The Era of MarvelNOW

I've never been more impressed with Marvel Comics than I am now. For those out of the loop, starting in October Marvel is beginning its own version of DC's New 52 line of comics. While New 52 claimed to be a "relaunch", in terms of comic history (continuity) it was really a reboot for most characters, with some characters' history having changed completely or disappeared entirely and we're suddenly tracking their first years appearing on DC Earth. MarvelNOW is more along the lines of what DC's New 52 claimed to be: They have relaunched a lot of their most popular characters' into new titles, shuffling around their writers and artists to different titles to offer us a new vision on fan-favorite books. And rather than launch all at once, they've chosen to launch no more than a single new title each week from October to February.

We're not aware of them all just yet, but the ones I've seen have largely wow'd me, and what else does Jumping in Headfirst exist for if not to inform you of dope shit? So here we go with some of the best titles coming out of MarvelNOW.

Avengers/New Avengers




Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Jerome Opena (Avengers), Steve Epting (New Avengers)
Launch Date: December (Avengers) and January (New Avengers)

Jonathan Hickman is one of Marvel's best writers right now, known for writing incredibly intricate stories filled with interesting characters and huge, epic ideas.  Having him on Avengers after Brian Michael Bendis is probably the only move that made any real sense.  He's already made a name for himself from Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four, and FF, so having him on these two titles is probably one of the most-anticipated books coming out this fall.

Until recently we were largely in the dark about these books and what they were about, but earlier today Marvel allowed an interview between Hickman and his editorial team, and the comic news sites.  We've learned that the New Avengers will focus around Marvel's Illuminati and will be a darker, more realistic book, while the flagship title Avengers will be a brighter, more optimistic title with a giant team to face bigger threats.  Personally, my interest is more with the latter than the former, but I'm signing on for both since its the first time I've been excited about the Avengers in seven years.


All-New X-Men
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Launch Date: November 7th



JiH was created well after I'd gotten over my dislike for Bendis and what he'd done to Marvel Comics.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't and still am not a fan of his, but I recognize what he's done for Marvel and that at least in a financial sense, it was a good thing.  All that said, I have to recognize when the guy has a good idea on his hands.  Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Spider-Men, and now this.  The theme behind All-New X-Men is that the original five X-Men come to the present and get to see what becomes of themselves in their own future timelines.  The most interesting part is that Bendis is portraying this as the original five's own version of Days of the Future Past, a horrible future they have to stop/change.  It's such an original, brilliant idea, that until he does something to really piss me off, I'm on board.

Iron Man
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land
Launch Date: November



It may not have been his intention at all, but to me Matt Fraction's Iron Man was all about taking post-Civil War Tony Stark and making him into a character people would actually want to root for again.  Having succeeded at that job, Gillen's Iron Man seems to be just about reminding us how a superhero/entrepreneur/super-scientist/playboy could be interesting.  Seems like a fairly easy job. He'll even be bringing back the specialized armors, an idea that was a draw for me from the very first time I learned about the characters.  As good as Fraction's Iron Man was, I'm looking forward to a brand-new take.

Journey into Mystery
Writer: Kathryn Immonen   
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Launch Date: November






I like it when people get to use supporting characters as main characters.  There's so much more you can do with someone who's just been quietly doing their thing in the background of panels--those characters who've been seen in the giant splash page of every crossover ever, but never given their own book to shine in.  Periodically one of the Big Two will take one of these characters and give them their own title, and for whatever reason this time Marvel's decided to give Thor's old book to Lady Sif.  If I haven't made it blindingly obvious by now: I like bad-ass warrior women.  Its a thing.  And I can't wait to see what Immonen can do with what's kind of the progenitor of kick-ass females.

Fantastic Four/FF
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Mark Bagley (Fantastic Four) and Mike Allred (FF)

Launch Date: November 14th (Fantastic Four) and November 28th (FF)








I swear, no other book is as lucky in finding talented creative teams as FF.  If you can't find a run you like, these characters just aren't for you; period.  The World's Greatest Heroes continue their lucky streak with Matt Fraction on writing and Mark Bagley and freaking Mike Allred of Madman! fame on art for their two books.

