Why The Perfect Superhero Event Only Has 4 Issues

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 25, 2018.

Perfect Superhero Event Comic - Cover.jpg

The superhero event is here to stay. It doesn’t matter how well the last big event sold or if the critics panned every issue (and every crossover and tie-in), superhero events are simply too profitable to be retired at Marvel or DC Comics. Rather than discussing whether there should or should not be annual events, at this point it makes more sense to look at what makes these sort of events work well.

Events have been a fundamental element in superhero comics since Crisis On Infinite Earths and Secret Wars made a massive splash in the mid 1980s. These 12-issue series managed to shake up all of continuity or, at least, include every character capable of selling their own series. When they first appeared they shook up the landscape and left dollar signs in the eyes of editors.

Things have changed a lot since the 1980s though. The early experiments with crossovers and events led to a well oiled machine by the turn of the century. Marvel Comics specifically has been built around an ongoing series of superhero events, each one building from what came before with “Avengers Disassembled” leading to House of M leading to Civil War and so on… That doesn’t even take into consideration the additional events like Annihilation or “Spider-Verse”, which encompass only sections of the overall universe. With so many taking place at the biggest superhero publishers each year, we’re forced to ask what the best possible form for these series might be.

The Problems Of Decompression

One of the biggest issues with modern superhero events is the proliferation of issues in each one. These stories typically sprawl to include at least 8 or 9 issues in each narrative. That doesn’t include Free Comic Book Day tie-ins, prologues, epilogues, and unannounced additional issues. The strategy seems to be that more is better, when more is really just more. This level of decompression causes additional problems for both fans and the events themselves.

Readers are already asked to spend an average of $3.99 for new superhero comics from Marvel and DC Comics. Events typically contain extended page counts and ratchet that price up to $5.99 or even higher in some cases. When you combine that price tag with the extensive number of issues in a story, it becomes a very expensive endeavor to read. While spending more to get more pages or a big storyline is reasonable, multiplying that with 8 or 9 issues pushes the boundaries of what is reasonable.

It also causes issues within the stories themselves. It’s difficult to look at recent events like Civil War 2 or Dark Knights: Metal and make a case that every page was warranted based on the story it told. These narratives tended to wander as they progressed and delays in their publication resulted in a loss of tension. Spacing out great central concepts across unwarranted space makes the investment seem even less worthwhile. The bottom line is that decompression is the worst enemy of superhero events, even more than The Beyonder or Anti-Monitor.

Making Space On The Page

This call for compression runs up against a significant challenge for comics writers and artists alike: How do you make the excitement and scale of these concepts fit into less issues? It’s not a question without an answer though. Several of the largest and most creatively successful events of the past several decades have managed to fit their stories into just 4 issues, ranging between 26 and 48 pages each. Series like Cosmic Odyssey, Siege, and, most recently, Justice League: No Justice have all perfected the formula of a 4-issue event.

That success stems largely from the artists associated with each series. Mike Mignola has been embraced as one of the greatest storytellers in comics today and you can witness those skills evolve in the 1988 series Cosmic Odyssey. Each new sequence added meaning and changed the status quo of the sprawling story through some of the most efficient layouts of the day. Every moment served multiple purposes, reflecting characters, plot, and theme simultaneously. This efficiency also spared room for the big moments that required a splash page to properly convey. While this collaboration between Mignola and Starlin highlights their own talents, it also shows how well great creators can execute an event comic.

That can be witnessed in the pages of Justice League: No Justice today, as well. Francis Manapul and Riley Rossmo are the top tier of talent at DC Comics today, and they’re making it clear why that is in this new event. Their approach to the 4-issue series has emphasized spreads, utilizing the extended canvas of two pages to include more dialogue around significant moments that demand additional space. The result has been one of the best looking DC Comics of the past several years.

Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit

Looking at how artists like Mignola, Manapul, and Rossmo have delivered such outstanding work in limited spaces is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the 4-issue miniseries. The limitations of these events require every member of the creative team to make each panel count. When you have a creative team like Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel on a series like Siege, it’s easy to expect them to do just that. Superhero publishers put their best talent on events because they sell comics, but also because they are experienced and skilled storytellers.

Asking the best writers and artists at a publisher to contain a full-sized, status quo changing event to only 4 issues may seem like a problem, but it’s really a challenge. Those restraints don’t damage the story as much as they compel the storytellers to deliver only their best work. It’s much easier to let a scene or drawing slide by when given 9 issues to tell a story, but when only 4 issues are provided every moment needs to count.

This isn’t a hypothetical scenario either. Comparing Siege to almost any Marvel Comics event from the past decade shows how well its creative team shines under the pressure of limited pages and time. It still managed to deliver the earth shattering consequences of character deaths, destroyed cities, and the beginning of a new era that series twice its size promised. That goes for Cosmic Odyssey and Justice League: No Justice as well. There’s simply no reason for events to sprawl as long as they do, when their smaller counterparts offer all of the same charms and a better told story.

That’s why we hope both Marvel Comics and DC Comics put their best foot (and talent) forward, and focus on quality events over quantity of issues when moving forward.

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Why Deadpool 2 Needed The MCU

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 24, 2018.

Deadpool Marvel Studios - Cover.jpg

Deadpool 2 has managed to capture the same, seemingly impossible, spark that the original Deadpool unleashed in 2016. It is a superhero movie unlike any other superhero movie. While there are still giant set pieces, increasing power levels and stakes, and even a heartwarming moral, that’s as far as either Deadpool resembles what we’ve come to understand as the superhero movie. It is rude and crude, breaking the R-rating ceiling before Logan got close. It is self-aware, referencing both the franchises it shares a genre with and the world in which it was produced. It is a comedy, emphasizing laughs before action or drama in almost every scene. Even a couple of years after it arrived to break February box office records, we’re still stunned at just how unique Deadpool and its sequel are in the modern craze of superhero movies.

That Deadpool is unique within that craze doesn’t make it independent from those movies though. This doesn’t mean that Deadpool is technically an X-Men movie or that it shares a studio with other superhero franchises. Arguing that viewers need to have seen prior X-Men films before walking into either Deadpool doesn’t hold up under any scrutiny. There are certainly jokes that will be misunderstood without having seen Logan or X2: X-Men United, but they’re a drops in an ocean, and only as important as references to Avengers: Infinity War or Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. These individual elements aren’t nearly as important as a general understanding and appreciation of the superhero genre.

That is why the most important element in the success of Deadpool and Deadpool 2, outside of its own production, is the existence of the Marvel Studios’ shared cinematic universe. In order to understand that connection, you have to go back to the comics.

