year, a war between the Avengers and the X-Men. So far, they are not off to a great start. The Red Skull is trying to mind control a race war into happening, Kang the Conqueror is manipulating things from beyond time itself, a Celestial is dead in Earth orbit, and some very powerful new villains are responsible - if we ever needed the Avengers, it's now!
Now we've talked about Uncanny Avengers before, I reviewed its first issue right here, and in the six intervening issues, it has only gotten better. Writer Rick Remender and artist Daniel Acuna know what makes an Avengers title tick, and make no mistake, this is an Avengers title. Despite the 'Uncanny' before the name, half the membership being X-Men, and having Havok as the team leader - this is the Avengers. I might even go so far as to say that if you're an old school Avengers reader and fan, this is the one book in the franchise that may appeal to you most.
Great superhero action, sinister manipulative villains, intriguing character interaction, together in a comic with Silver Age attitude and a Modern Age vibe - that's what Uncanny Avengers is all about. Issue #7 is on the shelves at All Things Fun! this week, pick up your copy now!
You might know writer Grant Morrison from his recent amazing runs on Action Comics and Batman, or perhaps from Animal Man, JLA, or his bestselling book on comics, Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero. Or you might know his more esoteric work like The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, SeaGuy and We3, or his upcoming DC magnum opus Multiversity. Any way you cut it, you know the name. Grant Morrison is one of the creative movers and shakers in the world of comics. But did you know he doesn't just do superheroes?
Happy! is the deeply noir tale of Nick Sax, an ex-cop turned hit man whose life is in a state of quickly changing and ever-endangering flux. When a hit goes wrong, he's on the run from both the mob and a psycho killer in a Santa Claus suit. And then there's that tiny flying blue horse named Happy that only Nick can see…
Morrison's partner on Happy! is artist Darrick Robertson who most folks might know from The Boys. Like that series, Happy! is mature readers only because of excessive violent, sexual, and language content, so be warned. That said, this is a really terrific collection. This trade from Image Comics collects the first four-issue mini-series and lists at $12.99, and is available at All Things Fun! this week, check it out!
Over at the All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast, we try to do the best we can, but sometimes we make some mistakes. One such mistake came in our last regular show - we forgot all about the trades of the week, and one of them was a biggie, or at least to me it was a biggie - Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow's Avengers. This trade comes in two volumes, and they are both on sale at, where else, All Things Fun!.
Now, for most of you out there, when I say 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' you're thinking, oh cool, Star-Lord, Rocket Racoon, Groot, the new Brian Michael Bendis comic, and big budget Marvel movie next summer, right? Well, this ain't them. Those are the characters who took the name and ran with it. I'm talking about the originals.
In 1969 Doom Patrol and Deadman creator Arnold Drake, along with noted Silver Age artist Gene Colon, himself famous for his Daredevil, Iron Man, and Tomb of Dracula work, took a look at the Marvel Comics Universe in the 30th century. If that time sounds familiar, yeah, it was a direct shot to counter DC Comics' success with the Legion of Super-Heroes, also set one thousand years in the future.
Introduced in Marvel Super Heroes #18, we were introduced to a new superhero team, one composed of humans who had evolved for survival on different planets that Earth had colonized in the last hundred years. Led by thousand year old astronaut Vance Astro, who along with telekinetic powers and the inspiration of the heroes of today's world, leads this team against the alien Badoon, who have conquered the Earth.
The original members included Charlie-27 of Jupiter, made bigger and stronger by that planet's oppressive size and gravity. There was also Martinex, a crystalline being from Pluto, and Yondu, and weapons master from Alpha Centauri. They were quickly joined by flame-haired Nikki from Mercury, and the mysterious cosmic being Starhawk.
