Where Can I Get Free Comics?

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 4, 2018.

Few words get the heart pumping faster than “free.” That goes a long way in explaining the quick spread and popularity of Free Comic Book Day since its inception in 2002. However, if this is the first year you’ve heard of Free Comic Book Day or the first time you plan to attend, then there’s still a very important question to be answered.

Where exactly do I get these free comics?

The short answer is: Any participating local comic book store. Almost every comic book store in North America participates in the holiday at this point, but it’s worth checking their social media or calling ahead to be sure. Stores have to invest time and money into this event, so it shouldn’t be assumed that they are all able to participate in the same fashion. If you’re not sure if you have a local comic book store or where it might be located, you can start with this locator on the Free Comic Book Day webpage or check out our article discussing how to find a great local shop.

Once you’ve found a shop though, there are a few additional things to consider. Stores are likely to have rules about how you obtain your free comics. Many will include a limit on how many issues you may take for free. Others will provide comics in a pre-sorted grab bag. Some stores might even request that you make a purchase of some sort in order to select some of the free offerings.

All of these rules exist for a good reason, as stores have to pay for the free comics they distribute. That is in addition to the many hours of manpower that goes into planning, executing, and cleaning up after the event. So even if your store doesn’t have a purchase requirement, please consider buying something to help support all of the time and money they’ve put into this great, geeky holiday.

Now that you know where to go for free comics this weekend, it’s worth taking a look at what will be available. Below you’ll find a full listing of 52 comic books published for the event this year. You can also check out our top 10 picks from the 2018 releases right here. The titles below have been divided into the Gold and Silver offerings, with the former available from all participating stores and the latter dependent on ordering.

GOLD BOOKS

Avengers & Captain America | Marvel Comics

Barrier #1 | Image Comics

Comics Friends Forever | :01 Second Books

DC Comics Top Secret Gold Book | DC Comics

Disney Princes Ariel Spotlight | Joe Books

Doctor Who 2018 #0 | Titan Comics

Invader Zim: Floopsy Bloops Shmoopsy | Oni Press

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Special | Boom! Studios

Overwatch & Black Hammer | Dark Horse Comics

Pokemon Sun & Moon & Pokemon Horizon | VIZ Media

Riverdale | Archie Comics

Transformers Unicron #0 | IDW Publishing

SILVER BOOKS

2000 AD Regened | Rebellion

A Brief History of Tank Girl | Titan Comics

Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake Special | BOOM! Studios

Berlin #1 | Drawn & Quarterly

Bob’s Burgers #1 | Dynamite Entertainment

Bongo Comics: Free-For-All 2018 | Bongo Comics

Crush | Yen Press

Die Kitty Die I Love You To Death | Chapterhouse Publishing

Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network | Kodansha Comics

Graphix Spotlight: Sparks | Graphix

Howard Lovecraft’s Big Book of Summer Fun | Arcana Studio

Infinity Watch & Amazing Spider-Man | Marvel Comics

Invasion Prologue | Chapterhouse Publishing

James Bond: VARGR #1 | Dynamite Entertainment

Lady Mechanika | Benitez Productions

Legend of Korra & Nintendo Arms | Dark Horse Comics

Malika: Creed & Fury | Youneek Studios

Maxwell’s Demons #1 | Vault Comics

Metabaron Book 3: Meta Guardianess and Techno Baron | Humanoids

Miraculous Adventures | Action Lab Entertainment

My Hero Academia & RWBY | Viz Media

Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero’s Journey Chapter 0 | Tokyopop

Relay #0 | AfterShock Comics

Scout Comics Presents: The Mall | Scout Comics

Shadow Roads #1 | Oni Press

Shadowman Special | Valiant Entertainment

Silver #1 | Dark Planet

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies | United Plankton Pictures

Star Wars Adventures | IDW Publishing

Starburns Presents #1 | Starburns Industries Comics

Strangers in Paradise XXV #1 | Abstract Studios

Street Angel’s Dog One-Shot | Image Comics

The Only Living Boy | Papercutz

The Tick FCBD 2018 | New England Comics

Ultra Street Fighter II #1 | Udon Entertainment

World’s Greatest Cartoonists | Fantagraphics Books

Worlds of Aspen Anniversary Edition | Aspen Comics

Worm World Saga: The Journey Begins | Lion Forge Comics

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The True Meaning of Free Comic Book Day

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 4, 2018.

Celebrating FCBD - Cover.jpg

Free Comic Book Day is less than one week away. Soon local stores will see droves, composed of everyone from their most dedicated patrons to curious outsiders, descend upon them in order to see what deals they might find or what the fuss with comics is all about. While the excitement that surrounds this day certainly stems, at least in part, from the word “free”, there’s a whole lot more to this manufactured holiday then handing out comic books.

Since the celebration was first created by Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in 2002 it has grown exponentially. What began as a lure for some local shops to attract new customers has taken on a life of its own. Publishers plan many of their big launches around it and stores use it as a centerpiece for their year only rivaled by the holiday shopping season.

This certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a celebration created by industry took on a significant meaning of its own. Valentine’s Day was constructed out of nothing, but has become an important focus for romance and relationships to many people throughout the world. While Free Comic Book Day hasn’t grown quite as large, it’s still a big deal.For readers of comics and consumers of pop culture, Free Comic Book Day has become a very real holiday, which begs the question: What is it about?

A Day For Every Comic Book Reader

An important element of Free Comic Book Day is washing away the perceptions of comics perpetuated by television shows like The Simpsons and Big Bang Theory. The niche factor of the market, especially in North America, has led to it being caricatured as a setting somewhere between your grandparents’ basement and a flea market. Reflecting on the series of profiles we assembled in 2017 about the many impressive stores across the country, this could not be further from the truth. Each Free Comic Book Day gives these stores a chance to open their doors and display a welcoming environment for all potential readers.

This means they can show off what makes them unique, from their coffee shops and reading nooks to special programs that promote literacy among youth or encourage adult reading clubs. That wide array of activity is what makes many of these stores so welcoming to entire communities. There is something for everyone, allowing children a chance to develop their reading skills with favorite cartoon characters and adults to rediscover or expand their reading habits. While comics have become largely associated with superhero stories, just walking into a shop can reveal that fans of science fiction or young adult lit are just as likely to find their new favorite narratives.

A Day For Every Comic Book

That invitation to the neighborhood stems from the wide array of comics curated by publishers over the years. In assembling our list of top recommended titles, it quickly became apparent that the “something for everyone” concept was not hyperbole. Even when you look at a general category like “all ages”, there’s a world of different focuses. Something like Boom Studios’ Adventure Time appeals to fans of the cartoon and pre-adolescent readers. IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures veers slightly younger and offers something to the fans of that franchise. DC Super Hero Girls not only offers a great reading experience for the youngest of readers, but opens up the worlds of comics and superheroes specifically aimed at young girls, an audience normally assumed to be ignored by comic book stores.

