News Round-up: January 2013, featuring Thor, Wolverine – and Rare Omnibuses!

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A second Mighty Thor omnibus is due for release in August, carrying on from where the first volume left off.

Thor Omnibus

Many thanks to Rubèn, who found this in the Marvel May to August Preview.

Thor Omnibus blurb

The first omnibus, released in January 2011, collected together Journey Into Mystery #83-120 and Annual #1; this second will continue from Journey Into Mystery #121, relaying the foundations of Thor, Loki, the Warriors Three and the rest of Asgard to readers before the release of the movie sequel, Thor: The Dark World, due out in October in the UK.

The Wolverine is also set to hit cinema screens this year (in July, to be precise), and to coincide, Marvel will release Wolverine by Mark Millar Omnibus, which I will personally be lapping up. With art by John Romita Jr (Thor; X-Men), Steve McNiven (Captain America; The Amazing Spider-man) and Kaare Andrews (Spider-man: Reign; Incredible Hulk), the 576-page book will include the popular Enemy of the State and Old Man Logan storylines. Here’s the official blurb:

He’s the best there is at what he does. And when writer Mark Millar (The Ultimates; Kick-Ass) gets his hands on Wolverine, what he does isn’t very pretty! When the Hand brainwashes Wolverine, he slices and dices his way through friends and foes alike — carving a swath of terror through the Marvel Universe that ultimately results in an X-Man’s death! Finally captured and deprogrammed, Wolverine swears vengeance against his tormentors — and the vengeance of Wolverine is a wonder to behold. Then: Nobody knows what happened the night the heroes fell, but the villains have been calling the shots ever since. Wolverine’s fate is the biggest mystery of all. No one has heard from him for fifty years, and in his place stands an old man called Logan.

Collecting Wolverine (2003) #20- 32, #66- 72 and Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size #1.

Wolverine Omnibus

With an RRP of $75, expect to pay about £50 when it’s released in July.

And finally… Amazon UK has an influx of older omnibus titles back on sale. The Incredible Hulk Volume 1, collecting Hulk #1-6, Tales to Astonish #59-101, and Incredible Hulk #102, is priced £63.75. Though they’re temporarily out-of-stock, they’re taking orders for The X-Men Omnibus Volume 1 (again, £63.75) and Brubaker’s Captain America Volume 1, for sale at just £47.59. The Avengers Omnibus, meanwhile, is just £48.

X-Men Omnibus

Get over there quickly – I’m sure they’ll sell out pretty fast!

Review: Ultimate Avengers By Mark Millar Omnibus

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Mark Millar is a controversial figure.

No one can doubt what he’s given to comics and, indeed, films. He changed the Marvel landscape with Civil War, gave us London’s Kapow! convention, and launched CLiNT magazine. Oh, and supplied us with possibly the most violent and swear-ridden comic known to man.

It’s been ten years now since the critically-acclaimed Ultimates hit the shelves, introducing warped versions of the familiar MU Avengers. And in Mark Millar’s latest omnibus collection, we’re introduced to warped versions of the warped versions.

Ultimate Avengers By Mark Millar Omnibus collects the first three volumes of the titular comic book (each comprising of six issues) and Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #1-6 in a beautiful white and gold/green exterior that won’t break your wrist unlike some other omnibuses. And with an RRP of £55.99, it’s pretty reasonably priced, considering that you can typically get a copy for about £35. As ever with the omnibus range, it’s wonderfully presented, with nice glossy finishes, a stand-out, white spine and a few ‘special features’ at the back, like variant covers, sketchbooks and cover ideas; it’s fleeting, but a welcome addition.

It begins three weeks after Ultimatum, an event generally considered as bad as comics get, and immediately sets up the premise of the whole book, even though this won’t become apparent until quite a way in. This first arc ushers in the return of Carlos Pacheco (Avengers Forever; Fantastic Four) to Marvel, and his stunning art echoes the widescreen-work of original Ultimates illustrator, Bryan Hitch. He’s a perfect choice for the book, and, coupled with colourist, Justin Ponsor and a plethora of inkers, gives the volume a fresh and exciting feel. The spreads and flowing layouts really help its pace, which has the feel of a blockbuster movie to it. And this is something Millar is often criticised for.

Ultimate Nick Fury sets out his agenda

I can see it both ways. Yes, comics are a medium of their own right; a medium that doesn’t have to be defined by or likened to others, particularly films. This is the reason Alan Moore doesn’t like to see V for Vendetta and Watchmen on the big screen. However, I also feel that as long as it sparks the imagination, it doesn’t really matter.

