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The Crank File: Here’s What I’m Reading 4/22/2015

Hey there comic book fans and welcome to The Crank File lucky issue #13. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics.

Another week, another swipe at the Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover taken by deviant artist Frank Cho. Where will the dirty perpatrator strike next? Who will be the nex super-heroine sullied by his number two pencil? I can’t wait to find out because I think these covers are hysterical. Just a heads up people, Frank Cho will be coming to the Boston Comic-con in August and I’m hoping that he’s sketching covers. I’ve got this idea for a Power Girl Manara swipe that would blow your mind.

A light Wednesday for me and my wallet is thankful. On Saturday I discovered a swimming pool supplies shop that oddly enough also sold comics out of their warehouse. I brought home a stack of dollar books and I’m looking forward to hitting it up again this coming weekend. But there’s some fun stuff coming out between then and now so here’s pretty much everything I’m reading this week.

The top of the pile: Black Hood #3 Black Circle

blackhood_03-0mackvar

The Archie revolution continues with Black Circle’s dark, modern tale of viganti justice and man has it been a heck of a ride. Black Hood is not your traditional super-hero crime drama. It’s an anti-hero story. Our protagonist Greg Hettinger is a basically an ex-cop junkie with a gun who executes with extreme prejudice. But the way that author Duane Swierczynski presents his inner conflict, you can’t help but him on as his life spirals out of control. Great read if you’re like me and you take your comics like your coffee, black.

The Mainstream One: Convergence #3 DC

convergence 3

I won’t lie, I might just skim this one off the rack. Convergence has landed sort of awkwardly and after only two issues I’ve have found myself asking over and over, “Why”? Why are we doing this DC? Why have you thrust your heroes into these trans-dimensional hunger games? Why do you tease us with the reunion of Bruce and Thomas Wayne and then don’t show us?? Issue #3 is a make or break moment for me. I hope you brought your A-game DC or I’ll be sitting the rest of this one out.

The Indie One: Postal #3 Image

Postal_03-1

Three #3’s at the top of this week’s list. I’m really enjoying the twisted world of Postal. This dark mystery is unfolding and has surprised me with a couple of interesting hooks. Set in the town of Eden, Wyoming where all the residents are reformed criminals, Postal is told through the town’s socially impaired postman Mark Shiffron. I haven’t been in love with the artwork so far, but contemplating the musings of a mildly autistic protagonist has been fascinating. He is simply the most reliable, unreliable narrator I’ve ever read. We can trust that everything that he’s telling us is true but we have no idea what he isn’t comprehending. Part Sherlock Holmes part Lennie Small, Postal delivers on Wednesday.

The #1 One: Uncle Scrooge #1 IDW

Scrooge01

Life is like a hurricane, here in Duckburg. Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes. It’s a duck-blur. Might solve a mystery, or rewrite history. Duck Tales. If you hooted out “woooo-ooo” in your head just then, then you already know why it’s on my list.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Star Wars #4 Boba Fett variant Marvel

Boba

Because we can all use a little more Fett in our lives. I love the action figure variants and this one was limited to 5000 copies. I got mine reserved. I hope that you pre-ordered yours because the bay has been going wild with this one.

The Speculation One: All New X-Men #40 Marvel

Xmen 40

Comic golden boy Brian Bendis has been teasing a new super hero comic set in the Marvel Universe, The Utopians. Utopia used to be part of Asteroid M, base of operations for mutant super villain Magneto. After Asteroid M’s destruction, Cyclops moved a chunk of it off the coast of San Francisco where it became a sanctuary for mutantkind. So who are the Utopians? Judging by this cover, we will be finding out soon.

