Marvel NOW! – Review Post 2

All New X-Men

“I’m telling you if the young us saw what was going on today it would feel worse than the mutant apocalyptic nightmare we used to worry about!”

This is the series I was most excited about with NOW! starting as its all about shaking up the Mutant status quo. With new mutants emerging all over the planet, multiple factions are snatching them up as quickly as possible, we see that this has become Cyclop’s focus at the moment as we see him recruit two incredibly powerful mutants, one who can control time and the other who can heal people even after their death. These sequences where we get to see both powers emerge and Team Cyclops go into battle is where the art explodes in this issue, its absolutely gorgeous and worth the price of admission alone. Back at the Jean Grey School, the X-Men are unsure of how to proceed, many still in shock of what Cyclops has become… Beast, however, is firing on all cylinders to try and put the world in order as he has learned that he does not have much more time left. Once more Henry McCoy’s mutation is jumping forward, and from his predictions… his body just won’t be able to handle it. So Beast fires up his flux capacitor and snags the original team of X-Men into the future. Hopeful that by seeing what has become of their world… they can stop it from ever occurring.

If I had to describe this issue in one word it would be bold. The premise, the art… everything here is going for the knockout and its fantastic. The idea of forcing the current world to come face to face with its more innocent past is great and there are certain characters who I am really curious to see how they face their future… except Iceman, don’t get me wrong I love Bobby but he hasn’t changed much besides unleashing his Omega level potential and starting to date Kitty Pryde… Hell that should be the whole point of Beast’s lecture to the original team, “Be more like Bobby. Just be relaxed and groovy and everything will turn out well in the end!” Meanwhile Bobby and Bobby can kick back and make sweet ice slides. Hell Yeah.

The biggest downfall of this issue is that if you have been following the series online than you already know everything that happens in this issue. Still that is entirely a problem with poor marketing on Marvel’s part and this issue itself is nothing but quality.

Captain America

“I sometimes forget how to be a normal person. I’ve been the soldier for so long… might be there’s no turning back.”

First off, a moment of silence for Ed Brubaker’s historic run on Captain America. You respected the character, integrity, and legacy of the hero all while telling a fun story, and for that you have our thanks.

This series begins with a tonal shift that I am sure will lose some readers from the previous series, however it is so well.. comic book that I am devouring it like cake. Captain America is attacking an airplane containing eco-terrorist, The Green Skull, who will destroy mankind to restore the planet Earth. This whole intro is pretty much here to set the standard of Steve being badass and show him doing his thing, I would honestly say its the weakest part of the issue… however I REALLY want to see more of Green Skull, its just hilarious to me. Steve then meets up with his long time girlfriend Agent 13 aka Sharon Carter for his birthday. Two things here get applauded by me here.

1: Steve Rogers is stated to be 90 years old. This had felt off to me, and I was worried they were either pushing up Cap’s age or that the Marvel U is behind us. However Steve Rogers was born in 1922 so they got that right. It’s one of those minor details I really appreciate.

2: Sharon Carter. I love these two together and its really nice that they gave Steve time with her before the adventure start. When he is with her he gets to just be Steve Rogers and not Captain America, so I am glad they managed to fit in some time there. Also important is that Sharon has proposed to Steve and is still waiting for his answer… the fact that she was the one who asked makes me smile broadly.

AND THEN CAPTAIN AMERICA IS ROCKETED INTO… DIMENSION Z!!!!!!

Seriously, that is amazing. We also meet our villain for this arc, Arnim Zola… One of Cap’s strangest villains who is a perfect fit for the feel Remender is going for. While I am not a Zola fan, myself, there is already some new threads to this character that have colored me intrigued. As for the artwork, Romita Jr is an incredibly polarizing artist and many people openly revile his artwork. Personally, I am a fan, I think he has a unique style and I enjoy it, especially here as the colorist on the series is top notch. Still there are some people who will not buy the comic on Romita’s sake alone. This is an interesting set up for the Sentinel of Liberty, it however does stumble a bit as most of the issue is set up. A return to a more glorious and psychotic age of comics, looking forward to it.

Fantastic Four

“Is there anything in the known universe that can reverse molecular decay of this rate, on this scale?”

“Negative, sir”

“So that just leaves the unknown universes then, hm?”

