6 min read

Action, Mystery, Adventure

You wait weeks for a comic and then three come along at once.
Action, Mystery, Adventure
What if the Avengers was the Avengers?

Once again, we go from famine to feast - I hope nobody missed me last week, but the new policy of "newsletters when there's new comics" is how it has to be in these troubled times, when I've got four Marvel books on the go and I'm about to enter convention season. Also, in the next two months I have to move everything I own into a new house, which will be... not fun.

If it was one comic out this week - or even a #1 comic - I'd maybe throw in a Marvel Panel By Panel or even a Fab Five, but I've got three (count 'em) comics out this week, so we're going to chill out with a rambling Snap Judgments instead. Now, without further ado...


Avengers Inc. #1, that's what!

The cover to AVENGERS INC. #1, by Danuel Acuna, showing Wasp and Vic Shade in suits against a backdrop of chalk outlines and evidence tags.
That awesome Daniel Acuna cover in full.

This one's interesting and somewhat experimental, in a very genre way - it's basically an attempt to take another route into the whole "Avengers" concept, by starting with the word and building out. It feels like a pulp word, a title that promises something other than superfolks, something from a different branch of serial fiction's family tree - I didn't immediately think "what if the Avengers were the Avengers", although it makes a dandy elevator pitch, but I was definitely starting somewhere in that ballpark. It's gone through a lot of permutations and evolutions behind the scenes, and what's left is a kind of TV show format, with a Big Mystery simmering in the background and Little Mysteries solved on a monthly basis. Leonard Kirk is our series artist, and he's great for the expressive faces and detail work that make for a good murder mystery, while being able to switch tracks into big, bold, classically Avengers-flavored superhero action whenever the need arises, which is quite a lot in this first issue - for this opening mystery, we don't provide the whole solution, but like Columbo, we give you the "who" right out of the gate.

So... why Jan? Honestly, these panels caught my attention, especially the first one.

Two panels from the Ant-Man story in TALES TO ASTONISH #44, showing Janet Van Dyne swearing to avenge her father and dedicate the rest of her life to doing so.
Right from the get-go it's all about the avenging.

Let's imagine for a minute that Ant-Man wasn't there to offer her a job as an insect-themed hero. Where is Jan going with this? She's swearing to dedicate the rest of her life to avenging her murdered father, and she's already got a pretty clear idea who did it. She's on the case. She is in a cape comic, so the avenue of investigation involves gaining wasp powers, but... that's a detective origin. In another world - and it's the road not travelled, I admit, but a fascinating road all the same - this is the starting point for a crime-solving fashionista who tackles weird murders, and the idea of seeing how that adds to the soup intrigues me.

We'll see. But speaking of big special episodes...

The cover of VENOM #25, by Bryan Hitch, showing Dr Doom and Eddie Brock (who is now a red, four-armed version of Venom) having an earth-shaking fight.
Doom! Shake, shake, shake the room!

Venom #25 is a landmark issue, celebrating our oddball New-Wave-SF take on Venom making it to a quarter century - and when I heard it was going to be fifty pages long, I knew I had no option but to pack it to the gunwhales with action and strangeness in order to deliver the maximum bang for each additional buck. Eddie Brock and Doctor Doom fight their way through five different time periods at the hands of five different artists - Sergio Dávila and Sean Parsons, Ken Lashley, CAFU and Julius Ohta! With Frank D'Armata on colors! Things get wild, Ray Bradbury is mentioned, Peter Parker guest-stars and we get into the nuts and bolts of the laws of time in a way that - I promise - will come up again down the line. It's a big, sumptuous smorgasbord of Eddie Brock(s) and Victor Von Doom(s), served up super-sized! Eat hearty, venomaniacs!

The cover for X-MEN RED #15, by Stefano Caselli, showing Storm and Genesis in combat while between them, the Fisher King hangs in a cradle of worms.
In which a fisherman teams up with some worms. IRONY!

Last but definitely not least - X-Men Red #15 ties off some old threads as the Genesis War kicks into a higher gear and things get much worse before they get better. Genesis has been playing up until now - this is the moment she gets serious and things get real. You've been warned. Yıldıray Çınar provides his usual matchless skill to the origin of the Fisher King and guest appearances from Solem, among others. Which others? That would be telling.


What the hey, let's talk Marvel Snap for a moment. Will it make sense to anyone who isn't deep in this one particular mobile game? It will not.

Daken was last season's big draw - still an essential part of my Knull Deck, though I did lose incredibly badly to a Wong>Daken>MODOK combo that taught me the harsh lesson that those sword fragments work just as well discarded as destroyed. The kind of loss that you don't even mind, the tactic is so intriguing - I haven't built a deck to replicate it, but maybe Akihiro belongs with fellow mutant Apocalypse in his deck, especially now that the Knull Deck's suffering from the inclusion of Alioth.

Yes, even he! I saved up my Purple Chest from last week and got lucky, for certain values of "lucky", because right now Alioth's kind of a dog, or I just don't know how to use him. I think maybe the Knull Deck is the wrong place for the big toothy gas that won the hearts of a grateful nation - Alioth's thing is destroying any enemy cards played against him, which feeds Knull, but like Knull, Alioth is a sixer and he's a pretty weak sixer at that. If you don't guess right, he just sits there like a lemon, and you've already taken up space in your deck with Magik or Psylocke so you can play him and Knull both. Maybe he's also being dragged down by disreputable ol' Knull, the dirty old man of Scandinavia? It seems an obvious pairing, but it's not setting the world on fire - maybe Jean Grey would be the combo, if I had Jean Grey. I'm sure someone will hammer me with the perfect use case before long.

Loki is the star of this particular season - I've been cleaning up playing him in my Fury/Coulson deck, where the Quinjet and the Collector live - bring those two out and Loki makes everything doubly cheaper and beefs up the Collector as he goes. Loki belongs with Fury and Coulson - like them, he's a chaos candidate, essentially giving you a random deck, and it's that kind of deck that's the most fun to play these days, now that the boredom is setting in and I can barely summon a flicker of indignation at another Venom/Zola combo or Wong and T'Challa reprising the hits. Even double-gobliners can't raise more than a wry chuckle of recognition. I might be coming to the end of the road on this game – on the other hand, Loki's definitely revitalized things, so I've a little more in me yet.

You're unlikely to catch me doing Conquest Mode, though - that gets old very fast, and it goes against the grain to spend more than five minutes on a mobile game. (If nothing else, I have four books to write.)


Once again, this is where to find me - whenever my books are on shelves, at least. Love and strength to those who need it, and I'll play us out with "On Every Street" by Dire Straits.

There's got to be a record of you someplace.