Thursday, 30 September 2010

So, did we mention that Chris Claremont was returning to the X-Men?

DC have been taking up all the news these past few days, with Marvel choosing to keep out the limelight ahead of the New York ComicCon. Comicon? Comic-Con. Whatever, it's a silly name. Marvel have given us virtually nothing to write about, which means we're going to look back to the release of the December 2010 Solicitations, and desperately search for anything newsworthy before you all forget about us.
One thing stood out. Remember that the dead are coming back to life in the upcoming Chaos War mini-event storyline thing? Well, the X-Men are tying in to that, with Banshee, Thunderbird, and a few minor characters returning for the imaginatively-titled two-issue story 'Chaos War: X-Men'. We've already reported about this, it's not particularly new news. However, what we probably should have pointed out a few weeks ago was that the two issues will see the return of two familar names to 'official' X-Men Continuity. Yes! Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson are teaming up for the story, in their first 616 story for years. Claremont was last seen writing New Exiles for Marvel, before moving off into X-Men Forever; while Simonson has just completed the critically-successful X-Factor Forever miniseries. Will this be the start of a fully-fledged return to the X-Men?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

An Important Page: Shang-Chi's Tuesday

Shang-Chi, the master of kung-fu, is set to join the Secret Avengers team in issue #6. Will he stick around with them, or is he just here for a brief team-up? Have a look at this page from Mike Deodato and decide for yourself.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

An Important Page: Giants Walk Amongst Us

It is starting to seem as thought Jonathan Hickman can do anything. In this, a page from his upcoming miniseries about Thor, we can see Frost Giants and henchmen marching towards the God of Thunder. Elsewhere, there appear to be scenes of dead ravens and ancient runes. Could it be that we're going to see an interesting Thor story, for the first time in what feels like forever? Well, technically, no. Because this is ULTIMATE Thor we're talking about, and he's always been excellent. Apart from that one time. Ultimate Thor + Hickman + artist Carlos Pacheco? Well, this is almost a guaranteed hit, isn't it?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Darkstar & The Winter Guard: Reviewed!

Collecting in trade very soon, here’s our final verdict on Darkstar & The Winter Guard, a story told in four parts although the first part was called something different. Always written by David Gallaher and always drawn by Steve Ellis, the four issues tell a gradual tale and bring an old team very much into the forefront of the contemporary Marvel Universe. The Winter Guard, and Darkstar herself, are Russian heroes created by a number of different people during the 70s and 80s. Darkstar came first, created by Tony Isabella and later developed by Bill Mantlo. Mantlo and Fabian Nicenza then spent time with the other Russians, popping them into stories wherever possible and attempting to develop them via cameo. Over time, four of the characters stood out from the others a little. They were:

Red Guardian, the leader of the team and a Captain America analogue for Russia. There have been loads of Red Guardians, and they often served as cannon fodder for other writers.
Crimson Dynamo – a version of Iron Man for Russia, and as a result spent most of his time fighting Tony Stark. Again, Crimson Dynamos were treated as highly expendable indeed.
Darkstar, who joined the X-Men briefly before getting shot and killed. Oh dear.
Ursa Major – a man who turns into a bear. Has managed to not get killed.

While popular with fans, the characters have never been anything like well-known enough to sustain their own series. They had a one-shot once, which introduced about twenty other Russian characters all at once, but apart from that it’s been mainly cameos for the group. So this was a fun chance to finally develop the characters on their own, without cramming in Iron Man or the Avengers to keep sales up. As a result, we got to find out quite a few things about the Winter Guard superhero team.

For one thing, we found out that things in Russia were pretty tense. Whilst the main four team members were still operating at the time the story began, only one of them was the original. The Russian Government had hired three replacements to take over from the deceased Darkstar, Crimson Dynamo, and Red Guardian, while the original Ursa Major tried to keep them all functioning as a team. This was done so that the Russian Government could pretend that their heroes were invincible, thus giving the impression to the Russian people that they were safe. Meanwhile, the other Russian heroes had all left in disgust as a result, and gone off to their varying retreats. The series focuses on the return of a few certain heroes, and how their existence puts the entirety of the Winter Guard program at risk.

So that’s the basic setup. We’re trying to review this without giving anything away, but it’s difficult to explain the setup without letting a few things slip out. Basically we have four issues of awkward team dynamic, mixed in with the occasional undead dinosaur attack or an invasion from an underwater King. While we do get to see a lot of characterisation in the miniseries, the problem Gallaher faces is that he has simply so many characters, all of whom are partially characterised and desperately wanting to be used. And only a few pages. So at times, the characters have to be painted in broad brushstrokes. This works okay for the most part, but it does mean that some characters show up briefly, say one or two things, then leave again. There just isn’t the space for them. The four main characters are well-cast, however, and provide a wide-ranging dynamic for Gallaher to play around with. Red Guardian is a jerk, Crimson Dynamo is unappreciated, Darkstar III is worried about whether she’ll be able to live up to the legacy of her predecessor, while Ursa Major is trying to make everyone play nice. Throwing the four contrasting personalities works well for the series, and acts as a good way of grounding the reader before everything explodes.

Because everything does explode. Given that the Winter Guard have typically been used as cannon fodder, marshalled one-by-one to their deaths, it’s amazing just how many of them are still around for Gallaher to brutally destroy. Things go horribly wrong in this miniseries, and the stakes are raised just enough to make the last few issues genuinely unpredictable. About 50 characters die, several others are wounded, and at least one character has their head stolen. It’s absolutely mental, everything that can happen does happen. Starting off immediately with a tentacle monster trying to eat Russia, the series only gets more bizarre and silly as things go on. The combination of weirdness and violence is interesting and new. Grant Morrison offered high-quality versions of it, but most other writers either pick one or t’other. Fred Van Lente and Jeff Parker are two other names who stand out for managing to flip from one to the other, actually. In this case, the silliness carries on during the violent bits, which makes this perhaps the only comic you’ll ever read where one moment a bear is teaming up with a gorilla to fight villains, the next he’s watching his teammates get eaten by aliens. Everything is in this mini.

Top Five Obscure Russian Characters Who Don’t Appear In This:

4. Gremlin. Hee. Gremlin is silly. Do a comicvine search for him.
5. Synthesizer. A couple of fused scientists who were, like, all electric and that.
3. Elena Ivanova. A psychic, or something. She was cool.
2. Sibercat. An over-enthusiastic man-cat thing.
1. Blind Faith. Is both a Priest and blind.

The art team are on top form. Steve Ellis’ artwork starts off looking scratchy and interesting, before morphing into a more structured but still interesting form. Val Staples puts in some stunning work as colourist, especially towards the end when lots of different power signatures are flashing around the place all at once. Scott Hanna’s inking is likewise very well done (inkers represent!) and adds to the hectic style of Elli’s pencilling. Things get thoroughly off-kilter by the end, and the art team manage to handle having a lot thrown at them all at once. And meanwhile, let’s not forget either that Scott O. Brown letters the mini with an eye to giving each character their own voice. Everyone is on fine form.

Most of the intellectual debate we have for the series is posted elsewhere on the site, in our review for… was it the second issue? Think so. We’re more focused here with doing a simpler review which basically conveys the point that the series reads as a fun, mad, weird and sometimes campy update on the original characters, moving them forwards and giving them a proper place within the MU. It reads, actually, as a love letter to Bill Mantlo’s writing, and you can find a tribute to the writer on Gallaher’s personal website, if you so wish. As far as we’re concerned, this was proper what comics are meant to be like. Entertaining, but built around the characters rather than anything else. Sometimes there was a stray line which sounded odd, or a scene which played out strangely, but the focus on the main four characters pulls everything together and holds it in place. If nothing else, the team have completely cemented Ursa Major as the greatest hero in all of comics.

Our meaningless rating: 8/10. Really good fun.

NEWS UPDATE: Nothing really happened this week

Not much at all. Well, Matt Fraction finally started his run on Thor. So that's something. But... no, this has been a thoroughly quiet week for Marvel. Maybe we should've spent some time on crafting that hand-wrought Darkstar & The Winter Guard review we've been promising for about three weeks now. Ah well.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Everybody is in Heroes For Hire

Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett are the writers, whilst Brad Walker draws. And here's the team:

Black Widow
Iron Fist
Moon Knight
Ghost Rider
Misty Knight
Squirrel Girl
Uatu The Watcher
Eva Longoria

We added a few at the end, but apparently ALL the other characters will be appearing somehow in this series. We know what you're thinking: who is Paladin? We're wondering the same thing. He sounds like a holy temple. We'll have to wait and see if this is the case or not.

