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Hulk Returns to Maestro’s Future & the Secret X-Men Assemble – Major Issues – CBR – Comic Book Resources

CBR reviews the week’s big comics, including Justice League, Maestro, Secret X-Men, I Am Batman, Suicide Squad: Blaze & the Deadpool: Samurai manga.
Each week, CBR has your guide to navigating Wednesday’s new and recent comic releases, specials, collected editions and reissues, and we’re committed to helping you choose those that are worth your hard-earned cash. It’s a little slice of CBR we like to call Major Issues.
If you feel so inclined, you can buy our recommendations directly on comiXology with the links provided. We’ll even supply links to the books we’re not so hot on, just in case you don’t want to take our word for it. Don’t forget to let us know what you think of the books this week in the comments! And as always, SPOILERS AHEAD!
With Suicide Squad: Blaze #1, Si Spurrier, Aaron Campbell, Jordie Bellaire and Aditya Bidikar offer a clever take on the Squad that stretches and bends the concept at the franchise’s core in a twisted new direction. In this DC Black Label title, Harley Quinn, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang and King Shark must work with the Squad’s doomed new super-powered recruits to take on a deadly threat that the Justice League can’t even handle.
While Blaze’s cast makes it approachable enough for casual DC Extended Universe fans, the creative team behind DC’s acclaimed-but-canceled John Constantine: Hellblazer delivers a biting story that foregrounds the Squad’s new members. While the familiar Squad members almost feel ancillary to the main story at some points, Campbell and Bellaire’s gritty art suits the grim tone and grisly spectacle of the book perfectly.
RELATED: DC Announces Dark Crisis as Its Next Summer Crossover Event Series
After becoming a hit in Japan over a year ago, Sanshiro Kasama and Hikaru Uesugi’s Deadpool: Samurai manga has finally received an official English translation and release from Viz Media. Deadpool: Samurai Vol. 1 is a bloody, action-packed love letter to Marvel’s heroes that’s defined by its titular hero’s subversive humor.
Untethered from the constraints of the main Marvel Universe, Deadpool travels to Japan to join the Avengers’ newly-formed Samurai Squad in this 232-page inaugural volume. Deadpool: Samurai is slightly bloodier than Wade’s standard adventures, and Uesugi’s dynamic art does an impressive job of capturing the carnage it brings. While there are plenty of familiar Marvel heroes and villains in the book, Samurai’s humor tends to revolve around manga mainstays like Dragon Ball or Shonen Jump or comment on the tropes of the medium. Although that may muffle the impact of the jokes for some, Deadpool: Samurai still offers an entertaining international take on one of Marvel’s most popular heroes.
Before the heroes of the Justice League meet their demise in the lead-up to the Dark Crisis event, Brian Michael Bendis, Sanford Greene, Matt Herms and Josh Reed gives DC’s heroes a taste of the future in Justice League Annual 2022. This tale sees the League welcome a resurrected Wonder Woman back as they deal with a time crisis that brings them face-to-face with Jack Kirby’s O.M.A.C. and one of their oldest foes.
Aside from one tease for the ongoing Justice League vs. Legion of Super-Heroes miniseries, this extra-length issue mostly stands on its own and recalls DC’s classic JL epics, especially with its sizeable cast. At its best moments, Greene and Herms lean into Jack Kirby’s influence to create beautiful moments of pulse-pounding superhero action. While Bendis’ typically witty dialogue keeps the proceedings moving along nicely, the time-bending nature of the story almost makes a relatively straightforward tale too convoluted to follow.
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While Marvel’s main Hulk is smashing his way through space, Marvel continues its deep dive into the history of the Maestro, his tyrannical future counterpart, in Maestro: World War M #1. Following 2020’s Maestro and last year’s Maestro: War and Pax, this debut issue — by Peter David, German Peralta, Jesus Aburtov, Pasqual Ferry, Matt Hollingsworth and Ariana Maher – continues to chronicle the path to the future Hulk’s world domination.
Although it’s almost entirely dependent on the miniseries that preceded it, World War M #1 is still mostly preamble that sets up the Abomination, Namor and a few other Marvel powerhouses as the Maestro’s next targets. Still, the art team brings this sparse, post-apocalyptic world to life well, especially with a satisfyingly destructive fight in this issue’s final pages. While it doesn’t seem like there are too many gaps left to fill in this Hulk’s history, this comic is an enticing entry in the expanded origin of one of Marvel’s deadliest villains.
In a world defined by fictional cities like Gotham and Metropolis, New York City occupies a peculiar place in the DC Universe. While plenty of DC heroes have spent some time in the city, Jace Fox’s Batman becomes New York’s hero in I Am Batman #6, by John Ridley, Ken Lashley, Rex Lokus and Troy Peteri. With Jace having stepped away from Gotham and its Batman-adjacent heroes, this issue sees this Batman start setting up shop in New York as the city’s civic leaders figure out how to deal with his presence.
This issue spends a lot of pages building Jace’s dynamic with the NYPD — which isn’t quite the same as the classic Batman’s relationship to Gotham’s police — and establishing the series’ supporting cast. With solid superhero art throughout and intriguing gruesome murder for Batman to solve, I Am Batman #6 gives its hero a promising status quo shift that could help him stand as his own hero.
Last year, Marvel elected Polaris to the main X-Men team through a massive online fan poll. And now, the runners-up from Krakoa’s first X-Men election have assembled as their own team in Secret X-Men #1, by Tini Howard, Francesco Mobili, Jesus Aburtov and VC’s Clayton Cowles. Under the leadership of the New Mutants’ Sunspot and Cannonball, this one-shot brings together Marvel veterans like Banshee and Forge with relatively minor X-Men like Marrow and Tempo for a brisk cosmic adventure.
Despite its odd line-up of heroes, Secret X-Men justifies the existence of its titular team well. While it doesn’t feel crucial to Marvel’s overall X-Men epic, it pushes a few lingering story threads forward in a meaningful way and gives its heroes some well-designed new costumes. Still, this story’s greatest charms lie in the way this odd assortment of mutants coalesces into an effective team.
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Tim Webber is a writer, journalist and content creator based out of Atlanta, GA. With over a decade of experience, Tim has written everything from news analysis to cultural criticism about comic books, film, television and music. In addition to his work for CBR, Tim has written for a number of print and digital publications including Creative Loafing and Frequency Magazine. To put his worryingly deep knowledge of comics and superheroes to good use, he also helped design and teach courses based on graphic novels at Emory University, his alma mater. He can usually be found sipping tea, hitting deadlines or trapped under a very large pile of X-Men comics from the 1990s. If he sounds mildly interesting, you can follow Tim on Twitter @MrTimWebber.


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