The Gold Standard: Marvel NOW!, A Top Five List, And A Weekly Roundup

So Marvel NOW! starts this week/tomorrow/today (I started writing this on Monday, so it’ll be Tuesday or Wednesday before it goes live), and all I can think is how much more coverage I gave the New 52. This isn’t meant as a knock at Marvel, or an admittance of my already admitted love of DC. Really, it’s just that with the spacing out of the announcements and launches I’ve made passing comments about just about everything Marvel has announced. The smaller scope of it (rolling out a few relaunches a month over several months) made it feel a bit less….brain explodingly important as the New 52, but that’s not fair. Fair is that AVX has made me wary about Marvel as a whole right now, and being unsure as to just where exactly that ship is sailing.

So I figured that with Uncanny Avengers coming out this week, I should run through all of the announced titles and give my take. Let’s see how long this takes!

Uncanny Avengers by Rick Remender and John Cassaday is a must buy. I mean, aside from Marvel pushing it as the big book of the line, with the biggest characters, or whatever, the big deal here? Rick Remender and John Cassaday. Either half of that team can sell a book to me, as Remender has been phenomenal over the past several years of Marvel with knock out runs on Uncanny X-Force and Punisher (remember Franken-Castle?) and John Cassaday….he drew Planetary. And Astonishing X-Men. Do I need to say more?

Captain America by Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. is one of the titles not getting a new adjective (just imagine Amazing Captain America or Incredible Captain America), but it’s one that piques my interest. I’ve been relatively candid with my criticism of Cap’s handling throughout AVX, and about Marvel’s take on one of their most iconic characters, but that fear goes away when I see Rick’s name attached. We have a premise about Cap in an alternate dimension fighting to help save Arnim Zola’s son. Yeah, I’m definitely going to check that out, especially if we see the Romita who drew the first act of AVX and not the one who drew Avengers.

Iron Man by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land. This one tears me on so many levels, I mean, I love Kieron Gillen, but I hate Greg Land, and while with Uncanny X-Men my love of the X-Men made the choice for me, I am completely indifferent on Iron Man. I happily read Matt Fraction’s run, enjoyed it too, but Fear Itself drove me away without any interest in ever looking back. Kieron will get an arc out of me to see how I feel, and really, I want for the best. The one thing I do know is that this book is going to be very traced, and I’ll have to overcome that fact like I usually do in order to read high profile books that Land somehow finds work on.

Indestructible Hulk by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu…alright, I’ll check it out. Mark Waid can do absolutely no wrong in my book, and if anyone can make Hulk into a must read character? It’s Mark.

Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic is a slightly different story. I love Thor, and I always want to read a book about Thor, but a Thor book told across three different eras just seems like it could be either brilliant or a recipe for absolute disaster. At the same time, the opening villain is called the God Butcher, which just further amplifies my thoughts. This book will be a coin toss to me, and very well could wind up skipped over to wait for trade or cheap digital issues at a later date.

All New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen….can I take a pass? Plead the fifth amendment? Not admit that I’m on board for the first arc just to see what happens? I’m placing all of the blame for AVX at the feet of Marvel’s incumbent ‘does no wrong’ writer, and his version of the X-Men is worrisome. I do love the idea, bringing the younger versions of the originals to see how messed up the future is, but I don’t know what kind of shelf life it has. Knowing Bendis he’ll probably try to drag an eighteen issue story out to fifty, with the end result being the status quo before he showed up in the first place.

Fantastic Four by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley is a book I’m considering to be Fraction’s return to awesome after his time spent dragging through the mud since Fear Itself. I love the Fantastic Four, and it’s going to be REALLY hard for him to follow Jonathan Hickman’s top three FF runs of all time tenure on the book (he clashes with Mark Waid for my top spot). I love the premise behind the story, too. A great big cosmic field trip with Marvel’s First Family sounds right up the characters alley, and the ability to pull out random acts of wacky stuff could be the shot in the arm Fraction needs.

FF by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred is abandoning the current concept but, obviously, retaining the Fantastic Four tie. Instead of it being about the Future Foundation and acting as the perfect companion book to the core title, it will feature the fill-in lineup during the absence of our heroes. Scott Lang returning as Ant Man is the best thing that came out of Children’s Crusade, and I do like seeing She-Hulk in a fun setting. Not to mention seeing the REAL She-Hulk after years of seeing her buried beneath Lyra and the Red variant that is getting her own book. On top of all of it? MIKE ALLRED!

