Marvel’s landmark Secret Wars event has been beset with repeated delays, but the House of Ideas is moving ahead as scheduled with their full line relaunch, 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 yesterday’s releases.
Captain America: Sam Wilson
Writer: Nick Spencer Artist: Daniel Acuna Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Enticing readers to pick up the solo adventures of Sam Wilson as Captain America is a tough job. Outside of the context of the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D., there’s nothing that I find incredibly interesting about the character other than his position as a minority hero in the Marvel Universe. While this first issue contains a smart, progressive take on Wilson, I’m having a hard time finding a hook in this comic. Thankfully it is drawn by Marvel favorite Daniel Acuna so it is pretty, but vapid. The cliffhanger teases out a way for the series to dramatically expand in the near future, and there’s nothing offensive about this first issue, so one more really couldn’t hurt.
Verdict: One More – Hopefully Captain America: Sam Wilson was teasing a tonal shift in the cliffhanger.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Valerio Schiti Colors: Richard Isanove Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 changes a great deal of the property status quo. While these shifts do seem a bit arbitrary at first, upon closer examination, it seems apparent that Bendis was setting up these shifts in the pre-Secret Wars series and during the Battleworld tie-ins. Still, some of these changes feel forced, and I wish Marvel gave Bendis more time to explore these characters without having to reboot so often.
Valerio Schiti’s pencils are wonderful — the artist’s line work is slick and clean, perfect for this chaotic series. This is a solid first issue filled with action and ultimately, the shifts in the status quota feel more organic here than in other series. Hopefully Bendis will really be able to get mileage out of this roster in the immediate future.
Verdict: Success – An interesting take on a new team of Guardians.
New Avengers #1
Writer: Al Ewing Artist: Gerardo Sandoval Colors: Dono Sanchez Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I have previously voiced my displeasure with the recent tonal shift from large-scale drama to farcical comedy in Avengers titles. While I could see why fans likely wouldn’t want a Jonathan Hickman cover band on New Avengers right now, this direction takes a whole bunch of elements from other books and remixes them with evil Reed Richards in a manner that really seems out of place compared to the rest of Marvel’s line.
Al Ewing’s script is stylish as are the pencils of Gerardo Sandoval, but they are flavors that produce a product that is far too sweet for my tastes. I think the most confusing aspect of this book is the fact that the New Avengers moniker is placed on top of this title that has nothing to do with the bleak Illuminati or even early Bendis concepts.
Verdict: Pass – I’m not sure how I feel about these Marvel concepts crammed together in this way.
Writer: Jason Latour Artist: Robbi Rodriguez Colors: Rico Renzi Letters: Clayton Cowles
Spider-Gwen #1 is business as usual. Notably, this isn’t even the first Spider-Gwen #1 to launch this year. While I appreciate the idea of Stacy as Spider-Gwen, this title has never quite piqued my personal tastes. Latour’s script is interesting, even if the series is inconvenienced in that the title is forced to take a step back and examine the origin of the hero yet again in the space of this issue. It’s business as usual for Spider-Gwen, and I never was interested in the title before Secret Wars — I don’t think this is the book that is going to convert fans.
Verdict: Pass – Another day, another Spider-Gwen #1
Spider-Man 2099 #1
Writer: Peter David Artist: Will Sliney Colors: Frank D’Armata Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
This all brings us to Spider-Man 2099 #1, a comic book that has told a Spider-Man story with a twist very efficiently since the new series debuted under the original writer Peter David. The issue features some pretty massive developments in the life of Miguel O’Hara and contains Secret Wars plot elements that enhance the story. The comic really builds a lot of good will, although it may confuse new readers. O’Hara is not Parker, he’s a Spider-Man from a doomed future trying to go back to his home and save the world. This issue throws down personal tragedy and high stakes around the life of Miguel O’Hara and it’s great to have the same creative team pick up the pieces a little bit after they left off with the previous series with Will Sliney continuing on pencils.
Verdict: Success – This is the continuation of the best Spider-Ongoings on the market.
The Uncanny Avengers #1
Writer: Gerry Duggan Artist: Ryan Stegman Colors: Richard Isanove Letters & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
This is the series I was most worried about going in the new Marvel Universe. The first scene of the story is a beautiful set up, but it ends up feeling rushed by the scene’s end, Things are elevated much too quickly at the conclusion of this first issue. Team dynamics do not feel right in this comic and the marquee hero and leader of the team, Steve Rogers, feels like he is characterized incorrectly in this installment. His personal union with Deadpool is odd and depicted as such, but this comic starts falling apart in how Rogers is so grumpy with the people he interacts with. Even as an old man, Rogers is supposed to embrace levity and innocence. A great example of this is the guest starring role for the character in Charles Soule’s recent She-Hulk run, this just doesn’t quite feel like the right same hero.
While most of the scenes filled with jokes tend to fall flat — a sequence with Quicksilver nails the tone that I think this is title is trying to achieve in terms of both humor and action. The ending to the first issue feels like a big misstep in visual orientation and functioning as an actual cliffhanger. Once again, it should be worth noting that the Avengers franchise is taking a really hard tonal shift, and for the most part, I don’t think I’m on board.
Verdict: Pass – Characterization hiccups and loose humor made me uncomfortable enough to not want to purchase another issue of The Uncanny Avengers.