Marvel Rising #1 (of 5) — Writer: Nilah Magruder; Art: Roberto Di Salvo; Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Spider-Man: Far From Home Prelude #1 (of 2) — Writer: Will Corona Pilgrim; Art: Luca Maresca; Colors: Lee Loughridge
Amazing Spider-Man #18 (Legacy #819) — Writer: Nick Spencer; Pencils: Humberto Ramos; Inks: Victor Olazaba; Colors: Edgar Delgado and Erick Arciniega
Incredible Hulk #181 Facsimile Edition is an exact reprint of that seminal first full appearance of Wolverine, down to the ads and the letters pages (with their infamous, and sometimes missing, Marvel Value Stamp… hey, I wonder if any crooks will try to cut it out of this version and paste it into the missing hole in some of those lower-price original copies? Much better paper stock in the reprint ought to give it away, though….) — except for a few changes in the first-page indicia, and that the cover price, instead of the original 25 cents, now reads “$3.99.” Worth it if you don’t already have a copy, just for its importance to Marvel comics history — and to see which aspects of the ol’ Canucklehead were there from the beginning (it wasn’t until the Claremont/Byrne X-Men days that they decided those claws were actually part of him). Marvel Rising is a second mini-series starring a bunch of Marvel’s teen-and-younger-reader stars, especially Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl (Captain Marvel and Ms. America, featured in the cover, aren’t in the story…yet, but the Miles Morales Spider-Man, whose own star with that audience is rising rapidly thanks to the animated film, is). Besides the regular superhero shenanigans (with the villain a returned Morgan Le Fay, although I swear for the first two pages I thought she was Kid Loki…), there’s a tour of Empire State University, where Squirrel Girl gives the younger high-school-age heroes an idea of the wide range of college majors they can take — just the kind of thing that will endear this comic to educators; it’s not too preachy, and it’s bright, colorful and fast-paced enough to attract its audience effectively. Spider-Man: Far From Home Prelude is the first of a two-parter that leads into the new live-action Spidey movie coming this July; it’s got the Marvel Cinematic Universe Peter Parker (we can say that now that Disney’s bought out Fox!), still in high school and being mentored (and kept on a short leash) by Tony Stark and Happy Hogan, and like Marvel Rising its learning-the-ropes plot and teen characters should endear it to younger readers. Over in the regular Amazing Spider-Man, the new “Hunted” arc, featuring bad-guy Kraven the Hunter partnered with the high-tech, Murderworld-operating Arcade, is starting in earnest, with dozens of animal-themed bad guys (most of Spidey’s Rogues Gallery, when you think about it: vultures, rhinos, lizards, black cats, tarantulas, etc.) being tracked down in a deadly (and, for the two villains, lucrative) safari game; watching Humberto Ramos draw all those characters and action is most of the fun. Superior Spider-Man is set on the opposite coast, in San Francisco, where a trying-to-reform and disguised Otto Octavius is based; this episode deals with the aftermath of last issue’s Terrax attack, with Otto’s conscience, Anna Marie, trying to teach him about that great power/great responsibility stuff by having him help with the search for survivors; having Christos Gage as writer means deep dives into San Fran-based Marvel continuity, including characters like the Night Shift and a last-page menace that should make older West Coast Avengers fans happy.
Daredevil #3 (Legacy #615) — Writer: Chip Zdarsky; Art: Marco Checchetto; Colors: Sunny Gho
Doctor Strange #12 (Legacy #402) — Writer: Mark Waid; Art: Barry Kitson; Finishes: Scott Koblish; Colors: Brian Reber
Mr. and Mrs. X #9 — Writer: Kelly Thompson; Art: Oscar Bazuldua; Colors: Frank D’Armata
Part of the fun of the weekly Avengers: No Road Home story, which reaches the 70% mark with this issue, has been that, with Al Ewing one of the writer triumvirate, it’s like a second Immortal Hulk book; while there are only a few pages of the Green Goliath this episode, there’s a lot of Scarlet Witch teaming with Conan, and more of the team ends up in the Hyborean Age to battle the universe-conquering Nyx: it’s the kind of old-fashioned superhero slugfest that most fans should like, and its weekly status means that the whole tale is still easily available, and will be over in another three weeks instead of three months. Daredevil has that hero in his regular stomping grounds, NYC, chased by the cops for what’s either a frame-up or his miscalculation that led to the death of a perp; part of the quality of Chip Zdarsky’s script is that we really don’t know which. Add in a new tough-as-nails policeman with no sympathy for costumed heroes, and, as the cover up to the left there shows, you’ve got a captured-by-the-authorities plot, and those are always fun, especially with one of those last-page reveals of yet another character to add to the mix. Doctor Strange has the doctor approached by an alien sorcerer for help because Galactus is eating his planet (the alien figures the reason Galactus has never eaten the Earth is because of Doc’s magic, and wants to know what spells he used); this leads to a typically-smart Mark Waid script, and a wrinkle for the planet-devourer that we haven’t seen before. If you’re wondering what happened to the “good” Galactus who came out of the Al Ewing Ultimates comics of a few years ago… well, me too, especially considering that he’s also on-planet this month in the seemingly-unrelated Fantastic Four #8, and writer Dan Slott uses the “old” version of him there, too; he’s also using the old Victor Von Doom, megalomaniacal and with the FF in death traps, and while it’s a good story, it’s one we’ve seen dozens of times before. Here’s hoping that some of this will turn out to be a feint, and that it isn’t really just the same old plot and character arcs as always. Over in Mr. and Mrs. X, Rogue takes a psychological dive into her past memories, searching for a way to control her powers; that leads to a great-looking Terry Dodson cover, with all of her different incarnations over the years in one glorious pin-up, while writer Kelly Thompson uses the plot to, not just rehash Rogue’s history, but turn it into a rising-and-advancing theme and leave her in a better place: that forward momentum makes this a better read than the same-old/same-old tales in so many other corporate comics.