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 4/15/2015

Greetings comic book enthusiasts and welcome to The Crank File issue #11. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like springtime. The piles of snow have retreated back into the deepest patches of shade. After being buried in cold grey for months, you almost forget what spring is like. The longer days and the sweet warm air. Baseball games and roadtrips. A world reborn through itself, year upon year, as it has for eons. And as the seasons turn, things inevitably change. Case and point, I have three books published by Archie comics on my list this week as opposed to my normal zero. Let’s turn and face the strain. Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Convergence #2 DC

4454383-0+wconvergence_2_sketch_cv

Another great looking design variant from Convergence. Alternate realities collide in the second issue. Battles are fought and father and son are reunited. Thomas Wayne Batman from the Flashpoint universe meets Bruce Wayne Batman from our universe. These two haven’t seen each other since the 1930’s. Who cares that they just did the exact same thing in Spiderverse, reuniting Peter Parker and Spider-Ben?

The Mainstream One: Thor #7 Marvel

Thor_Vol_4_7

I’m really digging the new Thor. I think Jason Aaron’s script has been exceptional and the action sequences beautifully chreographed. A lot of Thor fans will disagree with me on this, but then I admittedly never was a big Thor fan. This new Thor intrigues me and her identity will finally be revealed in May. I’m hoping that some clues will drop in this month’s episode.

The Indie One: The Fox “The Hunt” #1 Dark Circle

The Fox

Coming from an award-winning creative team, this book is getting a lot of positive buzz. The artwork looks great and I enjoyed what I read in the preview. The first Archie book to make the list, this title from their Black Circle imprint promises to be a dark and engaging tale.

The Number One One: Archie vs Predator #1 Dark Horse

archie-vs-predator-01-cover-fernando-ruiz

So technically a Dark Horse book, but the gang from Riverdale co-star here so I’m counting it. Archie and crew travel to spring break for some fun in the sun where they encounter Predators. That’s noat a typo. It’s quite beyond comprehension. Especially the “vs.” part. How is that title not “Archie Murdered by Predator”? Will have to read this one and find out for myself.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: RunLoveKill #1 Image

RunLoveKill_Cvr_Preview

Love this cover. It’s so good that this Image #1 is being released without any variants.

The Speculation One: Betty and Veronica #275 Adam Hughes variant Archie Comics

STK667507

Adam Hughes can paint the female anatomy like no one’s business. His “good-girl” pinup art-style is instantly recognizable, oft imitated but never replicated. He is the dirty Norman Rockwell of our generation and this one is another hit.

Last Week’s Leftovers: TMNT #44 2nd Print IDW

TMNT-44-2nd-printing_lowres

TMNT #44 was so popular that it was rushed to a second printing. Last week I finally got a chance to read the “death” of Donatello issue without having to shell out 5x cover price. His savage beating at the hooves of Beebop and Rocksteady was certainly a powerful moment, one that should leave an lasting mark upon Turtle history. I will refrain from further spreading the rumors of his untimely death, but I think this could be Donatello’s Killing Joke moment.

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 4/8/2015

Welcome back comic book fans to The Crank File issue #10. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics.

I need to be excused, I’m recovering from a mild case of March madness. No, I’m not talking basketball and Final Fours, I’m talking books. Seemed like each week’s pile was taller than the last and it was a struggle to keep the stack manageable. It is both a blessing and a curse, having this embarrassment of quality comics to read. My big winners from last week were two retro gems released by indie publisher Black Mask, Space Riders and We can Never Go Home. Both were very cool reads and warmly reviewed. With DC raising the curtain on Convergence and Marvel putting the final pieces in position for next month’s Secret Wars event, there’s plenty to look forward to this Wednesday. Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Saga #27 Image 

Saga_27-1_300_462

Saga is going to be the top of the pile just about every week it is out. Super group Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ classic tale of a family torn apart by intergalactic war is a beautiful study in human emotion and conflict. It is one of those rare stories that seems to resonate deeply with people from all walks of life. Judging by the cover art, Hazel ain’t no a toddler nomore. I’m expecting a pretty significant time jump from issue #26. I can’t wait to catch up with my favorite interstellar epic that doesn’t believe in the force.