We've never seen a temple-based super-hero before.

The Inaugural Marjorie Liu Poodle Hunt!

Marjorie Liu, writer of our current favourite Marvel series 'X-23', is not just a well-known and regarded writer of novels and comics. She is also a keen lover of that most noble of beasts -- the poodle. In recognition of her love of poodles, we here at ComVan are pleased to offer a new competition for all our readers (hey, you two). The competition is called 'Poodle Hunt' and is not endorsed by Marjorie Liu in any way. Will Conrad, who drew the original artwork, is also completely in the dark about the existence of this competition and probably wouldn't approve of it either. Basically, this competition has nothing to do with Marvel and if you say it does then we aren't to be held responsible for the ensuing legal avalanche.

The game is simple - somewhere on the opening page from X-23 #1 we have drawn a poodle. Just the head of a poodle, actually, and it may not even look that much like a poodle. Art was never our talent. Anyway! If you are the lucky first person to spot the poodle and identify its location in our comments section, then you will win a SENSATIONAL PRIZE! The prize is nothing. This may well become a monthly feature. Here is your first challenge:

Sunday, 19 September 2010

An Important Page: Demon Ninjas!

Wolverine goes to Hell looks like its going to pick up in the second issue, after the first issue focused mainly on building up the threat and suspense. Look at those swords sticking out of him! Jason Aaron and Renato Guedes are really laying it into the poor guy.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

An Important Page: Sombrero Bus Fight

Fred Van Lente writes a lot of things for a living. But what you may not know is that he is an expert in the field of bus fencing, a popular new sport in America in which each contestant stands on one side of the roof of a bus, rapier drawn. The bus then sets off along a narrow clifftop pathway at approximately three times the legal speed limit, whilst the competitors attempt to stab each other up. Whoever is surviving by the end of the contest is deemed both the winner and incredibly bloody lucky. In Taskmaster #2, Van Lente will be drawing upon his past experiences as a player of this noble sport. Here's what the results look like, as drawn by the highly impressive Jefte Paolo.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Illuminati Return

The Illuminati were a group of great thinkers within the Marvel Universe (and Namor) whose job was to try and keep the Earth safe from global and intergalactic threats. Comprising of Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, Dr Strange, Black Bolt, Namor and Professor X, the group were an important part of the Marvel Universe until their decisions started to come back to haunt them. First they were beaten up extensively by The Hulk as a punishment for their decision to exile him to another planet. Then they led directly to the Civil War and were finally broken up during Secret Invasion. Brian Michael Bendis, the writer who first put them together, has decided that the time is right for the group to give it another shot - but with a few changes.

As Mr Bolt is currently unavailable, Medusa appears to be stepping in to fill her husband's shoes. This is fantastic news for at least one reason, said reason being that MEDUSA IS AMAZING. The other notable change is that Namor has finally been kicked off the team, for reasons as-yet undisclosed. Perhaps they finally got tired of his smell, perhaps he quit because he wanted to spend more time pestering Emma Frost over in Uncanny X-Men. We may never know. Until, that is, we know. Which will be soon! The return of the Illuminati will occur in Bendis' Avengers series, drawn by John Romita Jr.

Currently in Avengers: Thor bashing Galactus round the head with a hammer. True story! At any rate, the return of the Illuminati looks set to be the second story arc, and we're excited because we actually like every member on the team (Prof X! We just want to give you a big ol' cuddle). It's been a long time since we could say that. You've been patient with us, so here's the teaser image by Romita Jr.

Misty Knight Joins The Heroes For Hire!

