Review: Marvel Point One
by RJ Schwabe on November 9, 2011

When you’re writing (blogging/reviewing), you generally come up with a format… a template for where you are going to put in specific information. To a degree, it’s no different than entering information in a survey, just with longer answers.

But, there are works that cause the flow to completely blow up in your face. And Marvel Point One is one of those works. So, we are going to break this down a little different. So, bear with me here.

Marvel Point One

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $6.99
Review: Digital Copy from Comixology

Okay, the basics. Marvel Point One is a collection of six introductions to future Marvel series and one connecting story arc that may also lead to a plot point. So each group needs to be evaluated as well as the overall story arc.

The series is very reminiscent of DC’s Brave New World collection that was released after the Infinite Crisis series. Though that series was sold for $1.00 and Marvel is making you spend close to $6.00 for their version of the same.

Behold the Watcher

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Javier Pulido

This is the overall story arc of Marvel Point One. Two members of the group called The Unseen decide to sneak into The Watcher’s home while The Watcher is in a state of rest. Their goal is to capture information from the past, present, future, and alternative universes. They escape before he wakes up, and return to their base to plan the death of The Watcher, and thereby obtain his secrets.

This is mostly some filler work that could be explained in a single panel of a comic book. It’s very reminiscent of those stories that get attached to clip shows so it isn’t just a bunch of clips (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Shades of Gray being the most blatant). The story doesn’t have to be good, it just has to exist.

The other issue is that we aren’t told what comic book series is going to include the attempted murder of The Watcher, and I am unaware of any future Brubaker series where this might be included.

I didn’t like this too much, despite being a Brubaker fan. I think he works best when there is some realism in his projects: Captain America, Criminal, Gotham Central). And the art is average.

Nova: Harbinger

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciller: Ed McGuinness

Basic story, Nova is trying to save Terrax and the people on his planet. Of course Terrax fights Nova instead, and Nova flies away as the entire planet is engulfed in the energy of the Phoenix (the white phoenix force).

Have you ever met one of those people who are trying too hard in their 40s or 50s to still be cool to the kids? Well, sometimes creative people fall into the same trap, and Jeph Loeb (or someone on the editing team) is forcing this book into this territory. This is AWFUL! And I can perfectly demonstrate this in a single scene:

Okay, for those of you who don’t want to zoom in that close. Nova says “All those people… I… Epic Fail…” So billions of people are destroyed by the Phoenix Force, and all Nova has to say about it is “Epic Fail?” This is EMBARASSING to see on a page!!!!!!! Comic books should be written for kids in their teens, and using their language. But you use that language for situations that they understand!

Drawing Nova in a Japanese anime style bothers me as a long term fan, but that’s fine. Nova can be written for 12 year olds who like that style, and don’t care about his 30 year history. Fine. But to write a character this way is a discredit to comic books everywhere.

Age of Apocalypse: The Myth of Man

Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Roberto De La Torre

In a war-torn alternate reality (in the future potentially) Homo Superior has completely wiped out the Homo Sapiens race, and a mutant father is putting his son to bed explaining to him how the mutants have cast the evil humans away. After his son falls asleep, the man (Krakken) is visited by the Red Prophet (William Striker). Prophet kills him for the atrocities he committed during the war, where he put “Humans” into ovens to kill them. At the end Prophet gathers the rest of his tea

This is a very interesting twist. It’s at least interesting to yank the moral superiority out from underneath the X-Men and the Mutants. In the X-Men comics some of the humans are so blatantly racist/anti-mutant that you start to believe that only the “Humans” can be ignorant. So I really appreciate Lapham’s take here. And collecting a group of humans who are all mutant opponents in the regular universe is a nice touch. The art has that solid gritty feel to it, and really gave the issue a gritty feel, which I like.

My only problem is that don’t we all have alternative mutant universe fatigue at this point in time? I mean there are hundreds of alternate futures and alternate universes. I haven’t consistently read the X-Men since the late 90s, and I have no clue if this is one of the existing alternate universes, or some alternate future, or some weird pocket universe. It gets too confusing.

But still it was clever and well-executed.

Scarlet Spider: The Scarlet Thread

Writer: Chris Yost
Penciller: Ryan Stegman

Following the events of Spider Island, Kaine (the ‘failed’ clone of Peter Parker) is trying to get out of the country, heading toward Mexico. In Charlotte, North Carolina he hears a disturbance of a bank robbery. He gets on a bus to go to Houston, Texas, but once on has a change of heart and decides to stop the bank robbery. Apparently some changes in Kaine have made his thoughts more like Peter’s. He dons his Scarlett Spider mask, and thwarts the bank robbers leaving them in a ball of webbing for the police to pick up, as he continues to head south.

I’m not sure how sympathetic a character like Kaine is in 2011. Maybe there’s a large audience who is clamoring for someone with Spider-Man powers to operate in a non-Spider-Man environment? To me, I don’t see the draw or the pull of this book.