That only encompasses a very small section of the more than 50 free titles announced in 2018. It serves to not only help invite readers to the biggest publishers like Marvel and DC who each offer several different comics, but many small publishers as well. On this day there’s a wide open field of competition that encourages readers to think outside of their normal taste and take chances on particularly intriguing covers. This benefits anyone who might walk into a store. Even dedicated comics fans with pull files are likely to notice something they haven’t heard of before, and new readers are treated to a true smorgasboard. That only accounts for the free comics stacked out on tables. Particularly well curated stores will offer shelves filled with more options, allowing someone to take a look at a historical narrative like Berlin and then discover classics like Persepolis, Maus, or Safe Area Gorazde.

A Day To Celebrate The Real Heroes Of Comics

The most important thing to remember and the thread that runs through both inviting new readers and celebrating the incredible array of comics being published are the local comic book stores that actually host this event. Without their planning, hard work, and money (the free comics aren’t free for stores), there would be no Free Comic Book Day. When Joe Field began the event it was just as much about small business as it was the comics themselves.

Walking into your shop you’ll likely notice a lot more happening that the distribution of free comics. These places support schools, clubs, and charities. The people working behind the counter are folks you might bump into at a local restaurant or movie theater. Almost every dollar that goes into the stores returns to the towns and cities in which they exist. Free Comic Book Day isn’t just a celebration of comics; it’s a celebration of community.

That has been a theme within comics in North America for a long time. As a niche medium it has created close knit fandoms that shared their love through conventions and fanzines, many of which have grown to be the pop culture highlights of the past decade. The core focus on community remains. A single store likely knows almost every person with a pull file as an individual. They are based on relationships and order stories to help support the people they know love them. And so Free Comic Book Day isn’t just about finding new comics, but finding a new favorite place where you live. This medium we love and that inspires so many great parts of pop culture (just look at Avengers: Infinity War) is built on local stores. Free Comic Book Day is our opportunity to celebrate everything they do for us.

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Top 10 FCBD Picks for 2018

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 3, 2018.

Top FCBD 2018 - Cover.jpg

Free Comic Book Day is almost upon us and the hype is real. In addition to all of the big sales and special events put on by local comic book stores, there’s the original draw of this holiday: lots and lots of free comics. That raises the question of which ones we want to grab. Many stores need to impose limits on the total number of free comics per customer, as stores still have to pay for each issue you take home for free. So it is worth prioritizing the special issues that best fit your own taste and interests.

That’s why we’ve composed a top ten countdown of the very best comics being published this year. It runs the gamut from all-ages family fun to some seriously intense cartooning. Our ranking has it all and emphasizes the uniqueness of each issue and how much it has to offer. As you prepare to support your local comic book store this Saturday and get some great new reads in the process, take a look ahead for the absolute best free comics of 2018.

  1. Shadowman Special

Published by Valiant Entertainment

Written by Andy Diggle, Matt Kindt, and Eric Heisserer

Art by Stephen Segovia, Tomas Giorello, and Raul Allen

Valiant is putting their best foot forward with this issue. Not only does it highlight one of their more underrated properties, but it features several of the publisher’s most talented, regular contributors. If you haven’t considered checking out the superhero universe of Valiant before, this presents a great opportunity to see what it’s all about.

  1. The Amazing Spider-Man

Published by Marvel Comics

Written by Nick Spencer

Art by Ryan Ottley

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Amazing Spider-Man with Dan Slott’s imminent departure looming in the horizon. This special offers fans a very special first peek at what is to come from the new creative team for the series. The cover offers some very intriguing hints, including the return of Spencer’s favorite C-list villain Boomerang and an important reminder that inimitable Ryan Ottley is drawing the series. Hopefully this taste is enough to tide us over until the team makes their monthly debut.

  1. Adventure Time: Fiona & Cake Special

Published by Boom! Studios

Written by Grace Kraft

Art by Christine Larsen

Adventure Time is one of the most consistently quality all-ages comics around. Whether or not you’ve seen the television series, their paper outings have proven to be entertaining based entirely on their own merits. This issue ought to provide a fun adventure no matter your familiarity, guaranteed to mix plenty of laughs in with whatever thrills it has to offer.

  1. Berlin

Published by Drawn & Quarterly

Created by Jason Lutes

Drawn & Quarterly is emphasizing one of their most distinguished cartoonists with an introduction point to his historical narrative Berlin. In addition to the opening chapter, this issue is also loaded with special content including an interview with Jason Lutes. If you’re looking for a great new graphic novel, this is definitely a fine starting point. Lutes’ narrative examining the transformation of Germany from democracy to fascist state concludes this fall and already appears to be an unfortunately relevant masterwork in comics.

  1. Star Wars Adventures

Published by IDW Publishing

Written by Cavan Scott

Art by Derek Charm

In spite of Marvel Comics’ great Star Wars line, this series from IDW remains the most fun comic featuring Luke, Han, Leia, and the rest of the gang. Its all-ages approach reminds fans of the humor and joy that is ever-present through the movies, and allows for some great digressions into subject matter like the life of Porgs. If you are a fan of Star Wars and haven’t read Star Wars Adventures yet, this is definitely a comic to check out on Saturday.

  1. The Avengers / Captain America

Published by Marvel Comics

Written by Jason Aaron and Ta-Nehisi Coates

Art by Sara Pichelli and Leinil Francis Yu

If the Avengers are the greatest Marvel heroes, then this is the Avengers of Marvel Comics in 2018. This one-two punch of new and upcoming series shows off the absolute best talent working at the publisher today. The Avengers works in tandem with a #1 issue this week to launch a bold new era and Captain America provides a much-needed preview of what’s to come in the Coates’ second ongoing series. We can’t wait for more of these books and that’s exactly what we’re getting.

  1. DC Superhero Girls

Published by DC Comics

Written by Shea Fontana

Art by Yancy Labat

There is a reason this line of stories and figures have become so popular outside of the direct market. They are charming and a whole lot of fun. If you haven’t considered it before, DC Superhero Girls provides a great chance to see what the buzz is about with a delightful story centered on finding Jim Gordon a date. This is a top pick for parents and young readers alike.

  1. World’s Greatest Cartoonists

Published by Fantagraphics Books

Created by Sophie Goldstein, Simon Hanselmann, Dash Shaw, and many more

Fantagraphics excels at curation and that’s exactly what they’re FCBD contribution represents. It is packed with original content from an incredible array of cartoonists, providing so much content that readers are bound to find a talented new favorite in the pack. This is a great sampler of the many styles and stories being told in comics today beyond the world of superheroes.

  1. Barrier

Published by Image Comics

Written by Brian K. Vaughan

Art by Marcos Martin

Image Comics offers the most bang for your (lack of) buck, considering just how much they are giving away for free. Barrier #1 was originally a digital-only comic from two of the medium’s most talented creators. Bringing it to print means an oversized publication format (as it was designed for the width of computer screens) and more than 50 pages of content. It’s not just that Barrier is a great comic, but you get a whole lot of it here for free.

  1. My Hero Academia

Published by Viz Media

Created by Kouhei Horikoshi and Shirow Miwa

My Hero Academia is the best superhero comic being published today and now you can find out why for free. This is a series that everyone at ComicBook.Com loves, whether we come from a manga or superhero background. It’s the best of two very popular worlds, one we cannot recommend enough.

