Initially, fans like myself weren’t too thrilled by Marvel’s “Marvel Now!” concept, largely because of how much it resembled DC’s “New 52.” Essentially, what the folks at Marvel decided to do was to relaunch many of their most well known series and starting them back at issue 1. Thankfully, this was pulled off much more gracefully than DC’s New 52, since Marvel didn’t insist on retconning characters out of existence or tossing out entire storylines. Instead, the Marvel Now comics were still giving us the characters we’ve grown to love, except with new creative teams behind them. Out of the bumper crop of Marvel Now comics released so far, the following are my favorites.
Hawkeye: Interestingly, my favorite Marvel Now comic hardly resembles a Marvel comic at all. So far, the Hawkeye series has barely featured cross-overs or tie-ins, which is altogether rare for a Marvel book. Plus, the artwork, mainly provided by David Aja, doesn’t exactly conform to the Marvel house style. You never see punches or kicks landing outside of the panel. Instead, Hawkeye looks like an artsy, vintage comic, something you might expect to be imported from France. The writing by Matt Fraction remains down to earth, funny, and often thrilling, despite the lack of superpowers or cosmic events. Hawkeye is a superhero comic for people who don’t like superhero comics–and one for those who do.
All New X-Men: At first, the concept behind All New X-Men seems cheesy, like the Bruce Willis film The Kid, where a man confronts a younger version of himself and learns some hard truths. Thankfully, All New X-Men has more in common with the Bruce Willis film Looper, where a man comes in contact with a younger version of himself and learns hard truths while engaging in slick battles and taut chase sequences. In All New X-Men, the present day X-Men, or what’s left of them after the tumultuous events of AvX, come face to face with their younger selves, the original mutant team from the Stan Lee years. Washed up in the present, the young team struggle to come to terms with the unmistakably darker selves they become, while the present team looks back to see how idealistic yet naive they once were. Brian Michael Bendis certainly tells a good yarn here, and the artwork by Stuart Immonen is always a pleasure to behold.
Captain America: It comes as a surprise that I like Rick Remender’s new incarnation of Captain America so much, since in the past it was one of my least favorite Marvel franchises. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always rooted for Capt. America, and am always happy to see him return to the Avengers lineup, but whenever I picked up an issue of his series, I became bored/ perplexed by the melodramatic backstories involving Sharon Carter, Shield, and Bucky Barnes that I could never quite follow. In the new series, Rick Remender manages to isolate Captain America and thus give fans like myself a chance to see who the character really is. This is achieved by having the hero transported to a different dimension where he has to fight for survival–for years! How this will play out when Captain America inevitably returns to Earth is unclear, but for now, I’m happy to be along for the ride, wherever it may go.
FF: FF, also by Matt Fraction, manages to combine the artsy, low-key feel of his Hawkeye series with the big, cosmic storylines the Fantastic Four franchise is known for. In the ongoing Fantastic Four series, the original team members decide to journey beyond known space to try and find a cure to the aftereffect of gamma radiation that may jeopardize their futures. In their stead, they leave Ant-Man, She-Hulk, Medusa, and Ms. Thing to watch over Earth and keep track of their wards at the Future Foundation. Apart from the interesting dynamic of this team of misfits, the main draw of FF is the artwork by Mike and Laura Allred, (Madman, Fables, etc). In a perfect word, The Allreds and Matt Fraction will continue to work together for years to come. Here’s hoping.
What are your favorite Marvel Now series?