Markley’s Fevered Brain: Marvel Now!

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

Recently, Marvel (and DC) have taken to restarting their titles over with new number ones with new storylines and, at times, new characters with the names of the classic heroes. This works with mixed results, and while DC recently did this in mass with Rebirth, Marvel is slowly doing it with Marvel Now where they are relaunching a number of books with a new number one, or are branding the start of a new storyline as the first issue, which given the cover design, has fooled a number of readers into thinking it is number one when it is actually number seven (or 13 or 21). But, I am not going to write about marketing and branding, I am going to write about content. Below you are going to find reviews of five of Marvel’s new titles, ether #1s or #1 of a new storyline. Overall I would say these have been very successful as they have been very enjoyable. I just hope they are given a chance by readers, retailers, and Marvel to find an audience as there have been a few great books recently (Mockingbird, Red Wolf and Nighthawk come to mind) which were great but never found an audience and were cancelled far too soon. Plus I quickly discuss two trade collections of miniseries I really enjoyed and so can you, now in one sitting.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1


Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is by Gerry Conway with art by Ryan Stegmam. This book picks up where the Secret Wars miniseries by the same name left off, with the story of Peter Parker, Spider-Man, his wife, Mary Jane and their daughter, Annie May. The first issue of this new series is just as much fun, if not better than, the miniseries that inspired it. This series tells the tale of a family where all three members of the Parker family are Spider-Men in their own right. This book is a lot of fun. It is a nice mix of action and adventure with humor and family drama. It reminds me a lot of DC’s Rebirth Superman, another book I really enjoy, even though the Secret Wars miniseries did come first. One thing of note, you do not need to read the Secret Wars miniseries to enjoy this story but it does add a great deal to this new series if you read it first. It is nice to see Gerry Conway writing Peter Parker again, it is a nice and positive change. One thing I am puzzled by so far is where these stories take place. I think it is an alternative universe and not the main Marvel Universe.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #7

Captain America: Steve Rogers #7


Captain America: Steve Rogers #7 is billed as #1 of Hail Hydra. While this issue continues the story that Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz started in issue one it is the first issue of a new arc where Steve Rogers is trying to bring Hydra to world power while both working with and using the Red Skull. For people who enjoyed the first story arc where they revealed Steve was secretly an agent for Hydra since his first appearance in the 1940s, they will love this issue as it continues to explain the background of a young Steve Rogers and Cap’s master plan to let Hydra control of the world. What I really liked about this story was it is clearly a take on the current American political system. I am not going to take sides in current politics but this book does a very good job of using today’s topsy turvy world to reflect what is currently going on in America. In this story the main focus is the country of Socovia, which in this world is representative of the troubles and tragedy in Syria. It is a very good comic book story as well a very perceptive look at what is both good and bad about the world we live in today. A good mix of real politics and action. It takes me back to the classic Captain America story The Secret Empire back in the 70s.

Invincible Iron Man #1

Invincible Iron Man #1


The Invincible Iron Man #1 is by the regular writer, Brian Bendis, and the art is by Stefano Caselli. This book features the new Iron Man, one of at least two, this one being the young African-American girl, Riri Williams. First of all, I really like this book. It is the best of what Bendis does well, which is create and write characters with personalities, and it takes the whole Iron Man mythos in a whole new direction. Riri is a young genius who builds her own Iron Man suit. Well, at least a version of it. This first issue is all about introducing Riri and her suit and the issues she has with it. The book ends on a cliff hanger, which like a number of other titles, seems to have given away the ending of Civil War. But I will not address that here. Never the less, I was left at the end of this book really wanting more and really looking forward to the next issue. It should also be noted that Caselli’s art is perfect for this story with a mix of stylized realism. Very similar to Ryan Stegman’s art in Renew Your Vows, not super clean and real (ala Russ Heath or Curt Swan) but not so stylized that is takes you out of the story.