The Comics Origins of Deadpool

When Deadpool first appeared in comics, co-created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza in 1991, he was an action anti-hero designed for the times. Wade Wilson was strongly influenced by the DC Comics mercenary Deathstroke (a.k.a. Slade Wilson), but also incorporated elements of Wolverine and Spider-Man in his powers and attitude. He was built to compete with the most popular properties of the day. The modern incarnation of Deadpool known by moviegoers developed slowly over time.

The biggest shift in the character came in 1997 when Joe Kelly was paired with artist Ed McGuinness to work on an ongoing series. Kelly took the humor in Deadpool’s character so far and amplified it considerably. Working with McGuinness’ stylized superhero cartooning, Kelly began to rebuild the character as a parody of the popular superhero comics of the time. Both his mannerisms and supporting cast (including the introduction of Blind Al and Weasel) were intended to draw attention to the silliness present across Marvel Comics. This was the series where Deadpool’s popularity as a solo star, rather than supporting cast or villain, really exploded.

The Comics Basis of Marvel Studios

The Kelly and McGuinness version of Deadpool doesn’t work in a vacuum though. It was built on years of X-Men comics featuring Deadpool and decades of comics featuring his inspirations. This was more than a matter of references, like the homage to Amazing Fantasy #15 in Deadpool #11, it was a structure built on the foundation of Marvel Comics.

There is no better adaptation of superhero comics, not just Marvel Comics, to film than the shared set of films produced under the Marvel Studios banner. Each of these movies adapts their individual properties to varying levels of success. While some fans might not enjoy the overt humor of Thor: Ragnarok or love its Jack Kirby aesthetic, what’s really important is how it fits into the overall collection of 19 films to date. Together these movies recreate the same essential elements that made Marvel Comics so popular in the 1960s when they first appeared. These movies have featured the crossovers and cameos that made early Marvel comics appealing, building a shared universe that acknowledges other characters while building plots for future adventures, both independent and shared.

The single most important quality though is how they establish a genre. Readers picking up Marvel Comics every week come to expect certain things from their stories. Marvel Studios has constructed a familiar model for the modern superhero adventure, with familiar elements in the origin, rising action, and villains throughout almost all of their movies so far. Comparing the first films in the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk franchises all reveal more similarities than differences. It is only recently that films like Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther have begun to move in different directions, and receive praise for undermining the familiar narrative that even made them possible. Embracing these changes only occurs because Marvel Studios was the first place to establish rules for a superhero universe in film.

Deadpool: The Jester

While the many references in both Deadpool films make for good jokes, they aren’t the core attraction of the films. They primarily parody the superhero genre as a broad concept. Deadpool works against type as he dismisses common notions of superhero morality and plays against audience expectations. It speaks volumes that many parents brought their children to the first Deadpool without even considering the R-rating, simply because it was a superhero movie. Marvel Studios is the force that solidified a mass understanding of what a superhero movie is, and allowed Deadpool to play against that understanding for laughs.

Deadpool is to superhero movies what The Naked Gun was to spy films, and Marvel Studios is every bit as important to the former as the James Bond franchise was to the latter. They function as the king to Deadpool’s jester or the straight man to his joker. There has to be a subject for any sort of humor and none of the superhero franchises that preceded Deadpool were titanic enough to deserve a complete film of comedic jabs. The Spider-Man and X-Men franchises only released a new film every few years. Marvel Studios transformed the superhero movie into a sprawling phenomenon with 3 of their own films competing against many others each year.

Deadpool requires that cultural zeitgeist in order to succeed. It needs to be surrounded by superhero narratives to poke fun at them and generate new jokes. Marvel Studios made that possible more than any other franchise or studio in Hollywood, which is why Deadpool and its fans owe a debt of gratitude to the competition.

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Every Easter Egg In Deadpool 2

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 24, 2018.

Deadpool Marvel Studios - Jester.jpg

If it wasn’t for Ready Player One, then we would be able to see that Deadpool 2 features the most easter eggs of any movie in 2018. The silver medal isn’t bad when compared to the competition though and Deadpool 2 delivers an astounding number of references and inside jokes during its run time. So we’re back to round up every name drop and background gag you might have missed throughout the movie. If you’re curious about everything that was happening in Deadpool 2, then this is your comprehensive list of every easter egg in the movie.

Spoiler Alert: These easter eggs are from across the entire film, so if you don’t want the plot or jokes ruined, then look no further.

Comics Creators

Southbound on Gerry Duggan Parkway

Writer Gerry Duggan just concluded his 7 year run on the main Deadpool series at Marvel Comics. He’s one of the most influential creators in the character’s history and gets a shout out when X-Force is preparing to drop from their helicopter.

Gail is Calling

Gail Simone is another very influential Deadpool writer who was name dropped when Deadpool is contacting a Yakuza boss at the start of the film and claims to be speaking with Gail.

A Hack Artist Who Can’t Draw Feet

Deadpool makes a joke about “a hack artist who can’t draw feet”, cracking wise at his co-creator Rob Liefeld. The artist’s superhero creations have been criticized in the past for poor anatomy, but we love his dynamic style and characters, including Cable and Domino as well.

Comic Book References

Pryor’s Treats

During X-Force’s first mission you can spot an ice cream truck labeled as “Pryor’s Treats.” This is a reference to Cable’s mother Madelyne Pryor, a clone of Jean Grey. It’s complicated.

Hope

Cable finally says the name of his daughter toward the end of the film, identifying her as Hope. This is also the name of an important mutant in the comics who Cable protected through time and raised as a surrogate daughter.

Essex House for Mutant Rehabilitation

Essex is the last name of Nathaniel Esses, better known as Mister Sinister. It’s unsurprising to discover that this villain is behind the abusive orphanage and might even have been that terribly creepy headmaster, although we’ll never know now that’s roadkill.

Alpha Flight

A little bit of extra Canadian pride shines through in an advertisement on Dopinder’s taxi that is calling for viewers to fly the friendly skies with Alpha Flight. We expect Sasquatch, Shaman, and the rest of this X-related team will fare better running a commercial airline than as superheroes.

Irene Merryweather

The reporter who covers Deadpool’s first outing with the X-Men from a helicopter was a major character in the Cable & Deadpool series. While she doesn’t seem to be joining the cast, comics fans still may appreciate a cameo over no appearance at all.

Death of X-Force

The brutal slaughter of almost every member of the original X-Force reflects the events of X-Force #116 in which all but two of members are killed in their depicted mission. The inclusion of Zeitgeist, X-Force’s comics leader, makes it a clear call back to this key issue.

