Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Marvel Index #11 in March!


Return with us to the Silver and Golden Ages as the chronicle of the Marvel Universe continues its coverage of the Avengers (from AVENGERS #373), Thor (from 1998’s THOR #1), and Captain America (from both CAPTAIN AMERICA #417 and 1944’s CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #35). Watch the Marvel universe’s history unfold month by month as we provide synopses for dozens of individual comics, including back-up strips — introducing the characters, teams, places and equipment that appeared within with vital information about first appearances, where they last showed up and where they appeared next! 64 PGS./Rated A …$3.99

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Proof returns tomorrow with Endangered#1!

I'm always happy to blog about Alex Grecian & Riley Rossmo's Image series Proof! Begun in 2007, Proof released 28 issues in its original run, which have been collected into five trade paperbacks (the fifth, Blue Fairies comes out tomorrow).

So, I'm very pleased to note that Proof: Endangered#1 ships tomorrow, promising the continued adventures of John Prufrock, the Bigfoot with a mission!

Endangered is setting the stage for Prufrock's exploration of his past, his family and his origins. If you've been following since 2007 (as I have) then you're already hooked! If not, that's what the trades are for! There's a good interview with Grecian found here.

Endangered#1 also features a special biography section written by yours truly; keep your eyes peeled for more bonus features by me in upcoming issues of Proof: Endangered!

And, so long as you're at the comic shop tomorrow, be sure to grab the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Update#5, the last issue of the 2010 series! Learn more about its contents here!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Index in February


The chronicle of the Marvel Universe returns as the All-New Official Index to the Marvel Universe delves into the history of three more of Marvel’s most enduring titles! Return with us to the Silver and Golden Ages to we launch our coverage of the Avengers (from AVENGERS #345), Thor (from THOR #460), and Captain America (from both CAPTAIN AMERICA #387 and 1941’s CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #32). Watch the Marvel universe’s history unfold month by month as each issue provides synopses for dozens of individual comics, including back-up strips, introducing the characters, teams, places and equipment that appeared within, providing vital information about first appearances, where they last showed up and where they appeared next! 64 PGS./Rated A …$3.99

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Due tomorrow: Heroic Age: Super Villains!

Tomorrow sees the release of Heroic Age: Super Villains, the second of three special one shots where Steve Rogers gathers the facts on the post-Siege Marvel Universe! The full solicitation is here!

Also, keep your eyes open for the collected edition of the Official Index to the Marvel Universe: X-Men, which is said to be available tomorrow. I have my copy and it's great, an indispensable desk reference for people like me who spend a lot of time looking up facts on comics. The full solicitation can be found here!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tales From the Crypt: back on tv?

I was in the barber shop yesterday during the shop's peak period and wound up waiting about a half hour for a chair. During this time, the televisions in the shop were broadcasting episodes of a Spike TV program called "1,000 Ways to Die."

The series claims to depict reenactments of actual events, dramatizing instances where someone was purportedly killed by an unusual or unlikely set of circumstances. I mused to myself that Spike probably considered this the more acceptable alternative to broadcasting snuff films.

But as I witnessed more segments from the program a deep realization sunk in; this wasn't a snuff film package, it's Tales From the Crypt with a new name! When I say that I specifically mean the original 1950s comic book incarnation of Tales From the Crypt, the one produced by Al Feldstein, Bill Gaines, et al.

You see, the stereotypical EC horror comic (or really any horror comic book of the early 50s) would introduce a sense of dramatic irony to support the gruesome fates their characters would receive: the man who picks on blind men is trapped in a dark room with grisly death on all sides; attractive women are punished for their vanity by being encased in plastic or burned to death by sun lamps; that sort of drill. "1,000 Ways to Die" takes the same angle, purporting that in each instance the person who dies "had it coming." So the woman dragged to death by dogs on leashes is first established as an animal-hater; the man who annoys people with his RC plane is impaled on the plane's wing; IRONY! In fact, "1,000 Ways to Die" repeatedly uses terms such as "fate" and "karma" in describing the deceased.

But the similarities don't end with the simplistic moralizing; like the EC titles, "1,000 Ways to Die" comes with an overblown narrator who strings groan-inducing puns into the various concussions, dismemberments and asphyxiations. During one segment about a wealthy but foolish young couple the narrator described them as "young, dumb and full of com ...fort." It raised audible groans in the barber shop from staff and customers alike.

