Fearless Defenders. Journey Into Mystery. Ms. Marvel. She Rulk. And now, Bryan Wood and Olivier Coipel’s X-Men. I can’t remember a time when Marvel had so many female-led books. Or when so many of them were so good. X-Men #1, with its all-girl roster, was excellent…It’s actually my new favorite X-book—and I really enjoy both of Bendis’ team books and the Wolverine and the X-Men title. And the best thing about it is, I really don’t know much about the pre-Marvel Now X-characters. I new the “big” story beats from AvX and a few other events, but the detailed histories of characters like Jubilee, Rachel Grey, and even Rogue and Storm, were unknown to me. My lack of knowledge didn’t hinder my enjoyment one iota. I’m sure X-fanatics found all kinds of Easter eggs and rewards, but if they did, it didn’t hurt new-reader enjoyment.
That’s the good side of Marvel Now: It really does serve as a new entry point for many of Marvel’s complex, continuity-laden titles.
The bad side is that it made The Avengers titles, all of them, hopelessly complicated. I understand that Hickman likes to tell long, detailed, plot-heavy stories and that Rick Remender enjoys a (too) long, slow boil method of decompressed storytelling. So give one Avengers book to one of them. But it was important to have a “fun” Avengers book: Something like Secret Avengers when Warren Ellis was writing it, or the great Mighty Avengers series. Something for the superhero/adventurer crowd. Instead, we’ve got three Avengers titles that are weighed down heavy in moral exposition and science fiction. It’s not that they’re bad per se, it’s that there’s just too much of it.
Frankly, the A-books have turned into the X-books. Which means fans of thick continuity and soap opera stylings, i.e., fans of most X-books for the past 30 years, are suddenly not getting what they want, and fans of smash-em-up fights aren’t getting the Avengers books they used to get.
In other Now! news, Indestructible Hulk is a great Marvel Now! title. Are you reading it? Because a new arc just started that features Thor and art by Walt Simonson, who is the best Thor artist of all time. So, you definitely should check it out.
I’m also enjoying Captain America. Yes, it suffers from Rick Remender’s problem with pacing (can’t an editor help him with that!), because it’s taking way, way, waaaaay to long to get to the point. And I agree with the haters (and they appear to be legion) who say that there’s no real surprises in the story, either. But for me, the concept of Captain America as a father to a lost child, and the ties to his own childhood, are interesting enough to keep me in the book. I’m also a fan of John Romita Jr. (and I acknowledge the criticisms that he is past his prime as well), and I’m liking his portrayal of Zola-World, with inks by the great Klaus Janson. No, I can’t recommend it or rebut the criticisms of it, but I still enjoy it. That must be how Thunderbolts fans feel.
Here’s some other, random news bullets:
- BOOSTER GOLD TV SHOW. Producer Andrew “Arrow” Kreisberg reports that his draft of the pilot is done and ready for SyFy’s green light. I’m not a big Booster fan, but I have to say: The idea of a professional athlete who is second rate in the future traveling back in time so he can have some glory days with more primitive competition is one that would work very well on TV. Or “could” work very well, depending on implementation.
- PAUL JENKINS SIGNS WITH BOOM! STUDIOS. Yet another veteran comics creator, Paul Jenkins will write exclusively with Boom! under a new contract. Jenkins is best known for his work on The Inhumans and Wolverine: Origin, and more recently for writing Savage Wolverine and the new 52 Stormwatch book. In his public statement on the issue, he cited Greg Rucka’s troubles (“and numerous other respected creators”) with the Big Two, who have “removed their focus away from the creators and towards the maintenance of the characters….I feel the mainstream product is becoming a homogenized puddle of ‘meh.’” It’s sad that I kind of agree with him. DC’s output is really not good anymore—with very, very few exceptions. And Marvel’s “Now” reboot seemed more about creating big, confusing stories for the main teams that put as many characters on the cover as possible—just to increase brand recognition. Not all of Marvel’s stuff is bad, much of it is good, but very little of it challenges the reader or takes the breath away.
- WHOOPI GOLDBERG IS IN TMNT REBOOT. Unless he’s playing a singing nun, this is yet another reason to avoid this movie.
- DAREDEVIL: DARK NIGHTS. I can’t wait for this. An eight-issue DD anthology, with the first story written and drawn by Lee Weeks, and featuring Daredevil trying to get a little girl to the hospital on time during a blizzard. Snow Daredevil by Mark Waid was great—remember that? Weeks’ story will run for the first three issues of this anthology; no word on who will be the next creator on the anthology.
- Universal Orlando has approved construction for a Simpson’s theme park, with rides and foods pulled from the show: Moe’s Tavern with an exclusively brewed Duff Beer, Krusty Burgers, The Frying Dutchman, Luigi’s Pizza, Lard Lad’s doughnut shop, Bumbleeman’s tacos, and a Kang & Kodos ride called Twirl ‘n’ Hurl. That might actually get me to go to Universal Studios in Florida.
X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM. So much for not having to read every X-book, something Bendis promised when he took over two of the books in the franchise. The upcoming event will require you to buy an two one-shots and issues of All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, and X-Men. And you won’t understand the story unless you buy them all. And you won’t get value from your pull list if you just stay faithful to All-New X-Men (as I have). Grrr.
A PRESIDENT ENDORSES A COMIC. Bill Clinton has a blurb on the back of “March,” a new graphic novel about Congressman John Lewis’ lunch-counter sit-in (and other civil rights activities) in the 1960s.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY NEWS. Glen Close has signed on as a Nova Corps leader, and John C. Reilly is in talks to play what appears to be a S.W.O.R.D. agent (the intergalactic equivalent of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN TEAM-UP. I guess Doc Ock is here to stay for at least a little while. This July, the Marvel Team-Up-ish book Avenging Spider-Man is changing its name to Superior Spider-Man Team-Up in July. Press and interviews indicate that this will align with an even bigger change to the Superior SpM title—a change even bigger than “killing” Peter Parker’s ghost in SSpM #9. I love what Dan Slott is doing with the title, and I fully expected to hate it, but my hope (and kind of my expectation) is that in July we’ll see a new Amazing Spider-Man title return, with Peter Parker occupying some kind of clone body.
LEGION OF SUPERHEROES IS ENDING AGAIN. How many LSH #1s, and related Legion reboots, have there been? Don’t know. Don’t care. Fans of the series (i.e., writer Paul Levitz and his wife—maybe his kids) have been frustrated by the lack of clarity whether the Legion fits in with the new 52 continuity. It really is hard to care about a book that gets rebooted more often than a PC running Windows 8. This is another example of how DC is doing it wrong.