Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 2

First Published: March 2013

Contents: Captain Marvel #22 (September 1972) to #35 (November 1974), and #37 (March 1975) to #46 (September 1976); Iron Man #55 (February 1973); and Marvel Feature #12 (November 1973)

Key Creator Credits: Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Mike Friedrich, Jim Starlin, Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom, Chris Claremont, Wayne Boring, Alfredo Alcala, and others

Key First Appearances: Lou-Ann Savannah, Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, ISAAC, Chronos, Mentor, Starfox, Blood Brothers, Eon

Story Continues From: Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 1

Overview: Mar-Vell! An alien warrior of the ancient Kree race, linked by destiny for some strange, inexplicable reason with Rick Jones, a youth in whose mined rests the power to save the universe… or destroy it. This is Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 2.

Following the events of the Kree-Skrull War (see Essential Avengers Vol. 4), the Captain Marvel title returns to the newsstands after a two-year hiatus. Captain Marvel now has a sidekick of sorts, with pal to the heroes Rick Jones. Now wearing the Nega Bands, Mar-Vell and Rick exchange places with each other between Earth and the Negative Zone. The length of time that one can spend in the Negative Zone tends to vary from issue to issue. Regardless, spending time away from Earth is really putting a crimp in Rick Jones’ dating life (sorry Lou-Ann!) and his budding music career.

After a couple of issues, Jim Starlin takes over the book and the book just explodes in greatness. Captain Marvel (and Rick) head off to space, where they are fighting to stop Thanos from capturing the Cosmic Cube. But before they can get to Thanos, they must face off against the likes of the Blood Brothers, the Super Skrull, and the Controller. And let’s not forget that the Supreme Intelligence still takes great pleasure in trying to make things difficult for the Kree’s wayward son.

Eventually, Captain Marvel and Rick find a way to extract themselves from the constraints of the Nega Bands. As much as they are tired of being linked to each other, they find that they still need each other and choose to remain as travel companions across the galaxy.

What makes this Essential?: This collection is way more interesting than the first volume. Captain Mar-Vell really comes alive when Jim Starlin comes on board as the writer and penciller. Transforming the character from a stranger on a strange world into a cosmic entity that can hold his own with the most powerful beings in the universe makes him much more interesting. And giving him a main enemy to be fighting against rounds out the character and provides an even better reason to keep reading.

Footnotes: Captain Marvel #36 is a reprint of Marvel Super-Heroes #12, the first appearance of Captain Mar-Vell. That issue can be found in Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 1. The new cover and three new framing pages are included in this Essential.

Iron Man #55 is also reprinted in Essential Iron Man Vol. 4.

Marvel Feature #12 is also reprinted in Essential Marvel Two-in-One Vol. 1.

Captain Marvel #33 is also reprinted in Essential Avengers Vol. 6.

If you like this volume, try: The Thanos Quest mini-series from Jim Starlin and Ron Lim from 1990. Given the incredible success of Avengers: Infinity War, everyone is trying to get the back-story on Thanos. Once we get past the Captain Marvel run, Thanos is barely used in the 1980s, usually only in flashback. It’s not until the early 1990s, when Starlin returns to Marvel, that Thanos’ story resumes. In an effort to win the love of Death, Thanos seeks out the Elders of the Universe, who each happens to possess one of the Infinity Gems. If Thanos can acquire all six gems, he can wield the gauntlet and destroy half of the universe. This is an intriguing look into the character, and at times makes him more human. The original issues are quite pricey in the back issue market, so you may want to opt for a trade collection or as a digital read to find these two issues.

Essential Black Panther Vol. 1

First Published: May 2012

Contents: Jungle Action #6 (September 1973) to #22 (July 1976), and #24 (November 1976); and Black Panther #1 (January 1977) to #10 (July 1978)

Key Creator Credits: Don McGregor, Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, Billy Graham, Keith Pollard, Jack Kirby, and others

Key First Appearances: Erik Killmonger, Venomm, Mister Little, Princess Zanda, N’Gassi,

Overview: Coming in on a 12:30 flight, we are taking a journey to the land of Wakanda on the African continent. A country built on Vibranium, a rare and powerful element that makes this small country one of the most important ones in all of the world, which in turn brings a lot of threats and dangers to the land. This is Essential Black Panther!

For years, we’ve known of the Black Panther as a supporting character. First introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four, he was a member of the Avengers for many years. Now, we see Black Panther return home, to handle the responsibilities of leading his country.

