Master of Kung Fu Reprinted Across Four Omnibuses!

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The popular Master of Kung Fu series, starring Shang Chi, is to be reprinted for the first time across four omnibuses, starting next year.

The books were announced by Marvel Comics last week at the Diamond Retailer Summit in Baltimore, and fans of the martial arts expert immediately got excited – and rightly so! The series originally ran from 1974 to 1983, beginning with issue #17 of Special Marvel Edition, and concluding with Master of Kung Fu #125.

Shang Chi, however, has debuted two issues before the title’s change in Special Marvel Edition #15, and it appears that this cover will adorn the front of the first omnibus.

Chi has been given a rough time since his heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s, but at least this year Master of Kung Fu relaunched briefly.

Stretching the title across four books seems a bit odd, seeing as previous omnibuses reprinting classic tales have been massive tomes collecting a vast number of comics, so it appears that these books, while still being weighty, will be slightly slimmer, like some reprinting recent titles instead.

They’re not up for pre-order yet, but the debut HC is expected to be released in the summer of 2016.

Review: Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman (Volume One)


FF Hickman Omnibus Vol 1

During Jonathan Hickman’s original 2009-12 tenure on Fantastic Four¸ everyone was raving about it. I was sceptical. I’d read them on and off, and they seemed generally great to look at but otherwise a bit of an unfinished muddle.

I was wrong.

The true beauty of Hickman’s style can’t be grasped in a few issues picked up intermittently. You need to have faith in the writer. This story is a long, but ultimately rewarding, one. He’s playing with the core foundations of the FF, and drawing threads throughout. This much should be evident from the very first storyline, The Bridge – not technically part of the main title, but essential if you’re to get to grips with why the following events take place.

It’s tied into Dark Reign, in which Norman Osborn is in charge of – well, essentially world security, and unlike many tie-ins, doesn’t suffer from this tether. There’s a heightened tension as Osborn and co. storm the Baxter Building, while the actual FF are otherwise engaged. That means it’s down to Franklin and Valeria, Reed and Sue’s children, to fend them off.

In order to do so, Valeria uses all her wits, and Franklin dresses like a cowboy.

The Bridge doesn’t entirely work as a narrative because it may be fun, but it also appears pretty pointless, at least what’s happening to Sue, Ben, and Johnny. Yet in hindsight, it sets up the rest of this omnibus surprisingly well. First off, we get to see how capable the kids are, and how they can be relied upon. Franklin may seem like he’s messing about, but you shouldn’t underestimate him. Valeria, meanwhile, is arguably smarter than her father. These two are absolute joys to read about, not just in The Bridge but in the omnibus as a whole.

FF Dark Reign Franklin Richards

Otherwise, there’s Reed’s hopelessness at facing the future, a major motivation throughout, and foreshadowing an uneasy feeling that all that’s about to happen is his fault, especially the direct consequences on the rest of his family.

After a brief interlude focusing on the secret intentions of both Namor and Dr Doom (both of whom get up to some interesting things later on in the book), we come to Idea #101: Solve Everything, also the title of the second storyline (or the debut of Hickman on the proper Fantastic Four series).

That the writer’s plans are ambitious should be immediately obvious. Reed meets the Council, an interfering bunch of arrogant know-it-alls with God complexes. They’re all Reed. That is, they’re all different versions of Mr Fantastic from alternating universes. It’s an exceptionally intriguing idea, one that ends by re-establishing a key part in FF lore: that each member is an oddity, but that their sense of family will always draw them back together.

Interestingly, it may seem that ‘our’ Reed proves himself a superior being because he can let the rest of the multiverse get on with whatever it’s doing, that he can leave behind his ambition to solve everything, to come back, as ever, to his loving family and friends. But it’s not all it appears: Reed is indulging in his own God complex, fulfilling that same desire through different means to be “a better man.” Needless to say, this isn’t fully wrapped up: the Council remains an undercurrent, as does Richards’ connection with his father.

This omnibus collects six graphic novels (the Dark Reign prelude, debut arc of FF aka the Future Foundation, and four of the core title), but it feels like more than that and, paradoxically, only one. That’s because it’s one ongoing narrative, separated into loose parts, and further segmented into chapters. Prime Elements, the third collection, sets up many principle ideas, but, let’s face it, is also a bit of a mess.

FF Mole Man Eaglesham

Certainly, if I’d have picked it up as a lone graphic novel, I would’ve been disappointed. It feels like samplers: small notional injections, not full explorations. They’re typically-single issues used to remind you of particular sections of the FF mythology.

They draw on the bases of the team, established by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in those early years: Mole Man and Subterranea; Atlantis; the Inhumans; Annihilus and the Negative Zone; space exploration; and evolution. Hickman has looked back at the successes and said to himself, ‘how can we move these on?’ On the whole, this has been a very positive idea, but some, at least with this initial omnibus, come across as half-baked. The potential return of the Inhumans, in particular, seems like a pointless thread. The final page of this omnibus (the storyline, rather, not the extra cover gallery, and script – both excellent inclusions) hammers this home. It’s such a strange place to leave the readers. But then, with Hickman’s intricate storytelling technique, where else would be appropriate?

