Although the Marvel Comics family of titles gathered under the Midnight Suns banner may have ended long ago… it won’t stay dead! The Midnight Suns rise again in our main review this week. Plus, check out the Rapid Rundown for quick, spoiler-lite takes on Obi-Wan #5, A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4, and X-Men: Red #6.
What did you think of this week’s fresh Marvel releases? The Beat is waiting to hear from you! We’ll be anxiously awaiting your thoughts (we assure you), either here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat.
Midnight Suns #1
Writer: Ethan Sacks
Artist: Luigi Zagaria
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letter: Joe Sabino
Cover artist: David Nakayama
The Midnight Suns are being rebooted for a new generation, and they’re suitably accompanied by all the trappings of the modern Marvel magic era. While this issue is primarily an introduction to the characters who will populate this arc, it nevertheless sets up an exciting potential conflict with major Marvel players on both sides of the strife.
The Midnight Suns were first introduced to the panels of Marvel Comics nearly 30 years ago, in 1992.
Featuring a combination of heroic and less-heroic characters, the crossover storyline passed through many different titles, including both a Midnight Sons Anthology title as well as other ongoing books like Ghost Rider, Spirits of Vengeance, and eventually, Doctor Strange. The Midnight Suns family of titles soon earned their own short-lived line, featuring a cover box with the Midnight Suns logo and co-branded storylines.
This first run is notable for introducing one of the first openly lesbian characters in Marvel Comics, Victoria Montesi, in Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins #1 by Christian Cooper, Richard Case, Mark McKenna, Glynis Oliver, and Phil Felix.
The story features an incident in New York City in which a music executive names Donald J. Walsh reads from a page from the Darkhold and gains immortality. The catch? Said immortality will be experienced as a swarm of worms! Don’t read from the Darkhold, kids.
Enlisting the help of existing spooky but superheroic characters like Blade and Morbius, the Darkhold Redeemers sought to gather the lost pages of the Darkhold and prevent against dangers such as the machinations of Lilith or the rebirth of Chthon (who eventually turns out to be Victoria’s father – don’t worry, though, William Riker had a bad dad, too, and he turned out fine).
“Rise of the Suns”
In 2022’s Midnight Suns #1, a new team “is destined to rise.” But thanks to the recap page, we already know the roster: Zoe Laveau, Wolverine, Agatha Harkness, Nico Minoru, Magik, Blade, and Spirit Rider.
Now is the perfect time to make an aside about the fact that, on a personal level, I am a huge fan of this roster, which not only one of my favorite magic users but two. Between Nico and Agatha, I couldn’t be more excited about the witches in play, and while both get only quick introductory roles in this issue, I’m very eager to see what part they have to play in the overall arc.
However, the focal character for this story is Laveau, who is a living zombie and a student at Strange Academy in New Orleans, where the issue is set. It makes perfect sense to set this modern-day Marvel magic story at Strange Academy, considering so many magic users pass through its halls. Plus, the premise of Strange Academy means that plenty of exposition and introduction can be swiftly handled in this issue, since so many of the players are either matriculated or part of the Strange faculty.
Each and every member of the team (and Strange class) are well depicted, and even though not everyone gets to show off the full extend of their powers in this issue, there is still a fair share of supernatural superheroic action. In addition to several splash pages and a two-page spread depicting a nightmarish worldwide prophetic vision, the characters get plenty of chances to look cool as they traverse the halls and classrooms of Strange Academy.
Plus, we all know that lettering is especially important in the magical corner of the Marvel Comics multiverse, and this issue nails each and every speech balloon.
Midnight Suns Synergy
If you’re interested in the Marvel multiverse beyond the pages of the comics, you’re already aware that a Midnight Suns video game is scheduled for release (on some consoles) in December 2022. In addition, upcoming entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe like Werewolf by Night and Blade feature spooky Marvel characters.
Does this hint that we could be we heading into a full-scale revival of the spooktacular Marvel Comics stories that characterized the Midnight Suns era of the early-mid 1990s? Let’s hope so – with other dangling plot threads like the Scarlet Witch’s relationship to Chthon and the current status of the Book of the Damned, there’s plenty of potential.
