About a month back, I said on this blog that I was not interested in the Marvel NOW! launch and it may actually be enough to turn me off Marvel Comics for good (particularly given I'm probably too old for them now - nodding from my wife ... ). O flip-flopping: thy name is Wheatley. (Or maybe curiosity be my name? ... Or masochism?) To date, I’ve bought seven titles from the Marvel NOW! line, and you know what? It’s not bad. Reshuffling the creative teams, as occurred with the DC relaunch, may have just been the shot in the arm some of these titles needed, or maybe it just fits my theory that, like debut rock albums, comic book titles are at their most exciting for the first twelve issues.Uncanny Avengers: I’ve already reviewed #1 here. #2 came out this week and it has more beautiful John Cassaday art. I still hate the fact that all of the X-Men are becoming Avengers now, but it’s making for some interesting character interaction (see Rogue and the Scarlet Witch). Verdict: Four (out of five) fingers.
Fantastic Four: It’s hard to do all that much with the FF that hasn’t been done before. I’m not sure this is it yet; the characters seem to be reacting to each other in the same old ways, but the premise of the series – Reed Richards takes the FF on a year-long trip through time and space – has the potential to deliver some Matt Fraction weirdness. Except that I’m sure Mark Bagley is the artist to go all ‘Casanova’ (Fraction’s weirdest and best series) on us; nothing against Bagley, who is perfectly suited to other series. I think I’ll drop this one. Verdict: Three fingers.
Captain America: Now this is an interesting premise; Rick Remender has shot the often said WWII hero into the sci-fi environment of Dimension Z. It’s so ‘fish out of water’ that it might be worth checking out for a few issues at least. And John Romita Jr’s cover to the first issue is the darkest depiction of the good Captain to date. Verdict: Three fingers and a stub.
Thor - God Of Thunder: Potentially the best of the lot, or at least the one that is just pretentious enough to be an Eisner Award nominee. The story follows Thor in three different time eras, with issue #2 in particular making use of his Viking roots. Also, in a rarity, Thor is not being depicted as a part-buffoon. Jason Aaron may be the smartest scribe the god of thunder has ever had, and Esad Ribic’s art is for the ages. Verdict: Four fingers.
All New X-Men – The five original X-Men travel from the ‘60s (although in the compressed Marvel timeline probably from 2003) to witness the awful mess that the present world has become, with man and mutant at each other’s throats more than ever (aren’t they always)? It’s OK, but I’m not sold on the premise of this one. My copy though came with a fun little backing board of the original X-Men as babies.
Indestructible Hulk: The Hulk has had remarkable longevity for a rather dull character (Peter David’s run being a notable exception), but new writer Mark Waid makes a promising start here. No more ‘woe is me’ from Bruce Banner; he’s going to use both his brains and his ‘hulking out’ to his advantage. I think I’ll see where this one goes. Verdict: Three fingers and another stub.
FF: Not the Fantastic Four, but the Freedom Foundation. This also has the potential to be an Eisner nominee, if only cos it has hip writer Matt Fraction and super-hip artist Mike Allred on it. And because, instead of the three guys/token girl line-up, it instead has a three girls/piddly Ant-Man roster. The first issue was slow, but I reckon by issue three, the cool nerds will be all over this one. Verdict: Three fingers with a fourth in reserve.
Still to come: Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, @*&! Avengers, and Superior Spider-Man.