We also have to remember that many will be flocking to comics after seeing the big-hitters like Avengers Assemble and The Amazing Spider-Man in cinemas and on DVD, so these ‘widescreen,’ sweeping techniques are well suited as an introduction to the medium. As long as the characters are well-written, the dialogue is snappy, and the plot is interesting and relevant, does it really matter if an issue or storyline has the feel of a movie?

The Ultimate origin of the Red Skull…

And maybe this is an issue with Millar’s Ultimate Avengers. While much of the dialogue is good – “[Spider-Man] can drive a man to suicide in three or four exchanges,” someone remarks – and the characters involving, not all of them are particularly likeable. And this is surely a big problem with heroes you’re supposed to be rooting for. Indeed, some of the pointless deaths that occur hardly make an impact. Captain America and Hawkeye remain the most likeable, especially as the former is the personification of a one-man army, but many of the others are just there as replacements for the original Ultimates line-up. There’s a new Black Widow, a new Hulk (or two), and a new Iron Man (sort of) – and only the latter is remotely successful. In fact, I really hate what Millar’s done with the Hulk: the ‘original’ Hulk is a useless addition, while the ‘Nerd’ Hulk is ridiculous.

‘Nerd’ Hulk vs… Iron Man?

Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough, there’s a new Captain America too. Even though the original’s still there, on the whole. And this new Captain is… uh, the Punisher. Maybe this is why the deaths are meaningless: you know another replacement will be along any minute.

The low point for the team comes in volume two, where they’re overshadowed by an amazing Ghost Rider, awesomely drawn by Leinil Francis Yu (Secret Invasion; Wolverine), as he goes up against Blackthorn. (In fact, his Ghost Rider might be the best rendition I’ve seen!) It’s not that strong a story, mainly due to a ragtag team of Avengers who you know won’t gel. With the original Avengers and Ultimates, there were many arguments and fisticuffs, but you just knew that, in the end, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor would get along. But here, there’s too little chemistry and heart.

Ultimate Ghost Rider. Wow.

However, this isn’t a terrible omnibus, as many expected. Actually there’s a lot to enjoy.

As previously stated, Captain America really kicks butt, particularly in the first arc, which heralds in the first and only appearance of the Ultimate Universe’s Red Skull. The twist on his origin isn’t that surprising, but it’s still pretty cool, and suitably gruesome. The death of Nikolai Laskov is particularly horrible – so naturally, there’s some mindless violence lingering on from Kick-Ass.

The third arc riffs off the huge vampire trend of late, something which Millar has come under criticism for. But it’s actually a great move. Keeping up with trends, and predicting the next ones, will always draw readers in, and it’s something that Marvel – and, indeed, every noteworthy company – has always done. Plus there’s a fantastic Twilight parody.

 I was initially sceptical of Steve Dillon’s artistic contributions to the storyline that introduces us to Blade, but, actually, it’s very fitting. But Leinil Yu makes a welcome return in the final storyline, which pits the Ultimates against the Avengers. There are plenty of surprises throughout, but especially in this concluding tale, which starts off really strong. The addition of Spider-Man seems forced – as the Punisher aptly notes, “where the %&*# did HE come from?!” – but Frank’s guilt is great.

The ‘Hulked-out’ heroes in Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #5 is a bit too silly for my liking, but generally, Millar’s conclusions are really strong. The finale to the third arc is very visual and cinematic – clever too – as is the way the Red Skull is dealt with in the first storyline.

Yes, there are plenty of clichés thrown about, and character depth isn’t at its most fascinating, but there’s still a lot to enjoy here. Well worth thirty-odd quid.

If you want to see Mark Millar at his best, pick up The Ultimates. But if you want him in his “not-at-his-best-but-still-much-better-than-most” mode, order Ultimate Avengers now.

“O, Bitter Victory!”: 40% off Amazing Spider-man!

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Art for ASM #49 by John Romita.

Stan Lee and John Romita’s run on Amazing Spider-man is a legendary must-read. And from April 2012, you can get ASM #39- 67, Annual #3- 5, Spectacular Spider-man Magazine (1968) #1- 2, and material from Not Brand Echh #2, 6 and 11 in a 968- page omnibus.

With an RRP of £75, the HC also features the art of Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jim Mooney and Marie Severin, with alternate covers by Romita and Humberto Ramos.

And until Wednesday 23rd November, the Romita cover is available from forbiddenplanet.co.uk for just £45, a saving of 40%! You can get your copy here:

http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_music_info&products_id=67242

The Humberto Ramos cover – a homage to ASM #39 – can be pre-ordered from fp.co.uk for £50.25; the Romita cover is expected to  increase to this price once the promotion is over.

While Amazon.co.uk hasn’t even listed it yet, forbiddenplanet.com has the two covers for £51.74 each.

