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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

COMIC BOOKS 101: SIX MARVEL COMICS SERIES YOU SHOULD BE READING!

Right now Marvel Comics are hurting in a big way. They haven’t been breaking the top 10 in sales, and DC is kicking their butt thanks to the big Rebirth initiative taking place. The indie market is getting saturated with some seriously top level books, and all of that combined with “event overload” is making Marvel seriously have to rethink their plans. I, personally put some blame on the horribly plotted Civil War II event taking place currently that many fans are turning on. Still there are a few diamonds in the rough however, and I will list six series right now that shouldn’t be missed, are not directly bogged down by Civil War II or any other event, and include some amazing creative teams.

Art by Ron Garney

DAREDEVIL

STORY: CHARLES SOULE ART: VARIOUS

SERIES REVIEW: Daredevil was recently relaunched under the creative duo of writer superstar Charles Soule and top level veteran artist Ron Garney. They put DD back in Hell’s Kitchen (in his previous series he was over on the west coast), gave him a black suit (and a very cool visual style to the book) and switched Matt Murdock from Defense attorney to District Attorney! It was a big move, and Soule has managed to balance the darker tones from the fantastic Bendis DD run, and the light hearted recent Mark Waid series. While the character plays a major role in the Civil War series itself, the core title has had little to do with it (minus a special which can be completely ignored). DD is back in NY and everyone has mysteriously forgotten Matt Murdock and DareDevil are the same person. Soule has DD mentoring a new young hero called Blindspot (a character whose suit can essentially make him invisible), dealing with China Town Triads, Corrupt Gambling Rings, and even Elektra makes a return. If you’ve ever been on the fence about enjoying a DD book, but have an interest thanks to Netflix, I highly suggest checking out this new series.

Art by Kate Niemczyk

MOCKINGBIRD

STORY: Chelsea Cain ART: Kate Niemczyk

SERIES REVIEW: Kicking butt and tons of wise cracks! That’s what makes Mockingbird so great! If you’re a fan of shows like ARCHER, or some of writer Nick Spencer’s stuff (Superior foes of Spider-Man, The Fix) then you will definitely enjoys this great series! Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk offer a ton of tongue in cheekand on the nose type humor as we get a great introduction to Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird. She’s an Agent of Shield, she’s a superhero, a former avenger and unfortunately also the former wife of superhero Hawkeye (the guy,not the girl). While the series mostly just focuses on Bobbi, a recent story line is very loosely connected to the Civil War II event, involving a cruise ship, a murder mystery and cosplay.

Art by Chris Bachalo

DOCTOR STRANGE

STORY: Jason Aaron ART: Chris Bachalo

SERIES REVIEW: With the upcoming film to be released, except Marvel to heavily start pushing this character. There are a bunch of older series to recommend if you really want to get into Doctor Strange (and I will write up an article on it closer to the film) but for now you can’t go wrong with this series! I’ll preface this with saying I’m not the biggest fan of Chris Bachalo, and definitely think he can be hit or miss with his art on Doctor Strange, however when he’s “on” it’s amazing! The real draw here is the fantastic story by Jason Aaron. A being from another dimension is essentially killing “magic” everywhere he goes. Being the Sorcerer Supreme, Stephen Strange must do all he can to protect the magic of Earth and push back this menacing entity! Get ready to see some wild and whimsical creations that Stephen Strange must protect and contend with! The series welcomes both new and old readers equally, and there is little need for knowledge of backstories. So put on your cloak and magical totems and step into the mystical world of the Marvel Universe.

