October… A long anticipated month with the launch of Marvel NOW! 2.0 occurring bringing with it the aftermath of Civil War II (Which, as was the case last year, predates the conclusion of Civil War II) . Almost all my remaining Marvel titles have started their first MN! 2.0 arcs which is great and Justice League both started and finished its second arc. Let’s get started!
The Amazing Spider-man #19
The issue opens with J Jonah Jameson discussing New U on the Fact Channel. This is cut short when the topic of his terribly sick father is brought up. Parker is on his way to the hospital at that very moment to see his step-uncle Jay Jameson. He is confronted by both JJ Jameson and Aunt May as they plead with him to let New U save Jay, whose condition is worsening quickly. His concerns over the procedure result in the New U procedure being denied by him and by, more importantly, Jay himself. Parker goes off on an errand for Jay, collecting a wonderful family heirloom that Jay wants to explain to his son. However, whilst on the way back to the hospital, trouble at a building site requires his immediate attention. Whilst holding a crane with his webbing, Aunt May calls him with her concerns over Jay, pointing the hypocrisy over denying Jay the treatment but not one of his employees. The tension picks up as Jay goes into surgery and the webbing holding the crane begins to break down. Worse still, the Jameson Family Heirloom falls when Peter’s web backpack dissolves (It has an hour long life span, if that puts the crane situation into perspective (Cranes aren’t the lightest things to hold up)). Thankfully, those on the crane are all saved by his titanic effort. The heirloom is worse for wear as Peter speeds off to the hospital, desperately trying to get in touch with anyone to give his approval on New U. However, his change of heart comes too late as he arrives at the hospital to find Aunt May and JJJ crying. Jay Jameson is dead… The issue ends with a tie-in to the Free Comic Book day story which sees Kingpin negotiating with the Jackal. The situation turns sour very quickly afterwards and Kingpin swears to take the Jackal down.
The final issue before Clone Conspiracy kicks off and it packs some heavy punches emotionally. Jay’s passing was very upsetting. He was such a wonderful character and Aunt May and him made for such a great partnership, helping overseas with charitable Parker Industries projects. Seeing Parker put through such a trying ordeal in just one issue was most distressing. I fear it’s only going to get worse from here…
The Amazing Spider-man #20
Having not read Clone Conspiracy (Though I might try and get the graphic novel, not sure yet) , the next few issues are going to be a bit weird. This issue focuses on Doctor Octopus (I know, we only just had a Doc Ock focused issue (I don’t mind though, he’s one of my favourites)) trying to get a new body. He arranges for his body to be sold to New U via a phone. There are a few issues over negotiations for the body but the body goes to the New U facility. Jackal and his crew get to work on recreating Otto’s body but Robo-Otto realises that the body being cloned was last inhabited by the consciousness of Parker. He enters the vat where his new body is being grown and begins to attempt to take it back from Parker. A weird mind sequence takes place where Otto fights Parker and takes back control of his body. He emerges from the vat where Jackal goes through his usual welcome speech, giving Otto his beloved arms back and making him aware of the error in the system, cellular breakdown in the new bodies. He offers his services in ironing out the issue and, in doing so, secures his own future of endless new bodies should he die again.
If I’m honest, the next few issues of the Amazing Spider-man are going to be a bit detached what with me not collecting the main event book. This tie-in is interesting regardless, focusing on the cloning process which is fascinating (I feel like that made me sound like a mad scientist…). Overall, a fairly good issue.
Doctor Strange #12
Blood in the Aether begins! The last arc saw Doctor Strange’s suffering escape from the cellar/ its prison. This issue opens with the suffering terrorising some doctors in the NYU medical centre. Doctor Strange turns up to stop it and is, well, very quickly overpowered in his already weakened position. However, the good Doctor still has some tricks up his sleeve and uses some gum of the Winterfawn tree of Auckland to freeze a part of the suffering. It leaves the Doctor with its own name: Mister Misery. Battle-weary, the Doctor goes to his usual haunt, the Bar with No Doors, where Chondu informs him of the return of Baron Mordo. Mordo is then seen at an apartment, exercising his power over an innocent family. The Dread Dormammu then appears in a blazing fury, reminding Mordo of his task: kill Doctor Strange. Mordo then heads to the Sanctum Sanctorum and engages in a battle with Doctor Strange. He is again extremely outmatched with no magic at his disposal other than a few tricks. One of which being a magic apple (With a fantastic quip about keeping doctors away) which captures Mordo in a tree. Mordo quickly breaks free but the Doctor is suddenly dragged into the floor where he emerges in the realm of Nightmare!
