Comic Book Awards of the Month for March

Hello there to the followers of my blog, to the new readers who are checking it out for the first time, and to those of you who clicked on this link by accident and immediately retreat to the previous webpage (why don’t you stay awhile). I apologize for delaying March’s Comic Book Awards. Life has been happening, as it always does, but I have finally found the precious time available to me to post March’s awards, and I will post April’s awards as soon as possible. I always hate these posts being late since it defeats the purpose of telling someone why he or she should pick up a comic two-three months old, and for a bit there I was thinking of discontinuing these series of blogs entirely. However, I just couldn’t make myself stop, and while it’s difficult to make a deadline of value to you, the reader, I enjoy analyzing and writing about comic books too much to flat out quit. So I’m not going to, and I hope you stick around and continue to read my Comic Book of the Month Awards for as long as I can write them. Stay tuned…

Honestly, March was a nice month in the comic book department. Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1, the start of Marvel’s Spring comic book crossover event, hit shelves along with Sam Wilson: Captain America #7, a continuing chapter of the event and a 65 page, 75th anniversary special featuring additional stories from Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, Tim Sale, and Greg Rucka with Mike Perkins. Both Avengers Standoff chapters were written by Nick Spencer, with Sam Wilson: Captain America #7’s storyline being the better out of the two, in my opinion. In this issue, we at last see Steve Rogers given back his super soldier abilities and youth. No more old, grouchy Steve; we now have our true Captain America back. The sister title debut to Invincible Iron Man, International Iron Man #1 written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Alex Maleev, released this month. This series aims to explore Tony Stark’s past, and the mystery behind his real parents. This idea that Tony is not the actual child of his parents was addressed in Kieron Gillen’s Iron Man run a few years back (The Secret Origin of Tony Stark), which I never liked as a plot device to somehow make Tony Stark a more mysterious figure. It was sorely underdeveloped, even awkwardly strange, in Gillen’s run, but here’s hoping Bendis can turn it into a great facet to Tony’s character and origins. Aquaman’s 50th issue was double-sized, for some reason The Flash #50 didn’t release, the Eighth Doctor’s first limited-series comic book adventure concluded with issue five (thankfully, because I did not like this book), the third issue of Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin hit shelves, and many others made it into my monthly batch.

Out of these and other nominees, which comics received the Comic Book Awards for March?

Cover of the Month Award: Captain America: Sam Wilson #7

Cover: Alex Ross

e2dc03ff-3abc-47d4-a7d2-50a5960e78a8

Marvel has kept the great Alex Ross busy in recent months. Ross has been providing the cover art for All-New, All-Different Avengers on a consistent basis and a few variant covers for other comic book series’. To celebrate the 75th Anniversary history of Captain America, there’s only a small handful of artists – Alex Ross included in this group – that deserve such an honor. The cover Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 portrays the current Captain America, Sam Wilson (formerly the Falcon), diving in to administer a right punch to the original Cap, Steve Rogers, as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents fire away. The cover also spotlights the Winter Soldier in the bottom left corner. It’s not just the excellence of Ross’ work for this cover, but the throwback format it adopts that makes it stand out. The classic title font, propaganda-like image (Sam Wilson never confronts Steve Rogers in the issue), and lettering on the page present a fitting anniversary and nostalgic touch to commemorate one of the most iconic comic book characters of all-time.

Art of the Month Award: Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 

Artists: Daniel Acuna (Steve), Angel Unzueta & Matt Yackey (Sam), John Cassaday (“Presentation”), Tim Sale (“Catch Me If You Can”), and Mike Perkins (“Pas De Deux”) 

Color Artists: Laura Martin (“Presentation”), Dave Stewart (“Catch Me If You Can”), Andy Troy with Frank D’Armata (“Pas De Deux”)

