COVER 2 COVER: MARVEL 2009 MID-YEAR SPOTLIGHT!
If you want to talk about the out-put of the two major companies in terms of mid-year assessments, then it's hard not to shower kudos upon the efforts of DC comics [which is exactly what we did, in last week's entry].
If DC were lurking somewhere in the realm of an A, then Marvel are probably maintaining at least a B average, even if it isn't across all subjects.
2009 has been, by Marvel standards, a year of experimentation, particularly where tackling annual company crossover events is concerned.
For a while there "crossovers" were credited with nearly destroying mainstream comics, but for better or worse, they're a thriving fact of reading corporate comics. In an effort to ease tensions between readers and events, however, Marvel have spread their "event" thinly to sell a concept rather than any storyline directed into a central titular mini-series.
The type of bannered omnipresence Dark Reign has had is traditionally what upsets readers, implying that each issue baring the logo is necessary to appreciate the full picture. This has arguably always been a fallacy, but particularly so with Dark Reign, and it seems to be generally doing okay. Of course, there are still a whole heap of Dark Reign mini-series, and one-shot specials that actually are quite significant to the core tale. Oh yeah, and not to be outdone by DC's core events, they've also put together The Marvels Project and Captain America: Reborn.
It's difficult not to feel cynical about the contrived 70th Anniversary celebrations of a company that has struggled to acknowledge it's pre-Stan Lee era origins. The whole concept rings hollow, much like the unsurprising return of Captain America, which feels like part of a ham-fisted juggling act when measured against the editorial superiority of DC's always well considered writing and concept. That's not to say there aren't a lot of positives, however. You don't just get a B grade for showing up, after all!
Ironically, it's many of Marvel's B-list titles that have found something special to tap in to.
As you will see in the following list, some of the best comics in the first half of the year (that have been reviewed in the Infinite Wars), have overlapped with the Dark Reign banner, but each has done so to some advantage. Many have added to the legacy of Norman Osborn and The Hood, who have been the most commonly featured central figures that define a Dark Reign story.
The following five issues are just a small sample of cover-dated 2009 issues that have been featured in the Infinite Wars this year. You can find more titles by navigating through tag links, or by scowering the famous Secret Archives. We've got plenty more big action coming in our posts dated 2009, including issues from the eagerly anticipated events discussed!
Amazing Spider-man #585 (April 2009)
"Menace Over Manhattan" Guggenheim/Romita Jr
In a world where Peter Parker's secret identity has been restored; the web-swinging bachelor finds his alter-ego the prime suspect in a spate of serial killings. Connected to the murders by the presence of his custom homing devices -- spider-tracers -- Spidey becomes a wanted man like never before, all the while trying to fight to protect the city.
The New York mayoral race provides the stage for Spider-man to face-off against the latest in a long line of legacy inheritants of Green Goblin tech! Having troubled Spider-man for months, the self-described "Menace" takes the opportunity to challenge a mortally wounded Spider-man to a rematch by attacking a rally for candidate, Bill Hollister!
Suffering a gunshot wound to the shoulder, and extreme fatigue as result of his recent adventures, Spider-man enters the fray at a distinct disadvantage - something Menace is ready to take full advantage of!
Daredevil #116 (May 2009)
"On The Costa Da Morte" Brubaker/Aja
In New York City, Wilson Fisk was once the all-powerful Kingpin of crime, but when a plot to take down his arch-nemesis resulted in his own incarceration alongside his enemy, everything changed. Amidst the crumbling of his empire, the Kingpin grasped at his fading connections, whilst watching Daredevil leave prison, only to unwittingly battle his beloved wife.
An embittered Vanessa Fisk had orchestrated events to pit her husband and his nemesis against one another in mortal combat, but when the pair failed to kill each other, Daredevil was able unravel her schemes, following clues to Spain. Face to face with his Vanessa on her deathbed, Daredevil was forced out of moral obligation to use his skills as a lawyer to free her husband from prison.
