So, I’ve decided to write a (perhaps) weekly column on all the Marvel NOW! comics I read each week because…
a) A second opinion never hurts.
b) I subscribe to a great deal of the Marvel NOW! titles, with some exceptions including X-MEN titles and FANTASTIC FOUR.
c) Did I mention I’m really into Marvel NOW!?
d) I’m not caught up on my IDW, DC, and non-Marvel NOW! Marvel titles.
While Media Monster simply picks his favorite titles each month, I’ll give you a run down of what happens each issue, following it up with a mini-review of my own. Like with my previous Marvel NOW! post, I will only be discussing titles that got rebooted along with Marvel NOW! Anything started prior to that, like AVENGING SPIDER-MAN, HAWKEYE, or AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, or any books in the Ultimate Universe like SPIDER-MAN starring Miles Morales, will not be discussed.
AVENGERS #5: SUPERGUARDIAN
Following the first three-issue arc involving a creative/destructive force on Mars, Issue #4 focused a little on the aftermath; both villains and heroes racing to either quarantine or benefit from sectors of Earth hit with the evolution spawning virus from Mars. Hyperion was introduced, yet this week’s issue seems to relate little to the four that came before.
Synopsis: Like Issue #4, this issue focuses on the origin of a hero. Izzy finds a pair of glasses in a corn field in Iowa. Putting them on, she becomes a Smasher, the first human Subguardian in the history of the planet Chandilar. The story jumps around from Izzy’s first journey to Chandilar to the present where she has rallied the Avengers to help defend the planet.
Of course, the Avengers are successful and the planet is saved. Afterward, we learn (via flashback) that after she received her gift, Izzy was given an Avengers card by her grandfather who served with Captain America in his youth. Izzy is promoted to Superguardian, again, the first Earthling to ever achieve this rank. Meanwhile, the other Superguardians have come to a startling conclusion; the force they fought back was not attacking their planet, rather it was fleeing something far more terrifying and powerful.
Judgement: While AVENGERS issues 1-3 were fairly straightforward in their storytelling, issues 4 & 5 seem unnecessarily complex, almost like the writer is simply trying to imitate unconventional storytellers like Christopher Nolan or Quentin Tarantino. I don’t like how the previous storyline was all but dropped for the issue, with the exception of a nearly pointless page on which Tony Stark interacts with Blackveil, the next evolution of man whom was a result of the incident on Mars.
AVENGERS seems to be building up to something much bigger, setting up characters like Hyperion and Superguardian Smasher Izzy, but until the fruits of Marvel NOW!’s labor are evident, I label this book my least favorite out of the titles I currently read from Marvel NOW!
Rating – DON’T READ.
THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS #1
Synopsis: The era of a brand new Defenders team has begun. Though recently rebooted in 2012 with Dr. Strange, Red She-Hulk, Namor, Silver Surfer, and Iron Fist, NOW! brings a brand new version with completely different characters, starting with Valkyrie and Misty Knight.
The action starts with Misty Knight rescuing relics that belong in a museum, Indiana Jones style (her employer Dr. Annabelle Riggs “grew up watching a lot of Indiana Jones”) from a heavily guarded ship. She’s not the only one after ancient treasures, as the ship is destroyed by an attack helicopter, but not before she escapes with a miniature statue. The helicopter baddies are able to salvage an ancient skeleton, one which will somehow bring about a massacre.
Back at the White Mountain National Forest, Annabelle Riggs (she watches Indiana Jones and shares a last name with my favorite buddy cop, I may be in love…) examines the statue at an Asgardian burial site, accidentally activating a song that awakens all the dead vikings. Misty Knight does her best to fight off the hoard but is only successful once Valkyrie arrives to help. Following their battle, Valkyrie leaves to consult the all-mother, with Misty Knight and Riggs tagging along.
Judgement: I’ve never heard of any of these characters, but so far I dig the book. Valkyrie is basically a female version of Thor; officially a Shieldmaiden, “gatherer of fallen warriors.” Misty Knight is a ninja with a bionic arm called Satan Claw, a “Stark Industries Cybernetic Replica.” And Dr. Annabelle Riggs is a lesbian, making out with Valkyrie after she is saved… so maybe she is not the girl for me after all. 😦
The action is solid, the characters interesting, and a threat looms large as the corpse secured by the villains is causing the Doommaidens to rise, which Valkyrie admits is her fault.
