Forget about what to look forward to from Marvel next year. Here’s what they should do: Run their events in serial not parallel order. Right now we’re in the thrall of “Civil War II,” “The Clone Conspiracy,” and “Inhumans vs. X-Men” each with their own assorted tie-ins throughout their respective lines. Forget about the usual question regarding how fans are supposed to dig deep enough into their wallets to read all of these. How is the company expecting to generate enough attention for these events when they’re competing against each other? That’s likely why we’re seeing diminishing returns for these things, especially in the tie-in issues. Don’t expect to see this problem sorted out right away as the first few months of 2017 sees another event, “Monsters Unleashed,” kick off as the “Clone Conspiracy” and “IvX” are wrapping up. Marvel does have another event in the offing, a “classified” one that’s so secret they can’t even release information regarding the trade paperback solicited here. We’ll only have to wait a few months to not only find out what it is, but if it’ll be the only event in town for its duration.
In movie-related news, writer of the original “Civil War” series called the “Captain America” film of the same name bleak and forgettable after its first twenty minutes. Mind you, this is coming from the man who has sold a lot of comics that trade on cynicism and wrote the one in question which effectively spearheaded the current trend of heroes fighting heroes in comics. I didn’t need another reason to not keep reading his comics, but I’ll take it anyway.
America #1: America Chavez finally gets her long-demanded ongoing series from young adult author Gaby Rivera and artist Joe Quinones. Does this mean Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta’s ersatz “America” series is now D.O.A.? I certainly hope so, since it means I won’t have to lose any sleep about whether or not Dragotta will be able to juggle two ongoing series between that and “East of West.” As for this series? Al Ewing finally made Ms. Chavez interesting to me in the pages of “Ultimates” which I’ll continue to read. However the phrase “young adult author Gaby Rivera” does nothing for me. So this is likely only going to wind up on my “to read” list if solid word-of-mouth propels it there.
Man-Thing #1 (of 5): As the solicitation text notes, the big deal here is that “Goosebumps” author R.L. Stine will be writing this new miniseries. It will involve Man-Thing regaining his ability to speak and subsequently taking Hollywood by storm. But wouldn’t you know it, there’s an ancient threat facing his ancestral swamp home. Now he’ll have to choose between his new life and old one. Maybe there’s more to it, but the solicitation text here makes the story sound painfully generic. Not having read any “Goosebumps” as a kid (by the time they became a thing, I was reading Stephen King) having Stine as a writer provides no additional appeal for me either.
X-Men Prime #1/Inhumans Prime #1: The starting point for both lines in the wake of “IvX.” Spelled out by incoming writers Marc Guggenheim and Al Ewing, respectively. Obviously I’ll be picking up whatever “X-Men” collection their “Prime” issue is collected in. Most likely the first one for the “X-Men: Gold” series he’s writing. Here’s where I’d follow with a sentence professing my general indifference to the “Inhumans” in spite of Marvel’s efforts to get me to care about them. Except that Al Ewing pulled off the impossible in successfully following up Kieron Gillen’s work with the character in “Loki: Agent of Asgard” and getting me to care about Ms. America (see above). Can he do the same for the “Inhumans?” I might actually give him a shot at that.
Deadpool #28, Spider-Man/Deadpool #15, Deadpool and the Mercs for Money #9: Kicking off the nine-part “‘Til Death do us…” crossover. As the title implies, all is not well in the marriage between the Merc With a Mouth and Shiklah, Queen of Monster Metropolis. When Shiklah’s people are attacked, she declares war against the surface world. As her husband, Deadpool is naturally expected to take up arms with her. Even if it means going against all of the other heroes on the surface. Ten will get you twenty that this ends with either Shiklah dead, a divorce between her and Deadpool, or both. While I consider the story in which she met Deadpool to be the high point of the Duggan/Posehn run, the idea of a married Deadpool has never seemed like a permanent development for the character. Their separation, however, looks to be a big enough deal for a nine-issue crossover. Also, I’m still incredibly wary about giving the current Duggan “Deadpool” series another shot after how badly he screwed things up with its first volume.
Monsters Unleashed Monster-Size HC: $50 for a 168-page B-level crossover? Even if it features art from Adam Kubert, Greg Land, Steve McNiven, Lenil Yu, and Salvador Larroca that’s way too goddamn much. I realize that $50 is the going cover price for hardcover editions of Marvel crossovers these days, but unless this turns out to be transcendently good I think I’ll wait for the paperback edition (after I can find it on sale). Maybe Marvel will come to its senses and lower the price before this actually comes out, because at the other end of the spectrum…
Amazing Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy HC: This is $60, but for 496 pages collecting the next major storyline in Dan Slott’s epic run on “Amazing Spider-Man.” Aside from the main miniseries, it collects the tie-in issues from “Amazing,” as well as the “Omega” finale issue, and the tie-ins from “Silk” and “Prowler.” My only hope is that the issues will be put in proper reading order, the same way they were for “Infinity.” The “Spider-Verse” collection came with a “recommended reading order” list for the issues collected within. It was a nice thought, but one that still came off as incredibly lazy on Marvel’s part.
Black Widow vol. 2: No More Secrets: The solicitation for issue #12, also solicited here, sounds pretty final. Regrettably, the sales for this series from Mark Waid and Chris Samnee would seem to indicate that this latest volume of “Black Widow” is headed for a twelve-issue run. Which is too bad considering that the first volume was pretty good. If the rumors of this title’s demise are to be expected, then prepare to see this run collected in a one-volume edition down the road. I have a hunch it’ll wind up being good enough to warrant such treatment.
Captain America: Sam Wilson vol. 4 — #TAKEBACKTHESHIELD: This collection of issues #14-17 looks to continue the ongoing plot threads of Nick Spencer’s run, featuring Flag-Smasher, Steve “Hydra Cap” Rogers, D-Man, the All-New Falcon, and Rage. Misty Knight also gets her own spotlight issue here too. That said, as a four-issue collection from Marvel, you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that they’ve included a “classic” issue to pad out this volume’s page count. This time, they’re really stretching the definition of that word as this volume collects the beyond-ridiculous issue where Cap fights President Reagan who has been turned into a snake-creature by the Serpent Society. Naturally Cap is hesitant about taking on the leader of the free world, so he winds up just grappling Reagan long enough to sweat the Society’s poison out and return to human. Not a crazy good time, just dumb. I hope its inclusion here isn’t indicative of any related plot points in this volume…