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PCR #97. (Vol. 3, No. 5) This edition is for the week of January 28--February 3, 2002.

Wake Up and Smell the Comics

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  #14.   January's Best.

Howdy folks! The month is finally ending, making this the perfect opportunity to mention all the highlights that hit shelves over the last 31 days. Marvel was the standout this time around, launching a whole bunch of new creative teams and story arcs while trying to make their books more accessible for the rest of 2002. Below is a summary of the better attempts Iíve seen and should be available at your local retail shops.

First 9-11 cover9/11 Volume 1 & 2 - To play their parts in the relief efforts of 9/11, many of the comic industryís publishers banded together for two books dedicated to the memory of the tragedy and the inspiring heroes of the disaster. DC Comics, Image, Dark Horse, Chaos!, Oni Press, Top Shelf and an assortment of other creators all contributed to these volumes, priced at a meager $9.95 for a total of 192 pages each. Creators such as Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman, Kurt Busiek, Will Eisner and more have put their hearts into what very well may be the greatest compilations in the history of illustrated art. If you can afford the cash, you would be doing yourself a disservice by missing out on this project. Please, donít forget that the money goes to charity as well. Highest possible recommendation! Other 9-11 cover

Howard the DuckHoward the Duck #1 (of 6) - Just goes to show on how to do something right. If it ainít broke, donít fix it. The original creator of Howard the Duck, the one and only Steve Gerber, returns with friends in this fantastic new mini-series from Marvelís mature line of books, MAX. Howard comic pageFollowing Gerber is concept designer and cover artist Glenn Fabry (who will also do interiors for issue #3), longtime collaborative penciler Phil Winslade (Nevada, Daredevil/Spider-Man) and even a promised guest appearance by co-creator and artist, Gene Colan (Tomb of Dracula). This satirical new series is absolutely NOT TO BE MISSED, and I will guarantee you a spot in Hell if you do. Highest possible recommendation! For a deeper look into the return of Howard, check out my original article.

Iron Man

Iron Man #50 - Debuting an all new creative team, writer Mike Grell (Green Arrow) and artist Michael Ryan (Cable), the series takes on a whole new direction in this stand alone story. Grell takes aim at a more realistic world of political espionage, while updating Iron Manís origin just enough to retain the original story qualities and keep the character as he should be. Definitely a matured take on Iron Man, the new flavor doesnít pull any punches. With stronger storytelling and characterization and some of the best art in comics, this one is highly recommended.

Captain Marvel #27 & #28 - Series co-creators, writer Peter David (Incredible Hulk) and artist Chris Cross (Slingers), launch an all-new storyline for the son of the original Captain Mar-Vell. His Uncle Eros, otherwise known as Starfox, has been gravely injured by a powerfully cosmic foe. To make matters worse, the blood from Erosí wounds is causing ruptures in time and space. Accidentally, Mar-Vell falls into one and begins a trek through some of Marvel Comics most infamous alternate futures including 2099 and Future Imperfect. Expect cameos from Spider-Man 2099 and The Maestro (Hulkís evil future incarnation). Highly recommended.

Captain Marvel
Note: January is Captain Marvelís 13th issue month, where the publisher supplies two issues on a bi-weekly schedule for that month instead of an Annual. Also, the image above is the picture you get when you combine all four covers (by J.H. Williams III) of the 4-part Captain Marvel storyline.

Peter Parker, Spider-Man #39 - Critically acclaimed writer Paul Jenkins begins an all-new 3-part story arc featuring Spider-Manís greatest arch-nemesis, Doctor Octopus. Penciled by series regular Mark Buckingham, the new arc also features the return of the newer villain Fusion. Highly Recommended.

Captain America: Dead Man Running #1 (of 3) - While the ongoing Captain America series is in hibernation until itís April 2002 relaunch with an all new creative team, Marvel has created a temporary replacement. This 3-issue mini-series features the creative team of the recent Sandman Presents: The Corinthian from DC Comics, placing the character in a more realistic modern day environment. Discovering a team of U.S. soldiers in the South American jungle on the run from a common enemy, Cap finds that the group he is protecting has been part of something that challenges his very basic beliefs as the symbol of America. Guarantied to be a much grittier and harder Cap story then youíre used to reading, this is definitely an edgier experiment representative of what the new Marvel Comics can deliver. Recommended.

A Moment of Silence - Marvelís second and final charity project created to help 9/11 relief efforts. Filled with mostly silent short stories, the roster of creators include Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada, Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr. and Mark Bagley. Recommended if youíre still looking to contribute to the comics-related charities.

Tangled Web
Spider-Manís Tangled Web #10: Ray of Light - This monthís issue features a stand alone story by Amazing Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk cover painter, Kaare Andrews. The story follows two underprivileged kids impacted by the popularity of Spider-Man, who soon find themselves in the midst of a very real life confrontation between their hero and Electro. Andrewsí art is beautiful, but I havenít yet seen his writing. Definitely worth taking a look.

Well, that wraps up this edition of Comics! I hope Iíve managed to get a few of you off your asses and down to the shops because I know if you havenít taken advantage of at least one of these opportunities in January, then youíre a sorry piece of shit and youíre wasting my time! Otherwise, thanks and see you next time.

Drew Reiber wishes to thank Marvel.com and Comic Newsarama for the use of images used in the above article.

"Wake Up and Smell the Comics" is ©2002 by Drew Reiber. All character names and their distinctive likenesses included in his column are copyrighted and trademarked by their respective companies and are used here for review purposes only. All graphics this page, unless otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova.