I’ve gotten way behind with my comics reading recently. In fact I haven’t read any single issues at all since before Christmas. I think it’s good to take a break every now and then, a bit of distance helps to renew my interest in titles I’ve been reading for years. It also makes me realise which books I really love and which one’s I’m just reading out of habit. So I’ve taken a bit of a break and now I’m getting caught up starting with Marvel Comics.
I read most of my comics digitally via Comixology. Digital comics are my preferred format for single issues, the only books I still get physically are indy comics. Unfortunately Marvel still seems to be getting their digital line in order. I would really like to be reading the Avengers books but Marvel don’t seem to have caught these books up to the current release schedule. Looking up Avengers Volume 4 in the Comixology app I see that they currently have issues 1-6, 12.1 and annual # 1 which seems to be a very random way of releasing the series. I hope they get this sorted out before the Avengers vs X-Men event starts in April. I’d also love to be reading Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Greg Rucka’s Punisher as i’ve heard nothing but good things about those series. However only issue 8 of Daredevil is currently available digitally and Punisher isn’t available at all. I’ll just have to pick up the trades I suppose.
Another problem with reading Marvel comics digitally is the price. Most seem to be priced at £2.49 with only a few at £1.99. That’s significantly higher than the price other publishers offer their comics for. As I said before taking a break gives me the opportunity to re-evaluate what I’m reading. Avenging Spider-man and The Incredible Hulk are two books I was enjoying before but I don’t think they were wowing me so I’ve decided not to get caught up with those. Given a lower price point I probably would have given them a bit more time.
Another book I’m going to be dropping is The Defenders. I read the first issue when it first came out and I didn’t particularly enjoy it. I gave it another go though reading the first two issues this time. When I first read issue one I thought Matt Fraction tried to fit too much into one comic. People are often complaining about decompressed comics longing for the days when we’d get large stories told very quickly. I like the pacing of modern comics though I think that giving stories room to breathe is a real benefit. The Defenders is a really fast paced comic with a story told from multiple view points. It moves at such a breakneck pace that I found it hard to get a handle on the story. I thought that giving it another issue would make things a bit clearer but I had the same problems. Given the high price I’m not going to be giving it a third issue.
A new book that recently launched is Winter Soldier and right now it’s my favourite Marvel comic. It’s good to see that Bucky isn’t dead after all, he’s too good a character to waste like that so it’s great to see him get his own ongoing. The book is similar in tone to Ed Brubaker’s Captain America but just a little bit darker, telling more of a spy story than a superhero tale. The best thing about this book is Butch Guice’s artwork. He seem’s to have changed his style a little bit with a slightly more photo realistic look. Bettie Breitweiser’s colouring also adds a lot giving the art a slightly washed out look which reminds me of old spy movies.
Since the Schism event the X-Men has quickly become the most interesting part of the Marvel universe. in Wolverine and the X-Men Jason Aaron is writing a very fun book with a large cast of unique characters. Nick Bradshaw does a good job with the art in the second ark but I do miss Chris Bachalo whose crazy and imaginative style is perfect for this book. Over in Uncanny X-Men Kieron Gillen has really hit his stride with the Tabula Rasa arc. It’s also good to have Greg Land back. A lot of people really seem to dislike his style but I’ve always really enjoyed it and X-Men is the perfect book for him. Jason Aaron is going to be wrapping up his Wolverine run soon and with number 300 he certainly seems to be setting up an epic story to go out on. You wouldn’t think that there were any new ways to do Wolverine fighting ninjas but he’s really packing lots of fun and originality into this book. The only downside is that while all of the art is good the shifting styles of different artists can be distracting.
If you like big fight scenes then Avengers: The X-Sanction is probably for you. For me it’s a little bit style over substance though with Cable fighting each member of the Avengers one by one. There’s definitely an audience for this kind of thing but it’s not for me, I prefer a little more subtlety in my storytelling than this.
The Ultimate marvel universe continues to be the strongest it’s been in years. Maybe the strongest it’s ever been. Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man is one of the most consistently good books in comics and even though it didn’t need it the relaunch has given it a new lease of life. It’s great to see Brian Michael Bendis taking the Spider-Man concept in new directions and telling a story that really couldn’t be told in the regular Marvel universe. Ultimate Comics: X-Men is telling a large story with lots of characters and Nick Spencer is balancing it all very well. He’s giving a real sense of danger to the story and is providing lot’s of unexpected twists. It’s got a great cast of characters too. The inclusion of Johnny Storm is a great choice and characters like Jimmy Hudson really make this feel like a different take on the X-Men. Finally Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates is a great book despite it’s silly title. The story is playing out on a very large scale and has a nice sci-fi element to it. Jonathan Hickman is the perfect writer for this kind of story so it’s a shame that he’s going to be moving on soon. It’s hard to imagine a book that will be a better fit for him. Esad Ribic is also the perfect artist for this book. He’s a great world builder and gives every thing a great sci-fi aesthetic. One thing I really like about the Ultimate books is how much crossover there is between them. Events in each book bleed into one another but each book can be read independently which is exactly how it should be.
That’s it for now. I was surprised that I was reading so few Marvel comics but I remember that the Fear Itself event put me off Marvel in general. Hopefully the upcoming AvsX event will renew my interest in the Marvel universe as a whole. I still want to get caught up on Captain America and FF but I’m a bit further behind on those. I have the hardback collections ready to read and I’ll post reviews of those as I read them.