Marvel Studios

Brown Panther

Deadpool refers to Dopinder as “Brown Panther”, a clear reference to the recent success of Black Panther at Marvel Studios.

Black Black Widow

Deadpool also jokes about Domino’s leather outfit when he refers to her as a “Black Black Widow” during her interview.

Zip It, Thanos

Josh Brolin gets a shout out for his other 2018 superhero role as Thanos when he is shushed by Deadpool.

Grumpy Old F*** With A Winter Soldier Arm

Brolin is called out again in this reference to his metal arm. Deadpool observes that metal arms are becoming a fashion trend in superhero movies, and trends tend to come in threes…

Juggernaut’s Lullaby

At one point during their fight, Deadpool tries to calm Juggernaut by telling him “the sun is getting low”, a reference to Black Widow’s lullaby for calming the Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

GIve Me A Bow and Arrow

When his powers are removed and cancer is consuming his body, Deadpool jokes that he’s a bow and arrow away from being as useful as Hawkeye. A particularly brutal joke after the sharp sighted Avenger was left out of the most recent movie.

Other Superhero Movies

Young X-Men

Deadpool jokes at the X-Mansion that they can’t afford any of the good X-Men only to have doors closed by several recognizable heroes from the current team franchise, including Beast, Cyclops, and Professor X.

Bullet Slice

When Deadpool slices a bullet from Cable in half, it’s a reference to one of his first action scenes in X-Men Origins: Wolverine where he does the same thing. There’s no joke being made here, just a great piece of action transplanted into a superior superhero movie.

Logan’s Music Box

The movie opens with multiple references to the success of Logan last year, including a music box that depicts Logan’s death in that film impaled on a tree.

Her Name Is Martha Too

When making excuses for being late on their anniversary to Vanessa, Deadpool takes a dig at Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, saying, “I was fighting a caped badass, but then we discovered his mom is named Martha, too.”

Deadpool Origins

After the film ends, Deadpool is given Cable’s time travel device and uses it to travel back to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, killing the terrible version of Deadpool from that film and saying hi to Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

Stopping A Mistake

Deadpool also travels back in time to kill Ryan Reynolds at the exact moment he decided to join the cast of Green Lantern, sparing both himself and us a whole lot of misery.

Even More Movies

One-Eyed Willie

Deadpool refers to Cable as “One-Eyed Willie” due to his glowing eyeball, but also referencing Josh Brolin’s film debut in The Goonies where he helps to search for the lost treasure of that same character.

All Outta Love

The song “All Outta Love” plays in a more somber moment of Deadpool 2, but it has followed Ryan Reynolds throughout his career since first appearing in Van Wilder.

Christopher Plummer Casting

The sexual abuse allegations against TJ Miller that surfaced after Deadpool 2 had been shot were referenced in the scroll on a television stating that Christopher Plummer was unable to assume his role, like he did for Kevin Spacey under similar circumstances in All The Money In The World. If there’s a Deadpool 3, we don’t expect Miller to return given this acknowledgment.

Killing The Dog In John Wick

The credits claim that Deadpool 2 was directed by “One of the guys who killed the dog in John Wick”, that feels about right given Vanessa’s fate at the start of the film.

Dickie Greenleaf

Matt Damon’s cameo appearance gives him the name “Dickie Greenleaf”, a reference to an identity he assumed in the film The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Say Anything

When Deadpool arrives at the X Mansion to win Colossus back, he plays a song from a boombox app on his phone and holds it above his head, referencing the famous romantic moment in Say Anything.

Costuming

Chunk’s Shirt

When growing his legs back, Deadpool wears an exact replica of the Hawaiian shirt worn by Chunk in The Goonies.

X-Force Uniform

At the end of Deadpool 2, an explosion leaves Deadpool’s outfit recast in black and white, resembling his uniform as a member of Uncanny X-Force in the comics.

X-Man Trainee

When Deadpool is given a yellow jersey as an X-Men trainee, the result bears a striking resemblance to his uniform during a very short stint with the X-Men in the comics.

Meredith & Olivia

During his initial visit to the X-Mansion, Deadpool wears a t-shirt featuring Taylor Swift’s two cats, Meredith and Olivia.

Behind The Scenes

Hit It, Laird

On the helicopter Deadpool turns and says this phrase into the camera. It’s a reference to the man who helps Ryan Reynolds get into and out of the suit behind the scenes and was referenced in the first Deadpool short where the anti-hero struggles to get into costume in a phone booth.

Vanishing Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt was unable to appear in the film for long due to scheduling conflicts, but he does show up as The Vanisher for a single second as the character becomes visible when electrocuted to death.

Two Rednecks

The two rednecks Cable meets when first appearing in the present day are actually played by Matt Damon and Alan Tudyk with a whole lot of makeup.

What Does Juggernaut Say?

The Juggernaut was actually voiced by Ryan Reynolds, with some serious modulation used to deepen the effect, as the actor kept ad libbing lines for the character while on set.

Director Overboard

Director David Leitch made a cameo as a prisoner in the convoy who Cable throws overboard while the director begs him not to. Ouch.

Miscellaneous

The Portrait of Karl Marx

Amidst the portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in the X-Mansion, there’s also one of Karl Marx, the philosopher most associated with communism. It’s an atypical portrait for an American school that blends right in if you don’t recognize the man.

Prisoner 24601

The number on Russell’s prison uniform, 24601, is a reference to the character Jean Valjean in the classic musical Les Miserables. This role was notably played by Hugh Jackman in a 2012 adaptation.

Geppetto

The woodchipper that devours Zeitgeist upon his landing is labelled “Geppetto” and suggests a very grisly fate for Pinocchio as well.

Lebron James

When Deadpool smashes a brick of cocaine inside of his mask, he appears to be referencing Lebron James’ pregame ritual of throwing a cloud of chalk in the air. Whatever works.

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Brian Michael Bendis 10 Greatest Hits At Marvel

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 24, 2018.

Bendis Best Marvel Comics - Cover.jpg

Brian Michael Bendis officially ends his fifteen-plus year tenure at Marvel Comics this week with the publication of Invincible Iron Man #600. The issue brings his impressive Iron Man saga, which introduced Riri Williams and reimagined Doctor Doom, to a close along with his even more impressive catalog of Marvel superhero comics. Looking back across Bendis’ career so far, there’s an incredible array of new characters, redefined legends, and epic crossovers. Quite frankly, it’s difficult to know where to even start when showing off how much Bendis has accomplished at Marvel Comics.

