My initial reaction was almost entirely negative, jaded skepticism. One discussion with my local comic shop owner and that skepticism has been tempered with some guarded optimism and a slightly more open mind. Listen, I'm going to be honest with you, long-time readers know that I have lost a LOT of faith in the past 10 years. They absolutely destroyed my favorite character (Spider-Man) beyond recognition, and they seem to have no idea how to handle the rich history or their universe. It is VERY hard for me to have a completely open mind for anything Marvel does. When you have been burned as badly as I have, you're just not going to get unbridled enthusiasm. I think anyone who honestly sits there and tells you that you are looking at 45 issues of pure gold is lying to you. There are dogs in this lot. I promise.
So, in the interest of doing more than just writing a bitter, scathing critique of Marvel's new line-up, I decided to wait a few days and chew on the big picture, then give you a quick-hit review of my first impression of each of the 45 titles. I know it sounds like a lot, but all we really have to go on are some covers, some blurbs, and a couple of interviews, so some of these are going to be pithy at best. At the very least, maybe I will be able to provide some much needed counterpoints to all of the industry cheerleading that is going on out there. You'll also notice that I am far less up the butts of the creators involved than most of the people out there.
Carnage: Why does Carnage get his own comic book? I know he's been a bit of a fetish for Marvel lately, but I just don't see this character carrying an entire comic, even with the legendary Gerry Conway at the helm.
Venom: Spaceknight: I am so over Venom there really isn't much more to say. Honestly, the character lost something the minute he became the Lethal Protector. Larsen ruined him with the tongue and once he left Eddie Brock, there was no reason for him not to just become Carnage. Now, he's off in space doing god knows what? Is he still Flash Thompson? I'll pass.
Ultimates: Galactus and Black Panther are together on a super-hero team and you expect me to pay money for that? No.
Web Warriors: I'm going to call it now, this book does not see an issue #5. Peter Porker? In a universe with "real" human people, we have a Fred Hembeck cartoon. Never mind the rest of the "Spider-verse" nonsense that is here, Spider-Ham is the final straw. I don't even think the fan-ravenous Spider-Gwen can save this mess.
Spider-Man 2099: I would be all over this one, actually, but the "Smack to the Future" blurb is so blowful that any excitement I had gets undermined. I am hoping Peter David will prove me wrong.
Spider-Woman: If you are 8 months pregnant and you even think about doing anything super-heroic, then you are a bad person. Shock value will get everyone in the door, but I'm not convinced that there is more here.
Daredevil: DD is one of those characters where I honestly feel that every story has already been told for Matt Murdock. Unless you just drop him back to street level and let his heroics be the outlet for his need for justice that is not met by his lawyering by day, you really can't do more to DD than has already been done. There is some intrigue that results from the Gambit-esque protege, but that's about all.
Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D.: This one is so bizarre it will either work like nobody's business or it will be done before Christmas. I like the line-up of monsters, but I'm not convinced the premise works.
Amazing Spider-Man: Like with Daredevil, all of the good Peter Parker stories have been told. All of the best ones were told before issue #401. Marvel has finally admitted this and they've just gone ahead and made him Iron Man, down to having Spider-Man be PP's body guard. Yes, it's that bad. I'm already working out the retcon for this one. Dan Slott has had a long run on Spider-man comics, but he's done very little that demonstrates he understands the character at all. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but they should have left Doc Ock's mind in there.
Spider-Man: Our only hope for a good Spider-Man comic lies with Miles Morales. He's still a kid, I think, and he's still street level, I pray. This is the only chance we have.
Ant Man: I'm ready to skip over this one, but the supporting cast of C-List villains is giving me pause. If it's handled correctly, this might be the dark horse of the lot.
Silk: I know nothing of Silk. I gather she is a shining beacon of goodness that emerged from the smoking pile of crap that was "Spiderverse," but I honestly know nothing. It's the taint of Spiderverse that keeps me from seeing what this is all about. I'm sure I'm missing something, but again, the taint.
Uncanny Avengers: Let's reach into our character grab bag and the first 6 characters we pull out, we'll team with Deadpool and Spider-Man because those two sell a LOT of comics. No.
Uncanny X-men: Pick 4 mutants that no one cares about (sorry Psylocke) and let's team them with Magneto. No.
All-New Wolverine: Never mind the fact that, if this comic book makes it, a name change will be in order in a couple of years, I've never cared for X-23 in any way, but I am heartened to see a status shift handing the Wolverine mantle off to a different character, even if it is a full grown daughter from another universe, time line, dimension, something.
All-New X-men: Again with the name thing, but honestly if an X-men comic has a chance, it's this one. The 60's X-men were an interesting gamble when they were brought into the current Marvel U, and they were a fresh commentary on how dumb the X-men had become. Can they avoid the same fate as those they came to mock?
Extraordinary X-men: Look pretty ordinary to me. And Ramos cartooning up the art chores will not help.
Old Man Logan: This one is likely worth reading. Everyone is nuts over this grizzled older version of the furry runt, so there is probably something here worth seeing. At the very least it's a fresh take on a character that has been done to death. (why no Old Man Peter Parker?)
Nova: He's never been able to carry a book before. Why now?
Karnak: Another book that is so unlikely that it will work or flop right out of the gate. Warren Ellis is capable of doing some great stuff here, but I'm not sure Karnak is the right platform. It will take Paul Jenkins level work to breath life into this character.
