Fun and intrigue in the Marvel U.
I picked up a handful of Marvels this week, and there some really good books in the stack. Before moving on, I'd like to note one delightful panel in the free Avengers/Invaders Sketchbook that was released today. It features some black-and-white previews including the Invaders taking on the Thunderbolts. As a result we get a shot of the noblest of heroes, a time-traveling WWII-era Captain America, beating down the lamest of the new-breed emo heroes, Penance. I hope the latter gets his spiky arse handed to him.
As for the actual books...
From Mighty Avengers #12
Mighty Avengers #12 actually didn't include any of the, uh, Mighty Avengers. Well, other than a flashback or two with attention to Spider-Woman. Basically this issue sets the stage for the return of one Nick Fury, who has been off the radar for far too long. It's a cool issue with some surprising moments and a key splash on the final page. It seems Col. Fury has his sights on the Skrull invasion, and a few of his suspects are surprising. We'll see whether he's accurate, but bravo to the Marvel crew for being tight-lipped as the Secret Invasion saga progresses.
In another book tied to Secret Invasion, Ms. Marvel #26 saw the title character try to prove her own identity in the face of widespread suspicion. It's hardly unwarranted, given that her lover turned up "dead" in the previous issue and "she" was spotted in two places simultaneously in the recent past. This issue includes some stunning revelations about Ms. Marvel's associate Agent Sum from SHIELD, and wraps up the doppelganger storyline rather expeditiously. Oh, and this issue includes grand insanity from the awesome Machine Man, Aaron Stack. Gotta love that guy.
X-Force #3 continued that book's post-Messiah Complex storyline, with Wolverine, X-23, and Warpath cutting down Purifiers and searching for lost teammate Wolfsbane. The revelation on the previous issue's closing page doesn't play out as I expected, as the Purifiers seem to have taken control of a mindless "child" of The Magus rather than the entity itself. So what? Well, they appear to have used it to resurrect the stinking zombie corpses of mutantkind's greatest enemies in a reveal that made me groan. The search for Wolfsbane also wrapped up a little too conveniently. A decent book, but I hope this storyline isn't losing steam. It's still on my pull list.
From Hulk vs. Hercules: When Titans Collide
As I should have expected from the writers involved, the funnest book of my haul was the Hulk vs. Hercules: When Titans Collide one-shot. As the main Incredible Hercules book has been doing, this book relies on both Marvel continuity and classical mythology to tell a fun and interesting story. The tale is narrated by Athena as she tells Amadeus Cho about an early encounter between Hercules and the Hulk on Mt. Olympus. Yes, they brawl. Even better? Herc and Hulk later team up with Ares and Athena to battle giants out to conquer Mt. Olympus. There are some great character moments here for the Hulk, all too rare lately as he's been rampaging and later locked up. This story also features a character who will be in the upcoming "Sacred Invasion" story in which Earth's gods battle those of the invading Skrulls. The bonus material is a reprint of Tales to Astonish #79, in which Herc and Hulk duke it out -- some classic stuff from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Speaking of Hulk... Hulk #3 was not worth writing about. The art was pretty nice, I guess. Otherwise it took about a minute to read and really just set up a big fight in the next issue. I'm probably done with this book.
Oh, and Jeff Parker, if you're out there, I tried like hell to hunt down X-Men: First Class #11, and none of my three local shops ordered it. I'm on board for the hardcover though. Pinky swear.