I don't have a point to make with this observation, but perhaps the program should give a nod to Felstein & Gaines? Credit where credit is due, I say.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Next January's Handbook is a Blockbuster

Scope this sweet Raney cover:


Select Character Artwork by GUS VAZQUEZ Cover by TOM RANEY

The chronicle of the Marvel Universe is filled with mind-blowing events — and, in this book, we begin recording them in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe-style! Covering events from all eras of Marvel history! The Earth-shaking (The Great Cataclysm! World War II! House of M/M-Day!), the universe-changing (Operation: Galactic Storm! The Annihilation War! War of Kings!) and other significant moments in the lives of your favorite Marvel characters (the Richards/Storm Wedding! Lost in Space Time! Armor Wars!). Plus many more! Featuring new art by Gus Vazquez! 64 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Index in January


The chronicle of the Marvel Universe returns as the All-New Official Index to the Marvel Universe delves into the history of three more of Marvel’s most enduring titles! Return with us to the Silver and Golden Ages to we launch our coverage of the Avengers (from AVENGERS #300), Thor (from THOR #398), and Captain America (from both CAPTAIN AMERICA #332 and 1941’s CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #31). Watch the Marvel universe’s history unfold month by month as each issue provides synopses for dozens of individual comics, including back-up strips, introducing the characters, teams, places and equipment that appeared within, providing vital information about first appearances, where they last showed up and where they appeared next! 64 PGS./Rated A …$3.99

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DC comics: musings from an ex-patriot

I was recently explaining to the owner of my local comic book shop that I would not be purchasing as many Marvel titles as I normally did, but I wanted to ensure that all the independent titles I was following would be in my file. During this he remarked, "now you have more money to spend on DC!"

He said this because he's primarily a DC comics fan. It did cause me to reflect that I had only one DC comic on my pull list: Kurt Busiek's Astro City (technically published by Wildstorm via DC).

I've looked long and hard at DC's current lineup of product to find something I'd enjoy. There are a few titles that I think I would like, but I'm so far behind that it would make more sense to buy the trade paperbacks.

Then again, sometimes the DC trades department is lacking. It recently occurred to me that it might be nice to pick up Jack Cole's Plastic Man, considering how imaginative his artwork was and how I've enjoyed every Plastic Man by Cole I've read in the past. But the only format where DC reprints Cole's Plastic Man is their Archives, which run $75 each! And the first volume is out of print! Forget that noise!

Then I'm looking over DC's solicitations for January to see what I might want to buy when I see there's going to be a Shazam! one-shot. Shazam! was a childhood favourite of mine, second only to Superman, but as a kid it was very difficult to find comics the character appeared in. So, I examine the solicitation:


Blaze, the current ruler of Hell, has an offer for Mary and Billy Batson that may be too good to pass up! Left powerless, will the two former heroes have the strength to deny the devil? Can Freddy Freeman save them? And how does the Titan Osiris fit into it all? Find out here, in this one-shot special written by Eric Wallace (TITANS) with art by Cliff Richards (THE ROAD HOME: BATMAN & ROBIN #1)!

Oh for--!


No one wants to buy this comic book. Anyone who does possesses a collector's mindset which "forces" them to support anything bearing the Shazam! logo. I realize I can only speak for myself, but to me Shazam! is a perfect kids comic about wish fulfillment, talking tigers and other things we grown-ups are supposed to have grown out of. Someone at DC knows this because their recent books Shazam!: the Monster Society of Evil and Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! were more faithful to the original spirit of Shazam! than anything since the 1970s. But for the most part, DC doesn't want a kid-friendly book, so we've had repeated tales of the Marvel Family being corrupted by power, being unworthy of their power, dumped on by he's-morally-dubious-and-therefore-more-interesting Black Adam, sent to Hell, et al. All for the older, more mature reader who needs at least one dismemberment per issue to justify spending more money in a year on a highjacked children's product than he does on groceries. I'm asking aloud here, can't we just let Baston be Baston?

It's about this: Tea Party Dinosaur Claims He's Only 6,000 Years Old!

...Not so much this: Gary Oldman IS Shazam!

More of this, please: Sadly, he lost the AFV grand prize to Superbaby in the microwave.

