State of the Multiverse 53

You could say it was a spin-off of Astonishing X-Men but that does not do the title justice. Neither unfortunately do the sales figures, so let me just say – YOU ARE MISSING A GEM HERE PEOPLE!

S.W.O.R.D. #3

I know I have raved in this column about the relaunch of the old heroes such as those featured in Project Super-Powers from Dynamite, and the return of the Red Circle heroes in the DCU, but I fail to attain the same level of enthusiasm about The Marvels Project. I thoroughly enjoyed Avengers/Invaders, and also The Twelve, but I cannot help feeling with the Marvels Project that I have read this all before. Several times.

In and of itself, I suppose it is not a bad thing, it introduces many younger/newer readers to the rich history of Marvel, and fleshes out some more the stories of World War II. In my opinion, I always thought that DC did a better job of chronicling its World War II, but then they were actually publishing in those days, and Marvel did not really exist.

However, I find myself asking what about the Marvels Project is different to the original (and classic) Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, which really innovated a revolutionary form of comics. The viewpoint obviously, this story is not told by the innocent bystander, although using the rather obscure original Angel as the centre character does attempt to imitate that. Yet it fails, resulting in pieces of story we have seen a thousand times before.

That’s not to say it is not an enjoyable read, but somewhere in my mind I demanded far better. If anything, it is reminiscent of Conspiracy, a good idea but certainly after the age of Avengers: Illuminati and Secret Invasion, one that has been done to death.

Todd McFarlane’s recent offering of Haunt, written by the fabulous Robert Kirkman (of Invincible and The Walking Dead) does excite. My reaction to this is curious, it excited me in ways that the early issues of Spawn never did. It was not until the second issue had hit the stands that I decided to give the title a go, as the art did not excite me. After innumerable McFarlane covers of Spawn, Spider-Man or Venom, I thought I knew what to expect within the pages, and I am happy to report that I was wrong.

One caveat here. As Spawn progressed, the title went from strength to strength. The early issues did little to impress me however, and I cannot uite put my finger on why. Haunt is a different kettle of fish, still dominated by the super-natural, but with elements of intelligence work battling immoral arms-dealers. Sounds like standard fare eh?

Except it’s not. In Kirkman’s capable hands, you see all of the standard elements of a good superhero origin, but somehow it is more engrossing. I won’t say that I deeply care about the characters yet, but I do feel that I like them. They seem more three-dimensional than archetypal, and I want to get to know them better.

One of my readers pointed out that I had missed out one very important recommendation for this week, that of S.W.O.R.D. #3, and I totally agree. You could say it was a spin-off of Astonishing X-Men but that does not do the title justice. Neither unfortunately do the sales figures, so let me just say – YOU ARE MISSING A GEM HERE PEOPLE!

Written by Kieron Gillen, the title stars Abigail Brand; the Beast and Lockheed, who has finally revealed his beer-swilling and potty-mouthed self. Maybe he had been spending way too much time with Wolverine, although I rather think that it is more likely that Kitty has a ‘type’ with her friends.

More importantly, we see what Henry Peter Gyrich is doing during the Dark Reign. We know Gyrich is a patriot, a bigoted xenophobic patriot, but a patriot nonetheless, and we see the bone that Osborn has thrown him to chew on to keep him out of the way. After all, if he can’t pick on the mutants or the super-heroes, then who better to oppress than the aliens?

There are points of wit in Kierons writing that are not reliant upon vast knowledge or familiarity with the characters, but I cannot deny it is a richer read if you are a long-time follower. And who can turn down appearances of the one, the only original Freelance Peacekeeping Agent – Death’s Head?

Tags: Marvel, SWORD, Beast, Image, Haunt, The Marvels Project

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Darren Burr
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A devoted follower of the comics industry and their characters since a child, Darren now plays in many media but always returns to characters in skin-tight costumes beating each other up on the page. Radio host, blogger, fanfic author and producer of You Tube content, Darren idles away his days until his digital conquest of the world is complete.

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