This also represents a great opportunity for many local comic book stores to expand their reach, finding a crossover between dedicated superhero readers and the manga market that is primarily sold in bookstores. There’s no reason that manga shouldn’t be more popular in the direct market and checking out My Hero Academia on Saturday is a great starting point.

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How Avengers: Infinity War Reveals The Heart Of The MCU

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 3, 2018.

Heart of the MCU - Thanos Evil.jpg

Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel, the currently untitled, Avengers 4 form the finale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. Together they contain every Marvel hero fighting against an unimaginable force of evil. While there will be more movies to come, the departure of Captain America actor Chris Evans (and probably others) following this movie place it in a unique space. As the climax of everything to come so far and the likely final act for many key heroes, it is not just a celebration of Marvel Studios, but a conclusion for an epic journey that began with Iron Man. While we all have to wait one more year to see Avengers 4, everything we need to know about the core themes of these films is spelled out in Avengers: Infinity War. A close reading of the movie reveals its morality and a thesis for the collective films of Marvel over the past decade.

SPOILERS AHEAD: This is your definitive spoilers tag with plenty of bolded words to make it impossible to miss. If you have not seen Avengers: Infinity War and do not want to have the ending (and many other details) spoiled, stop reading now. Last warning.

“We’re In The Endgame Now”

Understanding the morality of Avengers: Infinity War predicated on an understanding that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. That might seem impossible given the terrifying cliffhanger in which half of all sentient life is wiped from the face of the universe. How could this outcome be considered in any way good? The movie states that it is.

Before he is killed in Thanos’ terrible genocide, Doctor Strange does two very important things. First, he looks into the future and sees a scenario in which Thanos is defeated. That means he is not only aware that the possibility exist, but he knows what must happen in order for it to occur. This is critical context for understanding his final words. After Doctor Strange surrenders the Time Stone in order to save Iron Man, he states “We’re in the endgame now.” There is never an opportunity to explain why he has done this or what he means. A few minutes later Thanos seizes the Mind Stone and completes the Infinity Gauntlet (primarily because of his possession of the Time Stone), and Doctor Strange is killed. However, before he fades to dust, Strange says something very important, “There was no other way.”

Based on Strange’s foreknowledge, audiences must assume that every action he took was to ensure victory. His final words suggest that the surviving heroes are still living in the single timeline of 14 million where they eventually succeed. It’s not just an assumption based on knowing that more Marvel Studios movies are planned, the movie actually tells us that things are going as well as they possibly could. Based on this every success or failure has to be interpreted as the best possible outcome.

You Can’t Negotiate With Evil

Given that context it’s worth reexamining the most notably failures to occur throughout Avengers: Infinity War. Knowing that Strange died in the best possible timeline, these failures all resulted in a better outcome than success would have, which puts the definition of “success” in question.

The first major failure exists when Star-Lord attempts to kill Gamora to protect the location of the Soul Stone. At her request he pulls the trigger on his gun only to see bubbles appear. He fails to execute the woman he loves due to the effects of Thanos’ Reality Stone stopping him. Star-Lord faces a second failure when he responds to Gamora’s death by punching Thanos and seemingly ending any chance of seizing the Infinity Gauntlet.

Two more failures occur in more passive terms. Gamora reveals the location of the Soul Stone to Thanos in order to save her sister Nebula. While she believes that Thanos cannot make the sacrifice necessary to take the stone, she is proven wrong in the most brutal manner imaginable. Doctor Strange relinquishes the Time Stone in order to save Iron Man, actively aiding him in the completion of the Infinity Gauntlet. Each of these heroes aid Thanos in order to save a single life.

The final major failure is very similar to the first, occurring between another romantic duo: Scarlet Witch and The Vision. Scarlet Witch seemingly murders her significant other, again at his request, to stop Thanos from seizing the Mind Stone. That doesn’t last as Thanos uses the Time Stone to rewind time and seize the Stone anyway.

Saving Lives Is What Heroes Do

Each of these “failures” share a common thread: heroes fail to kill someone. In the case of Scarlet Witch and Star-Lord they are prevented from actively killing a loved one. In the case of Doctor Strange and Gamora, they aid the villain to protect someone else instead of passively permitting their death. Each of these moments create the one timeline in which Thanos can be defeated though, suggesting that these are the best possible outcomes and delivering a moral verdict on each moment.

When Scarlet Witch and Star-Lord attempted to kill someone and were prevented from doing so, they were making the wrong choice. When Doctor Strange and Gamora did whatever they could to save someone, they were making the correct choice. This is the essential moral logic of Avengers: Infinity War and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Cherishing and protecting life, even a single life, is worth any cost.

This isn’t an uncontroversial assertion either. It lies at the heart of the civil war between the heroes. When Captain America was confronted with a choice between protecting his best friend and serving the “greater good” as posed by the Marvokia Accords and Tony Stark, he chose to protect a single life from a kangaroo court and likely execution. The utilitarian notion that heroes ought to serve a greater good, even if it comes with a notable cost to a few individuals, is undermined by every event of Avengers: Infinity War. Even Thanos sees his sacrifice of life as a necessary one, afterall. The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and it’s clear that once one life becomes expendable it becomes that much easier to accept the deaths of more and more. This is the logic that made the World Security Council the ultimate villain in Avengers and Thanos the villain in Avengers: Infinity War.

No matter where you fall on the debates of Captain America: Civil War, the events of Avengers: Infinity War have made it clear where the moral compass of these films point. There’s no doubt that the events of this film will lead to victory and the lives saved, those of Iron Man and Nebula, will play an integral role.The bad guys devalue life, the good guys protect it. That is the heart of Marvel Studios.

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A Definitive Ranking of Every Character in Avengers: Infinity War

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 3, 2018.

Now that we’ve all had time for multiple screenings of Avengers: Infinity War and to digest its many details and special moments, it’s time to do what the internet does best: Rank things.

That’s right, we’re ranking every significant character to appear in Avengers: Infinity War from worst to best. Looking at each person’s role in the film, focusing on their performance, heroics, growth, and overall importance, we’ve established a definitive list with 30 spots. It’s definitive, but feel free to discuss in the comments and make your case for who should go where.

SPOILERS AHEAD! If it’s not already apparent, this article will spoil important details from Avengers: Infinity War. If you do not want to be spoiled, please stop reading now. You have been warned.

  1. Star-Lord

Portrayed by Chris Pratt

This one entry is the entire bottom half of the list. No matter where your favorite hero may be ranked in the top 29, just know that they were excellent in some way because Peter Quill really was not. Not only did Star-Lord fail to effectively lead his team, he was actively unhelpful during the formation and execution of plans. His final mistake is actually a reasonable reaction to the loss of a loved one, but it follows an entire film of simply being the worst. Star-Lord is the definitive loser in this list.

  1. Nick Fury and Maria Hill

Portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders

This is a tie because neither character is really in the film. However, it was nice to see them in the post-credits sequence and pushing one button still makes this pair vastly more helpful than Star-Lord.