...Less of this, thank you: The only Black Mary Marvel image safe for work.


If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might wonder if DC's handling of the Shazam! property since the 70s was deliberately blundered because a directive from on high demanded that the characters be mistreated as punishment for being more popular than any of DC's heroes in the 40s, back when they were owned by Fawcett.

With all the recent shake-ups at DC, there is some hope that change is coming. Bob Harras has been made DC's new editor-in-chief, having been Marvel's for most of '95-00. I bought about as many Marvel books per month with Harras as e-i-c as I did DC books since Dan DiDio became publisher in 2003, so at the very least the statistics say I won't be buying fewer DC books. ...Right?

Then again, as part of their restructuring DC have seen massive lay-offs, including most of Vertigo editorial, sacrificing several editors who produced books I read. They're also eliminating Wildstorm, leaving the one-and-only Astro City's future in jeopardy; well, that is to say, leaving its future with DC in jeopardy; perhaps a year from now I'll be reading Dynamite's Kurt Busiek's Astro City?

I am completely willing to delve back into DC, be it the DC Universe or stand-alone Vertigo titles. All I'm waiting for is for DC to produce something so compelling that I can't wait for it. Well, things are changing at the company; we'll see what develops.

Monday, October 18, 2010

...Where was I?

So, this blog has become a very occasional thing for me lately; apologies to anyone who's been dropping by hoping to see updated content, only to be disappointed. I do have plans for this blog's future and hope to get some regular features running.

For now, I will observe that the Inkwell Awards were handed out this last weekend; my favorite inker Al Williamson joined the hall of fame, so thank you everyone who sent in their votes!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Deadpool Corps: Rank & Foul collected!

If you ever wondered when and where the Deadpool handbook would be collected, well, wonder no more; coming in December:



Everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth continues hacking and wisecracking his way across the Marvel Universe in this second volume of riotous, ridiculous and outright reprehensible team-ups! First up, Deadpool goes to England where he squares off with Captain Britain over a fabled weapons haul. Then, what happens when the only person a demonic sorceress named Satana can find to help her is our lovable and slightly deranged Deadpool? Well, telling you would be telling, but if you listen real hard you might hear the distant chimes bells!? Also, Mr. X has traveled near and far and faced some of the best fighters the world has to offer. But can anything prepare him for what happens when Deadpol is contracted to kill him? Then Deadpool’s destructive past catches up with him when he gets a call from the indestructible robot (and part-time insurance agent) Aaron Stack AKA Machine Man! All this plus GORILLA MAN! Collecting DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #893-889 and DEADPOOL CORPS: RANK AND FOUL. 192 PGS./Parental Advisory …$24.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-4711-4

Friday, September 24, 2010

Heroic Age: X-Men - this December!

The conclusion of the Heroic Age files trilogy of specials!


Cover by JAE LEE

As mutantkind begins to pull back from the brink of extinction, Steve Rogers joins the fight! Appraising the state of mutants today, Steve assesses the X-Men, X-Factor, the New Mutants, the Five Lights and more from the mutant community! This 64-page Heroic Age files book also includes considerations for the humans who have sympathized with the mutant condition and takes aim at the worst of anti-mutant bigotry! See the world of mutants from Steve Rogers' vantage point, featuring everyone from Apocalypse to X-23! 64 PGS./Handbook/Rated T+ …$3.99

Thursday, September 23, 2010

For your Christmas wish list: OHOTMU Update#5!

Coming in December...


Select Character Artwork by Gus Vazquez Cover by KALMAN ANDRASOFSZKY

2010’s A-Z update concludes with this amazing final issue! All-new profiles for heroes like Ricochet, the Twelve's Witness, and Prince of Orphans; cosmic characters like the Universal Church of Truth, Mentor of Titan, the Fraternity of Raptor's Talon, and the Quist/Arcane; with an extra-large serving of villains: Boomerang, Quicksand, the Intelligencia, Mesmero, Blackout (Daniels), Icemaster, and Scramble! All this plus Mort the Dead Teenager, the Creatures from Kosmos, and Marvel Apes, too! Featuring brand-new art by Gus Vazquez! 64 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Marvel Index#8 in December!