That’s what we’re here to do though. We have assembled a list of Bendis’ greatest hits from his time at the publisher, ranging from the grittiest street stories to the biggest summer events. If you’re looking to find out what made Bendis a force to be reckoned with for so long, these 10 classic Marvel stories make the case.

Power and Responsibility

Ultimate Spider-Man (vol. 1) #1-7

Art by Mark Bagley, Art Thibert, and Dan Panosian

This isn’t just the best place to start with Brian Michael Bendis comics, it’s a perfect introduction to Marvel Comics as a whole. From the entire Ultimate line, no series reimagined its hero with more clarity or better stylistic updates than Ultimate Spider-Man. These early issues provide the essential teenage superhero narrative with all of the angst, action, and comedy that readers could hope for. Everything that follows is great, as well, but this is a perfect beginning.

Out

Daredevil (vol. 2) #32-40

Art by Alex Maleev, Manuel Gutierrez, Terry and Rachel Dodson

It’s difficult to pick just one story from Bendis’ incredible run on Daredevil with Alex Maleev, but just as difficult to argue that any story had more of an impact than “Out.” This is where Daredevil’s identity is finally exposed and his life is changed forever. It would continue to resonate in Marvel Comics until just this last year. The story itself shows Daredevil at his best (or worst) as his life is torn apart and he scrambles to save the day.

The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones

Alias (vol. 1) #22-28

Art by Michael Gaydos, Mark Bagley, and Art Thibert

The culmination of Alias delivers one of the darkest stories in modern comics. After 21 issues, Bendis and, Jessica Jones co-creator, Michael Gaydos finally revealed why their hero stopped putting on a costume. It’s a tragic story that sets up a showdown with Purple Man that made him one of the most chilling villains at Marvel’s and provided Jessica with one of her greatest moments.

Prowler

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (vol. 2) #6-12

Art by Chris Samnee, Sara Pichelli, and David Marquez

There’s not a single low note in Bendis’ run with Mile Morales, but the second big story featuring the new Spider-Man showcased what made him unique. Bendis recast the role of the Ultimate Prowler with Miles’ uncle, and permanently shifted the character’s focus to themes of family and loyalty. It’s a challenging adventure for Miles, but one that enshrined his status as a hero in the mighty Marvel tradition.

Siege

Siege (vol. 1) #1-4

Art by Olivier Coipel and Mark Morales

This is the gold standard for modern Marvel Comics events. Bendis took all of the bloat associated with event comics and delivered the same sprawling cast, epic events, and titanic villains in just 4 issues. In spite of criticisms of decompression, this story shows that its writer and style are both capable of being told with efficiency to great effect.

Illuminati

New Avengers: Illuminati (vol. 2) #1-5

Co-Written by Brian Reed

Art by Jim Cheung and Mark Morales

In the midst of his run on New Avengers, Bendis simultaneously rewrote the history of Marvel Comics, inventing the organganization of the Illuminati that would become integral to a decade of future stories. This cabal of powerful heroes provided a story of Marvel Comics’ greatest hits of the past, while reshaping the current status quo in a way that would build into big stories like World War Hulk and Secret Wars.

Death of Spider-Man

Ultimate Spider-Man (vol. 1) #156-160

Art by Mark Bagley, Andy Lanning, and Andrew Hennessy

The conclusion of Ultimate Peter Parker’s life is tragic, but Bendis and his collaborators earn their big finale by telling a Spider-Man story that distills everything important to the character in just a few issues. Spider-Man’s final battle with Norman Osborn is all about protecting the people most important to him. When the dust settled there was no doubt that the world loved this hero and, more importantly, he had certainly made his Uncle Ben proud.

Secret Invasion

Secret Invasion (vol. 1) #1-8

Art by Leinil Francis Yu and Mark Morales

This event series paid off years of careful planning from Bendis and his collaborators, revealing designs set into place as far back as “Avengers Disassembled.” The battles between superheroes and Super-Skrulls make for some of the most impressive displays in any Marvel event, and the infiltration plot also highlighted many minor characters in a meaningful manner. Events don’t get much bigger than this.

Daredevil: End of Days

Daredevil: End of Days (vol. 1) #1-9

Art by Bill Sienkiewicz and Klaus Janson

Bendis’ conception of a final Daredevil story is as much a love letter to essential Daredevil creators like Frank Miller and Klaus Janson as anything else. It takes the most important elements of the franchise and reframes them in a possible last story. Even with Matt Murdock dead, it’s clear that his legacy and world are too vibrant to ever really die.

The Search for Tony Stark

Invincible Iron Man (vol. 1) #593-600

Art by Stefano Caselli, Alex Maleev, and others

Brian Michael Bendis is leaving Marvel Comics on a high note. His run on both Infamous Iron Man and Invincible Iron Man have provided some of the best Tony Stark-related stories of the past decade. This final adventure in which Tony is returned to life brings all of those pieces back together in an issue that redefines Tony, as well as fellow Iron Man figures Riri Williams and Doctor Doom. It’s a storyline that serves as an excellent conclusion to Bendis’ career at Marvel Comics… or perhaps an ellipses.

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A Guide To The Return of Wolverine

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 24, 2018.

Return of Wolverine - Cover.jpg

If you’re a regular reader of Marvel Comics, then it might feel like Wolverine has been returning for more than a year at this point. You wouldn’t be far off either. It was first revealed that Wolverine had returned from the dead in the pages of Marvel Legacy #1, released in September of 2017. Since that moment he has been slowly working his way back into the Marvel universe through a variety of methods, appearing in more than a dozen different issues so far. That’s far from the end of this story though as the event surrounding his resurrection will not be complete until this fall—making that yearlong feeling really come true.

After so many years encased in an adamantium shell, it feels appropriate that Wolverine’s return would be a properly epic event. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to keep track of all the pieces or know what to read, however. With a handful of miniseries all focused on this same plot currently, most readers would need a guide to understand what is currently out there and what has already been published. That’s what we’re here for. If you’re interested in seeing how Wolverine is making his way back to the X-Men and the rest of the Marvel universe, we have assembled a complete list of all the series and one-shots associated with this event. This is everything you can find on Wolverine until the event concludes with Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends in August. Just click ahead to figure out what you might want to read to catch up on the biggest return of a superhero in years.