This collection is broken up nicely into two distinct runs. In the first run, writer Don McGregor, with art from the likes of Rich Buckler and Billy Graham, gives us two great storylines that show the range of the Black Panther character. The Panther’s Rage storyline has Black Panther fighting off a challenge to his throne by Erik Killmonger. The story runs across Africa, from deserts to jungles to waterfalls and caves, Black Panther stands up to the challenges of Killmonger and Venomm to protect his land.

The second storyline from McGregor has T’Challa returning to the United States with his girlfriend Monica Lynne, only to encounter the racist threats of the Ku Klux Klan. This is a powerful story arc on a subject that doesn’t get enough coverage in comics.

The second run in this collection comes to us from the mind of Jack Kirby, so sit back and enjoy the run. During his return to Marvel in the mid-1970s, Kirby was given complete control over his projects and went balls-to-the-wall with everything he did, with titles like Captain America, The Eternals, 2001, and Devil Dinosaur. But my favorite run in this period is his work on Black Panther. He takes Black Panther on a wild journey, chasing after King Solomon’s Frog that can travel through time or bringing in his cousins to protect Wakanda from the radioactive Jakarra. These may not be the greatest Black Panther stories, but they have to be the most fun Black Panther stories.

What makes this Essential?: These are some must-read stories for the Black Panther character, but I don’t know that this is the best collection to read these stories. I would have liked to have seen the Black Panther’s first appearance reprinted in this collection, or even his origin story. You can track those down in other Essentials, but it would have been nice to have them in this book, too. The final five issues of the 1977 run (including Jack Kirby’s final three issues!) are not included here. You cannot even find them in an Essential. I truly believe that Black Panther should have been done in two Essential volumes, to include all of these missing issues.

My other issue is the printing process for this collection. With a character that where’s a black costume, reprinting the story in black and white makes these stories hard to read at times. This is one of those rare times when I wished I had read all of these stories in a color edition.

With all of that said, I do really like these stories. This was the first time that Black Panther got to stand on his own as the lead character in a title or in his own self-titled book. The current success of the character would not be possible without these stories laying the groundwork to establish T’Challa as an A-list hero.

Footnotes: Jungle Action started as a reprint comic. Jungle Action #5 starts the Black Panther run in the title, reprinting Avengers #62, which told the Black Panther’s origin (see Essential Avengers Vol. 3). Jungle Action #23 was a reprint of Daredevil #69 (see Essential Daredevil Vol. 3). The covers to issues #5 and #23 are included in this collection.

The 1977 Black Panther series ran for 15 issues. Kirby stayed on the book through issue #13. The series was cancelled, but the storyline was finished up in Marvel Premiere #51-#53. Those issues of Black Panther and Marvel Premiere can be found in the Black Panther Marvel Masterworks Vol. 2.

If you like this volume, try: any of the following choices. There are so many great options when it comes to tales involving the Black Panther.

  • The first choice has to be the Christopher Priest run of Black Panther from 1998 to 2003. This originally started out as part of the Marvel Knights imprint, but moved over into the main Marvel publishing group with issued #13. You cannot mention Black Panther without mentioning Priest’s name. So much of what we think of with T’Challa, Wakanda and all things Black Panther were introduced in this series. The entire series was recently collected in four Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection trade paperbacks.
  • The Black Panther series that followed the Priest run is great too. There is a period around 2007 when Reginald Hudlin was writing Black Panther and Dwayne McDuffie was writing Fantastic Four. During the Initiative storyline, Black Panther and his then-wife Storm were serving as members of the Fantastic Four, replacing Reed and Sue. There are a lot of fun stories in each title, and the time-traveling Brass Frogs make a re-appearance.
  • Finally, it would be hard to imagine anyone not having viewed it yet, but the 2018 Black Panther movie is a must watch. If you have not seen this movie, stop reading this blog and go watch it. If you have seen the movie, finish reading the blog and then go watch it again. This may be one of the most visually-stunning Marvel movies to date, and it is both a critical and box-office success.