The Avant-Guards #3 — Writer: Carly Usdin; Art: Noah Hayes; Colors: Rebecca Nalty
Femme Magnifique #1 (of 1) — Creators: Various
Man-Eaters #7 — Writer: Chelsea Cain; Art: Kate Niemczyk; Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
It’s fortunate, or fate, that Kelly Thompson’s also writing the new Sabrina; not many can triangulate between ’60s Dan Decarlo innocence and ’10s Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Lovecraftian horror, but she and Veronica Fish nail just the smart-teen crowd they’re aiming for, the ones who would have been into Buffy the Vampire Slayer twenty years ago. The Avant-Guards is for the same readers, but minus the supernatural aspects (mostly…); it’s about theater-arts college girls who form a basketball team, and avoids most sports-movie cliches (it’s like an anti-Hoosiers) but still has engaging characters, and a wordless grace to the on-court scenes: you wouldn’t be surprised if artist Noah Hayes grew up on Japanese sports manga and absorbed some of its smooth composition style. Femme Magnifique says on its cover it’s about “10 magnificent women who changed the world,” which means ten different creative teams write about a woman who’s inspired them; it’s curated and edited by Shelly Bond (the other much-respected former Vertigo editor, the one not named Karen Berger), so it’s an all-star lineup with picks ranging from the artistic (Gail Simone and Marguerite Sauvage give tribute to Kate Bush; Chynna Clugston Flores names Rumiko Takahashi (Lum/Urusei Yatsura); Casey Gilly and Jen Hickman cover Disney artist Mary Blair) to the scientific (Sally Ride by Cecil Castellucci and Philip Bond; NASA programming pioneer Margaret Hamilton by Alisa Kwitney and Jamie Coe; oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Marie Wicks) to the political (Hillary Clinton, but it’s wordless, and by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Else Charretier, and I promise you it’s not stupid…) to the purely heroic (Harriet Tubman, by Chuck Brown and Sanford Greene). Man-Eaters is ostensibly about a virus that causes some girls reaching puberty to turn into murderous were-panthers, but is actually a social satire about how patriarchal societies are afraid of menstruation: a promising mashup of Curse of the Cat People and The Handmaid’s Tale, although this issue looks like it’s downplaying the horror parts, and doubling down on the revolutionary ones — bad news if you’re a horror fan, but good if you’re a feminist one.
Cinema Purgatorio #17 — Creators: Various
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 #5 (of 5) — Story: Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson; Art: Mike Norton with Michael Avon Oeming and Yishan Li; Colors: Dave Stewart
Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #6 (of 7) — Writer: Gerard Way; Art: Gabriel Ba; Colors: Nate Piekos
The penultimate League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is out, featuring an apocalyptic and probably world-ending invasion from the fairie world; no need for me to describe it further, since you’ve either been reading Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s pulp pop-literature mashup for the last twenty years, and will get it anyway, or you haven’t — and, if you haven’t, beginning a two-decade work with the next-to-last issue isn’t the best move. For a taste of their work, go to the new Cinema Purgatorio instead, and read their thinly-fictionalized treatment of Howard Hughes; then, check out the serial installments from writers like Garth Ennis, Max Brooks, Kieron Gillen and Christos Gage, and the cool black-and-white art from Raulo Caceres, Gabriel Andrade, and Nahuel Lopez, and see why this is still the best anthology on the stands. The Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 mini-series ends this week, too, leaving only the final issue of the main book to complete yet another decades-long comic (although there’s no reason they couldn’t publish more past-set tales); as with LOEG, you’re either reading this or you’re not, and need no guidance from me about it. Rick and Morty is by its regular creative team, which means it’s yet another stand-alone story that, while not quite as head-exploding as the TV series, will at least tide you over until the fourth season begins… later this year? Umbrella Academy, yet another multimedia tie-in now that it’s got its own Netflix show, offers the next-to-last episode of its own current mini-series, Hotel Oblivion; Gerard Way’s existential/dada script is sometimes confusing in the individual issues, but always manages to dial up the action, and the stakes, by the end, and to stick the landing, and Gabriel Ba’s wonderful, precise art, so delicately balanced between realistic and cartoony, makes it work every time.