Marvel Legacy

Marvel Legacy #1

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Esad Ribic

The first reappearance of Wolverine left fans with more questions than answers. His story served as the big cliffhanger and a connective thread in the relaunch of the Marvel Comics line last fall in this one-shot issue. It only comprises a few pages in an issue stuffed with introductions for new starting points of various Marvel superheroes. However, it does make it clear that the Wolverine who has returned is the same one that was killed in 2014. His sense of style and attitude are the same and his knowledge of the Marvel universe seemed largely intact. The biggest surprise here was his possession of the Space Stone. How he discovered the Infinity Stone remains a mystery, but its place in Marvel Comics has been addressed further in Infinity Countdown #1.

Cameo Appearances

Captain America #697, Amazing Spider-Man #794, Mighty Thor #703, Marvel 2-In-One #3, Black Panther #170, Avengers #680, Incredible Hulk #714, X-Men: Red #2, and Invincible Iron Man #598

Created by Various

Between Marvel Legacy #1 and the next one-shot on this list, Wolverine popped up in almost all of Marvel Comics best-selling series. These one page appearances loosely tied into the events of the issue they followed with Wolverine popping up around the world looking for old friends and allies (and always just missing them). They provided a bit of bonus artwork from a wide range of creators, and reminder to fans that Wolverine would soon rejoin the Marvel universe in some fashion. None of these cameos are necessary to understand Wolverine’s return, but quite a few offer a good laugh.

Hunt for Wolverine

Hunt for Wolverine #1

Written by Charles Soule

Art by David Marquez and Paulo Siqueira

This is the one-shot that really set the return of Wolverine into motion, with the Marvel Legacy issue and various one-shots serving primarily as teasers. This issue tells two important stories. First, it informs readers of how Wolverine was removed from his adamantium shell and where he was actually laid to rest. It also sets of the plot of the “Hunt for Wolverine” event into motion when his body is discovered to be missing. This is the single most important issue pertaining to Wolverine’s resurrection so far, as it establishes all of the known facts to date and sets up the various miniseries that will explore how Wolverine returned and where he is now.

Weapon Lost

Hunt For Wolverine: Weapon Lost #1-4

Written by Charles Soule

Art by Matteo Buffagni

The first of four miniseries detailing various groups in the Marvel universe attempting to find Wolverine, Weapon Lost is the detective story of the lot. Daredevil assembles a group of sleuths with unique backgrounds and abilities, including Misty Knight, Frank McGee, and Cypher, to follow various leads across the globe. This series might pay off the many Wolverine cameos as the team is led to distant locales tracing even the slightest hint that Wolverine might have been there.

Adamantium Agenda

Hunt For Wolverine: Adamantium Agenda #1-4

Written by Tom Taylor

Art by R.B. Silva

This is the blockbuster, superhero title of the set as some of Wolverine’s closest Avengers allies, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones attempt to protect Wolverine’s DNA if his body has been stolen. The group is also connected by a shared past debt to Logan himself and a promise none of them want to break. It’s a dual narrative that reminds readers why Wolverine was loved by his fellow heroes as well as why they worry about his possible return.

Claws of a Killer

Hunt For Wolverine: Claws of a Killer #1-4

Written by Mariko Tamaki

Art by Butch Guice

It’s not only heroes that want to find Wolverine though. This mini series follows three of Logan’s greatest enemies, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, and Daken, as they also track down rumors that the man they most wanted to kill stays dead. It’s the bloodiest of the four series, but also features the set of characters with the skills and history that make them best suited to finding Wolverine, wherever he might have gone.

Mystery in Madripoor

Hunt For Wolverine: Mystery in Madrpoor #1-4

Written by Jim Zub

Art by Thony Silas

The last of the four mini series involved in the “Hunt for Wolverine” event premiered this week. It’s the crime noir story set in the villain-infested city of Madripoor where Logan was recently sighted under his Patch persona. Kitty Pryde leads a team of Wolverine’s closest friends, including Jubilee, Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, and Domino, as they delve into the seedy underbelly of Madripoor and discover conspiracies surrounding Wolverine’s possible return. Whether or not they find Wolverine, this promises to be one of the best X-Men team-ups of the year.

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8 Reasons Deadly Class Is Perfect For TV

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 24, 2018.

Deadly Class on TV - Cover.jpg

It was announced in April that SyFy had ordered a first season of the television adaptation for Deadly Class. They have now published a first look at the series, including comments from executive producers Anthony and Joe Russo, best known for being the directors of Avengers: Infinity War. Based on the footage released so far, the series is shaping up to be one of the most exciting comic book adaptations coming to TV. That sense of excitement can only be heightened for fans of the original comics series who are familiar with the characters and plot twists to expect when it premieres.

Writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig, co-creators of Deadly Class, have been delivering some of the most violent and compelling issues at Image Comics since the series debuted in 2014. We have been big fans of the series for a very, very, very, very long time, and have sung its praises accordingly. That’s also why we’re confident in this adaptation. While the Deadly Class comics are near perfect in their own right, they also possess a lot of potential for other media. These are the 8 big reasons why the series is ready to make the jump to TV, and blow even more minds outside of the world of comics.

Designed For Seasons

The high school for assassins premise of Deadly Class sets itself up well for any ongoing form of storytelling. It is naturally divided into years with each new year providing a big final challenge and a new class of recruits. While it’s possible to imagine this working in a series of films, like some twisted version of Harry Potter, it functions even better as television. Each season functions as a new year at King’s Dominion that allows the cast to grow and change while they age into each new grade. The comic is currently in its second year, following the surviving original characters while introducing plenty of new ones with just as much potential. It has plenty of space to keep ahead of the series as well.

A Colorful Cast of Characters

Any high school setting also offers an ample array of characters. In addition to the cliques of King’s Dominion, Deadly Class has dozens of named characters with their own unique personalities, motives, and styles. They each provide a unique perspective on the action of this world and give viewers plenty of characters to relate with. The core cast from the series’ first year only roughly resembles the current array of characters too, as deaths and freshman keep things interesting. There are plenty of characters and groups to grow the world of Deadly Class into a full season of television each year.

Period Piece

Television has brought some of the most engaging and memorable periods in history to life over the past decade. Whether it’s the suits and styles of 1960s America in Mad Men or the gear and uniforms of 19th Century explorers in The Terror, television offers ample opportunity for detailed recreation. Deadly Class embodies the look and mood of the late 1980s, and it will be fascinating to watch the show recreate this period. Music and fashion play key roles in the story, as does its setting in California during the Reagan administration. Children of the 80s may be shocked at how this heightened story embraces the reality of its period.