The Mainstream One: Convergence #1 DC

Convergence_1-variant_snyder

DC officially kicks the lid off it’s massive crossover event with 40 different #1 Convergence titles. In last week’s Convergence #0 we had learned that Brainiac has traveled across DC’s Multiverse, gathering cities imprisoned within force fields on a mysterious world. According to Brainiac, his motive is to “save” them from their destruction. Each of these cities-in-a-bubble represents an alternate reality, an alternate DC Universe with alternate heroes and villains. The barriers that separate their realities start coming down in Convergence #1. Be on the lookout for new faces and the return of some old ones. There’s probably no chance I’m finding that Snyder 1:100 Batman variant at a decent price, but man is that one cool looking cover.

The Indie One: Image, all of them

image

There are too many good books out from Image this week to choose just one, so I’m copping out and recommending all of them. I already mentioned Saga. Wednesday also sees the return of two of my favorite new titles, Copperhead and Birthright. We also get the follow ups to a bunch of #1’s that I just loved the heck out of, Descender, Surface and Big Man Plans. Then there’s Jupiter’s Circle #1, Nameless, Rat Queens, The Walking Dead… Dammit Image, why don’t you just take all of my money?

The #1 One: Rebels #1 Dark Horse

Rebels

Fan favorite Brian Wood pens this fictional story about a militia formed during the early days of the American Revolution. I love historical dramas and the fact that the author is appearing at my LCS this weekend is just icing on the cake.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Deadpool #45 Phantom variant Marvel

daedpool 45

Another homage to the ubiquitous ASM#300 cover. Is anyone getting tired of this cover swipe yet? Because I sure as hell am not. Keep em coming Phantom, I hope this one goes to a gold second printing. On top of the absolutely killer cover, Deadpool #45 is being solicited as a 96 page “death” of Deadpool issue. Fair to say that this is going to be unconventional and things will get Wade weird. I can’t wait to see how this issue plays out, it could be a classic. Get ready for death with a chance of comedy.

The Speculation One: TMNT #44 2nd print IDW

TMNT-44-2nd-printing_lowres

The first print was an instant sell-out. The second print is already sold out in advance. Much hyped death of Donatello issue still scorching on Ebay, this week’s speculation pick is a layup.

Last Weeks Leftover: Wolverines #13 Marvel

wolverines13

I picked this one up for the cover because I mean, Deadpool playing Wolverine, hilarious. Just look at the dead bird hairdo and gardening rake claws and I dare you to not snicker. This turned out to be a real treat, with Deadpool bumbling his way through a day posing as Wolverine. Fun read, lots of lolz. Grab it if it’s still on the shelves at your shop bub.

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 3/25/2015

Welcome back comic book fans to The Crank File issue #9. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics.

It wasn’t the 1990’s last week, but it sure felt like it. We saw a revival of Turtlemania and experienced full blown speculation insanity. People went ballistic over the ending of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #44. The death of Donnie was completely unhyped and came as a surprise to everyone. Most store owners were unprepared to handle the sudden surge in demand for the book, causing it to absolutely blow up on the secondary market. Both regular covers are already trading around $30 each and the 1:10 variant has cracked three figures. This was a $4 book on the shelf last week. With all the excitement surrounding TMNT#44’s ascent into the collectible stratosphere, it’s staggering to think that we could see another book repeat the feat this week. Booyakasha.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.

The Top of the Pile: Autumnlands Tooth & Claw #5 Image 

Tooth & Claw #5

If you read my past reviews, you’ll find out rather quickly that I absolutely adore the Autumnlands series. The first four issues of this tale of anthropomorphic wizards and warriors have delivered gorgeous artwork and masterfully balanced story telling. How will our band of heroes survive the oncoming assault by the Buffalo warriors? Can the Great Champion actually restore magic to their world? The action has slowed down a bit in the last two issues, but it seems as though the pieces are slowly moving into place. I’m hoping that Busiek and Dewey are ready to set it off in issue 5.