  1. Vision

Portrayed by Paul Bettany

Vision is actually great, but he was not very helpful in the course of Avengers: Infinity War. Corvus Glaive circumvents his interesting powers and leaves him unhelpful in battle. Vision’s most noble contribution is an offer to lay down and die, which is all you really need to know.

  1. Wong

Portrayed by Benedict Wong

Wong doesn’t get much screen time, but he makes it work. Standing besides Doctor Strange and Iron Man as a peer has us hopeful for a larger role in future MCU films. That just isn’t the case here.

  1. Groot

Portrayed by Vin Diesel

The adolescent Groot delivers some great gags as a vulgar, video game-obsessed young person (er… or tree). However, he’s primarily a tagalong until delivering the handle for Stormbreaker. Groot primarily exists to serve the much more impactful characters of Rocket and Thor throughout the movie.

  1. The Falcon

Portrayed by Anthony Mackie

Falcon’s ranking applies to much of Captain America’s gang. He shows up, fights well, and presents a lot of heroic qualities (courage, nobility, loyalty, etc.). However, he isn’t a major character in the movie, which settles him further down the list.

  1. Black Widow

Portrayed by Scarlett Johansson

Black Widow kicks the same amount of butt that she has since being introduced in Iron Man 2. Unfortunately, that has become a very familiar narrative at this point and there isn’t much new for her to offer throughout the course of Avengers: Infinity War.

  1. Winter Soldier

Portrayed by Sebastian Stan

Like the rest of Captain America’s gang, Bucky is mostly useful in doing what he is told. However, his part in the final battle (especially wielding Rocket) makes him stand out all the more. That combined with being separated from his best pal again after so many years gives him a leg up.

  1. War Machine

Portrayed by Don Cheadle

The last of Captain America’s group to fall into this section of the list, War Machine gets the top spot purely because of Don Cheadle’s attitude. His sense of humor and prowess through the final battle make him a versatile and dearly missed member of this team.

  1. Nebula

Portrayed by Karen Gillan

Nebula’s growth from secondary bad guy to hero makes her a notable presence in the film. While she is primarily used to motivate Gamora, her work with the Avengers on Titan makes it clear that she will become an integral character in whatever comes next and one of the most surprising elements of this climactic duology.

  1. Drax

Portrayed by Dave Bautista

Drax does the important work of humanizing the struggle against Thanos. He is a victim who has taken control of his own life and decisions, even if they don’t amount to much impact confronting the villain. His tragic tale definitely pulled some tears out in theaters.

  1. Spider-Man

Portrayed by Tom Holland

It is a delight to watch Spider-Man be Spider-Man. While Peter wasn’t a leader in the space-faring battles, he did have some great ideas and gave each new fight everything he had. He also had the saddest departure at the end of the film.

  1. Mantis

Portrayed by Pom Klementieff

Mantis really earns her spot on the Guardians in this film. Not only does she agree to go up against Thanos, but she is an integral part of the near-successful plan to stop him. Jumping on an almost omnipotent being’s shoulders takes a lot of gumption, but succeeding in putting that person to sleep reveals some mad skills as well.

  1. Eitri

Portrayed by Peter Dinklage

Seeing Peter Dinklage make such a well-planned cameo might have been enough, but Avengers: Infinity War also builds a great mini-arc for him as he overcomes the loss of his hands to discover that he still possessed his real power all along. It’s a nice moment of recovery and why we hope to see him return next year.

  1. General Okoye

Portrayed by Danai Gurira

When you consider that Okoye does not possess any superpowers, but still stands alongside some of the most powerful heroes in the universe to lead a charge against annihilation, it’s clear just how incredible she is. She is undoubtedly one of humanity’s best warriors.

  1. M’Baku

Portrayed by Winston Duke

This is the vegetarian hero we deserve. M’Baku, lacking any powers or previous experience with Marvel heroes, shows up to support his king and entire nation in spite of decades of tension. Hearing the chant of the Jabari Tribe was a definite highlight simply for heralding M’Baku’s return.

  1. Shuri

Portrayed by Letitia Wright

Shuri gets credit for the same reasons as Okoye and M’Baku, as a human able to fight alongside super soldiers and gods, but she also shows up the smartest people in the MCU. Pointing out flaws in the work of Stark and Banner is an incredible moment and makes us want more of Shuri right now.

  1. The Black Order

Portrayed by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Carrie Coon, Michael Shaw, and Terry Notary

In a ranking of every MCU villain, each of these new baddies could fit in the middle of the list. They carry as much personality and power as the vast majority of past villains, capably acquiting themselves in battle and delivering plenty of solid lines. While they all play second fiddle to Thanos, that’s still a powerful place to occupy.

  1. Black Panther

Portrayed by Chadwick Boseman

Black Panther holds true to his commitment in helping the entire world by providing the awesome people and resources of Wakanda for a universal battle at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. He is incredible to witness in battle and a true leader for the greatest army in the entire MCU.

  1. Iron Man

Portrayed by Robert Downey Jr.

Iron Man commits to the cause of humanity again with his second flight into space, this one much longer than the first. The start of Avengers: Infinity War establishes how great a sacrifice Tony is making and, even if he’s far from perfect, he works hard to lead an oddball team impossibly close to victory.

  1. Captain America

Portrayed by Chris Evans

Avengers: Infinity War reminds us that Captain America is the best leader in the entire MCU. Watching his assembly of heroes with so many different motives and concerns into a cohesive army at the end of the film is nothing short of stunning. There can be no doubt that Cap will lead the charge in round two and be the driving force behind Thanos’ defeat.

  1. Heimdall

Portrayed by Idris Elba

This movie certainly didn’t worry about breaking hearts from the very start. Heimdall has been a fan favorite supporting character from the first phase of the MCU and his loss stung. He goes out like an absolute champ though, doing the impossible in summoning the Rainbow Bridge with his bare hands. He will be missed.

  1. Loki

Portrayed by Tom Hiddleston

Loki barely edges out Heimdall, if only because he finally managed to turn the corner and commit to a redeeming death. Given impossible circumstances and a real possibility of saving himself, he tries to stop Thanos when Thanos was still stoppable. Loki came as close as anyone and deserves recognition for it.

  1. Doctor Strange

Portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch

Of the “away team” on Titan, Doctor Strange is the absolute MVP. Throughout the course of increasingly harrowing events, he is the most level-headed actor and the person who manages to provide a spark of hope at the end of the film. There’s no doubt that Strange’s efforts to save Iron Man will ultimately lead to victory.

  1. Scarlet Witch

Portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen

Scarlet Witch has one of the most gripping character arcs in this film, going from a place of (relative) stability and love to making an unimaginable sacrifice for the fate of the universe. Her attitude mark her as a rare introvert in the team, making for one of the most interesting performances in the entire film as well.

  1. Gamora

Portrayed by Zoe Saldana

Gamora is the Rosetta Stone of Avengers: Infinity War. Her experiences reveal who Thanos is and why he is motivated. She is also one of the most heroic characters, instantly prepared to do whatever is necessary to stop a genocidal madman. All of her planning and work is for naught, but her efforts mark her as one of the film’s greatest heroes.