The Dead X-Men Return Again

Banshee makes what must be at least his third return from the dead in December as part of a team of Dead X-Men rising from... well, the grave. Along with Thunderbird, the two dead Stepford Cuckoos, and some Multiple Man dupes, the Orish Screamer looks set to be heavily involved in the Chaos War storyline by Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak. We've already seen that Alpha Flight and Ares are coming back to life - is this the same thing? Marvel have yet to tell us what this teaser is for, but we hear rumours of a Chaos War: X-Men two-issue miniseries on the horizon. Drawn by Carlo Pagulayan, we're interested to see where this goes, and how it'll differ from the recent 'Necrosha' event.

Bulleye Miniseries Coming in November

Charlie Huston, a man what writes for Marvel with pleasing frequency nowadays, is going to be the writer of a two-issue miniseries featuring Bullseye, the psychotic killer-for-hire. Teaming up again with artist Shawn Martinbrough, the writer plans to tell a short, sweet story featuring the character which exists purely as escapist fun. YES. That's what comics are all about. YES. More of this please, Marvel. To best serve his story, Huston is setting the adventure within.. oh dear. It's about baseball, the pseudo-sport which Americans love for no discernable reason. Oh dear.

Baseball isn't a sport, America! When will you learn?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Not Elektra: Heroes For Hire

We reported that Elektra could be heading for an ongoing series. And while that is still true, sorta, it's not the whole story. We've got a copy of a second teaser image which picks up in the same style, but which this time shows.... FALCON. So we're not talking about an Elektra ongoing series, we're talking about a return for the Heroes For Hire series. The second teaser is also drawn by Harvey Tolibao, just like what the first one was. Come, let us admire it together:

Coming in December, art possibly by Harvey Tolibao... nothing else in known yet. It might not even be an ongoing series. But at least we know that Elektra and Falcon are going to be in it - for us, Falcon is an insta-buy character, but we don't know what your thoughts on awesome characters who totally control birds and fly with science-wings are. Maybe you're anti, maybe you're pro. If you are anti, then frankly we don't want anything to do with you and pray you don't pass on these instincts to your children.

Here's Your New Man Without Fear

We're not happy about this either. Can't believe that Falc' is being denied YET AGAIN. Perhaps the creative team will be able to make this work, and best wishes to them. But... darn!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Marvel 'To Publish Comic'

How did this one slip through the net? According to the 'What If' series of comics has reached the historic landmark of 200 issues. That's almost as many issues as Marvel's X-Men (now X-Men Legacy) series (or 195 more issues than SWORD ever got), fact-fans. To celebrate they are going to publishing a new What If? story at... some point this year. Written by Marc Guggenheim and drawn by super-stylish Dave Wilkins, the central story of the issue will be 'What if Norman Osborn won Siege?'
Now, we all know what would have happened if Norman Osborn has won Siege, don't we? A series of blonde women would go missing over a period of months, with escalating reports of screams heard near the Brooklyn Bridge. But Guggenheim is going to look at the impact of the Cabal for his story, moving on the plot of Dr Doom's decision to leave the Cabal. With Doom the only remaining threat to him, Osborn will likely make his move on the Latvarian ruler, possibly escalating into a Sentry-Vs-Doom battle. But also, it appears as though the X-Men's decision not to get involved in these events will finally pay off - their absence during Siege means that they can help Doom make a final stand against Osborn. How exciting!
And the backup story is written by Stan Lee and drawn by Dale Eaglesham! And it's all about our favourite Marvel character - Uatu, The Watcher! That's how powerful we are, folks -- three days after we state our love for the character, Marvel announce a comic about him. Personal fan-service, thanks.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Is Elektra Getting an Ongoing Series?

Marvel have released a teaser showing Elektra.... wait, why are we describing this to you? The picture is right here:

The image is almost certainly a Harvey Tolibao 'joint', and suggests one of two things: an Elektra miniseries or an Elektra ongoing. Which is more likely? Well, we're thinking that it will be a miniseries, but hoping it's an ongoing. If it IS an ongoing, though, just imagine the possibilities. Elektra has ties to Daredevil of course, but also to SHIELD (Secret Warriors), Natasha Romanov (Black Widow), Wolverine (Wolverine) and many others. Think of what we'd get! Our guess would be that Zeb Wells will be the writer, as he's been her unofficial patron for the past year or so. But, as ever, only time will tell for this one.