Some may argue it should’ve concluded with Three, the tale that hit the headlines upon its initial release. One of the Fantastic Four, we were promised, would die. It would change the series forever. Even if the inclusion of Tomorrow (the first volume of the FF) feels like a jolt, it’s nice to see the further shockwaves of this death. I won’t spoil that revelation – although a quote on the book’s back cover does so regardless.

FF Galactus Silver Surfer

Three, it initially seems, is the storyline in which all these dangling tales come together. Indeed, it’s masterfully done. The team are separated and each member faces a huge threat. All are in danger. The actual death is done beautifully. Really, you can’t fault it.

It’s plotted sublimely, and Steve Epting’s art just heightens the experience. It looks so lifelike and rich. The small moments are as important as the big. In fact, seeing the Silver Surfer again, combined with a truly breathtaking cliffhanger to the opening part of Three – “unacceptable” – is spine-tingling.

Elsewhere, much of the art is the same, largely provided by Dale Eaglesham and Neil Edwards, two artists whose work is always solid and nice to look at, but are nonetheless similar. Maybe that’s to its advantage, but it comes as a shock when the more stylised visuals of Nick Dragotta, Sean Chen, and Barry Kitson are thrown into the mix. It admittedly is a beautiful omnibus to flick through – and nothing important is lost to the gutter – and this is aided by the colours used to maintain the same tone, no matter where the action takes us.

There’s a cinematic, landscape look from start to finish, and the artists make appealing directorial choices. Edwards especially plays with page layouts in the fourth volume, Future Foundation: he explores great vistas before cropping close to the central characters for reaction shots and body language.

This storyline follows Prime Elements and acts best as a prelude to what happens after Three. It celebrates what makes Fantastic Four so special in the comic book world, encompassing a jovial interlude with Arcade, a time-travelling twisting tale taking us back to Reed and Ben’s college days, and wrestling with the Thing’s problematic appearance.

FF Thing Three

Aside from that, Reed actually sets up the Future Foundation, perhaps as a reaction to seeing distorted versions of himself. Instead, he realises that the children are the future.

The Foundation plays a huge part in what’s to come, but we only get a taste of this with the final collected story, Tomorrow. The good news is: Spider-man’s part of the team! That’s awesome. Spidey is a much-loved character who’s always been on the periphery of the FF; to have him right in amongst it all bodes well for the second volume.

And that’s the biggest problem with this book: it’s incomplete. Threads are left hanging. The future is uncertain. There are still so many imminent threats. Mind you, if you’ve read this omnibus, you’ll definitely want to pick up volume two.

Jonathan Hickman’s run is perfect for this omnibus range. You need to read it in one go (or rather, in two volumes) to get the full impact and to properly see what he’s doing. Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman: Volume One is a great read; certainly not one you’ll want to miss out on.

And a large part of this fascination is the magnetism of the phrase, “all hope lies with Doom.”

FF Hickman Omnibus Vol 1 Rating

Comic Book Writers and Artists to Follow on Twitter

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Since February, I’ve been lucky enough to work for MakeUseOf, a techie site full of interesting articles about the Internet, iOS, Winodws, social media, future tech – and loads more. Okay, so what has that got to do with Marvel? Well, naturally, I extend my fandom to other writing projects. So I present to you a few articles that might be of interest…

All-New X-men

10 Interesting Comic Book Writers Your Should Follow on Twitter!

Plenty of Marvel writers here, most notably the head honcho, Stan Lee. I’ve got some good feedback from this one, and I’m really pleased that it’s been tweeted over 800 times!

10 Talented Comic Book Artists You Should Follow on Twitter!

A bit of a wider range here, but still more than enough for the Marvel fans. This includes classics like Walt Simonson and newer names like Lee Garbett (who I met at the Bristol Comic Expo; really nice guy, very down-to-earth and approachable, with fantastic talent).

Now Playing: 5 “Astonishing” Websites for X-Men Fans

Something a little different here: a list of some of the best X-Men sites on the web. A very simple idea, but one which I think works quite well, particularly after the release of the astounding X-Men: Day of Future Past movie.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the articles. This blog is done in my spare time, whereas I make my living through work for places like MakeUseOf and the Doctor Who website, Kasterborous. Frankly, I wouldn’t be able to run Make Mine A Marvel Omnibus without them, so I really appreciate your support – whether that be simply reading them, or sharing them, or even commenting and giving me feedback, good or bad. Thank you.

Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus

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As if several further movies weren’t enough, there’s another treat in store for Star Wars fans: Marvel is reprinting their original comic series as an omnibus!