  1. Bruce Banner

Portrayed by Mark Ruffalo

It’s rare to spend as much time with Bruce Banner as you do with the Hulk, which makes the removal of the latter in Avengers: Infinity War so notable. In spite of losing the “big, green guy”, Bruce proves himself to be a consummate hero by showing up for battles he shouldn’t even consider fighting. This movie tested the mettle of Bruce as much as anyone and he proved himself an Avenger in every form of being.

  1. Rocket Raccoon

Portrayed by Bradley Cooper

In spite of his seemingly silly nature, Rocket continues to be one of the most compelling characters everywhere he goes. He serves a sidekick and comedic relief to Thor and a great action hero in the final battle. Most importantly, he continues to develop as a parent and friend to Groot, pushing himself further into unwanted responsibility because of a heart he won’t admit exists.

  1. Thor

Portrayed by Chris Hemsworth

If any hero owns Avengers: Infinity War, it is Thor. He has come further and lost more to reach this moment than anyone else. Comparing his presence her to his very first appearance reveals an incredible amount of growth. Thor exudes bravery in every step he takes as he attempts to save what is left in spite of having lost everything he calls his own. Of all the Avengers, none is mightier than Thor in this film.

  1. Thanos

Portrayed by Josh Brolin

When you reflect on Avengers: Infinity War, it is ultimately Thanos’ film. The heroes primarily respond to his motives and actions. The film also does an excellent job of building both those elements and delivering one of the absolute best MCU villains to date. While his Malthusian philosophy is fundamentally flawed, his ego and perspective make him a simultaneously sympathetic and horrifying character. This is a movie that succeeds on the quality of its antagonist, and that speaks very highly of Thanos’ role.

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Review: Death or Glory #1 Gets On Track When The Action Begins

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 2, 2018.

Review Death or Glory #1 - Cover.jpg

Death or Glory is a comic that presents two tracks to readers in its first issue. There is a fast-paced chase comic that enjoys a fair bit of gunplay and heist elements as well. It is an action thriller that knows all of the most important beats to keep readers at the edge of their seats. There is also a semi-futuristic world constructed around modern politics. It offers romanticized notions of heroes, villains, and freedom that play to popular rhetoric from radio waves today. The former succeeds where the latter falters. The result is not so much a comic at war with itself, but one in which the strengths essentially play tow truck to the weaknesses.

The chase comic is simply too good to not discuss first. When tires are squealing on the road and bullets are flying, there are few better contemporary examples of a complete creative team working in tandem. Bengal is not new to comics, with existing credits already at both Marvel and DC, but Death or Glory feels like his debutante ball as he clearly transforms into a force in comics society. Wide panels help to pace the car chase and gunfight that serve as the climax of this debut. They carefully allow the reader to drop further and further into the action before forcing them to turn the page as quickly as possible. Bengal’s colors help to play up the velocity of these sequences as well with blurred tail lights guiding eyes and implying motion simultaneously. Remender proves himself to be the rare writer in modern comics who knows exactly when to get out of the way. Pacing for page turns is perfect, but dialogue is kept to a minimum so the action can sing. What few words that are present at the height of tension are impeccably placed by Rus Wooton to match the visual flow of the sequence.

It really should not be understated how effective this car chase is. The sequence that occurs in the back half of Death or Glory is one of the most difficult types to pull of in comics. Bengal reaches a bar set by Matteo Scalera in Dead Body Road and Tradd Moore in All-New Ghost Rider here. All of these artists effectively convey the inertia and excitement of a chase, each with their own unique set of tools. Bengal keeps readers close to the ground, only moving to a bird’s eye view to reorient the action. His storytelling effects are crystalline and the resulting sequence is reason enough to check out this first issue.

The plot engine pushing this sequence forward is not quite the well-tuned piece of technology used by Glory though. Everyone outside of the main character falls into the realm of caricature. Her ex-husband is a scoundrel available in almost every “woman on a mission” style of story, vain, hungry for power and money, and with seemingly no redeeming qualities. This applies to the heroes and villains of the piece, as even the likable father figures in Glory’s life fits types that have been circulating since the 1970s. The only difference here is that a splash of modern political rhetoric has been used to cover their frames. Villains use the phrase “cuck” while heroes speak about freedom from absurd insurance costs.

In spite of this political framing, Death or Glory doesn’t present a strong ethos of its own. The “live free or die” ethos on one side is lovingly derided by Glory, while the barely distinguishable beliefs of crime lords are shown to be bad primarily because they’re not nice and relate to the verbiage of Donald Trump. If you were to ask what Glory stands for, it would be impossible to answer based on the text. This is a comic that yearns to be political, but possesses no clear comprehension of what its politics might be. The best reason to keep following her story is that it is simply fun to watch.

And so every reader’s mileage may vary, based on what attracts their attention and how willing they may be to overlook the obvious flaws in this script. They are not in conflict with one another, but it’s clear that one is not benefited by the other. Artistic drive alone distinguishes Death or Glory #1 from many new releases; it’s too bad that half-thoughts distract from the pure adrenaline that makes this issue work.

Published by Image Comics

On May 2, 2018

Written by Rick Remender

Art by Bengal

Lettered by Rus Wooton

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Mini Reviews for 05/02

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 2, 2018.

DC

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #5

This isn’t the first story to be told about the Red Scare and it certainly doesn’t appear to be on its way as a memorable one. The inciting event and big speech in this issue all play to noble ideas that have been played out dozens (if not hundreds) of times before. The ideas are good, but the execution is lackluster. A montage of concurrent events at the end bogs down the pacing for brave moments, rather than building a cohesive effect like it might in a film. Unlike The Flintstones, this series seems to be running out of ideas and momentum well before it is complete. It’s probably for the best that it will only be 6 issues. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Shade The Changing Woman #3

The visual representation of madness becomes increasingly challenging and rewarding as the second phase of this series continues. Pages and panels are pushed in directions you will rarely encounter at DC Comics and all serve to provide readers a lens into the experience of characters. An earnest interest in experimentation helps the eye to linger as ideas evolve. There is a narrative beneath it all, one that traces abandonment and revenge. That narrative is tangential rather than essential to the issue though, and that’s perfectly alright. This is a trip to take for its own sake. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Marvel

Infinity Countdown #3

Infinity Countdown keeps mixing things up and wraps the dangling threads from Guardians of the Galaxy here, making it anyone’s guess where the story might go before its done. Those threads are wrapped in a truly spectacular and surprising fashion. While some may criticize the comedic bent, its execution is impeccable and crafts some of the most memorable pages to ever feature Drax. The B-plot focused on Ultron also heads in an interesting direction that keeps the fun of this miniseries mixed with cosmic stakes. With such relentless pacing and a clear eye for comedy and action alike, this is delivering everything fans might want from an event title. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Rise of the Black Panther #5