We’ll see where the book goes in coming months, who else joins the team, but for now my curiosity is peaked, even if I’m not one with a history for “girl power.”
Rating – MAYBE READ…
Previously: Iron Man retrieved all five missing Extremis kits, creating new foes along the way. Seeing what types of enhancements the kits resulted in, Tony Stark decided to push himself farther, designing a suit for deep space travel. So Stark set out on his intergalactic adventure, all set with a new A.I. called P.E.P.P.E.R., with all the personality traits of Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts.
Synopsis: After defending the Voldi Tear in deep space from a “predatory mechanoid pirate fleet” Tony flirts with a purple-skinned alien at the Voldi Citadel of Rapture. The two decide to retreat to her room, as it is Tony’s birthday, after all. Upon removing his armor, miss Purple-Skin vomits; facial hair is apparently a disgusting taboo in this sector.
Booted out before he even has a chance to shave, Stark is quickly arrested by the authorities for Deicide. Labeled the Godkiller, Stark is being held for killing the Void Falcon… or as we know it on Earth… The Phoenix (Iron Man had to slay the nearly unstoppable force to save the Earth in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN).
Judgement: Not a lot happens this issue. Considering this is part one of a three issue arc, I expected more to happen to Stark than a three page space fight (two of which were a splash page), some flirting, and then arrest. In fact, this issue was mostly flirting.
While it’s the 3rd worst title of the week (which also makes it the 4th best, I guess…), I still like the direction IRON MAN has taken with Marvel NOW! While still bogged down in AvX aftermath, it is interesting to see the great threat that was the Phoenix from an alien perspective. And there are some real fun moments including Tony’s STAR TREK reference where he exclaims that “the purple space girl thing has its appeal too.”
Rating – MAYBE READ…
If you’ve always wanted to read comics but never knew where to start, the time is NOW! Marvel NOW!
Or, if you already read comics and are looking for a few more good comics, I have sampled most the new Marvel books and have recommendations for you, Now! Marvel NOW!
In 2011, DC Comics relaunched its entire universe, all 52 titles including Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, as well as all their friends & enemies, in a reboot fitted with the brand “The New 52.”
This semi-reboot – some universes were partially reset while others like Batman kept his complete continuity (according to current BATMAN scribe Scott Snyder on Smodcast’s FAT MAN ON BATMAN podcast) – while still incredibly confusing, served as the perfect starting point for me and my roommate to finally give into our prepubescent urges and become full on geeks, frequenting Mile High Comics every Wednesday at 11 am (right when it opens).
By the time Marvel launched MARVEL NOW! last December, its own version of THE NEW 52 (which it is still rolling out) designed to bring in new readers following AVENGERS becoming the biggest fucking movie off all time (okay, it isn’t officially, but it is a “game changer” in a way AVATAR never was), I was over a year into comics. I subscribe to all the NEW 52 titles with BATMAN in them (except BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED – I tried it, but it didn’t stick), my roommate covers SUPERMAN and his two friends (SUPERBOY & SUPERGIRL), while also spending the past year exploring Batman’s pre-NEW 52 greatest hits from THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS to KNIGHTFALL to PREY to my personal favorite, LONG HALLOWEEN.
All this time, I also subscribed to many Marvel titles at Mile High Comics including nearly all AVENGERS (yes, including AVENGERS VS. X-MEN), and any title with Spider-Man (including the Ultimate Universe’s Miles Morales), Captain America, Deadpool, & countless other characters. (I also covered a little IDW with some STAR TREK & JUDGE DREDD).
Yet, while I feasted on Batman, I read almost none of my Marvel titles, as all carried too much baggage, too many years of backstory and strange twists that bogged me down as a noob comic reader.
But now, MARVEL NOW!
Though not an actual reboot, just like the NEW 52’s Batman line, Marvel NOW! introduces all the characters at a point where things are changing: at a new starting point, as it were. Though there is still 50 years of history behind characters like Spider-Man, Marvel NOW! introduces every team and character to us , not necessarily from their point of origin, but from a spot where no background is needed. Marvel knows there are noobs like me and have therefore made their labyrinth of a universe easy to digest.