Though it’s a continuation of 2007’s first ASM omnibus – with the art of Steve Ditko – this second hardcover can be read in isolation, with such milestone issues as “How Green Was My Goblin!” – in which the Green Goblin’s true identity is first revealed – “The Sinister Shocker!” (which introduces one of my favourite villains) and “Spider-man No More!” The latter, in ASM #50, introduced the Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk, a major criminal in the Marvel Universe, and partly inspired the film, Spider-man 2.

Cover art by John Romita.

Personally, it includes some of my favourite issues, so I will definitely have the omnibus in pride of place.  One of the first Spider-man comic storylines I remember is, in fact, from ASM #48- 49, a grim but thrilling tale of a very ill Spider-man facing off against Kraven the Hunter and the new (-ish) Vulture, Brackie Drago.

Coming July 2012...

Of course, the omnibus comes just in time for the release of The Amazing Spider-man film in July 2012, a reboot starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans.

Andrew Garfiled on set with Emma Stone.

“The Old Order Changeth!”: 40% off the Avengers!

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“And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand! Through the years, their roster has prospered, changing many times, but their glory has never been denied! Heed the call, then—for now, the Avengers Assemble!”

Avengers #16

I haven’t been this excited about an omnibus in a while.

February 2012 sees the release of The Avengers omnibus, collecting Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Don Heck’s Avengers #1- 30, which introduces several characters including Kang the Conqueror, Wonder Man and, of course, the re-introduction of Captain America! (It’s odd, however, that the omnibus finishes at #30; Lee went on to write and edit until issue 35.) The HC will be the equivalent of buying the first three volumes of the Marvel Masterworks: Avengers editions.

Art by Jack "The King" Kirby!

The 728-page book has an RRP of £75, but anyone after the Jack Kirby DM – that’s Direct Market – cover (a re-coloured version of Avengers #01) should go to forbiddenplanet.co.uk for a 40% saving:

http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_music_info&products_id=66206

The offer stands until 21st September; as anyone with a calendar in their peripheral will know… that’s tomorrow, so get over there straight away!

The DM Kirby cover.

If you’ve missed it, don’t panic; amazon.co.uk has a pre-order price of £45.54:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Avengers-Omnibus-1-Jack-Kirby/dp/0785158464/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316517898&sr=8-1

Bookdepository.co.uk currently has it for £47.46, while forbiddenplanet.com has a price of £51.74.

Avengers #20

John Romita Jr. (my favourite artist by a mile) provides a variant cover, which promises to be just stunning. Forbiddenplanet.co.uk has this available for £50.25, which I expect will be the price of the Kirby cover after tomorrow.

The JRJR variant cover

Despite Amazon predicting 29th, the omnibus is expected around 15th February, plenty of time before the release of the The Avengers Movie. There are obviously a few omnibuses out there for Kirby fans, including his runs on Captain
America
, Fantastic Four, Devil Dinosaur and The Eternals.

Original Eternals advert

The first Avengers comic I read was the milestone #16, which heralded a new line-up for Earth’s Mightiest, and since then, I’ve loved them, just like every Marvel fan. While the original team – debuting in September 1963 – comprised of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant man and the Wasp (with Cap joining the team in #4), issue 16 saw the roster change, with Captain America headlining a team of Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver.

The final panel of Avengers #01.

The Evolutionary War!

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This September, The Evolutionary War is collected in a 472-page omnibus, with two covers by Lee Garbett and John Buscema.

Buscema cover

The storyline – which focuses on one of the world’s leading geneticists, The High Evolutionary, declaring war on the Earth – was the first of its kind; a crossover spread over several annuals in 1988, from X-Factor Annual #03 to Avengers Annual #17. This tradition continued with storylines like Atlantis Attacks and Lifeform, the former of which has also been released in omnibus format.

Okay, so with an RRP of £55.99, how can you save a bit of money? Well, here are the current offers from the ‘Big Three,’ as I’ve taken to calling them:

forbiddenplanet.com: £38.63.

forbiddenplanet.co.uk: £37.51.

amazon.co.uk: £41.99.

As you can see, it’s best to pre-order with fp.co.uk, but as it’s released in September, it might be worth waiting to see if it drops down a bit. There’s a chance it might, but only by a couple of quid.

Garbett cover

In other news…

In preparation for the upcoming Thor movie – which looks just incredible – the new Walter Simonson Omnibus should be on shelves nationwide. It also looks like Forbidden Planet pre-orders have been sent out too. It’s an extremely popular run and a massive omnibus, weighing in at 1192 pages of Odinson action. It’s worth getting just to see Thor as a frog, right?

For Asgard...!

Comic Book Resources are calling the new Thor movie, which previews next Easter Monday in the UK, the “best Marvel film yet.”

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31910

Come back soon; it looks like October will see the release of several exciting omnibuses…

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