[This article contains minor SPOILERS for the Marvel Universe.]
In appreciation of the wonders and wiles of the four-colored world, September 25th was designated National Comic Book Day (by unknown parties). It’s a day to reflect upon the legacy of the sequential art form as well as its influence in popular culture and continuing relevance to society as a whole. Most of all, comic book day is a chance to kick back and catch up on all the great superhero action you might have missed from the latest Marvel titles.
Speaking of, there’s a heck of a lot going on at the House of Ideas these days. Civil War II sent ripples across the Marvel Universe, tearing it apart once more. New characters like The Mighty Thor are discovering incredible new powers, while, in the case of Spider-Man, old characters are re-exerting their influence. With a hectic schedule, it’s hard to keep tabs on all the events and crossovers. So, for new readers and casual fans, here’s a little taste of the most interesting storylines in the MU – and in a spoiler-lite way.
The Marvel Universe Goes to War Once Again
The events of the second Civil War haven’t been kind to Marvel’s heroes. Two legendary Avengers have already succumbed to the struggle, while another nearly did. The rift between Captain Marvel and Iron Man has gone from bad to brutal by the time of Civil War II #5, and the bad blood has spilled into an all-out war between the intergalactic forces of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ultimates, Avengers, X-Men, and Inhumans, among others.
As the superhero skirmish hits a fever pitch, the one man loosely responsible for it, Inhuman Ulysses Cain, can only watch in horror as his new Royal Family leaves Attilan and heads to war with heroes he once idolized. The fighting also triggers another one of his apocalyptic visions, and this one’s a doozy. What lies next for the Marvel Universe will lead to the shattered post-Civil War II fall lineup of Divided We Stand (Check out our spoiler-heavy breakdown of Civil War II #5).
One of Spidey’s Classic Enemies Is Back
Spider-Man has been through a lot in his lifetime(s). From losing his uncle to battling a six or more sinister villains at once to rescuing the Spider-verse from certain doom on several occasions, our favorite Web-Head certainly keeps busy. His latest adventures saw him foil the Regent (with the help of a new yet very familiar Iron Spider) only to watch his company literally crumble all around him. The latest story arc also witnessed the rebirth of Electro in a different form, with some tragic consequences.
As a prelude to the once top secret Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy Spider-event, one of his oldest foes has once again woven his way into the wall-crawler’s life. The former Superior Spider-Man is also seeking to regain what (he feels) is rightfully his. Amazing Spider-Man #18 is just the beginning of the latest clone saga, but it honestly sounds a lot less confusing than the original one.
Mjolnir Develops a New Ability
As The Mighty Thor battled her way through Dario Agger’s floating island, the stakes couldn’t have been higher. The hero fought hard to stop the Roxxon Energy headquarters from crashing into New York City but is wounded by a “Midas bullet” from Exterminatrix’s gun. Simultaneously threatened with arrest by S.H.I.E.L.D., who will step in to save the Norse Goddess?
Why who else but Jane Foster, of course. Wait what? You read that right. Doctor Foster shocks the assembled agents and ne’er-do-wells by dropping by to help the hero, the same Jane Foster who S.H.I.E.L.D. was convinced was Thor. What sort of trickery is this, and what does The Mighty Thor #11 reveal about the Asgardian warrior’s hammer Mjolnir? The adventures of Thor are about to get very interesting, especially as The Unworthy Thor begins his de-powered quest to save the Nine Realms.
Darth Vader Uncovers His Heir Apparent
If you haven’t allowed yourself to get wrapped up in Kieron Gillen’s sweeping Star Wars storyline, you’ve been missing out. Fans and the uninitiated alike will gain a new appreciation for the travails of Darth Vader after his failure to stop a pitiful band of rebels from destroying the Emperor’s prized weapon, the Death Star. More importantly, the series explores the steps Vader takes to discover exactly why the Force was so strong with a certain trench-hugging rebellion pilot.
To get back in Emperor Palpatine’s good graces, and uncover the truth about his kith and kin, Vader takes some curious measures. He also has a few schemes on the side, just in case that whole Emperor thing doesn’t pan out (oh, those Sith Lords). Catch up on Star Wars Darth Vader before the stunning conclusion to the saga hits this October in issue 25.
Terrigen Mists Tear up the Marvel Universe
Those who’ve been following along with the post-“Secret Wars” MU know things are looking grim for Marvel’s X-Men. As a Terrigen Mist circles the globe, events have forced mutantkind into action. Some groups immediately went to war with the Inhumans and others, while others sought refuge from the toxic effects of the deadly cloud. The rest have scrambled, desperately trying to find a solution as the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to midnight.
Many of X-fans’ burning questions will be answered in October’s “Death of X” miniseries. It promises to explain the disappearance of Emma Frost and Scott Summers, while also setting up the climactic “Inhumans vs. Mutants” event, which pits the Royal Family against all of mutant-dom in an epic struggle for survival – as well as crossing over into scores of X-titles and the Inhumans' main run.
A Vote for Loki Is a Vote for Satire
With one of the most bizarre elections in recent memory currently unfolding, is it any surprise Marvel is offering their take on the bizarre ballot-stuffer? What better way to showcase the peculiarities of the 2016 run than by having one of the House of Ideas' oldest adversaries run for office in “Vote Loki.” Discovering an aptitude for politics, the Asgardian adversary throws his hat in the ring. However, as the trickster god discovers, American voters are a fickle and perplexing bunch.
A biting and enjoyable piece of social satire, "Vote Loki" pokes fun at the United State's political climate, taking jabs at both sides of the fence. Superhero fans that want a break from the routine, and don’t mind a little Stephen Colbert-ing will enjoy this timely and poignant parody.
Marvel's Going through Changes
Marvel’s latest wave of titles promises a lot of intrigue, some tragic moments, a good deal of tongue-in-cheek hi-jinks, and, of course, plenty of explosive action – and this is only a small sample of what's on deck. The “Divide We Fall” era will also be a test of several brand new characters, titles, and teams, including Riri William’s Ironheart, Viv Vision, Doctor Doom’s Infamous Iron Man, Mosaic, the U.S. Avengers, as well as the rebirth of Marvel’s Champions. Of course, there will still be plenty of exciting moments from old favorites like Steve Rogers (gone bad!) and Captain Marvel.
It will also be curious to see how things play out for the X-Men, leading up to their showdown in Inhumans vs. X-Men and how the Monsters Unleashed! event will insert all those creepy critters into the MU come January. The latest batch of characters and teams could play an important role in the MCU as well, especially after the tenure and contracts of current players like Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor are up. All these changes are further proof that it’s an exciting time to be a Marvel reader.