Much like Grant Morrison killing Batman before one of the Christopher Nolan films came out, Marvel killed Loki before The Avengers movie debuted. Looking at the cinematic Marvel oeuvre, if there’s a character who has taken on a life of his own, it’s Loki. Tom Hiddleston’s performance of the upstart brother of Thor and ungrateful son of Odin has created a small cottage industry for Hiddleston that anyone can watch if they just pay attention to You Tube long enough. So you would think Marvel Comics would be able to capitalize on this by making a comic that starred the movie version of Loki, wouldn’t you? Well, think again. As a consequence of the Marvel event crossover event Siege, Loki was dead (for at least the second or third time in recent memory.) Yet thanks to a deal that Loki had previously made with Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death, he would never actually have a place among the dead and would be somehow immortal because of that. After Siege, Thor writer Matt Fraction resurrected Loki but instead of the equal but opposite number of Thor, the new Loki was a young kid. Reborn with a fairly clean slate, the future of kid Loki look
With J.H. WIlliams III on art, Gaiman slips into his classic writing mode. The Sandman: Overture #1 feels like a greatest hits of Gaiman’s 75 issue run, giving the fans everything they knew and loved from that series. There’s the murderously creepy Corinthian, comic relief Merv the Pumkinhead and Lucien, the ever faithful dream librarian. There’s the high and haughty Dream, our hero from before he learns any lesson of humility and love, moving through the dreaming world like he’s a conductor who is keeping the trains moving on time. There’s the random, fantastic characters, caught up in and serving dreams. And then there’s the family but only just Death and Destiny, the beloved and most together of the siblings.
In the middle of a night, a boy bangs on a door, desperate and scared. His dog lies in his arms, dead or dying, and he just needs the girl in this house to help him. When she opens the doors, she sees that there’s nothing that she can do to revive her friend’s dog and he goes home heartbroken. Against the advice of her two haggish aunts, the girl’s conscience doesn’t let her sleep and she heads to the boys house, figuring that she has to try to do something even if it’s a longshot. She tells him where to put the dog, mutters a few incantations, and tells the boy that his dead dog will be alive again. But what comes back isn’t his dog. It’s not even really alive. And that’s what begins the zombie infestation of Riverdale.
It’s all Jughead’s fault.
The new Richard Corben comic from Dark Horse, The Raven and the Red Death, contains two brand new adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe poetry. With “The Raven,” Corben gets to revisit the Poe classic. Back in December 1974, Corben (along with writer Rich Margopoulos) originally adapted The Raven in a faithful, if reworked here to make it an eight page comic, story. Appearing in Creepy #67 (and reprinted in 2012′s Creepy Presents Richard Corben,) Corben gets to illustrate a man opening his door, hoping to find his love Lenore only to have his home invaded by a pesky raven, who thwarts his every desire with the repeated word, “nevermore.” Corben’s painted work is dark, moody and has colors that pierce you down to your soul. He’s constantly bouncing back and forth between forcing you to encounter the chill of the raven’s night and the heat of the narrator’s desire.
The opening death of the hero, Haggard West, sets up the far more interesting young character; Aurora West. The daughter of the city’s protector, her story is a familiar one but has more room to explore than Battling Boy’s story does. She sees her father’s death and becomes determined to carry on her father’s legacy only to see the city quickly move on from grieving her father to embracing Battling Boy as its next hero. Pope constructs Aurora’s tale around Battling Boy’s but she has a purpose and drive that is lacking in his main character. Battling Boy gets all of the screen time but Aurora gets all of the pathos. Pope gives Aurora an actual story; she has to become the hero now that her father is dead. Battling Boy doesn’t have any kind of purpose like that. He has to become a hero simply because that’s what his people do. They go through these tests (like Hercules tasks) to graduate and become gods themselves.
Flipping through The Shaolin Cowboy #1, a book full of violence, zombies, weaponized chainsaws and a main character who has been buried underneath a boulder for six years, you can see that Darrow finds peace in those details. For Darrow, those details are life and energy. The details are the story more so than any dialogue or plot are. Darrow makes sure that every detail he can fit can get into the page but he knows how to construct those details. Darrow’s eye for details in this violent and bloody story reveal a world that has many wonders in it if you just spend the time to really look at them.
When the son of the Scarlet Witch wants to make his boyfriend happy, things like reality and death don’t get in the way. In Young Avengers V1: Style > Substance, Teddy (a.k.a. Hulkling,) a half blooded alien shape changer is struggling through a world without a mother, without a superhero boyfriend at his side and without a team or more exactly a group of friends who are going through the same things that he is. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie take Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung’s Avengers-wannabe team and kick them out of their young teenage angst and thrust them into the verge of adulthood, where the world is never quite as cool or as altogether as it seems like it should be.
“It should be simple,” Jack Farrell says on the first page of Elephantmen #51. He’s referring to the grisly murder scene he’s standing over (“A Guy. A Girl. A Gun. Blood.”) but he could just as easily be talking about Richard Starkings’ Elephantmen series. What started out as a mascot for his lettering studio has turned into a grand tapestry of all different kinds of stories, all centered around Hip Flask, a genetically engineered human/hippopotamus hybrid, bred for war now earning a living pounding the streets as part of the police agency for creatures like himself. A gumshoe, if you will. Animals as detectives and policemen and businessmen. It sounds funny but Starkings isn’t writing stories but animals.
The brilliant thing that Brian Michael Bendis did with All New X-Men is to make our presenttime the dystopian “Days of Future Past” for the original X-Men. Today is the future that young Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman don’t want to see come to be. They’ll do anything to avoid the future they were brought to where Cyclops killed Professor Xavier. In Wolverine and the X-Men #36, the past and present X-Men have to fight alongside and against an X-Men team from the future who want to send the original X-Men back to the time they really belong. (Who says time travel stories aren’t confusing?) “Battle of the Atom” continues with Jason Aaron and Giuseppe Camuncoli stepping in to move the plot along while they lead us into the second month of this crossover.