While it originally debuted as a four-part series on Marvel Unlimited, Hulkling & Wiccan #1 is an oversize 43-page issue that collects the entire Infinity Comics series in one. This review includes spoilers, so be advised! Plus: rapid reviews of Fantastic Four #44 and Moon Knight: Black, White & Blood #1.
What did you think of this week’s fresh Marvel Comics issues? Let The Beat know, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat.
Hulkling & Wiccan #1
Writer: Josh Trujillo
Artist: Jodi Nishijima
Color Artists: Matt Milla
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Main Cover Artist: Peach Momoko
The course of true love never did run smooth… especially when there’s a vindictive witch who has a long history with your family waiting in the wings! The four-part Infinity Comics series Hulkling & Wiccan has been released as a one-shot. Whether you’re re-reading the story or catching up, this adaptation of the scrolling comic is worth your while.
Thanks to the power of Agatha Harkness (combined with Wiccan’s latent abilities), the doubt Billy Kaplan has about his brand-new marriage to Teddy Altman triggers the creation of an alternate timeline where both men have taken different lovers. Like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this creates an unstable situation for the two former Young Avengers. Can they find their way back to one another? And what does that mean for their “new” significant others?
Part of what made this issue work so well is the incredible lettering work done by Maher, especially with regard to the introduction of Goebig and Eidolon. When each of these characters first appear in the story, their names are presented as “logos,” as though they each have their own respective Marvel Comics solo titles which bear those banners on the cover. This gives extra weight to the mixed-up romantic proceedings, making it seem as though the new romantic interests are more than just shades conjured up from a spell cast by Harkness.
Plus, it was interesting to see how the magic reflected Billy’s uncertainty. In the early scenes of the comic, we see how the couple has “different” ideas of where their relationship might be going. Thanks to the “Possibilities” spell, we see Hulkling & Wiccan each involved with a lover who is a little bit more like themselves.
Speaking of magic, the spells in this issue were very well handled. The initial “Possibilities” spell, which is triggered because Billy can’t resist the adorable chibi versions of himself and Hulkling that appear on a video game system (understandable), places Wiccan in a situation where he is attempting to “restore his lover.” This is because Eidolon is being subjected to a kind of half-life.
However, Billy’s ignorance of the actual nature of the situation means that he’s confused when his spell starts to restore Teddy rather than Eidolon. The dramatic irony fuels plenty of tension, meaning you’ll tear through this issue even if you’ve read the story before. And as for the adaptation, while there are certainly a few points where it’s inescapable that the comic began in the scrolling format, these never take anything away from the narrative. Plus, it’s sort of nice to read the story as a “longer issue,” and it makes me wonder about the potential of adapting slightly longer Infinity Comics stories into 60- or 80-page one-shots.
Revisiting Hulkling & Wiccan #1 also highlights how excellent the opening scenes are, as Billy and Teddy welcome Ice Man, Northstar, and Kyle Jinadu over for a dinner party. In addition to Bobby’s deliciously groan-worthy punnery, it’s common knowledge that every Marvel Comics reader has an insatiable desire for more stories involving super heroes socializing, and Hulkling & Wiccan does a great job of integrating it into a story that also includes more “traditional” genre action.
As noted in the advertisement in the back of this issue (and in the announcement of the Love Unlimited Infinity Comics series we posted here at The Beat last week), the storyline of this issue will soon be continued on Marvel Unlimited. What does the return of Goebig mean for our heroes? And did he and Eidolon exist before the events of the “Possibilities” storyline, or did Wiccan conjure them both to life?
Whatever the case, I’m hoping that my personal favorite character, Harkness, will continue to be involved. Fortunately that seems like a strong possibility given some of her dialogue in this issue.
And especially clever is the fact that, while the unstable situation may (and I do mean may) have been resolved for Billy and Teddy, the question remains: where does that leave Goebig and Eidolon? Hey, maybe they’d be good for each other! You know what they say about the difference between tragedy and comedy: in tragedy, everyone ends up dead, but in comedy, everyone ends up in bed. Happy Pride, y’all!
- Fantastic Four #44
- The Reckoning War feels like Dan Slott’s way of writing a bombastic, late Silver Age cosmic story without any of the weight. Not only does it feel chaotic and unwieldy, but Slott’s scripting is reminiscent of the dramatic, over-the-top dialogue of that era — which works great for his Doctor Doom — but not much else. I want to care about the stakes here, but this story feels so sequestered in its own corner of the Marvel Universe that it’s hard to feel as though this is going to be as impactful as Slott wants it to be. Even on its own, it doesn’t feel like all that much happens until close to the end of the issue, which concludes with a poignant moment between Reed and Sue. The art team here is great, though it’s definitely distracting to bounce between the three different line artists. Thankfully, colorist Jesus Aburtov and letterer Joe Caramagna tie the issue together and make the transitions between sections less abrupt than it might be otherwise. I’m hoping to get more out of the conclusion of this story in the next issue, but as of now, it feels like we’re crawling to the end. —CB
- Moon Knight: Black, White & Blood #1
- I’ve been really, really enjoying the Black, White & Blood series of comics from Marvel. The color combination of black, white, and red is powerful, and works exceptionally well for this batch of stories about Marc Spector, who is working through the trauma of being Khonshu’s avatar. After traumatic events, people will stop drawing in color, but red is the first color to be re-introduced into the visual palate as healing begins. The first story, “The Empty Tomb” by Benjamin Percy and Vanesa R. Del Ray, with letters by Cory Petit, is killer (wink, wink). As someone with chronic suicidal ideation (yes, it’s a thing) and dissociative tendencies from past trauma, I think the idea of exploring to what lengths a person will go to silence those pesky voices in your head that keep getting you in trouble is fantastic. While mental illness can be a blessing (they are associated with creative thinking), it’s also a curse, and I would love to find my lost self free of mental illness. The other two stories are “A Hard Day’s Knight” by David Pepose, Leonardo Romero, and Chris Sotomayor, and “Blood Red Glider” by Patch Zircher. —ROC
Next week, Marvel’s Voices: Pride (2022) #1 arrives, along with Miles Morales and Moon Girl #1!