Uncanny X-Men Enters a Coalition

Britain and Australia have both done it, so why shouldn't the Uncanny X-Men? They're a fledgling nation after all, looking for solid leadership. Matt Fraction, the writer of the series for about two years now, came on as part of a coalition and is now forming one of his own. This is our overly-written way of saying that Uncanny X-Men just got itself a co-writer -- Kieron Gillen. As of December's issue #531, the two writers will work together on the series, starting off with an arc about Sublime depowering the X-Men and then beating them up. And Dazzler will be around more! We're pretty smashed as we write this article, sorry for it not making much sense. Here's a picture of Greg Land's cover for the issue!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

An Important Page: This is What Deadpool is About

Look at this page from the upcoming Deadpool Corps #7, featuring Deadpool and Lady Deadpool and... we're going to guess they call it 'Kid Deadpool'? We don't read much Deadpool, because of our chronic fear of red bodysuits. However, if you are a new reader to comics and want to know what Deadpool is about? This is basically what Deadpool is about. He has a sword and some guns and there is a lightsabre and people get killed and then he makes a joke about chickens or something. Which makes the murder FINE. We think there are also meant to be some kind of Deadpool dog on this team, but it isn't present on this page. Rob Liefeld, who appears to be the nicest man in comics, drew this page, and it's pretty decent! People always criticise him, but at least he's kinetic and the perspective is cool. So, if you like guns and red bodysuits and guns and a possible dog of some kind, this may be the book for you.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Ten Films We're Unlikely To See From Marvel Studios

If you read proper blogs from time to time, you'll know that Marvel Studios have recently been working through about twelve million different ideas for movies based on their roster of comic-book characters. As we are not a proper blog but more like a holding space for hackery, we're only just about to start dealing with this now. While Captain America and Thor are upcoming for Marvel Studios, along with an Avengers movie, there are incessant rumours about other characters making it to the big screen. Dr Strange is one of the most persistant, along with Iron Fist, Power Man, and Black Panther. And hey! If you can make an interesting film about Thor, you can pretty much do anything. However, here's a list of ten characters we can't see making it to the big screen anytime soon.

10. Squirrel Girl

Best to get her out the way quickly, or you'll be expecting her to top the list. Squirrel Girl can't appear in a movie, ever, because it takes away all the tension. How can an audience worry about the fate of the World if they know that Squirrel Girl is on the case? She'll lick the villains within five minutes, then go back to her beloved Central Park and forage for nuts. She's too powerful to work within a movie.

9. Howard The Duck

Oh. Wait...

8. Psylocke.

For one thing, it'd be hard to find an actress who'd be willing to put on Psylocke's frankly painful-looking costume. And then there's the fact that Psylocke is white, but at some point gets turned into an Asian woman. Is there any way that someone could pull off that story on the big screen without looking like a massive racist? We don't think so.

7. Captain Mar-Vell

One and a half hours of utterly inspired space action, as Captain Marvel races through the cosmos looking to save the Universe from total destruction! Followed by half an hour of him slowly contracting cancer, and dying in bed while the villain gets away with it.

6. X-23

Like Wolverine, except the lead character is a young prostitute who murders people with a footclaw and sniffs the ground a lot. She doesn't talk much, rarely offers any glimpse of a true personality, and spends the first hour of the movie being tortured by a sinister American agency. Y'know what? Maybe we'll pitch this to Eli Roth.

5. Black Bolt

The lead character can't talk! He wins all his fights by whispering a word at his opponent! There is absolutely never any variation in the way this character wins battles! It would be insanely boring to watch a Black Bolt film. He works in comics because he doesn't appear so often, but in a film? And besides, if in Space, nobody can hear you scream.... how the heck do Black Bolt's powers work?

4. Tigra

Because it'd be weird. Charlize Theron, dressed up as a she-cat complete with fur and tail? The World just isn't ready for that kind of thing yet.

Well, maybe Japan is.

3. Wonder Man

Nobody cares about Wonder Man. He don't count.

2. Captain Britain.

For one thing, Americans have never really taken to the character. For another thing, nobody in Britain would ever take it seriously. He calls himself "Captain Britain"? Not very modest of him, is it? He needs to scale down the ego and realise that nobody from England would ever be accepted by Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. It'd never sell, unless it was made a deliberate satire and the BBC was involved. Maybe Robert Lindsay could be Captain Britain, while Zoe Wanamaker plays Meggan.

