Marvel NOW! – Review Post 3

Avengers

“Assemble at dawn.”

This is officially the dawn of a new era. The Avengers is the premiere team of the Marvel Universe, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  In 2004, the team was devastated in Avengers Disassembled, when Brian Micheal Bendis took over the book and destroyed the team in order to rebuild and make it stronger. Instead of being comprised of B and C-listers that most people were unaware of, he created the New Avengers and created a team of the best Marvel had to offer at the time. And now as Bendis has moved on to write the ongoing Mutant Revolution, the reigns of the Avengers has been passed to Jonathan Hickman.

Issue One begins with an ominous look at things to come, panels are giving us little glimpses of an unknown future and a look at how bad things are going to get(I am nigh certain on of which pertained to the Age of Ultron). We then cut to Tony and Steve talking about the future of the Avengers, where they are going to go in the future in order to keep things safer then they have been of late. Something I like is that its really nice seeing these two stand side by side and with complete trust again, after the Civil War and the clashing egos over the past few years, it makes me glad to see them standing side by side talking out the future together. Something else I really liked is that this issue gives us two insights into where it fits into the timeline of NOW!. Firstly we get a one panel look at the Illuminati, including Black Panther, which is haunting Steve, which shows that this takes place after the upcoming New Avengers #1. Secondly, at the end of the issue, Steve dons his new armor for the first time, this giving us a clearer view of where things are in other books, as any story including “fish-scales” Cap, takes place before this…. these are both subtly done but allow us to build a timeline. Bravo.

We are soon introduced to our threat, Ex Nihilo, a cosmic level enemy and his band of rogues who have terraformed Mars and have attacked Earth in the hopes of doing the same there and replacing humanity with a new species. Two cities have been wiped off the planet and the Avengers confront their enemies on the Red Planet. Yeah, screw the first issue team building stigma, before the comic is even halfway in we have our heroes fighting on MARS. Hell YES.

The roster at the start of the comic is familiar to everyone, its our movie Avengers. This is a smart albeit obvious play, anyone walking into a book store who has seen this movie can pick up the title and immediately know who these people are and what they are doing. However things go to hell damn quickly. The Avengers are taken down, and taken down hard. Ex Nihilo is especially angered by Captain America’s arrogance of daring to attack HIM. So Cap is loaded back into the Quinjet and shot back at Earth in order to show humanity that their heroes have fallen and they should stop resisting. Captain America Survives. The last of the core team standing he activates the plan that Tony and he had devised at the start of the issue and with the activation code of “WAKE THE WORLD”, assembles a whole new team of Avengers. This was amazing. I got goosebumps as we saw Captain America summoning his new teammates and suiting up in his new armor. I was extremely excited to see who would be on the new team and was not disappointing. One of the things that may disconcert some fans but excited me? I didn’t have a clue who some of the people were. Some are new, some are old or fringe characters I had never heard of… But when Captain America called, they came, and that tells you all you need to know about them for issue one.


Bottom Row
Left to Right:
Smasher, Captain Universe, Hyperion, Captain America, Manifold, Wolverine, The Falcon, Shang Chi, Sunspot
Top Row
Left to Right:
Spider-Woman, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Cannonball

Now that I have talked about the comic proper let’s talk about the new team. Hickman is a writer whose star is still rising in Marvel, and most will know him from his recent run on Fantastic Four and FF, and I credit him for being the first Author to get me to care about those characters. Writing both Avengers and New Avengers in tandem, Hickman is going to be one of the driving forces of the Marvel U from now on, and he has received a large amount of fan support going into this, we are all expecting great things. And then there is Jerome Opeña, who is hands down one of the best artists working in the medium today. Opeña’s pencilwork is immaculate and I fell in love with it in his run on Uncanny X-Force, and with the team backing him up here? Avengers is the best looking book in Marvel’s current library. I know that this team team will be sticking with the book through the initial arc and then returning periodically throughout the series’ run, and while I wish they could have a book that looks this great coming out monthly for the entirety, I am just as excited to see what we will be getting from other artists down the road.

Bottom Line:
This was the one-two punch of art and story that Marvel NEEDED to make Marvel NOW! work, and its a knockout.

FF

“Scott, there is a room of children out there, unique and singular, and all of them need the family the FF provides”

My initial reactions to this book were wrong. I was wrong. The main thing holding me back from wanting to check out this series was Allred’s artwork, who while possessing quite the fanbase, was the main concern I heard over this series. I was still unsure how I felt about the series until I saw the panel above and it clicked into place. It’s Pop Art…. this an entire comic series rendered in Pop Art. Which is… really kind of brilliant. While I am still not a fan of the cover to this issue at all, I will address most people’s initial concerns about the art by stating that it is good throughout, just not everyone’s kind of thing.

This series spins out of two series, the original FF and the Children’s Crusade. The former dealing with the origins of the Future Foundation, its conception and the people who have made it their lives. The latter series was that last of the Young Avengers series, the aspect of it being so important was the resurrection of Scott Lang(Ant-Man) and the subsequent death of his daughter at the hands of Dr. Doom. Scott has been pulled out of time and his life has gone to hell since Cassie’s death, he is now driven by his grief and revenge. With the Fantastic Four going out into space for their four minute family vacation, Reed approaches Scott to take his slot on the team. This is my favorite part of the issue cause I have always loved Scott and Cassie, so the anguish he is feeling hits me hard. Reed’s hope for having Scott join this team is to help him heal… allowing him to be around people, but more importantly the bright young minds that the FF is instructing. Sue Storm goes to Attilan and asks Medusa to take her spot… which she does after the spending their portion of the issue drinking many glasses of wine. Thing knows they are going to need someone powerful to take his place, and gets She-Hulk for his spot. For these two it is really nice to see them approaching friends and their relationships together, its well done. The thing I hated about this issue? Johnny Storm. I personally felt that Johnny had grown a lot since his original brash, hot-headed debut in comics but here? He seems like he has never developed as a character. Waking up next to his girlfriend(maybe) he remembers that he had a thing to do and since she is the first person he sees upon remembering that he asks her to take his place… seriously… THAT is his reasoning. Johnny then asks her how she feels about the Thing, and she responds that he is alright… she guesses. Which apparently is enough for her to be piloting a Thing mech suit in the future issues. The main thing that bugs me about this, is that there is an absurdly obvious choice for Johnny to pick… Peter Parker. Spidey was his roommate, they are good friends, and Spidey was even a member of the FF before… if Johnny called Peter and asked him then there would be no reason why he wouldn’t say sure I can watch over the kids for you while your are gone. The fact that he has become this stupid… it really makes me hate a character I had started liking.

