My fellow bloggers all seem to have skewed pretty DC-heavy this week, so I thought I’d pick up the Marvel slack…
DARK REIGN: HAWKEYE #1
Based on his first few issues of Thunderbolts, along with this first issue, Andy Diggle seems to be a good fit at Marvel. This five-issue miniseries, featuring Bullseye running around in hero-drag as Hawkeye at Norman Osborn’s bidding, does a good job of slyly questioning the point of the whole Dark Avengers deal; what exactly is the point of having hardcases like Venom and Moonstone and Bullseye masquerading as good guys, when their sadistic and sociopathic tendencies will inevitably bubble to the surface? The title character proves how woefully inadequate he is as playing the hero throughout the issue—first (during a team brawl with a giant robot) through his inability to consider the lives of innocent bystanders, and later (after foiling a mugging on the solo tip) when his homicidal impulses can no longer be contained. Artist Tom Raney draws a wonderfully sleazy, smirking HawkBullseye, and Diggle drops a great last page cliffhanger on us, at right about the point where I was wondering if this needed to be anything more than a one-shot. I’m worried about the trend this book represents, where all the Dark Avengers cast are going to possibly end up with their own miniseries (The Sinister Spider-Man is already on the schedule)--and at $3.99 US a pop, it’s especially problematic—but this was a slick, trashy, gory pleasure. Diggle’s work here also bodes well for his now-confirmed takeover of Daredevil (lessening the heartbreak of Ed Brubaker’s departure).
MARVEL ZOMBIES 4: MIDNIGHT SONS #1
Marvel Zombies has turned into the comic-book equivalent of a horror movie franchise, with its nonstop parade of sequels every few months. However, the series, which has the undying tenacity of a true flesh-eating ghoul, defies the horror sequel rule of diminishing returns—it actually improves as it racks up numbers after its title. I wasn’t a fan of the first two MZ minis, set in a world where all of the Marvel heroes have been transformed into undead creeps; the covers were funny, but the joke got tired real quick. However, with the new creative team of Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker,..well, insert your own risen-from-the-dead gag here. Their previous outing, the third MZ series, saw the otherdimensional zombie heroes trying to invade the regular Marvel U, only to be (mostly) thwarted by parallel universe watchdogs A.R.M.O.R. and their robot operatives Machine Man and Jocasta. Zombies versus robots, that’s the kind of stuff the kids are into these days, right? Well, this new series kicks it up a notch, as the attempted invasion is on again—turns out an undersea race of fishmen (from an old Sub-Mariner comic, I believe) become the first wave of the a new zombie infection, but face opposition from a whole bunch of classic Marvel monsters like Morbius the Living Vampire, Werewolf By Night, sorceress Jennifer Kale, and Daimon Hellstrom, AKA Son of Satan. In horror movie terms, it’s a bit like Humanoids From The Deep versus The Monster Squad. There’s also an appearance by the original Marvel Zombie, Simon Garth himself, voodoo villain Black Talon, and a “Dark Reign” tie-in (another one? Sheesh), all of which helps justify the exorbitant $3.99 US price tag (seriously, Marvel, is every mini gonna cost this now?!?). Sadly, the boring Greg Land covers don’t have the, ahem, bite of the original Arthur Suydam covers, but at least with this latest MZ series, the covers are finally not the best thing about it.