1. Uatu The Watcher

And this one upsets us deeply. We love Uatu. He is probably our favourite character here at ComVan, with his wise ways and solemn stares. What a loveable lug! Sadly, the idea of watching Uatu watch other heroes for two straight hours would probably be too difficult to work out, with all the different licensing and scheduling conflicts that'd be created by having five minutes of Captain America followed by ten minutes of X-Men followed by twenty minutes of Luke Cage. Incidentally, our ideal casting for the guy would be a bald Judi Dench.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Lame! Frankencastle Reaches an End

If you know us then you'll know that we enjoyed Frankencastle a lot more than we ever enjoyed the Punisher. Which is why we now have to bring you the sad news that Frankencastle.... is dying. Come Frankencastle #21 he will be no more, replaced by a new, young, boring Punisher once more. He's going out with a bang, though, as we mentioned previously - Elsa Bloodstone and Morbius are tagging along for the final issue of the series, so we're assured a bit of fun before the brooding guy walks back into our lives.

Punisher makes his proper return in a miniseries following the finale of Frankencastle, called 'Punisher: In The Blood'. Also written by Rick Remender, the five-issue miniseries will feature both the return of Roland Boschi on art duties and the the two Jigsaws. That's right, Punisher-fan! Not only is the current Jigsaw showing up, but the ORIGINAL Jigsaw will also appear. Back from the dead. So they'll be causing trouble in New York which can only be solved by shooting people zzzz. Not to knock the creative team, of course! But you can only flog a dead horse for so long before some kind of wildlife authority shows up to arrest you.

At the end of In The Blood, Remender plans to leave the series. Pitch for a Morbius ongoing, Rick!!

Jock's Cover for Daredevil Reborn #1

Jock has just released a look at the first cover for Andy Diggle's 'Daredevil Reborn' mini, which will be replacing the main Daredevil series once Shadowland finishes. Marvel have been teasing for weeks now that they're going to kill off Matt Murdock (hey, you gotta keep him out the Avengers somehow), but this cover makes that tease seem like an almost certain definite reality.

With Matt Murdock currently doing suspicious and murderous things in Shadowland, will Diggle actually go ahead and bump him off proper? And if so - which character will do it? We've got Ghost Rider, Moon Knight and Kingpin all walking around in this story, along with Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Punisher...

Marvel have already released a list of possible replacements for Daredevil which included Gambit and Falcon. If it does come down to some sort of contest to see who gets to look after Hell's Kitchen then heck, we're on Falc's side. Gambit can barely wash himself, let alone save innocents from ninjas and gangster. Although then again, it might be that Daredevil Reborn isn't about replacing the character at all - maybe he will literally be reborn. In which case, we're placing bets on Misty Knight being the mother.

Daredevil Reborn #1 comes out in January. The final issue of Daredevil (issue #512) will come out in December. Natch.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Welcome to Alpha Flight

The best teams need no introduction. The X-Men, made up of Cyclops and Beast and Wolverine and Storm and Rogue, for example. Or The Avengers, made up of Iron Man and Thor and Captain America and… Wonder Man. The Winter Guard, made of Darkstar, Ursa Major, Crimson Dynamo and Red Vanguardian™. But the official Canadian superteam Alpha Flight are kinda tricky to work out. Not only are there a lot of characters, but most of them became famous only once they left the team – Wolverine, Northstar, and several others. Some of the famous ones aren’t even part of Alpha Flight – Diamond Lil, Wild Child and Madison Jeffries all came from Gamma Flight. Yeah, there are three different groups of Flights (four if you include Omega, but nobody does) and they’re all in varying degrees of Limbo. As Jim McCann is bringing the team back for a one-shot called 'Chaos Wars: Alpha Flight', let’s try to get our heads round who goes where, eh?

The Living --

Gamma Flight:

There are three squads. Gamma Flight are the third and most minor of the teams, and their team contained Madison Jeffries, Diamond Lil, Wild Child and Witchfire. None of them are important for McCann’s story, but at least now you won’t send us complaints that we left them out. FYI many of them are currently dead.

