Avengers: This is the best Avengers I’ve read in quite some time, probably since Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s alternate take on the team in ‘The Ultimates’. Jonathan Hickman is a ‘big ideas’ kind of guy, which makes him well-suited to what is meant to be the biggest, brashest Marvel title out there. Hickman has even taken the Avengers’ membership to absurdly large levels, packing almost 20 members into his line-up (I don’t disapprove of this concept, even if I think some of the choices are a bit weak). Really though, it’s Jerome Opena’s art that has me most keen about this book. He makes basically everybody he draws look kinda bad-ass; even douchebags like Sunspot and Sunfire. This is what the premier super-team in 2013 should be like. Verdict: Four fingers and a thumb.
New Avengers: Not quite sure about this one yet. Putting together the major movers and shakers in the Marvel Universe on one team is certainly an interesting idea, and Hickman’s proven he can write about a bunch of egotists on the excellent ‘Manhattan Projects’. Plus, I always like Steve Epting’s art (if I ever wrote ‘Avengers’, he’s be my first choice for penciller). But it may also end up reading like the minutes of a company board meeting. We’ll see. Verdict: Three fingers and a toe.
The Superior Spider-Man: Alright, anyone who cares probably knows this by now: in the ‘final’ issue of ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ (#700), Peter Parker’s mind was switched into the dying body of one of his greatest enemies, Doctor Octopus, leaving Doc Ock to carry on the Spider-Man legacy. Needless to say, Doc Ock doesn’t always have Parker’s sense of decency, even as he tries to be the ‘good guy’. It’s certainly a better and more interesting idea than when they replaced Peter Parker with his clone. However, while this isn’t bad, I’m not finding it essential reading. Verdict: Three fingers.
That wraps up my reviews, even though there a few more NOW! titles to be released. Of the remaining titles, Brian Wood’s all female X-Men looks the most intriguing, reminding me of the very first X-Men comic that I bought from my local milk bar back in the ‘80s* (in which Wolverine was the only male, and Rogue looked like she had popped out of a John Hughes flick**). Has Marvel NOW! been a success? Kind of – the unique cover designs seem to work well, and like DC’s ‘New 52’ a lot of the titles are more interesting than they were before the (ugh) relaunches. But in the end, I think it’s going to take a bigger creative and cultural shift than this for the general populace to see comics as anything more than a feeder for Hollywood blockbusters.
*For some arbitrary reason that only parents understand, my Mum forbade me to buy it, so I snuck out one weekend to plonk down my $1.30 and smuggled it back into the house so tightly you would’ve thought I’d just shoplifted it. Man, I was more bad-ass than Sunspot.
**Before I became a teenager, basically all of my ideas about what women aged 14-25 were like came from the X-Men and Degrassi Junior High.