Welcome to a Marvel-centric edition of Short and Sweet (or Sour), looking back at Jason Aaron’s new X-title, Magneto’s lead-up to his new on-going, the impending return of the Amazing Spider-Man, and Black Widow’s new #1. It’s mutants, spider-men, Russian spies, and women writing about comics!

amazing x-men #3Amazing X-Men #3
Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness
Marvel Comics

The opening arc of Amazing X-Men started the long-awaited Quest For Nightcrawler, who has been dead for a number of years. The running in-universe gag about death amongst X-Men is that they don’t so much get pearly gates as they get a revolving door–and now it’s coming around for the Fuzzy Elf.

The X-Men: Wolverine, Northstar, Beast, Storm, Iceman, and newest X-Man member/recruit? Firestar, were tossed randomly between heaven and hell; and Azazael, who claims he’s Nightcrawler’s father, is trying to take over with his pirates. In this issue, we get to see the rekindling of an old spark between Kurt and Storm! There’s a sweet flashback of their time as awkward new X-Men to explain where the spark first ignited. (Considering Ororo’s been snogging Wolverine since the annulment of her marriage and the return of the fabulous mohawk, this may make things interesting!) Gentle brainiac Hank McCoy is pushed to the limit and living up to his Beast codename after being poked by pirates and dunked in the drink.

Ed McGuinness’s art is lively and energetic, a great fit with Marte Gracia’s colors. It’s almost like watching still cels from an animated show! This series is only 3 issues old, so it’s still at a great jumping on point for new readers!

As if that weren’t enough, Nightcrawler is getting his own title in 2014, pencilled by Todd Nauck (Young Justice), so it’s a good lead in for the new title too!

uncanny x-men 16Uncanny X-Men #16
Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo
Marvel Comics

Magneto’s been one of the X-Men since the events of A vs. X. But apparently working with Scott Summers, even in the memory of his dear departed friend Charles Xavier, is starting to wear thin for the former Master of Magnetism. After a meeting with Agent Dazzler, Magneto makes his way to Madripoor, which seems to be turning into a new all mutants all the time lawless zone. He doesn’t like what he finds, despite old friends turning up to greet him. Despite Even with his diminished powers, he makes it clear that he is still a force to be reckoned with.

Brian Michael Bendis has been knocking it out of the park on the X-Titles under his hand, and this one’s no exception. Chris Bachalo’s art is nothing short of spectacular.

Magneto too is getting his own title, so even if you’ve not kept up with Team Uncanny, this issue is a great point from which to springboard into the new title.

superior spider-man 25Superior Spider-Man #25
Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Humberto Ramos
Marvel Comics

The cat is out of the bag: Peter Parker will be back as Spider-Man in three short months! But in the meantime, we’ve still got Otto Octavius driving Peter’s body, and burning bridges, declaring himself superior.

Dan Slott has done a wonderful job. I’ve been following this series since it started, looking for a redemption story. It’s nothing of the kind, and issue 25 drives the point home once Ock-Spidey joins with the Venom symbiote. Ock has been sneering and ruthless in the role of Spider-Man, and his egomaniacal traits have not been restrained, despite his vow to be a hero. He walked the line between hero and anti-hero, but combining with Venom pushed him right over the edge. Even the Avengers can no longer stand by and be content with probation for the wall-crawler.

But there are two forces vying for Spider-Man’s body and soul. Venom and … Peter Parker himself! Yes, the rightful owner of the body is still riding in the backbrain, and is preparing to make his move to take it back.

Octavius’s own hubris is as usual in full force, as he convinces himself he’s superior to the Venom symbiote and to the Avengers, and that smug certainty looks like it’s going to bite him hard.

Humberto Ramos’s artwork is its usual lively and kinetic pleasure to look at. This book is winding down, but it looks like the wind down is also gonna be a showdown!

— Jamie Kingston

url-1Black Widow #1
Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto

Black Widow’s long awaited return to her own title has got breathtaking drawings by Phil Noto, with soft lines and a watercolor-y feeling. Natasha Romanov looks badass, as usual, but also very human. And she even got a suit zipped all the way up!

The issue begins with a routine case for Ms. Romanov to solve. A criminal threatens to explode himself instead of being arrested. The spy uses her persuasion powers to gain the man’s trust and, after taking the detonator out of his hands, throws him to the police.

A parenthesis now: the criminal is Russian. Black Widow is Russian. So, to get closer to him, she tells him: “I’m not one of them. Listen to my accent. I’m Russian, like you”. This may sound small, but, at least for me, it crashed all the suspension of disbelief I had. It doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t they talk in Russian, then? The writer could have even used the “< >” marks to translate to English. It’s a detail, but I really hate it.

So Black Widow is a hero now. One that lies and does not have a lot of moral sense, but a hero. An Avenger. She is the Robin Hood of spies, doing her work to distribute the money for people in need, in order to atone for her past crimes. It makes sense with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even building her character for a solo movie (hope never dies). Oh, and she looks a lot like Scarlett Johansson.

Next issue’s cover looks amazing, and I’m looking forward to the character developing in ways not seen before. One of the things I like most about Black Widow is that she does not fit in the “street level” or “non street level” categories normally used for heroes. She’s definitely not fighting crazy gods or planet eating creatures with unlimited powers, but we can’t call her “street level” either. She is dealing with the most powerful men in the world, and one mistake could lead to a Third World War III. This Black Widow run promises to show how she deals with being a mere human with no superpowers, and how what was shown of her in The Avengers affected her mind.

–Carolina Mello

Kristi McDowell

Kristi McDowell

Comics, cats, and (red velvet) cakes enthusiast. What she lacks in social skills she makes up for with pop culture trivia. When she’s not writing her wildly popular blog, Pop Culture Sushi, she’s editing the independent ongoing series Autumn Grey and working on her own mini-series, debuting this fall. She may also, instead, be playing more Fallout 3 than is frankly acceptable. She’s played in a rock band, worked in a comic book shop, and knows enough karate to fight crime – if only she could settle on a theme that goes with pink. No flamingos.That is to say, she has a tenuous grasp of reality and the audacity to think that someone actually cares about what she has to say.