A few weeks back, I was somewhat pessimistic about the Marvel NOW! initiative, and even went so far to say that it might turn me off Marvel Comics for good. Well, this week saw the release of the first of the Marvel NOW! comics, Rick Remender and John Cassaday’s ‘Uncanny Avengers’ #1, which I picked up, partly out of curiosity and partly because ‘Avengers’ comics are on my standing order. ‘Uncanny Avengers’ is basically the flagship title for the new, mutant-friendly Avengers that have arisen from the events of ‘Avengers Vs. X-Men’, with Captain America feeling guilty that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes haven’t done enough to help the mutant community in the past. As a result, long-time X-Men Wolverine, Rogue, and Havok (as leader) have been added to the roster of this ‘uncanny’ Avengers team, joining long-time Avengers Captain America, Thor, and the Scarlet Witch. (As my wife would say, ‘How many Avengers are there?!’)
Anyway, I thought the first issue wasn’t bad, although I wonder if that wasn’t in large part due to the art of John Cassaday, who I still think is one of the best comic book artists (up there with JH Williams III, Frank Quitely, and Bryan Hitch) going around today. Cassaday’s art gives every bit of interaction within the book, whether it’s teammates arguing or fights with supervillains, a bit more weight. At the moment, the mashing together of the X-Men’s and Avengers’ worlds is intriguing, and is being well-handled enough to make it seem like all the pieces fit naturally together. However, it remains to be seen whether the concept will still have legs beyond the first ten or so issues when the novelty value wears off.
I have no such reservations about ‘Saga’ (from Image Comics) though, the first six issues of which were released as a trade paperback this week. ‘Saga’ is the latest ongoing series from Brian K. Vaughan, who wrote two of the best series of recent years, ‘Y The Last Man’ (about a world in which all males are wiped out except one) and ‘Ex Machina’ (about a superhero who becomes the Mayor of New York), both of which would make excellent TV series if the right team got a hold of them. ‘Saga’ would too; it’s about two lovers (she with wings, he with horns) that come from different worlds who are continuously locked in war, having to protect themselves and their newborn child from the various forces being marshalled against them. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples have assembled an interesting cast of supporting characters, including a young girl ghost who had her lower half blown off by a landmine, a freelance bounty hunter and his 'lying cat' (it tells when people are lying), and perhaps best of all, the uppity, somewhat absurd Prince Robot IV (pictured below). The language that Vaughan uses is also more engaging than most sci-fi/fantasy epics, as the characters’ conversations are a bit looser and dirtier than is usual for the genre. ‘Y The Last Man’ and ‘Ex Machina’ both proved that Vaughan plans for the long-term, so it should be fascinating to see how he develops this world over the next five years or so.