But potential connections aside, Midnight Suns #1 is a fun team adventure set in the magic side of Marvel. Better yet, if you’re a fan of any of the characters on the roster, this issue will likely send you digging through back issues as you wait for #2 to arrive. Look on the bright side: at least Strange Academy homework is way better than normal school homework!
Verdict: BUY. Then write a letter to the editor writing for a sequel or crossover issues… it’s what the Darkhold would want you to do.
- AXE: Judgment Day #4
- Kieron Gillen loves to bait us with hopefulness on one page, and snatch it all away on the next. Tonaly, this issue is both uplifting and an absolute downer — and there’s nothing I want more from this event. Valerio Schiti draws the hell out of this issue, and especially so whenever Starfox is featured. Each page is the perfect fusion of flowing line art and Marte Gracia’s phenomenal coloring, with some of the best lighting put to page. The teamwork between the separatist Eternals and mutantkind makes for some sequences where I couldn’t go without pumping my fist in the air and hooting and hollering. There’s a devastating death in here that feels like it’s been building for a long time now, and while I wept (literally) when it happened, it’s so earned that I have no problem with it (though I will probably cry again rereading this event). The best part about this event is that I have no idea where it’s going to go next. We’ve already seen the Eternals fight the X-Men and Avengers, plus the Progenitor makes his judgment in this very issue, so what could be next for the people of Sol? —CB
Ms. Marvel & Venom #1
I have mixed feelings about this three-issue series. The final issue tied the story elements from the first two issues together into a not-so-neat bow (no last-page spoilers from me) and included some (head) banging art from Dave Watcher and Erick Arciniega, who reveled in the ability to play with panel structure thanks to Kamala and Venom’s unique power sets. I particularly enjoyed the panel of Kamala using her embiggening powers to sneak even more quietly, as well as the way that Watcher played with proportion in the single-page spread of the two titular heroes scaling a brownstone in New York City. In fact, the final issue giving the limited series a more cohesive story overall changed my recommendation for the run from don’t buy to strong browse. While I enjoyed the story by the Eisner-nominated Jody Houser and thought it was fun to see Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, team up with some characters that she doesn’t normally interact with, I want more than three issues! I am tired of reading the same writers on Marvel Comics’ flagship titles, and I really, really want a full-length series—not just a miniseries or limited series—about Marvel’s more diverse characters that are helmed by women. The letters in this issue were done by Travis Lanham.
- Star Wars: Obi-Wan #5
- After the live-action Disney+ show Obi-Wan Kenobi, it was an easy layup for Marvel to do a mini-series taking place after the series, picking up the thread of a refocused and revitalized Kenobi. Set close to the events of a New Hope, the creative team of writer Christopher Cantwell, penciler Adriana Melo and inker Wayne Faucher use a passing sand storm as the framing device for Kenobi to reflect on his life as a Jedi and commit these thoughts to paper. As a whole, the series is a solid story spotlighting various points in his life, giving deeper insight into the mindset of one of the greatest Jedi. In showing the toll taken on him as a central figure in the Republic’s history, we get a peek at the wisdom he’s earned from these bloody lessons, culminating in this last issues lesson of compassion. While not my favorite issue, it’s still a good story and an important endcap to his journey. —GC3
- X-Men Red #6
- There’s always a sense of drama to Al Ewing’s scripts that, regardless of the setting, gives the characters this immense depth that makes them feel like real people. Now, with Arakko fallen and the remaining members of the Brotherhood left to save the entire planet, that depth lends itself to this heavy issue, making us wait with anticipation for that other shoe to drop. Stefano Caselli creates these fantastic layouts for ‘The Hour of Magneto’ that give the figures space to breathe and allow emotions to be relayed perfectly. I’m not sure if it’s a script note or something he came up with, but, along with Federico Blee’s perfect sunset-like colors, Caselli does a bang-up job of portraying the right emotions in every panel (especially when it’s the emotions of a ginormous synthetic ape). It’s fantastic to see the Arakkii people and their history continue to be fleshed out throughout this book. I wasn’t sure if writers would be this quick to jump into that toybox, but I should’ve known Ewing would immediately start playing with those toys. One last note — you must read this before Judgment Day #4 if you want to enjoy this event to its fullest —CB
Next week: X-Terminators #1 arrives! Plus, the Fantastic Four meet their Judgment Day.
- AXE: Judgment Day #4