Alpha Flight:

Half of Alpha Flight are dead, and half are alive. The ones still alive are:

Northstar – Jean-Paul Beaubier. He has superspeed and now lives on Utopia with the X-Men. His boyfriend is very annoying, but rarely appears anyway so it doesn't matter too much.
Aurora – Jeanne-Marie Beaubier. Who has the same powers. She is Northstar’s sister but has yet to join up with the rest of the X-Men. She is likely in Canada. She runs a snowboarding company!
Sasquatch – Walter Langkowski. He is a big yellow monster dude with enhanced speed and strength. He is in Canada. Nobody cares much about him.
Snowbird – Narya. A Demi-Goddess who can transform into any Canadian animal. She's the one that people like the most. She turns into bears and owls and stuff. It's ace.

The Dead --

Alpha Flight:

Guardian – James MacDonald Hudson, married to Vindicator. He uses a battle suit to give him powers. He was killed by Michael Pointer in an awesome issue of New Avengers.
Vindicator – Heather Hudson, who also wears a battle suit which enables her to fly and do heroic things. She was also killed by Michael Pointer.
Shaman - Michael Twoyoungmen. He was, predictably, a shaman. Killed by Pointer. They all died off-panel.

Beta Flight:

The only two important members of Beta Flight are Marina and Puck. Puck was killed by Michael Pointer. He had a demon possessing him, so when he died it’s likely that his soul went to Hell and is going to imminently meet Wolverine’s.

Marrina – Marrina Smallwood. An amphibian who fell in love with and later married Namor. She was later turned into a giant sea monster, which forced Namor to kill her. He then threw her mutilated giant snake monster body at Norman Osborn and went off in a huff. Oh, Namor!

In McCann’s one shot, we’re going to see Northstar, Aurora, Sasquatch and Snowbird deal with the return of Guardian, Vindicator, Shaman and Marrina. Got it? Hope so!

Chaos War: Alpha Flight comes out in Novermber.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

An Important Page: Fall of The Monster

Literally as well as metaphorically. Sadly, the whole Frankencastle storyline is about to end, and The Boring Ol' Punisher is returning soon. But until that point, Rick Remender is going to make sure that we get more than our fair share of monsters in the meantime. Teaming up with artist Dan Brereton for this last hurrah, Remender is bringing in the Marvel Universe's greatest monster hunter in order to track and bring in Frank Castle, battle-damaged after a long tussle with Daken and on his last legs. Who is this monster hunter extraordinare, you ask? Why, it's none other than the mighty...

Elsa Bloodstone! Hired by Morbius and Werewolf-by-Night and all the others, we're going to get several pages of Elsa-on-Castle action in this issue. If only this period of The Punisher's story never had to end...

Frankencastle #21 comes out on November 29th.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

An Important Page: Monkeys Monkeys Monkeys

Weekends are all about lazing around, looking at pictures. We know and appreciate that all anyone wants to do on Saturday or Sunday is look at an especially intriguing page of comic-book artwork, and we're more than happy to help you with that. Grab an ice-cold drink of some kind and place both arms in a relaxed manner behind your head. Well, make sure you're fully scrolled first, and then relax your arms. Here is a page from the upcoming Deadpool Team-Up #889, by Jeff Parker and Steve Sanders. Slightly predictably, it features a Deadpool team-up with one of the Agents of Atlas - in this case Gorilla Man. Less predictably, it also features Hit-Monkey, who is apparently popular now. Oh, general public! You and your monkeys.

Sanders' art style is a little different here to how it looked in S.W.O.R.D., but the silly touches remain thankfully intact. Perhaps Beast should show up at some point, just so we can all enjoy how superior...ily... Sanders draws the character? The issue looks like it will begin with a fight between Gorilla Man and Deadpool, before Hitman Monkey shows up and they team up to fight him. It's... not exactly War & Peace, but then again can you name one person who read War & Peace?

The issue comes out September 22nd, and we didn't even make a reference to Planet of the Apes. Arentcha proud?

Friday, 3 September 2010

Giant Man Returns!

