Wednesday, February 15, 2006

May Be Yes, May Be No - UPDATED

My pull list shrinks every month. This disappoints me. :(

* The last arc of Mark Millar's "Ultimate Fantastic Four" promises to pull together all the loose threads that have plagued this series since its inception. I'll tentatively give Millar the benefit of the doubt here, even though it's been ages since he's deserved it.

* "Ultimate Spider-Man" puts two issues out: the first rounds up an Ultimate Deadpool story, the second begins an Ultimate Morbius story. I've pinpointed where this series has gone wrong: it's become nothing more than a vehicle for revamping characters, except that - since the Ultimate line is so isolated and everyone's doing their own thing - nobody really does anything with these new Ultimate figures, least of all Bendis himself. Venom, Hobgoblin, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi and all the other characters recently introduced just show up, do their thing and disappear - but since it doesn't go anywhere, what's the point?

* "Civil War" begins. In addition to the Millar-written central miniseries, this month's tie-ins include "Amazing Spider-Man" #532, "She-Hulk" #8 and "Wolverine" #42. I might as well announce that I plan to ignore this storyline altogether, so aside from the obligatory tally of tie-ins I doubt I'll be discussing it in any way.

* Both "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" and "Spider-Girl" feature Hobgoblin stories. Unfortunately, PAD's series both features that ridiculous red-and-gold costume and claims that "continuity fans better break out their back issues, because both Spidey's past and future will change when an old (and unexpected) foe executes his master plan!" There's a bright idea, pandering to the continuity fans. And then he'll wonder why nobody's buying the book, leading to its inevitable cancellation and a final issue with thinly-veiled metafictional whining. Truly, the wheels on the bus go round and round.

* The sequel to "Last Hero Standing", "Last Planet Standing", launches with two issues. Strange that they waited until the cancellation of "Spider-Girl" was official before publishing what might have created a promotional push, but I suppose the damage is done.

* Ed Brubaker relocates "Captain America" to London, following up on previous storylines (Lukin, the Winter Soldier, Crossbones and Sin, etc.). Obviously, we're going for a "saga"-type story - which affects how it's to be read, I suppose.

* Here's a very odd one: Karl Kesel writes a Fantastic Four one-shot called "Death in the Family", apparently relating to the death of the Invisible Woman. Now ordinarily I'd just dismiss this as some sort of trick storyline where Sue dies and comes back to life and we all learn a valuable lesson about family, etc. Except Straczynski's "Fantastic Four" has no issue for May, and the Aguirre-Sacasa "Four" (formerly known as "Marvel Knights 4") is cancelled. It won't stick, of course, but it does seem that's the direction they're going in.

* "Amazing Fantasy" is not listed for May, and has been confirmed as cancelled.

* "Iron Man" ships another issue. Looks like the monthly schedule is indeed back in effect. Meanwhile, the Casey miniseries "Inevitable" concludes.

* The cover of "Runaways #16" may contain a massive spoiler (ie: "He among us who is not among us is surely the culprit") with regards to the upcoming New Pride storyline.

* Mike Oeming's "Ares" concludes with the promise that the title character will be joining a major superhero team in 2006.

* Another oddity: there's a separate category for "Planet Hulk titles" even though there's only an issue of "The Incredible Hulk" in said category. Moreover, "Planet Hulk" is supposed to be self-contained. *shrug*

* UPDATE: Two issues of "Exiles" this month: one wraps up "Future Imperfect", the other goes to the land of "big man-chests and bigger action", Heroes Reborn, for the conclusion of the saga.

* "Son of M" concludes, promising reprecussions echoing into "Civil War". Uh... wasn't this a "House of M"/"Decimation" spin-off? Geez. Meanwhile, "Sentinel Squad O*N*E" also wraps up, but as I'm sure you've all noticed, it's actually a prequel to the Milligan storyline, where these pilots are tertiary characters at best. I'm not quite clear as to why we should care who's driving the big killing machines.

* "X-Factor #7" is devoted to the death of Sean Cassidy - not simply because a cast member of this book is related to him, but apparently to "convince fans that one of Marvel's mighty mutants was genuinely killed in action and never returning". Of course, Magneto's been decapitated, Colossus has been cremated and I think Psylocke was sent to a taxidermist or something. It's way, way, way too late in the day to be worrying about convincing fans - who, by definition, have been around long enough to know the score. Whether they care or not is another issue.

* Looks like there's some rescheduling going on, as "Uncanny X-Men" #473 is listed for May release now. Which makes July's #475 Ed Brubaker's first issue. Now there's a nice anniversary gift.

* Peter Milligan rounds up the "Blood of Apocalypse" arc, introducing "two brand-new Sentinels". Er... yes. "X-Men: The 198" also ends, along with "X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl".

* I'll probably regret showing an interest in this, but C.B. Cebulski launches a new series titled "X-Men: Fairy Tales", which is basically a riff off that old "Kitty's Fairy Tale" story from Ye Olde Claremonte days: it takes the characters of the X-Men and recasts them as figures in various fairy tales. The first issue, for example, places Cyclops in what seems to be a Japanese myth about "Momotaro, the Peach-Boy", out to save a beautiful red-haired princess. It's so off-the-wall, it just might work.

* Oh, look, "X-Men: The End" features Cassandra Nova taking over Charles Xavier's body. That about says it all, really.