Returning comics reader Matt Alexander joins us to look at the first six months of Marvel NOW!, covering (half of) the entire line.
Part 1 of 2. Concluded in Giant Size ORIGINS #10
Restored, remastered, re-edited, and reprinted edition of Giant Size (Vol.1) #27, with its canonical posting date intact.
- Matt Alexander: (twitter) CEO of NEED and Foremost (fancy things at surprisingly not-fancy prices), but more importantly, the Bond villain at the heart of BONANZA and its forebear, Bionic
Recommended Work by Phil Noto: Infinite Horizon
- A near-future-ish-set, pseudo-retelling of The Odyssey, written by Gerry Duggan features some outstanding art by Noto that superhero-focused readers probably haven't seen. (Amazon/ComiXology)
- 16 superhuman teen/young adult heroes are kidnapped by Arcade and brought to Murder World, where they must kill or be killed. One of the most controversial titles in the line, due to the hook involving the killing of characters, the book has earned the stakes it has set, and is one of the most unique and fully gripping books on the stands.
- The teenaged, original team of five X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey/Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, and Angel) are brought from the past to the present by Beast in an effort talk sense to present-day Cyclops, who recently killed Professor X when possessed by the Phoenix Force. Outstanding writing from Bendis and wonderful art from Immonen and Marquez combine to make one of the most accessible and at once densely-packed X-books in some time. Those who read few books and/or are getting back into comics, like Matt, are welcome by All-New with open arms.
Uncanny X-Men (2013)
- More recently-launched, Uncanny follows the "revolution squad" of newly-"born" mutants recruited by Cyclops, Magneto, Emma Frost, and Magik. Questioning the loyalty of one of the "Phoenix 4/5" begins at the end of issue #1, and persists through the most recent issues, which have reintroduced Dazzler in a surprising role. John wasn't high on a short run that involved Limbo, demons, and magic...but Moisés loves any excuse to bring Doctor Strange into the mix.
- Magik (4-issue Limited Series)
- out of print, unavailable digitally
- Illyana Rasputin is the sister of Colossus, better-known now as Magik. This miniseries introduced her demonic possession/conflict side, which plays a major role early on in the new run of Uncanny. Back issue-enabled comic shops shouldn't have too much trouble locating these for you.
- The "All-Female" X-Men book, as of this writing only 3 issues in, has established itself as a solid "Action X-book", with taut writing from Brian Wood and gorgeous art from Olivier Coipel. At the time of recording, only one issue had been released. Additional info that has come out indicates the characters in this book, particularly Jubilee, will figure prominently in this fall's X-Men 50th Anniversary mega-crossover "Battle of the Atom". The currently pre-orderable TPB includes the full issue of Jubilee's first appearance.
X-Men Legacy (2013)
- None of us have been actively reading this one, but John's friends who do describe this look at Professor X's son Legion as something like a Marvel take on old-school DC Vertigo book. That is a very good thing. Legion is possibly the most powerful mutant on the planet, but he suffers from Dissociative Personality Disorder, where a lot of voices in his head dictate his every move. He's recently gained better control over these voices, but that tenuous grasp is threatened when his father is killed (during AvX). This is one of the few I've still not caught up with, but I trust those who recommend this distinctly different take on an "X-book".
- When we momentarily lose John, Matt and I briefly discuss what he considers the perfect non-continuity-enslaved Wolverine book, which is designed to undergo limited runs of varying length by different creators. The initial Frank Cho written and drawn story (set in the Savage Land) is fun, and an upcoming "last man on Earth" story by Jock sounds promising indeed.
Uncanny Avengers (Volume 1)
- One of the cornerstones of the NOW! line, this title represents an Avengers "unity squad" that includes X-Men: the struggles between both sides to come together, encroaching anti-mutant hysteria following the events of AvX, and interpersonal dynamics all make for solid fireworks. They don't pull punches here, with the Red Skull appropriating the powers of one of the most powerful mutants to walk the earth in the opening arc. The stress on writer Rick Remender to get this right has to be incalculably huge, and it's weighed heavily on him, complete with manufactured anti-Remender controversies and the internet spewing an endless stream of "write this comic the way I think you should" bile.
Uncanny Avengers #5 (M-Word Speech) Check Your Local Shop | ComiXology single issue This specific issue will probably skyrocket in value over time, and not because some people on the internet called Remender everything from homophobic to racist to just plain evil over Alex Summers (Havok) declaring he'd like to be known as an equal among his fellow humans, and not primarily identified by his "mutant" label. The speech is about advocating for an evolved discourse, is brilliantly constructed, and I wrote thousands of words about the whole thing here. Side note: Homo sapiens superior is a sub-species of Homo sapiens, not an entirely different species, no matter what a ton of people on the internet (who failed to pay attention in science class) say.
- My opinion is that Jonathan Hickman is the right guy to do cosmic-scale, infinitely complicated stories with galactic implications. This Avengers run, which is already 16 issues strong after just eight months, has steadily ramped up the team size, given focused one-shot focus issues on G-grade Avengers like Hyperion, Smasher, and others. John's feeling that Hickman "writes for the TPB" is beyond justified, and I second the notion that jumping into the middle of this run is almost impossible, though some issues (like the Smasher-centric #5) lend themselves really nicely to one-and-done enjoyment. Hickman writes intricate, multi-focal-point stories, and I've enjoyed getting to stay steeped in his big, bad Avengers story twice a month thus far.
New Avengers (2013)
- In the "Illuminati Avengers" comic (for lack of a better term), the shadowy conclave of super-leaders convenes when the multiverse starts collapsing in on itself. Each member of the group carries one of the Infinity Gems, but Professor X is dead...so where is his? I consider this my Doctor Strange Monthly That Doctor Strange Isn't Always In, and is a bit of a "B Plot" for whichever of the main characters you follow in their own books.
Secret Avengers (2013)
- The "Amnesia Avengers" book starts with Hawkeye and Black Widow agreeing to be mission-by-mission, mindwipe-able members of SHIELD in exchange for something they are forced to forget and to which we the reader are not privy. The writing is good, they make decent use of Taskmaster of all things, and it's fallen off our radar mostly because there are 17 Avengers and X-Men books, and some have to lose out.
Young Avengers (2013)
- Everyone I know who reads this loves it, but whether it's not having avidly followed the Young Avengers since their introduction or having too much to read or being turned off by the adjective "Young", none of us are actively reading the new adventures of Lady Hawkguy (Kate Bishop) and company. I read the first issue and liked it. Like manga and want a more self-contained Marvel book? Try this one.
- Originally angled as "the movie Avengers", this has settled into a nice groove as being very much part of current continuity, but not being nearly as complex to jump into issue-by-issue as compared to Adjectiveless Avengers. Bendis's original run is solid, and the Kelly Sue DeConnick run has been good as well, with a nice crossover into Captain Marvel (which she also writes). John points out that she writes the book as clean as one could hope.
- The series so nice, we brought it up twice! Let this be another shot at telling you to pick it up from the beginning and add it to your pull lists. Do not jump into it in the middle of the run. This is a serial, and one of the most unique books on the racks, which I predict will have a healthy life in trades and collected editions. This is the ballsiest, oh-my-god-what's-on-the-last-page comic Marvel is making right now.