Dial H for Hero #1 — Writer: Sam Humphries; Art/Colors: Joe Quinones
Martian Manhunter #4 (of 12) — Writer: Steve Orlando; Art: Riley Rossmo; Colors: Ivan Plascencia
Action Comics #1009 — Writer: Brian Michael Bendis; Art: Steve Epting; Colors: Brad Anderson
Heroes in Crisis #7 (of 9) — Writer: Tom King; Art: Clay Mann, Travis Moore and Jorge Fornes; Colors: Tomeu Morey
Detective Comics #1000 is, of course, an anniversary issue, and a good one: for your $10, you get ten stories across 96 pages (with no ads), and the list of creators should be all you need to convince you to buy it: “Batman’s Longest Case,” by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion; “Manufacture For Use,” about the gun that killed Bruce Wayne’s parents, by Kevin Smith, Jim Lee and Scott Williams; “The Legend of Knute Brody,” about a seemingly incompetent henchman, by Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs; “The Batman’s Design,” by Warren Ellis and Becky Cloonan; “Return to Crime Alley,” by Denny O’Neil and Steve Epting; “Heretic,” by Christopher Priest and Neal Adams; “I Know,” about the Penguin discovering Batman’s ID, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev; “The Last Crime in Gotham,” by Geoff Johns and Kelley Jones; “The Precedent,” by James Tynion IV, Alvaro Marttinez-Bueno and Raul Fernandez; “Batman’s Greatest Case,” by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel and Joelle Jones; and the introduction of a new adversary (and a lead-in to Detective #1001) by Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza: many of those creators have made significant contributions to the Dark Knight’s career. Dial H for Hero, under DC’s “Wonder Comics” imprint, is a revival of that build-your-own-super-character property; it’s not a reboot, and it gets points for acknowledging all the previous versions and retaining tight continuity to the DC universe. It does seem to be hitting the whimsy button a little hard (the orphan kid who finds the dial works at his uncle’s food truck, “Mayo Madness,” where everything, from the fries to the drinks to the soup, is made from, you guessed it, mayonnaise), but the idea of being able to randomly dial up hundreds of different super-characters, along with the rookie-learning-about-his-powers bits, should give it some traction with readers. Martian Manhunter has been toggling between J’onn J’onzz’s past on the Red Planet, and his current earth-detective role; the best part continues to be artist Riley Rossmo, whose sleek plastic style is perfect for a shape-changer, while writer Steve Orlando’s imagination is just weird enough to give him plenty of interesting things to draw. Action Comics continues Brian Michael Bendis’s “Leviathan Rising” serial, wherein that secretive, world-dominating organization has blown up most of its rivals — KOBRA, A.R.G.U.S., the D.E.O., and Task Force X, among others — leading to Amanda Waller, who of course knows that Clark Kent is Superman (because she knows everything…) talking to Clark and Lois in the Fortress of Solitude; if you like super-spy/James Bond thrillers, then you should be happy about this one. Heroes in Crisis continues that traumatized/dead super-people mini-series, with an unlikely quartet (Booster Gold, the Ted Kord Blue Beetle (no, I don’t remember when he stopped being dead either, but he and Booster are best bros again), Batgirl and Harley Quinn) trying to solve the mystery when they aren’t trying to kill one another; there’s a time-traveling Wally West, too, but with two issues left we’re in who-knows-what’s-happening territory, so we’ll just have to wait two more months to see — it’s been a good mixture of pitch-dark humor and drama, but whether the finale works, and all the clues link up and play fair, will go a long way in deciding whether it’s been successful. Hex Wives, the Vertigo series combining The Stepford Wives with witchcraft and an ancient occult rivalry, reaches its conclusion in fine form, behind a Jenny Frison Bewitched knock-off cover (the second good-looking broomstick-flying one this week, after Sabrina); there’s a feel-good finale (at least for the females…), a set-up for a sequel, and Mirka Andolfo’s clean, appealing art, sexy without being sexist, that’s been working so well for her over in her own comic, Unnatural: all reasons to read the whole thing, in its individual installments or in the inevitable trade collection.