Murdock arranged freedom for his nemesis on the condition that he relinquish his criminal empire and leave the country for good. Though this final act of peace was to honor Vanessa Fisk's memory, it was inevitably short lived. Wilson Fisk found for himself a new life in Spain, where he and Vanessa had shared fond memories, but the sins of the past are not so easily forgotten for a Kingpin.
Discovered in Spain by Lady Bullseye and the Hand, Fisk returns to the humble abode of a new surrogate family, only to find them dead. Unsurprised by their grim fate, he meets his enemies with an accepting fury, and powerful fist.
Marvel Zombies 4 #2 (July 2009)
"Night Shift" Van Lente/Walker
When zombie infected heroes from parallel Earth-2149 find their way through the Nexus of Realities hidden in the Florida Everglades, an unprepared group of C-list heroes assigned by the Fifty States Initiative find themselves under attack! Wundarr, the Conquistador, Siege, and Jennifer Kale, (known collectively as The Command), are easily devoured by the nightmarish zombies. Only Kale survives, but before his self-destruction, Siege was able to inform secretive alternate-universe unit, ARMOR.
Having played a pivotal role in containing the threat and defeating the zombie invaders; Dr. Michael Morbius emerges as a new leading operative with ARMOR. He recruits the traumatized Jennifer Kale, along with familiar occult allies, Son of Satan and Werewolf by Night, into a new taskforce assigned the job of seeking and containing infection spread by an escaped zombie head (Deadpool).
Unbeknownst to Morbius and his team, the Deadpool head was retrieved by a very different type of zombie (Simon Garth) - occult in nature - who carries the plague infected head into the hands of Black Talon. When Talon attempts to sell the head as a bioweapon to The Hood, he is advised by Dormammu to accept, leading the Kingpin of Super-villains to lead Night Shift to the island of Taino, where they will intercepted the Midnight Sons and the zombie plague.
Deadpool: Suicide Kings #2 (July 2009)
Deadpool: Superpowered former test subject of the Weapon X project turned rogue mercenary. Armed with an arsenal of hi-tech weaponry, standard munitions, and a sense of humor, he fights for truth, justice, and the American Express way. Cash is preferable.
By accepting a million dollar contract from a gambler wanting his bookie killed to avoid paying his debts, Deadpool walks blindly in to a trap. Instead of killing his intended target, the DP accidentally triggered an explosion that destroyed an apartment building, and killed several innocents.
With his presence caught on tape and broadcast across news networks, Deadpool becomes the unwitting player in a double-or-nothing bet between his client, and local New York mobster, Tombstone. The wager: Can Deadpool survive in the heat for twenty-four hours? With the Punisher entering the picture after seeing the news, the odds just got a lot steeper for the 'Poolman.
Punisher #5 (July 2009)
"Living in Darkness" Remender/Opena
When opportunity presented itself, Norman Osborn branded former Director of SHIELD and man in whom the people put their trust, Tony Stark, a traitor and coward. A conspiracy of events, including the secret invasion of disguised Skrull aliens, created the circumstances through which the former Green Goblin was able to elevate himself from directorial position within the Thunderbolts, to the head of a newly formed intelligence agency replacing the corrupted SHIELD.
Recognising Osborn for the man he truly is -- (rather than the man records show was once wrongly accused of being a super-villain) -- the Punisher sets out to do the thing he knows best: wage a bloody war on the bad guys!
Standing in Frank Castle's way is a network of allies Osborn has formed both on the right and wrong sides of the law. After clashing with membership of Osborn's Avengers, he now faces the ire of card carrying powers from Osborn's secret Cabal, forcing him into a much less public fight with the self-proclaimed "Kingpin of super-villains," Parker Robinson, aka; The Hood. Joined by whiz hacker "Henry," Punisher attempts to turn the tables on his pursuer, but the Hood's demonic powers will provide a twist Frank Castle could not possibly have a contingency for, bringing him face-to-face with an old friend and new enemy...