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This Week In Marvel – 11/18/07

{mosimage}Let’s hear it for Marvel’s scheduling department. Their fine work means that this week in marvel, I’ll look at the double-up books of the week!

Ghost Rider – Option A – Issue #17. First cab off the rank, the latest issue of Daniel Way’s meandering series. By all means not a bad book. Ghost Rider (that’s the Johnny Blaze version, for those of you keeping score) is chasing a demon who has split himself into hundreds of parts and infected innocent souls. And a couple of angels are entering the fray to lend him assistance. That’s about all the catch up you need, and has been the focus of the book since Day 1, aside from some almost pointless World War Hulk crossovers. As it stands though, the book’s title is a bit of a misnomer…the "Rider" part has been virtually forgotten. As with previous issues, Ghost Un-Rider fights the possessed innocent. And rescues other innocents. All fine fare if you like the character, but, for me, it’s a little dull.

Ghost Rider – Option B – Annual. Here we come to Marvel’s scheduling
work. Rather than space out the appearances of Ghost Rider, they’re now
releasing his only two releases of the month in the one week. And
neither cover is singularly eye-catching enough to grab a new readers
attention. So surely they are cannibalising sales a bit here.
Anyway,the annual would be the better introduction for the new reader
as a stand alone story. But it’s confused. Again, no riding, really.
Just a Devil/Ghost fight, with an interested bystander offering his
take on Blaze’s battles. The chief problem is, the annual’s both too
similar to the parent book, and yet the new plot element introduced may
be glossed voer in the future. Again, it’s not a bad book, but there’s
potential being missed all round here.

Punisher – Option A – War Journal #13. This is one of my guilty pleasure books, and I’m glad Frank is back in NYC, taking down super-villains again instead of duking it out with Ultimatum. He’s up against Rhino, and, as a bonus, readers are given another chance to play "How does this fit in with continuity?" as Spider-Man makes another appearance in his black costume. Domino makes a surprise guest appearance too, and it will be interesting to see where that travels. War Journal is working well, because Matt Fraction (a real up and comer) and Marvel have wisely taken the tack that Punisher isn’t, in reality, a hero, and yet he’s made sympathetic because he has to face up to that fact to some extent. The essence of the character isn’t being altered, but it gives this book a reason to exist within the Marvel Universe proper. A book worth picking up.


 Punisher – Option B – Max #52. The saga of Barracuda and Frank’s daughter rolls on. This is rollicking fun, but it’s certainly not for the kiddies. Barracuda is a perfect foil for Castle, and you can see why Garth Ennis has become so enamoured with him. Unlike War Journal, this book isn’t a guilty pleasure at all; it’s easy to admit how much fun this book is to read. It moves along at a cracking pace, the artwork is crisp and clear, and Punisher is as hard-assed as he should be. Again though, scheduling both Punisher books in the same week won’t help people in the process of picking up either one or the other of the books, but both are solid reads.

So, why Marvel are scheduling these similar books in the same week is beyond me. What’s worst about this double-dipping is that it discourages customers from returning in two weeks time to buy another book, which may then lead to extra purchases as exposure to a greater range of books is achieved. Kind of shooting themselves in the foot.

Other books this week:

  • The Initiative #7 – Top of the Pile stuff, with the Iron Spiders, I mean, Scarlet Spiders taking the limelight. More Peter Parker guesting, with a convenient get-out of the unmasking casually thrown in. Odd that.
  • Captain Marvel #1 – Might work if it was the first issue of an ongoing, but really wastes time in a mini series.
  • Marvel Comics Presents #3 – A good book, but for the love of god, make it bi-weekly Marvel.
  • New Avengers #36 – For the first time, as opposed to content or continuity, I think Bendis’ craft lets him down, as the issue feels a bit scattershot. Maybe the delays on Mighty Avengers are tripping him up a bit.
  • Nova #8 – Neither here nor there this week, as a new arc starts, looking more like a mystery than anything. Moving away from the core concept of Nova unfortunately.
  • Thor #4 – A slight drop in quality, as more gods are found, JMS philosophises, and everything’s a bit obvious. Still looks great though.
  • World War Hulk #5 – Covered to death everywhere. Hulk fights Sentry, and people wish it tied into the Skrull storyline. Ironically, with people complaining about big event tying into big event, I don’t get that request. The book finishes relatively self-contained, with a third act still to come.
  • X-Factor #25 – Messiah CompleX is still moving along nicely. God I love Layla Miller. Nice Forge appearance too.

Finally, I’ve been trying to address some philosophical issues regarding Marvel’s modus operandi. If you’ve got anything you’d like to talk about or cover, drop me a line, and we’ll shine the spotlight onto some comicky issues. Thanks for reading all! 

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