Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett offers up some thoughts on Marvel's Incoming! #1.

Not a lot of comics came out Christmas week, as though I need to tell any of you, so there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already read Incoming! #1 (see "In-Store Launch Parties for 'Incoming!' #1") which does a pretty solid job of checking in on what’s currently going on in the Marvel Universe while setting up a great many of this year’s “big events.”  It holds all of the disparate storylines together with a wrap-around plot concerning a locked room murder mystery, which I have to confess I found pleasantly nostalgic.  For those who aren’t quite so old, comic book detectives used to do that sort of thing all the time but it’s been a while since I’ve seen one solved in the pages of either a Marvel or DC comic.

It also does a pretty good job of selling it as being a single story, but in actuality Incoming is a collection of different episodes by different writers and artists, only some of which connect, essentially making it a stealth anthology comic.  Something Marvel has quite sensibly kept to themselves, seeing as how today’s fans seem to consider anthology titles to be insignificant time-wasters while Incoming! is ever so important, at least to Marvel’s (and our) bottom line this year.

Because according to Marvel to Team Avengers and Fantastic Four in 'Empyre' Comic, it is “the earth-shattering event of 2020.”  Written by Dan Slott and Al Ewing, with art by Valerio Schiti and due out in April, according to Tom Brevoort, Avengers/Fantastic Four: Empyre #1 "grows out of a number of key Marvel stories including the Kree-Skrull War, the Celestial Madonna Saga, the origin of the Young Avengers, and a bunch of others."  So, it’s not just a space epic, but a BIG cosmic space epic, which is okay by me! It’s been a while since we’ve had a good one of those. 

As previously noted (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Guess Who?”), I’m pretty much personally immune to the appeal of “Marvel and DC's increasingly anemic big yearly crossover events.”  Not to mention dubious as them being a means of selling more comic books.  But I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed War of the Realms, especially ancillary spin-off titles like War of the Realms Strikeforce: The Land of Giants #1, by Tom Taylor and Jorge Molina.  That one had been my favorites until, months later, I read the epilogue mini-series  Punisher Kill Krew by Gerry Duggan, Juan Ferreyra, and Cory Petit. 

Usually, the innocent victims of these kinds of wars are treated as inconsequential unavoidable collateral damage, but here The Punisher promises a bunch of orphaned kids to kill the creatures that killed their parents... and then actually does something about it.  This is kind of a big deal because traditionally heroes, super or otherwise, will promise they won’t rest until someone (or something) is brought to justice at the drop of a hat, and then, immediately proceed to get distracted by something shiny and forget all about it.

But here, as always, The Punisher means business and after promising those kids justice soon the street-level vigilante is tooling around the Nine Realms in a van pulled by a giant Asgardian war goat accompanied by the least likely Dungeon & Dragons party imaginable: The Juggernaut, The Black Knight and Foggy Nelson?  Yes, Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, long-time (as well as long-suffering) friend and law partner of Matt Murdoch, a.k.a. Daredevil, gets dragooned into the journey and while no warrior, he acquits himself nicely.  He’s surprisingly brave and useful, especially afterward when he uses ‘liberated’ Asgardian treasure to set up trust funds for all of those orphans.

In short, Incoming! works, as a comic and promotional tool.  And more importantly, it seems like given the ever increasingly complicated nature of their universes, it might be a pretty good idea for Marvel and DC to publish an oversized annual comic around the Holidays that would let casual readers know what’s currently going on in their comics.  As well as promoting upcoming storylines and new titles.  Maybe call they could call it Upcoming!...

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of