Saturday, July 7, 2012

Marvel Now! - What Is It and Should You Care?

Relaunch, reboot, re-imagining...It seems that a lot of these newfangled R words are getting thrown around in regards to this thing, but what exactly is Marvel Now? Well, if Marvel Editorial is to be believed:

 "It is a coordinated creative refresh across our entire publishing line." 

That's according to Editor in Chief of Marvel, Axel Alonso. It's the best definition that I've heard so far. It isn't a relaunch or a reboot, as they are going to be continuing on with the same world that they've been dealing with. Obviously something will change at the end of Avengers vs X-Men, as that would account for some of the costumes being changed in the promotional
material being released (more on that in a minute), but we don't know what that will be. Joe Quesada has stated that there will be various changes throughout the books, which is a little worrisome as there are many that I am quite enjoying, but the changes won't just stop at costumes it seems. He's stated that alter egos, status quos, and various elements of the actual designs for the comic book themselves are in the cards as well. Again, I cringe at the notion of so much being changed.

So yeah, there definitely seems to be some differences between DC Comics The New 52 and Marvel Now! I'm hoping that Marvel's attempt will be much smoother in the way that they address the continuity issues that DC seems to be dealing with.

One of the other things that is probably worth mentioning is the release schedule for the books. 21 different titles are what we're looking at, one released each week starting in October and ebbing into the new year. Not sure if it's the way I would do it, as I think DC's approach and releasing it all up front was a gutsy, fun way to get the titles out there and in folks hands. I can understand the notion behind not wanting to scare your readership off though, and sometimes numbers do scare people. No escaping that.


While we don't know the full line up that is hitting (I imagine we'll see it during San Diego Comic-Con), there are a few that have been solicited. There are also several rumors running around too, and really, who doesn't like a good rumor. The biggest notion behind Marvel Now! is the fact that creators are shifting to different books, giving them a chance to try out some new things and deal with a new dynamic. Here are the books that we know (or think we know) about:

Uncanny Avengers #1 - Rick Remender, of Uncanny X-Force/Venom/Fear Agent fame, gets the hot seat with what is essentially Marvel's flagship title. This is the kind of thing that I like. Remender has become one of Marvel's Best and to see him get the lime light that he deserves is nice. The person handling the art will be John Cassaday, of Planetary and Astonishing X-Men. This seems like a strange choice. Not because Cassaday won't draw readers in or produce gorgeous work, as he will do both of those things. What worries me is his speed as an artist. One would hope that the shipping dates will be hit, but I'm not sure they can. As for story, it seems that Cap has decided that he needs to help Mutants out a bit more, so he's decided to integrate them into the Avengers. It's a notion that I get, at least from a marketing standpoint, but I HATE the idea of the mish-mash teams. It's a new kind of branding, I get it, but I don't think it's necessary. The notion of them going after the Red Skull...Well, I do kind of like that and I do think that Remender will come up with a cool and fun story.

Avengers #1 - A book written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Jerome Opena. Great creative team. Hickman has proved time and time again that he is a powerhouse of a writer with his work on FF and Secret Warriors. The notion of him on the main Avengers book is probably the most exciting for me and that it has Opena, who's work on Uncanny X-Force, rocketed him to superstar status should make the pictures all pretty. The story that I'm hearing for this one is more Universe-spanning. Almost like a Galactic adventure force. I would imagine that them running into or fitting into a Guardians of the Galaxy comic would be in the cards.

All New X-Men #1 - Brian Michael Bendis takes on the X-Men. Yup, you heard me correctly. BMB takes on the X-Men in a bi-weekly title. Not the greatest news that I've ever heard, but then again, it makes sense from a marketing point of view. Bendis is top talent. He came on the Avengers years ago and created a book that thousands of people fell in love with. It'll be interesting to see what he'll do with the X-Men and if he can recreate that kind of event again. Personally though, I'm afraid, especially with the notion of him bringing the original X-Men team (Jean Grey, Scott Summers, Beast, Angel, Ice Man) into the future and meeting up with their current selves. Teaming up with Bendis will be a familiar artist, Stuart Immonen. Immonen is crazy talented, so I'm sure it'll look nice though.

There are other titles in the rumor mill, some confirmed and some not. Books like:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy - Brian Michael Bendis in the driver's seat with no artist attached just yet.
2. Nova - It seems Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness might team up yet again for what I would imagine will be CRAZY space-faring antics. I can't wait to see Nova punch out the Watcher.
3. Iron Man - Keiron Gillen is a definite while Greg Land has been rumored to be the artist.
4. Fantastic Four - Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca seem to be in on this. I hope Fraction can cut down his story arcs and forgo the year long epics. I loved is work on Invincible Iron Man, but it's a lot to ask of readers to keep a story going for that long. Still, it'll be interesting to see Fraction handle a family book like this.
5. Captain America - Rick Remender takes over for Ed Brubaker with John Romita Jr. on art. Could be really cool, though I'm not sure Remender is the perfect writer for Cap. I might have gone with Waid.
6. New Avengers - Hickman snags another Avengers title with Steve Epting stepping in for the art.


Yeah, I told you that I would be coming back to this. This is sort of where I'm going to put on my nerd cap on for a moment. I'm sure there will be reasons for a lot of the changes, but some of the designs are questionable at best and some are just downright BLEH.

Cyclops - Wearing a Magneto inspired helmet with an X engraved on it. I assume he now fires giant X blasts at you because he doesn't want you to forget what team he's on. Also, his costume might now be red (or it's because he's about to blast ya), but that might go with the notion of the more Magneto, slightly evil Scott Summers that I've been hearing might be coming.

Captain America & Nick Fury - It definitely seems as though they're trying to incorporate their movie-verse into their regular universe. Probably so there's a bit of unification between all of the different iterations. Again, I get it and it makes sense, but I don't care for it.

Hulk - He's got armor. I can understand Gladiatorial Hulk with armor, but Hulk's body is his armor. Seems redundant.

Thor - Strange new duds and he's got swords. Swords!?! WTF, man? Thor don't need no swords. He's got a freaking hammer to smite people with!

Cable - Eye patch that replaces star pattern scar...Possibly. Not a big deal at all, but he looks more like classic Nick Fury with a cybernetic arm now.

Spider-Man - Messing with the classic costume is always strange and eliminating the red patches of webbing that run up his arms seems odd. It actually reminds me of the design Alex Ross for Marvels.

Havok - Love that costume except for the fact that he needs to have the giant hula-hoops on his head instead of it simply being a design aspect of his mask.

Jean Grey - I question her need to be alive at all.

And this is me taking my Nerd Hat off.


I imagine if you want to get friends in on the fun that comics can be, this is a perfect place to have them jump on. Also, I know that Marvel's Digital Initiative and Augmented Reality is going to fit into this change-up in some fashion, but we don't quite know how yet.

Really though, this is just the next step at Marvel. It really does seem that every event that they do is build up to the next one. It's a cycle and just like The New 52, it's a chance to see new stuff done by different writers and artists. I believe that if you're on-board with things now, it'll be an easy transition and like always, we'll get a few books that knock our socks off and a few books that will wither and die a horrible death.

This is the nature of comics.

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