A+X is going to have rotating creative teams and is essentially just going to be two Marvel Team Up stories an issue teaming an Avenger with an X-Man. The ultimate situational read, as I can’t imagine the concept lending itself to having an ongoing plot, but that’s fine by me. In the first three issues we’re getting Captain America and Cable by Dan Slott, Iron Man and Kitty Pryde by Peter David, and Chris Bachalo is going to pull a writer-artist stint to do Rogue and Black Widow. Yeah, this book has a lot of potential for fun.

Deadpool by Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, and Tony Moore is…I’m sick of Deadpool. I have to say it, I love him in Uncanny X-Force, but other than that I just don’t care that much anymore. Comedians writing comedy makes a lot of sense to me, and my gut says that the book will probably be at least halfway decent, but…I just can’t do it anymore. If I hear good things I might get the trade, but it would take Dan Slott, Zeb Wells, or Chris Gage to sell me a Deadpool solo book at this point. Wait, no, Garth Ennis. I would pay a premium for Garth to write Deadpool with the ability to do whatever he wants.

X-Men: Legacy by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat is going to get a look from me, and not just because I’m an X-Men mark. I love the concept of Legion as a character, and the potential that writers like Mike Carey and Zeb Wells (I want to give Zeb credit, without looking it up I think he was writing Legion prior to and during Second Coming) have only scratched the surface of. Now, armed with the angle of the father he would want to make proud no longer being amongst the living, we might see some real character work out of Xavier’s crazy bastard son. Or it will just fall absolutely flat.

Thunderbolts by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon…I’m not going to buy it. I love Steve Dillon’s art, but I have learned my lesson about Daniel Way. He has his fans, and he’s not a bad writer, he’s just not for me. Plus, the line up is way too reminiscent of that crappy team of characters that Rulk brought together back in the Loeb days to take out Domino. All they had in common was them all being red, with Punisher just having blood on his shirt. Then they fought X-Force. Because Domino saw that Rulk had a human identity, but not who it was, and man that book was terrible.

Cable and X-Force by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca is something I’m antsy for. I have no prior knowledge of Hopeless, to my knowledge I have read nothing by him, but I love Cable. I also love Domino, Colossus, Doc Nemesis, and can tolerate Forge. A team of mutants on the run from everyone as public enemy number one? Cable armed with guns? These book screams out with all the best things the nineties had to offer, and not in the way that Scott Lobdell’s name tried to do for DC’s relaunch.

Avengers Arena by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker….yes please! With the popularity of Hunger Games, and the awesomeness of Battle Royale, I’m astonished nobody did this before. A writer finally has Arcade grow a pair of balls and throw teenage superbeings into a fight to the death with each other for survival. It’s like if the Dark Side Club from Final Crisis’s build up had a leader we cared about. I loved Runaways, and I’m a big fan of Avengers Academy, so I’m going to be following some of my favorite characters…and if I’m lucky I might even see Darkhawk finally die!

Avengers by Jonathan Hickman and Jonathan Opena is a must buy. I haven’t regularly bought Avengers in quite a bit now, but the strength of Hickman’s resume is going to bring me back around. Remember that comment early about top three run of Fantastic Four? He also wrote Secret Warriors, which I loved. It’s also promising me Sunspot and Cannonball as Avengers, as well as things going big and expansive. In other words, exactly what he did with Fantastic Four. Bring in fan favorite characters and take the book as far as he possibly could without losing control. He’s the fresh voice we deserve.

So that about covers the books we’re going to see before next year. I mean, yeah, there are more creative teams I could write up, but I figure we’re a week or so away from Marvel’s next set of solicits and I did do a lot of these based on the November and December ones, so I’ll be nice and give Marvel another week or two to give me an idea of where some of the books launching in January are headed.

