As we all know, Marvel is going through with a rolling relaunch of all their books, swapping out creative teams and in some cases bringing in new blood. This was supposed to start in October but, Marvel being Marvel, it didn’t really get started in earnest until this week.
The good news is that none of the books are bad, per se. But some of them are more interesting, and making more of an effort to pull in new readers, than others. Marvel doesn’t hit the nadir of the New 52: There is, so far, no flat out bad books. But it’s also less daring than the New 52, since Marvel doesn’t “do” continuity reboots. Here they are, from subjective best to subjective worst.
Thor: God Of Thunder
Some of the best work in Thor has dealt with the fact that he’s a god. Full stop. Hammer, funny hat, immortal, the whole package. Avoiding the question never really works, so the best Thor books tend to work with this.
Jason Aaron’s first issue is engaging because it hops up and down the timeline: Thor as an arrogant young man, Thor as he stands now, and an aging Thor defending the ruins of Asgard. Because something is killing gods.
It’s unabashed high fantasy, and it works. Aaron raises questions you want answered without resorting to cheap tricks. Esad Ribic’s art is beautiful, paying tribute to Kirby without ripping him off wholesale, either.
Pairing these two was an inspired choice, and it’ll be interesting to see where this book goes next.
Simon Spurrier, mostly raved about here thanks to his great ongoing Extermination over at Boom! Studios, tackles the X-Men from an unusual, and welcome, perspective: Legion, Xavier’s son.
It’s a surprisingly personal and centered story about a man struggling with his psychological demons and enormous power, with a strong mix of Marvel mysticism and weirdness about it. Tan Eng Huat’s art goes between the realistic and the psychedelic with an engaging flow.
The book will be worth a second issue because, like it or not, David is stuck with dear old Dad’s responsibilities. And he may not be up to the job.
There’s something about the X-Men that tends to bring out the best in writers. Mark Millar dumped his usual shock-jock tactics reinventing them for the Ultimate line, and the result was a book that sang. Grant Morrison stepped away from his weirdness and explored what it would really be like to be that famous in an amusing metacommentary on the book’s popularity. And now it’s Bendis’ turn.
Granted that the central premise of the book is patently ridiculous, and the opening makes this something like the third book in the relaunch where somebody, Beast in this case, is dying. Why in God’s name would Beast go back in time to bring his friends back from the past? In what universe does he not see this making things worse?
But Bendis, like Millar before him, dumps his usual shtick. True, he doesn’t do much for Cyclops’ dickish tendencies of late, but the book is solid enough to be worth a second issue, and that’s saying something.
Stuart Immonen, by the way, is also having a lot of fun. His work on Ultimate X-Men is an influence, here, but he’s obviously enjoying drawing classic characters: His version of Iceman in particular is great.
Reed Richards is dying, so like all dying people he wants to put the children into his care on a space ship to watch him fight monsters.
I like you, Matt Fraction, but no. This is by no means a bad book, but Fraction seems to be mocking his own plot: Reed literally says “What could possibly go wrong?” Mark Bagley’s art, though, is fun as always. It’s a solid team, but a rough start.
The first issue just kind of sat there. Team books tend to work best when the team is coming together, but this issue is mostly Havok whining about his douchebag brother. Which, to be fair, we’d probably do too, but come on. Rick Remender and John Cassaday are being forced to write for the trade, and the only thing that saves the book is an agreeably insane and grotesque ending.
Whenever Marvel gets a celebrity to write for a book, it becomes a coin flip. If the celebrity is, say, Joss Whedon, a professional writer, you get Astonishing X-Men. If the celebrity is, say, Reginald Hudlin, best known for directing a bunch of crappy comedies, you get that godawful run on Black Panther Marvel saw fit to inflict on us for three long, painful years.
Unfortunately, it looks like Brian Posehn’s Deadpool is going the Black Panther route. The entire problem with Deadpool has always been the fact that it’s a wacky book. Writing comedy is hard, writing funny superhero books is even harder, and Posehn, while a talented stand-up, isn’t a fiction writer.
The net result is a book that’s uncomfortably forced. Compare this to, say, Gail Simone’s painfully brief run on the book, something Marvel is still trying to pretend never happened, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not bad, but it’s very “eh.”
I hate to say this, but this book is so bland, I’d literally forgotten they’d relaunched it. It’s not a bad book, just a bit bland and too tied up in previous continuity. Hopefully Kieron Gillen can shake off the dust.
If you’re reading the line, let us know what you think.