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This week in Marvel Comics news: Blood Hunt #2 PG-13 and Rated-R differences, and Blood Hunt: Red Band #2, Miles Morales & Kamala Khan dating, more

The Watcher’s Report: The biggest changes in Marvel Comics this week.

Blood Hunt #2 and Blood Hunt: Red Band #2
Image credit: Marvel

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Welcome to the Watcher Report, our weekly breakdown of Marvel’s biggest comic book moments from the current batch of releases. Like Uatu the Watcher, each week I observe everything that goes down in the Marvel Universe. That means reading every Marvel release and cataloging the most startling, exciting, and amusing developments.

This week, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel became a couple (or did they?) and Thor complained about cellphones. Plus, what’s the difference between Blood Hunt #2 and Blood Hunt: Red Band #2? Let’s dive into the Watcher’s Report for the week of May 22 for more..

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

What’s the difference between Blood Hunt #2 and Blood Hunt: Red Band #2?

Blood Hunt #2 and Blood Hunt: Red Band #2 comparision
Image credit: Marvel

We’re currently in the midst of Blood Hunt (written by Jed MacKay and penciled by Pepe Larraz), Marvel’s latest crossover event. The vampire apocalypse blockbuster is being released as a standard edition, and a special Red Band edition. The Red Band edition contains graphic material deemed “too explicit” for the standard edition. The Red Band edition is exclusively available in comic shops and can’t be found in bookstores or digital platforms.

We previously broke down the differences between Blood Hunt #1 and Blood Hunt: Red Band #1. Now that issue 2 has hit the stands, let’s break down the differences…

  • Both covers are identical except for a small label on top warning users of explicit content.
  • The recap page for the standard edition has a white background, while the Red Band edition has…well…a red background.
  • Page 6 of the standard edition features a mother and her two kids being cornered by a trio of vampires. In the Red Band edition, the mother is being ripped apart by the vampires, who are chewing on her intestines. The rest of the page is identical in both editions.
  • In page 7 of the standard edition Bloodline says, “I don’t think I have to ask you guys what it’s going to be. So, the hard way it is.” In the Red Band edition Bloodline says, “You pieces of trash. You killed their mom, so the hard way it is.” Obviously, this wouldn’t make sense in the standard edition, where the mother survived.
  • On page 12 of the standard edition we see Strange’s physical body, and while it’s vampiric, it’s still completely intact. In the Red Band edition, Strange’s physical body is split in half, with his intestines hanging out. That’s because Blade sliced Strange in half on the last page of Blood Hunt: Red Band #1. As Popverse’ Graeme McMillan noted, this doesn’t jive with Doctor Strange #15.
  • On page 16 of the standard edition, we see a distant shot of Megrim exploding into blood after Vision exposes him to the sun. In the Red Band edition, we get a closer look at the vampire’s body coming apart.
  • The next page of the Red Band edition (page 17) is an exclusive page that isn’t in the standard edition. We see Bloodstorm take off his mask and taunt Carol about Blade’s turn to evil.

Maybe it’s just me, but the changes feel less violent than what we got last issue.

Blood Hunt’s ending spoiled again (kind of)

Spider-Man vs. Norman Osborn
Image credit: Marvel

Amazing Spider-Man #49 was a Blood Hunt tie-in that found Spidey faced with Blade’s army of vampires. The issue ended with a cliffhanger stating the story would continue in the Amazing Spider-Man: Blood Hunt limited series. This leaves Amazing Spider-Man #50 (written by Zeb Wells and penciled by Ed McGuinness) to pick up Peter’s story after Blood Hunt.

There is an upside and a downside to this. The upside is that Zeb Wells doesn’t have to interrupt his ongoing storyline for a few months in order to do some Blood Hunt tie-ins. Comic book writers working in a shared universe often bemoan how companywide crossovers disrupt their storylines. Plus, this allows Zeb Wells to go big for Amazing Spider-Man #50, bringing readers the Peter Parker vs. Norman Osborn showdown that he’s been building to for years.

For the past few years, Norman Osborn has been cleansed of his sins, and working alongside Peter Parker as an ally. However, most of us knew that it wouldn’t be long before Norman returned to villainy, since status quo is king. The other shoe dropped this issue, as Norman became the Green Goblin again and attacked Peter. This is an awesome moment, and it’s much better than using Amazing Spider-Man #50 to tell a Blood Hunt story.

On the other hand, since this is set after Amazing Spider-Man #49, it means that issue 50 is showing us a post-Blood Hunt world. In essence, it kind of spoils the ending of Blood Hunt. To be fair, most of us guessed that Spider-Man would survive the event and vampires wouldn’t take over the world. However, setting stories after a crossover that hasn’t ended yet undermines the importance of the crossover that Marvel is trying to sell. Blood Hunt feels more important if every Marvel book is set before or during it. Setting books after Blood Hunt when it hasn’t ended yet feels like you’re saying it doesn’t matter so much.