The team fought the Badoon across the backdrop of more than a few Marvel titles before defeating them and freeing the Earth with the help of the time-tossed Defenders. Saving the Earth was easy however, compared to what came next…
A new foe rose from the ashes to take over the 31st century Earth after that. He was part-man and part-machine, named Michael Korvac, a collaborator in the Badoon invasion. Korvac was really nobody until he fled to the twentieth century. There, he tried to download some of Galactus' technology, a stunt that embued him with the Power Cosmic. Now he was somebody. Korvac became one of the most powerful beings in the universe, calling himself alternately Korvac, Michael, and The Enemy.
His master plan originally was to erase the Guardians of the Galaxy from the timeline by killing Vance Astro as a child. The Guardians followed him back in time, and enlisted the Avengers to protect the young boy. Long story short, he decided that universal conquest was a better goal, and when the Avengers and Guardians tried to stop him, he killed them. Yeah, he was that powerful. You can read that story in The Korvac Saga, also available from All Things Fun!.
These are some of the tales that are included in volumes one and two of Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow's Avengers. It is a whole new world of Marvel Comics action and adventure, and one that eventually inspired the latest incarnation of the team, the one that will be featured in next summer's sure-to-be-hit movie.
That movie, it should be noted, might have more to do with the original Guardians of the Galaxy than we thought. Michael Rooker, of "The Walking Dead" fame, just got cast …as Yondu. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!
Yeah, it's a kids book. Usually this kind of stuff Allison handles, and I get the scary mature readers only comics. But when this comic dropped into my lap, it was just too much fun to resist. Batman: Li'l Gotham is great!
Written by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, with moody but kid-friendly cartoonish art by Nguyen, Batman: Li'l Gotham is the perfect counterpoint and companion to DC's other kids favorite Superman Family Adventures by Franco and Art Baltazar (who also brought us Tiny Titans). Nguyen and Fridolfs brings us two relatively in-continuity tales of autumn holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving.
There is lots of fun stuff here for both adults and kids of all ages. Batman teaches Damian about Halloween and the Penguin attacks the Thanksgiving Day Parade. It's almost a wonderful throwback to the good old days when heroes didn't have to die and world was always in peril - just fun adventure.
And I loved the Halloween full page with the Golden and Silver Age Flashes holding hands, Darkseid chilling with a Slurpee, and Hush and a mummy checking each other out. Didn't I tell you this was fun?
Batman: Li'l Gotham #1 is on sale this week at All Things Fun!, make sure you get down there and pick up your copy today. Originally only available digital, here's your chance to have a copy of your very own, to hold in your hands, and share with your family.
The newest jewel in the Marvel NOW! crown is the new series of Guardians of the Galaxy by the power duo of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Steve McNiven. Bendis is coming off of a decade plus old run on the Avengers franchise, as well as Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel NOW!'s All-New X-Men, and McNiven is the artist who dazzled us on New Avengers, and the legendary Civil War. And they aren't the only reasons Guardians of the Galaxy is so hot.
For those not in the know, Guardians of the Galaxy is headed to the big screen in 2014 with a cast that already includes Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista. Here's your chance to get in on the excitement early with a number one issue that is a terrific jumping-on point for new readers. Marvel Comics superstar Iron Man joins the Guardians just as the Earth has been made a target for invaders from space. And it only gets better from there.
For more adventures of these classic Marvel cosmic characters including Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, Iron Man, and of course, Rocket Racoon - get on down to All Things Fun! and pick up Guardians of the Galaxy #1, on sale this week!
Dark Horse Comics has had the license to make comics based on Star Wars for over two decades, but I have to confess it's flown over or under my radar for the most part. That's not because I'm not a Star Wars fan, no, not at all, it's because I'm an original Star Wars fan.
Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader in armor and breathing mask, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and even Boba Fett - that's what Star Wars is to me. If it's not those first three movies, I'm sorry, I just don't get it. The majority of the Dark Horse SW books have seemed to be new characters, stuff from other movies or media, or just barely on the fringes of the universe I know. Nothing personal, DH, it just didn't grab me.