A Sign of The Times

It feels particularly appropriate that Deadly Class is being adopted today, given its core themes and concepts. The comic interrogates ideals of trust, loyalty, and bravery, endlessly complicating them as the real world and terrible choices leave no right answers behind. Its focus on the fracturing of a community of high school students, with some seeking simply to survive while others seek power over everyone else, makes for a potent metaphor in America. That’s not to mention the violent nature of the high school and how that interacts with modern anxieties. It may be tough to watch at times, but there’s a lot of potential for Deadly Class to address our society in a meaningful fashion.

The Golden Age of Cable

Deadly Class is a show that could only be properly realized on cable today, when shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad have already broken taboos of what can appear on TV. It is one of the most violent comics on shelves today, and that violence is significant to the series themes and style. Without swords, guns, and bloodshed, any adaptation of this comic simply wouldn’t be Deadly Class. That’s not too much of a concern now though, and we can look forward to some incredible showdowns and brawls in the first season.

A Visually Captivating Source

Wes Craig is a true all-star in modern comics and every issue of Deadly Class reaffirms his bona fides. The series regularly distorts point of view, working from multiple plotlines and perspectives simultaneously, with seeming ease. It also finds the most interesting angles to tell the story from, toying with height and irregular angles. Any director reading the series will be flooded with ideas on how to make it just as visually compelling on television. Craig’s artwork is something that will enhance the series everytime they reference the source material.

Extraordinary Creators

Remender and Craig’s involvement with the adaptation is also a cause for excitement. Remender is working as an executive producer on the series, allowing him opportunities to provide insight into the original comics as well as feedback on the first season. That involvement should alleviate any anxiety fans might feel about a studio getting it “wrong.” Remender has shown nothing but excitement for the adaptation and his involvement may even lead to additional opportunities on the small screen.

Room For Expansion

One of the best elements of this Deadly Class adaptation though are the opportunities for new stories. With only 34 issues of source material to draw from so far, a full season of television will need to expand or invent new plots to fill every episode. It removes a restraint of comics in which one artist must draw every page and allows the television series to explore areas of King’s Dominion left largely untouched in the comics. Fans of the comics can expect to learn more about the characters, history, and politics of Deadly Class through the television series, allowing it to add value to even the comics experience. Based on how excellent the comic has been, it’s hard to think that more Deadly Class could ever be a bad thing.

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What Is Marvel’s Spidergeddon Event?

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 23, 2018.

Marvel Comics Spidergeddon.jpg

Marvel Comics announced a new event along with all of their August solicits this week. That event was previewed with a three word tagline against a black background: “Spidergeddon is nigh.” That’s not much to go on, but it provides enough details in the first word alone to get Spider-Man fans worried. There is simply no way that Marvel Comics is launching an entire event featuring the word “spider” without everyone’s favorite webslinger, and the suffix of -geddon, as in Armageddon, speaks for itself. Things are about to go very wrong for Peter Parker.

While details are sparse at the moment, there are some hints as to what “Spidergeddon” might entail. Whatever happens, we’re very excited to see what the new Amazing Spider-Man creative team of Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley do with their first big crossover. Until we know the fun lies in speculation, and that’s what leads us to the guesses below.

Edge of Spider-geddon

Along with the teaser for “Spidergeddon” there were two August titles solicited that mention the event. These are Edge of Spider-Geddon #1 and #2 (of a four issue miniseries). Not only does this resemble the Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries, but it features two characters from that event: Spider-Punk and SP//dr. Spider-Punk was the hard rocking Spider-Man with a mohawk and SP//dr the young woman with a spider-powered mechanical suit from alternate Earths. Their involvement in whatever is happening with “Spidergeddon” suggests that it’s a multiversal affair.

Spider-Verse (Part Two)

If this really is an Armageddon for spider-powered heroes in the Marvel universe, then it can’t take place solely on the prime Earth that readers are familiar with. Following the events of “Spider-Verse”, it was clear that all versions of Spider-Man and his allies were connected by a much greater force. There was even a brief team book that featured various incarnations of the hero hopping across realities to protect a mystical Great Web. Whatever threat is approaching likely has its aim set on more than one Earth.

That leaves a bigger question as to what the threat could possibly be. While Morlun and his family played the primary foes of “Spider-Verse”, it’s unlikely they’ll return here as most of them were killed in that event. We expect that some new foe will appear and utilize the infrastructure of the Great Web to target spider-themed heroes from across the multiverse. It could be an entirely new villain or a surprising incarnation of the heroes and villains related to Spider-Man continuity. We would not be surprised to see a multiversal collection of Goblins appear in this event.

Venom’s 30th Anniversary

“Spider-Verse” wasn’t a one of a kind event though, providing one last possible clue. Venom and his fellow symbiotes recently concluded their own version of that same adventure in “Venom-verse.” With Venom’s 30th anniversary landing in 2018 and a brand new series from Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, we wouldn’t be surprised to see his fate intertwined with that of Spider-Man in “Spidergeddon.” In the newest volume of Venom, it has been suggested the history of symbiotes on Earth is longer than anyone knows and an ancient threat lurks beneath New York City. This could extend beyond Venom and actually hint at the central threat of “Spidergeddon.”

Only time will tell, but in the meanwhile we’re very excited to get our hands on the newest issues of Amazing Spider-Man and Venom to find out what is coming next.

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Review: Invincible Iron Man #600 Provides A Fond Farewell To Bendis And His Fans

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 23, 2018.

Invincible Iron Man #600 Review - Cover.jpg

Invincible Iron Man #600 plays a lot of different roles. It’s a big anniversary issue for one of Marvel Comics most popular superheroes, honoring the character that brought Marvel Studios to the big screen. It’s the end of a multi-year run, establishing the status quo for the next creative team while wrapping up loose ends. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s Brian Michael Bendis’ final issue at Marvel Comics, a publisher he has creatively guided for well over a decade. Each of these roles focuses on celebration though and that’s the ultimate tone of this oversized issue; it is a celebration of characters, history, and creators. Read with that in mind, it’s difficult not to smile throughout the entire adventure.

Bendis’ plotting has legacy in mind. Every big twist and reveal can be linked to work he has touched across his tenure. While most of it is focused on recent storylines, specifically those with Doctor Doom and Riri Williams, there are plenty of touches addressing events and miniseries throughout his tenure. Favorite villains, specifically The Hood, are further elevated and favorite heroes are given a chance to return. It’s not difficult to perceive both how these elements are meant to resolve lingering threads and how they hope to influence the future. The final few pages provide a runway for creative teams to come on Invincible Iron Man, if they choose to use it. In any case the ideas left hanging throughout the issue serve as an invitation for use. They seem to declare that Marvel Comics is a wonderful place filled with opportunities, and Bendis is happy to leave readers and creators alike with a final few ideas before moving on.