4dd40613-5718-4770-80bf-3dddede45371

33ad75d8-1e28-4fbb-8a7e-1e53e4037b1a

94f1aef1-30f1-4b45-9780-2b68ea19f4f2

Double-sized, anniversary issues such as this can be a real treat to the reader. It’s true that this type of comic book costs more, but the short stories by guest writers and artists usually (not all the time, unfortunately) make spending the extra cash worthwhile. Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 is divided into five separate sections: the first eight pages tell of Sam Wilson and Winter Soldier’s meet up in Pleasant Hill written by Nick Spencer with art by Angel Unzueta & Matt Yackey, the following chunk of the issue observes a gruesome fight between Crossbones and Steve Rogers, who is renewed back to his super-soldier, younger self also written by Spencer with art by Daniel Acuna, and the last three sections feature stories by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, Tim Sale, and Greg Rucka with Mike Perkins. The variety and quality of artwork found in Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 is really the underlying allure of the book, and the one double-page spread by Daniel Acuna which traces the life and memories of Steve Rogers on the verge of his supposed last breath is the selling point from an artistic perspective. There is a bulk of talent in this 60 or so pages; no doubt about it.

Story of the Month Award: Doctor Strange #6 (“The Last Days of Magic, Chapter One”) 

Writer: Jason Aaron 

d74e9243-a502-4608-b742-f85ea08b184e

865e023b-1e4f-4831-bc37-b18bad1679d7

I have to say, Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange is doing well for itself. The book is heading in the right direction with its dark and interesting tone, and the writing for the good Doctor is almost entirely spot-on. Doctor Strange #6 boasts the start of a new storyline – and it is to a certain extent – however, I find that to be misleading since the issue is completely a continuation of the events in previous five issues. Despite this minor irritation on behalf of the plot, this issue is terrifically wicked (pardon the pun). The Empiriku are sucking the last vestiges of magic in the world (as well as other alternate worlds and universes), and Doctor Strange makes a stand against the leader of the invading perpetrators, known as the Imperator. This battle between magic and science does not end in Strange’s favor as he is left on the ground, beaten and damned by his foe, and the last remaining ounces of magic are drawn from the earth. There is theme of desperation in Doctor Strange #6 that certainly keeps the reader on edge for its entirety.

Issue of the Month Award: Sam Wilson: Captain America #7 

Writers: Nick Spencer (Steve & Sam), Joss Whedon (“Presentation”), Tim Sale (“Catch Me If You Can”), and Greg Rucka (“Pas De Deux”) 

Artists: Daniel Acuna (Steve), Angel Unzueta & Matt Yackey (Sam), John Cassaday (“Presentation”), Tim Sale (“Catch Me If You Can”), and Mike Perkins (“Pas De Deux”) 

Color Artists: Laura Martin (“Presentation”), Dave Stewart (“Catch Me If You Can”), Andy Troy with Frank D’Armata (“Pas De Deux”)

fc4a89f1-f385-4c21-ad23-f61f200dce7f

More doesn’t necessarily always mean better when it comes to creative content, but that isn’t the case concerning the amount of quality work present in Captain America: Sam Wilson #7. Marvel did the right thing in returning Steve Rogers back to his super-soldier self and how Nick Spencer brilliantly does so in this story is commendable. The three extra storylines to close out the issue are also great, albeit brief, reads as well. “Presentation” by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday is a nine page potent tale of Captain America during the war in the 1940s, Tim Sale’s “Catch Me If You Can” is a simple scenario of Cap infiltrating a Hydra base in the present day to retrieve a sentimental item, and Greg Rucka’s “Pas De Deux” reminded me of the good ol’ Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting years with its espionage, James Bond-style of storytelling (Mike Perkins’ art conveys this, especially). Overall, this is a excellent read for both present and past Captain America comic book fans with its respect for the history of the character and its strides forwards regarding the character’s future.

Comic Books I Grew Up On

I stumbled upon three large boxes tonight full of old comic books that hold so many memories. Here in the next few weeks I may have to part with them and I had to take just one more glance through my old friends. Just like going to a class re-union, the memories of great times — late night comic sessions where a pile of comics, a bottle of coke, and a bag of M&Ms was all you needed to have a great time.

Star Trek, Conan, Star Wars, War Comics, Bug Bunny, Car Racing, Super Heroes of every kind and description, Weird Tales….the list goes on, all found in those boxes.

For now, they are safe but I fear soon I will say goodbye: