Home » Comic Books » Marvel Now – More of the Same

Marvel Now – More of the Same

No matter what Marvel comics may say, “Marvel Now” is a direct response to DC’s new 52. DC’s new 52 was and continues to be very controversial with decisions to radically change characters, history and relationships. When DC did its big relaunch I decided to buy the first few issues of all the comics and give them a fair share. Today, over a year later, I still regularly get about 10 issues and once in a while will pick up an additional book from their line. For some of the regular magazines I found I had no interest at all in the story line or characters as they had been revamped – this includes Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes to name a few. But as a result of the revamp I have loved Aquaman and Wonder Woman among others.

I’m starting to judge Marvel’s move without all the new issues coming out – unfair I know. With Marvel Now, Marvel decided not a do a complete do-over of the universe but to reset the stage where certain characters were comfortable and change things up a bit – not a bad idea on some fronts (Hulk, Avengers).

One of the first things that bothered me with the new books was the art in Iron Man, I found it lacking. The next book that I picked up was the Fantastic Four and surprisingly they seem to have 20 foster kids and their own kids as well – I have no reference point for all of these kids except Franklin and Valerie and I think Valerie is an annoying character. Then in Captain America they put Cap in another dimension or another planet, I’m not sure which yet – sure this was a successful ploy with the Hulk way back, but I don’t see this working with Cap. Finally, in the All New X-Men (really, that’s the title we’re going with?) they’re bringing the original X-men from 1960 something to present day – because having one alternate version of Hank McCoy running around wasn’t enough – not to mention the fact that the Phoenix Force (which has reignited the mutant gene) has an obsession with Jean Grey – how many times do we have to see this woman die exactly?

On the plus side, I’m really looking forward to more Indestructible Hulk – Agent of SHIELD and Thor, both stories I thought were interesting and are risking things with the character. Thor in particular the story in issue 1 leapt across centuries to weave a story that may have him really risking his life and the life of other Asgardians. The Hulk story line might be ok for a while, but I think we’re just waiting for the time when Bruce loses control again, sometimes I think we strive for him being chased and demolishing things – HULK SMASH and all that.

A few years back I wrote a blog post about killing characters off to sell comics called “…and it sold comics” (click here to read it) which is what DC’s new 52 and Marvel Now are all about – selling comics. But I fear Marvel is playing it too safely and it will come back to bite them later – after all Jubilee is still a vampire, most of the main characters have been killed and reborn so many times its ridiculous and we’ve had alternate versions of some heroes origins told so many times that I doubt even the writers know what they’ve got going on.

I would have preferred them to remake the whole universe when the Phoenix Force was defeated and given us a chance to see a Captain America that was created using a super serum to fight terrorists. A Fantastic Four that maybe had one kid, but preferably not. An X-Men with just one Hank McCoy and one Angel that isn’t .. well I’m not sure what’s up with the current Angel, but I don’t like it. A Wolverine that isn’t a teacher at a school but the killing machine we all expect him to be. Villains once in a while for the Avengers besides Kang and Ultron – maybe a new villain once in a while for your multiple issue story arcs. Hell – go further than DC did, recreate characters as different races (like you did with Nick Fury in the Ultimates Universe and movie), genders and lifestyles. Give me a reason to care about Reed Richards and have someone write Dr Strange with some balls – taking risks and making interesting story lines.

I’ll pick up the other number ones from Marvel Now, but at present I’m not really impressed with what’s come out and what I’ve read about.