Essential Defenders Vol. 7

First Published: May 2013

Contents: The Defenders #126 (December 1983) to #139 (January 1985); Beauty and the Beast #1 (December 1984) to #4 (June 1985); and Iceman #1 (December 1984) to #4 (June 1985)

Key Creator Credits: J.M. Dematteis, Peter Gillis, Ann Nocenti, Alan Kupperberg, Sal Buscema, Don Perlin, Mike Zeck, and others

Key First Appearances: Manslaughter, Oblivion, Dragon of the Moon

Story Continues From: Essential Defenders Vol. 6

Overview: The Defenders are dead! Long live the New Defenders! As we saw at the end of the last collection, With the core line-up (Doctor Strange, Hulk, Namor, & Silver Surfer) no longer able to work together for fear of destroying the Earth, a new team steps from the ashes to become the New Defenders. From the last run, Valkyrie, Gargoyle and Beast stick around, recruiting Angel, Iceman and Moondragon to join them in this journey.

With the new team, the dynamics between the various members make for an interesting story, sometimes more interesting than the villain of the month that they would battle each month. Who will lead the team? Is it the Beast, who has trained and studied under both Charles Xavier and Captain America? Is it the Angel, whose bank account is funding most of the team’s activities? Or is it Moondragon, who believes that everyone should bow down to the goddess that she believes herself to be?

Regardless who leads the team, we see the story moving forward with hints of things to come. We are introduced to the Dragon of the Moon, who will (SPOILER WARNING SINCE THERE IS NO ESSENTIAL DEFENDERS VOL. 8!) will become a negative influence in Moondragon’s life and lead to the eventual demise of this team (and this title).

But before then, we get lots of adventures of the new Defenders. We even get some solo mini-series involving members of the team. First up is an Iceman miniseries, which ran concurrently with Beauty and the Beast, teaming up the Beast with Dazzler (before she joined the X-Men).

What makes this Essential?: This is the most transformative era of the title that we have seen. For all of the talk about the Defenders not have a set roster, it was always some combination of the core line-up. Now just Valkyrie remains with half of the original X-Men, plus Moondragon and Gargoyle. So, for a change of pace with the characters, this is an interesting read. But it still doesn’t make this Essential. I personally would have rather seen the two mini-series dropped in favor of finding a way to get all of the remaining issues (it ran until #152) into this collection. I think J.M. DeMatteis and Peter Gillis have fun creating new adventures with these characters, with stellar art from the likes of Don Perlin and Alan Kubberberg, but these are not A-list characters to carry a book.

Footnotes: During this run of Defenders issues, the covers reflected the title The New Defenders. However, the indicia in the original issues indicated that the official title still was The Defenders. It wasn’t until issue #140 that the official name listed in the indicia was The New Defenders. Since this collection ends with issue #139, you could make the argument that Marvel collected all of the original issues in the Defenders series in this line of Essentials

Beauty and the Beast #1 to #4 are also reprinted in Essential Dazzler Vol. 2.

If you like this volume, try: hunting down a copy of The Gargoyle mini-series from 1985. This entire series has never been reprinted, so you will need to hit the back-issue bins to find this. Gargoyle co-creator and writer J.M. DeMatteis, along with artist Mark Badger, finally had the chance to do a solo series featuring Isaac Christians. He returns to his hometown, Christiansboro, Virginia, where Chambers is tricked into returning to his original body. Unfortunately, that allows the one of the demons to return to the Gargoyle shell and begin an attack to destroy the town. With the help of a druid, Christians’ soul is returned to the Gargoyle shell, and the Gargoyle destroys Isaac Chambers’ body so that he can’t be used like that again. This mini-series should have been collected in this volume, perhaps in place of the Beauty and the Beast series since that had been included in the Essential Dazzler Vol. 2 collection four years earlier.

Essential Moon Knight Vol. 3

First Published: February 2009

Contents: Moon Knight #31 (May 1983) to #38 (July 1984); Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu #1 (June 1985) to #6 (December 1985); Moon Knight stories from Marvel Fanfare #30 (January 1987), #38 (June 1988) and #39 (August 1988); the Moon Knight story from Solo Avengers #3 (February 1988); and the Moon Knight story from Marvel Super-Heroes #1 (May 1990)

Key Creator Credits: Doug Moench, Alan Zelenetz, Tony Isabella, Kevin Nowlan, Bo Hampton, Chris Warner, Denny O’Neill, and others

Key First Appearances: Joy Mercado

Story Continues From: Essential Moon Knight Vol. 2

Overview: Marvel’s man of the night is back with Essential Moon Knight Vol. 3. Regardless if the man under the mask is Marc Spector, Steven Grant, or Jake Lockley, Moon Knight is ready to take on any challenge, whether it’s physical, mental or mystical.

