Continuing my efforts to at least take note of at least 2013 comic books I have read in the course of the year, under the assumption that I’d read this amount anyway. This is made easier by the cinematic storytelling style that has become more prevalent in the 21st Century, which ensures that quite a few issues can be read in the space of 3-5 minutes.
Thor: The Mighty Avenger #1-8: Chris Samnee and Roger Lagbridge’s much missed and unfortunately truncated Thor: Year One project is just fun, featuring the thunder god’s first encounters with Marvel superheroes, framed by his blooming romance with Jane Foster. Unfortunately, the series came to an end without a resolution to the central storyline of Thor’s expulsion from Asgard.
Lone Wolf and Cub Volumes 10-11: This was the first extended arc of the series as Ogami and his toddler son Daigaro are separated following a fight with the Yagyu. The series loses something without their interactions.
Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 12: Possibly the weakest volume so far. At this point, the title’s running on autopilot. Ogami’s tendency for last-minute editorializing is especially problematic. It’s like if Stan Lee wrote a hyperviolent manga, and it starts getting tiring here.
Lone Wolf and Cub Volumes 13-16: Things get interesting with the introduction of new enemies: two of Yagyu’s children, as well as more revelations about the Grass, the mercenaries in his employ who take their duties very seriously. A two-parter in Volume 15 “Brothers of the Grass” and “Five Wheels of the Yagyu” is probably my favorite of the series, as a sympathetic villain is forced to commit horrific deeds in pursuit of Lone Wolf.
These volumes of Lone Wolf & Cub covers tales 50-82, so I’m going to count that as the equivalent of 33 comics.
Thunderbolts #110-121: It was a great concept for Ellis and Deodato, as the Thunderbolts got the New Avengers treatment, becoming one of the most dysfunctional superteams in Marvel history. This was when Norman Osborn became an effective villain outside of the Spider-Man comics.
Daredevil End of Days #1-5: Daredevil gets the Citizen Kane treatment. It’s a bit padded, but it’s often quite powerful.
Hellspawn #1-10: The ideal audience for this spinoff seems to be adults who read Spawn when they were younger, with a slight understanding of the characters and a more mature appreciation for horror. The transition from Bendis to Niles as writers goes pretty smoothly, although Bendis had the better villain. Niles’s Cygor arc shows how out of place a cyborg gorilla is in a book about demons, but Bendis’s Clown was chilling. Ashley Wood’s art isn’t for anyone, but it certainly fits this project.
Captain America #124-136: Weird stuff with a mopey Captain America in that period when Marvel decided that almost every story should be self-contained, an ill-advised decision considering how many of the best Silver Age Marvel stories were spread out over the course of several issues. The strongest chapters involve a plot by MODOK and Cap’s burgeoning partnership with Falcon. But otherwise it’s not Stan Lee’s best stuff.
Secret Origins #1: Solid take on something we’ve seen many times before: the first days of Superman. The 30s setting and Krypton where everyone has powers is slightly different.
Detective Comics #397: It’s O’Neal and Adams so the art is gorgeous.
Villains United #1-6: Simone’s mini-series functions as both a pilot to a team book and a set-up to an excellent event book. Entertaining run about messed up villains forced to work as a team.
Secret Six (mini-series) #1-6: There’s more of a direction for the series, as it becomes a book about a group of oddballs. Simone just became my top choice for a Doom Patrol title.
New X-Men #114-154, Annual 2001: I haven’t read Morrison’s New X-Men run in a few years, and it still holds up pretty damn well. This is what mutants would be like in the early 21st Century, with mutant designers and twisted villains trying to graft mutant appendages to themselves. Morrison’s ability to provide a kickass twists is often underrated. He has a fantastic sense of character, and is able to focus on a small X-team, as well as a few new additions within a massive universe consisting of the school and a dozen or so spinoff titles. The art’s inconsistent, and some major plot points are mentioned in passing, but as an X-Men run, it’s second only to Claremont/ Byrne.