Bottom Line

This book vastly exceeded my expectations. The presentation and story are both unique and enthralling.  However Johnny Storm and Miss Thing are both aggravating sore thumbs in this otherwise enjoyable issue.

Thunderbolts

“…you don’t possess the requisite firepower. “
“I do now.”

Marvel NOW! has created a new poster child for the problems of a first issue. I was really looking forward to this story, it has some of the biggest hitters in Marvel and should have been bombastic. This was just boring. You can sum up the entire thing with one sentence; General Ross recruits people to the Thunderbolts.  There isn’t any action or twists here… okay well there is action, there are a few frames of mooks having been shot in the head…. but why should I care about that? Ross recruits Venom, Elektra, and Deadpool in pretty much one page each… none of them showing any resistance to that at all. Most of the issue is dedicated to Ross monologuing at a bound Punisher while mobsters show up and surround their building. I actually really liked what Ross was saying here, it was written well enough that I believed that these people would give his team a chance its just… the whole issue is essentially alternating between talking and exploding heads.

Onto the art… Sigh, I like Dillon well enough and he did a good job on Punisher MAX, but… this isn’t the book for him. It probably hurt that I read the Avengers before reading this one but… yeah, Dillon should NOT be drawing for the main Marvel U. Dillon draws everyone in a way that makes them look incredibly similar, Ross appearing like an older Frank with cleft chin and mustache, that can work well in down to earth, more realistic faire…. This is Thunderbolts. This is a team with Red Hulk, Deadpool, and fucking VENOM. Things are going to crazy and this is not the artist for that. This is made apparent on the last page when Ross finally becomes the Red Hulk and… it lacks any sense of awe. They had done a good job with building up to that transformation, showing his shadow change and such but that last page… it has Punisher and Ross taking on the mobsters who are storming the building together… just one page showing them mowing through the baddies. That is an excuse to get as crazy as you want…. instead we have a picture of badguys in suits, all of whom look similar enough to be video game minions, with Punisher in the fore shooting people in the head, and Red Hulk in the background smashing people. That page was supposed to be the promise of things to come. It should show, okay, here is the crazy action you came for and that we will be providing! But in the end I felt completely uninvolved and frankly, unimpressed.

Bottom Line:

I still love this team line-up, however this is a terrible issue one, falling for most of the major pitfalls of a first comic outing. This does not speak highly of the writing and it could get better once we get into an actual story arc. Besides that? Get a new artist as quickly as you can, otherwise I don’t see this series lasting long.

2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I love Hickman, he's one of my favourite writers and I'v read all his indy work and his entire run on FF and F4 yet my interest in the Avengers is absolute zero, I honestly don't care about the team in general or what there aim is also it feels like the Avengers have monopolised the entire Marvel universe, you can't throw a stone without hitting an Avenger.

If only the art on the Thunderbolts wasn't horrible.

Posted by MSchiwal

I think you would actually like Hickman's direction with his Avengers series. Hickman has stated that at least for the first year he is going to have the series in kind of a bubble, not worrying about tying into other books or events and just worrying about his own story with his Avengers. I also know that there is going to be some cosmic level events that were hinted at during his FF/F4 run that will be coming to fruition during his Avengers run. However this book is connected to his New Avengers book too... with that one not out yet I can't give a fair judgement call on it yet.
 
I can understand the Avenger fatigue, it was how I felt when the New 52 started and Bats were EVERYWHERE. There are certain titles where I can understand them using it; Young Avengers is pre-established team as are the Secret Avengers(however with the direction they are taking things with the new book they could have just named it SHIELD). Uncanny Avengers I will also give a pass because even in universe they state that they are making an Avengers team to capitalize on a brand that people trust, so it at least makes sense for the team to be called Avengers. However the New Avengers and a few of the other titles, do make things far too bloated. Still I don't think that bloat should affect your enjoyment of the core Avengers book, especially when it will be flying solo.
 
Thunderbolts also has the problem of taking itself way too damn serious. Which would be fine, except for the have Deadpool on the team, and the only person who has every written a good Deadpool on a serious team is Remender. This book probably would have been better served by cutting Deadpool off the squad and going with something along the lines of Ennis's run on the Punisher.... Either that or go in the other direction and it could have embraced its comic book heritage, have issue one be that they break into Dr Doom's castle, shoot up the place, and have Deadpool leave a pile of burning feces on Doom's throne. As it is, the series falls into an Uncanny Valley of having these larger than life comic book characters and putting them into very serious situations and it just does not work on any level....
 
The best way I can think of to fix this book is to switch up the staff. The person to write this book, in my opinion, is Mark Waid. Based on both his work with Daredevil and the Punisher, he has had great runs with both of these street level characters and having them fit into the larger Marvel Universe. As for art... God I really don't know, most anyone would be better. It needs brighter and more varied colors and people willing to let the book flow instead of having everyone rigid and at attention.