The Fantastic Four is at its best when it is rocketing into science fiction so fast and hard that it gives physics and causality whiplash. So let me set up the basic plot for this starting arc…

Reed Richards’ powers are decaying in a way that would kill him, and he there is no way to save him.. so he decides to pack up the family into their spaceship and travel into unknown, uncharted universes where a cure might exist all the while treating the whole thing as a family outing. They will spend a year traveling this way through the outer reaches of infinity and the trip will only seem like four minutes on Earth… theoretically.

This proves once again that Reed Richard’s real superpower isn’t stretching… its making the universe his bitch… WITH SCIENCE!

Everyone gets a scene to shine here… save perhaps Sue although she is prevalent throughout as the glue that holds everything together. While I found Johnny’s scene amusing and was quite thankful for them introduce(shudder) Miss Thing before hand, I was also going “Really? You have been a hero and an adult for this long and you are still THIS guy?” We also find out the reason for the new FF series. They are a team put together in order to guard the building/Earth and fill in for the Fantastic Four… while they are gone for those four minutes…. yeah I get the feeling they may not make that deadline. This is a good start with an intriguing premise and I am expecting it to only get better when they get into space.

Overall this is a strong premiere for the first family. With a great premise, interesting threat, and, most importantly, the presence of Franklin Richards. I am going to continue on this one personally, if you are interested in the Fantastic Four at all, even if you haven’t read them before, I feel this is a good place to start.

This issue’s story will link directly into FF #1.

The Indestructible Hulk

“I will be lucky if my tombstone doesn’t simply read ‘Hulk Smash.’ So. How do we fix that?”

In many ways Hulk is Marvel’s Superman. The single most powerful hero in their stable to the point that it becomes hard to become invested because there is no danger to the character, the more danger there is to the character and the more powerful they become. One of the ways writers try to balance this is by making the Hulk more of a natural calamity like in the old days, Hulk would appear and would level a city… no reasoning, just the brute… that school of thought still doesn’t allow us to empathize or connect with the character, it simply allows us to enjoy the spectacle of the carnage. This, however, is a folly… it drives the character back to who he was ages ago, Hulk has been a hero for decades now. A founding member of the Avengers, and while he still has rage and causes collateral damage, he is not a mindless brute…. Finding the method to both invest and intrigue us is the balancing act and the key to the whole thing… is Banner. This is something Waid both recognizes and capitalizes.

Bruce Banner is one of the smartest men on Earth(alongside Stark, Pym, Richards, and T’Challa) however he has spent all of his vast intellect on one thing for years… how to fix himself. This series begins with him realizing that he can’t, not now at least, so he needs to stop think of it as something to cure and as something to live through… This series begins after Banner has this realization and he confronts Mariah Hill in a diner. Bruce tells her his plan for his immediate future, SHIELD will fund his research and in exchange he will provide them with miracles. Also when and if the Hulk emerges SHIELD will deploy him, “a cannon instead of a bomb” as Banner puts it.

The set up in this book is brilliant, its a wonderful direction to take these characters in, and its especially great to see such a focus on Banner. Another thing of note is the art which is pretty damn good, one or two awkward talking head scenes aside, the color is fantastic though. Mark Waid is a phenomenal author and an inspired choice to write this, here is hoping he can do for the Hulk what he did for Daredevil(btw go read Waid’s Daredevil). This is one of my favorites so far to come from Marvel NOW! and I recommend it to everyone.

Journey Into Mystery

“The worthy get that which they warrant.”

Journey Into Mystery is a continuing title into NOW! and did not restart its numbering, this story begins with #646.

I started reading Journey about a month ago because Kid Loki is amazeballs, however that storyline has reached its heart ripping end(to be continued in Young Avengers!). I wasn’t sure if I would continue the series after that because Asgard doesn’t always suit my taste… then they announced that Lady Sif would be our new lead and I fist pumped so hard that I shattered continuity.