Yes, it's Pym. And no, we don't know what this means for The Wasp, Ant-Man, or the other Giant Mens. Guess we'll all have to "wait" and "see"? It certainly seems as though the Academy is due to be revealed to the public soon, and some of the students may well turn on the tutors. A recent cover shows Reptil fighting Tigra... is this an extension of that? Is Pym the hero of this sequence, or the villain? So many questions, so little ability to answer them..

Wolverine: Who Will Be In Hell?

Wolverine’s been sent to hell by a combination of nefarious demons, Mystique, Daken and Jason Aaron. Mostly Jason Aaron, because he is currently the puppet master making those characters dance beneath his razor-sharp strings, but that’s more than enough poor metaphors for one day. The new WOLVERINE series is set to unite all the Wolverine titles together for the first time (oh, hey – there’s a family of Wolverine titles now), with Marjorie Liu’s Dark Wolverine and X-23 series both taking part in the overall storyline of “Wolverine Goes To Hell.” Issue #1 of Wolverine has just been released, along with a short story in the “Road To Hell” anthology. In it, Wolverine’s soul has been ripped out and sent into Hell, whilst a demon occupies his earthbound body and uses it to target Logan’s nearest and dearest. While the nearest-and-dearest aspect is interesting, what we’re more fascinated by is the question of: who else is in Hell? Here are five guesses:

5. The Gorgon

A man who works for HYDRA, and was killed by Wolverine during the ‘Enemy of the State’ storyline. Wolverine more or less lucked-out in this battle, only winning out of chance. Gorgon has since been resurrected in the pages of Jonathan Hickman’s ‘Secret Warriors’ title, but he doesn’t appear to have a soul – his soul is probably still in Hell. If Aaron wants to make things tough for Logan, than it would make a lot of sense to bring in The Gorgon to makes things difficult. Also, Gorgon appears on this cover:

4. Silver Fox

We're expecting at least one of Wolverine's exes to turn up in Hell, and it seems that Silver Fox is the most likely gal for the role. Although Itsu has a connection to Daken, and Mariko is connected to the Silver Samurai (who appears in the backup of Wolverine #1), it seems that Aaron has a fondness for the Weapon X team. Maverick has already appeared recently, and with Sabretooth never too far away and Wraith turning up in the most recent issue, Silver Fox is needed to help complete the squad. And it'll drive Wolverine INSANE to see her turn up in Hell. We've seen how Mystique is inferior to new chick on the drive Melita, now let's find out how the new gf compares to Silver Fox.

3. Xorn

Based on the events of the ‘Road to Hell’ short story that came out this week, this seems almost certain. Yes! A writer is actually going to try and tackle the continuity of Xorn in a comic! You may remember that Xorn was the alias used by Magneto at the end of Grant Morrison’s run on ‘New X-Men’, and was killed at the end of the Planet X storyline by Wolverine, after Xorn killed Jean Grey. Magneto/Xorn has since been roughly retconned so that Magneto was never a part of the story. All along, Xorn was simply a Magneto fanatic who pretended to be Magneto pretending to be Xorn so that well anyway this is what Jason Aaron is going to be stepped into if Xorn shows up. The murderer of Jean Grey… showing up in Hell… after being murdered by Wolverine… it’s certainly got potential.

2. Nightcrawler

Wouldn’t it be interesting, though! Kurt Wagner got a giant hand whomped through his chest during Second Coming, and died after saving Hope Summers. Logan has understandably been devastated by the loss, so wouldn’t it be the perfect gut-punch if it turned out that the Catholic had been sent to Hell? It’s not particularly likely, however, as Aaron’s Wolverine is slowly becoming a man of faith and it wouldn’t really suit the story if he had assistance in Hell. But hey, maybe we could see him slowly descend from the sky with a harp and angel wings during Logan’s darkest hour, and punch out Satan again!

1. Sabretooth.

This one is guaranteed. You know how we know? Because he’s on the cover to issue #3. The last time Wolverine saw the real Sabretooth, he was looking about a head shorter. When he goes down to Hell, Logan is bound to meet up again with the notorious beclawed murderer and rapist. Will they fight? Almost certainly! Will Sabretooth be a talking head or a complete body once more? That’s up for debate. In Road to Hell Sabretooth appeared as a head alone. But could that change once Logan hits the floor of Hell proper? We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s going to be a painful wait.