Hulk #5

Written by Jeph Loeb
Penciled by Ed McGuinness
Inked by Mark Farmer
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

I have to give Marvel Comics credit, hiring Greg Pak to write The Incredible Hulk a few years ago was fairly genius. His "Planet Hulk" story grabbed readers, when under a lesser hand it might have scared them away. The World War Hulk mini-series follow-up was tense, exciting, and wonderfully over-the-top in places. And now? Well, actually, he’s not writing The Incredible Hulk any more, he’s writing the enjoyable Incredible Hercules. Instead, Jeph Loeb now writes the all-new Hulk series. And all of those adjectives I used to describe Incredible Hulk? Well, I suppose "over-the-top" at least applies.

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X-Factor #33

Written by Peter David
Penciled by Larry Stroman
Inked by Jon Sibal
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

I freely admit that when someone mentions “the Peter David X-Factor“, the first comic to jump to mind is not his current series. Instead, it’s his and Larry Stroman’s collaboration from the early ’90s, taking six characters that no one else really cared about (Havok, Polaris, Wolfsbane, Multiple Man, Quicksilver, and Lila Cheney’s bodyguard Guido) and turning the book into a fan-favorite. It was a really memorable book, not quite like anything else on the market, and something that I still think of fondly. With Stroman joining the current X-Factor as its new artist, can lightning strike twice?

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Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1

Written by Kathryn Immonen
Art by David Lafuente
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

I will freely admit that when it comes to the big, world-changing events in the Marvel Universe, I normally couldn’t care one way or the other. (That’s also pretty true for DC, so I’m not choosing one company.) When friends told me about how Marvel now has the “50 States Initiative” where each state gets its own officially-licensed super-hero or group, I smiled at the idea, and even made a few jokes about the high level of super-villains rampaging through Montana. Well, I might not have cared about the 50 States Initiative before, but if it’s going to spawn mini-series like Patsy Walker: Hellcat, I might have to revise my interest level.

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Young X-Men #1-3

Written by Marc Guggenheim
Penciled by Yanick Paquette
Inked by Ray Snyder and Kris Justice
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Over the past five years, Marvel’s been seeming to struggle with what to do with the concept of a junior class of X-Men. We’ve seen a new New Mutants, followed by two pretty different takes on a New X-Men title. Now it’s being altered yet again with Young X-Men—perhaps a name change to hearken to Marvel’s MIA hit Young Avengers. With this latest attempt, though, I’m not sure this is the right direction to take.

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Marvel 1985 #1

Written by Mark Millar
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Entering your favorite fictional world has got to be one of the top five daydreams of young kids. Books, comics, movies, television shows, you name the media, someone’s imagined being able to interact with characters inside it. That’s what Mark Millar and Tommy Lee Edwards are tapping into with their Marvel 1985 mini-series, having a character from our world discover that characters from his favorite comics are now real and in his home town. But once you get past the initial hook, is there really anything new?

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Captain Britain and MI: 13 #1

Written by Paul Cornell
Penciled by Leonard Kirk
Inked by Jesse Delperdang
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Poor Captain Britain. Ever since the original run of Excalibur ended, it’s been hard for him to support a comic. It’s hard to say what it is that just doesn’t grab readers. Is it the large reading population in the United States that doesn’t want to read about a British character. Or maybe just a lack of inspiration on what to do with him? Marvel seems to hope it’s the latter, and so they’re launching another attempt: Captain Britain and MI: 13. Hopefully this attempt will be a little less awkward than the title of the comic.

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ClanDestine Classic

Written and penciled by Alan Davis
Inked by Mark Farmer
312 pages, color
Published by Marvel

When Alan Davis’s ClanDestine first debuted in the mid-90s, I remember absolutely loving it almost instantly; to me it was a perfect mix of superhero struggles and family squabbles. Davis’s run ended after just eight issues, with a later X-Men vs. the ClanDestine mini-series wrapping up his time with the characters. Now that he’s returned to them for a new mini-series, his older work with the characters is back for another outing in a handsome collection—and it’s interesting to review those stories a little later and wiser and see just how I feel about them now. Sometimes, the memory really does cheat just a bit.

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Immortal Iron Fist #1-2

Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja
Additional art by Travel Foreman, Derek Fridolfs, and John Severin
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

The longer you’ve been familiar with the world of super-hero comics, the more you know some things to be true. Sooner or later, all characters will come back from the dead. Sooner or later, all characters who once starred in their own book that was since cancelled will get another headlining book. And sooner or later, you’ll get a real apathy towards the endless recycling and rehashing of the same characters over and over again. It’s because of this last one that I almost missed out on one of the latest revamps at Marvel, The Immortal Iron Fist. And now I feel stupid for doing so, because the reality is that it’s actually quite good.

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Criminal #1

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Protagonists don’t always have to be bound by the traditional “good guy” definition. It’s something that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips understood in their series Sleeper, about a government agent trapped in an undercover role as a villain. With their new series, Criminal, they remind us that compelling fiction can star the sort of person you wouldn’t necessarily want to associate with.

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Beyond! #1-2

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Scott Kolins
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since the release of Marvel’s original Secret Wars series. The concept was a simple but attractive one; take some of the company’s biggest characters and plunge them into an alien world in a fight for supremacy. Now Dwayne McDuffie and Scott Kolins are updating that idea for their new Beyond! mini-series starring a mixture of A- and C-list characters, and in many ways this new version is the far-more entertaining one to read.

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