Sadly, this volume begins with the end of writer Doug Moench’s run on the title. During this run of issues, the Moon Knight titled transitioned into a direct market title, meaning that fans could only find the book at comic book retailers and not on the spinner rack at your local convenience store. The direct market status came with some benefits to the discerning readers. The comics were ad-free, giving us longer stories, and were eventually upgraded to a better paper quality. In addition, Marvel could start to tell somewhat more mature stories in this format.

The stories run through the various comic book possibilities – maybe Moon Knight is fighting street crime, dealing with a supernatural threat, solving a mystery, or fighting the super villain of the month. Moon Knight is often compared to Batman, and one of those reasons is the flexibility in being able to use the title character in these various stories. (By sheer coincidence, last week’s review of Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 6 featured many stories by Denny O’Neil. Many of the issues in this volume were edited by O’Neil.)

One year after the end of the direct market title, Moon Knight returned to the spinner racks with Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu. Now Marc Spector must act as an agent on Earth for Khonshu, which puts him at odds with the love of his life, Marlene. She leaves Marc, freeing up Marc (and the writer) to move about without having to check in every issue with a supporting cast. Sadly, the book lasts just six issues before it was cancelled.

This collection is rounded out by some solo Moon Knight stories that appeared in other books, such as Marvel Fanfare. Unfortunately, the sporadic nature of these tales makes it hard to have any true character development. You might have to look elsewhere to find a lengthy run with Moon Knight. See below for more details!

What makes this Essential?: Visually, these are some great stories. Sometimes you buy books just for the art, and this may be one of those. That said, Moon Knight as a character loses direction with Doug Moench leaving the character. It’s as if no one at Marvel knew what to do next with Moon Knight. I loved the start of the Fist of Khonshu series, where he had to act as a champion for Khonshu or face physical pain. But that series came to an abrupt end. Given the potential we saw with the character during the Moench/Sienkiewicz era, this volume feels like a let down in comparison.

If you like this volume, try: West Coast Avengers Omnibus Vol 2 from 2013. Shortly after the cancellation of Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu series, Moon Knight relocated to California and started hanging out with the West Coast Avengers, beginning with issue #21 of that title. Moon Knight stayed as a member of the team for almost two years, before leaving the team with issue #41. From there, Moon Knight moved back into his own title once again, named Marc Spector: Moon Knight. That ran for five years, but it doesn’t appear to have been collected yet.

Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 6

First Published: January 2016

Contents: Batman #229 (February 1971) to #244 (September 1972); Batman stories from Detective Comics #408 (February 1971) to #426 (August 1972)

Key Creator Credits: Frank Robbins, Irv Novick, Bob Brown, Neal Adams, Denny O’Neil, Dick Giordano and others

Key First Appearances: Talia al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul, Ubu, Doctor Moon, Matches Malone

Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Batman Vol. 5

Overview: Welcome back to the sixth (and sadly final) volume of the Showcase Presents Batman series. I am your host, Jerry – a reader of a lot of comics and a tardy blogger who is way overdue to get another one of these reviews posted.

Let’s dive in, because this is the volume we have been waiting for. We’ve got Denny O’Neil writing many of these issues, and we have Neal Adams drawing many of those same issues. Let’s take the concept of the League of Assassins (created by Adams in the Deadman stories in Strange Adventures) and bring it to the Batman books. But we need a leader of the League… a figurehead… maybe a Demon’s Head. Enter Ra’s al Ghul and his daughter Talia.

Over a series of non-consecutive issues across both Batman and Detective Comics, Batman is drawn into a battle that appears to be centuries old. Ra’s al Ghul has big plans for the world, and those plans do not involve Batman. To complicate matters, Talia has a romantic interest in Batman. Throw those in together, and you get some explosive stories, going from the streets of Gotham City to the remote peaks of Nanda Parbat. Keep your Lazarus Pit handy, because someone is not walking away from this fight.

In between these classic al Ghul stories, this volume gives us a mix of mostly solo Batman stories. (Robin could usually be found in his own back-up feature in Batman, while Batgirl had her own back-up feature in Detective Comics.) We do get two visits from traditional Batman foes, with Two-Face and Man-Bat. Otherwise, this collection features a lot of detective stories, with Batman having to solve a mystery or follow the clues to a solution.

