Here's what I read in the month of October on the Marvel Digital website:
Astonishing Tales: The Thing (one-shot): One of the "online exclusives" that Marvel's put out, this one's rather forgetable. The story features an old villain from the 70's issues of Marvel Team-Up stopping by and apologizing to the Thing for attacking him and the Fantastic Four back in the day. For this type of story to work, I think you need to use a villain that people actually might remember. I've never heard of the writer/artist either, so this looks like someone's submission to Marvel comics that Marvel opted to make an "online exclusive" out of it. Grade: C
Black Panther (1998) #1-5: I went a bit "old school" with this one, but this is one of the first comics I remember thinking "Sounds cool, and I'd like to collect it, but my subscription stack is large enough as it is." This was one of the first "Marvel Knights" comics that Joe Quesada started up (along with the "Marvel Knights" Daredevil that Bendis later made awesome) which eventually leading to him having enough Editor props to be awarded 'Editor-In-Chief', so I consider it somewhat of a milestone.
Anyway, it's a good comic, though not a spectacular one. It's the title that made Christopher Priest a popular writer for a while, and the art by Mark Texeira is always a plus. It's also quite a bit different from the 2005 Black Panther written by Hudlin. This story arc revolves around a coup in Wakanda started by Mephisto (of all the villains to use), and ends with the new status quo of the Panther living in New York City in exile. In Hudlin's version of Wakanda later on, the nation is impossible to conquer, from within or without, (placing the whole nation on a pedestial a bit too high, I think). This is different, though, so I plan on continuing to read issues of this title. Grade: B+
Ms. Marvel #1-5: Another title that I was vaguely interested in but passed over because I just wasn't quite sold on the concept. Brian Reed is an uninspired writer, if this is any indication of his work (perhaps he gets better?) but the plot revolves around Ms. Marvel wanting to prove she's the best superhero out there. That's "Booster Gold" territory, and the DC title does a lot better job with that type of storyline. Most unforgivable is the wiping out of a town in Georgia (3,000 people dead) when Ms. Marvel fails to stop the villain. Okay, that could be a "deep moment" for the character; the unforgivable moment comes when she doesn't dwelve very long on the horrific consequences of what happened, and the national media doesn't really blink an eye at the loss of 3,000 lives (instead, right around this exact same time "Civil War #1" was coming out, and apparently the media is outraged over 600 dead in Stanford, CT). It's times like these that the logic of the Marvel Universe starts to break down.
I might keep reading to see if it gets better, but if it gets worse...Grade: C-
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #1-4: This one's noteworthy for being Mike Wieringo's last work for Marvel before his untimely demise, and shows why he was a master of storytelling. It's a fun, lighthearted story written by Jeff Parker, featuring an alien invasion of Earth that didn't take 8 issues and multiple tie-ins to tell the story (I'm looking at you "Secret Invasion"). In fact, this was published during the midst of Civil War, if I recall, and was somewhat of a protest against the Civil War affecting every Marvel title at the time. The title of the story inside the book is "Silver Age", and this is a good throwback to the Silver Age goodness of Marvel. Grade: A
X-Force: Ain't No Dog (one-shot): I was all pumped up to read this one because of Jason Aaron writing it, but Aaron is the writer of the short back-up story featuring Warpath (which turns out to be sadly forgettable). The main story is yet another Wolverine solo-story, featuring Wolverine allowing himself to fall into a trap set by the Purifiers (and it's a little too gory for it's own good). Speaking of the Purifiers, is it me, or are too many of the Purifiers that are shown in the Warpath story depicted as "blond haired, blue eyed" (when the whole point of the Church of the Purifiers is that it has members from all races of mankind, all united in their hatred of mutants)? Could've been a whole lot better. Grade: C-
X-Men Forever #1:
AKA "What if Chris Claremont Never Left the X-Men". I once had a friend who said that the Marvel universe turned to crap with X-Force #1. Another similarly minded friend said that for him, the Marvel Universe ended with Chris Claremont's last issue of his 17 year run: X-Men (1991) #3. As for myself, I realize now I'm more in love with the costumes and the personalities of the X-Men heroes from this era, not necessarily with the return Chris Claremont's writing (though it's not bad). This would be better if Claremont was forced to recognize other events of the 90's Marvel Universe: I take it in the "Claremont-verse", there would be no Onslaught, which would lead to no Heroes Reborn...meaning the Avengers and Spider-Man corners of Marvel would continue to deteriorate (more teenage Tony, Clone Saga probably drags further on...) I'd like to see Claremont touch upon that, but that's not really his prerogative. Still, it's fun for those fans nostalgic about this era of the X-Men, and I think I'll keep reading. Grade: B-
X-Men: Original Sin (one-shot):
Part 1 of a crossover between the "X-Men Legacy" and "Wolverine: Origins" titles. I'll have more to say upon finishing up the rest of the crossover, but this is a good start, and shows Daken (Wolverine's son) has potential as a character after all. Either Daniel Way's writing is improving or it helps to have Mike Carey co-writing this one. This is what eventually leads to Daken joining the "Dark Avengers", I suspect, but the story so far explores Professor X's early encounters with Wolverine (around the time of Giant Size X-Men #1). As we've seen in "Wolverine: Origins" before now, Logan could be a real monster
before joining the X-Men, and this story will hopefully show what Professor X had to go through to "deprogram" our hero Wolvie. A good start, at any rate. Grade: A-