Art by Chris Samnee

BLACK WIDOW

STORY: Mark Waid, Chris Samnee ART: Chris Samnee

SERIES REVIEW: There hasn’t been a great “spy” book in a while, and that’s where Black Widow delivers in spades! Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have crafted a tale of betrayal, espionage, and intrigue that continues to impress issue after issue. Despite some really well done storytelling and plotting techniques, Waid gives readers the badass takes no prisoner Natasha that they’ve been wanting! Kicking the series off with an issue that almost has zero dialogue, we see Natasha escaping from SHIELD after stealing a very unique, important item. Why would Natasha betray SHIELD? How long can she stay on the run with everyone wanting to not only catch her, but kill her!? That’s what the series showcases as it’s a race against time for Natasha that leaves her in a catch 22.  Waid is one of the best writers in the business for a reason, he writes slick dialogue, fast moving scenes, and has a strong handle on character development. Samnee’s artwork is both subtle and action packed a truly rare combination to find. Little panels of slight eye shifts and body changes can almost be missed by a reader (just assuming it’s a repeat panel) but they are there, and it helps give the reader a sense of being a “spy” as we can pick up on the little things that Natasha does as well. It’s a fun sensation, and I’m they include it (I wish they did it more actually). Do yourself a favor and pick this series about the deadliest (ex) Avenger!

Art by Greg Smallwood

MOON KNIGHT

STORY: Jeff Lemire ART: Greg Smallwood

SERIES REVIEW: If you want a really mind warping, weird story then Jeff Lemire is the guy you go too! If you want equally creepy but well done artwork then Greg Smallwood is the guy you go too, if you want an amazing Moon Knight comic, then you both guys you go too! I think that’s how Marvel was thinking when they created this series. Regardless what the thought process was, I’m glad they did it! Jeff Lemire had become a favorite of mine working on some DC series, most notably the New 52 relaunch of Animal Man, and Greg Smallwood I’ve enjoyed for years! Moon Knight has always been a crazy character, literally, he’s insane. Dealing with multiple personalities, warped sense of reality and hyper violent tendencies he’s almost like what if Batman, Punisher, and Cybil all got together and fused like a Saiyan. This time around the story is just as crazy as previous incarnations and maybe then some, as Lemire turns it up to 11 (points if you know that reference). Mark Spector wakes up in what appears to be an insane asylum and has no idea how he got there. He’s surrounded by familiar faces and everything points to the fact he’s actually crazy, and was never Moon Knight to begin with! Then again, not everything is as it seems when the staff start turning into Egyptian monsters and all signs point to Spector NOT being crazy after all! Then again, maybe he is! That’s the fun of the series, just as Lemire starts making you think “oh, it’s really a plot to mess with Moon Knight” he does something else that makes you think “wait, are they really re-doing ALL of the Moon Knight history here? Are they really telling us readers it was all inside this guy’s head, and there is a REAL Moon Knight out that there isn’t Marc Spector?!!” A very cool plot telling technique, and even now the series has produced more questions than answers, which could prove frustrating for some readers but has been a blast for me!

Art by Sanford Greene

POWER MAN & IRON FIST

STORY: David Walker ART: Sanford Greene/Flaviano Armentaro

Series Review: Power Man and Iron Fist reads like an awesome buddy cop movie! David Walker takes everything that’s been done with these two characters before and sort of tosses it out the window. Gone is the ultra tough guy persona of Luke Cage and he’s warmed up a little bit. Danny Rand is no longer a super depressed always intense martial artist, now he’s sort of the wacky, off the walls partner to Cage’s slightly grounded character. Both have their mixture of serious and silly moments, and the artwork of both Sanford Greene and Flaviano Armentaro fits the series perfectly! It can be off putting to some, as the hip hop influence is strong here, but that’s sort of what makes the series so perfect! The initial arc mostly revolves around Cage and Rand teaming up to help out an old friend (warning there are some loose references to old school Power Man and Iron Fist comics, but David Walker does a great job catching up and filling new and old readers). The story sets up the current relationship these two have with each other as crime fighting partners and friends, as well as where they are in their own personal lives. The great part is, only a quick few panels are dedicated to the Civil War II nonsense, as Walker handles his character’s thoughts on the ordeal and keeps it moving! If you want some laughs, a different type of art than what most of the mainstream offers, and interested in two characters getting NetFlix series, then this is the book you want to start reading!

There you go! Some quick picks from Marvel that fans will enjoy, and not be beholden to any major company wide crossover event. Are any of these series on your current reading list? What do you think? Should something else be added in for fans wanting to avoid Civil War II but still enjoy Marvel Comics?! Sound off in the comments below!

-Jeremy Scully

Follow me on twitter @LRM_JEREMY

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.