With a month of blockbusters, crossovers, and silly pranks behind us, it is time to look back on the month that was April 2019.
Best Issue: “Avengers: No Road Home” #10
“No Road Home,” the spiritual sequel to “Avengers: No Surrender,” is a more low key affair than its predecessor. Yes, the villain literally blots out light across the entire universe but you get my point. While “No Surrender” was a blockbuster with a massive roster of Avengers compiled from multiple teams, “No Road Home” keeps a tight focus on a smaller cast.
Again, smaller cast. Less heroes. This final issue does away with all of that and its absolutely amazing. “No Road Home” #10 captures what made me fall in love with superheroes in the first place. Comics are pure possibility. Magic. Wonder. Imagination.
Vision engages in a meta-battle with Nyx and unleashes the full might of the Marvel Universe and all its history on the evil goddess. He literally fights her with the House of Ideas. The Avenger draws comic book panels for superheroes to leap out of, plenty adorned in classic costumes that we know and love. Wolverine rocks the brown and gold, Luke Cage is in his tiara. Cap decks Nyx just like he did Hitler back in ’41!
More importantly, Vision has struggled to find his humanity through the entire mini-series. The synthezoid thought he could find it in death but instead finds it in his heroism and the power of imagination. This finale could have really been heavy-handed and preachy but manages to avoid it. Yes, it’s a little sappy. I love it though. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fantastic. Astonishing. Amazing.
Best Artist: Joe Bennett
Joe Quinones’s manga-inspired work in “Dial H for Hero” #2 was a close second, but the artist on “Immortal Hulk” #15 wins by a nose. Al Ewing is definitely writing an amazing Hulk story. I haven’t been this invested in the character since Greg Pak had the reins ten years ago (Remember Skaar? I miss Skaar.). Joe Bennett’s artwork takes the dark and twisted tale to a whole different level though. He’s a perfect fit for a horror comic like this. If you have any doubts, just look at how Bennett draws Hulk transform.
It’s something out of hell. I’m disgusted but I can’t look away. In one panel, Banner looks like he’s drowning inside Hulk’s skin, a terrified look in his eye as his body melts into the jade giant. Bennett’s artwork communicates his pain and I definitely feel it. Another super-creepy panel captures Jackie’s haunted expression framed by the empty eye sockets of her father. I’m uncomfortable just typing that sentence. Joe Bennett’s work this issue is pure nightmare fuel, in the best way.
Best Writer (tie):– Brian Michael Bendis and Eve L. Ewing
Brian Michael Bendis is a DC Comics exclusive writer now but for years he was Marvel’s golden boy. I’m not a fan of all his work (we all know he can go crazy with the speech bubbles) but his influence on the larger Marvel Universe is undeniable. This guy added Spidey, Wolverine and Luke Cage to the Avengers, wrote “House of M” and “Secret Invasion”. Not to mention all of the characters he’s whipped up for Marvel. Daisy ‘Quake’ Johnson, Maria Hill, Jessica Jones and Miles Morales are all Bendis creations.
Now at DC, the guy seems to be feeling especially creative again. His “Superman” isn’t my cup of tea but “Action Comics” is. The title’s more grounded, doing a great job of blending some of the street-level drama that Bendis is famous for with the epic, out of this world nature of Superman. “Young Justice” has been a fun ride, bringing back the main four from the nineties with some new, unexpected additions. It’s both nostalgic and brand-new. My personal favorite is “Naomi” though, co-written by David Walker. As the mystery of her origins unravel, new wrinkles are added and we get deeper and deeper into the DC Universe. I await each issue with bated breath. This isn’t the Bendis that forced us to suffer through whatever the heck that “Guardians” run was. This is “New Avengers,” “Ultimate Spider-Man” Bendis.Continued below
Bendis didn’t get to spend all that much time with his final Marvel creation, Riri Williams. It’s all good though because Eve. L Ewing has it covered. In “Ironheart,” Riri finally has room to breathe and become her own character outside of Iron Man. Ewing makes the character three-dimensional and relatable while adding new supporting characters and enemies. April’s issue brought the first arc to a satisfying close, the character growing and evolving with each issue. I mean, Ewing brought back Midnight Fire from New Warriors and I kid you not, the guy’s actually pretty awesome. Midnight Fire. Seriously.
In April, “Marvel Team-Up” #1 dropped, starring Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man. It’s just a really fun title. The ‘swap bodies’ thing has been done to death and yet Ewing breathes new life into it. I’m so glad this very talented writer came to comics, can’t wait to see what more she has in store for us.
Most ‘You were the Chosen One!’ Writer: Tom King
Let’s start with “Batman.” I can’t really tell you where that train went off the rails. Tom King’s tenure on the title started strong for me. Gotham and Gotham Girl were interesting characters. Batman forming his own Suicide Squad and taking on Bane was entertaining. ‘The War of Jokes and Riddles’ had some good stuff in it. Now the title is just…weird. In April, Flashpoint Batman (Thomas Wayne) wrestled with a very naked Bane for…reasons. Catwoman and Batman have their respective bachelorette/bachelor parties. The Superman robot strippers have to cross some sort of line but again, just weird. I don’t know if I can outright call it bad.
I can outright call “Heroes In Crisis” bad. The latest issue reveals Wally West is the killer which is a non-starter right there. I’m sorry, not Wally. Doesn’t compute. His characterization is completely off, a lot of characters are off. The exploration of mental health is getting buried under all the other mess going on in this title. I really don’t like it even though I loved “The Vision,” “Omega Men” and “Mister Miracle.” I mean, this writer even made me care deeply about Elmer Fudd of all people. “Heroes in Crisis” has been a huge misstep though, no doubt about it.
Best Company-wide ‘Participation is Mandatory’ Crossover: War of the Realms
You Remember ‘Fear Itself?’? As best as I can remember, that was the last Asgard-centric Marvel crossover. Everyone got a hammer and there was something about a snake. Horrible event, only got through half of it before giving up. With the bad taste of ‘Fear Itself’ in my mouth, I expected to at least be annoyed by Marvel’s latest big event, the ‘War of the Realms.’ I’m so surprised I’m enjoying it as much as I am. I’m not even really that into Thor comics. I haven’t been following Jason Aaron’s run and only skimmed “The Unworthy Thor” but not much beyond that. You only really need passing knowledge to get into it though. Each issue of the main comic has been strong and none of the tie-ins have been bad so far. That’s important because just about every series is forced to tie in to these big event things. There is no escape. I don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like Marvel could get this one right. Odin help us if they get it wrong.