I am really happy to see Marvel putting a spotlight on so many of their female characters with NOW! and its quite an honor for this character to be the one carrying this title(besides as awesome as she is Journey Into Mystery is a much cooler title than The Lady Sif)…. Now as far as the issue goes… I have to admit I was bored when it started, Sif saved a child from a burning library and then talked with Volstagg’s family. I get that we are establishing the character for new readers via some dialogue but this dragged for me. The story picks up in the middle with Sif going Hoth in Hel and continues picking up pace until the smashing finale. From what I have seen so far, this is looking to be an interesting storyline… I do feel that it could have been told better however but this was simply the first issue so I won’t judge to harshly until I have read some more. That being said there are some really cool moments here, all just toward the end of the issue, with Sif’s questing for power taking a really unexpected and dark turn.

I enjoyed this issue even if it didn’t have quite as much polish as some of the number ones. If the story continues its pace where we had left off I think we will have a Lady Sif story worth hearing and worth a recommendation.

Red She-Hulk

“You want to see what superhuman is?”

Red She-Hulk is a continuing title into NOW! and did not restart its numbering, this story begins with #58.

Okay I can understand the re-numbering on a lot of series, and some series didn’t need. Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Wolverine and the X-Men… all new enough that they didn’t need to be shaken up and rebooted. I also get that some characters are not A-List and may need to carry on a title in order to find their readership(like Sif and Journey Into Mystery)… this doesn’t make sense to me though. This series WAS Hulk… Hulk got up to 57 and then the name changed to Red She-Hulk and began its numbering at 58. You changed the title! Why not just start with an issue one to begin with?!

Okay so that aside…. I do not like this series. For those not in the know, Red She-Hulk(god I wish she had stuck with Hellion) is Betty Ross, Bruce Banner’s ex wife(this character was portrayed by Liv Tyler in the most recent Hulk film). I am familiar with the character only with the most recent Defenders series… and I was really looking forward to it based on her from there, she was fun, she had her big ass sword and bombed around being awesome. Here though… she is just so annoying. The series begins with the government showing off military super soldiers, and Red She-Hulk shows up, throws a tank, and beats the crap out of them. Its like we missed a step and skipped over her justification/motivation… I mean I get that she was given powers against her will and may be against the idea of people getting power implanted… but these are all people who volunteered for the process, she may as well start attacking Captain America. Later on she goes undercover to the lab where they are doing the research and one of the subjects is a criminal and threatens to rape her so she hulks out and kills him. First off, this is a really lame way to try and justify her rampage… that since they are willing to use a guy like this in their program the whole thing must be evil… Also I am really, REALLY tired of female heroes being threatened with rape. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions about how prevalent it is in our society… but if you have a man against a woman it seems to his Plan A is to go straight for rape. Its disrespectful to women, its insulting to men, and it shows a lack of imagination from the author. Hell, one of the best examples I can think of around this is from Alias, where Jessica Jones was mind controlled by the Purple Man for eight months and at no point in that did he use her sexually.

Then we have the man who is chasing after Betty… AARON STACK, THE MACHINE MAN!!!

Nextwave being, quite possibly, the best thing ever written in the history of human intelligence. I was giddy as hell to see Aaron again… but I really dislike his design now, its just too busy and glowing and I feel like he is from TRON and not an android. While Aaron is suitably badass in this so far, he also feels underutilized and wasted in THIS series.

While I have mostly been restricting these reviews to first issues, the second issues of this has come out and well… it was even worse. Red She-Hulk is being chased by the Avengers(BECAUSE SHE ATTACKED A MILITARY INSTALLATION) and at no point does she try and talk to these people even though she is friends with some of them and known others for years.. hell her Dad is a member… and then the issue ends with her blowing up a bridge to stall her pursuers and yeah… I really don’t think I can sum up my reasons for not enjoying this any better than that line… In Defenders she was this fun woman who ran with the bulls and crushed on the Silver Surfer…. she gets her own series and now she is a domestic terrorist. My only hope for Betty at this point is that she will get added to the Fearless Defenders series later on and is treated better by that writer… I WILL NOT be continuing to read this particular series.

Thor: God of Thunder

“I am Thor, warrior of Asgard, Avenger of Earth, and I swear on all that is holy no one will die here today.”