Fantastic Four appears to be the story of the coolest roadtrip ever, with Reed and Sue packing up the kids and the two weird uncles and going across time and space, giving Franklin and Valerie a chance to have a hands on experience with the Big Bang, or ancient Rome (you know, those minor events of history).

Meanwhile, FF will be a team made up of people appointed by the original Fantastic Four to take over for them while they're away.  Featuring Scott Lang (Ant-Man), She-Hulk, Medusa, and Miss Thing (basically, the Human Torch's girlfriend), its supposed to be the flipside of Fantastic Four.  While I'm not yet sure what that means since neither book is on the stands, I have to say I love the wackiness of the line-up, and the fact that they actually inverted the gender ratio for the new team (nice touch Matt).  I'm looking forward to the insanity of both titles in the same way he brought it to Uncanny X-Men and Invincible Iron Man.

Avengers Assemble
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Launch Date: November 14th



So, when Avengers Assemble first launched I thought it was kinda goofy.  I mean, I get it.  The idea of having a line-up of the team that's essentially the movie characters, doing things that aren't tangled up in continuity so that anyone can pick it up.  That's a great reason for the book to exist to us, but inside the Marvel Universe, what the fuck is the point of ANOTHER Avengers team?   What are they there to do that the New Avengers, or the main Avengers, or the Secret Avengers, or the Avengers Academy can't do?

I read a few issues of the title, and I never got an answer.  But I'm giving the book another chance with the creative change.  I like Kelly Sue DeConnick's work, and I'm hoping that even if she can't make me realize why this team is necessary, that she can at least give me some entertaining stories to make it not matter.   The first arc is supposedly an "Amazing Race" type deal, where Spider-Woman and the Hulk and Iron Man and Thor compete against each other in a grand search, so I'm hoping for a lighter, more fun-type of Avengers book since that's the feel that I've gotten from solicitations and website interviews with DeConnick herself.

Thor: God of Thunder
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic
Launch Date: November 14th




First off, just look at that art.  I realize the internet as a whole seems to have tried to wean itself away from this word, but there's no other way to describe it: epic.  It just looks like the start to some crazy, epic fantasy story with Thor in Asgard doing really cool crap.
 
And, from the interview I read, that's pretty much what it's about.  It takes place in three different time periods of Thor's life--one where he's the god of the Vikings and getting in random fights, another where he's Thor in the modern world as an Avenger, and the last where he's an old man in a future gone terribly wrong.   I'm the first to admit I'm not hugely interested in the last part, but the whole point of a story like this (I'd think) is to fix something like that so it DOESN'T happen.

In any case, Jason Aaron's a talented writer whose work I've simply never had a reason to check out before because the titles he was doing weren't ones I was interested in (because not everything is for everybody, something I wish reviewers would get), but this has jumped out at me as a title to try and pick up when it comes out in November.

Indestructible Hulk
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Launch Date: November 21st


Let's establish some things.  1.) Mark Waid is brilliant.  2.) Leinil Yu is an amazing artist.  3.) Mark Waid's Daredevil is one of the coolest things to come out of Marvel in years.  The unique view and gorgeous art have combined to make one of the best superhero comics from the Big Two in the better part of a decade, and Mark seems to have found a combination to make the Hulk work just as well.  From what I can tell, it sounds like Bruce Banner will no longer treat the Hulk like a burden, but like a weapon or a tool to be utilized.  If that's the case, there's a metric ton of story material he can get from that, and I look forward to seeing every bit of it.


And, that's it.  There are a few more teasers that have trickled out since then, but no idea what the titles are and I don't feel like telling you I'm looking forward to "Dan Slott's Superior" or whatever.  So whenever Marvel lets us know their remaining MarvelNOW books I'll do another one of these.  For now, this one's long enough.  Peace. 

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