Friday 20 November 2009

70 Years of Marvel - 2009

So, the Secret Invasion's over, and the Skrulls have had their backsides kicked back to Skrullos. Good news for our heroes, right? Wrong. For whatever plot-serving reason, Norman Osborn, formerly the Green Goblin, formerly dead, and formerly a world-renowned supervillain, is now the hero of the world, and has been placed in charge of SHIELD (or HAMMER, as it's now known), and, as you can see from the picture above, he's brought along a few of his pals.

Osborn's "Cabal" is made up of Loki, the Hood, Emma Frost, Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom. Apparently, Norman is the only person alive who doesn't know how well it goes when supervillains team up: Acts of Vengeance, anyone?

Whilst we wait for the inevitable decline and fall of Osborn and his friends, comic readers in 2009 can choose to look away from the mainstream Marvel universe, and look out to the stars, where the Kree, conquered by the Inhumans, are at war with the Shi'ar. The War of Kings, as it's dubbed, has drawn in any number of Marvel's cosmic characters, from Nova to the Guardians of the Galaxy, and, like most Marvel successes, shows signs of being over-exploited. Still, it's more fun that the grimness of most Marvel books these days, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Thursday 19 November 2009

70 Years of Marvel - 2008

The department of the UK government which deals with supernatural and metahuman affairs, had been around since 1996, under one name or another, but in 2008, Paul Cornell used MI13 as the setting for the latest attempt at giving Captain Britain his own book again. Cornell had Cap heading up a team of superhumans, including the Black Knight, vampire-hunter Blade, and golden age heroine, Spitfire. One of the few books not to be directly tied to any of the major franchises, the title lasted just over a year, after which the good Captain and friends slipped back into limbo. We look forward to the next revival attempt, in a year or so.

Captain Britain & MI13 spun out of the events of Marvel's big event of 2008: Secret Invasion. This jolly romp showed the Skrulls, wiped out almost to a man a couple of years back by the Annihilation Event, still more than capable of infiltrating human society , kidnapping and replacing vital figures such as Hank Pym, Spider-Woman and Elektra, before launching a mass attack on New York, and presumably, London. Another classic from Bendis, this just seems to have been intended to tidy up the mess left after Civil War, whilst leaving things in more of a mess than before. But we'll get to that tomorrow.

Other new comics of 2008? Well, there were some. After being around for, depending on your opinion, 43 years 3000 years, Hercules finally got his own ongoing title, inheriting his book from the Hulk, who, turfed out of his book, immediately got a new one, restarting from issue #1. If you think that was confusing, you're right, and it'll take a finer man than me to explain it. Sorry.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

70 Years of Marvel - 2007

One of the highlights of 2007 was this little gem, MODOK's 11, in which the Big Giant Head recruits a couple of fistfuls of followers, including second-stringers like Mentallo, the Armadillo, and the Chameleon, to commit the ultimate robbery. With the rest of the Marvel Universe getting increasingly grim and gritty, this was a nice lighthearted little romp, and got Fred Van Lente his first start in the Marvel Universe proper.

Other than this, most books in 2007 revolved around either the fallout from Civil War, the consequences of the Annihilation Event, or the Hulk's invasion of New York. The Spider-Books were being culled left, right, and centre, whilst Spidey himself was making a deal with the devil to save his Aunt May. Elsewhere, JMS was being recruited to revamp Thor, Captain America was getting shot, and Iron Man was being appointed Director of SHIELD. The world was getting weirder, that was for sure.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Professor Xavier Is A Jerk!

As mentioned before, many of the current woes in the Marvel Universe are a result of Professor X's misusing of his mutant students. The whole War of Kings thing currently being played out between the Shi'ar and the Inhumans might have been prevented, had Xavier happened to mention to anyone that there was a third Summers brother, one with a bit of a grudge against the Shi'ar. So, what other misdeeds can we accuse the X-Men's mentor of?

1. Whilst still in the womb, killed his own twin.

2. On the US Army's dollar, shagged his way across Europe, leaving at least one pregnant woman in his wake.

3. Used his psychic powers to put the whammy on any woman not taken in by his "charm".

4. Forced one of his students to take a job working at a club where she would regularly be expected to dress in fishnets and bodices.

5. Fancied a bit of peace and quiet from his students, so faked his own death.

6. Sent a group of novice mutants to rescue his original team of X-Men, got them killed, and then never mentioned it to anyone ever again!

7. Went evil.

8. Again.

9. And again.

10. Buggered off into space with his latest girlfriend, leaving his school and students in the hands of their arch-enemy.

11. Wanted his school and students back, so lobotomised the aforementioned arch-enemy.

12. Went evil, again...

13. Outed himself as a mutant, at the same time dropping his students in it.

14. When his ex-girlfriend, Moira McTaggart, was murdered by the mutant terrorist, Mystique, responded by - hiring Mystique to carry out black ops missions for him.

15. Used his experience of faking his own death, to help Magneto fake his own death.

Make no mistake, this man is not a nice guy. If you see him, do not approach. Unless it's to kick his wheelchair over and kick him in his bald head, that is...

(This cheap inventory post previously appeared in my other blog, February 2006.)

Monday 16 November 2009

70 Years of Marvel - 2006

By 2006, "event comics were rampant at Marvel. We had, in no particular order:

X-Men: Deadly Genesis - in which Ed Brubaker finally answered the question of who Cyclops and Havok's mystery brother was, about a decade after anyone had last expressed an interest in finding this out. The third brother, Vulcan, believed dead, and erased from the memories of everyone who met him (by that good guy, Professor X), came back from the dead, kidnapped the X-Men, killed Banshee, then went off into space to conquer the Shi'ar Empire.

Civil War - in which Mark Millar spins a yarn in which the New Warriors accidentally blow up a school, and the superhero community is torn in half, with factions arguing for and against superhero registration led by Iron Man and Captain America respectively, Spider-Man reveals his secret identity to the world, and Hank Pym builds a clone of Thor.

Planet Hulk - in which Mr Fantastic, Iron Man, Black Bolt and Dr Strange decide to exile the Hulk into space, accidentally sending him to a planet of enslaving insects, whom he proceeds to conquer. Planet Hulk's writer, Greg Pak, would subsequently return the Hulk to Earth to kick some arse, but this was a far superior tale.

Annihilation - in which Annihilus and his Negative Zone pals try to conquer the "Positive" Universe. Used by Keith Giffen and others as a means to jumpstart Marvel's "cosmic" characters, who had been somewhat underused in recent years.

Additionally, 2006 saw the Black Panther marry the X-Men's Storm, Warren Ellis launch Nextwave, comedy misadventures of some b-list heroes, and Neil Gaiman relaunch the Eternals. In all, a busy year for Marvel's marketing department.