The penultimate issue in this mini-series is ostensibly about family, but it only says this. The actual bonds, betrayals, and relationships are all manufactured through the telling. There is no work shown to give readers a sense of investment in who individuals are to one another. What ought to be a terrible action at the end of this issue lands with a resounding thud as a result. Everything in this book’s path, romances with Storm, the motives of Killmonger and even a fun cameo, are reduced to caricature. There is no idea that this form of plotting and dense panel construction cannot render inert, which is very unfortunate considering the rich source material it seeks to remold. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

You Are Deadpool #1

In a world where many monthly comics are only read once and can be finished in a dozen minutes, You Are Deadpool is the comic we didn’t ask for, but might need. It is a comic focused on gimmick with a gimmick-focused character. Yet once you start to read and re-read the issue, its detailed planning and clever payoffs make it much more complex. There’s a mathematical joy in both constructing and deconstructing this narrative. Several twists in the first issue make it an entertaining read at many times, even if jokes only land at a 50-50 ration (quantity certainly helps this). You Are Deadpool may be the most ambitious Marvel Comic of 2018. While not a perfect comic, its first issue executes perfectly on its core story device and make this a comic worth examining. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Other

Breathless #2

“Characters in cars hunting cryptids” could be an alternate title for this series. It’s a never-ending series of conversations, almost entirely as characters drive between locations, that manage to deflate even the excitement of gun battles with monsters. There’s only so much mileage to be found in seeing the same creature get shot as well, especially when the protagonists seem to make no real progress as a result. Ham-fisted political dialogue tacked onto this already overwrought plot makes it all the more difficult to read. Issues of health insurance and freelancing feel separate from everything else in the story, tacked on to remind readers that reality isn’t great either, as if that was a truly necessary reminder. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Coda #1

Simon Spurrier has a real knack for worldbuilding and it’s on full display in this oversized first issue. The focus on crafting a shaggy dog story with a sardonic tone helps all of the colorful pieces of this world snap into focus quickly. Mermaids, variations of elves, and a whole lot more populate a fantasy world that has seemingly run out of magic. It’s the tone that makes the dark jokes play and dialogue spin as wonderfully as in a Shane Black film. Matias Bergara brings it all together with a perfect balance of the fantastical and ugly, a sensibility revealed in a cursing, fighting Pentacorn that will likely have readers begging for more. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #251

This is a comic that has yet to encounter a military cliche it doesn’t like. At the heart of the mission is a story of a soldier who conquers his PTSD by going into combat and killing the most genetically constructed terrorists to ever be drawn on a comic page. It’s a real double-whammy of offensive depictions and unexceptional plotting. Night terrors are used as an excuse to draw undead soldiers clawing at a man’s ankle before he “bravely” refuses to consult with a psychologist. On top of this absurdity there’s a sniped showdown that fails to cohere on the page, with a better sense of action coming from dialogue than panels. Keep it. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 1 out of 5

Koshchei the Deathless #5

Suffering can have a transformative effect, and that is what Koshchei the Deathless bears out. Falling ever further into his tragedy, Koshchei is made into a weapon wielded in the worst forms imaginable. Witnessing this element of the story it to witless seemingly unending suffering for protagonist and world alike. Yet this all serves a point and by issue’s end Koshchei never risks being an unsympathetic character. The depiction of these terrible moments goes a long way in improving their impact and making them slightly more bearable. Several sequences in this issue are reminiscent in design and minimalism to Mignola’s work on Hellboy, evoking the very best this comic has to offer. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 5 out of 5

Red Sonja #15

The centerpiece to this issue spends a bit too much time establishing itself for an inconsequential payout of an uninspired sword fight. Much of the issue is dedicated to building a sub-plot that could have been better structured within the series or not used at all. After enough pages it seems as though this is building to a moment of significance, and in retrospect it truly reads as filler. The final few pages are a reminder that this series still possesses direction though, as well as a refined style that matches the story well. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Red Sonja / Tarzan #1

Intolerable cruelty is the driving force behind this crossover. The selection of a villain who is the very definition of inhumane serves to make any viciousness in the dual protagonist’s feel entirely justified. His choices are the most obvious sort of evil, almost painful to watch from a craft perspective as well. While the plot device weaving this crossover is unclear, it’s also unnecessary in a story that’s all about familiar faces and throwdowns. The fights are simple, but well-adorned with a few good splash panels. If this crossover must exist, then it could certainly find far worse forms to take. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Spawn #285

Spawn is a comic that lives and dies by its visuals. There are some standout panels in this issue, the sort that drape the hero in shadow and offer a striking image for a poster on an adolescent’s wall. However, these are the exception as the majority of the story is presented in an indelibly flat fashion. Spawn’s torture and dehumanization is offered almost entirely in symbols with little emphasis or impact. The politics of the issue surrounding his treatment in government custody are as clumsy as possible. Pundits shout obvious talking points with far too many words making for a poor aping of Frank Miller, and the script pokes fun at a President tweeting as if that were original. It’s an unfortunate way to spend your time reading comics.– Chase Magnett

Rating: 1 out of 5

Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses #34

At first glance this issue appears to be primarily connective in nature. Characters push ahead and make new encounters, but the meat of the story seems primarily useful in building the stages of this long, odd crime saga. That is until the final few pages. Lapham’s clear grids build the confusion and shift in action perfectly. Questions quickly arise about what is actually occurring in the narrative and build to a last page that just sings. If only for last third of this issue, this installment reminds us Stray Bullets never skips a beat and can still stun after all these years.– Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius #2

Xerxes really takes shape as the legends of ancient Greece take hold of the plot. Miller’s view of women and a few other troubling elements leak in through the indulgent dialogue and narration, but they primarily exist as retellings of classics. And so attention rests almost entirely in the depiction of these stories in grand widescreen action and intrigue. Miller is as much a master as ever and both single images and sequences pop with every turn of the page. His use of silhouette and flat blacks deserve particular attention. This is where Miller works best in 2018. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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A Problem At The Eisners

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 2, 2018.

Fixing The Eisners - Cover Eisner Awards.jpg

The announcement of Eisner Award nominees drew the normally anticipated rounds of commentary, discussion, and controversy as comics creators, fans, and critics all dug into what artists and works were selected as being the best examples of the field for 2017. Something about the conversation moved beyond the expected talk of surprises and snubs though, something that points to a flaw in the Eisner Awards themselves.

The best coloring category included a total of 6 nominees this year, but only one of the nominated artists is a dedicated colorist. 5 nominees worked on elements of their nominated comics beyond the coloring, and all of them were nominated in other categories. Emil Ferris received a total of 5 nominations, including best writer/artist and best lettering. Both Mitch Gerads and David Rubín received nominations in the penciller/inker category. David Piskor and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell had works nominated in the best limited series and best single issue/one-shot, respectively. Dave Stewart, who has already received 9 prior Eisner Awards, was the only nominated colorist whose primary focus lies in that aspect of comics.

In the past that dynamic has been radically different with three of the 2017 nominees known best for their work as colorists in comics. The change and controversy surrounding who ought to be recognized raises important questions about the nature of the Eisner Awards and their purpose. They’re questions we want to, at the very least, begin interrogating here.

