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The Secret?s Out

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Spinning a successful ongoing series off from a blockbuster crossover event is not a sure thing. Yes, Legends gave us Justice League and Flash, but Millenium gave us New Guardians. Zero Hour spawned the fan favorite Starman, but also the less than great Fate and Primal Force series. And last year’s X-Men crossover, “Messiah Complex” gave us Cable and X-Force, which are still going strong, and Young X-Men, which is soon to end.

So Secret Warriors, which spins off from the monstrously popular Secret Invasion miniseries, is not guaranteed to be a hit. Take into consideration that its story is similar to the “espionage-in-the-world-of-superheroes” plot of the recently cancelled Checkmate series over at DC, and you have another strike against it. But the new series does have some major things going for it.

But let’s start with that plot. Nick Fury, who went underground after the events of Secret War, stumbles upon the secret Skrull infiltration and surmises their plan to invade the Earth. Fury, knowing that he needs to stop this, gathers a team of the offspring of some of Marvel’s greatest heroes and villains, and begins to train them in secret. When the Skrull invasion begins in earnest, Fury and his team of Secret Warriors are there to help keep the Earth free.

The team consists of Fury, Quake, the daughter of Mister Hyde who can produce earthquakes, Phobos, the pre-teen son of Ares who can cause fear in his enemies, Druid, a magician who calls the former Avenger Doctor Druid his dad, Yo Yo, daughter of the Griffin who has superspeed and limited teleportation abilities, Hellfire, the grandson of the Phantom Rider who can imbue objects with mystical fire, and, finally, Stonewall, whose parentage is in doubt but is rumored to be one of the biggest players in the Marvel Universe.

Creator Brian Michael Bendis is still on board for the new series, but since he is writing about 10 other books for Marvel, he is bringing on help for this one. The help is in the form of Jonathan Hickman. Hickman is the creative force behind such critically acclaimed titles as The Nightly News, Pax Romana, and Transhuman.

The pairing of Ed Brubaker with first Greg Rucka and later Matt Fraction proved that writing tandems can work if both writers are on the same page. Bendis and Hickman share a set of similarities that might form the bond this kind of partnership needs. Both started out in the world of Indie books. Both are writers and artists. And Bendis was a major supporter of Hickman when the latter got his start in comics.

To give the project a little extra push, Marvel indulged in a witty bit of viral marketing which ties into the shadowy nature of the team. They started a website, http://www.agentofnothing.com/. The site, which appears to be designed by Hickman, can only be accessed by a secret password that Marvel included in the solicitation for the first issue (that password, in case you missed it, is “eagleeye”). Once the password is entered, you can view artwork and see other information, all presented in the form of a briefing from Fury himself.

Will this be enough to make this spin-off a success where other spin-offs have failed? The upcoming months will bear that out. But it should be an entertaining ride for as long as it lasts.   

Also out this week:

The Mighty #1:

This month shows a record number of cancellations, many of them long running titles starring fan favorites. We’ll probably be covering a lot of them here: Robin, Birds of Prey, Ultimate X-Men, She-Hulk and many others. Sure, some might be ending for reasons other than poor sales, but it seems to be a time for a shrinking comics market.

That means starting any new, ongoing comic book is risky. It’s especially uncertain for a book with a completely new character and creators that aren’t guaranteed superstar writers and artists. But that’s what DC is doing with this title. The Mighty appears to be making his first appearance here, and Peter Tomasi, Keith Champagne and Peter Snejbjerg may be competent, but certainly aren’t wide-ranging fan favorites. It will be hard for this series to find an audience. I wish it luck.  

Peter Tomasi & Keith Champagne (W), Peter Snejbjerg (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Agents of Atlas #1:

I think it’s safe to say that Jeff Parker really loves the characters that compose the Agents of Atlas, a group of heroes from the Marvel of the 1950s (when the company was called Atlas). He wrote the original miniseries that brought them back into modern day continuity and has found a way to bring them into just about any Marvel book he writes. It got to such a point that you wished that Marvel would just let Parker write an Agents ongoing already.

Well, Marvel did just that. The Agents get an ongoing series this week, and I for one, couldn’t be happier. Parker is a talented writer and he always seems to give a little bit extra when writing the Agents. The stories are always fun and entertaining. If you take a chance on any new series starting this week, take a chance on this one. You won’t be disappointed!

Jeff Parker (W), Carlo Pagulayan  (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Bad Dog #1:

Joe Kelly, from his work on Deadpool for Marvel, has gained the reputation as excelling at writing tongue-in-cheek stories featuring bounty hunters/mercenaries. If you add to that Kelly’s skewered take on the werewolf mythos, this might be hard for any of the writer’s fans to resist.

Well, that’s what you get with this title. Lou is an antisocial, down on his luck bounty hunter who just happens to be a werewolf. His pal Wendell is a short, angry, equally as down on his luck bounty hunter with a colorful vocabulary for an ex-preacher. Together, they travel the country tracking down bounties and hone their bad attitudes to a razor sharp edge. All relayed by Kelly’s trademark sense of humor.  