3 thoughts on “Marvel Now – More of the Same

  1. Animal Man is my favorite New 52 series.
    What makes it so special is the way the writer deconstructs the superhero mythology. For example:
    1) Superheroes tend to monopolize the attention of the reader, while Animal Man is constantly upstaged by the supporting characters of the series.
    2) Superhero comics usually don’t give much importance to the private life of their main character (they tend to focus only on the “costume on” part); in Animal Man, on the contrary, the private life of Buddy is the main theme of the series. In fact, it is rather infrequent to see Buddy with his costume on.
    3) Buddy is not perfect, and is not perceived as perfect by other people: in fact, in the 11th issue, when he tells his wife “It’s going to be okay”, she replies “Don’t give me anything of that superhero crap, Buddy.” That cut and thrust perfectly enlightens the philosophy of the series.
    Another New 52 series I used to read with much pleasure (for a whole different reason) was the freshly ended Voodoo. More or less, the plot was always the same in each issue: Voodoo meets an enemy of her; she shows him tits & ass; he instantly get very interested in her, so he follows her wherever she wants; they get a room, and she kills him, or takes from him the objects and informations she was looking for.
    As you can see, it was a comic book almost entirely built on tits, ass and violence. And you know what? It was so bad it was good.
    Also, I liked the merciless of Voodoo, who killed the obstacles on her way without any resentment. Not because I like violence (on the contrary, I repeatedly complained about the excessive amount of violent scenes in the New 52 comics, Voodoo included: http://readrant.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/this-week-in-comics-72512/#comments), but because Voodoo was a punch in the face of those politically correct comics, where the leading character has strong moral values (and gives a lot of sermons about them), never kills anyone, and doesn’t even hold a gun. It was something new, and, even if the violence was exaggerated, I appreciated it.
    Voodoo was doomed to fail from the beginning, not only because the leading character was too outside of the norms, but also because it was among the New 52 series DC threw in at the deep end. Characters like Voodoo, Grifter, Mr. Terrific, Static Shock and so on passed from being unknown to the 99 % of comics fan to having their own solo title. Of course they lacked the bases to avoid failure.
    Also, DC didn’t advertise them enough: for example, when I read that Mr. Terrific was among the first New 52 cancelled titles, I didn’t even know who he was.
    The same thing is happening for characters like Katana and Vibe. DC definitely didn’t learn from its mistakes.
    I see what you mean when you talk about DC characters heavily distorted by the reboot. For example, the New 52 version of Green Arrow destroyed the character. His distinguishing mark was his maturity: now he’s just a young hero like (almost) everyone else, from Spider Man to Superboy. I understand they had to link the comic book to the upcoming tv series, but they could have done that in a far smarter way: for example, they could have created a comic series narrating his early days as Green Arrow, as Marvel did with “X – Men: First Class.”
    Another thing that made Green Arrow great was his group of very interesting and well defined supporting characters: this implies that removing them from the series is another huge mistake DC made. Batman would be great even without Alfred, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and so on: Green Arrow needs “a little help from his friends” to be great.
    When you reboot a character, you can change everything but his spirit: DC didn’t follow this simple but essential rule, so they haven’t been faithful both to their tradition and to their public.
    I loved miss Nocenti’s run on Daredevil, so I was very excited when I heard she was going to write Green Arrow. I thought “She’s one of the very few writers who can fix up this mess.” I bought the 1st issue she wrote, and I think she did an incredibly bad job. The story is: 3 femmes fatales meet Oliver Queen and invite him at their home. Even the silliest superhero could easily understand it was a trap, but not Green Arrow: he shrugs his shoulders and flies with them. Guess what? Oliver ends up in chains! And the so-called cliffhanger is: will our hero get rid of the 3 femmes fatales? When I finished it, I thought that any high school student could have written a better story. Of course I didn’t buy the following issues: it was too painful to see how deep Oliver and miss Nocenti sank..
    Lemire will write Green Arrow from the 17th issue on, and I will start reading the series again from that point. He promised a return to classic GA believing that this would help bring back disillusioned fans back to the character. This is exactly what the character needed: a good writer recreating him from head to toe, and giving us back the old Oliver we used to love.
    I complained about the New 52 version of Green Arrow on every blog I could find, and all the other fans of the character were unsatisfied as well, so I knew that DC couldn’t ignore us forever, and was going to making him mature once again.
    Also, notice that Lemire will go on working with a penciller having a creepy style: after Foreman and Pugh, we’ll see him teaming up with Sorrentino. This is a good thing, because creepy art perfectly ties with his delightfully weird style of writing.
    I hope Lemire won’t leave Animal Man, because no one could write it as well as him. The relationship between Animal Man and Lemire is like the one between Johns and Aquaman: when the writer leaves the series, it will never be the same.
    2 weeks ago I went to a comics convention. While I was doing the line at the DC stand, I saw Before Watchmen: The Minutemen # 1 on the shelf near to the cash desk, so I picked it up and gave it a look. I was so lucky to bump into it: it had an old fashioned style that immediately talked to my heart.
    At that stand I also bought the TP of another New 52 series, Swamp Thing, because I had read only good things about it. Last week I read it: it’s so wonderful, I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it before. Yes, I had read a lot of enthusiastic reviews, but they never persuaded me to buy it before, because I was thinking “It’s a fantasy comic book, it’s set in a marshland, how could I enjoy something like this? That’s not my cup of tea, it would be a waste of money.” How stupid I was. It’s true, I don’t usually read things like this, but Swamp Thing is a real gem.
    Also, I was lucky to read it as a TP. Each issue is so strictly linked to each other that you have to read them in a single session, to understand the plot properly.
    In my long comment I tried to point out the good and the bad sides of the New 52 line: all in all, I’ve been mostly satisfied with it. The reboot gave us some instant classics, like Animal Man and Swamp Thing, and, even when DC did something wrong, they tried to make up for it.
    I may add the first story arcs of Animal Man and Swamp Thing to this list: http://thedynamicbuzz.com/2012/11/12/preview-batgirl-14/#comments. Do you agree with my choices?

  2. Animal Man is my favorite New 52 series.
    What makes it so special is the way the writer deconstructs the superhero mythology. For example:
    1) Superheroes tend to monopolize the attention of the reader, while Animal Man is constantly upstaged by the supporting characters of the series.
    2) Superhero comics usually don’t give much importance to the private life of their main character (they tend to focus only on the “costume on” part); in Animal Man, on the contrary, the private life of Buddy is the main theme of the series. In fact, it is rather infrequent to see Buddy with his costume on.
    3) Buddy is not perfect, and is not perceived as perfect by other people: in fact, in the 11th issue, when he tells his wife “It’s going to be okay”, she replies “Don’t give me anything of that superhero crap, Buddy.” That cut and thrust perfectly enlightens the philosophy of the series.
    Another New 52 series I used to read with much pleasure (for a whole different reason) was the freshly ended Voodoo. More or less, the plot was always the same in each issue: Voodoo meets an enemy of her; she shows him tits & ass; he instantly get very interested in her, so he follows her wherever she wants; they get a room, and she kills him, or takes from him the objects and informations she was looking for.
    As you can see, it was a comic book almost entirely built on tits, ass and violence. And you know what? It was so bad it was good.
    Also, I liked the merciless of Voodoo, who killed the obstacles on her way without any resentment. Not because I like violence (on the contrary, I repeatedly complained about the excessive amount of violent scenes in the New 52 comics, Voodoo included), but because Voodoo was a punch in the face of those politically correct comics, where the leading character has strong moral values (and gives a lot of sermons about them), never kills anyone, and doesn’t even hold a gun. It was something new, and, even if the violence was exaggerated, I appreciated it.
    Voodoo was doomed to fail from the beginning, not only because the leading character was too outside of the norms, but also because it was among the New 52 series DC threw in at the deep end. Characters like Voodoo, Grifter, Mr. Terrific, Static Shock and so on passed from being unknown to the 99 % of comics fan to having their own solo title. Of course they lacked the bases to avoid failure.
    Also, DC didn’t advertise them enough: for example, when I read that Mr. Terrific was among the first New 52 cancelled titles, I didn’t even know who he was.
    The same thing is happening for characters like Katana and Vibe. DC definitely didn’t learn from its mistakes.
    I see what you mean when you talk about DC characters heavily distorted by the reboot. For example, the New 52 version of Green Arrow destroyed the character. His distinguishing mark was his maturity: now he’s just a young hero like (almost) everyone else, from Spider Man to Superboy. I understand they had to link the comic book to the upcoming tv series, but they could have done that in a far smarter way: for example, they could have created a comic series narrating his early days as Green Arrow, as Marvel did with “X – Men: First Class.”
    Another thing that made Green Arrow great was his group of very interesting and well defined supporting characters: this implies that removing them from the series is another huge mistake DC made. Batman would be great even without Alfred, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and so on: Green Arrow needs “a little help from his friends” to be great.
    When you reboot a character, you can change everything but his spirit: DC didn’t follow this simple but essential rule, so they haven’t been faithful both to their tradition and to their public.
    I loved miss Nocenti’s run on Daredevil, so I was very excited when I heard she was going to write Green Arrow. I thought “She’s one of the very few writers who can fix up this mess.” I bought the 1st issue she wrote, and I think she did an incredibly bad job. The story is: 3 femmes fatales meet Oliver Queen and invite him at their home. Even the silliest superhero could easily understand it was a trap, but not Green Arrow: he shrugs his shoulders and flies with them. Guess what? Oliver ends up in chains! And the so-called cliffhanger is: will our hero get rid of the 3 femmes fatales? When I finished it, I thought that any high school student could have written a better story. Of course I didn’t buy the following issues: it was too painful to see how deep Oliver and miss Nocenti sank..
    Lemire will write Green Arrow from the 17th issue on, and I will start reading the series again from that point. He promised a return to classic GA believing that this would help bring back disillusioned fans back to the character. This is exactly what the character needed: a good writer recreating him from head to toe, and giving us back the old Oliver we used to love.
    I complained about the New 52 version of Green Arrow on every blog I could find, and all the other fans of the character were unsatisfied as well, so I knew that DC couldn’t ignore us forever, and was going to making him mature once again.
    Also, notice that Lemire will go on working with a penciller having a creepy style: after Foreman and Pugh, we’ll see him teaming up with Sorrentino. This is a good thing, because creepy art perfectly ties with his delightfully weird style of writing.
    I hope Lemire won’t leave Animal Man, because no one could write it as well as him. The relationship between Animal Man and Lemire is like the one between Johns and Aquaman: when the writer leaves the series, it will never be the same.
    2 weeks ago I went to a comics convention. While I was doing the line at the DC stand, I saw Before Watchmen: The Minutemen # 1 on the shelf near to the cash desk, so I picked it up and gave it a look. I was so lucky to bump into it: it had an old fashioned style that immediately talked to my heart.
    At that stand I also bought the TP of another New 52 series, Swamp Thing, because I had read only good things about it. Last week I read it: it’s so wonderful, I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it before. Yes, I had read a lot of enthusiastic reviews, but they never persuaded me to buy it before, because I was thinking “It’s a fantasy comic book, it’s set in a marshland, how could I enjoy something like this? That’s not my cup of tea, it would be a waste of money.” How stupid I was. It’s true, I don’t usually read things like this, but Swamp Thing is a real gem.
    Also, I was lucky to read it as a TP. Each issue is so strictly linked to each other that you have to read them in a single session, to understand the plot properly.
    In my long comment I tried to point out the good and the bad sides of the New 52 line: all in all, I’ve been mostly satisfied with it. The reboot gave us some instant classics, like Animal Man and Swamp Thing, and, even when DC did something wrong, they tried to make up for it.

