I’m just back from Baltimore Comic Con. I highly recommend it to any comic book fan! It’s big enough that some big-name creators are there, and small enough that you can talk to them without generally waiting in huge lines! I got to talk to some people I’ve mentioned in this column a number of times, including Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Brian Wood (Star Wars, Mara, Ultimate X-Men), Chris Samnee (Daredevil), Terry Moore (Rachel Rising, Strangers in Paradise), Paul Kupperberg (Life with Archie), Dan Parent (Kevin Keller), and others! Plus, I talked to a lot of up and comers, and picked up some indy comics that I hope to read soon and mention here. And next week is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland, which is local to me, and I hope to go on Sunday and discover some more off-the-beaten-path gems to share with my dear readers.
Meanwhile, I’m afraid this week I’m featuring high-selling Marvel titles. On the brighter side, they were really good! It’s a time-travel week all around!
Superior Spider-Man #17
Long before Miles Morales became the Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel had a mixed race hero don the spider, Miguel O’Hara in Spider-Man 2099. This series was written by the ever-capable Peter David, and is some of his finest work. The main villainous force in this future vision was the megacorp Alchem.
Writer Dan Slott ties this into the modern Spider-Man’s story brilliantly. Parker’s place of work, Horizon Labs, is being taken over in a hostile manner by a company called Allen Chemical. (IE, the predecessor to Alchem.) This is being led by a man named Stone, who is the grandfather of Miguel.
But because Peter Parker is not Peter Parker, Otto Octavius is starting to ripple into the timestream. He does not appreciate being at the mercy of anyone, and plans to stop Allen Chemical in his own ruthless way. Which clearly implies that Stone won’t survive it, and the future of 2099 starts to collapse.
Of course, it’s a comic book and they’re a superscience firm, so they send a very self-interested Spider-Man of 2099 back to the present, to stop this disruption of the time-stream.
It’s really nice to see this world again, and the introduction is, I think, fairly gentle to readers who weren’t around for the original 2099 line. It’s a well constructed storyline, and I’m eager to see how it plays out!
If anyone in the future is reading this in the year 2099 looking for reviews of the current issue of Spider-Man – wow! The future version of the Internet is pretty amazing, isn’t it! Sorry, I’m probably long since dead, but I still appreciate your readership as best I can.
X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1
One of the more obnoxious things about being a Marvel fan is their commitment to the Big Event. What used to be a Summer thing, is now something that seems to happen year round. Titles find it hard to develop intricate long-term storylines, having them interrupted after three or four issues so they can participate in the latest big crossover event. Fear Itself, Secret Invasion, Avengers vs. X-men, Schism, they just keep coming.
But this one, wow, what a way to kick it off!
As regular readers know, not too long ago Beast brought the original X-Men forward through time for reasons largely having to do with trying to bring Cyclops back from the brink of anti-heroism or downright supervillainry. It hasn’t worked at all, and it was a bad idea to begin with (but an entertaining bad idea!) So the senior, er, junior – the modern X-Men want to send them back. The classics don’t really appreciate not getting a vote.
And then, in classic X-Men style, bam, six mutants from the future show up! The story, and this review, continues in….
All New X-Men #16
These future X-Men are: Beast, a middle-aged Kitty Pryde, a bestial version of Iceman (and yes, there are three versions of him from different ages in this scene), Molly Hayes of the Runaways (squee!), a telepathic descendant of Charles Xavier, and a mysterious masked woman (whose identity is revealed in this issue, but I’m going to leave that as a surprise).
They echo the moderns argument that the classics need to go home, because they’re mucking up the timeline something awful. The classics really really don’t like this. And so, in a fit of stupidity, Jean mind controls Wolverine to start a brief fight, and her and classic Scott escape so that we have a plot.
I’m a sucker for a good time-travel story, and that’s the bread and butter of so much of the X-Men’s finest moments. Days of Future Past is one of the finest stories in the medium, and is the basis for the upcoming movie. It was the adaptation of the Bishop time-travel storyline in the 90s X-Men Animated Series that caused me to really fall for the X-Men to begin with. And when you bring out a lineup of future versions of some of my all-time favorites, well, I’m so in. This may be an event crossover, but it’s also a great X-Men story.
Also, I really deeply love that Molly has grown up from a scrawny super-strength kid into a woman of stature. She’s not a model or a barbie doll like so many comic book women. She’s broad, and strong, and looks amazing. When I say I want a wider range of body types in comics, this is exactly what I want.
If they can keep it up, expect to see a lot of mentions of the Battle of the Atom crossover in this space over the next month!