The Mainstream One: Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 DC Comics

The_Multiversity_Ultra_Comics

Grant Morrison’s Multiversity series has been a bizarre journey through a vast interconnected DC Universe that is as brilliant as it is ambitious. It has been a fascinating vivisection of comic books, examining the medium as a reflection of our current social condition. In the second to last issue, Ultra Comics breaks through the metaphysical fourth wall of the comic book page and lands in our hands. The “Ultra Comics #1” comic has made several notable appearances in other Multiversity stories, so I’m totally intrigued to see what’s inside. Morrison himself called Multiversity: Ultra Comics “a haunted comic book, actually, it’s the most frightening thing anyone will ever read. It’s actually haunted—if you read this thing, you’ll become possessed.” Bring it on you madman.

The Indie One: Squarriors #2 Devil’s Due

Squarriors 2

Another anthropomorphic adventure making the list this week. Although the story line feels a bit more traditional than Autumnlands, it’s the artwork that really makes Squarriors stand out. The pages are beautifully painted with realistic lighting and character designs, creating a dramatic edge that breathes life into the story. If you can stomach the 3-month release schedule then you should definitely check this title out. Originally solicited as a 4 part mini-series, Squarriors has already been green lit for a second series.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Sirens #1 NYCC exclusive variant Boom!

Sirens NYCC

Adam Hughes’ is considered by many to be the best in the business. Although he can be criticized for over-sexualizing his female subjects, there’s no denying the talent. His covers are stunning and his style instantly recognizable. This Siren’s #1 cover is no exception. Previously only available at the New York Comic Con, I’m picking up this beauty if it is available.

The Speculation One: Darth Vader #3 Marvel

Darth Vader 3

Introducing a new character to the Star Wars universe, Darth Vader #3 has already sold out ahead of release and could be hard to find on shelves Wednesday. If Aphra becomes a major character in the Star Wars universe, or if her character makes it into the movies, then this could be a key book. Pick up extra copies of this one wherever you can find them.

Last Week’s Leftovers: Silk #2 Marvel

Silk_2

This would have been TMNT #44 if I thought that there was any possibility that copies are still sitting on shelves anywhere. I picked this issue up last week for the ASM#301 Phantom variant cover swipe, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. With the huge amount of love Spider-Gwen has been receiving, I think this book has been getting overlooked and is actually the stronger of the the two new Spider-lady titles. Robbie Thompson’s writing is both humorous and heartfelt and I find Stacy Lee’s artwork positively charming. Regular covers of issue #2 should still be readily available. Pick one up and prepare to be bitten.

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week

Welcome back for The Crank File #8. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics. This will be the start of what I plan to be a weekly segment where I let you in on what I’m picking up at my local comic shop every Wednesday.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The top of the pile: Outcast #7

Outcast #7 Kirkman & Azaceta

I’m really digging the atmosphere Kirman and Azaceta have created in this gritty tale of demonic possession. The first arc was a bit of a slow build but the stage has been set for some seriously creepy stuff to go down in Outcast volume 2. I’m hoping the pieces start coming together and that we finally get some answers about our mysterious protagonist and his supernatural abilities.

The mainstream one: Batgirl #40

Batgirl 40

Although she’s been making headlines this week for Rafael Albuquerque’s controversial Joker variant cover, you should be paying attention to what’s happening to Batgirl in story. An unknown entity has been harassing Babs Gordon claiming to be the real Batgirl. The ending of Batgirl #39 and Barbara’s story in Secret Origins #10 seem to hint that she has unintentionally created an AI version of herself. #40 should be an exciting read with some potentially big revelations. There’s also a totally rad Purple Rain movie variant, making this pick a no-brainer.

The indie one: Alex + Ada #13

AlexAda13

Things have gotten bad for Alex and his sexy, sentient ladybot Ada. Unlocked robots have been outlawed by the government and a nationwide bot-hunt is closing in on our heroes. I usually don’t dig romance stories and I was originally put off by the whole man loves a robot angle. But this book has totally won me over with it’s whip smart dialogue and societal undertones. Alex + Ada has shown huge amounts of heart and is one of my favorite reads this year.