What I read this week:

  • Action Comics #13
  • Animal Man #13
  • Earth 2 #5
  • Green Lantern #13
  • Stormwatch #13
  • Worlds Finest #5
  • Amazing Spider-Man #695
  • Avengers Academy #38
  • Avengers Vs. X-Men #12
  • AVX Vs. #6
  • Minimum Carnage Alpha #1
  • Uncanny X-Force #32
  • Uncanny X-Men #19
  • Guarding the Globe #2
  • Hack-Slash #18
  • The Boys #71
  • Justice League Beyond #13
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #18
  • Masters of the Universe #6
  • Edison Rex #3

Top Five Books of the Week:

5. Avengers Academy #38
4. Hack-Slash #18
3. Action Comics #13
2. Green Lantern #13
1.  The Boys #71

What I Watched This Week:

  • New Girl
  • Raising Hope
  • Tosh.0
  • Brickleberry
  • South Park
  • Animal Practice
  • SNL Weekend Update Thursday
  • Parks and Rec
  • Thursday Night Football (I was there!)
  • Last Resort
  • Shark Tank
  • College Gameday
  • Young Justice
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
  • Sunday Afternoon Football
  • Sunday Night Football
  • Cleveland Show
  • The Simpsons
  • Family Guy
  • American Dad!
  • Monday Night Football
  • WWE Raw
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Revolution

 The Worst Things I Saw On Shelves:

Avengers Vs. X-Men #12

The Best Things I Saw This Week:

Action Comics was brilliant. I’m not a fan of “Boy and his dog” stories, or really dog stories in general. I mean, I’m a cat person, but I don’t mind dogs. I just hate that every dog story seems to have the same sad ending, done to generally horribly depressing levels. I’m looking at you Futurama, and your episode that to this day I can’t watch the ending of. It was very nice to see this story buck the trend, not to mention the trend of sub par issues in this title. I like New 52 Krypto, and the backup story made me absolutely love that phantom dog.

Green Lantern is fantastic, and I absolutely love everything about Simon Baz’s character and supporting cast. So well handled, so much more interesting than Hal.

The Boys is the best book on the market. Period. Buy it, read it, there’s only ONE ISSUE LEFT.

Also awesome? Hack-Slash by Tim Seeley. Great book, great characters, completely under appreciated creator. And it was a Cat Curio issue! The best kind!

I love watching the San Diego Chargers do what they do best. Choke.

Comixology really should keep this free digital book a day thing going permanently. Did you know that despite my love of all things Abnett and Lanning that I hadn’t heard of Hypernaturals? Thanks Comixology!

On that note, Marvel needs to really up their ante when it comes to sales. DC rolled out a big list of Green Arrow that covers everything from Denny O’Neil, to Mike Grell, to Kevin Smith, Brad Meltzer, hell, I see Judd Winick and JT Krul covered as well. Personally? I picked up the Speedy drug issues (and the first John Stewart) as well as Andy Diggle’s Green Arrow Year One (I’ve always meant to read it and six bucks is the right price for me). You know what Marvel has up? The first ten issues of the current Uncanny X-Men run, and first twelve of the current Avengers. Super weak. Step it up Marvel! Give me Remender’s Punisher, or Heroes Reborn anything! Maybe some Jurgens Thor? Or Claremont/Byrne Uncanny X-Men?

Apparently some books got put up on Comixology early this week, which has led to the first time I’ve ever seen the site allow you to pre-order something. That made me laugh. A lot.

Still loving all the reimaginings that make up Earth 2. Every issue gives us someone new and a tease at a few others. I can’t wait to see what Robinson does with Starman.

My Pissed Off Moment of the Week:

Back in 2005 Brian Bendis demolished the mutant population of Marvel so he could create a villain for an arc of New Avengers, but for the most part had absolutely nothing to do with anything mutant related, or any “No More Mutants” fallout. Now that he’s taking over X-Men, however, AVX ends with the mutant population being recreated.

Think about that for a little while.

Top Five Moments of the Week

5. This isn’t really a book I get hyped up for, and it’s not even a character I’m overly fond of, but a good Etrigan moment is always worth noting. I should probably read Demon Knights, but instead I read Stormwatch #13.

4. I won’t pretend I know what the hell anyone is saying, but this scene from AVX Vs. #6 just cracks me up.

3. Have I mentioned my love of Cat Curio? Because I really love Cat Curio. Why? Well, check out Hack-Slash #18.

2. Quite possibly the best AVX related scene of the week and it came in Uncanny X-Men #19.

1. Billy Butcher always wins in the end, I mean, fuck, he made Hughie kill him just so he wouldn’t have to sit crippled in jail. One issue left after The Boys #71.

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The Gold Standard

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