Dear Gods of Asgard, this is METAL. This series follows our favorite God of Thunder through 3 ages as a mysterious foe emerges and hunts him through each age. Firstly we have Thor in his early days, carousing on Midgard, killing Frost Giants, and taking maiden’s virginities left and right. This is a very brash and arrogant Thor, very much a teenager and obviously unworthy of Mjolnir. While crashing in a Norse Village he discovers the head of a severed scraeling and with both fear and excitement comes to the realization that this is a God…. someone murdered and butchered a God. Cut to the Thor of present day, and I have to say right away this scene shows everything I love about Thor as a character. An alien girl on a desert planet has heard of the Thunderer being one of the greatest of the gods and heroes in the universe and prays to him to bring rain to save her home. Thor obliges. While I understand the reason in the movies to not allow leeway on the whole “God” aspect of Thor, he has always been a God in the Marvel Universe and seeing him answer a prayer is wonderful. Thor shows up and brings the storms with him, saving her village. Its a great moment. Easily convinced to stay and consume copious amounts of alien ale, he learns that the reason he was prayed to is because these people have no gods… Thor has never encountered a planet that was not looked after by deities and sets off to have a word with their reclusive rulers. This book is beautiful but the sequence of Thor in the Sky Castle is great, giving off great amounts of alien and horror that make the entire thing unsettling. Lastly we have Thor at the End… King of Asgard. This is an ancient Thor, covered in battle scars and missing an arm which has been replaced by a metal prosthetic. With both the Odinsword and Mjolnir at his side, this is without doubt the most powerful we have ever seen him… but there appears to be no one to fight, Thor is alone…. or so it appears. Asgard is besieged and Thor is the only one left alive, possibly in all the Nine Realms, and the last scene of this issue is Thor leaping into the opposing army, hoping at one last chance for Valhalla.

This comic is original, gorgeous, and left me awe-struck. Thor can be a very one-note character in inept hands however I am glad to report this team is anything but…. So far one of the best things to come out of NOW!

X-Men Legacy

“The old king is dead. Long live the new king.”

Legion. Son of Charles Xavier. Omega Level Mutant. Completely batshit crazy. He is without doubt a character that makes many readers groan when he appears on page as he makes situations… complicated is probably the best way I can put it. For those of you who aren’t aware of the character, a bit of history. Legion is a mutant who contains just about every power you can imagine, each power is possessed by another personality inside of him, each personality vying for power with occasional strong ones bubbling to the surface. If Legion could learn to control himself he would be a great man and one of the world’s most powerful but as it is he is broken and undependable. When the series starts, Legion is in a commune for psychics, and is being instructed in controlling his powers. Legion has constructed a mental jail cell, imprisoning his personalities and taking them out of their cells when he needs their powers, it is a system that is working but takes a vast amount of concentration. This however is shattered when his father, Xavier, is murdered by Cyclops. The psychic shockwave ripping through the world and releasing the inmates in Legion’s head. This is an interesting series however I don’t see it gaining as much success as other and find it hard to recommend. Legion has never been a fan favorite character and this issue does not lend itself well to being a jumping on point for his story, however if you are a fan of the X-Men and are curious about the legacy of Xavier, this is the book you want to pick up.

2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

Even though I'm not a fan of Marvels version of Thor in general the new book is pretty awesome and I'v also been enjoying Indestructible Hulk. Fantastic Four is great and really pays respect to what Hickman did before. I'm really not on board with the art and the whole Dimension Z thing over in Captain America so I wont be continuing that. Legacy is a pretty good book and I don't think pepole give it a fair chance

Posted by MSchiwal

The only Asgardian book I had read from Marvel before this was Kid Loki's run on Journey to Mystery, I have never really been big into the Asgardian series, but God of Thunder has been really great for me so far.
 
 I read the FF series but still need to read Hickman's run on Fantastic... he has become one of those names that I am willing to check a comic based on him alone.
 
A lot of people are falling out of the Captain America series because of the art, which I understand, there have been cartoons and comics that I just couldn't get past the visual style. Still I personally really dig the whole Kirby-esque cosmic storyline they decided to open with... I enjoy wackiness.
 
Legacy has really been surprising me, I am now 3 issues in and I like where they have taken Legion... I still say that its probably one of the hardest Marvel NOW! books for new readers to break into, and I foresee it falling into a cult following if it isn't killed.I also give this book a huge amount of points for their first issue by being an X title, and featuring a C-List protagonist and not a single big name in that issue to help push it. Usually you would expect them to try and shove Wolverine in somewhere to help sell some issues but they let the author go his own crazy route and I really applaud that.