The #1 one: Chrononaut’s #1

Chrononauts 1

Time travel stories have been done to death but Mark Millar and Sean Murphy are an all star creative team, so I’m willing to give this title a couple of issues to see if they can bring something new to the genre.

The one I’m buying for the cover: Silk #2 Phantom Variant

Silk 2

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed issue #1 and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next to the plucky Cindy Moon. Absolutely in love with the ASM 301 cover swipe. This one’s going to look great sitting next to my Spider Gwen Phantom variant.

The speculation pick: Green Lantern New Guardians #40

Green Lantern 40

Rumored to be the death of White Lantern Kyle Rayner.

Last week’s leftover: The Surface #1

Surface 1

It’s been called pretentious, pseudo-scientific, existential nonsense and it is a thing of beauty. The Surface peels back the layer of conventional thinking and unabashedly lays out its unique vision of reality and imagination. The artwork is gorgeous which helps prop up these lofty ideas. This book is not going to be for everyone so copies will likely still be available on the racks. A must read for anyone who has questioned the nature of existence.

 

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The Crank File: The Spectacular Dan Slott

Welcome back for The Crank File #7. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics. Today I salute Dan Slott, current writer of Marvel’s Amazing Spider-man, for being an amazing human being.

Two recent events in comic culture have spewed waves of unfounded bigotry and hate across social media: a gay kiss on Walking Dead and rumors of a Black/Latino lead in the next Spider-man movie.

Someone remind me what year it is again?

Comic books have always provided a safe place for me. Like many of us growing up, I got picked on by other children for being different. It wasn’t vicious, just the typical meanness of ignorant youth. Not big enough, not tall enough, not fast enough, not Caucasian enough. Comic books were an escape from the harsh realities of the chalkboard jungle, a fantastic world where being a freak also meant that you could be a hero. Those comic book panels were the great equalizer. Regardless of your age, gender, race, species or whatever, if you were righteous and you defended the weak then that’s all that mattered, I would cheer for you. I still do.

And in that vein, I want to express my gratitude towards Dan Slott who has taken a stand against the rising tide of intolerance. Not only is he currently penning the adventures of Peter Parker for Marvel, he’s defending the case for a Black/Hispanic Spider-man and reminding us all why comic books are so frikkin awesome in the first place:

Dan Slott Lays Down The Case For A Non-White Spider-Man

I am Spider-man.

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The Crank File: Spec-tacular Spider-man Movie News

Thanks for joining me for The Crank File #6. Today I speculate on a couple of Spider-man related back issues that have jumped up in price due to a recent movie announcement

Happy lunar new year! In the Chinese zodiac 2015 is the year of the goat. inexplicably the Mandarin word for goat, yang, also translates as sheep or ram. So technically, 2015 is the year of the goat/sheep/ram. Don’t be confused by the conflicting imagery floating out there, it’s all good. OK, enough cultural education. To the comics!

Fans are still rejoicing after last week’s announcement that our friendly neighborhood Spider-man is thwipping his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Thwip thwip!

Spider-man is the bacon of the comic book world, he makes anything better. Expectedly, the deal struck between Marvel and Sony Pictures has fans buzzing with anticipation. Where will Spider-man appear next? We already know that next year’s Captain America movie is titled “Civil War”, and Peter Parker played a pivotal role in the comic book series by the same name. And can you imagine how jaw-droppingly awesome an Avengers movie guest-starring Spider-man would be?

Shut up and take my money!

As speculation about the next Spidey movie runs riot, so has speculation on several key Spider-man books. But unlike the Civil War series which has been hot for some time now, these books have just started to tick upwards. So scrounge those back issue bins at your local honey holes, they could be holding gold.

Avengers 316

Written by superstar John Byrne in 1990, this is the issue when Spider-man officially becomes a member of the Avengers. It seems a lot of people are betting on a future Spider-man/Avengers movie. This was a $2 issue just days before the movie news hit. Every affordable copy has since been snapped up and are now popping up on online auctions asking $15-$20 for NM raw copies. And they are getting it. The craziest thing about the recent price jump is that there hasn’t been any news that a Spider-man/Avengers movie is actually happening. But if that movie ever is announced, watch out because this book could explode.