There is one new addition to the Batman mythos – the creation of Batman’s Matches Malone identity. Malone was a mob boss killed by Ra’s al Ghul. Batman seized upon the opportunity and kept Malone’s death a secret. He would dress up as Malone to infiltrate criminal hangouts to obtain information that he wouldn’t normally be able to get if he came strolling into the room as Batman. The Matches Malone identity will be used a lot over the years by many writers, and it adds a new approach to Batman’s quest to rid Gotham City of crime.

Why should these stories be Showcased?: This was a hot and cold book for me. The stories are either INCREDIBLE or average. Reading through this book, I grew to look forward to the O’Neil-Adams stories, and I learned to dread the Robbins stories. (Not to bash on Frank Robbins here. I like his stuff, just not on Batman.) In this era, you were given a lot of different versions of Batman – super-hero, detective, crime fighter and more. If you like Batman to have a lot of different roles, this is a great collection. If you want one particular take on Batman, this might not be the book for you.

Footnotes: Batman #233 and #238 are reprint issues. The covers are included in this collection. 

Batman #237 features the Batman and Robin attending the Halloween parade in Rutland, Vermont. For more information on Rutland, see Essential Avengers Vol. 4.

If you like this volume, try: the Batman by Neal Adams omnibus from 2016. Yes, if you have been reading this blog for some time, then you have already read two-thirds of this book. You’ll get the Adams stories from Batman, Detective Comics, The Brave and the Bold, and World’s Finest. You even get reprints of the two Batman Power Records that Adams did. My personal opinion here, but the only downside of this collection is that it contains Batman: Odyssey. It’s a beautifully drawn story, but it needed a strong writer and editor to bring that title together. Regardless of my opinions on Odyssey, the other stories deserve to be viewed on an oversized white page with modern color printing. If you look around, you should be able to find it for less than cover price, and it will look so good sitting on your bookshelf.

Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 2

First Published: April 2004

Contents: The Tomb of Dracula #26 (November 1974) to #49 (October 1976); Giant-Size Dracula #2 (September 1974) to #5 (June 1975); and Doctor Strange #14 (May 1976)

Key Creator Credits: Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, Tom Palmer, Chris Claremont, Don Heck, David Kraft, Steve Englehart, and others

Key First Appearances: Harold H. Harold, Aurora Rabinowitz, Domini, Anton Lupeski

Story Continues From: Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 3

Overview: Dracula is dead! Love live Dracula!

Welcome back to The Tomb of Dracula, the legendary run by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer. Having worked on the title for more than a year, the creative team have found their stride with the title, putting together some of the best stories in the run of the series.

Picking up where things left off in the last collection, Dracula is believed to be dead, which leads his pursuers to go their separate ways. Taj returns tot India, where we discover that his wife is crippled and his own son is a vampire. Frank travels to Brazil, where he encounters zombies and the mysterious Brother Voodoo.

Meanwhile, Dracula realizes that this powers are waning, and must track down the reason for his condition. Following the clues, he travels across to Europe, taking on assignments to move him forward in his weakened condition. Eventually, the clues point him to America and Dr. Sun, who apparently did not die in their last battle seen in Volume 1.

Dracula crosses the Atlantic to America, where he sets up his operations in Boston. There, he meets a new ally in Harold H. Harold, a would-be writer of vampire tales. Harold hopes to leverage his friendship as a source for new stories. Dracula revives long enough to confront Dr. Sun, only to be killed by a henchman.

As can be expected, there is no quiet way for a vampire to travel, and eventually Quincy Harker and his team are back on Dracula’s trail, following him to America. Realizing how strong Dr. Sun has become, the vampire hunters conclude that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and bring Dracula back to life to help them in their battle. Dr. Sun is eventually defeated and Dracula regains his powers.

Following a meeting between Dracula and Doctor Strange, the vampire turns his attention to establishing a base of power in America. He joins up with the Church of the Damned in Boston. He meets Domini, a beautiful woman who has given herself over to the church, and decides to take her as his new bride. Dracula plans on siring a new child, with the goal of taking over the church to expand his reach. Unfortunately, the church has plans to use the offspring to take down Dracula once and for all.

