The Marvel Now! relaunch is in full swing. New creative teams and new titles have launched, and I have taken it upon myself to read almost all of the new titles (you can thank me later). Notice that I said “RELAUNCH” and not “REBOOT”. Rather than start all over with a new beginning, as DC has done, Marvel is changing creative teams and relaunching their main books with new number ones. It’s a great jumping on point for new readers, and readers who have been around for a while get a nice change to their regular titles. Without further ado, here we go.
I have never understood the appeal of the Deadpool character. The only time I could tolerate him was in Uncanny X-Force and that’s only because we see him in short bursts. The new creative team has finally shown me the appeal of the Merc with the Mouth.
A rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent feels that America isn’t what is used to be. He decides to bring back all of the dead Presidents to set America back on course, but things go awry. S.H.I.E.L.D. enlists Deadpool to kill the zombie Presidents. They can’t have Captain America lopping off the head of Harry Truman on the front page of every paper (that actually happens).
The problem I had with previous Deadpool books was that the book was TRYING to be funny rather than just being funny. Brain Posehn and Gerry Duggan make this book funny without forcing it down our throats. The jokes work. They also got rid of the multiple personalities that have become synonymous with the way previous writer, Daniel Way, wrote Deadpool. It makes the book a much more enjoyable read.
On top of the strong script by Posehn and Duggan, Tony Moore (The Walking Dead & Venom) and Val Staples are nothing short of amazing. Whether he is drawing Deadpool cutting his way out of the stomach of a Godzilla-like lizard, a giant two page spread of the zombie Presidents having a party, or zombie Abraham Lincoln shooting Deadpool in the back of the head, Tony Moore is incredible. I only hope he stays on the book longer than he did on Venom.
Final Verdict: B
It’s very well written, and the art is fantastic. I’ll be sticking with it……for now.
This was the first book in the Marvel NOW! relaunch. Uncanny Avengers picks up where Avengers vs X-Men left off. Professor Xavier is dead (murdered by Cyclops), mutants are hated by the public (again), and Cyclops is in jail. Captain America realizes the he and the government should have done more to help the mutants, and now he’s asking Alex Summers aka Havok (Cyclops’s brother) to join The Avengers and help lead the mutant race. We are also treated to the return of Captain America’s oldest villain, The Red Skull.
Leading the creative charge is Rick Remender (The Punisher, Secret Avengers, and Fear Agent). Remender is finally given a shot on a top tier book, and he delivers. There’s some great character development (i.e. Wolverine giving the eulogy at Professor Xavier’s funeral, Havok having a heart to heart with his brother, Captain America sitting down with Havok and asking him to join the team). There’s a great action sequence with Cap, Thor, and Havok fighting an old X-Men villain on the streets on New York, and there’s also a little humor (Thor mentioning that he like lattes). Remender also sets the stage for things to come and reveals the villain for the upcoming arc.
A comic is only as good as its artist, and Uncanny Avengers has landed an all star. John Cassaday (Planetary & Captain America) makes his return to interior art and makes this book that much better. He has a very realistic style without looking TOO real. His Captain America and Thor redesigns are great, as well. He draws one of the most unnerving final panels that I can remember. His take on the villain is truly terrifying. The only concern I have is his ability to keep on schedule. Issue three or four has already been pushed back.
Final Verdict: A
I’ll be staying with this one until Remender leaves the book.
With the success of the Iron Man film franchise, the Iron Man comic has become one of Marvel’s flagship titles. Taking over the reigns is Kieron Gillen and Greg Land (the creative team behind Uncanny X-Men). This first arc seems to be following the Extremis story line by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov from 2005. This new story centers around the Extemis virus being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The virus turns people into better versions of themselves or, with a tweak, turns them into living weapons. Tony Stark takes down the auction, and we learn that four people already have the Extremis virus.
Gillen delivers a solid opening issue. You’re introduced to Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, and the looming threat. The characterization of everyone in the issue is exactly what you expect. Gillen has taken over Iron Man after a very successful run on both Uncanny X-Men and Journey Into Mystery. I really enjoy his work and I’m looking forward to seeing where he takes the book. The rumor is that Tony Stark may be going to space after this first arc.
The only downside to the book is Greg Land’s art. It’s not good. I’ve never been a fan of the way he photo references almost every face he draws. All his women look like the same model, and it’s just not good. The only saving grace is that his Iron Man looks pretty cool when he’s in his armor. Gone is the standard red and gold suit, replaced by a new black and gold version. The idea is that this is Tony’s next, upgraded version of the suit.