That said, a recent offering has gotten my attention, my full attention. A title called Star Wars, no subtitles, no adjectives, and solely about the characters I knew, debuted three months ago. Star Wars #3, written by Brian Wood with art by Carlos D'Anda, brings us to a SW universe shortly after the events of that first classic movie A New Hope.
From the first few pages, this old school Star Wars fan was hooked. Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are at odds over a new squadron of X-Wings and finding a traitor in their ranks. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Chewie are off on their next big adventure, and it starts with a bang!
Great story and art, not to mention full-on nostalgic excitement, highlight this great jumping on point for new readers. Star Wars #3 from Dark Horse Comics is on sale this week at All Things Fun!, just look for the fantastic Alex Ross cover!
You've heard me ramble on about Ultron before, mostly here and here, and even a little bit here. Really, when you're talking about the Avengers, there's no getting around the topic of Ultron. With Ultron, it's not just about eliminating mankind to usher in a machine age - with Ultron, it's personal… because he's family.
Ultron was created by one of the original Avengers, Hank Pym, whom he calls 'father,' and he is in love with another, the Wasp, whom he calls 'mother,' and finally, he himself (itself?) created the Avenger known as the Vision, whom he calls 'son.' Oh yeah, it's a messed little Oedipus complex he has going there. And he pretty much wants them all, and the Avengers, and mankind exterminated.
In Age of Ultron #1, the first issue of the maxi-series crossover event by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Bryan Hitch, the worst thing that could possibly happen, happens. Ultron wins. He gets what he's been after. Let's let that sink in a little bit. Ultron wins.
In a world where Ultron rules the planet, where are the Avengers? On the run, and in hiding. Who will stop Ultron now? Find out in Age of Ultron: Book One, now on sale at All Things Fun!. Be sure to get in on the ground floor of what is sure to be the comics event of 2013, and watch your back, Ultron is everywhere!
Unless you're a comics fan who's been living under a rock for a month or two, you know the status quo for Spider-Man. Peter Parker is dead, and Doctor Otto Octavius, his mind in Peter's body, is Spider-Man. But he's a new Spidey, a superior Spider-Man. Doc Ock is finding ways of doing things more efficiently, and folks like it. Last issue he trashed the new Sinister Six soundly, and this issue, well, I'll let you read it and find out.
The good news is that Doc Ock is actually doing a fairly good job. He has found good use for his and Peter's scientific talents, and his motivations, as Spider-Man at least, are thoughtful and for the better good. There's further good news that Peter Parker is still in there in his head, just unable to do anything - sort of a living hell for him. Because of the bad news.
The bad news is that old Otto has set his sights on Mary Jane Watson, in a less than chivalrous or romantic way. In Superior Spider-Man #2, writer Dan Slott and artist Ryan Stegman have turned the book into a horror comic. We watch as Peter must watch date after date. It's torture for our hero, and torture for the reader who knows who is really who. Poor Mary Jane!
Dan Slott, on the last few years on this character has spun some of the best stories of his career, and it continues here. Do not miss Superior Spider-Man #2, available at All Things Fun!.
By Glenn Walker
Remember that time, way back in the Avengers Bendis-verse when the most powerful beings on Marvel Earth got together and decided they needed to stand in the shadows and run things for everyone else? You had Reed (Mr. Fantastic) Richards, Professor X, Tony (Iron Man) Stark, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, and the Black Panther - and they called themselves, ominously enough, the Illuminati. It was a step in what they considered the right direction, a way to prevent misunderstandings between various super-teams, between nations, and to unify forces when Earth itself was attacked.
As shown on the first page of the brand new New Avengers #1, part of the Marvel NOW! initiative, by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Steve Epting, the Black Panther immediately thought it was a bad idea, and he bailed on the first meeting. Turns out the Panther was right, as this Illuminati failed to function during the Skrull Secret Invasion, and it certainly didn't stop this past year's battle to end all battles, Avengers Vs. X-Men. Now, however, in this issue, the Black Panther needs them.
