These days, superheroes are the main attraction in comics. Given the commercial success the genre has demonstrated at the box office, it’s hard to imagine that will change any time soon. However, it’s worth remembering that the early days of comics were largely defined by two genres: crime and horror. The Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. mines Marvel’s horror history and combines it with the modern superhero team to create a fun book that feels fresh (even when it isn’t). Spoilers for The Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6 begin after the jump.
In the Marvel Comic Universe, Advanced Idea Mechanics (or A.I.M.) was an evil organization devoted to world domination through scientific and technological means. An offshoot of Marvel’s other evil organization, A.I.M. was Hydra’s science division until it split from Hydra over political reasons in the 1960’s. Over the decades since, the minions of A.I.M. have frequently donned their yellow protective suits and caused all sorts of pseudo-science related problems for our heroes, from mind control experiments on Mockingbird to the creation of both the Cosmic Cube and M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing – listen, these guys just love acronyms). While viewers of the MCU may recognize A.I.M. from Iron Man 3, where it was the organization founded by Aldrich Killian that developed Extremis, the new face of A.I.M. will surprise movie viewers and comic readers alike: with a new name and new stated purpose, A.I.M. has become the foundation for the New Avengers. Spoilers for New Avengers #8 begin after the jump.
Here’s the thing about superheroes: sooner or later, they’re going to have to throw down with each other, even when they’re both on the same side. This can come across as organic in the hands of a skilled writer, and can it can be very fun to read or watch as a fan. For some characters, it’s a way of life — a large part of Deadpool’s schtick is based on his throwing down against other superheroes. And for those matchups that seem exceptionally difficult to justify narratively, there is even a tradition of “what if” stories, where writers are free to put characters in conflict with one another without fear of consequence to the overall story. Let’s get ready to throw down with the All-New, All-Different Avengers – spoilers for #7 begin after the jump.
In the Marvel comic universe, having a single team of superheroes running around isn’t going to cut it. With new individuals gaining superpowers on a regular basis, there’s always a surplus of heroes looking for something to rally against, and a surplus of villains looking to provide it. As a result, there have been dozens of teams operating under variations of the Avengers title (whether in-universe or out-): the West Coast Avengers; the Secret Avengers; the Mighty Avengers. Some of these teams, like the infamous Great Lakes Avengers, start off unsanctioned but later have their status upgraded – in case of the GLA, legitimacy is granted when Hawkeye leads them to rescue a brainwashed Cap, She-Hulk, and Scarlet Witch. Other teams, like the Dark Avengers, are actually groups of super villains hiding behind the guise of heroes in order to deceive the public. Then there are teams that have arisen as a consequence of previous Marvel events, such as the New Avengers, which was formed by heroes unwilling to register during the original Civil War event. Today, we’re joining up with a team that Steve Rogers himself formed in the wake of 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men event. Spoilers for The Uncanny X-Men #7 begin after the jump.
For the majority of its first season, the MCU’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series featured episodic adventures in which Agent Coulson and his team investigated various superhero-related phenomena. But with the startling revelations of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, the show underwent a major restructuring, with the focus shifting away from the missions undertaken by the team and towards the wider world – well, really, the wider universe – of the MCU. This doesn’t apply to the of the comic based on the series, where Coulson and his crew are still taking commands from Maria Hill, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. – but that might change when the truth about Pleasant Hill gets out. Spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 begin after the jump.
Sidekicks aren’t big in the Marvel universe. Heroes are a dime a dozen, and there are super-powered teams all over the place (remember, this is the company that gave us The Great Lakes Avengers), but you’re hard-pressed to find a hero with a sidekick. Part of this may be due to rival comic publisher DC’s monopoly on the sidekick market: Batman’s perennial second fiddle, Robin the Boy Wonder, is one of the most recognizable and persistent superhero sidekicks, regularly appearing alongside the caped crusader in several contemporary adaptations. But even in the few instances where Marvel does allow its heroes to be supported by a sidekick, it often isn’t long before the secondary character is given the opportunity to step up to the plate and prove themselves to be a hero in their own right. Spoilers for Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 begin after the jump.
I’ve never attempted to read every issue in one of the Marvel Comics events. For the uninitiated, an “event” is a large-scale story that has an effect throughout the universe (or multiverse) of Marvel comics, centered on an eponymous limited series telling the core narrative. However, by exploiting the complex web of character connection and interaction that define the Marvel universe, the event is not confined to the limited series, but is supplemented by dozens of “tie-in” books – that is, specific issues of an ongoing series that connect to the primary limited series. The notion of such a sprawling story may seem daunting, but by following the story week-to-week and picking up the couple-three event issues as they’re released, a True Believer is promised a complex and multifaceted experience. With only four issues of the event having been released, I’m excited to dive headfirst into my first Marvel comics event! Follow the jump and let’s explore the surprises to be found at the outset of the road to Avengers Standoff – and be warned: this post contains spoilers for this issue.