Marvel closed out 2019 with a double dose of first issues, both designed to set up a lot of big stories heading into a new decade. Plus, a look at the first issue of The Rise of Kylo Ren.
Writer(s): Tini Howard, Al Ewing, Eve Ewing, Dan Slott
Artist(s): Mattia De Iulis, Aaron Kuder, Ryan Stegman, Francesco Manna
First up was Incoming, a multi-writer/artist 90-page extravaganza that reads as a continuation of the various Marvel 80th Anniversary comics that appeared throughout the year. In Incoming, a murder has occurred that brings together the various superheroes from throughout the Marvel Universe in an attempt to solve the crime, while also hinting at the various storylines for the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider and so many other characters.
The best part of Incoming and the perfect way to see out the New Year was the interactions between all of our favourite Marvel characters. All the stuff fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe love, it didn’t happen on the big screen first. It happened within the page of the comic books created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, and that aesthetic carries over into this book.
Dr. Strange: Surgeon Supreme #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Kev Walker
In a massive change to Dr. Strange’s status quo, the good doctor’s hands have been healed (deals with demons never work out well, Stephen, you know that), and Strange is splitting his time between his work as Sorceror Supreme and as a specialized surgeon taking on patients that nobody else is capable of operating on. Unsurprisingly, this puts Strange’s time management skills to the ultimate test.
I’ve never found Dr. Strange to be a particularly relatable character, but I do love what Mark Waid has done here, with having multiple responsibilities pulling at him. Does he choose one patient over the multiverse? How do you make those calls?
Kev Walker’s artwork helps highlight the two worlds Stange lives in. The opening page finds him talking to a patient with a demon hovering directly over him. Only Strange can see it, though; it’s an embodiment of the patient’s sickness. He can see it in everyone at the hospital he’s working at it. It’s a sad talent to possess.
Waid and Walker leave this issue with a solid cliffhanger that pretty much guarantees I’ll be following along to see what happens next.
Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Will Sliney
This number one came out just days before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hit theatres, and it’s literally as described. Over the course of four issues, Charles Soule will give the backstory to one of the most interesting characters from the latest Star Wars trilogy.
Issue #1 picks up shortly after Ben Solo destroys the Jedi Temple that his uncle Luke Skywalker had established to train a new era of Jedi Knights. Former students who were off-world set about tracking Ben down. Meanwhile, we’re also introduced to the Knights of Ren, who have a strong presence in the new film.
There’s been some criticism that certain amounts of the story relevant to The Rise of Skywalker are being told outside of the film, such as this comic book. It’s not an unreasonable argument, though I’d argue what we’re reading here is not essential to understanding or appreciating the movie (the same can be said for the Emperor’s radio messages, left out of the film but heard in the Fortnite/Star Wars crossover). We live in a multi-media world, like it or not, and getting fans to shell out more money just feels like the sign of the times. While The Rise of Kylo Ren is cannon and well done, though, you don’t NEED it, is what I’m saying. However, if you want to know as much as you can about Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, the series is well worth your dollars.