(We’re currently facing a similar issue with Black Widow & Hawkeye)

I’ll admit, I don’t have a solution here. Zeb Wells shouldn’t have to sacrifice his issue 50 plans just to make Blood Hunt feel more important. It’s just one of those unfortunate catch-22s of storytelling in a shared universe. With that in mind, if you want to know what the Marvel Universe looks like post-Blood Hunt, read Amazing Spider-Man #50.

Miles Morales and Kamala Khan – hot or not?

Miles Morales and Kamala Khan
Image credit: Marvel

Sparks are flying between Miles Morales and Kamala Khan in Spectacular Spider-Men #3 (written by Greg Weisman and penciled by Humberto Ramos). The two young heroes have an awkward (but incredibly cute) date. “Weird is good,” Miles asks as he holds Kamala’s hands. “Sometimes weird is good. Very good,” Kamala replies. The two then take a stroll by the river and share a romantic kiss.

However, none of this is real. Yes, I’m aware that the Marvel Universe isn’t real as a whole, but I’m talking about within the story itself. Spider-Man isn’t actually dating Ms. Marvel, it’s all part of a dreamscape he’s been trapped in by Arcade and Mentallo. This dream realm, known as the Arcadium, puts users in a simulated reality where all their dreams come true.

Does this mean that Miles’ deepest desire is to date his former Champions teammate Kamala Khan? Or does Miles just crave romance in general?

Either way, the coupling of Miles and Kamala is an interesting one to explore. I was apprehensive, because the circumstances of Kamala’s 2023 death made her a supporting character in Peter Parker’s story, and she’s so much more. Dating Miles Morales runs the risk of her becoming a Spider-Man supporting character.

Still, I can’t deny what a cute couple they make. Maybe there’s a shot for them once this Arcadium storyline wraps up.

Most irreverent moment: The gods of Asgard discuss cell phones

Thor discusses cell phones
Image credit: Marvel

Al Ewing’s Thor run has told an epic story where the God of Thunder takes on powerful Elder Gods, and fight a corporation that is rewriting the fabric of reality. It also has Asgardian gods discussing the flimsiness of Earth cell phones.

During The Immortal Thor #11 (written by Al Ewing and penciled by Valentina Pinti), the God of Thunder calls a meeting between his siblings to discuss recent developments that threaten the various realms. However, like most family meetings, this one got sidetracked by an irreverent tangent about cell phones.

“Mortal toy, then. Thought you’d have enough of such,” Honir said. “I do confess that their toys begin to irk me. Flimsy things with a hefty cost, built to break quickly,” Thor replies. At this Loki becomes upset. “Thanks for the magic cell reception, Loki. No trouble, Thor. No need to even mention it,” Loki mockingly says. “You should spend more time off-planet, Thor. They build things to last out there,” Angela says.

This may seem a bit like Seinfeld, but I dug the irreverent nature of this moment. These godlike beings have tremendous powers, and they’re sitting around talking about how overpriced and delicate cell phones are. Angela was right, they should be built to last longer.

Best book you’re missing: Ghost Rider - Final Vengeance

The new Ghost Rider (Parker Robbins)
Image credit: Marvel

Between Blood Hunt and the upcoming X-Men relaunch, the Marvel Universe is a busy place, and some books get lost in the shuffle. Do yourself a favor, and don’t sleep on Ghost Rider: Final Vengeance. It’s an entertaining series where the Spirit of Vengeance gets to come out and play.

The premise is that Parker Robbins, the criminal known as the Hood, makes a deal with Mephisto to steal the Spirit of Vengeance from Johnny Blaze. Robbins then becomes the new Ghost Rider and uses his new powers to take over Chicago’s underworld. Ghost Rider: Final Vengeance #3 (written by Benjamin Percy and penciled by Danny Kim) is the latest installment, and it was an entertaining read. We see Robbins hunt down and torture mobsters, hoping to make himself the biggest fish in the pond.

In an era of crossovers and overly long storylines (the X-Men have been fighting Orchis for almost a year), it’s nice to read a self-contained limited series like this. You don’t need to read Blood Hunt or any other ongoings to understand the action. It’s just Parker Robbins torturing mobsters while Johnny Blaze hunts him down. It’s simple Marvel fun, and more of you should be reading it.

That’s it for this week’s report. Popverse’s Watcher (that’s me!) will return next week to break down the latest developments in the Marvel Universe. See you then…

Advance copies of this week’s Marvel books were provided ahead of release by Marvel.

Keep up to date on Popverse's Marvel coverage, with these highlights: Marvel Studios' next movie stars are these Disney+ heroes, how Marvel Studios' reviving Marvel Television brand to let you know the MCU isn't always connected, Why Marvel's comics boss is calling for a company & industry reset, how Marvel Comics' boss said it was lost in 2023 (and how its finding itself again), Inside Marvel Comics' plans to fix its pricing issues, Overgrown children of the atom: Marvel's X-Men can't evolve past their '90s commercial peak, and the biggest outstanding questions of the Marvel Studios' movies & TV shows.

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