We’re into the final few months of the year, and the one year anniversary of the column. Fitting then, that the real treats this month all stem from long gestating runs on titles.
There’s a reason that in my blog over on Tor Dot Com, I recommended readers try out Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers runs. Both titles have had a lull of late (Avengers with its AIM inflected clone Avengers storyline, New Avengers with its run of issues where everyone just watches the events of parallel universes). It seemed that perhaps Hickman had lost the steam that had been powering the title forward at the start. Avengers picked up again during the Original Sin crossover which saw Captain America et al thrown forwards in time issue by issue and then, thrown back again with the new knowledge that Tony Stark and his New Avengers cast had been secretly plotting to destroy multiple parallel Earths. At the end of both arcs we found ourselves at a crossroads – Captain America swearing to take down his friends for what they’ve done, Stark and his team losing all sense of power, and a terrible Cabal of villains (including Thanos and Namor) taking over their work.
Both titles this month are labelled Time Runs Out – a story that will spread across the next eight issues, set eight months into the future. The rest of the Marvel universe will be catching up, but for now, it’s an absolute joy to read. There are shades of the traditional comic book alternate universe (a mainstay from Days of Future Past, Age of Apocalypse, House of M, to more recent efforts like Age of X and Gothtopia) – Thor has no hammer, and only one arm! Reed Richards has a beard! Two characters have a baby! But thankfully it isn’t all just revelation after revelation. In fact, for once, Hickman indulges in character moments. The opening of Avengers #35 sees Sunspot and Cannonball catch up with one another and takes time to establish character. Likewise, the scenes with Hyperion in the Savage Land were really well done. New Avengers on the other hand, whilst a little more unwieldy, is just as interesting, with a sinister conversation between Doctor Doom and Namor taking up the bulk of the book. Time Runs Out as a concept is worrying. Time and time again these ‘future’ events are never followed up and explained away as just ‘potential futures’ by editors who fudge continuity. This could go down that path, but with such a short turnaround it seems more likely that this is the Marvel Universe to come, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Darkness creeps in through the pores of Daredevil #8 this month, the start of new storyline The Purple Children, and a great jumping on point for new readers, it maintains everything that has made Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s run on the title so good, whilst also delivering some of the creepiest sequences in comics this year. The titular children are the kids of The Purple Man, who, with his ability to control minds, has managed to have several morally reprehensible encounters with women, who have now given birth. The opening sequence, in which he tracks down one of his offspring, and uses his powers on the boy’s mother is terrifying. Waid excels at this kind of writing, and the joy of reading his work is in watching his approach to C and D-list villains. Samnee too deserves so much credit. His art is some of the finest in superhero comics today, and his skills as a visual storyteller should be studied by anyone with an interest in comics. Credit too, to Mathew Wilson whose colours in this issue are wonderfully considered.
Next month we’ll be back with DC who, now that the terrible Futures End one-shots are out of the way, are launching several new indie-tinged comics to the Batman universe.