  3. Marvel was never going to, and WILL never, do a DC-style reboot. That would only anger their current fans, without bringing in all that many new readers. The Now! initiative is a much better idea for them. They’ll bring in new readers with all the #1s, without losing old readers by dumping 50 years of continuity. Plus, new readers might end up being inclined to seek out some of the older stories, to get a better idea of how the characters got to where they are. Someone might pick up Fantastic Four #1, for example, and wonder where they got the idea of teaching a bunch of kids. So they’ll pick up some trades of Jonathan Hickman’s (excellent) run. They’ll see Cyclops as an anti-hero in All-New X-Men, and read some back-issues to learn how he got to the point he’s at now. When Young Avengers #1 comes out next month, readers might (hopefully) be so intrigued by this child version of Loki that they give Kieron Gillen’s brilliant Journey Into Mystery run a read. With DC’s New 52, there’s not really much incentive to track down the older stories, because they no longer happened.

    Some quicker notes: I agree that Greg Land, the artist for Iron Man, is awful. The guy traces porn, and his faces are downright Lovecraftian at times. Valeria, the daughter of Reed and Sue, is awesome. And Jean hasn’t actually died all that often. The end of the Dark Phoenix Saga (which wasn’t technically Jean, but we’ll not get into that), the end of Planet X in new X-Men, and arguably Phoenix: Endsong.

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