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It’s a good week to be a comic book fan. Of course Joss Whedon’s The Avengers will grace the civil screen, but Columbia is also hosting DoDeca-Con, a new comics and gaming convention. In recent weeks I’ve focused on superheroes and independent comics but with Marvel’s big team movie set to debut this Friday, I thought I’d take the chance to explore some good (and mostly new) superhero books on the market. One is more traditional, one is new and one is gritty, which shows the wide range of mainstream comic’s ability to tell stories.
In honor of The Avengers (and the first film that started it all), Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man hit the shelves with an ominous black cover with deadly crossbones. This stark picture signifies the beginning of the “Long Way Down” story arc. What’s interesting is that the last story arc ended with Tony Stark perceivably on the cusp of unfolding a master plan against his long-standing enemies, Mandarin and Ezekiel Stane (the son of Obadiah, aka Jeff Bridges). As the blazing cover headline suggests, shock and surprise lie inside these pages. Fraction doesn’t refer to any of his previous meandering on Tony’s master plan but instead treats the issue completely separate. Invincible Iron Man has been a consistently top-tier book after Fraction took over several years ago. The story has been a sprawling narrative with story lines stretching from the first issues to other issues years later. Such long storytelling can be great for loyal readers but make it hard for new readers to enter the series. For anyone who would like to start reading Iron Man, the time is quickly approaching. This story arc represents big changes for the man in metal, but after the dust settles, the story will be ripe for new readers.
Speaking of jumping-on points, there’s no great point to start reading a comic book that with the premiere issue. Comics can be intimidating for readers to get into with some titles approaching the 1000 number mark. But with No. 1′s everything is simple. Everyone starts reading on the ground floor. And this is a book is everyone should be reading. Many know Nick Fury as the cool military man with an awesome eye patch. Although a creation of Stan Lee in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, I originally fell in love with this character during Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors. Now Garth Ennis takes helm. Ennis is known for his sometimes outlandish (The Boys, Preacher) and sometimes brutal (The Punisher) storytelling, and with a character like Nick Fury, there’s no telling what depths of depravity this story could reach. However, Ennis establishes early on that this book will be quite unlike the others. Fury opens with Nick Fury sitting in a chair and drinking whiskey in a bathrobe. Through some complex comicbookery, Nick Fury ages incredibly slow. Not startling news considering the medium. But instead of this story being immensely action packed as I was expecting, the first issue is mainly dialogue driven with Fury meeting soldiers, politicians and other agents. It’s too early to tell if the book will be a retelling of Fury canon or a completely new take on the character, but with gritty dialogue and a dark feel, something tells me this is the beginning of something great.
It was a week for number ones this week, and I did not anticipate purchasing this comic book when I went to the store. But sometimes two creators can’t be ignored, and this happens to be the case with Earth 2. I am the last person who would care about an alternate Earth story line. I already have to spend too much money to keep up on what’s happening on “regular” Earth to care about other earths, but when I saw that James Robinson (Starman) and Nicola Scott (Secret Six) had teamed up for a new DC book, I was excited. The premise of this book is intriguing. In the traditional DC universe, Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman are considered a younger generation that older superheroes like Alan Scott (Green Lantern) and Jay Garrick (original Flash). However, in this recreation, readers get to see Alan Scott and Jay Garrick as young men who idolize their favorite DC trio. Within the first issues there are a lot of surprises and twists, but might be best for veteran DC readers. For others, some references to characters might fall on deaf ears.
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