Comics I Read: Catching up #5

X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas 1-2: Well, I can’t say Marvel isn’t doing enough to promote this group: there’s this two-parter, plus they’re involved in the latest Hercules storyline (see below), then a miniseries with the (original!) Avengers in January. This story is set after “Utopia” which means Jeff Parker gets to use Namor, who has history with both teams. It’s a fairly standard fight-then-team-up plot, but Parker has a good grasp of the X-Men – for instance, after the teams reconcile Iceman makes a joke about how the Atlas members will probably be teaching at the institute in a couple of years – and you should get a decent idea of what the “Atlas” solo series is like from this. Don’t worry about the anachronisms at the end of #1; they’re explained in #2.

Superman: Secret Origin 2-3: The Legion stuff in #2 is great, and does a nice job at showing both what the Legion means to Clark and what he means to them. Johns also has a little fun having the Legionnaires refer to some things that haven’t happened yet, like the “Earth/New Krypton War”. However, #3 is brilliant, as Johns jumps ahead in time to do a story nobody has ever done before – the story of what Metropolis was like before Superman arrived. It’s not to be missed. Yeah, the Chris Reeve homage is full on now that Gary Frank is drawing Clark as an adult again, and Johns does some scenes reminiscent of the first movie, but it works because Reeve and “Superman I” are a touchstone for a lot of people. (Or at least for me.)

REBELS Annual 1: I wasn’t expecting to like the new origin of Starro, but Tony Bedard tells it really well, through the stories of Starro’s minions, and his motivation – he thinks “good” and “evil” are meaningless – is different and interesting. He also manages to integrate it into established history in a way that didn’t stretch my disbelief too much. Well done.

REBELS 8-10: Adam Strange and Captain Comet arrive just in time to give the book a boost, and the “Blackest Night” crossover in #10 is accessible and interesting enough that I think there’s a good chance new readers will come back for more. The ending to #10 was given away in the advance publicity, but [SPOILER WARNING] how can you see Vril Dox with a Sinestro Corps ring and not want to come back and see what happens next, right?

Incredible Hercules 134-137: Hercules and Amadeus Cho are on separate voyages of discovery in these issues. Herc’s story is the more lighthearted one, of course (especially the recap pages), but it’s in character for him and I loved the Thor appearances. JMS’ Thor is so operatic that it’s a nice change of pace to see the character in something less weighty. Somewhat suprisingly, the Cho story is much better – since he’s a brand new character, Pak and Van Lente are able to change how he sees himself and his purpose in life more than they would be able to with a more established character. Well worth your time, and the subsequent reuniting of the characters looks like it will be good, starting with…

Assault on New Olympus: …this one-shot setting up the conflicts between Herc, Cho and the Olympian gods with a Spider-man fight and an “Agents of Atlas” backup – set after the miniseries above -- thrown in for good measure. There’s really no reason this couldn’t have been an issue of the regular book but, like “Agents of Atlas”, anything that gets people to sample “Incredible Hercules” is OK with me.

Comments

  1. Whether Agents of Atlas succeeds or fails in its 2010 relaunch, you can't deny that Marvel has an incredible amount of faith in it. I can't recall any time in recent history where one of the major companies gave this many chances to a book that just wasn't raking in major sales--or even sales high enough to keep it from getting canceled. It's a great book, so I really hope it gets the exposure it needs.

    Like you, I was very skeptical about Starro's reimagining in R.E.B.E.L.S.--I thought it was interesting to have a warlord-type character in charge of all of these armies, and I like large-scale Starro infestations, but I wasn't sure as to how this would go--Brainiac and Toyman had similar reveals recently, but those weren't nearly as significant. I was worried that, even if I could accept this, other people (a certain Bill Broomall springs to mind) might not go for it.

    But based on the strength of Tony Bedard's work on R.E.B.E.L.S., and the fact that this new Starro was designed by J.G. Jones, I kept an open mind--and I'm glad I did. I think that it worked incredibly well, fitting in with everything we've seen before while also offering Starro a new sense of depth, opening up many more story possibilities to a villain that has frequently just been a plot device and rarely an actual character. I haven't had a chance to read issue 10 yet, but I'm still confident that this series is one of the best of the year.

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