Jessica Jones #1

Jessica Jones #1


Jessica Jones is a new series by the original creative team of Brain Bendis and Michael Gaydos. I have no doubt this book is being done partially due to the success of the television show. That being said, I thought this book was just as good as their previous run with the character in Pulse/Alias. The book closes with a dramatic change the status of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones and their little family. Like the original series, this book tends to take place around the edges of the Marvel Universe although a number of famous Marvel characters pop up in the background such as the Avengers. Misty Knight also shows up in this first issue and of course there is a mystery that Jessica has to solve amongst all of the other drama in her life. If you like the original material then you will love this book. It is almost like Bendis and Gaydos never stopped doing the book, even though all of the characters are obviously older and have been through a lot since the last series wrapped up.

Prowler #1

Prowler #1


The Prowler is a spinoff of the Clone Conspiracy story currently going on in the pages of Spider-Man and is by the creative team of Sean Ryan and artists Javier Saltares and Jamal Campbell. First off, I have absolute loved this whole Clone Conspiracy storyline that has been running in Amazing Spider-Man and in the miniseries The Clone Conspiracy. It is well thought out and a great event that ties together 50 years of Spider-Man history with a seamless logic and features more villains, and dead characters from the past than you can count. One of the characters back from the dead is the Prowler. If you have not been reading Amazing Spider-Man (shame on you if you haven’t), Spider-Man has a number of “assistants” dressed as Spider-Man to help him when he is busy elsewhere, and the Prowler is one of those people. This solo book picks up from that premise and expands on it and adds a great deal to the whole saga of the Jackal and all his clones. This is an intriguing first issue and not quite as good as Amazing and Dead No More, but it is darn close. I am looking forward to seeing where this book goes and the character of the Prowler goes in the post Clone Conspiracy Spidey world. Well worth checking out.

Sugar and Spike: Metahuman Investigations

Sugar and Spike: Metahuman Investigations


A couple of quick takes. These are both collections of stories that I recommended before, but as they are now collected I thought I would plug them once again. First off all there is Sugar and Spike: Metahuman Investigations. These are the six stories collected from the Legends of Tomorrow miniseries. I am amazed how much Keith Giffen and Bilquis Everly were able to pack into these six stories as they are a love story to the original DC Universe, long before Rebirths, New 52s or all sorts of Crisis. These are stories featuring everything from long lost Green Lanterns to a parking problem with time travel vehicles with the Legion of Super-Heroes. This book is a perfect mix of humor and storytelling that is a must for any old school DC fan. Almost every panel has an Easter egg showing something from DC’s past that even the hardest core fans might miss. This book is charming from the cover to the last page. Now only if they were called anything other than Sugar and Spike it would have been perfection. (In spite of that I would love to see more.) Secondly is a trade collection of Cirque American: Girl Over Paris by Gwenda Bond, Kate Leth and art by Ming Doyle. I raved about this book in a column a while back and I would say all of the gushy things I said before about the trade and add now you can read the complete saga in one book and get a bunch of extras. A great tale with a strong female lead and a complex, almost gothic story based on a series of young readers novels. This one is from Jet City Comics. Both of these collections are highly recommended and make great gifts. (Plus, both are self contained stories so you get the complete saga in one book!)

That wraps it up for this blog. The titles I have reviewed here are just the tip of the iceberg of Marvel Now! Much like DC has done in recent years, Marvel has been relaunching a lot of their books with new number ones and often new characters in the costumes, and some of them have been really good, such as Thor for example. But part of me wishes they could focus on what brought them to the dance and do good stories with the original characters, if there is a good creative idea for a change, fine, but not as an excuse to restart with a new number one every two years. I think this just gives the readers a good stopping point to give up on a title, even if it is a much better after the relaunch. But alas, maybe that is just me. What do you think? Have you read any of these titles? Did you like them? Hate Them? I would like to know. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley or hanging out at one of the Westfield retail stores. Everything here is my opinion, and does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees, but really, who would not like the Sugar and Spike collection? I welcome your comments and feedback and as always,

Thank you.

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