The weirdest thing happened in Marvel last week. The publisher’s landmark Secret Wars event has been delayed repeatedly, but Marvel is moving ahead as scheduled with their full line relauch, giving birth to the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe.
We at Comics Beat are dedicated to praising great comics, and with so many potential winners out there it can be hard to discern the gems from the stones. Here’s what we recommend (and don’t!) from last Wednesday’s releases.
All-New, All-Different Marvel Point One #1
Writers: Al Ewing, Marc Guggenheim, Gerry Conway, Charles Soule, and Skottie Young
Artists: Paco Medina, German Peralta, Mike Perkins, Stefano Caselli, Filipe Andrade, and Ron Garney
Colorists: David Curiel, Chris Sotomayor, Andy Troy, Andres Mossa, Jean-Francois Beaulieu and Matt Milla
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino, Joe Caramagna, Clayton Cowles and Jeff Eckleberry
This is the most direct reference to the end of Secret Wars we have seen in the Marvel Universe this week. I’m not sure how it doesn’t spoil what happens in the end of the event series, but I guess we knew that Marvel was relaunching anyhow. This first title follows a trend of being a patch of preview comics with a loose thread tying the full series together. The lead feature is a tease for Contest of Champions, a book that launched this week. We only get the slightest tease of many of these titles, including the upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. series.
Verdict: Pass. Wait for the issue ones of the actual series
The Amazing Spider-Man #1
Writers: Dan Slott, Peter David, Robbie Thompson, Dennis Hopeless, Mike Costa, and Christos Gage
Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stacey Lee, Javier Rodriguez, David Baldeon, and Paco Diaz
Inkers: Cam Smith, Scott Hanna and Alvaro Lopez
Colorists: Marte Gracia, Frank D’Armata, Ian Herring, Jason Keith, and Israel Silva
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit, Travis Lanham and Joe Caramagna
During Dan Slott’s tenure writing The Amazing Spider-Man, the author has certainly gained his fair share of detractors. This ‘new’ first issue is mostly inoffensive. As usual, a new status quote is introduced into Peter Parker’s life that likely won’t stick around very long. In the feature story, the real genius is seeing the supporting cast members shuffling around and gain new relationships. Since the days of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Peter Parker usually stays the same while the people around him branch out and move on. This comic also functioned like a Spider-Man #0, containing previews at all the rest of the books. Spider-Man 2099 was business as usual, featuring the snappy prose from Peter David that fans should love. Robbie Thompson’s Silk is business as usual, which is also the theme for Spider-Woman from Dennis Hopeless. The new Spider-Verse tease retained much of the same tone from the Secret Wars crossover — for better and for worse. The post-credits tease entitled “The Cellar” was a bit of a Secret Wars clean up for the comic as well, which may be disheartening for fans who didn’t like certain aspects of the series.
Verdict: Pass, stopping here with all the Spider-verse books except Silk, Spider-Woman and Spider-Man 2099
Writers: James Robinson, Al Ewing, Mark Waid, G. Willow Wilson, Gerry Duggan and Al Ewing
Artists: Leonard Kirk, Gerardo Sandoval, Mahmud Asrar, Victor Ibanez, Ryan Stegman and Kenneth Rocafort.
Inker: Paul Nerry
Colors: Frank Martin, Dono Sanchez Almara, Sonia Oback, Laura Martin, Richard Isanove and Dan Brown
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham, Joe Caramagna, Cory Petit, Clayton Cowles and Joe Sabino
Seeing the Avengers franchise change so quickly is a shock to those who have been following the series since the 2012 reboot. While the classic stories for Mark Waid’s upcoming series was a nice return to form featuring classic Avengers hero The Vision, the tone of the rest of the comics seemed a little distant in comparison.
For those who don’t know the characters, it’s hard to say Squadron Supreme will leave a lasting impression on readers. The tease of A-Force had a really strange introduction, so I hope the ongoing series has a bit more focus. Uncanny Avengers had an interesting introduction to Deadpool as an Avenger, but the comic still didn’t prove much of reason to exist. New Avengers remixed a lot of different pieces to the point where fans need a first issue to really show off where the next installment is going. Ultimates was a book much in the same vein. The Avengers franchise is taking a hard turn left, and the results will shock longtime readers. Let’s take a look at the first issues of all these series before making any sort of snap judgments.
Verdict: Pass. Another compilation, no judgment on The Avengers title itself until we see a first issue; no judgment on the previewed stories either.
Contest of Champions #1
Writer: Al Ewing Pencils: Paco Medina Inks: Juan Vlasco Colors: David Curiel
Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
A comic based on a video game property is usually a pretty slippery slope, but Al Ewing and Paco Medina decide to start the series with a more grounded focus before widening the scope of the comic. The way that he slowly opens up the Hunger Games-style narrative make for a solid first chapter. The issue has an odd cliffhanger paired with a final scene that doesn’t flesh out the new hero like it should, but this issue is still stronger than it is meant to be.
Verdict: Success! Going on the pull-list
Doctor Strange #1
Writer Jason Aaron Artist: Chris Bachalo Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Al Vey and Mark Irwin
The first issue of Doctor Strange has writing from Jason Aaron, a much celebrated Marvel creator that has worked incredibly well at the publisher. Aaron has worked with artist Chris Bachalo in the past, an illustrator who soaks the page in action shots. While some covet his work, I find that Bachalo obscures the page and confuses the language of comics from a craft perspective.
Ultimately though, Bachalo is talented and Aaron’s script is rock solid. For now, that’s enough to keep me interested for a second issue.
Verdict: Success! Going on the pull-list
Invincible Iron Man #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist David Marquez Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
While the first installment of Invincible Iron Man is filled with the kind of craft and care that would make most fans drool, it’s hard not to be disappointed by the lack of a big status quota shift or fresh new take on Iron Man that the publisher promised.
It would have been nice to see the changes in continuity addressed further, as the effects of Secret Wars on this series are not tackled head-on. In addition, the cliffhanger was a bit on-the-nose and slightly aggravating due to the opening sequence. Still, this is a wonderfully drawn and delightfully written comic that has a classically unique angle on Stark and his new exploits.
Verdict: Success! Going onto the pull-list
See you later this week for the next batch of Marvel titles.