Hawkeye: This is another case of "50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong." I'm willing to give this one a pass just on the fan excitement. Will I read it? Probably not.
Sam Wilson: Captain America: I don't know why we need the "Sam Wilson" part of this, but I'm pretty excited to see a real successor to Steve Rogers that makes sense. I only hope they commit to it and really give Sam a chance to be the great Cap I know he can be.
New Avengers: You know who's counter-culture popular right now? Squirrel Girl. Can she carry a team comic? Maybe, but just in case, let's toss in Hawkeye and the Young Avengers. No.
Illuminati: Bendis so loved the Hood that he made him way cooler than he ever should have been. But he had his day in the 00's. This one doesn't get into the double digits.
Scarlet Witch: And the Vision also gets his own comic. Neither one should be able to carry a solo book. Untapped potential? Maybe. Riding the coattails of House of M and hoping for a popularity resurgence? Likely.
Star-Lord: Guess who's red hot popular right now: Guardians of the Galaxy. Guess who the leader is? Star-Lord. Let's stretch the readership extra thin by giving him his own comic. If they make him Space Han Solo, they have a chance.
Guardians of the Galaxy: The curse of Venom ruins this for me. I liked the "original" new team back in '08, but this has morphed into something I cannot recognize. And the original original Guardians fan in me is screaming for justice. No.
Spider-Gwen: I know the fans are all hot and bothered about this, but for me, Gwen Stacy fell off a bridge and died in EVERY MARVEL UNIVERSE ever. Having her become Spider-Man (woman?) is the dumbest thing I can think of, apart from her having kids with Norman Osborn. She wasn't anywhere near the accident that created Spider-man, alternate universe or no. And calling her Spider-Gwen is incredibly stupid too. Fans are hungry for more Gwen Stacy, I get it. That's what caused the whole clone saga which, in light of the past 20 years, now looks like a Marvel Masterwork. It may be well written, it may be popular, but to me any thing that resurrects Gwen Stacy diminishes both her and Peter Parker. I just can't go with you on this one.
Ms. Marvel: I know next to nothing about this one, but I give Marvel props for trying to shake up the status quo. Not enough there for me to be interested though. It's possible this one just isn't for me.
Drax: Maybe this is the new Silver Surfer comic for those looking to get their cosmic fix? None for me thanks.
Angela: Asgard Assassin: The best thing Marvel has done in the past decade is acquire a new character they hadn't already written every possible story for. Now they've mixed her in with Marvel's resident, accessible godhead? I'm in.
Howard the Duck: Didn't work in the '80's. I see no reason why he works now.
Deadpool: If there is one character who defines all that is wrong with Marvel Comics it is this one. Ever since they decided he would break the 4th wall and be a commentary on comic books, he became a never ending Jay Leno monologue: not quite actually funny, but funny enough to keep going long past the natural end of the gag. Any attempt to actually develop the character is undermined by his self-awareness. People will buy this for the same reason plenty of people watched Leno, but that doesn't mean either one are actually worth watching.
Squadron Supreme: Has this long suffering team finally found a regular comic they can call home? Maybe, if you like D-List Avengers who walk the line between super-hero and anti-hero. In the past that has been hardly anyone...
The Mighty Thor: I am so glad this isn't called "She-Thor" or something miserable. Still, it's Thor, just the title passed to Jane Foster. Probably worth a look in the post-Secret Wars era.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I can't wait to read a boring comic book based on a boring TV show. Oh, wait. Turns out I can.
The Vision: I like the Vision more than I like the Scarlet Witch, but I haven't really followed the character in years. Is he still a kid? I'll probably thumb through this and then make a call.
Uncanny Inhumans: I like Charles Soule. I'm bored of the Inhumans. For my money Paul Jenkins had the first and last word on this group. But I still like Charles Soule.
Contest of Champions: If this is what it looks like, then the Maestro is going to pit Marvel characters against one another in gladiator style combat. If that's what this is, and that's all there is to it, I'm in.
Captain Marvel: Just not a character I have ever had much affinity for. If she's your favorite, then I hope they do her justice.
All-New, All-Different Avengers: Why is Miles Morales on this team of otherwise heavy hitters? Because the Avengers cannot exist without a Spider-Man, dammit. Spider-Man means sales. Otherwise this is a strong team. But Miles has school.
Doctor Strange: If I had to pick a hyper-stylized artist to like, it would be Chris Bachalo. I've liked his Doctor Strange in the past. Let's hope the Sorcerer Supreme can make another go at a regular comic.
Totally Awesome Hulk: I hear it's not Banner. Speculation is that it's Amadeus Cho. As long as we are done, done, done with all of the Red Hulks, Purple Hulks, Yellow She-Hulks, and so on, I'm willing to give the Hulk another look. But you have to promise me we are done with all of that.
A-Force: I'm kind of liking this during Secret Wars, so if I still like it when Secret Wars is over, I'll likely keep going.
Invincible Iron Man: We already have an Iron Man book in this announcement. It stars Spider-Man. This book is redundant at best.
So all in all I'm looking forward to about 4 of these books, Spider-Man, Contest of Champions, Angela, and Captain America. There are a lot of iffy titles, and plenty of outright "no thank you" books out there. It will be interesting to come back in a year and see what still stands. My bet for first blood is Web Warriors. That thing has Slingers written all over it. If you haven't seen all of the covers and blurbs for all 45 announced titles, you can check them out at CBR here.
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