This was a perfectly fine comic book. Decently written with an introduction story that works, even if we cannot see where it all is going. The art could be better, as Stegman employs a minimalist style, that sometimes is beneficial, but other times is too cartoony (and apparently he likes to draw open mouths)

All in all, it’s a fine effort of a comic book that I don’t ever see me purchasing. But, that’s a preference and not a value judgment.

Coldmoon & Dragonfire: Yin and Yang

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Salvador Larroca

Zaoxing (Dragonfire) and Wanxia (Coldmoon) are twin siblings who are kept in a lab but separated since birth by Taiji Corp. Both have powers of molecular manipulation, one heat and the other cold (I’ll leave it to you to figure it out). They are lied to about each other’s existence. Eventually they sense each other, and break free of their containment. The two of them are more powerful together than they were when separated. Six months later, they are free, and help the Avengers to take down some Taiji robot creatures, and the Avengers wonder about their motivations.

Interesting concept that has been done before, but always can be expanded upon. Two siblings who have powers separately, but in contact with each other can potentially cause greater damage. I haven’t seen it in a while, so I’m actually giving credit for that.

But…One having fire powers, the other having ice powers? Really? I mean that’s something I would have thought up when I was 12 years old creating characters in a notebook. I understand how you want them to be opposites, but come on; can’t we do better in 2011 than fire and ice?

(Then again, maybe we’ve run out of super powers. We’ve apparently run out of new ideas for movie scripts, so why not super powers. )

And these are teenagers in their late teens, do we have to show as much skin as humanly possible. Bare chested boy and a tube top for the girl.

The art is decent enough, but really gets sloppy in some parts. If I had to guess, Larocca was told to do a rush job.

But the real crime is I have no idea where I can see these two characters? I mean by the cast list, I’m guessing the Avengers book. But otherwise, I don’t know when to expect these two characters to show up.

Doctor Strange: The Shaman of Greenwich Village

Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciller: Terry Dodson

Doctor Strange is wandering through Greenwich Village and comes across Notebook Joe an interesting vagrant who is actively capturing the history of Greenwich Village as he sees it. Strange helps Joe return to the place where he is staying, with an artist named Abby who tells him that Joe never sleeps. Strange enters his dreams after finding that all of Joe’s notebooks are gibberish. Joe emerges from the dream and throws himself in front of a subway train while Strange sees visions of his future before returning home.

And it’s the 2011 version of trying to make Doctor Strange more interesting! What fun.

It seems like they are trying to make Doctor Strange a bit more of an American version of John Constantine, when I have seen him be more of a mysterious aloof citizen in the past, but it’s a decent take on him. But still, the Doctor just leaving Abby telling her that Joe had jumped in front of a train was extremely callous. There was no urgency for Doctor Strange to leave, but he just up and left anyway.

The story is fairly pedestrian, and you don’t really get a sense of what possessed Notebook Joe, and what the thing was with the strange shape. I guess I’m interested enough, but I think the team could have done a better job at trying to pull us into the story. Something disturbs Doctor Strange, and yet gives us no disturbing images or ideas. Seems rather weak all things considered.

The art is pretty average if not below average in my opinion. For me Dodson’s art is never as clean or sharp as it should be given the subject matter. I like sharp images or expressionism. Blurs and simplified faces don’t really work for me.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Bryan Hitch

A short glimpse into the future where Ultron has taken over Manhattan and is hunting down Spider-Man and Hawkeye. Two other characters tried to pay off Ultron, but the Ultron robot army destroys the building where they are holed up anyway, and Hawkeye and Spider-Man go to try to find others who can help them resist Ultron.

This seemed pretty good, but was too short. I’m guessing this is a futuristic tale, but how it will tie in to the existing Avengers storyline, I’m not really sure.

The art is nice and crisp, and there’s a unique technique where the artist has blurred the image to make it seem like there a sonic vibration that is affecting the characters.

I couldn’t tell who the other character was supposed to be. I’m guessing if he was important as someone other than just a citizen that they would be named, but it still seemed a bit sloppy, as I don’t know if he was friends with Hawkeye, or where Spider-Man came from, or anything.

I like Bendis’s writing and I like his take on the The Avengers, but this was too short and too little content to have any clue where it fits in with the overall story.

Overall Impressions

To me this is a real mixed bag of quality all around. And I really am bothered that Marvel would sell this at $5.95. This is one of those titles that Marvel should have eaten some of the costs, with the idea that it will pull in new readers. Even at the going Marvel price of $3.99 this might have seemed like a bargain, but as it stands it reminds me of one of the huge, poorly drawn, secret origins books that DC used to put out in the 90s that had six pages of story that were integral to the next storyline.

To me I wouldn’t waste my money on this collection. None of them provided crucial content or information for an upcoming series. I would be you can enjoy all of the new series without these teasers. Added to that the AWFUL writing on Nova: Harbinger and the lackluster art make this a waste of money.

This is a typical Marvel move, hype a preview book as a must read, charge twice as much for the content, and give sub-standard output. (Don’t get me wrong, DC does plenty of stupid things, but this is very Marvel typical). I feel like I’m reading annuals from the 1980s again.

Verdict

3.0 – Waste of Money



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RJ Schwabe

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