Never understood the difference between NEW AVENGERS & regular AVENGERS? Marvel NOW quickly and simply differentiates the two teams’ roles. Characters like Captain America don’t have their origin repeated, but we do get flashes of Steve Roger’s childhood life along with a storyline with no prior Capt. knowledge required.
Marvel NOW! is simply the best way to get into comics, whether you haven’t read them for years, have never read them, or have left Marvel previously due to the universe’s extreme complexity.
I’ve listed the titles I’ve read thus far (I can’t afford to read them all, fwiend), following said list with my favorite five titles, so that you can get started on the road to Marvel NOW!
NOTE: I’m only including titles that started with Issue #1 for Marvel NOW! Any titles continuing their numbering system and not adding the “NOW!” of Marvel NOW!, like VENOM, AVENGING SPIDER-MAN, or AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, will not be considered on this list.
A + X #1
ALL NEW X-MEN 1-3
CAPTAIN AMERICA 1-3
FANTASTIC FOUR #1
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK 1-3
IRON MAN 1-5
NEW AVENGERS 1-2
SAVAGE WOLVERINE #1
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN 1-2
THOR: GOD OF THUNDER 1-4
UNCANNY AVENGERS 1-3
YOUNG AVENGERS #1
Find out which five you shouldn’t miss after the jump! Some of my choices may surprise you.
Secret Avengers #36
Legends of the Dark Knight #4
Dial H #8
Detective Comics #16
Action Comics #16
Star Wars #1
The Secret Service #5
Marvel Universe vs. The Avengers #4
Star Trek #16
Iron Man 3 Prelude #1
Star Wars: Purge: The Tyrant’s Fist #2
Night of the Living Dead: Aftermath #3
Teen Titans #15
Batman Incorporated #6
Batman: The Dark Knight #15
Ultimate Spiderman #19
New Avengers #1
And now for the picks!
This week saw more arrivals of new Marvel NOW books. Lucky for us this “not a relaunch” looks like its producing some interesting stuff. One of my picks this week comes from the debut of the new Thunderbolts. I love the concept for this book with a team of anti-heroes coming together to be a more brutal Marvel team book. The inclusion of Electra is the only thing that makes me hesitate but as long as there are not too many Electra-focused story lines then this book should have a good run. A book that includes Venom, Deadpool, and Punisher is hard to pass up for me and this issue leaves a promise of a serious ass-kicking run in the future for the Thunderbolts. Of all of the Marvel NOW books this one’s #1 issue has got me the most excited to see where things go.
Which turns me to another Marvel NOW book, one thats got me excited AND giggling, Deadpool #3 continues the ridiculous story of zombie American presidents. What an opening arc it has been, this is exactly what Deadpool should be; Absurd fun with wicked originality. Never have I more enjoyed watching Nixon get punched in the face, which is saying something. Another great bit about the first 3 Deadpool issues so far is the covers, each one looks great and provides the first funny tickle that continue throughout the book. I hope that the level of this book doesn’t drop off at the end of this arc because I can’t wait to see what shenanigans they come up with next to put the merc with a mouth through.
The Last pick this week is Legends of The Dark Knight #3. Currently in the Bat-world, after his long faceless absence in the New 52, the Joker is everywhere thanks to Death of the Family. Legends of the Dark Knight is no different, it is on board with the Joker obsession. Rather than focusing on the Joker, this story uses the Joker as a catalyst to make a point about the good that Batman does for Gotham. I think this is a nice change of pace compared to the usual dark place the Bats books take us. The letters shine a light from the shadows of Gotham on the good that Batman does. He is a symbol of fear for a city that only understands that, but the good in Gotham can see through his disguise. While Batman struggles to get his focus off the darkness of the Joker we are able to take a look at the bright side of Gotham. We don’t see the good in Gotham nearly enough and I’m often inclined to agree with Bane and Ra’s Al Ghul that Gotham deserves whatever it has coming to it. This issue may just make me rethink my position on the people of Gotham. I’d recommend this book to anyone since it is a one and done like the Legends of the Dark Knight books before it, and it’s also not in the New 52 continuity so anyone can pick it up and enjoy, and I advise you to do just that.