Dark Avengers Uncanny X-Men Exodus #1

Creative team: Story by Matt Fraction; Penciled by Mike Deodato

Villain to Watch: Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers

They say: The climactic conclusion to the crossover event of 2009 is here! This is it, the final battle for the Dark Avengers and the X-Men that will change the status quo for the Marvel Universe. Emma Frost’s betrayal comes home to roost. Cyclops’ plan clicks into place, but is it too late? What can the X-Men do against the Sentry and Ares?

I say: This has been an excellent series. Scott “Cyclops” Summers has been unfolding a beguiling plan to form a counter-offensive group to Norman Osborn’s various “Dark” teams. And it looks as if this issue is going to bring that plan to fruition. The betrayal of Emma Frost and Prince Namor is stinging Norman something fierce (as we’ll see in the next item), so expect there to be some all-out warfare between the factions.

Plus, I gotta tell you, I was never a huge fan of Cloak and Dagger (beyond wondering how she keeps that costume in place), but lately they’ve become more and more intriguing as characters. Here’s hoping the next ish features more of the same.

Dark Reign: The List #1

Creative team: Story by Brian Michael Bendis; Penciled by Marko Djurdjevic

Villain to Watch: Norman Osborn

They say: In this first in a series of spectacular summer one-shots, the finest writers working at Marvel are teamed up with the most sensational artists to unveil the darkest chapters in the Dark Reign! Norman Osborn, fresh from the shocking finale of Utopia, sets his sights on the rest of the Marvel Universe. He sits down and makes a list. A list of things that are wrong with the world. Things that he needs to take care of. And the list includes almost every major player in the Marvel Universe. These specials are exciting game changers for all of Marvel Comics and represent the finest talents. This first chapter has a startling confrontation between members of the New Avengers and Dark Avengers. Clint Barton fans… you are not going to want to miss this one!

I say: Wait.

“…first in a series of spectacular summer one-shots…”?

I’ll never get used to the way publishers judge time.

Nonetheless, Marvel is bringing one of its Big Guns to write this one-shot, so I’ll be happy to give it a squint at the comic shop today. The idea of Osborn making a “Richard Nixon”-style enemies list is intriguing enough, and things seem to be on the brink of teetering in the marvel Universe. This list could be his complete undoing.

Or it could teeter Norm right back to his place of power.

Also, reading between the lines, the teaser seems to promise a show-down between Hawkeye and Bullseye. It’s been brewing in the Dark Reign: Bullseye book. And it’s about darned time.

Doom Patrol #2

Creative team: Story by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; Art by Metthew Clark

Villain to Watch: Unknown

They say: It’s a black hole, but it’s not a black hole. If you’re a Doom Patrol fan, that made perfect sense. And even if not, then you’re in for one hell of a ride as the Doom Patrol face off against the most annoying alien this side of G’nort. Who’s G’nort? What, do we have to spoon-feed this stuff to you? Oh, and we send the Metal Men into space. Just because.

I say: Fist off, if you tell me that Giffen and DeMatteis are writing a phone book, I’m buying it.

Secondly, it’s the Doom Patrol, people. This is the definition of B-list — both the fictional team and the title itself. But as we all know, it’s some of that B-list stuff that holds the best creativity. That’s why Doom patrol has such as mad following. And that’s why it makes perfect sense to throw in another cult fav, the Metal Men, into the mix.

Thirdly, they said G-Nort. I see it right there in the solicit. And they’re not wasting words on a character who ain’t showing up in the book. And I am desperate to find out what G’Nort has been up to while the events of Blackest Night have been transpiring.

Thunderbolts #135

Creative team: Story by Andy Diggle; Art by Miguel Sepulveda

Villain to Watch: The ubiquitous Osborn

They say: Norman Osborn! Black Widow II! Songbird! Nick Fury! When you finally learn how these four powderkegs intersect and collide, you will be picking your jaw off the floor! Secrets will be uncovered, agendas will be exposed, and heads will roll in the latest wicked installment of the book ComicPants.com calls ‘Bold and awesome. Diggle has woven a tale of underhanded evil and it truly is a great thing to behold.’

I say: I have no idea what “ComicPants.com” is, but I’ll second the praise for Diggle’s ability to script a fascinating storyline. Just don’t think that we’ve completely forgotten about Ghost, though, Diggle. It’s been about two or three issues since his character was sniffing a little too close to a few of Osborn’s secrets, so it’s just… about… now that he should be popping out of nowhere with the results of his ill-gotten gains.

Secret Six #13

Creative team: Story by Gail Simone, Art by Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood

Villain to Watch: The proprietors of Devil’s Island

They say: War breaks out on the new Devil’s Island and the Six are split in half. Now they’re on opposite sides and ready to die (or kill) for their cause! But what in the world are they fighting over that’s strong enough – and brutal enough – to take down Wonder Woman?

I say: Ah, the perfect week. New T’bolts and new Secret Six in my hot little hands. Life is good.

The Devil’s Island plot has gone a tad long for me, but I’m so freaking confident in Simon’s ability to bring the awesome, that I’m not letting it get to me. But I am expecting a little resolution to happen sometime soon. The team is feeling a bit scattered to me, and I want to get back to the core group (plus the usual one or two stragglers and handers-on) doing what they do best — try to figure out the best way to be bad.

…And One To Pass…

Hulk Team-Up #1

Creative team: Story by Marc Sumerak and Alexander Zalbon; Art by Sanford Green and Joyce Chin

Villain to Watch: Reed Hulk

They say: Mutant mayhem in a Battle by the Bay! While exploring their new home in San Francisco, X-Men Iceman and Angel discover that the weirdest part of the city isn’t its eclectic populace or crazy landmarks, but the monsters that pass through — namely the Incredible Hulk! Now they’ve got to track down Hulk and get to the bottom of a series of earthquakes (because THAT never happens in SF…) before the Red Hulk shows up bringing his trademark good cheer to San Fran. Did we say good cheer? We meant destruction and carnage. PLUS: Dazzler rocks out at the Fillmore and Hulk’s got backstage passes! Will the Pop Princess get Smashed, live in concert?

I say: Here’s my problem with writing the Hulk in general — and the Hulk specifically as the anchor of a team-up series. The Hulk is supposed to be a living force of nature. You can reason with a hurricane, you don’t rationalize electricity, and you can’t team-up with the Hulk. Unless you’re the Defenders. But they’re a non-team anyway. And they have Dr. Strange, who, one must only guess, had to put months of effort into bringing Green Genes into the fold as an effective member of the troupe.

But a monthly pairing with guest stars du jour? I’m not buying it.

I feel bad for Sumerak for trying to script this thing long term. There are only so many ways you can have your protagonists beat the snot out of each other before uniting against a common foe — and that’s the only way I can see this series being written. I’ll pass.