Stewart R: Behold!! Ed Brubaker week is upon us! Oh yes, one of Marvel’s strongest and most consistent writers - OK, so we may have to overlook the whole Captain America: Reborn thing - is bringing no less than three, yes count them, three titles to the table this Wednesday. The one that may well garner the most excitement from knowledgeable comic readers out there is Incognito: Bad Influences #1 the anticipated sequel to 2009’s well received anti-hero series. That particular comic was my first exposure to Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips’ collaborative work and it was a highly enjoyable read and runner for miniseries of the year for me. Living in these times as we do it seems that every success must be given a chance to live on beyond its initial scope but unlike my concerns last week with Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass 2 I don’t have any worries ahead of launch day.
Zack Overkill is a great protagonist and exploring a world where the bad guys can end up working for the good guys and looking at whether having a normal everyday life can reverse corruption within a character is an intriguing concept. Brubaker has promised that he’ll be playing with the moral compass idea a bit more this time around and bringing in some of the elements that he explored during his Sleeper series too. With Sean Phillips delivering a brilliantly dark superhero world in Incognito I’m quite excited to see what he gets to play around with this time and just how dark and brooding things are likely to get.
Second on Mr Brubaker’s roll call is Secret Avengers #6... oh go on then...”Everybody was Kung Fu fighting! Na-na-na-na nah nah, na-nah nah!” It seems that Steve Roger’s secretive team of ass-kickers, probably without Nova for the minute (and a good thing that is too), head off to one dark corner of the Marvel Universe to team up with Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu himself. Now I’ve little experience with old Shang but when the Secret Avengers roster contains some able-bodied and deadly-skilled fighters amongst the ranks I tend to think that we may be in for an arc of ass-kicking proportions. Admittedly an awful lot of responsibility will fall upon the shoulders of Mike Deodato Jr to make sure we get the best hand-to-hand fighting scenes that he can muster and while he’s been adept at portraying planet-busting super powers I am interested to see how he handles frenetic martial arts action.
Right, nearly there. So making up the trinity is Captain America #611 and it seems that Brubaker is going to lead us into a political arc as we bear witness to ‘The Trial of Captain America’. I love Bucky as Cap and have really enjoyed the character trying to fill the shoes of his predecessor and do it in his own style all the while battling a great many personal demons. But of course you can’t be someone as lethal and destructive as the Winter Soldier in a past life and not expect it to come back to haunt you and it seems that we may be back to territory that Brubaker seems ultra-comfortable with and that’s analysing just what it takes to be Captain America. Being the talisman for truth and justice that he now is I’m anticipating a terrific look at how Bucky copes - or maybe doesn’t - with the spotlight levelled squarely upon him and the accusations flying.
So with Brubaker-fest out of the way I started looking around at what else was coming out and I have to say it’s a very light week from me when it comes to DC’s offerings. I’ve decided to say goodbye to Action Comics for the time being as I just haven’t felt that enthralled by Paul Cornell’s Lex Luthor led story and just can’t bring myself to keep investing in it every month expecting to finally be sucked into it. I will be picking up Superman #704 to see how Kal-El’s little stroll across the United States is going but I’ve certainly been less impressed with that series than I expected to be. It’s also a little annoying to see that after only three issues we get an interlude from Straczynski’s story to focus on a G. Willow Wilson piece looking at Lois Lane and the choices that she’s made with her life. Now it may turn out to be a superb piece of comic reading when I get my hands on it Thursday but pausing the main story this early in the run seems a bit strange to me.
It’s generally slim pickings around the other publishers too this week. In fact I’d say that it’s so damn slim that I couldn’t see it if it were stood side-on to me. Gears of War #14 from terminally diagnosed Wildstorm starts off a new arc but since my former housemate has decided to wait for the trade now I won’t even get a sneaky peek at that as my interest was only marginal at the best of times. So that just leaves me with more Marvel efforts to thumb through but to be honest I can’t really complain as there are some tasty morsels sat on that plate. Top of the list will be Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts #149 as we wrap up the teams’ involvement with Shadowland as they face off against a swarm of ninja in their own loose, free and destructive fighting style. This title has really been lifted by Parker and the various artists that he’s been working with and I dare say it’s now nestling next to Invincible Iron Man on that heady shelf labelled ‘Undroppable’.
Of course Matt Fraction is also doing some decent work with mutantkind as well and the Five Lights saga has been bubbling along nicely in the wake of Bastion’s defeat. I have to say that I am getting a little fed up with Whilce Portacio’s art at this juncture but the writing has been good enough to cover that little blip. and I hope it'll see me through Uncanny X-Men #529. I never thought I’d be thinking how nice it’d be to have Greg Land’s army of poster girl female characters back but that day is drawing close. Nosing around the rest of my haul I see Jonathan Hickman start to wind up/down the Secret Warriors title as the little unknown team that could find themselves outnumbered and seriously outgunned by a Hydra ambush and treachery within in #21. I just have to hope that this great series gets the ending it deserves in a few months time.