Ultimate Fallout #4

Ultimate_Comics_Fallout_Vol_1_4

I’ve had this book pegged as undervalued for a while now. It features the first appearance of a very popular character, Miles Morales the Ultimate Spider-man. Our last decade of Spider-man movies have all kicked off with Peter Parker’s origin story. And as much as I love classic Spider-man, i just don’t think I can stand watching Uncle Ben get murdered for another time. I think a new take on Spider-man could be refreshing and equally amazing. Marvel movies have been borrowing from both the Classic 616 and Ultimate 1610 universes, so although a movie featuring Miles Morales as Spider-man would be a bold and unlikely move, it’s not unthinkable. Marvel has already been pushing diversity hard in their comic titles, why not in their movies? The Avengers could use a little color in their ranks. Once a $5 book, Ultimate Fallout #4 is consistently fetching $15-$20 with a scorching hot 1:25 variant. The first printing with Miles’ face hidden behind the title is the cover to look out for.

Happy hunting!

Oh, hey Fox? Do the world a solid and give us back the X Men and Fantastic Four already.

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The Crank File: Wild’s End – Wild Endings and New Beginnings

Welcome back for the fifth installment of The Crank File. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics. Today we review the Boom! comics’ scifi mini series Wild’s End and look forward to what the future holds for the title.

Wild's End #6

Issue six of Boom!’s six part miniseries Wild’s End descended upon comic shop everywhere this past Wednesday. The genre bending alien invasion story delivered a pulse pounding finale that left the audience (me) screaming for more (more!).

I picked up the first issue of Wild’s End because it had been pitched to me as War of the Worlds happens to the Wind in the Willows. Sold. Wild’s End immediately drew me in with it’s cartoonish art style and 1930’s British charm. I loved the anthropomorphic character designs and how the aliens looked like art deco lamp posts.

It would be easy to mistake Wild’s End for a children’s book due to it’s inherent cuteness. But it doesn’t take long for Wild’s End to turn into a dark, psychological tale of horror and survival.

Wilds End

What kept me picking this book off the shelf each month were the neurotic characters. They are nervous, agoraphobic, roguish, chain smoking, drunken, brash and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. They are a group of flawed and conflicting personalities forced together due to impossible circumstances, a tried and true recipe for good drama.

Unusual Suspects
The Unusual Suspects

I had some concerns going into issue six, mainly because I thought that this was the final chapter in the series. Wild’s End was advertised as a six issue mini series and after five issues I felt like there was a lot of ground still to cover if this thing was going to come to a satisfactory resolution. And although issue six serves up plenty of thrills on the way to a violent and fiery crescendo, it ends somewhat abruptly and frustratingly with a cliffhanger.

Much to my relief, writer Dan Abnett tweeted last Thursday confirming that a second series is on the way. Hu-zzah!

Wilds End tweet

Realizing that this was not actually the end to Wild’s End but just to the first arc, I went back and reread the series and found myself enjoying the pacing of the final few issues more than I had originally.

Wild’s End exceeded all of my expectations and I highly recommend it to any fan of science fiction horror. No details yet on when the second series will invade bookstores, but I’ll be there when it does.

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The Crank File: The Fantastic Fourplay

Welcome back for the fourth installment of The Crank File. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics. In today’s episode of the Crank File we discuss the end of a Marvel icon and the beginnings of a new era. And a familiar face makes an unexpected appearance.

Fantastic Four issue #642 kicks off The End is Fourever story arc. The End is Fourever will be the final chapter in the seminal Marvel series The Fantastic Four, which will lead us into Marvel’s big 2015 event, Secret Wars. You heard that right true believers. The Fantastic Four has been cancelled.

Created in 1961 by legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Marvel Comic’s The Fantastic Four was the title that launched the Marvel Universe. Just a few years after The Fantastic Four exploded onto the comic book scene, Marvel had created some of the most recognizable heroes in pop culture history, including Spider-man, Thor, the Hulk, the Avengers, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Dare Devil and the Silver Surfer.

