I Hate My Money: a Marvel NOW! Review

A month ago, if asked, I’d have scoffed at the Marvel NOW! titles and assured you of my disinterest. Today, I walked into a comic book store and bought three of them lacking any and all hesitation. My enthusiasm comes in cycles it would seem, but more importantly it reasserts my own inability to ignore any and all development in this industry. Even when I know its seedy capitalistic core, I still fall for the gimmicks. They bait my lingering child-like excitement almost every time – especially  when the characters are big and the publisher even bigger. A line revamp? Nothing new in comics, but God I always have to investigate. It’s called being a reader. A fan. And as much as I hate it, I’m one.

All-New X-men #1
Fantastic Four #1
Thor: God of Thunder #1

An Iron Man title was also released, but I couldn’t purchase a Greg Land comic. I have some self-respect.

All-New X-men #1
Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen

I would call this the best of the bunch – including Uncanny Avengers from a few weeks ago – but saying that doesn’t qualify All-New X-men as an excellent or exceptional read. If anything, it feels like an old, traditional tale sporadically spiced up by the osmosis of its surrounding publishing event.  As always, the mutants are at odds with their social status, yet while conflicted with the human population they are also at odds with their own species. A tale as old as the franchise’s original debut, the recycled plot doesn’t come as a surprise or even a disappointment because corporate comics just tend to work this way. Saying that though, the comic cannot be excused from its familiar niche, and there’s still this deep-seated desire burning within to see Marvel take a chance and go somewhere else. I knew what I was getting when I handed the store clerk my debit card, but the want for those favorite icons to leap somewhere unexpected is a primal concern of a comic book reader – especially when a book premieres as part of a promotional “game changer.” Yet, again, I knew better, and I got exactly what I knew I would: The same struggle fused to a slightly tweaked circumstance – that’s the spear-head of every Marvel umbrella event post-crossover.

As a single issue, though, Bendis and Immonen do what they can to polish this book into something of their own. Polish seems to be the key word. This is a slick comic. Immonen’s smooth, crisp line blends well with Gracia’s color choices (mainly a mix of reds and blues), and this rich appearance results. It sells the commercial package this effort is looking to sell, complete with the “Marvel AR” stamps on every splash page. But I like Immonen on this book. He can tackle the bigger layouts and grab the dynamism needed without sacrificing clarity, and his style easily defines this era of Marvel comics without tying it to something gimmicky or hollow.

Bendis does Bendis. The script is neither bad nor great. It services the setup required, and while the mechanics are easily visible they work. His take on the franchise isn’t exactly defined, but if anything Bendis is interested in stressed relationships. Whether its Scott Summers versus his old X-buddies, Mutant versus Man or the X-men versus themselves, he’s setting up the divide in a similar vein to his already “classic” run on Avengers, and while familiar it almost feels a little too close to home. You wonder: did Bendis really leave? Or did the characters around him just revolve?

A solid enough comic, but unless your reading habits depend on this franchise, All-New X-men doesn’t seem like an investment worth making. You know where this is going just on the fact of it being a flagship title at a Big 2 publisher. Event or bust. Get out now.

Fantastic Four #1
Matt Fraction, Mark Bagley

Don’t even bother. The whole thing is a setup for the Allred book, and it’s not drawn by Allred.

Thor: God of Thunder #1
Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Dean White

It looks nice, although I can’t help but feel the inking washes away Ribic’s line in certain panels. Maybe that’s just me? I also have little to say about the story. Aaron’s interest in mortality could play out into something cool, I guess. The first few pages really just cemented my interest in a drunk Thor comic or maybe actually hanging out with the dude in a bar and shooting the shit (if he were real). Other that, I blanked out.

That’s a review in itself.

Conclusions 

Marvel NOW! is like any other campaign done in commercial comics. All hype, little backbone, and the next event crossover will dust it away. Money spent to discover the obvious.

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