With so much happening throughout the issue, from the hostile takeover of Stark Industries to equally awkward family reunions, it would be easy to get lost in it all. However, the A.I. version of Tony Stark is deployed in the role of narrator and creator surrogate. It is a tour guide that makes the epic scope of the issue feel manageable, even to a reader who may not have kept up with the past few years of events. This artificial Tony also serves to comment on the nature of humanity, specifically the Marvel Comics version of humanity. It pokes at tropes and addresses the moral gray areas and messiness that first made the publisher stand out in the Silver Age. At times it becomes difficult to not read it as a love letter and farewell from the writer himself.

This narrative tact also serves to link the many, many artistic styles that form the overall issue. A total of nine different artistic teams contributed, and it is far more effective than in similar arrangements. Each team possesses a distinctive style and is deployed in a specific section of the comic, all of which make an excellent fit for their approach to storytelling. The bright lights and somber mood of Stark’s parents reuniting is perfectly matched to Daniel Acuña, while Leinil Francis Yu draws a swarm of supervillains ready for a tussle. Each creator on the issue is well suited for their connection to Bendis as well as their piece of the overall story. There’s a delight in remembering Yu’s work with Bendis on Secret Empire in addition to seeing him craft a couple of excellent spreads.

It’s difficult to forget what this issue means on any level as you read it. Every new scene is designed to wrap up loose ends, commemorate past highlights, and celebrate the creators involved. The winks and nods are not egregious in nature, but they are present. That’s a feature of this issue though, not a bug. It is a celebration and every reader is invited. If you are reading Invincible Iron Man #600, then you have almost surely read Marvel Comics over the past couple of decades. Bendis and his many collaborators present here have been part of those issues, and have come together to appreciate what that work has meant. It is messy at times and offers more to come rather than any definitive conclusion, but that is the way of superhero comics. For those that appreciate the genre, this is a reminder of why we love it, no matter where we might come from.

Published by Marvel Comics

On May 23, 2018

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Stefano Caselli; Alex Maleev; David Marquez; Daniel Acuña; Leinil Francis Yu & Gerry Alanguilan; Jim Cheung; Mike Deodato Jr.; Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy & Scott Hanna; and Andrea Sorrentino

Colors by Marte Gracia, Alex Maleev, Daniel Acuña, GURU-eFX, Romulo Fajardo, Marceló Maiolo, and Rachelle Rosenberg

Lettering by Clayton Cowles

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Review: Black Panther #1 Is A Stirring Relaunch And Expansion

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 23, 2018.

Black Panther #1 Review - Cover.jpg

Ta-Nehisi Coates is relaunching Black Panther, accompanied by artist Daniel Acuña, and the new first issue stands in stark contrast to his comics debut from 2016. Where the previous Black Panther #1 examined the status quo of its character and setting, this issue puts everything into question. There is no sure footing as this adventure begins in media res with T’Challa among the stars, enslaved by an ancient spacefaring sect of the Wakandan Empire, and encountering new allies who share conspicuous-sounding names. Based solely on the events of this issue, it’s difficult to determine exactly what is occurring of what to expect next, but the action and arrangement themselves are more than enough to compel readers forward.

The central mystery of this issue is purposeful in its deployment. T’Challa finds himself entirely disoriented, without powers, prestige, or allies, and so it follows that readers should be equally shook. Every new character is a question mark with familiar names and symbols building theories about what might be happening. Only a few panels of opening narration are provided to ground the experience in the reality of Marvel Comics. This is T’Challa. This is a Wakandan Empire in space. Beyond those answers, everything else is a bit murky. It’s not a distracting form of confusion though, providing clarity to the action and excitement to each new twist instead.

Acuña proves to be a perfect fit for this approach. In the few scenes where motion is limited, it’s possible to take in a thoroughly considered extraterrestrial empire. The brutalism of slave quarters and close corridors contrasted with the grandeur of an imperial city decked in banners and lights (much like the Wakanda seen in the prior Black Panther #1). This world is well considered and each new details offers as much of a hint as those that purposefully wink towards the reader.

Where Acuña really shines is in the moments of action though. Providing his own colors, they blur with the linework itself to convey motion much more naturally than many modern effects applied in comics. Running and fighting result in purposeful cause-and-effect panel sequences, only sometimes twisted or obscured for emphasis. These action sequences are allowed to play out almost entirely in silence as well. Shouted orders are the extent of dialogue when two characters are in combat. It’s a rare restraint for comics in general, even more so when compared to the prior volume of Black Panther, but it pays off wonderfully. These moments are nothing short of stunning and the tension is notably heightened through the quicker pacing.

Image

That action consumes much of Black Panther #1. The moments between fights are primarily utilized to build tension for the next breaking point. It conveys a sense of what T’Challa’s life is now, however it came to be this way. The only respite from the blood and waiting lies in momentary panels of Storm calling for her lover. These memories are just as much dreams, providing readers with a sense of grounding and T’Challa with a goal. They are a spark in the dark and Acuña’s soft coloring makes them a welcome respite.

With those images of Storm in mind and the brutality of this empire firmly established, Black Panther #1 possesses a lot of momentum, even with so many questions swirling. Even larger thematic issues loom. Coates and Acuña are addressing slavery, a slavery perpetrated by T’Challa’s own people, that will require a deft touch and raise far more difficult questions than those in the plot itself. Yet this issue assures us that the story is mindful of these issues. It addresses them in the first page and implies answers will come for everything that may trouble or perplex readers. For now we are only asked to experience and understand the world in which this story takes place, and it is quite the experience in this debut.

Published by Marvel Comics

On May 23, 2018

Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Art by Daniel Acuña

Lettering by Joe Sabino

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Mini Reviews for 05/23

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 23, 2018.