Star Wars Omnibus

Advertised as “The Original Marvel Years,” the 880-page hardback is a firm statement: Star Wars is back where it belongs. Marvel initially owned the license to  produce Star Wars comics, but they were then acquired by Dark Horse, who held it for over 20 years. Now, however, the copyright has reverted  Disney – the company who owns Marvel. As well as the ability to make new comics, this allows Marvel to also reprint tales from their archive. A bevvy of much-loved Marvel creators, including Jason Aaron, John Cassady, Salvador Larroca and Mark Waid, will also work on new ongoing series.

“With Star Wars poised to return to its comic book home, what better time to revisit the first adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and, of course, Darth Vader?” says Marvel Editor In Chief, Axel Alonso. “I am extremely proud to present these original Star Wars stories, told as only Marvel can, in the first in a massive and glorious Omnibus series.”

The book collects Star Wars (1977) #1- 44 and Annual #1, and is due for release in January 2015 with an RRP of £95.00. Two covers will be available: one by Howard Chaykin, and the other by Greg Hildebrandt. Currently, Forbidden Planet International has the cheapest price, but it’s worth waiting a little while to see what the book comes down to.

Hickman’s FF: Vol 2 in November

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Fantastic Four Vol 2

Good news for fans of Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four: a follow-up to last year’s omnibus is on the way!

The second book picks up where Volume 1, released in October, left off, with the newly-formed FF after – SPOILERS – the death of Johnny Storm. Here’s the synopsis:

Superstar writer Jonathan Hickman revamps and redefines Marvel’s First Family! The War of Four Cities escalates, with the Future Foundation caught in the middle! But as the Inhumans return to Earth, and Annihilus’ forces and the Kree armada lay siege to the planet, will the coming of Galactus turn the tide — or doom us all? When the Future Foundation contends with the Council of Reeds and the Mad Celestials, Valeria turns to their greatest foe! Find out why all hope lies in Doom! And in the aftermath of an endgame beyond imagination, the FF explore the furthest reaches of the Marvel Universe — from Wakanda to the Negative Zone, from the past to the future!

Collects FF (2011) #6- 23, and Fantastic Four #600- 611 and #605.1.

It comes with a great cover by Gabriele Dell’Otto and a bevy of interior artists including Steve Epting, Greg Tocchini, Barry Kitson, Nick Dragotta and Ron Garney.

The 832-page HC is released in November 2014.

“The Underneath”: 40% Off Alias!

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Forbidden Planet International is offering the Alias omnibus at a very special pre-order price of just £45.00 – that’s a saving of 40% off the £75 RRP!

But you have to get there fast – that price ends this Wednesday 14th May 2014.

As previously reported, the reprint, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Michael Gaydos, is released in September, and centres around Jessica Jones, superhero-turned-detective. She’s now best-known for marrying Luke Cage and featuring in the Avengers books.But she also grew up in High School with one Peter Parker. You may know the name…

Alias Interior Art

I expect the price to go up to about £50.25 once the promotion is over.

Oh, and this might not be one for younger fans: there’s a lot of swearing and some sexual references too. Nonetheless, Alias is a much-loved series by one of Marvel’s biggest writers!

Check out for that price.

Alias Omnibus Reprint Coming Soon!

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The brilliant Marvel Omnibus reprints continue this summer – with Alias!

Alias Omnibus


The series, helmed by Brian Michael Bendis (New Avengers; Ultimate Spider-Man) and Michael Gaydos (Powerless; Daredevil: Redemption), focuses on Jessica Jones, superhero-turned-private-investigator. Now, she’s married to Luke Cage (Power Man) and crops up in the Avengers, but this omnibus reprint introduced her to the MU.

Here’s the synopsis:

Meet Jessica Jones. Once upon a time, she was a costumed super hero. But not a very good one. Now a chain-smoking, self-destructive alcoholic, Jessica is the owner and sole employee of Alias Investigations — a small, private-investigative firm specializing in superhuman cases. This deluxe hardcover collects all 28 issues of super-scribe Brian Michael Bendis’ ALIAS — plus all-new, behind-the-scenes bonus material compiled in conjunction with the writer himself! In her inaugural arc, Jessica’s life immediately becomes expendable when she uncovers the potentially explosive secret of one hero’s true identity. But her wit, charm and intelligence just may help her survive through another day. Thrust into the midst of a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels, has Jessica burned too many bridges to turn to old friends for help? Plus: Jessica travels to upstate New York to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl rumored to be a mutant in a prejudiced small town; goes on a date with the Astonishing Ant-Man; teams up with Jessica Drew; the original Spider-Woman; and confronts the demons of her past! Collects Alias #1-28 and What If Jessica Jones Had Joined The Avengers?
720 PGS./Explicit Content …$99.99″

It’s a surprisingly expensive collection, with a beautiful cover by David Mack and Mark Bagley.

It’s a very popular series and the original omnibus has been long out-of-print, so I expect this to be high on many people’s ‘To Buy’ list!

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