Coloring Outside The Lines

The essential question in discussing this specific issue is: What is the nature of the “Best [Creator]” categories? Looking at the nominees for this and previous years, every nominated individual is paired with their various works throughout the corresponding year. This normally provides writers, colorists, and letterers with extensive nominated bibliographies, while artists, cartoonists, and others engaged with more time-intensive forms of production are limited to a single title. This creates a disparity between distinct but similar categories, as well as the individuals within categories (like this years colorist awards).

The overall effect of this disparity is that the nature of nominations do not seem similar to one another. A writer nominated for working on 5 series is being judged on a relatively massive body of work compared to an artist who managed to complete even 12 issues over the course of a single year. That becomes even more noticeable when comparing the work of a single volume like Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters with the, frankly, astonishing amount of output colored by Dave Stewart in any given year.

None of this is to place a value judgment on the works themselves. Stewart is not a better colorist than Ferris for having created more issues, and Ferris is not better than Stewart for having a more cohesive work to judge. It is a matter of comparing apples and oranges, which is not fair to anyone involved. The larger bodies lead voters to seek a sense of average quality (impacted by the impressiveness of total output), while specific works emphasize unique traits of a single piece. The only thing that is clear is that it is entirely unclear what exactly is being judged in any of these artist categories.

Emphasizing The Best Work

For this problem there is a solution. The Eisner Awards are unique in major American artistic industry awards for honoring an individual for all of their output during a specific period of time. Looking at the flaws expressed and lack of clarity about what criteria and what exactly is being honored makes it clear why they are the exception and not the rule.

Pencillers, inkers, colorists, letterers, and every other form of recognized artistry in comics deserves to be acknowledged for specific achievements. Rather than nominating an artist for their body of work, they should be matched with a specific series or volume that merits an award highlighting as the best in the medium. This serves to benefit the artists who work on large-scale bodies most. Judges and voters are still aware of their awesome output, but would be able to honor a specific achievement, rather than providing an accolade for general excellence. These sorts of craftsmen can often go overlooked in comics, even when awarded, due to the sense that they are generally good. Providing a colorist like Dave Stewart or Jordie Bellaire an award for a specific work helps highlight exactly why readers should seek out and admire their artistry.

There might have been a time in the comics industry where this broad-based recognition made more sense. When comics creators consistently worked on titles for long runs and artists of all stripes were capable of maintaining a varied body of work, the idea of honoring general output might have made a better fit. Even looking backward to the earliest days of the Eisner Awards this concept of artists as mass producers is exaggerated, and still values output over achievement. In 2018, more than ever, it’s clear that this is a flaw and one that needs to be addressed.

A Broader Problem With Recognition

This change would evoke another problem, one that exists in the comics industry itself rather than its awards shows. Nominating specific works rather than bodies of work risks overlooking the creators who regularly rotate between series. Artists that provide interior work to a half dozen superhero comics over the course of a year or letterers that work primarily within a publisher instead of a specific set of series would have less extensive works to submit and are more likely to be forgotten.

This devaluation is caused by publishers though. Treating an artist of any stripe, from penciller to letterer, as an interchangeable cog rather than an integral part of a creative team is a choice made in the production of a serialized comic. While that sort of treatment might allow for increased publication schedules, it also de-emphasizes the contributions of artists (often to the primacy of writers). That decision is not hidden; both publishers and creators enter into contracts aware of how their work is to be treated. While it is unfortunate, it should not diminish earnest attempts to acknowledge excellence in the medium.

All of the Eisner nominees this year are immensely talented and they collectively represent a booming era for comics. The awards themselves still serve an important purpose in highlight great work and those who make it. Yet good enough does not mean great, much less best. If the Eisners are to continue to serve as the prime honor in comics, then they need to become more purposeful in their nature and intentions. That means honoring artists for specific achievements.

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Comics To Watch Out For After Avengers: Infinity War

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 1, 2018.

Comics To Buy Avengers Infinity War - Thor Annual #11.jpg

Avengers: Infinity War is finally upon us, unleashing secrets and twists 10 years in the making. Fans are walking out of this movie stunned, perhaps the only understandable reaction considering everything they just witnessed. New characters, big deaths, and shocking revelations abound, and many of them are tied directly to the comics.

Oftentimes, when Marvel Studios makes a big announcement or releases a new film, the comics market is shaken up. Seemingly insignificant issues become foundational elements of the outrageously popular Marvel Studios universe and others offer fans insight into how their favorite scenes were first imagined. Both comics collectors and movie audiences seek out the inspiration behind their favorite summer blockbuster, leading to a big jump in prices.

After seeing Avengers: Infinity War, we’re willing to wager that some surprising issues will be jumping in price as speculators descend on local comic book stores before Free Comic Book Day. We have assembled a list of the issues we expect to see the biggest fluctuations in price, so you know what to look out for in the days to come.

Two warnings: First, there are spoilers ahead. If you have not seen Avengers: Infinity War and do not want to be spoiled, then stop reading now. Second, speculating on the comics market is more like gambling than investment. This list is offered in fun and you should not spend money you aren’t willing to lose. Like everything related to comics, speculation is best done with a sense of fun.

That having been said, it’s time to see where the market’s interest will go in the wake of this epic film.

“First Story”

Infinity: Free Comic Book Day #1

Written by Jonathan Hickman

Art by Jim Cheung and Mark Morales

The Black Order, Thanos’ four generals capable of taking on multiple Avengers, are the most significant new characters of Avengers: Infinity War. The first of them to appear in comics was Corvus Glaive who narrated a portion of Thanos’ story in the build to the comics event “Infinity”. His first appearance might have been handed out for free, but finding copies in very good or near mint condition is difficult. Expect this handout to deliver a surprising price in days to come.

“What Maximus Made”

The New Avengers (vol. 3) #8

Written by Jonathan Hickman

Art by Mike Deodato

The rest of the Black Order to appear in Avengers: Infinity War, Black Dwarf, Ebony Maw, and Proxima Midnight, were first seen in this comic prelude to Infinity. Their roles are relatively minor in the issue. However, the intimidating character designs by artist Mike Deodato were kept almost entirely intact for the film. That speaks to both the power found in these characters from the very start and the potential value in this issue.

“Infinity”

Infinity #1

Written by Jonathan Hickman

Art by Jim Cheung, Mark Morales, John Livesay, and David Meikis

Comics collectors distinguish between initial cameos and first appearances. The Black Order made their initial cameo in The New Avengers #8 and their first appearance here. That means both issues are likely to climb in value. The distinction means that new fans will find these great villains doing far more than simply existing. This is a chance to see their personalities and capabilities shine for the very first time.

“The Saga of Thor”

Thor Annual (vol. 1) #11

Written by Alan Zelenetz

Art by Bob Hall and Vince Colletta

The Black Order isn’t likely to appear in any future Marvel Studios films, but that’s not the case for the final new addition to the cast of Avengers: Infinity War: Eitri. He is the King of the Dwarves of Nidavellir and oversaw the creation of many of the universe’s most powerful weapons. This first appearance wraps him into the saga of Thor and ensured a future place in epic comics and movies alike.