Final Verdict: B-
I’ll stick with it only because I like Iron Man and I’m a fan of Gillen’s work, but Land’s art is a real hindrance. If you like the Iron Man movies, or you like the previous volume of the comic (by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca), pick up the first two issues. I think you will enjoy it.
I will be the first to admit I’ve never been a fan of the Fantastic Four. I like The Thing and The Human Torch, but I’ve never liked Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman. When Johnathan Hickman relaunched the title and added Spider-Man to the team (after Johnny Storm/The Human Torch “died”), I decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised. I liked Hickman’s run a lot – so much so that I followed it until he ended his story this past October. Matt Fraction (Iron Man) and Mark Bagley (Ultimate Spider-Man) take over with this new volume and, yet again, I’ve lost interest. The book centers around the story of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) discovering that his body is breaking down due to the cosmic rays that gave him and his family their powers. He decides to take everyone across time and space to stop the deterioration of his body and the deterioration he assumes is happening to their bodies. There’s also a little foreshadowing when Reed and Sue’s (The Invisible Woman) son, Franklin, pleads with them not to go into space. What could be waiting for the Fantastic Four in the uncharted areas of space? I don’t care.
Matt Fraction is a great writer, but I like his “street level” work better. He is also writing Hawkeye, and I think that book is about as perfect as you can get. When he writes stories about space, time, and all kinds of science stuff, he tends to lose me. I’m not saying he’s a bad writer. I’m just saying he’s not my pick for the FF.
The art on the book is fine. Mark Bagley has been in the game for a long time, and he shows no signs of slowing down. I love his work on Ultimate Spider-Man and this is more of the same. Nothing special, but it is solid work. His art is tighter in this first book than in his more recent stuff likely because he’s back on a monthly schedule rather than putting stuff out weekly. Nice to see him come back to form.
Final Verdict: C
I might pick up the second issue, but I don’t think I will stick around longer than that.
Finally!! An honest to goodness Thor book. No Avengers, no Broxton, Oklahoma, no other crap. Just The God of Thunder doing his thing. Jason Aaron (Scalped and Wolverine & the X-Men) takes over the writing duties of Thor, and it’s a breath of fresh air. The story bounces back and forth between a young Thor, the current version, and Thor as an old man. Each incarnation of the Mighty Avenger centers around an entity that is killing gods. It’s a really good mix of fantasy and murder mystery.
Jason Aaron has been hitting home runs with everything that’s been thrown at him. Wolverine & The X-Men is amazing, PunisherMAX was nothing short of perfect, and now he has been given the chance to put his stamp on Thor. The last volume of Thor became so convoluted that I gave up on it. With this new story, Aaron is starting anew. The problem most writers run into with Thor is that he’s so powerful, it’s hard to put him in a situation where he could lose. What better situation than dealing with something that can kill a god? Aaron is a great writer, and I have no doubt this will be a fun ride.
The art duties fall to Esad Ribic (Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates), and he is a perfect fit. His style fits seamlessly into the fantasy genre where this title is going to be centered. He draws a great version of “Old Man” Thor towards the end of the book . The colorist makes this art work even better. Dean White (Uncanny X-Force) adds another level to Ribic’s work. I really like the teaming of these two.
Final Verdict: A+
I’m a Thor fan, and the fact that I finally get a THOR centered book makes me happy. I like where this is going and will be buying this for the foreseeable future.
Brain Bendis ended his 6 year stint on The Avengers and has jumped to the other flagship team in the Marvel Universe: The X-Men. Bendis has launched All-New X-Men with artist Stuart Immonen and will relaunch Uncanny X-Men with Chris Bachelo in February. For now though, we get a very solid first issue. Spinning out of the events of Avengers vs X-Men and Avengers vs X-Men: Consequences, the X-Men are split. On one side, there’s Wolverine and on the other is Cyclops. With new mutants popping up all over, both sides are trying to recruit as many as they can. Wolverine wants to teach them a way besides violence. On the flip side, Cyclops wants to ready them for war. In this issue, Bendis introduces us to a couple new mutants, and we learn that the Beast is dying. In a desperate attempt to save his longtime friend, Beast takes it upon himself to travel back in time and try to tell a younger version of Scott Summers what he will become in the future.