Considering how exceptional this title has been so far, there was a small doubt in my mind that this would struggle to live up to the standards set prior to Marvel NOW! 2.0. The results: I was happily proven wrong on many levels. Blood in the Aether follows on perfectly from Last Days of Magic with the idea of a message being sent out across the magical universe that the mighty Sorcerer Supreme is not so mighty. Better yet, for a admittedly new fan to Doctor Strange, this arc is going to be perfect for being introduced to Doctor Strange’s Rogue Gallery.
Doctor Strange #13
Two issues! In one month! Real magic! The issue opens with what appears to be a flashback to Doctor Strange’s previous life: World-class surgeon, fancy cars, romance and a big house. However, something is a little weird. A sandwich short of a picnic, as it were. We cut back to Baron Mordo who is being punished for letting the Doctor slip away quite so easily. Wong and Zelma are concerned over where the Doctor has gone. Wong is sure that the best way to find out is to fall asleep. As quickly as possible (I imagine some would argue that this the solution to every problem). Back to Doctor Strange, everything is freakishly normal around the house, though the number of girls present seems to be increasing every time Doctor Strange looks away. A pizza delivery (From Wong) and magical books falling down his chimney (Zelma being the source of these books) alerts Doctor Strange to something very weird going on. He goes to the kitchen and smashes a meat hammer against his hand and awakes to the sight of Nightmare cackling in front his floating body. Not only does he have the Doctor in his clutches but Nightmare is putting Zelma and Wong through their worst nightmares imaginable. Not only them, but many more people, feeding Nightmare’s power. Doctor Strange tries something new to protect all the people from Nightmare: Survive all their nightmares so they can sleep easily, thus limiting Nightmare’s power. With Nightmare defeated the Doctor is then absorbed into a fiery pentagram where he then arrives in a hellish diner run by Satana, the Devil’s Daughter.
Wowzer (I feel like I should start using that word more often…). From one brilliant issue to another, we get to see another rogue in action, Nightmare. The flashback-esqe beginning threw me and when it was revealed to be a nightmare, I was genuinely surprised (Considering the fact that we saw Nightmare last issue, I could have just been a little stupid). Not only was October a double issue month (Which unfortunately won’t happen again, I imagine) but the story thus far has been fantastic.
Ms Marvel #12
After an incredibly rough time of it, Kamala is off for some R&R with her family in Karachi, Pakistan. The issue opens with her at the airport, being searched by a security guard. She catches a glimpse of Bruno about to go to Wakanda (Awkward to say the least). She is met in Karachi by her wonderful family (I didn’t even know them at the time but I just knew they would be wonderful). They go back to her grandmother’s apartment block, Fort Naani, which, amusingly, pretty much belongs to Kamala’s family as all the apartments within are owned by a member of the Khan family. She is taken up to her room where she bumps into Kareem, her friend-in-law (As it was put), and her month of R&R begins. She spends time trying to sort her head out, enjoying her surroundings. However, bad stuff is happening on the streets of Karachi with people blowing up hydrants which people collect water from. After witnessing a second one right outside her window, she decides to take action the only way she knows how: Ms Marvel-ling. She confronts some bad guys on the road but is quickly stopped by Red Dagger, Karachi’s very own super hero protector (Who is also obviously Kareem)! He informs her that she can’t just try and solve the problem as it is more complex than it seems. She comes to the realisation that she can’t truly find the missing piece of herself unless she is back home in New Jersey. Before going, she talks with Kareem and gains something special. A friend. The issue ends with a bonus mini-story about Red Widow, an assassin much like Black Widow, who is telepathically linked with Natasha Romanoff. It reveals the motivation behind her quest for vengeance which is the death of her boyfriend and little brother of Natasha Romanoff, Alexei.
Again, wowzer (I have a new favourite word). This broke the tone of the past few issues spectacularly with a wonderful trip to see Kamala’s family in Pakistan. It was refreshing to have a change in scenery and the one chosen was fascinating to see. Kareem is definitely going to pop up again (Maybe as a partner in superheroics (For I am 99% he is the Red Dagger)). Still no Mike, I’m becoming concerned… The Red Widow story was rather brilliant itself, even if it isn’t going to be a comic book but an actual novel.