DC

Hellblazer #22

Everything about this issue of Hellblazer is as inauthentically British as possible. The dialect on the page reads as roughly as anything Chris Claremont might write in the 1970s. In turn the characters running through the various plots continue to resemble caricatures in manner, as well as depiction. It’s clear where the events of “The Good ‘Ol Days” are heading, but each strand of the story only inches ahead, building slightly on what was delivered in Hellblazer #22. Outside of a handful of allusions of monsters to come and one horrifying end for an “old friend”, there’s little of value to be found here. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Justice League: No Justice #3

This issue hits hard as “No Justice” enters its final act. Each of the four teams have plenty of action as they attempt to solve their own unique problems. The design of these teams is clearly purposeful in both the clever ideas they exploit and team dynamics. Many surprising pairings feel obvious after only a few panels.The introduction of Riley Rossmo as the artist for this issue barely causes a ripple. He adapts his distinctive style to match the spreads and storytelling that have defined “No Justice” so far, and is a perfect fit for some of the brutal moments here. This miniseries is shaping up to be one of the best DC Comics events in many years. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #3

The plot is quickly falling into place as the series finally settles its focus on its titular character in this issue. Besides a minor diversion that introduces some familiar and interconnected characters, the majority of pages are spent building bridges. Connections are made between Earths and to the ongoing story of Mother Panic, making it feel more essential than prior issues. None of the dialogue sings, but the action in this issue, specifically one showdown sings. It’s an improvement and the pages look as great as ever. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Motherlands #5

Everything takes an ugly turn as Motherlands quickly builds towards a climax. The action in this issue is enough to justify picking it up as tussles between these individuals in exceedingly strange fighting gear become explosive. There are obvious big moments, but at least one page turn is shocking in the best possible way. All of the blood in these panels isn’t enough though, and the family connections and dangling mysteries take shape into something very interesting. It’s clear that restraint in prior issues has purposefully built to this one, and it pays off very well. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Wonder Woman #47

The opening fight between Wonder Woman and Supergirl is an entirely weightless affair with the mass destruction of a city serving purely as setting with no reference after the fight is ended with a whimper instead of a bang. That is the best part of the issue as well. Once the focus shifts from Wonder Woman to Jason, this becomes yet another expository slog. A cruel twist of fate is revealed with almost no tension or true ramifications; it is simply information spoken among characters with little emotion or purpose. Those characters at least reflect a general truth about this issue and storyline. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

 

Marvel

Doctor Strange #390

The considerably reduced scope of this farewell issue gives the central characters from the past year a much needed chance to breathe. Spider-Man serves as a counter-balance to the hellish events of Las Vegas and Strange’s own predilections for seriousness. It’s fun in a necessarily forceful way that ties into his role within Marvel Comics. The jokes land and it’s a joy to see both Spidey and Bats take down Strange a peg. Together they make it clear why he’s one of the good guys. Even if Frazier Irving’s art doesn’t quite fit the mood and exaggerated emotions come off as forced within the panels, the effect remains intact. It’s as good of a goodbye as most. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Incredible Hulk #717

While Amadeus’ demands as the Hulk might seem extravagant, the scope and outcome of his meltdown read like an excuse to reassemble the status quo for a new series. “World War Hulk II” oversold its ambitions, which result in the genuine heart of this story being overshadowed by rough metaphor and spectacle. The concepts of anger and ambition, and how they affect even those of us without Bruce Banner’s issues, are notable, but handled in the most rushed of fashions here. It results in a final few pages that make for a fond farewell, but not a particularly resonant one. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #1

The continuity behind Darkhawk has become a hazard in telling a story with the character. In spite of a perfect match in style for Chris Powell’s bonafides, this issue spends much of its time clarifying the status of his armor and the Fraternity of Raptors. While that makes it conceivably approachable for an outsider, it also bogs down much of the issue in exposition. As events move towards space and the “Infinity Countdown” tie-in, the narrative improves considerably. One guest star is particularly well-chosen and provides ample comedic possibilities for what’s to come. All of the pieces are in place by the end of this issue, and offer hope that Darkhawk will finally discover a foothold in the Marvel universe in the story to come.. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Legion #5

The end of this series is a baffling affair. It stakes the rising action and sense of horror on a singularly potent image that is never as effective in execution as concept due to consistently flat line work. Hannah’s journey is at the center of the story, as it has been from the start, and a choice to introduce her motivations so late only bogs down the narrative. Both her own issues and their ultimate resolution make little sense beyond an outside need to deliver a twist. The conception of Trauma within this series, as character or theme, says very little with so many words on the page. While it might prove curious to dissect how this issue relates to real world trauma, it would offer little insight and certainly now worth the time. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

You Are Deadpool #4

After four issues You Are Deadpool has proven to be a whole lot more than a gimmick. The new installment offers a central puzzle that functions well on its own and throughout the comic with a collection of panels that make cheating a real effort. Cheating isn’t a temptation though given how much fun the experience is on every page. This issue takes stabs (some literal) at comics of the late 80s and early 90s, including a change in illustration for Deadpool himself. For anyone who is fascinated by Deadpool or the history of Marvel Comics, this series is becoming a must read beyond the trappings of its own, very well executed, schtick. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Other

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2

The homages to the Dark Age of comics keep coming in this issue. It’s easy to draw connections to at least two classic Vertigo titles, including Hellblazer, but more difficult to ascertain their purpose. While it’s fun to see the series incorporate a different era in comics, there’s no discernible commentary to be made. The designs for these homages are not particularly inspiring either. Mysteries and minor dramas among the primary cast continue to captivate, but take up too little of this issue for it not to feel distracted and wandering in its approach to the narrative. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Deadly Class #34

Wes Craig seems to possess an infinite number of ideas on how to depict violence in comics. Each new issues surprises and #34 does so in multiple ways. There are some excllent, if minor moments at the start of the issue. A single panel in which the sound of machine gun fire and shattering glass are perfectly intermingled is just one example of the brilliance on display here. It’s the back half of the comic that makes this a stand out issue. Colorist Jordan Boyd plays against the standard tone of a beach scene to make the infinite canvas of water into a true horror show. It all adds to the mounting tension and one incredible moment that will leave readers chewing their nails until the next issue. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Hit-Girl #4

The first arc of Hit-Girl sputters out at the end. Even the gratuitous b-movie style of violence feels underwhelming after the past three issues of over-the-top carnage. When Padre and Mano meet their inevitable conclusions, it’s a relief as everything else on the page feels repetitive. For some reason these moments strive for poignancy despite the entire series reading like a Tex Avery version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There’s no emotion or humanity in any of these characters and the maudlin moments just expose this bizarre cartoon for what it is. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Witchfinder: Gates of Heaven #1

This is far from Edward Grey’s first outing in the world before Hellboy, but it is already shaping up to be his most unique. The first half of the issue lands as standard Witchfinder fare as he begins an investigation. However, the cameo of one historical figure and some new elements build plenty of tension in the final few pages. D’Israeli’s style is atypical for the Hellboy line of comics, but their work acquits itself nicely. Grey’s reactions reveal some pitch perfect cartooning and a few singular images from past adventures reveal just how flexible D’Israeli really is. Before the issue is complete, it’s clear that whatever comes next will be very exciting. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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