Where one leaves off, another picks up. That seems to be Marvel’s motto of late, especially with their All-New Marvel launch/relaunch of certain titles. Marvel doesn’t exactly have all that many teen superheroes, unless you count some of the X-kids from their various team books. With the recent cancellation of Young Avengers, Marvel launched a new teen superhero book, New Warriors, last month and it seems to be stylistically somewhat similar to the other series. But this brings back (apparently) an old team but with some new faces, so things are certainly interesting.
The first issue was a bit all over the place, and was just about good enough for me to recommend it to you, the readers of this blog. With the second issue however, I am starting to have some serious doubts because this too was all over the place but much more than the first issue. The pacing was odd and the story just didn’t quite click with me either. There were some nice moments here, but I confess that I felt lost most of the time. And the art is okay, no major complaints about it, not at the moment at least, I must say.
As with most other big-name comics properties, my first experience ever with the Fantastic Four was an old animated cartoon that used to air in the 90s. It might have been reruns or something, but that’s besides the point. For a young kid, the 90s were an awesome time to be in, what with all the great programming happening on Cartoon Network and other channels. That Fantastic Four cartoon was one of the best. Years later, the movies happened, but they were disappointing. At some point last year or the year before, I tried to get into the FF comics, but never went back after like the first few issues.
And now with the reboot, I think I have a Fantastic Four comic that I can definitely read and enjoy and thus stick with. With his recent runs for DC now over, James Robinson has quickly picked up two new ongoings with Marvel, first All-New Invaders and now Fantastic Four. And I have to say that I enjoyed his Fantastic Four more than I did the other series. Better written, much more emotional, much more punchy. And the work by all the artists is also pretty good, on the high side of what is happening with the Big 2 and especially all the new ongoings that Marvel has launched this year so far.
If anything, February has been a bigger month for Marvel and its All-New Marvel NOW! launch than January was. More titles, a bit more oomph in general, and just as interesting in the final tally. And given that January was a pretty damn good month for the publisher in terms of unit sales and market share, I’m thinking that February is going to be equally good. I mean, when you launch these many new #1s and with many of them getting their sequel issues in the same month, that’s going to add a lot of padding to your wallet. Like a lot.
But that’s fine, as long as the titles being released are decent. And New Warriors #1 is kind of entertaining I suppose. There’s an overload of characters and everything is basically frontloaded at the reader as far as the team’s makeup is concerned, but that’s fine. This is not a group that I’ve really read about before (I hardly remember what I read in Civil War), so there’s that charm about them that I drew me to the title. Beyond that though, I can easily see this as being a good replacement for Young Avengers, following the cancellation of that title recently. Art is good, story is decent. All good.
Up until some time last year, hard to pin down exactly when, but I’m thinking middle of the year, I had no idea that She-Hulk even existed. For that matter, up until a handful of months before that, I had no idea that there was a Red Hulk. In fact, the only Hulk I’ve ever known about is Bruce Banner’s plain-joe Hulk. Still, it was exciting to hear that Marvel was launching a new She-Hulk series for its All-New Marvel NOW! launch-wave, though my excitement was tempered by the fact that Charles Soule, a writer I don’t like all that much and would prefer to avoid altogether, was on the writing duties for this.
I went in with an open mind because She-Hulk is a character that I am really interested in exploring more, but all the same, I ended up being disappointed. That too for the reasons I expected, and a few that I didn’t expect. The big culprit here is the art, unfortunately, making this the second of Marvel’s new series I’ve read this week that failed for me on the art level, and which has a passingly good story, more mediocre than anything. I frankly expected more out of this.
Another new week of comics, and that means another new week with a new book launching from Marvel, as part of its brand-new All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, under which the publisher is either relaunching some series, or launching new ones with characters old and new alike. One of this week’s big highlight is X-Force, which already existed under the Marvel Now banner, but not quite in this form, I’m given to believe. I’ve never read any X-Force or related comic, and neither have I read anything with any of the characters featured here, except for Psylocke, who has had some good moments in Brian Wood’s X-Men of late.
Being my first X-Force comic, and with these characters in particular, the transition is a bit rough. I barely know any of them, and Si Spurrier’s writing isn’t very comfortable in that regard either. But, I think the series has a really interesting premise all the same, with the X-Force team being mutantkind’s self-appointed black ops team, and that’s the charm, certainly. Rock-He Kim’s art on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired and is definitely one of the weaker points of this issue. It has neither the substance nor the charm that I expected.
On account of traveling to and from India this past week, my comics reading took a back-seat, as did my novel reading incidentally. Very few comics read, but most of them were good at least, a saving grace.