The chronicle of the Marvel Universe continues as the All-New Official Index to the Marvel Universe delves into the history of three of Marvel’s most enduring titles! Return with us to the Silver and Golden Ages as we continue our coverage of the Avengers (from AVENGERS #260), Thor (from THOR #350), and Captain America (from both CAPTAIN AMERICA #306 and 1941’s CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #31). Watch the Marvel universe’s history unfold month by month as each issue provides synopses for dozens of individual comics, including back-up strips, introducing the characters, teams, places and equipment that appeared within, providing vital information about first appearances, where they last showed up and where they appeared next! 64 PGS./Rated A …$3.99

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Heroic Age: the Rorschach test

Heroic Age: Super Heroes shipped last week and has earned some comment on the internet. It's been called drug-addled, racist and misogynist, so clearly you need to read it for yourself, right? More information here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

MC2: The End...For Now! Part 5

As promised, I'm closing out the week with a look my 10 favorite moments in all of MC2.

#10 Spider-Girl#89: Sandra Healy Put in the Hospital In one of the series best moments in addressing real world issues, May dealt with her classmate Sandra, whose boyfriend was clearly abusing her. May tried to intervene and help, but Sandra wasn't look for aid and brushed her off. A few issues later, things get dark as May's best friend Courtney gets beaten up by Sandra's boyfriend for defending her; but that's nothing compared to the beating poor Sandra endures.

The good news: Sandra does ultimately get out of her destructive relationship and becomes decently-adjusted in later appearances.

#9 Last Hero Standing#5: Captain America is the Last Hero Standing The titular Last Hero Standing of this event mini-series turned out to be Captain America himself. Tom DeFalco understood Cap's fighting spirit and he was the obvious hero to give it all for his world; Cap stands up against Loki and a brainwashed Hulk to save the Earth, then passes on, assured that his allies will carry on the good fight.

#8 Spider-Girl#81: Spider-Man Visits the Avengers When Electro asks the Avengers to bring Spider-Man to him for his help, Spider-Girl delivers the message. Visiting Avengers Mansion with her father, May is shocked to see the way the Avengers fawn over him. From her friends' reaction, May finally begins to see the impact Spider-Man had on the world; she couldn't see it because to her, Peter Parker isn't Spider-Man, the legendary heroic crimefighter; he's her stodgy old goofy dad.

#7 Spider-Girl#53: Meagyn Brady Disappears Using a plot similar to a well-known episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Meagyn is an unexceptional classmate of May's who turns invisible when people ignore her. It begins after her father's death when her mother's grief causes her to slight Meagyn. Meagyn finally gets to make something of herself when, by chance, she helps Spider-Girl against one of her enemies. But back home with her mother, she finds the story of her exploits runs up against the same blank wall.

#6 Spider-Girl#27: May talks down Normie Osborn I already mentioned this on Tuesday, but it bears repeating. Using compassion, May reaches Normie through his manic behaviour, convincing him to give up being the Green Goblin. She only resorts to this because she lacks the power to fight back, but it turns out to be the right move; losing her super powers brings May closer to the normal people around her, making her better able to see Normie's real issues.

#5 Spider-Girl#17: Peter Parker Returns to the Webs This made Tuesday's discussion too; in what was definitely the series' most awesome moment, Peter Parker takes up his costume to try and save a man's life, in spite of his missing leg. Peter would make brief returns to his costume throughout the series (as seen above), but this was the first time and it had a real impact; Peter was so against May's costumed career that he seemed to be against super heroes altogether. This moment was the reminder that at his core, Peter Parker was still a hero.

#4 Also in Spider-Girl#17: Darkdevil is Mysterious As mentioned on Wednesday, Darkdevil's backstory isn't that great. But this moment with the first real hint of who he is was electrifying when it first came out; all he did was call Spider-Man by name, and immediately the rumour mill started running.

#3 A-Next#11: Thunderstrike Meets Stormtrooper Battling Nazi counterparts of the Avengers on an alternate Earth, A-Next's Thunderstrike faces Stormtrooper, a twisted version of his father, the original Thunderstrike. Young Kevin defeats Stormtrooper, but it's too much for him; no matter what this man might have done, it's still the father that he lost as a child restored to him.

#2 A-Next#7: The Last Days of the Avengers In a dramatic flashback scene, Jarvis describes how the Avengers were disbanded. He relates how all of the Avengers journeyed to an alternate Earth, but only six returned. Quietly, Iron Man offers this recompense: they won.

