Title: Avengers #1
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Storyline: Next Avengers
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release date: May 19, 2010
With the release of this very good issue, Marvel Comics have officially ended the DARK REIGN that has dominated the storylines for the last 18 months (but started seven years ago), and begun its new and improved HEROIC AGE. Does this mean that all the “grim and gritty-ness” of the last 7 plus years is totally gone? My bet would be a big ‘NO’. I’d say that this is just the next point from which Marvel’s continuing narrative will unfold itself, but I guess that can go without saying…
This issue opens up roughly at the same point that we got left last week when the massive SIEGE event came to an end with the dissolution of H.A.M.M.E.R. and arrest and incarceration of Norman Osborn. The first two pages of this issue, which depict Immortus the Master of Time being ultimately defeated, really set up the storyarc that starts with this issue. It seems as though a band of five teenagers from the future are going to be responsible for some really heinous stuff happening. The kicker is that those five kids are obviously tied to the Avengers in a very fundamental way.
From there, we cut to Captain Steve Rogers giving a speech (as he is want to do) directly at the fourth wall, and when we turn the page, we discover that he is in fact talking to a plethora of former and soon-to-be Avengers. The scene reminded me of a scene that is almost exactly the same from another Avengers #1, specifically the #1 by Kurt Busiek and George Perez from the whole “Heroes Return” thing from a decade or so ago. Back then Steve Rogers was doing this as Captain America, not as the “new Nick Fury”, but it’s basically the same thing. Each and every one of these characters was chosen for a reason, and Steve spells it out for them/us. You have a few people who think they don’t belong, some who think they are undeserving, you have a few people that are getting “promotions”, and you get a few people who outright refuse to join up. Overall, it was cool, but really felt rehashed from all the other times things like this have happened. From here we are introduced to the team’s newest leader, Maria Hill, whom we all know from the last few years as an amazing former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a friend of most of the Avengers. As Tony Stark then points out, she is the perfect fit for this team.
When all of the meet and greet crap is finally over with, this issue really starts to get good. We already saw Immortus and some ass kicking teenagers from the future in the first two pages, and since time travel is an obvious part of this new storyarc, who should show up? None other than Kang the Conqueror. He is one of the greatest enemies ever faced by the Avengers, but this time he shows up not to fight, but to recruit allies for the battle of his life. Kang and the Avengers allies? What craziness can bring these two disparate sides together? Well, it turns out those kids are no regular teenagers. Those kids are the offspring of the Avengers, and Kang needs the help of the current Avengers to prevent them from not only taking over the world, but also conquering time. But can Kang be trusted? Part two is out in June…
Title: Blackest Night #8
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Storyline: Blackest Night mega-event
Publisher: DC Comics
Release date: March 31, 2010
Finally, after what seems like forever and a day, DC’s massive Blackest Night event has finally ended. The series itself only lasted 8 issues, but with both of the monthly Green Lantern series (Green Lantern and Green Lantern: Corps) as well as a plethora of one-shots and tie-in mini-series dealing with the build-up and crossover for over two years, it’s going to be nice to be able to read the books as regular monthlies again.
On the review side of the series, I will say that I really enjoyed myself. Two plus years is a long haul, but when looking at the whole mega-event as one cohesive storyline, writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi really out did themselves. Tying in as much as they did, and keeping the story straight for all that time must have been a Herculean-sized effort. Kudos to them.
Issue #8 was all that I was hoping for it to be. The issue was filled with two-page spreads, five in total, and even an elusive four-page spread (which actually had a two-page spread on top of it). Issue #8 was another artistic triumph for Ivan Reis, who is quickly becoming DC’s go-to guy for any series that requires the artist to fit more than twenty people on a page. I will even go so far as to say that Ivan Reis is George Perez 2.0 J . What really worked for me with this book was also what made it kind of stupid in my eyes. ***MASSIVE SPOILERS TO FOLLOW*** Geoff Johns has been working hard over the last few years engineering the deaths of several DCU staples. What Johns did with blackest Night #8 was bring a whole load of them back to the land of the living. 12 characters in total came ‘home’, and supposedly, all came back for a specific reason.
So who came back. Let’s see:
1-Maxwell Lord. Killed by Wonder Woman in 2005 in the special Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot. She snapped his neck like a twig. Now he’s back and no one seems to remember any of the awful crap he did that necessitated his death at the hands of Wonder Woman. Only Guy Gardner even recognized him.
2-Hawk (from Hawk & Dove). Hank Hall. He’s back for some reason that is unknown. He will be joining the Birds of Prey as its only male member.
3-Jade. The daughter of Earth’s other Green Lantern, Alan Scott, and the former lover of Kyle Rayner, a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Jade’s power is more in tune with her father’s and we are supposedly going to find out how her powers, along with her father’s and brother’s all still mesh with the powers of the Corps. She was killed in the Green Lantern monthly a few years ago.
4-Captain Boomerang, aka George “Digger ” Harkness. He died while killing Tim Drake’s (Red Robin) father in Identity Crisis. It was a great scene. I’m guessing he’s back, in his prime no less, to battle the Flash in his upcoming new ongoing series.
5-Professor Zoom, aka Eobard Thawne. He was killed a few years ago by Johns, and is most likely back to battle the Flash in his new monthly, just like Digger.
6-Firestorm, aka Ronnie Raymond. The original Firestorm returned from the dead and now co-occupies the body of the hero.
7-Osiris. He died in Countdown. He’s not very well known. Best known for basically being Black Adam junior. All he wants is to go home…
8 / 9-Hawkman & Hawkwoman, aka Carter and Shiera Hall. The reincarnated Egyptian Pharaoh and his wife. Usually they are “re-born” as actual people who have to grow up and eventually find each other, but this time they get to skip all of that. The last incarnation of Shiera did not remember any of her previous lives, including Carter, but now she does. Hopefully their love will be a beacon of light J
10-Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. He’s back. It seems he’s here to look cool on covers by Dave Finch. No idea why they really brought him back, but hopefully its a few years before they make him boring again. Bring back Will Pfeifer to write him monthly. It was great last time!
11-J’onn J’onnz, aka Martian Manhunter. We all knew this was going to happen one day. The last surviving member of the Martian race can seemingly never die. All the heroes were happy to see him. What does his future hold?
…and last but not least is the most interesting resurrection of them all:
12-Boston Brand, aka Deadman. I guess he should be “Aliveman” now. What’s most interesting about Deadman coming back to life is not the fact that he did it. It’s the fact that he’s the only one after this whole massive Blackest Night mega-event that is still sporting a White Lantern power ring. Things are about to get very interesting…
So why is everyone back for this new Bright and Happy era for DC comics? Who knows. What we do know is that the line-up of the new bi-weekly Bright Day series will be: Aquaman, Mera, The Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Deadman, Firestorm, and The Atom. Will they be a proper team, or just have a loose affiliation to one another? I guess we’ll find out later this month J .