After the double-shipping last month, this month we get to a regular monthly schedule for Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s excellent Black Widow. The first two issues were quite stellar, both of them one-shots designed to introduce the character and set her up before launching into something approximating a long arc, like a 5-6 issue story. The art didn’t grip me as much in the first issue, given how different Noto’s art style is, but the second issue was quite an improvement still, and now with the third issue, I’m in love with his work.
The new issue is a two-headed beast. It tells a mostly standalone story, but there is also a subplot that supposedly leads in to a slightly bigger story in the next issue. And as with the previous two issues, we continue to get a look into how Natasha thinks, what her personal mission is, and what her morals are. With an espionage twist, the book really makes her come across as a hero, and I’m all for that because she is one of the in-the-grey characters who are also heroes.
First new comics day of a new month, and since this is February 5th, 2014 that means that today is the day that sees the launch of Ms. Marvel #1. Long the identity of Carol Danvers after she got some powers from the first Captain Marvel aka Captain Mar-Vell (sp?), it was discontinued in the launch of Marvel Now since Carol was asked by Captain America to take up the mantle of the fallen Mar-Vell. Under Kelly Sue DeConnick and a rotating team of artists, Carol Danvers became the new Captain Marvel and went on for some great things. But now, with the launch of All-New Marvel NOW! and the upcoming Inhumans crossover, we have a new Ms. Marvel. And she is as different from the original as you could get.
Kamala Khan, daughter of Pakistani immigrants to the US, has been picked out by the Terrigen Mists to become a new superhero, a descendant of the offshoot of the Inhumans tribe that left their people thousands of years in Earth’s past. With the recent events of Infinity and the crash of Attilan, the city of the Inhumans, big changes are on the horizon and Kamala is at the center of them all. She is now the heir to a legacy that she has wished all her life, and under writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona, it looks like its going to be one hell of a ride.
It has been quite an interesting month in many respects as far as Marvel’s latest round of relaunches is concerned. This is their big month, marking the release of several new series such as Avengers World, All-New X-Factor, Black Widow and more. It seems that in the first months of all the new series, Marvel is double-shipping the titles, and with Black Widow at least that has really paid off since Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto have delivered on an amazing book. I read All-New X-Factor #1 a couple weeks back and it was not so good. It was a letdown basically.
But All-New X-Factor #2 seems to be turning that around. I enjoyed the story for sure. I wasn’t really expecting it to be better, but it was and I have to say that there’s a big difference between this issue and the debut issue. The art is slightly better as well, although it could be more well-defined at the least, so there’s that. When all is said and done, I’m now getting interested in the title, and if things continue to improve, I can see myself sticking around for a while.
It seems that Marvel is taking a pretty big chance with its All-New Marvel NOW! launch of new titles (and a sprinkling of some relaunches as well) in that the new titles all appear to be double-shipping in their first months. That’s pretty significant I believe and hints also that they trust these books to that degree. Since Black Widow is the only title I’ve read so far (two issues that is), I won’t comment on whether it is a strategy that is working for me since the bigger picture needs to be looked at, but damn, Black Widow #2 was an awesome issue on all fronts.
Black Widow #1 was a damn good issue. The writing was perfect, and the art almost perfect. It was a perfect blending of talent for a character that I’ve really come to love thanks to the recent run of Marvel movies. With Black Widow #2, Nathan Edmondson continues to build on her world, perfectly contextualising her within the movies continuity while perfectly doing his own thing as well. I love what he is doing. And having now gotten a good taste of Phil Noto’s style, the art here was damn gorgeous.
So welcome to the first Comics Picks of The Week for 2014 where I list the comics that were actually to be the first ones released in the new year. Everything that has been revealed so far about 2014 promises an amazing year, I have to say. Well, for the most part at least. There are some things that I don’t quite understand, or like, but eh, it is still going to be a great year I feel.
This past week, Marvel finally launched its All-New Marvel NOW! line with Black Widow, All-New X-Factor and Revolutionary War: Alpha and they aren’t going to stop. New releases will continue throughout March at the least and we will even be getting some of these new titles double-shipped, such as Black Widow #2 which comes out next week. In other news, I had some fun reading DC titles this week, although Detective Comics #27 proved to be quite disappointing for most of the first half. And my disappointment is on several levels, not just with one particular aspect of it. But, more on that in the reviews.
My first graphic novel of the year happened to be the (unfinished) mini-series that Steve Gerber and Matthew Sturges wrote a few years ago, with the former writing the tale of a new Doctor Fate while the latter wrote about the supervillain Eclipse. Only eight issues of this double-sized series were released, but I have to say that I definitely enjoyed it and based on that, my graphic novel reading is off to a good start.