Having taken over movies, television and
animation, comics have never been cooler. Now, WIRED.co.uk picks
out the best and worst of the week’s titles for your reading
This week, DC’s real Captain Marvel makes a triumphant return
and brings his extended family with him in The Multiversity:
Thunderworld Adventures, something very strange is going on in
Rumble #1, and questions are answered in Miles
Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #8.
The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures, DC
Grant Morrison’s alternate world-hopping Multiversity project
has been hit and miss so far, with the strands of narrative
connectivity largely limited to the issue of “Ultra Comics” that
recurs in each reality we’ve seen. For the most part, each chapter
has read like a self-contained one-shot, each channelling the
themes and style of a different take on DC Comics’ swathe of
That easy accessibility makes this neo-classicist take on the
Marvel a sheer joy to read though. In the publisher’s
current “New 52” continuity, the “World’s Mightiest Mortal” and his
alter ego Billy Batson has been revamped into merely Shazam, a
bratty, mean-spirited, “realistic” character that lacks the sense
of wonder so integral to the hero. Ignoring that take, Morrison
uses this issue to write a love letter to the endlessly optimistic
hero of old, one that artist Cameron Stewart simply draws the hell
Walking a fine line between charming and corny, Morrison touches
in on the extended Marvel Family — Captain Marvel Jr, Mary Marvel,
the Lieutenant Marvel trio, bumbling Uncle Dudley and even Tawky
Tawny, the humanoid tiger — while pitting them against arch-enemy
Sivana. Having recreated through science the mystic lightning
that empowers the Marvels, Sivana has transformed his children into
dark analogues of the heroes, setting them loose on an unsuspecting
Fawcett City. Meanwhile, a consortium of multiversal Sivana
counterparts have pooled extra-dimensional energy to insert an
eighth day into the week, from where they launch an offensive to
steal all existence.
It’s big and, honestly, kind of stupid. It’s the best kind of
stupid though, the kind that can’t help but bring a smile to your
face. There’s an odd purity to Captain Marvel when done right,
something Morrison understands and displays unashamedly. The stakes
are high, but more importantly they’re fun.
Stewart’s art is essentially flawless here. He captures the
slightly cartoonish nature of the characters while presenting them
as powerful and striking. The timeless nature of the Marvel Family
is something a lot of creators miss, instead trying to make them
edgy or “relevant”, but you only need to glance at Stewart’s take
to understand why they’ve remained pop-culture icons for 75 years.
Even the somewhat hokey aspects, such as the Monster Society of
Evil, are presented with such conviction and sincerity that you’ll
instantly see the appeal.
Multiversity as a whole is building to something
bigger, but if there’s any hope of returning to Thunderworld after
it’s done, DC would have a strong contender for its best series. A
sheer pleasure to read.
This is an odd one. A drunk in a bar talks his way out of a tab,
leaving a note with arcane doodles on it. Bobby, the bartender,
daydreams about his recent ex, imagining ways to get her back. Said
drunk runs back into the bar, pursued by a hulking figure made of
straw wielding a giant sword who vanishes after Bobby brains him
with a baseball bat. Then things start to get weird.
Cue demons trying to steal the leftover sword, a crazy old cat
lady and her possibly possessed kitty Mister Bildad, and gators in
the nearby swamp pushing corpses about. Quite honestly, I have no
idea what’s happening in Rumble but whatever’s going on, I
love it and want more.
Writer John Arcudi and artist James Harren present a comic
bursting with ideas and plentiful influences. It’s a little bit
horror, a little bit action, a little bit comedy — the latter
largely thanks to Arcudi’s fantastically deadpan dialogue, even as
Bobby is faced with the mind-warpingly bizarre.
What really grabs you though is the patchwork nature of the
world itself. From page to page, Herren gives the impression of run
down urban decay, post-apocalypic chic, sweaty swamplands. The
people, all slightly cartoonish with exagerrated features and
unlikely proportions, invoke the names of strange gods, and the
perpetual dusk that everything seems to take place in creates a
dreamlike sensibility. It’s delightfully strange.
In interviews, Arcudi has promised monster fighting, crime,
double-crossing, and more. There’s only the merest hint of those
long-term plans here, foundation sacrificed in favour of throwing
countless ideas into the book, but what is here grabs your
attention and refuses to let go. It’s captivating — even if you
won’t quite know why.
Milkes Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #8,
Ever since writer Brian Michael Bendis introduced Miles Morales
as successor to Peter Parker in the Ultimate
Marvel universe, there have been questions over the past
of Miles’ father, Jefferson. Introduced as a police officer with a
dislike for super-powered types, it was clear he had a shadier
past, one he was ashamed of, but other than some very obscure
hints, nothing was revealed — until now.
Told entirely in flashback, we learn he was drawn into a
criminal life by his brother Aaron (who would go on to become the
costumed villain called Prowler, himself instrumental in Miles’
origin), eager to make a name for himself on the gangland scene by
getting close to the crimelord Turk. While the brothers’ unlawful
background was referred to before, it was always one of the
greatest mysteries surrounding Jefferson’s past — how did he
become a cop in the first place if both brothers had a shady
The answer lies, as most things regarding Ultimate Marvel do,
with Nick Fury. Even 25 years before the modern stories, he was the
ultimate spymaster, recruiting Jefferson to go undercover in Turk’s
organisation in order to work up to the real kingpin of New York
The actual setup turns out to be fairly simple, at least for a
first chapter, but the issue gives Bendis a chance to flex his
muscles when it comes to grounded, realistic dialogue. Crime drama
is where he made his name, first on indie projects such as Jinx and
Goldfish, and even his early Marvel work on Daredevil, which he
infused with a gritty street noir.
David Marquez matches the tone on art, going for a scratchier,
more “indie comics” look, and seems to delight in drawing a younger
Nick Fury with hair. Justin Ponsor on colours really brings the
setting to life though, infusing the pages with late-80s neon
juxtaposed with a perfect pulp crime look. Although Miles himself
only appears on the final page, this is one of the sharpest issues
of his series yet, and the ramifications of his father having been
a shadow SHIELD agent promise big things going forward.