What makes this Essential?: Wolfman, Colan and Palmer reach their peak with this collection. The stories and art are more solid than the previous and next volumes. Dracula finally feels like a threat, yet he remains a character you want to see succeed in his actions. I like setting the stories in America, as it gives the entire team a more comfortable environment in which to tell the stories.

Footnotes: Doctor Strange #14 and Tomb of Dracula #44 and #45 are also reprinted in Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 3.

Several issues in this Essential make reference to the events in Dracula Lives, a black-and-white magazine that ran for 13 issues. Those magazines are collected in Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 4.

If you like this volume, try: the Doctor Strange vs. Dracula trade paperback from 2006. Yes, it does reprint the crossover already collected in this Essential, but it also includes a five-part story from Doctor Strange #58 to #62 from 1983. In this story arc by Roger Stern and Dan Green, the two title characters are searching for the Darkhold, a book with untold secrets. One of those secrets can bring an end to all vampires on Earth. Dracula and Doctor Strange go back-and-forth in their quest to claim the book, which also brings in Blade and the Avengers.

Essential Wolverine Vol. 7

First Published: June 2013

Contents: Wolverine #129 (October 1998) to #148 (March 2000); and Hulk #8 (November 1999)

Key Creator Credits: Todd DeZago, Fabian Nicieza, Erik Larsen, Eric Stephenson, Leinil Francis Yu, Cary Nord, Jeff Matsuda, Mike Miller, Roger Cruz, Ron Garney, and others

Story Continues From: Essential Wolverine Vol. 6

Overview: Over the years, Wolverine has faced every foe possible, from Magneto to Apocalypse to Sabretooth. He’s even clashed with the mainstream villains like Dr. Doom. But leave it to his, the final Essential Wolverine collection, for Wolverine to go up against the ultimate force in the Marvel Universe – Galactus!

Following the standard Wolverine vs. Sabretooth story that we are quite familiar with already, Wolverine gets caught up in an intergalactic tale. He gets kidnapped via a mutant who can control minds. Wolverine regains control to find himself mixed up with the Collector. With an assist from the Starjammers, Wolverine stops the Collector but finds he must now protect the various captives on the ship from Galactus. Wolverine learns that some battles cannot be won and that getting everyone out alive is the best victory you can hope for in this situation.

Next up are a series of one-shot team-up issues, featuring the likes of Cable, Nightcrawler, Jubilee and Alpha Flight. It’s really surprising to me, given how insanely popular Wolverine became during this era, that Marvel never gave him his own team-up book, much like Spider-Man and the Thing had in the 1970s and 1980s.

Finally, as part of the character’s 25th-anniversary celebration, Wolverine is finally reunited with his adamantium skeleton and claws. Professor Xavier has been forced to disband the X-Men when they find that Apocalypse has planted a fake Wolverine on their team. In all actuality, the real Wolverine finds himself as one of Apocalypse’s four horsemen, Death. Unfortunately, too much of the storyline is not reprinted here, so I’m going to need to check out the reprint collection of The Twelve to get a full idea of what is going on in this story.

The final issue is part of the Ages of Apocalypse storyline, featuring a reunion of the All-New Fantastic Four (Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk and Ghost Rider), which was first introduced in Walt Simonson’s memorable run on Fantastic Four. It’s a fun mash-up of characters, and one that I wish Marvel would find a way to revisit again someday.

What makes this Essential?: Why does this have to happen to me? Just when I really start to enjoy the Wolverine line of books, the Essential line comes to an end. I wasn’t reading the Wolverine title (or the X-Men books) in this era, so this was my first read of all of these issues. These are more interesting stories, especially those that do not get caught up in the current X-event.

If you like this volume, try: the 2017 Logan movie. This may be Hugh Jackman’s best take on Wolverine in any of the X-Men and Wolverine movies over the last 20 years. Borrowing heavily from Old Man Logan, the film takes place sometime in the future, where most of the mutants have been killed off. Logan finds himself as Xavier’s caretaker, trying to help the Professor keep his abilities in check as dementia takes over his mind. A new mutant, Laura Kinney, appears on the scene, created from Logan’s DNA, making her Wolverine’s daughter. He agrees to take Laura to Eden, a safe place for mutants, only to discover that it’s a mythical place from a comic book. They are hunted by the Reavers, who are relentless in their pursuit of the mutants. Logan eventually finds Eden but must sacrifice himself to stop the Reavers and give the kids a chance to escape. This was a tremendous movie, doing well with both critics and the box-office returns.