#1 A-Next#3: J2 Runs From Battle After seeing his ally Mainframe torn in half by the Hulk and Sub-Mariner, J2 is in no mood to stick around! Despite having the power of the Juggernaut rendering him invulnerable, beneath it all Zane Yama is a scared kid. He's just seen his teammate killed by the Hulk! It's too much for him and he bolts from the fight, abandoning his teammates. This was a great moment, giving J2 a normal human reaction, albeit one you seldom see from heroes.

Mainframe turns out to be okay, for reasons explained when his origin finally gets out; J2 does eventually return to the fight and holds his own against the Hulk.

* * *

Finally, some final kudos to the MC2 creators: Tom DeFalco, Larry Hama, Sean McKeever, Ron Frenz, Pat Olliffe, Ron Lim, Chris Batista, Casey Jones, Al Williamson, Sal Buscema, Todd Nauck, Colleen Coover, Paul Ryan and all of the rest; together, for 12 years, you've entertained me with quality super hero stories. Thank you all!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

MC2: The End...For Now! Part 4

Amongst the three founding MC2 titles - A-Next, J2 & Spider-Girl - there were several interesting factors which linked them together during the first twelve months of publication. At the outset, it's very interesting to note that each title employed a different type of narrative; J2 was a first-person narrative.

Spider-Girl was a second-person narrative.

A-Next was a third-person narrative.

In the launch month for MC2, each title contained a preview for the next book to be released. Spider-Girl#0 previewed the first issues of all three titles, while Spider-Girl#1 featured a preview of A-Next#1, A-Next#1 had a preview of J2#1 and J2#1 previewed Spider-Girl#2. The first issues of the three launch titles also featured common design elements on their covers, with the other two books' covers featured in the background designs:

In the third month, the theme was guest stars; in A-Next, they fought the Defenders; for a tie-in over in J2, he clashed with the Hulk; Spider-Girl brought in the Fantastic Five.

During the sixth month, each title introduced a new hero to the MC2 universe and the following month included a "Majority Rules" page devoted to a write-in contest to determine which MC2 heroes would be the next to receive a series. Spider-Girl#6 gave us Ladyhawk:

A-Next#6 introduced Argo, son of Hercules:

J2#6 ushered in Magneta, MC2's would-be Magneto:

In the seventh month, each title revealed the backstory of how the heroes' predecessors gave up their costumed identities; Spider-Girl#7 told how Peter Parker gave up being Spider-Man, A-Next#7 related the Avengers' dissolution and J2#7 depicted how the Juggernaut was lost.

The eighth month, there was a theme of the MC2 heroes working with their parents, as A-Next's Stinger team-ups with her father Ant-Man, Spider-Girl#8 teams her with her dad and in J2#8 he meets his dad's former partner Black Tom Cassidy (and Wild Thing teams up with her dad, Wolverine).

Finally, the twelfth month, each hero achieved some sort of grand moment; Spider-Girl discovered a new power, J2 met his father and in A-Next, the Avengers prove themselves before their surviving predecessors.

Tomorrow: My favorite moments from MC2!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

MC2: The End...For Now! Part 3

On Monday I briefly listed the MC2 titles which supplemented Spider-Girl; here are some additional details.

Joining Spider-Girl at launch was J2 by Tom DeFalco & Ron Lim; it ran 12 issues. J2 was the son of the Juggernaut, a long-time super villain who had reformed but mysteriously disappeared. When Juggernaut's half-Asian teenage son Zane Yama discovers he's inherited his father's power he decides to become a super hero, but is frequently mistaken for a villain because of his father's lingering reputation. J2 was primarily played for laughs, such as in the issue where Howard the Duck teaches J2 the martial arts. It also featured the debut of Wild Thing, of whom more will be said below.

The third launch title was A-Next, the next generation of the Avengers! Written for all 12 issues by DeFalco and drawn by Ron Frenz, it featured J2, Stinger (Ant-Man's daughter), Thunderstrike (son of the original Thunderstrike) and Mainframe (with a secret connection to Iron Man) reviving the Avengers name years after the original team disbanded. They're hampered somewhat by the fact that the traditional headquarters Avengers Mansion has become a tour-guided museum! By issue #4, four new members joined, reflecting the "Cap's Kooky Quartet" era of the original team: American Dream (inspired by Captain America), Freebooter (inspired by Hawkeye), Crimson Curse (somehow connected to Scarlet Witch) and Bluestreak (same powers as Quicksilver). A-Next was one of the highlights of MC2 (more about that on Friday).