Hickman and Epting produce, in New Avengers #1 (the third first issue of this title in a decade, I think), one of the best Black Panther stories I've read in a while. Now I'm a sucker for the Black Panther, and I love him in the Avengers, because there he embodies the perfect melding of Batman-like fighting prowess, scientific know-how, superhero pro-activity, and that classy regal-ness that running one of the world's most highly advanced civilizations brings with it. Gotta love the Panther. Usually will get one or two of these qualities, but Hickman gets it. This is the Black Panther done right.
Artist Steve Epting is also a star here. As an old school Avengers fan, I loved his art on the title back in the 1990s, and when I next saw his work, it was much tighter and smoother as he worked with Ed Brubaker on the now legendary Captain America series of the last decade. A peek back a year or so at Fantastic Four proves how well he works with Hickman as well. Here in New Avengers, he delivers his best work so far in my opinion.
Together the two spin a tale of the Black Panther and his Wakandan scientists as they discover a gateway to another planet, where dangerous forces seek to destroy the Earth, and possibly all Earths. Hey, who you gonna call? The Illuminati, of course. This is an awesome comic, and one of my picks for the week. Special bonus, there are even clues here to the origins of one of the new members over in Hickman's Marvel NOW! Avengers. New Avengers #1, on the shelves at All Things Fun!, and other comic shops (but ATF! is the best!). Do not miss!
By Glenn Walker
Christmas decorations are everywhere, Christmas music is on the radio, everyone is running from store to store to get all the good bargains. Yes, it's that time of year again - it's time to spend time with the family, whether you like it or not.
The holiday season is here, and the holidays are all about family. The Avengers is my favorite superhero team, and in a way, they are a family of sorts. In my opinion, the Avengers has always worked better as soap opera in superhero trappings, after all, superhero comics are the bastard stepchild of mythology and soap opera. The problem is, when you get right down to the roots, the Avengers family tree is rather twisted and dysfunctional. What better time to explore this nest of incest and insanity than the holidays, right?
Let's start with the team's inaugural couple, and while they are no longer officially or romantically still together (depending on the writer), Dr. Henry Pym (known alternately as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, Doctor Pym, or the Wasp) and Janet Van Dyne, the original and best known Wasp, have had no children, and yet they leave quite a family legacy.
Pym created an artificial intelligence called Ultron, soon to be the big bad in the next big Marvel crossover event, who would become the Earth's Mightiest Heroes' deadliest foe. This machine menace wanted only two things, the complete and total eradication of the human race… and daddy's love. Hank was not forthcoming, leading to an Oedipal complex of catastrophic proportions. I'm being vague, and sarcastic, but trust me, this covers it.
Ultron considered Pym his father, and in a twisted way, that made the Wasp his mother. Since it's likely Ultron was programmed with Pym's brain patterns, he wanted his mother, and eventually, rather than 'have' her, he created a bride of his own - the aptly named Jocasta, a machine woman programmed with Janet's brain patterns. Jocasta would eventually turn against her master, join the Avengers, and creepily become enamored with Hank Pym. Ew.
It gets worse. In an attempt to be more like his own 'father,' Ultron endeavored to become a father himself, and created the Vision. While more of a reactivation than a creation, Ultron still would call the Vision his 'son' for decades.
Of course, that's not the machine monster's only son. Each time Ultron rebuilt himself, he gave himself a number designation. The Ultron Mark 12 seemed to have gained some form of evolution and wanted to be a good son to Pym. Unfortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook), this model sacrificed itself to save the Avengers from a resurrected Ultron-11.
Speaking of the Vision, he is another source of incest and conflict in the Avengers family. I've talked before on this blog about his romance with the Scarlet Witch, their marriage, their children, her breakdown, and then how she tried to destroy the whole team.
