Marvel has been cancelling a bunch of their second printings over the past few weeks. Up until now, the easiest thing to infer from this was that the shine has come off of their “All-New, All-Different Marvel NOW!” initiative. Now it’s being reported that several series will be getting new printings in a different manner than what we’ve seen before. “Timely Comics” is what Marvel was before it was “Marvel” and it’s the name of the publisher’s new initiative: Reprinting the first three issues of “All-New, All-Different” series in single editions for $3. It’s a loss-leader tactic, trying to get people to start reading the ongoing titles from the fourth issue or get a sneak peek at a trade paperback for a negligible price. Maybe it’ll be a surprising success for the company. Then again, it could also create a new class of reader who knows that these cheap editions are coming and skips out on buying them in favor of these “Timely Editions.”
As a trade-waiter myself, this just sounds dumb. The whole reason I like reading collected editions is to get a nice complete chunk of comics instead of having it drip-fed to me on a monthly basis. Selling me three-fifths, or half of a trade even for $3 feels like a ripoff as I likely won’t be getting a complete story with those issues either. Better to just put that $3 towards paying for the actual collection.
Captain America: Steve Rogers #1: Marvel is in a very difficult position with Sam Wilson as Captain America right now. Even if putting an African-American character into the role has been applauded as a bold progressive move and resulted in some (reportedly) good stories, these things haven’t resulted in good sales. Nick Spencer’s run is now trending below the last of the six issues Rick Remender did with Wilson before he left. So they’re bringing back Steve Rogers as Cap, with Spencer writing this title as well. He’s not being billed as the One True Cap, but both characters are now “Captain America.” It’s a move that smacks of flop sweat and doesn’t really speak well to Marvel and their commitment to Sam Wilson as Cap. God forbid that they actually try and find some way to boost sales on that title. Except that we all know that they don’t know how to do that anymore except through relaunches and variant covers.
The Punisher #1: Frank Castle is back again, this time with two artists that I really like. Except that one of them, Becky Cloonan, is just writing this series. Though I really liked the first volume of “Gotham Academy,” that was co-written with Brenden Fletcher, and I was ambivalent about the Image title she wrote, the weird sci-fi series “Southern Cross.” It had some interesting characters and worldbuilding, yet was hamstrung by a narrative which felt like it went out of its way to accommodate the protagonist and her investigation. For the story here, two narrative threads are advertised: The Punisher dealing with the fallout from a drug bust gone wrong and a DEA agent trying to get into the vigilante’s head. Familiar stuff, but it could work if the execution is done right.
Working in this book’s favor is the other artist, the one who will actually be illustrating it. That would be none other than Steve Dillon. His perma-scowl Frank Castle is one of the defining looks of the character, and he has proved to be equally adept at rendering the character’s adventures through the glorious black comedy of Garth Ennis’ Marvel Knights run, and Jason Aaron’s MAX stories. Even if it takes Coonan an issue or two to find her footing, seeing Dillon draw the character again will likely be enough to keep me entertained while that happens.
The Astonishing Ant-Man #8: Going back to Spencer for a second, I haven’t gotten around to checking out his work on this title yet because… well, reasons. However, the solicitation text for this issue references his best work at Marvel. Prepare yourself for “The Superior Foes of Ant-Man!” To be honest, I didn’t know that Scott Lang had enough foes for this to actually be a thing. If they’re not more craven and pathetic than Spider-Man’s then I will officially be surprised.
Deadpool: Masacre #1: A few months back, Marvel put out “Deadpool: Tres Punto Uno” a one-shot from the writers of the Merc With a Mouth’s regular series. It featured the Deadpool of Mexico and as the solicitation text here indicates, was told entirely in Spanish. A pet hate of mine in comics is when writers have characters speak in a foreign language without giving any indication of what the meaning of the words are. It comes across as smart-assedness with the writers showing off their knowledge of a foreign language in a way that doesn’t benefit the story. Well, this new edition is supposed to fix that by offering up “POORLY TRANSLATED ENGLISH” by way of the internet, just in time for the “Fifth of May.” Good one, guys. I certainly hope that joke isn’t better than anything this issue has to offer.
Scarlet #’s 8-9: HOLY SHIT! DO MY EYES DECEIVE ME!? Are these TWO issues of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s long, long, LONG-delayed creator-owned series being offered up in these solicitations? You’d think that they were hurrying to get them out before the next volume is scheduled to arrive, but that would be crazy talk. If the gap between issues has shown us anything, it’s that these creators don’t give a flying fuck about timeliness, punctuality, or realistic shipping schedules. Saying that two issues of “Scarlet” will be out in May is probably just a magnificent trolling move on their parts. However, if these two issues do come out as scheduled, then I think Bendis and Maleev are going to be in for a rude awakening regarding how long their audience was willing to wait for them to continue this series once the sales numbers come in.
Brian Michael Bendis: Crime Noir Omnibus HC: On one hand, this represents some of the writer’s earliest and best work, and a showcase for his not-too-shabby artistic skills. On the other, while it collects “AKA Goldfish,” “Fire,” and “Torso” in their entireties, only the first five issues of “Jinx” are here. That’s particularly disappointing since, even if you’re not left on a cliffhanger, it’s the best thing I’ve read from him. This may seem like an appealing package, but this one oversight leads me to say that anyone interested in this would be better served by buying all of the series mentioned here individually.