I got a free trial month of Marvel Unlimited between January and February. If you don’t know what that is…it’s basically like Netflix for Marvel comics. They’ve got thousands of back issues, and they upload new comics about six months after they hit the stands. So I went a little Marvel crazy this month, catching up on runs and issues I haven’t been able to find at the library.
Punisher: War Journal – Matt Fraction
Frank Castle, Marvel’s most lovable (?) vigilante killer turns his sights from the mob to Marvel’s array of B-list supervillains in the aftermath of 2006’s Civil War event. He hunts Kraven the Hunter, blows the stilts off Stilt-Man, and even shares a warm holiday moment with the Rhino.
Well, you know, warm for Frank, at least.
Graphic Novel, Character-Driven, Violent, Occasionally Poignant
Wolverine: Logan – Brian K. Vaughan
Wolverine’s not the easiest guy to get to know, and when you do get a glimpse of his past, it’s easy to see why. Brian K. Vaughan (of Saga and Y: The Last Man fame), wrote this three-issue story of Wolverine in Japan, in a storyline that alternates between current day and 1945 Hiroshima.
Graphic novel, World War II, Bloody, Melancholy
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up – Brian Michael Bendis
I’ve read almost everything Bendis has written in the Marvel universe (his runs on Daredevil and Alias are still some of my favorite books in the pantheon), but this series had always eluded me.
Ultimate Spider-Man teams up with other superheroes for a series of one and two-issue stories. It’s a light, popcorn-y book, but it’s entertaining. My favorite moment is when issue 9’s dimenion-hopping Skrull chase turns into a sight-gag-filled romp through Marvel Comics headquarters.
Graphic Novel, Light, Entertaining, Varied Stories
Fantastic Four/FF – Jonathan Hickman
The Marvel world has been shaken up by Hickman’s Secret Wars crossover event, but the seeds were being sown for years before in Avengers, and even earlier in Fantastic Four. This run features parallel Reed Richardses, the ‘death’ of Johnny Storm (as usual, Marvel comics’ heaven has a revolving door), the formation of the Future Foundation, time travelling offspring, and an unusual dynamic between Valeria Richards and ‘Uncle Doom’.
Graphic Novel, Brain-Wrinkling Sci-Fi, Time Travel, Multiple Realities
The Order – Matt Fraction
Another result of the Civil War event was an initiative to have a government sanctioned superteams in all 50 states. California’s team was The Order…although disorder seems to be more readily available. Each issue focuses on a different member or supporting character in the series, while still contributing to a larger story involving politics, PR, and personal differences.
Graphic Novel, Strong Characters, Ensemble Team
Venom – Rick Remender
Venom tends to oscillate between villain and anti-hero, and the dichotomy is never as apparent as in Rick Remender’s 22- (well, technically 26) issue run on the character. In this book, former Peter Parker classmate Flash Thompson (who lost his legs in the Iraq war) dons the Venom symbiote as a governmental secret operative. The symbiote offers him mobility, and superhuman strength, but the beast is always just under the surface, waiting to get out…
Graphic Novel, Dark, Gritty, Violent
Daredevil – Mark Waid
Daredevil’s one of those characters that tends to attract dark storylines, as Miller, Bendis, and Brubaker have all aptly demonstrated. But Mark Waid decided to give the devil his due (sorry, I’m done), and give him…at least temporarily…a more lighthearted approach. He still tangles with the usual menaces, but for the interim, Hell’s Kitchen’s blind vigilante has a decidedly more…devil-may-care attitude (okay, now I’m done).
Alias – Brian Michael Bendis
Jessica Jones isn’t a superhero.
She’s been there, tried that, and decided it’s not for her. Now, she uses her super-strength and flight but frequently, and usually only for her P.I. business. Her cases take her through a grittier version of the Marvel universe than we’re used to seeing (Alias kicked off Marvel’s R-rated MAX imprint), though familiar faces like Captain America, Ant-Man, and Luke Cage appear throughout. A must-read if you watch the Netflix show based around Jessica Jones.
Graphic Novel, Noirish, P.I. Mysteries, F-Bombs
The Immortal Iron Fist – Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction
In case you hadn’t noticed yet, I’ve been on a bit of a Matt Fraction kick. After enjoying his work on Hawkeye, I’ve been reading everything of his I can get my hands on. This book, co-written by Ed Brubaker (Daredevil, Captain America), also features art by Fraction’s eventual Hawkeye inker, David Aja. The book follows Daniel Rand as he uncovers the centuries-old history of the Iron Fist…as well as his own. Traveling to the hidden city of K’un-L’un, he engages in a tournament between the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, while forces within and without conspire to destroy or alter K’un-L’un once and for all.
Graphic Novel, Kung Fu, Mystical, Kung Fu, Olden Times, Did I Mention Kung Fu?