Markley’s Fevered Brain: What NOW?

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

Over the last few months Marvel has launched their Marvel NOW! initiative. What this is, is a re-launching of a bunch of their tiles with new number one issues with the idea that new issues, or number ones, it would be more inviting to new readers to start reading a title without 700 issues (or as few as 12) preceding it. The success seems to be evident based on early sales figures and how quickly Marvel has announced reprints of a number of these first issues. Bear in mind, DC had a number of sell outs with the early issues of the New 52 and over time we have seen a number of the New 52 titles cancelled and the sales basically divide between a few best sellers and the rest (40+) titles sliding back to where DC was before the New 52 or worse. Another big difference between the Marvel NOW! titles and DC’s New 52 is Marvel is not dumping all their prior history. While Marvel titles are starting over with number ones, they still have the entire back story that Marvel has created over the years. I am going to review a number of these new titles here, but by no means all of them. Because there are so many, I am going to keep the reviews short.

Indestructible Hulk

Indestructible Hulk


My favorite of the new Marvel NOW! titles is Indestructible Hulk. When I first read about this title and the basic premise of Hulk, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., I thought it was silly and I was going to be disappointed in the Hulk once again. I was really looking forward to Jason Aarons’ Hulk and by the time it wrapped up in little over a year, I was really disappointed in it. But the first two issues of this new take on the Hulk by Mark Waid blew me away. Like Waid’s Daredevil, it is a very well thought out book with great characterization, and very sharp storytelling with dialogue that is crisp and extremely well written. I cannot recommend this book high enough. You should read this if only to read the banter between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.

Fantastic Four & FF

Fantastic Four & FF


Matt Fraction has taken over both the Fantastic Four and the FF (Future Foundation). With the Fantastic Four, I am on the fence because the first two issues are almost all set up and not a lot has happened. Basically the original four members of the Fantastic Four are taking off to explore time/space for a short time for a reason only Reed and the readers know. While in the FF, Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben all recruit members to fill in for them while they are away. While the Fantastic Four reads as a straight superhero/adventure book in the style of the Fantastic Four in the past, FF seems to be more light hearted and fun. Plus, FF has the always entertaining art of Mike Allred. These two books may grow into fantastic titles, but they are not there yet.

Iron Man

Iron Man


Iron Man has been re-launched and is written by Kieron Gillen with art by Greg Land. I am not a huge fan of Kieron Gillen, as I did not enjoy his Journey into Mystery with Loki. To be fair, I am in the minority on this one. So far, his Iron Man has been pretty good. I thought it would be very hard to follow up Matt Fraction’s Iron Man, which I thought was excellent. So far, the first three issues have been very strong and each issue has told a very different story (within an over arcing story) and they are building towards issue six where Iron Man goes off to space and ties into the new Guardians of the Galaxy title. I have really enjoyed what Kieron and Greg have done so far and I am looking forward to see where they are going in the future.

Thor: God of Thunder

Thor: God of Thunder


As a general rule of thumb, I really like Jason Aaron’s writing. I think his Scalped was fantastic and his Punisher was top notch. But as I mentioned earlier, I did not care for his Incredible Hulk so I was a bit leery of his new Thor: God of Thunder. After the first few issues I must say I’m intrigued enough to continue. It has not overwhelmed me like Waid’s Hulk where I cannot wait to read the next issue, but it is certainly interesting and very cosmic. It maintains the “godliness” of Stan Lee’s storytelling; that is, the cosmic vastness of the universe and the use of “gods,” and has an intriguing story so far. The first story arc takes place in the present, the future, and the past with a young Thor, an old Thor, the current Thor and a god serial killer. I did not care for Matt Fraction’s take on Thor at all, so this is a welcome change that I will continue with for a while.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye


Speaking of Matt Fraction, he is currently writing Hawkeye, which was not originally part of the Marvel NOW! campaign, but it seems to fit in well with it. Along with Daredevil by Mark Waid, this is one of my favorite books to read each month. He has created a fully fleshed out character (using all of his backstory) to create a very fun book that is the best thing I have read by Matt Fraction. Along with David Aja’s art, this book is entertaining and fun, which is something I cannot say about most comics. If you have not tried it, please pick up a copy or two and give it a shot.