But while other characters rose to stardom and beyond, fame was not as kind to the group once known as the world’s greatest heroes. While the Fantastic Four team was unique and diverse by Silver Age standards, as comics grew up the Fantastic Four sort of stayed the same. Their old school persona and mediocre movies didn’t endear the group to a new generation of comic book readers. And with lower popularity leading to sagging sales, I guess they just couldn’t afford to keep the lights on at the Baxter Building.

I have a soft spot for FF personally because of the “Marvel Secret Story of ” series of books. Does anyone else remember this?

The Secret Story of the World's Greatest Superheroes

A set of four hardcovers, I discovered “The Secret Story” books as a child at my public library. Each book highlighted a different Marvel superhero. There was The Hulk, Spider-man, Captain America and The Fantastic Four. I’d check out any of these books whenever I could. The Fantastic Four might not have been my favorites but they were always there on the shelf, waiting just for me.

I haven’t seen much of the FF since then, outside of their obligatory cross-over appearances. So what better place to start getting reacquainted than at the end? If issue #642 is representative of the series, then Fantastic Four certainly isn’t being cancelled for a lack of quality. Writer James Robinson puts a lot of heart into this story, where we find Marvel’s first family vulnerable, separated and under assault.The artwork is outstanding throughout the issue and I absolutely love the Jim Cheung variant cover, a beautiful homage to the genesis of the Fantastic Four.

FF 642 variant cover

There’s also a great line swipe from Allen Moore’s Watchmen; a nod to a series that in many ways revolutionized comics for its own generation.

Watchmen Swipe    FF watchemn swipe

It is almost poetic that the end of the Fantastic Four would also bring about the start of a new era in Marvel comics. For months now Marvel has been teasing 2015’s upcoming Secret Wars, and The End is Fourever story arc should lead us into this monumental event. From the press releases, we know that in Secret Wars the Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe will be destroyed with the remaining fragments forming a patchwork planet called BattleWorld. This event is set to shatter the 616 universe as we know it and promises to have profound effects on almost every Marvel title. Although it is not officially being called a franchise reboot, Marvel is promising that Secret Wars will mark a completely new direction for the company.

And we can expect that the members of the Fantastic Four will be involved in Secret Wars. After all, cancelled doesn’t mean dead. Although they might not have their own name on a book for a while, don’t expect it to last forever. Comic books don’t die. They are undead. Sometimes they even come back better and wiser than before. All the best ones do.

Minor spoiler ahead.

On the last page of Fantastic Four #642 we are reintroduced to the SleepWalker. Published for only three years during the early 90’s, SleepWalker was supposed to be Marvel’s response to Vertigo’s popular Sandman series (lol!). Sleepy hasn’t been relevant in comics for decades, if ever, but his sudden appearance at the end of issue #642 indicates that he could play an important role in the Marvel Universe’s transition into Secret Wars. This news has caused prices for the first appearance of Sleep Walker to soar. A recent dollar-bin book is now regularly moving on eBay for $10, with some BIN auctions surpassing $15.

Sleepwalker cover

I can’t find an estimated print run number for this issue, but considering that it came out during the height the first comic book boom… I would guess hundreds of thousands. Check your long boxes and your LCS’s dollar bins and flip them while the flipping is good. It might finally live up to it’s promised “Collector’s item!” status.

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The Crank File: Breaking the Internet with Amazing Spider-man #12

Welcome to the third installment of The Crank File. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics. In today’s episode of the Crank File we discuss the much-hyped secret revealed at the end of Amazing Spider-man issue 12. Spoilers ahead. 

Reigning Amazing Spider-man writer Dan Slott refused to comment on rumors that the events of this month’s issue of Amazing Spider Man was going to break the internet. I’m happy to report that it has been 4 days since ASM#12 was released into the world and the internet still stands. Huzzah!