Joe Kelly (W), Diego Greco (A), Image Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

I Am Legion #1:

When DC Comics announced its partnership with French comic publisher, Humanoids, back in 2004, one of the most anticipated titles had to be I Am Legion. The story took place during World War II and dealt with Nazi Germany trying to use a 10-year-old vampire named Ana to aid their side in the war. An added bonus was that superstar artist John Cassaday was on board for the art duties.

Unfortunately, poor sales caused the partnership between DC and Humanoids to fall apart before Legion could ever see the light of day. Fans thought the American adaptation was dead forever. Luckily, Devil’s Due came to the rescue. They joined into an agreement with Humanoids last year, and the first offering of their partnership is this title.

Fabien Nury (W), John Cassaday (A), Devil’s Due Publishing, $3.50. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Adventure Comics #0:

Well, you certainly can’t accuse DC of wasting any time. Just last week, they ended their most recent Legion of Super-Heroes series, and here, one week later, they begin the ramp-up to the next incarnation of the team.

This issue reprints 1958’s Adventure Comics #247, which all comic historians know featured the first appearance of the Legion. And it will only cost you a buck to own it!

However, those of you who are looking forward to Adventure Comics #1, you’re going to be in for a bit of a wait. It will be at least two months before the next installment ships, as Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds must finish first.

Otto Binder (W), Al Plastino (A), DC Comics, $1.00. Ongoing Series.

Black Panther #1:

If starting a new, ongoing series with an unknown character is risky, starting one with a female character, known or unknown, is far riskier. Looking at the recent cancellation announcements and you will see that they are strewn with books with female lead characters. Manhunter. Birds of Prey. She-Hulk. Amazing Spider-Girl.

Also note that two (and, by a stretch, maybe three) of the above cancelled books featured female versions of popular male characters as their lead. And Spider-Man and the Hulk are far more popular than Black Panther ever was. Yet, that hasn’t stopped Marvel from rebooting the series with a new number one and a female Black Panther. Maybe Marvel has figured out what went wrong with all the other female books so that this one will last a little bit longer.

Reginald Hudlin (W), Ken Lashley  (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Soul Kiss #1:

The Man of Action Studios, the partnership between Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey and Steven T. Seagle are making a big splash this month with Image. All four members have books hitting the shelves in February, and two are out this week—the aforementioned Bad Dog and this one, from Steven T. Seagle.

Making a deal with the devil is bad. When the first deal goes belly up, making a second deal would be even worse. When that second deal goes wrong, you’re left in the position Lili Bloom is in. To save the life of her lover, she must collect 10 innocent souls for the Devil. At times, you can steal a man’s heart with a kiss, but Lili now must steal their souls as well.

Steven T. Seagle (W), Marco Cinello (A), Image Comics, $3.50. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Eureka#1:

BOOM! Studios adapts yet another cult, Sci-Fi Channel show into comic book form (the other was Farscape of several weeks ago). But, this time, the have a man inside. Eureka creator Andrew Crosby also was one of the people who founded BOOM! Studios back in 2005. So you know the show really couldn’t be adapted anywhere else.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it focuses on a small town in the Pacific Northwestern United States populated almost entirely by scientists. It is one giant brain trust trying to come up with the next great technical advancement. Of course, there is the fair share of experiments going awry, and it’s up to Sheriff Carter in those cases to make order out of the chaos. 

Andrew Cosby & Brendan Hoy (W), Diego Barreto (A), BOOM! Studios, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Bang! Tango #1:

There are few worlds more connected than the worlds of organized crime and tango dancing. Wait, actually, there are few worlds less connected than organized crime and tango dancing. That’s why Vincente, an ex-gangster, decided to pursue his passion for the dance, thinking his past would never catch up with him there.

But catch up it did, in the form of an old flame. She is being blackmailed and needs his help getting out of it. But she is a femme fatale in every sense of the word, and anything to do with her is never what it seems. If he helps her, it could ruin his new life, if he doesn’t, it could be far worse.  

Joe Kelly (W), Adrian Sibar (A), DC/Vertigo Comics, $2.99. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Astonishing Tales #1:

I love the anthology. The entire medium of comic books has been built upon the anthology, although it has gone out of favor in recent years. But, I love the way these kinds of books give unseasoned authors a chance to work on more famous characters and gives less famous characters a chance in the spotlight.

But I guess the qualities I like so much about the anthology might just be what people don’t like about it. Because the haters might think that no major character development would ever be left to a rookie creator, and Z-level characters were Z-level for a reason. But I am glad Marvel is giving the anthology another shot. Hopefully, they will have a little better success with this one.

Various (W), Various (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

JerseyGods #1:

A good man is hard to find, although, sometimes, you get lucky and one falls right into your lap. Unfortunately, women sometimes focus on the latter and forget the former, and think that any man that falls into their laps has to be a good catch.

That is what happened to a New Jersey girl named Zoe. A space-faring demigod fell into her lap, literally, and she soon was in love. Marriage followed and it seemed like a case of happily ever after. However, it’s hard for any space-faring demigod to adjust to terrestrian domesticated life. Now Zoe is finding out that even though her husband might be a god, he is anything but the perfect spouse.

Glen Brunswick (W), Dan McDaid (A), Image Comics, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY and is expecting his first child with his wife Jennifer. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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