Avengers (Marvel Now) #1-6/ New Avengers #1-3: The opening was similar to the beginning of Hickman’s Fantastic Four run, with a satisfying enough story which promises greater rewards when an years-long arc comes to an end. The character spotlights work, although the stakes are higher and more interesting in New Avengers.
All-New X-Men #1-7/ Uncanny X-Men #1-2: Strong opening for Bendis taking over the X-Men. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that enough happens in an issue to justify the four dollar price tag, but he depicts the post Avengers VS X-Men world rather well, as well as the reactions from the Silver Age X-Men.
Uncanny Avengers #1-4: Great concept, and art by Cassady. The overall story isn’t all that satisfying, but there are some really cool moments, especially that first issue cliffhanger.
Fantastic Four #1-4/ FF#1-4: The concept of the Fantastic Four exploring unknown universes to find a cure themselves is promising, but the threats just aren’t that impressive. FF is better with Mike Allred’s quirky art (not quite as impressive as his X-Force), a weirder group of heroes and a visitor from the future.
Thor God of Thunder #1-5: I love the concept of following the adventures of Young Thor before he was humbled, current Thor and Future Thor. The godkiller is a great new foe, Essac Ribics remains a perfect fit for the series, and Jason Aaron provides a new take on a series that’s been around for decades.
Captain America (Marvel Now!) #1-4: Cap stuck in another dimension VS Kirby monsters. A slight weakness is John Romita Jr’s difficulty drawing children, which matters in flashbacks to Steve Rogers’s childhood. Still a fun title.
Captain America Volume 6 #19: Spends a lot of time recapping stuff we’re already familiar with, but a satisfying coda to Brubaker’s run, as Rogers deals with his incredible responsibility.
Civil War: The Confession/ New Avengers: The Illuminati #1-5: In “The Confession” Bendis applies his skills, and a fondness for Pinter, at epilogues to Marvel’s biggest EVENT since Secret Wars. With The Illuminati, he deals with the aftermath of other Marvel events, provides new wrinkles to the Marvel U and sets up Secret Invasion, with great art by Jim Cheung.
New Avengers #26-39/ Annual 2: My brain may explode reconciling the stuff the Avengers go through in a fairly short span with the other Marvel events going on at the same time (World War Hulk, One More Day). The Hood’s army is pretty effective, and the paranoia after a big reveal in New Avengers 31 shakes up the series well.
New Avengers #40-47/ Mighty Avengers #12-20/ Secret Invasion #1-8: It’s an interesting format to the series, as Bendis writes the main event and sticks mostly to prologues , filling in the blanks from earlier New Avengers arcs, and raising the stakes. Yeah, the side stories are often better than the main event.
Secret Invasion Tie-Ins: Thunderbolts #122-125. Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1-3. Frontline: Secret Invasion #1-4. Secret Invasion: Spider-Man #1-3. Secret Invasion: Thor #1-3. I don’t have the fifth issue of the Frontline mini, and have no interest in reading it, so I wasn’t particularly impressed by that one. Thor was pretty damn good, with an excellent team-up between the Thunder God and Beta Ray Bill, as well as high stakes for Asgard and for Earth.
New Avengers #48-54/ Dark Avengers #1-6: Because there was a brief moment when Bendis and Deodato made a book headlined by Norman Osborn into Marvel’s best-selling title. The Dark Avengers was a promotion for Ellis’s Thunderbolts, with the interactions between the team, as well as the way Norman Osborn manipulates the media and the public much more interesting than the A-plot. The same is true of how the New Avengers dealt with Osborn’s rise to power.
Thor #124-136: The third-best selling Marvel title of the 60s, and it’s not hard to see why. This was the other stuff Lee/ Kirby were working on during their Galactus trilogy/ This Man This Monster heights of The Fantastic Four. Likely the highlights of their run with the Hercules saga, and introductions of Ego the Living Planet and the High Evolutionary.
Count So Far: 496 Issues. Though there were also some Spider-Man comics that I’ll cover in a later entry.
Best Comic Book I Read All Month: Probably the first thirteen issues of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. Although it’s likely that Brothers of the Grass/ Five Wheels of the Yagyu will be on my Top 100, as well as the Thor VS Hercules saga.