Avengers

Avengers


I always have mixed feelings about Jonathan Hickman’s writing. I always enjoy it, as he is a very good writer, but there are times I do not understand it. As they say, he can be too clever by half. With his Avengers, it is too early to tell if this is going to be brilliant or a mess. From the little I have read so far, which is basically all set up, I really have enjoyed it. But with almost all of Hickman’s writing, it takes a fairly long time to get the full grasp of the story he is trying to tell and it is not fair to judge it until we know where the story is going. So far though, I would recommend it.

Uncanny Avengers

Uncanny Avengers


Uncanny Avengers is one of those books I really want to like, such as Justice League, but I just do not enjoy it. Both have very pretty art, in the Avenger’s case by John Cassiday, and both are late in shipping. Admittedly, Uncanny Avengers is worse as issue #2 was late, for gosh sakes. I really have an issue with books being late, so I am wit holding my recommendation for this book because of that. I suspect this book will be a great read in a trade format. The villain and the story are both intriguing, and I want to read the next issue, but I have to wait, and wait……

All-New X-Men

All-New X-Men


All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen has been the biggest surprise for me of the Marvel NOW! launches. This book has been a page turner with stunning art. The premise is the X-Men from the 1960s come to the present and all sorts of havoc erupts. Along with the Hulk, this is easily my favorite Marvel NOW! title. The art is beautiful and story is some of Bendis’ best. Yes, there are a lot of talking heads, it is Bendis after all, but it is filled with twists and turns that constantly surprise me. This book has quickly risen to the top of my must read pile.

Cable and X-Force

Cable and X-Force


Cable and X-Force starts out with a bang. Over the years, Cable has had a wide and rocky career. While it is hard to judge a book from only two issues, I must say I have been sucked into this book with what I have read so far. I have enjoyed Cable series in the past only to become disenchanted as the titles run along, so I am not willing to recommend this title yet. But I do think it is worth keeping an eye on. If it is still this good in the later issues (say, issue #10 and on) this book will get my recommendation. Right now, if you have some extra cash, give it a try.

X-Men Legacy

X-Men Legacy


X-Men Legacy is one of a number of new X titles being launched and, to be honest, I tried to read this and couldn’t get through it. It is rare that I do not finish a book I start, but this title is just not for me. If any readers of this column have read this book and think I am wrong, please let me know and I will re-visit it at a later date.

Overall, I would say Marvel is off to a great start with their Marvel NOW! re-launch. There are two of their titles that have quickly risen to the top of my favorite books, Indestructible Hulk and All-New X-Men; there are a number of books I would recommend based on the strength of the stories alone, and there is only one title so far that I could not recommend at all. It’s a much better percentage than the other guys have done. (I will give DC a hint on how to improve: it’s the story!)

Amazing Spider-Man #700

Amazing Spider-Man #700


In closing I would like to recommend Amazing Spider-Man #700. I know there is all sorts of hype and speculation about this issue. I thought the direction the title was going was wrong and I knew the end result in advance, and I thought it was silly. However, after having read the actual story I will admit I was wrong. The story is excellent and works wit in the broad overview of what Marvel is trying to do. I have no doubt (well, I know) at some point things will be put back to normal (ie: Peter is Spidey), I just hope that the return story is better than the returns of Bruce Wayne or Captain America, both of which I did not care for. As always, everything written here is my opinions and do not reflect the thoughts of Westfield Comics or their employees. I welcome your thoughts, comments or critiques at MFBWAY@AOL.COM. I wish all of you a great 2013.

Thank you.

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