Secretly, I never really believed that Mr. Slott could actually break the internet. But I did take it into serious consideration. Mr. Slott has certainly performed some spectacular stunts during his tenure as chief scribe over at Amazing Spiderman. He successfully pulled off a body switch between Otto Octavius and Peter Parker leading to the bizarre but immensely entertaining events of the Superior Spider-man. And just this past September he introduced us to Gwen Stacy from Earth-65, who in the 65 universe was bitten by the radioactive spider and transformed into Spider Woman (or Spider-Gwen as she has become affectionately known by her fans). Clearly Slott is neither uncomfortable with stepping outside normal conventions or afraid of making internet-breaking changes to the world of Spider-man.

Case and point, the current Spider-Verse event has multitudes of spider-men iterations from alternate Earths banding together to fight an enemy that threatens all of their universes. In addition to providing some truly memorable and endearing Spider-heroes, these alternate Earths provide a convenient deus ex machina for introducing new characters without much exposition, like the aforementioned Spider Gwen. And although I am a big Spider Gwen supporter, it does feel a bit contrived. Which takes us to the big reveal in ASM#12. Potentially internet-breaking spoiler ahead. Last chance to turn back now.

Uncle Ben?!
Uncle Ben?!

Dun dun duhhhhh. Yup, Uncle Ben is back after being dead for over half a century. Granted this Uncle Ben is from an alternate reality and not the Earth 616 universe, but it is still Uncle Ben none the less.

In a story where alternate realities entwine and characters can jump from universe to universe, the revelation that Uncle Ben was alive in another universe didn’t land with earth-shattering impact I would have expected. Maybe it is because I’ve grown accustomed to seeing deceased characters resurrected on the regular. Heck, we just went through the “death” of Peter Parker in ASM #700’s Dying Wish, only to see him resurrected with the relaunch of 2014’s Amazing Spider-man volume 2. So it is not incredibly shocking when Marvel brings back one of the most influential characters in Spider-man’s life. But it is a big deal.

Uncle Ben’s return didn’t break the internet but it did add an interesting new fold to Spider-man mythology. We have to remember how momentous an event the death of Benjamin Parker was in Peter Parker’s life. Before Uncle Ben’s murder, Peter had been using his new found spider-abilities solely for personal gain. It wasn’t until the death of Peter’s beloved uncle and paternal role-model that he swore to use Spider-man as a means for fighting injustice and protecting others. Had that fateful encounter between Uncle Ben and the burglar never occurred, would Peter have ever truly understood that with great power comes great responsibility? It is not difficult to imagine Peter’s life taking a very different trajectory had Earth 616’s Uncle Ben lived. And now he’s alive.

Characters in the worlds of comic books are not like real people. Not abnormal just because they often wield superhuman powers, but because they exist as ideas in our shared consciousness. Good ideas don’t die, they just come back in different forms. Uncle Ben’s character represents an ideal, a loving memory that inspires strength and courage to face a hard world and to be the best that we can. The big question is, what will his memory mean when the events of the Spider-verse conclude?

I’m interested about how Slott will utilize Uncle Ben’s character and excited to see how the relationship between uncle and nephew develops. The possibilities are endless. Maybe the UncIe Ben from this universes was bitten by the radioactive spider turning him into Spider-Ben. Or maybe in this Uncle Ben’s universe, Aunt May was shot by the burglar and Uncle Ben survived, blaming Spider-man for her death. It’s too early to really speculate on the reasons for Uncle Ben’s return. We only get to see him in the last page with just a few words exchanged. What we do know is that the whole secret identity thing is out the window as Spider-man openly refers to him as “Uncle” Ben to which his uncle coolly responds, “Peter”.

I hope that the introduction of a new Uncle Ben doesn’t water-down the memory of the original, or worse taint it’s legacy. We are talking about digging up the bones of one of the most significant deaths in comics history. Don’t be surprised if you unearth ghosts. Whatever his motives, Slott has earned my confidence as a reader and my spidey sense tells me that this is going to be more than just a marketing gimmick.