If that's not enough to make things uncomfortable at holiday dinner, there's also Wonder Man. His brain patterns were originally used to program the Vision, he fell for the Scarlet Witch, and his first and last encounters with the team have involved trying to destroy them. I'm sensing a theme here…
The Vision isn't innocent here either when it comes to relationships outside of Wanda either. He's also been involved with Mantis, Stature, and the aforementioned Jocasta as well. If that's not difficult enough, imagine the Vision sitting at the same table with Wonder Man, with whom he has shared a mind, and the original Human Torch, with whom he has shared an android body. Go ahead, just imagine the small talk.
Let's talk about the Scarlet Witch's family a little bit now. There are her two children, Young Avengers Wiccan and Speed, whose continuity are better left untouched, especially if you're running low on Tylenol. There's also her brother, fellow Avenger Quicksilver, and of course her dear old dad, arch-foe and sometimes ally of the X-Men, Magneto. Mags notably enslaved Wanda and her brother as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and has also battled the Avengers more times than this vast storehouse of useless comics knowledge can count.
Quicksilver eventually left the Avengers for a time because he resented his sister's love for the Vision, because he was a machine. Imagine that, a racist mutant. He then fell for Crystal of the Inhumans. Hmmm… sounds like someone could use an attitude adjustment. It's okay though, karma is a bitch, just like his wife Crystal, herself a jilted romance of the Human Torch, she eventually found solace in the arms of fellow Avenger, the Black Knight.
If you want to talk about relationship hopping, no one does it like the Black Widow. She was originally one of Iron Man's enemies, who reformed along with erstwhile romance Hawkeye, to join the team. When she was later briefly rejected by Daredevil, she finally joined the Avengers before going back to him. Notably, her ex-husband, the Red Guardian fought the Avengers on occasion. She's had close relationships with Captain America, Hercules, and is currently with Winter Soldier. Is your scorecard filled up yet? Turn it over, there's more.
Speaking of villains who have reformed, especially after fighting the Avengers, there's the original Thunderbolts, who were also the same Masters of Evil team who attacked the Mansion and nearly beat Jarvis and Hercules to death. Just sayin'. Hawkeye later led that team. There's also the Swordsman, who spent most of his career as an enemy of the Avengers before joining the team. Just for the record, he trained Hawkeye, and also brought Mantis onto the team.
And then there's Kang. Like the other Avengers greatest foe, Ultron, Kang the Conqueror is also family, although we're not sure exactly how. Kang is many people, due to the vagaries of time travel and the paradoxes involved, he's also Rama Tut, Immortus, the Scarlet Centurion, possibly even the Justice League of America foe the Lord of Time, and many, many alternate versions of himself. But the arguing point is who was he originally?
For decades the conventional wisdom at Marvel Comics suggested that Kang was Nathaniel Richards, but that might not be completely or even still correct. You know how comic book continuity changes every other day. Since the brilliant and award winning Young Avengers series by Allan Heinberg, there is much speculation that he may in fact be Iron Man or a descendent of Tony Stark. I bet that makes Hank Pym feel better about his sins.
Kang has other more sinister relationships with Avengers though. In the infamous Avengers #200, Immortus, a version of Kang, kidnapped Carol Danvers - then known as Ms. Marvel, now known as Captain Marvel - and took her to his home in Limbo, brainwashed her, impregnated her, returned her to Earth, and then she (I'm not making this up) gave birth to him, whereupon he swept her off her feet and returned with her to Limbo to supposedly live happily ever after. And for the most part, the Avengers let him get away with it. This dark point in comics history is known as The Rape of Ms. Marvel.
You think it's rough with your family, be glad you're not having a holiday dinner with the Avengers family. Yeah, imagine what's going on at that holiday dinner table. Ya gotta admit, the conversation is going to be interesting… at least before combat breaks out. As I said, I love the Avengers, but man, they are soooo not the kind of family I would want to sit down with for the holidays...