Welcome to another wonderful Zane’s World article! Today I want to go over the current slew of Marvel books being published. Now, much like before, I am reading about six months behind the current releases. I have touched most of all of the new number ones, including but not limited to: Amazing Spider-Man, Invincible Iron-Man, Mighty Thor, Captain America: Sam Wilson, The Vision, Spider-Man 2099, The Ultimates, Hawkeye, Carnage, Uncanny Inhumans, Extraordinary X-Men, Uncanny Avengers, and Doctor Strange. Now I am not going to go through all of them today, as that would be a bit overwhelming, however with most of these series having a few issues out on the app, I feel it prudent to bring to you some small synopses of a few series each week. Just to preface all of this, all of these series begin 6 months after the end of the Secret War event.
To begin, I really want to start off with The Invincible Iron-Man. This series has surprised me, as Tony has finally figured out how to create a perfect modular suit that isn’t nearly as cumbersome as bringing along a mobile armory, or having snap on parts that imitate other suits he has created to lesser extents. The new suit he creates has this angular hexagonal format which opens up in very neat ways and expands at will. His new on board AI is named F.R.I.D.A.Y., to bring the comicbooks that much closer to the films.
He is also dealing with, that for the first time in his written history, he doesn’t have a slew of support characters to help in his journey. Thus far we have no real knowledge of what Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, or James “Rhodey” Rhodes are up to. Their only reference in them is when Tony generally dismisses them in a thought monologue early on. Meanwhile, we find him doing what he does best; trying to hire new scientists, and hitting on the attractive ones. The thing here is that the one he is into is a super smart woman who incidentally is a biochemist, which is in contrast to Tony’s forte in various engineering practices. He catches himself falling into old habits to woo women for short term relationships and stops himself, which is astounding growth for the character. We have seen him approach this concept in the past with different women, but it is usually much farther into the relationship before this occurs. This comic tonally has more similarity with the film, and Robert Downey Jr.’s personality with situational humor. Later on, his company gets attacked by former paramore and villainess Madame Masque, as she steals information from one of his companies. He then tracks her to Latveria where we find a huge twist in that Dr. Doom is no longer the leader of the distraught country; then insert a few rebels trying to take over the capital, Stark snooping around, and we come face to face with a new Dr. Doom who is undamaged, unarmored, and looking more like the new Dr. Who than Doom. Doom then informs Tony that Masque is trying to steal several extremely powerful and world ending pieces of tech and mysticism, and informs him that the item she stole from underneath his former castle was a fake. He then gives tony the real object and leaves with a final statement; he lets Tony know that he is no longer interested in world domination, and more interested in world preservation. What follows is that Tony verifies with Doctor Strange the validity of the object in question, and then they have a fun back and forth about Doom. This ends with one of the funniest panels in the book yet, with Tony holding a high-five for 6 panels, begging Strange to give it to him in the first. In the final panel Strange reluctantly sighs and high-fives Stark, to which stark says “Awesome Facial Hair Bros!” and Strange replying “I hate you.”
I have not been interested in an Iron-Man book quite this much in a long time, and it is refreshing to see the quirkier side of Tony come out on the page, more than the pure snark that used to represent his humor.
Moving on we have Doctor Strange. The Sorcerer Supreme is back in his own ongoing series. Following the events of Secret War, Strange has changed into a much smaller, reserved hero. Delving into the weird in the world around us, he solves much more minutes minute problems. With the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange for the film, it seems that the writer has felt it only natural to write Strange like Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes. This meshing of styles works phenomenally! Yet another series that I have had difficulty reading in the past and maintaining interest on has been made wonderful, due to a slight shift in the writing. With a much smaller scope Strange is back at 177A Bleecker Street in his Sanctum Sanctorum, which has an address very reminiscent of Holmes’ 221B Baker Street. Strange’s home has no doorknob, and this element provides a very simple, but powerful story element in that you should not enter unless you actually need something from the good sorcerer.
The art from these books is reminiscent of Beetlejuice and classic Ghostbusters, just fun weird jaunts into a supernatural world that exists all around us, but hidden and fleeting, with Strange seeing and feeling all. He solves problems all while walking down the street, even noticing that some weird creature of another dimension is consuming all of the happiness of an individual. In response he just steps in, casts a quick spell or summons his magic axe, kills a happiness leech creature and moves on with his day. What we slowly find out is that as he solves problems, the karmic effect takes a massive toll on his body and he is slowly dying from all of the evil he has taken unto himself.
Early on Strange comes in contact with a young librarian woman who has a soul infestation. He takes her into his sanctorum after she questions him about the validity of such a place, thinking him a neighbor. Upon a crazy otherworldly adventure inside of his home and all the different dimensions it connects to, he removes the infestation by taking it into himself. Strange then offers her a position organizing his libraries of information to help him better assist humanity, to which she accepts. In addition we find out that something sinister is coming, and killing the Sorcerer Supreme of every dimension he comes in contact with. This series looks like it will be chock full of fun and whimsy, and it honestly feels like a spiritual successor to NBC’s Constantine which makes it all the more endearing.
Finally, Id like to discuss the current Amazing Spider-Man issues. Peter Parker has done very well for himself. Peter is now in a very similar position to where Tony Stark has been for years. He owns Parker Industries, similar to Apple in terms of development and release of products, except unlike real world Apple execs or Tony Stark, Peter takes a middle management pay-grade to instill confidence in his company and employees. We open with a high speed car chase in China, where spidey is driving the new Spider-Mobile. Right from the start the pace is frantic and wild; Parker has developed a new spider suit with multiple gadgets, and spread his company all over the world including locations in China, Japan, L.A. , New York, San Francisco, and England. He has also gone through prisons and hired former villains of his, to ensure that he can keep an eye on them and help them get back on their feet. We have seen across so many Marvel villains that their psychotic and unstable nature occur through experiments that lose funding, get pushed through QA too quickly, and then disastrous accidents happen that make them really go crazy. Spidey sees this as a giant win-win.
He also buys out the Baxter Building after the disappearance of Reed and Sue Richards, resulting in a visit with Johnny Storm. Chaos ensues, but then they have an incredibly heartfelt moment near the end of the issue. The most compelling piece is straight out of some older Iron-Man books by having Peter hire Hobie Brown, The Prowler, who was a thief turned anti-hero. He works with Hobie to be his “bodyguard”, Spider-Man, to keep up public appearances. He also continues to create new devices for Hobie to use as the new Prowler, Spider-Man’s partner, much like War Machine to Iron-Man.
Parker’s company eventually gets so large he even opens up a new R & D branch in San Francisco, naming it Horizon Labs, in honor of the previous lab that Parker inadvertently got shut down; bequeathing it to the former owners of the old lab. With the company this large and widespread, it becomes a target for Zodiac; an organization of zealots who utilize a greek zodiac motif to commit their high profile crimes. Meanwhile, Parker industries is also outfitting S.H.I.E.L.D. with his highest tech equipment. The series has been rather amusing thus far, especially when Parker and Stark have interacted since Stark has a resentment of Peter and how he has risen so rapidly. The storytelling within this just gets right to me, since One More Day, and Brand New Day I have generally been so aloof to much of the Spider-Man part of MU-616 (Spider Island and Spider-Verse being the big exceptions to that). This story has planted the seed of showing Parker in his true capabilities; a character with similar intellect to Reed Richards, and having worked under Richards and Stark on separate occasions, this is the first we get to see him utilize that knowledge and skill in a way that really pushes his world forward.
Join me next week as I continue to go through several more books and their early issues in this new All New, All Different Marvel! Line. Thank you for reading!