“God”

Infinity Gauntlet #1

Written by Jim Starlin

Art by George Perez, Josef Rubinstein, and Tom Christopher

Every issue of Infinity Gauntlet will likely be increasing in price as it’s the story most closely connected to the events of Avengers: Infinity War. This issue is more likely to jump in price than most as it features the disappearance of half of all sentient life. It was a startling moment in the comics that translated to perhaps the single most memorable sequence in any Avengers film. If only for the original snap of Thanos’ fingers, this issue is one to own.

“The Final Confrontation”

Infinity Gauntlet #6

Written by Jim Starlin

Art by Ron Lim and Josef Rubinstein

The final issue of Infinity Gauntlet is going to attract a lot of attention as well for two reasons. First, the ending of Avengers: Infinity War is clearly inspired by the final pages of this issue with Thanos settling down to appreciate his place in the universe (albeit under very different circumstances). This issue also features the final defeat of Thanos, likely providing a framework for Avengers 4 and more key moments to come.

“…Even Demigods Must Dream!”

Silver Surfer (vol. 1) #34

Written by Jim Starlin

Art by Ron Lim and Tom Christopher

Thanos’ return in comics came at the start of “Thanos Quest” which spanned the pages of Silver Surfer and the miniseries Thanos Quest. All of these issue are likely to climb in value as they follow the original collection of the Infinity Stones. However, this first issue is the one to watch out for above all the others. It stages Thanos’ plans for the universe and presents him in his most iconic fashion as the story builds to Infinity Gauntlet.

“The Fallen”

Siege #4

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Olivier Coipel and Mark Morales

Loki has died more than once in comics, but the instance that most resembles his tragic death at the start of Avengers: Infinity War came in the Marvel Comics event “Siege”. It was here that Loki tried to undo his prior misdeeds by betraying another godlike power and was killed as a result (no tricks). Thor’s reaction and Loki’s final words clearly inspired the God of Mischief’s demise in the movie, and the issue will make a valuable keepsake for fans of Tom Hiddleston’s performance.

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8 Reasons We’re Excited For The New Avengers

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 1, 2018.

Avengers #1 Aaron - Cover.jpg

In the wake of Avengers: Infinity War’s record-breaking opening weekend, Marvel Comics stands ready to sate the hunger of fans looking for more epic Avengers tales while waiting for the sequel in 2019. Earth’s mightiest heroes are being relaunched in a new series from writer Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuinness. The first issue, Avengers #1, is out this Wednesday, perfectly placed between the film’s opening weekend and the upcoming Free Comic Book Day festivities.

While the previous era of Avengers stories, concluded in the weekly event “No Surrender”, will be missed, we couldn’t be more excited for this new phase of adventures. Marvel Comics has really outdone themselves with their plans for this story and behind the scenes. Here are the 8 biggest reasons why we’re excited for Avengers #1 this week.

An Absolutely Essential Lineup

There are few Marvel Comics teams that don’t feel right without certain characters. Look at the long histories of the X-Men and Defenders, and you’ll find that while certain figures reappear, there’s no one hero that feels truly necessary to the titles. That’s not the case for the Avengers though. Before DC Comics branded their trinity of heroes, Marvelites already knew exactly who formed the heart of Avengers Mansion: Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. These three have carried over as the essential components of the team in movies and Ultimate universe as well. Their return to prominence alongside a few other major Avengers, like Black Panther and Captain Marvel, make this lineup already appear iconic. It certainly has the pedigree to go down in history as an essential run in the team’s long history.

With Some Fun Surprises

Featuring the exact same characters as the heart of a team runs the risk of becoming tedious though (just look at Justice League during the New 52). There has to be some surprise inclusions, like Justice and Firestar during the classic Kurt Busiek run. This team has selected its wildcard members well. That starts with Robbie Reyes, the newest Ghost Rider. Reyes introduction to Marvel Comics added some much needed life (and a real hot hotrod) to the franchise. This young gun is accompanied by the likes of Doctor Strange, a common cameo figure, but not a regular Avengers. She-Hulk’s recent transformation is also bound to mix up her role in the team. Together these three should mix up dynamics and keep the series very interesting.

Marvel Comics’ Biggest Writer

Jason Aaron is the current top dog writer at Marvel Comics. If there were any doubts, the final issue of The Mighty Thor must have put them to rest. Not only does the man have a massive following, but he consistently delivers the most epic stories from the publisher. His interest in Marvel Comics history is only exceeded by how well he reinterprets and expands it. Aaron is a true double-threat capable of fleshing out old stories while building entire new mythologies. That’s exactly what Avengers needs at the moment in order to craft a spin on the take that is both iconic and current. We have no doubt that Aaron can deliver.

Accompanied By A Top Artist

It doesn’t matter how good a script may be, if there’s not an artist capable of executing it. Fans should have no fears in this matter as Ed McGuinness prepares to interpret the Marvel universe through his unique eyes. He brings one of the most energetic styles in superhero comics to the table, interpreting conversations with as much lightning as an actual battle with Mjolnir. McGuinness capably produces the most memorable versions of characters drawn for more than 50 decades, and ought to provide some classic moments early in the series. There’s a reason that McGuinness has remained a big name in comics and that’s because he always delivers.

An Enormous Threat From The Past

Earth’s mightiest heroes require a villain worthy of that moniker and the first big bad in Avengers is one of the biggest they will have ever encountered. As established in Marvel Legacy #1 last year, a 2000-foot tall Celestial corpse lies beneath Earth’s crust and more are coming for revenge. These classic Jack Kirby creations have more power in their thumbs than most superheroes dare to dream of. In order to combat just one of these behemoth, god-like creatures, the Avengers will need their best people and a lot of luck. It’s an antagonist guaranteed to make for explosive battles and big stakes.

Fought By The Very First Avengers

The other half of the equation from Marvel Legacy #1 are the ancient heroes who killed the first Celestial to threaten Earth, the very first Avengers. These characters include known quantities like Thor and the Phoenix Force, as well as prehistoric iterations of Black Panther, Iron Fist, and Ghost Rider. They haven’t been seen since their introduction, but Avengers #1 will dig deeper into their fossilized narrative, one that should inspire heroism across the ages.

A Great Starting Point For New Fans

This issues doesn’t just have a “#1” on its cover, it embodies the true spirit of a first issue. Everything from the familiar heroes to the introduction of the team is designed to help bring new readers aboard the Avengers train. Even fans of Avengers: Infinity War ought to be able to pick up this issue and find everything they need in order to keep reading. It is an issue that could not have come at a better time, and will provide a great starting point for comics readers to hook their friends and family.

And Lots To Love For Old Fans

That shouldn’t discourage die-hard Marvel Comics fans though. This is still a series steeped in the history of the Marvel universe and its many heroes. A great starting point doesn’t reflect a clean slate as reflected by the ancient Avengers also featured in the first issue. Avengers #1 offers the current versions of Marvel’s greatest heroes together, providing long-time readers a chance to see Captain America again each month, while also seeing how Robbie Reyes has fared without a series. Avengers #1 really is a #1 issues with something for everyone.

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