Justice League #6
The issue opens with a weird black creature terrorising the Justice League, making them all afraid. However, the combined might of the Green Lanterns (Who are growing on me very quickly) protects the Justice League and dissipates the creature. The League go their separate ways but not before Barry (The Flash) asks Jessica (Green Lantern) on a date. Victor (Cyborg) and Baz (The other Green Lantern) head off to a high school football game to help out. Superman heads back to Kent Farm after a rather long day. Jessica and the Flash are both deciding what to wear to their date, Jessica more nervous than Barry. They meet outside a restaurant, Barry holding some rather bare flowers (Running at high speeds with flowers is not a very good idea, clearly). Batman is chilling in the Bat cave, trying to get in touch with Dick Grayson but to no avail. The date is now in motion and they order their food, Barry ordering a considerable amount more than Jessica (Running as fast as he can does, understandably, drain his supply of energy). The atmosphere takes an interesting turn. Barry is struggling to cope with how slow everything is and then, when he touches Jessica’s hand, Jessica freaks out and accidentally blasts a waiter several metres across the room. Meanwhile, at Kent Farm, Superman becomes enraged about Batman and how he doesn’t feel trusted. Superman decides that the natural course of action is to kill Batman!
A rather strong issue which sets the stage for next issue being an exciting one. Less Justice League action in this one which, if I’m honest, is actually welcomed what with the past few issues being rather intense. It was cool to see the Justice League on a more human level, going on dates and playing high school football, and it helped me to feel more connected to the characters. It’s a slow grower but I’m definitely enjoying reading this title.
Justice League #7
This issue opens with Batman reflecting on his failures such as doing nothing whilst his parents were murdered and being unable to save Jason Todd (A former Robin) from the Joker. This is cut short rather abruptly when Superman breaks into the Bat cave and begins attacking Batman. Wonder Woman and Aquaman discuss humanity, Aquaman annoyed at the fear he receives from them and Wonder Woman sharing how the only way to achieve true peace (In her opinion) is to conquer the world. They go on about Wonder Woman’s idea, arguing that they have already done so much good for the world, and Wonder Woman is keen to take charge. Aquaman, on the other hand, would rather make a display of power, putting the people who fear him in their place. The insecurities of Baz and Victor are made apparent, Baz feeling like no one wants him around and Victor feeling embarrassed by his appearance. Superman and Batman are still fighting but Batman isn’t fighting back, his guilt making him feel like he deserves it. Superman releases Batman. The Flash is reflecting on the negative impacts of being a speedster. Life for ordinary people is too slow for him so he has to slow down and belittle his own power to survive in society. He finds Jess protected beneath a green dome which he tries to enter. Jess fires him back as she did with the waiter last issue. She then begins to vomit out what appears to be the creature from the start of the previous issue. The creature then begins a dramatic speech, highlighting the fears of each Justice League member. Wonder Woman and Aquaman approach the authorities and are met by military personnel. Superman and Batman begin talking and begin to clock on to something fishy going on. The creature is spreading at the time, trapping Jess and Barry in the centre. Jess begins to panic but Barry quickly calms her down, reminding her of her purpose as a Lantern: To overcome fear. She raises her ring and destroys the creature a brilliant blaze of green glory. The League are freed from their fears but feel worse for wear. The issue ends with Jessica deciding that it’s all too much for her and she leaves the Justice League.
For such a small arc, this story was surprisingly climatic, not only pitting Superman against Batman but having Wonder Woman and Aquaman on the verge of attacking the military and having a member quit. To an extent, I enjoyed this short story more than the first arc but I think that’s due to the way in which the League were stripped down so their vulnerabilities were made apparent. It makes them more relatable, in my opinion, which is good for a very new fan like myself.
Busy, busy, busy. Marvel NOW! 2.0 has started off exceptionally well in two of the three of remaining Marvel titles I collect (I have also started collecting two new Marvel series, stay tuned for more on those). The Justice League are growing on me as the issue number increases, further securing their future in my Buy Pile. November (Thankfully (For me, these posts take an age to type (Though I do believe there are at least 7 if not 8 issues…))) isn’t quite as busy but interesting none the less. If you have any thoughts or questions please leave them in the comments.