The Heroic Age – What’s worth a look?

4 04 2010

With Blackest Night over and SIEGE wrapping up in a few week’s time, I thought it would be appropriate to look over the new titles that are going to debut or be re-branded by MARVEL and DC’s newest publishing initiatives and perhaps discuss what might be worth picking up in the coming months. This is a two-part post and this half covers Marvel’s Heroic Age.

Just like in The Wednesday Spotlight, click on the comic’s name to be brought to a page with it’s cover art and solicitation. Also, the solicits in the links might contain spoilers for future Marvel events.

THE HEROIC AGE

So, what is the Heroic Age in the first place? Well, according to Marvel it’s an ushering of a new era of heroism after their dark days that began with Avengers: Disassembled and ended with SIEGE. So what they’re trying to do is to bring their shared universe into a brighter and bolder age beginning with the release of Avengers #1 this April. Another thing Marvel released in their press release was that every title that will be under the banner of the Heroic Age will be accessible to new fans which is good news for people like me who aren’t really familiar with the Marvel Universe and for people who are trying to get into monthly comics.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dig into the Heroic Age and check out what new titles might be worth picking up shall we?

THE AVENGERS

The Avengers title will be the driving force of the Heroic Age and is probably going to be the main book that they’re going to be promoting. The main draw for fans is that this title will be bringing back Marvel’s ‘big three,’ namely Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man, together again in an Avengers title. The roster will also be bolstered by some of Marvel’s more popular characters like Spider-Man and Wolverine and old characters that have always been associated with the Avengers like Hawkeye.

Brian Michael Bendis will be on writing duties and John Romita Jr. will be on art duties. Bendis has been associated with The Avengers title since 2004 but despite that, I don’t think he’s the best choice for a book like The Avengers because from what I’ve read from him he’s never really shown proficiency in writing the powerful characters that comprise the Avengers. On the other side of the equation, John Romita Jr’s art is pretty kinetic. I like his work with Spider-Man and he’ll definitely make the inevitable fight scenes really dynamic to look at. My only complaint are his covers. They’re very bland for the book that’s supposedly Marvel’s new flagship title.

Other than the Avengers, there will be three other Avengers titles coming out namely Secret Avengers, New Avengers and Avengers Academy. New Avengers will be written by Bendis with art by previous collaborator Stuart Immonen. Featuring a lineup of ‘street-level’ heroes like The Thing, Spider-Man, Wolverine and Luke Cage, I’d say that this book will be playing to Bendis forte. Plus, Immonen’s art is fantastic, I loved his work on Ultimate Spider-Man and Nextwave: Agents of HATE so if you asked me, this is the Bendis book to look out for.

Secret Avengers
is, well, a secret. Marvel hasn’t released a lineup, a cover, or a solicitation that isn’t vague so there’s not much to say about this book. It does have a stellar team of creators, namely Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato so there’s that. I’d like to wait and see what the lineup is before committing to it.

Avengers Academy
seems to be the spiritual successor of The Initiative, I’m rather unfamiliar with the creators Christos Gage and Mike McKone and I haven’t really heard much about the Initiative so I can’t say much about this title. But, I guess if you read and enjoyed The Initiative this is The Avengers book to pick up.

OTHER TEAM BOOKS

Other than the Avengers, look out for Atlas by Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman. Atlas continues Parker’s work on The Agents of Atlas which was pretty much lauded on the Internet. Admittedly, I didn’t read it when it first came out but I might consider reading this if I have the funds to do it.

Want more Jeff Parker? Check out Thunderbolts which is undergoing a roster shift and new direction under Parker and Kev Walker. It features one of the most oddball teams I’ve ever seen with Thunderbolt mainstays Moonstone and Ghost, Crossbones, Juggernaut and bizarrely Man-Thing rounding roster with Luke Cage of the Avengers leading it.

MARVEL’S ASTONISHING IMPRINT

Marvel is also starting up a new imprint of standalone miniseries that are supposedly accessible and done by high-profile creators. First off is Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine which unites Marvel’s two most popular characters in a six-issue miniseries from the mind of Jason Aaron with art by Adam Kubert. Next up is Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis which looks to be the continuation of Warren Ellis’ run on X-Men with Kaare Andrews on art. Of the two, I’d definitely try out Spider-Man/Wolverine purely because Warren Ellis’ take on the X-Men hasn’t really thrilled me and because has Jason Aaron on it who’s one of my favorite Marvel writers.

OTHER TITLES OF INTEREST

While it might not be a new title, I’d like to bring everyone’s attention to Matt Fraction’s upcoming run on Thor with art by Pasqual Ferry. I’ve read a bit of Fraction’s Ages of Thunder one-shots, not enough to give a clear cut opinion on it, but definitely enough to get me interested in this book. From what I read, Fraction has a good grip on the character and the art by Pasqual Ferry is the icing on the cake. For those weary about picking this up, I’d suggest looking for the upcoming Free Comic Book Day issue coming out this May 1st I think. It’s a one-shot featuring Iron Man and Thor and it’ll definitely give you a better idea how he’s going to write Thor before you actually spend money on it.

Other than that, nothing else really catches my eye from the current Heroic Age solicits. Do you think I missed something that‘s bound to be a smash hit? Tell me what you think in the comment, I’d really appreciate that. Anyway, the second half of this post covering the Brightest Day will be posted after I finish my Grant Morrison post on Monday. So, perhaps Tuesday, I guess. Anyway, as always, stay tuned for more.

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