I’m excited to see Bendis take on a new venture at Marvel Comics. He has been on The Avenger books for so long that it became a little stale. Bendis is one of comics best writers and any chance I have to read NEW books by him, I will take. The idea of a younger version of Scott Summers coming face to face with the current version is pretty exciting. Plus, we will get to see the return of Jean Grey!
Teaming up with Bendis is one of my favorite artists in comics today, the amazing Stuart Immonen. This guy is incredible. His layouts are second to none, he can draw emotion like nobody else, and his take on the “animal-like” Henry McCoy (Beast) is the best version since Frank Quitley. I’m so happy to see Immonen back on a monthly book.
Final Verdict: B+
Very close to an “A”, but not quite. I’m excited to see where this goes.
The Hulk: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.. If that doesn’t make you want to pick this book up, nothing will. This is an all new take on The Jade Giant. Normally a Hulk book is about Bruce Banner on the run from the government, trying to rid himself of the curse that is the Hulk. In this new volume, Bruce Banner comes to S.H.I.E.L.D. and tells them that he wants to work for them. If they give him a state of the art lab and equipment, he will give them The Hulk. The idea is that they should think of The Hulk as a cannon rather than a bomb. It’s a completely new take on The Hulk.
Writing this book is comic veteran Mark Waid (Daredevil). Waid took the same approach to his relaunch of Daredevil. He was following a very dark version of Matt Murdoch and made his version much lighter and more fun. He’s done the same thing with Indestructible Hulk. It’s really exciting to see a new take on a classic Marvel character, and it gives me hope that there are still new ideas out there. I hope Waid keeps the same pace he did with Daredevil. This has the potential to be a great story.
Lenil Yu (Secret Invasion) is an interesting choice for the art. He has a dynamic style that I really like, but his style has changed somewhat. I believe he began to draw digitally rather than traditionally. It really didn’t work. He worked on a book called Ultimate Wolverine vs Ultimate Hulk, and it was incredible. His Hulk was astounding. I was hoping for more of the same, but alas, it wasn’t. The art was not bad by any means, but it might take a little getting used to.
Final Verdict: A-
Mark Waid’s script kept this an “A”. I’m interested to see where this is going. I just hope Yu’s art gets a little less muddy.
Rick Remender has the dubious task of following Ed Brubaker’s 8 year run on Captain America. Similar to Mark Waid’s Hulk, this is a whole new take on Cap. Brubaker made his Cap book all about the spy element of the character. Remender’s version is more about the man behind the mask and his unbreakable will. The theme that runs through this issue: You always stand up. Whether Cap is taking down a B-52 over Manahattan or fighting off strange aliens, he refuses to quit. The end of the issue finds Cap captured my Arnim Zola. Zola seems to be trying to use Cap’s blood to harness the Super Solider Serum for his own children. Cap escapes, and we are led to believe that he accidentally kills Zola’s infant son. The last page reveals that, in typical Captain America fashion, he saved the baby and took him with him. Now he is stranded on an alien world with an infant. This should be a fun ride.
Not unlike Uncanny Avengers, Remender is able is balance action and humor. He’s also able to make Cap more human. He writes a scene where Cap is talking to long time girlfriend, Sharon Carter, about marriage. The scene has a very human feel to it. Remender has taken the Captain America spy/espionage character and turned him into a bonafide action hero.
I can’t figure out what kind of blackmail Rick Remender has on the powers that be at Marvel, but this guy has worked with some of the best artists comics has to offer including Jerome Opena, Tony Moore, Phil Noto, Matteo Scalera, John Cassady, and now legendary artist John Romita Jr. Getting Romita to draw Captain FREAKING America is amazing. Romita’s style has definitely changed over time. He uses more of an ink wash rather than tighter pencils but it still looks beautiful.
Final Verdict: A+
This is nothing short of perfect. I hope this creative team sticks around because I can’t wait to see what kind of story these two men have in store for the Star Spangled Avenger. Also, I like the idea that he’s taking Cap and putting him into a kind of Sci-Fi environment. It definitely has Fear Agent vibe going on.
Holy shit, that was a lot of books, and there are more to come. I will not be reading all of theme, but I will continue with most of the ones above. In the coming weeks, we will see Uncanny X-Men by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachelo, FF by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred, The Avengers by Johnathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, Superior Spider-Man by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman, and Savage Wolverine by Frank Cho. A lot of fun stuff happening at the House of Ideas. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!