When I started my bullet journal, one of my habit tracking goals to read a comic book a day. Over the summer I stuck to that goal, reading a comic book almost every day. I made steady progress on my pile of comic books but I’ve also taken advantage of my Marvel Unlimited subscription like never before.
The current Cable series from Marvel holds the honor of being the first comic book title I got caught up on in … who knows how many years. Heck, I’ve had several series end before I could get caught up on them and they’re still in my to-read pile.
Admittedly, Cable represented a short pile of a dozen or so comic books, but what really drove me to get caught up were the stories. The series takes full advantage of Cable’s status as a time travel, revisiting some of the X-Men’s classic eras to tell fun, nostalgia filed stories. Those who didn’t read Cable back in his X-Force days or his earlier stand-alone series might not appreciate these tales as much, but they checked all the right boxes for me by revisiting old friends (X-Force), new friends (Hope), and weaving both into an ongoing story that had its own solid hook (a time-traveling nemesis bent on making Cable pay for a centuries-old mistake).
Kate Bishop: Hawkeye
I loved Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon (Amazon) when I read it as part of last summer’s reading list. It told the story of Hawkeye when he wasn’t being an Avenger. I went on to read the rest of the series on Marvel Unlimited, which introduced me to Hawkeye’s protégée Kate Bishop … who is also Hawkeye. Kate Bishop’s own standalone Hawkeye title features her moving to California to become a private eye like another of her superhero mentors, Jessica Jones.
It’s a street-level comic with none of the world-saving heroics that often dominates the Avengers. This is about Kate trying to make a living, making friends … and making enemies. In the first dozen issues, she takes on a creepy stalker, a villain who can transform people into fast zombie-like mobs, and a clone-happy Madam Masque. At the same time, she’s investigating the years-old disappearance of her mother as well as following up leads on her villainous dad.
It’s good stuff with an “on your own, figuring things out” sort of Millennial vibe. I think my 15-year-old daughter will love it.
Spider-man: Renew Your Vows
I never liked One More Day, the Spider-man storyline that retconned away Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker’s marriage. I can appreciate, from a business point of view, why a young and single Peter might appeal more to Marvel’s presumed core audience … but it felt like a disservice to both characters. At the same time, I think it’s good for comics as a whole to be able to model a strong, loving, supportive relationship … and more often than not that’s what we got with Mary Jane and Peter.
Renew York Vows brings that back. Initially, a Secret Wars miniseries (from 2016), Renew Your Vows features an alternate timeline in which Mary Jane and Peter stayed married and had a daughter, Annie May Parker. As a family (Peter and Annie with superpowers) they go up against the Regent, a supervillain who’s been taking out Avengers and X-Men left and right to absorb their powers. The Spider-family takes out Regent and in the follow-up ongoing series, Spider-man crafts a Regent tech-inspired device to share his spider powers with Mary Jane. As a result, the entire family is soon out fighting crime in a dynamic that draws inspiration from The Incredibles while remaining its own thing.
The series begins with Annie as an 8-year-old, but a dozen or so issues in they jump the timeline forward 8 years so that she’s a teenager. As the father of a 15-year-old, I loved this story. They nailed Annie’s attitude, and the banter between Peter, Mary Jane, and their daughter is great. It’s become one of my go-to Marvel Unlimited comic books, though now that I’m caught up on the series I actually have to wait for new issues to come out (a happy … and until recently, uncommon … problem to have).
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A close-up of Kate Bishop from one of her Hawkeye issues. Credit: Marvel.