For the 2nd year's launch titles, J2 was replaced by Wild Thing, written by Larry Hama and drawn by Ron Lim; J2 made appearances in back-up stories written by DeFalco, much as Wild Thing had a few back-up tales in J2. Wild Thing's high concept was that she was the daughter of Wolverine and Elektra, possessing psychic claws which manifested in the shape of sais. Although Larry Hama is best known for creating GI Joe: A Real American Hero, he was also the writer of Wolverine for most of the 1990s. It's actually a little strange that Wild Thing didn't catch on, considering that the high-concept "Wolverine with breasts" character X-23 has done well, but for whatever reason, Wild Thing did not catch on as either a series or as a star in the MC2 line; when a surrogate Wolverine was selected for the Avengers Next mini-series later on, her ex-con brother Sabreclaw was used instead of her.

The other 2nd year title was Fantastic Five by DeFalco and Paul Ryan, who together had been the Fantastic Four creative team for much of the 1990s. The Fantastic Five are: the Thing (who now has a bionic arm), the Human Torch (now the team leader), Big Brain (Mr. Fantastic's brain in a HERBIE robot...or so it seems), Psi-Lord (grown-up Franklin Richards) and Ms. Fantastic (the Torch's Skrull wife Lyja from the DeFalco-Ryan years). Like any good Fantastic Four series it emphasized family, even though it wasn't quite the same family as before. By the end of the series, the true fates of the Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic were revealed.

The first of the two Spider-Girl Presents three issue mini-series starred the Buzz who was something of an original character, unlike the other MC2 heroes, who were reimagined versions of classic Marvel heroes. Jack Jameson, grandson of J. Jonah Jameson, winds up with access to a powerful battlesuit and is compelled to use it to fight crime, only to find his own grandfather convinced he's a criminal. As done by DeFalco and Frenz, the Buzz was very much in the Spider-Man mold.

DeFalco and Frenz also collaborated on the second and final Presents mini-series, Darkdevil. Darkdevil had been a recurring character since the earliest issues of Spider-Girl, a mysterious vigilante patterned after Daredevil with seeming supernatural powers. Fan interest ran wild when hints dropped in the series made it seem as though he could be Ben Reilly, the infamous Spider-Man clone, brought back to life. By the time Darkdevil origin was completed in this mini-series...well...we all quietly wished we hadn't asked for his origin. They can't all be winners.

Some time later, Last Hero Standing was a five issue mini-event by DeFalco and Pat Olliffe which shipped weekly and brought together all the heroes of MC2 for a good ol' fashioned brawl. Loki places some of Earth's heroes under his control, pitting them against each other. In order to end the violence, one hero must make the ultimate sacrifice - the titular Last Hero Standing.

The follow-up mini-series Last Planet Standing again reunited DeFalco & Olliffe, this time featuring Galactus preparing to feast on the Earth, forcing the planet's heroes and villains to put aside their differences for mutual defense.

This led to Avengers Next by DeFalco & Lim, where the Avengers cope with the fallout from the event, then wind up facing Loki's daughter. It brought in several new heroes, notably Thor's daughter Thena, and added Spider-Girl and Sabreclaw to the team's ranks, evidently in imitation of Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers from the regular Marvel Universe, where Spider-Man and Wolverine were key players.

This in turn led to Fantastic Five by DeFalco & Lim, although as you can see, the team was something more than five people by now, with the original four joined by Lyja making five "grown-ups," and Franklin (Reed & Sue's son), Torus (Johnny & Lyja's son), Alyce & Jake (Ben's kids) and Kristoff Vernard (Dr. Doom's ward) making five "junior" heroes. And it does take all ten of them, since Dr. Doom himself is the villain in these five issues.

The last of the MC2 mini-series was American Dream, which ran 5 issues by DeFalco and Todd Nauck. This series finally spells out the entirety of American Dream's origin and sees her trying to put together a normal life, something her predecessor also grappled with.

Tomorrow: the themes of MC2's first year.